Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership

“I believe in servant leadership, and the servant always asks, Where am I needed most?’”~ Mike Pence

Servant Leadership

Faith is as much a key to business success as capitalization. We have faith in our vendors to supply goods on time. We have faith in our abilities and our vision. We have faith God is showing us the correct path for our lives. But do the team members we shepherd understand that we have faith in them as well? Perhaps you just bristled at my question and thought, “Of course, my team knows I trust them. They wouldn’t be on my team if I didn’t!”

Your associates transfer their own hopes and fears onto what you may perceive as the most insignificant of actions or words. As harsh as it sounds, there are members of your team who do not have the drive to rise to the next level on their own, as a result of their personal insecurities. Associates who fall into this category are extremely susceptible to what you may consider an insignificant slight. You may correct a team member’s minor mistake in front of another team member. To you, the correction was a reflexive response to keep a small gaffe from growing into a larger problem. For the insecure team member, this sends the message that you have no faith in their abilities.

If you try to follow the principles of servant leadership, yet see this situation as babysitting or handholding, perhaps a self-examination is in order. Your job is to empower, enable, and lift those in your care. Some members of your team need extra attention in areas that are not defined on quarterly evaluations. Open your eyes to the personal issues your team members have and adjust your actions accordingly. This may just be where you are needed most today.

Consider this …

1. Reflect on your recent or routine interactions with your associates. Are there any situations that come to mind where you may have left the wrong impression about your faith and trust in them?

2. T inking more about those interactions, identify one or two associates whom you know to experience the insecurities described above.

3. Put a plan in place to not only demonstrate that you believe in them, but also to help them overcome these insecurities. Start taking consistent action now. 

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Innovator’s Field Guide.)

Results and Relationships

“Our minds influence the key activity of the brain, which then influences everything; perception, cognition, thoughts and feelings, personal relationships; they’re all a projection of you.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Results and Relationships

Herman was the type of guy who could negotiate multimillion-dollar deals with a bulldog-like determination and a razor-sharp focus. He had that drive, that charisma, that “Midas touch” about him that drew people into his orbit, temporarily. Herman even had a beautiful wife and four wonderful children. T e corporate salesman would have no need for this book because he needed no advice nor external motivation. He was a “legend in his own mind.”

Herman had it all, including a disease that would eventually kill him and an anger issue to match his illness step by step. Even before his diagnosis, Herman made everyone else in his life miserable. His kids avoided him, and his wife wanted little to do with him. There were times when his family wanted to wring his neck because he brought the same determination and doggedness that served him so well in business to his personal relationships.

When Herman realized that his pursuit of business pushed away everything truly important, it was too late. His children grew up and wanted no relationship with him. His wife concluded that she would always be in second place in his heart behind his business, and she moved on. Those who drove past Herman’s palatially empty house would sometimes see him sitting on the porch by himself. A month before he succumbed to the disease, Herman still posted the top sales figures at his from. Even with that accomplishment, few people mourned his passing. Those in his office didn’t miss their compatriot; they were just glad his accounts were freed up.

Successful people understand the necessary balance between Results and Relationships. If we focus on one, at the expense of the other, we lose them both. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his/her soul? If you could ask Herman you might find out.

Consider this …

1. Are you a Results person or a Relationships person?

2. If you’re a Results person, identify the specific ways in which you tend to alienate the necessary Relationships in your life.

3. If you are a Relationships person, identify ways that you can develop a strong focus on delivering the necessary Results in your life.

4. Make a plan to develop (and maintain) a better balance between Results and Relationships.

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Innovator’s Field Guide.)

The Tao of 80/20

“When it is useful to them, men can believe a theory of which they know nothing more than its name.” ~ Vilfredo Pareto

The Tao of 80/20

Business speak is rife with fortune cookie adages we believe to be true but are woefully unquantified able. Henry Ford’s, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” is great advice, but there’s no reasonable way to measure the get versus the got. We love gauged metrics and the 80/20 rule is worthy of examination. Does 20 percent of an organization really do 80 percent of the work, or is that something the workhorses made up to make everyone else step up their game?

The 80/20 rule can be traced back to an 1896 paper by Italian polymath Vilfredo Pareto. His initial claim was that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. Pareto expanded his research to other countries and then things got spooky. The distribution of land to population in other countries followed the 80/20 rule. Wealth, as a percentage of GDP, fell into the 80/20 space. On a lark, Pareto found that in his garden 20 percent of his pea pods produced 80 percent of the total peas. 

The applications of the 80/20 rule didn’t stop with Pareto. What has now become known as the Pareto Principle states that approximately 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. Failure rates of hard drives, word distribution in books, revenue by clients, standardization of stock prices, sizes of sand grains, and thousands of other correlations all roughly adhere to the 80/20 rule. It seems that the 80/20 rule is embedded in the fabric of the universe. What’s more, the 80/20 rule is “fractal” (look it up). Meaning, the 80/20 can be applied to 80/20. In other words, 64 percent of the effects come from 4 percent of the causes, or 51 percent of the effects come from 1 percent (actually 0.8 percent) of the causes. Now, THAT is a business maxim I can get behind.

Consider this …

1. The Pareto Principle is best used as a principle for prioritization. List all of the things you have to get done within the next week or the next month.

2. Identify the 20 percent that will produce 80 percent of the intended results, or the 4 percent that will produce 64 percent of the results, or the 1 percent that will produce 51 percent of the results.

3. Reorder your list so that you knock out the 1 percent first, the 4 percent second, the 20 percent third, and the 80 percent last.

 

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Top Performer’s Field Guide.)

Unplugged

Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

unplugged

I challenge you to shut down every device around you that is connected to the internet. No phones, laptops, tablets, or talking tech from Amazon or Google shall beep, boop, or chirp. If the thought of doing this hasn’t made you throw this book across the room, see how long you can go without turning everything back on. If you made it past six-and-a-half minutes, congratulate yourself. A 2013 study commissioned by Nokia found that smartphone users check their phones at about that frequency. Even if a device did not signal an alert, a different Pew Center study says 67 percent of us will check anyway, just to see if we missed anything.

The point of this exercise isn’t to illustrate how addicted we are to digital devices. Being a hard-charging superstar, you feel like you can’t unplug because you’ll miss something work related. Give it up. Michelangelo periodically put his brush down when painting the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. Laying on his back painting a tiny section of The Last Judgment, Michelangelo could not frame the scale and proportion of his efforts. The artist had to stop working, descend the scaffolding, and look up at his work to obtain perspective. You should do the same. 

I also have news for you. Whatever your career is, you’re not painting the Sistine Chapel. In six hundred years will anyone care about the work sitting on your desk right now or the report that was just emailed to you? Likely not. In six hundred years, some far-flung ancestor will benefit by you spending a little more time with your children. You can leave your children with a legacy of love and balance that will be passed down to future generations. If you don’t have children, make a positive impact in someone’s life. Just do something that makes your corner of the world a better place. Ask yourself, What’s my legacy?

You drive your success, but when your success drives you, there’s a perspective problem. Come of your scaffolding for a moment and examine what you’re working towards. If you don’t like the ceiling you’ve been painting, it’s time to readjust your plan.

Consider this …

1. Describe the long-term significance of where you spend the vast majority of your time.

2. Are you spending enough of your time on things that have lasting significance?

3. If not, identify two or three areas where you could have a major, lasting impact … and then pursue them!

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Top Performer’s Field Guide..)

Action in the Face of Fear

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
~ Nelson Mandela

Action in the Face of Fear

Are you old enough to remember when your local news station touted its weather forecaster because you wanted to know if your weekend plans were going to get rained out? Pay attention the next time the tagline for the meteorologist hits your screen. One of my local network affiliate touts:

Your top source for severe [emphasis mine]weather coverage and the most reliable local
forecast information.

The buzzwords “severe weather” coming before “reliable” is no mistake. You’ve been hooked into watching because of the fear of life-threatening weather and your wish to avoid it. It’s not just the local weather—the news is rife with taglines that appeal to fear avoidance. In short, fear sells.

It’s no wonder that faced with media designed to induce the basest of instincts, fear is the number-one reason most people also never achieve their goals or aspirations. They’re afraid of sticking their neck out. They’re afraid of falling fat. They’re afraid of looking foolish. If that’s you, STOP IT. In the words of the great Zig Ziglar:

F–E–A–R has two meanings: ‘Forget
Everything and Run’ or ‘Face Everything and
Rise.’ The choice is yours.

It’s been estimated that 85% of that about which we worry never happens. Of the remaining 15%, the vast majority of people say when that fear does come to fruition, it brings with it benefits or personal lessons that were more valuable than harmful. Tat means only about 3% of the time that which we fear comes to pass and could be potentially harmful. A full 97% of the time, we’re fearful of something that has a low probability of causing harm.

If fear is a barrier for you, start building confidence blocks that have nothing to do with your business. Go whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, or skydiving. Anything that you’ve always wanted to do, but are afraid to do—get to it. The activity doesn’t have to be grandiose, but those confidence blocks will build upon each other to wall away other fears that are keeping you from your dreams.

Consider this …

1. Write down your three biggest fears either inside, or outside your business or organization.

2. Identify opportunities to face those fears head-on.

3. Develop a plan to take advantage of those opportunities and prove to yourself once and for all that our fears are often bigger and meaner than reality.

 

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Innovator’s Field Guide.)

Twenty-Three Seconds

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”~ Søren Kierkegaard

Twenty-Three Seconds

George Eastman had a vision that drove his invention of roll film and the camera to use it. Eastman wanted to reduce the cost and simplify the process of photography to the point everyone could have access to the technology. The vision of cameras being as commonplace as brooms led Eastman’s company to market dominance for a hundred years, but twenty-three seconds was all it took to bankrupt Eastman’s dreams.

In 1975, it took Steve Sasson twenty-three seconds to record a fuzzy 100-by-100 pixel image from the world’s first digital camera. Sasson, who worked for Eastman Kodak, showed of the new tech to company executives the next year. Pictures of the meeting’s attendees were taken and displayed on TV screens. After processing what they were being shown, the inevitable questions started. Who wants to see their pictures on a TV? How will this technology cannibalize our present film and camera sales? What does a digital photo album look like? Sasson didn’t have the answers to any of those questions then, but he knew in his gut that digital photography would be huge.

Kodak poked digital photography with a stick for the next two decades. The company would never fully embrace the technology and went bankrupt in 2012, largely because of this continuing blunder. Kodak’s failure did not lie in refusing to embrace the future, but in abandoning Eastman’s vision of the past. You see, the entire reason George Eastman founded the company was to put photography in the hands of everyone. Digital cameras represented an evolutionary step in that direction, but most everyone at Kodak forgot that was their mission.

When we do not constantly realign our actions with our purpose, there can never be lasting success. Most mission statements take far less than twenty-three seconds to read, and the example of Kodak represents that review time is well spent.

Consider this …

1. What is the mission of your organization? (Don’t simply recount the published mission statement. Actually DESCRIBE your mission.)

2. Does your REAL mission match your currently published mission statement? If not, correct it.

3. Can every single employee describe the REAL mission of your company? Can they describe how their work contributes to the mission? If not, you’re missing a great opportunity

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Top Performer’s Field Guide..)

Don’t Just Do Something—Sit There!

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.”  ~ Aristotle

Don’t Just Do Something—Sit There!

Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce had a problem. He had ascended the throne in 1306 to a fragmented kingdom. Many Scots did not recognize the Bruce as their liege, and other factions vied for control of the Scottish throne. To add to the new king’s woes, the English had also laid claim to Scotland, and England’s armies held strategic points throughout the country. Three months after his coronation, the Bruce and his army were ambushed by the English at two key battles that resulted in three of Robert’s four brothers, as well as his sister, being executed. Legend has it that Robert the Bruce fled the battlefield and took refuge in a nearby cave to escape capture.

His family, army, and country broken, the Bruce surely thought his life couldn’t get much worse and considered leaving Scotland behind. Sitting at the cave’s entrance, the king saw a spider weaving an intricate web. The Bruce had nothing better to do and watched the spider for hours. At one point, the spider tried to connect two far-apart strands. Six times the spider tried to leap the gap and six times he failed. Finally, on the seventh try, the spider made the jump and connected the loose ends. The King of Scotland thought that if a tiny spider wouldn’t give up, neither would he. Robert the Bruce went on to unite his kingdom and defeat the English eight years later at the Battle of Bannockburn.

The story of Robert the Bruce may be a simple legend, but it illustrates more than perseverance. When we don’t succeed, we must be receptive to seeing “failure” from a different point of view. Had Robert the Bruce stomped that spider out of anger over his situation and not observed the creature’s lesson, the history of Scotland would be quite different. While some people advocate the adage, “Don’t just sit there—do something,” ofen the best adaptation of that adage is, “Don’t just do something—sit there.” 

Consider this …

1. In what areas of your work or business are you prone to “give up” prematurely?

2. What areas of your work or business are perplexing you right now? Spend some time some time contemplating those areas.

3. What three actions can you take today to move the ball forward in your work or business?

 

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Innovator’s Field Guide.)

Instant Gratification

“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.” ~ Unknown

Instant Gratification

A large part of becoming a top performer is understanding the human psyche in ourselves and in others. The more we can account for instincts that have been part of our genetic makeup since the time of the woolly mammoths, the better we can serve ourselves and our fellow man. One of those primal drives is the need for instant gratification. When the hunter-gatherer within us tells us we’re hungry, it’s time to go out and hunt. Once the prey was captured, our ancestors ate glutinously until they could eat no more. Who could blame them if their continued existence was directly dependent on their hunting prowess?

Millenia of humans living in agrarian societies nearly stamped the impulse for instant gratification out of our systems. Waiting for crops to come to harvest gives one a tempered perspective on fulfilling our needs. All of that training, however, may have been undone by the digital age. The instantaneous access to information, communication, and purchasing conveys ease of existence that subconsciously translates into “every task should be as easy as ordering a couch online.” When our team members are faced with a process that proves difficult or time-consuming, the knee-jerk response is that the task is either impossible broken or beyond their ability.

Leaders have a twofold duty given these circumstances. First, our expectations must be clearly stated with reasonable timeframes. Second, we must fill in the instant gratification gap with timely feedback and encouragement. The hidden benefit of stemming the instant gratification tide is that we are building a relationship with our team members. People follow others they know, like, and trust. The reinforcement that comes from your encouragement will go a long way to achieving those goals.

Consider this …

1. When was the last time you provided timely feedback and/or encouragement to your team members?

2. How prone are you to offer timely support and encouragement to your team members on a regular basis?

3. Where do your team members need feedback and/ or encouragement right now, and how can you best provide it? Do it now!

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Top Performer’s Field Guide.)

Planning for the Inevitable

“I spent thirty years getting ready for that decision that took thirty seconds.”  ~General James “Chaos” Mattis

Planning for the Inevitable

Wisdom can be found in the most unlikely of places. In the Amazon original series, The Man in the High Castle, a Japanese trade minister mystically remarks, “Fate is fluid. Destiny is in the hands of men.” In a Western mindset, we often think the words “fate” and “destiny” are interchangeable. This is not the case. In this context, destiny is the accrual of one’s efforts toward a specific goal. Few people see the years of preparation that go into becoming an overnight success. Fate is the collection of seemingly random occurrences that happen within one’s day. Bumping into someone who spills their coffee on you fifteen minutes before an important meeting is fate. In this situation, the person who focuses on destiny would have a change of clothes in their car—just in case. process.

The contrast between fate and destiny can be reframed as reactive versus proactive thinking. A reactive thinker manages the omnipresent chaos that plagues the everyday. A proactive thinker plays the “what if ” game to develop contingency strategies to overcome that chaos to achieve success. One might think this is preparing for failure. It is not. The facts are clear—successful people have a future orientation. A defensive driver imagines the future actions of other drivers based on observed behaviors and adjusts his or her driving accordingly. Foreseeing potential dangers doesn’t mean a defensive driver is planning to run of the road, but they are taking steps to ensure they arrive at their destination safely.

Planning for every little potential disaster isn’t possible either and is an exercise in paranoia and futility. With any project, identify the top five worst-case scenarios and develop a rough idea of how to overcome those obstacles or setbacks. Especially pay attention when you hear team members say, “Well, that will never happen.” Chances are “it” will happen but you’ll be ready to seize your destiny instead of being a victim of fate.

Consider this …

1. What are the major risks facing your current project, innovation, or business?

2. What is the likelihood of those risks coming to fruition?

3. What steps can you take to prevent those risks from happening, or to respond effectively to them when they do?

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Innovator’s Field Guide.)

Pattern Recognition

““Mathematics is the science of patterns, and nature exploits just about every pattern that there is.”~ Ian Stewart

pattern recognition

Make better decisions. Seeing that on a to-do list will ruin anyone’s day. Every leader from Moses to Musk has wished they could better prognosticate an outcome or choose the correct path. We’ll do everything from putting on six different hats to meticulously analyzing costs/benefits to creating elaborate decision trees in order to ferret out the best course of action, but do those approaches really enable us to make better decisions? Evaluating and improving decision-making is highly subjective, but methods by which we marry pattern recognition with making judgment calls is gaining traction within the business community.

Pattern recognition is a term usually used within computer science where a program identifies input data, like images or numerical data sets, and calculates relationships that exist between the data points. Facial recognition evaluates the unique distance ratios of facial features to a biometric database to produce an identification. There are similar programs that assess stock trends or blood tests to make recommendations based on trend data. Here’s the slick part, your brain puts any computer to shame when it comes to pattern recognition. You’ve probably met a financial analyst who can look at a few spreadsheets and quickly tell you the health of a company. Tat person learned to see the interconnectivity of cash flow, inventory, accounts receivable, and other factors to form a rapid assessment.

Pattern recognition can be learned, and it even forms the basis of capitalism. Supply and demand; boom and bust; consumption and production all form patterns. The topics and techniques of pattern recognition go beyond this text, but the first step is to look for connections in daily causes and effects. A simple example might be tracking why the last ten deliveries were late to a customer. Does the pattern connect with weather conditions, roadwork, supply chain glitches, loading dock callouts, or any other discernable factor? If you see that pattern, you have the beginnings of a data-driven crystal ball that will improve your decision-making process.

Consider this …

1. What business challenges are you experiencing right now, for which you have some data that you can review?

2. What potential patterns do you see in the data that might give you a glimpse into the root cause of the challenges?

3. How might you “test” those root causes so you can ultimately get to a workable solution?

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Top Performer’s Field Guide.)

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