high performing leaders
I was recently paging through the new Forbes magazine. This year the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans has dedicated a large part of the magazine to how the wealthy invest their money in nonprofits and charities. This issue not only lays out the facts but shares an insider’s look at how the wealthy are getting more involved in giving. They share how many of these billionaires are investing in our society and help provide insights into how the big donors make their decisions. It’s really a great resource and for less than $8.00 you can see how these individuals think and what they want in the organizations with whom they work. A thought came to me as I read the article. That is, the world of philanthropy and giving is changing. Whenever there’s change, some people see the opportunities and others see only loss. The people that see opportunities also find success in the new reality. It seems to work the same in both the business and nonprofit worlds.
Bill Gates starts the discussion with laying out what he sees happening and even begins defining this new discipline as Catalytic Philanthropy. I worked with Microsoft leadership back in their heyday and I can tell you once Bill creates a vision in his mind many people follow. He is a relentless person in advocating his world view. He has a secret weapon in his philanthropic work that he didn’t have at Microsoft, his wife Melinda. She provides an emotional charge that moves people in ways that Bill might be awkward doing. To be clear, I’m not saying Bill isn’t passionate about what he wants to accomplish but he’s always more about getting things started, innovating, and then implementing for early success. Melinda, on the other hand is very capable of moving people when sharing the vision of the collective future they both see. She talks about responsibility and the role philanthropy has for people who have the ability to make such a huge difference in the world. Talk about a dynamic duo, WOW. And I’m not talking about his bridge partner.
Now if that’s not enough, you can see how Warren Buffet looks at making a difference and why. If you’re a regular reader you know that I started my career in the Berkshire Hathaway family and have spent the past 30 years working with Warren’s many different businesses leaders, including Ralph Schey here in Northeast Ohio. Ralph served on the leadership team at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. His work helped take a strong medical organization to a world class medical institution while building a team of trailblazers to help shape medical leadership moving into the future.
Warren’s quote should be a challenge to all serving leaders everywhere. He said “You should be doing things that can change lots of lives. And you should be doing things that have some real chance of failing.” Doesn’t that remind us why we do what we do for our clients? A great quote may inspire but Warren’s financial contributions continue to change the face of modern philanthropy. They also talked about the person that inspired Warren to be so giving and I don’t mean Bill and Melinda. A little known fact about Warren is that he was inspired by another lesser known person who helped change the world with his philosophy of giving similar to how Benjamin Graham shaped his investment philosophies. His name was Abraham Flexner and he changed the way Warren looked at giving. When you have time check out his biography I think you will see several interesting similarities. All great givers and business leaders have strong philosophies behind what they do. Uncover the philosophy and the rest is easy.
Let’s see how this might apply to another great giver, Oprah Winfrey. Here a quote from this same issue, “When you go to Nelson Mandela’s house, what do you take? You can’t bring a candle.” How do you think you work with someone who sees the world this way? Would you go and ask for something small and insignificant? This world changer is looking to be involved in projects with world changing implications but of a highly personal nature. Look at the school she launched and you can see a project that gives you another clue to her personal philosophies. You knew she couldn’t fail and she would stick to it until it was successful.
The final thought I would share with you is that the innovators see change as a great thing. Change leads to new opportunities that no one could imagine in the past. The coming years will challenge you to be more than you ever thought possible. We are entering a golden age of business and those who can’t see the possibilities doom their organizations to failure. It will not be a matter of money that you lack but a vision for your organization that others will embrace with all their hearts, minds, and energy.
I believe true motivation comes from within. It’s the internal desire to want to do something. Outside influences like fear (you’re fired) or greed (bonus money) last only so long. Therefore it’s not in my power to motivate others. I can encourage and attempt to inspire but I can’t make someone want to do something. Instead, I think motivation operates in reverse. Ideally, once the coach or leader gets to know his team, he develops a love and affection for them, not unlike that of a parent. This causes the leader to try to do anything for his team. His players, picking up on that love and enthusiasm, respond. They then want to please their coach and start performing better. This leads to a continuing upward spiral of success.
A perfect example of this type of motivation is when my daughter Nicole was first placed in my arms after her birth. As a first time parent, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was overwhelmed with love. I remember how impressed I was with her calm demeanor. Everyone at the hospital commented on how alert she was when she was awake, and that has continued to be the case. My love for her has motivated me to do the very best for her, and that’s how it is with my team.
When I first started to coach however, I thought I had the old dictatorial style of motivation all figured out. I marched into practice the very first day and laid down the law. This is the way it’s going to be. These are the rules to follow, which I had written out ahead of time, before ever meeting the players. As I glanced up to see how my message was being received, I saw eyes rolling. It was as if the players were saying, “Come on, Coach. We just want to play chess.” I made the mistake of projecting my goals upon them rather than letting them arrive at them on their own.
So I backed off and started to get to know my players. What a neat bunch of kids! They were smart, funny and individually responded to a wide range of motivators. One size clearly did not fit all. Probably the most satisfying part of coaching for me has been the individual relationships formed with my players over the years. I look at them as life-long friends who I hope will always feel free to get back in touch with me as a mentor, a reference and a friend. I’d go to the ends of the earth for my kids, and I hope they know it.
Eric Nager is an Investment Advisor Representative with Southern Capital Services and the author of “Checklist for Checkmate: 15 Keys to Building a Successful Team” (2012, Southeastern Press), available on Amazon.com. The above is an excerpt. Eric can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are basically five qualities of the most productive work teams that you need to foster throughout the stages of team development. The degree to which you accomplish this before you start working will determine your success as a team leader and the success of the team as a whole.
The first quality is the existence of shared values. You can foster this quality by asking the question, “What are our values?” or, “What do we stand for?” People will contribute the values they consider the most important. As they do, you or someone else can write them on a flipchart. The values will usually be something like: integrity, excellence, quality, caring about people, profitability, and harmony.
The second quality of top teams is shared objectives. It is absolutely essential that everyone takes the time to discuss the actual reason for forming the team and the chief results that are expected of them.
Leaders are those who can see the big picture. They are absolutely clear about what it is they want to accomplish and what it will look like. They have the ability to articulate this vision in the minds and hearts of others and to get everyone, no matter what their background or personality, working together in harmony toward the realization of that vision.
People cannot hit a target they cannot see. Again, even though it may appear time consuming, everyone needs to have ample opportunity to discuss and agree on the ultimate goals desired before work begins. The more thorough the discussion on goals and objectives, the more effective the team will be when it begins working.
The third quality of highly productive teams is shared activities. Everyone knows what they are supposed to contribute to the achievement of the overall goals and objectives of the team. Everyone also knows what each of the other members is expected to do. All the work that has to be done is clearly divided up among the team members, and everyone knows their role in the process.
The fourth quality of high-performing teams is that the head of the team leads the action. You become the role model for all of the others. You go out in front. You continually look for ways to make it easier for your team members to do their jobs. You accept complete responsibility for the achievement of the overall goal. You start a little earlier, you work a little harder, and you stay a little later. You set careful priorities on your time and you always work on your highest value tasks. You never ask anyone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. You always put yourself out in front and go to bat for your people in every circumstance. You are a leader because you continually lead.
The fifth and final quality of high-performing teams is that individually and as a group, they continually evaluate their progress toward their goals and values. They are always asking themselves, “How are we doing, and how can we do better?” When they manufacture or sell products in the marketplace, they ask their customers for ongoing feedback and evaluation. They set incredible standards of excellence and they are constantly striving to be better.
Whenever they have problems, misunderstandings, or difficulties within the team, they reexamine their values, their goals, their activities, their assignments, and their responsibilities. They are more concerned with what’s right than with who’s right. They are more concerned with winning than with not losing. High-Performing teams run by excellent leaders, are determined to perform in an excellent fashion. All members know that their ability to work together in harmony and cooperation is the key to the success of every one of them.
The wonderful thing about becoming a leader in your work and personal life is that you can practice the skills of influencing and persuading others toward a common objective. You can promote the principles of excellent teamwork by establishing your values and goals, determining your activities, and then leading the action. And you can improve yourself by continually evaluating your performance against your standards.
One of the marks of excellent people is that they never compare themselves with others. They only compare themselves with themselves and with their past accomplishments and future potential. You can become an even more excellent person by constantly setting higher and higher standards for yourself and then by doing everything possible to live up to those standards. The more proficient you become at getting the results for which you were hired, the more opportunities you will have to get results through others. And your ability to put together a team and then to lead that team to high performance will enable you to accelerate your career and fulfill your goals faster than ever before.
About The Author
Brian Tracy is legendary in sales addressing more than 250,000 men and women each year on the subjects of management, leadership, and sales effectiveness. He has produced more than 300 audio/video programs and has written 26 books, including his just-released books “Create Your Own Future,” “Victory,” and “TurboStrategy.” He can be reached at (858) 481-2977 or www.briantracy.com.
In part 1 of this article, Capitalizing on Your Strengths, Brian Tracy talked about the advantages of looking at yourself as your own corporation and determining your competitive advantage. In this final part, Brian gives you four keys to how to capitalize on your strengths.
Capitalizing on Your Strengths
by Brian Tracy
There are four keys to the strategic marketing of yourself and your services. These are applicable to huge companies such as General Motors, to candidates running for election and to individuals who want to accomplish the very most in the very shortest time.
1. Specialization: No one can be all things to all people. A “jack-of-all-trades” also is a “master of none.” Specialization is the key. Men and women who are successful have a series of general skills, but they also have one or two areas where they have developed the ability to perform in an outstanding manner.
As you determine your area of specialization, put your current job aside for the moment, and take the time to look deeply into yourself. Analyze yourself from every point of view. Rise above yourself, and look at your lifetime of activities and accomplishments in determining what your area of specialization could be or should be.
You might find that you are already capitalizing on your strengths, and your current work might be ideally suited to your likes and dislikes, to your temperament and your personality. Nevertheless, you owe it to yourself to be continually expanding the scope of your vision and looking toward the future to see where you might want to be going in the months and years ahead. Remember, the best way to predict the future is to create it. Therefore, your main job is to decide which of your talents you’re going to exploit and develop to their highest and best possible use right now.
So, what is your area of excellence? What are you especially good at right now? If things continue as they are, what are you likely to be good at in one or two or even five years from now? Is this a marketable skill with a growing demand, or is your field changing in such a way that you are going to have to change as well if you want to keep up with it? Looking into the future, what could be your area of excellence if you were to go to work on yourself and your abilities? What should be your area of excellence if you want to rise to the top of your field, make an excellent living and take complete control of your financial future?
In looking at your current and past experiences for an area of specialization, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is, “What activities have been most responsible for my success in life to date?” How did you get from where you were to where you are today? What talents and abilities seemed to come easily to you? What things do you do well that seem to be difficult for most other people? What things do you most enjoy doing? What things do you find most intrinsically motivating? What things make you happy when you are doing them?
As you capitalize on your strengths, your level of interest, excitement and enthusiasm about the particular job or activity is a key factor. You’ll always do best and make the most money in a field that you really enjoy. It will be an area that you like to think about and talk about and read about and learn about. Successful people love what they do, and they can hardly wait to get to it each day. Doing their work makes them happy, and the happier they are, the more enthusiastically they do it, and the better they do it as well.
2. Differentiation: You must decide what you’re going to do to be not only different, but also better than your competitors in the field. Remember, you have to be good in only one specific area to move ahead of the pack. And you must decide what that area should be.
3. Segmentation: You have to look at the marketplace and determine where you can best apply yourself, with your unique talents and abilities, to give yourself the highest possible return on energy expended. What customers, companies, or markets can best utilize your special talents and offer you the most in terms of financial rewards and future opportunities?
4. Concentration: Once you have decided the area in which you are going to specialize, how you are going to differentiate yourself, and where in the marketplace you can best apply your strengths, your final job is to concentrate all of your energy on becoming excellent there. The marketplace pays extraordinary rewards only for extraordinary performance.
In the final analysis, everything that you have done up to now is simply the groundwork for becoming outstanding in your chosen field. When you become very good at doing what people need, you begin moving rapidly into the top ranks of working people everywhere.
About the Author:
Brian Tracy is legendary in sales addressing more than 250,000 men and women each year on the subjects of management, leadership, and sales effectiveness. He has produced more than 300 audio/video programs and has written 26 books, including his just-released books “Create Your Own Future” and “Victory.” He can be reached at (858) 481-2977 or www.briantracy.com.