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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    Faith@Work

    Faith signDoes faith have a place at work? CEOs at some major corporations think so.

    John Tyson, Chairman of Tyson foods doesn’t believe that faith needs to be checked at the door when you come to work. He believes that “(His) faith is just an ongoing evolution, trying to understand what faith in the marketplace looks like, giving people permission to live their faith seven days a week…If people can talk about the football game on Monday, why can’t they talk about their faith?”1 Tyson Foods employs chaplains to provide support to employees of all faiths, whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim. 2

    Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels had a deep devotion to God that permeated his business decisions and personal life. Upon his death, he left most of his fortune to a Catholic charity with the statement that “There is a natural law, a Divine law, that obliges you and me to relieve the suffering, the distressed and the destitute.”3 Continue reading

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    EMPATHETIC LEADERSHIP: Becoming a Leader Who Cares

    istock photo

    istock photo

    I recently had an opportunity to interact with a variety of people in a service based organization for a prolonged period of time. The nature of these interactions was often stressful for myself and those around me.

    Performance of their job duties required a high level of quality control and process focus. To break the tension, I occasionally joked with them that they needed to avoid making any errors because it would require them to complete too much paperwork.

    But after a while, I began to realize that despite the pressure of their roles, most of them displayed a remarkable level of empathy. They didn’t simply act like they cared about their client population, they really did seem to understand, and they actively advocated for them. It struck me that many of these individuals are not only in roles that are appropriately aligned with their giftedness, but that they are part of an organization that genuinely cares about their work. This led me to think about the culture and the “feel” in many other organizations; and to wonder how employees, clients and other stakeholders experience them in the context of empathy. Continue reading

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    Cracked Concrete – Is Your Business Foundation Sound?

    My husband and I recently realized that we would soon have to repair or replace the circular concrete driveway in
    front of our home. We thought it would last a lot longer than this. Instead, after only 14 years, several concrete slabs are sinking; weeds are creeping up in the spaces between them; a large crack is running through one, courtesy of a heavy delivery truck; another slab is scaling; and the snow plows that are a staple of Michigan winters has left scrape marks on other parts.

    We never thought this would happen because they look so strong and thick. We could wait another year or two, but the situation will only get worse.  What we thought was a solid foundation with high structural integrity, wasn’t resilient enough to withstand a variety of above and below ground pressures. What if the quality or thickness of the concrete had been stronger? What if we had ensured that heavy vehicles didn’t pull into the driveway? What if we carefully used a walking snowplow each winter instead of hiring a heavy truck to plow it (not!). In hindsight it was hard to predict we’d be in this spot, but we now need to look at options to repair or replace all or a part of the driveway.

    Fortune 500 Foundation

    As I reflected on this disappointing situation, I happened to look at Fortune Magazine’s recently released list of the top 500 global companies. Their total revenue declined for the first time since 2010 by 11.5% to $31.2 trillion, and profits shrank by 11.2% to $1.48 trillion1. Once strong sectors (such as Oil) and other stalwart corporations have stumbled, and are struggling to find their new footing. Companies that placed in the top 100 in the prior year, have now been displaced from the list.

    Continue reading

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    10 Key Questions for Leaders – Part 1

    Leaders are faced with a myriad of issues each day, but one of their most critical responsibilities is to step back from the urgent and focus on the important. They must achieve a balance between the reactionary crisis mode and the proactive planning mode. This means pausing and reflecting on how they’re influencing behaviors to ensure the right outcomes. To accomplish that, there are 10 key important questions that, properly addressed, will strengthen both their leadership and their organizational effectiveness.

     

    1. google imageDisruption. What is the disruptive threat to your business model? Leaders should be constantly aware of ongoing threats to their business model and its products or services, and take action to address it. Jim Kennedy, Chairman and former CEO of Cox Enterprises provided a great example when he diversified his business away from classified ads to leverage the growing role of the internet, by successfully launching Autotrader.com. So make a list of all the products and services provided by your organization, your team, and even you, based on your skillsets. Now for each one, think about two or three ways that your product, service or skillset can be provided faster, cheaper or differently. What technological advances might make your current products or services obsolete? How might consumer preferences shift away from your current model? Believe in the possibility and probability of those ideas, then focus on how you’ll anticipate the future and address that threat. Shift your business model to where the customers are going, instead of where they are now.
    2. Purpose. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Many organizations and teams shift into automatic mode as their activities become routinized. They assume that demand will continue for their products and services, and evolve into placing more focus on what they’re doing, or how they’re doing it, instead of WHY they’re doing it. But asking the question WHY, connects you to the purpose of your activities. It’s the motivator and driving force that inspires the team to the appropriate behaviors that will support it. Once they understand your WHY, an emotional link can form as they pinpoint their contribution to accomplishing it. The underlying WHY or purpose of an individual, team or organization typically does not change, because it’s a fundamental belief and value. According to Simon Sinek, the how and what changes as necessary to continue to support the WHY. When you know your purpose or your WHY and communicate it effectively, this clarity attracts others to you who recognize a benefit from it.
    3. Failure. Where have you failed, and what insights have you learned from it? If you’ve never failed, you’ve never attempted something of impact and significance, relative to your abilities. Failure can add value when we learn something from it, and build upon it. Thomas Edison failed many times in trying to develop a light bulb. The Wright brothers failed initially before leveraging their underdog status to become the first in flight. J. C. Penney was sick and bankrupt before he built his namesake store into a retailing giant. But they learned from their failures, kept trying and eventually succeeded. The only bad failure is if you fall into shame and shut down afterwards. Instead, find a stepping stone to move forward. Failure is a requirement for growth. It’s accompanied by exploration, curiosity, pursuit, action, and flexibility. And most importantly, reflecting on and learning lessons that can be constructively shared with others.
    4. Curiosity. What are you curious about? Curiosity is a precursor to learning. Though it’s easy to be consumed with the daily challenges of leadership roles, it’s important to take time to explore insights in related areas to stimulate thought processes, and spur new ideas. Research shows that successful CEOs are curious, and this curiosity leads to growth. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook started his Year of Books online reading club to encourage discovery about different beliefs, cultures and technologies. And Richard Kinder, Chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan reads about 50 books a year. He learns from how other leaders have confronted challenges, particularly overwhelming ones for which they had few ready answers. His curiosity in reading is linked to his interests, and fuels his passion for learning. So dig into those areas that you’re curious about, and your learning will form the basis for future growth.
    5. Service. What does my team need from me in order for them to be successful? As a leader, your responsibility is to serve your employees, enabling them in turn to provide value to customers, investors, and the community. You serve your team by creating a compelling vision, and providing the processes, tools and structure to support innovation, recognition, teamwork, and success. Service requires a continual focus on others to understand their needs, motivations, and aspirations, and to provide them with opportunities for growth. This includes a measure of humility to steer the focus from your own, to the teams’ accomplishments, and to ensure that your decisions serve them and not yourself. Service also provides a greater connection to the team as you partner together in the organization’s success. Leaders who focus on service take responsibility when things go wrong. Leaders who focus on service empower their team. Leaders who focus on service attract, retain and develop talented people.

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    Your Thinking Spot

    Imagine yourself escaping from the daily pressure of decisions to be made, demands on your time, and disruptions to your schedule. You find a quiet oasis, where the atmosphere is suited for relaxation, reflection and rejuvenation. It is carefully designed to provide just the right amount of stimuli to enhance your productivity and creativity. You’re able to think through problems, strategize, and plan your next steps. This is your thinking spot; the environment where you’re optimally suited to work through the challenges in your life and work.

    While the thought of periodically removing oneself from the hub of activity is scary to some people, some of the most successful leaders have made a habit of frequenting a thinking spot.

    • Harry Frampton, executive chairman of East West Partners, a property developer, manager and brokerage in Avon, Colorado has a vacation home in Hawaii where he and his wife spend about 12 weeks each year.  His visits there during the 2009 recession helped him get away from overwhelming problems and think through which projects to put on hold, and which ones to move forward on.
    • Martin Puris, an advertising executive and owner of Puris and Partners has a vacation home in Long Island’s Hamptons where he and his wife spend most weekends.  There he has some of his “best creative thoughts”, and can think “uncluttered and focused”.
    • Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, a fast food restaurant chain headquartered in the Atlanta area has a “thinking schedule” that helps him to prioritize intentional thinking.  He blocks out a half a day every two weeks, a whole day each month, and two or three days each year to make sure he blocks out distractions and keeps focused on the primary things in life.
    • John Maxwell, internationally known leadership guru and author has a “thinking chair” in his office. He brings a list of issues to think through while he sits in the chair and spends the necessary time to gain clarity on them. 

    Productive Thought

    Effective leaders understand and embrace their thinking spot. They plan time to think that includes:

    • Reflecting on what did and didn’t work in the past.
    • Focusing on the present challenges.
    • Planning for the future.
    • Creating new solutions.

    Their thinking time may include different forms of solitude.  Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, describes Darwin Smith, the unassuming but successful CEO of Kimberly Clark for 20 years, as spending his vacation time on his farm in Wisconsin, digging holes and moving rocks on his backhoe.  While this may have looked totally unrelated to his leadership role, it no doubt provided the quiet thought time needed for the demands of his position.

    Steve Wozniak co-founder of Apple designed the first personal computer working alone.  He met with others periodically to discuss the technology and possibilities, but he largely toiled long hours by himself, thinking through the process necessary to reach his goal.

    Find Your Spot

    So where do you get your inspiration? Where is the spot that stimulates your thinking?  Have you carefully protected that environment to ensure that it’s conducive to your needs? How often and for how long do you frequent it?  What has it produced for you in the past?  Do you run from it or to it? In other words are you comfortable sitting in quietness or do you need high activity and stimulation around you? Does the thought of sitting still make you nervous? Are you constantly thinking of all the other things you can do instead of being there? 

    My preferred style is to spend quiet time in the early morning in meditation and prayer.  I focus on what I need to accomplish for the day, engage in positive self-talk, reflect on my priorities, and thank God for His goodness.  Ideally, if the weather and time permits, I’ll take a walk, alone with the unlimited expanse of nature.  Sometimes I get great ideas during this process, and at other times mental breakthroughs will come later in the day, but I know it’s a product of that time alone.

    The key is to understand the environment where you’re most productive, and replicate that on a regular basis.  In your gut, you know when you do your best thinking. You know the right atmosphere for you to generate ideas, work through problems, develop your action plans, and learn new information. You know where you get your energy, ideas, and motivation; your time of fruitfulness where seeds of ideas take root, are carefully formed and watered over time until they finally blossom. Make it a priority to find and frequent that thinking spot.

     

     

     Copyright 2014 Priscilla Archangel

    Steve Wozniak reference from iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It by Stephen Wozniak with Gina Smith, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York, NY, 2006.

    John Maxwell  reference from Success 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN, 2008.

    Picture from IStockPhoto

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