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Are You a Good Leader or a Bad Leader

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Are You a Good Leader or a Bad Leader?

Are You a Good Leader or a Bad Leader?


Are You a Good Leader or a Bad Leader?

By: Gregory P. Smith 

Greg Smith\'s cutting-edge keynotes, consulting, and training programs have helped businesses reduce turnover, increase sales, hire superior people, and deliver better customer service. As President and founder of Chart Your Course International, He has implemented professional development programs for thousands of organizations globally. Greg has authored eight informative books including Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Transforming Your Workforce from High Turnover to High Retention and 401 Proven Ways to Retain Your Best Employees. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Leadership is probably one of the most talked about business concepts, but the least understood. Leadership is about getting things done and helping people reach their potential. My experience has shown me that most places fail to unleash the potential of those working within their organization. The reason is they practice old-fashioned and out-dated leadership concepts--they practice leadership mythology.

A myth is something that is false, but believed to be true. As in many things in life, there are several myths surrounding the concept and practice of leadership.  Unfortunately, these myths prevent the most qualified people from rising to the top. By listing these leadership myths, it is my hope to dispel many of the false beliefs.

Myth 1 - Leadership is a rare ability only given to a few. Many people still think leaders are born not made. This can\'t be further from the truth. Most people have the potential to become good leaders. Leadership is not like a diet pill. Like most learned skills, it takes time, training, and lots of trial by error. The key ingredient making people good leaders is the ability to care about others.  The second ingredient is a sense of purpose, vision or mission. A good leader charts a course and provides direction to those they lead.

Myth 2 - Leaders are charismatic-Many leaders are charismatic, but closer scrutiny shows that most leaders are not. Some of the world\'s most famous leaders had warts--some sort of shortcoming or personality defect. In a leadership role, people skills are very important-more important than technical skills. However, the best leaders are those who work toward a goal. Your cause, your purpose and your mission in life will make you charismatic, not the other way around.

Myth 3 - The person with the title, most rank or the highest position is the leader. Ideally, the senior person in the business should be a good leader.  However, authentic leadership is not based on position or rank. It is based on action, performance, ability and effectiveness. We all relate to working for those people who were placed in leadership roles who did more to demoralize and destroy the business than anything else.

The best companies strive to develop and create as many leaders as possible. W.L. Gore & Associates, makers of Gore Tex and other products, have a unique approach to leadership. The practice of natural leadership \"leadership by followship.\" They don’t appoint any of their leaders. . .they let the true leaders surface to the top. People naturally gravitate to those they want to follow and work with. There are no limiting job descriptions, job titles and few rules and regulations. If a person comes up with a new product idea, he or she puts a team together of people who have the desire and knowledge to make it work.

Myth 4 - Effective leadership is based on control, coercion and manipulation. Leadership is about the future, not the past. Joel Barker\'s has the best quote about leadership, \"A leader is someone you would follow to a place you would not go to by yourself.\" Good leaders gain followers out of respect and their ability to cause people to work toward a particular goal or achieve a destination. People follow because they can relate to the vision or goal personalized by the leader. A good leader helps people become better than they are. A good leader creates a work environment that attracts, keeps and motivates its workforce.

Myth 5 - Good leaders have more education than other people. Educational degrees may mean you have a good education, but it doesn\'t necessarily mean you are a good leader.  When it comes to leadership, experience is the best teacher.  The U.S. military has the best leadership development program in the world.  In the military, you start out at the bottom. You are placed in leadership positions and closely evaluated by superiors. As your experience broadens, so does your responsibility. This practical experience is reinforced with weeks and months of formal training throughout the individual’s career.

The secret of success is those years of experience on the front-line. This is where a person learns to manage those interactions, experiences and conflicts. You learn how to balance the needs of the mission versus the needs of the individual. Those officers and non-commissioned officers who fail to advance must exit the military. The military model of leadership development may not be perfect, but remains unequalled by any other organization.




Are You a Green Thumb Leader?

By: Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE 


Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE teaches leadership, communication and work/life balance skills to organizations small and large. Executive Excellence ranks her among the top 100 thought-leaders in leadership development.  



From my home office, I can look out and see my garden. It’s loaded with wonderful, terrible sights, sights that mirror much I find in many of our companies. You’d recognize it too.

There are roses speckled with mildew and rust from the fog carried on the breath of El Nino. Weeds have taken over many patches of dirt, despite the fact that I have gone over them with a hula hoe. (For the non-gardener, that’s a triangular hoe that saves your back while weeding. Supposedly, you scrub away at the ground, loosening the weeds –and anything else that stands in the way—while leaving the good soil behind.) The rogue cherry tomato plant however has taken off … again. Sticky green arms with tiny green/yellow fruit now stretch in all directions. The plant must have been the gift from some bird that dropped a seed as it flew to a nest in the pine tree. I didn’t think a cherry tomato would grow in that patch of adobe clay. My feathered seed-sower proved me wrong.

What I must do to get my garden back in shape, to make it world class and ready for the competitive eye of my next door neighbor, is exactly what every leader must do: seed, feed, and weed. How I perform seeding, feeding, and weeding depends upon the season, the unexpected turns of nature, and the makeup of my garden. Walk with me through my garden and you’ll see the analogies for our work world.

  1. Consider the “season”. In today’s 24-hour, global economy, it would appear that there is no season, anything that distinguishes night from day. Grow, grow. Sell,sell. But the smart leader watches the sky, reads the clouds, and can tell when there are shifts to indicate a new season. Bring products to market at the wrong time or introduce an idea without understanding timing and the “garden” can quickly resemble a piece of scorched earth.
  2. Watch for trends. Read magazines like Executive Excellence, Fast Company and American Demographics. Subscribe to TrendLetter. Explore new planned communities and see how people are choosing to live. Study mail order catalogs. In these latter two areas, you’ll find a move toward “Main Street U.S.A.”. Sure, high-speed connections and technology are placed in the home, but new designs incorporate walking paths, close-at-hand stores, and alleyways connecting homes. Technology will be used for information but the technology backlash is for creating places of human, real-time interaction. Levenger’s, the mail order catalog for unique office and library accessories, features rotary dial phones. The catalog copy reads, “You don’t have to program it!”
  3. Give credence to the unexpected and control what you can control. The El Nino weather that not only raised havoc with my roses but spawned dangerous storms and opposing draughts throughout the world is an example of our helplessness to control some of our environment. The same thing is true in business. Market turndowns, a coup in Africa, the scandals of a Presidency, an airline strike—you name it—there are many things that can impact our business. A green thumb leader takes all possible precautions and then remains flexible and ready for the unexpected. Scenario planning, a strategy first employed by Royal Dutch Shell, brings experts from a wide range of fields to discuss actions if different scenarios take place. Scenario planning allows you to think out—in advance—various options. In like fashion, my corner of the garage has all the tools, sprays, and plant potions for probable surprises.
  4. Plant seeds and give space to the sowers. A green thumb leader knows that it is only through dialogue that ideas can sprout and take root. Instead of jealously guarding “my ideas, my client, my territory”, a leader with an eye toward growing a garden takes no ownership but rather seeks to find which seeds have merit. Like the biblical passage, some seeds will whither on rocks or find little moisture in shallow soil. But others will be carried to places where they flourish.

    As for giving space to the sewer, consider my vagabond tomato plant. In like fashion, where are the unexpected opportunities that can spring up if allowed to flourish? When newcomers bring ideas from other industries and businesses, are they welcomed or are they rooted out because “that’s not how we do things here”.
  5. Feed different plants differently. Not every plant is fed the same thing, yet all plants must eat. My roses need a systemic for the rust and mildew, along with a topical spray. My oranges just need some citrus fertilizer every now and then. A green thumb leader understands the truism that “nothing is so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals”. Just as each voice has its own unique sonogram, each employee, associate, stakeholder needs a unique blend of “food”. For some, it’s “numbers”. “Give me numbers and I thrive.” For many, it’s the opportunity to learn and advance in knowledge. For others, it’s the engaging nature of the work itself that offers fulfillment. One size does not fit all.
  6. Weeding is backbreaking work. A hula hoe alone will not suffice. It was not enough to turn over the soil and think that I had emptied my garden of the weeds. In fact, because I didn’t bend over and get close enough to the ground, I picked up only the surface “weeds”. What I really had managed to do was to churn the stronger ones into a hiding place where they surfaced stronger and more invasive then ever. A green thumb leader hates this part of the task. It means fact-finding. Accountability. And time. Not everything that is “green” belongs in my garden. Not every associate belongs with you. In fact, firing customers at times can also be the healthiest long-term fertilizer for a vibrant business.
  7. Take time to stop and smell the roses. I can get so overwhelmed with the “work” of my garden that I forget why I planted it. Just sitting by the side of the garden, watching my neighbors’ delight when I deliver bouquets to their doors, or smelling the fragrance in the evening are all the reminders I need. Why have you planted your “garden”? Are there people who delight in the work of your hands? What is the aroma that lingers after you have turned off the lights for the night?




Are You a Leader or a Manager?

By: Brian Ward 

Brian Ward is a principal in Affinity Consulting. He helps leaders, teams and individuals acquire new knowledge and wisdom through their consulting and educational work. 



When you become a leader, you take on a great responsibility...you promise to change the world for the better. 

If your reaction to this statement is ‘I’m only managing an organization, or department, or project, I’m not out to change the world’, then I respectfully suggest that you learn to be a good manager, but not a leader. 

Leaders cause positive change to happen, through people. 

Managers control things. 

That’s it. 

The world needs great leaders. It has its fill of managers. 

If you feel that you are not sure whether you are truly committed to becoming a great leader, if you have not yet made that decision, I would like you to take a look at two scenarios: 

What if you were to make a total commitment to becoming a great leader? Project yourself ahead 3 to 5 years from now. You have become a great leader. Visualize what positive impact you are having on the world around you…

  • How has the world benefited from your actions?
  • What does that feel like?
  • What type of people are you associating with?
  • Who are you collaborating with?
  • Who else is totally committed to the same cause as you?
  • What positive actions are you and these people taking?
  • How are other people responding to your successes?
  • How worthwhile and meaningful has your life become?
  • What does that feel like?
  • How are you growing and developing?
  • How does all this differ from today?

What if you were to be less than fully committed to becoming a great leader? Project yourself ahead 3 to 5 years from now. You are in a leadership position. Visualize how things will be…

  • Have things changed much, or not at all?
  • Who are you associating with…perhaps others who are also less than fully committed?
  • What positive impact have you had on the world around you? Less than you desired?
  • How do you feel about that?
  • How worthwhile and meaningful has your life become?
  • How does all this differ from today?

I have no doubt that the first scenario is one that you desire, as we all do. The second scenario is one that you probably want to have no part of. 

The difference between the two scenarios is so stark, so dramatic, that sometimes we find it difficult to see ourselves in the first one, and easier to see ourselves in the second. 

But for many of us, the second scenario is totally unacceptable. 

Many leaders however get caught somewhere between the two scenarios, and feel at a loss about what to do. 

So they reach out to ‘techniques’ to solve their dilemma. I have seen many leaders get caught up in fads, and I also have had the pleasure of being associated with leaders who knew the distinction between WHAT they were attempting to achieve and HOW they achieved it. 

That led me to crystallize my thoughts and experiences into 5 key facets of quality leadership. Keep these facets foremost in your mind, and you won’t go astray. 

By exploring these areas you will be led to discover insights and above all take action concerning five key facets of your leadership…

FOCUS: Developing your leadership focus, understanding its true significance to the world around you and how truly committed you are to achieving it

AUTHENTICITY: Discovering how much you know about yourself as an authentic leader, your beliefs and values, your strengths and weaknesses and how others perceive your authenticity

COURAGE: your level of courage and persistence, your ability and willingness to identify and stop doing those things that don’t support your focus, to start doing some new things that will support it, and to improve dramatically in other areas that will benefit your focus, both personally and organizationally

EMPATHY: your ability to listen to and work through other people, to garner support for your focus, to develop an atmosphere of collegiality and inclusiveness, and to empower others who share your focus

TIMING: your sense of timing in getting things done when they need to be done. Your ability to get off the treadmill and concentrate on what matters most, and to enable others to do the same

The world needs great leaders…if you want to become one, explore these facets.

A word of caution however…once you start asking questions of yourself in these five areas, you will find that there will be no turning back. Proceed only if you are serious, only if you truly have the desire to become a great leader…














Become a Better Leader by Showing People You Care

By: Gregory P. Smith

Greg Smith\'s cutting-edge keynotes, consulting, and training programs have helped businesses reduce turnover, increase sales, hire superior people, and deliver better customer service. As President and founder of Chart Your Course International, He has implemented professional development programs for thousands of organizations globally. Greg has authored eight informative books including Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Transforming Your Workforce from High Turnover to High Retention and 401 Proven Ways to Retain Your Best Employees


One morning at the airport, I overheard a new employee talking about her new boss. “He’s a nice guy,” she said. “He makes me feel good about working here.”

Like many employees, this young woman is more influenced by her boss’s “soft” skills than his technical skills. His interpersonal skills were what mattered most: his ability to communicate, motivate, and show genuine concern. These soft skills are an important aspect of creating a high-retention workplace. When a manager lacks these skills, or actively cultivates their hard-edged opposite, workers who have choices will jump ship.

I experienced this myself when I went into the service right after college.  My boss was a special persona great boss. An experienced veteran and a former Special Forces medic in Vietnam, he was the type of person who always put the needs of others before his own.

One night I pulled duty that required me to stay up all night on New Year’s Eve.  The next morning, when I still had several more hours to go, the phone rang.  It was Joe, my boss. He and his wife had made something and he wanted to bring it over to me. While I don’t remember the menu, I’ve never forgotten the meal.

That one small act of kindness showed me he cared.  It taught me more about leadership than all the degrees and diplomas handing on my wall.  It confirmed the truth of the old military saying, “If you take care of your troops, your troops will take care of you.” It’s still true today.  

The older I get and the more I see reinforces that leadership styles change with the times, but caring for people holds constant. Caring for people can’t be faked.

On the other hand, no manager should be a pushover. A caring manager must also be respected. Soon after my boss treated me to a meal, he gave me the worst chewing out I’d ever had. It hurt more and made a deeper impression on me because of the respect I had for him. When you respect someone, you always value what he or she has to say.

Businesses that do a good job selecting, training, and developing their managers will enjoy higher productivity and lower turnover.  While it’s hard to measure the impact soft skills have on productivity, I strongly believe that an employee who feels good about working for a company or a boss will want to contribute much more than the minimum acceptable level. 

In the years I have led people, I’ve never seen an “average” workeronly people who have the potential to become much better.  I think it was Gen. Ulysses S. Grant who said, “There are no bad soldiers, only bad leaders.”  Average workers usually have average managers as their leaders.  Exceptional workers have exceptional managers as their leaders. The only difference between the two groups is the quality of the leader.

I imagine that my first boss saw me as an “average” officer with a short attention span and as young, inexperienced, and scattered.  Fortunately for me, he took the time to train and develop me, even though it often frustrated him. He was a true leader. He knew that leadership of people is a transformation process, and with the right tools and a willing attitude, he could make the transformation happen.



Best Leadership Advice: Business Success Secrets from 7 Top Leaders

By: Paul B. Thornton 


Paul B. Thornton is an author, consultant, trainer, and professional speaker. His company, Be The Leader Associates designs and delivers seminars and workshops on various management and leadership topics. His latest book Leadership and Leadership-Seeing, Describing, and Pursuing What\'s Possible is available at www.amazon.com and www.bn.com


Fortune magazine once published an article entitled “The Best Advice I Ever Got.” It was a great article that offered wit and wisdom about achieving business success. I liked it so much, that it motivated me to produce my newest book, Leadership—Best Advice I Ever Got, which describes the best leadership advice 136 successful CEOs, coaches, consultants, professors, managers, executives, presidents, politicians, and religious leaders received that most helped them become effective and successful leaders. 

Here are 7 secrets to leadership success:

1. Leadership is about making things happen 

If you want to make something happen with your life – in school, in your profession or in your community, do it. Perceived obstacles crumble against persistent desire. John Baldoni, Author, Leadership Communication Consultant and Founder of Baldoni Consulting LLC, shared this advice that had come from his father, a physician. He taught him the value of persistence. At the same time, his mother taught him compassion for others. Therefore, persistence for your cause should not be gained at the expense of others. Another bit of leadership wisdom!

2. Listen and understand the issue, then lead

Time and time again we have all been told, \"God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason\"...or as Stephen Covey said...\"Seek to understand, rather than be understood.\" As a leader, listening first to the issue, then trying to coach, has been the most valuable advice that Cordia Harrington, President and CEO of Tennessee Bun Company has been given.

3. Answer the three questions everyone within your organization wants answers to

What the people of an organization want from their leader are answers to the following: Where are we going? How are we going to get there? What is my role? Kevin Nolan, President & Chief Executive Officer of Affinity Health Systems, Inc. believes the more clarity that can be added to each of the three questions, the better the result. 

4. Master the goals that will allow you to work anywhere in today’s dynamic business world

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You are viewing the U.S.bookstore. Click here to view the Canadian store.

Debbe Kennedy, President, CEO and Founder of Global Dialogue Center and Leadership Solutions Companies, and author of Action Dialogues and Breakthrough once shared this piece of advice that was instrumental in shaping her direction, future and achievements.

She was a young manager at IBM just promoted to her first staff assignment in a regional marketing office. For reasons she can’t explain, one of her colleagues named Bookie called her into his office while she was visiting his location. He then began to offer unsolicited advice, but advice that now stays fresh in her mind. He mentioned that jobs, missions, titles and organizations would come and go as business is dynamic-- meaning it is always changing. He advised her not to focus your goals toward any of these, but instead learn to master the skills that will allow you to work anywhere. 

He was talking about four skills:

  • The ability to develop an idea
  • Effectively plan for its implementation
  • Execute second-to-none
  • Achieve superior results time after time.

With this in mind, Kennedy advises readers to seek jobs and opportunities with this in mind. Forget what others do. Work to be known for delivering excellence. It speaks for itself and it opens doors.

5. Be curious

Curiosity is a prerequisite to continuous improvement and even excellence. The person who gave Mary Jean Thornton, Former Executive Vice President & CIO, The Travelers this advice urged her to study people, processes, and structures. He inspired her to be intellectually curious. He often reminded Thornton that making progress, in part, was based upon thinking. She has learned to apply this notion of intellectual curiosity by thinking about her organization’s future, understanding the present, and knowing and challenging herself to creatively move the people and the organization closer to its vision. 

6. Listen to both sides of the argument

The most valuable advice Brian P. Lees, Massachusetts State Senator and Senate Minority Leader ever received came from his mentor, United States Senator Edward W. Brooke III. He told him to listen to all different kinds of people and ideas. Listening only to those who share your background and opinions can be imprudent. It is important to respect your neighbors’ rights to their own views. Listening to and talking with a variety of people, from professors to police officers, from senior citizens to schoolchildren, is essential not only to be a good leader in business, but to also be a valuable member within your community.

7. Prepare, prepare, prepare

If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail. If one has truly prepared and something goes wrong the strength of the rest of what you\'ve prepared for usually makes this something easier to handle without crisis and panic. One of the best pieces of advice Dave Hixson, Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach at Amherst College has ever received and continues to use and pass on is this anonymous quote—“Preparation is the science of winning.\" 

Along with this are two expressions from Rick Pitino\'s book Success is a Choice, which speaks to preparation. Hixson asks his teams every year: \"Do you deserve to win?\" and \"Have you done the work?\" This speaks to the importance of preparation toward achieving your final goal. If you haven\'t done the work (preparation) the answer to the second question is an easy \"no!\"

Great advice comes from many sources – parents, other relatives, consultants, bosses, co-workers, mentors, teachers, coaches, and friends. The important point to remember is to stay open, listen to everyone, but also develop your own leadership style.



Deepening Our Discipline

By: Jim Clemmer 

Jim Clemmer is an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, author, and president of The CLEMMER Group, a North American network of organization, team, and personal improvement consultants based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His other bestsellers include Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance, and his most recent book, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success. 


The bedrock of character is self-discipline; the virtuous life, as philosophers since Aristotle have observed, is based on self-control. A related keystone of character is being able to motivate and guide oneself, whether in doing homework, finishing a job, or getting up in the morning. And, as we have seen, the ability to defer gratification and to control and channel one\'s urges to act is a basic emotional skill, one that in a former day was called will.\"
 — Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

During the 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel conducted \"the marshmallow test\" with four-year-olds in the preschool at Stanford University to assess each preschooler\'s ability to delay gratification. Each four-year-old was given one marshmallow. They were told that they could eat it immediately or, if they waited until the researcher returned in twenty minutes, they could have two marshmallows. 

Some kids in the group just couldn\'t wait. They gobbled down the marshmallow immediately. The rest struggled hard to resist eating it. They covered their eyes, talked to themselves, sang, played games, and even tried to go to sleep. The preschoolers who were able to wait were rewarded with two marshmallows when the researcher returned. Twelve to fourteen years later these same kids were reevaluated as teenagers. 

The differences were astonishing. Those who had were able to control their impulses and delay gratification as four-year-olds were more effective socially and personally. They had higher levels of assertiveness, self-confidence, trustworthiness, dependability, and ability to control stress. Their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores were 210 points higher than the \"instant gratification\" group!

A key difference between successful people —leaders —and those who struggle to get by is self-discipline. As Confucius wrote, \"The nature of people is always the same; it is their habits that separate them.\" Successful people have formed the habits of doing those things that most people don\'t want to do. But, if discipline is a key to success, most people would rather pick the lock. Delaying gratification is a good example. It\'s much easier to live in the moment and let tomorrow take care of itself. It takes discipline to control the impulse of instant gratification and make investments for the future. 

In The Road Less Traveled, psychiatrist M. Scott Peck writes, \"delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. It is the only decent way to live.\" He goes on to state that self-discipline is self-caring. \"Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life\'s problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing. With only some discipline we can solve only some problems. With total discipline we can solve all problems.\"

Discipline means having the vision to see the long term picture and keep things in balance. A Chinese proverb teaches \"if you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.\" Regret can cost hundreds of hours, discipline costs minutes. An ounce of bite-my-tongue can outweigh a ton of I am-so-sorries. One test of our size and maturity is what makes us angry —and how we express our anger. A boiling temper can really cook our goose.

We all want more patience —and we want it now. Most of us would like to be delivered from temptation, but we\'d like it to stay in touch. Discipline is what keeps us going when the excited mood of our first beginning has long past. Former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, makes a key leadership question about discipline, \"It\'s easy to be a starter, but are you a sticker, too? It\'s easy enough to begin a job. It\'s harder to see it through.\"



\"Change Management\" is an Oxymoron

By: Jim Clemmer 

Jim Clemmer is an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, author, and president of The CLEMMER Group, a North American network of organization, team, and personal improvement consultants based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His other bestsellers include Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance, and his most recent book, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success.


A dubious consulting industry and \"profession\" has developed claiming to provide \"change management\" services. Those two words make about as much sense together as \"holy war\", \"non-working mother\", \"mandatory option\", and \"political principles\". Many of the books, models, theories, and \"processes\" on change have come from staff support people, consultants, or academics who\'ve never built a business or led an organization. \"Change management\" comes from the same dangerously seductive reasoning as strategic planning. They\'re both based on the shaky assumption that there\'s an orderly thinking and implementation process which can objectively plot a course of action like Jean Luc Piccard on the starship Enterprise and then \"make it so\". But if that ever was possible, it certainly isn\'t in today\'s world of high velocity change.

Successful Change Flows From Learning, Growth, and Development 

Change can\'t be managed. Change can be ignored, resisted, responded to, capitalized upon, and created. But it can\'t be managed and made to march to some orderly step-by-step process. However, whether change is a threat or an opportunity depends on how prepared we are. Whether we become change victims or victors depends on our readiness for change. One of the inspiring quotations I\'ve used for my ongoing personal improvement quest came from Abraham Lincoln (his decades long string of failures in business and politics before becoming one of America\'s greatest presidents is inspiring itself). He once said, \"I will prepare myself and my time must come\". That\'s how change is managed.

We can\'t crash cram in few days or weeks for a critical meeting or presentation that our key program, project, or even career depends upon. We can\'t quickly win back customers who\'ve quietly slipped away because of neglect and poor service. We can\'t suddenly turn our organization into an innovative powerhouse in six months because the market shifted. We can\'t radically and quickly reengineer years of sloppy habits and convoluted processes when revolutionary new technology appears. When cost pressures build, we can\'t dramatically flatten our organizations and suddenly empower everyone who\'ve had years of traditional command and control conditioning. These are long term culture, system, habit, and skill changes. They need to be improved before they\'re needed. In the words of an ancient Chinese proverb, \"dig a well before you are thirsty\".

Problems that you, your team, or your organization may be having with change aren\'t going to be improved by some \"change management\" theory. To effectively deal with change you don\'t focus on change as some kind of manageable force. You deal with change by improving you. And then your time must come.

Resistance to today\'s change comes from failing to make yesterday\'s preparations and improvements. When we, our teams, and our organizations fail to learn, grow, and develop at the speed of change (or faster), then change is a very real threat. If change finds us unprepared, it can be deadly.

Your Personal Change Process 

Do you have the improvement habit? Are you a lazy learner? Do you act as if your formal education was an inoculation that\'s left you set for life? Are you a dedicated life long learner? Are you constantly on the grow? Do you devote at least ten percentof your time to improving yourself? Where is learning and personal development on your list of time priorities? Is it a luxury that you get to occasionally or is it a carefully scheduled and regularly planned activity?

These are critical performance questions. They are personal change management questions. Your answers determine your effectiveness in dealing with the fast changing threats and opportunities that are popping in and out of your life.

If you can\'t manage your time and discipline yourself to devote at least ten percent of your time to personal improvement, you don\'t deserve to be a leader. You deserve to become a victim of the changes swirling around us. Get control of your time, priorities, and destiny. But you better do it soon. Tomorrow is arriving much quicker than it used to.



11 Ways to Master Change

By: Susan Dunn 

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, coaches individuals and executives in emotional intelligence, and offers workshops, presentations, trainings, Internet courses and ebooks.  She is a regular presenter for the Royal Caribbean and Costa cruiselines.  


Change has become a constant for all of us, and not only do things change, they seem to change more rapidly all the time.

How can you bolster your resilience to change and learn to manage it better? How can you keep “stress” from becoming “strain”? Here are some tips.

  1. Label it immediately a \"transition.\"

    You are not lost in space (no longer a mother), nor at the end of the line (retirement), nor is it the end of the world (getting laid off). You are in the space between one thing and another -- a transition. You are now going to create the future, and recreate yourself. There is no cause for alarm.
  2. Develop your emotional intelligence (EQ) and start now.

    This is the proactive way to prepare for all the changes in your life. With EQ, you won’t be reactively dealing with each change as it comes along. You will have accepted change as part of your life, and built the life skills you need to keep \"stress\" from becoming \"strain.\"
  3. Accept change as a \"constant\" and build resilience.

    Resilience (an EQ competency) means being able to survive loss, rejection, failure and adversity and remain hopeful. The single worst outcome of any change or crisis would be for you to become bitter and cynical.
  4. Handle the emotions through the body.

    If your body is tense, you will be tense. Get out of this harmful closed feedback loop. As Candace Pert, Ph.D. says, our emotions exist in every cell of our body. Exercise, yes, of course, but also get massages. The benefit to your well-being is widely reported in scientific literature.
  5. Get with people who can sing your song when you’ve forgotten it.

    We all have hard times; this is just your time. Rely on the people around you who can remind you of what’s constant in your life – the real you, and them, your friends!
  6. Work with a certified emotional intelligence coach.

    Prepare your self for the future changes that will come by proactively developing your EQ. (And EQ is something you can\'t \"just\" read about.) When one thing in your life changes, it affects everything else, and you need more than a Career Coach, a Relationship Coach, or Small Business Coach. You will be dealing with relationships and career and money and emotions and life balance and your business and your kids and your wellness. Work at the meta-level. It’s more efficient and effective.
  7. Don’t judge your emotions.

    Just let them be. The more you consider it bad to feel sad or mad, the more you’ll fight it, and the more power it will have over you. We all prefer what’s called the “positive” emotions, but there are others. Make them all welcome for their time. They all go away.
  8. Don’t worry.

    Worrying accomplishes nothing positive, and can have very detrimental affects. You’re already under stress, and when you worry, you can turn it into strain. Worrying stresses you physiologically and adds to the problem.
  9. Work with an EQ coach who has mastered change.

    In light of the fact that resilience must be acquired, you might interview a potential coach to see what major crises and changes he or she has mastered. The “untested” can only talk theoretically. You’ll hear the difference, and you’ll be living the difference, so it matters.
  10. Learn optimism.

    EQ coaches teach the competency called “optimism.” The level of your optimism matters in crises (and all the time).  Scientific literature supports that optimistic people are more likely to reach their potential, handle crises better, recover better from major illnesses, live 19% longer – and undoubtedly enjoy living more. Get with it!
  11. Last but not least, if you’re going through a major change, prepare to be a stronger person when it’s over – if you have developed your resilience.

    “Adversity is another way to measure the greatness of individuals,” said Lou Holtz, American football coach. “I never had a crisis that didn’t make me stronger.”

This personal growth and triumph is the optimal result of going through change, but we all know people who cratered under strain. Develop your EQ and your crises can make you stronger, not weaker.


An Educational Process for Change and Improvement Efforts

By: Jim Clemmer 


Jim Clemmer is an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, author, and president of The CLEMMER Group, a North American network of organization, team, and personal improvement consultants based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His other bestsellers include Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance, and his most recent book, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success. 


Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject.\"
 — Thomas Mann, early 20th century German novelist and essayist

Once a management team has established a change and improvement plan, there are many ways to help everyone in the organization understand what\'s going on and why. These include one-on-one discussions, group presentations, workshops or seminars, videos, printed materials, and the like.

The best approaches are personal and interactive. Rather than just presenting the changes or improvement plan, effective education and communication engages everyone in discussions that deepens understanding and provides feedback, options, and further ideas to the team guiding the improvement effort. That\'s why workshops or seminars featuring presentations and discussions by senior managers are such an effective educational tool in the improvement process.

Following are the key components in roughly the order they might be used in an educational workshop or seminar. Obviously those points that will be the most important to the audience, the organization\'s culture, and the direction management is trying to move toward need to be stressed or highlighted.

Why Should We Change or Improve? — this is the first and most critical step. Changes and improvements that\'s don\'t seem to have solid reasons behind them look whimsical. They will (and should) be resisted. Those reasons should talk in terms of the audience’s interests.

Balancing Leadership, Management, and Technology — everyone needs to understand this critical balance. Managers might pinpoint where the organization or team is now, and what needs to change in order to move to a better balance.

Self-Leadership — leadership is an action not a position. The organization needs to be \"leaderful.\" In today’s fast-changing world, we need everyone to be proactive and take the initiative to continuously improve themselves, their teams, and the organization.

Focus and Context — the team or organization vision, values, and purpose need to be clear and compelling. We can also help everyone develop their personal Focus and Context and look for ways to align their own with those of their team and the organization.

Customers/Partners — understanding and drawing a customer-partner chain (with performance gap data if available) that puts the audience we\'re working with into the middle of the big picture.

Organizational Learning and Innovation — outline and discuss how the organization is searching for deeper latent/unmet needs, exploring new markets, experimenting, and learning from clumsy tries. Then clarify the role and involvement of the audience.

Team and Organization Goals and Priorities — present and discuss team and/or organization\'s strategic imperatives, improvement targets, and key measures. Outline and discuss the cascading goals and objectives along with the ongoing review process the audience will be involved in.

The Improvement Model, Plan, and Process — introduce, update, or clarify the improvement model being used and why. Walk through all the sub-components and the plans that have been developed (or are developing) for this planning period. These should include improvement structure and process, process management, teams, skill development, measurement and feedback, organization structure and systems, continuing education and communication strategies, reward and recognition, and plans for regularly reviewing, assessing, celebrating, and refocusing the improvement process.

Improvement Tools, Techniques, Principles and Practices — introduce or review the methods that the team and/or organization will be using. Discuss how this group will be trained and expected to use the improvement tools and approaches.

Next Steps — explain what\'s going to happen next and how the audience can expect — and will be expected — to become further involved in the improvement effort.




Balancing Top-Down and Bottom-Up Change Processes

By: Jim Clemmer 


Jim Clemmer is an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, author, and president of The CLEMMER Group, a North American network of organization, team, and personal improvement consultants based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His other bestsellers include Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance, and his most recent book, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success.


\"Grass-roots change presents senior managers with a paradox: directing a \'nondirective\' change process. The most effective senior managers in our study recognized their limited power to mandate corporate renewal from the top. Instead, they defined their roles as creating a climate for change, then spreading the lessons of both successes and failures. Put another way, they specified the general direction in which the company should move without insisting on the specific solutions.\"
— Michael Beer, Russell Eisenstat, and Bert Spector, Why Change Programs Don\'t Produce Change

Organization change and improvement planning calls for systems, processes, and discipline. These are often top-down, organization-wide approaches. Developing change champions and supporting local initiatives takes leadership. Like innovation, many change and improvement paths are discovered accidentally by change champions blazing new trails (strategic opportunism).

These can then be formalized and made passable for the whole wagon train. This is an important part of organizational learning. Change and improvement processes evolve and change to fit the shifting environment and what\'s being learned about what works and what doesn\'t. Both top-down and local, or bottom-up, approaches are needed. The challenge is finding the right balance.

Managers play a pivotal role in the success or failure of any organization change or improvement effort. Their behavior is the single most important variable in the process. But among those managers working hard to visibly and actively lead their organization improvement effort, many fill only half their role. They personally signal values, plan, direct, and coordinate. That\'s vital. But what most fail to do as well is follow and serve. They don\'t manage (or may not even have thought about) the servant-leadership change and improvement paradox.

The leadership component of the change and improvement paradox involves managing the Context and Focus (vision, values, and purpose), identifying customers/partners and the gaps to be closed, and cultivating the environment for innovation and organization learning. Improvement leadership means establishing goals and priorities and setting the improvement planning process and framework.

However, the service side of the paradox is about \"followership.\" This starts with recognition that the organization is full of current or potential change champions. As members or leaders of operational and improvement teams, these people are much closer to the action than anyone in senior management. So they have a much better sense of which change and improvement tactics will work. But perhaps even more importantly, they hold the balance of implementation power. Without their commitment, the best-laid plans will fail (another major cause of \"execution problems\").

Think Corporately, Act Locally
Balancing top-down improvement planning with local initiatives involves identifying and supporting the change champions, innovative teams, and other efforts that are already underway. At the corporate or organization-wide level, change and improvement planning includes the establishment of strategic imperatives, improvement objectives, setting the broad improvement map (such as the infrastructure and process to be used), and developing preliminary plans.

Part of that planning entails connecting to and incorporating the existing pockets of change and improvement. These teams and champions have often gone through the innovation and organizational learning steps of exploration and experimentation. Their (often unorthodox and unofficial) approaches and experiences can be a gold mine of learning for the organization improvement process. As these early innovators are educated to the full organization improvement plan, they\'re shown how to adapt the new process and tools. They can use them to build on their earlier experiences and move ever closer to their change and improvement goals.


Can Your Organization Thrive on Chaos?

By: Robert H. Kent, Ph.D., CMC 

President of The Mansis Development Corporation, Dr. Kent is a specialist in the structure and management of small and medium-sized organizations, and frequently serves as a personal coach and management consultant to executives for solving their management and employee performance problems. Before founding his consulting company, Bob held senior management and executive positions in federal and provincial government and private corporations. He has been a director of several health care and service organizations and a consulting member of private and government task forces in the areas of government finance, organization structure, personnel management and executive development. Since 1972 he has lectured in management at several Canadian and American universities in the faculties of Management, Administrative Studies, Medicine and Continuing Education where he has been an award winner for excellence in teaching and professional expertise;


If you really want a competitive advantage, make sure your organization can successfully respond to accelerating change. If your competition can\'t do this, it won\'t be here five years from now. Survivors will have the ability to react, constantly improve, and continuously implement change. Tom Peters of In Search of Excellence fame writes, \"excellent firms of tomorrow will cherish impermanence - and thrive on chaos.\"

In the past, the \"technology of organization\" was used to resist change. Now we must use the same and new technologies to do the opposite. You may only have one try at implementing a change. If you succeed and your competitor doesn\'t, he will be out of business. But it won\'t happen just once. You\'ll be challenged to implement change continuously.

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In his recent book, The New Realities., Peter Drucker wrote that the world has changed dramatically, and somehow business must figure out how to survive in the new political and economic realities. In response, bookstores are overflowing with management texts by researchers promoting new and usually better ways to run organizations. But the jury is still out about exactly what you should do. The alternatives seem endless. Most significantly, though, none of the \"revolutionary\" discoveries about management is of any value unless you and your organization will accept and implement it. So while your competition depletes its resources and morale by bouncing between gurus and sampling every new fad and fashion, I believe it would be more prudent for you to devote your organization\'s energy towards learning how to change. Out-distance your competition by improving your firm\'s ability to implement change.

The best place to start is to assess your organization\'s present capacity to change. An accurate, objective measure can help you improve your organization\'s ability to change, pinpoint areas for improvement and quickly raise your employees\' consciousness regarding the need to be able to change. Then, when you decide what changes you want in order to survive the \"chaos\", you\'ll be able to implement those changes successfully.

Of the almost twenty factors that Mansis measures which determine successful organizational change, the two principal ones are your employees\' willingness to change and your management\'s ability to implement change .

Inertia is common in organizations. But today an overly-conservative attitude can kill a company. Frequently, low trust of management, previous failures at implementing change, and personal fear make employees unwilling to take the risk associated with any change. Experience shows that many executives aren\'t aware of these feelings in their staff. Unless your organization\'s willingness to change is measured, you and your management team may remain oblivious to this potential impediment to organizational change and improvement. 

The ability to implement change is determined by your formal organization, its structure, systems and procedures, and the skills of your employees, especially your management. Since implementing change is a new focus for most organizations, these change requirements are often absent or underdeveloped. Only by pinpointing them can you develop or improve them, and increase your organization\'s ability to survive.



Change Management Is an Attitude

By: Thomas W. McKee 

homas W. McKee is president of Advantage Point Systems, Inc., a staff development and change management firm. Thomas is an author, motivational speaker, trainer and leader. He has spoken to over 1/2 million people and taught the Advantage Point System method of change management to over 100,000 managers in companies like Hewlett Packard, Ernst and Young, Procter and Gamble, 


I was once asked to speak to over 500 government workers who were being told that their positions were being phased out and that they would either move across the country or move back to front-line positions. They would not lose their pay structure, but they would lose their management roles. The tension in the room that day was quite high. 

When agencies and companies are experiencing dramatic downsizing and shifting of jobs, planning for change becomes more essential than ever.

Attitudes are caught, not taught. But how do you prepare work teams for unremitting change that affects their lives? 

Leadership must address the overriding issue of creating a positive attitude about change. Change management is an attitude, and attitudes are caught, not taught. Du Pont recently took a big step in structuring for this attitude of change. Training and Development, published by the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), reported that Du Pont just moved 300 employees out of private offices into open work stations in its Flouror Productions division. Workers are now working in 8x8 foot, Corian-covered cubicles. Not only do these cubicles promote teamwork, but they result in greater productivity. But the workers weren\'t happy about the change. So Du Pont flew all of the workers to Grand Rapids Michigan to visit Steelcase, the firm that would be outfitting the new offices. While at Steelcase, Du Pont employees learned a new language:

  • Migration – moving from a private office to an individual screened work station
  • Collaboration zones – meeting rooms
  • Docking stations – workbenches
  • Free addresses – spaces not assigned to a particular worker

Du Pont provided an experience. Experience is one step in the process of developing an attitude of change. Other successful attitude building experiences are teambuilding retreats, strategic planning sessions, focus groups, and interactive workshops with senior management in attendance.

What are you doing to develop that attitude of change with your staff?

What are you doing to help your staff deal with the many changes in their professional and personal lives?



Growing with Change

By: Jim Clemmer 

Jim Clemmer is an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, author, and president of The CLEMMER Group, a North American network of organization, team, and personal improvement consultants based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His other bestsellers include Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance, and his most recent book, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success.

Change happens. And while we can\'t control much of the world changing around us, we can control how we respond. We can choose to anticipate and embrace changes or resist them. Resisting change is like trying to push water upstream. Generally we\'re quick to point to others who resist change. It\'s much harder to recognize or admit to our own change resistance.

Some people call change \"progress\" and celebrate the improvements that it brings. Others curse those same changes and wish for the good old days. Same changes, different responses. The choice is ours: We can be leaders, or we can be followers.

Embrace Change

To embrace change, we need to concentrate on five areas.

1. Focus on a vision. Our vision or imagination guides everything we do. Helen Keller once said, \"Nothing is more tragic than someone who has sight, but no vision.\" We can\'t leave the incredible magnetic power of vision unharnessed. Our thoughts often pull us toward the reasons why we can\'t succeed rather than the many reasons we can. To increase our effectiveness, we need to consciously attract into our lives what we truly want. We need to ensure the picture of our future is what we prefer, not the dark images of our fears, doubts, and insecurities. Personal, team, or organizational improvement starts with \"imagineering.\"

We find what we focus upon. Whether I think my world is full of richness and opportunity or garbage and despair - I am right. It\'s exactly like that because that\'s my point of focus. Our vision is led by a set of core values. Without a strong set of core values, passion is weak and commitment is soft. We\'re more likely to lead ourselves from the outside in, rather than the inside out. Core values provide a context for continuous growth and development that takes us toward our dreams. Our core values project forward to become our vision. How we see the world is what we project from ourselves.