Leadership; Have You Made the Mental Transition?

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” — Max De Pre, Author

Transitioning into a leadership role often requires a significant, and sometimes difficult, change in our mental models. One might almost call it a mental transformation.  How we think about others, ourselves, our roles and responsibilities must change; or at least in my opinion, should.

Early in our careers, we are often recognized, rewarded, and sometimes even promoted because of our personal skill sets and individual abilities to “get stuff done”, to make things happen, and to deliver results. In many ways, we become what I have described as “super-doers”.  We’re often rewarded for being hard workers; we are recognized for our individual efforts and accomplishments.

Most organizations love super-doers! Who doesn’t appreciate hard-working people who consistently deliver results day after day, month after month?  Don’t get me wrong, organizations need people who deliver results. This will never change. And, please know I am not advocating for less focus on delivering results. Results will always be important. What I am suggesting however, is that how we get those results needs to change if our career goals include taking on leadership responsibilities. At some point, those same “super-doer” qualities that served us well early in our careers, may become a liability, or even a “glass ceiling” of sorts, later in our careers.

Transitioning into leadership from more tactical roles and responsibilities requires a conscientious and deliberate shift in mindset, focus and priorities in many important areas.  How leaders spend their time, and what gets their attention, must change. For many of us, myself included, this can be a difficult transition.

Following are a few key mental transitions leaders must consider:

  • Results matter, not just today, but in the future as well. Leaders must deliver results today, AND simultaneously prepare their department, function or business for the future. While leaders must obviously address today’s challenges and deliver results in the present, they must also be more future-focused. Setting aside time to proactively look further down the path, anticipating future needs, problems, challenges and opportunities. This requires the discipline to think more strategically, proactively and be far less reactionary than earlier in their career. Their focus should increasingly be on “strategic fire prevention”, not reactive day-to-day “firefighting”.

    Click here to read: Prioritizing Your Schedule Isn’t Enough, March 5, 2018 
    Click here to read: Time Management is Not the Problem, August 26, 2018 

  • Structure, systems and processes are the responsibility of leadership! Leaders must be more focused on the continual improvement of organizational structures, systems and processes. When we ask talented and motivated people to work with tools, systems and processes that are less than ideal, perhaps even antiquated, we get mediocre results at best. It has been my observation that our employees and teams are frequently blamed for poor organizational results.  When managers blame their people for poor performance, it relieves those managers of their own personal responsibilities for repairing and/or replacing dysfunctional systems and processes. What processes need to be updated in your area of responsibility? Have you asked your team what is getting in their way of producing better results? 

  • Culture matters!  Leaders must now pay attention to, and shape, the culture of their department, function or business. Someone once said, “Organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast” (frequently attributed to Peter Drucker but has never been confirmed). The point; it doesn’t matter how grand your strategy, if your organizational culture doesn’t support it, or worse yet, fights that grand strategy. Often, organizational culture is the reason many change efforts fail or fall short of expectations.

    Click here to read: Culture Matters; February 17, 2019 

  • People Matter!  When a person becomes more concerned about the well-being of others, over their own personal needs, you know they have what it takes to be a leader. Leaders know they have performed their job well if the department, function or organization is positioned for success long after their departure.  True leaders value servant leadership as a mental model. Their role is to serve others, to remove barriers, to provide resources and to champion the success of others. I was fortunate to begin my career with a company where managers were taught this concept; they called it the “First Assistant” philosophy. Jack Welch said it this way, “Before you become a leader, success is about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

    Click here to read: Congratulations, You’re the Boss; Who Serves Who? August 12, 2018 
    Click here to read: Grow Your people, Grow Your Business, July 22, 2018

Being a “super-doer” can be a very good thing and serves most of us well early in our careers. However, if we don’t make the required mental shifts that come with leadership responsibilities, that same “super-doer” quality will likely become a glass ceiling.  Getting results will always be important, getting results with, and through, others is a critical function of leadership.

Bonus quotes:

“When you were made a leader, you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others!” —Jack Welch

“I don’t want my life to be defined by what is etched on a tombstone. I want it to be defined by what is etched in the lives and hearts of those I’ve touched.” ― Steve Maraboli

How will you lead differently, or better, this coming week?

All the best! Give your best! Do your best! Be your best!  Have a great week!!

Do you know someone who might benefit from this weekly leadership minute?  If so, please feel free to pass along the subscription link below:

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How will you lead differently, or better, this week?

Bryan Yager – Expanding your capacity for success
208.376.1701

Have a great week! 

This post was first published on May 6, 2019 at BryanYager.com

To have his newsletter “Monday Morning Minute” delivered to your email inbox every Monday, just click here: SUBSCRIBE

Getting Buy-In Isn’t Enough

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: “We can change our whole life, and the attitude of people around us, simply by changing ourselves.” -Rudolf Dreikurs

When facilitating workshops about change leadership, I often hear managers and leaders talk about how important it is to get employee “buy-in”.  I have certainly used those exact words myself, probably hundreds of times over the years. While I agree, getting people to “buy-in” to a pending change is important, we would be more effective and get better results when leading change, if we changed our mindset and our language first. Our success as change leaders begins with us.

The change in mindset I’m proposing is subtle, yet extremely powerful. As leaders, we must shift our mindset first, before asking others to change their mindset!

Here it is: From this day forward, as change agents and leaders of change, let’s erase the words “buy-in” from our vocabulary and more importantly, from our mindsets and the way we think about leading others through change.

I offer three reasons:

  1. When we think of getting people to “buy-in” to a change they don’t initially support, they must be “sold” on the change. I submit many people resent “being sold” much of anything, let alone a change they don’t desire, or perhaps thoroughly understand early in the process.
  2. If you think about it, buying something also means “paying a price”.  People are rarely willing to pay a price for an undesired change. More importantly, the “price they will pay” is often difficult to calculate or predict. They find themselves wondering: “Will this change result in a downsizing? Will it cost me my job? Will I have to learn new skills? Relocate? Work harder? You get the point. All of us listen to Wii-FM radio. Click here to learn more about Wii-FM Radio
  3. Many people today are often cynical, suspicious and “on guard” about being taken advantage of by self-serving salespeople, politicians and/or leaders.  Even the most altruistic and well-intended salespeople and leaders will battle this phenomenon. Of course, this becomes a non-issue if people trust their salesperson, politician or leader. Click here to learn more about trust

What is the subtle change in mindset I propose?  As change agents, let’s shift our mindsets from trying to create “buy-in”, and focus instead on creating a “believe in” mentality of the people we lead.

When people “believe in” the change, they will more fully accept, promote, champion, practice and live the desired change. Isn’t that our goal as change agents?

My theory is, by changing our mindset first, we will do a far better job of:

  • Creating a shared vision and set of beliefs about the change.
  • Explaining “The Why” and “The Need” for the change.
  • Sharing the data, a peek into our crystal ball and related conclusions.
  • Telling “The Story & History” that got us to this point in our journey.
  • Creating a compelling “Vision” for the change.
  • Involving others in creating the change; to be co-creators of our collective futures.
  • Instilling ownership and accountability for our success.

Again, a subtle, but important nuance. Let’s stop selling and start leading… start believing!

Bonus Quotes:

“Few things are more important during a change event than communication from leaders who can paint a clear and confidence-inspiring vision of the future.” – Sarah Clayton

“I wanted to change the world.  But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.” – Aldous Huxley

How will you lead differently, or better, this week?

Bryan Yager – Expanding your capacity for success
208.376.1701

Have a great week! 

This post was first published on April 15, 2019 at BryanYager.com

To have his newsletter “Monday Morning Minute” delivered to your email inbox every Mondy, just click here: SUBSCRIBE

Think Influence, Not Authority

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

Ken Blanchard

Many years ago, one of my mentors taught me the following: “Leaders must never be afraid to use their authority in a quest for action and results; and yet, the greatest of leaders rarely do.”

Certainly, there are situations when the use of authority, or “position power”, correctly applied, has a place in the application of modern leadership principles. I contend however, the use of authority, which comes with a person’s job title, can make for lazy and ineffective leaders. It is after all, so much easier to issue commands and bark orders, than to thoughtfully figure out what makes an individual tick, shape a culture where action is valued, and to lead effectively with values, vision, inspiration and a sense of hope for a better future.

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Weeds, Green Grass & People

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: “Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.” 

H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Author, Life’s Little Instruction Book

Ok, I’m guessing I’m not the only person who is ready for spring. (Compared to the rest of the country, we have had an unusually easy winter here in Boise, ID.)  Spring fever has arrived for me; I am anxious to be spending more time outside, both relaxing of course, and tinkering in my yard.

I’m likely to be amongst a small minority of people who, for the most part, enjoys yardwork. I have always mowed and maintained my own yard. Returning from a road trip to a home with a green, weed-free yard is gratifying for me. There are also important life lessons about relationships, teams and organizational cultures to be learned from green grass, weeds and mother nature herself.

Gardeners know the best deterrent to dandelions and other weeds is thick, green, healthy grass. (A related sports analogy would be, “The best defense, is a great offense.”) When the grass in our lawns is thick and healthy, there is no room for weeds to grow or even germinate. Healthy grass works like a barrier or shield against even the toughest weeds. Of course, the opposite is true as well, once grass becomes weak, perhaps from neglect, undernourishment, lack of water or stress, weeds attack with a vengeance.

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Culture Matters! How Fast Are You Driving?

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Peter Drucker (Maybe)

While many people attribute the quote above to Peter Drucker, it should be noted the phrase does not seem to appear in any of Drucker’s 39 published books on management theory. Regardless of its origin, anyone who has ever attempted a large-scale change initiative knows there is at least some truth in the statement. 

The implied message is that a company’s culture is more important to the organization’s success than some grand strategy. Bottom line, it doesn’t matter how wonderful your strategy is if your existing organizational culture won’t support it; or worse yet, attacks the strategy like the human body attacks an infection.  And yet, so few leaders measure, monitor or intentionally shape the culture of their department, function or organization. Why? I suspect, in part, because culture seems so squishy. It is perceived by many as “soft stuff”. Or, leaders assume, “the culture is what it is,” and can’t be measured, shaped, changed or reinforced.  Or perhaps, they’re just too busy fighting the fires of the day to care. That is a mistake.

You have heard me say this before, “the soft stuff, is the hard part” when it comes to leadership responsibilities. Organizational culture is seen by most as a “soft stuff” challenge.  I’m a believer, when it comes to organizational norms, behaviors, actions and results, culture is a stronger force, than strategy, policies, management edicts and glitzy marking campaigns. Let me use a simple example.

Envision a local highway, interstate or thoroughfare near your home or office during a “non-rush hour time of day.” Have a road in mind? Now, let me ask you two questions. First; “What is the posted speed limit on that road?” And second; “How fast do most people drive on that same road?”  For this discussion, let’s assume you have envisioned a road with a posted speed limit of 65 as pictured above.  And now, what is your answer to the second question; “How fast do people drive on that same road?”

I have asked workshop participants these same two questions for years. Most people answer the second question with something like, “You’re safe up to five or ten miles over the speed limit.”  What I find interesting; they’re not talking about their physical safety here; they’re talking about “safe” from not getting a speeding ticket from an officer of the law.

Here is the point, the law says, “Thou shalt not drive faster than 65 miles per hour on this section of road.”  The sign is not a suggestion; nor does it say 65ish, or 65 + 10. It says the speed limit is 65!And yet, our culture seems to say, “It is OK to drive five to ten miles an hour over the speed limit.” Repeating, culture matters because it controls human behavior, with more effectiveness, than any policy, procedure or management edict ever will.

This same phenomenon is at play in every division, function and department in every company around the world. We put up posters in our breakrooms announcing: (pick your favorite)

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Pessimism; Good or Bad??

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: “I like pessimists. They’re always the ones who bring life jackets for the boat.”
Lisa Kleypas, author


If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I like to write about positive energy and how important it is for leaders to be forward looking, optimistic and creators of hope, confidence, trust, promoters of opportunity and a better world for all. (see links below) Today, I focus on the opposite end of the optimistic/pessimistic continuum.

I am often asked to deliver workshops demonstrating the importance of diversity and the role of diversity in an organization’s success. As you might correctly assume, there is often a focus on gender, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation in most diversity initiatives.  Those are certainly important topics and at the same time, the importance of diversity extends well beyond those critical topics.

There is also a need for diversity in terms of personalities, working styles and leadership tendencies. Just to give a few examples, please consider:

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Is Your Leadership Energy Positive or Negative?

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Do people follow you like sunflower follow the sun?

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: “Become the kind of leader people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” 

Brian Tracy

Did you know young sunflower blooms follow the sun across the sky every day until they are fully mature? I certainly didn’t. However, I noticed the phenomenon on a 2-week road trip I took with my dad across the western United States in late summer three years ago.

As we passed fields of commercial sunflower crops in the morning, I noticed every single bloom was facing east in the direction of the sun. It was as if they were standing at attention and ready for whatever the day might bring. I didn’t give it much thought until I made another observation about those blossoms in late afternoon; they all faced west in the direction of the setting sun. The next day, I paid attention throughout the day… sure enough, entire fields of sunflower blossoms followed the sun across the sky from east to west! Absolutely amazing! At least I thought so. I was curious enough to do a little research which confirmed my observations to be true.

There seem to be several scientific theories behind this phenomenon, but one thing is for sure, the blossoms are attracted too, and follow, the warm energy of the sun across the summer sky. (Those of you with house plants already know how plants will grow in the direction of sunlight.)

I submit there are leadership lessons to be learned from Mother Nature about the power of not only the sun, but of warm, positive, growth-stimulating, life-giving energy. As leaders, the energy we radiate will either attract people, turn them off or worse yet, turn them away! Our style and approach to leadership can either be energizing on one end of the spectrum or completely stifling and paralyzing on the other. This is an important leadership concept! In today’s competitive environment, our organizations must attract and retain the “best & brightest” if we are to not only survive, but flourish and grow, well into the future.  As leaders, we must lead in such a way that the “best & brightest” want to work with us and support our organizational mission and vision. If you’re following the generational trends in the workplace, you already know many people from Gen Y and Z tend to value leaders who are willing to make an investment in their growth and personal development.

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Come join me (and a several hundred of my closest friends) in Nashville Tennessee!  The great team at SourceMedia and Employee Benefit Adviser have put together what promises to be an outstanding conference.

I have been honored to give the kick-off, keynote speech! I couldn’t be more humbled and excited. The title of my talk is Leaving a Legacy Through Recruiting.

For more information about the conference just CLICK HERE  But you need to hurry! The conference is almost sold out.

See you in Nashville ‘ya all.

Date: February 20, 2019
Time: 3:30-4:15 p.m.
Appearance: Work Place Benefits Renaissance
Outlet: Keynote Speech - Leaving A Legacy Through Recruiting
Location: Omni Hotel - Nashville, Tennesee
Format: Other

I will be announcing the full launch of the VoluntaryLeader.com website!

Are You Taking Your Health for Granted?

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Invest in Your Health

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote:Health is not valued till sickness comes.”— Thomas Fuller

Bill Gillispie, Jr., a good friend of mine, recently suggested I write an article on the importance of valuing, and appreciating, your health before it is gone. It’s true isn’t it, far too often we take our health for granted until it is too late. It almost feels like an epidemic; poor eating habits and/or too little exercise, too little sleep, maybe a sedentary lifestyle, could be too many cigarettes or too much alcohol, or perhaps a combination of bad habits with little desire or effort to change, all because we take our health for granted.

Bill should know. While his health challenges are not related to his personal habits, he was diagnosed with MS in 1999 and has been fighting this disease for almost 20 years. His MS progression has been slower, and his symptoms are currently manageable, making him one of the more fortunate people fighting this crippling disease. More recently, Bill was also diagnosed with prostate cancer which required the surgical removal of his prostate gland. All of this prompted his suggestion of imploring people to not take their health for granted.

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SIV #070: Eric Silverman Returns

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Single-handedly disrupting a 100-year old industry.

All we have to do is change everything.

I’ve known today’s guest Eric Silverman for a long time. When we had him on last time he sparked some controversy with some of his opinions and thoughts around where he thinks the Voluntary Benefits industry, or as he calls it enhanced benefits, is headed.

Well if you though his last appearance was controversial, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t agree with him on several things we talked about but I do admire, respect and am willing to be challenged by his positions and beliefs. How open are you to hearing things that might challenge your status quo? I never want to close off my thinking by digging into my position without understanding the other side of the argument.

As you listen to today’s podcast, my guess is that there will be somethings Eric talks about that might not sit quite right with you or even make you mad… And that’s great!

Eric would love to start a conversation with you and listen to your point of view.

During our interview I forgot to talk about his excellent book Breaking Through The Status Quo. That was completely my fault. (Sorry Eric!) I can’t recommend it enough!

Now SERIOUSLY get out blue crayons and brown paper bag to take some notes. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and facilitating a lively discussion around this interview.


Things Eric And I Talked About

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Is Your Attitude Intentional or Accidental?

Editor’S Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each Monday titled Monday Morning Minute.

He has agreed to share it with the SIV tribe as a regular contributor each and every Monday morning! To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote:“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.”— Robert Braathe

I’m going to ask you to do something I often ask of workshop participants. This is an experiment of sorts. Know up front the task is only possible as a mental exercise because doing it would be impossible. It is a three-step process. Here it is:

First, I would like you to visualize all the people you know, from all aspects of your life, facing you in one single line from left to right. (For some, this will be a very, very long imaginary line.)

Second, I would like you to mentally arrange these people from “most successful” on one end of the line to “least successful” on the opposite end of the line in a continuum.  For this exercise, you may use your own personal definition of success.  For some, it might be financial or career success, for others, it might be relational, family, or spiritual success. For still others, it may be a happiness index of some kind. I have learned that for this activity, the definition doesn’t seem to matter much.

Now, looking at all the people from “most successful” on one side to “least successful” on the other end, what do you think is the biggest differentiator between the people standing on opposite ends of the spectrum? What do the successful people tend to have in common that separates them from those on the other end?

Based on my experience, with most workshop participants and groups, I can predict your answer. Almost always, the number one answer I get in that mental activity is… ______________?  If you guessed “attitude”, then you agree with most people who have participated in this experiment over the years.

I find this puzzling! If most people know that “one’s attitude” is a key factor in “one’s level of success” in almost every aspect of life, why do so many people persist with a negative attitude? It seems the correlation is obvious to even the casual observer. I offer three possible explanations:

  1. People truly don’t know how important a positive attitude is to their level of success in life.
  2. People have low self-awareness and don’t know how their attitude is received or perceived by others. (They believe their attitude is just fine and not a problem. Simultaneously, they often see other people as the primary source of problems in their life.)
  3. People have come to believe their attitude is justified. (“If you had my boss, my spouse, or my upbringing, you would have a bad attitude too.”)

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

John Wooden

I was once taught that attitude is nothing more than the outward expression of inward thoughts. How we think on the inside determines our attitude on the outside. I’d like to suggest another definition; attitude is nothing more than a person’s “habit pattern response” to life. In other words, a bad attitude has become a habit. To change our attitudes, we must change and upgrade our thinking… and we must do so intentionally.

I would like to convince you that attitudes are a choice we make, minute by minute, day by day, person by person. Here is my challenge to you for this week; think and act intentionally. If you’re not proud of your recent attitude, choose to be more positive this week and see what happens. Don’t leave your attitude to chance or habit this week. Choose your attitude, your “habit pattern response to life” intentionally!

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”

Helen Keller

How will you lead differently, or better, this week? Be your best and the best shall be returned to you if full. I promise.

Bryan Yager – Expanding your capacity for success

This post was first published on January 21, 2019 at BryanYager.com

To have his newsletter “Monday Morning Minute” delivered to your email inbox every Mondy, just click here: SUBSCRIBE

SIV #069: Wes Schaeffer – The Sales Whisperer

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The A,B,C,D,Es of Selling

I first met Wes Schaeffer at a convention in Phoenix back in 2014. He was just starting to get some real traction in his business and he has exploded from there. His “The Sales Podcast” is one of my must listen to podcasts and he has taught me a ton!

You are going to enjoy our time with Wes and I hope you come away a better salesperson.

Do you know the only way to ensure you learn something from this podcast? Take some notes!

You don’t have to be all fancy about it and write them in your leather bound journal. Just grab a brown paper bag and some blue crayons and let’s go to work.


Things Wes And I Talked About

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