Tag Archives: effectiveness

Success vs. Significance

8 Sep

Ask most people what they are striving for and you hear things that relate to having a successful life.  How people define success, though, may be colored by what I call, “celebrity success” or what people think success is, as it’s defined by material possessions, often associated with celebrities.

I just received my new issue of SUCCESS magazine and Darren Hardy, the editor, presented this topic.  He discusses the difference between success and significance.  He defines a successful person as someone who has achieved five pillars of excellence:

  1. Business
  2. Well-being
  3. Relationships
  4. Wealth
  5. Contribution  

He defines significance as the positive and lasting impact on people, be they friends, family, neighbors, countrymen or even humankind.  Interestingly, a person can be successful and not significant, but they cannot be significant without being successful.  I find this fascinating!

I’ve known quite a few people who have had success complete with great lifestyles: beautiful homes, fancy cars, incredible trips, the latest electronics, etc.  In some cases, the success the world sees doesn’t always reflect what’s happening behind the beautiful front doors.  The lasting contributions, the reaching out and helping others, the relationships with people versus business haven’t been a priority.  When there’s an emphasis on “getting” and less on “giving” the success isn’t sustainable.

The lesson I took from the article is one that has me asking, What am I doing that provides lasting impact on others?”  I choose my work on the value it adds for my clients, not allowing the potential fee be the driving factor.  I put energy into the relationships in my life (family, friends, colleagues, and clients) and that pillar contributes to my success in the other four pillars.  I work on answering that question every day.

What does success mean to you? How does significance play a role in your life?  Are you putting emphasis on “getting” or “giving”?  Success alone is hollow.  Now may be a time to re-evaluate your definitions and pursue significance.  See what happens!


Let Your Superstar Emerge

19 Jul

Our professional growth is like a blob of clay that forms over the course of our life.  Like all masterpieces, the clay takes on different forms.  The difference, of course, is that the sculptor may be many people and, ultimately, we are the sculptor who determines what the final product looks like.  Where are you in the development of your masterpiece?   Is a superstar close to emerging or is your clay not much different than when it was first forming?

I’ve dedicated my life to being a learning professional and along the way I’ve acquired the passion for being a professional learner.  Each day offers a different twist on what I’ve learned or how I choose to apply it.  I’d like to think that my clay has the basics and now the refining and minute details are creating a shape that’s moving toward that masterpiece, at least for me.

How do we mold our clay to create a masterpiece that makes a difference and leaves a legacy?  There are a number of tools and situations that help us along the way:

  • Identifying the values that drive us and influence us.  Early in my career I took a values assessment and a key value in my life (then and now) was freedom.  I have refined this piece of clay in how I’ve approached work, knowing the type of organization and leaders I need to work for/with and what I need in order to grow.  When there has been opportunity to have freedom in my work, I have made the largest gains in my development and for the organization’s success.  Knowing what is fundamental to us is an essential first step.
  • Creating a circle of influence.   When you know the values that are important to you, you attract people who help expand your boundaries.  Think about the discussions you’ve had that challenged pre-conceived ideas – this is helping you refine who you are.  Surrounding ourselves with people and opportunities that help us grow compounds our success.
  • Taking action.  It’s great to have self-awareness and an inspiring group of people to mentor and guide us and it’s quite another thing to do something that helps us to be better people.  Learning and applying what we learn go hand-in-hand.  Unless we “just do it” as Nike implores us, our potential is just that, potential.  It doesn’t have to be grand action – that’s what stops a lot of people from starting – it just has to be action.  Make a plan and then commit to doing one thing to advance on the plan.  Then do the next thing.  Then the next…
  • Getting feedback.  The world gives us checks and balances and feedback is one of the checks.  Ask others for feedback on what’s going well and then ask for feedback on what you could do differently.  Keep doing what’s working and make adjustments as needed.  Involve your circle of influence – they want what’s best for you.  Be generous in how you return feedback and receptive in how you accept it.

Where are you in your emerging masterpiece?  Your superstar is there and with a little refinement, you’re on your way.  What’s one action you can take right now that will refine your masterpiece?

#performance #learning  #growth

A Communication Slap in the Face

12 Jul

Have you ever had the same message hit you from a few different directions and not notice until it almost stands up in your face and slaps you, a la Cher in Moonstruck?  I’ve even wanted to say to myself, “What’s the matter with you?!”  I’ve recently experienced this and thought I’d share my insights.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working with different groups on their communication.  We’ve discussed the different types of communicators, the best ways to meet other’s needs with our communication, the barriers of our own communication style, and how to be more effective in our communication.  At the same time, I’ve experienced different people approaching me and have dealt with the challenges of communication that isn’t getting me the results I desire.

Today, I experienced, once again, someone reinforcing the best ways to communicate with others (similar to the same messages I’ve been delivering to the groups I’ve been working with) in a session I attended for best business practices.  Hmmmmm!  My wake-up call has occurred.

The very simple lessons that have metaphorically slapped me are a great reminder to what communication is all about:

  • Pay attention to what is being said – both verbally and in action
  • Respect other’s point of view – even when there’s no agreement
  • Provide acknowledgment that  the message has been heard– with words and body language
  • Clarify the action that needs to be taken – define who’s doing what
  • Show appreciation for their contribution – a simple “thank you” goes a long way

Moving forward, my promise to myself is to hear the message sooner and make sure I’m practicing good communication in every interaction.  What messages are calling out to you?  What can you do to make sure each person you interact with feels heard?  Thanks for listening!

Influence and Personal Branding

17 May

What are you doing to be memorable?  If you’re not that memorable, what does that say about your brand?  Your brand is your calling card to success and it affects your ability to influence others.  Are you doing what you want to do as a leader?  Let’s look at simple steps to create a personal brand that gets results.

Successfully working with others requires you to connect quickly.  Your presence (how you come across) and what you say helps you sell an idea, get agreement to move forward on a project, build team support, or change directions on an initiative.  Having a branding strategy is key to successful influencing.  Let’s look at four key components to put your strategy together:

1.       Make a great first impression. 

  • Your presence includes how you put yourself together, the degree of confidence that comes through, and what you say.  I’m not saying you have to wear designer duds and spend a fortune on your appearance, I am saying you need to come across polished and put together.
  • A person who stands tall, has a solid handshake and looks people in the eyes is a confident person.  Confidence equals credibility.  When I say confidence, I don’t mean cockiness – know the difference.
  • Communicate what you do and what you have to offer that matters to the other person.  Your brand is how you help others.  Make sure you have a clear statement that lets people know what you are about.  When people know this, you are able to build your influence.

2.       Be a partner.

  • Know what’s important to others and look for ways that you can help them.  Inform yourself on their hot buttons and make connections for them.
  • Put yourself in their shoes to figure out where they need help.

3.       Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

  • Learn how people want you to communicate with them.  Do they like to get down to business and take care of things quickly or do they want to spend time getting to know you and build a partnership?  Do they want to brainstorm ideas and think of creative approaches to problems or do they need to have all the details to make sure they have all bases covered? You don’t have to be all things to everyone.  Make it easy on yourself and communicate how people want you to communicate.
  • Giving and receiving feedback is a huge part of communication.  Be open and receptive to what people say and leave the defensiveness behind.  When you give feedback, connect what they’ve done with an impact and suggestions from both of you.

4.       Look to the future.

  • Anticipate changes and what that means to your relationship.  Be prepared so you can offer insights and suggestions.
  • Identify ways to enhance your partnership.  When you give more than you receive, your relationships grow.

Practicing these four steps will create and sustain a personal brand that others will respect.  Confidence, partnership, communication, and anticipation are foundations to a memorable brand.  Look at what your brand is saying and how you can enhance your ability to influence with a simple branding strategy.

The Top 7 Leadership Pitfalls That Can Derail You

9 May

     Now is the time to shine as a leader AND now is the time where you have the opportunities to do so.  We’ve been dealing with some tough times and organizations need people to step up like never before.

The Kentucky Derby was last Saturday and I find it fascinating to watch the course strategy.  The winner, as has happened in numbers of races in the past, made his move in the final quarter.  He stayed in the pack and then came up the middle when there was an opening and surged ahead to win by two lengths.  There are similarities to the role of leaders and organizational success.  It’s in times like right now that savvy people make their move.  New leaders emerge and smart leaders hone their skills to position themselves for better roles.

I’ve written about how important it is to know yourself: know your strengths, development areas, triggers, and abilities.  Knowing yourself is also evaluating your course and knowing what you need to do to emerge as a leader for the future.  Knowing what can get you in trouble as a leader and how to avoid the pitfalls is a part of that.  Its easy to get derailed with common and easy-to-do pitfalls.  Keeping an eye out for them is the first step to avoiding them.

Let’s look at the pitfalls.  Here’s a quick list:

  1. Letting your pride get in the way.  When you think you have things wired and don’t have contingency plans or fail to listen to what others are saying or recommending, you are setting yourself up for a big fall.
  2. Failing to recognize and appreciate others.  No one does it alone and letting people know that you value their contribution and ideas builds commitment.
  3. Spending little time on developing leaders, not followers.  Followers do as they are instructed.  Leaders build their skills, bring their ideas, and add to your vision.  When you develop leaders, you build for the future and you compound your effectiveness.
  4. Lacking authenticity.  Leaders who say one thing and do another undermine trust.  “Walking the talk” is essential to building trust.  Effective leaders never ask their teams to do something they wouldn’t do.  They are transparent in their communication and demonstrate consistency in their actions.
  5. Micromanaging.  The job of a leader is to lay out the direction, to define the “WHAT,” and then to let their teams determine the “HOW.”  When leaders specify the “HOW” they limit creativity and potential and, most importantly, commitment.
  6. Focusing on the poor performers.  Do you need to address poor performance?  Of course.  Do you need to spend more than 20% of your time on poor performers?  No.  Paying attention to the bottom 10% at the exclusion of your higher performers brings all performance down.  What you give attention to is what you’ll see more of.  Address the poor performers, give them a plan, and give them a time line.  Then focus most of your time on how you can help your higher performers use their talents.
  7. Doing the work yourself because you’re faster and do it better.  Developing others is a fundamental skill leaders must have.  Sure, doing work yourself may get it done faster…now.  What happens later when you have other things you must do and you haven’t developed your team’s skills?  Give a fish, teach to fish – it’s the same thing.  Allow for mistakes and don’t put pressure on deadlines when you know people have to learn.  You’ll be so much better off in the future.

What are you doing to plan your move?  Take a look at your effectiveness and identify one action you can take that will help you emerge as a leader to be reckoned with.