Category Archives: Book Review

Getting Off to a Fast Start – Guest Post by Mark Miller

Mark Miller is an accomplished leadership author whose day job is as puts it “selling chicken.”

As Vice President of High Performance Leadership for Chick-Fil-A, Mark knows what it tskes to make and duplicate leaders throughout a large organization. he has a passion for developing and teaching, and his new book that released earlier this year, Leaders Made Here, continnues on that path to leadeship development that Mark started many years ago. We appreciate his sharing his wisdom and insight with us today.

Originally published on GreatLeadersServe.com

Leaders face obstacles daily, and often, we may not even think much about it. Challenges are just part of what we do. But what about a new leader, what issues does he or she face? What mistakes do you see new leaders make that could be avoided?

 

The following issues are often contributing factors when you see a new leader have a false start…

 

No vision – Leadership always begins with a picture of the future. People expect their leaders to have a destination in mind. Our followers have many questions for us even if we are new… “What are we trying to accomplish? What are we trying to become? Why does it matter?” As soon as possible, begin to paint a picture of the future. A partially formed vision is better than no vision at all.

 

Too few questions – The majority of leaders, new and seasoned, ask too few questions. This is extremely dangerous for the new leader. He or she may make countless bad assumptions that could be avoided with some carefully crafted questions: What are the biggest opportunities around here? What’s your favorite, and least favorite, thing about working here? Etc. 

 

Insufficient context – The likelihood of this being a major issue for the new leader is in direct proportion to the number of questions he/she asks. What you don’t know can hurt you. Lack of context can make a leader look incompetent and out of touch. As a new leader, you are trying to build credibility and trust. You don’t have any chips to burn.

 

Moving too fast – or too slow – This one is tricky. Every situation is different. And, every situation demands its own pace. If you move too fast, the odds of a disaster escalate. When you move too quickly, you are at risk of missing the context and making bad decisions. The flip side – if you move too slowly, many will question your courage, competence and your leadership. Trust your instincts and remember… Progress is always preceded by change.

 

Trying to make everyone happy – This is a curse every leader must face and defeat. If you are a new leader, you are probably hypersensitive on this issue. You really do want people to like you – most human beings share a degree of this sentiment. However, leaders know to succumb to this desire dooms your leadership from the beginning. Your goal is not to make people angry – it is to lead with all diligence. If you work to make everyone happy, you’ll work yourself out of a job.

If you are a new leader, congratulations! Get ready for a fast start. 

 

What mistakes do you see new leaders make?

Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

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Guest Post by Dr. Larry Senn – The Movie In Our Minds

Today’s post is authored by Dr. Larry Senn, a well-known consultant and whose latest book The Mood Elevator takes a personal application towards leadership. In it, Dr. Senn defines the various moods we encounter and how those moods interact within ourselves as we interact with others.

Senn shares with us today how our minds play that key role in shaping our moods, our interactions, and our influence.

 

Whether we realize it or not, all day every day, we have a movie/dialogue going on inside of our heads. No, we’re not crazy, we just have a narrator inside of our heads helping us make sense of the world as we encounter it.

In his book, Untethered Soul, author Michael Singer describes a typical example of a conversation we might have in our head before going to sleep.

“What am I doing? I can’t go to sleep yet. I forgot to call Fred. I remembered in the car but I didn’t call. If I don’t call now…oh wait it’s too late. I shouldn’t call him now. I don’t even know why I thought about it. I need to fall asleep. Oh shoot, now I can’t fall asleep. I’m not tired anymore. But I have a big day tomorrow, and I have to get up early.”

Sound familiar? This voice is constant and constantly fills our heads with stories, stories that many times are far from the reality of the situation. This movie we create in our head is how we can plummet from the top of the Mood Elevator to the bottom, when absolutely nothing in our outside world has changed.

 

Look at the story of Deborah from the book, The Mood Elevator. Awhile back Senn-Delaney hired a new consultant named Deborah. Shortly after Deb was hired, I invited her on a sales call with me at a major utility company close to where she lived. I thought it would be good to give her a chance to hear how we presented ourselves to a prospective client, and it might yield some work with her in her hometown. I didn’t think much of it, but a few months later, Deb told me how this very innocent invitation sent her into a horror movie in her head.

A sales call with the chairman of my new company?! But I’m so new. I’m just getting to know Senn Delaney. What if I perform badly? I’m not a salesperson; I’m a consultant. What if I say something stupid? I could get fired! That would look awful on my résumé. I took a risk leaving my long-time employer, and I can’t go back now. What if I can’t get another job? My oldest child won’t be able to start college. I could lose my house.

Nothing about Deb’s life had changed, yet she was already envisioning herself losing her house. It’s important to note that the feelings resulting from the horror movies in our heads are as strong as if the reality were true. Deb felt as frightened from the movie in her head as if she actually did lose her job. These movies have a very powerful effect on our moods and where we are on the Mood Elevator. In reality, the meeting went quite differently than Deb’s movie predicted. The three of us hit it off very well, we got the client and Deb had some work in her hometown to launch her career with us.

Deb’s story is far from unique, we all do this on a very regular basis. We get mad at someone in our minds, picture how we’re going to confront that person, and then find out they didn’t even do it. Or we picture in our minds how we’re going to fail at a project and then it goes extremely well. Regardless of the movie we’re playing in our mind – the important thing is to have an awareness that what is going on inside our head isn’t necessarily reality. Even more importantly, when the movie in our head is a scary one, our thinking is typically faulty and unreliable so by all means we must mistrust our thinking and not act until the movie is over, until we have our bearings back.

Think about when you’re watching a real movie. You sit in the darkened theater, caught up in the drama and the suspense; the music is playing, and the special effects are making your adrenaline flow. But consciously you know it’s just a movie. You know that if it gets too scary, you can go buy popcorn. When you learn to treat your mental movies like real movies, your thinking will have less power over you and as a result you can spend more time up the Mood Elevator.

*******************

About Dr. Larry Senn

Dr. Larry Senn pioneered the field of corporate culture and founded in 1978, Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles. A sought-after speaker, Senn has authored or co-authored several books, including two best-sellers. His newest is The Mood Elevator (August 2017), the follow up to his 2012 book, Up the Mood Elevator. You can learn more about Larry and his work at his website, www.themoodelevator.com.

(images: themoodelevator.com)

Growing Pains – Guest Post By Art Barter

The pigs are running the farm. So begins the story of Farmer Able. Everyone on his farm — people and animals alike — are downright downtrodden by him. He’s overbearing and compulsively obsessed with profits and productivity. He’s a typical top-down, power-based manager, forever tallying production numbers in his well-worn ledgers. But the more he pushes the hoofs and horns and humans, the more they dig in their heels. That is until one day when he hears a mysterious wind that whispers: “It’s not all about me.” Can he turn things around and begin attending to the needs of those on his farm, thus improving their attitudes and productivity?

The following is an excerpt from chapter 18 of Farmer Able by Art Barter. Art’s been widely known as a tremendous pioneer in transforming culture and leadership into servant-led organizations. We ‘re happy to have Art contribute this post from his book that launched earlier this year.

GROWING PAINS

Despite this setback, Farmer Able still believed his newfound approach would be quickly embraced and adopted. But change isn’t easy. The ripple of discontent had already started with Foreman Ryder. Over the next few days, that creek persisted to rise.

“Me and Ernie can only plant what’s been plowed and disked,” Ryder said to Farmer Able when he came in from the field. The arrangement all spring had been one plowed the field, one disked it and one planted it. But now Farmer Able was off on what Ryder referred to as “a hare-brained goose chase.” (Ernie heard the mixed metaphor in this, but wisely chose not to point it out to Ryder.)

In Ryder’s mind, the readying and planting were falling behind. He had berated Ernie to stay on top of things, micromanaging every moment of his time. But there was only so much back-and-forth in the fields, in any one man, on any given day—and Ryder knew it.

“We’re already working sun up to sun down,” Ryder complained to Farmer Able. “At this rate, there’s acreage not going to get planted in time. And the crops won’t be mature before the autumn frost. You do the math.”

Farmer Able had to smile at this expression: You do the math. He realized that in the past several weeks since the wind and ants had showed up, he hadn’t pulled out his little numbers book in his overalls nor had he penciled in any figures in his office ledger.

Confident he was on the right course, he told Ryder, “You don’t need to stress over this. The numbers will take care of themselves. I think what we’re doing here will pay off.” Farmer Able tried to explain his new purpose. “When you help something else grow, everything grows, including yourself. We’re talking about the greatest good for all.”

“So now the cows and horses are running things?” Ryder groused.

One could almost see the steam coming out the ears of the git-’er-done foreman. He was certainly of no mind to attend to the needs of the hoofs and horns beneath him. After all, they were animals—simply objects to be manhandled.

And though he’d never admit it, that same authoritative mindset extended to the one above him as well. He liked to think he was actually in charge of the one who was in charge of him. He knew how to accomplish all these tasks better than the boss!

But now Ryder had a real problem, because what the boss was asking for wasn’t a task at all. No, this method was a mindset. Farmer Able was simply encouraging Ryder to keep up his good work and the farmer would continue his.

As Ryder watched the farmer clean up the barns and take a hankering to the animals’ wellbeing, he came to despise the beasts even more. For him it came down to “deserving” a thing, and those animals hadn’t “deserved” anything—especially given their falling production numbers, which Ryder was well aware of.

This stuck in his craw, because Ryder had quite the elevated sense of fairness. Never mind that he didn’t see things hypocritical in his own behavior. No, his own shortcomings were easily swept under the rug. Justified and excused—such was the Ryder high court ruling regarding himself—but woe to another if his twisted sense of right was breeched. As far as he saw things, everybody and everything never quite met his standards—leastways the lowly beasts.

With Farmer Able’s newfangled approach, Ryder actually became even more entrenched. In light of the kindness the farmer was showing the animals, Ryder actually ratcheted up his tyranny. He was determined to power through. They “deserved” a swift kick, an extra tug, a yank away from the water trough even when they weren’t done drinking.

The conclusion that infused the herd was simply this: Farmer Able is to blame. One would have to backtrack just a little to understand the cow logic operating here. The herd was already suspicious of Farmer Able’s newfound niceness. They were all just waiting for the other hoof to drop. (A cow, being a quadruped, imagines not just one more hoof could drop, but an additional three. This certainly makes clear the breadth of cow cynicism.)

And drop it did, in the form of Ryder unloading on them. But did these bodacious bovines place the proper blame on Ryder? No. They considered themselves keener than this. They attributed the fault to Farmer Able. They didn’t trust all these changes.

Some of the cows were more certain than ever that having the shed back with its “deep warmth” would be far better. Harry the horse, after getting stung by an especially hard whack from Ryder, cynically concluded that Farmer Able had trimmed his hoofs to get more work out of him. Yes, he could see the true motivation. That kindness was all horse feathers indeed.

The chorus of woe actually grew in spite of Farmer Able’s new approach. Oh, how they longed for “the good old days.”

*****

Art Barter believes everyone can be great, because everyone can serve. To teach about the power of servant leadership, Art started in his own backyard by rebuilding the culture of the manufacturing company he bought, Datron World Communications.  Art took Datron’s traditional power-led model and turned it upside down and the result was the international radio manufacturer grew from a $10 million company to a $200 million company in six years. Fueled by his passion for servant leadership, Art created the Servant Leadership Institute (SLI).

To learn more about Art and his new Servant Leadership Journal, as well as his book on servant leadership, Farmer Able: A Fable About Servant Leadership Transforming Organizations And People From The Inside Out, endorsed by Stephen M.R. Covey, Ken Blanchard , and John C. Maxwell , visit www.servantleadershipinstitute.com .

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