Thursday, January 31, 2008

People Sometimes Scream at Leaders

Eternal Scream
Originally uploaded by Josh Sommers

You gotta love those people you're responsible for....

Otherwise, you might just scream back...

You know the guy...indignant as hell that you're incompetent, uncaring, unthinking, etc.....because you haven't solved his problem yet. Never mind the fact that you have done more than anyone previously to better his working conditions, to earn respect, to listen to and act on his concerns. He's the guy that is never happy, never satisfied, never considerate of anyone's position but his own. A frustrating, frustrated sort.

Take a breath and, as much as you'd like to, don't poke him in the nose. There is a saying I learned as a young Army officer that I could relate to: "if the private ain't bitchin', the private ain't happy!" Having started my military career as a private at the tender age of 18, wet behind the ears and two months out of high school, I lived that life of frustration and anger at the apparent lack of concern of those appointed to lead. I could have stayed in that whiny place and forever been reactive to a fault, blaming everyone else for my misfortunes. But I did not.

I chose to better my own circumstances by getting an education and learning about leadership, responsibility, and personal accountability. I took charge of my life. I eventually became a compassionate and caring leader, effectively creating organizations centered on trust, respect, hard-work, personal accountability, and compassion. The greatest recognition comes from the ones you lead, whose lives you impact with almost every decision. you stand there listening to the "private" bitch, take a breath, open your ears and listen intently for the root cause of his frustration. If it's something you can help him with, do it. If it's just a need to bend your ear, let him. If he crosses the line, gently push him back over it.

Listen when it's hardest to do so. Care when you don't want to.

Be a leader.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Classic Dog and Pony Show

Dog and Pony Show
Originally uploaded by cj_weinberg

You've been there, right?

The boss' boss calls and says that the Senior Yuppy-yup of some important department at the highest levels of the Puzzle Palace has decided to visit your operation for a tour. Just to make it more interesting, all of the underlings of said Senior Yuppy-yup want to tag along. The icing on the cake, of course, is that your boss' boss is coming too. The boss begins to sweat because he knows this will be another opportunity to be told just how much his operation sucks and how much more he and his team should be doing.

"The Next Big Tour" is an unfortunate necessary evil in any corporation with multiple sites. The larger the company and the more insulated and removed the upper management, the more likely that this visit will create angst and anxiety and be a huge waste of time for everyone except your visitors.

Large corporations tend to lose touch with the real workforce. These types of tours are often only "conscience easers" for the big guys.

"We live but to serve, my liege!"

For corporate leaders to really understand what is going on in the plants, individual informal visits are more helpful. During those visits, they should talk to small groups of workers alone. Frank feedback is more likely in that setting. If the corporate culture is one of low trust, i.e. no one would dare tell the emperor he's naked, then any type of visit from on high will be unproductive for the plant. In these environments, the big guy will only be told what he wants to hear.

Do the plants a favor, big guys. Figure out where the trust level is, and do whatever it takes to build that up first. Figure out how to get honest information and be worthy of the trust you seek. Be genuine. Be real. Make eye-contact. Try to remember people's names. Praise loudly and criticize softly. Earn respect, don't expect it just because you're important.

I wish you luck in figuring it out and if you need help in that department, drop me a line.

It's something I can help you do!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just for Fun

Here's an ad (parody) for the new MAC notebook.

The new web is all about imagery, but I am always amazed at the arrogance that Apple still displays in it's traditional media marketing. They leave out the "you gotta carry a diskdrive with you" type of details.

Love this parody though!

Nth Degree Consulting

And so it begins.....

A couple of smart guys, a "wicked smart" group of Subject Matter Experts and collaborative partners, an increased level of dissatisfaction, and a desire to do what we're very good at to benefit our clients and ourselves. Stir in a bit of guts, gumption, and confidence and you have a recipe for the best news in consulting to come along in a very long time.

Lean, Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, OSHA Compliance, Safety Training, Leadership, Management, Site Security, Web Community Development, Engineering Services....these are just a few of the subjects on which we consult. Our model for our services is very simple. We establish a relationship based on trust and need, working collaboratively with our clients, and once we agree conceptually on the value we can create for the client, we quote our services and begin what we envision as a long-term relationship with our clients wherein we become the first partner they call to work on their most pressing needs.

We're energized and optimistic, confident and bold. We've been doing so many good things for our employers over the years that we feel we can't miss taking this particular show on the road.

We'll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Powerful Idea Producer!

Idea Generator- Coloured
Originally uploaded by wanderingbert

One of the books in the sidebar will probably be responsible for me and my business partners becoming millionaires.

Yes. Millionaires.

I have been making other people wealthy for a very long time....18 years to be exact. You see, I have managed manufacturing plants since I left the Army in 1990. My leadership talents and ability to run entire businesses for others have made many corporations lots of money. These opportunities have also gotten me to the point in my life where I am ready to move forward to the "leave a legacy" part of my professional career.

I am launching "Nth Degree Consulting" with some talented partners to create collaborative solutions to a variety of challenges for organizations and individuals. Our model for consulting is unique in that we are not a "one trick pony." We have a large group of diverse talent that can tackle just about any problem in an organization and see it through to implementation and value creation.

One of our first endeavors will be a result of the ideas generated by the book in the side bar Smart Start-Ups. It is literally the most exciting book I have seen on the "how-to" of Web Community Development. Author David Silver is an Angel Investor who really knows what he's talking about. He is a visionary and an incredibly prolific author. The book has solidified several ideas in my mind that will, realistically, help me to create wealth and prosperity for myself and my business associates.

Learn from people like David Silver.

Dream Big!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Books I Love to Share

So much of what we learn comes from books.

One of my favorite books (I keep copies of it to share with people I care about) is Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People. When I discovered this book, I found that it spoke to me on so many levels. Covey does not tell the reader anything he or she does not already know. Instead, he presents a framework, a road map if you will, that enables the reader to understand 7 simple habits of personal and organizational effectiveness. The fact that this book continues to sell around the world almost 20 years after it was first published is a testament to it's message: These 7 habits can change and center your life.

The other books I have in the sidebar are books that I have taught me much about Web Community development and the business aspects of blogging. I will post separately on each of these. Like 7 Habits, I am hoping these books will change my life.

In any event, if these topics interest you, please check out the books by clicking on the links. You will be able to find a good price and read the reviews for more insight.

Happy learning!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Originally uploaded by sullust

Ever have one of those days?

As a father of five and a leader of 150+, I have "one of those days" several times a week! I'm sure many of us do. The pressures of everyday life, especially as a leader, are tremendous.

Not enough of this....why did that happen?.....too much of that....where're my socks? lost your inhaler?!?!....I'm going to be late!.....aaggghhh! Sound familiar?

I like author Stephen Covey's take on the daily frustrations of life. He says there are two concentric circles that encompass our concerns. The outer circle contains everything we are concerned about. This is aptly named "the Circle of Concern." The inner circle contains those things we are concerned about that we can exert some influence on. This is called "the Circle of Influence." If we focus on those things that we can influence, our circle of influence will grow to encompass more of the circle of concern.

When I get frustrated, I try to focus on the inner circle, because when many things are frustrating, only so many of them can be directly influenced by me. In this way, I maintain a level of control and my energies aren't wasted worrying about things I have no control over.

So the next time you're concerned about how cold it is outside, shift focus to the inner circle and put on a coat!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Learning from my Wife

This weekend, I decided I would learn as much as I could absorb about blogging. Over the last two days, I have:
  • Learned about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Found a new, 3-column template for my blog
  • Joined Technorati and Blog Explosion blog aggregators
  • Joined Amazon's affiliate program so that books I love can be linked to here
  • Joined Flickr and Photobucket to upload and link to photos

And that's just the tip of the blogosphere iceberg. Which brings me to the point of my post....

Anyone that has a desire to learn this stuff can do so. Most of what I learned came from my lovely wife Terri (who's blog is ) and a very handy book. Everything else came from intelligently searching the web and applying what I learned.

My wife has been blogging for years and I paid very little attention to what she was up to. Over the years, her site has become a beautiful work of art, and an SAHM's font of information. She is the inspiration for my first Web Community venture (as well as the mother of my 5 lovely children!) She's no IT gal, but she sure knows this blogging stuff!

If you want to do this, just give it a try. It's free, it's not that hard, and it's a lot of fun!


Originally uploaded by mjp3000

I love this imagery! Please feel free to share links to other leadership images.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings!

As I sit in another meeting that's important to someone....else...., my mind begins to wander and wonder. Wandering is unavoidable when the subject matter does not actually require my physical of mental presence. Wondering follows closely behind the wandering as I begin to cogitate on why I am sitting here and how I can change this situation into useful time.

Sooooo.........Blog writing time! (actually using my handy-dandy yellow legal pad for entry later)

How many of you have managers (or peers) that do this to you? I calculated how many hours of standing meetings I attend in a regular work week. In my 50+ hour work week, I am in standing meetings no less than 20 of those hours! The really disappointing thing about this is that half of those 20 hours are just like this.

These types of meetings are only ever important to a fraction of those "required" to attend. Most people sit in silence, desperately praying for an end to the meeting so that they can return to their work. It's frustrating and unnecessary. Time for some leadership.
  • When you call a meeting, really think about who must be there. Invite only those who will contribute to the meeting's purpose and copy anyone else you think may benefit from the results of the meeting via the e-mail with the minutes.
  • Stick to a defined and previously communicated agenda.
  • Keep it brief and keep it pertinent to all in attendance.
  • Start and end on time.
  • Ask for feedback on the meeting and the format. You could learn something!

If you begin to respect your colleague's time, it will not go unnoticed. People will know that when you call a meeting, it's worth attending....(instead of writing your blog during it!)

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I am a leader.

In it's base form, leadership is a learned ability. This idea runs contrary to many pundits who believe leaders are "born" and not "made." I have experienced and learned much about leadership and hope to share a bit of this learning with my readers. Additionally, I hope to generate some discussion on this and other topics so that we can learn together. The synergy that we can create here has enormous possibilities.

Sounds a little expansive for a blog, eh? If it does...good! You're paying attention!

There is a distinct difference between leadership and management. You manage "things" but you must lead "people." This distinction is elegant in its simplicity. To be effective when given charge of others, you cannot treat people like "things" to be manipulated or turned on and off. Leaders create trust and respect. They practice The Golden Rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you. Simple, but effective.

Leadership is more responsible than management. It requires humility and a desire to serve. It requires the ability to find the fault in yourself first, instead of blaming others. Leadership creates cohesive organizations. Leadership creates responsible lives.

So check back often and read a post, look at the pics, join a discussion, and have some fun. I can't wait!