Leaders Living Their Choices

Choices

As I travel the country training leaders, it still amazes me how many people say the actions of others make them angry, upset, or disappointed.

People believe the actions of others MAKE them act out in a certain manner.

Of course, when we put some thought behind it, we realize no one has the ability to make us do anything. They simply choose an action, and we CHOOSE our response. If our response is grounded in negative emotion (and it usually is), it is because we chose to be negative, not because we were made to. Unless we have been hypnotized, nobody makes us do anything.

You are where you are today as the result of the cumulative choices that you have made.” ~ Neal Boortz


Why Do We Choose Negative Behaviors?

First, most people do not realize they are choosing to react negatively. Most people still believe other people actually make them mad. It is one of those things “we don’t know that we don’t know.”

Secondly, our mind, and specifically our sub-conscious mind (amygdala) functions through emotion. It is where all of our habits and behaviors we have learned throughout our life experience are stored. You could call it our comfort zone. If you think back to what you used to do as a two-year-old when you wanted your way, the answer is probably to act out in some fashion.

By acting out, you would get attention and possibly even what you wanted. You learned: acting out = attention. So when you wanted attention or to get your way, the sub-conscious mind responded the solution is to act out.

The problem is that if you have never taught your sub-conscious mind a new set of behaviors, you will use and display those two-year old behaviors even now.

Sometimes these behaviors are cute from a two-year-old. But how do they look on a twenty-two year old, or even a forty-two year old? Usually those behaviors are not very attractive coming from an adult! For many of us, they cause us more problems than benefits or solutions.

What Now?

There are many tools to help people build new behaviors as an adult instead of using our two-year old information. One of my personal favorites is, How To Control Your Anger Before It Controls You, by Albert Ellis. Often called the father of modern psychology, Ellis developed REBT or Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. It is a method by which we learn to send our information to our conscious mind (the prefrontal cortex) instead of automatically letting our sub-conscious handle it.

We must learn to control our emotions (or use them positively), and respond based on our personal goals, instead of reacting through our negative emotions (anger, disappointment, unhappiness, impatience, etc.).

Your First Step

Step one is realizing that nobody can make you do anything. It is not peer pressure, manipulation, need to fit in, need to get your way, nor anything else that makes you do the things you do — It is YOU that controls you!

Your choice, your action!

Since these behaviors often cause more problems than they solve, I challenge everyone – including you – to CHOOSE a new set of behaviors based in positivity, fact, and effectiveness. Simply because I am certain of one thing:

If you do the same things you have done before, you will get the same results!

How have you seen someone else react in a childish way? Have you reacted to something in this way recently (be honest)? What other “steps” have you witnessed or learned that could enable you to respond positively and powerfully, regardless of the situation?

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A. D. Roberts is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC
He helps with Leadership & Interpersonal Communication Consulting & Training

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Edited by Mike Weppler

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Send Them to a Movie, Don’t Train Them!

Movie Watching

People love training when it’s entertaining and they enjoy themselves.

They like it when the training gives them information that provides hope. Hope that their life will get easier, that the organization will be more successful, that their job security is enhanced, etc.

It’s good when you leave a training session fired up and ready to go use the techniques that you’ve learned. It’s good when you feel you’ve learned all the information you need to solve your work place problems.

What’s bad is—thinking the training session alone will change anything!

Do What You’re Told!

Do What You Are ToldPeople do not learn from being told or exposed to the information one time. Research shows we need an average of six exposures to the information with reinforcement (using the information you were exposed to) between the exposures to retain the information.

Of course the complexity of the task and each individual’s previous life experiences are just a couple of the factors that will determine how many exposures to the information being trained the individual will need.

Do the Math

I’ve done training programs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars with multiple sessions of in-depth information. I always advise management that in order for a training session to have a positive effect, the participants must have multiple exposures to the information.

Since I am only paid to deliver the information once, the organization (with my help) must use other methods to ensure that everyone gets their multiple exposures. It can be structured and timed e-mails that require a response to all participants. Or it can be a strategically placed sign with key elements of the training. Or even supporting audio materials playing in the break room, etc.

I offer clients a number of different ways to give their participants multiple exposures at no additional cost. Even when it’s easy and inexpensive, many clients do not provide follow-up activities and methods for multiple exposures.

The truth is, if you are not going to provide the necessary multiple exposures then, “SEND THEM TO A MOVIE, DON’T TRAIN THEM!” It will only be an entertaining waste of money that way.

Square Peg, Square Hole

Square Peg Round HoleAnother critical aspect of training retention is adjusting organizational policy and procedures to fit the new requested methods of behavior. Once individuals are trained to perform through new and different procedures and techniques, their evaluation and performance procedures and policies must be altered to support the new behaviors, If they are not, then they are forced to return to the old behaviors.

People cannot do something differently if they are forced down an opposing path.

One of the reasons I have observed to explain this phenomena is a lack of participation from the decision-makers (management) in the training. If management does not fully understand the information being delivered, they cannot adjust the policies and procedures to fit the requested behaviors and procedures.

If you aren’t going to change the policies and procedures to support the purchased training, “SEND THEM TO A MOVIE, DON’T TRAIN THEM!”

Big Picture

As a professional trainer, coach, and consultant, my mission is to share information that makes my clients more profitable, gives them a better work environment, increases customer satisfaction, and builds individual and organization success. Entertaining people is fun; however, educating them so they can achieve their goals and aspirations in life is much better! Make training count! Give your team the information but also the supporting elements that ensure their retention of that information and organizational success.

So please take this REAL advice:

DON’T TAKE THEM TO A MOVIE, TRAIN THEM RIGHT!

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A. D. Roberts is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC
He helps with Leadership & Interpersonal Communication Consulting & Training

Email | LinkedIn | Web | Book | Blog

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Leadership and Soft Skills Training ROI?

When looking into increasing the skill level, awareness, and behavioral practices of leaders, organizations need to be able to weigh the costs against the benefits of any training program in which they invest.

But how does one determine the financial return on investment (ROI) of leadership and soft skills training?

A Broad View

Organizations must look at several factors before deciding whether to provide leadership and soft skills training:

  • The cost in salaries of the people attending the training
  • The cost of the training being provided
  • The amount of lost production of the attendees
  • And the most important question, are we getting a satisfactory ROI?

For technical training such as learning to operate, run, and maintain a machine, the ROI is easier to calculate. How much profit was being made when the machine wasn’t producing goods compared to how much profit is being made with the machine producing goods.

Opportunity Costs

Leadership and soft skills training assessment for ROI isn’t quite as straight forward. To calculate return on investment you must consider factors that aren’t so easy to place a monetary value on, such as:

  • Lost revenues from dissatisfied customers
  • Wasted advertising dollars
  • Employee turnover
  • Employee and customer lawsuits
  • Sub-standard production (what it is compared to what it would be if all personnel where proficient and committed to the organization’s mission)
  • Absenteeism
  • And more

The fact is, the lack of skills and commitment to professional standards by leaders and company representatives cost the organization tremendous amounts of profit in a myriad of ways.

I’ve seen companies spend millions of dollars in new customer acquisition programs, both in advertising dollars and give-aways, only to see many prospective customers walk away due to poor customer service efforts. What about the team or unit leader who speaks to employees negatively and as a result has constant turnover?

The average cost of acquiring and hiring a new employee has been $27,000 and is rising. How about the leader that gets an organization sued due to their lack of skill and professionalism? In 2008, American organizations paid out more than a half a billion dollars in fines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That number doesn’t include damages against companies awarded by American courts as a result of employee lawsuits.

The key to having the greatest return on investment is having a highly skilled and committed group of people who know what to do, how to do it, and they want to do it well.

Of course this attitude and level of performance starts with the leadership.

Most anyone can force people to work given the power of authority, however, skilled leaders make people WANT to be highly productive and successful. We all know that when someone wants to do something it will get done better and faster than if they are forced to. If you don’t know that fact, there is a ton of research that verifies it. Teams accomplish magnificent feats when they are led well and want to, not because they are forced to.

So how do we measure ROI for leadership training and soft skills? How do we know that the investment is worth it? Look at the following (after the appropriate training and follow-up):

  • Are we capturing more customers from our marketing efforts?
  • Do we have a higher percent of prospects purchasing goods and services?
  • Has customer satisfaction increased?
  • Have customer referrals increased?
  • Have sales increased?
  • Has customer feedback become more positive and more frequent?

For leadership training:

  • Has morale increased?
  • Have employee complaints decreased significantly?
  • Has production increased (without overtime)?
  • Has absenteeism decreased?
  • Have employee lawsuits stopped?
  • Have leader and employee relationships improved and interpersonal stresses been removed?
  • Has position turnover declined?
  • Has the work environment become more positive, team oriented, and mission focused (don’t ask, walk around unexpectedly and observe)?

Research shows most organizations that have problems with production and performance suffer from people issues not process issues. Changing processes, adding rules, making demands does not fix people issues.

People work for people, not for policies.

Getting the right people, providing the right skills, creating a unified sense of purpose, completely defining and enforcing the required professional standards, and setting the example are the true path to maximizing an organization’s Return On Investment. Get good people, provide the training (good training not just any training) and reap the rewards!

So, what are you doing to evaluate your organization’s investment into leadership and soft skills training? How are you taking the time to measure those elements that can lead to better working environments and better production rates? What investments in these types of training have you seen work well? And which ones have failed? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Bookmark Leadership and Soft Skills Training ROI?

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A. D. Roberts is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC
He helps with Leadership & Interpersonal Communication Consulting & Training

Email | LinkedIn | Web | Book | Blog

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It’s Not Just Oil That’s Leaking in America!

By now, everyone knows there are millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico due to an oil rig accident. It is late Spring 2010 and the news is filled with this tragic event.

If you are like me, by this time you have probably received e-mails from both American political parties using this accident to push their agendas. So what does this say about our leadership on such an epic event?

Massive Finger Pointing

The Republicans say that this event doesn’t represent a total indictment of oil exploration/production and that energy reform is not necessary. But rather, this event is being used as a Democratic Party agenda issue. Democrats, on the other hand, are saying this accident should be an example of why it is time to seek other alternatives for energy beside oil. They are also blaming the previous administration for this horrible accident.

Meanwhile, the Director at the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency responsible for regulating the ill-fated oil platform, has been fired. This agency recently gave this oil platform a safety award.

So much for stellar leadership…

Locals in the area of the spill have already began legal proceedings against the operators of the oil platform, British Petroleum ( BP). BP has busied itself scrambling for a way to stop the tremendous amount of oil spilling into the environment on an hourly basis. The company’s ability to control its technology has been questioned. Of course we all know the reason they (BP) were out there drilling for oil: It is because there is a demand for it from a global consumer base.

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L2LRadio :: Stay Tuned™
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From a leadership perspective, we can see the same problems with stopping the spill that we see in corporations every day. People are focused on their individual agendas instead of the common interests of the group. In this case, the group is America.

Here are the real questions we face:

Will not all Americans suffer from this accident? Will it not cost us all to clean it up? Will we not lose valuable natural resources—food, water, animals, oil? Will we not feel the economic effects for years to come?

The Blame Game

The question for creating a solution is this:

“Would we be better off sharing ideas and information on how to stop the spill and not discussing who’s to blame?

Some of us probably know that we can’t contribute to stopping the flow, not having the knowledge, the power, or even something as simple as a boat. However, others clamor to respond in fury for a quick stop to the oil flow and add their personal barbs of spite because of their anger over the apparent devastation that soon is expected to appear. But what does finger-pointing really accomplish?

Question One:

When people make much noise about how they feel about the situation with accusations and threats,  aren’t they just distracting those with the ability to help make a difference from their mission of stopping the flow of oil from the bottom of the seas?

Question Two:

Are we so focused on our personal agendas, or are we focused on the common interests of the group?

Question Three:

If everyone in the country (including our government) was solely focused on stopping the leak (and the damage to our common interests), couldn’t we collectively have reacted more effectively and stopped the leak more quickly?

Where Does The Buck Stop?

We have a massive problem. What is the solution? If our current administration had acted in the interests of the American people and they used their vast resources to stop the leak instead of saying it’s BP’s responsibility, would that have made a difference? Everyone knows it’s BP’s responsibility, but it’s our natural resources being spilled out in our seas and not being refined for effective use that is a much bigger issue at hand.

And how about these looming question:

  • Should we allow capitalism and fiscal responsibility to trump the common interests of the people?
  • Are we focused on our mission and the continued success of America and its people or are we focused on money?
  • What good is money with nothing to buy and nowhere inhabitable to live?

Month after month and year after year, Americans are becoming less focused on our country and our people’s success and more and more focused on our individual agendas.

A team is not productive when its members are not focused on a common purpose but rather on their own personal desires.

This has been proven and played out over and over throughout history from the focus on “States Rights” in the South instead of common goals during the American Civil War. This pattern of selfish ambition at the expense of a common good also shows up in corporations and in professional sports teams as well. The size of the team is irrelevant. teamwork requires no finger-pointing and unity toward a larger cause.

Think of the old adage: “United we stand; divided we fall.”

We all know that when the members of a team become self-centered instead of group focused, prosperity and success begin to decline and loss begins its ominous accent. What is leaking off the coast of America is ruining the natural environment. What is leaking out of the souls of people who blame others first before seeking solutions first is ruining our societal environment.

So the question becomes for all Americans: “Are we ready for the decline, or is our American Team worth focusing on?” Where is the leadership for a country and its vital resources when it comes to solving massive problems like a huge oil spill of gargantuan proportions? How does your firm’s leadership resemble what you see on the global front? I would love to hear you thoughts!

Bookmark It’s Not Just Oil That’s Leaking in America!

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A. D. Roberts is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC
He helps with Leadership & Interpersonal Communication Consulting & Training

Email | LinkedIn | Web | Book | Blog

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What Makes an Organization Great?

Of all the factors that lead to greatness within an organization, one factor stands head and shoulders above the rest. That key factor is the organization’s mission.

When I travel around the country training leaders and discussing their organization’s mission, there is one question that I ask leaders to help clarify the importance of having a clear sense of their corporate mission.

And that question is this:

“Have you ever left your house for a vacation not  knowing where you were going,  but somehow arrived at the correct place, at the correct time, with everything in place?

Sometimes, someone will say “yes,” they did get to the right place, at the right time, with no planning, organization, or clear forethought. But they probably were not telling the truth. The truth is this: If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know if you get there because you never identified where there was.

I always ask the groups I train, “by show of hands, how many of you work for an organization that has a written mission or vision statement?”

The percentage is usually ninety percent or more that say their organization does have a written mission or vision statement.

I then ask them, “What is it?”

Every now and then someone will hold up a card with their mission printed on it. But very rarely is a leader able to actually tell the group what their organizational mission is.

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Deciding Factors

Every journey requires two factors that must be clearly defined: the “from and the to.” In other words, from where are we starting and to where are we going? When organizations and the individuals within those organizations know where they are going, then they have the roadmap they need to begin their journey of success.

Without this, they might as well be driving blind.

The need for a clearly stated and defined mission and a relentless focus on getting results is the same whether we are talking about a country, an organization, or an individual. Simply look throughout history for evidence of where a strongly stated and supported mission is at hand, an inevitability tends to follow.

Research has shown that people working toward a common cause that they believe in are tremendously effective. On the other hand, as John Maxwell says in his book, The 17 Indisputable Laws Of Teamwork, “no one person has ever done anything great by them self, there was always someone or many people supporting them enabling their accomplishment.”

In order for organizations or individuals to achieve great things, they must first determine what great things they would like to achieve. Without focusing on what you want and how you are going to get it, whether individual or organization, you won’t know what you’re going to get until your environment gives it to you. Unfortunately, you might find you don’t like what chance brings.

So what are you doing with your team to help them understand your team’s, your department’s, and your organization’s mission? Are you clearly stating where you are going, how you plan on getting there, and what it is going to take to get you there? What can you do this week to help clarify the mission your team is on? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Bookmark What Makes an Organization Great?

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A. D. Roberts is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC
He helps with Leadership & Interpersonal Communication Consulting & Training

Email | LinkedIn | Web | Book | Blog

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How Do Leaders “Pay It Forward”?

We’re all familiar with the metaphorical statement “Pay it forward.” We use it to mean what you do is repeated by others for others, as in good deeds. To start a cycle of good deeds, do a good deed.

“Pay it forward,” is, and has always been, a reality in leadership.

We all know of leaders who have changed lives (for good and bad) by the way they led. Movies like Elizabeth and Kingdom of Heaven are among hundreds that Hollywood has produced showing the monumental changes a powerful leader can make.

Street Level

A young man I know grew up in an abusive environment. He had criminals for friends, developed severe authority issues, dropped out of school, and was probably on the road to prison.  But due to the efforts of one leader, the once troubled youth has had multiple successful careers, earned three college degrees, has his own very successful company, and contributes greatly to society. Most of us know similar stories. People who accepted their responsibility for the development of those they lead and made a difference for people who, without that leader’s influence, would be leading a very different life.

Leaders are the ones that help people discover their potential and capabilities. They help them discover their strengths and weaknesses and improve them both. They show them expectations and help individuals develop personal standards for behaviors and performance. Leaders, through authority, persistence, and proximity are arguably the most influential people in our lives. When leaders help us discover that we can become anyone we want to, and then they help us find the path to becoming that person, they set us on a course that often lasts, and defines, a life time. We learn by example and through multiple exposures. So what we practice, we become.

If I Could Change the World

When leaders learn and then pass on positive behaviors and beliefs, they change the world one person at a time. The down side is that when a leader chooses not to learn effective and positive leadership techniques but decides to wing it instead, many times negative behaviors and beliefs are spread into the next generation. And this changes people, too.

In times past, pursuing the skills and techniques to becoming a positive and effective leader was much more difficult. In our age of information, where most answers are a few keystrokes away, becoming the leader that builds a positive future is much easier. In fact, with all the books, seminars, training workshops, etc., a leader almost has to work at not learning.

The blessings we enjoy as Americans and people around the globe are the results of past leaders who built positive legacies through those they interacted with. People like: Aristotle, Saladin, Martin Luther, Leonardo Da Vinci, Queen Elizabeth I, George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., just to name a few. People who change lives and their world for the better by paying forward a desire to become more as individuals and as people, positive values, endless possibilities, and most importantly, the knowledge that every one of us can make a difference if we choose to!

When you think of the impact leaders can have on individuals and even the world, a few important questions come to mind:

  • What will be our legacy as a leader? What will we pass on to the future generations?
  • What kind of world will we leave behind us for the ones we love?
  • Do we do enough to make a positive difference?
  • Are paying forward positive beliefs, behaviors, and hope worth adding the skills and techniques to become that kind of leader?

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A. D. Roberts
is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC
He helps with Leadership & Interpersonal Communication Consulting &Training
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Book | Blog

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What’s a Leader’s Greatest Challenge?

A leader’s greatest challenge is the same challenge we all face everyday—making ourselves do the things we don’t want to do!

Leader Is As Leader Does

How often do we say to ourselves that we want a certain result, but because we know there are required actions, like learning new skills, or changing a negative behavior, or adding positive behaviors, that we give up and never get the result we originally desired. We don’t do what it takes and then we justify to ourselves that NOW is not the best time. We tell ourselves we will do it later, but how often do we actually do it later?

Poor leaders are not poor because they choose to be. Poor leaders are poor leaders because they have not chosen not to be a poor leader!

Doctors are doctors and architects are architects because at some point they chose to be.

Where leadership differs from most professions is that in most professions you have to first acquire the skills, then begin to practice the profession. In our society, leaders are chosen based on technical skills and allowed to practice before acquiring the necessary leadership skills. Couple that with the fact that most leaders choose not to add the skills that would make them a highly effective professional leader and the results are often scary:

The NIOSH report on the right is an excellent resource that cites the following:

  • 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful
  • 25% view their jobs as the number one stress producer in their lives
  • Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems

More recently, the 2000 annual “Attitudes In The American Workplace VIGallup Poll sponsored by the Marlin Company found that:

  • 80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42% say their coworkers need such help
  • 14% of respondents had felt like striking a coworker in the past year, but didn’t
  • 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress, 10% are concerned about an individual at work they fear could become violent
  • 9% are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace and 18% had experienced some sort of threat or verbal intimidation in the past year
  • The American Dream? 73% of American workers say they would not want their boss’s job

How much of the stress that the American workers go through has to do with leaders choosing not to add the skills that would make them highly effective professional leaders? To research that question we have only to think of the leaders we work with and ask ourselves this: “How often do the leaders we work with choose to add skills to become more effective leaders?”

For most of us the answer will be “Not often enough.”

And this is not just an American phenomenon. With globalization and homogenization of business and cultural practices, these results hold up in many other countries around the globe. A popular definition of insanity is–doing the same thing you done before and expecting a different result. As crazy as it sounds, how many of us see people do this stagnation practice every day?

To get a different result it takes different action. Really think about that and the real implications of breaking through personal habits and norms. This is the first step into a new personal leadership model that gets better results.

The challenge all people face every day (leaders included), is making ourselves do things we know we need to do to get the results we wish for! Test yourself to see if you meet the challenge.

Ask yourself these questions:

What skills have I added in the last six months that I have successfully used and became more effective as a leader?

When is the last time I put adding skills off that I know I need to learn?

Am I the best leader I can be?

Is anyone that works with me one of the stressed out workers indicated in the above poll results?

Would life be easier and more rewarding if I added more skills?

It’s easy to choose not to do something for ourself and others. Be bold. Be brave. And let’s get tough and choose to do what’s necessary to be the person and leader that creates and enjoys the success we want! You can do this!

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A. D. Roberts
is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC. He is author of “21st Century Leadership–How to Lead Effectively and Develop People Successfully”.
www.adroberts.com

Image Source: abundance-and-happiness.com, jasonkolb.com

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