Welcome to the LeaderQuest Podcast. This season will consist of interviews conducted for the Building With Purpose Conference I held back in May. This is Episode 20 – My Interview with Michael Warden.
If you failed to register for the full course, stay tuned for the rest of season two! I’ve got interviews coming up with each of the contributors. You’ll be able to glean wisdom from them and apply them in ways to grow yourself and your business.
For the conference, I assembled a diverse team of business professionals to examine the stay at home order and how we can achieve maximum productivity and success while in quarantine. The conference focused on the front of a newly issued stay-at-home order. Now, four months later, it seems all the more timely as the economy is looking to reopen.
This is Episode 21 – My Interview with Mitch Matthews.
More About Mitch
In this episode, I’m having a conversation with Mitch Matthews. He is a life and business coach focusing on success, performance, and chasing dreams. Having worked personally with Mitch and seeing the effects he’s had on my business, I was thrilled to have him at the conference. His wisdom, insight, and passion for life and contagious.
Be sure to subscribe, leave a comment, and share with someone who could benefit.
What’s one takeaway you have from Episode 21 and my interview with Mitch from the Building With Purpose Conference? How will you take control of your business’s future?
Mitch’s passion for life and the empowerment of others is infectious. In the midst of COVID, many businesses are struggling. Many are questioning how to chase their dreams. Mitch is clear proof that you can do just that, with a deep sense of awe and wonder in life.
As we emerge from quarantine and are reopening, our customers are facing problems. There are some new ones we can anticipate, some old ones that we can continue to meet, and there will be new ones we never see coming.
The victors will be those that adapt and overcome. Ulysses Grant, who hated the war life, once gave the philosophy that made him successful, despite his disdain for his occupation: “The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can and keep moving on.”
For our businesses, it might read something like: “Find the problem your customers have. Create a solution as quickly as possible. Implement your answer as best as you know how. Adapt. Repeat. Overcome.”
Together, Lincoln and Grant practice what I have come to call transformational teamwork. They built the vision and strategy, shared it with their team, and the tirelessly executed the plan. Transformational teams practice three key characteristics in all they do.
Clear Goals and Directions
The first requirement for transformational teams is to have clear goals and directions. Lincoln and Grant made their vision abundantly clear. For Lincoln, it was freedom for slaves and preservation of the Union. Grant implemented this through the term “unconditional surrender.” In fact, Grant would be known by this phrase so much that for a time people that U.S. Grant’s initials stood for “Unconditional Surrender.” The goal was clear: until the south abolishes slavery and lays down its arms without thought of picking them up again, the war has not been won.
We know the goals and directions we have for our businesses. As entrepreneurs, owners, or key stakeholders, we know why we get up every morning. We know what we’re chasing and the dream we are trying to accomplish. What about your employees or others around you? Can they articulate it clearly? Do they know, like Grant know how to implement the plan to achieve the goal?
The second piece required for transformational teams is effective communication. It is not enough to know the goals and directions we must communicate that information with our team. During seasons of stress, conflict, or failure, communication is often the first thing to go. Legacy Leaders know how important clear, concise, and effective communication is.
Effective communicate is done regularly. It seeks two-way feedback and establishes rules and norms. Clear Communication talks about not just what and how, but also why. It honors others, builds bridges, minimizes conflict, and restores relationships.
In times of stress or setback, good communication is often the first thing to go. People resort to perspective and bias. To preconceived notions about the way the world works. To overcome this, clear communication is a must. Anytime there is poor communication, issue an apology, and own your mistake.
As tension mounts, humility and the ability to ask for forgiveness keeps the team united and focused on what really matters. Create a culture of open dialogue, feedback, humility, and reconciliation and watch your transformational team thrive.
The final component of Transformative Teamwork is what I call 360-Coaching. More than normal feedback and assessment performance reviews, it is focused on real-time, growth-oriented feedback. Instead of backward reflection, instill future-focused development opportunities.
The official definition of coaching from the International Coaching Federation is this: “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
360-Coaching takes the whole person and seeks to develop them. Employers who care about both their employee’s productivity and their outside life, inspire confidence, instill loyalty, and extend grace. This is important because as much as we may pretend that our outside life doesn’t affect our work, that just isn’t the case.
Offering real-time feedback circumvents a chance for negative experiences or poor performance while opening up communication lines.
When high-performing leaders set clear goals, keep an open communication, and coach the whole person, a transformative team is born. A transformative team can conquer an obstacle and overcome any hardship.
This is an excerpt and adaptation of a business development seminar. To read additional excerpts, you can find part one here and part two here. To watch the presentation, go here.
In a world increasingly divided and hostile, the best thing we can offer is service with a smile.
The Benefits of Smiling
It’s not something we think about often, but there are benefits associated with smiling. In addition to providing a warm, welcoming demeanor, smiling has other benefits, like:
Regulate blood sugar
Stronger immune system
Create a positive mindset
But here’s the crazy thing. Smiling, scientists have discovered, is contagious. This means that when you smile (and get these benefits), others will too!
Service With A Smile
I remember a conflict I was in with one former employer. He wanted to know why I never smiled at him when he walked into the office. Convinced something was wrong between us, he began to harbor feelings of anger and resentment. It carried into other spheres of working together, and eventually, I was almost written up over it!
The sad truth? My desk faced the doors and I’d often look up, lost in thought. If they walked by, it wasn’t that I was upset, angry, or dismissive of them. I was simply thinking too hard!
But this did cause me to become more aware of my facial expressions towards others. Instead of dismissing those claims, I took them to heart. I want everything I do to be a warm, welcoming place for people to be around.
I made a conscious effort to work on smiling when engaging others. For someone used to being accused of RBF, this was no small challenge. It has been, however, entirely worth it. The effort to put more work into smiling and engaging others has proved useful for business and personal reasons.
One of the great things that smiling does for us as leaders are that it engages others. It marks us as warm, approachable, open, affirming, and in control.
Smiling communicates that we are calm and steadfast.
Providing service with a smile is more than plastering on a fake veneer, it is training our brain, and those around us, to look for the good in all situations.
It demonstrates our ability to work under pressure.
Service with a smile provides reassuring calm in the midst of surrounding storms.
One area I’ve seen this work is in parenting. When I need to have difficult conversations with my children, I make sure to put on a smile. Not to dismiss wrong or correctable behavior, but to let them know that it is okay. Everything is going to work out fine. Sometimes, I even let them know, “I’m not bad, but I do want to talk about what happened.”
This works in the workplace as well. Really, in all areas where we feel called to lead.
Service with a smile lets others know that we will all get through this together.
Take An Inventory
The easiest way to get started experiencing the benefits of smiling is to smile. The quickest way to get there is to take an inventory.
Where are the moments we struggle with the most? How have we responded? What would we like to do differently?
Start by planning your day, based on how you want to engage the world and what you hope to accomplish with a smile.
Then, think about the common places where you’re interacting with people and write down intentional things you will do to smile and engage them.
One area where I had to work hard (and to be honest, I’m still working at) is to smile when I produce online content. It’s not that I’m unhappy or grump. Instead, it’s that I take seriously my calling to make great content that I get so focused on that that I can forget to enjoy myself.
I’ve started to write down physical notes when I record (or speak live) to smile. It’s actually in my notes, BE SURE TO SMILE HERE.
It engages the audience and creates rapport.
Smiling communicates value.
It demonstrates appreciation.
As leaders, everything we do is monitored. To be at our best, one simple way is to smile.
Creating opportunities for service with a smile transforms our thinking, influences our actions, transforms conflict, creates opportunity, and advances the mission.
“Both mission and vision inform strategy but in different ways. Mission provides day-to-day clarity by defining the identity and scope of the business. Without a clear mission, you can easily drift off target and head into either too many directions, or the wrong direction…A proper Vision Script is…a robust document, written in the present tense, that describes your future reality as if it were today.”
This is a helpful distinction and provides clarity for where we’re headed.
Values – The moral and ethical code the leader or the business operates by. This is integrity in the personal and business sphere. A list of words (usually 5-10) that are non-negotiable.
Mission – The identity of the leader or business, defined by the practice and day-to-day operations. This is usually a sentence or two that provides strategy and action principles for the organizational culture.
Vision – The future destination of the leader or business. A full, robust manuscript that has actualized success and invites the readers into a compelling narrative of what could be as if it has already happened. This is usually much longer, much larger, and much more integrated.
Make It Compelling
Truly great leaders are able to draw people into their vision of the future. Their vision of the future is compelling, motivating, inspiring, and equipping. It guides other people into proper ways of thinking and doing.
Think of a vision board on steroids.
It’s large, comprehensive, and transformative. Vision creates the principles by which the mission is executed and the values are maintained.
A compelling vision removes any doubt about the direction we’re going and as well as irradicating the opportunity for settling or stopping short of the goal.
A vision statement covers all aspects of personhood or business to make sure that nothing is missed or left to chance.
3 Steps For Creating A Compelling Vision
1.) Take the Necessary Time
This is not a quick process. A compelling vision doesn’t happen overnight. It may not even happen in a weekend. It’s an intentional time of focus, reflection, integration, and prospecting.
Creating a compelling vision means carefully crafting words, feelings, and desires into a language that motivates, inspires, and equips.
2.) Suspend Doubt and Judgment
Too often, we are our own worst critics. We want to achieve great things but are plagued by doubt and fear.
Great leaders with a compelling vision have been able to squelch that voice.
Don’t be limited in your imagining of the future. Your current reality or availability does not determine your final destination. In the future vision, you have unlimited resources, ability, people, and technology to meet your goals.
Avoid limiting language and limiting belief. Hold space that all things are possible. Ignore the voice that tells you to play small or live in fear.
3.) Firmly Believe The Best Is Yet To Come
To craft a truly compelling and transforming vision, we must hold firmly to the belief that the best is yet to come. The products we create, the people we help, the influence we have, the legacy we leave. All of that grows and expands over time. Unleashing a force of good, we continually reach new heights, meet new expectations, and bless new people.
We must remain certain that the best is yet to come. We embrace the challenge of leaving the world a better place and know that by fulfilling the vision we are writing we will do so.
Where Are You Going?
Ultimately, the question for everyone is, “Where are you going?” For leaders, this is especially important.
No one drifts towards greatness. If we don’t pursue it intentionally, we will never reach it.
Failure to clearly articulate our desired vision of the future means we will never have it.
If we can’t firmly affix our steps to a larger purpose, we will never have one.
Leaders set the standard. Recently, I read an article (excerpt below) that reminded me about the vital importance of leadership culture. This week, we’re talking about the culture challenge faced in leadership, and ways to overcome and transform poor culture.
“The culture inside the Nebraska locker room isn’t OK.
Scott Frost made that apparent during the bye week, when on his radio show he said there was a “portion” of the team not ready to play at Minnesota, where the Gophers blew out the Huskers.
He went all in and called out his team Saturday, saying his team is ‘just OK’ and that he’s not ‘going to be happy with just OK.'” (source)
As a fan of all things Nebraska, this has been a particularly painful football season. While most of the last twenty years has been a disappointment for one of college football’s most storied and proud programs, this one hurts deeply.
The expectations were different. The season was supposed to be different. The outcome was supposed to be different.
Year two of a coach’s tenure is supposed to see improvement. Year two of Scott Frost’s tenure at Nebraska, his alma mater, was supposed to be glorious.
Instead, eight games into the season, analysts are reporting how the culture is, ‘just okay.’
Just Okay Is Not Okay
When talking about culture, on the field or in a company, just okay is not okay. Fighting okay is a big part of the culture challenge faced by leaders.
Leaders set the standard of conduct. They set behavior expectations, acceptable methods of social interaction, as well as the vision and direction of an organization. When someone, or a group of someones, fails to live up to those standards, it is up to the leadership to change the culture.
There are, of course, many ways to do this. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to unpack the importance of culture in leadership. We’ll examine how to create a new culture if you’re in a startup, and how to change a bad culture.
For now, here are three principles to use no matter what your current circumstance is.
1.) Set a Clear and Compelling Vision
Like a masterpiece painting, a healthy culture is a product of vision and hard work. Longing for a great culture and actually having one are two different things.
As a leader, spend time intentionally investing in the culture and direction of your company, team, and surrounding people.
What does the workday “feel like?
How do people act?
What’s the end goal?
How does your department handle promotions? Confrontations? Missed sales goals or development targets?
If you can’t articulate your culture clearly and simply, it needs more work. Worse yet, if it doesn’t inspire others to be better, it will ultimately bring harm.
The goal is to articulate the what and why of the organization in a way that shapes, inspires, and transforms.
2.) Inspire Others to Greatness
Once the vision is clear and compelling it should inspire those that hear it. It should be a place where people outside of the organization say, “I want to work for them.“
Inside the organization, there should be tangible feelings of joy, clarity, and a desire for growth. This doesn’t mean that people necessarily want to work longer hours, but it means that they want to work harder in the hours they do work. Why? Because their work has meaning and purpose. They know that they are contributing to something greater, something beyond themselves.
The goal is to call forth the highest level of character achievement and belonging.
3.) Take Immediate Action
Violations of the culture will happen. Eventually, someone will know that a tardy might go unnoticed and regularly start showing up late. Part of a healthy culture is dealing with problems that arise quickly, fairly, and with the goal of restoration. Discipline happens to correct behavior and hold the standard high, not to deliver punishment.
Tardiness is corrected not by docking pay, but by showing them what is missed or at stake when they fail to show up on time. Poor attitude with customers doesn’t mean demotion, it means providing better training to help them deal with the stress of other people’s bad attitudes.
The goal is to restore the person to their own personal standard of morals, to the team, and to the vision and culture set in the company.
The challenge presented to Scott Frost is daunting. Not only does he have to instill his good culture, but he also has to overcome the bad culture he inherited. On top of that, he has to rewrite twenty years of poor standards.
For many of us, we face similar situations. Family histories, company profits, and personal standards all confront us on a daily basis. Some we inherit, others we create. All need to be transformed and redeemed.
Creating a compelling, inspiring, and consistent culture is not easy. But it is worth it.