Category Archives: blog

Super Monkey Ball

Game On!

Game On!

Oh the games people play now, every night and every day now, never meaning what they say now, never saying what they mean.  While they wile away the hours, in their ivory towers, till they’re covered up with flowers, in the back of a black limousine.

These were the lyrics of a popular song sang by Joe South in my youth.  I never really drilled down on the message of this song, but got the gist of it; people play games in life which isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Or is it?

When I was the Regional Sales Director at U.S. Surgical, I had the pleasure of meeting a young surgeon by the name of James “Butch” Rosser.  You know he is a character if he is a surgeon and goes by the name “Butch.”  Butch grew up watching television shows like Star Trek and Ben Casey, and later discovered Pong and the world of video games.  He didn’t realize it at the time, but he was preparing himself to become a surgeon.  So much so, he conducted a study.

Super Monkey BallWhat Butch found was that if a surgeon warms up on certain video games for a minimum of six minutes prior to surgery, fewer errors and greater surgical efficiency result.  Eliminating medical errors in surgery is a tremendous contribution to healthcare and great surgical efficiency has many benefits both clinical and financial.  As a result of his research, Butch created the world’s first video-game warm-up suite for surgeons to use prior to laparoscopic surgery.

As Butch has taught us with his research, games can make a great contribution to mankind.  Singer Joe South reminds us that games can also be devastating to mankind.  So what kind of games are you playing?  Are you using games to help you be a more effective leader?

Games People Play by Joe South

Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean

While they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
Till they’re covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine

La-da da da da da da da
La-da da da da da de
Talking ’bout you and me
And the games people play

Oh we make one another cry
Break a heart then we say goodbye
Cross our hearts and we hope to die
That the other was to blame

But neither one ever will give in
So we gaze at an eight by ten
Thinking ’bout the things that might have been
and It’s a dirty rotten shame

La-da da da da da da da
La-da da da da da de
Talking ’bout you and me
And the games people play

People walking up to you
Singing glory hallelujah
And they try to sock it to you
In the name of the Lord

They’re gonna teach you how to meditate
Read your horoscope, cheat your fate
And further more to hell with hate
Come on and get on board

La-da da da da da da da
La-da da da da da de
Talking ’bout you and me
And the games people play

Look around tell me what you see
What’s happening to you and me
God grant me the serenity
To remember who I am

Cause you’ve given up your sanity
For your pride and your vanity
Turned your back on humanity
And you don’t give a da da da da da

La-da da da da da da da
La-da da da da da de
Talking ’bout you and me
And the games people play

Continue Reading

Coloring Outside the Lines

Coloring Outside the Lines

I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was in kindergarten.  Mrs. Carlton, our teacher, gave us an assignment.  She gave us a piece of paper with two columns of rectangular boxes.  Inside each box were drawings of 6 objects, three objects on the left side of the box, the other three objects on the right side of the box.  The objects were simple line drawings, things like a beach ball, a dog, a doll, a truck, etc.  The objects on the left were the same as the objects on the right, the only difference being the order they were in.  Many of the objects appeared in more than one box.  Mrs. Carlton’s instructions were to draw a line to connect objects that were the same.  That is exactly what I did.  I was very angry when I received my paper back with a “U” for a score (Unsatisfactory)!  I hadn’t let the boarders of each box deter me, I drew a line that connected every beach ball, every truck, every dog on the entire page.  I followed Mrs. Carlton’s instructions, but I had gone outside the lines, which Mrs. Carlton didn’t like.  I am still ticked off about that!

Coloring Books

I was reminded of that experience when I walked by a book store at the airport and saw a display of coloring books for adults.  As you can see, I took a picture of the display. I had recently read about how psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala recommends the act of coloring in a coloring book as a means to ease stress.  Dr. Ayala claims that the act of coloring and choosing the color of crayon or pencils you want to use engages your creativity and your fine motor skills.  In addition, it distracts the part of the brain that invokes worry and stress, as well as takes us back in time to our childhood, an emotional boost.

I’m not sure if coloring is essential for effective leadership, but it might be worth trying.  If you do, I would encourage you to color outside the lines at least part of the time.

Continue Reading

The “E” Word

The “E” Word

A few years ago I completed a personality profile.  Among other things, the profile measured empathy.  When I received the results, I was very pleased.  I scored very high on “sense of urgency,” “goal achievement,” “self-management,” and “analytical thinking,” and okay on empathy.  I showed the results to my wife and she immediately (and emphatically) shouted, “I knew it!  You lack empathy!”  I had difficulty seeing the results the same way she did.

empathy

Empathy may not be the first trait that comes to mind when you think about effective leadership, but it is important.  Seeing issues from another’s perspective enhances collaboration, communication, builds relationships and helps you be a more effective leader.

When it comes to building relationships, Gail Gross, Ph.D., has developed a five step empathy process leaders can use to improve relationships while working out differences:

  1. When attempting to work out differences, meet in a neutral location. Do not meet in the office of either person involved because that gives that person position power.
  2. Before you start talking, set the ground rules, prohibiting hurtful language and personal attacks.
  3. Divide the discussion time into thirds.
  4. During the first third of the time, one person talks while the other person actively listens. For the second third of the time, roles are reversed.
  5. During the last third of the time, both people work together to solve the problem. Agreement isn’t necessary, but collaboration for a mutually agreeable outcome that brings value to both parties is.

Utilizing this process with others will help them become more empathetic, and you just might learn something too.  Effective leaders are empathetic, or, like me, are working on improving their empathy skills.

Continue Reading

Building Integrity

Building Integrity

Last week I asked, do you have integrity?  To answer that question, I provided you with a list of six questions to help determine if you act with integrity.  This week, my focus is on ideas to build integrity.

integrity (1)

To accomplish that, I found a great resource.  Tony Simmons is the author of The Integrity Dividend:  Leading by the Power of Your Word.

Simmons recommends talking to the people around you to get honest feedback, what my friend Marshall Goldsmith would refer to as stakeholder centered feedback. You need to find out if you have the appropriate level of trust, and integrity drives trust.

Here are nine suggestions for building integrity:

  1. Fulfill your promises.
  2. Keep appointments.
  3. Before making a commitment, be absolutely positive you can deliver.
  4. Get comfortable saying no.
  5. Examine how you react in knee-jerk situations.
  6. Polish your communication skills.
  7. Consider the habits and skills you need to develop to enhance your integrity (i.e. speaking impulsively, courage over fear, apologizing, etc.)
  8. Take great care with the language you use, particularly when dealing with sensitive issues.
  9. Avoid people who lack integrity. Do not do business with them, do no associate with them, do not make excuses for them.

Effective leaders have integrity and are constantly building integrity.  Effective leaders model integrity for others.

Continue Reading

The Integrity Test

The Integrity Test

Do you have integrity?  It is one of top ingredients of effective leadership.  It means doing the right thing for the right reason regardless of the consequences.  Integrity and trust go hand-in-hand.  A high level of integrity yields a high level of trust and vice-versa.  Effective leaders have integrity and are constantly building their integrity as well as modeling it for others.

Integrity

Don Phin, Vice-President of Strategic Business Solutions at ThinkHR, a compliance and training solutions company, has developed a simple six question test to answer the question, do you act with integrity?  The six questions are:

  1. Am I willing to say what I am thinking?
  2. Am I willing to risk being wrong?
  3. Do I want my child or someone else I love do that? If not, then why am I doing it?
  4. Does this conduct make me a better person?
  5. Am I leading by example?
  6. Am I taking one-hundred percent responsibility?

How did you answer these questions?

Next week, I will provide some suggestions on how you might bolster your integrity.

Continue Reading

Words in Emails

Words in Emails

Survey after survey shows that leaders consider themselves excellent communicators.  Survey after survey shows that employees think leaders need to be better communicators.  That creates a problem because there is a definite link between effective leadership and effective communication.  There are many different communication channels, email being one of the more common.

email

I don’t know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with email.  It’s quick and easy, provides flexibility and convenience, and is readily accepted.  There are times when other channels of communication, like face-to-face communication or simply picking up the phone and placing a call, might work better, but email remains quite popular.  If you are like me, you have experienced a well written email (at least I thought it was well written) being totally misinterpreted.  Have you experienced that?

Those misinterpreted emails are why Gisela Hausman caught my attention with her book “Naked Words:  The Effective 157-Word Email.”  Hausman offers advice on effective email communication that everyone can use.  For example, an email needs to be short, but not too short, to allow recipients to quickly grasp the message.  Other tips Hausman offers include:

  • Enter your name above your signature line. That shows you took a little time to personalize your message.
  • End your email in a way that fits the message (Thanks! Thank you!  Hope this is helpful!  Let me know your thoughts. Etc.)
  • Take your time, particularly for important emails. Incubate on your response, re-read, see how you can improve your message.
  • Read your email aloud to yourself. Make it sound the same as if you were having a short in-person meeting.
  • Always use the recipient’s name in the greeting.

Effective leaders are effective communicators regardless of the communication channel being utilized.  Email communication is very prevalent today and writing effective email is a skill every leader needs.  Effective leaders are always evolving, always improving their communication skills.

Continue Reading

PTO

PTO

BuriedDeskHave you ever returned from vacation only to be greeted with a seemingly infinite number of messages and emails?  You come back refreshed and energized only to be buried alive in things to do?  I’ve even caught myself asking, was worth taking the time off?  The answer of course is yes, getting away from work and completely disconnecting is critical to being an effective leader.

In 2006, Ernst and Young conducted an internal study of its 50,000 employees and discovered that for each 10 hours of PTO taken, year-end performance review scores improved 8%.  In 2012, a Harris Interactive survey found that American workers left an average of 9.2 PTO days unused, which equals 73.6 hours.  Based on Ernst and Young’s study, that equates to a 59% improvement on a performance review score that is NOT being realized!

The recession has made an impact on people taking time off and disconnecting.  Many fear losing their jobs if they take too much time off or don’t make themselves available while they are off.  Fear may make that a reality, but research says otherwise.

Effective leaders take time off.  Effective leaders disconnect.  The most effective leaders make it possible for all the other members of the organization to take time off and completely disconnect.  Effective leaders make sure that no one in the organization has any unused PTO at the end of the year.

Continue Reading

Take a Break!

Take a Break!

sharpenaxeTwo guys are chopping wood with an axe.  One guy is going non-stop, determined to finish the job.  The other guy takes several breaks, taking a seat beneath a nearby shade tree, seemingly taking a nap at times.  At the end of the day, the guy chopping wood non-stop became very frustrated when he realized that the guy who took naps had chopped more wood.  When asked how he did it, nap-guy confessed that while it might have looked like he was napping, he was actually sharpening his axe.  Abraham Lincoln used to love telling this story to make a point, and the moral of this story is still meaningful today.  The truth is, to become more effective at anything, leadership included, you need to take breaks.

Anders Ericsson at Florida State University researched high-performing individuals and found that if you want to be a high-performer, you need to spend less time working on being one. Ericsson examined musicians, athletes and other high-performing individuals and found that those who excel at an elite level typically practice their craft uninterrupted no more than 90 minutes at a time. Elite producers begin in the morning, take a break, and rarely work more than 4 ½ hours.  Ericsson concluded that you must prioritize your most important work to the time of day when you have the most energy and monitor your energy level.

Another study tracked employee productivity and found that the top 10% of the most productive employees did NOT work more hours that other employees.  The most productive employees took 17 minute breaks for every 52 minutes worked.

So how does this research make a leader more effective?  If nothing else, it should encourage all leaders to take breaks throughout the day.  Being an effective leader doesn’t mean that you have to log more hours than anyone else.  Stop going pedal-to-the-metal from early to late.  Take breaks during the day.  During those breaks, sharpen your axe.  Get out from behind your desk and strike up some casual conversations with others in the organization.  Take a walk.  Clean the bathroom.  Visit a patient.  I’m sure there are lots of ideas you can think of, the key is to do what high-performing leaders do, take a break!

www.BillAuxier.com

Continue Reading

Believe and Achieve

Believe and Achieve

I think we’ve all heard the concept that if you believe it you can achieve it.  Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”  Have you ever tried to achieve a goal when you had doubts about your ability to achieve it?  I know I have!

marathon

The first time I ran a marathon, I knew that if I put the time and energy into to training for it, I could achieve my goal of finishing.  During the training process, there were times when I had my doubts.  Was I crazy for thinking I could run 26.2 miles?  During that training process, my confidence slowly grew, step-by-step, as did my conditioning and stamina, completing one long run after another, slowly adding mileage each week.  It was an incredible feeling as my confidence grew during this process to the point that I not only came to believe that I could run and finish a marathon, I knew I could run and finish a marathon.  I definitely prefer the believe and achieve mindset.

Carol Dwek, a psychologist at Stanford University, has quantified and tracked how beliefs shape outcomes.  Dwek identified two types of mindsets:  a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.  A person with a fixed mindset believes that they cannot change their abilities.  A person with a growth mindset believes they can grow and evolve to improve themselves.  In this study, a group of 373 students were followed from the beginning of the seventh grade thru the end of the eighth grade.  Students with a growth mindset experienced a rise in their grade point average while the fixed mindset students grade point average remained the same.  A different study looked at people taking IQ tests.  Those who read an article right before taking the test that stated that IQ scores are changeable (instead of being fixed based on genes) showed improved IQ scores.  Isn’t that remarkable?

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”  Effective leaders embrace a growth mindset, and more importantly, instill a growth mindset in others.

www.BillAuxier.com

Continue Reading

What Will Your Legacy Be?

What Will Your Legacy Be?

 

Leaders are not remembered for what they do for themselves, leaders are remembered for what they do for others.  The most effective leaders are more interested in the success of others than their own success.  The most important leader is not necessarily the person with the top position on the organizational chart, the most important leader is that individual you have the most interaction with, the person you turn to when you need advice, support or direction.  A leader’s legacy is the legacy of many, not the leader individually.

JimRohnLegendary motivator, the late Jim Rohn, talked about making a mark on the world and being remembered for making the world a better place.  Rohn developed and taught nine philosophies for leaving a legacy:

 

 

  1. Life is best lived in the service of others.
  2. Consider others’ interests as important as your own.
  3. Love your neighbor even if you don’t like him.
  4. Maintain integrity at all costs.
  5. To improve, you must take risks.
  6. You reap what you sow.
  7. Hard work is never a waste.
  8. Don’t give up.
  9. Keep going.

The more you embrace these philosophies, the more you mentor and coach others to embrace these philosophies, the more you will be known and remembered as an effective leader.

Continue Reading