Managing your personal power supply

The Spin class was about to begin. Gayle, the instructor, stated, “I lost power yesterday.” She said she was in her home when suddenly, a loud noise was heard and her electricity went off. We stretched, continued a light conversation and launched into a rigorous routine. I wondered during the class, “How many times, as individuals, have we lost power in our lives? Did we give it away or was it taken from us? Are there certain situations or individuals who cause us to lose power? Who are they and why does this happen? What are the early warning signs before there is a loss of power?

The loss of power is readily detectable. You have that feeling of loss of confidence, which is demonstrated by your body language, vocabulary and actions. Many times the loss of power at home or at work may come as a surprise. However, just as in nature there is a flash of lightning or thunderclaps before a storm, you can rely on certain indicators as precursors to a storm. You can anticipate someone’s presence, behaviors, as a good sign that a storm and potential power loss is on the way.

We should be aware of the signs of losing power and fortify your defenses. This will require us to increase our competence, confidence and network of individuals who will cooperate with us in our efforts to enhance our power position. There are times when we lose power and look around us and everyone seems to have theirs. What can we do to maintain or regain our power during a power outage? Power outages may be due to:

  1. Burnout
  2. Lack of confidence
  3. Power drainers
  4. Power mongers

Burnout

We can lose power by expending too much energy. We may fail to prioritize and try to do too many things at once. Processing too many projects at one time will lead to an increase in stress. Lack of sleep and irritability may negatively affect your disposition. You may become moody and easy to anger. Our lives are running at many revolutions per minute (rpm’s). We create to do lists (TDL’s) to keep track of our obligations. To do lists are getting longer and serve as a repository of unlimited tasks of varying priorities. We may fail to rank the items or every item seems to be important, which will lead to none of them being important. If we don’t put a filter on the funnel, we will be overwhelmed. This state of overload will lead to burnout, a breakdown and a loss of power. You must realize that some items on your list may not be covered or should be delegated or deleted.

Lack of confidence

Sometimes lack of confidence can lead to a loss of power. You may be faced with the possibility that you are not as good as you think you are and are afraid that others will discover your shortcomings. A way to address this fear is to conduct a self assessment of your skills and abilities. Be honest with yourself. You should relentlessly study your craft until we are an expert in your field. This may require study and validation which will give you the necessary credentials to ward off any challenges. If you lack confidence or courage you may doubt your abilities and lose the power of conviction needed to be successful.

Power drainers

Some people exist as leaches in the workplace, at home and wherever you engage in relationships. They will drain your power through constant complaining. Negative thoughts and the complaints will drain your energy supply. Their negative disposition and complaint oriented disposition puts everyone in a bad mood. They are not satisfied with anything and they never bring a solution to the myriad of problems they detect. When they enter the room, you can feel the life being sucked out of the place. Engagement levels seem to go down and the level of interaction and cooperation is reduced. The focus is on the speed of ending the meeting and getting back to work away from this malcontent.

The power drainers are time wasters. They do not respect time. They will barge into your office or workspace and tell you the latest gossip and shortcomings of the organization. Many power drainers have a running conflict with their peers and want you to come in as a peacemaker, which is time consuming and emotionally exhausting.

Power mongers

Power mongers are perpetrators who like to hoard power and use it over people based on their level of influence or authority. They will take the power away from you in a meeting. If you have the floor in a meeting they will ask the questions to shift the emphasis to them. I attended a meeting where one participant had more handouts on my subject than I did and spent the meeting time explaining their handouts which took away my power and control of the meeting. The better preparation and communication skills may address some of the issues of the power mongers.

The manager who asks you to do something because they said it does everything to shut down questions from the meeting attendees. Power mongers also work by using intimidation to get results. They will level threats at people who do not complete assignment correctly. A power monger will embarrass people in front of their peers. They may do this deliberately to show who’s the boss? A new manager at a paper recycling plant announced to his employees that he wanted them to fear him. He went on to exercise this management style as an egocentric power monger.

A power monger believes that information is power and takes this concept to the extreme. They delegate information sparingly. A manager had access to updates from the home office that would have been useful to one of his subordinates making a presentation. Rather than call him off to the side before the meeting and provide the updates, he strategically interrupted during the meeting with the latest news from headquarters. You may need help in dealing with a power monger, who negatively uses power. This can be done by working with mentors, advocates and power brokers. These individuals have the wisdom, insight and influence to assist you in relating to the power mongers.

Power brokers

Powerbrokers are individuals who use power effectively to get results. These individuals should be utilized and studied in order to gain their assistance. You want to use their techniques to minimize personal power outages. These individuals can be identified and cultivated at work, networking groups, referrals from their contacts and through personal introductions.

Work with powerbrokers to increase your confidence; improve your influence skills and knowledge of your area of interest and expertise. Conduct a personal assessment; improve your communication skills and your knowledge of your subject. Your objective is to isolate the individuals and circumstances that drain your power and counteract their affect on you. This will enable you to be stronger and effective in harnessing your power supply and minimizing instances where you lose power.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

Performance fixing in the workplace – Lost productivity and restricted growth

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Athletes and their sports periodically are plagued by scandal. Athletes may be asked to lose a match, fight, or game by delivering less than their best effort. The tennis world was recently rocked by allegations of match fixing where players allegedly accepted payment for losing or throwing a match. Novak Djokovic, the reigning number one men’s player in the world, said he was offered $200,000 through his previous handlers in 2007 to lose a match.

Boxing has had its share of scandals. Unscrupulous fighters have been known to take a dive, throw a fight or lose a fight on purpose. Controversies have surfaced with football, basketball and baseball.

This tactic of solicitation; altering the outcome of a performance is also prevalent in other aspects of our lives. Performance fixing is not customarily a term used to describe substandard performance at work. We do not accuse employees of collusion, throwing a project or taking a dive regarding their objectives. However, there may be similarities with sports.

Friends or coworkers may ask you to deliberately act in ways that could negatively affect results. They may expect you to limit your participation or productivity, hold back by not delivering your best effort and engage in activities with consequences that will affect your grade, goal achievement, contributions or career.

It is an integrity issues when someone delivers an unearned and unsanctioned discount or illegally influences the score. But failing to bring your best effort is also unfairly influencing results by delivering below expectations.

People may have a variety of reasons for convincing others to take a dive. They may want you to make a supervisor look bad, fail or simply to compromise results for a number of reasons.

As a sales representative my competitors tried to discourage me from working hard and going beyond the call of duty. Ultimately, when I was promoted to management, they told me they thought I was smarter than to take a role in leadership. Their code of ethics was to do just enough to get by, not rock the boat or bring too much attention to the status quo of their comfortable world. They had tried for several years to get me to perform at a level that did not upset their established level of mediocrity. They were in effect asking me to fix the outcome of my selling activities by reducing my effectiveness.

Take a moment to reflect on your life and your performance in school, relationships or in your career. Have there been instances where people have discouraged you from taking a course of action; pursuing an MBA, volunteering for a project, advancing your education or participating in a manner that would improve the outlook for your career? They may not have offered money, but there was an expectation that you would conform to their request and maintain a friendship or relationship. Did they influence you to withhold your best performance or restrict your participation? How did you respond to their subtle influences to maintain the status quo? You probably did not see it as performance fixing.

Can you think of instances where you were reluctant to excel and talked yourself out of delivering your best performance? You may have convinced yourself that inertia, standing still, the status quo was more desirable than going after a promotion or shaming your peers. You may have told yourself the aggravation of more responsibility would be too much work and not worth the small financial payout and alienation from your peers. You may have held back, telling yourself that management would not be receptive to your efforts to improve your opportunities. The result was stabilization and stagnation.  Therefore, you took an internal dive and restricted the release of your talent and failed to maximize on the opportunities available.

Companies have lost productivity and revenue due to people shaving productivity across the organization. Individuals intentionally or unconsciously participated in a conspiracy to hold back on excellence. The payout was not also in money. They may have received resources or items of nominal value. It was for either pleasure or pain.

Pleasure could involve the camaraderie and benefits of connection in a powerful networking relationship. Being affiliated with people who are well known or who praise them makes them feel special. They may want the pleasure of associating with someone they wish to emulate, who makes them feel special.

The compensation could be the avoidance of pain. People are deprived of the discomfort of being shunned by their friends and the humiliation of failing to land a job because they took a risk. If they don’t pursue the job then they don’t have to make mistakes or suffer the failure not reaching it.

Withholding effort and talent is not considered a criminal event. People don’t think of themselves as being complicit in an illegal activity. But, they are assisting other people in activities that hurt themselves, other people or the company. Under the cover of darkness they are essentially breaking into a residence of excellence and stealing from the organization. They are taking a payoff to engage in activities that restrict growth and development.

Professional tennis was struck hard by the accusations of impropriety. The governing bodies of tennis are investigating their handling of this potential blemish on their profession and the parties involved. Other athletic associations, through the years have investigated and disciplined all parties found to be guilty of affecting the integrity of their sport. What must we do to ensure that performance fixing is minimized or eliminated from within our areas of responsibility?

You may consider it unfair to view lack of excellence and substandard engagement, as an integrity issue. But people are hired and expected to bring their best effort to the workplace every day. I had a manager who always asked me,” is this your best thinking?”  We must ensure that we bring our best thinking and best action to the workplace in our interactions with others. The dollar value on waste and on the opportunity costs of lost or poorly implemented ideas.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s) That Can Hurt You

We are human and therefore, have idiosyncrasies, nuances and eccentricities that come with our personalities. Many of these unique characteristics position us for survival and success. But some of these peculiarities are counterproductive and are detrimental to our growth. I will call them self restraining tendencies or SRT’s. They are not necessarily life-threatening, but they may serve as impediments to development.

SRT’s are indigenous to human beings. They may be formed by life experiences and thoughts and subsequently create insecurities. They may be pseudo-defense mechanisms to allegedly protect us. SRT’s may be categorized as bad habits that may hold us back, restrict growth or work against us. How do we know we have them? Self assessments and times of reflection can increase self awareness and reveal SRT’s, as we examine our lives and impact on others. Additionally, we may receive the gift of honesty from a friend through candid comments. Constant feedback from co-workers, parents and peers can also be useful by adding to our enlightenment. But, we must be objective, receptive and appreciative of their candor.

5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s)

  1. Procrastination
  2. Poor communication skills
  3. Negativity mindset
  4. Toxic people skills
  5. Lack of Integrity

1. Procrastination

It is interesting to learn that many people are struggling with procrastination. The act of postponing things until later is not intellectually difficult for people to understand. They know that something should be done immediately and to postpone will have consequences. But, nevertheless, they still will delay until later, that which should be done today.

We recognize that we may not feel like doing something right now or we have awarded a greater priority to something else. If we continue to kick the can down the road or delay the inevitable, we will continue to waste time and effort and increase the amount of stress in our lives.

Lisa was interviewing for a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative. She felt very comfortable with the interview. The interviewer asked her about her number one shortcoming. She responded, “I am a procrastinator. I get things done, but sometimes it takes me a while to get started.” Procrastination was her Self Restraining Tendency, but the interview may not be the right place to disclose this particular self restraining tendency.

2.  Poor communication skills

Communicating is something we do every day. It is the currency by which we interact with people in order to state our ideas, convey instructions and build relationships. Those among us, who communicate effectively, actually have an advantage at school, in our careers and in relationships. If we are hampered by poor communication skills, our effectiveness is restricted. This self restraining tendency, like the others featured in this article, must be identified and corrected.

Poor communication skills could be non verbal or verbal to include written, body language and group presentations. Ask yourself, “Am I plagued by poor communication skills? Are there aspects of my communication ability that are hindering my progress?” Conduct a self-assessment. Diagnose your communication ability to see if there is a deficiency. You may seek to solicit feedback from respected sources and trusted friends and colleagues to see if they can identify areas that require improvement. When the SRT is disclosed, a change management process should be initiated. However, rather than go through multiple steps to change we should go directly from denial to acceptance and put a plan in place to correct the SRT.

3. Negativity Mindset

People who have a negativity mindset are not necessarily the individuals who look at the pros and cons of every situation. I am speaking of the people who like to rain on the parade. When the entire group has decided to move in a positive direction, they are the naysayers who constantly focus on what is or could go wrong. They provide excuses rather than explanations. They seldom do anything but complain without the slightest contribution to positive constructive participation to change anything. 

4. Toxic people skills

The toxic people SRT is different from the poor communication skills mentioned earlier. Individuals prone to this tendency will use power to humiliate and intimidate in order to gain the upper hand or to create an environment of fear.

My son worked for an organization where the new boss actually said, “When I walk into a room I want people to fear me.” He wanted people to be intimidated by his presence. This attitude is supported by language and interactions that cause stress, a lack of trust, poor engagement and ultimately subpar performance. Individuals with toxic people skills may speak about people behind their backs, pit coworkers against each other and generate an atmosphere of tension.

People with toxic people skills may be cursed with the propensity to enter every interaction with a transaction mindset. They are constantly thinking what is in it for them, how can they beat the other person by any means necessary and how it can only help them succeed. This is prevalent in relationships where they only socialize or interact with people who can help them advance their position, today. 

5. Lack of Integrity

People with a lack of integrity are flawed in their relational and work performance. They utilize a winning at all cost or any cost approach to work and relationships. People with this tendency view the rules as an inconvenience, something for weak minded people, to be broken and circumvented whenever possible. Breaking rules is seen as a badge of honor, a necessary evil to give themselves the ultimate advantage toward victory.

Invariably, this SRT will cause the downfall of their career and reputation. Oftentimes, the integrity flaw does not manifest itself until well into a person’s career. Please find below a chart illustrating a natural career growth curve and the various points of indiscretion where a lack of integrity can doom a person’s career.

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If a lack of integrity shows itself at the end of someone’s career, a lot of their positive contributions can be discounted and shrouded in suspicion, nullifying their reputation. If a lack of integrity revealed itself early in someone’s career, they may never have the opportunity to make significant positive contributions or to realize the potential present in their talents and abilities.

Ideally, we should establish self restraining orders or SROs for those character traits which are limiting our joy and effectiveness. The five self restraining tendencies listed or others should be addressed if they are a problem for you. They have the capacity to limit your effectiveness and keep you away from realizing your full potential in every segment of your life.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

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

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Lessons in Handling Differences

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.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

More works from Orlando Ceaser in Unlock Your Leadership Greatness and Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership available at amazon.com and http://www.orlandoceaser.com.

Embarrassed in your career or Routed in pursuit of your dreams

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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

The “A” Game Chronicles – Discover and deliver it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2011 Orlando Ceaser

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?”

The Humility Obsession – Suppressing your greatness

As children we were told to downplay emotions and not to brag about our talents. We were to temper our enthusiasm and refrain from taunting and trash talking. Too much celebrating was unsportsmanlike and might make the other players feel bad. Additionally, we did not want the other party to return the favor and celebrate in our faces. If we won, we should be humble and defer a lot of our positive comments to the performance of team. The more we could transfer the secrets of our success to the team, the better. Individual greatness was to be placed in the background. We should be graceful in victory or defeat. However, if we are not careful, this could work against us.

If we are talented, we should display the talent and refrain from arrogance, I get that. It is character building and appropriate to put team first, I understand the principle. But, unless we have a solid self image, a strong will and self confidence, we might develop a humility obsession, which could diminish our level of participation in various situations.
No one likes a braggart. This concept is clear. We are haunted by virtual and physical images of people being loathed for their “I am better than you” attitude. We have become so worried about being perceived as being stuck on ourselves that we run in the opposite direction. We feel out of place talking about our contributions, which could affect our self image and self-esteem. We don’t want to become unpopular. Therefore, some of us overcompensate and use excessive humility to project an incomplete, less potent version of our true self.
Have you encountered people with great ideas, but will not bring them up in meetings? They are not particularly shy or soft spoken. They often have many of these innovative thoughts, but do not want to come across as a know it all. They were told to be humble and this meant to keep a low profile.

A woman in the health club made the comment, “why can’t I see myself as my friends see me.” They told her that she was intelligent, creative and attractive, but she could not embrace those words for herself. She was caught up in the humility obsession and could not feel good about her appearance and intellect. Many of us tend to resort to self-deprecating words and behaviors because of the guilt we feel around placing ourselves at a higher level than those around us. We don’t want to be perceived as a target for ridicule which is often the case when people display a lot of confidence.

There is untold and untapped talent within our communities and corporations that will not step forward because of an inappropriate perception of humility. Some of these individuals are not shy or insecure, but may be driven to holding back their greatness because they were told to be seen and not heard.
This humility obsession causes us not to be satisfied with certain aspects of our career achievement or personal accomplishments. A humility obsession makes us afraid to take credit for our success. We fail to disclose the full range of our competence. We may not acknowledge the value of our role in achieving and exceeding objectives.
There are numerous solutions to the humility obsession. First, we need to concentrate on our motives and our intentions. Secondly, we should bask in our blessings and realize our gifts are to be shared with others to entertain, educate and inspire them to take positive action. We concentrate too much on the fall from grace if we jinx ourselves by being too proud of our work. “It is best to be humble rather than to be humble.” This is the mantra we repeat in our heads. We have what we have because of fate, so we shouldn’t get carried away with our role in the process. However, we must be thankful for our blessings and not feel guilty. Thirdly, we need to stop and celebrate who we are and what we’ve done. Our positive achievements should be a matter of record and we deserve accolades for the discipline required seek and secure excellence.

In my seminars on the Know system™, I take approximately 10 words from the word know to illustrate the Know System™ Decision Making Model. One of the keywords found in the word know is the word “on”. We have to be on at all times, which enables the people and resources we need to find us. When we are on message, on fire, on target or simply turned on, we are closer to being fulfilled. This also unleashes the winning instinct within us which drives us to become successful.

Humility has its merits. I am not advocating arrogant, obnoxious or condescending behavior. We should not be self absorbed or condescending. It is true that a bad case of arrogance can propel people from you rather than draw people toward. However, we must not use the humility obsession to deprive us of participating in life to the fullest. We should not use it to diminish our progress, success or achievements or to deprive the world of our skills, talents and abilities.

Humility is good, but a humility obsession makes us feel inhibited and unnatural when we want to express our greatness. We need to be secure in to allow people to utilize their talents and abilities and celebrate excellence without fearing ridicule from others. Humility if improperly used prevents us from appreciating the work we’ve done and the results we’ve achieved. We are worried about what people will say about us. We don’t want to be that person who is arrogant. But this aversion to arrogance can affect our confidence and self-esteem in the long run and cause us hours of discontent.
Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

Leaders are not mind readers

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

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

Career expectations and updates

Current aspirations

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

Career alerts – changes in expectations

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

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

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

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

Acquisition of new skills

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

Environmental hazards

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

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

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

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

New ideas

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

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

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser