Tag Archives: leadership

The Woman Behind Thanksgiving Day

The Woman Behind Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day has always been my favorite holiday, a special day of being thankful for my family and friends and the love we share, celebrated by a great feast.  When I was a boy, we always celebrated Thanksgiving Day with my mom’s side of the family.  Mom was one of ten children born to Georgia and Randel Gholson.  They lived on a farm and when the Gholson Family met at their home on Thanksgiving Day, that meant over 40 people in attendance, mostly made up of my cousins.  We had great times running through the woods and playing in the barn on their farm.  Once Grandpa passed away and Grandma moved into town, we held the feast at our house.  Behind our house was a park where we always played football before the big feast.  There are many memories of chaos, camaraderie and home cooked cuisine, along with all the love that made it happen.

sarah_hale_portrait

New York was the first of several states that made Thanksgiving Day an official holiday.  Of the states that celebrated Thanksgiving, they all celebrated on a different day. Many states, particularly those in the South, were oblivious to this emerging tradition and holiday.  That was, until Sarah Josepha Hale, (you probably know her most famous work as an author, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”), provided leadership and launched a campaign in 1827 to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday.  Talk about a woman with patience!  It took her 36 years, during which time she published magazine articles and editorials along with countless letters to governors senators, presidents and other politicians.  Finally, in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln signed a proclamation for all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”  The last Thursday of November was established as Thanksgiving Day until 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales.  Yes, even back then, holiday commercialization was an issue.  President Roosevelt’s plan became known as Franksgiving, a label dedicated to the divisiveness of this issue.  In 1941, he reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving Day the fourth Thursday of November,

If it were not for the perseverance and leadership of Sarah Josepha Hale, and her 36-year campaign to make Thanksgiving Day a national holiday, who know how things would have turned out.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for my family, my friends, my memories of Thanksgiving Days of the past, and, for Sarah Josepha Hale.  And I’m thankful to you for reading this!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

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Bedside Manner Leadership

Bedside Manner Leadership

Bedside Manner Leadership

Bedside Manner Leadership

Anyone who has worked in healthcare for a period of time knows that some physicians have a fantastic bedside manner and other physicians can have terrible bedside manner.  The incredible phenomenon that results is that a physician with great bedside manner can have a great reputation even if their skills as a physician may be limited.  The opposite of that is also true; a physician with poor bedside manner and a superb skill set can have a terrible reputation.  The goal of course it to excel at both, great bedside manner and great skill set.  Doctors who are both are considered gifted.

bedside-manner-2The same holds true for leaders.  Gifted leaders use both their heart and their head.  Leaders need the intellectual capacity to handle the challenges they face, but intellect alone does not make an effective leader.  Effective leaders walk the talk.  Effective leaders understand that leadership is about both what they do AND how they do it.

Authors Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, in their book Primal Leadership:  Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, describe a concept they refer to as the open loop.  The human brain is an open loop reliant on connections with others for our emotional stability.  In addition to our emotions, other people can actually change our physiology including sleep rhythm, cardiovascular function, hormone levels and even immune function.  Negative vibes from another lead to negative outcomes for group members while positive vibes lead to positive outcomes.

The authors site a study of 62 CEOs to make their point.  The CEOs and their management teams were assessed on how upbeat they were and the level of conflict routinely experienced within their group.  The researchers discovered that the more positive the moods of the people were in top management, the more cooperative they worked together and the better the company’s business results.  The longer a company was run by a top management team that were more negative and did not get along well with each other, the poorer the company’s business results.

How effective are you at walking the talk?  Are you leading with your heart and you head?  Even if you are not a physician, how’s your bedside manner?

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Leadership, Money & Happiness

Leadership, Money & Happiness

Leadership, Money & Happiness

Leadership, Money & Happiness

We’ve all heard the expression that money can’t buy your love.  I have a different take on that expression; money can’t buy you love, but neither can poverty.  I always thought that regardless of whether I was happy or sad, it was better to have a few of the comforts that money can provide.

I have witnessed first-hand individuals moving up the ladder, achieving higher and higher leadership roles.  Along with that came pay raises, therefor, more money.  While not everyone is this way, I have seen some try to use that money to bring them happiness.  One individual confided in me, right after he purchased a very expensive sports car, he thought it was pretty cool the first week or two, but in less than a month he was thinking about how he had wasted his money.  The car wasn’t making him happy.

Leadership, Money & HappinessDaniel Gilbert, Ph.D., a Harvard psychology professor and author of numerous books, wrote a paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology where he claims that if money isn’t making you happy, you’re not spending it right.  “Money is an opportunity for happiness, but it is an opportunity that people routinely squander because the things they think will make them happy often don’t.”  The study concluded that there are ways money can be used to boost well-being and life satisfaction.  First, money is best spent on experiences instead of material things.  Second, those who spend money on others experience greater happiness then spending on themselves.  Finally, spending money on numerous small pleasures increases happiness more than splurging on a few large ones.

Money can’t buy you love, but neither can poverty.  Money can boost happiness if used in a happiness boosting way.  This is important for leaders to know for themselves, but even more importantly, how they can pass this lesson along to others so they can buy a happiness boost instead of squandering their money AND their happiness.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Claim Jumper

Claim Jumper

By the early 1850s, the California gold rush had attracted a less desirable crowd made up of crooks, bandits, gamblers and claim jumpers.  They were all there to take advantage of the wealth being discovered.  Laws were non-existent as California wasn’t a state yet.  When a prospector found gold, he was immediately surrounded by other prospectors.  Claim laws had to be established.  In some camps, a claim was only 10 square feet, with each person allowed one claim.  Claims offices were established to patrol mines and settle disputes.  Taking someone else’s claim, or “claim jumping,” was common, most often followed by violence.  Law and order was most often in the hands of the people.  No one appreciated one person staking a claim on land that wasn’t theirs.

ClaimJumper

When a person in a leadership position claims credit that she doesn’t deserve, that’s a modern form of claim jumping, and, just like the gold rush days, no one appreciates it.  On top of that, taking credit for someone else’s work means whoever deserved recognition isn’t getting it; a double whammy!

Sometimes it’s easy to determine if someone is taking credit for someone else’s work, and sometimes it isn’t.  Once I participated in a brain storming session to come up with a name for a new service.  I would have bet $1,000 that the name selected was my idea, but I wasn’t given credit for it, someone else was.  At a minimum, I know I contributed to the name selected and so did everyone else in the room.  Brainstorming by its nature builds on all the ideas thrown out and is a collaborative effort.

Just imagine what a team could accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit.  No one would be protective of “their” idea.  No one would withhold ideas.  Everyone would be aligned to achieve the team’s objective so that the team would get the credit.

Claiming credit not deserved is on Marshall Goldsmith’s list of habits that hold you back.  Marshall recommends that to stop being a credit hog, do the opposite, share the credit.  For one day, write down and keep a list of every time you congratulate yourself on an achievement regardless how big or small it is.  Once you have your list, look at everything on your list and ask yourself, is there any possible way that someone else might deserve the credit for “your” achievement.  Ask yourself this question as you go through your list:  If any of the other people involved in this were looking at this same list, would they give you as much credit as you are claiming for yourself?  Would they give credit to someone else?  The most effective leaders aren’t claim jumpers.

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