6 Steps to Building a Powerhouse Organization

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This is a guest post by James M. Kerr. James is a Partner at BlumShapiro Consulting. He is a business strategist and organizational behaviorist.  His latest book is The Executive Checklist-A Guide to Setting Direction and Managing Change.  You can follow him on twitter.

Chemistry is the Secret to Success

The tip-off of the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship triggered a question in my head: “How does a business leader build a perennial powerhouse like some of those NCAA basketball teams do every year?”

Clearly, the finest companies in the world are the ones where management and staff share an unrelenting passion to be the best.  How do leaders foster this passion for winning?  Certainly, getting the right people on the team, setting a common goal and enabling success differentiates the best from the rest.  But, there’s an intangible in the equation, the importance of which should not be ignored. It’s called chemistry.

 

Placing your highest regard on impeccable execution leaves no room for mediocrity. -James Kerr

 

Why is chemistry important?  Simply put, high performing people resent mediocre performing ones and mediocre performers begrudge those that perform at the highest level of achievement.  Indeed, getting the chemistry right is as important to the establishment of ongoing business success as garnering a talented team and constructing a compelling vision for it to follow.

We all want to be captivated by a “Big Idea.”  It’s part of the human condition to want to be part of something special and contribute to making it so.  Once enthralled, we want to be surrounded by like-minded people who share our enthusiasm and thirst to achieve.

As business leaders, it is our job to provide a vivid and exciting vision and ensure that we hire the “right” people – ones that buy in, fit in and want to work together to realize that stirring vision.  And, my friends, the latter comes down to understanding and managing “chemistry.”

 

The best businesses consistently remain fixated on being the best. -James Kerr

 

Building the “Right” Chemistry

So, what steps can be taken to shape winning chemistry within an organization?  There is no simple recipe.  However, there are six guideposts that leaders can use to move the process forward, including:

 

1. Champion a “Do Your Job” attitude – Do your job.  There is much implied in those three simple words, including being prepared, paying attention to detail, working hard, and putting the team ahead of yourself.   It also points to the need for senior leadership to ensure that every member of his or her organization understands what their job is and that they prepare every day to execute it.

How Leaders Leverage Opportunity through Entrepreneurship

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This is a guest post by Mohsin Memon, the founder and director of Memcorp Learning and Performance Solutions. Memcorp believes in entrepreneurship in its truest form.

How often have you heard the phrase ‘lead by example’?  Probably one too many times.  We’re all told that we ought to lead by example without any understanding of what leaders do, much less how they think.  First and foremost we must recognize that great leaders from all walks of life embrace entrepreneurship not only in action but entrepreneurship in its truest form. Which means they entrepreneu in all aspects of their lives.  Entrepreneu is a verb and it constitutes many elements, but we’ll focus on one key element of what it means to entrepreneu here: Leveraging Opportunity.

Great leaders are great opportunists.  They are patient and wistful about the right opportunity. This doesn’t mean they idly wait for the perfect time to make a move. It means that they make the best of their current scenario.  An effective leader does that in two ways.

Creating Opportunity

When we think of creating opportunity, we realize that we must make decisions that help us create the right opportunity.  Yet with decision making, we often think simply in the terms of a decision that leads to one good outcome and another that perhaps leads to one bad outcome. The key word to be understood here is ‘one.’   To create real opportunities, we must think of decisions that could be made that lead us to arrive at multiple positive outcomes.

Great leaders are in a constant hunt for opportunities where they can apply the law of dual reasoning, when their one action stems from two distinct and profitable reasons.  In such a scenario, through the outcome of their decision they will have positioned themselves in a way to have a choice of two positive options instead of one good and one bad outcome. This enables them to create opportunity with choices.

 

Great leaders are great opportunists. -Mohsin Memon

 

Leveraging Circumstance

More often than not we’re put in situations that we are not content with.  Life doesn’t always pan out as we plan it, which is why we must adopt the mentality of Leveraging Circumstance. The mentality of Leveraging Circumstance comes from the understanding of what the great author Napoleon Hill once said: “Every adversity, every heartache carries within itself a seed of equivalent or greater benefit.” When we truly understand what the author is trying to say, we can begin to leverage our circumstances. In simple terms, we’re speaking of that silver lining in things that don’t go our way.

Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed

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Mark Divine retired as a commander in the US Navy where he had served as a SEAL for 20 years. He holds an MBA from NYU and is the founder of SEALTFIT, NavySeals.com, and U.S. CrossFit.  You can follow him on Twitter. His latest book is The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed.

Mark, it’s great to have a chance to talk with you as everyone is thinking about New Year’s resolutions: how to make them, but more importantly, how to keep them. Your book is a blueprint for success and is packed with principles, ideas, methods, and specific actions all designed to change your life. We can’t cover even a fraction of them, but I want to ask you about just a few.

The best leaders keep their minds positively focused. –Mark Divine

 

Let’s start with visualization. You put it this way: “Visualize Powerfully.” How do you personally visualize your goals and your success?

I learned in the SEALs the importance of winning the mission (goal) in my mind before stepping off the ramp into the dark of the night.

What this means for me is a three step process:

Go after well defined targets

First, I ensure that the targets I go after are the right targets and are super well defined so I don’t waste valuable time and energy chasing impossible dreams or improbable projects. In the past I often had poorly defined new year goals that quickly fell by the wayside. That happened because they were the wrong targets, or poorly defined to begin with. I outline a powerful process for preventing this and selecting the right targets in my book.

Imagine what victory looks like

Second, I imagine what victory looks like for my target / goal. I see it as clearly and with as much detail as possible in my mind’s eye. In fact I have built an imaginary training space I call my ‘Mind Gym’ where I do this inner work. In the gym I see the outcomes of the goal, see myself achieving it and what my life is like after. I see myself as the type of person who CAN achieve the goal and possessing all the skills and knowledge necessary to crush it.

Review your goals daily

Third, I visit my mind gym daily to review the visualization while tackling the tasks and preliminary steps toward accomplishing the goal. This strengthens the image and eventually leads to greater confidence and certainty of mission success.

 

Decisiveness is a must for anyone seeking to gain momentum toward their critical targets. –Mark Divine

 

You talk about the importance of breathing in your book. Why is it so important and would you share one of your breathing exercises?

The Benefits of Deep Breathing

In a firefight or any intense situation, I learned to perform better by controlling my physiology and psychology. The key was learning how to breathe more powerfully. It is the first and most important of what I call the ‘big four of mental toughness’ skills. Deep diaphragmatic breathing, through the nose, brings two immediate and critical benefits for mission success:wayofseal_cov

First, It is a stress release mechanism because it stimulates the automatic nervous system’s calming function. We are riddled with stressors coming at us from all angles, many self-imposed, and this breathing technique slows down our heart rate, calms our body and allows us to get back in control of our physiology so we can direct it towards performance.

Second, it centers us by narrowing the range of our critical mind’s thought patterns. The concentration required to breathe deeply means you are now focusing on health and stress release. This triggers positive feelings and thoughts, and the mind slows down so we can direct it towards the important tasks leading to success.

The training technique is simple, called the ‘Three part breath.’ Begin by exhaling all the air from your lungs, then inhale deep into your belly . . . your belly will move out. When the lower part of your lungs are full (your belly is ‘full’), then activate your diaphragm to fill the middle of your lungs. When that is full, then use your upper chest to fill the top of the lungs. The exhale is then done in reverse order, and the whole breath cycle should be a five count inhale and five count exhale. Over time you will do this naturally and unconsciously in one step, versus three steps. It will help you stay positively focused on your important goals in 2014 AND have great benefit for your overall health and peace of mind.

5 Principles of Ultimate Influence

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All of us must learn to influence others. Whether persuading your child to eat broccoli or supervising a team, the ability to influence is important to working with others.

In those situations, do you see the other person as an adversary? Do you resort to manipulation or coercion to try to get what you want?  Or do you understand how to influence and win that person over?

The World’s Greatest Influencers

The greatest influencers are not manipulators. They aren’t pushy. They don’t create animosity. Instead, they seem to win people naturally, effortlessly, making everyone happy with the outcome.

How they do it is the subject of this post.

 

BobBurg

Bob Burg is a speaker, a blogger, and a best selling author. He’s perhaps best known from his many stage appearances as a speaker for large organizations.  You may also know him by his runaway best selling book, The Go-Giver.  I have read all of his books and learned from all of his work.

His latest book is Adversaries into Allies.  It’s one of those books that you cannot stop reading.  I have dog-eared and underlined so much of the book that he likely wouldn’t recognize it if he saw my copy.

There are so many lessons in this book, which reads like a modern day version of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.  Reading it, I realized that there are dozens of questions to ask Bob.  I chose to focus on the five principles of ultimate influence shared throughout the book.

 

Sometimes the most influential thing we can do is listen. –Bob Burg

 1. Control your own emotions

Bob, I want to ask you a question about each of your five principles to influence and move people to a different thought or action.

The first is to control your own emotions.  Why is controlling your emotions the very first step and why is it harder for some people than others?

Skip, as human beings we are emotional creatures. Sure, in certain ways we are logical, but we are basically driven by our emotions. That’s often very counterproductive. The problem isn’t that we have emotions (emotions are a wonderful part of life), it’s being “controlled by our emotions.” When this is the case we are simply not in a position to think clearly, to think logically and be able to take a negative situation or person and elicit a positive outcome. When we are in control of ourselves and of our emotions, the opposite is true.

For example: If a person says or does something you find offensive, it’s important that you be in control of your emotions and – as Zig Ziglar taught – “respond” rather than “react.” When you react, you are allowing that person (and your emotions) to control you; when you respond, you are in control of yourself and your emotions and are now ready to create an environment for a winning result for everyone involved.

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2. Understand the clash of belief systems

 

Your second principle is to understand the clash of belief systems.  This one may not be as intuitive so please tell me more about it.

A belief is a subjective truth. It’s the truth as we understand the truth to be. But that doesn’t mean it’s “the truth” (though we are usually certain it is). While our belief systems are a combination of upbringing, environment, schooling, news media, television shows, movies, popular culture, societal mores, etc., it is pretty much formed by the time we’re six or seven years old. Some of these beliefs work for us, are productive and helpful, and keep us safe. Most are counterproductive and serve no constructive purpose.

 

Tact is the language of strength. –Mike Burg

 

So, we are pretty much controlled by a belief system we are not even aware we possess. Add on top of that, the person with whom we’re about to have a difficult interpersonal transaction is also controlled by a belief system that they are not even aware they possess. Now add to the mix that as human beings we tend to believe that others think as we think, and you’ve got the makings of a huge clash of belief systems.

We don’t need to understand their belief system; what we do need to understand is that their belief system is most likely much different from ours. Only when we consciously understand that are we in a position to proceed in a way that a mutually beneficial result can occur.

3. Acknowledge their ego

The third principle is to acknowledge their ego.  You say that the “ego is the ultimate driving force in everything people do.”  Give me an example of how to acknowledge ego in a legitimate way with sincerity.

5 Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

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If there was a drug with no negative side effects that helped you eat healthier, exercise more, experience less depression, and sleep better, how long would it last in the pharmacy?  We would flock to doctors for prescriptions.  The pharmaceutical company would have a hit.

It may not be a drug, but gratitude may be as important to your health as nutrition.   Let’s look at some of the benefits.  People described as thankful tend to:

  •             Eat healthier
  •             Develop stronger immune systems
  •             Experience more energy
  •             Demonstrate optimism and mental acuity
  •             Cope with stress better
  •             Describe life with high satisfaction
  •             Exercise regularly
  •             Solve difficult mental challenges easier
  •             Have deeper friendships
  •             Sleep better
  •             Have increased self-worth and self-esteem
  •             Show increased productivity
  •             Enjoy work and perform better on the job

There’s no happier person than a truly thankful, content person. -Joyce Meyer

Successful people practice gratitude.  After all, I don’t see how you can be called successful if you aren’t happy and thankful for all life has to offer.

Here are five ways to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”:

1.  Write it down.

Keep a gratitude journal.  Try it for 30 days.  Be specific about what you are thankful for.  Watch how your thoughts develop over time.  You may start out simply, but when you add stories and color, it becomes more powerful.

When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others. -Dalai Lama

2.  Talk about it.

Sharing what you are thankful for isn’t just for Thanksgiving.  Make it a habit to talk about what you are grateful for all year long.  It will reinforce your feelings.