Positive Leadership Involves Building Positive Relationships

Most often when men and women are struggling in their role as leader their problems are a function of their relationships with the people with whom they interact. Rarely does it matter whether the relationship issues are with the leader’s employees, fellow supervisors, the people to whom they report, or members of their supply chain, both internal and external. The dynamics are pretty much the same in all human relationships, with the exception of romances and friendships. What distinguishes love/partnerships and friendships is that these relationships exist in the context of choice.

All other relationships typically happen as a result of us coming into frequent contact with others through work, team play, neighborhoods, or other serendipitous event. When our daily lives bring us into close contact with another human being, the extent to which we get along and are able to interact on a positive basis goes a long way in determining our happiness and success. If we like the people with whom we must spend time, then life is so much easier, less stressful, more productive, and happier. Sometimes these relationships blossom into friendships or partnership but rarely are we able to make this happen.

For people who are having relationship issues, in the work place or other non-intimate situations, there are two simple rules at play. The first, is if you are unhappy with the way other people are treating you, start by taking a critical look at how you treat them. Inevitably, how others treat you is a reaction to your behavior toward them.

The second rule at play is one of the core principles of positive leadership. It is only when we accept responsibility for relationships/problems that we begin to acquire the power to change/solve them. In this case, we have no direct power over the way people are treating us or responding to us. We do, however, have control over how we choose to interact with them and respond to the negative nuances.

Never be afraid to ask people for their help in improving your relationship with them but asking for that assistance in the right way is imperative. If they interpret your request as “I don’t like the way you are treating me and we need to change it!” you can be sure they will view your request as self-serving.

Simply approach the person(s) with sincerity and acknowledge that the relationship seems strained. Ask what you can do to improve it. Once that subject is broached it becomes easier to arrive at a point where you each accept responsibility for the friction that exists between you. Very few people welcome friction in their relationships but that friction persists because few are willing to take the initiative to do something about it. Most people will respond to an olive branch, however, if they sense sincerity.

Accepting responsibility and reaching out to others is the essence of positive leadership and it can change your life and the lives of the people around you. My book, The Difference is You, Power Through Positive Leadership will show you how much power you have to make a difference.

Things Positive Leaders Can Do, Part 6 – When you are the boss!

Accept that your people are your most important resource. However Imperfect they may seem and however many problems they may have caused they have more than enough potential to help your department succeed.

They are your people. You either select them or accepted them because they were thought to have the ability to do the job. Now they are your people and you are responsible for developing their potential. Remember that unless they are incompetent and/or unwilling, it is less expensive to remediate the problems they cause than to replace them. Place your faith and trust in them; elevate your expectations. If you are forced to conclude that your people do not have the potential your department requires, it is your responsibility to do something about it.

Let your people know what your company’s objectives are and let them know when it succeeds or fails and how you and they have contributed to that success or failure. Do not withhold data about your company’s performance. Remember that knowledge is power. Most employees have an intuitive understanding of what it takes to be profitable and, with a little help from you to teach them how to understand the numbers, you will likely be surprised at the manner of their response.

One of the best ways to do this is to give them specific information relating to the expectations of your customers.
Let you people know what your department’s job is and how it contributes to the success of the business. Also let them know how your department interacts with other departments and how these departments mutually support one another. Make certain you people understand how their jobs fit in the program and how they contribute to the success of the department and to the business as a whole. Identify the internal supply chains that exist for each department. Make sure they understand who exists to serve whom. Who are their internal customers and what are the expectations of these customers.

Whenever possible, help your people set specific goals and objectives. This does not mean setting those expectations for them. Expectations should be as high as possible as long as they are achievable and the more your employees participated in setting those expectations the more powerful they will be. Then, measure performance and publish the results. Find something to count. Celebrate all victories.

Let your people know that your job, as their supervisor, is to help them succeed and, then, do your job.
Become a strong advocate. Fight for your people and stand up for them. See that they get the credit they deserve.
Take advantage of every opportunity to give positive feedback and recognition. Feedback is not something that should occur on a schedule or on special occasions. Positive feedback should comprise a significant part of what we do, each and every day.

Establish an atmosphere that concerns itself with solving problems not fixing the blame. Allow for mistakes and for failure. Give recognition for a good try. The only people who never make mistakes are those that never accept a challenge and never extend themselves. Recall the adage that says that “unless you fall down once in a while, you are not really skiing.” Remember that mistakes are nothing more than wonderful learning opportunities.

Make a commitment to listen. Seek out the ideas and suggestions of your people and act on them. Establish a pattern of incentives that will encourage more ideas and suggestions. Let people know the outcome of their ideas and suggestions.
Manage on the move, out amongst your employees. Never underestimate the power of your physical presence and the number of opportunities your presence creates. Avoid the ivory tower image.

Operate with an open-door policy. Contrary to popular belief, an open-door policy does not weaken the chain of command. The rule of thumb is that “you can and should listen to anyone, anytime, but avoid taking action until you have heard all sides, gathered the facts, and involve all of the appropriate participants.” Schedule time when you will be available—otherwise your time will be devoured by circumstances beyond your control and the open-door policy will be a myth. Your people know how busy you are and that there are many demands for your time. When you guarantee time for them it will help them appreciate how precious your time is and how important they are that your are willing to share it with them. Remember that the best open-door policy is one in which the boss is going out among the people as well as allowing the people to come to the boss.

You will not be able to solve all of their problems but you will establish a positive atmosphere that will be a fertile ground for productivity and excellence.

Handle problems, don’t create them. Take action to resolve problem situations and to respond to problem behavior by people, face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball. Rather than criticize or punish people, deal with the natural consequences of behavior. Leave personalities out of it as much as possible. Solve problems at the lowest possible level.

Avoid the temptation to legislate solutions to problems. This gets the supervisor off the hook, temporarily, of having to deal with a problem. But it punishes the whole unit or department and it does not address the underlying problem. After all, behaviors are nothing more than symptoms of underlying issues. More often than not, it is the employee’s lack of commitment to the mission that is driving undesirable behavior. Do not make the majority suffer for the misdeeds of the few. In these situations, the innocent taste the bitterness of injustice and nothing destroys trust in leadership more than perceived injustice. Use the “few rules theory of leadership.”

Rules are the studs, joists, and rafters of bureaucracies. When the behavior of an individual compromises the mission or purpose of an organization, positive leaders go to the source. Positive leaders begin with the assumption that the individual wants to do a good job but has, somehow, been diverted from their purpose. Positive leaders view these events as opportunities to teach and also opportunities to build trust. They begin by reminding themselves of their purpose as a positive leader, which is to help individual men and women be successful.

“Hold on a minute!” you might say. “That is not the outcome we are seeking.”

A leader’s focus on outcomes, whether desirable or not, shifts the focus away from the individual. Imagine how differently you feel when someone accuses you of doing something wrong, compared to a simple response of surprise that the outcome of the effort was not what we wanted or expected. It changes the entire dynamics of the conversation. Positive leaders have the highest possible expectations of their people and they avoid searching for evil intent.
Inevitably, even in the career of the most positive leader, there will be men and women with the intent to work in the disinterest of their organization. Exemplary leaders are always shocked to discover people of bad character because they expect the best of everyone. When an individual to whom every consideration has been given proves him or herself to be untrustworthy, positive respond with the gavel of certain justice. These leaders respond unhesitatingly and unequivocally. At the moment when the positive leader becomes convinced that an individual can no longer be trusted, the leader’s efforts shift, immediately, from the focus on remediation to one of acting in the best interests of the organization. Rarely are the interests of an organization served by hesitation or vacillation. Positive leaders waste no time and immediately get the individual out of the organization.

Learn as many names as possible and smile at the people you encounter. Acknowledge your people as valuable human beings. Treat them with dignity and respect. People do not normally respond to embarrassment or humiliation. “KAP!” Kick Ass Privately when it is necessary to kick ass at all. Make people feel important. Have a training session for your entire management team to teach them how to make people feel important.

Your integrity and your character are your most important assets. You do not have to be right all the time nor do you need to win all of the battles.

Vent your frustrations and express your doubts only to your peers or to your boss. Even the penultimate leader feels doubt and frustration—after all they are human beings. It is okay to be human. What distinguishes positive leaders from their less effective counterparts is the recognition of their responsibility to put the interests of their organization and its people ahead of their personal interests. They vent their frustrations appropriately. Require the same of your staff. Encourage them to vent their frustrations to you. Once a policy is made by management, do not burden your staff with your disagreement or disenchantment with that policy. Carry out the policy with the same positive enthusiasm you would display if it were your pet project or idea. If you are a strong advocate, as well you should be, you will have given testimony of your opinion in the policy formation process. In dealing with your staff, encourage them to express their honest opinion about every topic until such time as the decision is made. Once the decision is made, expect them to support it enthusiastically.

Let your people know that you trust them to do their job, to produce results, to meet deadlines, to achieve objectives. Then, let them do their jobs. Don’t look over their shoulder until they have missed their deadlines. Give them honest feedback about their results. Remember that trust is one of the most important characteristics of a successful organization. Work hard to earn their trust in you.

You are the leader—so lead! Be Proactive! Be decisive! Accept responsibility! Keep an eye on the future!

Build Teamwork! Talk to your people about the role you want them to play and about its importance to the organization. See that they get recognition for their contribution and that they get to share in victories as a full member of the team. Intermix individual performance goals with team goals. If the individual’s performance holds the team back, involve the team in the resolution.

Insist on the facts! Know your department inside and out! Know what it produces and how much it costs to produce it. Don’t be afraid of the facts. They can be a powerful tool to get things done and the more you and your people know about your operation the better your outcomes.

Teach your people to accept responsibility for their jobs! When they come to you with problems or questions, use it as an opportunity to teach them how to think for themselves. Good leaders resist the temptation, when the employee is stuck on a problem, to take over and solve it. The goal is not to solve the problem and show how smart you are; the goal is to help them employee learn how to solve the problem and teach them how smart he or she can be. Ask them what they think. They may be extremely reluctant to share their ideas with you for fear of looking stupid, but ninety percent of the time they will have an idea that may lead to a solution.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for the day. Teach him how to fish and your feed him for a lifetime.
Teach your people how to be strong and independent rather than weak and dependent! Many supervisors think it necessary to keep their staff dependent on them when, in fact, this only weakens the organization. Effective supervisors are constantly working to help their staff become independent within the scope of their jobs.

Expect your people to be the best and expect your department to be the best. Make certain that your expectations are communicated to everyone. There is substantial evidence to support that most people will strive to live up to or down to the expectations of their leaders. There are very few people in the world who want to be a loser. People will follow a leader with a winning attitude. Leaders who believe their people are winners and who expect them to win, consistently produce winning teams.

When confronted with problems, take action to solve them. When you have no authority to act, prepare a plan of action and present it to someone who does have the authority. Give them enough information and sufficient options that they need only answer yes or no! There is never an excuse for inaction unless the problem is found not to be a real problem.

Deal with people in terms of their and your intelligent self-interest. Make decisions and take risks! Be patient and tolerant, set standards for others that represent their capabilities, not yours. Keep communication channels clear and rise above emotional barriers. Above all, accept responsibility for everything that happens in your department or organization. But, remember that responsibility and blame are not synonymous. In fact, forget about blame. Blame is a negative activity that contributes nothing to progress.

Set productivity goals that can be met by the majority of people in the workforce. Better yet, let your people establish their own productivity goals. The object is to set them high enough to generate pride in achievement but low enough that the majority begin to feel like winners. Publish those objectives for the world to see and post the results just as prominently. Let the results speak for themselves. With each victory, raise the level of expectations.
Begin the process of dismantling the bureaucracy. Try to find one rule per month that can be abolished. The more freedom you give to your people the more responsibility you have a right to expect. The more responsibility people have the greater their sense of ownership. Establish the ritual of inviting your people to nominate one rule per month for the scrap pile. You will also find this is an effective way to reduce your costs as each rule places and enforcement burden on the enterprise.

The list can go on and on. Build on this list! Use it as a springboard. We’ve tried to leave room with each of these strategies for your to flesh them out with greater specificity. Personalize them; tailor them to your individual tastes and preferences but, whatever, do something. Act!

Remember that anything human beings can imagine, human beings can do. Positive leaders believe in the possibilities and they believe in their people. Positive leaders communicate mission, vision, and values relentlessly.
Positive leaders strive to become totally dispensable to their organizations. They do this by empowering their people and in the process they become invaluable.

The world needs you and you can do it! You can make a difference!

Things Positive Leaders Can Do, Part 5 – As an Employee

This is the fifth in our series of articles about things positive leaders can do to make a difference in the world around them.

Give your best effort each and every day, all day long. Take pride in the work you do regardless of how menial or sophisticated. Focus your mind and your energies at all times on the end-customer who will derive benefit from that which you do whether that is someone outside of your organization or within. Accept as your mission the responsibility for giving that customer the best product or service possible given the resources with which you are provided.

Value your job as an opportunity to contribute something of value to society. Each and every job is part of the fabric that is our socio-economic system. As complicated and remote as it may seem, each job done well, contributes value to the system. In J. D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, Zooey Glass reminds his younger sister Franny of something their eldest brother Seymour said, “do it for the fat lady.”

Seymour’s “fat lady” was a symbolic representation of Jesus Christ. The point Seymour wished to make for his younger siblings was that they should always do and look their best for Christ. Doing so adds an element of beauty to the world. The universe, which is the Creator’s gift to mankind, may be vast and complicated but the contribution of individual men and women is still the primary determinant of the overall quality of life for all creatures.

Think in terms of primitive man’s early days when society was the extended family or tribe. No matter how primitive the community, a clear division of labor existed in which all participants were expected to contribute according their talents and abilities. The whole tribe derived benefit from a job well done and the whole tribe suffered if it was done poorly. Although modern society is complex, things have not changed all that much. What you do is still important to the welfare of the community and it is your responsibility to do it to the best of your ability.

Do not ask “what’s in it for me?” Do not take the attitude that I will do it only when I’m certain of the reward. Do it for the customer who will benefit, whether internal or external. Do it for the community that depends on everyone to do his or her best; do it for your own pride and self esteem. Positive leadership is both life-affirming and self-affirming.

Put your trust in your employer. Yes, there is risk that an employer may take advantage of you, that you may be exploited. There is risk in all of life. Someone has to break the cycle of mistrust, however, so why not let it be you? And, do not be afraid to ask management to put its trust in you.

Do not complain about things you don’t like or that make it more difficult to do your job. Instead, propose a positive alternative. Think through the issue and talk to other people who view the problem from a range of perspectives. Then prepare a brief but simple action proposal and submit it to the appropriate authorities. Do not worry about whether or not it will be approved. Many of your suggestions will be ignored; some, however, will be accepted. Some will be filed away for future reference and will re-surface when the time is ripe. Other proposals will be scorned; and, some will spark a germ of an idea in the mind of someone else and will be a catalyst for change.
Something else will happen, as well, as you develop a pattern of preparing action proposals. If your ideas are positive and practical you will acquire a reputation as a problem-solver, as a positive leader, and as an employee to be listened to and respected. Most important of all, the customer whom you serve will derive real benefit. As this happens you will also earn the respect of your peers who will view you as an individual who can get management to take notice. As a result, people will begin to recognize your leadership. Never under-estimate the power of committed men and women or the power of positive leadership. They can and do change the world! It happens every day, everywhere. You can too!

Talk to people and listen to them. Listen empathically. Smile at them and be friendly. Help people to learn how to do their jobs. Reach out to them. Set a good example. Don’t feel compelled to knuckle under to peer-pressure but instead, stand up for your values and principles.

Be a hero. When we were children we pretended to be heroes who would display our courage under even the most trying and dangerous circumstances. The workforce daily presents opportunities for heroism and the world needs you every bit as desperately today as in wartime. And, the benefit to be derived from your leadership is vital to our society. So go ahead! Be a hero! The worst thing that can happen to you as a result of your courage is that a few individuals with little minds and weak spines may make snide remarks. They are inconsequential. It is heroes that the world needs so earnestly.

Work hard, be honest, stay late, volunteer for the tough assignments, innovate, streamline, establish a new standard, communicate with management, demonstrate your loyalty, say what needs to be said even in the face of danger. Have strength and courage. Dedicate yourself to doing the best job you can and expect – even demand – the same from those around you. Our entire society, our way of life, is threatened by a lack of commitment and heroism; by the unwillingness of men and women to stand up for what is right and to give unselfishly of their talents and skills. You can make a difference! It is your duty to yourself, to your children, and to your children’s children. It is also your duty to your sense of honor. It is this kind of effort and courage that made America the beacon of hope for the world and it is this type of courage and effort that will revitalize and re-energize our nation, today and in the future.

Things Positive Leaders Can Do, Part 4 – Be Active in Your Community

How much time and energy one devotes to one’s community will vary greatly according to the time of one’s life. What is important is that each of us acknowledges a responsibility to our community, to society, and to the world as a whole.

Remember to think about things in the context of our most basic values:

1. That every human being on the face of the Earth is a child of Creation and deserves our respect and concern,
2. That the Universe is the Creator’s gift to us, and
3. That every job well done, great or small, adds an element of beauty to the world.

We have an unyielding obligation to cherish life and the Universe. Everything we do must be judged in this context:
“Does it or does it not affirm life.”

We must:

• Respect all life and each and every human being,
• Reject racism,
• Conserve and protect the Earth’s resources:
• Participate in our government at the local, state, and federal level by:
• Help our neighbors
• Take care of our property
• Support the less fortunate with our energy, compassion, time and money
• Support our economy by doing our job to the best of our ability
• Give something back to our community

None of us can afford to live in isolation or to abdicate responsibility for the world and its challenges. Whether we accept it or not, the problems of the world will have an impact on our lives and on the lives of our loved ones. None of the world’s problems can be effectively resolved without the help of each of us. None of us are insignificant and each effort on the part of every individual makes a difference.

Remember the thoughts of Jane Goodall,

“The most important thing people can do for the future of the world is to realize that what they do matters.”

Every child that grows up hungry, angry, ignorant, illiterate, and estranged from the mainstream of our society threatens the safety and quality of life of the entire community. These children are our responsibility and the sooner we acknowledge that responsibility the better our chances of making a positive impact. If every gainfully employed man or woman would reach back to help one disadvantaged child, there would not be enough disadvantaged children to go around.

Most of us look out at the immense problems in the world and feel overwhelmed and powerless. This is a normal human feeling but it is just that—a feeling. We are not powerless and we need not feel overwhelmed. We have the power to make a difference if only we will do whatever is in our power to do; if only we will take the lead as a positive leader.
Give of yourself fully and practice the principles of positive leadership.

Former President George H. W. Bush’s 1988 campaign strategy of promoting “a thousand points of light” was an important acknowledgement that our government cannot solve all of our problems. In fact, just the opposite is true. More often than not our government tends to create more problems than it solves. When government attempts to solve our problems for us it tends to create dependencies rather than foster both independence and interdependence. The best solutions to our problems rest in the hands of individual men and women, acting in concert with their friends and neighbors, and acting on principle.

You can make a difference. More importantly, you must make a difference. The whole world is counting on you. Be a positive leader!

Things You as a Positive Leader Can Do, Part 2 – Be a Better Spouse or Lover!

This is the second in our series of things positive leaders can do to make a difference in world around them and in the lives of the people with whom they interact.

If you desire a better marriage or a better relationship with your spouse or lover be a positive leader and commit to becoming a better spouse or lover; be a better partner in life. Whether you are a man or a woman, your job is to give of yourself; to wish happiness for your partner and then to do whatever you can to make it happen. This is your mission in life, to be a giver rather than a taker. If you give of yourself fully, it is inevitable that your partner will give to you as well.

Be your partner’s best friend. Be his or her cheerleader, moral support, and advocate as well as lover and companion. Take joy in his or her success in life because they are your successes as well. Pull for them to be fulfilled in life and to be self-actualized. Do all these things and your partner will return them in full measure. It may not seem so at first, but by giving of yourself you are enriching your partner’s self-esteem. The healthier your spouse or lover’s ego the more he or she is able to give. Remember that “what goes around, comes around.”

Make your partner feel that they are important and that what they do and say is also important. Listen to them and communicate honestly. Let them know that they can count on you for honest feedback and that they need not be embarrassed because of their imperfections. The more you give and the more you share, the more you shall receive in return.

Give fully of yourself sexually and learn what makes your partner happy. Strive to give them pleasure and you will learn the magical secret of sexual fulfillment. The more you give of yourself the more you receive in return. When both partners strive equally to give the other pleasure, both will joyfully experience one of our Creator’s greatest gifts. The secret of life is, once again, giving. The more we give, the more we receive. It is truly a prescription for life.

When barriers are erected between you and your partner, break them down. Talk to one another no matter how difficult it seems. If you are unable to say it out loud, write a letter. If the barriers loom too large, seek help from a trained professional. Remember that the relationship is more important than anything you possess. It is more important than the house, the cars; it is more important than anything but your self-esteem. Your children are an inherent part of the relationship and not something separate and apart.

The relationship must always enhance the self to be healthy. If, at any time, the relationship seems to require that one partner give up his or her identity then the relationship is unhealthy. Healthy relationships demand the absolute commitment to the well-being of one’s partner. Each must be devoted to the other in this respect. Anything short of this is selfishness and selfishness is the destructive force at the root of much of the trouble in not only our relationships but also in our society.

Yes, there will be inevitable conflicts and differences of opinion. Both partners will have strengths and weaknesses and the sharing will, at times, be unequal. Neither has a right to expect perfection but both have the right to expect the best of one another. When problems arise, do not keep score of who did what to whom or who owes what.

Help each other. Share responsibilities. Talk about the personal goals and expectations of each and divvy up responsibilities according to those goals and expectations. Now that more and more women have careers, it is vital that the partners understand that a team effort is required at home. Both partners must share equally with the responsibilities of childcare and home. Remember that the best marriages and the healthiest children come from marriages that are distinguished by full partnership.

Sharing a life together can be the single greatest joy in life. It is greater than anything money can buy and it is worth any sacrifice. It is the source of strength that can sustain each partner through all of the ups and downs of life and that will allow you to delight in your life, no matter what challenges life brings to bear. When we see what is happening throughout our society, with the divorce rate and the breakup of families, it is a sad thing. It is a symptom of our systemic selfishness. Many men and women make poor decisions when selecting their mate, relying on superficial criteria. Then, we fail to give fully of ourselves in the effort to make the relationship work.

We place our value in things that are, at their core, meaningless. We want nice things: a beautiful house in a prestigious neighborhood, expensive furniture, nice cars, flashy toys, and nice vacations. Some of us consider it imperative that they belong to the most exclusive country clubs. We want all we can get, yet none of these things lead to joy and happiness. They are not inherently bad things but it is the quest for their acquisition that can lead to disillusionment and unhappiness. The only joy in life comes through our relationships with our Creator, however we individually may choose to view the Creation, and our relationships with the people whom we love and cherish. Things have no meaning and a life that has been dominated by the desire for material things is destined for heartbreak.

Rethink your values. Examine the focus of your time and energy. If that focus is on materialism rather than on the people in your life then it is time for a radical realignment. If you refocus that attention on your spouse, your children, your family and friends you will rediscover absolute joy in your life.

Things You Can Do, Today, Tomorrow and the Next Day, Part 1

This is the first of a series of articles written to explore specific things individual men and women can do to make a difference in the world around them. Making a difference is what leadership is all about and, ultimately, each of us will be judged as a leader on the basis of how much of a difference did we make and toward what objectives.

Positive leaders are whole people and their leadership extends to all aspects of the world in which they live and interact. These men and women recognize that we are all interdependent and that nothing leaders do can be done in isolation.

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The key to leadership is action! Our discussion of leadership would be meaningless unless we offer specific suggestions for action strategies that can be implemented immediately. Things you can do that will have a dramatic impact on your life and on the world around you.

Each of these things is not only possible they are imminently doable. All that is required is a willing participant who will open his or her heart to the possibilities and will act and act now!

Our discussion will address strategies for the full spectrum of our lives to include home, the community and the workplace. This list of strategies is not intended to be exhaustive. Our purpose is to get you started, to serve as an ignition system. The list is as long as your imagination and success requires that you utilize your imagination, fully.

ACTION STRATEGIES FOR HOME

1. Exercise your mind, body and self esteem.

Actions:
Implement an exercise program to get your body in shape. Do it at home or away from home. Walk, exercise, play tennis or basketball, ride a real or stationary bicycle, join a health club, take aerobic classes, join the mall walkers’ club at your nearest shopping mall. Do not overdo it! Start slowly and build up to a daily regimen that works for you, but make a commitment and stick to it. You will feel better, have more energy, more stamina, and more enthusiasm for life and be less susceptible to depression.

Initiate a reading program. Set aside at least fifteen to twenty minutes a day, at a time that works well for you, to read something educational or inspirational, beyond the local newspaper. Feel free to vary the material you read according to your interests and activities and according to your job requirements. It will expand your mind and your imagination, introduce you to new ideas, broaden your vocabulary, improve your positive outlook, and inspire you to live your life more fully.

Commence a serious regimen for your self esteem. Listen to motivational tapes. Smile and talk to yourself in the mirror. Read motivational books. Keep a diary of your innermost thoughts and feelings as you strive to build a positive self-concept.

Become a giver rather than a taker. Begin to think of yourself as a giving person and start doing things for other people. Nothing makes us feel better about ourselves than to receive positive feedback from the people in our lives; and nothing generates positive feedback from the people in our lives more than doing things to help those people feel good about themselves. Share yourself with the people about whom you care! These things you do for yourself, but not only for yourself. The best way to enhance your contribution to your family, your job, and community is to take good care of yourself. You are important to the people in your life. They care about you and they need you. Take good care of yourself for their sake as well as for your own sake.

Go on a sensible diet, not a fad diet; take a vitamin and mineral supplement. If you are unhappy with your appearance, do something about it. Get a new hair style; dress differently; try a different style of eyeglasses.
Begin to look at yourself through different eyes. When you look at yourself through the eyes of someone who feels good about him or herself you can begin to see the warmth and the friendliness in your face, especially if you are smiling. Discard the idea that you have to look like a movie star; very few people possess that type of good looks. Think instead of all the friendly and interesting people you know. Think about their faces and their appearance. How do you perceive them? You enjoy seeing them because they are warm and friendly people and the various characteristics of their appearance are distinguishing. What draws you to them is not their facial or physical beauty, but their warmth and friendliness, their openness and their genuine concern for you. Think of yourself as this type of person and very soon you will begin to see that type of person when you smile at yourself in the mirror.

Think positive, life-affirming thoughts as often as possible. Fill your mind with positive thoughts and purge yourself of as many negative thoughts and feelings as possible. Count your blessings. Do not be discouraged when negative thoughts keep cropping up. They are normal for all human beings. Think of it as weeding the garden. The more you pull the weeds the more the flowers flourish, yet the weeds keep coming. It is a never-ending job. Once you have cleared the garden a few times, however, the weed growth begins to diminish. So, too, will it be with your negative feelings and thoughts.

Change the way you respond to people. When someone asks how you are doing, how do you respond? Try something new the next time someone asks. Say: “Better than I have in a long time!” If they want to hear more you can say: “I have been working to develop a positive attitude and it has given me a whole new outlook on life.” You don’t have to say any more than this but be sure to smile when you say it. If people want to know more then don’t be shy. Share your gift of positive living with them and you will feel even better about yourself. Do not worry as you would in the past, about being embarrassed.

Pay attention to the other people in your life. When you meet other people, do not push your ideas on them but reach out to them in a totally different way. Give them your attention, after all attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give to another human being. Listen to them and hear what they are saying. Ask relevant questions that demonstrate that you are listening. Give them positive feedback and encouragement at every opportunity without preaching and without talking about yourself. Do not talk about yourself at all unless they ask, specifically. The more you truly listen to others and give them fully of your attention, you are making them feel like the most important person in the world and they will choose to spend more time with you than they may have ever done in the past.

Do a self-assessment exercise. Make a list the things you like about yourself and that other people like about you and then rejoice in and celebrate the positive things in your life. Also list those things about you about which you are unhappy. Pick up to five of the things about which you are unhappy and develop action strategies for change. If you commit to those action strategies it won’t be long until you will be scratching things off of your list or transferring them to the list of things you like about yourself. When you eliminate an item from this latter list, replace them with another item.

Motivating the People of Your Organization: The Fifth Attribute of Positive Leaders

The fifth and final attribute of positive leaders everywhere deals most directly with what powerful positive leaders do on a daily basis. They work hard to create a motivated workforce and they do it not by some grand design but rather by working with individual men and women, whether one-to-one or in groups.

How often have you heard the complaint that “people don’t want to work anymore!” or, “Our employees don’t appreciate their jobs!”? How many times have you heard yourself making similar comments?

We have all felt this way and each of us has experienced the frustrations that result from a poorly motivated workforce and from our apparent inability to turn the situation around.

We categorically reject the hypothesis that people do not want to work, in favor of an alternate idea: that people don’t know how to work and be productive. It is a subtle but important distinction. We submit that people can be taught. The challenge to leadership is to teach these things and to ignite the internal motivation that exists in each of us to learn and to excel.

Human motivation is a complex subject. For all of the attention motivation receives its critical role is underappreciated. As complicated as the subject of human motivation may be, motivating people or, more appropriately, igniting a person’s internal motivation is a relatively simple challenge. The key to human motivation in the work place, or anywhere else, is to make people feel important.

Everyone wants to feel important. Leaders who effectively convey that their people are truly vital to the organization will have a dynamic, energetic, and motivated team of people.

Examine your own experience with your favorite supervisor or teacher. You felt a special relationship with your mentor, a real kinship. You knew you were liked and you did your best work while they were involved in your life. What did they do differently than the other teachers and supervisors who clutter your memory?

These leaders treated you as if you were special. They liked you; they remembered your name; they listened to you; they valued your opinion; they showed appreciation for your efforts; they smiled at you; they treated you with respect; they trusted you; they challenged you; they tried to help you do a better job; they provided you with clear expectations; they gave you continuous and ongoing feedback; they let you make mistakes without fear of retribution or humiliation; they encouraged you to try again; they made sure you received full recognition for your contributions; they expected much from you and so much more.

They worked hard to make you feel important. It was a genuine display of affection. And, it was easy because they liked people. Positive leaders genuinely care about and believe in the capabilities of the men and women in their organization.

There will always be a few unproductive people, no matter how capable their supervisor, but they are the exception, not the norm. The majority of employees can and will be both motivated and productive if you are an effective leader. When they are not, the responsibility is yours, not society’s. You recruited them, you hired them, you train and evaluated them. It may well be that they came to your shop poorly prepared to live up to your expectations but they were the best of the lot. After you signed them on you accepted responsibility for their performance and outcomes.
As a leader, the only meaningful measure of your own performance is how well you take this raw material and mold it into a well-trained, well-focused, and highly motivated work force.

Learn how to be a positive leader and how to create an environment that fosters the internal motivation of your people. It is easy once you acquire the genuine belief that your people are your most important resource and you communicate that fact to them through your words, your actions, and through the rules, structure, and culture of your organization.

Make people feel important!

The Fourth Attribute of Positive Leaders: Mastering the Process of Success

The fourth attribute of Positive Leaders is that they possess an understanding of the process of success along with a commitment to the relentless utilization of that process.

People dream about success and about doing great things. Many young people fantasize about winning the lottery or making millions of dollars as a professional athlete. Few of these young people know how to convert their dreams to plans to action. Many adults think that success is a state of perpetual affluence. These men and women do not realize that affluence is nothing more than a possible consequence and not the essence of success.

The vast majority of you who are reading this page have the ability within you to succeed right where you are, just by doing things differently, by learning the process of success and by rededicating yourselves to positive values. You can improve your performance on the job, enhance your career, have a more satisfying marriage, and get more joy and meaning out of life. These things can happen, now! Success can be personal, interpersonal, or organizational but it is always tied to clearly delineated objectives and is always measured through our relationships with other people.

What, then, is this process of success? It includes a mission in life, rooted in positive, life-affirming values; a positive attitude and approach; passion; a vision of how things can be; specific goals and objectives; an implementation plan; and finally, action. It is that simple but it does not stop there. Action creates change. Change requires that the vision be re-examined, that the progress is measured, that the goals and objectives are adjusted, that the action plan be re-engineered, and that our actions themselves are modified accordingly. The process is repeated until we have converted the dream to reality; until we are satisfied. But satisfaction does not come easily if it comes at all.

The more we accomplish, the more we learn, and the more we learn, the more we imagine. What is vital is that our values, those core principles that sustain us, are not altered but remain rock solid.

It is the positive leader’s propensity for action that distinguishes them from men and women who simply manage. Positive Leaders make things happen. These individuals are at the peak of their art or craft. How do they do it? Well, of course, they have talent – but then lots of people have talent. The world is full of talented people who think back on opportunities in their lives and say, “with a little luck I might have made it!” But, many talented people do not make it and luck may or may not deserve the credit for their outcomes. We all have good luck but not everyone is prepared to capitalize on it when it comes.

It is said that winners make their own breaks and this we have found to be especially true. Those of us who blame everything on bad luck are not accepting reality. If we reflect on the opportunities that have come our way, we discover that they came unexpectedly, often catching us off guard and unprepared. We might say it was bad luck that good fortune, in the guise of opportunity, called upon us when we were not ready. More often than not bad luck is little more than lack of readiness or preparation.

Understand your purpose and mission and re-examine them routinely. Establish goals and objectives for yourselves. Make a commitment to those goals and dedicate yourself to doing everything in your power to facilitate them. Work hard to develop your skills and discipline yourself to a regimen that will maximize your talents and energies toward that end.

Be persistent in spite of the obstacles that present themselves and the setbacks that befall you. Follow the Boy Scout motto and “Be Prepared.” Know that all the work and effort you put forth is preparation for the time when opportunity knocks. When opportunities do present themselves, take positive action using all the skills and abilities in your arsenal and all the energy at your command.

Taking action is the key. Even the ideas of an Einstein or a Jefferson have little value until they are acted upon or communicated.

Positive Leaders employ the tools of success: action plans and action proposals. Action plans are nothing more than a list of the things you plan to do to breathe life into an idea. Action plans may be sufficiently brief that they can fit on the back of a business card or they can require several pages, depending on the complexity of the specific goals and objectives.

An action proposal is a special kind of action plan that is utilized when its originator lacks the authority or power to act on the idea. Action proposals are submitted to the decision-maker(s) appropriate to the specific situation. Action proposals contain, at a minimum:

• A statement of purpose – what do we want to accomplish and why (how does it serve our mission)?
• Specific and measurable goals and objectives;
• A delineation of the specific activities needed to achieve those goals and objectives and in what time frame;
• The resources necessary, which includes the people whose participation will be required, the non-human assets, the estimated cost of the endeavor, and also any recognizable opportunity costs;
• How the results will be measured?
• What next steps are anticipated?

An effective action proposal contains everything the decision-maker will need in order to say “Yes.” In fact, the idea is to make it as easy as possible for someone to say “Yes.” Very often, a “No” is the default response when the action proposal leaves too many unanswered questions and requires the decision-maker to do too much.

Positive Leaders rarely complain about things because complaints are powerless and are little more than a form of whining. Positive Leaders offer alternate solutions – what can we do differently in order to produce a more desirable outcome. If we think back to our fundamental definition of leadership, it is acceptance of responsibility for increasingly more desirable outcomes; for continuous improvement. This is what Positive Leaders do.

Does utilization of this process guarantee success? No! There are no guarantees. It does, however, improve the odds of a successful outcome so dramatically in one’s favor that success moves from possibility to probability. Teach yourself the process and make success a probability in your life!

Do not wait and hope that success will happen in your life, some day. Take action now! Make it happen and “put wings on your dreams.”

Commitment to Mission, Vision, & Values: The Third Attribute of Positive Leaders

There is a direct relationship between the efficacy of leadership and the level of passion positive leaders exhibit for the mission, vision, and values of their organization. This passionate commitment is the third attribute of positive leaders.

Whatever products and services an organization produces and whoever its customers may be, powerful positive leaders have a clear vision for the future of their organizations and an articulate and well-defined purpose or mission. Positive leaders convey that mission to the people of their organizations, relentlessly. There is a simple adage. If the people of an organization, irrespective of the position they occupy, do not know what their leaders are going to say before they say it, then the leaders are not communicating their message with sufficient frequency and effectiveness. Relentless is just another word for commitment.

Positive leaders never squander an opportunity to tell their organization’s story or share its mission, vision, and values. One of the distinguishing characteristics of winning organizations is that everyone in the organization, or at any link in the supply chain, can articulate its mission, vision, and values.

A mission statement is a concise representation of purpose: whom does the organization exist to serve and what needs of its customers does the entity exist to satisfy? The best mission statements also address the level of excellence to which the organization aspires, which is a measure of customer satisfaction.

At no time can anyone in the organization be permitted to lose sight of its mission or purpose. History teaches us that human beings are prone to diversions from their purpose in the midst of the natural and seemingly infinite distractions to which they are inevitably subjected. It is the commitment of positive leaders that keeps mission and purpose at the forefront of the organization’s consciousness.

The leader’s vision transcends mission and purpose, recognizing that these are fluid concepts in a dynamic universe. Vision addresses the organization’s standing in its marketplace and its future direction. Among other things, vision assures that the entity’s strategic plan is sufficiently future-oriented. What does the future hold? How will customer needs and requirements evolve? What innovations in product or service will be needed to assure the entity’s competitive advantage?

The values of the organization are the things its leaders consider most important and almost always include commitment to customer satisfaction and exemplary quality. Values must also include information that conveys esteem with which the people of the organization are held. An entity’s values are the moral benchmarks against which each and every action of the organization is gauged.

This focus on values is critical because one of the most common problems that keep organizations from optimal performance is that its actions are not in sync with the things its leaders say. A clear focus on and an unrelenting commitment to the values of the organization on the part of its leaders serves as preventative maintenance that retards the emergence of secondary agendas and counter cultures. Such commitments are nothing more than a demonstration of a positive leader’s integrity.

A member of a client organization once commented, after a discussion of values, that these sound like nothing more than time-worn platitudes. I prefer to think of them as the underlying principles that guide the leaders of winning organizations.

Another 5 Star Review for “Light and Transient Causes”

The following review was posted by a reader at www.amazon.com :

Light and Transient Causes takes a futuristic look at the United States in a worst case scenario: crippling social unrest, unthinkable terrorist acts and an imploding American economy. As citizens elect a leader promising a return to civility, the 50 states are placed under martial law. Two anti-government citizen groups in Indianapolis, ReGenesis and the Resistance band together in protest. What transpires is a bloody government response to the rebellion.

I was fascinated by the book and fearful at the same time. The author incorporated all the domestic and international issues facing the country and placed them on a collision course. It’s chilling in the sense that it’s all possible in the world we live in today. Awesome read!