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Leaders Eat Last – Part 3; Culture Trumps Everything

Leaders Eat LastThis month, in The Platform Builders Mastermind group, we are working our way through Simon Sinek’s recently released “Leaders Eat Last – Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.”

Sinek, the author of Start With Why, provides a deep look into what creates the most effective teams and more importantly, what keeps them working together, even during the most difficult of times.

This is one of those books that will take you a little bit longer to read because so many thoughts require you to take another look, just to make sure you understood the power behind them.  A phenomenal effort by Sinek, Leaders Eat Last not only looks at the dynamic of the team but of the individuals that make up that team.

What really sets this book apart is Sinek’s unique look at why some people make good leaders and others don’t and the “why” behind the results they get.  In this post, the third of four, I will attempt to capture the basic thoughts of the eight parts of the book.

PART 5: THE ABSTRACT CHALLENGE

ABSTRACTION KILLS – Interesting how much our behavior changes when we are not directly connected to the outcome.  Sinek provides an interesting look at how what can happen when we simply follow orders or instructions and disconnect from the results of our actions when we don’t actually “see” the outcome of them.

MODERN ABSTRACTION – A great discussion on the impact of what happens when a employer or leader becomes more concerned about the numbers than the people.  Caring about your people will produce the numbers.  Never forget that!

MANAGING THE ABSTRACTION – A great quote from this chapter “We like to actually be around people who are like us.  It makes us feel like we belong.”  As good as the virtual world is becoming, it will never replace sharing the same physical space with like-minded individuals.

IMBALANCE – Simple but powerful thought here.  No matter how good something may be, or appear to be, it still needs to remain in balance with everything else. Too much abundance can be a damaging as not enough – maybe even worse!

PART 6: DESTRUCTIVE ABUNDANCE

LEADERSHIP LESSON 1 – So Goes The Culture, So Goes The Company – Culture trumps everything.  A leader must provide focus and intentionally keep the culture of the company as a priority.  Sinek quotes a former Goldman Sachs employee who described the company as “an environement with no trust, no mutual respect, and above all, no accountability when things went wrong.”

LEADERSHIP LESSON 2 – So Goes The Leader, So Goes The Culture – Some great thoughts here about leaders that empower their people.  Your people will act as you do and treat others as they are treated.

LEADERSHIP LESSON 3 – Integrity Matters – A great piece of wisdom here with this one, “Integrity is not about being honest when we agree with each other; it is also about being honest when we disagree, or even more important, when we make mistakes or missteps.”

LEADERSHIP LESSON 4 – Friends Matter – Sinek suggests that cooperation doesn’t mean agreement, it means working together to advance the greater good, to serve those who rely on our protection, not to rack up wins to serve our team or ourselves.  We need friendly relationships and need to keep our agenda separate in order to work cooperatively. (Tweet This)

LEADERSHIP LESSON 5 – Lead The People, Not The Numbers – A great observation made here by Sinek, “When a leader has the humility to distribute power across the organization, the strength of the company becomes less dependent on one person and is thus better able to survive.”  Building up your people and making sure that they have a path to success is leadership, not the bottom line.  Lead well, and the bottom line will take care of itself.

HOLDING YOUR PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE

My favorite take from this section of the book comes from Sinek’s summary of Captain David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around.  He says this, “It is a leader’s job instead to take responsibility for the success of each member of his crew.  It is the leader’s job to ensure that they are all well trained and feel confident to perform their duties.   To give them responsibility and hold them accountable to advance the mission.”

Read that again and just think about it for a minute.  Does that describe your leadership style?  How about the person that is leading you?

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Barry Smith  3/20/14   photo courtesy of amazon   © Building What Matters 2014

 

Raising The Bar For Generation Y- Part 2

StephanieLast week I introduced you to Ben, a 22 year old working as a Hard Rock Cafe server in Las Vegas. Ben has a bright future in front of him, but he is not the only one.  Today I want to introduce you to Stephanie.

Stephanie works as a Food and Beverage Supervisor at the World Marriott in Orlando, Florida.  Hmm?  22 years old and a food and beverage supervisor already.  Isn’t that interesting!

Through a connection with one of the chef’s at the World Marriott, we were able to set up a private catered dinner for myself and the event coordinator of the John Maxwell Team.  The John Maxwell Team holds two large events there every year and we were excited at the opportunity to get a look “backstage” with food services.

The service we have received during our visits to the World Marriott has been nothing short of phenomenal, and after our peek at what goes on behind the scenes, it’s easy to understand why.  I won’t pretend to understand what it takes to run a kitchen of this size, but what we saw appeared to be a well-oiled machine, running full throttle, and without a miss.

A big part of the experience was our private server, Stephanie.  Just like with Ben in Las Vegas, I was intrigued by her attitude, professionalism, and self-confidence.  All characteristics I only occasionally see in adults twice her age.  A few of her comments really made me think …

“If you want another course, we will throw it in.”

Logic would suggest that the objective was to take care of a significant client, but the delivery was sincere.  Right from the beginning Stephanie made us feel like the only people in the building.

This was something I have never experienced before.  A specially constructed room built in the middle of the kitchen so we could see everything going on around us but from within an environment built exclusively for a fine dining experience.  I think it’s fair to say that Stephanie really wanted us to enjoy the experience and her commitment to making that so, was authentic and intentional.

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!”

Just as in everything we do, things don’t always go as planned.  Upon a minor mishap, exclusive to our private venue, Stephanie immediately apologized, owned it and, most importantly diffused a situation that could have disrupted the entire evening.

In our opinion, it was no big deal, but it certainly could have changed the emotional state and attitude of any person providing service.  I find it interesting how difficult it is sometimes to own our actions and simply say “I’m sorry.”

“I can talk through a brick wall.” (Tweet This)

What a great statement.  My takeaway from this comment … how long could you speak “intelligently” about your profession?  How about in a random conversation with clients or colleagues?  Stephanie spent the entire time in the room with us that night and we spent a lot of time talking about all sorts of topics.  I don’t remember any that went beyond her ability to add value to the conversation.

I am still amazed at the competence and confidence of someone her age and her ability to control the atmosphere of the room.  I suppose you could say that education had it’s benefits.

“I don’t think I have ever said no.”

This was my favorite.  We had been giving her a hard because everything was so amazing and it sort of became a challenge to see if they could actually deliver on “anything” we wanted.  So naturally, a person of my intellect, came up with a great challenge.  “Fresh chocolate chip cookies and vanilla gelato.”  No way they could bust that out.  Wrong!  “No” was not an option.

As I custom desert request arrive, I asked her what they do when they get a request for something they can’t make happen.  Her response, “I don’t think I have ever said no.”  I guess that pretty much sums up the evening!

Do You Want To Be The Best?

It will be a meal I never forget, but something tells me that Stephanie does the same for other people everyday.  I will not soon forget the attitude and effort that went into that dining experience and the real point of the story is that if you want to be the best, you need to act like it – and not just when you have to, but when you don’t.  That’s what will set you apart from the rest.

Like Ben, Stephanie has big aspirations for her career.  She eventually would like to end up in the California wine valley as a wine sommelier.  I know she will make it and she just might be the youngest female to ever become one.  I won’t be betting against her anytime soon.

THE QUESTION:  Are you serving people in a way that represents your best?

THE CHALLENGE:  Do something today that will take your quality of service to the next level.

Read part one by clicking here

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Barry Smith  3/17/14   photo courtesy of amazon   © Building What Matters 2014

 

Leaders Eat Last – Part 2; A Leader’s Environment

Leaders Eat LastThis month, in The Platform Builders Mastermind group, we are working our way through Simon Sinek’s recently released “Leaders Eat Last – Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.”

Sinek, the author of Start With Why, provides a deep look into what creates the most effective teams and more importantly, what keeps them working together, even during the most difficult of times.

This is one of those books that will take you a little bit longer to read because so many thoughts require you to take another look, just to make sure you understood the power behind them.  A phenomenal effort by Sinek, Leaders Eat Last not only looks at the dynamic of the team but of the individuals that make up that team.

What really sets this book apart is Sinek’s unique look at why some people make good leaders and others don’t and the “why” behind the results they get.  In this post, the second of four, I will attempt to capture the basic thoughts of the eight parts of the book.

PART 3: REALITY

THE COURAGE TO DO THE RIGHT THING – Sinek tells the story of an air traffic controller that broke the rules and as a result, saved over a hundred lives.  The point of the story is that sometimes it’s ok to break the rules, because it’s the right thing to do.

The bigger point of the story is that we have created a culture of non-thinking rule followers that use those very rules to justify making the wrong decision just because “that’s what they were told to do.”  Sinek goes on to discuss the idea of trust and offers this great thought: “We don’t just trust people to obey the rules, we also trust that they will know when to break them.”

SNOWMOBILE IN THE DESERT – Another great chapter!  We are the most advanced creature on the planet and yet, have the most difficult time working collaboratively towards common goals.  Sinek suggests that people are not the problem in most cases when discussing our cooperative efforts.

Our culture is so competitive that in most of the environments that we work in, we are judged on personal performance.  This creates a natural condition pushing us to do better than the next guy.  Sound like looking our for #1 to me.  Create an environment in which your people can thrive, and they will!  (Tweet This)

PART 4: HOW WE GOT HERE

THE BOOM BEFORE THE BUST – This is Sinek’s look at how the economic health of the nation has impacted leadership.  The roaring twenties were a time of prosperity and wealth never seen before.  Then the stock market crash hit in 1929 beginning a depression lasting until nearly 1942.  Going to war is widely accepted as the event that pulled us out of that depression.

The point he makes is that like in anything, there has to be balance.  He makes a great comparison between the good times and the bad – at least from a leadership perspective.  The generations that have produced great security and stability have focused on leadership and service, not excess and consumerism.  Hmm, isn’t that interesting!

THE BOOMERS ALL GROWN UP – Sinek takes a look at the three stock market crashes we have endured since the baby boomers took over running government and business.  There has clearly been a shift to the idea that people are as disposable as products.  We have moved away from a strong sense of community and now focus on protecting “what is ours.”

This may be one of the strongest thoughts in the book – “There are smart executives running companies and managing systems, but there seems to be a distinct  lack of strong leaders to lead the people.”  I wonder if the leaders still exist but there no longer exists a job description that includes them.  Just sayin’

Here is Sinek’s bottom line that I take away from this section of the book.  “It’s not how smart the people in the organization are; it’s how well they work together that is the true indicator of future success or the ability to manage through struggle.”  

Read that again and just think about it for a minute.  Does it apply to your current environment?

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Barry Smith  3/13/14   photo courtesy of amazon   © Building What Matters 2014

 

Raising The Bar For Generation Y – Part 1

BenOne of the issues that concerns me about our future is the gap in leadership that has I have often seen in our next generation, otherwise known as Generation Y.

I’m not big into playing the blame game, but because I am in the group that I hold partially responsible for the predicament we are in, I will go ahead and bring it up.  If you are in your 40’s or 50’s, you (we) may have dropped the ball when it comes to the influence we had on the 20 and 30 somethings.

Admittedly I am speaking in broad generalities here, but nonetheless, somebody fell short in teaching leadership skills to the millennials and seeing how we raised them, I guess that makes it us.  Enough said on that, it’s time to look forward and not back.

In my travels to Orlando and Las Vegas over the last three weeks, I encountered two 22 year olds that really impressed me.  This will be a two part post to introduce you to a couple of kids (I can say that because my own kids are 21 and 23) that proved to me that we will indeed, have some solid individuals taking care of us one day.

Sometimes I just walk and think.

Let me introduce you to Ben.  Ben works as a server at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas.  My wife Michelle, was in some classes so I decided to do what I sometimes do, go walk and think.  If you ever have been on the Las Vegas strip, you know how hard it can be to think.  I decided to stop and get some lunch and Hard Rock seemed to be as good of a choice as any.

I got seated and then this younger guy comes over to me and sits down at my table and says “Hi, I’m Ben, what can I get for you.”  His demeanor alone, told me that he was an A game player.  Very self confident and looked me right in the eye when he spoke to me.  You don’t always see that anymore.

He made me feel like I was the only guy in the place.

He was busy, but made it a point to check in on me every time he went by my table.  I was by myself and I am sure he knew that I was not going to be a big ticket item in his section, but he continued to treat me like I was the only guy sitting out on the patio.  I am alwys intrigued by these young “go-getters” and I struck up a conversation with him.  I wanted to know what made this guy tick.

Turns out that his family had a restaurant back in New York that he started working at when he was 16.  Seven months ago he headed west in search of among other things, some nicer weather.  I asked how he got such a good job so quickly being a newbie in town and his response told the whole story.

He had filled out the on-line application for Hard Rock but knew that a face-to-face meeting could make a bigger difference in getting the job.  He intentionally wandered  into Hard Rock one day and was able to speak with a manager.  The manager was immediately impressed and he had his second interview during the same visit.

Shortly thereafter, he was invited for a third interview and a week later was going through orientation.  So what is the point of all this?  Well to me, it’s pretty simple.  Ben decided to happen to life and not wait for life to happen to him.  (Tweet This)  I wonder how many other applications sat on a hard drive while the applicants sat on their couch waiting for a call.

I will never forget that meal.

Ben said he loves the interaction with his customers as much as any part of his job and his actions definitely supported that.  I think most would agree that going out to eat is more about the experience than the meal and Ben made mine memorable.

At only 22, I asked him what he wanted to eventually do, what were his big aspirations?  His response; he wants to eventually get into fine dining.  I didn’t think about it at the time but I would guess it is partially because he will have the opportunity to make someone’s night out a memorable experience that won’t soon be forgotten.

My guess – Ben will be exceeding expectations in some really nice dining establishment someday and probably sooner than later.  Ben was one of those individuals that you can just tell will achieve his dreams.  Ben, at 22, was leading by example in his respective industry, and making a difference in the lives of those he serves.

THE QUESTION:  Do you have clarity on what it is that you want to achieve?

THE CHALLENGE:  Do something today that will get you one step closer to reaching that dream.

Later this week I will introduce you to Stephanie, who works in the world’s largest Marriott.

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Click here to get a copy of my Kindle Book “The Manifesto Of An Influential Leader”

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Barry Smith  3/11/14   photo courtesy of amazon   © Building What Matters 2014

 

Leaders Eat Last – Part 1; The Forces That Keep Us Safe

Leaders Eat LastThis month, in The Platform Builders Mastermind group, we are working our way through Simon Sinek’s recently released “Leaders Eat Last – Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.”

Sinek, the author of Start With Why, provides a deep look into what creates the most effective teams and more importantly, what keeps them working together, even during the most difficult of times.

This is one of those books that will take you a little bit longer to read because so many thoughts require you to take another look, just to make sure you understood the power behind them.  A phenomenal effort by Sinek, Leaders Eat Last not only looks at the dynamic of the team but of the individuals that make up that team.

What really sets this book apart is Sinek’s unique look at why some people make good leaders and others don’t and the “why” behind the results they get.  In this post, the first of four, I will attempt to capture the basic thoughts of the eight parts of the book.

PART 1:  OUR NEED TO FEEL SAFE

PROTECTION FROM ABOVE – Sinek starts out the book telling the story of pilot Johnny Bravo and about his courageous actions from the battlefield.  When asked why he risked his own life to protect the lives of his fellow soldiers, he simply responded “Because they would have done it for me.”  Are you willing to do for others what you would expect them to do for you?

EMPLOYEES ARE PEOPLE TOO – The second chapter is built around this great thought from Sinek: “The leaders of great organizations do not see people as a commodity to be managed to help grow the money.  They see the money as the commodity to be managed to help grow the people.”  Imagine that … focusing on people before profits. Isn’t that interesting?

BELONGING – Sinek introduces the concept of a “Circle Of Safety.”  We all want to belong to something and when a culture is created that not only provides the opportunity to be part of it, but also provides security and stability, then engagement, fulfillment and productivity go up as well.

YEAH, BUT … – This is a great chapter.  Sinek explores the idea that it is not extra work and long hours that stress people out, but rather the loss of control.  When we are able to control our environment, we are much more inclined to remain engaged and loyal to our team.

PART 2:  POWERFUL FORCES

WHEN ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH – If you are reading this, you probably already have more than enough.  In other words, your basic needs have been met and you are living more abundantly than most of the people on this planet.  Sinek begins to take a look at the physiological reasons that influence our thoughts and actions.

E.D.S.O. – Chapter 6 provides a clear picture of the four primary chemical incentives in our bodies and what happens when these chemicals are released.

    • Endorphins – This chemical masks physical pain.  This is what makes you feel good after strenuous physical activity.
    • Dopamine – This is the chemical that makes us feel satisfied, a sense of achievement or accomplishment.
    • Sarotonin – This chemical provides a feeling of pride, respect or value.  This builds our self-esteem.
    • Oxytocin – This is what enables us to form friendships, feel love, and build deep trust.

Sinek does a masterful job describing how all of these play into our role as a leader.

THE BIG C – No, not that one.  Cortisol is responsible for the stress and anxiety that we feel when something goes bump in the night.  It is our bodies way of telling us that something is not right.  The problem is that although it is a defense mechanism, it also puts strain on our body.  Using it to our advantage is the challenge.

WHY WE HAVE LEADERS – In order to function as a productive team, organization, or community, someone has to make the first move.  Someone has to lead.  Someone has to set a course in a new direction or we will simply exist where we are.  Someone has to make the first sacrifice so others can follow.

Barry & SimonI know we are early in the year, but I have a pretty strong feeling that Leaders Eat Last will be one of my top books for 2014.  I actually had to good fortune to meet Simon Sinek earlier this week and hear him speak from the stage.

I can tell you this much, Sinek is the real deal.  In a crowded hotel lobby, he gave me his undivided attention and made me feel like the only one in the room.  He practices what he preaches and is consistent with his message.

Pulling from his highly viewed TEDTalk video, “People don’t buy into what you do, they buy into why you do it,”  (Tweet This / Post to LinkedInLeaders Eat Last will fill you in on the “why” that leaders use to lead.

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Barry Smith  3/6/14   photo courtesy of amazon   © Building What Matters 2014

 

The Power Of Urgency – Leveraged Action

urgencyThis month in The Platform Builders mastermind group we are working our way through “The Power Of Urgency – Playing to Win with Proactive Urgency” by William Keiper.  John Maxwell teaches that the greatest gap is the gap between what we know and what we do.  I believe the Proactive Urgency that Keiper is talking about can close that gap.

In Part two of The Power of Urgency, Keiper takes a deep look into the idea of Playing to Win with The Power of Urgency.

“Your current state is a perfect reflection of your prior decisions.” – William Keiper  (Tweet This / Post to LinkedIn)

In this, the final of three posts, I want to offer up Keiper’s thought provoking take on the idea of Proactive Urgency.  Keiper ends each of the 17 chapters with an “Urgency Rule” and I want to highlight a few to set the frame for Part 2 of the book.

Urgency Rule #12 – A purposeful commitment to acting with pro-urgency is a sustained, continuously renewed promise manifested in your bold actions.  This ongoing promise leaves no room for fakery, conformity or false consensus.

I love this quote from Keiper, “The path of least resistance will always be crowded with those who occupy half-numb, half-lived lives.”  Commitment never follows the path of least resistance.  Commitment will require you to step outside of your comfort zone and do the things you have never done before to become someone you have never been before.

Urgency Rule #14 – An initial decision, no matter how good, immediately becomes a prospect for an adaptive decision based upon new inputs.  Be the best challenger of your own decisions.

How often do you challenge your own decisions?  Be honest!  In almost everything we do, we can do better.  There are very few decisions that we make in life that would not benefit from asking these challenging questions:

  • What do I need to start?
  • What do I need to stop?
  • What do I need to do more of?
  • What do I need to do less of?
  • What am I missing?

If we made better decisions and became just 1% more productive each week, we would increase our productivity by more that 50% every year.

Urgency Rule #17 – Proactive urgency is personal.  If pursued with clarity and commitment, it will transform your work, your life and the lives of those around you.

There is that word clarity again.  If you have heard me speak, you know how important I believe clarity is in everything we do.  Lack of clarity brings confusion and lack of focus. Focus is what keeps you on the right path.  Knowing where you are and where you are headed are the keys to getting there.

The question:  Have you really committed to reaching your goals or are you still playing small and working through the path of least resistance?

The challenge:  Choose a goal you are working towards and fully commit.  If you are not struggling, you are not growing.

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Click here to get a copy of my Kindle Book “The Manifesto Of An Influential Leader”

Join me on the STOP CHALLENGE CHOOSE 12 week health transformation

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Barry Smith  2/27/14   photo courtesy of amazon   © Building What Matters 2014