Do you want to know the secret of staying young, vibrant and active even when you are old? Learn something new every day, and never stop learning! Research shows that those who learn new things exercise their brain on a regular basis and remain sharp and vibrant for a long time, while those who simply give up learning tend to deteriorate mentally as they age. One of the great things about learning new things is that it is exercise for your brain, keeping it toned and healthy just like physical exercise tones your body.
One of the simplest ways to keep learning new things is to read every single day. In fact, I read three hours a day and if, for some reason, I miss my reading time, I get withdrawals! I have always believed in the worlds of former President Harry S. Truman, “Not all readers are leaders, but ALL leaders are readers.” As a leader, it is not optional for me to read. I must read to learn new information, to test out my ideas by comparing them to others and to discover things I never knew.
As a manager and company owner, I also owe it to my employees to stretch my brain. Who wants a boss who is completely closed off to new things? Who wants to work for a company where no one ever learns or tries out something different? No one wants a boss who cannot stretch his or her mind and learn things that will benefit both the company and the individual employees. Therefore, I actually owe it to my employees to broaden my mind by reading and learning everything possible.
I like to learn something new every day. Besides my vociferous reading on all types of subjects, I also like to share my ideas with others and listen to their ideas. A big part of learning is listening. I never learned anything new by talking, but I have learned a lot by concentrating on what others are saying! To me, there is never an excuse to close your mind or to fail to learn things from those around you. Simply put, you should never stop learning, no matter how high you rise in your company or how old you are!
When it comes to motivating employees to peak performance, some managers make a crucial error. They listen to those who confused manipulation and motivation. Because these managers are afraid to make a focused effort to motivate their employees, they miss out on some very good opportunities to change their workplace dynamic.
People who cannot distinguish between positive motivation and negative manipulation probably have trouble understanding the definition of each word. They take any effort on the part of one person to influence another as an attempt to control that person, but this is simply not true. In fact, the definition of motivation is to “provide a reason for someone to act in a certain way.” Notice that nothing about this definition speaks to force or coercion. Motivation is simply creating an option for another person so that he or she may choose to behave in a certain way. When you motivate someone, you are showing the person the benefits in choosing a certain course of action. Manipulation, on the other hand, is an effort to control someone else by limiting his or her options.
There is no place in a modern workplace for manipulation. In fact, manipulation is something that should be avoided in any relationship, whether work or personal. Manipulation is unethical because it denies people the opportunity to choose their own course of action. Motivation, on the other hand, is a powerful tool you can use to make people aware of their own potential and reward them when they make good decisions. Unlike manipulation, motivation is appropriate to use for adults and in all of your relationships, both at work and in your personal life.
As a manager, you have a clear choice between manipulation and motivation. When you belittle your employees, threaten them or use other negative means to force them to behave in a certain way, you are engaging in manipulation. On the other hand, when you make a focused effort to encourage your employees, to praise them and offer them positive reinforcement or use problems as “teaching opportunities,” you are engaging in motivation. Employees appreciate motivation over manipulation because it allows them to have the option of choosing to behave in ways that benefit them.
You might be surprised at how many hardheaded and seemingly unemotional managers are actually “big softies” on the inside. They might never say so, but many managers, even those who seem not to care, are secretly asking themselves, “Do my employees hate me?” While it is unusual for employees to literally hate their bosses, they often feel that their bosses do not care about them. This lack of caring about your employees, or at least the perception of indifference, often leads employees to perform at less than optimum levels.
If your employees believe that you do not care about them, they are unlikely to want to go the extra mile or work hard to make you successful. In fact, you may find that they subtly sabotage your efforts with passive resistance to your efforts to move your company forward. Many managers have the vague feeling that their employees are unhappy but never really delve into the reasons behind their dislike.
In order to convince your employees that you care, you must show them rather than tell them. One great way to do this is by offering rewards and incentives for good performance. Everyone likes to be recognized for hard work, so offering employees a reward for various achievements is a great way to show them you do notice their efforts and care about their feelings.
A great way to reward your employees for their hard work is to visit MyEmployees at http://www.myemployees.com/ and explore the options we have for employee recognition. We offer consultations with professionals, award products, videos and even a blog to help you learn more about ways to show that you care for your employees and recognize their contributions to your company. You can take the time to recognize achievements and support your employees through a variety of methods shown on our website. You can also receive the help you need to provide recognition for your employees.
Showing that you are a caring manager will relieve the worry about that age-old question: “Do my employees hate me?” When you show that you are interested in caring about your employees, you can stop worrying about whether they are happy working for you.
Do you know the number one reason managers fail to grow their companies? Managers fail in crucial areas because of lack of leadership, not lack of management. When you fail to educate your employees, you fail to give them what they need to continue to evolve and grow and your company suffers as a result. In my book Built to Lead, I made the statement, “Don’t be so busy working IN your business that you never work ON it.” What is the difference between working in your business and on your business?
One way to define what you do within a company is to outline your role. List the important things that you do every day, every week, every month and every year. There is a pretty good chance that if you made a list and recorded how many hours per week you spend on each job, you would learn a disturbing fact: about 80 percent of the time you spend at your job is spent on tasks that contribute to 20 percent or less of your overall company productivity.
Think about that for a minute. If you are like most managers, you are so busy “managing” that you do not have time to pay attention to the things that matter, such as how your company is growing and providing opportunities for the future of your employees.
If you are spending the majority of your time on mundane management issues it is important to reverse this trend. Start educating your employees and delegating authority to them. Release them to do their jobs while you focus on the important factors that can create opportunity and help your company grow. If you want to educate your employees and then allow them to do their jobs, you will avoid the problems and mistakes that make managers fail in crucial areas and cause companies to flounder. In my book Built to Lead, I discuss the problems faced by managers who do not lead but instead try to manage or even micro-manage their employees. If you are one of these types of managers, it is important that you change your style quickly before you damage your company and endanger your own job.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not a violent man. However, in my book Built To Lead, I discuss a scene from the movie Moonstruck in which Cher slaps Nicolas Cage upside the head while yelling, “Snap out of it!” I call this slap upside the head a “business reality check” when it happens to someone in “real life.”
Unfortunately, this slap of reality often comes in the form of a pink slip for managers. There is a very simple reality that you must understand in business: if you are not making things better, you are making things worse. Those who make things worse will eventually lose their jobs.
Instead of getting your reality check in the form of a notice to vacate your office, allow me to deliver the slap in verbal form. It is time to wake up and “snap out of it!” You may be fooling yourself that what you are doing is good enough, but if you are not rising above the rest of the crowd you are probably on your way out the door. You simply do not realize it yet.
Fortunately, there is still time to turn things around for most of you reading this. You can learn the principles and practices that result in better leadership, more productivity and, ultimately, job security and advancement. In my book Built to Lead, I address a number of these principles and give you the tools you need to grow your business and become the leader you were made to be.
It is true that a slap upside the head is painful. However, it is not nearly as painful as losing your job or failing at creating the business you have dreamed of! Instead of learning by failure, why not take the opportunity to benefit from a business reality check? When you read my book Built To Lead and you become a true leader in your business, you will not only enjoy more job security but will double, triple or quadruple your business’s growth—a sure way to get the attention of those who matter!
What does it mean to be a leader? We use the terms “leadership” and “management,” but sometimes we do not realize what they mean. There are some basic leadership principles that always apply if you want to be a true inspiration to your employees. These leadership principles and practices do not change and are not dependent on what type of business you own and operate. No matter if you are a low-level manager, a regional supervisor or the owner of a company these leadership principles will always serve you well!
• Rethink your role. If you are simply showing up every day, making sure that everyone does his or her job and going home, you are missing one of the biggest points of being a manager: growing your business. You are not there to supervise employees; you are there to grow the opportunities for employees to do even more than they are already doing.
• Document best practices. Of course you have to do a certain amount of management, but there is only one way to do this effectively: document the best way to do every single job in your company. From floor sweeper to regional manager, every employee should have easy access to documentation that clearly shows the best way to do his or her job. This will save you a great deal of valuable time that you can spend growing opportunities for your company.
• Care about your employees. When I say this, I mean it. I do not mean “act like you care about your employees.” I mean really and truly care about them. If you do not, they will know, I promise you! Step outside of your own worries and think about what your employees are seeing and struggling with on a daily basis. Listen to them and given them a safe haven in which they can express their frustrations or ideas without fear of reprisal. Remove negative leaders and replace them with positive ones. Your employees may not remember what you say, but they will certainly remember what you do!
Great leadership is not an accident. It is always based on sound leadership principles that allow you to become the manager or owner you were meant to be. With the right leadership principles and practices you will show everyone that you are “Built To Lead”!
In a famous quote by educator Haim G. Ginott, we learn one of the basic truths of inspiring others. This incredible teacher stated, “If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” This means that in order to raise the bar and cultivate excellence in our workplaces, we have to treat people as if they had already attained excellence. Those of us who are built to lead must inspire those who work for us to be better than they are.
How can we possibly inspire employees to be better than they are? Haim G. Ginott has another insight: “I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized.” While Ginott was referring to the teacher’s role in the classroom, it is clear that this same theory can be applied to business owners. You, and you alone, are the deciding factor in your business climate.
When you create a climate of trust and caring, your employees are more willing to take chances. They are better able to spread their wings and use their talents to give you great service and to grow your business to incredible heights.
However, if you create a climate of distrust by being disloyal to your employees or holding them to impossible standards, you will find that they will eventually fulfill your prophecy. When you expect them to fail, they will fail. When you expect them to dislike and distrust you, you will set up the circumstances to create this reality.
Instead of anticipating the worst, treat your employees as if you expect nothing less than their best. Raise the bar for everyone by holding both yourself and your employees to high standards of excellence and show them that you are “Built To Lead”!
One of the biggest problems facing employers today is how to get employees to take responsibility for their jobs in a deep and meaningful way. The fact is that you simply cannot take responsibility for everything that happens in your company even though you may ultimately be held accountable for it. It is critical that you maximize employee retention levels and get your workers to take ownership of their own performance.
How do you get employees to take responsibility for their work? The same way you get anyone to take responsibility: by leading by example and providing learning opportunities with real consequences.
Think about your children for a moment. You want them to learn to drive so that they can be independent. However, you would never simply put the keys to a vehicle into their hands and tell them, “Good luck! I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” Instead, you spend the first 16 years of their lives showing them how to drive, then another year sitting beside them while they drive.
You make it clear that as you release more responsibility to them you expect more mature performance. In fact, you tell them that if they do not meet your expectations, there will be punishment! If your child gets a speeding ticket or is involved in a fender-bender, he or she quickly learns the cost of such behavior. Soon, your children are turning into safe and careful drivers who understand the need for good performance behind the wheel.
The path to employee ownership of their jobs is very similar. You must never throw them into the job without some support. Start by showing them or having someone who is already proficient show them what to do. Next, you provide learning opportunities. I allow my management team and certain employee groups to read books that address work-related issues
then take time to meet and discuss what they have read. This allows them to learn from each other. Finally, I release more and more authority and control to employees as they show they can handle these responsibilities.
If you want to increase employee retention and help your workers take ownership of their own jobs, you must be willing to work side-by-side with them and lead by example. You must also be willing to release authority to your employees.
If there is a single thing that consistently causes people to fail it is lack of repetition. Repetition is the key to success and is vital for those who want to learn a new skill. In fact, it is so important that it bears repeating: repetition is the key to success.
Are you already tired of hearing me repeat that? Unfortunately, most of us simply do not like repetition. We turn on the television and we do not want to see reruns; in fact, we expect a new and exciting episode every week. However, without repetition the chances are good that we will not internalize something and will not really learn it.
When you are reading something like my book “Built To Lead”, there is a lot of information for you to internalize. This does not mean to read it once and “file it away.” In fact, it is rather silly to expect anyone to internalize material that is read only once. Instead, I suggest keeping a highlighter by your side or using your electronic highlighter function to highlight important passages as you read. Anything that jumps out at you should be highlighted. Once you have finished reading, re-read only the highlighted passages once a month. You will find after a few months you are retaining far more than you imagined you could, simply due to the power of repetition.
Another simple trick is to jot down an idea on a sticky note and place it in a visible location where you will see it daily. Keep it up for a month, then transfer it to a special board along with other sticky notes from past months. Whenever you transfer an “old” idea and put up a new one, re-read the entire board. You will be surprised how deeply these ideas come to influence you.
If you really want to be successful, you have to be willing to do things more than once. One pushup does not make you fit! Rather, repetition of pushups is the key to success if you want to develop strong arms. In all endeavors, repetition is the key to success!
Talk about highlighting and rereading. One pushup doesn’t make a body fit and healthy. Relate this to the blog. Go through the blog and bookmark/ reread articles.
Do you really love the life you are living? Many of us are surprised to find that we are thrown into a life we never imagined! Until you love what you do, you miss the chance to live an inspired life. How do you know if you were built to lead if you do not love what you are doing so much that you cannot wait to get out of bed each day? However, you do not just love what you do accidentally; it is a function of another love affair that goes on every day.
There are probably three things in your life that have the capacity to make you love what you do. Surprisingly, those things do not include your bank account, your fame, your power or the admiration of others. Most likely, if you are actually living a life you love, you are really in love with three things: your family, your faith and your employees.
Your family is the rock that keeps you grounded to earth. Where would we be without our wives and children? Families give us a reason to work hard. We want to inspire them, teach them and provide them with everything they want.
Your faith should be another love affair in your life and is your guiding compass to making good decisions. What would I do without the Lord to turn to? Where would I be without the Scripture to guide me? Better men than myself have lost their path due to a lack of faith. In fact, Jesus himself said, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Mark 8:36).