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Champion Leadership Blog

Champion Leadership Tip #9 – Stop Trying to Motivate Your People


Everyone is motivated! I’ll write that again in case you missed it. Everyone is motivated!

What? You say, that’s impossible, you haven’t met my son-in-law. Yes, Virginia, even your son-in-law is motivated. His motivation may be to lay on the couch with the remote control while your daughter supports their household, but he is motivated.

Everyone is motivated.

But, are they motivated towards the right things? A procrastinator is motivated to put things off. A high-performing sales person is motivated to put money in his commission check. A homeless person is motivated to panhandle for his next meal.

If everyone is motivated then what do they need leaders for, you might ask?

The leaders job is to inspire their people to apply their motivation towards the right things. Inspiration gets people to apply their motivation towards goals and objectives that fulfill a particular purpose.

“Motivation” gets people to act in a certain fashion, but “Inspiration” directs that action in the areas that get the best results for the right reasons, fulfilling a particular cause or purpose.

The early moments of 2010, as in any new year, are the ideal time for leaders to leverage the optimism, enthusiasm and motivation for making this a great year that many people start out with, with an inspiring focus on achieving purposeful results.

Human beings want to know that their able to make a difference in the world. They want to know that they are on this earth for a purpose and leaders can inspire individuals to buy-into and fulfill a purpose in their role with the organization.

How are you inspiring your people? What is the ultimate purpose that you can focus your people’s attention on that will have the greatest impact on themselves, the organization, your organization’s customers and clients, and the community in which it serves.

As a leader start today to identify the specific ways your organization makes a difference and then connect that purpose to the role each person on your team fulfills.

That’s inspiration! Doing so will take their motivation in the right direction and get your year off to a fast start with a motivated team.

Have fun!

Leaders Are Either Inspiring or Sabotaging Confidence & Expected Success!

I have to chime in here about the decision made by the leadership of the National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday in their game against the New York Jets.

The Colts, with a 14-0 record and a chance for an undefeated season on the line had the home field advantage through the entire playoffs up to the Super Bowl already clinched for the upcoming post season. They were playing a team, the Jets, needing a win to keep their playoff chances alive and knock some of their competitors out of playoff contention.

With a 5-point lead and 17-minutes remaining on the game clock the Colts leadership decided to take their best players out of the game to save them from potential injury to be healthy for the upcoming post season coming up in three weeks. The Colts second string players were dominated by the Jets first stringers and the team lost for the first time in 24 regular season games, ruining their chance for a perfect regular season.

Their star quarterback, Peyton Manning, remained on the sidelines with his football helmet on and the chin strap snapped as if he were going in to the game at any moment, but the call never came.

I believe this was a poor decision on behalf of the Colts leadership. Athletes are paid to win. They show up and take the field expecting to win. Teams win by putting their best players on the field until victory is virtually certain.

In facilitating a management team’s meeting yesterday at which we crafted a “team agreement” as to how they were going to interact with each other and show up to work, one of the team members suggested that first and foremost on their list of agreed upon behaviors was “expect success.”

If leaders and teams are to be successful they must show up expecting to be successful. Expecting success changes the outlook of everyone on the team. Leaders have to expect success and their job is to ensure the best players (employees) are on the team to allow the team to be successful.

As soon as the personnel change was made by the Colts in the third quarter of the game on Sunday, the entire team and fans in the stadium stopped expecting success, and as such, they didn’t get it.

If you’re a leader, expect success; communicate and act “as if” you expect success and your team members will show up the same way.

It’s the only way to play the game

Happy New Year!

Champion Leadership Tip #8 – Shun Credit for Successes, Take Responsibility for Failures

In a few weeks the Olympic torch will be lit signifying the opening of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. When the first team sport crowns its medal winners, the coach of the teams will not be on the medal stand having a medal draped around his or her neck.

Although uncertain of the genesis for this policy, it is consistent with this week’s Champion Leadership Tip. Leaders should shun credit and recognition for the success of their teams while taking responsibility for failures.

The best coaches in sports always operate this way. They recognize that regardless of the coaching, inspiration and preparation provided to their players it is the players who have to effectively put it all together to successfully perform.

On the flip side, if a team fails or loses, the argument could be made that it was the team’s coaches that did not do everything in their leadership role to provide the resources necessary to succeed. The best leaders recognize this and take the responsibility for it. In this area great leaders know the “buck stops with them” and would want it no other way.

Great leaders, who ironically also become highly recognized leaders,understand that the recognition and thus future opportunities will come from this type of leadership approach.

As you move forward in your leadership development adopt the Olympian’s approach; save the medals and recognition opportunities for your team members who’s efforts allowed your team to succeed and take responsibility for the setbacks to take the pressure off your team members publicly or at least within your organization. This is foundation of heartfelt leadership that will make you an even more successful and attractive leader.

This Champion Leadership tip is a subset of the three key strategies Champion Leaders must develop and consistently apply to be successful, to learn what they are you can download the free white paper report at this link

This will be the last Champion Leadership Tip for 2009 as we take a break over holidays. Best wishes for a great holiday season and we’ll be back with our first tip on Monday, January 4th.

The $5 Million Mail Clerk – How Do Your Employees Make a Difference?

A new client shared a story with me a couple of weeks ago that was very powerful in terms of employee engagement and workplace morale. I’m a big proponent of organizational leaders doing things that let their people feel like they make a difference.

Here is one great example:

One of the largest law firms in our region, Finkelstein & Partners, had a personal injury case in which their client was severely handicapped in a car accident, the injuries turned him into a paraplegic.

As the firm was preparing its case to go to court a FedEx package arrived at the office late on a Friday afternoon. Rather than wait until Monday to deliver the package, a mail clerk understanding the significance of a FedEx package, but with no idea about its contents, took the package directly to the attorney for whom it was addressed knowing it may impact a client’s interests.high morale leads to high employee intiative

Inside was an offer from the defense attorney offering a $5 million pre-trial settlement. The offer came with one caveat, a deadline of 5 p.m. Monday afternoon.

This mail clerk’s actions provided the attorney and his client the entire weekend to evaluate the offer’s merits, instead of just a stressful few hours contemplation the offer could have received if the mail clerk had less initiative.

The offer was accepted before the deadline and a client who desperately needed significant financial resources to address his new lifestyle and health challenges was able to find resolution without a having to deal with a costly, stressful and uncertain court trial.

A mail clerk made a $5 million difference in the life of a client. This is just one example of how regular, front line employees make a difference every day in the lives of customers and help companies of all sizes fulfill their visions, mission and purpose.

How are your employees making a difference, and how are you letting them know they do?

What is your $5 million dollar mail clerk story?

Next week I’ll write about recognizing and rewarding this type of initiative on behalf of your team members.

5 Traits of a C.H.A.M.P. Leader

The 5 Traits of a CHAMP Leader

These five characteristics of a CHAMP are to be applied inside organizations in two ways:

1. A standard for how organizational leaders must lead;

2. As a standard against which all potential team members are measured for during the hiring process and are held accountable to after becoming a part of the team.

These are same characteristics expected of all within an organization although they are applied slightly differently. This article will outline how leaders should apply the five traits. For an overview of how individual team members should be expected to appy these CHAMP traits view the article titled, The 5 Self-Leadership Traits Expected of Employees in a High-Performing, High-Morale Workforce.

Leaders need to know how to gain commitment to a compelling vision and the strategy to achieve it. This also includes investing the time and energy in creating that compelling vision and strategy and having the courage to ask for help in achieving it. This comes from leaders who know how to communicate in a way that influences their team members in a positive way. It’s a way of communicating that shows how each individual team member benefits when the organization fulfills it vision and strategy, gaining buy-in from all.

Leaders must lead by example in setting the expectation of constant and never ending improvement, and they show it by being open to feedback from all sources. Being open to feedback means more than just proclaiming there is an “open door” policy. It must be shown by actually taking feedback and true appreciation for that feedback by saying “thank you’ without rationalizing and justifying the present situation and then communicating back to the individual who offered the feedback with what is being done with it (it doesn’t have to be implemented, it just needs to be shown as being truly considered, to have been effective).

Leaders must set the tone that there is accountablityto responsibilities and roles throughout the oganization. Leaders must set up systems for identifying realistic goals and outcomes with accountability to them (in all sports there is a Scoreboard in the arenas, a Scorecard for everyone involved to track progress in a game and a Box Score in the newspaper for all to see the results the next day).

Leaders must be exemplars in showing they are motivated in nuanced ways. It is usually easy for leaders to look motivated by showing up early and staying late and expecting others to do the same. But motivation is more than just “hard work” and “long hours.” It means being motivated to take action on difficult decisions and in challenging situations. This means avoiding procrastination at all costs and refusing to tolerate things that do not improve the organization and support the best efforts of team members.

Leaders must understand human motivation and apply the following assumptions in their approach:

* Everyone on the team wants to do a good job

* Actions/decisions are always done with positive intent with the best resources indivdiuals have available to them at the time

* People want to be recognized for their contributions

* People are motivated by intrinsic factors

Leaders must also lead by example and set the tone for their organization that preparation is vital to an organization’s success. It means that leaders should be certain any meeting they hold are designed in a way in which all those invited to a meeting are aware of their role in the meeting and the purpose for their inclusion, agendas and meeting outcomes should be clearly communicated. Schedules should be well maintained and projected as far in to the future as possible while offering enough flexibility to allow for reasonable adjustments.

The leader should be continually looking for ways to raise the bar on individual and organizational preparation. This includes punctuality, meeting deadlines, returning phone calls, and planning the year, quarter, month, weeks and days to maximize results.

To learn more about applying these 5 Traits of a C.H.A.M.P. Leader to your style of leadership and throughout your work environment you may want to consider a private, 1:1 Breakthrough Leadership Strategy Session. You can learn more about them here.

‘Til next time, make it a great week!
skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results

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