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.

The Exhilaration of Being Inspired

This week’s focus has been on the “I” of the I.M.P.A.C.T. model.  Inspire to Influence recognizes that, “every successful leader has a vision but the vision can only become a reality with clearly established direction, purpose, and the ability to inspire and influence others.”

Over this past week, we have examined the characteristics of highly influential and inspiring leaders. These people take responsibility for the encouragement and care of their followers, and in turn, inspire them to take risks, grow, and unleash their own potential. As leaders, we have a passion for this.

However, as leaders, we just didn’t wake up one day and decide we would model the way of inspiration and influence. We had those in our lives that took time with us.

Early in my career, it was Lane Donnelly, former President of Belcan Engineering who took the time with me, seeing my potential. I was a raw Southern boy from Virginia, entrusted with a significant business partnership North of the Mason Dixon line, and frankly, not as prepared as I thought.

As I learned, experienced, and tripped over myself on many occasions.Lane, busy as he was, running a very successful organization, was always there. Whether on the other end of the line, or in person, he walked me through those times of development opportunities.

He was also there to let me know when things went well.

From the perspective of a follower it is thrilling to be poured into. To have someone see your potential and challenge you to grow. Leaders are born out of these experiences, and lives are changed. Impactful leaders seek to create impactful leaders. It all starts with the exhilaration of being inspired.

Lane Donnelly certainly inspired me and others like me during my time at Belcan.

For those of us who are entrusted with others, remember what it felt like to experience the exhilaration of being inspired. It was special, and it is on us as leaders to have that same impact on someone else. After all, the ability to influence can only come after the inspiration has settled in.

Recognize the potential and help someone unleash their abilities through inspirational leadership, nothing is more rewarding.

A Visionary's Trip - Through the Weeds

I was sitting on the beach with my wife during our annual summer vacation when she asked me, “What is it you see when you stare straight ahead at the ocean”? Without hesitation, I remarked, “The edge where the sky meets the ocean”. I returned the question to her and her response was markedly different with more detail, “The waves as they get closer, looks like liquid glass”.

I thought about this for a bit and it dawned on me, this is how she and I view everything. At home, we are surrounded by acres of wooded land and natural beauty. I am always drawn to the greenery and mass of trees while she can pull beauty out of each flower or weed for that matter. It then occurred to me, this is what makes us so compatible – a great team if you will. I have always focused on the big picture and she has complimented this visionary outlook with the much needed details to drive our personal decision making.

This is what makes an organization successful in the business world. A combination of strategists and big picture thinkers along with a talent base of folks that love mining the details is critical to the long term success a company might enjoy.

I used to think I wanted my entire team to be big picture thinkers and savvy strategists but am now the wiser due to a host of professional and personal experiences.

Imagine an organization run entirely by visionaries or tactical experts. I bet those leadership meetings would be powerfully boring not to mention a constant struggle to maintain mediocrity at best; can’t be done, at least not successfully.

It takes a mix of talent at the leadership level to breed success. I firmly believe a visionary has to sit at the top but her/his leadership team had better be a mix of those who have an eye for the details, don’t mind getting into the weeds and those that like to look over the horizon through a visionary lens.

The takeaway from my personal aha moment began as a reflection on our family and the last twenty years. If we were a professional organization, I would consider us a success thus far however it has not been without struggle, ups and downs, risks and rewards and constructive conflict. My wife and I provide strong leadership in the decision making process, it is that process which combines the vision with the weeds – they are both critical to success.

As you look to build out your leadership team and a sustainable strategic plan, it is important to leverage your visionary and tactical thinkers appropriately with care not to alienate either.

Finally, I used to think my lack of wanting to get in the weeds was a weakness. I also considered those that could not look beyond a spreadsheet or process map as a faulty trait. What I came to learn over time was simply this, as an organization you need this combination but as an individual you don’t have to possess both. If you are tactically oriented, you have to be open to and understand the strategy. If you are the visionary, you have to be able to walk through the weeds once in a while.

As the lifeguard gathered up the umbrellas and chairs and families began to make their way off the beach, I took one last look at the ocean behind me – it was amazing to see the liquid glass appearance my wife had referenced earlier. It was refreshing to get a nice view from the weeds.

Reconnecting with Inspiration

When I launched Impact2Lead in the winter of 2013, it was the result of passion, experiences, relationships, successes and failures all colliding with one another. The Impact vision is simply this; “To help individuals and organizations unleash potential through impactful leadership”. That was and still is the driving force behind my obsession to make things better.

Creativity for me came easy, it seemed I could write a blog a day on transformational leadership.

Then along came the opportunity to lead an organization and put the impact model clearly on display. As the CEO of Johnson Health Center, I get to do what I preach each and every day and I enjoy it. I like to see the fruits of our labor, all the efforts of people coming together and stretching beyond what they think is possible. It is rewarding to hear staff proclaim that “we” can do this.

However one thing I have learned along my own journey in this demanding leadership role is you have to be extra disciplined to not lose your creative focus.

The very focus that you need to transform a culture is easy to lose in the day-to-day grind of running a company. You have ultimate responsibility for customers, employees, business deliverables, compliance…the list goes on.

For me, I found myself putting my creative focus on hold. It became harder and harder to think through the clutter in my brain. It became easier to postpone readings of my favorite leadership gurus, easier for me to say I will write something when it hits me, and easier to plow through numerous emails on weekends – many of which simply needed deleting.

In the last couple of weeks, I have reconnected with my inspiration. I have stopped for a second to breathe and think. I have looked back at this past year and marveled at the progress made at Johnson Health Center. I have come to realize in order to maintain a strong and inspirational position of leadership, you have to take time out and spend quality time with yourself – to recharge the creative focus.

On my way back from a one-day leadership workshop I led recently, my wife drove while I outlined the chapters in my first book I hope to write in the coming months. I have talked about this for the better part of a year now so handing her the keys and sitting in the passenger seat for a change was remarkably eye-opening. The ideas began to flow and wonderful ah-ha moments began to hit like old times.

Whether you are running a company, managing a department or leading your family, you will not be as successful if you don’t step away on a regular basis and catch your breath. I encourage you to try the following:

  • Each week, take one complete day off from your primary work and spend it your way if possible (I usually pick a Saturday or Sunday – your family will appreciate this).

  • If your place of employment allows it, work from home one or two days a month to clean up clutter without interruption.

  • Get away at least once a month where you can enjoy quality, quiet time to maintain your creative focus (may be simply going to the park or having someone drive you on a long ride).

  • Write down the ideas you have and look at them when things are quiet. Go back and review ideas/thoughts you had years ago – it is amazing what comes back to you and how that ignites inspiration.

It was 5:00 on a Friday afternoon when one of our front line employees stopped into my office. She asked me if I had ever felt I was meant for more (I could write an entire book on this one). I replied without hesitation a resounding yes. She said she had been feeling that herself and almost apologetically said she was not sure she could accomplish that where she is now. I was very inspired to hear this, especially coming off my recent refocusing revelation. The conversation lasted ten minutes but during this time, she spoke on being motivated by the transformed culture and where she could see the organization headed in the future – she just was unsure of her place. I asked her to think on what she wanted to do and the very fact she has the motivation herself to contribute more just cannot be taught.

She left my office and said she had a lot of good things to ponder over the weekend. This is the case of inspiration going both ways.

This exchange was a reminder to me that I cannot take time away from inspiring the very people who are responsible for our success. After all, the impact model is all about helping others unleash potential.

For all you leaders out there, take time to be creative. Reconnect with inspiration and remember, it does go both ways.

Culture of Excellence

As the recently appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Johnson Health Center (JHC), I took the opportunity to reflect on the seven months I spent in the interim role. From the beginning, I spent most of my energy on establishing a climate of employee engagement. As the months went by, I happily watched as a transformation slowly began.

Fast forward to February 26, 2015 and the announcement that I would have the opportunity to formally lead JHC into a new era. There was much excitement yet a degree of uncertainty given the evolving healthcare landscape.

One thing was certain though, for JHC to compete in a world of change, we would have to work smarter and be passionate about how we take care of our patients.

Before we could even think about how we would implement a smarter, more passionate way to take care of our patients, we needed to focus on how take care of each other. We would turn our focus to leadership development and pursue an employer of choice initiative.

We held our first comprehensive leadership retreat in April with the focus on becoming an employer of choice to be the provider of choice. But how to get there was the question. The answer; create a culture of excellence.

But what does creating a culture of excellence look like? Great question and one we posed to our leadership team during our first ever two-day off-site meeting.

There are many ways you can solicit information in trying to find out the secret formula and for us it was simple. We asked the following question; what service, vendor, person, or experience have you walked away from and simply said, wow? I would definitely recommend him/her/them/it to my family and friends!

There were a number of responses for various experiences but all with one thing in common; passionate focus on the customer.

We took this exercise and turned it inward – how could we replicate this passion for our own customers? How do we create this culture of excellence to drive our Employer of Choice initiative?

We all agreed this would be a journey as there was much to do to build trust and ignite employee engagement. We decided to focus on The Go-Giver principles created by Bob Burg and John David Mann but not all at once. To get this right, we first needed to concentrate on value and the impact that would result from this focus.

In the Go-Giver, the Law of Value states that your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. Translated internally, our leadership team made the commitment to add more value to each person they came in contact with – every time.

You see, the golden rule of business as translated into culture of excellence principles says, people will assist, do things for, make things easier for, speed up the process for, and collaborate with those whom they know, like and trust.

So that’s where we start, focus on the first law and add more value to people’s lives. The Law of Value would be our North Star as Burg and Mann like to put it.

While we are in the early stages, turnover is at a record low and our patient quality measures have greatly improved. Staff is more engaged than ever and morale is high – “there is definitely a buzz around the place” notes one of our provider staff members.

Do I sound excited? Am I optimistic? Oh yes! Now, I can’t wait to apply the other four laws!

New Year's Resolutions? None!

I was driving to Rome, GA on New Year’s Eve to attend a funeral when I got into a discussion with my wife over what my New Year’s resolutions were going to be. I thought for a minute and simply said, “None”. After all, most of the effort I spend each year around my resolution is spent in vain as I generally alter my approach within a few days.

Now, not having resolutions for 2015 does not give me a free pass to coast and accept the status quo. It’s quite the opposite in my case. I simply plan to rededicate all my efforts in the pursuit to positively, professionally and personally impact each person I encounter this year.

There are a few things I do at the start of each year that I encourage each of you to try as you prepare to make your own impact;

  • Organize yourself at home and work. In other words, take a day for each and spend it wisely and carefully de-cluttering everything that will get in your way. Throw things away!

  • Create a list of contacts you need to make and connect in the first week.

  • Create a roadmap of how you want to approach your life (work, play, relationships, etc.). Nothing fancy here but decide your exercise plan, at least one vacation and how you plan to show those closest to you how much you love them.

You might say, this sounds like resolutions to me and it might for some of you. But, it is what I do each year and it works. At the very least it gives you a fighting chance as you enter the year. Once you get these few things done, you will have an immediate sense of accomplishment and this breeds energy and excitement.

If you apply this simple approach, you will experience a degree of satisfaction. If you strive to “Impact” on your own terms as laid out above, the satisfaction experienced by those you encounter simply cannot be measured in finite terms. My goals for 2015 are an extension from 2014 as mentioned earlier. If I strive to “Impact” on every touch, I have met my objectives.

As I look back on the funeral of a family member who spent her long life of 86 years putting other people’s interest over her own, I knew I had it right.

Enjoy your own “Impact” in 2015.

An Impactful Journey

Last summer, after reading “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann, I made the decision to launch Impact2Lead. It wasn’t as if this great read had suddenly created an expert and authority on leadership but rather it helped me organize my values, experiences and successes in a manner worthy of sharing. As I took inventory of these things, the direction clearly pointed to a philosophy of leadership, both the style I have experienced with great leaders and the style I had chosen to deploy on my every opportunity. I wanted to share that so Impact2Lead was born.

Since last summer, I have taken a deliberate approach to building out my leadership offerings ranging from 1:1 professional coaching to leadership workshops to speaking engagements. I had to take a deliberate approach because I still had a day job with Johnson Health Center, a federally qualified health center in Lynchburg, VA. In the position of Chief Operations Officer, I had the opportunity to put my “Impact” leadership style on display for employees and customers every day. This was rewarding.

As my Impact2Lead business was picking up considerably, I received a call in late July to consider leading Johnson Health Center as interim Chief Executive Officer – I said yes. On August 1, 2014, what I call an impactful opportunity began.

While taking on a challenge of this magnitude would no doubt slow the actual roll of Impact2Lead, it would squarely plant an impactful challenge on me – to deliver leadership exactly how I drew it up.

So over the next few months, I will chronicle my journey following the Impact Leadership Model in seven short writings beginning with part “I” next week. The efforts will correlate directly with experiences in my new role – an opportunity to “walk the talk”. Stay tuned!

I – Inspire to influence

  • Every successful leader has a vision but the vision can only become a reality with clearly established direction, purpose and the ability to inspire and influence others.

M – Make it personal

  • Emotional intelligence is absolutely critical in the tool-kit of a leader’s success. Making it personal is about creating successful relationships focused on others.

P – Passion for enthusiastic participation

  • A strong leader possesses a passion that is visible to others and is congruent with the established mission and vision.

A – Authenticity all the time

  • Being authentic all the time has to be at the top of every leader’s character traits. Authenticity all the time means all the time.

C – Character through Communication

  • A leader’s character is determined by doing the right thing every time with the highest degree of ethical integrity and communicating in a style that displays this trait in every interaction.

T – Trust for the commitment to excellence

  • Creating a climate of trust is the roadmap to streamlined success for a leader. An environment of openness drives innovation, creativity, risk-taking and ultimately success.

The Leadership Journey

A few weeks back, I became the interim Chief Executive Officer of a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). Pretty exciting stuff for a guy who just launched a leadership consultancy with the tagline, “Helping Individuals and Organizations Unleash Potential through Impactful Leadership”.

Over my professional career, I have enjoyed a disciplined progression to get where I am today. In other words, I was anything but leadership material when I first got started. I like to think of it as smelling the roses or coffee along the way but in reality it was taking every opportunity to learn from the many mistakes I would make along the way.

Over the years, I have been privileged to work with some excellent mentors and coaches. For their commitment to me and my growth, I am forever in their debt. But there were also those who were poor leaders and bad bosses who, for whatever reason had gotten promoted beyond their technical competence and were in roles of authority. While it sounds crazy, I am thankful to have worked with them.

The leadership journey is similar to life’s great journey. You learn valuable lessons from the good, bad and ugly. You take everything into account as you develop your brand and form your moral compass.  Ultimately this will define who you are, your personal brand and value system.

The first step in a leadership journey is to capture what your values are or what you stand for. In other words, what gets you up each and every day and resides within the core of who you are. The question that follows is, “why would people want to follow me?”

As I get to walk the talk in my latest leadership role, I will apply the Impact Leadership Model at every engagement. It starts with solid values and vision and knowing what is important in leading people who depend on great leadership to help them be successful.

Whether you are just starting out or a twenty-five year professional, every interaction provides a unique opportunity to learn. As in Bob Burg’s and John David Mann’s, “The Go-Giver”, law number five is related to receptivity, “The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving”. May each of you receive until your value system is content.

Have an Impactful week!

Take That Vacation!

This morning I read an excellent blog entitled, “How Vacation Time Can Make You a Better Leader” by Tanveer Naseer. Tanveer brands himself as Leadership Coach, Speaker and Writer and he can be found athttp://www.tanveernaseer.com.

The article speaks to taking this valuable time to allow yourself the opportunity to focus on flexing your creativity by exploring other interests (in addition to other helpful and valuable points).

Nearly a year to the day, we will venture out for that annual time of the year where I work to shut (nearly) everything down and just let my mind go. Last year was a revolutionary experience as I read a copy of “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann then came back and promptly became a Certified Go-Giver Coach and launched Impact2Lead.

Needless to say my creative and relaxed flow has since led to an endless amount of work as my focus on “The Go-Giver” and leadership work through Impact2Lead is non-stop.

While the work is crazy, I love the direction it has taken me and what it has allowed me to work on. It doesn’t feel like work to me and that’s the beauty of what my last vacation did for me.

Taking a nice vacation will also help charge the batteries for your co-workers as well. I know my folks need a break from me and hope I don’t come back with too many crazy things to try and implement before the end of the year.

So take a break and look at it as an opportunity to “flex your creative muscles” as Tanveer says. If nothing more, shut things down for the benefit of those closest to you. Life is short and the days, months and years seem ever more compressed. Enjoy this time!

Passion - There Was Enthusiastic Participation

Orlando, Florida was the place to be over the weekend, that is if you were attending “Go-Giver Certified Speaker” training with a host of very talented, very capable and very passionate fellow coaches/speakers.

That’s where I spent my weekend and boy what a weekend it was. Hosted by the “Go-Giver” himself, Bob Burg and his excellent partner, Kathy Zader, the event was attended by seven other, like-minded coaches and speakers from the United States and Canada.

While I was not sure what to expect and even unsure if speaking would be part of my service offerings, after day one I knew that I had crashed a party of some very inspirational people and frankly nothing was beyond imagination.

The weekend with these talented people provided more inspiration, collaboration and a shared passion for something we all believe in – providing value to customers by building relationships.

What I found fascinating was the diverse background each of our coaches/speakers came from. The spread of talent in the room represented backgrounds in sales, project management, branding, healthcare, leadership, real estate, event planning, operations and of course speaking, writing and teaching.

But it wasn’t just the expertise that was on display during the speaking moments, it was the passion that was on display at every moment. The days started early and stretched well into the night from Friday to Sunday and not one time did the dialogue become stale or shallow.

As I boarded the crowded shuttle at 4:45 AM for my flight home, I was joined by a fellow coach heading back to Canada and we picked up the conversation from the weekend as if we never slept. The weekend had validated her philosophy of hiring the type of people she does for her business – building out more than just a place to make good money but a place to make a good life.

For me, speaking will be at the forefront of my service offerings and my new friends are excited to help me do all the right things to get there. You can certainly say this group provided the “Passion for Enthusiastic Participation”.