There is no better way to pay homage to my mentors than by emulating their example. How can my own example and attitude inspire others to take pride in their work and accomplishments?
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Of the over fifty pride-builders we have studied during the last two years, all deliver superior performance results for their enterprise, and all attribute their success to an ability to instill pride among their people... People who are emotionally committed to something -- be it a person, a group, an enterprise, a cause, or an aspiration -- behave in ways that defy logic and often produce results that are well beyond expectations. They pursue impossible dreams, work ridiculous hours, and resolve unsolvable problems.
Entrée: Leaders Energize and
Inspire by Jim Clemmer
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Helen was running out of ideas. She tried just about everything to get her two kids to help around the house. Her oldest, Tanya was fourteen going on twenty-one. At age eleven, Justin seemed to be a noise covered in dirt. When they were younger, Helen could get them to do jobs around the house by enforcing strict rules or using threats and punishments. As the kids grew immune to that approach, Helen put down the stick and started to dangle rewarding carrots in front of them. At one point, she developed a "star system." This involved putting a gold star beside the list on the fridge of each household chore they successfully completed. When they'd accumulated enough stars, they were rewarded with treats, cash bonuses, or special excursions. As the effectiveness of the rewards wore off, Helen had to get ever more creative with new incentive programs. But Tanya and Justin continued to lose interest in keeping the house neat and their chores completed. Lately, she found herself consistently nagging and yelling at them to get things done. They just didn't seem to care.
Helen began to wonder if the answer to this problem was somehow hidden in the behavior changes she started to notice at work. Members of her work team seemed to need ever more and different recognition programs and financial incentives to keep them motivated. Whenever a new compensation plan or recognition program was introduced, the team's energy level perked up and performance improved.
But soon interest would wane, energy would drop, and performance would slip again. Helen noticed that everyone seemed to become more and more interested in "what's in it for me." Pride of accomplishment, satisfied customers, teamwork, and a sense of making a real difference faded into the background. Are rewards and punishments two sides of the same coin, she wondered? It seems to be a coin that decreases in value the more it's used, she thought.
Jack Welch has been widely called one of the most effective corporate leaders of his time. During his time as CEO of GE he transformed them into one of the world's largest, most profitable, and dynamic companies. World renowned for leadership development, Welch declares simply, "if you can't energize others, you can't be a leader." He makes a vital point. The way too many so-called leaders energize others is often by leaving the room. Highly effective leaders energize others. That energy mobilizes people to action.
Helen's questions and observations are on the right track. Far too many people try mobilizing and energizing by using different combinations of fear or greed. It's the lazy way out. These are superficial approaches that usually create major long-term problems. In our organization consulting and leadership development work, we are often asked for the "how-to" of improving morale or motivation. But low motivation or morale are symptoms of much deeper problems.
The problem is rooted in combinations of Victimitis, inauthentic leadership, low levels of passion and commitment, lack of soul and meaning, weak energy levels, values misalignment, or fuzzy focus. The only person I can motivate is me. People should be paid fairly and profit or gain sharing programs are powerful ways to build partnerships and ownership. However, leading with incentives or punishments to "motivate" others is often seen as manipulative. This reduces the value of doing the task for its own reward or robs work of its meaning. The key is building high-energy environments or experiences that inspire and mobilize people to action. That's tough work. There are no "cookie cutter" programs that can be dropped in to do it.
We are either part of the energy problem or part of its solution. There is no neutral zone. We are either net takers or net contributors of energy to others. We need to ask those we're trying to lead or influence about our energy leadership. It is much less effective to force changes on others and overcome their resistance than to work collaboratively to build change partnerships.
There are many factors that mobilize and energize others. A key factor is appreciation, recognition, thanks, and celebration. These successful feelings are addictive. We all want to feel like winners making progress that's being noticed. Our verbal communication skills also play a vital part in how effectively we can mobilize and energize others. Another key factor is participation and teamwork. Working together toward shared goals is very energizing.
About the author:
Jim Clemmer is a bestselling author and internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, workshop/retreat leader, and management team developer on leadership, change, customer focus, culture, teams, and personal growth. During the last 25 years he has delivered over two thousand customized keynote presentations, workshops, and retreats. Jim's five international bestselling books include The VIP Strategy, Firing on All Cylinders, Pathways to Performance, Growing the Distance, and The Leader's Digest. His web site is www.clemmer.net.
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I am passionate about my work, I admit, and I have been inspired to be this passionate by several individuals over the course of my career. Recently, I accepted a full-time direct position with a well-respected engineering firm. I am overcome with joy. I like it, a lot. It's always nice to be wanted, to be sought out and asked to join in on something that is just up my alley.
The alley I refer to wasn't built alone. Along the way, there were those that guided and directed, who challenged and pressed me for more, for better, for higher and nobler, for greater sacrifice to achieve greater reward. They who had reached and grasped simply taught me how to do so, too. Mentors have helped my career experience become not just deep, but broad. There were others, before I even had a career, some few that channeled or expanded my thinking, and helped to focus my interest in its present direction.
Teachers, Scout leaders, supervisors, friends, co-workers, children and old folks... the list goes on and on, and if you are reading this, you may even be on the list! Do mentors realize the impact they have? Some do, because they did what they did with and for a purpose - consciously. Some don't, because they didn't know that mentoring is what they were doing - but that's okay, too. I got it, and that's what counts. In the still, small spaces between our interactions, the Light slowly dawns. It doesn't take much, but it is a gift beyond price. All it takes is a bit of time and patience, some understanding and an ounce or two of "people skills."
Where I now work, there is a program called technical transfer. It works like this: someone knows quite a bit about something, and others come to eat their brown-bag lunch and participate in a presentation by asking questions as the basics are explained. I don't have to know everything about what I do, and if I don't understand something, technical transfer helps me to find out who the go-to guy or gal is. And, when I need to go to them for additional information or mentoring, I already know who they are, what they do, and how they feel about sharing that experience and knowledge with me. I like this whole idea, and I begin to like the people I work with even more because mentoring is a part of how the work gets done here. My work takes on an altogether different meaning, it becomes more personal and much more interesting.
Mentoring is, quite simply, leadership by actually LEADING the way, rather than by forcing and pushing. I like hearing the words, "I can help you with that. Let's try this..."
Michael Rawls, Friday's Inspiration © 2005
Second Helping: You
Cannot Do It Alone! by Pegine Echevarria, MSW
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Face it; you can not do it alone! How many times have I told this to a protégé or colleague? In my leadership programs I have people engage in interactive activities that teach leaders how to delegate their tasks. In my own office, I seek to delegate, delegate and delegate. Sometimes I succeed, other times, well, that is the subject of a different newsletter. I literally, wrote the book on women leaders being mentors in the lives of girls and women, I present to men's groups, women's groups, corporate groups and associations, sharing the benefits of being a mentor and finding a mentor, but today I have had to face the truth and share my truth with you.
I dislike having to seek a mentor (I originally wrote hate, but maybe that was a bit harsh). I dislike having to ask others for help or advice. I truly hate being vulnerable. If I have to ask someone for help or guidance, I sometimes feel that I will be perceived as weak, not together enough or unsuccessful. Surprised? You shouldn't be. I am still growing, evolving, progressing and learning, just like everyone else. As a new manager I remember the struggles of trying to be the "all knowing" boss while feeling fear, because I didn't know what my job entailed...never mind leading others to success in their job.
Now, years later, I am hired as an expert on success, leadership and teambuilding, however there is so much I have to learn as a business owner, consultant and speaker. There is so much knowledge I want to acquire. I do not get crazed anymore about not knowing... I know now that questions, research and my network can connect me to the information I am missing.
There is a facet in my quest for knowledge that causes me angst, and I realize that many of you feel as I do. That is that I have to take responsibility, get out of my inner `stuff' and be vulnerable, so that I can seek and access my "Yoda." After seeing the new Star Wars movie I realized we all need a Yoda. Yoda, for those who have not embraced the Star Wars movies, is a mentor/guide/wise one to all of the Jedi warriors.
Great leaders know that they must have a Yoda to help them and guide them. Often, great leaders surround themselves with people who know what they themselves do not. Many books share stories of great leaders who have monthly mastermind groups, mentor meetings, and wise old friends who offer counsel. What many of those stories leave out is the internal growth these leaders went through, as they were becoming great, so that they were be able to seek, reach, and listen to their Yoda.
For some this ability to seek counsel comes naturally, for others, myself included, we have to go through an internal process of growth to be able to say, "Yoda, teach me."
The process includes being willing to:
For Luke Skywalker it took several Star Wars films to reach the level of a great leader. The key of course is to be willing, willing to do whatever is necessary to be ready and then receive the support of your Yoda
About the author:
Pegine's has over 15 years of experience as a nationally recognized expert on success, leadership, and teambuilding, and 30 years of experience in the workplace, ranging from corporate America to public service. Mark Victor Hansen of the Chicken Soup Series calls Pegine the "WOW of WOWS". Her team building, leadership, speaking and coaching services have resulted in generating applause from such notables as Montel Williams, Dr. Juan Andrade, Senator Hilary Clinton and Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, as well as Fortune 1000 companies. Visit Team Pegine today!
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Prayers are requested for Kathy's daughter, for Nancy's mom, and for Sister Cheryl. Our hearts join with those all over the world in mourning the losses wrought by Hurricane Katrina. May those who compassionately labor to ease the suffering have the strength and will to continue. Our prayers are continually offered for the safety of those individuals who, in the service of their country, stand in harm's way to protect our freedom. May the cannon someday be forever silent.
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