A Living Example Surpasses a Sermon on Any Day!

From the day we are born until the day we die, we are exhorted by one authority figure after another to tell the truth; to play fairly and by the rules; to obey the law. And, each and every day, we are presented examples of those same authority figures lying to their constituents, taking unfair advantage of others, violating the rules, and breaking the law. Consider these actions and the logical reactions.

A parent daily tells a child to always tell the truth. Then, one day, the telephone rings and as the child reaches for the telephone, the parent says, “If that’s for me, I’m not here”. Subsequently, the child tells a lie and the parent asks, “What in the world made you do that? Why did you lie to me?”

A law enforcement officer makes a routine traffic stop and asks the driver, “Do you realize how fast you were going? You were exceeding the speed limit and are guilty of a crime for which you will be required to pay a fine.” On another day, this same officer passes the same driver who is driving at the speed limit and rapidly disappears from sight. The driver asks himself, “Why is he allowed to speed when I’m not?”

A business manager insists that employees arrive for work on time and discharges those who are routinely late. Yet, that manager is regularly late for meetings, arrives at work long after all other employees have arrived and commenced their duties, and is never disciplined for this behavior. The typical employee must question why the rules apply to everyone but the boss.

Lawmakers make speeches and tell the public that everyone must pay their fair share of taxes (whatever that phrase means) and pass laws to ensure that citizens do so. One day, it’s revealed that a prominent politician hasn’t filed the required tax returns and owes thousands of dollars in back taxes; or, has utilized loopholes that ensure that he or she pays next to nothing. Who can blame the citizenry for losing faith in the system and  their elected officials?

Weak leaders believe that the rules apply to everyone BUT them and they regularly display behaviors for which others would be censured and punished.

Great leaders, on the other hand, know that they are being watched and that their behaviors will be emulated. They know that the teams they lead will follow the example they set. Great leaders know that actions speak louder than words and they make certain that their example sets the standard to which they want their followers to adhere.

LIKE if you believe that, as individuals who aspire to be great leaders, we must closely examine our own behaviors before critiquing the actions of others?

Tom Hoisington is a speaker, trainer, and author whose goal is to provide leaders and potential leaders with tools that empower them to build teams that are creative and cost effective along with a clearer understanding of how personality types interact within those teams. He can be contacted at tom.hoisington@eagleoneresources.com

As a Leader, Will You Choose to Succeed?

I was reminded this morning of the importance of mindset and how it impacts everything we do. Consider…

Manager #1 (we’ll call him Peter Pessimist aka Pete) has just been handed a project, the boss’s pet project. He recognizes this as a project that several of his co-workers have attempted to complete and have failed to do so. In fact, he knows that the consensus is that it just can’t be done. While Pete promises to give it his best effort, he is already thinking about all the things that have been tried, why they failed, and how he’ll explain to the boss everything that he tried to do; but, none of it worked; the project just can’t be done. This entire mindset is going to impact not only Pete’s own thinking, but how he communicates the project to his team; and, how they will go about their work on the project. If Pete is the project leader and he doesn’t believe it can be done, how can he expect his team to believe that they can succeed where others have failed. When members of Pete’s team offer an idea that hasn’t been tried, Pete immediately shoots it down with every reason he can think of that tell why the idea won’t work. The result is predictable. After the passage of sufficient time, Pete returns the project to his boss and explains all the reasons why the project cannot be completed.

Manager #2 (we’ll call him Oscar Optimist) is given the same project. He knows the history of the project and its reputation. However, he takes a different approach to the project. Oscar recognizes the attempts that have failed to reach the objective with an attitude of “we know what won’t work, so let’s look for something that hasn’t been tried yet”. Instead of focusing on the old, tried and true, methods, he looks for new and untested solutions. Oscar gathers his team and tells them that they are going to find a way to complete the project; that he has confidence in the team’s ability to think in unconventional ways and come up with ideas that no one else has thought of. When a team member offers up a theory of what can be tried, Oscar immediately looks for ways to encourage the team member and asks for suggestions on how to make the idea work. While the positive, “can do” attitude cannot guarantee success, there is certainly a much greater probability that Oscar and his team will find a way to make things work and complete the project

Great leaders create a vision of success and paint that vision so vividly that their followers cannot help but see it and strive toward its fulfillment. Their belief in the ability of their team is highly contagious and their optimism infects all who follow them. Great leaders do not see the failure of others as predictors of their own outcomes; rather, they see opportunities to succeed in the face of obstacles where others have seen only the excuses for failure. Great leaders choose to work for success rather than opting to accept failure.

How do you choose to lead?

Tom Hoisington is a speaker, trainer, and author whose goal is to provide leaders and potential leaders with tools that empower them to build teams that are creative and cost effective along with a clearer understanding of how personality types interact within those teams. He can be contacted at tom.hoisington@eagleoneresources.com

Is Integrity Really That Important?

Not long ago, I overheard a disagreement between an employee and the owner of a company. The basic gist of the dispute was that the owner had directed the employee to take actions that the employee felt were both deceptive and dishonest. The owner of the company brought the disagreement to a close when he said, “Sometimes you take integrity to an extreme!”

Later, I found myself wondering, how can integrity be taken to an extreme? Isn’t integrity a bit like being dead or alive? One is either dead or one is alive. There is no real middle ground. Isn’t integrity something that a person either has or does not have?

Great leaders recognize that cutting corners in matters of right and wrong can quickly become a slippery slope. Once it becomes acceptable to tell a small lie, it becomes acceptable to tell the big lie if it means getting the deal done, making the sale, acquiring the customer. The problem, of course, is that one lie leads to another; and, when the deal doesn’t live up to the promise, the product doesn’t deliver what was promised, the customer loses faith not only in the person who told the lies but also faith in the firm that the person represents.

Great leaders who are employers and managers also know that integrity is paramount when leading their followers, their employees. They know that promises made must become promises kept if they are to retain credibility with their followers. Once promises are broken, future assurances become meaningless. Employees who know that their bosses don’t keep promises have no reason to believe that the promised incentive will actually be delivered. The boss never understands why the worker fails to make the extra effort to earn the promised reward; never realizes that his or her own past failures to honor commitments have forever destroyed the employee’s willingness to make the extra effort. The employee has learned to see the promised reward is just another false pretext to get more work, more production. The employee knows (perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly) that the reward will never be received; the bonus will never be paid; the extra vacation time will never be approved.

If we are to be great leaders, we must begin by recognizing that integrity really is that important. Without it, are we even worthy of the title “leader”?

The Easy Way Out = The Road to Failure

Sometimes things jump out at you when you aren’t even looking for them. Case in point – I was searching on-line for information regarding banking relationships when a pop-up appeared that included a statement from President Theodore Roosevelt to the effect that there were only five things that would destroy this country; prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living, and a get rich quick attitude toward life. As I examined these five attitudes, I realized that each one indicated a person who was looking for the easy way rather than the right way.

Great leaders know that survival as an individual and as a nation is often dependent on foregoing the easy way and deliberately choosing to take the more difficult path. Great leaders recognize that doing the right thing is not easy; that standing up for core values and beliefs is not easy; that demanding integrity from yourself and those you lead is not easy. More importantly, great leaders inspire those around them to choose the more difficult path to success because it is not only the right thing to do, it also builds long-term relationships that benefit all concerned.

As people who aspire to be great leaders, each of us accepts the responsibility that great leadership carries; to do what is right and to inspire those who follow our lead to do likewise. A living example is far stronger and much more memorable than a well spoken lecture. Choose to do what is right; know the values and beliefs that you will not compromise; recognize and perform your duties; live in a manner that clearly demonstrates your integrity and your honor so that no one will ever question your motives. Be an example that others choose to follow and aspire to become.

Who Is the Most Important Person You’ll Ever Meet?

Several years ago, I attended the funeral for a friend named Scott whose father had been my first agency manager. Many of us who were at the service had worked with Scott when he was an agent in his father’s agency. As is wont to happen at the wake after the memorial service, a group of us were standing and talking about “the old days” when we had all been newly minted agents in Ray’s office.

A young man I did not know walked up to the group and waited patiently for a break in the conversation. When it came, he introduced himself and said, “Everyone tells me that my grandfather was the best that ever was at what he did. Since you all worked for him, I was hoping you could tell me, what was it that made him the best at what he did?”

After a few moments of quiet contemplation, each of us offered our views. When all opinions had been voiced, the young man summed it up in one sentence. “My grandfather made each of you feel like you were the most important person in the entire world.” There it was in the proverbial nutshell!

No matter who Ray was with, he made that person believe that no one, no thing, could ever be more important than he or she was at that moment. Ray gave you his undivided attention. His focus was entirely on you.

Great leaders know that every person has a genuine need to feel important; needs to know that what they say and what they do is important; and, that the leader recognizes, respects, and appreciates their contributions.  If we are to be great leaders, we should take a moment to look in the mirror and carefully examine how we treat others. Do we treat them as the important people they are; or, do we pay lip service to their unique abilities and lose their respect and their loyalty?

Who is the most important person you’ll ever meet? I would suggest that it’s the person you are with at the moment and that they deserve to be treated accordingly.