The ‘Softer’ Skills are Just as Important…Maybe Even More

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think” – Albert Einstein

“No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.”  John Stuart Mil

As I write this week’s leadership message, I sit 30,000 feet above the ground on a flight to Washington D.C.  I’ve been invited to participate in a series of workshops tomorrow with The Hope Street Group, an initiative chaired by the U.S. Department of Education that strives to bring together the right institutions towards the common goal of developing tools and solutions at the complex intersection of workforce supply and demand.  In other words, The Hope Street Group wants to develop a better way for our country to both understand the specific skills needs of our employers while bridging the gap for the development of the proper skills of potential job candidates in our communities. Continue reading

What Motivates You?

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – Lou Holtz

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Ever wonder what motivates people?  Why people do the things they do?  Why some are so focused on getting ahead, while others prefer continuity?  Why some pour themselves in to their work, while others find great balance in work and family life?   Or do you wonder what keeps people engaged with one organization when bigger opportunities or higher pay might exist ‘across the street’? Continue reading

Balancing Work with Life

balance“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.”  [Zig Zigler]

I often stress the importance of work/life balance to my fellow team mates. So for this leadership thought posting, I thought I would feature that concept. And, given that we are deep in the middle of the summer holiday season and now in the middle of a holiday week (July 4th) whose Wednesday calendar placement seems to have given many of us the opportunity for a very long weekend break, this quote is perfect. And of all of the quotes I’ve seen about work/life balance, this one seems to put it all in the right perspective.

I’ve often used my leadership thought posting to impart some wisdom around how to be a better leader in all aspects of life. Clearly many of my past entries have focused around the importance of leadership in managing your teams, in working with your teammates, and in servicing your clients. Make no mistake, it is important for you to build a company of leaders that are known for the quality of their work and the character of their team.

But it is also important to seek a balance in the order of things. Much like the Tao religion/philosophy that seeks harmony with the yin and yang in all things, we aren’t going to be productive or effective in work if we aren’t at harmony with the other aspects of our life. Our health. Our family. Our friends. Our interests. These are all important as well.

OK, maybe that’s getting a little too deep for this week’s message, but you get the picture.

Words of Wisdom

“Now my little eaglet, stand on the edge of the nest, take a deep breath, and soar.  I want to watch you fly!”

[Linda H. Tumlinson – 1945-2012]

I hope I am not out of line with this week’s quote, as it touches on a rather personal note.  But since I believe in personalizing my messages, I’m taking a chance and sharing it.  This week’s quote comes from my mother, Linda H. Tumlinson.  It’s an excerpt from a letter she wrote me on the day I graduated from college.  Please bear with me as I share the wisdom behind this quote, while paying a small tribute to the person who most shaped my life.

As some of you are aware, I lost my mother this past week after a long and lengthy battle with Lupus.  She was an amazing woman.  After serving as a parole officer for 25 years, she went on to found one of the first shelters for battered and drug addicted women in Houston (The Shoulder) and served as a key executive with Prison Fellowship Ministries.

A truly selfless person, she had a gift for seeing the very best in a person, and for believing in them when others may not have.  She knew the character of a man (or woman), and was willing to take risks to give them the chance to let that character shine through.  She was not judgmental, but she did expect you to be accountable for your actions.  But most of all, she could see potential in every single person and would push you to achieve it regardless of the circumstances.

I’ve carried this quote in my head for over 22 years now.  It is such an amazing quote.  So full of hope.  So full of anticipation.  And so full of promise.  It shows faith, trust, and belief.  How can you not strive to be your absolute best when you’ve been given such words of encouragement?

I am sharing this quote for two reasons.  One, I believe it is a fitting tribute to a wonderful person.  Two, I want you to have it.  I want you to own it.  And I hope it inspires you to achieve more than you ever thought possible simply because someone believes in you that much.

PS – thank you so much for all of the support you’ve given me through this tough time.  You will never know how important it was in helping me through it.  As was sharing this quote, so I appreciate you allowing me the latitude to do so.

Managing by Objective

“It is direction that determines destination, not intention”

[Andy Andrews]

Since we are at the beginning of the calendar year, and for many organizations, the beginning of their fiscal year, I thought I would focus on the importance of organizational vision, alignment and a plan to win as this posting’s leadership message.

One of the cultural leadership traits I have always tried to develop in organizations I manage is the concept of “Manage By Objective.”  This cultural principle essentially highlights the importance of knowing your destination, developing a plan to get there, and creating the focus that ensures you reach those objectives.

But as this week’s leadership quote notes, “it is direction that determines the destination, not intention.”  In order to achieve that destination, you must ensure the proper direction and have the right focus to ensure continued to progress toward that destination.

Most organizations have not figured this out.  Surprisingly, many slumber along thinking that the same old approach will work year in and year out.  They think to themselves, “as long as we keep doing what we do the future will happen as it should”.  They don’t have a plan.  And when they do, its ill-conceived and much more aspirational than practical.

For an organization to succeed, it must build a culture of direction.  It must be aligned.  It must know where it is going, and it must have a plan to get there.  And I’m not talking about a financial plan, I’m talking about a plan that lays out very specifically what the key objectives and priorities are, and what will constitute success.

How do you lead your organization?  Have you created a vision, a strategy, and a plan of how to get there?  Or do you simply hope that through motivation and encouragement the organization will somehow find its way?