Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Servant Leader!

 Here's a great example of how a top leader inspires others!
Capt. Bill

The longer I live, the more I realize the essential hunger inside of everyone to be accepted, approved and appreciated. If we, as human beings, could all learn to focus on others before focusing on ourselves, we would overcome so many of the problems that plague our society today. If we desire acceptance in life, then we must give acceptance. If we desire approval in life, then we must give approval. If we desire appreciation in life, then we must give appreciation. If we desire validation in life then we must give validation and if we desire smiles then give others your smile.

I know people can accuse me, an engineer, of losing my rationality and falling into sentimentality, but I know what I speak is true. A sincerely thought out and spoken or written comment can fuel a person for a week. I know many high achievers and it is as true for them as it is for a young child. Recognition: grown men die for it and babies cry for it. Do not hoard this precious gift. Do not feel that complimenting and praising others takes from you. Appreciation is one of the few gifts that the more you give it away, the more it returns to you. You will gather more bees with honey than vinegar. There is a shortage of honey and stockpiles of vinegar in life.

I want to thank all of my friends and family for the many kind words and encouraging statements. I will never be able to share how much they have meant to me. The world tends to beat the joy out of you, but you still have the choice of whether to surrender your joy. If you lost your joy, then choose now to reclaim it by giving away joy to others. Start a virtuous cycle of sincere praise and appreciation and let’s change the world one life at a time! Can you imagine if every person at every open encourage the other people at our opens? The Team would be well past one million people in no time at all! God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Creating A Learning Organization!

Teachable Moments” are one of the quickest ways to create a learning organization, helping the entire team to learn from the many mistakes on the journey to excellence. The attitude of learning organizations is, if we are going to make mistakes anyway, let’s go ahead and learn from them. Learning organizations improve daily without playing the blame game or passing the buck. Only someone with significant results in the organization ought to apply the “Teachable Moment” process. This is not a process for the blind to lead the blind, but one where leaders help others improve. In other words, until one has performed, displaying by personal results that one is further down the leadership road, should the “teachable moments” process be employed. A good rule of conduct, for students on their way to learning leadership, is to speak all the good that you can, never criticizing, condemning, or complaining to anyone. The leader must have the respect of his team before the “teachable moments” process will produce the desired results. With these caveats, let me share the eights steps for turning mistakes into “teachable moments”.

1. Lead in personal change - model change before speaking to others about change.

2. Sit down with the person & express why you value them on the team.

3. Share the common vision of the change process to reach team goals.

4. Explain the changes needed for both of you to reach the team goals.

5. Point out areas where you have and are still changing and growing.

6. Point out areas where they have changed and grown in the past.

7. Unite around the common vision of how team will look after changes.

8. Lead by serving, asking, “How can I help you in this change process?”

The first step, is to lead in personal change first. Never ask someone to change in an area that you are unwilling to change yourself. This behavior breeds resentment within the community, as people believe, that you place yourself above the principles professed, expecting more out of them, than you are willing to do yourself. As Ghandi said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” Leaders must model the change process, so that everyone knows that the leaders, not only aren’t above the principles, but hold themselves to a higher standard on the principles espoused. As the Bible teaches, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Leadership is more than just a title, it’s the working example for the rest of the team. It’s what the principles look like, when applied in someone’s life. Does your team see changes in your leadership on a regular basis? Every month, certainly every year, the community ought to see the change process being lived out in your life, modeling the proper behaviors for the rest of the team.

The second step in the “teachable moment” process is when mistakes happen, sit down with them. At first, this may sound scary, to both the leader and the team member, since few people, are comfortable addressing issues. The key here, is that sitting down, isn’t a criticism meeting, but a learning meeting. Because all of us make mistakes, sitting down shouldn’t be a beat up session, but an opportunity to express value to the person, explaining the opportunity available to both of you to learn. By sitting down, it gives the leader an opportunity to express the value that he places on the team members work, sharing that the goal is to help them advance even further. When starting the meeting by sharing how much you accept, approve and appreciate his work, the ‘teachable moment’ will be accepted as positive feedback needed to improve performance further, not just criticism because of the mistake. Let the team member know that you have made similar mistakes in the past, and still make plenty of mistakes, in the present, leading to “teachable moments”. This sets people at ease, allowing them to truly listen to improve, instead of listening to defend.

The third step is to express the common vision shared and accomplished through changing the behaviors, techniques and principles applied. The team, that the leader leads, can only win through a team effort. There must be a common vision that aligns the team’s behaviors towards stated objectives. By reviewing the common vision, it ensures that both parties are focusing on the same outcome, improving the team, not just negative criticizing of a teammate. Be sure to point out to the teammate, how important his role is in the accomplishment of the team’s goals. The more people feel that their role counts, and the more people feel the leaders are counting on them, the more that they will do to get the job done. Most people will rise to the level of expectation placed upon them. People want to do a good job, impressing their superiors with their attitude and results. Only after completing these three critical steps, should anyone start course correcting a person’s behavior.

The fourth step is to address the behavior or thinking that needs changing. At this point, the leader has affirmed the team member, helping his ego, handle the adjustment without feeling worthless, stupid, or unnecessary. By creating a culture where mistakes aren’t fatal, but only part of the learning process, real change can occur quickly. If someone is interrupting the speaker during meetings, so that no one can finish a point, then you may have to sit down with them. After letting him know that you did in the past, and still do the same thing occasionally, being something that you have to work on constantly, this helps the team member feel that his load is no heavier than yours. If you changed, then he can too. This is a much better result, than an argument where he defends his actions, stating that you are always criticizing him. Or the other outcome, that the issue is never addressed, allowing the behavior to continue, leading to no “teachable moments” and little learning occurring in the organization.

The fifth step, is to ask questions, ensuring that they understand what is expected of them in the future and how they plan on improving. During this discussion, it’s important to point out as many example of issues that you needed to improve in the past. Not current issues, but issues solved over the years. So many great examples follow the dream, struggle, victory process. I share any examples where the full process is complete, but I don’t share where I have not achieved a victory yet. The goal is to give the team member hope that after the struggle comes a huge victory. The more people stay focused on their victories, vicariously learning from your victories, the more effort they will apply to overcome their poor behaviors, replacing with behaviors that produce results.

The sixth step, one that gives confidence and expectancy to the team member in the “teachable moments” is to point out other areas where they have already changed. By taking the time to, not only notice, but point out to them, areas where you have seen growth, the team member feels appreciated and respected because you are displaying the value you have for them. Let them know that the reason you are sitting down with them is because of your confidence in their hunger and willingness to change, that you are only sitting down with them because of the confidence that you have. The other strength in this step is that they feel, if they improved in other areas, that they can improve in this area. Results can create momentum for further results. The team member must feel that they can make the change, and, that you are counting on them to step up in this area for the betterment of themselves and the entire team.

The seventh step in the “teachable moments” process is to unite around the common vision for the team. When teams have a bigger vision than any of the participants can accomplish on their own, it unites the team, driving change and growth. Leaders must speak to the vision when sitting down with people. This helps everyone understand and feel the direction the organization is heading. The goal of the leader is to help the team member feel part of the vision, understanding the key role that they play in making the vision a reality. The more the team member feels part of the team, accepting responsibility for his assignment, the more leverage that he will apply to himself to change. It’s much easier to let yourself down than it is to let an entire team down. This is why, in sports, that some of the best times are in team relays, runners and swimmers, not wanting to let their teammates down.

The eighth, and final step is for the leader to ask what part he can play in helping the change process. Nothing displays the value that a leader has in a teammate, like taking the time for a “teachable moment” session, wrapping up with how can one help. Criticism of others is easy, and a leader will not partake in idle criticism, but improvement is tough, requiring courage and accepting responsibility. When a leader sets the bar high, identifies areas of improvement, and takes the time for “teachable moments”, the atmosphere created for the team is one of love, encouragement, expectation and results. Leaders understand that it is their responsibility to form a team of people willing to grow and change. Mistakes are a given, but learning and growth are optional. The eighth step is vital because it let’s the team member know that you are with them, wanting to help them where you can.

Leaders who will follow these eight steps for “teachable moments” will start the process of creating learning organizations, where everyone understands that they must grow and change for the team to accomplish its objectives. Any leader that avoids “teachable moments” is a leader that is avoiding growth, but any leader who runs around criticizing, without implementing the eight steps, is a leader on his way out of leadership. Leadership is an art and science, I can explain the eight steps, but I cannot give a person the heart to love his team. This process is more than just a rote following of the eight steps, but more a loving way to help people identify areas to grow, committing to them time and energy to help them change, creating better results for all involved. Leaders drive change, and the team changes the most when the team members grow. Grow yourself first, setting the example of the change process, giving you the credibility to sit down with others, teaching the change process, through the “teachable moments”. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Control And Leadership!

Don’t let the issues outside of your control, stop you from addressing issues inside of your control.

If I have seen it once, I have seen it a thousand times, a talented person with a willingness to work, stopped cold by dwelling on issues outside of his control. This type of thinking takes on many forms, but let me give you an example to help you recognize it in your own thinking. Suppose you are looking at attending a certain school, learning that one of your friends attended the school, you seek him out to learn from his experiences. If he shares that he quit the school because it was too hard, requiring too many hours of studying and not enough for play, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend. If you have a dream, and are willing to work, it doesn’t tell you anything about your potential experiences at the school; since education, like nearly all life, is a matter of personal responsibility. But, if your friends failed attempt at school, blocks your dream to even apply, then two failures have occurred, one a failure of action, the other a failure of thinking. How do you control your friends work ethic? How do you know if your friend was truly committed to the school and his dreams? Why are you letting your friends actions hinder your opportunities? Leaders can only control themselves and the decisions they make, with others, they have only influence, not control.

There are numerous examples of poor thinking in allowing issues outside of your control to affect the issues inside of your control. Here are some other poor thinking scenarios:

1. I don’t attend church because a hypocrite goes there. Why allow a hypocrite to stop you from learning Truth for you and your family?

2. I am not a business owner because I had a bad experience with a business person. Why allow a bad business person to deny you of future opportunities?

3. I don’t go to doctors because I had a bad experience with a doctor. Why threaten your health because of one doctor’s incompetence.

4. I don’t read, because a teacher told me that I was dyslexic and would never be able to read. Why allow a teacher’s label to halt your personal growth.

5. I don’t talk to people because my parents told me that I was shy. Why allow your parents label, when you were a child, to hinder your future?

6. I don’t attempt great things for God, because my family has never accomplished anything great. Why allow your family’s past to hinder its future?

7. I don’t save money, because I was told that I would always be in debt. Why allow someone’s poor thinking on money become your thinking?

8. I don’t dream, because I saw my friend dream and fail. Why not learn from failures versus become one?

9. I am not getting married because so many people get divorces. Why not learn the successful marriages versus focus on the failed ones.

10. I am not having children because the world is so messed up. Why not learn how to prepare children for life versus deny them the opportunity for life?

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Instead of allowing the things that you don’t control (other peoples thoughts and actions), to create your reality, why not focus on the things that you do control (your thoughts and actions)? I grew up in Columbiaville, Michigan, a small village with few, if any, big thinkers. It would have been easy to succumb to the ‘stinking thinking’ around Laurie and myself, but through God’s Grace, and a ton of effort, we broke free from the mold. Instead of dwelling on our parents faults, since all parents have them, Laurie and I focused on our parents strengths. We learned work ethic and the ability to think from our parents, and applied to every endeavor we undertook. One of the keys to breaking out is to major on your majors, not on the failed minors of others. Yes, people will let you down, shame on them, but that shouldn’t stop you from fulfilling your purpose. Yes, your family may hurt you at times, but that doesn’t stop end your responsibility to love and lead them. Yes, your vision, like a ship, may take on water every now and then, but leaders understand that it’s part of the journey, rebuilding the ship bigger and stronger. Your dream cannot be stolen, but through poor thinking, it can be surrendered. Life is much easier, since Laurie and I decided to press on regardless of the actions of others, that we were in the game no matter what. This released the stress and anxiety, felt by most people, created when not truly committed to a course of action. Leaders decide, backing the decision with full commitment, making the decision right by overwhelming passion and effort.

Did we have setbacks? Of course. Did we have people make promises while not following through? Many examples. Did we stay the course? To the best of our ability and know how, an emphatic yes. We cannot control other peoples poor decisions, but the last thing we should do, is to compound the mistake by piling on. Laurie and I have witnessed many people, with more talent than us, sabotage their own success by allowing poor thinking to take root in their minds. Usually, by the time the weeds have ruined their thinking, they no longer are interested in hearing the advice to help pull the weeds, even getting offended at the suggestion that they are growing weeds. I do my best to help point out the improper thinking, if they are willing to listen, but, at the end of the day, people are responsible for the fruit, or lack of fruit, produced in their minds, pulling weeds when identified is standard fare for leaders. Thus, one of the biggest weeds that can grow, if not pulled quickly, is permitting issues outside of your control to hinder your attitude and actions on the issues inside of your control. For example, if you aren’t reading, listening and learning daily in your chosen field, thinking what’s the use, since you aren’t getting the results in life that you want, then you are revealing a huge weed in your own thinking. It takes time to develop master in any field, in fact it takes 10,000 hours according to Malcolm Gladwell and Geoff Colvin, both authors who write on achievement, but most quit in despair long before this. By allowing things outside of your control, a lack of 10,000 hours when you start something new, to stop you from doing what is inside of your control, building up the hours to reach 10,000 for mastery in your field, you ensure that mastery will never arrive in any field. It truly is that simple, though not that easy.

Success in life, is simply a matter of staying focused on the areas that you control, surrendering to God the areas that are outside of your control. What a leader discovers is, that others, influenced by their example, address issues, improving the community through a leader’s influence, not control. The community, inspired by the leaders courage, in confronting and changing areas of control, make the tough changes in their lives to grow. None of this would have happened, if the leader would have dwelled upon areas that he doesn’t control. It was only because the leader stayed the course, even when it hurt, that it strengthened the resolve of others to change their lives. Are you that type of leader for your family, community, and team?

One of the best decisions that a leader will ever make in life is to be “all in”, in whatever field that s/he is pursuing. Greatness doesn’t happen to those who dabble, nor to those who deliberate, but only to those who decide. Laurie and I are “all in” for our 8F’s - Faith, Family, Friends, Freedom, Finances, Fitness, Following, and Fun. What are you “all in” for in life? Life has become so much fuller by learning the secret of sacrifice. When Laurie and I sacrifice our current conveniences for our convictions, we receive a ten fold return on, not only on our own 8F’s, but also in the joy of seeing others develop their 8F’s. Look back upon your own life, didn’t you achieve more when you kept your mind focused on the areas that you could control, instead of dwelling upon what you didn’t control? Today is the day to start thinking like the leader you plan on becoming. God Bless, Orrin Woodward