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February 2013

Dear Readers…

Over the past few years of writing this blog, much has changed in my role as a community leader. I love writing posts for Musings with Mitch and feel the blog has in many ways become an extension of me. Your attention to, and interest in, this publication have made my “musings” worthwhile, and I so appreciate your readership.

But, as we start a new year, we will be saying goodbye to this valuable publication – which is why it is with bittersweet sentiment I am writing this final blog post for Musings with Mitch.

As the saying goes, “the only thing constant in life is change,” and transitioning into a new phase of my professional life is exciting, but also a little scary. Fortunately, I have navigated these types of transitions many times before and have a strong tool belt of skills from which to operate.

With the concept of navigating transitions in mind, I will focus on this topic for my final blog post.

Whether you are moving from one position to another within your organization, moving into … Read More »

Date: February 20, 2013

December 2012

Things That Make Me Go “Hmm”

I’ve been thinking lately about some of life’s imponderables—the most baffling things about everyday life. Have you noticed that some of our most popular expressions just don’t add up?

We have all heard the saying “time is money,” which suggests that to do something fast will result in the greatest reward. Doesn’t the greatest reward come from winning a personal or professional battle, no matter how long it takes? Hmm.
When opportunity knocks, do you open the door and welcome her in, or do you stand there and yak at her, asking a ton of questions, only to find that she turns her back on you and walks away? Hmm.
They say “misery loves company,” but I can’t think of a single person who wants anything to do with it. Let’s all come together to get rid of it once and for all! Hmm.
Why do some people have a hard time expressing appreciation, like accepting the gift of a compliment? Hmm.
Why is it that some of the most rich and famous people in the world seem to be the most miserable?  … Read More »

Date: December 19, 2012

Adopting a 51% Ownership Attitude

I recently participated in a leadership workshop with individuals from many different companies. In the workshop, we practiced how to give and receive feedback, how to effectively work in teams, and how to approach our roles as leaders. A major takeaway from the workshop—something it reinforced for me—is that strong leadership does not simply come from those who happen to be in positions of power. In fact, I’ve never been more certain that success comes from everyone being actively and equally engaged. Of course, “positional leadership” has its role, but even a mediocre positional leader will find success by stressing the importance of everyone’s role to the group and encouraging collaboration.

On any given project, each team member must first have a clear picture of the desired outcome and the steps needed to achieve the outcome. They must know exactly what resources are required to do the job, but most importantly, they must share responsibility for communicating progress or barriers to progress. Ultimately, each team member must have a sense of majority ownership.

You see, it isn’t enough for team … Read More »

Date: December 6, 2012

November 2012

Evaluating New (or Needed) Skill Sets

It’s easy to become complacent when our personal or work environments lack stimulus or when change doesn’t seem to come quite fast enough; however, now that signs of an improving economy are beginning to show, we need to shift into the right mindset and begin to make the most of the upturn.

For individuals who have invested in and expanded upon their skill sets, an improving economy means greater opportunities, new professional challenges, and a heightened sense of expectation. The same holds true for businesses and organizations—those that have kept pace with investment in new skills and new technology will find enhanced opportunities for growth and profitability in an expanded economy.

For those individuals who have yet to improve or enhance skill sets, please hear me clearly: it’s not too late to start! In fact, I’m specifically writing today’s post with the goal of inspiring you to grasp a new way of thinking about the future.

To help guide you towards success going forward, I’d like to share the following three questions, and recommend reflecting on each.

What … Read More »

Date: November 7, 2012

October 2012

Why You Need a Second-in-Command

Okay, leaders – listen up! Do you like where you are today? Are you satisfied with your leadership skills? Are you confident in your vision for the future? Regardless of whether you answered “yes” or “no” to these questions, I believe it is important to have a strong second-in-command to bridge any of these professional gaps.

It’s hard to admit, but every single one of us has gaps in our personal and professional skill sets. Sometimes our confidence might be lacking, we might lose focus, or we might not be able to perform at the level demanded by our position. And, sometimes, things are just outside our control.

Whatever the reason, I have come to realize that having the right people around you can help to bridge these gaps. More specifically, choosing the right “second-in-command” is critical to your success.

Ideal Characteristics

— The right individual will help you see things as they really are, not necessarily just how you want them to be.
— The right individual is both a trusted confidante and has complementary skill sets.
— Most importantly, the … Read More »

Date: October 3, 2012

September 2012

4 Leadership Lessons for Politicians

You might say I have an obsession with presidential politics. I enjoy listening to the rhetoric of all political parties – not just the two major ones. I watch the conventions and ensuing debates with the same passion and fervor I reserve for fantasy football. I even listen to the talking heads on FOX and MSNBC who are anything but unbiased. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in both political science and economics, this season of presidential politics fascinates me!

Sadly, I think both major political parties in the United States are devoid of leadership. That’s not to say that the men who are running for President are lacking – I can’t judge them on that. But, I am calling into question the leadership skills of both parties because it is failing their respective candidates. The following are four prime examples of this failure of leadership, and how I believe a great leader would behave differently.

1. Candidates appear to either not know the truth or refuse to tell the truth. How many times … Read More »

Date: September 12, 2012

For the Love of Money

I was sitting at my computer listening to some “old school” music and thinking about how to begin writing this week’s blog post. The next thing I know, a song starts playing that I really enjoyed as a teenager. This song, “For the Love of Money,” by the O’Jays,  about what motivates us as individuals. I know money is a positive motivator because it allows us to buy the things we need to be happy and fulfilled. However, there is the old adage that says money is the root of all evil. Is it just me, or do you find it remarkable that money is perceived as both good and bad?

The following lyrics from the O’Jays song put an interesting spin on what money might mean to different people:

Some people got to have it / Some people really need it / Listen to me y’all, do things, do things, do bad things with it / You wanna do things, do things, do things, good things with it

Each of us know … Read More »

Date: September 5, 2012

August 2012

Some Change You Can’t Ignore

It’s interesting how technology is testing our ability to deal with change. There are times when I feel things are happening so quickly that I can’t possibly know about every upgrade or new product, let alone determine how I might use them to my benefit.

Take for instance the significant improvements made to cell phones the last few years:

— Ten years ago, I had a phone that was big and clunky and stayed in my car. It provided some measure of convenience to me since I could call someone if I had an emergency while traveling.
— Five years ago, I was in possession of a Blackberry that I could sync as a speakerphone with my car and actually get business done while traveling, without having to hold the phone in my hands. (Thank you, Bluetooth technology!)
— Now, … Read More »

Date: August 29, 2012

Moving Ahead in a Down Economy

I’m sure we’ve all noticed these are challenging times. In a “down economy,” it makes sense to take stock of our current circumstances and think about how to adapt to an uncertain future. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about conversations I’ve had with people who reflecting upon where they are, both personally and professionally.

Evaluate Your Circumstances

What occurs to me is that leaders are especially burdened in this regard because, as they consider changes, they must not only assess their own circumstances, but they must also consider their team’s circumstances. There is an old adage that says “If you want to lead people somewhere new, you need to meet them where they are.”

For organizations in change — which I daresay is every organization today — we can’t expect that everyone is starting where we want them to be, or that they are all starting from the same place. Furthermore, leaders must understand that during times of stress, people are less likely to assume acceptable risks. A person’s mindset becomes one of not making a … Read More »

Date: August 22, 2012

A Tribute to Pacific Continental Bank on Its 40th Anniversary

I would like to pay tribute to Pacific Continental Bank, the organization where I’ve had the privilege of working for almost 25 years. Today, rather than muse about lessons learned or thoughts on leadership, I’m going to reflect upon what I believe makes Pacific Continental unique: its commitment to the community and its desire to share entrepreneurial value with clients. Combined, these have helped us become the organization we are today.

Founded on August 15, 1972, Pacific Continental started in a single-wide trailer here in Eugene, Oregon. The bank was born out of a desire to make significant contributions to our local business community. Let me elaborate on why I believe we’ll remain relevant not only in today’s turbulent financial times, but well into the future.

— First, my organization maintains a steadfast commitment the communities we serve. In 2011, for example, my colleagues volunteered hundreds of hours of work and personal time to make their community a better place.
— Second, … Read More »

Date: August 15, 2012

Leadership Lessons Learned by Playing Poker

I have a group of buddies that I’ve enjoyed playing poker with for over 20 years. While it gives you some idea as to my age and my appetite for gambling (trust me, these are very small stakes), what I think is interesting is that I have actually learned lessons I think are appropriate in the world of business today.

Lesson #1 – You can’t win all the time. In the 20+ years I’ve been playing with this group, I would say I am slightly less than break-even in my total “winnings.”  It may be because I’m an awful player or that my friends are more skilled — or that I have bad luck more frequently than I have good luck. No matter the reason, the fact remains that sometimes I win and sometimes I lose. It’s that way in poker and it’s that way in life.
Lesson #2 – In order to win big, you must accept risk. As I see things, there is risk in everything we say and do. There is risk in … Read More »

Date: August 8, 2012

Collaboration Does Not Equate to Compromise

Quite often, to the detriment of his or her organization, a leader accepts compromise when collaboration fails. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when one’s hands are tied and compromise provides the best course of action; I get that. Too many times, however, when leaders allow themselves or their staff to accept compromise instead of demanding collaboration, key strategic goals and objectives may be sacrificed or minimized.

To my way of thinking, compromise often results in an effort that is less than the sum of multiple capabilities. Worse yet, compromise results in an effort that is less the sum of any single person. On the other hand, collaboration has the potential to produce synergy; which, by definition, produces results which are greater than the sum of the individual capabilities of two or more people, organizations, or things.

Recently, I participated in a leadership development discussion that painted a clear picture of what it takes for any company to achieve organizational greatness. Guess what? It isn’t creating extreme operational efficiencies or achieving results that exceed … Read More »

Date: August 1, 2012

July 2012

Why Executives Should Embrace Social Media

A new poll of 400 Canadian business leaders shows they have decidedly mixed feelings about social media. I thought I would offer my own perspective, although I have a way to go before I can claim any level of personal proficiency on the matter.

That being understood, I think executives of the future must become knowledgeable, if not experts, about how it impacts the franchise value of their organization. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that social media is impacting how employees and customers communicate. I understand why the executives surveyed may be concerned about how their employees use social media. The potential audience is vast and it is likely that personal views being voiced are different than the boss’ view.

However, we should all realize that the genie is out of the proverbial bottle because this technology is here to stay. I believe successful executives will find a way to embrace these rapidly evolving technologies and make it their own personal playground.

Consider the … Read More »

Date: July 18, 2012

Five Lessons from a Rotary Exchange Student

My wife and I had the pleasure of hosting a young woman from Taiwan as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program this past school year. “Cindy” just finished her sophomore year of high school in the United States and will be traveling back home to Taiwan in two weeks – so while she may be one year older, something tells me she is many years wiser.

It would be an understatement to say Cindy had an impact on me. I remember greeting her at the airport with a group of fellow Rotarians one evening last year. Cindy was obviously tired from her long journey, and it was apparent she was anxious about this cultural exchange and the family with whom she would be living. She was totally vulnerable to her new surroundings and the Rotary “strangers” she was expected to trust.

While we were one of Cindy’s three host families, we had the privilege of being the very first family. As such, I got to see first-hand the transformation she made in one year. … Read More »

Date: July 11, 2012

June 2012

Is Your Hair on Fire?

Have you ever been around people who seem to have a sense of urgency about everything? I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that every priority is of an urgent nature. Yet, I see people every day who are terribly stressed by circumstances, often out of their control.

There are times in all of our lives when things don’t go as planned. This tends to have a very debilitating effect on our mental health, and can undermine our confidence in our ability to control future events. Often, our mental resolve is weakened and causes us to elevate the urgency of things we desire most. During these times, I find my “wants” are elevated to the status of “needs.”

As I write this, I recall a time early in my career when I had to be coached about this very thing. I believed additional staff just had to be hired in order to achieve a specific objective.  What I learned through coaching was two very important lessons.

My objective was a … Read More »

Date: June 20, 2012

An Ode to Growing Up

I’m going to depart a bit from my normal leadership musings and provide some personal thoughts about growing up. I’m not writing about my own experiences, but rather about my perceptions of my youngest daughter, with whom I recently spent a long weekend celebrating her 21st birthday.

I had the privilege of raising three daughters, the youngest of which finally reached the age of majority. I couldn’t be more proud of each of them, not because of anything specific they accomplished, but rather for the individuals they became through their own hard work and tough lessons learned. I probably sound like every dad who brags about his children; however, with my youngest now a “card-carrying” adult, I pause to reflect on how my perceptions of her have changed.

My daughter learned much outside of my direct purview, especially as it pertains to dealing with difficult people and circumstances. How is it that she put a young man in his place as he was vying for her attention right in front of me, and in the most mature way … Read More »

Date: June 13, 2012

On the Road: 3 Cross-Cultural Observations from China

I recently returned from a trip to Beijing and Shanghai, China where I joined several dozen others on a tour organized by the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce. To say the experience was enlightening would be an understatement. I truly appreciated the opportunity to learn about a culture that, up until this trip, was at once mysterious and historically fabled to me.

(Visiting the Great Wall of China)

I thought I would share with you three specific observations made during this visit that served to clarify my naïve preconceptions. I’ll then apply my cross-cultural lessons to those in leadership positions. After all, one of the most important attributes of a leader is a high level of engagement with others.

Observation #1: It’s Difficult to Squelch the Drive for Success

It wasn’t long after we landed in China that I made my first significant observation that the country seems to be more aligned around their economic philosophy of capitalism than they are their political philosophy of communism. Everywhere we went there were people … Read More »

Date: June 6, 2012

May 2012

Where’s the Beef?

How many of you remember the old Wendy’s commercial “Where’s the Beef?”? I remember enjoying the directness of Clara Peller, the feisty older woman who posed the now-famous question. I always laughed while watching these commercials, and they will forever be etched in my memory.

I bring this up because I have often wondered why some organizations, and certain individuals, are successful at differentiating themselves in the marketplace. Is it because they are smarter, more creative, more resourceful or simply luckier?  Maybe. It’s also possible that success is the result of a better, beefier product.

In the old Wendy’s commercial, they differentiated themselves with the quality of their product. They advertised a bigger and better burger to customers willing to pay a bit more, and they found a niche that made them a stronger player in the fast food business.

As leaders, we are expected to amass critical resources, organize them efficiently to fulfill organizational objectives, and deliver a competitively tangible outcome to all of our stakeholders: owners, employees, customers, vendors, and the communities we serve. … Read More »

Date: May 30, 2012

Character Matters: 14 Traits Every Leader Should Possess

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of speaking to teammates about the importance of character in the workplace. There are many personal traits used to define a strong professional “character,” and I have listed those that I feel are the most important.

These 14 traits can set apart an exceptional leader from the pack; therefore, it’s important to own and demonstrate these on a daily basis. Individuals who demonstrate passion around these characteristics are able to form stronger professional bonds and achieve extraordinary results. While each of these are important on their own, they make a person profoundly relevant when mastered as a group.

Affirmation: to speak and lead in a positive manner.
Dependability: to be consistently relied upon.
Empathy: to recognize the feelings and thoughts of others.
Encouragement: to inspire others with confidence.
Forgiveness: to grant pardon for a particular deed.
Gentleness: to display of respectful kindness.
Honesty: to be upright and fair.
Humility: to maintain a modest opinion of one’s own importance.
Patience: to suppress restlessness when confronted with provocation or annoyance.
Tactfulness: to know what to say or do without giving offense.
Thankfulness: … Read More »

Date: May 23, 2012

Fast Is Better Than Perfect

In this “musing,” I am taking a somewhat controversial stance in hopes of provoking a healthy dialogue.

I find that business decisions often need to reconcile the competing demands of quality and timeliness in the output of a business product or service. Companies that manufacture a product must maintain consistency by seeing to every detail. Without a quality product they wouldn’t be in business. Likewise, companies that deliver a service must ensure quality experiences in order to cultivate a loyal following. The most desirable outcome of providing these top-notch products and services is recurring business, or even better, customers advocating on behalf of your business.

If you are in a leadership position, which do you prioritize – quality or timeliness? Just play along with me here and think about where you currently focus your time. Do you spend your time evaluating projects and initiatives to see they’re done correctly, or do you obsess over the customer experience? In all likelihood, neither you nor I put the same amount of energy into them all the time.

As a businessperson and a consumer, … Read More »

Date: May 16, 2012

Professional & Life Goals Are Like Boulders

One of the most rewarding parts of writing a blog on leadership is the feedback I receive on a regular basis from colleagues and community members. Recently, I received an email from a colleague expressing how much a recent post resonated with her life and professional beliefs. After reading her email, I asked if she would write a response.

The following is written by Kate Salyers, assistant vice president and special assets officer, and provides complementary insight and perspective into professional and personal happiness.

When I was as senior in college, I was like everyone else in my class – excited about graduation and anxious about finding the right career. At the time, I was looking for a position where I could use my skills, and provide work that was both enjoyable and rewarding. Based on previous employment experience, I was also looking for an employer with a strong, positive corporate culture.

Although I had a vision for what I wanted, … Read More »

Date: May 2, 2012

April 2012

What’s Your End Game?

How often do you visualize the outcome of a given day, a project, or a meeting – even your career, for that matter? I’ve come to realize that those who find the greatest fulfillment and success are visualizing the steps needed to achieve a desired outcome.

Allow me to offer three examples of when it is helpful to envision your end game.

Competing as an Athlete: Consider a professional athlete such as the pole-vaulter. As I understand it, the most successful ones actually visualize themselves flying over the cross bar. They envision planting the pole, jumping off the ground, extending their legs high over their head, turning in the air so they can be looking down at the cross bar on their way over it, and landing safely on the other side.

Closing a Deal: Think about what makes a successful salesperson. They don’t just read about their prospect prior to a meeting. Instead, they ponder how the conversation will go and plan for possible objections, then how to overcome each objection in order to “close the … Read More »

Date: April 25, 2012

9 Everyday Principles of Leadership

We leaders are tussling with a tough economy – trying to make the right decisions and use our scarce resources to their greatest benefit. Additionally, we are spending a lot of time evaluating whether we have our talent in the right positions; not just for today, but for the long term, as well.

I was recently re-introduced to this blog entry (excerpt below) from “Business Management Daily” about John Maxwell’s guiding principles. Maxwell is a leading authority on executive leadership, and I thought it was worth sharing. I hope you find these helpful as you ponder the importance of your own leadership role. Remember that everything you do matters!

Say something encouraging within the first 30 seconds of any conversation.
Let people know that you need them, whether you’re disciplining an employee or surveying customers.
Compliment people in front of others. Maxwell cites Mary Kay Cosmetics founder Mary Kay Ash, who said everyone has an invisible sign hanging from his neck that says “Make me feel important.”
Forget about people’s failures and inspire them … Read More »

Date: April 18, 2012

You Have the Right to Remain Silent!

Don’t you find it interesting that so many people embarrass themselves these days because they don’t think before they speak?  Maybe it’s just me, but I find so many examples of it that I’m truly baffled. Far too many people say things they don’t really mean, fail to articulate well, or that are frankly pointless. As a result, people lose careers, businesses lose clients and individuals lose friends.

Consider our current political environment for a moment. Politicians fall all over themselves to find the right words, and we can see them tweaking their message to attract one group of constituents or another. Then, they back-peddle when their message misses the mark. I guess such is the nature of politics when the message is only as good as the perception one creates saying it.

This is not only an issue with politicians, however. Consider all the celebrities and athletes who “tweet” messages on Twitter about things they really don’t understand. They say things that, in many cases, are flat out wrong. Do they … Read More »

Date: April 11, 2012

Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs

I recently read an interesting article concerning the late Steve Jobs. The article, written by Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson, provides vivid examples that demonstrate why and how Jobs became so successful.

We’ve all heard or read stories about Jobs’ personality and the extreme emotionalism he brought to everyday life. In today’s blog post, I want to share with you the leadership tenets that Jobs embraced, and hold them up as best practices.

Focus – “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do!”
Simplify – “It takes a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.”
Put Products Before Profits – “My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products.”
Don’t Be A Slave To Focus Groups – “Caring deeply about what customers want is much different from continually asking them what they want. Intuition is a very powerful thing – more powerful than intellect.”
Tolerate Only “A” Players – “Prevent ‘the bozo explosion’ … Read More »

Date: April 4, 2012

March 2012

Incremental Learning: Lifelong Effort

I’m in a somewhat reflective mood as I write this week’s blog – musing, in fact, about the various lessons learned throughout my career. I thought it might be fun to share a few random thoughts.

Lifelong Effort Boiled Down to 3 Steps

First, I have come to realize that no one in a position of power gave me anything. Like most people, I have worked hard to create the value required of me. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to be rewarded with various promotions that have both excited and challenged me, professionally and personally.
Second, I have come to realize that no matter what role I have been asked to play, it required a different level of knowledge combined with a healthy polishing of specific skill sets. For example, some skills were learned “on-the-job,” through coaching, mentoring, reading and, at times, learning from mistakes (both my own and others’). Other skills, such as leadership and public speaking, developed mostly outside the workplace by engaging in various civic, social and networking forums.
Third, and perhaps … Read More »

Date: March 28, 2012

Forgive and Forget: Tips on Letting Go of Grudges

Admit it – at one time or another you’ve held a grudge against someone you felt “wronged” you in some way. I’m no psychologist, but I think it is a human nature to feel resentment at times, and even spite, depending on how betrayed we felt at the time. I’m writing about this topic today because I have seen many individuals, teams and organizations wither as a result of long-held grudges.

What is a Grudge?

A grudge results from a lack of communication and perception of a breach of trust. It is made up of strong, lingering feelings of ill will, and can take the form of jealousy, dislike or envy. Grudges tend to last a long time, which makes me wonder: why do they have such a power over us that make it difficult to forgive and forget?

As I get older, my capacity to show compassion in the face of adversity seems to get stronger. I don’t know if it’s simply part of the maturation process, or whether I’ve simply learned that I have a stronger preference … Read More »

Date: March 21, 2012

The Waiting Game

I have to admit I feel especially honored when a coworker tells me that one of my blog posts inspired him or her in some way – that it provided a perspective they hadn’t considered previously. For me to know that a particular post helped create a more positive outcome for someone else may be the ultimate compliment.

Recently, one of my coworkers shared a poem with me. He had written it as a way to think about balancing his desire for achievement with the ability of our organization to deliver on his expectations. I was so inspired by the poem, and his creativity, that I wanted to share it with all of you!

The Waiting Game
By Corin Thompson

What to do with tomorrow when today seems so long
Before we know it, a year has gone
What we wanted for ourselves never came
Because we played the waiting game

Wait for tomorrow and it surely will bring
All of the things that our hearts can sing
But some of those who have … Read More »

Date: March 14, 2012

What Is Your “Why”?

“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” – Simon Sinek

I recently completed a tour of our offices in Seattle, Portland and Eugene, where I shared a TED video by Simon Sinek. My reason for choosing this video was to educate my colleagues and to inspire a sense of motivation for the year. For those of you not familiar with TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design), it is a nonprofit devoted to sharing “ideas worth spreading.” Their hosted conferences are led by individuals who have developed remarkable ideas on a wide-ranging list of topics.

In his presentation at the Puget Sound TEDx, Sinek explains that great leaders can inspire action only when they understanding the “why” of their business. He goes into much more detail in his book, which I highly recommend – Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.

When … Read More »

Date: March 7, 2012

February 2012

Placing Priorities in Order

Author Stephen Covey has a gifted ability to share stories that inspire us to think about our work in unique ways. One such account can be found in his book First Things First. This story demonstrates the importance of prioritizing the “big rocks” from the gravel and sand of your responsibilities.

In the middle of a lecture, the presenter pulls out a wide-mouth jar and places it on the table, beside some fist-sized rocks. After filling the jar to the top with rocks he asked, “Is the jar full?” People could see that no more rocks would fit, so they replied, “Yes!” “Not so fast,” he cautioned.

He then got some gravel from under the table and added it to the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks. Again, he asked, “Is the jar full?” This time the students replied “Probably not.” The presenter then reached a bucket of sand below the table, and dumped it on the jar, filling the spaces between … Read More »

Date: February 29, 2012

The Value of Teamwork

Several years ago, I read a book entitled Wisdom of Wolves, Leadership Lessons from Nature by Twyman Towery. It was a easy read, and focused primarily on the type of teamwork required to build happy and healthy organizations.

In the book, there are several pertinent quotes regarding teamwork; here are my three favorites:

A company is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm. – Morris Weeks
No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his/her rowing. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. – Anonymous

I believe these apply to anyone who is a member of a team – be it a family, community or company. Consider for a moment what would happen to your family if each member were to relate to each other as equals, with a shared level of trust and investment to the health of the family dynamic.

Similarly, at work, how might your organization be transformed if leaders expected their team members to think and … Read More »

Date: February 22, 2012

Curbing the Chronic Complainer

We all whine or complain from time to time. It’s natural and allows us to get in touch with our “inner child.” I have observed over the years that the “inner child” of some individuals is needier than in others. You probably know the type: people who tend to complain about everything.  For purposes of this article, I want to draw some parallels between how parents deal with children who whine, and how we as supervisors deal with chronic complainers. I believe most adults complain out of frustration from a defeat or when a “loss” was unanticipated.

I don’t know about you, but dealing with individuals who seem to be defeated all the time can be a difficult task. It’s as if they have a heightened sense of entitlement or expect every outcome to benefit them personally. In my academic experience, I don’t remember reading that life was going to be easy, or that I should expect to always get what I wanted. Nevertheless, at times, it feels as if some people did get that … Read More »

Date: February 15, 2012

Failure Is Not an Option

It is a natural part of our professional lives to encounter failed projects, initiatives or efforts. However, the cause of a failure tells us plenty about what we can learn from it. I recently received a note and slide presentation from a friend that lists several points on failure and success, listed below.

Causes of Failure

Every single cause of failure is due to a lack of something, whether it is a lack of a will to win, desire for success, foresight, communication, or proper attention. We can use “LACK” as an acronym for “Losing Attitudes Continuously Kill.”
Unlike failure that results from your best efforts, a failure as a result of LACK is unacceptable.
LACK is contagious and can hurt your team.

As I look these over, I am reflecting upon my own past failures. In many instances, I can look back fondly and say I honestly gave it my best effort. Those losses helped to reinforce many of the lessons I share with my children and coworkers today.

That being said, though, I can remember a … Read More »

Date: February 8, 2012

The Power of Dependence

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir, 1911

I think we all are aware of the negative connotations that surround the word co-dependency. We most often hear it in connection to an unhealthy power dynamic in a one-on-one relationship. However, there are other types of dependent relationships worth examining for their value to the workplace.

Codependency at Organization Level: Never healthy

A codependent relationship with more than two people, such as in an organization, involves overly passive behavior, where you give up your power and depend on the organization in a harmful way. This condition is most apparent in ongoing relationships between people or groups who take advantage of one another, and this relationship is never healthy.

Intra-dependency: “All for one” mentality

A similar but not necessarily harmful relationship is what I like to call “intra-dependency.” I define this condition as one in which a single group works together for the betterment of the … Read More »

Date: February 1, 2012

January 2012

Are You Paralyzed by Tradition?

Okay, I need to go on the record as saying I am a big fan of traditions.

On a personal level, I relish the thought of eating turkey at Thanksgiving dinner. I like knowing what to expect when I attend a church service. And, I enjoy my monthly “guys night out,” where we play poker and talk fantasy football – it’s been the same group of friends for over 20 years!

On a professional level, I find comfort in my organizational culture and wholeheartedly support it. In addition, I value the high performance objectives we set because they make team members better and the organization stronger.

This being said, however, I can’t help but think about a recent college football analyst who called the Oregon Ducks “anti-tradition.” This analyst believed that it was only by stepping away from athletic tradition that the Ducks perfected their winning formula. To even the most casual college football fan, many examples come to mind: their cutting-edge uniforms in a myriad of color combinations, their fast-paced offense, and the fact that they … Read More »

Date: January 25, 2012

Insights on Effective Teams and Leaders

Have you ever wondered why some teams maintain high spirits and consistently outperform others? What is their secret? Allow me to share some tips from a team development handbook I am currently reading. This first list is from the perspective of a successful leader as he or she looks at a team. Then, the second list is from the perspective of a team as they look at their leader.

What a leader should expect from his or her team:

Everyone is involved in planning, at least to some degree.
People are doing the job they want to do (good placement decisions).
In meetings, everyone is spontaneous and contributing new ideas.
Members respect each other’s ideas. People do not grudgingly hang on to their own ideas.
There is a good feeling among everyone with no hidden hostility or misperceptions.
Goals are clearly stated and everyone is explicitly committed to making the team a winner.
People are absorbed in the task and are not distracted.
After a project, the outcome and team process are analyzed for improvements.
There is little to no conflict because … Read More »

Date: January 18, 2012

Give Your Career a Tune-Up

I just took my car in for a regularly scheduled tune-up, complete with a tire rotation and change of the various motor fluids. As I drove away, I felt safer and more comfortable knowing I was behind the wheel of a well-oiled machine. Now, when I hit the accelerator, my car reacts with more “zip,” especially when maneuvering around a slow vehicle on the freeway.

In the same way that cars need special attention, I believe that people can benefit from a tune-up – we have the same capacity to accelerate when we push on the pedal. We often need to perform at a higher level than usual and, no matter what role we play in our organization, we had better respond like a freshly tuned automobile.

The truth of the matter is that we must think for ourselves, rely upon our own instincts, and invest in ourselves the way we do in our cars, our homes and our children. It’s time for each of us to look at ourselves as assets worthy of a tune-up … Read More »

Date: January 11, 2012

Harness the Power of Your Habits

As I was cleaning out my desk recently to get rid of old files and dated material, I came across a wonderful story I shared with my team members years ago. I think both the riddle, originally written by John Di Lemme, and the related story, provide excellent “food for thought.” Try to solve the following riddle without peeking to the end.

I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed; you must merely be firm. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great men.And, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great.Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of … Read More »

Date: January 4, 2012

December 2011

It Is Indeed a Wonderful Life

I’ve seen and heard a number of references to the classic holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life” recently. First, our local newspaper, the Eugene Register-Guard, featured my company in an op-ed about how everyone should embrace their inner George Bailey, written by Bob Welch.

Pacific Continental Bank was quoted because of an unusual trend we’ve started: every new employee is asked to watch (or re-watch) this film. My colleagues and I admire Bailey because he’s the model community banker, using his influence for good by helping others. He was a man who truly put the community first, ahead of his own wants and needs. He gave up his honeymoon fund as well as his dreams of traveling the world, all to save the local bank. I encourage you to read the op-ed – it has a positive message for all audiences.

Another reminder of George Bailey this week came from training consultant Glenn Shepard’s newsletter, forwarded to me by a friend. Shepard takes the story of “It’s a Wonderful Life” to talk about … Read More »

Date: December 29, 2011

A Season to Remember

The holiday season is now in full swing. Autumn leaves have fallen, the air is filled with a brisk new chill, and, in the office, strategic plans for the coming year are falling into place.

It’s a time for many of us to reflect upon the year that was, both the good and the not-so-good. It’s also a time for leaders to express appreciation to their team members, for the contributions they made to keep their organizations relevant and viable.

Unfortunately, not all organizations made it to the end of the year, having succumbed to the difficulties perpetrated by the Great Recession. Others, while remaining viable, failed to deliver on their desired objectives. This makes for an environment where it is difficult to recognize and reward team members the way they would hope or expect to be recognized. Yet, other organizations exceeded expectations, thereby fulfilling or surpassing year-end reward expectations of their team members.

No matter the fate of your organization, I’d like to offer a simple thought: most of us, if we are truly … Read More »

Date: December 21, 2011

Loosen the Reins: How Leadership Style Impacts Your Employees

How many of us have had leaders, managers, or supervisors who needed to be in control of everything? I have found that leaders who micromanage their employees aren't nearly as effective as those who work to influence them instead. Management expert Myron Rush confirms my theory. Rush talks about four distinct leadership styles – dictatorial, authoritative, consultative and participative – and he finds abundant long-term benefits with a more cooperative leadership environment.

The Controlling Supervisor

I remember a supervisor I had many years ago who wanted to control what I did at work, how I did it, and how much time I needed to get the job done.  If that wasn’t enough, he took ownership of the results without acknowledging my effort in the slightest. The point I want to make is that this supervisor was at his most comfortable when he controlled every aspect of the work environment, likely because it made him feel confident in the outcome.

From the perspective of my supervisor, this leadership style "worked." He picked a team member in which he had confidence, … Read More »

Date: December 14, 2011

How to Defuse a Work-Related Disagreement

Have you ever been in the middle of a contentious discussion and wondered, ‘Where is he (or she) coming from?’

I’m not referring to comprehending each other – rather, on a broader scale – “How did he or she come to have this perspective in the first place?” Communication lapses are most common when there is a disconnect in how we perceive one another, or how we perceive fact and fiction. I’d like to share three tactics to use when working with teammates whose ideas or actions seem to “come out of left field.”

You must listen before you can understand one another. It is important to listen in order to understand. When I’m involved in a serious discussion with a teammate, I find it beneficial to repeat back what I’m hearing. Not only does this validate the other individual, but I also benefit from hearing immediate feedback. This dialogue of giving and receiving input shines a much greater light on the matter at hand, and can de-escalate a delicate situation. If it doesn’t, at least … Read More »

Date: December 7, 2011

November 2011

Adapting to a New Economic Reality

Okay, I’ll say it. The world will never be the same again. The world economy is a mess; the national economy is a mess; and, our organizations, while surviving, are not performing as well as we want or expect. These facts make it likely that as individuals we are not achieving personal or professional goals we have set for ourselves. I get it. In fact, I think we ALL get it.

My question to you is, “What are you going to DO about it?” Recently, I wrote about the Occupy movement, which I think is a very noble effort by those who are choosing to take action.  I personally admire and respect them very much for doing something, even though I expressed concerns about the lack of a formal strategy.

I’d like to offer a personal perspective on how I am choosing to deal with the new reality, in hopes that you might find some shared value.

Take stock of what you can and cannot control. For me, it’s pretty simple. I CAN control how I think, speak, and … Read More »

Date: November 30, 2011

Message to Occupiers: Set Concrete Goals, Stay on Message

If you’re like me, you may be getting a bit tired of the Occupy movement and the fact that it doesn’t appear to have a strategic purpose. While I definitely understand the reason for their peaceful protests and the fervor necessary to create change, I have become a little frustrated because there has yet to be a defined goal of their cause. To be honest, I am very sympathetic to those who believe in positive change, and the Occupy movement creates a very real opportunity for positive change to occur. I am also of the opinion that the majority of those involved in the movement are in it for the right reasons. They have become frustrated with the economic and political realities we all face today, feeling that many voices are better than a single voice.

What’s missing in this movement, for me anyway, is a strategic plan, one with tangible objectives and a common vision of what’s possible. In other words, this movement is lacking leadership. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t strong … Read More »

Date: November 16, 2011

What’s the Value of Authenticity?

“Leadership without perspective and point of view isn’t leadership — and of course it must be your own perspective, your own point of view. You cannot borrow a point of view any more than you can borrow someone else’s eyes. It must be authentic, and if it is, it will be original, because you are original.”
– Warren G. Bennis

One of my teammates recently shared with me an interesting research paper on leadership*, written by two scholars at Hebrew University. (Thank you, Phil!) The subject of this paper is authentic leaders and how they will always view themselves in relation to the personal, experiential stories that make them unique. In the authors’ words, “the construction of a life-story is a major element in the development of authentic leaders.”

This paper is intriguing for a couple of reasons. First, it encouraged me, the reader, to reflect upon my own ‘life-stories” and assess how they formed the basis of my leadership outlook. Second, I pondered how I will adapt to my own future … Read More »

Date: November 2, 2011

October 2011

Is It Good For Business?

Every relationship has limits, and those limits are especially tenuous when communication problems lead to a loss of respect and trust.

It is interesting to see the changes taking place at Netflix, the DVD rental and movie-streaming business that has developed a strong following over the past several years. For those of you who may not be aware, Netflix announced in mid-September a change in their business approach that would separate the DVD-by-mail and internet streaming media services from each other, as well as increase the cost of both services. An explosion of customer outrage was heard almost immediately on Facebook and Twitter, with many customers cancelling their Netflix subscriptions. As a result of this significant miscalculation, the company ultimately reversed their strategy. On October 10, 2011, less than one month after the split, Netflix announced it would be keeping services together on one website.

It’s not my place to speak about the focus of the company and the vision of its leaders to adapt their business model in the face of an ever-changing economic … Read More »

Date: October 26, 2011

Three Lessons from Teachable Moments

Have you ever had an experience when, after looking at it from someone else’s perspective, you realized that you may have jumped to conclusions too soon, or proceeded down the wrong path? Think about this from the perspective of the people you work with, and perhaps more appropriately, your supervisors and leaders whose job it is to help educate and motivate.

I think we can all relate to teachable moments, when someone gives us a perspective we could not have developed on our own. There have been so many of these times for me that I can’t recall them all individually. Yet, in every instance, I remember thinking that I will never forget that particular lesson learned.

One such teachable moment took place many years ago, in a class I was taking on supervision. In this class, it was reinforced over and over again that people are more accepting of quick, yet frequent, course corrections (or, performance critiques) that are  done immediately and thoughtfully. This method is preferable to a performance critique that encompasses several different … Read More »

Date: October 19, 2011

Dear Leader – A “Dear Abby” Knock-Off

In today’s installment of Mitch’s Musings, I’d like to ask those who follow my blog to comment with a leadership “dilemma” – a question, problem or concern that keeps you awake at night. I invite my readers to then thoughtfully respond to the dilemma. In order to get things started, I will pose a question that I sincerely hope elicits feedback:

“Is anger ever appropriate in the workplace? If so, when?”

It’s an interesting question. Anger is a natural emotion, and it is typically associated with some type of grievance between two or more individuals. The workplace is rife with opportunities for grievance; examples include poor performance, poor production, poor supervision, poor communication, poor strategy, and poor execution. You get the drift. Some unintended or unexpected negative outcome has to occur in order for feelings to grow to the point of anger.

According to Tristan Loo, an expert in conflict resolution, “It is important to understand that not all anger is unhealthy. Anger is one of our most primitive defense mechanisms that protects and motivates us … Read More »

Date: October 12, 2011

Weathering the Storm

Is it just me, or do most of you think that this summer has been particularly difficult in comparison to other years? As I write this article, the weather outside is typical for an autumn day in the Pacific Northwest. But it seems summer in Oregon started very late this year, and the weather has been particularly harsh in other parts of the country. It’s not a pretty picture for many people these days, either with the weather or from an economic standpoint.

So, what steps should we take to best shield ourselves from the various “storms” we are facing? I’m certainly no expert on the matter, so I look forward to comments from readers about what do to deal with the adversities you may be facing today.

For me, during periods of difficulty, I take stock in all of the gifts that I have been given. My family, my friends, the organization I work for, my teammates, etc. You get the drift. To me, the most important things in life are the people that make it fulfilling. … Read More »

Date: October 5, 2011

September 2011

Games Help Develop the Power of Foresight

In the past, I’ve shared that I like to play board and card games as well as solve puzzles. For me, these activities offer a friendly – yet competitive – environment in which to ponder multiple possibilities. It’s pretty cut and dry when you play these types of games. There’s no celebrating when you win and no crying when you lose. It’s simply a game, and the fun should come from playing it, not from the result.

When I’m playing a game like chess, for example, I truly enjoy weighing the various possibilities of each move. Not just predicting what move my opponent will make, but also what move I might make in response. I’ll admit that trying to think several moves in advance is difficult, especially since I don’t play it very often. However, I bring up my penchant for playing games for a reason.

Weighing the various “moves” you can make during a game and pondering the consequences of each move is akin to the decisions we make at work. Our organizations expect us … Read More »

Date: September 28, 2011

Five Ways to Assess Your ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-Nots’

I received a great letter recently from a business friend of mine who provides consultative financial and business services to medical professionals. In it, he shared an exercise he created to help his clients with their strategic planning endeavors: The Having Exercise.

He explained it to me this way, “I use it to get ideas for strategic direction as part of an overall SWOT (or ‘Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats’) analysis.” Professionals often use a SWOT analysis as a more sophisticated pro-con list, to assess whether a venture or idea is a good one.

You can perform The Having Exercise by asking the following:

What do I want that I do not have?
What do I have that I do not want?
What don’t I have that I do not want?
What do I have that I want to keep?
What do I have now that I will certainly lose in the (near) future?

I want to share this because I think it has relevance in our daily work environment. Just think about these questions from the perspective of a leader who … Read More »

Date: September 21, 2011

Weighing Costs and Benefits: Brain Food for Professionals

This week I have the pleasure of introducing a guest blogger, Vicki Gray. Vicki is senior vice president and relationship banking manager with Pacific Continental Bank. Those of you who are residents of the Pacific Northwest will find particular resonance in her post. Vicki draws a comparison between our gorgeous-then-gloomy climate and cost-benefit analysis.

In this edition of Musings with Mitch, I want to talk a little about cost-benefit analysis in the professional realm, using a few personal comparisons.

I love Eugene. When I was out on my morning run the other day — a sunny summer morning — not only did I have a smile on my face, I noticed every other runner I passed on the path smiled back, nodded or said hello. It was as if to say, “Hi there! Isn’t this a beautiful day? Aren’t we lucky to live in Eugene”? There is an unspoken acknowledgment in Eugene that, while our sunny days are numbered, we are committed to making the most of those days that summer brings. We understand and accept that winter … Read More »

Date: September 14, 2011

Solution-Based Thinking

How do you think about a problem in a healthy way? My suggestion is to focus on the solution – not the problem.

I’ve had several conversations recently with individuals who are facing dilemmas that cause them varying degrees of angst. This is something that we all deal with from time to time, and it can become quite debilitating if not handled appropriately.

One of the common sources of my own frustrations occurs when I focus my attention on the problem itself. Sometimes, I get so concerned about how the problem occurred – who or what is the source of the problem, or the fact that the desired outcome wasn’t met– that I neglect how best to move forward. This serves no useful purpose to me and, only exacerbates the issue.

When I take a moment to reflect during these times of stress, I realize that I am much better off focusing my energies toward identifying solutions. I think this advice is helpful regardless of whether the issue was my own doing or created by others.

Read More »

Date: September 7, 2011

August 2011

A Gift to Emerging Leaders

This post is intended to provide young, emerging leaders and those who have recently ascended to a position of leadership with wisdom. As part of this post, I wholeheartedly endorse an article from the Center for Creative Leadership that also addresses new leaders as its audience.

What I would like to say to new or emerging leaders is this: Remember where you came from and be humbled by the fact that your new role is nothing like your previous one. I have known many smart and skilled individuals who, when moving to a new level of leadership in their organization, start acting differently, as if to take on a new persona. While there may be pressure to do this at some organizations, it could alienate the very individuals who helped you achieve your new found success! Make every effort you can to treat your peers and staff with respect, just as you would before your promotion. A key to this humility is to have a true appreciation for what you don’t know and have yet … Read More »

Date: August 31, 2011

Rotary Lessons

I have been a member of my Rotary club for 20 years, serving in many different capacities. I have learned many things while being a member of Rotary and have enjoyed many different experiences. For instance, this year I was elected as club president for the first time. In this post, I thought I would highlight a few club insights in order to provide you with some additional perspective about work and life.

Rotary evaluates its work and goals based on what we call the “Four Way Test.” Rotarians ask the following: Is it the TRUTH? Is it FAIR to all concerned? Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? And, will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? Look at the capitalized words in particular. Wouldn’t you agree that they represent what we should all be striving to achieve at work and in life?

Giving may be the single greatest act an individual can do to achieve both happiness and success. Whether you give your time, your money or some combination of the two, the simple truth is that … Read More »

Date: August 24, 2011

The Chameleon Effect

In previous posts, I’ve shared the theory that leaders often make more wrong decisions than right ones; however, the right or “correct” decisions often lead to actions that enable an organization to be viable and sustainable. For every leader there exists an expectation that they provide all the right answers, make all the right decisions, and typify ideals that his or her staff values and appreciates. It’s a rather tall order that – frankly – is impossible to accomplish.

We should keep in mind that no single individual delivers only positive outcomes or can be everything to everyone. That being said, wouldn’t it be nice if every leader strived for perfection? In an effort to start a dialogue on encouraging leaders to be the best they can be, I’d like to introduce a concept I call the Chameleon Effect.

We all know that the most distinctive quality of a chameleon is its ability to change colors and uniquely blend in with its environment. I see this same quality of “blending in” as a beneficial skill of … Read More »

Date: August 17, 2011

The Battle of Who’s Most Entitled

Allow me to take some liberties with those in this world – including myself at times – who feel they deserve something or feel they’re too important or too busy to be bothered. We all know people who feel a strong sense of entitlement, whose expectations for perks or rewards goes well beyond what might normally be expected. I see this in the workplace as well as in social environments. And, I’m not just talking about individuals in positions of leadership; this characteristic is not based on a particular demographic or social class. It’s merely behavior that some individuals have cultivated or reinforced over time.

While these are obvious examples, a sense of entitlement comes in many forms.

Case Study I: Supervisor
Suppose you hire a new member to your team. What if this individual requires more coaching than you typically are willing to give? An entitled supervisor may conclude that this new employee is needy and un-trainable.

The supervisor may be expecting the new employee to learn the job the way others have, and doesn’t feel it important to … Read More »

Date: August 10, 2011

Knowing When to ‘Man Up’

An expression that I use to describe the act of taking responsibility for oneself is to man up. According to the New York Times, there are two distinct uses of the expression. One use is synonymous with toughening up; the other is to do the right and honorable thing, which is how I’m using it. Now, I know what you’re thinking – this isn’t politically correct. And so, since I want to include everyone here, let’s use step up for this blog post.

I could share numerous stories where I personally had to step up to decisions I made or actions that led to unintended consequences. It’s not easy — especially in the workplace where perceptions of value can have major consequences.

That being said, I am a firm believer that an organization is more productive if each member accepts equal responsibility for his or her work. Maybe I could say it better this way: each person should step up equally.

I’d like to share a quick exercise with you: think about the past week at … Read More »

Date: August 3, 2011

July 2011

Recalibrating Success

This week I’m featuring a terrific article by Peter Buffet that was forwarded to me by a coworker. In his article, Buffett discusses the unique economic environment facing this year’s “millennial” college graduates, and he seeks to recalibrate the definition they may have of success. His article poses the questions:

– How do we define success?
– How do we measure success?
– Can a person go to bed a “success” and wake up a “failure”?

Many individuals have grown up thinking success is measured by what they have accumulated (wealth, power or status) as opposed to who they are (smart, hard-working, ethical  or self-motivated)

If we see success as a reflection of what we have accumulated, then it is entirely possible to go to sleep a “success” and wake up a “failure.” The monetary value of what we have accumulated could very well disappear overnight; however, if we live our lives with a definition of success that is based upon who we are and how we grow as individuals and organizations, then success should be within everyone’s grasp.

I … Read More »

Date: July 27, 2011

Message to World Leaders: Choose Compromise

In this article, I want to venture out by making some personal observations about what I see today as a real lack of world leadership. This won’t be a political commentary, but it’s possible that I will receive feedback of a political nature. I’m okay with that. The important thing I want to accomplish is simply to establish a dialogue about what I feel we are missing from our world leaders, and to share some ideas that might foster more discussion. Feel free to chime in after reading this post!

Let me start by saying that I think many of our world leaders today are too ideological, inflexible, or self-absorbed to be effective in their role. A very recent newspaper article underscores my thinking about this ineffectiveness of political ideology to solve the world’s greatest problems. The author of the article utilized the financial mess in the United States to illustrate this ineffectiveness, but the article could just as easily have … Read More »

Date: July 20, 2011

How to Lead Effectively When Everything is a Priority

If you’re like me, there often isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done. This is especially true when you add in the things that you want, but do not necessarily need to accomplish. While I have taken a few Time Management courses in the past, I don’t pretend to be an expert on the matter — just ask my family. I can, however, offer some insights that have helped me to remain calm during the most hectic of times.

I think one of the most important characteristics of any leader is their ability to balance their responsibilities and display a calm demeanor. If there is one thing that leaders can’t afford to do it is to allow their emotions to get the better of them. I see this happen most often when leaders have competing priorities or when results fail to meet expectations. While this is inevitable from time to time, what can you do to remain calm and focused?

The good, old “to-do” list:
One of the most important … Read More »

Date: July 13, 2011

Trust + Coaching = Wisdom

There have been times in my life where I find myself reacting to a situation or conversation in a way that “isn’t me.” When this occasionally happens I am surprised by my behavior and find it bit funny. For example, at a recent family gathering I caught myself reverting to my inner-child self, when I “got the best” of my older brother in a round of golf, reacting to the win with excitement and flair. I realized afterward that my reaction could have been perceived as insensitive. Fortunately, my brother understands my humor and responded by putting his baby brother (me) in my place. I chose to share this story because I think it is relevant to today’s Musing.

Trust is a Must
In the workplace, anytime there is a component of reprimand within a communication between two or more colleagues – for instance, my older brother and me – it is best received if the relationship between the parties is built on trust.

Without trust, the individual receiving the instruction may question both its purpose and … Read More »

Date: July 6, 2011

June 2011

Is Being a Leader Worth the Effort?

The title of this post highlights a question that I have been asked many times by professionals. Attached is a link to a terrific article titled From Drift to Clarity that I think will be of benefit to all leaders, especially those whose careers may be adrift. I invite you to read the article and then ponder a couple of comments that I have listed below, which relate. Please feel free to post your own comments on the message board if you feel so obliged!

There are a couple of very compelling points made in the article. First is a list of five issues that every leader needs to understand. Of the five, the two that I feel are most relevant include the “leadership vision” and the “leadership profile” issues. The truth is, not everyone has what it takes to become a leader – the commitment, the passion, the constant desire to seek improvement. 

A quote from the article states, “The most effective leaders are those … Read More »

Date: June 29, 2011

“Dear Boss” Letter: Follow-up Edition

Thus far in my short blogging career, no post has received more comments than my “Dear Boss” hypothetical letter. Therefore, in this installment I thought it would be nice to offer a theoretical response. If you have not already, take a moment to read the initial blog-article that prompted this week’s post. I look forward to your comments! 

 Dear teammate:

 Yes, I refer to you as a teammate because that is how I see you. While I may be your boss, I think of you as my teammate rather than my subordinate. To me, a healthy team dynamic stems from shared respect, not a hierarchical mentality. Yes, my responsibilities may require that I supervise your performance, but let’s face it; we need each other in order to be successful. True?

From your letter, it appears as if I have been less than attentive to your professional needs, possibly not being as accessible to coach and mentor you as you would like me to be. For that, please accept my … Read More »

Date: June 22, 2011

Guest Opinion: Emotion in the Workplace

This is the second guest article I’ve had the privilege of posting. Rick Schaufler is one of my team leaders, and the following story is being shared in an effort to teach us all about keeping our emotions in check at work. Following Rick’s discussion, I have offered a couple of my own personal observations. I invite readers to post any comments they have on this topic.  

As supervisors, we are hit all day long with various issues that come up, and in most cases the common denominator is emotion. For instance, you just dropped your kids off at school after a difficult morning with them. As you drive to work you try to figure out what you, as a parent, could have done differently. Feeling emotionally drained already you wonder how you’re even going to make it through the day. You walk through the door and hear phones ringing and learn that team members have called in sick. Sound familiar? While you struggle with all of … Read More »

Date: June 15, 2011

What’s Your Perspective: Customer or Client?

Throughout my professional career, I have learned that there is a difference in the mentality of client-facing professionals who consider their target audience customers and those who consider their audience clients. I liken this variance in mentality to the difference between eating at a fast food chain – customer mentality, and eating at a luxury restaurant – client mentality.

Each of us has encountered a situation where we are made to feel like a lowly-customer when we walk into a place of business. Often in this setting there is a lack of acknowledgement; no one greets individuals as they enter the business, or cares to know their name, let alone the reason for the visit. Alternatively, when we are made to feel like a client upon walking into a place of business, immediately greeted by name, with a friendly hello, it is a pleasant surprise. In this setting individuals are treated as though there is a purpose for their visit, with staff that will attentively assist each client in a considerate way. This is the strong accountability … Read More »

Date: June 8, 2011

Naughty or Nice?

No, this isn’t a post about how you should behave in order to receive a nice Christmas present. The title of this article simply refers to how effective you are in aligning your personality characteristics with the job you have been hired to do. I think each of us has within us a callous side and a kind side. At times we may need to tap into one side or the other to keep a proper balance in our work environment.

Leaders may find it necessary at times to seek compliance from their team members by acting like a dictator, where the importance of the message outweighs the manner in which the message is sent or received. Likewise, there may be times of severe organizational stress where a leader must create a gentler persona in order to instill a global sense of calm. These may be extreme examples but they serve to make my point; the best leaders create a balance between these two extremes in order to build a consistent organizational culture. As employees, we too … Read More »

Date: June 1, 2011

May 2011

A Change of Scenery

Having just returned from a family reunion, I’m exhilarated by a sense of renewed familiarity with my siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, and our children. We told stories and laughed a lot. Some of the stories that were told about me have gained momentum over the years and no longer resemble the memory I have. Although, that could just be me choosing to forget certain things as I age. 

Most of us can agree that we spend as much, if not more, time with our coworkers as we do with our extended families. As I thought about my family’s time together, I realized that I gained value from our interactions, which can be translated to interactions we all have with our work families, given the frequency of exchanges between colleagues. I began to wonder what the impact of frequent connections has on the effectiveness of a team or department. Let me explain:

Many of my extended family members hadn’t seen me in several years, until our recent reunion. Because of this, they think of me as I was the … Read More »

Date: May 25, 2011

Pretty Is As Pretty Does

The title of this post, “Pretty is as pretty does,” is a saying I used often in conversation with my daughters as they were growing up. My daughters, in my humble opinion, are all very cute, but the meaning behind this saying is that true beauty is what is on the inside of a person; not the outside.

I think there is some truth to this in the corporate world as well. Some companies look great, in the eyes of the public, because they have strong balance sheets. Some companies are extraordinarily efficient in how they operate, compared to their peers. There are also companies who are considered attractive because they have the most luxurious facilities, in which to conduct business. 

Each of these characteristics; strong balance sheets, efficiency and attractive facilities are important because they help to create a perception of viability and strength within an organization. However, they may not be telling the whole story. I think a company really demonstrates its’ beauty by treating their employees with respect and support. A company that recognizes and … Read More »

Date: May 18, 2011

Winning is a Mental Asset

When I was in elementary school, my father encouraged my younger brother and me to join a wrestling club. I have two memories from this experience: First, I remember wrestling boys bigger than me as they paired us by age, not size or weight; and second, I remember a match against someone whose reputation was that of a bully. He was about my size but wore a permanent scowl and entered the arena strutting like he couldn’t lose. Guess what? I won the match by pinning him to the mat.

My wresting prowess aside, I share this story to illustrate the importance of maintaining a winning attitude. In the workplace, we are occasionally confronted by individuals who have a manner about them that is off-putting. It could be a naturally brusque person or someone with a strong sense of personal entitlement. The point I want to make is that we can all achieve personal triumphs when dealing with difficult people and it’s not by pinning them to the mat!

As leaders, managers and supervisors, we can choose to … Read More »

Date: May 11, 2011

How Do You Deal With Drama?

Recently, I received a response to my blog posting entitled “Lessons from the Past.” The response referred to a personal lesson this individual learned regarding idle chat in the workplace.  To quote the respondent, “Step away from the water cooler. You never know when the thoughts you share can be used to place you in a negative light with others. This is not to say that we shouldn’t engage in conversations with co-workers, just that we should keep them appropriate and positive. Remove yourself from conversations which are inappropriate and negative in nature.”

Herein lies an important lesson for each of us; “water cooler” discussions are a breeding ground for drama. It is generally a place where business and personal conversations get blurred and where personal perspectives can be viewed as business perspectives. 

If I were to ask you right now whether or not there is drama in your life, I’m sure most of you would answer, “Sure, doesn’t everyone?” Of course, we all endure drama in our daily lives; drama comes from a variety of sources: family, … Read More »

Date: May 4, 2011

April 2011

Professional Etiquette

It’s interesting to me to observe our younger team members participating in various after work social opportunities, such as business networking events or community volunteer activities. It makes me wonder how often professionals take the time to consider the perceptions they are creating for themselves, and their organization and whether they are positive or negative.

Let me begin by addressing the idea of mixing business with pleasure, which in itself is tricky business. It is not easy to create a different persona in a social setting and unfortunately, often the professional lines in these settings are blurred.

If you are in a leadership position and host or attend a social function that includes team members, it is imperative to recognize your colleagues and professional acquaintances are paying attention. These settings create an opportunity for them to confirm existing perceptions or formulate new ones based upon how you conduct yourself. In these types of gatherings, separating yourself as an individual from the organization you represent is nearly impossible.

Consider being someone who regularly attends this type of function, and works … Read More »

Date: April 27, 2011

Fix the Person First

Recently an opportunity occurred, within our organization, for two individuals from different departments to work together in order to resolve a client issue that was the result of a technology failure. 

Both team members accepted ownership of the problem and focused their energy on finding a way to improve processes to ensure a similar occurrence will not occur in the future. Unfortunately, the team members did not communicate this shared empathy in a way that was relatable to the client and the issue escalated.

This is a very common occurrence in organizations; some individuals appear to be more empathetic than others. Why is this?

In my opinion, this common misunderstanding isn’t necessarily a personality characteristic, in which one team member is more empathetic than another, it’s a matter of recognizing that when you ‘fix the feelings of the person first’ the best possible results will come out of the negative situation. Once the individual has calmed down, it’s much easier to address the problem that created the negative feelings.

Allow me to use a specific example … Read More »

Date: April 20, 2011

Valuing Humility in your Organization

Humility is a funny thing. It is seen by some as one of the most important characteristics of wisdom, and by others as a sign of weakness.

The following quote was recently forwarded to me; “The natural outgrowth of curiosity is humility, which gives you the intellectual integrity to acknowledge that you still have a lot to learn and also to admit when you are wrong.” I am not sure who the author of this quote is, but the significance of the statement is invaluable.

A history of humility

 Most of us have had to learn the hard way about the value of humility. In this post I will make a few personal observations about the importance of humility in the work place, and how it can benefit your organizational culture.

We have all experienced what it feels like to be in constant contact with an individual who has to be right. It’s particularly difficult if this individual is a colleague, and it can be debilitating if they are your supervisor or leader.


The role of humility in … Read More »

Date: April 13, 2011

The Indisputable Laws of Teamwork

In this post, I thought it would be fun to share with you the 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork as written by John C. Maxwell. For the laws that I find the most crucial to re-defining the “me-first culture,” I will offer a brief perspective.

The Law of Significance. One is too small a number to achieve greatness.

 The Law of the Big Picture. The goal is more important than the role.
It is important that each team member understands not only how to do their job, but how their job helps fulfill the mission of the organization.

 The Law of the Niche. All players have a place where they add the most value.
So true! Team members of an organization need to understand how to create their greatest value.

 The Law of the Great Challenge. As the challenge escalates, the need for teamwork elevates.
Need I say more?

The Law of the Chain. The strength of the team is impacted by its weakest link.

 The Law of the Catalyst. Winning teams have players who make things happen.
This point is important because not … Read More »

Date: April 6, 2011

March 2011

Team Dynamics: A Lesson

In organizations, individuals often place themselves above their team, developing competitive relationships with other teams or departments that are unhealthy and detrimental to organizational growth.

 As a leader or member of a team, how do you avoid dynamics that can negatively impact your personal and organizational growth? Today I will focus on three specific lessons that benefit team dynamics.

 First, re-educate your organization or department on the importance of teamwork.

 From individual conversations with supervisors to general staff meetings, it is imperative that no one feel they are carrying a heavier load than anyone else, and to address those issues head-on when they arise. Having an understanding of department work-cycles that can have an impact on the team psyche is extremely important. Be proactive; make sure each team feels internal as well as external support from the organization.

Second, allow each team and team member to share in each others’ success.

 I am of the opinion that individual achievement is optimized when every team member actively engages in activities that directly support their teammates. This is very difficult to do if … Read More »

Date: March 30, 2011

Dear Boss

For this installment of Musings with Mitch, I have written a mythical letter to a fictional boss from the perspective of dedicated employee. Please note that my intention is not to suggest that writing a letter such as this is an appropriate way to communicate with your supervisor or leader. However, leaders and employees may find some educational value from this perspective.

 Dear Boss:

 I appreciate the opportunity to work for this organization. You have surrounded me with talented and motivated employees and you provide us with fair compensation. However, I would like to offer a few suggestions which, I feel, will make our team more productive.  

 First, it would be nice if you spent more time being available and accessible to us, getting to know who we are. I know that you have a busy schedule, but my peers and I have our own career goals. You are the best person to coach us and help us to achieve these goals.

 Second, there are times when I complete an assignment you have given me, only to find … Read More »

Date: March 23, 2011

Lessons from the Past, Part II

I hope that you enjoyed my comments in Part I of this two-part post and that you will find this concluding episode equally beneficial. I’m excited to complete my list of the top-ten lessons that I’ve learned throughout my working-career. For me, it’s a bit cathartic because I get a chance to summarize and reinforce those teachable moments I have experienced that have had a profound impact on my professional development. 

 Again, please keep in mind that some of these lessons came at a time when I was much younger and less enlightened, so don’t hold it against me! Here are the top-five lessons I have learned.

 Number Five: Walk with purpose, but tread lightly. 
This lesson became a reality for me following many years of observing leadership characteristics demonstrated by 20 percent of the workforce that seemed to create 80 percent of the organizational value. Over time I discovered that the majority of individuals who were effective leaders actually walked with a heightened sense of focus or dedicated purpose. Yet even with this slightly quickened-step, these leaders made … Read More »

Date: March 16, 2011

Lessons from the Past

For purposes of this article, I thought I’d take a bit of a retrospective look at some of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my working career, one or more of which may be beneficial to you.  This is my own personal top-ten list, which contains valuable, life-learning’s that I can now reflect upon as the most influential in molding me into the business-person I am today. To keep it interesting and keep you guessing, I have broken this article into two parts. 

 Please keep in mind that some of these lessons came at a time when I was much younger, less enlightened and worked for organizations that did not have the benefit of current thoughts on business and organizational structure.  

 Number Ten: Listen more and talk less, MUCH less.
I learned this lesson as a teenager, through experiences where I would find myself arguing just to argue and later paying the price for it. 

 Number Nine: Respect authority, but don’t fear it. 
At the first job I ever had, as a retail sales clerk, I was taught how to take orders, … Read More »

Date: March 9, 2011

When Does Coaching Resemble Parenting?

I had a terrific conversation with a team member recently, who wanted some advice regarding how not to take personally the coaching they receive from their supervisor. While I didn’t get to the heart of the matter initially, the employee eventually shared with me that they often find themselves taking their superior’s coaching personally. 

This discussion allowed me an opportunity to question why this reaction might be a common occurrence for them, and further, illustrated in my mind the difference between coaching and parenting. As I see it, when an employee receives feedback that is intended to change performance or behavior, they usually perceive this feedback as either being coached or as being parented by their supervisor. To me, effective coaching  results in a more knowledgeable and motivated employee, while other forms of feedback may cause an employee to feel as if they have been spanked, like a young child. On a personal note, I don’t condone spanking, but recognize the benefits after receiving a few from my parents when I was growing up!

It’s not uncommon for … Read More »

Date: March 2, 2011

February 2011

Are You A Dreamer or Believer?

Every day, I get the opportunity to work with a large group of talented individuals, many of whom wonder what they need to do to enhance their career, earn more money or simply create more value for the company.  They dream of “bigger and better” but struggle with the steps required to turn their dream into a reality.

One of the best parts of my job is to mentor team members and encourage them to dream of what’s possible in terms of their professional development.   As with any successful endeavor, it’s important to visualize what you want to accomplish and then formalize a strategy designed to accomplish the vision.  Over the years, I’ve noticed one defining characteristic of the most successful “dreamers”:  the ability to turn a vision into a reality.

There is a big difference between dreaming and believing, although both are hugely important in order for an individual to maximize his or her success. As I think about my own career and the various “dreams” I’ve had along the way, I reflect upon the times when … Read More »

Date: February 23, 2011

Building Trust

For the last 11 years, Edelman PR has published its annual Trust Barometer, a global study that gauges people’s trust in institutions and industries. In America, the so-called “trust barometer” is sinking. The study found that 46 percent of Americans trust business, an 8-point drop from last year; 27 percent trust media, an 11-point decline, and 40 percent trust government, down 6 percent from a year before. 

 Edelman CEO Richard Edelman wrote, “The result is an even more profound shift in the expectation of companies to operate with increased transparency and in a manner that delivers profit while improving society.” Check out the report.

What this reports says to me is that many of the messages that organizational leaders disseminate are viewed as self-serving or possibly even self-indulgent.  In order for organizations to enhance their long-term credibility and begin to improve these disturbing trust trends, leaders from all walks of life must significantly improve both their focus and their message. 

Consider for a moment the lack of trust in government today.  The trust … Read More »

Date: February 16, 2011

Vision Required for Taking Your Game to the Next Level

For my blog posting on January 5, 2011, I discussed the role your team plays in taking your organization to the next level. In today’s article, I will share my perspective on the  importance of effectively communicating your vision and the desired results of said vision to your team.

At various times throughout my career, executive management has asked that employees change their individual and collective behaviors in order to achieve greater organizational success. This type of request is, of course, absolutely appropriate when such change is required. Unfortunately, what’s often missing is management’s “big picture” vision. I’ve participated in corporate retreats where more time was spent discussing processes rather than possibilities. At one particular retreat, several bank officers spent what seemed like an inordinate amount of time talking about the “tools” of our trade. (Yes, “business tools”  are important, but they serve neither to inspire nor to empower.)

Now, don’t get me wrong; I think the idea behind the retreat topic was great. It enabled our officers to consider the important foundational aspects of our business and … Read More »

Date: February 9, 2011

Engaging or Engaged? There’s a definite difference.

How many leaders do you know that are personable and easy to like, yet appear to lack sincerity or create real value to their organization?  Such is the dilemma I observe in organizations where leaders are actively engaging in day-to-day “PR” activities , but are not truly engaged in the firm’s long-term success. In today’s post, I want to emphasize that good leaders demonstrate both an interest and an aptitude to work in their organization as well as the desire and drive to work on their organization.

 And, leaders need to realize their employees are watching and learning.

 Consider the following leadership types, both of which are important, but create different outcomes and perceptions. On one hand you have a leader who prefers to spend the bulk of his or her time leveraging personal notoriety at professional or social engagements in order to create tangible value for the organization. This is certainly an important and necessary activity in a leader’s professional tool kit, and one that demonstrates active engagement in the business.  On the other hand you have … Read More »

Date: February 2, 2011

January 2011

Follow Up to a Previous Posting Entitled: What Would You Do?

On December 10, 2010, I posted the following (potential) dilemma:

You are the leader of an organization that has been “running lean” for a number of years and, for the foreseeable future, it appears not much will change. While long-term prospects for the company appear satisfactory, benefits (including salary increases) have been curtailed in order to remain viable and competitive. Again and again, you’ve worried about the ramifications to employee morale. You have been transparent with your talent regarding the current and future; however, doubts about your own personal and professional fortitude to withstand the continued stress have become top-of-mind. 

Here are the questions I posed back in December 2010:

“What do you think are the three most important considerations that must be addressed to maximize your organization’s long-term prospects? And why?”

To answer my own questions, here are three considerations I would address in hopes of creating the best opportunity for long-term success.

Evaluate Capacity to Lead

From a capacity perspective – both as an individual and as part of a team –  if I have doubts about my ability to … Read More »

Date: January 26, 2011

Finding Peace at Work

Author’s Note: I wrote the following piece toward the end of 2010.  At the time, I was feeling in a particularly peaceful and reflective mood as the result of enjoying the holidays with my family and close friends. Being in such a relaxing state of mind made me think about those times that I, like you, must deal with issues at work that creates unnecessary stress. (And by “unnecessary,” I mean that the stress is not of our own doing, but is the result of a team member, peer, or even a supervisor.)

It’s important to me that I maintain a positive outlook so that my team members don’t see me “sweat.” Through years of practice, I have learned to minimize my negative reactions to unavoidable stress by focusing on the “big” picture.

Understandably, people get frustrated at work. Too often, however, these frustrations can be negative to an organization when the affected individuals choose to focus on their personal perspective and not the greater good. Allow me to explain and offer a common case study that most … Read More »

Date: January 19, 2011

Guest Opinion: Characteristics of a Great Team

Throughout 2011, I will share a series of “guest opinion” articles. I’m excited to share with you additional perspectives from trusted leaders that I respect; some of whom I have had the pleasure of working with and others I have personally observed while serving as a leader in their chosen profession. I have asked each individual to complete the following sentence, “As a leader, the most important lesson I have learned is…”

The first guest opinion is courtesy of T. Dean Hansen, a senior vice president and relationship banking team leader for Pacific Continental Bank. I’ve worked with Dean for over two decades, and I greatly appreciate all I’ve learned from Dean over these many years. Here are his comments, summarized with a brief comment of my own: 

It is much easier to be a good leader if you have a talented team standing beside you. How often have we heard a coach say, “Great talent makes you look like a great coach.” If you had the opportunity to pick your team, what characteristics would appeal … Read More »

Date: January 12, 2011

Taking Your Game to the Next Level

Okay, I admit it; I am thoroughly caught up in the current football hype surrounding the University of Oregon Ducks. At the timing of this writing, the Ducks have yet to play the Auburn Tigers for the right to be called “number one.”  No matter; this article is more about the evolution of a winner and not about actually being identified as a winner. (I will say for the record, however, “Go Ducks!”)

As I contemplate the number of minute details that had to occur for the University of Oregon football team to go from a perennial also-ran to playing for a national title, I can’t help but see similarities in the world of business. First and foremost is the investment by an organization to recruit and hire talent. In the world of football, talent is identified not only as athletic ability, but also as a capacity to learn the fundamentals so that each player can efficiently execute their role within the team. Similarly in the world of business, the talent must possess the requisite skills to successfully accomplish … Read More »

Date: January 5, 2011

December 2010

Wisdom Is Not a By-Product of Age

It’s a good thing that I don’t take myself too seriously very often, because I can’t begin to tell you how many instances there have been in my professional life when I have walked away humbled by the wisdom of someone younger or less experienced than me. One such interaction happened a few weeks ago when one of my team members noted that I had appeared to be less accessible than usual. When I asked for clarification, the employee simply said, “You appear to be more stressed.” After explaining that I had a full plate of activities with strict timelines, the employee offered her assistance. Then she said something very profound: “You know, your team needs you too!” 

Boy, talk about the wisdom of youth! This encouraging comment was exactly what I needed to help gain a fresh perspective on my role as a leader in my company. While the activities that I perform are important from a strategic perspective, my role as a leader is the most important one from a tactical perspective. 

If you have leadership … Read More »

Date: December 29, 2010

Own Each Other’s Issues

As a parent, there are times when you must strictly enforce “house rules” in such a way as to help teach a child an important lesson. I can think of many such personal examples while raising my three daughters, each of who, have become terrific young women. One lesson that needed to be reinforced with each of them was the matter of a curfew as they became teenagers. Now, I’ll admit I was not the most liberal parent in terms of allowing my daughters the freedom they felt they needed.  However, neither was I the most conservative either. I didn’t mind them hanging out with friends, having fun, but I did mind what time of night (or morning) they came home, and whether or not what they were up to was both safe and legal. Hopefully I’m not the only parent that worries about that. 

Anyway, it is interesting for me to look back now and reflect upon the types of conversations I had with each of my daughters around the curfew issue. If I … Read More »

Date: December 22, 2010

What Would You Do?

How frustrating is it when you have been disappointed by someone at work? Or simply become dispassionate about your role because of the daily “grind”?  I guess it depends on the particular issue and how “invested” you are in a particular outcome.  For leaders, every issue and related contingency must be evaluated in order to sustain a plausible roadmap for success. Long-term success is not simply the byproduct of a good business plan, it also requires effective and efficient execution of corresponding strategies.

Rather than offer my own perspective in this regard, I thought I’d take a different approach in this article by encouraging more comments from readers. Instead of my personal “musings,” I’m simply going to share what might be a fairly common business dilemma today, for you to comment on. The scenario is one that many businesses are dealing with, and one that you may have experienced and already addressed. After several weeks of comments, I will devote a follow-up article with my own perspective. I hope you have some fun with this!!

Here’s the dilemma:  

You … Read More »

Date: December 15, 2010

Measuring the Intangibles

In all performance management systems there exists a defined expectation for each employee, whereby, they are measured and rewarded for specific tasks and related outcomes. Most supervisors prefer to measure only the easily quantifiable performance expectations because they are compiled from internal reports, surveys or some other objective measurement. In addition, objective measurements can be much less problematic to a supervisor because they remove much of the acrimony that could be created by sharing their subjective analysis of an employees’ performance. Subjectivity, by its very definition, is open to interpretation. Subjectivity attempts to measure the intangibles of an employee such as effort and attitude, and may also deal with the positive or negative perceptions these personal intangibles create.

Many supervisors procrastinate on their performance evaluations, in part because they want to avoid presumably uncomfortable discussions with employees who might disagree with their subjective opinion. It’s easier to deal with numerical valuations than it is to defend subjective interpretation, especially if these interpretations are open to challenge.   

While I can both understand and appreciate this tendency, … Read More »

Date: December 8, 2010

Understanding your Worth

From the time I was very little, my parents, grandparents and siblings always shared with me that I would make a great attorney when I “grew up.” I guess it’s because I was a bit precocious and a tad bit argumentative. No matter how steadfast their position may have been on a subject, apparently I felt the need to argue the other side. It’s obviously not something that I look back on with satisfaction or pride, but I can’t help think that it has had a profound impact on my personal and professional development. Let me attempt to explain. 

Years ago I read a Stephen Covey book called “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness,” which offered some very insightful discussion on leadership. One of the primary points I took away from the book was his definition of leadership, which he said is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves. To communicate the worth and potential of others so clearly, so powerfully and so consistently … Read More »

Date: December 1, 2010

November 2010

Working at Peak Capacity

In every organization, the recipe for success is predicated upon the management’s ability to accurately measure the number of employees required to achieve their strategic objectives. It also requires that management balance the underlying aptitudes and capacities of their talent, and a work environment that provides their employees with flexibility to learn and grow on the job. This recipe is ever changing, based upon such ingredients as the ability of an organization to retain their best talent, the ability and interest of that talent to expand their core competencies and the ability of management to refine their vision in the face of ever-changing competitive, economic and regulatory pressures.  

In each of these “ingredients” there exists a common factor of capacity. For purposes of this article, I define capacity simply as “quantifiable headspace,” which allows an individual, or the organization as a whole, to have a measurable amount of room to think and ponder, rather than simply performing at maximum efficiency. To me, there is a huge difference between an individual working at their maximum efficiency and one … Read More »

Date: November 24, 2010

The Importance of Words

We have all been exposed to such phrases as “don’t speak unless you’re spoken to” and “actions speak louder than words.” I’d like to share my perspective on the power of communication, and specifically, sharing a couple of stories, which I hope will exemplify the importance of words to both the sender and the receiver of a message. 

I’ll start by sharing a personal example so that you’ll know why I think this topic is important. From my earliest memories, my parents shared with me that I should become an attorney when I grew up. They saw the passion I had to provide a compelling argument to things they asked of me and observed that I often took a position on an issue whether or not I really believed it. It became a bit of a problem for me as a sophomore in high school, when the words I chose to share about one of my classmates (Jim) caused him to think of me as a bully. At the time I had no idea, but it created … Read More »

Date: November 17, 2010

Learning from Moments of Truth

Every single one of us, from time to time, has to deal with stressful situations. Some of these situations are created by our own decisions and/or actions; others are created outside of our control. It is during these “moments of truth” that define who we are and what we place value on. 

I think it is important that each of us take time occasionally to reflect upon these “moments” as a way to shape or reshape the perceptions others have of us and rebalance the personal or professional legacies we are creating. Allow me to share with you a personal story that had a profound impact on me, both as a person and as a leader, and how I now see that moment as helping to define the person I am today.  

When I received a promotion to join the executive management team of my company years ago, it was, and continues to be, one of the high points in my professional career. Within a few months of my inclusion to the group, our management team opted to … Read More »

Date: November 10, 2010

Finding Your Wings

The subject of this article comes as a result of some personal reflection about the fact that each of us has within us the ability to fly, to be significant. This significance can be achieved independently or in collaboration with others, with the result – enhanced confidence – helping us to achieve even greater outcomes in the future. This has ramifications to us as individuals and to our organizations. 

Think for a moment about where you are in your own career at this very moment. Are you happy, fulfilled, and motivated to perform at your best? As employees, we are all tasked by our organizations to create sufficient value, such that our employment “contract” gets renewed on a daily basis. We know that employers don’t really look at our performance as single day evaluations, but rather as an evaluation of our body of work over time. However, it isn’t unrealistic to think that our organizations COULD evaluate our value on a daily basis, which, to some of us, may warrant a critical assessment of our daily results and outcomes. 

I lead with this … Read More »

Date: November 3, 2010

October 2010

From “Doing” to “Leading”

I had a wonderful conversation a month ago with one of my teammates, who expressed interest in some of the leadership thoughts I shared in past blog posts.  As a result of that conversation, I thought I would attempt to articulate a possible stumbling block for individuals who are promoted into positions of leadership.  To be quite candid, I believe that not every individual in a leadership position has earned the right to be referred to as a leader. 

Some individuals assume a leadership position because they are extremely smart or exceptionally talented at performing certain tasks.  Sometimes, an organization feels it necessary to reward this type of individual with a promotion, in an effort to differentiate their value to the organization.  It could be someone of long tenure, or someone who has quickly garnered recognition at the highest level of the organization.   I understand that it is necessary to promote individuals at times in order to retain your best talent.  What I think gets missed, however, is that these professional advancements often put this individual into … Read More »

Date: October 27, 2010

Fail Forward

I recently benefitted from a very insightful conversation with a team member, Sarah M., who shared with me the concept of “failing forward.”  I asked Sarah if she wouldn’t mind defining this concept for me, in her own words, so that I could use it as the basis of a blog post.  Here is what she wrote:

“I once had someone tell me to fail fast, and fail forward.  So often we don’t move forward because of a fear of failure; we see failure as ontological, connected to our identity and who we are, as opposed to simply a failure to perform.  I am not a failure, but rather there is a missing action that is required to accomplish the desired outcome.  Failing forward allows you to see the gap between where you are and where you want to be.  This allows you to create the necessary actions needed to accomplish the goal.  Sometimes the gap can’t be seen unless it is revealed by failure.  If ‘I’ am not a failure, I have the ability to take … Read More »

Date: October 20, 2010

Sorting your Spam

What would your life be like without emails? I mean, really? If you have a computer and any connectivity with the outside world, you’re getting emails, and a lot of them. You’re getting so many emails that many are from people or organizations that you don’t even know, universally known as “spam.” In the workplace, emails are a necessary part of business. They allow communication to happen instantly and can keep everyone informed of your organizations’ goals, policies and procedures. They can also be great for recognizing achievement and sharing results.

One thing email is not good for is as a coaching vehicle for employees. No, that needs to be done face-to-face so that not just a message is heard, but also the tone, urgency and non-verbal implications of the message. Maybe better said, emails have their place, but you can’t count on them to effectively communicate everything that needs to be shared.

Just like your email setting has a spam filter that weeds out unwanted incoming emails, I suggest that as leaders, we think about all of … Read More »

Date: October 13, 2010

The Power of Shared Leadership

The following blog article, “Nurturing the Leader in all of us” was shared with me recently, and I found it both heartwarming and refreshing. The concept of shared leadership isn’t new; however, it is certainly more profound when coming from a teenager who recognizes and espouses it!

After you have read the article, I hope you might add a comment about whether or not this type of employee engagement is being reinforced in your organization.

To those of you who have shared your own comments on some of my past blogs I’d like to pass along my sincerest thanks. I very much appreciate and enjoy your feedback. Best wishes on your leadership journey!

Date: October 6, 2010

September 2010

Differentiating Between Wants and Needs

Have you ever felt that you were “owed” something by someone, maybe your employer, or even your boss? I’m sure everyone has at one time or another felt like this, and possibly deservedly so. This brings to mind a problem that I deal with at times, a perception of entitlement that can be, and usually is, different between one person and another.

Let’s take a personal example for a moment, and I’ll apologize in advance to my daughters for using them to make a point. I have three terrific daughters, the youngest now 19 years old. As they each entered their teenage years, it was obvious to my wife and me that none of them could differentiate very well their “wants” from their “needs.” It wasn’t enough for us to buy a pair of sneakers for basketball or a nice dress for a formal dance. No, they “needed” to have a specific brand of sneaker and a specific style of dress in order to be perceived in a way that would allow them to … Read More »

Date: September 29, 2010

Enjoy the Journey

I had a very interesting interaction with a team member the other day that I thought might make for a good blog article. It had to do with offering some career guidance, which is one of the most fulfilling things I get a chance to do. For me, it’s a chance to learn more about the hopes and aspirations of a team member, i.e. what they feel today is their definition of personal success. It is also an opportunity to manage their expectations both on the job, and in life.

You see, career aspirations are, in many respects, life aspirations. It’s not that our careers define who we are as people; it’s more that they allow us to define for ourselves what we want out of life. For team members who seek my counsel in this regard, many share common characteristics. They may be the primary bread-winner with a family to support; they likely have educational costs they need to leverage; and they share a desire to achieve a standard of living that helps them fulfill … Read More »

Date: September 22, 2010

Goal-Setting for the Future

This article is written as a direct result of a comment received on a previous blog of mine. It is terrific to get feedback from my musings, and I certainly want to encourage more input because it can, and does, engage my creative side!

Regarding the importance of goal setting, be they for business or personal use, I believe wholeheartedly in them as a valuable tool. They provide an individual with a specific point of reference with which to define their individual or professional success. Goals are both tangible and measurable; they must be referred to often in order to either make course corrections to achieve them, or altered because of changes in company or individual priorities. There is much reference material available on how to establish goals and the process by which you attain them.

Unfortunately goal-setting is not that simple. I have provided a link to an article that speaks of goal setting as a measure of both the “external” and the “internal.” To me, this is symbolic … Read More »

Date: September 15, 2010

Value of Entrepreneurial Spirit

From time to time, throughout my professional career, certain life concepts have been reinforced; concepts such as thinking for myself, seeking out the right resources in order to make the best possible decision, and prioritizing my findings so they can be articulated effectively.

I’ll never forget attending a particular management meeting early in my banking career. I was so eager to share the latest technology being offered by one of our competitors that I neglected to research the potential impact of this technology to our organization.

Good-naturedly, my colleagues pointed out my gaffe. I was a bit embarrassed at the time; however, I have come to value that meeting because the situation provided me with a tangible coaching moment. I’ll always consider the lessons learned in those few minutes as an important step in my professional development.

I share this story because I think it serves as a good example of how one might effectively promote entrepreneurial behavior among your employees. Hopefully you, like me, get an opportunity to work with truly talented and motivated individuals. On … Read More »

Date: September 8, 2010

Importance of Engaging Talent Is Not a Myth

Recently, a colleague shared with me a graphic depiction of six myths often used by leaders to engage talent. I think the topic is worthy of discussion and the graph is attached for your review.

The six myths are as follows:
1. Compensation is the key driver of employee engagement
2. Most high performers are high-potential employees
3. The performance review is the most important part of the review process
4. The best business leaders are great at inspiring their employees
5. “Sales” oriented employees want a different employee value proposition than “technically” oriented employees
6. Organizations need to “buy or build” business leaders in order to improve leadership performance

Of these six myths, three of them – the even-numbered ones: 2, 4 and 6 – stand out to me as the most interesting to expound upon.

Let’s take #2 for example, the myth that most high-performing employees are also high-potential employees. The author of this chart rightfully suggests that the reverse is true, but shares as fact that only 29% of high-performers are also considered high potential. High performers can all be defined as demonstrating strong ability, but … Read More »

Date: September 1, 2010

August 2010

The Unimportance of Being Right

Okay, I’ll admit it; the unimportance of being right is a fun topic for me to discuss.

Many times in my life I have known people whom I would describe as, shall I say, “perfect?” Classmate or teacher, colleague or supervisor, client or vendor; some people always seem to have the right answer to every question, and they know it. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind dealing with smart people; in fact, I relish it. They challenge me to be better for a couple of reasons: One, I greatly enjoy learning something new and two, it allows me the opportunity to, perhaps, enlighten them.

The hardest part about being right is simply that what may be good for one person may not be good for another. I’m of the opinion that no one knows everything, and no one always has the best answers all the time. Life just doesn’t work that way.

For an individual to be “right” all of the time they must see a particular problem from their perspective as well as from the … Read More »

Date: August 25, 2010

Leadership Requires Flexible Styles

I was surfing the Web recently looking for a good reference piece to share on my blog. In my search, I discovered an interesting online article which briefly describes the six different leadership styles (visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting and commanding), that are effective in the workplace. Click here to read the article in its entirety.

The article speaks to the fact that the most effective leaders move among the various styles, adopting the leadership style that meets the needs of the moment. I couldn’t agree more. Leadership is not simply finding a style that best suits YOU; it’s having the ability to adapt to a particular situation and then using the skills required at that particular moment.

I have known many leaders who are adept at managing situations and who can provide instruction and execute a particular strategy to perfection; however, they have a hard time understanding that their role as leader needs to be fluid and that they need to be perceived as creating value in a multitude of ways.
Consider the following leadership … Read More »

Date: August 18, 2010

Meeting Expectations

In any given day, week or month, the number of meetings I attend can be – I must admit – almost mindboggling. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all of these meetings and, upon careful consideration, I confess that not all of these meetings are particularly beneficial to me. And, if body language is any indication, nor do they seem to be particularly interesting to some of the other people sitting around the table.

In personal reflection, I must ask myself, “Is it possible that people attending the meetings I facilitate consider our time together as providing no particular value or, perhaps even a great waste of time? Yikes.”

What I want to share from a leadership perspective is the importance of understanding the purpose of the meeting. In other words, a good leader should be clear on whether or not the meeting is really about what the leader/facilitator wants it to be, or should it be what the team members NEED it to be?

I recently assumed the position of president of my local Rotary Club … Read More »

Date: August 11, 2010

Kid Brothers Grow Up Too

My middle daughter recently shared with me that what she most appreciates about my blog postings are the stories where I reference a personal or family experience to help reinforce a leadership point. While I’m not sure that all of you find these personal stories to be of similar benefit, in her honor, I want to share the following experience with you.

I was fortunate to grow up in a big family as the fifth of six children and the middle boy. As you can imagine, the family dynamics were, and continue to be, quite interesting. As my siblings and I have aged and created families of our own, on the few occasions we have been able to get together for family reunions, it’s interesting to note how my older siblings continue to see me and treat me as their “little brother.” Not that I mind necessarily, however, I’m obviously a very different person from the kid brother they recall from our days growing up.

The reason I share this personal perspective is simply to … Read More »

Date: August 4, 2010

July 2010

Freshman Year Lesson Continues to Teach

I recently read a book by Patrick Lencioni entitled “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” which I found to be both enjoyable and educational. The general concept shared by the author centered on the value of teamwork in achieving organizational success. Much like Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” pyramid structure, Lencioni used a pyramid to define the precepts of a dysfunctional team. The basic elements of his dysfunctional pyramid included (from the base to the top): an absence of trust (lack of vulnerability), fear of conflict (artificial harmony), lack of commitment (ambiguity), avoidance of accountability (low performance standards), and finally, inattention to results (status and ego).

What I found most interesting is that this author could have focused on these characteristics from a positive perspective, but chose, with good reason, to focus on the dynamics of a dysfunctional team. He was telling a story that could allow the reader to learn about the process of building a strong team by understanding and seeing what doesn’t work.

From an educational perspective, I personally find this type of instruction … Read More »

Date: July 28, 2010

The Opportunity to Lead

One of my long-time valued clients recently sent me an excerpt from a leadership book that he found particularly insightful. Thank you Denis, this is great information! Denis and I agree – the qualities so expertly described below enables an individual the opportunity to lead others. I welcome all comments that you might have related to these characteristics; happy reading.

Excerpt from “The Right to Lead” by John Maxwell

What gives a man or woman the right to lead? It certainly isn’t gained by election or appointment. Having position, title, rank or degrees doesn’t qualify anyone to lead other people. And the ability doesn’t come automatically from age or experience, either.

No, it would be accurate to say that no one can be given the right to lead. The right to lead can only be earned. And that takes time.

The Kind of Leader Others Want to Follow

The key to becoming an effective leader is not to focus on making other people follow, but on making yourself the kind of person they want to follow. You must become someone others … Read More »

Date: July 21, 2010

3 Communication Tactics Every Leader Should Use

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an atrocious environmental disaster and through all of the media coverage, I have thought a lot about the various levels of leadership currently on display. To say that I have formed some opinions would be an understatement.

It would be easy to laud certain individuals for displaying strong leadership or chastise others for causing more harm than good; however, I will leave such critiques to the media pundits and “talking heads” that are being paid to increase readership or viewership of their respective media outlets. In my opinion, the media’s job is to sell more newspapers or create more viewership, which translates into more advertising opportunities and greater eventual revenues. The unfortunate story in the Gulf has resulted in a huge audience and likely a more robust bottom line.

But back to the point of this article…

Below are three leadership tactics that I feel should have been “musts” in handling this specific disaster. In fact, I believe these are important leadership characteristics whether or not a leader is … Read More »

Date: July 14, 2010

Leading by Example

Like most leaders and managers, I occasionally lie awake at night thinking about work-related issues or problems that need addressed or, having already addressed the problem, I have yet to see tangible outcomes from my decision.

I’m not so sure these contemplative episodes are healthy or beneficial, but when I finally fall asleep, I have usually found peace in reconciling my personal motivations with my professional agenda.

When I reflect back on the many jobs I’ve held over the years – from warehouse and retail work to wood products and, ultimately, banking, I recall many sleepless nights when I attempted to reconcile aspects of the business I had no control over. These included, among other things, the motives of my supervisors to act or lead in a certain way; the individual motivation (or lack thereof) of my fellow employees; and the financial opportunity costs that result when employees aren’t fully engaged in their work.

When I was 18 years old, I worked in the order-editing department for Champion Products, a sports apparel company where my father managed … Read More »

Date: July 7, 2010

June 2010

Leaving the Leadership Vacuum

Have you ever wondered where leaders go mentally when they need to gain a fresh perspective on their job? Perhaps he or she is looking for new and different methods of leadership inspiration; or, perhaps, simply searching for inspiration to improve leadership skills.

One of the greatest characteristics of a good employee and a strong leader is the insatiable desire to become better, more effective and more relevant. Whether you’re currently in a formal leadership position or not, I believe that those who embrace change, especially in themselves, are in the best position to lead change going forward.

I frequently interact with business leaders who enjoy discussing their businesses and their individual agendas, whereby the outcome of the discussion is of mutual benefit. These informal and unplanned collaborations often times provide me with the type of fresh perspective that I get when I read a really good book on management or leadership.

Alternatively, some business leaders shy away from discussing their worlds and create the perception that their burdens are theirs and theirs alone. He or … Read More »

Date: June 30, 2010

Motivation by Inspiration, Part II

In my last posting, I suggested that motivation can be created by inspired leadership. I would like to continue this line of thought by further defining the leadership role in motivation by inspiration.

Creative thinking, problem solving, personal initiative and entrepreneurial instincts are not characteristics that are easily taught; however, they most definitely are personal intangibles that differentiate strong performers from weaker ones.

All too often I hear stories of leaders who struggle with individual team members who fail to demonstrate the passion or work ethic they would like them to demonstrate. These are not easy issues to deal with and they certainly should be addressed. A leader must find a way to inspire extraordinary performance, not just expect the ordinary. Alternatively, a team member who expects to achieve strong recognition and significant rewards must demonstrate the intangibles described above as well as the results worthy of such. Failures of either the leader or the team member must be addressed or an organization will suffer negative consequences.

In my mind, positive organizational results happen because a team of … Read More »

Date: June 23, 2010

Motivation by Inspiration, Part I

I’ve heard it said that all motivation is self-motivation. Personally, I believe that to be true. It’s also been said that one of the most important tasks of a leader is to motivate their team members to accomplish specific organizational or individual goals. To some this might appear to be a difficult, if not a downright impossible task, because leaders must find ways to motivate individuals who may lack the passion or confidence to demonstrate strong initiative.

In these circumstances, what can or should a leader do?

Well, we all know there is no substitute for hiring the right person for the job. Bringing individuals into your organization with both the requisite skills and the necessary motivation to complement your existing team usually produces positive results.

I prefer to think that the role of a leader isn’t necessarily to motivate, but rather to inspire individuals to tap into their own motivations. I understand to some this may be a matter of semantics; however, to me the distinction is an important one.

If leaders are … Read More »

Date: June 16, 2010

Importance of “I think” vs. “I feel”

I recently attended a seminar entitled “People-Centered Branding” and one of the speakers was Mark Herbert of New Paradigms LLC. Mark, a long-time business acquaintance, specializes in human resource management.
While much of his presentation dealt with building an employment brand, I was particularly interested in his description of “The Principle of Congruency” – which by the way he noted is a trademarked concept.

In essence, this principle deals with employee motivations to create organizational value, and attempting to maximize the alignment of employee thoughts and feelings with personal initiative. Specifically, Mark shared that the best outcomes are derived when employees are able to congruently align the following:
• Their view of the activity
• Their view of their ability to do the activity
• The relationship between the activity and their values
• Their commitment to do the “work”
• Their belief in the product or service

While leaders will see these as inherently important considerations, what was profound to me was learning that what employees “feel” about their work is more important than what they “think.” An interesting statistic shared was that when your “I … Read More »

Date: June 9, 2010

Life Lessons from the Heart

I recently held a team leader meeting that included all of my supervisors. As we were discussing our year-to-date results and fine-tuning our daily processes, I took a little detour and asked them to focus on the talent of their team members. I reminded them that in every employee there exists the possibility of greater individual significance. I then asked each person to reflect back on their own careers and to identify a time when they knew they were more significant than their peers. To think of the time when they separated from the pack and were promoted over someone else, possibly someone with more seniority, more knowledge or more experience. I then asked them to share that moment and how impactful it was to them. I wanted my team leaders to openly learn from each other, so that they could go back and share what is possible to their own team members. I have to tell you that tears were shed as people related their stories. My team of leaders had a unique opportunity to … Read More »

Date: June 2, 2010

May 2010

A Few Kind Words Make a World of Difference

The proximity of my parking space to our drive-up lanes necessitates that I walk past clients who are transacting business in the comfort of their vehicle. Over the past several years, I have seized these moments as an opportunity to personally engage each client in some way. I always make eye contact and deliver what I hope is perceived as a genuine smile. Sometimes I am able to engage a client or their passenger in a brief conversation. A few years ago, upon my return to the office, I checked my voicemail and received a message that was enlightening to me. The client mentioned how significant it was (their word, not mine) that I acknowledged him and his wife at that moment. The client shared that the couple had just received the sad news a few minutes earlier that his father had died prematurely and that while the trip had been planned weeks in advance so that they could say their last goodbyes, the reality of the recent death was still a shock and deeply traumatic. … Read More »

Date: May 26, 2010

Evolving Influence of Business Strategies

As I reflect upon traditional business theory and the most popular business books on strategy, leadership, marketing and organizational culture, one book that was profound for me early in my career was “Guerrilla Marketing” by Jay Conrad Levinson. I found the information to be pertinent because of its tangible simplicity and because of its real world relevance. While I could say the same about many of the other great business authors whom I’ve had the pleasure of learning from and being inspired by, I want to use the book “Guerrilla Marketing” to make a point about traditional business and how I believe traditional business must evolve into in order to change the way society views and is impacted by its influences. I see new business practices evolving right under our eyes and it has more to do with style than substance.

Successful businesses today find ways to celebrate their victories, which means by definition that they’ve “won” something. If you believe as I do that if there are winners then conversely there must be … Read More »

Date: May 19, 2010

Growing A Garden of Leaders

I have a favorite comment I like to share with our newest employees as I conclude their day-long orientation, which typically takes place anywhere from three to six months AFTER they have been working for us. I tell them this, “My job is to attract and retain talented individuals who have both the DESIRE and the CAPACITY to be significant.”

I further share with them that the simple fact they are attending orientation tells me they have demonstrated a strong desire to be significant; that they have embraced our corporate culture; and they have contributed positively to our team environment. Obviously, most employees at this stage are “too new to rate” in terms of their capacity to be significant. Thus my job is to help our supervisors understand how to assess an individual team member’s significance-capacity and then help the employee build skills by offering prompt, honest coaching without owning the issues that are being addressed. Notice how I phrased the above sentence, because it is a subtle yet significant change over the more traditional … Read More »

Date: May 12, 2010

Developing Potential On and Off the Field

In case you haven’t noticed lately, the business of sports has taken on epic proportions in our country. To some people, their favorite sports team is what they live for, not their work or even their families. As the owner of several fantasy football teams, I too get lost in the excitement of the professional football season. Fortunately, my wife indulges my competitive outlet and lately seems to find her own enjoyment watching me strut around the family room when I see one of “my players” score a long touchdown on TV.

Regarding the National Football League (NFL), they continue to evolve, especially under the leadership of the relatively new Commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell. A much higher personal and professional standard has been imposed and where good citizenship is promoted team-wide, players tend to become more involved in their respective communities.

Like other businesses, however, there are unresolved issues that must be dealt with. One such issue is that of rookie compensation, especially for players selected at the top of the draft each year. … Read More »

Date: May 5, 2010

A Sense of Purpose

For over a year now, I have initiated CEO exchanges with local business leaders in order to seek a better understanding of their unique leadership concerns and issues. While these types of exchanges are not new, and in fact have been hosted by our local Chamber of Commerce for years, I have been honored by the willingness of local business owners and managers to actively explore and challenge their business paradigms. The candidness of these individuals, clients and non-clients alike, to share their pain points and explore best practices together, has been enriching from both a human and business perspective. An unintended yet positive result of this initiative has been to give these leaders a new sense of purpose. From the very beginning, most leaders appeared eager to receive fresh thoughts and new ideas. To me, it’s as if they had read all the best business management and leadership books available in the bookstores and libraries; yet, they yearned for more information. They have an insatiable appetite for knowledge and are willing to explore different ways, … Read More »

Date: May 5, 2010
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