Tag Archives: Bill Auxier

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.

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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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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you and yours have a great Thanksgiving!

Please enjoy these words of Thanksgiving from my hero, President Abraham Lincoln.

October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget thesource from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary in nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

 

In the midst of civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore is as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State

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When I was a Kid…

When I was a Kid…

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

You had a controlling mother, which explains why you freeze up around authority figures.  Your parents doted on you, that’s why you don’t concern yourself with the rules and do whatever you want.  Your parents never said you were good enough, that’s why you constantly seek approval.  Most psychologists contend that we can understand our current behavior by understanding our past.  Understanding the past can be an excellent tool, but if you want to evolve and change for the better, understanding the past may not help, it depends on how you deal with it.  The past cannot be changed.  You can.  Accept the past, learn from the past and move forward.

MischKid

Living in the past is something that many of us do, myself included.  The past lets us blame someone else for the stuff that goes wrong in our lives.  If you ever catch yourself starting a sentence with, “When I was a kid…” or “When I was first starting out in this business…” or “If my old boss would have caught you doing that…” you just might be guilty of living in the past and using that as a crutch to blame short comings on.

Some use this same technique as a subtle form of bragging.  “When I was a kid, we couldn’t afford a vacation, let alone going to Europe like we are.”  Using the past to highlight our success is just as annoying as using the past to blame our failure.

Don’t live in the past, learn from it to become a more effective leader.  Stop blaming others for choices you make that result in success or failure.

www.BillAuxier.com

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Sorry I’m Late, Traffic Was Terrible!

Sorry I’m Late, Traffic Was Terrible!

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

Have you ever been late to a meeting and blamed it on the traffic?  I sure have!  I’ve blamed my tardiness on the traffic, having the wrong time in my calendar, the wrong location, difficulty finding a parking place, I lost track of time, to name a few.  The fact is, I should have departed sooner, confirmed the time, confirmed the location, planned for parking, kept track of time, etc.  I should have been more diligent.  Blaming the situation or another person for my lack of performance tells the other person or persons that they weren’t important enough for me to have behaved in a more responsible, more professional manner.  Making excuses is hardly an effective leadership strategy.

TrafficJamThere are also those who blame their character defects when they screw up.  Their excuses sound like this:  I’m always late; I always put things off to the last minute; I’m terrible at time management.  These character flaws are used to excuse inexcusable behavior.

Direct reports and other organizational member do not utilize the quality of the excuse as a benchmark when evaluating leadership.  Making excuses diminishes leadership effectiveness.

When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and simply state “I’m sorry.”  That’s what effective leaders do.

www.BillAuxier.com

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Recognition

Recognition

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

I was excited to share what I had just learned with the leadership team.  Market intelligence can be difficult to come by; it can also be very valuable.  I had just learned that a major competitor had a major chink in the armor that just might open the door to a large account that had never acknowledged us.  I sent an email to everyone on the leadership team, summarizing all the details, proofreading it three times, even attaching a link to a press release for further support of the information I was sharing.  The CEO responded with at best a lukewarm response that the information might be a factor to consider.  One week later on a conference call, the CEO enthusiastically recited the exact same information that I had provided in my email, the only difference being that he credited the source as an individual from another company he had spoken with the day before.  I was not recognized nor acknowledged for providing any of the information.  Depriving proper recognition makes others feel forgotten, ignored, or pushed to the side.  Depriving recognition ignites the feeling of resent.  That’s how I felt, ignored and resentful.

recognition

I’m sure I have done the same thing to others, most leaders have.  Too often leaders find themselves too busy or do not realize how important it is to recognize another.  Effective leaders realize the importance of recognition and make time to focus on others, to focus on providing recognition.

Marshall Goldsmith offers a four step process for improving on providing recognition:

  1. Make a list of all the important groups of people in your life including friends, family, direct reports, customers, etc.
  2. Write down the names of every important person in each group.
  3. Set aside time twice a week to review the list of names and ask yourself if any of them did something that you should recognize.
  4. If the answer is “yes,” provide recognition via phone, email, voice mail, or a note. If the answer is “no,” do nothing; you don’t want to come across as a phony.

People who experience the sting of no recognition tend to feel its effects a long time.  Effective leaders understand the importance of proper recognition and make it a habit.

To subscribe to Bill’s blog visit www.BillAuxier.com.

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That Won’t Work

That Won’t Work

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

I belong to a Facebook group made up of authors who have achieved best-seller status.  One of the purposes of the group is to help each other with new books, providing feedback on titles, sub-titles, book covers, etc.  A couple of weeks ago, a newer member of the group posted a book cover for her new book and asked for feedback.  By chance, I was one of the first people to respond.  Her reply to my feedback was interesting.  Remember, she asked for feedback; her reply to my feedback was an explanation as to why I was wrong.  I didn’t reply back, but I did question why I had wasted my time providing the feedback that was asked for.  On top of that, other group members supported my recommendations.  The author’s negative reception of the feedback she asked for has made me reluctant to provide further feedback to her in the future.  That is her loss!

negativity

Negativity toward feedback or using the words that convey the message “let me explain why that won’t work” or “let me tell you why you are wrong” is “Habit #8” on Marshall Goldsmith’s list of 20 habits that prevent you from getting to the top.  When you come across this way, you are asserting that you are the expert who is superior to the person you are communicating with.  You are inserting your opinion and being a critic.  Critics are annoying!  Critics are not liked!  People typically avoid critics and avoid helping or working with them.  Being a critic is not conducive to being an effective leader.

Yes, you heard me correctly.  Negativity and being a critic will prevent you from being an effective leader.  Self-awareness of what you say is a good first step to determine if this is a habit that is holding you back.  You can also observe how others deal with you.

  • How often do others come to you with suggestions without your asking?
  • How often do others like to shoot the breeze with you?
  • How do your interactions with others compare with your colleagues?
  • How often do others give you a heads up on something that will affect you?

If other people seem to be avoiding you, check how they relate to you.  Avoidance is a good indicator that you might have a negativity issue.  Effective leaders know how to say something positive or complimentary when a suggestion is offered.

To subscribe to Bill’s blog visit www.BillAuxier.com.

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I Already Knew That

I Already Knew That

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

What if someone said the following to you?  “You really didn’t need to waste my time.  You think that what you just told me was something I didn’t know.  I understand what you are saying.  In fact, I agree with what you are saying, but you are mistaken that I need to hear it from you.  You need to understand that I am an intelligent, well-informed person.  You obviously don’t know how smart I am.”  If someone said that to you, I’m guessing that you would probably think they were rude and full of themselves.  Well, that is essentially what you are telling someone when you say “I already knew that.”

Smart

“Being smart turns people on.  Announcing how smart you are turns them off.”  

Marshall Goldsmith

 Telling the world how smart we are is “Habit #6” on Marshall Goldsmith’s list of 20 habits that will prevent you from getting to the top.  Do you do this?  Being aware of this habit is the first step to avoiding it.  For example, have you ever had a coworker forward an urgent email to you that needs prompt attention that you were already aware of?  In that situation do o simply say “thank you” or do you feel the need to let the other person know that you were already aware of the situation?  If you can hit the reply button with a simple “thank you,” you’re probably okay.  If you need to let the other person know you’re already on top of it, you need to work on your habit of telling the world how smart you are.

This isn’t a habit that is hard to break.  It’s a simple 3 step process:

  1. Before you say anything, ask yourself, “Is anything I’m going to say right now worth it?”
  2. Conclude that it isn’t.
  3. Say “Thank you.”

Thank you!

 

To subscribe to Bill’s blog visit www.BillAuxier.com.

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No, But & However

No, But & However

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

As a young manager, I had some great mentors that taught me many lessons about leadership and management.  Charlie Johnson taught me a lesson early on that has stayed with me throughout the years, and that lesson emanates from the use of the word “but.”  Charlie taught me that when you give feedback to another, anytime you use the word “but,” you might as well jump up and stick your “butt” in their face!  As you can imagine, if someone is sticking their butt in your face, it would be rather difficult to listen to what they were saying.  Charlie’s premise was that using the word “but” was code for “the next words coming out of my mouth are going to be negative feedback;” therefore, a trigger for defensiveness and non-listening.

buttMarshall Goldsmith agrees with Charlie.  Marshall says that when you start a sentence with the words “no,” “but,” or “however,” all the other person hears is that they are wrong.  The other person will likely go on the defensive to tell you why you are wrong.  Trying to win a conversation about who is wrong and who is right is not effective leadership.  Using the words “no,” “but,” or “however,” is “Habit #5” in Marshall’s list of 20 habits that prevent you from getting to the top.

I’d like to challenge you to do a test on this.  For one week, keep track of your fellow coworkers use of “no,” “but,” and “however.”  Keep track of how many times each person uses one of these words to start a sentence.  I think you’ll be surprised by the frequency.  You’ll also realize how people use these words to assert power.  You’ll also see how others resent it and how it stifles open communication.

To become a more effective leader, keep track of how many times YOU start a remark with “no,” “but,” or “however.”  You might find yourself starting a sentence agreeing with another only to insert a “no,” “but,” or “however” mid-sentence.  For example, “This a great blog article Bill, but….”  You might as well as jumped up and put your butt in my face!  You just contradicted yourself because using the word “but” means you really didn’t think this blog article was good.

Effective leaders monitor their use of the words “no,” “but,” and “however,” and do their best to eliminate these words from their conversations with others.

To subscribe to Bill’s blog visit www.BillAuxier.com.

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Nice Tie! (smirk)

Nice Tie! (smirk)

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

When I wear a tie, which is quite often, I like to wear a tie with a little pizazz.  Not too much pizazz, just a little.  I definitely try to avoid boring ties.  Finding a tie with a little pizazz versus too much pizazz can be like walking a tight rope!  Too much pizazz can bring forth sarcastic comments from my colleagues.  There’s nothing like a “nice tie” complement dripping with sarcasm.  Men seem to enjoy jabbing each other with sarcasm much more than women.  Regardless, sarcastic comments, no matter the intent, serve no other purpose than to put others down, hurt them, or assert superiority.  And that’s a problem!

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Too many leaders make destructive comments without even thinking.  The problem is, the other person clearly remembers what they said.  They remember every detail.  Marshall Goldsmith’s research found that while the person making a destructive comment can’t even remember making it, the other person can recall every detail.  Leaders may not think they make destructive comments, but the people who know us disagree.

Every leader makes destructive comments whether they realize it or not.  The good news is, it’s only a problem 15% of the time.  But that’s a problem.  Why?  Words, like bullets shot from a gun, once spoken, can never be taken back.  The damage is done.  It doesn’t matter how much you apologize.

Destructive comments are an easy habit to fall into, starting in jest and unintentionally escalating.  Leaders who pride themselves on their candor can masquerade destructive comments behind truth.  Leaders permit themselves to make destructive comments under the excuse that their comments are true.  In this case, truth is irrelevant.  Leaders need to ask themselves, is what I am going to say “worth it” instead of “is it true.”

If you would like to avoid making destructive comments, Marshall Goldsmith recommends asking yourself these questions:

  1. Will this comment help our customers?
  2. Will this comment help our company?
  3. Will this comment help the person I am talking to?
  4. Will this comment help the person I am talking about?

Effective leaders know that if the answer is no, don’t say it.

To subscribe to Bill’s blog visit BillAuxier.com.

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The Joy of Finishing

The Joy of Finishing

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

Believe it or not, I have completed 5 marathons.  Yes, the kind of marathon that is 26.2 miles long.  If you looked at me, you would not think I look like a marathon runner.  In fact, you might question whether I have ever run in any marathon let alone finishing 5.  I simply don’t look like a marathon runner.  I have to admit that I run slowly; my marathon times range from 4 hours and 20 minutes to 4 hours and 50 minutes.  In all 5 marathons, I witnessed runners dropping out of the race.  They did not finish.  For me, no matter how much my body ached, particularly after 20 miles, dropping out and quitting was not an option.  I had worked too long and too hard to get to the starting line; I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of my getting to the finish line.  Once I stepped up to the starting line, my goal was to experience the joy of crossing the finish line.

Finished

Have you ever met someone who is not good at finishing projects or completing tasks?  Do you know someone like that?  Are you like that?  I’m good at finishing stuff I want to do, no so good at finishing stuff I don’t want to do.  Many don’t finish because they sabotage their efforts through self-doubt or a lack of confidence.  Not finishing becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Leaders can help others come to know the joy of finishing.  John Maxwell offers guidelines to do just that in his book Good Leaders Ask Great Questions.  Maxwell offers these five suggestions:

  1. Only finished work should be rewarded.
  2. Show others the big picture and how finishing will have a positive impact on the big picture.
  3. Team up poor finishers with good finishers.
  4. Give them tools to schedule their time.
  5. Hold people accountable.

You can use these suggestions for yourself as well.

Effective leaders know the joy of finishing.  They know that joy for themselves and they know that joy for the people they serve.  Effective leaders bring the joy of finishing!

To subscribe to Bill’s blog, go to www.BillAuxier.com.

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