Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Lessons in Handling Differences

Reindeer

We are often started with the commercialization of Christmas. We are reminded to not lose sight of the reason for the season. This is valuable advice for Christians and others during this reverent time of year.

We grew up with Gene Autry Christmas classic of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. It is a delightful song, but also delivers a powerful message about encountering and handling differences. This song could start meaningful conversations about accepting others.

The song begins with a reference to the reindeer popularized in Clement Clarke Moore’s, “The night before Christmas”, also known as “A visit from St. Nicholas.” It begins with a roll call of Santa Claus’ reindeer that of course omits the name of Rudolph. As you recall, Rudolph was different from the other reindeer because of the luminescent quality of his nose. His nose was so shiny that it had either reflective qualities or it glowed like a light. This was enough to make him the object of ridicule and ultimately ostracism by the other reindeer.

This lack of acceptance is seen when children and adults are confronted with someone who is different from them. Our initial response is to make fun of the person and then to isolate them because of their characteristics, traits, heredity or idiosyncrasies. Many of us recall when we were young and begged for approval. Even to this day, there is something about us that makes us stand out from the crowd and the crowd lets us know it.

At work or is school, simply being the new person, the new kid on the block, the person who is an unknown, becomes a source for teasing or isolation. We often wondered,” if they would only get to know me, they would see that I’m just like them. “Rudolph was a reindeer, so he surely had a similar appearance, except for his nasal peculiarity. But suppose he was of a different color, from a different region of the country or had a different ability.  He would have manifested a difference that would have caused him difficulty until he was accepted. We usually ask the different party to fit in, when the real focus should be on them being accepted by the group.

Bullying is also a response shown toward those who are different. The song the does not indicate that Rudolph was bullied, but we can only assume that preventing him from “playing in any reindeer games” was not always accomplished in the most delicate manner.

The song does not tell us what Santa Claus was doing during the hazing or if he even knew about it. But, as a good leader, he engineered a very strategic response. He knew the talent and value of all of his reindeer. He evaluated the weather system for his next journey and realized he was going to encounter numerous blizzards. He knew that the solution to his problem existed among the ranks of his reindeer. He knew he had one reindeer that could help navigate the wintry delivery of toys to boys and girls around the world. This opportunity would be well received it if every reindeer benefited from his gift.

We can give Santa credit for waiting for the appropriate time to unveil strategy. He could have given the reindeer the opportunity to work it out amongst themselves, as so many people do in similar situations. They say such things as,” kids are just being kids, learning to navigate difficult situations will only make the recipient stronger and teach them valuable life skills and that which does not kill them will make them stronger, to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche the philosopher. Maybe the reindeer performed similar initiation rites to others in the group that had other distinctions from their peers. Maybe they solve their treatment of Rudolph as being harmless and natural.

The defining moment came,” one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say: Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Many managers, leaders and parents look for the opportune moment to use the skills of their people. The right moment to show the world and the individual, that they recognize their true value and wish to share this value with every member on the team. We can only assume that in the fictitious conversation, Santa’s encouraged Rudolph and told him about the value of his difference. He made him feel that he was something special and should never feel that he was not important and did not have a place. I’m sure he made him feel like an important member of the team. He validated his value by asking him to lead the team by moving up to the front of the line.

You remember the happy ending to the song. “Then all the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history! We know that in real life, responses to differences may not always lead to a happy ending. Sometimes the individuals have lingering insecurity, damage to their self-esteem and underlying resentment from the initial exclusion. But, so often when the difference that is ridiculed or denied is used for the benefit of the group, the organization, institution, group or community becomes stronger. The people learn a valuable lesson about inclusion. We are hopeful that when the person is accepted they don’t become complicit and act in the same manner when they encounter other people who are different.

If we remember the Rudolph days of our lives and commit ourselves to prevent them from happening to others, we will maximize their future contributions to our teams, families, organizations and communities. We will perform a noble act when leading by example with the lessons learned from Rudolph the red-nose reindeer.

Please look forward to reading more about differences in my new book due by June 2016, Unlock Your Diversity Greatness. It is based on the premise that your uniqueness is not a weakness and contains strategies to utilize your talents, skills and abilities. More books in the Unlock Your Leadership Greatness series can be found at www.OrlandoCeaser.com or www.amazon.com.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Motivation from the Heart – Propel Yourself into Action

heart

We can gain valuable information about motivation by studying the heart and how it functions to keep us alive. During my training as a pharmaceutical sales representative, I received cardiovascular instruction to prepare me to sell a drug for treating heart disease. There were two components of my cardiovascular education I use to this day. They are the characteristics of the heart and the equation for blood pressure. To truly experience motivation from the heart we must demonstrate these qualities.

The heart has 4 main characteristics. They are as follows:

  1. Automatism – the heart can generate its own impulse to initiate the heart beat
  2. Contractility – the heart has the ability to contract, which is to do work
  3. Conductivity – the heart conducts and therefore, sustain electrical impulses
  4. Compensatory mechanism – the heart can create additional arteries to help supply oxygen to areas where existing arteries are blocked

Automatism

Just as the heart has the ability to generate a signal to get started, we should have automatism built into the fabric of our personality and value system. We need to be self starters. Our biological clock must have an alarm to awaken our desire to achieve. Additionally, we should align ourselves with people who also demonstrate this trait.

People with automatism instinctively start, regardless of the changes in their environment. The heart has an SA node, the sino-atrial node which is the network of nerves that are responsible for the impulse that triggers the heart beat. Each person is hotwired with his or her own hot button. What is your SA node? Do you know the triggers, switches and hot button to turn on your ignition to drive toward greatness?

The best workers are those who are doing what they love. They are using their talents and skills in a career or area suited to their interests and passions. Individuals in the right job utilize their values, beliefs and purpose to propel them to higher levels of performance. They have the spark that provides their own ignition.

Contractility

Contractility is the second trait, which is expressed as the ability to do work. The heart when faced with increased demand or workload will beat faster. We must work smarter and harder when the challenges are higher and more difficult. We need to spend the time and effort, exhibit the stamina and energy to reach our potential and expected outcomes. We don’t need people to carry around a motivational defibrillator to frequently jump start our attitude. Some employees are great workers when things are calm, but when the tension rises they fall apart and become less productive. We will not become those individuals, because we have lofty career goals.

Individuals may require help during an intermittent crisis in morale, but the matter should be temporary and should not be needed often. A motivational pacemaker, would be a drain on time and resources.  These pacemakers and defibrillators can become habit forming and lead to entitlement and an always need to be rescued mentality. The resulting motivation is effective only if the stimulant is always present. If the external stimulant is a manager or threat of disciplinary action, the long term motivational impact is doubtful.

Conductivity

Conductivity is the third trait. It is important because we must sustain the desire and commitment needed to do the work. The heart is like a battery. It can distribute power that is stored inside. The drive must be rejuvenated over time with the stamina and repetition to achieve results. The need for continuous external stimulation is not desirable. Conductive people are enthusiastic and easily identified by their ability to transmit this energy and enthusiasm to others.

Conductive workers are usually positive role models. They are the ambassadors of the purpose, mission and goals of the group. They lead by example and can be counted on to support the goals of the organization. We must be people who cause a positive chain reaction and a current of courage and collaboration to achieve results.

Compensatory

The heart’s compensatory ability is the fourth characteristic. It is shown by its ability to create new arteries to go around the blocked areas to deliver oxygen to the region of the heart that is not getting enough blood flow. When motivation is in short supply in the workplace, this compensatory mechanism has protective properties to keep people fired up and dedicated to reach the goal.

We are expected to compensate, adjust and adapt to forces within our environment. When barriers confront us while completing responsibilities, we need to think of creative measures to work around the obstacles. Innovation and flexibility are requirements in these changing times and versatile people with compensatory abilities are in great demand.

Work versus Resistance

The other major component related to the heart is the blood pressure equation. Blood pressure exists in the Circulatory System and serves as another way of illustrating the concept of motivation. Blood pressure in the body can be displayed in a simple equation.

CO (Cardiac Output) X TPR (Total Peripheral Resistance) = Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a function of cardiac output (CO) and total peripheral resistance (TPR). CO is the work the heart performs, when it beats. The heart works against TPR, resistance in the arteries. If the heart works harder, this will increase blood pressure. If the resistance goes up, there will be an increase in blood pressure. The resistance is like the drag that an airplane experiences in flight. It is like the head wind that causes friction that could slow down the plane.

Work X Resistance =  Success (Quality of life, performance, results, etc.)

The equation can also apply to life. If quality of life or success is the goal of motivation, we can say it is influenced by the amount of work we do in the face of the internal and external resistance in our environment. If we want to improve our quality of life or success, we have to be motivated to do more work or reduce the resistance or competition.

Resistance is an obstacle and can represent people, environment, lack of resources, competition, peers, attitudes and other circumstances. As the resistance increases, we must counteract by working harder and more efficient. If we can reduce the resistance, we minimize the barriers to our quality of life, but we must still do the work.

Leadership should recognize and reward, motivated performance and establish an environment of positivity, optimism and development. Workers must ensure that their communication arteries and career arteries aren’t clogged with bad habits, unhealthy attitudes (entitlement and negativity) and a failure to give their best performance.  We must also encourage each other to greater performance levels of excellence.

When we speak of motivation from the heart, the correlation between how the heart works and what is needed today is very strong. We must be heart smart in developing ourselves and the people around us. We should look to the heart and emulate the qualities of automatism, conductivity, contractility and compensatory mechanisms. We should also remind ourselves of the blood pressure equation and the relationship of work and resistance. We can influence success, quality of life, performance and results by affecting the quality and quantity of work we produce against the various levels of resistance.

Pursuing Your Purpose in 2015 – a format for fulfillment

niche (1)

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

Embarrassed in your career or Routed in pursuit of your dreams

Monitored_Life

How many times have you suffered an embarrassing defeat in your career or on the journey to achieve your dreams? Imagine your career or dreams as a sporting event. There are many similarities you can make to use this metaphor to examine your performance. Reflect objectively on a time when you did not deliver your best performance. You can then use the sporting analogy to analyze your performance and subsequent actions to get back on the right track, to outstanding results.

I was watching one of my professional sporting teams experience a severe defeat. They lost 55 to 14 to a division rival. It could be classified as a beat down, embarrassment, retiring on the job or surrendering on national television. Whatever the classification, it was hard to watch. The coach looked confused. The quarterback was stunned. Offense and defense collectively were disappointed and the fans were upset. I wanted to gain something positive from this experience, since I invested time watching the game. I searched for a correlation in the world of business and personal achievement.

I knew there would be many commentators, patrons, fans and armchair quarterbacks who would list a number of reasons for the debacle. They would want the coaches and general managers fired. They would want someone to pay for the spectacle that humiliated the city and its inhabitants. Someone had to lose their job because of this performance or the lack of performing. Have you ever been routed by the competition? Are you secretly being annihilated at this moment? Have you ever wanted to fire yourself or put someone else in your position? Are you, in some area of your life, losing out to someone more strategic, better prepared with equivalent talent? Is their game plan a superior document? Are they marching to victory with superior execution, preparation and passion? Think about this honestly.

Imagine your career and dreams as a sporting event. Wouldn’t it be wise to make first round draft choices to benefit the team? If some failed to pull their weight, you could counsel and replace them if necessary. They should be making actions to benefit the team, not focused on individual achievement and unnecessary celebrations to the detriment of the group.

There was a time when you failed to execute your strategy. You knew what to do, but failed to rely on your fundamentals and your abilities to work together as a team. You assembled a team of advisers, coaches and friends who were not skilled at their positions. They were nice enough. They did not give you candid advice when you needed to receive it. They were more concerned with staying in your good graces and benefiting from associating with you.

In the face of watching my favorite team gets spanked. I was forced to look inwardly and ask myself, where have I played a game that was not competitive and was not representative of my career goals, dreams or expectations? When did I disappoint my fans and let myself down? Where was I routed by an embarrassing act of incompetence, lack of passion and poor execution? Where did I collapse in the face of a stronger rival, due to intimidation or lack of preparation? After I face the reality that I have personally been routed by the competition, I can examine my response.

I was able to turn my season around. What did I do to make that happen? My responses to set backs are swift, instinctive and decisive. I don’t often think about them, but there is value in exposing the techniques I use. I can use this analogy and blueprint to help others. What tough choices did I make to get back on the winning track on the road to respectability? What tough decisions did I have to make pertaining to my personal habits and the individuals who influenced my behavior? Something happened. New habits were formed. Execution of the fundamentals was mandatory. I proved to myself that things could be and would be different going forward. I committed myself to excellence in preparation and execution. My past taught me to be patient with others, and I guide them recover from their own personal debacles and defeats. The objective is to instill the skills and strengthen the will and discipline to prevent it from happening again.

I go through life viewing the world from three perspectives. I want to entertain or be entertained, educate or be educated and inspire and be inspired to achieve dreams and career fulfillment. I can use setbacks such as a demoralizing performance of an athletic team to educate and inspire, even though it lacked the necessary entertainment value.

We are going through life continuing to hone our skills as a student of the game. This principle is at the center of the core messages delivered in my book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness. There are 10 principles to keep you from being embarrassed in your career or routed in your dreams. They are:

  1. Be fit for the role
  2. Be powered by a dream
  3. Be a student of the game
  4. Master the fundamentals
  5. Set high standards
  6. Always be creative
  7. Execute with passion
  8. Lead by example
  9. Make others better
  10. Serve others

 

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

Protectionism in a competitive marketplace

Protectionism is designed to discourage others from competing for your talent or resources. Barriers are put in place to keep markets, company, or department restricted from outside forces. People try to artificially maintain or mandate the status quo, because it is a beneficial, but questionable policy.

Insecure organizations who are afraid to lose top talent will institute external mean to keep their people, which may deny their people freedom, benefits and promotional opportunities.

Protectionism is a preemptive strike aimed at discouraging others from hiring or tampering with your personnel. Countries try to control their markets by setting up impediments to prevent others from fairly competing with their industries and companies.

Protectionism is at work inside organizations. A regional manager was constantly near the top of the organization in sales. He experienced very little turnover in his sales organization, through promotions or resignations. Many in the organization were puzzled to learn that stellar results were not accompanied by promotions. Conversations with the regional manager revealed that the top performers, in his estimation, were somehow flawed and not ready to receive more responsibility. This manager’s protectionism policies were personally beneficial, yet detrimental to the career growth of many hard-working employees. He did not want to go through interviewing to replace them and training a new crew. Careers were inhibited because he had labeled them as insufficient to assume greater responsibility.

A successful sales representative accepted a promotion to the human resources department. She wanted to return to the field as a manager. After several years, she had lunch with a sales manager. He lamented the fact that she wanted to stay in HR. She was shocked at his opinion and asked why he felt she did not want to return to the sales force. He said he had been told by an HR director that she was happy with her new career path and it did not want to leave. Needless to say, she was stunned by the misinformation and the inaccurate portrayal of her career objectives. The protectionist policies of her department backfired and she subsequently resumed her sales career.

Protectionism leads to the creation of policies to restrict the penetration of their borders by competing companies. One company raided another company and hired some of their best sales people, when they started a new division. The losing CEO was angry by their practice. He instructed his lawyers to write a letter to the company stating his displeasure and threatened legal action. The response he received was carefully worded. The acquiring CEO defended his hiring practices. He asked the other CEO to see his actions as the risk of doing business. He suggested the people were leaving on their own volition. If the people were happy they would not have been so anxious to leave. Needless to say, the other company continued to hire his representatives, but at a slower pace.

People will gravitate to top talent. In the era of social media, networking events, savvy recruiters and employee referral fees, the best performers will be identified. There is an incentive to keep people happy and there is an incentive to recruit them to other organizations.

The hiring CEO delivered a very powerful message. What can be done to minimize employee’s propensity to jump ship? What can be done to the culture to make them want to stay with your organization longer term?

Organizations can change managerial mindsets to mandate mutual benefits for all parties involved. This philosophical shift is initiated and enforced by senior leadership. Intuitively, it is difficult to pour a lot of effort and time into someone, only to see them walk away to a perceived better opportunity. As stated earlier, there are risks involved in developing people. At some point, you will have more people than you have promotable positions. This may cause some people to be patient and wait for better jobs internally; however others may be impatient and look for greener pastures outside of the organization. You have to chalk this up to the price of doing business and wish them well.

There are tremendous advantages short and long term for a full scale long term development program. This may ultimately lead to future business alliances and collaborations with companies who have hired your people. It may also be a recruiting tool for prospective employees. A reputation for hiring and developing talent can lead to an influx of extraordinarily qualified candidates. Higher employee engagement levels and productivity is currently seen as a positive benefit of a stronger culture.

If you constantly assess and provide opportunities for personal and career growth, you minimize employee flight. Today, Millennials are subject to career impatience, if you do not sufficiently reward and challenge them, your organization will constantly be under pressure due to rapid turnover.

Sensors can be put in place in the form of stronger leaders and mentors to assess and regulate career development. Employees will gain an up-to-date, real world view of their skills and abilities and prospects for career development. Organizations have established career academies, equipped with resources, such as class room work and online training programs to help employees can grow their technical and life skills.

Protectionism in theory is about holding on to your talent against unfair pilferage, but it will work against you in the long run. You must update your training and development practices to create stronger leaders. Additionally, you must:

  • Pay attention to the company culture to treat people with respect and harness their skills and abilities.
  • Provide an honest assessment of performance through clear cut performance objectives and regular evaluations
  • Career discussions should be held to understand and to share employer and employee expectations
  • Develop confidence in your training and development program to rapidly replace people who leave the organization or leave the team
  • Strong managers and leaders are necessary to ward off protectionist tendencies, as they strive to develop the best teams imaginable

Organizations have been known to offer retention bonuses during a time of uncertainty, such as during mergers and acquisition, to keep their top talent. A variation of this practice is to ensure that the best performers receive the best rewards, whether financial, special projects or greater career opportunities.

Protectionism is usually a policy instituted when an organization fails to put a coherent people strategy in place. In their haste to prevent people from leaving, they  blame outside forces for problems in their culture. Protectionism practices that strikeout at the employee or toward outside forces are rarely successful. Organizations should look internally at their leadership practices and career development strategies, to see if they can be more conducive to creating a culture where leaving the organization is to difficult for an employee to imagine or implement.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser 

Free e-book, Leadership Greatness through High Performance Poetry at http://www.orlandoceaser.com

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

Aha moments of a different kind

The Aha moment is that period of enlightenment when you realize a profound truth. The Miriam Webster dictionary defines it as, “a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition or comprehension.” The concept is everywhere, ubiquitous if you will. Business conversations around the water cooler, comments made in meetings, and words printed in business literature and popular magazines focus on the aha moment.

Today’s aha moment is only one interpretation of the word that I encountered when I was growing up in the city of Chicago, Illinois. My first perception of the aha moment was not the classic definition around a moment of illumination. I was not trying to solve a problem and the solution eluded me and then out of the clear blue sky, presto! The answer appeared.

I would like to talk to you about aha moments of a different kind. Aha moments in my early days could have easily referred to the word that was shouted at me whenever I was caught. Someone jumped out of the bushes and screamed aha with the emphasis on the second syllable. It was a gotcha moment. I was busted, found out. It was a sound of discovery. My friends had cornered me in a game of hide and seek. I can hear him saying I got you.” I guess you can say my aha moment meant that I was discovered. I did not have a personal revelation, I was the personal revelation. I was the object of a surprise attack and my assailant screamed loudly to punctuate their victory.

In the first aha moment we discussed, equal weight was given to each of the syllables. The second aha moment had a greater accent on the second syllable. I am proposing a third aha moment where the stress is on the first syllable. This is the aha that was used when people laughed at me or ridiculed me. I can still hear the strident sound on the first syllable as they yelled out, “aha!” I heard this mocking sound several times during my childhood. Many times I was the new kid on the block and there was always something about me that caused others to laugh. Additionally, I remember low levels of disrespect occurring early in my college days. Whenever someone wanted to make fun of me, I would experience one of those aha moments which did not elicit fond memories.

There may be value in the three interpretations of the aha moment. In the classic sense, when did you encounter enlightenment and insight when searching for a solution to your problems? If you are constantly focused on your problems and screening potential solutions, you may have the Eureka moment and scream aha!

Secondly, you may recall the times you were caught performing a positive or negative activity. You may successfully devise a strategy to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Strategic planning of this nature can ensure that you stay far ahead of the competition and your adversaries.

Thirdly, you may remember when you were intimidated by those in control who wanted to stifle your influence. This awareness of competitors will keep you on your toes and cognizant of those who want to replace you or thwart your efforts. This awareness can lead to the appropriate counter response to gain credibility and respect.

In our age of seeking clarity in our communications, it is always critical that we are on the same page with the same interpretation of words, concepts and strategies. When we say an aha moment, we have to make sure that people have the same understanding to match our intentions. I know, in most instances, people are generally speaking of an aha moment as filled with profound insight and inspiration. However, in the back of our minds, we may find value in thinking about aha moments of a different kind.

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

Strong Leaders: Strong Enough for Their Teams

Strong enough could mean having sufficient energy, capacity and emotional and intellectual fortitude to challenge the status quo, as you look into the future with strategic vision. Strong enough for your team could mean you can be counted on to flex your leadership muscles to protect your team and get the most out of them. Strong enough for your team could describe the charisma and the tenacity exhibited as you demand the performance and execution required for success.

Boot camp for the military and training camp for athletic teams are conducted to ensure their members are mentally and physically fit; that they are strong enough to compete in battle or competition. We need a managerial or leadership equivalent of these events to ensure managers are strong enough for their teams. Are they strong enough to lead? Do they have what it takes to deliver what is required by their team to help them function at their highest level of performance? Are the managers the catalyst to continuously develop teams to deliver world class results?

Performance evaluation

Strong enough for their team is apparent during performance evaluations. Companies encourage employees to provide input which is included in the final written document. This input gives the manager insight into how workers see their performance. If the employee is candid, they outline their strengths and weaknesses, as they perform to reach or exceed their goals. The final document should be largely constructed using a perspective gathered from the boss’s observations. Otherwise, the employee will question the strength of their leader. Also, some people have an inaccurate view of their performance and strength is needed to deliver an unpopular message.

Organizations are concerned about inconsistencies in managerial judgment across their management teams. They want to guard against some managers being easier on their people than other managers. People have been known to receive an excellent rating from one manager which would not be excellent in the eyes of another manager. This disparity leads to some people being rated higher than they deserve. Organizations try to minimize this problem by a process known as calibration. These organizations have meetings with their managers and discuss their team and individual team members. Members of their peer management group will have an opportunity to question, challenge and give input into the performance of people on other teams. Each manager’s interpretation of their team performance is open for discussion and sometimes, a heated debate. Calibration is often a competitive event and the manager who is strong enough derives the appropriate benefits and impressions for his team.

A strong enough manager is required to competently represent their team in these calibration meetings; otherwise their team will suffer when challenges are made. These challenges have performance rating and financial implications. A manager who is strong enough supports their assessments with a strong written evaluation. They also have strong verbal communication skills to state their case and fend off any challenges. Timidity and poor verbal skills may stifle the growth of individual team members if the manager’s peers do not gain an accurate assessment of their abilities.

Additionally, managers also convene to discuss the talented individuals on their team in the succession planning meetings. These meetings are held to evaluate talent to fill vacancies and to ensure they have qualified candidates for promotions to build a pipeline of talent for the future. A manager must be strong enough with their communication and analytical skills to state a solid case for their top talent.

Strong enough to challenge

Managers have to be strong enough to stand up to their people for their own development; to ensure that they are giving their best efforts. They must be tough enough to make the hard calls and replace individuals who are a poor fit for the job and the organization. I heard one manager say, in frustration,” I should have fired him 15 years ago.” He was lamenting the fact that the current leadership would not be wrestling with this problem person if he had done his job many years earlier.

An employee from a major airline was distraught when they discovered that their manager was not strong enough for them during a major restructuring campaign. The team was decimated and many individuals were cut from the organization. A manager, who was strong enough, may not have prevented everyone from receiving a negative verdict, but the people would have received a fair trial.

A creative director was frustrated every time senior leadership disagreed with her when she pitched a new proposal. Her boss was always present and frequently left her on her own to defend her project. She knew she had his support outside of the meeting, but wanted him to come to her assistance when she was under fire. If he had been strong enough for his team, even though her programs were denied, she would’ve been motivated, knowing that he was in there fighting along with her.

Managers who are too strong

Some managers have a bully personality and are disliked and not trusted by their peers. Their reputation could work against anyone associated with them. These managers are viewed as tyrants and suffer from being too strong or too forceful in their business relationships. They make a lot of enemies and sometimes revenge is taken against anyone they support, especially anyone seen as their protégé.

Some managers are viewed as difficult to work with by outsiders. When asked about his leadership style, the employees gave favorable comments. The manager gave them exactly what they needed. He was matching toughness with the needs of his team. They said he was fair, disciplined and had their best interests at heart. The secret was to apply the right amount of strength to the right situation.

The objective of the strong leader is to be strong enough to be effective in every dimension of their job, to achieve the best results.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser