Fit2Lead Part 1

Fit2Lead Part 1 is the first installment to a four part series, if you haven't read the Fit2Lead intro yet, I encourage you to start there before reading on.

Remember when we were in school and shortly thereafter, all the carefree time we had to run and play, hit the gym, hike, and bike, etc.? We took some time to move around, socialize with others, and simply mix it up. We took the time to stay fit for the challenge.

Then, life gets on us. We are wired to do more, to be successful, be happy, and to live the dream – to lead. We constantly push more and more into our busy and hectic lives. We take on more and the more we take on the more we push out the things we used to do that brought us joy and balance.

One of those things is exercise and fitness. Unfortunately this gets chalked up as one of those nice to haves but easy to delete activities from our lives.

As the demand for time at home and in our careers gets more compressed, the inner workings of our hearts and minds are still driven by ambition. Most of us will lead, whether it is parenting at home or a position in the workplace. Now more than ever, it is important to be fit for the challenge. Be fit to lead!

If you are a leader in your workplace you especially need to pay close attention to this as living a healthy lifestyle will have a great impact on your ability to handle challenges. It will also impact the efficiency and quality of your employees work, their mindset and attitude, and much more.

Below are some facts of how getting healthier means working happier:


Work Productivity

Exercising keeps those eyes from becoming heavy as the day wears on and helps you accomplish your daily tasks. The key points below show how exercise will empower you to bring greater value to your employer.

  • Keeps you alert and focused making fewer errors
  • Enhances your body’s ability to transfer glucose and oxygen throughout your brain and body therefore increasing your energy level
  • Increases blood flow to the brain, which ultimately improves brain function

Mental Health

According to How Does Exercise Improve Work Productivity? by, Harvard Business Review, studies indicate that our mental firepower is directly linked to our physical regiment.

Recognize that the benefits of exercise extend beyond the physical and aesthetic appearance. Exercise impacts mental capacity by:

  • Improving memory function
  • Stress management, Medline Plus article, Exercise and Immunity states, “Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones”
  • Elevating mood and creating a more positive self-image
  • Increasing mental stamina to better handle challenges and opportunities
  • Self confidence by working through challenges and accomplishing goals

Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins, also known as “happy” chemicals in our body during and after exercise which create a feeling of euphoria.  This will help uplift your mood throughout the day which is important in the workplace especially when it comes to interacting with customers, peers, and your direct reports.

Illness Prevention

At some point, you are going pick up a bug or a cold, it is inevitable. However, you can increase your odds of good health whether it is chronic or acute illness by simply monitoring the food you use for fuel.  With proper nutrition and exercising, sickness will come less frequently and missed time will be a thing of the past. Below are some facts on how exercise and proper nutrition will help you with illness prevention:

  • Get your vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants from natural sources such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein sources, which help keep your body strong and healthy.
  • Wholesome fiber helps move everything along the digestive track giving you a healthy gut, which is imperative for illness prevention - shoot for around 30g/day
  • Medline Plus shares that exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells, which will circulate more rapidly, detecting illness earlier than if exercise was not a part of your routine

Becoming fit to lead is a journey, not a sprint.  It takes time, patience, and commitment to make an impact. 

Now that you have some basics on the importance of practicing a healthy and balanced lifestyle, what are you waiting for?

Next up, we will go deeper with putting physical activity in your regular day and making it part of your new routine to “Impact”.

 

Written by: 

Libby Perritt, EP-C

Founder of Faithfully Fit Army

Contact me with any questions you may have, LPerritt@Impact2Lead.com !


References:

Medlineplus.gov. (2017). Exercise and immunity: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm [Accessed 16 Nov. 2017].

Anon, (2017). {online} Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/422836-how-does-exercise-improve-work-productivity/ {accessed 8 Nov. 2017}.

Fit2Lead Intro

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Hello Everyone!

I hope you are enjoying an "Impactful" weekend and doing something fun to recharge your batteries before heading back to the workplace next week.

You all know how passionate I am when it comes to unleashing leadership potential. I spend most of my time mentoring, coaching, speaking, and developing leaders at the health center I run in Virginia. What I am also passionate about is health and fitness and the role it plays in the passion I pursue. You see, as a leader, not only must you survive the challenges that come your way constantly, you must thrive in them. In order to thrive, you must be sharp mentally and physically…yes physically.

Why physically? Because of the mental toughness that is needed to stand tall in the pursuit of your passion to lead and/or be successful. Mental toughness requires stamina and stamina only comes from keeping yourself in shape. Now, this doesn't mean you go out and run marathons or compete in body building contests to get in shape. It means moving your body and mind to increase the oxygen flow throughout the body which promotes confidence and self-esteem.

Over the next four weeks, Libby Perritt, Exercise Physiologist-C ACSM, will be delivering some impactful tips on the benefit of getting yourself fit to lead. I am very excited about this and hope you are too!

Until then, have a most "Impactful" day!

Gary Campbell

The Why

I often ask people, “Why do you do what you do”? I continually pose this question to the employees and leadership at Johnson Health Center. I probe for answers when I speak on leadership to other organizations across the country. I am on a constant hunt to know the why that drives people…to know their purpose.  

When I started asking this question a few years back, initial responses were always scripted and clichéd if you will; in other words, not truly from the heart.

Leadership why  CEO business owner speaker impact

On September 27, I received an email from one of our Johnson Health Center employees at the front desk in Madison Heights, VA. In summary, she wanted to let me know of the amazing care the pediatric nurse practitioner and his team provided for a distraught mother who had not had success identifying what was wrong with one of her children. She told me that not only had this provider and the team pressed for a finding but upon discovering a severe issue that required surgery, had kept up with the family to track the recovery.

She wanted me to know that this incredible commitment to patient care should be recognized (we did that of course).  While this was certainly a message intended to recognize others, it was the way she closed it that said it all. “He (the provider) saved this child’s life, and this story reminded all of us that life is so precious and never take anything for granted.  This story is the ideal example of our “WHY” Why we do what we do. Why we never give up. And why we always go above and beyond”.

After reading my employee’s email, I am convinced that this group of wonderful employees at Johnson Health Center can do anything…when they know their why. I am convinced that anything is possible when you know your why.

I encourage each of you to spend some time on this. Your why will define your purpose and your purpose will drive your passion. Your passion will drive your vision which will ultimately determine your impact, destiny and legacy.

Written by: Gary Campbell 

Unleashing Your Potential

I have always been fascinated by potential, to the point it became my purpose for launching Impact2Lead in late 2013. In my mind, potential represents hope and things imagined but not yet achieved.

Merriam-Webster defines potential as existing in possibility; capable of development into actuality. I look at potential as an aspiration with a passion and enthusiasm for what has yet to be realized. Simply put, positive energy towards something big with a purpose.

When I was younger, a lot younger, I thought I knew everything and really didn’t seek out help to unleash my own potential. I lumbered through early adulthood certainly wanting more but not understanding or diving deep into what would get me there. The fact that I was blind to it was sure clear enough for the companies I worked for. Guess they assumed if I wasn’t interested then they weren’t either.

I managed to figure this out as time went on and thankfully there were a few people along the way who took a special interest in me to get me focused.

Getting focused sounds relatively straightforward however there is more to it. The process, patience, and effort needed to unleash your own potential, resides in your heart and soul. The sum of its parts must equate to a purpose geared to helping others, not simply achieving self-oriented success.

There is nothing wrong with ambition, frankly you must have it in order to unleash your potential. However, a misguided focus on ambition to simply climb the ladder, make more money, bolster the ego, be the talk of the town, see your name in lights, etc., will ultimately leave you with the empty feeling of unfilled potential. It can also be a career limiting approach in an era where the evolving workforce is demanding leaders and employers that care.

Here are some steps to help along the path to unleashing your own potential:

•       Determine what differentiates you from the rest and be precise/clear about how it can help others – be passionate

•       Build your vision statement – your purpose

•       Clearly understand the commitment needed

•       Identify your core values

•       Develop a plan of action to get where you want to be and get help

•       Determine the skills you have that match your vision

•       Cultivate those skills

•       Prepare yourself for setbacks and make certain you learn from them

•       Surround yourself with people that will make you better – avoid getting caught up in negativity at all costs

•       Exist to help others

•       Protect your personal brand

In looking back, I am grateful for those who helped me. I am grateful I did not derail myself during those times of impatience and can think the only reason I get to do what I do today is because I sincerely cared for others.

“Helping individuals and organizations unleash potential through impactful leadership” is not just a slogan under the signature line of my email, but rather a calling. Leaders that pay attention to this, will unleash more than their own potential. They will leave a legacy.

Next up; how organizations can assure they are focused on unleashing potential to drive performance and a culture of excellence.

Becoming an Employee of Choice- The Drive to Inspire

Inspiration is a powerful tool, and at Impact2Lead we like to say that inspiration is the spark of influence. An accurate picture for portraying this principle is to think of a car. When it is moving, the car will influence most anything in its path. So, if the car represents the influence we have in the lives of those around us, the inspiration is the fuel that produces the spark in the pistons, which in turn moves the car.

Put simply, if you want to be an influential member in your culture, workplace or otherwise, then you need to be driven to inspire. Think about that for just a second…

Are you driven to inspire? Do you look for opportunities in your current position, wherever that may be, to spark growth in others by seeing potential and unleashing it through inspiration?

It is a tough but important question. It is important because inspiration is becoming an increasingly important quality in the workplace to both leaders and employees everywhere.

The HOW Report, a yearly report based on the survey of 16,000 employees in 17 different countries, identified its six major findings for 2016. Number 6 speaks to the importance of inspiration by saying, “Inspiration is 27% more predictive of high performance than employee engagement.” The report goes on to say that inspired employees, “meet challenges with creativity and fidelity to purpose while forging sustainable paths to growth, humility, grit, and hope.”

The bottom line for us is this: inspired people inspire others to move forward. Inspired people are driven to inspire. They just can’t help it. They are emotionally engaged!

But what’s the takeaway for you, right where you are, right now? How can YOU be a person of inspiration where you are?

Here are three practical things you can do right now to be an inspirational Employee of Choice:

1.       Identify what inspires you so you can inspire others; you have to know the source of your own inspiration or the passion that drives this inspiration. If you find that you are not being inspired in your current position, then dig deeper. Look for the purpose behind what you are doing, i.e. why your job exists, rather than simply looking at the mundane tasks or the ordinary activities. There is always a greater purpose behind what we do, and most of the time it isn’t spelled out for us. We just gotta dig deep!

2.       Do your homework by taking the initiative in gaining a greater understanding and appreciation for what the organization does and who they help. Take a long look at the mission, the vision, and the core values then ask questions around them to help you understand how they might align with your own value system. Be a walking ambassador and inspiration to those around you. Help them to understand more deeply, and ask questions of clarification from leadership when things aren’t clear.

3.       Be a positive force and recognize the power you hold as an employee; be a force for positive change by encouraging others to do the same. This isn’t easy if the environment doesn’t lend itself to empowerment or positivity, but let your own deeply inspired personal vision be your anchor in this and every situation. Create a space outside of work to really rest and use that time to fuel what you do!

At the end of the day, realize the power you have over your own actions and let the drive to inspire be a part of your journey to make an Impact and become an “Employee of Choice”!

 

 

Impactful Gratitude

Last week I got to spend some time with my great friends, Bob Burg and Kathy Tagenel at the Go-Giver Sales Academy in Orlando, Florida. I had accompanied my wife and daughter who run K&K Worldwide Media and had enrolled in the two-day workshop as a means to help them as they implemented new strategies in their business. 

I had really planned to spend more time watching spring training baseball than anything else, but somehow got so intrigued with the program, I didn’t miss a minute myself.

As usual, it followed the Go-Giver principles built on the five laws of stratospheric success, however, this went deeper than that. There were talented people from all over the world in this session, and many of the practices and recommendations shared were so valuable. You can say a few lifelong friends were made.

So I got to meet new friends, hang with my wife and daughter at a professional conference, and see Bob and Kathy again, all in one setting. However, as special as this was, my takeaway was a simple reminder on how to live.

On the second day during an exercise on receiving, each person went around the room and gave credit and thanks for the experiences they had enjoyed over their brief time together. There were laughs, smiles and tears, yes tears. This was inspirational to me. The key to the exercise was to get people comfortable with receiving good feedback while helping the messenger deliver with comfort and courage.

At the end of it, Bob Burg made the reference to living in constant gratitude. Wow! I thought. What a simple yet impactful way to go about life. It’s not like I forget how blessed I am or forget to say thank you, but to remind me to truly live in it. Live a life of gratitude, be thankful in everything and let people see it, feel it.

This week, my travels carried me to Washington, DC and a stay at the Normandy Hotel (highly recommended if you like great service). The conference hotel was booked up so I had to handle the inconvenience of walking nearly a mile back and forth to the conference where I spoke on Becoming an Employer of Choice.

When I returned to my hotel after a very long day, I had a snack craving. Unfortunately this hotel doesn’t do snacks or have a restaurant on site.  The front team made suggestions, offered to get me a cab and even looked to see if cookies baked in the morning were still available. None were.

This did not deter me from giving complete thanks and living in gratitude. This made me feel great! I could see it made them feel great.

At 9:45 PM as I was winding down my evening, there was a knock on my door. As I opened the door, the young lady (Karimah) met me with a smile and two of the warmest chocolate chip cookies I have had in years. She simply said she knew how much I would appreciate it. I could not thank her enough!

My living in gratitude was received so well, this young emerging leader helped make my stay just a little better, and locked me in for a repeat stay next time I head to DC.

I want to thank the good folks in Orlando from the Go-Giver Sales Academy. From time-to-time we need to be reminded on what life really is all about; making an impact on others. Thank you!

- Gary Campbell

 

 

Making an Impact

In the summer of 2013 after reading a copy of Bob Burg and John David Mann’s, “The Go-Giver”, I immediately knew I could not stick to my five-year plan for launching my own leadership consultancy. I needed to do it now. I am not sure what it was about the five laws in “The Go-Giver” that inspired me so much other than its’ profound impact on my mindset to intentionally grow and develop others on a broader level.

While I will not go into each of the laws here, it is safe to say the “Law of Value” centers me in my work to provide more value than I take in payment and the “Law of Influence” drives me to abundantly put other people’s interests first.

As I went back and forth on what to call my new venture, I kept coming back to the one word that was continually on my tongue and part of every conversation; impact. Combine that with my drive to grow others through helping them unleash their own potential and it all clicked; Impact2Lead.

So here we are, at the starting line and I am so very fired up about what is coming. My goal and simple vision is “To Help Individuals and Organizations Unleash Potential through Impactful Leadership”. Join me, it is going to be a thrilling ride!

The Power of Empathy

Empathy. It is a powerful word, and yet so many of us do not truly understand its full potential. We hear terms like emotional intelligence, relationship driven culture, transformational leadership, but where would they be without empathy?

Without empathy, emotional intelligence would be reduced to self-awareness and self-management without the thought of others. Without empathy, relationship driven culture would be reduced to a self-driven culture. Without empathy, transformational leadership would be preservation leadership. We might grow inside of our personal bubble, but that would be it..

So what is the big takeaway with empathy? What do we do with it? It can be defined easily enough, but how does it apply to what we do as leaders?

Simply put, Empathy is nothing more than the ability to understand how others feel and to put ourselves in their shoes.. The application/takeaway for leaders is to approach every opportunity with an authentic desire to do the following:

  1. Acknowledge Everyone and be Present: To understand and be engaged you have to first recognize the humanity of every individual you encounter.. Remember the moments of your life that have shaped the person you are today, and the unique perspectives that you have gained. Now, apply this to the other person and the events that may have shaped their lives, and helped them develop their own unique perspective. Being present and aware lets the other person know you are engaged and truly care.
  2. Strive to gain Understanding: Acknowledgement is the launch pad to gain understanding and the real work starts here. It is easy for us to apply our own perspectives which may bog us down in details that do not matter. To truly understand, we must step outside of ourselves and do our best to view the world through the lens of that other person. This requires us to learn about one another which opens the door to our third step.
  3. Reach Out and Build Trust: Once we have acknowledged and gained understanding we can begin to share feelings and reach out to bolster relationships and build trust. Sharing feelings goes much deeper than simple validation or appeasement, it requires us to remain outside of ourselves and objectively look at the emotions of another. Both validation and appeasement take our own feelings into account, but the sharing of feelings required for empathy is only concerned with connection with that other person, whether we agree with them or not. There is no manipulation, no game playing, and individuals still have room to disagree, but we do so with the goal of establishing authentic connection.

In the Impact model, we talk about “Make it Personal”, which is the way of emphasizing the need for a relationship driven culture if we want to lead in excellence.

Making it personal is all about establishing genuine connection with others using emotional intelligence and empathy as its cornerstone for social awareness and healthy relationship management.

It is imperative that as leaders we truly make the effort to understand the importance of empathy and apply it. It will transform our lives and culture.

– Taylor Brooks

The Impact of Interest

Just before Christmas, a high-potential leader asked my interest in mentoring her on the journey to becoming a more impactful leader. I get a fair number of these requests from current or emerging leaders and to date, have worked to accommodate them all. These relationships are mutually beneficial and valuable as I learn a great deal too.

I gladly accepted this one as well, and this past week, our first meeting took place.

At one point during our meeting, I was asked what I did to dramatically change the culture so fast (at the health center I lead). Without hesitation, I answered, “I made it about the people.”

I followed up her question with one of my own when I inquired why she had chosen me to mentor her on leadership. I will never forget her response, without hesitation, “You showed an interest in me.”

This took me back to the culture transformation at Johnson Health Center and making it about the people. The path to success for those who have excelled in their roles since my start there has been tied directly to their interest in the people they lead. I have done this with my executive and leadership teams, not because I had to, but because I wanted to.

If you are going to become an impactful leader, you have to become interested in those that go to battle with and for you. Your interest in them will determine their interest in you and this translates into success of the organization.

Showing interest in people is not natural for everyone, and the busier we get the more difficult it can be. It is important to recognize this now because the changing workforce is starting to demand it.

Here are some things to remember if you have an interest in becoming more interested:

  1. Be present with every conversation – Don’t get distracted from the conversation, be it in person or over the phone. Listen and actively acknowledge what’s being communicated.
  2. Don’t look at your phone, computer screen, or the doorway behind the individual – when you do, this sends a clear message that something is more important than the person in front of you.
  3. Learn what is important to them – Ask about their aspirations and how you can help them achieve success along the way.
  4. Be aware of artificial empathy – People pick up on this very quickly and once you have been labeled in this category, you lose credibility as a leader.
  5. If you don’t have time, let them know – This establishes credibility because you are being honest. Reschedule when you do have a few minutes – then be present.
  6. Be genuine – in other words, be your own authentic self (If this is difficult for you, there is much more you will need to work on and I recommend you start with a course/coaching session on becoming emotionally intelligent.)
  7. Remember, they need you – Let’s face it, if someone has taken the time, energy, and potentially the courage to come to you with a question, concern, or idea, it means something to them. Treat it with the same attention and respect you expect in your leadership role.

Want to know if your people consider you an impactful leader? Just ask but know this, if you have not shown a high level of interest, don’t expect a completely interested response.

You don’t have to be the “most interesting person in the world” but you need to be the most interested leader in your space.

Stay impactful my friends!

-Gary Campbell

But I am not in a Leadership Position

At our October, 2016 leadership networking event, “Creating a Culture of Excellence,” one of the participants asked the question; “How can someone who is not in an executive leadership role create a culture of excellence?”

This is an impactful question because, what do you do when you are not a decision maker but you want to impact your workplace? What does making an impact look like in this situation?

These are the questions we field frequently at Impact2Lead and the answer is quite simple; leadership does not stem from position title or authority but rather social influence. Regardless of where you sit in the organization, you have the ability to influence those around you. By keeping a positive, helpful and willing to do anything to help others mentality, leadership becomes attached to these actions and others notice.

You may not be able to impact the organization from the top but you can certainly impact your world and those around you. Keep this in mind, you are always auditioning for the next gig whether inside of the organization you work now or the one you aspire to work for in the future. Make every “Impactful” opportunity count!

The Appetite for Transformation

We just wrapped up the second and now annual, Impactful Leadership Networking Event“Creating a Culture of Excellence” in Lynchburg, Virginia. The week before, I spoke on the same topic in Washington, DC before a well-known national organization and will be in Las Vegas in early November to share this message with over 100 health centers from all over the country.

My phone rings more now, the social media pings are up, and emails are flying in from all over lately. The inquiries come from a variety of industries, many engaged in businesses I have never been exposed to; different industries, same question. How can we transform our culture?

Since leading the efforts for the first ever federally qualified health center to become a certified Employer of Choice, people have become interested in what was most impactful during this journey. It’s simple; we were able to transform the culture by engaging employees and inciting some passion through inspirational leadership.

What I have found most intriguing during my recent speaking engagements is the hunger the participants have displayed for a culture like this. I mean, you can visibly see and feel it.  In Lynchburg, you could hear a pin drop as we went through the must-haves to become an Employer of Choice. It was incredible!

When the session ended, the room was buzzing. People hung around and wanted to talk about the changes they would be making in their current roles. Some were moved to tears in reflecting back on the culture they were currently entrenched in. Others beamed with the potential they knew existed in their organization if given the opportunity to unleash it through a culture transformation.

Looking to change your culture?  Make sure you do or have the following:

  • Drive for inspirational and empathetic leadership
  • Live the core values in everything you do
  • Hire for attitude and fit
  • Help those who may not be as positive find a nice opportunity elsewhere
  • Foster an environment that thrives on teamwork and meaningful work
  • Be willing to relinquish control
  • Reward and recognize others
  • Create walking ambassadors by building leaders within
  • Put your finger on the pulse of the current state
  • Be positive, encouraging and nice!

Creating a culture of excellence is more than words on a mission statement or core values hung on a wall collecting dust. It is an investment of heart and soul and it is 24/7. The landscape of work is changing and our leaders will need to adapt. There is a hearty appetite to be part of something bigger.  Those who invest in building a positive and engaged culture will have bottom line success, no question about it.

The Impact of Achieving Employer of Choice Recognition

“It was the best culture that we have ever looked at”. This is what Joyce Gioia of Employer of Choice International, Inc. had to say about Johnson Health Center’s recent recognition as a certified Employer of Choice (EOC) in an interview with The News & Advance on April 24, 2016.

Ms. Gioia went on to say how the survey results showed some of the highest scores they had ever seen, while noting that very few companies are successful in obtaining this prestigious designation on the first try.

The most exciting part of the EOC journey is not where we ended up, but where we started.

When I took the helm as Interim CEO of Johnson Health Center (JHC) in August 2014, I committed to an overarching goal of pursuing an employer of choice certification. The culture I inherited was strained, retention of good people was a challenge, and innovation and teamwork were nearly non-existent. Needless to say, the ability to recruit in this climate was difficult.

The first thing we did was create some clarity and direction around our EOC pursuit. We identified three key areas of focus and went after them with a passion;

  • Employee Engagement
  • Leadership Development
  • Community Partnerships

Another critical focus and contribution to our successful EOC journey was embedding the JHC core values (respect, integrity, teamwork, innovation, excellence) in everything we did. In other words, any and all decisions we made had to be congruent with the values. We communicated these values through all channels; the website, badges on the leading slide of every single presentation coming out of JHC, and employment related decisions.

The values are serious business if you want to become an employer of choice.

Leadership was another opportunity for us. Leading my own firm, Impact2Lead, allowed me to pilot the Impact Model at JHC. We went on a mission to develop leaders at all levels. Some stayed, some went, and some new leaders were born. It has to be that way to truly transform your culture.

In addition to the Impact Model, I pulled a page from Bob Burg and John David Mann’s “The Go-Giver,” as it related to adding value to people’s lives. We defined people as, everyone we had the opportunity to engage with be it patients, vendors, visitors, community partners and each other.

The Law of Value state; “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment”.

As a community health center with a mission to provide access to healthcare for all, going above and beyond to take care of people is our business. When you strive to touch people’s lives in a way that adds more value to them, it pays dividends beyond measurability and frankly, just makes you feel good and makes others feel good about you.

At the end of the day, it is about leading with a human touch. It is about inspiring those around you and unleashing the potential of those who want to be part of something big. This might be the reason JHC has enjoyed such a low voluntary turnover rate in the last eighteen months (5% in 2015 and less than 2% in 2016) while adding almost 35% to its workforce.

It’s one thing to say you want to be an employer of choice, it’s another to engage the employees for the journey, and then validate the effort with their feedback.

Way to go Johnson Health Center – you are truly “Impactful.”

-Gary Campbell

A Shining Display of Core Values

Going back as far as I can remember, spring training and baseball have been one in the same for me. The offering of a gentle and somewhat slower pace of transition between seasons puts a smile on my face and has been the purpose for my every-other-year Orlando trips in March.

Yep, there is nothing more pure and warming than spring training baseball where typically little noise is made on the way to opening day and the unofficial start of summer…at least that’s how it was until last week.

On Tuesday, March 15, Adam LaRoche shook the baseball world by suddenly walking away from $13M he was due to earn this year. His abrupt decision has not only impacted his current team and baseball but will surly have an effect across organizations and individuals all over the country.

Mr. LaRoche signed a two-year contract with the Chicago White Sox in the off-season and was expected to provide some power to the line-up as the team’s designated hitter. As part of the agreement, his twelve-year old son Drake would be by his side during spring training and throughout the season as he had been in previous years with other clubs.

Seemed pretty straight forward until executive vice president Ken Williams informed Mr. LaRoche that he needed to limit Drake’s time in the clubhouse before ultimately barring all access. It was at this juncture that Mr. LaRoche walked away from baseball for good.

As told in the USA Today article, “In LaRoche-White Sox flap, Kenny Williams acted on behalf of others, too”, Mr. LaRoche stated, “The current situation arose after White Sox VP Ken Williams recently advised me to significantly scale back the time that my son spent in the clubhouse,’’ LaRoche said in a statement. “Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all. Obviously, I expressed my displeasure toward this decision to alter the agreement we had reached before I signed with the White Sox.”

“I understand that many people will not understand my decision,’’ LaRoche said in his statement. “I respect that, and all I ask is for that same level of respect in return. I live by certain values that are rooted in my faith, and I am grateful to my parents for that. I have tried to set a good example on and off the field and live a life that represents these values.”

Regardless of the position you hold in a corporation or life, your core values represent who you are and what you are all about. Your core values must be aligned with the organization you work for and if you are a leader in the organization, your core values have to be aligned with your vision in order to inspire others. The fundamental ingredient for an inspirational leader is trust. Your values constitute your bottom line and cannot be changed. If they can, you cannot be trusted and are not a leader.

Understandably there is likely much more than we will ever fully know about what all took place between Mr. LaRoche and the White Sox. There are reports of several players privately complaining to Mr. Williams about Mr. LaRoche’s son to Mr. Williams acting alone on his own accord in shutting down clubhouse access. Regardless, it did not align with Mr. LaRoche’s core values and as a result, has now created trust issues within the team for many of the players as it relates to leadership.

While core values is the focus in this piece, there are a lot of leadership lessons to take away here. First, when you commit to something, you best follow-through. If you can’t follow-through, you best communicate openly and honestly. Finally, understand any decision that impacts one person will likely have an impact on others regardless of the benefits or pain to the organization. Be prepared.

As the Impact Leadership model states, character through communication is an essential element to becoming a successful leader. It’s the one area that is either revealed or exposed – either result will have a lasting impact.

Parenting and organizational leadership are similar in nature as both positions are responsible for those entrusted to them. Mr. LaRoche’s decision leaves no question on the commitment to his value system. You can be assured that his son Drake, the rest of the LaRoche family and those touched by this move will be benefactors of those values for years to come.

Sticking to your core values as an organizational leader will have the same impact.

“In life, we’re all faced with difficult decisions and will have a choice to make. Do we act based on the consequences, or do we act on what we know and believe in our hearts to be right? I choose the latter.’’  – A. LaRoche as quoted in USA Today.

Celebrating the Good and Welcoming the Bad

When I worked at Bayer, I was honored to be selected as a coaching participant in an organizational wide program called, Cross Connect. This program was designed to bring mentors and mentees together based on a variety of qualifiers. I met three great mentees during my stint in the program and hopefully made an impact on them as they progressed in their career.

Being a mentor is important to me. While I enjoyed my role in the Cross Connect program, I have to say being an informal mentor fits my leadership style better.

I have had the pleasure of working with a few great mentors along my professional journey. Mentors that have helped shape my value system, going all the way back to my childhood. Those mentors were always in some form of leadership and like others, my style developed as a result of the mentoring I received.

But not every experience with a leader fits the definition of a mentor. Quite the opposite, some bosses along the way are just plain awful. But what do we do with that experience? How do we capture the gains of working for a bad boss? What does a bad boss really look like?

Most of us have worked for someone who abused the power of their position and in doing so created an unstable and hostile environment. Bosses who lead like this do so from a position of insecurity and the old saying goes, “insecurity + power = weak leader”. A culture is created where work becomes a burden and the performance of those in this environment suffers greatly.

It simply becomes a toxic environment where there is no trust, no collaboration, no innovation and no fun. Turnover is likely high, micromanagement is at a peak and weak leaders tend to surround themselves with people who are less experienced or do not pose a threat. Ultimately, a weak leader spends more time focusing on self-preservation and fear than they ever will on leading and developing others.

Don’t panic! This is not all bad.

The one thing I have learned over my career is that two things can happen; the weak leader will not survive (few rarely do after a period of time) or you will leave the organization. Either way, you learn more in the experience than you could have ever learned in a classroom. If your core values are others focused, you strengthen your leadership capabilities, and money can’t buy that.

Taking advantage of the lessons learned from weak leaders or bad bosses is just as important as having a great mentor and solid leader in your network. It is easy to pick the obvious place you would rather spend your time but don’t despair when you find yourself hitched to a weak leader – it is not permanent. Use it to your advantage and eagerly learn from it. Keep yourself positive through it and help others do the same. This is where your impactful character is revealed.

How we lead defines the culture we want. A great leader inspires and is constantly on the lookout for anything that runs counter to his/her values. They have learned from the good and taken advantage of the bad and have captured the gains. In doing so, they have become the kind of mentors you would want for yourself or a close family member.

So if you find yourself on the wrong end of a weak leader,  boldly move ahead. Rather than complain and let the energy be sapped from you, create a way to thrive in the environment. Inspire others, keep a positive outlook and make a mental list of things you never want associated with you. Lead with impact, that’s what the good ones do!

The IMPACT of a Handwritten Thank-You Note

A few months back, I made a note-to-self, to personalize a thank-you memo or two for a few key contributors at the health center I lead. As a member of the Go-Giver speaker and coach community, this has always been one of the recommended means of showing gratitude however I had yet to actually do it.

Then on a Friday afternoon in late October, I decided to just purchase a bunch of thank-you notes, and send them out to all employees before the December holidays. I figured I could do a few a week on the way to hitting my goal of distributing 125 or so by our holiday gathering on December 9.

My initial thought was geared toward showing my thanks and appreciation for the folks that had helped make 2015 the most successful year on record for Johnson Health Center. However, there was much more to this endeavor than I had planned – a revolutionary ah-ha moment for the guy writing the notes.

I have always been a proponent of educating organizations in the area of emotional intelligence. An emotionally intelligent leader understands and recognizes the need for healthy relationships that foster authentic communication. One of the most important tools in the toolbox of genuine connection and solid relationships is the ability to express gratitude.

A leader who consistently acknowledges the people who make what we do possible, and affirms their worth to the success of the team as a whole, is building a culture of success and growth.

There are many ways to express thanks with the hope that this display of gratitude impacts everyone! I am convinced now more than ever, that writing a personal note brings more value to everyone, including the one writing the note.

Why a handwritten note? Because expressing gratitude is about making it personal! Every individual has a unique style of writing that is exclusive to only their style.  Writing signifies intentionality and requires forethought, and has meaning for the writer and the recipient.

A key to a successful handwritten thank you is to think through the intended message before putting pen to paper. This gives the writer the opportunity to reflect on how they feel, and what it means to be grateful for the work of another person.

The recipient of the note hears the message, sees the intentionality, and responds with a grateful attitude. Like a tidal wave crashing upon the shore, the attitude of appreciation is reciprocated in the recipient, and pushed out on those around them.

As I finished the last of my thank-you notes to the staff, the revolutionary ah-ha moment for me was how it made me feel. Writing each of those notes was like reconnecting with each person all over again and recognizing how much they mean to not only the organization, but to me personally. I don’t work with most of these people on a day-to-day basis anymore, but writing each of the notes allowed me back in their lives and that made it personal for me.

So take this opportunity and do something for yourself while acknowledging others, write a few thoughtful appreciation notes to those that have impacted you! I can assure you, the feeling you get when you authentically thank people for what they have helped you with over the year is exhilarating and worth every word.

Make it an “Impactful” holiday season!

Thankful

For those of us in the United States, the hectic march towards the holiday season begins this week. Thanksgiving was and still is one of my favorite times of the year. It is the one holiday stretch that packs more punch than any other throughout the year. It comes on us quickly and leaves when the shopping bell tolls.

Unfortunately the tolling of the shopping bell now runs concurrently with our sacred day historically reserved for giving thanks. That does not stop me though and it shouldn’t stop anyone else.

I still enjoy friends and family packing into town the Wednesday night before the big day.  Whether your thing is to head out and catch up, gather with family at home, take care of someone who does not have friends or family to visit, or simply relax in knowing you will eat more than you can hold on Thursday, being thankful you can do these things is enough.

There are many out there who would trade spots with most of us in an instance, far more than I can elaborate on in this blog.

This past week, one of my close family members was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and it reminded me how short life really is and how fast time goes. It also reminded me how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do in the time given to me. More importantly it reminded me to be thankful for the things I take for granted.

So this Wednesday, I will get with family and friends and on Thursday I will celebrate by relaxing and watching football while others hit the shopping trail. I will see my parents who I am thankful are still here. I will hug my wife and kids who are now grown and give thanks they have put up with my antics all these years. I will call a few of those I simply can’t get to and I will say a prayer for those I know need it.

I am especially thankful for the service women and men who keep us free – thank you!

Hopefully each of you will take the opportunity this week to give thanks to what has impacted you over time. Hopefully you will impact others by simply being present or letting someone know you are thinking about them. This what we call leading with impact.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Trust and the Double Lines

In Bob Chapman’s latest book, “Everybody Matters”, he describes the process behind discovering the Guiding Principles of Leadership. It incorporated deep thoughtful discussion and insight from twenty people from a variety of areas across the organization. The first bullet under the leadership heading speaks to an environment based on trust.

Mr. Chapman goes on to explain the great lengths he and his team went to in an effort to better understand what the employees felt about trust in their own world. After much dialogue, it was clear to him that trust was not something you simply put on a vision or mission statement.

As the “Impact” leadership model states, trust is required for a commitment to excellence. It has to be purposefully and continually nurtured and modeled in order to relax any obstacles that drive apprehension.

As leaders, your ability to be trusted WILL determine how much influence you have. If people can not trust you they will NOT believe you. Building a climate of trust starts when leaders are true to their word. In this climate leaders hold themselves accountable to their word, modeling the way for those around them.

In the workplace, if you do not trust the people you have hired to do their best without some form of micromanagement, guess who loses? Everyone!

I have always practiced the innocent until proven guilty approach as it relates to trusting my employees to deliver their best effort. I have found I spend much less time on performance management issues this way. When something does come up, I have found that a good, honest coaching session with the person who is struggling sure does help. During these sessions, I always point out that I didn’t get in my position by being perfect. This earns their trust in me.

When we acknowledge that we are real people who make mistakes and learn from them, it creates an opportunity for sincere dialogue. When we show we can be trusted and are committed to excellence, it inspires those around us to do the same.

When people believe that we will be what we say we are, everyone wins. The environment that we strive to build thrives on mutual respect, authenticity, and success. Yes, a successful environment is one where we all trust AND believe one another.

The straightest path to success can be compared to a highway with solid double lines; stay on your side of the road to keep moving forward but if you cross over the lines, the consequences could be significant.

Trust is the way to IMPACT – don’t cross the lines.

Impactful Character

It was the phone call I remember getting from my boss in early 2004, “Gary, you are going to face some interesting challenges in the coming months”. He was referring to an incoming Vice President to the organization I was supporting in my HR leadership role. He went on to say the person coming had been very successful during his time with the organization however it had not come with some hiccups along the way.

When the name was mentioned, I knew right away what I was getting or at least what I thought I was getting. I had heard everything from, cavalier, to cowboy, to conflict, to doing it my way or the highway, in terms of associated behavior.What I came to learn over the next two years taught me more about myself  and served to unleash my own potential through impactful leadership.

In the world of leadership development, a lot of emphasis is placed on understanding the character traits of a great leader. I believe that this is a profitable and important undertaking, but I think that in order to fully understand the characteristics of a great leader, you have to also understand how that leader communicates those characteristics. How does a great leader transform a culture and imbue it with ethical integrity?

I believe there are three ways to effectively communicate your character in a manner that is consistent with high ethical integrity.

The first way is to be authentic. Communicating character in a way that is genuine and without pretense only stands to affirm integrity, which itself is a part of great character. People can quickly pick up on someone who is attempting to present with good character, but at their core does not truly represent the characteristics they claim to value.

The second way is to be intentional in your decisions and interactions. Just as you want to have authentic character, it is just as important that you are intentional about having great character. Being of great character means intentionally communicating thoughtfulness, consideration, and value. It says that you care enough about the impact of what you do, to carefully consider its toll on yourself, and those around you.

Lastly, be enthusiastic about building great character. Inspire and challenge others to grow personally and professionally. By definition enthusiasm is about being intense in enjoying something. Do not be afraid to be intense about the joy of seeing others built up and inspired!

The new Vice President and I met on his first day in the office. The first thing I recognized was his authentic being, I mean true authentic being. There was no mask, no hidden agenda, no political motivations, just an intense passion to lead the group he had been trusted with and build a successful, sustainable platform of high performance.

Over the course of the next two years, business decisions had to be made that impacted people’s lives – some were very difficult. During that same time, there were others who were inspired to stretch themselves, learn, and grow.  Through all of it, the Vice President I had come to call a mentor and friend felt it, and everyone knew it. He was passionate about not only the business but the people. This was powerful and it transformed our workplace into a high performing, deeply caring culture.

Since that time, we have both moved up and onward in our careers. The phone call I had initially received was spot on. It was challenging and there were hiccups along the way – you can expect that when you set out to unleash leadership potential.  As you effectively communicate your character through actions and intent, the culture around you will be transformed. It is in developing strong character in ourselves that we are able to model the way for others. You know your moral compass is pointing in the right direction when you help others unleash their potential through your impactful leadership.

 

Always Authentic

As humans, we want to be able to trust our leaders to operate in honesty, integrity, and authenticity. Authentic people are honest and exhibit integrity in their thoughts and actions. In an authentic environment we expect trust, relationship, and team success to flourish. However, many of us have been the victims of unauthentic leadership, and never even realized that was the problem.

If authenticity brings about a spirit of trust and integrity, then it follows that an environment led by an inauthentic leader would feel insecure, demeaning, and competitive in an unhealthy way. People, when threatened, tend to naturally defend themselves and begin to attack at any sign of instability.

Our very own Taylor Brooks recalled two specific work environments where leadership was unauthentic. During her time with these employers, she witnessed her co-workers shaming other co-workers, other members of management shaming co-workers, and employees shaming leadership.

As a result, the aire of that workplace seemed uneasy and everyone was insecure. No one ever knew what the expectations were, and thus no one was ever allowed to truly live out their potential, and the impact the environment had on productivity was catastrophic.

I have spent a majority of my career in the field of human resources and worked alongside both types of leaders. Inauthentic leadership was a blessing for me because it helped clarify my purpose on this great planet. I have compiled a comprehensive list of what not to do if you want to achieve success at the leadership level.

Earlier in my career, I worked closely with a senior executive who had difficulty with humility. His ego inflated at the pace of his rise in this large organization and along the way, he alienated those that he should have been embracing. A year after I left that organization, I got word that he was asked to leave. The inauthentic leadership style had run its course.

Trust is so central to a healthy team environment, and our followers look to us as examples of integrity and relatability, counting on us to always follow through. It is easy to become complacent with our words, leaving room for mistrust and doubt to creep in.

The good news is, we don’t have to let this happen. We have the choice, as leaders in our various roles, to be truly authentic at all times. To be vigilant regarding our words and our actions. To model to others that character matters, and people matter enough that we are willing to be real with them. Even to the point of getting our hands a little dirty and working through things that are difficult and sometimes painful.

At the end of the day, authenticity is about value. Truly caring for others enough to put them before our own ego and pride, and to be honest and vulnerable. It is about transforming culture, and transforming lives. It is about making an impact, wherever you are, and in whatever you do. Always Authentic. All of the time. Employees today expect it and your career depends on it. Frankly your legacy depends on it.

 

Imagine the Passion!

I was leading a workshop last year on emotional intelligence, and using examples of how I had witnessed and applied it along my professional journey. At the end of the session, several participants approached me and noted how much passion I had for leading this particular topic. I thanked them and gave that some thought on the three-hour drive home.

I was flattered that a group of strangers had recognized a passion I had for delivering meaningful content around a topic I deem central to success. You see, anything I truly believe in I am committed to get others excited about. Life is easier that way and there is no better tool to generate influence and enthusiastic participation.

When you think of people who can generate enthusiastic participation, your head can naturally fill with a host of names. If you are like me, most are people in your own lives. I think of Bob Burg, the author of Adversaries into Allies and co-author of The Go-Giver. Bob is so passionate about being authentic and walking in your value, you can’t help but be enthusiastic about your own mission after engaging with him.

I think of my mother and her passion for keeping me motivated in the early years of my career. Her passion for my potential was impossible to measure. I was determined to never let her down.

Being a passion oriented person is central to being an impactful leader. While there are differing forms of how passion is displayed, sustainable leadership is centered on an authentic belief that something is worthwhile.

So what does the passionate leader look like, how do they express their passion, and use it to inspire their followers?

Passionate leaders are honest and transparent about their passion, and it runs deep. In the depth of their being they are driven to experience the intensity of their passion. Be it for leadership, growth and development, philanthropy, family, or any of the innumerable things humans care deeply about.

These individuals understand that passion is the fuel that drives the vision and mission. Great leaders can harness this fuel and use it to achieve broader objectives. All while encouraging and inspiring others to join the cause and move towards the goal.

Passionate leaders stay true to the course, always striving to keep the main thing in the center of their crosshairs as they boldly move forward.

At the end of most speeches and all the workshops I do, I encourage people to find their passion in everything they do. I ask them to close their eyes and think of their most prized possession. I remind them of the passion I am sure accompanies this association. Then, using a John Lennon analogy, I ask them to imagine…imagine the impact of bringing their passion into their daily routine.

Passion is not just for leaders, it is for everyone. We are all auditioning for the next big gig and success depends on others. When you bring passion, you bring others. Go ahead, close your eyes and imagine…it’s easy if you try.