You’re Being Watched … What Do Your Followers See?

Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, is often credited with saying that, “As the leader does, so do the boys.”  This is just as true in business as it is in scouting.

When people choose to follow a leader, they do so for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes, they perceive that the leader possesses qualities that they value.  Often, they choose to follow because they are seeking a guide who will show them how to navigate within the business, culture, or environment in which they find themselves.

Followers look to the leader for an example that they can emulate.  What they see is usually what they do.

I recently had lunch with a young man who was working for a leader he respected.  I asked him what that leader had done to earn his respect.  He answered,

“The company that I work for recently changed its calendar of recognized holidays and not everyone has the day after Thanksgiving off like we used to.  Being one of the low men on the totem pole, I had to work on that Friday after Thanksgiving.  I knew it was necessary and I knew why it was necessary.  I didn’t especially like it; but, I understood it.  When I got to the office on Friday morning, the first person I saw was my boss.  I guess my face showed my surprise at seeing her because she greeted me with a smile and told me it was a workday for her just like for me.  While she could have taken the day off, she did not do so and that enabled someone else on the team to spend the day with their family.  She didn’t see herself as someone who was better than the rest of the team members.  That earned my respect.”

When leaders walk their talk; when they demonstrate in all that they do the same level of commitment, dedication, and ethical behavior that they expect from their followers, they inspire those followers to commit, dedicate, and behave in the same manner.

The ones that you lead are watching you.  They always do.  What will they see; and, is it the behavior that you expect from them?

Do You Insure the Goose that Lays Golden Eggs; or, Do You Insure the Eggs?

If you owned a goose that laid golden eggs and you could only buy one insurance policy, would you insure the goose or the eggs?  Most people are likely to answer this question by stating that (obviously) they would insure the goose.  So, let’s consider a variation on this question.

Have you thought lately about your most prized possessions; your most valuable assets?  Do you know what they are?  Most people are likely to answer this question by saying “yes” and then listing items such as houses, cars, boats, jewelry.  These things are valuable and that’s why people buy homeowners insurance, car insurance, and boat insurance.  However, let’s consider another asset that is, without a doubt, far more valuable than any of those things mentioned above … your ability to get out of bed each day and go to work and earn a living.

If you get sick or are hurt and incapable of working, how do you protect the paycheck upon which you and your family depend for food, shelter, water, electricity, and clothing?  Prudence dictates that we cannot rely upon the good will and charity of others to care for our loved ones.  That responsibility is ours and ours alone.  Surely there must be a way to protect ourselves and our families from this potential calamity!  Fortunately, there is!  It’s called Disability Income Insurance (DI for short).

DI pays a percentage of your income while you are unable to work due to accident, injury, or illness.  Generally speaking, that percentage is 60% to 70%.  People often ask why it doesn’t replace 100%.  After all, most people today rely on all 100% of their income to keep the bills paid and food on the table.  The reason is really very simple.  Consider a person we’ll call Mark.

Mark is one of those fortunate people who really enjoys his job.  He wakes up each morning with a smile on his face and looks forward to the interaction with others that his job provides.  That’s not to say that Mark doesn’t have hobbies and interests that he’d like to pursue.  Oh no!  There are days he’d love to go fishing if only he didn’t have to go to work.

Now, let’s suppose that Mark gets hurt one day.  It’s bad enough that he can’t do his job; but, not so bad that he can’t go fishing.  If Mark is collecting 100% of his income while he goes fishing, he has no real incentive to get better quickly.  But, if he’s only receiving 70% of his normal pay, he has a great incentive to recover as quickly as possible.

Disability insurance can be a very real financial life saver and should be a part of everyone’s financial protection portfolio.  In the days to come, we’ll take a look at key components that should be considered when purchasing Disability Income Insurance.

What’s The Difference Between a Leader and a Boss?

A young man, 17 years old, sat before an Eagle Scout Board of Review and was asked to explain the difference between being a boss and being a leader.  The young man thought for a few minutes and then responded,

“A boss is someone who can make you do something whether you want to do it or not.  But, a leader is someone who inspires you to accomplish things you never thought you were capable of doing.”

This two sentence answer provides one of the key ingredients of great leadership; inspiration.  Great leaders have the ability to inspire their followers to strive for the difficult … the unattainable.  Great leaders empower their followers to not only strive to meet a challenge that others see as impossible to overcome, they do so in a manner that causes the followers to see themselves as being capable of reaching and even exceeding the goal.  Here’s an example of leadership in action.

Several years ago, a Scoutmaster (we’ll call him Doug) approached the adult leaders in his troop with a problem.  Doug had been appointed as the leader of a large group that would be traveling to a quadrennial jamboree where scouts from all over the nation would come together.  His contingent was made up of over 250 boys and their adult leaders.

He explained that he was setting up a weekend campout that would be entirely devoted to team building exercises so that the boys could learn to work together and function effectively and efficiently in troops of 36 scouts and 4 adults.  The entire event was scheduled, the campground reserved.  Everything was ready EXCEPT that he had just learned that the dining hall would not be available and he had no way to feed the contingent.  He wondered if his troop’s leadership team would be willing to set up a field kitchen and undertake responsibility for feeding the contingent.

Two members of the troop’s leadership team stepped forward and said, “We can do this!”  They became the team leaders.  They began to create a “To Do List” of things that had to be done and equipment/supplies that had to be obtained.  Other individuals joined the team and began to offer suggestions, not saying why it could not be done, but rather citing difficulties that would be encountered and offering suggestions as to HOW those impediments could be overcome.  In the end, this team, led by two individuals who believed that by working together the team could accomplish anything it set its mind to, rose to the challenge and fed 325 individuals for an entire weekend.

While bosses order others around taking sole credit for success and placing responsibility for failure at the feet of their followers alone, great leaders inspire their followers to accomplish what lesser men and women see as impossible tasks; unattainable goals.  They provide that inspiration by showing that they believe in their followers; that they are willing to work as hard as (or harder than) their team members; by giving credit for the successes to their followers and taking sole responsibility for any shortcomings or failures to reach a goal.