Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Become Who You Can Be Without Losing Who You ARE

Friday, October 15th, 2010

One of my favorite movie lines of all time is from The Greatest Game Ever Played, a golf drama based on the true story of the 1913 US Open. Twenty-year-old Francis Ouimet was challenging his idol, Englishman Harry Vardon, who had won the Open in 1900. When Harry’s wealthy sponsor said Francis could not possibly win because he was not from the upper class and therefore would fold under the pressure, Harry responded, “If Mr. Ouimet wins tomorrow, it’s because he’s the best, because of who he is. Not who his father was, not how much money he’s got—because of WHO HE IS!”

And so it is with business.

It has little to do with the economy, the market, the competition. It has much more to do with self-improvement—with who you have become as a leader and who your team has developed to be.

The great competition isn’t “out there.” The great competition is always between the ears—in the mind and the character of a leader.

Weak leaders don’t understand that, of course, because they are at the mercy of the external.

People forget that this is how it is with everything—we get our results because of who we are. A millionaire can lose all his money and recoup it in weeks because of who he had to become to grow and keep a million in the first place.

Make a list of five commitments for a breakthrough this year. Be specific. Then become the person who could accomplish those five with ease, and they are as good as complete.

Ring the Bell or Forget It!

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

© Milous Chab |

Change CAN happen if only some of your staff are on board. Engines can also run on three cylinders. But the result is nothing to crow about.

In order for an organization to have a huge and profound transformation, EVERY manager must vote in with their full heart—must pick up that hammer and ring the bell, every time.

There are reasons people head into a new initiative halfheartedly. So you have to ask for extreme honesty—ask each member of your team to go far beyond lip service as they answer this question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how committed are you to a breakthrough?

Most people will give an answer somewhere between 7 (“pretty committed”) and 10 (“committed out of my friggin’ mind”). A seven from any member of your team might just as well be a three for all the good it will do you. Anything less than 10 gives that person a place to hide, an escape clause, a reason to fail. “I wasn’t that committed anyway,” goes the tune.

And it just won’t do.

If anyone gives an answer other than 10, congratulate their honesty, then find out why. Some people will say, “I don’t have enough time,” or “Well, I don’t know. Explain breakthrough,” or “I’m a practical person. I can’t commit until I know EXACTLY what I’m committing to.” For each answer below a 10, you need to help them understand why their answer will end up hurting the rest of the management team because they must be a unified voice for a major breakthrough to happen.

Make it clear that the breakthrough you seek is not an extra credit assignment, above and beyond the job. It IS the job. “I don’t have time for the breakthrough” means “I don’t have time for my job.”

Watch out as well for those who say “10” but mean something else. I remember seeing this played out hilariously once in a leadership meeting. The CEO had zeroed in on one poor schlub named Roger. When asked what he would be on the scale, Roger had mumbled, “Well, I suppose I’d have to be a 10.”

The entire boardroom burst out laughing. It was the least 10-ish tone of voice anyone had ever heard.

“That doesn’t sound like a 10 to me,” said the boss. “Let’s try that again.”

“Okay,” said Roger. “I guess the only right answer is 10.”

Again the room went to pieces with laughter. Even Roger smiled. He explained that he wasn’t really sure what the transformation was all about.

After every other member of the team had chimed in with enthusiastic explanations of what the transformation was about and how much they believed in Roger’s ability to rise to the challenge, he was asked again. And this time, he answered with conviction: “I’m a ten!”

Once everyone is fully on board at the highest level, willing to go the distance AND to hold each other accountable, there will be nothing in Heaven or Earth to stop you from achieving the profound and lasting transformation you need and deserve.

Let’s Get It Started!

Friday, August 20th, 2010

© Gino Santa Maria |

There’s a song I love to play over the loudspeakers at my public events. The song is “Let’s Get it Started” by the Black-Eyed Peas, and we use it to call everybody back from break, to pump them up and get them ready to GET IT STARTED again!

We could use just about any high-energy song to get people’s attention, but this one has something special, and its right there in the title––Let’s get it started. It doesn’t say, “Let’s hope somebody else gets it started.” It’s about US, you and me, getting started and making things happen.

Maybe you’re playing a waiting game in your company, waiting for management to get the memo and start making a positive culture change happen. You’ve filled out enough suggestion cards to fill the old card catalog at the New York Public Library. Maybe you’ve even dropped a few heavy hints in person. Nothing. Ever. Happens.

Time to stop waiting. It’s time to get it started.

Culture change is first and foremost about a change in attitudes. It’s about making people feel appreciated, giving them a common goal, and helping them to have fun in the process. NONE of these requires a lot of money or time, and best of all, NONE requires the involvement of the head honchos.

Still, you don’t have to do this all alone. Certainly there are two or three other people who would like to see your workplace transformed. Put together an informal group––a “coalition of the willing”––and brainstorm ways to turn the place around. There is nothing more fun than taking the bull by the horns and watching as you turn around not just a workplace, but the lives of the people who spend half of their waking hours IN that workplace.

Here are three ways to get it started:

1. Create your own contest. If you know your company has an objective to sell 750 widgets a month, create a contest. Split your staff into teams. Have them report daily and put points for sales up on a white board. Hoot and holler, give out prizes for individuals and teams. Prizes don’t have to be expensive—people will knock themselves out for a chocolate kiss.

2. Start a low-key campaign against dysfunctional behaviors. Quietly enlist as many co-workers as possible in a pact to not engage in gossip, backstabbing, whining, or nay-saying, and to gently call others on it when they hear it in action.

3. Connect. It’s easy to crawl into our shells, keep our eyes on the floor, and forget that we’re surrounded by actual no-kidding people all day. Make an effort to meet the eyes of your co-workers. Smile and say hello. Ask about the family. This isn’t rocket science––but these simple connections can do more for transforming a workplace culture than the most elaborate system of incentives.

At the end of the first month, pull the team together to take a reading. Odds are very good that you’ll see evidence everywhere that things will never be the same.

Making a Masterful Difference in the World – Video

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Roxanne Emmerich receives NSA Philanthropist of the Year award

Roxanne Emmerich was recently honored by the National Speakers Association (NSA) Foundation with the Philanthropist of the Year Award at the 2010 NSA Convention in Orlando, Fla.

The Nido R. Qubein Philanthropist of the Year Award is the highest honor the NSA Foundation bestows on members of the National Speakers Association. This award honors continued commitment to the NSA Foundation as well as ongoing efforts to share the principles of philanthropy with NSA members around the world.

Roxanne Emmerich-Philanthropist of the Year AwardAccording to Stephen Tweed, CSP, and NSA Foundation Chair, Roxanne is “a successful business woman who epitomizes the concept of giving without the expectation of receiving anything in return. She has given generously of her time, her talent, and her treasures through scholarships at her university, the YMCA, the United Way, programs for women in the state of Wisconsin, as well as support of the National Speakers Association and the NSA Foundation.”

Roxanne is committed to not only spin around the results of companies but to also turn around the lives of people and do everything she can to help disadvantaged college students secure scholarships so they have opportunities and options that would not otherwise be available to them.

As she accepted her award, Roxanne challenged everyone to give unconditional love and make the masterful difference you were called in your heart to make. What are you going to do today to make a masterful difference in the world?

The Leadership Delusion

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Blog102Once in a blue moon—no, make that once in a chartreuse moon with auburn highlights—there comes a book about leadership that is useful as more than bookshelf filler.  Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute is one such book, and I recommend you snap it up.

This book goes right to the core of what causes the most chaos and lack of results in organizations and families: self-deception. Published in 2002, Leadership and Self-Deception holds up a mirror to those ugly attitudes we hold against others that are underneath the very behaviors we ourselves display. Put simply, what you do doesn’t matter as much as why you do it.

People will not follow you if your motives are selfish. The problem is, we often don’t know that our motivation is flawed. We deceive ourselves into thinking that we’re doing the right thing for the right reason when we’re really mired in selfishness.  It becomes such an ingrained habit that it’s hard to break free.

Unfortunately, we are never completely cured of the disease of self-deception. Every human being lives in self-deception a fair amount of time.  We put our needs ahead of the needs of others and treat people as objects—chess pieces on the chess board. Is it any wonder that employee disengagement scores are over 60 percent?

Perhaps the reason the television show The Office is so popular is that Michael, the boss from hell, is the poster child for self-deception. No matter how many communications courses you give to a person who is self-deceived, it always comes out sideways.

Once we get ourselves out of self-service and into the profound service of others, amazing things happen.  People will follow such a leader, gladly and with all pistons firing.

I ask our CEOs to reread this book every year, as I do, to hopefully wince less and become less self-deceived and better able to inspire lasting and positive change.