The Core of More™ – Be Awesome from the Inside Out

There are crucial components to your development that must be examined to accelerate your progress. There is a core set of skills, values or principles which can be debated, but factually, these key ingredients build on your present state.

Let’s place four elements in this Core of More™. These elements confirm there is more in your core than you can imagine, yet you periodically ignore one or more components. They are Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go. These ingredients will enable you to gain rather than regress and achieve surplus, that is not necessarily excess.

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Let it Glow

Your light, however you define it, must be allowed to shine. Your talent, skills, abilities, capacity and resources must be a beacon of hope, a living positive example. Your light must be an indicator of your presence, purpose and performance. As we sang in Sunday School, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” When it shines, it has a glow, a luminescence that grabs people attention, pinpoints your location and potentially influences your behavior.

Let it Grow

Skill level and impact will expand and enlarge your contributions. Influence grows as your abilities are refined and increased. You will devote the time, effort, energy and insight received from teachers, mentors and coaches to improve knowledge and the quality of your work.

You will become a continuous learner and communicator, passionate about getting better in the priority areas of your life. Your light will get larger and brighter and more will take notice of you and more will be expected of you, as more are influenced by your presence. Your abundance will become a windfall to others, as you realize you are slated to get better, so others can benefit from your brilliance.

Let it Flow

As it glows and grows, it will flow in the execution of your skill set and in helping other people. Work will become easier and more natural. Executing your tasks will appear effortless, mainly because you are in your sweet spot and you are letting it flow. It is captured in an acronym SMILE (So Make It Look Easy). An athlete will comment that they let the game come to them or the game slows down for them as they improve their craft.

When you let it flow, you remove the barriers to your performance. Your actions are as a well-trained athlete, gliding through the race; a musician who makes playing the instrument look easy; a world class professional speaker in their comfort zone, delivering a powerful message. You are caught up in the flow.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , has a concept of flow which is defined as follows, “In positive psychology, as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”1. It is a state where skills are consistent with the challenges presented to you. In the state of flow, you lose track of time and you are consumed in passion”2. Simon Sinek says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”3 When you Let it flow, your passion shows, as you let it flow.

Let it Go

Along your journey, there are nouns you must displace. There are people, places or things that are excessive weight that must be discarded. As a hot air balloonist will tell you, if they want to increase their altitude, sand bags must be cast over board or they will hamper your ascension.

There are personal situations that try to hold you back and hold you down. In earlier articles I refer to them as the Hindre™ a person or spirit of negativity that attempts to hinder or restrict your progress. They must be released if you are to soar to the rightful heights of your achievement. You may know these impediments, or you must be open to people giving you a second opinion on people who are plotting against you.

You must let go of destructive habits, attitudes, the wrong crowd, the wrong mindset or other roadblocks that are impeding your progress.

Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go, are part of the Core of More™. Apply these principles to help you achieve success in the professional and personal realms of your life.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
  2. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life
  3. wordpress.com/2014/08/24/working..

 

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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

6 Personalities on the Path to Progress

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You will encounter a variety of people along the path to progress. There are a number of personalities on your journey willing to provide assistance or to be an impediment to you. Six profiles are highlighted based on personal and group observations. They are the relaters, waiters, haters, traitors, debaters and spectators. No one is exclusively one profile all the time. You may vacillate among the characteristics depending on the situation and the people involved. It is important to identify these personalities in order to enlist their assistance or to avoid their negative attacks on your well-being and your ability to achieve outstanding results.

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Relaters

These individuals relate to your dreams, goals and aspirations. They are in sync with your mission to succeed. There is a connection, commitment and compatibility with your dream. They relate positively to your intentions and seeking the best for you. They are on the sidelines and in the game as supporters, cheerleaders and advocates. It warms your heart to look in your corner and see relaters wanting you to make it.

Waiters / Waitresses

Waiters and waitresses have ‘. They are not individuals hired by you, but people who voluntarily serve you on your journey. They are your friend, parents, teachers, coaches, mentors and positive peers. They may be anonymous or strangers say a kind word or perform a good deed. These individuals derive satisfaction from being of service to and being a part of the delegation responsible for your achievements.

I ran the Chicago Marathon twice and the streets were lined with people with signs encouraging the runners. They screamed out the numbers of the runners and some of them provided us with water and beverages. You may recall a waiter or waitress who gave you outstanding service. They asked poignant questions in order to serve you better. They went out of their way to make your visit an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Haters

You may have come in contact with these individuals. They are outwardly against you. They may be jealous, insecure or just plain malicious in their attitude toward you. You may not have done anything against these people, but they see you and immediately resent you and your accomplishments. Haters are committed to bringing you down. They celebrate and laugh when you stumble. They have the resentment to match your contentment and find great satisfaction whenever you experience difficulties. Haters are prone to go to great lengths to place barriers in front of you and to turn people against you. They are constantly questioning your motives, while developing conspiracy theories to discredit your work.

Haters are very dangerous because of their capacity to spread malicious lies, rumors while attacking your reputation. Their outward expression of contempt may not be to your face, but many people will be exposed to their feelings.

Traitors

Traitors may get very close to you and win your confidence. You may trust them only to find out that they were false friends. They will work inwardly to unravel and discredit your progress to success. They will secretly try to undermine your efforts and tell people about your innermost secrets and weaknesses. Traitors may start out as relaters, but somewhere along the way they turn against you. Hopefully you will find out soon enough that they cannot be trusted. They are back biters and back stabbers. They may be passive aggressive, sneaky and secretive. Traitors may ruin your reputation by selling your secrets to the highest bidder.

Because traitors are believed to be your friends, their words ring with truth and credibility to an unsuspecting audience. Traitors will break your heart because of their proximity to your inner circle. They are on the inside and privy to your thoughts, feelings and actions.

Debaters

While you are committed to your journey, you will find a number of people challenging you every step of the way. They try to talk you out of success. They will question your sacrifice and try to discourage you from wasting your time. They will give you countless counter arguments and examples of others who failed through no fault of their own. They will persistently challenge the value of your dreams and the foolishness of your work ethic. Debaters will make you question your intelligence and qualifications for your objectives.

Debaters, however, can strengthen your resolve and survival skills. When you successfully counter their arguments, you will be stronger against other opponents. They actually prepare you for meaningful discourse with the conscientious objectors who are against your desire to be successful.

Spectators

In many respects your journey to succeed is a competitive event. There are spectators who are on the roadway in the field. There are other individuals who are in the stands watching the game. They do not get involved in the activities. They may cheer, but the cheers may not be for you. You may see the spectators in the stands, but you do not know their allegiance. You just know that they are present. They do not personally give you words of encouragement, as is the case with relaters and the waiters. You may not know if they are against you like the haters, debaters and the traitors.

Haters and traitors are potentially destructive. You need to find out who they are and develop strategies, structures and individuals to shield you from their insecurities. Haters and traitors attack you from different positions. Haters are outwardly against you. Traitors are inwardly against you. They gained your confidence and many times, you were unaware of their insidious nature.

Some debaters are convinced they are trying to protect you by talking you out of your dream. They may feel the dream is too dangerous and you may be hurt and they want to spare you the grief and humiliation associated with failing. However, many debaters are insecure and don’t want you to succeed because they will take it personally. If you succeed and they do not, they will see themselves as failures.

The spectators may be harmless, but they should be more than a witness along your path to progress. Spectators should get involved in the game and become relaters and waiters to support your cause. It is wonderful when spectators decide to be a part of the success of others. This service to others could be a major personal development growth opportunity on their path to becoming a leader.

These six personalities are present any time you try to accomplish something. They are the people you meet along the path to progress. The supportive personalities such as the relaters and waiters are essential to give you the moral support and technical proficiency, you need to succeed. Words of encouragement and acts of kindness from these individuals are instrumental in giving you the confidence and competence to achieve your goals.

Copyright © 20014 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

Reputation – Working Capital in a Successful Life

Have you ever heard the phrase,” You are nothing like I expected,” or” You are nothing like I was told?” When you heard these questions, you probably received them with mixed emotions. They could indicate positive feelings about you or an underlying misconception or suspicion about your reputation. Why were they surprised?

If you’re like me, you try very hard to establish and protect your reputation. Your reputation is who you are, what you stand for and what you represent. Many times it goes before you and people say such things as,” Your reputation preceded you.” So it is critical that you do everything to keep your reputation pristine and positive.

Your reputation is like currency. It enables you to incur special favors and treatment, assignments, employment and business opportunities, the benefit of the doubt and information, power and influence. A poor reputation can also work against you and deprive you of many of the finer things in life. Reputation can affect what people think of you; a fine person they would like to work with or I wouldn’t work with them if they were the last person on Earth.

A Bad Reputation

A bad reputation, which could relate to a bad driving record, poor credit history or hard to work with, can haunt your work life. You may lose out on a job. Usually, losing out on a job may never be brought to your attention, but it does happen. Another tragedy is that there are times when a poor reputation, is not your fault. A director was asked to hire an assistant, who competed against her for her current job. She was initially reluctant. She had the usual concerns about this individual potentially sabotaging her agenda. But she was open to using the person’s skills to improve the overall department. She also felt that she could groom the individual to one day take her job or a similar assignment. She accepted it as a good a challenge.

Shortly after the person joined her department, she began hearing negative comments from members of the team about some of his remarks. He was undermining her authority. He secretly questioned her decisions and even went as far as to sabotage some of the marketing projects. Additionally, he was personally connected to other directors and began to influence their perceptions of her. He told them she was lazy, incompetent and ineffective, that she was in a job that was over her head. They believed him because he knew marketing and worked closely with her every day. He was eventually reassigned, but the damage had already been done to her reputation. He wanted her out of the job, so he could take her place. He could not beat her in the interview, but he was committed to poisoning her reputation.

Survey your people. Could any of them one day do your job? Assess their talent and interest and dedicate yourself to ensuring they will be ready for future promotions. The right person will be patient and welcoming your assistance and advocacy. The wrong person may try to sabotage your efforts, so do not be naïve. Prepare for any signs of betrayal, such as silent insidious insubordination, in word or deed. People will come to you in confidence. Take well meaning comments seriously, especially if they are warning you about passive aggressive behavior that is being used to discredit your reputation.

A positive reputation is crucial in validating who you are. It is a reflection of your life’s work and therefore should be guarded as you would your bank account or investment portfolio. The concept of acting above and beyond reproach is necessary to support your reputation. This should be done to establish a history of consistency. You must not cut corners where integrity is concerned. You don’t want anyone to doubt your character.

While you are working hard to protect your reputation, bear in mind, there may be individuals trying to give you a bad name. There are detractors or haters, determined to bring you down and remove you from competing with them for a current or future assignment.

A candidate was almost denied employment because his previous employer misrepresented his reputation during a reference check. The new company was so impressed with him in the interview that they allowed him an opportunity to address the malicious accusations lodged against him. He told his version of the story to address the example his employer had given, which were completely taken out of context. He also supplied the names of the zone manager and director of sales who spoke very highly of the candidate. They even went as far as to discredit his supervisor, which enabled him to get the job. This doesn’t usually happen, but the reputation of the candidate came through loudly and clearly in the interview and in the comments from the zone manager and the director of sales.

A manager was astonished to find out that an employee was interviewing his people, in an effort to gather negative information about him. She was planning to file a lawsuit against her manager. She wanted to prove that the organization tolerated bad behavior on the part of its managers. Since the manager’s reputation was beyond reproach, she failed in her efforts to link him to her lawsuit.

Failing to pay attention to integrity and your reputation is a very costly enterprise. A poor reputation may literally cost you thousands of dollars in lost promotions, salary increases, bonuses, key relationships and important clients. You must do everything in your power to keep your reputation positive and of the highest caliber. This involves monitoring and managing your personal and professional image. Just as there are agencies to monitor your credit and issue credit reports, you must find a way to monitor your reputation. You must set up a process, a mechanism or system to collect image data on yourself. There are a few simple techniques you should consider. You have heard them before and they should be repeated because repetition reinforces learning.

Reputation Feedback

Select a few trusted advisors to give you feedback on your character, image, personal and professional leadership. These all add up to your reputation, as you know it. You should gather information the old fashioned way by asking questions in a questionnaire, on the telephone, in a meeting or over a meal. Consider using the following questions.

• Do you feel I am listening to you?
• Do you feel I am treating you and others fairly?
• Have you heard anything that should be brought to my attention?
• What are things I need to change to make things better for you?
• Is there any dissent that has surfaced among your team members?
• What can I do to make you feel a greater part of the team?
• Are my actions in line with my stated values and intentions and your expectations?

Ask different people about the word on the street about you. What are people saying? What have they heard about you? If your company conducts employee surveys, they may drill down to your level to give you feedback. If this is the case, reputation information will be provided to you. If your company provides customer surveys which allow the customer to give data on the company and its representatives, you may get reputation data in this manner. Customer surveys give the perception information which contributes to the corporate image, your personal image and reputation.

360° feedback instruments are available to alert managers to how they are perceived by their people. Climate studies can also be conducted to assess the environment within a team or organization. Personally, you should always be aware of your actions because they are registered somewhere in the hearts and minds of those around you. The collection of your actions will shape your reputation and place you in high esteem or doom you to suffer dire consequences.

• The old adage of “ your word is your bond” should have meaning in your life, as you follow through on your obligations
• Treat people the way you want to be treated
• Remember you are an employee of the company and are always on duty
• Always model the company’s values
• Do not do anything that you would not like to see as a headline in the media
• Cultivate a number of trusted individuals who will advise you on matters that may affect your career
• In personnel matters, preserve the individual’s self esteem
• Cultivate advocate who will defend your reputation and alert you to any assaults on your character

You can bolster your character, image and reputation by sticking to these cardinal principles.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

How was the interview? How do you know? Just in time internal feedback

I spoke to Leslie in spin class. Her daughter had just completed an interview. I asked how the interview went. She said, “The interview went well.” How did she know? What information did she use to support her opinion? Candidates strive hard to interview well and look for signs during the interview to gauge their progress. When the interview is over they walk out with a sinking feeling of regret, exhilaration because they think it went well or a numb, not so sure how it went, sensation. What can they look for during the interview to gauge progress in time to insert a course correction? What can they do to reach a desired outcome, whether it is the next interview or an actual job offer?

The Interviewers Lens

The interviewer knows what they are looking for in a candidate. They have a job description and a set of behaviorally based questions that sort out attributes to match traits, characteristics, competencies or skills required for the job. They also have their interviewing style. When I began interviewing I wanted to make the candidates feel comfortable. My approach was professional and light hearted, designed to put the candidate at ease. They in turn were relaxed and gave me all the information I needed. It dawned on me one day that the candidates were so comfortable they probably felt they nailed the interview and were waiting for the job offer. They were probably confused and devastated when they received the “no interest” letter indicating they would not get the job. I decided to change my style. I became more serious, intense and reduced eye contact. I became more of an interrogator and less of a friend. However, I was still professional and gracious in answering questions. The approach still gave me the information I needed, but left the candidates guessing and less sure of the outcome of the interview.

I interviewed an Emmy award winning producer, who was trying to convince me he wanted a career change for an entry level sales representative position. In the middle of the interview, with my new style, he interrupted my note taking. “How am I doing?” he asked. “Excuse me,” I responded. “I usually can tell how I am doing in an interview. But I have absolutely no clue with you,” he asked in earnest. “That is by design,” I said. “Rather than give you something that you think I like and then get more of that from you; I act in the middle of the road so that I can see the real you, which is actually fairer to you in the long run.” I had landed on a style that worked for me and gave me the opportunity to get the most from the candidate’s background. This also reinforced the notion that candidates were evaluating their progress during the interviews, looking for positive signs of performance.

“Interview in Progress”

Here are a few clues that candidates have used to assess their status in an interview.

• Follow up questions – The interviewer asked for clarification or more detail while seeming interested in their background – If the line of questioning is intense and prolonged the interviewers may not understand their answers or are not getting the information they are looking for.
• Laughter – The candidates may receive laughter or a smile to show they are genuinely pleased with their responses
• Challenging remarks – “You mean to tell me that…. Or are you trying to say………I thought you said…These statements suggest the interviewer wants clarity and consistency.
• Body language – The interviewer may lean forward showing interest, a pleasant look as they write notes after a particular comment
• A short interview – The interviewee can tell if the interviewer is under whelmed when they are given less time than in earlier interviews, less time than the earlier candidate or less time than they were told to expect
• Volunteering information on the next steps in the interviewing process , as well as pointers on how to improve performance in the next round with their company
• Additional rapport building questions and conversations at the end of the interview.
• Introducing prospective employees to other people in their company is often a good sign, especially if accompanied by glowing recommendations

The candidates go through many hours of self-study, organization research and mental preparation for the interview. It is reasonable to seek instant feedback by personally monitoring the interview.” How am I doing?” was a favorite question from Ed Koch, the former Mayor of New York City. The comments above may provide some data on progress, but the following words should also be considered.

• Be true to their interview plan and give it the most factual information possible to answer the questions
• If they are not sure about the question or their response, it is okay to ask for clarification or to ask if their answer addressed the question
• Present a consistent view of who they are and their background
• Be poised and confident, so that when they leave the interview, they will have an accurate picture of them (what they choose to do with that picture is up then)
• Do not take the results of the interview personally. They may have many more interviews before they land a job. They need to be in the right frame of mind for the long haul. Sometimes a strong interview may not land the job. It may take a while to get the right job.

Candidates must prepare extensively for the interview, execute their interview plan, answer the questions succinctly and prepare for the next interview. Invariably, their experiences will align with the right employer and they will be hired for the right assignment. How is the interview going? How do you know? Don’t worry about it. You will ultimately reach your goal. You are one interview closer to your goal. You should get the position, hopefully sooner than later.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

The Company is last – Sacrificed for personal gain – Part 2 of 2

Team

The third dimension uses the team as a factor in selecting talent. Who can work with the team or who is best to lead the team? Blind obligation to the protégé has allowed the wrong person to be hired to manage a team. Incompetent managers destroy a team by firing or chasing away strong talent. So, it is important to wisely consider the impact of a new person on the team. One manager was complemented and received accolades / rave reviews for clearing out the alleged deadwood in his new District. The entire team of nine people could not have been dead weight, especially when some were recently star performers in national contests.

Individuals who hire or promote properly with the team in mind, ultimately make decisions that benefit team and company. If a team is lacking a certain skill set, it is prudent to hire and bring that into the group. The rationale of helping the team function stronger to reach their objectives is an outstanding method of managing / leading the team. It is also, prudent to train appropriate people with the aptitude on the team, to develop these skills.

There are countless examples of high performing teams receiving a new manager. The team performance plummeted when the new person arrived. This happens in sports and in business. The ability of the leader to bring out the best is a talent that should not be undervalued.

Larry Brown, the professional basketball coach was a phenomenal teacher. When he was give a team with young eager players who wanted to learn the basics of professional basketball he excelled. When given a team of veterans his results were not as spectacular. The veterans would view him as a micromanager and his constant instruction was not well accepted. Superstars will blossom in a different system, with a coach who knows how to appropriately challenge them.

If a manager is hired who does not use the right style the team does not develop to its potential and the team and the organization suffers. Regardless of the talent, considering who is best for the team is a valuable tactic in accelerating results. So often we expect the team to conform to the manager or else leave the organization, but it may be wise to hire the manager to match the talent or the team.

Conversely, managers have declined to hire the right person because members of the team were biased in giving feedback about the candidate. Men have said no to women candidates because it might change the culture of their team, especially their meetings. Generation X and Generation Y at a stage of their development were viewed in a negative light. Incumbents felt threatened by their perceived technological advantage and being low on experience, otherwise known as wet behind the ears.

Minorities have been denied access to teams because the manager did not think they would fit in well. A manager has to be mindful in making decisions that are good for the team, but not at the expense of the company’s competitive positive in the marketplace.

Organization

The fourth perspective is who is best for the organization. This should weigh heavily on the minds of the managers / leaders. After all, the company is the reason for selecting talent in order to serve the needs of their clients. This is a prime area where the business case for diversity plays an important role.

Diversity of thought, ideas and perspectives are a valuable asset to any organization. Diversity of age, race, ethnicity and gender are excellent surrogates for diversity of thought. People are different, with different interests and influences which gives them a different perspective. This is vitally important in solving problems in a new way.

If a manager is insecure, they may not like to be questioned, so they use an autocratic, “because I said so style.” They view questions as challenges and may squelch, denigrate or punish those who do not abide by the status quo. She understands the status quo. They view those who persistently question as trouble makers and traitors to the rich tradition of the group.

New managers are prone to this since they have not developed confidence in their competence. Veteran managers are not immune to this predicament for they may feel authority is being threatened, when they are questioned. A company is held hostage if these practices diminish or stymie creative expression. Innovation is necessary to survive in a competitive environment, where similar or superior products are vying for the client’s attention and business.

In a global market place, ripe with generational variation and ethnic/racial diversity, organizations that display this richness may be poised to attract and retain talent and business.

A competitive advantage can be gained by expressing cultural awareness and competency in a business setting. Sometimes you don’t want to be at a competitive disadvantage by a lack of diversity, especially if the competition is portrayed as having better managers.

The four perspectives should be considered in decision making. A manager might focus on the first two steps at their peril. The team and the organization become secondary and morale and the monetary consequences are detrimental to the business. Managers must be held accountable for decisions, so that they ultimately benefit the organization and the shareholders.

An over reliance on steps one and two manifest itself in poor morale, lower employee engagement scores on internal surveys and higher turnover rates. Individuals may not apply to your company, nor interview for a position, or join your company if they find out you have a poor reputation for employee development or have a toxic climate. Candidates are very astute in their research. A manager questioned extensively by a candidate to make sure she was applying for the current manager, rather than the correct territory. She had heard about a particular manager’s harsh management style and she wanted to avoid him.

Focus on the protégé only has enabled incompetence to destroy many teams, lose customers and increased the number of lawsuits for harassment and discrimination. Team focus should not be heavily focused on maintaining the status quo if it has become stagnant and inflexible.

Candidates have gone to other companies and employees quit to join the competition because of a toxic climate and the manager’s insistence to hire and stay with a manager exhibiting pernicious managerial malpractice.

Consider the competition and how they utilize the four perspectives. Do they make decisions based on team and organizational benefits? Are they stuck in personal benefits and rewarding the protégés? Are their decisions for the business, such as minimal customer interruptions, more veteran representatives, competent management to develop the people and the business.

When discussing hiring and promotion decisions with managers, ask the following questions; “How does the person benefit the team and the organization? What skills are they bringing forth that match the needs of the team and what strategy did they disclose that shows an understanding of working to bring out the talents of a diverse team of employees. You really need to know how they are uniquely qualified to add significantly to the bottom line and what in their past or their interview comments convinced you that they are the best person for the job.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

The Company is last – Sacrificed for personal gain – Part 1of 2

Managers are hired to grow the organization, protect Company interests, steward its resources and provide value to share holders / stake holders. They achieve this by making decisions that benefit themselves personally, individuals they like, their team or the overall organization. When these decisions are made for the right reasons, everyone wins.

Some people treat Company interests as a latter option. They disregard their primary responsibility and make decisions that may harm the corporation in the long run. This mindset is present in people of power, whether serving as a manager, coach, or politician. My focus for this article will be on those serving as a manager or leader.

These individuals in question view resources, influence and assets as their private property. They selfishly make decisions to stroke their personal egos, enrich their bank accounts and advance their personal careers and the careers of their minions.

Let us discuss the decision making practices of many managers when selecting candidates for hire or promotion as an example of this behavior. There are four perspectives and the company may be last. The four perspectives are:

• Personal
• Protégé
• Team
• Organization

Personal

The personal perspective is highly visible in selecting talent. Manager’s with this dominant mode will hire and promote in their image. The candidate reminds them of themselves when they were that age. Also, they have attributes that remind them of someone they admire. Managers select people based on comfort, familiarity and personal identification. They can relate to the attributes shared in common. They feel the person has the potential to do well and they may personally receive accolades for hiring / promoting such a fine talent.

These opportunities are often blatant examples of nepotism because these individuals are in the same club, group, fraternity, sorority or ethnic or racial group. The person is elevated in stature due to an affiliation of some sorts. The candidate presumably has the qualifications, but affiliation or identification on some level compels them to advocate their candidacy.

The idea of reciprocity comes to mind. Someday the person may repay the favor and help them in some manner. The manager may offer the job to a friend of a friend or the referral of a very important person. The concept is to place the job in the hands of someone who owes them and may pay dividends in the future. There is hope that someone will be grateful for this act of generosity and show their gratitude at the appropriate moment with the appropriate stipend.

The personal focus of this perspective is also evident in their daily practices. A person gains accolades for developing a new program. Mind you, a recently introduced program was not given an adequate chance to work. They therefore, convinced the company to make a make a large financial investment in their new program. They do not want credit for implementing someone’s program, so they develop their own. If this happens frequently, it does not allow the company to establish their brand identity due to the revolving door of new managers with new programs to fit their personal agendas.

The perceived personal benefit is the driving force behind their actions. The manager in this mindset is hiring for personal gain, image and reputation. They are executing their job with a short term personal focus on their career. They will duplicate expenditures; make poor decisions and institute practices that may actually cost the company more money, time and resources.

Protégé

People immersed in the protégé mindset are influenced by what is best for the candidate, rather than the company. These candidates may be worthy people, with a compelling story. The manager feels an obligation to help them complete their story, by making the path easier or more open for them. The manager wants to accelerate the person’s learning curve, but the effect may be catastrophic for the corporate culture.

People are placed on a fast track program. They are placed on a short term basis in a series of departments to give them exposure to the company quickly. This allows the person to check off a box that they have experience in various disciplines. The concept makes sense, but they are never in one department long enough to fully understand how it works. Additionally, they are not there long enough to have an impact on the business and to make a significant contribution. They are viewed as lame ducks or worse, someone passing through on their way to the top with an opportunity reserved for a select few.

The protégé mindset espouses that potential will eventually lead to qualifications, but there is collateral damage when following this approach.

In this category, someone may get a job because of who they know, influence plays a role in their hiring or promotion. Patronage and favoritism are focused on the person who may become the protégé.

When there are problems with the protégé, the hiring managers becomes protective, since they are responsible for the hire. They take it personally and defend the new person. They are prone to ignore criticism, justify the poor performance by blaming others and circumstances. They will castigate the messengers who bring bad news about poor performance, regarding their hiring / promotional choice.

The protégé mindset is replete with hiring friends and family members. The CEO of a Charter School was reprimanded when they found many of his family members on the company payroll in key positions. City governments are notorious for this practice.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Motherhood and Leadership

My early exposure to leadership principles came from my Mother. I would imagine that I am not alone. Usually we tend to think of leadership as a masculine trait, but the seeds of leadership in many homes were actually planted by the Mother.

Mother initiated our leadership education. She was the driving force behind our early physical, mental, educational and spiritual development. Mother planted the seeds of leadership by modeling behavior, holding us accountable, introducing us to new experiences, coaching and encouraging us, cultivating gifts and pushing us out of the nest to participate and get involved in our surroundings.

Mother allowed us to explore different activities to find our talents. We were creative around her and she celebrated our ingenuity. Many of us have memories of our Mom taking us to the park, shopping and various school and church programs. She was eager to compliment us when we did something well and quick to discipline us when we were out of line. She was so proud of us. By supporting our interests she identified our gifts and bolstered our confidence.

We were her team. The climate in her leadership environment allowed us to blossom as we outwardly and subliminally listened to the valuable messages. We were constantly infiltrated by leadership qualities that emerged as she navigated the parenting process.

1. Setting the vision for a possible future
2. Establishing values and beliefs
3. Providing direction, opportunities and resources
4. Encouragement and reinforcement
5. Discipline, feedback and developing healthy habits

1. Setting the vision for the future

We were told we could be anything we wanted to be. We were challenged to be and do our best. If we were going to be a janitor, we were told to be the best janitor. Education was strongly touted as the key to our future, as something no one could take from us. When I finished 8th grade, Mother asked, “What is next?” High school was the correct response. After high school, she asked, “What is next? I responded college, as we had discussed so many times since 8th grade. It was drilled into me at an early age that I was someone special and she saw me reaching my God given potential.

2. Establishing values and beliefs

The rules and regulations of life, the values and beliefs to guide our behavior and understanding of the world, were initially from our Mother. The stories she read, the lessons we learned in her presence and the experiences we received during playtime. She was the moral and religious center of the home. She showed what was important by how she spent her time and through the chores she distributed and the discipline she delivered. She practiced what she preached and walked the talk. My Mother was a continuous learner and went back to school and became a Registered Nurse. Additionally she gained a BS degree after all of the children finished school. She was always active in community, school and church affairs.

3. Providing direction, opportunities and resources

We were instructed in the ways of approved and acceptable behavior. We were warned about actions that would not be tolerated. We were not going to embarrass and shame her or the family. My Mother was a stickler on manners and polite behavior. We had standards of good conduct which was anchored in the Golden Rule.

Mother gave us opportunities to express our opinions and grow our talents. I had a number of jobs through the years. I worked as a shoe shine boy, a paper boy, shoe salesman and shoveled snow to make extra money. I learned the value of hard work and how to handle money. I also benefitted from collecting money from her Avon customers. I could always count on her doing anything to see that I had what I needed. She paid for my art supplies, new clothes to march in a parade and prepared me for many other school projects.

4. Encouragement and reinforcement

When we fell she picked us up and made us feel better. She always knew what to say when we were hurting. She was our biggest fan. She had confidence in us. My Mother had many children and she treated us all differently and there were no favorites among the children. If she was leaning toward one of the others, she was open to talk about it. My Mother told me I was the Chosen One. My response was chosen by whom to do what? It was her way of letting me know there was a purpose for my life and I had to find out what it was. When others seemed to abandon us, Mother was always in our corner offering words of support, guidance and forgiveness.

5. Discipline, feedback and developing healthy habits

Mother was known for providing simulations to prepare us for life in the real world, although we did not call them simulations. She gave us positive and reasonably realistic feedback when we did well. She checked our homework to make sure it was done and done correctly. She did not let us off the hook. She held us accountable for our actions and helped lay down the law and maintain the order.

When we broke the rules, the punishment usually fit the offense. She wanted us to get in the habit of doing our best and acting properly. There was a saying and a television program that said, “Father knows best.” If that was true Mother knew that and all the rest.

My Mother challenged me to learn and present a very long drama poem when I was ten years old. The Creation by James Weldon Johnson was in her English literature text book when she was in night school. She worked with me and checked with me until I mastered the piece. I began performing it in church services all over the city for many years. She brought out my gift of public speaking and made me comfortable in front of crowds.

I realize that some may have a different opinion of their Mother’s role in sowing and demonstrating leadership principles into their lives. Some may have received examples of how a leader should not perform. Nevertheless, we know the value of strong leadership in altering the course of lives and organizations.

When we search our memories and review the books, theories, seminars and the performance of actual leaders, let us not forget where many were first exposed to lessons on leadership. We should recognize and celebrate the awesome contributions of Mothers. They should be honored for the role they play in developing leaders of today and leaders of tomorrow. During the time we spent on our Mother’s knee, in her lap or at her feet, we were overtly or covertly immersed in the relationship between Motherhood and leadership.

Copyright © 2010 Orlando Ceaser

Playing to the level of the competition

 

Scrolls-BestWorkI am from Chicago. I am a professional basketball fan; therefore I root for the Chicago Bulls.  The Bulls possess one of the best records in the Eastern Conference. They are tenacious and fiery competitors. However they can frustrate their fans by their inconstancy against the extreme teams in the league. They have a habit of occasionally playing to the level of their competition. For example, one night they beat the Miami Heat, who were world champions. On another night, they lost at home, to the Charlotte Bobcats. Charlotte lost 17 games in a row and sported one of the worst records in professional basketball.

This concept of playing to the level of the competition is not unique to world of sports. You can see it in business, academics and many organizations. This practice is brilliant if the competition is among the elite in your field. These skirmishes can be exhilarating and bring out the best in players, students and employees.

Remember when you joined a company, entered a new job or a new department; the manager assigned you to work with the best performer. They wanted you to acquire good habits and a strong work ethic. This move placed you solidly on the road to success. However, in the same company, employees may be performing to the lowest common denominator.

Working to the level of the competition is rampant in many classrooms. Where there is a high standard and the competitive bar is high, students excel. However, where the opposite is found, students with the potential to score higher grades do not want to stand out from their peers.

What causes teams and individuals to give less than their best effort and gauge their performance to the perceive competency of the competition? The following may be answers to this question;

  1. Arrogance and over confidence
  2. Focusing on their next opponent

Arrogance and over confidence

We are told as far back as childhood of the dangers of over confidence. One of my favorite stories was the hare and the tortoise. The hare under estimated the tortoise due to over confidence in his own ability. He had accurately deduced his chances of winning the race and the skill level of the tortoise. His marginal effort was due to arrogance which meant he disrespected the tortoise. In his mind there was no way the tortoise could win. He was too slow. Apparently, he did not take into consideration, how arrogance would affect his decision-making. When you are arrogant you may falsely judge your opponent or misjudge your ability to produce at a high level.

Arrogant people do not believe their maximum effort is required. They are convinced they can beat the other team. They may start slow and spot the other team an enormous lead. They figure they can catch them, but the other team may catch fire and play high above their usual play. In every contest one team may be playing to the level of their competition. They are hoping the other team takes them for granted.  

Focusing on their next opponent

The subconscious mind is responsible for the way we think and react to numerous stimuli. If we believe the current competitor is inferior we may not get our best thinking or response to situations that occur in battle.

If we view the current competitor as a weaker adversary, we may unconsciously wish to conserve our energy for a tougher challenger. We may decide to let down our defenses in order to rest up for the next formidable opponent. The old football adage is true, “On any given Sunday any team in the National Football League can rise up and defeat any other team in the league.” This is valid in sports, business and other aspects of our lives.

The key question is how does a team or an individual conduct themselves to avoid this let down in performance?

  1. Establish great habits
  2. Scrimmage with the best
  3. Treat everyone as the best

Set high expectations

The establishment of great habits through high expectations is a key ingredient in breaking people free from the mold of delivering average performance. Researcher Geoffrey M. Hodgson said “Individuals have habits and groups have routines.” These habits may come from conducting intense practices. Many coaches say, “The way you practice is a reflection of the way you will play the game.” So, the quality of the practice should not vary based on the opponent. Prepare for the opponent, regardless of their record, marketplace or position on the leader board. Maintain a high level of readiness. Hopefully, players will not take off plays during the game because they feel victory is guaranteed.

Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit states that habit is critical in shaping our behavior. “This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

Scrimmage with the best

Identify the best in your area and use it or them as a standard. People use or publish best practices and ask their team members to develop similar and greater examples for implementation in their areas. Exercises simulating the actions and response of the major players will keep your edges sharpened. Bring in experts to challenge your department and keep our skills sharp. Instill incentives to encourage those who can deliver more to deliver more. This does not mean abandoning work / life balance by driving people to conduct an inappropriate amount of work at home.

When I played high school football, Coach Ralph Hegner always scheduled a few scrimmages with the top teams from the Catholic League. They were usually well disciplined, larger in stature with excellent technique. Our eyes would become as large as saucers when these humongous players walked on the field. We were over whelmed on the initial players until we gained our composure and began to play better. Coach Hegner felt if we played well against these teams we would do well in our conference. I always remembered this routine of scrimmaging with the best whenever my sales team needed to develop their skills.

Treat everyone as the best

A champion approaches each challenger with the same level of intensity to achieve the victory. They postulated that extreme variances in performance were not the mark of a true champion. A champion should be able to get excited about competing against any opponent, regardless of their won / loss record or position in the marketplace. To do otherwise, showed you were not ready for the mantle of excellence or worthy to win the trophy.

There are benefits and dangers in playing to the level of the competition. If it allows us to achieve excellence, if it stretches us and develops us, it should be encouraged and mandated.  

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser