Trying to be a More Effective Communicator

Instead of the teacher, I was the student.  I was “grasshopper”.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Dale Carnegie workshop that my employer hosted as part of our employee development program.  The course was titled “How to Say What You Mean to Get the Results That You Want”.

I was pleased (confident) when throughout the class we talked about several topics that we also cover in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer curriculum that I’ve been teaching for the past few years.

I thought I’d share with you some of the concepts, suggestions, and thoughts that I left the class with.

Some characteristics of an effective speaker. They are :

  • Engaging
  • Credible – they know their material.
  • Good listeners
  • Focused on their message
  • Animated
  • Clear and concise – no ambiguity
  • Empathetic.
  • Articulate

There are five levels of listening (from lowest to highest) – Ignore, Pretend, Selective, Attentive, Empathetic.  At the highest level “Empathetic” (which we should work towards), we are putting ourselves in the other persons shoes.  It sounds simple, but the instructor used a great analogy to make the point.  If someone wearing a size 9 shoe tries to put on a size 13 shoe, it’s impossible.  However, if they take their size 9 shoe and then place their foot into the size 13 shoe, it goes in very easily.  The point here is that an empathetic listener is one who steps out of their own shoes before stepping in to someone else’s.  The empathetic listener truly looks at things from the other perspective beyond their own.

Did you know if you rearrange the letters that spell LISTEN … it spells SILENT

The next time you find yourself talking too much, remember to WAIT … Why Am I Talking?

How we emphasize words when we speak can convey a total different impact to what we are saying. – If you say the following sentence seven different times and each time place the emphasis on a different word each time, it changes the impact of the message.  Here’s the sentence:

“I never said he stole my money”

Impact of the message – Our instructor shared with us a pie chart diagram that illustrated the non-verbal impact of a message.  The findings were attributed to a 10-year study that was conducted by a UCLA professor, Dr. Albert Mehrabian.  The study found that :

  • 7% of a message is impacted by the actual words spoken
  • 38% of a message is impacted by our tone of voice – how we say things
  • 55% of a message is impacted by non-verbals (a.k.a. our body language)

Interestingly, like many studies, these results have been challenged by others.  In other work I have read, the following suggestions were made:

  • If the purpose of your communication is to establish credibility, make an initial impression, or build a relationship, then your body language will have the greatest impact.
  • If your communication is information heavy, such as a face-to-face sale or negotiation, then words become much more important; they may be the most important components.
  • In most persuasive situations in which your body language and words clash, your audience will rely on your body language for their interpretation.

Learning Styles

As a reader of my previous blogs, you’ll know that in the CERT Train-the-Trainer curriculum, we address three different learning styles that people have – Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.  In this class, there was a short exercise that I thought was really effective; so much so I think I want to include something similar in my instructional delivery of CERT Train-the-Trainer.  The “Learning Style Survey” asks 21 different questions and provides three possible responses (Often, Sometimes, Seldom).  Once I completed the survey, I then had to go back and score my answers.   Based on the point values and total scoring, I was able to determine if I was a Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic learner.  I felt the survey was fairly accurate.

Another interesting fact that was shared with us was that on average, 45% of us are Kinesthetic learners, 37% are Visual learners, and 18% are Auditory learners.

I want to close with a Dale Carnegie quote that was included in a handout … “… think in terms of other people’s point of view, and see things from their angle …”  I think that as communicators, if we took this advice more often, we’d be more effective.

Sustainment – How Leaders Can Influence Engagement

Earlier this week as I began to put this blog together, Hurricane Isaac made landfall in southeastern Louisiana, with winds of 80 mph that spread out over an area 200 miles wide.  It was a Category 1 hurricane as it came ashore, and the National Hurricane Center warned of “strong winds and a dangerous storm surge occurring along the northern Gulf Coast.”

Isaac proved to be a massive and slow-moving storm, when it reached the coastline just a day short of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.  I found it interesting that as the storm reached southeastern Louisiana, it did something unusual to the Mississippi River – it threw the river into reverse.  For nearly 24 hours, according to the US Geological Survey, Isaac’s storm surge drove upriver at a pace nearly 50 percent faster than the downstream flow. The backflow produced a crest some 10 feet above the river’s pre-storm height at Belle Chasse, La., in flood-beleaguered Plaquemines Parish southeast of New Orleans. The surge added eight feet to the river’s height at Baton Rouge, father north.  The only other time I heard of the “Mighty Miss” flowing backwards was during the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes.

Since then, the aftermath of Isaac has moved through the St. Louis area.  Early reports were calling for two to four inches of rain throughout the weekend.  Up until now, drought was the disaster across the Midwest.  We had a couple of inches of rain and just some minor flash flooding.   With the drought that we’ve had throughout the Midwest this summer, the rain was appreciated.  Just wish we would have had it earlier in the season.

Sustainment

In looking back at the many classes I have taught over the past few years many have related to the Federal Emergency Management’s (FEMA) Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.  Whether it was a Train-the-Trainer or a Program Manager class, I could always be certain that a handful of people in each class were concerned with sustainment – sustaining interest in the program, sustaining involvement, sustaining support, and yes sustaining funding.  And while it may have been just a handful who were openly addressing the concern, I knew the rest were equally interested.

Thinking about this common theme, it also struck me that in leadership and management, we too are concerned with sustainment – sustaining interest, sustaining involvement, sustaining support, and yes sustaining funding.  So I thought I’d share my classroom ideas and see how well they translate over into the leadership and management environment.  The following are just two areas that can help sustainment.

Interest

In most of the classes I teach, participants attend because they want to be there.  Something about the class caught their interest and now they want to get involved.  Maybe it was the topic, the venue, or the instructor (huh?).  Subsequently, the people who will attend their classes will be the same.  We say they are “self-motivated”.  They are looking to satisfy an internal need.

Our employees also have internal needs that when addressed appropriately can be motivators.  As a leader, I look for opportunities where I can encourage a person’s interest.  Getting people interested is half the battle.  In order to generate interest in someone we must be able to paint a clear and vivid picture to those we are trying to generate interest in as to why this is (should be) important to them.  In all honesty, we are appealing to the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) question.  Being a good communicator can help us paint that picture and in turn generate interest, either in the classroom or office.  Once we have their interest which then leads to involvement, we must ask ourselves “how will I keep them involved”?

Involvement

The keys to sustaining involvement, or perhaps engagement is by 1) giving others an opportunity to do something that they feel is important (it meets their expectations), 2) their skills and capabilities are well matched for the task they are being asked to perform, and 3) they receive periodic, heart-felt appreciation.

One common concern I hear from CERT team members is that “we train and train and train, every so often we’ll help pass out flyers at a community function but I’m not being challenged.  I’m not accomplishing what I set out to do.”  At this point, I’m certain the next step would  be for people to start removing themselves from the team.  Isn’t it possible we could face the same situation in our work environments?  If people aren’t interested, they won’t engage.

As leaders and managers, we must understand what expectations our team members have, and communicate ours too.  The only way to accomplish this is to ask and have an honest and open discussion about expectations … yours and theirs.  Once we understand expectations, we can then balance those against needs; needs of the program, project or task.  In this process, we also look to match skills.  Chances are very good that when we put people in positions where they can use their physical and mental skills and capabilities to accomplish tasks that meet their expectations, everyone succeeds.

At this point many stop short.  To really be successful we have to follow through and offer periodic, heart-felt appreciation.  At its basic level, this should be a simple verbal “good job – well done”.  In the business world, it generally takes a more formal approach in the form of evaluations (mid-year and annual).  But that’s not always timely and because of the formality may even lose some of its impact.  The key to appreciation is timeliness, heart-felt, and appropriate for the action.  And it doesn’t have to happen just once!

And why not try other forms of appreciation; like Certificates of Recognition, monthly or quarterly luncheons, or short articles in newsletters or on websites.  None of these takes a lot of effort or money, but over time they can mean a lot.

Well, I hope you enjoy the last few days of summer and a safe and relaxing the Labor Day weekend.  I hope to finish off a book I’m reading by Chris Kyle titled “American Sniper”.  So far it’s an interesting read from the U.S. military’s most lethal sniper.

Be safe!

Getting Prepared In a Year

Having a long weekend will be great for picking up a few more things we need to be better prepared.  Here’s what you can do now to add to your preparedness kit:

From your local Hardware store, pick up the following items:

  • an extra flashlight (I like the LED ones)
  • batteries
  • masking tape
  • hammer
  • assorted nails
  • “L” brackets to help secure tall furniture (i.e. Bookcases) to wall studs so they don’t fall over
  • wood screws

Things to Do:

Brace (secure) shelves and cabinets around your house.

Presenter Verbal Skills

Welcome back …. and not just to my blog, but welcome back to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  We were here just three weeks ago and now we’re back.  From my previous writing, you know how blessed I feel to be here.  We’re on campus this week teaching another set of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager classes.

Before we get started talking about our training, I want to tell you about my travel here.  The flights were great.  The fine folks at Southwest were as friendly as usual, and both of my flights were on time.  And hey, no cost for two checked bags!  Also, it was a light travel day so the planes I flew on weren’t jammed.

My flight from St. Louis took me to Detroit, Michigan which for me was ideal.  My brief 40-minute lay-over allowed me to visit the National Coney Island and get a “coney” with fries and a drink.  For those not familiar with Detroit, the “coney” is a regional “delicacy”.  Now, it’s not just a hot dog with chili.  It’s MUCH better than that, and all I can say is man, that first, second, third, and forth bite was sooooo good.  I should have ordered two!  If you are ever in the Detroit area, make sure you have a “coney”.  Sorry, but the best I can do now is share a picture and a memory.

So today we started our first of three days of Train-the-Trainer and I instructed a unit titled “The Role of an Instructor.

The Role of an Instructor

This unit has two key ideas that it is built around:

  1. The various roles of a training instructor and the qualities that he or she should possess.
  2. What qualities and attributes an instructor needs to possess and learn in order to be most effective.

One of the roles a CERT training instructor fulfills is that of a presenter.  In our training we say that “when someone speaks of a good presenter, the qualities they are generally talking about include:

  • Sincere
  • Enthusiastic
  • Lively
  • Expressive
  • Interesting
  • Assertive
  • Convincing
  • Credible
  • Confident
  • Poised
  • Professional
  • Funny
  • Accepting

Bottom line, they need to be an effective communicator.

One of the most important tools  an effective presenter depends on is his/her presentation skills.  I thought I’d spend time today, and this week, addressing several of the qualities and attributes of an effective presenter, and today we’ll start by talking about verbal skills.

It’s no secret that many people have a terrific fear of speaking in public.  I think that fear exists for many because they simply don’t have the chance to learn and practice.  To help get over that fear, I recommend to my students that they seek out opportunities to learn, practice, and develop.  Two widely recognized opportunities would be taking public speaking classes at a local community college or other higher education institution, or joining a group like Toastmasters.  Another source of information (and training) would be from a vendor like Communispond .  The fine folks at Communispond were kind enough to share with me a few ideas on how one can improve their presentation skills.

Fight or Flight

When you present, does your heartbeat accelerate? Do you get butterflies or a knot in your stomach? Do your muscles feel tight? Walter Bradford Cannon, M.D., coined the term “fight or flight” in 1915 to describe an animal’s response to threats.

This term explains a lot as it relates to giving presentations. When you step in front of your audience, your digestive system is disrupted, your muscles contract, and your blood pressure elevates. On top of that, a whole bunch of chemical reactions kick in. It would be easier to run than to face the unknown of your audience. To counteract these symptoms:

  • Avoid caffeine and sugar-your body already has a heightened awareness and doesn’t need any more energy
  • Walk around backstage or out in the hall to work off some of the nervous energy
  • Swing your arms in circles
  • Shake out your hands
  • Relax your shoulders (you might try a yoga exercise)
  • Take a deep breath before you begin

Then, when you step in front of your audience, you’ll feel less threatened when presenting and be able to hold your ground without “fighting or fleeing.” Speaking with strong volume when you present will keep your audience more engaged than speaking at a soft volume level. But how do you speak loudly enough so everyone can hear you easily without straining your voice or damaging your vocal cords?

Speaking loudly enough

  • When you speak, relax your tongue. Create a big open space in your mouth and the back of your throat- imagine a space big enough for you to swallow a ping pong ball.
  • Make sure you breathe from your diaphragm so you support your voice.

Doing these two simple things should help you speak loudly enough without strain. Your audience will hear you easily and will continue to listen to your message.

Microphones Amplify Monotone

Presenters assume that using a microphone will enhance their voice, so they get close to it and go into their lounge act. Far from adding color to your voice, however, most microphones take some of the color out; they don’t capture the full range and resonance of your voice. Microphones don’t make you sound more interesting; and, they only amplify a monotone. When you’re presenting to a large audience and need to use a microphone, follow these tips:

  • Position the microphone at least six inches from your mouth.
  • Speak up. Project so that the first rows of your audience can hear you without the amplification.
  • Deliver your message with passion, energy and enthusiasm.
  • Let the sound engineer ride the volume control.

Your audience will love you because you’ll sound more interesting, you’ll hold their attention, and your message will be easier to follow.

Use Plain, Simple Language

What Mark Twain wrote in 1880 in a letter to D.W. Bowser applies to presenting today: “I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English -it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in…”

When you present, keep it simple. Beware of jargon, buzzwords, and long convoluted sentences. You don’t have to speak in business-speak to have an impact; in fact, you’ll be more effective the clearer and simpler you are. Ask yourself, “What’s the critical information my audience needs to know?” Ask, “What’s the best way to communicate this information to them?” Then select words and sentences that get that message through-plain and simple.

You’ll increase your credibility with your audience because you’ll make it easy for them to understand your key messages and take the action you want them to take.

Find the Right Words

Nothing makes a presentation or meeting harder to listen to than a presenter who stumbles to find the right words, instead using a lot of filler words like “umm,” “ahh,” and “so.”

While we use these fillers to help kill time while we think of our next thought, they don’t allow us to put our best foot forward. Here are a few tips that will help you to reduce the fillers and find the right words:

  • Do not fear silence, which always seems much longer to you than to your audience. A brief pause can help you gather your thoughts before you continue.
  • Create a list of attendees and deliver a single thought or sentence to each attendee, just as you would use your eye-brain control with an audience that’s in the room with you.
  • Speak louder than you normally would on the phone. This is a presentation after all, and the phone’s internal works will adapt. Speaking loudly makes you more aware of each “um” and “er,” so you’ll use them less.

Whether you’re a CERT instructor, an instructor of other classes, a business continuity manager, or a leader, you’ll need to present material to others.  Hopefully, with the information I’ve included in this blog, you will become a better presenter.

So, here’s some pictures from our class yesterday along with a National “coney”.  Come back tomorrow and we’ll continue on with our class as well as other qualities and attributes of an effective presenter.

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Good-bye Topeka … Hello Dale Carnegie

Martians are landing on earth! – “War of the Worlds”; H. G. Wells

“Human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria” – Dr. Peter Venkman; Ghostbusters

Happy April Fool’s Day!

No joke, we finished our trip to Topeka, Kansas two days ago.  We had a terrific class and an outstanding (unique) facility to teach in.  I was extremely pleased to see how much support the State of Kansas provides local communities with regards to Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and how dedicated the members of these teams are to helping their communities.  On our last day, the class presented me and my co-instructor with a beautiful 35th Infantry Division Association Challenge Coin as a remembrance of our time together.

The 35th Infantry Division  (“Santa Fe”) has been a formation of the National Guard since World War I.  It is headquartered at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and its personnel come from Illinois, Kansas and Missouri.

Along with a picture of the Challenge Coin, I’m including other pictures that I took from the Kansas National Guard Museum.

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How to Win Friends and Influence People

On the drive to Kansas, and partially on the way home, I took advantage of my time and listened to the audiobook “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.  The book was first published in 1936 and has undergone several revisions.  It has sold 15 million copies, and has been translated into almost every language on earth.  In the end, the book contains timeless principles on how to make people like you, and how to win others to your way of thinking. I’m embarrassed to say, that in all of my reading, this was a book that I had not read as of yet.  Am I glad I listened to this on my drive to Kansas.  For anyone who wants to be more effective in relating, communicating and leading people, this book is a must read.  And for those in the business continuity/emergency management fields, remember much of what we do is through relationships with others.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain. – People rarely blame themselves for anything, so if you criticize them not only are they unlikely to change, but also they may resent toward you.  If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation. – People will go long way – sometimes even become insane – just to get the appreciation they need. So be a person who gives honest and sincere appreciation to others. That’s the big secret of dealing with people. If you do that, you can’t keep people from liking you.  The biggest desire of human nature is the desire to be important.  And that’s the big secret of dealing with people.
  • Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  • Become genuinely interested in other people. – As Carnegie himself said “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
  • Smile – The way to make a good first impression is so simple that we sometimes forget it: smile. When you smile, people will feel that you are glad to meet them. They will feel accepted and get a good first impression about you.
  • Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language – People put tremendous importance on their names. Therefore it will be much easier for you to win their hearts if you approach them by using their names. Unfortunately, we often forget names.
  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves – It may seem counterintuitive, but being a good conversationalist isn’t about how good you talk. It’s about how good you LISTEN. Encourage others to talk about themselves and be a good listener. People will feel appreciated and they will regard you as a nice person to talk with.
  • Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  • Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely – To make people like you, make them feel important and do it sincerely. The desire to feel important is perhaps the deepest need someone has, so if you give it, you will win their hearts.

Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  • The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it – You can only lose if you argue because – no matter what the outcome of the argumentation is – you won’t win their heart. So the way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  • Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.” – A sure way of making enemies is by saying that they are wrong. People don’t like that, regardless of whether they are actually wrong or not. Such statements hurt their self-esteem. So learn to respect other people’s opinion, even when you disagree.
  • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  • Begin in a friendly way.
  • Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately – If you want to win other people to your way of thinking, it’s important to make them agree with you from the beginning. The way to do that is by asking questions that they will inevitably answer with “yes”. Every time they say “yes” they will become more receptive toward you. At the end, there is a good chance that they will accept the idea they previously rejected. This is a technique used by Socrates to convince his opponents.
  • Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  • Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view – There must be a reason why people say or act the way they do. Find that reason and talk from their point of view. If you understand them, they will in turn understand you.
  • Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  • Appeal to the nobler motives.
  • Dramatize your ideas.
  • Throw down a challenge.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

A leader’s job often includes changing your people’s attitudes and behavior.  Some suggestions to accomplish this:

  • Begin with praise and honest appreciation – As a leader, we sometimes need to correct the people we lead. But how can we do that without offending them? The answer is by praising and giving honest appreciation first. When we do that, they will become much more receptive to the correction we give.
  • Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  • Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  • Let the other person save face.
  • Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” – The best way to develop good traits in others is not by punishing them for incorrect actions but by rewarding them for correct actions. Praise every improvement they make, even the slightest one, and they will go to the right direction.
  • Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to – A good way to get others do things the way you want it is by giving them a fine reputation to live up to. For instance, if you want someone to be diligent then treat her as a diligent person and say so to her. Most likely she won’t disappoint you.
  • Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  • Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Getting Prepared In a Year

OK, hopefully you have been keeping up with our preparedness journey this year.  We are ready to make our next stop along the way.  Here’s what you can do now to add to your preparedness kit:

When you are at the grocery store, I want you to pick-up the following items:

  • one gallon of water (per person, and don’t forget your pets too)
  • A canned meat (i.e. tuna, chicken, ravioli, chili, beef stew, Spam, corned beef, etc.)
  • A canned fruit (i.e. peaches, pears, mandarin oranges, applesauce, etc.)
  • one can vegetables (i.e. green beans, kernel corn, peas, beets, kidney beans, carrots, etc.)
  • two rolls of toilet paper
  • an extra toothbrush
  • a travel-size toothpaste
  • (if needed) any special foods for special diets

Things To Do:

  • Have a fire drill at home.

Back to Leadership Basics

The great Vince Lombardi

With this new blog edition, I want to change gears a bit and  spend some time talking about another one of my favorite subjects … LEADERSHIP.

When I was beginning to develop my blog site almost a year  ago, it was suggested that I focus on emergency management and business continuity topics and stay away from “leadership” since it can sometimes be a vague topic.  While I agree somewhat with that perception, I am a believer that the business continuity and emergency management professions, and our country at large, is in dire need of sound leadership.  Each one of us can be a leader!  I also believe that  if we don’t think things are right, we have an obligation to contribute something to make things better.  You can’t simply complain and not do something, right?    So my contribution is to use my blog, as well as other media and speaking engagements, to bring issues to the forefront and stimulate discussion about business continuity, emergency management, and LEADERSHIP.   My hope is that the discussions we share will ultimately lead to positive action (or reaction) that will help us become better prepared leaders and subsequently the teams we lead to become happier, more prepared, and more productive.

Today, thanks to technology, it seems as though we are driven to find ways do things faster, cheaper, and quite honestly easier.  A good example is “apps”.  Those little applications people search for to use with their smart phones.  With our growing use (reliance perhaps) on smart phones, there seems to be a plethora of “apps” for just about anything including leadership.   Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for technology.  I enjoy technology, to a point.  And I’m thankful that people much smarter than me have created the technology capabilities we rely on today.  But I also feel that there are times that it’s important to set technology aside and get back to basics.  Some might call it the “old-fashioned way”.  Today, I think we are at a point that we need to return back to some old-fashioned leadership basics.  Those basics relate to how we, as leaders, relate to the people we lead.  After all, leadership is grounded in relationships.  Without a sound foundation in place, no app in the world is going to make things faster, cheaper, easier, or better.

Compassionate

First, good leaders are compassionate.  I think this is one area that many of today’s so-called leaders miss.  Maybe it’s because they are “too busy”.  Many seem to be over-booked with meetings and commitments.  Many talk about their multi-tasking capability, which we now know just doesn’t ring true.  We’ve allowed ourselves to become so busy, we no longer have time to be compassionate to others.  What a shame.

We must remember that when we lead, we lead people, not inanimate objects or administrative processes.  As leaders, we want our people to take action that in turn fulfills the vision and objective we’ve put in place.  We need to consider that people will be more willing to follow leaders that they feel demonstrates compassion toward them and the work they do.

Good leaders take an active interest in the people who work for them.  They make a concerted effort to know their subordinates and they let their subordinates know them.  If you haven’t taken the time to really get to know the members of your team, then you need to schedule time for an informal, relaxed, discussion with everyone on your team.  Use the time to get to know them and open yourself up to allow them to know you.  Make sure that during this discussion you help them to understand how important their job is to the overall success of the team, the organization, and the company.

Compassion also relates to how well we provide honest feedback to our teams with respect to how well they are performing.  Being compassionate means taking an interest in the well-being of others.  That in turn means being willing to offer sincere and honest feedback.

Passionate

Second, leaders have to be passionate.  They have to be excited about what they do.  Leaders orchestrate their teams and the work they do.  Leaders must display their excitement each and every day.  The excitement they display is contagious among their teams.  Overtime, the team begins to display passion like the leader, which in turn reflects positively on their performance of their tasks, even when challenges get in the way.

Start each day by spending a few quite moments contemplating your position in life and your career.  Appreciate your great fortune.  Be thankful for the opportunities you have.

Committed

Third, a leader must be committed.  There will always be challenges and the leader won’t always be successful.  However, real leaders are committed.  They commit to many things including the organization, the project, and the team.

Sometimes as a committed leader, we’ll be forced to do things that aren’t easy or that may cause us to be unpopular in the eyes of those around us.  Maybe it’s an unpopular decision; maybe it’s letting something or someone go.  No matter what it is, committed leaders keep the vision in sight, they stay focused, and they pursue.   They don’t let themselves get sidetracked by popular opinion.

Confidence is a building block of commitment.  It’s extremely difficult to be committed to something if you lack confidence.  Confidence doesn’t equate to cockiness or arrogance.  Just the opposite.  Many great leaders are very humble.  I think confidence is being sure.  Being sure that you’ve done your research, you have the right tools (both people and equipment) and you have the ability to help others be successful.

Let me leave you with this.  I’m including a link to a recent article I wrote titled “Are You Prepared To Lead?” that was published in the Disaster Recovery Journal; July 2011.  I hope that you’ll enjoy reading this.

Until next time, be safe and lead.

TIP:  “It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. Men respond to leadership in a most remarkable way and once you have won his heart, he will follow you anywhere.”  Vince Lombardi