Pursuing Your Purpose in 2015 – a format for fulfillment

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The teacher arrived at the author’s booth at the convention. She perused the books and educational resources on the display table. She previewed the posters and listened to the motivational CD’s that were present. She turned to the author, looked him in the eyes and asked a poignant question,” Why haven’t I heard of you? Why don’t I know you? These resources are exactly the kind of help I need to work with my students.” This scene was repeated by a local television actor on a network show. He was on a program, with the author, speaking and mentoring to students at a high school. While waiting for the session to begin, the actor reviewed the author’s latest book. “Man, why haven’t I heard of you?” he said.

Most of us are not fortunate enough to be challenged to live out our purpose in this manner.  The situations are real and reflect a question we should ask ourselves. Have the right people heard of us? Have they been exposed to our purpose and message? The objective is not necessarily notoriety. But wants to know if we are doing what is required to pursue our purpose. Are we doing what is necessary so that a wide range of people can benefit from the talent and skills we have to offer? I attended a Big-Money Speaker conference conducted by my coach James Malinchak. He suggested that we could use our financial success as one way to determine the level of service we are providing to others. Therefore, if we are pursuing our purpose and utilizing a format or system for fulfillment, we should see this reflected in how we measure success or influence.

We should constantly work to pursue our purpose. This begins with the identification of why we are on this planet. This can usually be suggested in our talents and the passion that we have for certain activities. In my case, it is reflected in the dedication and persistence in spreading the word around the world about leadership, excellence, motivation and utilizing our gifts. My keyword for 2015 will be ubiquitous, which means to be widespread. But, widespread does not mean everywhere or to everyone, it means that I must be widespread within a targeted area of emphasis, within my niche. We can’t be all things to all people or we will eventually dilute our impact and burn out in the process.

We should develop a format for fulfillment which will include a system we will follow to reach our goals. This system or process will be followed routinely as a discipline focusing on our purpose. I created The Know System™ in my book, The Isle of Knowledge, as a way to stay focused on making the right decisions to reach your goals. Great coaches will tell us to pick a niche and focus our attention in that specific area.

We should be determined to be “Known in our niche and famous in our family.” We should work strategically within a targeted area to meet the key customers and prospects and make them aware of our products and services. This awareness could be from attending and running workshops and conferences, conducting podcasts and webinars, or writing articles and blogging. We want to be perceived as an expert in our given area. Therefore, writing a book on the subject, may be appropriate, to establish us as someone who knows more about the subject then most people.

To be famous in our family includes your intermediate as well as our extended family. Are our relatives aware of our job and our purpose? This awareness will enable them to ask questions out of curiosity and to increase their knowledge. They can be inspired by the way we live and come to us for career advice. Our extended family may include friends, acquaintances, business contacts and people we meet at networking events. Do they know who we are? Do they know what we stand for? Do they know our purpose and the products or services we provide? We can use this phrase as a reminder to use the influence we were placed on this planet to acquire and deliver. We must be driven to be known in our niche and to be famous in our families. This will push us toward our responsibility of activating our talent and using it so that we are fulfilled. Our niche and family members may be able to help us achieve our purpose.

I am the entrepreneur mentioned at the beginning of this article. The words stated by the teacher and the actor are being used as a mantra to drive my behavior and performance. I am committed to entertain, educate and inspire action in people to achieve outstanding results. This compels me to deliver the messages and develop the resources to enable people to do their jobs, pursuing their purpose and making a difference. I am hopeful that these messages and resources will help people unlock their leadership greatness and develop a format to fulfill their dreams and provide the level of service necessary to enrich the lives of others. Please contact me if you have any questions about the content of this blog post, my speaking topics and the motivational resources of Watchwell Communications, Inc. I can be reached at Orlando.ceaser@watchwellinc.com, www.OrlandoCeaser.com and http://www.watchwellinc.com.

 

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

The “A” Game Chronicles – Discover and deliver it

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How often have you heard someone say or someone is told to bring their “A” Game to the competition? They don’t say bring a game, but the capitalized “A” game. I wonder if people know what their “A” Game looks like. How often have they seen it? Would they recognize it when they saw it? I wonder if they have ever challenged themselves at such a high level that it brought out their “A” game. Then they would know what it looked like and could therefore, duplicate it upon demand. They are told to get an “A” for effort, but you need the results to back it up

Their “A” game is heavily in demand. “A” is for action or “A” is for achievement. “A” is for the highest performance. I knew managers who were never rated at the top performance tier within their organization. Yet many of these managers would distribute these ratings without hesitation. My questions were always two fold. First, “How could you?” and secondly, “Do you know what awesome looks like, since you never received the rating? The same applies to someone’s “A” Game. Do you know what it looks like and does a manager know when it has arrived and how to bring it out in the open? An accumulation of “A” games should lead to the highest performance ranking and rating within the group.

There are apparently different standards for an “A” game. I suppose it is in the eye of the beholder. What measuring device are you using for an “A” game? Your “A” Game could be a function of the following:

• Attitude – your disposition spells confidence and could cause your best performance to explode out of your potential.
• Awareness refers to self – awareness, for you are in touch with your physical and mental capabilities. Your emotional intelligence (EQ) involves knowledge of people and relationships. When combined with competitive knowledge and personal or self knowledge you create a climate for your “A” game to develop.
• Aptitude – (IQ) – intelligence referring to mental skill and thinking enhances by hours of hard work, reading and analyzing your performance and expectations.
• Alignment – consistent with goals
• Achievement focused
• Action oriented – execution, passion and initiative

What the “A” Game is not – pseudo “A” Game or false positive

• Avoidance – hiding from your best performance and abdicating to other work you should perform yourself
• Absent – missing and engaged in inaction when you are expected on the job. When people are depending on you.
• Awkward – uncoordinated, undisciplined due to a lack of practice and poor technique.
• Average – In the same level as others. Your “A” game should be a moving target. The best you have today should be better than yesterday and below the high bar, you have established for tomorrow. This gives you something to aspire to within the range of your potential.

In delivering your “A” Game on a bad day you may be slightly short and deliver an “A-“Game, which is an A minus Game. But this is a whole lot better than a negative “A” Game. For this is the polar opposite to your best performance. This is essentially an “F” Game which is not acceptable.

Everyone brings a game to the arena, but you should make sure that it is your “A” game; an awesome effort that leads to an astonishing performance.

Copyright © 2011 Orlando Ceaser

Quick decisions – Decisive or deceptive

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Speed is often admired in the communication process. A leader who makes snap decisions is seen as forceful, decisive and endowed with qualities that command attention and admiration. However, in some instances the quick decisions may mask insecurity, incompetence, lack of authenticity and integrity issues. The observer may miss the signs as they focus on the flashy presentations.

Difficulties in business relationships arise when the false and manipulative motives are discovered and revealed. Lack of integrity violates the rules of emotional intelligence as portrayed by Daniel Goleman in his book Primal Leadership. The snap decision from a disingenuous leader is pretentious and undesirable. They may be hiding something.

People with cruel intentions will ultimately be discovered. Perceptive people are everywhere. They will play the role of an investigative reporter and will eventually unmask the leader through the clues provided through their communication style. The early signs of skepticism may be initiated when snap decision are made without collaborating with others. This could be the tip of the iceberg that will lead to their downfall. A gut feeling may signal that something is wrong. The observer may decide to register their actions as suspicions and commit to keeping an eye on the leader. The unscrupulous leader may use their quick decisions to impress people, shield their incompetence or to ward off threatening opponents. But, their dishonestly will be discovered, because someone is watching them.

Quick decisions on their own are not a problem, particularly if based on familiarity with the situation and subject matter and a reputation of sound judgment. Snap decisions do not automatically mean a character defect. They may be the result of a keen business mind that thinks through multiple options with split second timing. These traits must be respected and appreciated. However, people have been known to make knee jerk reactions without thinking through all of the data and evaluating the options in order to hide their selfish or libelous intentions.

Let us take a moment to review, explore and extol the benefits of a leader being decisive.

If the leader is an effective communicator and demonstrates balance in their decision making, people are impressed. People are not tempted to look for problems. They analyze the messages from formation, to delivery, receipt and response and nothing seems out of order. When messages are filtered through the receiver’s value system, experiences and beliefs, the communicator seems perfectly in line.

People look up to and study the leader. They innocuously look for signs to learn how to communicate better and to ensure they are properly following the leader. Additionally, people;

• Pay attention to, notice and respond to more than the leader’s words. By this I mean, they watch the leader’s facial expressions. The non-verbal signals are launched before the verbal. It’s like lightning arriving before the sound of thunder.
• Messages incompatible with the leader’s intent are intercepted and clarified. They will clarify by saying,” I don’t think if I made myself clear.” They may ensure understanding by asking, “May I restate what I said?” They place the onus on the leader rather than on the receiver for the accuracy of the communication, which should minimize misunderstandings.
• The leader has an obligation to do their best to clear the arteries of communication. Then it’s up to the person hearing the message.

The first time the perceptive person (investigative reporter / listener) suspects there is something improper about the leader, they may feel uncomfortable. They know biases and prejudgments cause us to think the worst in human interactions. If they are objective, they may feel they could be biased against the leader because the leader may remind them of someone else, who dealt them a dirty deed. Initially, they may question their own judgment and objectivity.

The investigative reporter recognizes that it is wise to go slowly in such serious matters. They are patient and thorough, as they compile the information. They look for a trend in certain behaviors before jumping to conclusions. When they consistently see snap decisions made that devalue people, witness inconsistent messages that seem illogical, they are pressed into a deeper state of scrutiny. They do their homework and move carefully to gather data on relationships and careers that were trashed by the leader’s impulsive and damaging words.

There is a certain rhythm and communications in the workplace. There is a standard of how people should perform and how people should be treated. Invariably, you may find a leader with character issues, such as a lack of integrity and this will upset the rhythm of the environment through their communication style. Snap decisions in their hands are a weapon and a shield. When they are discovered, they should be replaced or the organization risk losing credibility for a lack of commitment to standards.

Snap decisions, that are the wrong decisions and those delivered for the wrong reasons, may cause continuous stress and conflict. They will create a constant state of turmoil due to internal and external pressure. But they may be an indicator of a major cover-up that is happening right before your very eyes

Don’t forget. Be impressed by quick decisions made by skillful leaders with the gift of discernment and execution. However, where they are made with insufficient data with a disregard for people, they may reflect a skill deficiency or the leader is hiding a major insecurity or character flaw.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

Secrets of Success in Sales and Leadership

This interview was given to Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Magazine and contains information that is still current and vital for today’s professional in any field.
“How do you describe your job? Do you feel that you are simply a salesperson whose only real duty is to sell as much of your products as you can? If so, this month’s column is for you! The average rep might get away with this mindset, but the best reps in this industry see their jobs in terms of both sales and leadership.

This month we speak with Orlando Ceaser, author of Leadership Above the Rim: The Poetry of Possibility. He has authored numerous articles, books and CDs, and has a comic strip on leadership, motivation and personal development. Formerly the Senior Director of Diversity for AstraZeneca, he is now a motivational communicator for Watchwell Communications, Inc, We speak with him this month to tap into his over 30 years of experience to learn how the best reps use leadership skills to get to the top of their field.

Orlando, you have worked with reps from a variety of vantage points. Why don’t we start by giving us a definition of leadership as it pertains to a pharmaceutical sales representative?

Leadership is defined in the eyes of the customer. The pharmaceutical sales representative, who helps their clients reach their vision of quality patient care, will be perceived as a leader. They will lead by example and develop credibility through technical expertise and outstanding customer service. Their responses to questions will be in the best interest of the customer. Their objectivity will create meaningful trusting relationships. They will be in the upper echelon of sales reps by using their talent, skills and resources to provide value and exceed customer expectations.

How do you see the industry’s most successful representatives using their leadership skills to advance their careers?

These individuals are not afraid to take risks. They will openly ask questions in meetings, volunteer for special projects and coach and challenge their peers. They recognize that each interaction is an interview, so their time in front of senior leadership is used as an opportunity to demonstrate their talent and tactics. They realize that the first step to a promotion is doing their current job to the best of their ability. The most successful representatives know that advancing their careers does not necessarily require a promotion or relocation. They may accept a lateral move, as well as a higher rung on the career ladder.

The successful sales representative will use a mentor or coach to help them improve their performance and counsel them on their career. They will develop advocates who are aware of their track record. These representatives are continuously learning and looking for ways to excel among their peers, by being competitive, but not in a negative manner.

If a rep doesn’t have a lot of experience in leading other people, where can he or she begin to get that experience?

Experience leading people can be gained on the job by taking the lead on projects and volunteering to assist their manager on special teams and with field training new representatives. They will gain valuable experience leading a team and learn to influence without authority. Additionally, there are opportunities away from the job where they can hone leadership skills. Sales representatives may volunteer in local community, religious, social, military and sports programs.

Sales representatives should let management know the scope of these leadership opportunities and the skills being developed. It is a good idea to have leadership development as a career objective and read books, take classes, attend seminars to help fulfill the leadership objective.

What do you think are the top one or two qualities and/or habits that make a great leader in this field?

Great leaders have the ability to rally a team to a cause greater than themselves. Marcus Buckingham, the author of First break all the rules and The one thing you need to know, says, “Great leaders rally people to a better future.” This vision of the better future is passionately presented, designed and executed. People follow because they can see how it will benefit them. Clarity in defining the future and optimism as they alleviate the fears of their team is necessary to keep them focused on achieving corporate and personal objectives.

What one or two qualities or habits do you think are very destructive in people who are in leadership roles?

I have noticed a number of leaders lose control of their organizations lacking integrity and trustworthiness. These are more than moral failing; they strike to the core of motivating a team to strive for the future espoused by a leader. If people don’t trust the leader this will impact morale, levels of engagement, productivity and sales results. It will also prevent the leader from retaining their top talent.

Additionally, in a global economy, leaders who are not inclusive or culturally competent will be a liability to their organizations.

What would you tell a representative who feels that they don’t have the basic skills or characteristics to be a leader? Perhaps they don’t like to be in the spotlight, or lack confidence in speaking out and giving their opinions, for example.

I would suggest reading books on leadership and discussing leadership skills with their manager. They may be mistaken regarding their ability to lead. In these current economic times, it may be a competitive advantage to acquire leadership qualities. For example, speaking up at meetings is a skill set that can be developed. Some people are introverts who like to process information differently and may take time to think through a response before commenting. Participation strategies and tactics can be devised to increase confidence and engagement. I know people who write down questions before and during a meeting to structure their thoughts. Others role play their responses before a meeting through mentally rehearsing their questions or practicing out loud.

Senior leadership makes decisions about the value of sales representatives from their ability to sell and their ability to lead. Expertise in selling today will cause leadership to ask the question, “Do they have what it takes to lead, tomorrow?”

6 Ways to be discovered at work

I remember many stories of people being discovered at some point in their career. This language is often associated with artists, entertainers and movie stars. The person or group was performing in a small nightclub and that night, a record producer was in the audience. The young lady was working behind a cosmetic counter and a modeling agent was stunned by her beauty. The painter’s work is shown in an obscure art gallery when seen by a critic. These situations also happen in the business world. A hard-working employee is brought to the attention of an influential manager, who inquires about their performance and subsequently takes them under their wing. A person delivers a presentation and suddenly, upper management is aware of their existence.

Many times, the act of being discovered was portrayed as being lucky, something beyond the individual’s control. However, life and experience teach us, that there are actions a person can take to put them in a position to be discovered. What is the secret to being discovered? What role can you play to ensure it happens to you or your people? Is it a matter of luck or do you play a major role in achieving the dream you deserve.

There are at least six things that an individual can do that will increase the odds of exposure and discovery. They are as follows:

• Professionalism and expertise
• Market yourself to the right people
• Visit places of the powerful and influential
• Ask people to view your work and give feedback
• Acquire an advocate
• Ask for recommendations

Professionalism and expertise

It is correct to assume that working at a very high level and excel at your craft will attract attention. If you are selling more product than your peers, this will eventually be noticed by people in higher levels of authority. If you are generating more ideas, working longer hours, volunteering for leadership roles on major projects, standing out in the crowd by asking pertinent questions, you will be noticed by influential people. Your expertise will lead to higher performance ratings and greater rewards and recognition.

Display character and a positive work ethic. This will draw attention to your career and people who can help you succeed. They will be attracted to your talent and pristine work history.

Market yourself to the right people

Find the people who make the hiring decisions or pull will the purse strings. Create a career plan that includes the components listed below, as tactics in your strategy. Share your success with the right people. Don’t be bashful; let them know how good you are without bragging. Always remember, “Every interaction is an interview.” My coach James Malinchak has a saying that is pertinent here.”ABM, Always Be Marketing.” Look for ways to perform your job and make people aware of your contributions. Be subtle, but effective in sharing your words to key decision-makers. Being discovered is the reward you deserve for hard work and dedicated focus. The right people can place you in a position to maximize your contributions organization. Position yourself so that people in power or those who have hiring authority can see the impact of your work.

Visit places of the powerful and influential

Place yourself in a position where you can be seen and heard by decision-makers. I know people who join groups and associations or volunteered because it placed them in the presence of important people. They were committed to helping others, but doing it in the presence of some of their managers provided an extra incentive. People in power like to align themselves with people with similar interests. Increasing your visibility and participating in similar activities, can accelerate the process of being discovered. This is a prime motivator for people to take up golf, tennis and other athletic activities. The presence of influential people is a lure for being discovered.

Ask people to view your work and give feedback

Many people love to assist someone who are committed to excellence and are anxious to improve. Hard work and dedication to excellence attracts people who want to play a role in your success. By asking people to observe your work and give feedback, it shows that you are open to improve your performance. The rapid implementation of their ideas will show them that you are sincere and respectful of their suggestions.

Acquire an advocate

If you acquire a person who is very interested in your growth and development, they will refer and recommend you to other people. As a matter of fact, they may be so excited about you that they will tell everyone about your potential, your talent and your ambition. If these individuals are highly regarded, their words of praise will help open doors for you. You will be amazed at the number of people that other people know who can benefit your career.

Ask for recommendations

Show your initiative by asking for the names of people who could help you. When you ask for the recommendation, ask them if they can let the other party know they have their support. I heard a statistic on a radio program that 70% of people landing new jobs were due to employee recommendations. If you want to be discovered, if you want people to know who you are and where you, recommendations can help speed along the process. Over time, you will master the skill of being in the right place at the right time, highly skilled and ready to be discovered.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

Leaders are not mind readers

There is value in leaders being aware of critical issues in the workplace. The quality of leadership decision-making is based on the quality of information or data on hand. You may feel that any leader worth their salt should have access to information that will help them do a better job. Leaders have many talents, but clairvoyance and mind reading are not within their skill set. Therefore, it is important for their teams to practice full disclosure on matters critical to the success of individuals, teams and organizations.

There are three areas I would like to emphasize to make my case. They are career status and updates, environmental hazards and new ideas.

Career expectations and updates

Current aspirations

Is your manager aware of your career expectations and personal goals? An employee became frustrated when he did not receive an assignment he cherished. He felt his performance would convince his boss that he was the ideal candidate for the job, but he never stated his interest. When I sold encyclopedias, I often used the ‘B’ volume for its excellent article and pictures about birds. The article began with a picture of a mother bird with a worm in her mouth. There were several baby birds in the nest. The question on the page was which bird will get the worm? The answer of course was the ones who made it known that they were hungry, by screaming with their beaks open. Individuals must vocalize their interest and make them known to their leaders by their actions.

Career alerts – changes in expectations

If you have career aspirations that have changed, wish to lead a project team and possess insight and ideas that could benefit the company, you must let them know.
Leaders have an understanding of your career limitations or restrictions. If this information becomes outdated or you have changed your mind, the only way they will know this, is if you bring it to their attention.

If you have changed your relocation flexibility, please keep your manager informed. Leaders are not like the notice included in your monthly bills. The notice asks if there is a change of address, please provide the new information. You must adopt the same procedure regarding career updates. It is also important for you to be objective when others around you are promoted who do not have your restrictions. You cannot be frustrated when others are moved ahead of you because of their ability to relocate to accept choice assignments.

Greg was very upset when a person with less tenure was promoted and relocated to the home office. He spread negative comments and felt it was unfair. When confronted with his displeasure, he indicated that he should have been considered for the job. When he was asked if his relocation restriction had been removed, he lowered his head and said it had not. He was reminded that he would have been in consideration if he could relocate. He was challenged to be more positive and to represent himself as the kind of leader who could be promoted in the future. He stated that that he wanted someone to ask him if his status had changed. He agreed to take responsibility for this task, since it was his career.

A reluctance to keep leadership informed on key aspects of your career can cause you to develop an unhealthy and unwarranted negative attitude towards leadership and the organization.

Acquisition of new skills

If you have acquired new skills through education or volunteerism outside the company, these new skills should become a part of your corporate resume. Skills such as organizing, administration and facilitation acquired on large civic, association or church projects might be transferable to the workplace.

Environmental hazards

A leader may not know about the poor working habits of some of your coworkers. These employees may not be shouldering their fair share of the work load. These individuals could be a drag on the team by damaging the morale of the group. These people are environmental hazards who could erode the culture of the unit. The attitude that says,” the leader is being paid the big bucks, so let them figure things out on their own,” undermines the effectiveness of hard-working individuals, the team and the organization. Failing to expose inefficiencies and ineffective people will eventually harm everyone.

If there are time wasting and budget draining activities, they should be discussed with your leadership as soon as possible. Ineffective procedures should be disclosed in a tactful manner.

A leader may inadvertently offend someone in your department or group. The manager may not be aware of this. Find a way to bring it to their attention, rather than allowing it to fester and endanger productivity.

The presence of such dangers may impair the well-being and effective functioning of the team. It is incumbent upon you to step forward and tell the leader. When you are close to the situation, you have the best view. The leader cannot read your mind and extract the necessary information. You must tell them.

New ideas

If you have talent and a skill set that is not been shared, maximum benefits are being minimize. Find a way to inform people about your gifts, whether in a meeting, by memo or through your mentor. If you have an idea or a better way of doing something, which could cost the company time and money, it would be a travesty for you not to disclose this information. The personal recognition and praise you receive could be financially rewarding.

Sharing information should not pose a threat to your career. If the organization punishes the messengers, you have to be very careful, but the information must be disclosed. You may handle this by participating in employee, satisfaction and engagement surveys, writing anonymous memos in suggestion boxes and / or relying on a trusted member of leadership in another department. The leader is not a mind reader, so you must adopt creative and straightforward measures to keep them informed about information vital to the well-being of everyone.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

Success despite Misfortune tellers and Prophets of doom

You may not have experienced this personally, but you have heard people say they lack confidence because people verbally doubted their ability. Their abilities and value were challenged at an early age. They would never accomplish something. When they were older, they were told they were not qualified to do something or lacked the capacity or skill to achieve an objective. Their failure would be due to their socio-economic status, background, gender, race, culture, appearance or interests. These individuals were devastated and believed the negative remarks, hook line and sinker.

You may share my curiosity about people who go out of their way to predict a negative future about someone. They will not hesitate to tell a person that they will never earn a college degree, get into a particular college or program, and achieve a dream or a job, because of a limited vision of an individual’s potential. These misfortune tellers will frequently volunteer their assessment of a friends potential, as if it was a foregone conclusion. People are told that they will never be a leader, were not bright enough, tall enough, thin enough or good-looking enough to make it in this world.

Lack-of-Vision

I walked into a room of new district managers after a merger. I was struck by the number of individuals present who were never supposed to be promoted. They wore the label of being unfit for management from their previous organization. Hell was to freeze over before some of them became managers. I looked around the room and arrived at the conclusion that the weather forecast for hell called for an ice storm of momentous proportions.

We look at these negative prognosticators, misfortune tellers, prophets of doom and dream killers, and wonder;

• Are they clairvoyant, bona fide, certified Palm readers?
• What is their success rate or track record of predicting events?
• Are they famous because of their success with the lottery, betting on horses or investing in the stock market?
• Do they have the best grades in school?
• Are they the highest performers on the job?
• Are they independently wealthy because of their ability to select winners?

The absence of such data, should disqualify people from seeing into your future and making judgments on what you can or will not be able to do. Why should we listen to these questionable, nonsensical projections without proof of their credibility? We seldom subject people to this kind of questioning. We take their word and grant them the influence to affect our lives. I wonder how they would answer these questions. A

Personal achievement and productivity in many segments of our lives are influenced by what people have said about us. The words of misfortune tellers have stunted the professional and personal growth of countless individuals. The words are devastating, but we give them added power by believing the words must be true. This belief increases the predictive power of words uttered by people who are mean-spirited enough to attack our dreams without offering any constructive criticism to help us grow. Their motives should disqualify them for conflict of interest. It may not be that they believed we would, but they wanted us to fail. Somehow our success might make them look bad, as they take it personally.

We have to be careful around misfortune tellers, prophets of doom and dream killers. Words have power and should not be used to predict a negative future unless they are used to instruct someone in a positive manner. Granted, some people may have unrealistic expectations of their potential and you may feel it necessary to bring them down to reality. This can be accomplished in a positive manner by directing them to an area where you feel their strengths are more appropriate. This of course should be done if you have the right experience, skills and credentials. If you don’t feel someone can do something and it’s just your opinion, you must evaluate the reason for bursting their balloon. You may need to show wisdom by being silent and keeping your opinions to yourself.

The prophets of doom, live in the world of the worst case scenarios. They can be destructive if they only and always paint a picture of the worst case happening to you. Frequently, they point to personal characteristic or circumstance that you cannot overcome. They can depress you and cause you to give up trying, if they consistently fill your head with negative expectations.

The following chart should be helpful when faced with naysayers who are running around with sharp objects, leaping in the air to burst your balloons. The balloons represent your goals, dreams, positive intentions and lofty expectations.

canbelieve
If people say you can’t do something and you believe them, chances are you will prove them right. You will be discouraged and doubt your ability to go against their predictions. You give them the ability to influence personal perceptions and actions.

If someone says you can’t do something and you do not believe them, you will do everything within your power to prove them wrong. Their perception of you will drive you to higher levels of performance. You ask yourself, what gives them the right to say that about you, they don’t know you. You will show them how wrong they are about you.

If someone says you can do something and their belief is consistent with your perception, you will work in concert with their expectations. Your performance will more than likely be inspired, as you validate your personal convictions.

However, if someone says you can do something and you do not believe them, the result would be as if they said you couldn’t do it. Your lack of confidence and weak belief in yourself would undermine your success. There are instances when someone’s belief in you is greater than your belief in yourself. If they are persistent, you may eventually see what they see in you. It is important for you to keep an open mind and consider them a good judge of character. It is very difficult to achieve something if you do not believe it is possible. If you cannot see yourself performing in a certain role, it is difficult to achieve it or succeed in it.

Your belief system is a central part of performing to meet your expectations. There may be instances where outside forces will try to derail your progress, but a healthy self image, positive encouragement from others and a persistent drive to excel, will work to your advantage. In a competitive world where misfortune tellers, prophets of doom and dream killers work to stifle your achievement, you must be vigilant in growing skills, protecting and projecting confidence in your abilities.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

A leader should stand by, with and for their team

Stand by your team

A manager felt his people would go through a brick wall for him. He based this on their belief that he would do anything for them. They knew he had their backs. This dedication and loyalty led to higher sales results and productivity. He created a culture of excellence, enthusiasm and trust.

The manager was known to stand by his team. When they are in need of guidance and resources to compete in difficult situations, he was known to stand by them. In today’s marketplace, there is a fair amount of angst about the future and employees role in it. Standing by your team allows you to detect any anxiety and address it with encouragement and skill development.
You can quickly squash rumors that are not true, before they become a morale problem. Immediately provide whatever information you can, within your leadership obligations, to ensure they are focused on the things they can control.

If the team misses the mark and fall short of achieving a goal, they are not thrown under the bus. They are held accountable, but you as their leader, takes them through a rational analysis of what went wrong. You are on the front line developing strategy and corrective measures. Your aim is to exceed the goal, so that the shortfall does not happen again.
You want your team to be a well performing unit, exceeding objectives. This is the best way you can diminish adverse situations. Being focused on excellence and driving productivity will build their confidence on the current job and prepare them to confidently answer interview questions for the next assignment.
Stand by your team as a strong role model who is authentic and committed to their development. This will enhance their performance loyalty and trust.
Stand with your team

It is critical to also stand with your team in skirmishes to drive market share. You have a history with them. Your relationships were strengthened in the trenches. You made sure they were informed about every major decision and the reasons for those decisions. You felt that if they were more informed about the intricacies involving the decisions, it would build trust in your leadership. Patrick Lynn Lencioni in his book, “Three signs of a miserable job,” speaks about each individual’s need to be known, to feel important and able to gauge their progress and level of contribution to the organization. When they feel connected, this has a positive influence on engagement and results.

If you stand with your team, your praise and proximity will indicate that you care about them and they are not just a means to an end. You value them as individuals and are committed to their success. You stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the day-to-day struggles in the marketplace. You are not afraid to roll up your sleeves and help them do the work. You are willing to ask them their opinions and implement their suggestions. Where there suggestions have merited, they are implemented and they are given the credit. They know that you are the boss, but you do not hesitate to show that you are so committed to getting the job done. This leading by example sends a powerful message.

When you stand with your team, you make sure that each individual knows their job and does their job. You are not a micro-manager. You are always open and committed to their development. You want them to be more efficient and effective and willing to offer suggestions to improve their performance while living up to their responsibilities.

Stand for your team

Thirdly, you should stand for your team. Be the proud representative or your team, department or organization. You are aware of the hard work they put into excelling on the job and you want to promote their excellence to anyone who will listen. You want to represent each member and the entire group to people who can have an influence on their career.
When you stand for your team, you openly and willingly engage in conversations about their talents, gifts and skills. You expose your team to knowledge, individuals and other resources that expand their experiences and expertise. Additionally, you are not timid about challenging them to higher levels of achievement. Your expectations are high, because you know they can do more.
There are times when your team will seem to take your performance personally. They want you to stand out among your peers when there is any competition. They watched with pride as you make a presentation on the agenda with other managers. You are their boss. You are representing the team and they are bursting with pride.

When you stand for your people you are loyal and not always looking to change teams for your personal benefit. You are committed to the productivity of the group. You select and develop a strong core of hard-working, ambitious people who crave recognition and rewards for their excellent performance. This strong core is being groomed to work as a team. They have the complementary skills necessary to exceed aggressive team objectives. They enjoy their jobs. They are fully engaged. They look forward to going into battle every day with everyone on their team. They are looking to you as their leader. They see you as their ally, an advocate against any adversary who stands in their path.
To maximize your effectiveness as a leader it is essential that you stand by your people, stand with your people and stand for your people. The results will be amazing and will enable everyone involved to reach levels of performance that are personally beneficial and a windfall to the team and the organization.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

Reading to children can make you a better leader

I was told of the benefits of reading to children. It would aid in their development, help them acquire a love for learning and strengthen the bond between parent and child. But I did not count on the collateral or ancillary advantages I would receive. Of course, I was excited and encouraged by the interaction and the way I was able to connect to my children. But, with each story, nursery rhyme or fable I began to associate their content with the people I managed in the workplace. Their content gave me new insights into executing my role as a leader.

When I returned to work I found that I began to incorporate some of the very language and concepts from the literature I read to my kids the night before. Aesop’s Fables were always good with life lessons. Androcles and the lion taught me the value of helping everyone no matter how small because you never knew when they could help you. The story was about a mouse who returned a favor by saving a lion that was caught in a hunter’s net. The Emperor’s new clothes by Hans Christian Andersen had many applications to corporate culture. The failure to speak to power brought on by fear and ego was a natural metaphor. The practice of using children literature to clarify leadership principles is widespread today with articles and books about the Goldilocks Leadership Style. There are books such as, The Oz Principle by Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman, and Our Emperor’s have no clothes by Alan Weiss and Emperor’s Clothes by Catherine Mc Guinness. They use the aforementioned classic as inspiration for their works.

Reading children stories make managerial principles fresh and exciting. Many people can relate to them and feel connected to the subject. It takes us back to our childhood and the rich and often forgotten lessons from our youth. I read the classic fable of the hare and the tortoise. I walked into work with a new perspective. The morale of the story is that “plodding wins the race,” emphasizing the value of persistence. But when I arrived at work, I placed a different spin on the classic story. I asked my managers, “Who would you rather be the hare or the tortoise?” After a light discussion, I announced that I would rather be a hare that did not sleep. In our fast paced world, a company could seldom afford to hire a large number of workers who always started and finished slowly. We needed people to get out of the starting blocks quickly, master the information around their jobs and get up the learning curve in record time. We needed speed merchants who were confident, with stamina and awareness of the danger of underestimating their competition and the needs of their customers.

Another principle that was reinforced was the idea of performing with a winning attitude, while may have involved faking it until making it was a reality. My daughter was nearly 3 years old and was at the swimming pool with my wife and her mother. She was reciting a book out loud. It was the book I read to her before bed. As she moved to the bottom of each page, she moved her eyes to the top of the next page or turned the page as appropriate. “The man was flabbergasted,” she said. A woman next to her was astonished by her apparent reading skills at such a young age. She did not realize that my daughter had merely memorized every word on every page in the book and turned the pages appropriately, on her way to learning how to read. As leaders we must sometimes show courage and strength in a positive outcome even when we are not 100% certain, until the result is achieved.

I found the following benefits from my bonding moments with my children that I used with my teams that had leadership implications.

1. I listened better because they gave me their undivided attention and asked questions. They wanted to know the why, the back story behind the story. This is similar to the teams we manage. People want to know the content and the context.
2. Children enjoy when you are enthusiastic when reading a story. I was animated and displayed passion in my delivery and interpretation of the story.
3. I had to adapt a reading style that brought each child into the moment. If one child was quiet and the other easily distracted, I had to individualize and customize my reading style, make stronger eye contact and gestures to ensure that both were engaged in the story.
4. I selected stories for them which were my favorites from childhood. This helped reinforce messages that I had forgotten. Some of the fairytales and nursery rhymes were originally written as political satire which helped explain the appeal to some adults. Looking for other ways to use the information helped broaden my perspective.
5. Reading taught me the value of play and including humor in my conversation and interactions with my children and my people.
6. The value of discipline and a set routine, along with the value of commitment to my promises by reading every night I was in town. If I was traveling out of town, I read to them over the telephone to keep my word. When there are challenges there are always ways to improvise to fulfill promises made on the important things in life.

We should look forward to reading to our children or to any children who could benefit from our time and attention. There are organizations such as Real Men Read which place adults in local schools to read to children. The men participating are receiving some of the same benefits I outlined above. The benefits are achieved whether you are reading to your children or any willing child sitting in front of you to hear your passionate delivery of a new book or a childhood classic

Additionally, we know that, “Children are born ready to learn and reading to them stimulates and satisfies their thirst for information. Children cultivate 85% of their intellect, personality and skills by age five. The first months and years of life set the stage for lifelong development,” according the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000. Reading to them at an early age is a tremendous advantage for them. However, the returns to the adults are exceptionally stimulating. When we think of the input into the creative process that is triggered when we read and visualize the images; the reinforcement of key values and the lessons to help illustrate leadership principles, reading to children should be a consistent and mandatory part of our lives.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Tie breakers – Beating the crowd in a photo finish

Think_for_Myself[1]Similarity is everywhere. Parity is another word used to describe sameness that exists among sports teams. A commodity is a perception by customers that there is little difference between the items portrayed. The common view is that all of the products under review or investigation are interchangeable and can be substituted for each other. When this occurs with your career, something must be done to give you an edge. A slight variation can be seen as an advantage. If candidates are seen as equal, something must be done to break the tie.

There are so many talented candidates applying for jobs and many have equivalent academic and professional skill sets and expertise. College admission officers receive applications from a large number of straight “A” students and others with high grade point averages. Employment offices receive resumes from people with indistinguishable backgrounds. You have to devise a strategy to stand out or “differentiate” yourself from the crowd. Some people have accomplished this in the form of a short term and long term strategy of more education. This can be achieved in the form of an advanced degree or certificate of specialization in an area of need. This can be in the form of skills and experience gained in volunteer activities on the job, in school or in your community.

Leaders are needed in great numbers. Great leadership is desperately needed. Individuals with the emotional and intellectual fortitude to inspire and lead others to complete projects, exceed sales goals and solve problems will find employment. People with the technical, social skills and emotional intelligence will always be in demand.

Old School relatives always spoke of the value of a strong work ethic. It meant working a job to the best of your ability. It meant pride in the quality of your effort. Sometimes it meant working long hours, where the pay was not worth it in the short term, but there were significant long term benefits. There were occasions when a low paying job was used as a stepping stone to a higher paying job.

What would you use as a tie breaker if you were making a decision between several comparable people? This thought process will help you imagine what the interviewer is going through. Examples of potential tie breakers may include the following.

• Unique or various experiences which sets you apart from others
• Interests, hobbies and attributes which could add to the skills of your team. What are your interests that grow you in other areas? Volunteer opportunities and hobbies in art and music can portray an interesting person. You can develop techniques of creativity which can apply to other areas of life when examined for other tangible benefits
• Sports can be a tie breaker if you reached a high level of competency and can demonstrate valuable skills acquired during your playing days. Leadership positions such as the captain of the team and how this enhanced your character.
Some people look for points of identification with the interviewer as a potential tie breaker. I worked for a manager who loved to play racquetball. In a competitive interview when all else was equal I could see him leaning toward the candidate who was an avid racquetball player.

• Working to pay for your college education. Dave was a manager who worked his way through college and paid for 100% of his education. He therefore, had a bias for anyone who demonstrated these attributes. In an interview if he discovered this information, he immediately connected with the candidate. This plays into the decision-making process. He would use this information to break a tie. Granted this information is often impossible to gather, but I want you to think about acquiring extracurricular activities and education which could prove instrumental in your career development. The more well rounded you are, the greater the possibility of breaking the tie with other candidates.

Tony Alessandra, PhD. said years ago that people should work on their breath and depth of knowledge. The depth of knowledge referred to the information in your chosen area of interest; the data, experiences and connections that formed your expertise in your area of specialization. Your breath of knowledge is all of the other things you know outside of your business, which make you well rounded and hopefully more interesting.

You don’t want to be among the less impressive resumes. But even if among the best you must have sufficient skills to set yourself apart from others. Your leadership, risk taking, charisma and communication skills and leadership practices may be exactly what the organization or institution is looking to bring on board. Your hunger, sense of urgency and a track record of achieving goals are attractive to potential employers.

People may overlook the value of communication skills in breaking a tie and distinguishing yourself from others. Many people use their communication skills to enhance their profile. Students and adults join Toastmasters and look for opportunities to make presentations in front of large groups. People take acting classes to improve their ability to communicate. Their involvement has little to do with pursuing an acting career, but everything to do with building their network and improving their skills to communicate with different people.

Your career plan should contain elements or characteristics to set you apart from others. Or you should look at your interests and skills and ask, “Who would be interested in this array of talent? Am I competitive enough? What is missing? What do I need to do short term and long term? If interviewing was compared to a horse race, there would be people scattered all over the track. However, many would cross the line in a photo finish. It is up to the interviewers to find tangible ways to separate the candidates with equivalent skills. They find a way to break the tie. Illustrating and demonstrating your diverse skills, talents, background and connections will hopefully break the tie in your favor.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser