Monday, December 24, 2012

Boulder Colorado Commercial Real Estate Investments - Why Invest?

Denver Real Estate Investment In this economy, it is difficult to know where to put your money. Many argue that commercial real estate is a safe and smart investment if it is done in the right way and the right place. Colorado has been highlighted as one of the top states to invest in property in the recent years. Some of Boulder, Colorado's most prominent business leaders gave their opinions on the commercial real estate market at the Boulder Economic Council 2010 Economic Forecast.

Advantages of Portable Buildings

portable buildings are basically buildings that are manufactured in factories and the parts are shipped to the building site where they are assembled. Portable buildings are not always portable once they're constructed, the only reason they're named this is because they're shipped to you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why Giving Thanks Matters

Thanksgiving is when one species ceases to gobble and another begins.
-          R.E. Marion

A story is told of two men who were walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence. The storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent that they would not make it.

Terrified, the one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We are in for it!” John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.” “But you must,” implored his companion. “The bull is catching up to us.” “All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.”

Thanksgiving, to borrow a football analogy, is like the two-minute warning at the end of an NFL game. At the two-minute warning comes a chance to catch your breath and finish strong. Thanksgiving is the two-minute warning signaling the close of a long year whereby you can rest, be with family and friends, and reflect on all your blessings.

What kind of a year has it been for you? What does the scoreboard say? Are you thankful for your blessings as well as the challenges you have faced this year? Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.”

The two men walking through the field met an unwelcomed challenge that quickly changed the course of their personal well-being. That’s how life unfolds—fast, unexpected at times, but never boring. For those in leadership, possessing a thankful heart is how you finish strong. But why does being thankful matter? Here are three reasons why.

Giving thanks connects you to the source of your blessing. The further removed you are from the source of your blessings the easier it is to take your blessings for granted. In a recent blog post, Michael Hyatt shared how at the encouragement of a friend, he started carrying a gratitude rock in his pocket. Hyatt writes, “The idea is simple. Whenever my hand contacts the stone–usually several times a day–I give thanks for whatever is happening at that moment, whether good or bad.”

Giving thanks connects you and reminds you that regardless of what you are going through, there is always something for which to be thankful. What is the source of your blessings? Be it your faith, family, or other significant person, show your appreciation.

Giving thanks empowers you to serve. What is the greater purpose of your leadership? When you understand that it is not about you then you are prepared to serve causes greater than yourself. Likewise, you will be hard pressed to find a whiner or complainer who puts the cares and concerns of others above his own.

The late Fred Rogers said, “The real issue is not how many blessings we have, but what we do with our blessings. Some people have many blessings and hoard them. Some have few and give everything away.” I am convinced that the more you have to be thankful for the more generous you will be. Servant leadership begins with a thankful heart.

Giving thanks completes you as a leader. Many terms are used to identify a leader: visionary, passionate, honest, trustworthy, delegator, and decision maker, to name a few. As noble and necessary as those qualities are it is thankfulness that completes and compliments your leadership.

How do you express gratitude to those around you? John Maxwell said, “The people who follow you also desire a personal touch. They want to know that others care about them.” The circle of caring is completed as you nurture a thankful attitude and demonstrate it to others.

Giving thanks matters and is a key ingredient in your growth as a leader. A thankful heart will connect you with the source of your blessings, empower you to serve others, and will complete you as a leader. Don’t allow the negatives you are faced with to drain you of your of your energy or cause you to take your eye off the ball. Give thanks, give it often, and finish strong.

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

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Friday, November 9, 2012

6 Leadership Lessons from the West Point Cadet Prayer

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays – Søren Kierkegaard

The stated mission of the United States Military Academy is to “educate, train and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.” I like it. It’s clear, concise, and straight to the point.

I recently read the West Point Cadet Prayer for the first time. It contains plenty of leadership nuggets worth remembering and applying. Let’s face it; leadership is hard. It’s demanding. It can be lonely.

Contained within the prayer are leadership markers that if taken to heart and embraced can be a difference maker in formulating your leadership style and disposition. Here are six leadership takeaways for your consideration with the corresponding words from the prayer (italics mine).

Lead with integrity. Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life.

Integrity is the foundation from which leadership flows. When leaders commit to living by example rather than by decree it raises the bar for others to follow. When you commit to live above the common level of life as a leader you will be an uncommon leader worth following.

Aim for excellence. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong and never to be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won.

This portion of the prayer is poignant. Leaders make the hard choices. Leading with excellence is about choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong. It is the high calling and price of excellent leadership. There are no shortcuts.

Don’t be afraid. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.

If integrity is the foundation of leadership then courage is the fuel that drives it.  Anais Nin said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” So does your leadership. Pray for courage.
Pray for wisdom. Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life. Never take lightly the responsibility of leadership. Surround yourself with trusted advisors and never be too proud to seek advice.

Be compassionate. Grant us newties of friendship and new opportunities of service. Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer.

Charles Dickens said, “Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts,” That’s great advice for leaders. The spirit of a leader is just as important as the vision of the leader. No one wants to follow a jerk.

Serve with honor. Help us to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished and unsullied and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country.

Leaders serve with honor and are devoted to causes greater than self. Henry Ward Beecher said, “There never was a person who did anything worth doing who did not receive more than he gave,” And that is the secret of great leadership. Leaders who get ahead do so out of generosity. Lead with honor and you will be rewarded.

Leaders – it’s time to say your prayers.

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Most of Your Office is Stressed - Are You?

Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith – Henry Ward Beecher

I read a story about a man back in 1835 who visited a doctor in Florence, Italy. He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from a lack of sleep. He couldn’t eat and he avoided his friends. The doctor examined him and found that he was in prime physical condition. There was no apparent physical ailment that the doctor could detect.

The doctor concluded that his patient needed to have a good time and told him about a circus in town and its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi. Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles. “You must go see him,” the doctor advised. “Grimaldi is the world’s funniest clown. He’ll make you laugh and cure your sadness.” “No,” replied the despairing man, “he can’t help me. You see, I am Grimaldi.”

A recent Inc. magazine story related that 77% of American workers are stressed about something at work. Share of employees who cite the following as significant sources of stress:
·         Low salary 49%
·         Lack of opportunities for advancement 43%
·         Heavy workload 43%
·         Unrealistic expectations from managers 40%
·         Long hours 39%

Anxiety is a part of our workplace culture. If you are not stressed by something at work chances are you know someone who is. The mark of your leadership is not that you manage your own stress well but that you are creating a stress-less culture in your office. How is this done? Here are four simple reminders about how to deal with your anxiety.

Straighten up. A lot of stress in the office is created by clutter. The big picture will never be clear if your point of view is a mess. An orderly system to navigate your day goes a long way in causing it to run smooth. If your work area is cluttered then chances are your associated thought processes are a source of stress. Clean it up.

Speak up. One of the worse things a person can do is to keep things bottled up on the inside. Eventually what happens? All those emotions that have been building up boil over and it does not have a happy ending. Open and honest communication goes a long way in defusing a situation before it reaches an unhealthy conclusion. Let it out.

Step up. It’s when you learn to serve others and consequently serve causes greater than self that you learn the leadership law of reciprocity – the good that you do for others will come back on you. When was the last time you stepped up your game for the sake of a colleague? Never be so consumed with your own interests that you have no time to serve others. Step up and lead by example. One day you will be glad that you did. Serve it up.

Stay up. The attitude you choose will make all the difference when it comes to the stress and anxiety that you bear. No one is immune from stress, but neither are you restricted by the attitude you embrace.

John Maxwell writes, “Our destinies in life will never be determined by our complaining or high expectations. Life is full of surprises and the adjustment of our attitudes is a lifelong project. The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”

Stress can either be the head wind that wears you down or the wind in your sails that takes you to new destinations. Choose to be up!

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

4 Attitudes in Adversity that Define Your Leadership

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit. – Napoleon Hill

Lou Holtz shares the story of a blind man who was being led down the street by a guide dog. When they came of the corner of a busy intersection, the dog crossed against the light. The blind man had no choice but to follow. Cars swerved to avoid them; drivers honked their horns and swore loudly.

Somehow, the duo reached the other side unharmed. As they stopped on the corner, the blind man reached into his pocket, pulled out a dog biscuit, and offered it to the reckless canine. Having just watched the two as they crossed, a bystander tapped the blind man on the shoulder and said, “Sir, that dog almost got you killed. The last thing you should do is give him a biscuit as a reward.” The blind man smiled and said, “I’m not giving him a reward. I’m trying to find his mouth so I can kick him in the rear.”

The attitude we adapt in times of adversity will not only define the moment but will determine the future. Winston Churchill was right when he said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Your attitude in adversity will either demote you or promote you. Here are four common attitude approaches when times are tough. Which one will be yours?

Why me, why now?’ A common reaction when adversity comes is to ask the age old question of “why me?” No one likes adversity and it would be nice to live life without it. But in leadership as in life, adversity is a reality. When a leader begins to entertain these early negative thoughts the seeds of doubt are being planted. Be careful.

This is not fair.’ This attitude is not only a snapshot of your current state of mind but is the framework of how you are prepared to deal with it at least in the short term. Brian Tracy writes, “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to happen to you.”

The attitude formula looks like this: WR (wrong reaction) +NE (negative energy) = BE (bad ending). Before you kick your bad attitude too far down the road take Tracy’s words to heart. It’s not too late to turn around a bad ending, but you better hurry.

Why not me?’ At first read this might sound like arrogance. I prefer confidence. The difference maker between a leader with less skill who succeeds and a leader with more skill who fails comes down to attitude. A good attitude is the tipping point. Zig Ziglar was right when he said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

The attitude of the leader who says ‘why not me?’ is the one who does not shy away from adversity but confidently believes that these are defining moments of his leadership. A good attitude gives way to confidence.

Everyone together’ Compare and contrast the attitude choices in play. Notice the difference between the leader with the positive attitude and the leader with the negative one. The leader with the bad attitude is focused on himself and the bad hand he was dealt. The positive leader chooses to see his opportunity and how together with his team it can be overcome.

The attitude formula in play looks like this: GA (good attitude) + RA (right actions) = GO (Great Opportunity). A good attitude gives you a distinct advantage as a leader. It is the single greatest asset you have when facing the challenges of leadership.

William James said, “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” Adversity in leadership is not unique, but the right attitude will give you the advantage. How is your attitude?

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Small Biz and Big Stress - Three Things Every Leader Needs to Know

Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one – Hans Selye

It was reported in the September issue of Inc., that 43 percent of small business owners and managers say they feel more stressed now than they did a year ago. What are they stressed about?

·         54% say they are stressed about losing the company
·         51% are stressed about losing clients
·         41% are stressed about personal health
·         52% stress about repaying personal debt
·         38% stress about being on call 24/7
·         35% are stressed about repaying company debt
·         49% stress about being unable to bring in new business

We live in unprecedented times as it pertains to the economy and stress factors are clearly on the rise as Inc. points out. Even in the best of times leaders have various stress factors to reckon with. How leaders deal with stress matters not just for themselves but for those around them.

But there is a big difference between knowing what people are stressed about and understanding why and what a leader can do about it. Stress points come at us from many directions. Here are three things about stress you should be aware of and why it matters to your leadership style.

Stress that is out of your control. Many of the stress factors you deal with you have no control over. Comforting isn’t it? These stress points can come from a wide variety of sources that impact your life and business in one way or another. How you cope with this type of stress will lead to one of two things: more stress or a better management style.

In his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Richard Carlson writes, “When you look at life and its many challenges as a test, or series of tests, you begin to see each issue you face as an opportunity to grow, a chance to roll with the punches. Whether you’re being bombarded with problems, responsibilities, even surmountable hurdles, when looked at it as a test, you always have a chance to succeed, in the sense of rising above that which is challenging you.”

You may not have chosen the stress you face, but you do choose your response to it. When you face it, not in a destructive way, but with a belief that “this too shall pass”, you can lead by example take control of it.

Stress you cause. Let’s be honest, there are times leaders cause stress. This happens when leaders espouse unrealistic expectations, delivers inconsistent communication, or promotes an unclear vision. In his book, The 360° Leader, John Maxwell writes, “In an organization, security flows downward. When leaders are insecure, they often project that insecurity down on the people below them.” And this is the mistake leaders make by being the source of stress for their team.

Caring leaders conscientiously strive to relieve the stress that finds its way into the organization by being the stress spotter and finding ways to reduce it. Your team is under enough stress as it is without you being the creator of it. Are you a source of stress or a deflector of it?

Stress you capitalize upon. Ultimately, no one is immune from stress. It is a part of life and leadership and there is no escaping it. However, stress can be a positive motivator if you choose the right attitude. Mark Sanborn, author of The Fred Factor says, “Freds know that one of the most exciting things about life is that we awake each day with the ability to reinvent ourselves. No matter what happened yesterday, today is a new day. While we can’t deny the struggles and setbacks, neither should we be restrained by them.” What a great thought.

Tough times call for courageous leaders who will step up and embrace the stress and turn it into something positive. Instead of being discouraged and defeated by it why not recognize it for what it is; a blessing in disguise and an opportunity for growth and development?

To be sure, stress can cause many problems, health and otherwise. Yet it is when we take an honest look at the stress that is out of our control, the stress we cause, and the stress that we capitalize upon that we can begin to get it under control.

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

The 3 R's of Service-based Leadership

You can start right where you stand and apply the habit of going the extra mile by rendering more service and better service that you are now being paid for. – Napoleon Hill

In his book, Waking the American Dream, Don McCullough relates a story about Winston Churchill during World War II. England decided to increase its production of coal. Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support. At the end of his presentation he asked them to picture in their minds a parade which he knew would be held in Piccadilly Circus after the war.

First, he said, would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven Luftwaffe from the sky.

Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner’s caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, ‘And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?’ And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, ‘We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.’”

Needed within the ranks of your organization are team members playing to their strengths to make your business thrive. These positions cover the spectrum from high visibility to those with their faces to the coal, but nonetheless are extremely valuable in the service they deliver.

Service-based leadership is the life-blood of your organization. In his best-selling book, The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn writes, “The best Freds are true artists at taking ordinary products or job responsibilities and services and making them extraordinary. They are real-world alchemists who practice the art and science of ‘value creation.’” He is right. Do you have a culture of service within your organization?  Here are three tips to help you turn that picture of service-based leadership into a practice.

Re-create your culture. In a recent survey by Consumer Reports, consumers revealed their most irritating customer service gripes. Topping the list? Not being able to get a human on the phone, rude salespeople, many phone steps needed, long waits on hold, unhelpful solutions, and no apology for unsolved problems, just to name a few. What are yours?

If you are going to re-create your current culture and transform it into a service-based leadership culture, you must change your point of view. This is done when you quit your navel-gazing ways and look at your operation through the eyes of your customers. Solicit their feedback and audit their responses and see how you measure up. Re-creating the culture within your organization begins when you shift the focus off yourself and onto those you serve.

Refocus your priorities. Service-based leadership begins with fundamental shifts in attitudes and actions. This is characterized by making sure that your core values are clear to everyone within your organization and practiced with everyone outside of it. If your values are not clear internally they will not be known externally.

The responsibility for service-based leadership rests with the leader at the top of the organization. Ken Blanchard said, “True success in servant leadership depends on how clearly the values are defined, ordered, and lived by the leader.” How clear are your organizational values and how well have you communicated them?

Re-claim your purpose. What is the true meaning or purpose behind what you do? Billy Sunday said, “More men fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent.” He’s right. The secret of service-driven leadership is found in your purpose. When your purpose and passions are clear so is your mission.

Without purpose you may find yourself like Alice in the fairy tale Alice in Wonderland. In a conversation between her and the Cheshire Cat, Alice asked, “Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the cat. “I don’t much care where,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the cat.

Which way you go matters.  Service-based leadership is deliberate, focused, and is crucial to your success. Service-based leadership is simply servant leadership principles lived out in the marketplace. In order for it to work, you must, like Churchill, paint the picture for others to see and put a plan into action. In order to get ahead you must be willing to serve.

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Prescription for Effective Teamwork

The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime. – Babe Ruth

A recent Gallup report revealed what many have believed about teamwork for quite some time. The world’s top performing organizations understand that employee engagement is a force that drives performance outcomes. In the best organizations, engagement is more than a human resource initiative-it is a strategic foundation for the way they do business.

 The commitment of these top companies to a purposeful strategic plan that places an emphasis on employee engagement is not just lip-service but a fundamental component of its operation. The report highlights that in world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 9.57.1 whereas in average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.83.1

One shining example of an organization that understands the power of teamwork is the Mayo Clinic. Business Management Daily reports that after a diagnosis, patients at the clinic meet with a team of specialist who help them understand what’s happening so they can decide about their treatment together.

Asked why health care so often lacks collaboration that makes Mayo famous, president and CEO Denis Cortese traces the problem to medical schools, where he says students aren’t trained to work in teams. The problem is further complicated he says due to so many specialties and sub-specialties and that it’s difficult to take care of patients with five different conditions, and Cortese adds, “that requires teams.”

Is there a disconnect that exists in relation to our understanding of team concepts and the implementation of teamwork? Understanding the potential of teams and living out the reality of what successful teams can do is another. So how do we connect the dots and make sense of the power of teamwork. Here are three tips for consideration.

Personalize your definition of teamwork. The teamwork strategy for the Mayo Clinic may not be the best teamwork approach for your business. And while general principles such as communication may be standard, not all of the specific details will be the same. Simply put, find what works for you and do it.

It is important to remember what Gallup points out; employee engagement is the foundation of all top performing organizations. The key here is to personalize your definition of teamwork by including everyone, defining boundaries and objectives, and include routine performance assessments.

Promote a teamwork environment. The Gallup report sheds critical light on what happens when employees are actively disengaged in their organizations. It reveals that “disengaged employees erode an organization’s bottom line while breaking the spirits of colleagues in the process.” Gallup estimates this cost to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone.

World-class organizations have placed employee engagement at the foundation of their operation. The promotion of teamwork and employee engagement is not a guarantee of success, but world-class organizations did not attain that status without it. Smart leaders promote an environment where teamwork thrives and people willingly contribute.

Prioritize teamwork initiatives. A patient at the Mayo Clinic will meet with a team of specialist to formulate a treatment plan that is best for that person. Within your organization are people with certain skill sets that best formulate the chemistry needed to tackle the objectives you seek to accomplish. The pairing of these individuals is critical to the success of the team and to the organization as a whole.

The chemistry of the team, not to mention the egos involved, can be both a challenging and rewarding experience. When leaders empower teams to think creatively, seek unconventional solutions to uncommon problems, and not worry about who gets the credit, great things can happen. The secret to unleashing your potential is in releasing the genius and power of teamwork.

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

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* This column originally appeared in the International Business Times.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lead to Please?

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody – Bill Cosby

@sk any Green Bay Packers fan and they will tell you without any hesitation that the infamous call at the end of the game against Seattle was blown and it cost them the game. Before the lockout with the regular NFL officiating crew was ended, the replacement referees were in an unenviable situation of trying to please the players, coaches, and fans. It was a daunting task.

It reminds me of the story of the boy who rode on a donkey as the old man walked. As they went along, they passed some people who remarked, "It’s a shame the old man is walking and the boy is riding." The man and the boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

Later, they passed some people who remarked, "What a shame, he makes that little boy walk." They decided they both would walk. Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So they both rode the donkey.

Now they passed some people that shamed them by saying, "How awful to put such a load on a poor donkey." The boy and man said they were probably right so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned. The moral of the story: If you try to please everyone, you will eventually lose your a_ _.

Jules Ormont said, “A great leader never sets himself above his followers except in carrying out responsibilities.” And while he makes an excellent point it is worth bearing out that a leader’s greatest challenge is in trying to please everyone. Not only is it not possible, but it will stress you out in the process. So what is a leader to do? Here are three things to remember when it would appear you are about to lose you a _ _.

Be a leader of principle not of politics. One of the hardest things for new leaders to learn is how to stand on principle and not be swayed by the expediency of office politics. It is much harder to stand alone when making decisions that run counter to popular opinion. After all, who doesn’t want to be liked?

In their book, Winning: The Answers, Jack and Suzy Welch state, “Your number one priority is to win in the marketplace so that you can continue to grow and provide opportunities for your people. Of course, you want your employees to be happy. But their happiness needs to come from the company’s success, not from their every need being met.” That is excellent advice every leader must learn. Lead from your convictions and principles; not politics.

Be a leader of purpose not of power. This is where most in leadership slip up. Some make the mistake that it is the quest for power that matters most. But when the quest for power is your chief motivation then your purpose (mission and vision) tends to take a back seat.

“There seems to be two main paths for people to get ahead in organizations,” writes John Maxwell. “One way is to try to get ahead by doing the work. The other is to try to get ahead by working an angle. It’s the difference between production and politics.” He’s right. When your purpose is clear and everyone is committed to the vision, you will not have to worry about power. Be a leader of purpose, on purpose, and you will go far.

Be a leader for your people not your position.Whenever a leader thinks it is about his position and not about people he will not be a leader for long.  In the process these naïve leaders fail to remember this simple rule of leadership: your position does not give you the advantage; leadership does. Positions come and go, but the leader who endures is the one who is committed to serving his people.

Leadership is tough enough without trying to please everyone. When you make it your practice to lead by your principles, lead on purpose, and lead your people then you will the leader who has earned the respect of the people.

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Shaping the Future of Leadership

Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change – Thomas Hardy

In a recent USA Today feature ( leaders from various walks of life shared their insights as to what they believe world will look like in 30 years. It was a fascinating read. Here are a few highlights.

Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor sees exciting developments in the future of ground transportation over the next three decades: a world in which cars will run on electricity, hydrogen or other energy alternatives and will be interconnected with smart phones in ways that make getting from one place to another more efficient and safer than ever. They have even begun tinkering with systems that monitor pollen counts for asthma suffers and heartbeats for heart patients.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson predicts space flight will be nearly as common for travelers as taking a plane trip. “In the past 30 years, only 500 people have been to space. I suspect in the next 30 years there may be like 5 million people who will have had the opportunity to become astronauts,” he said.

Sebastian Thrun, a Google vice president and Stanford research professor best known for his role in building Google’s driverless cars has some amazing predictions about the future of education. He believes that learning will be free and available to everyone who wants it while operating like a whimsical playground: No one is late for class, failure is not an option, and a lesson looks something like Angry Birds, the physics-based puzzle game.

While it is hard to imagine what life will be like in 30 years these predictions made for compelling reading and speculation. It also caused me to give consideration as to the future of leadership and what it too will look like. We can get a glimpse of what leadership will look like in 30 years by looking to the top companies for leadership development today.

Earlier this year, the Hay Group, the global management consulting firm, released its seventh annual Best Companies for Leadership Study and Top 20 list ( The study ranks the best companies for leadership around the world and examples of how those companies nurture talent and foster innovation. This year, General Electric topped the list, followed by Proctor & Gamble, IBM, Microsoft and Coca-Cola.

Key findings from the Hay Group include: 100% of the Best Companies let all employees behave like leaders. Only 54% of peers do likewise; leadership boosts the bottom line. Best companies outperform the S&P 500 almost 2x over 10 years; 90% of Best Companies let employees bypass the chain of command with an excellent idea; in Best Companies, 95% of senior leaders take time to actively develop others. Only 45% of leaders at peer companies do this.

Shaping the future of leadership is not as complicated as space travel nor does it require futuristic technology. Leadership in 2042 is being determined by our actions and beliefs today. Here are three reminders worth review as you consider the future of leadership.

Build a strong foundation. Your core values and principles are what define you, sustain you, and cause you to endure. The foundations of leadership are built on time-tested principles that include trust, loyalty, relationships, and servanthood to name a few. Re-package and market it any way you choose, but these will always be the underlying principles of whatever “new” leadership trend that emerges.

Invest in others. The succession of leadership and what it will look like in 2042 is being determined by the relationships and investments you make in others today. When you build the leadership potential in others (family, colleagues, students, etc.) you are securing the leadership of the next generation. As the Hay Group points out, those who are committed to building strong leadership in others are the leaders in their industry now and in the future.

Commitment to a personal growth plan. The shape and future of leadership depends on your personal growth plan.  Charlie “Tremendous” Jones summed it up best when he said, “You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” Personal growth does not happen by accident. It happens when you have a plan and execute it.

Shaping the future of leadership begins one leader at a time and it begins with you. Are you ready?

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

* What are your thoughts on shaping the future of leadership? Share them in the comment box below!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dodging Bricks

A successful man is the one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him?  - David Brinkley

The nation watched in horror when the video tape emerged showing the bullying of 68-year old school bus monitor Karen Klein. According to ABC News more than 32,000 people went online and donated more than $700,000 to her after they saw the inexcusable way in which she was bullied by middle school students in a suburban Rochester, N.Y. suburb.

In the months since that incident Klein has moved forward with the next chapter of her life in a most surprising way. Actually, what she has done is quite admirable. Klein took $100,000 of the money and has started The Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation. (

If I have learned one thing about leadership over the years it is this: adversity brings out the best in leaders. It was Henry Ford who said, “Don’t find fault, find a remedy,” and that is what Klein is doing – finding a remedy. Klein’s actions compel me to look within my own heart and consider the way I would react if I were in her shoes. Could I have been so gracious as to do the same? How about you? What will you do with the bricks others have thrown at you? Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Let it go. Leaders often find themselves in unique and unenviable situations. Leaders are easy targets not because they are like the brick throwers but because they are bigger.  And when people throw bricks it can be a challenge. Leaders set themselves apart not when they pick up the brick with revenge in mind but a purpose. Klein’s purpose was clear. What was meant to harm is now being used to heal. The choice and the possibilities are powerful. When you learn to let it go you can go to a higher level of leadership.

Be an example. When generous people from across the country reached out through their donations she easily could have taken the money and fled. Klein’s actions are characteristic of leaders who have, through the school of hard-knocks, learned that the best revenge is to take the bricks others have thrown and do something useful. Anger and resentment toward those who wronged her would have accomplished nothing. 

Now, through the work of her foundation, Klein can educate others and make a difference. Klein, like all smart leaders, are empowered by adversity and use it to demonstrate what makes them so special.  With your bricks you can build or bash, what will you do with yours?

Live your values. By choice and for little pay, Karen Klein worked as a school bus monitor because she cared. The way in which she responded to the bullying is testament to her character. Adversity did not shape her values it merely revealed them. The fact that she would take $100,000 and start an anti-bullying foundation should come as no surprise.

Here is a leadership truth worth remembering: values do not change with your circumstances but give you clarity when they do. In good times and in adversity your values shape you as a leader and as an organization.

Let’s be clear—bricks hurt. We don’t like being attacked. But when you learn to let it go, lead by example, and live your values there is a satisfaction and peace that gives you the courage to lead.

© Doug Dickerson    

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** This column originally appeared in the International Business Times

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Is Your Customer Service Performance Sustainable?

If the world is cold make it your business to build fires – Horace Traubel

In a recent Gallup Business Journal feature, Scott Simmons and Christie Fraser reported on the state of customer service in the hospital industry. Notable in their findings: hospitals try to deliver the best healthcare outcomes and good customer service, but many are falling short. They say that the key to turning things around is by improving service demands that truly has a focus on the patient.

Be it the hospital industry or any other business where customer service is essential to survival it is important to look at how customer service is delivered. But it is imperative to look at that service through the eyes of leadership to determine if your performance is sustainable. Leadership expert John Maxwell says that everything rises and falls on leadership. He’s right. So does customer service.

The findings in a recent Bellingham Biz Review article revealed that “Companies can lose business because of dissatisfied clients. Did you know that only two to four percent of dissatisfied customers ever complain to a business regarding a poor experience? Conversely, they tell upwards of 20 people about the bad experience.” Ouch! If the customer is the life blood of your business doesn’t it stand to reason that intentional service-based leadership skill is a priority? Simply put, you need to EQUIP your team. Here are my five principles that can help you chart the course going forward.

Educate everyone. An essential component of any successful service-based business is team members who are knowledgeable. To that end, your customer service team should undergo product training for the benefit of the customer; leadership training for theirs.

Peter Drucker said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Essential to good customer service is good management. Essential to outstanding customer service is good leadership. When you combine the two through intentional leadership education you have the making of a powerful team.

Question everything. The purpose here is not to foster skepticism but to constantly evaluate processes and outcomes and to be sure that every advantage you need is in play. Malcolm Forbes said, “The smart ones ask when they don’t know. And, sometimes, when they do.” To fully understand whether your service performance is sustainable and going in the right direction you have to ask.

Understand expectations. At the heart of the customer service experience is a set of expectations that are in play. The only way to know the expectations of your customers is to know the customer. Knowing that is the easy part. Staying informed and ahead of the curve is another creature. It is important that your team knows that your customers are not transactions; they are people. In his highly acclaimed book, The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn says, “Customers don’t have relationships with organizations; they form relationships with individuals.” He’s right.  When you take care of customer expectations you will not have to worry about profits.

Insist on excellence. Great customer service is the by-product of a culture of excellence that flows out of leadership. If you want to know whether or not your customer service performance is sustainable then this is there you will make the discovery. Make it your practice to strive for excellence in all areas of service and your performance will soar.

Prioritize execution. In the end it is what you deliver that counts. Smart leaders know how to prioritize the daily demands that service-based performance requires. Consistency is a key component to your overall operation. When everyone knows how to prioritize and deliver with excellence then your potential is unlimited.

When you put these EQUIP principles into play within your organization you can position your team for great returns. One of the most meaningful long term benefits is that of customer loyalty. The Bellingham Biz Review article concluded with this insight: 20 percent of customers generate more than 80 percent of revenues and profits.  Wouldn’t it be great to know what makes loyal customers return again and again?

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

* Your thoughts and input is welcomed! Please share in the comment box below.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Are You a Difference Maker?

Make a difference about something other than yourselves. – Toni Morrison

In an interview with Open Forum (, Johnny Rocket’s CEO John Fuller offered some fascinating business insights. Fuller says that one of their guiding principles is to be a difference maker verses a care taker. He explained that he wants people to feel that they can influence the department they are running in a proactive way.  By this he means that if they are just a care taker and doing what someone else did before, or just doing the same thing, then they are not thinking and are not passionate about making it better.

Now in 32 states and 16 countries, this key concept among others is part of the formula for the success of Johnny Rockets. But make no mistake; the principles Fuller shares are not exclusive to the restaurant industry. Johnny Rockets is successful because the principles Fuller lays out are grounded squarely in smart leadership.

The strength of your organization or business will be determined by how well your team members carry out the same philosophy. Do you want your team members to be difference makers or care takers? When you embrace the difference maker philosophy it will change the culture of your organization.  Here are three reasons why it matters.

Difference makers go the extra-mile. Difference makers are not content to settle for mediocre service or performance. Difference makers have one goal in mind and that is to consistently deliver exceptional service without excuses.

The leadership characteristic that drives the difference maker here is passion. When your team members are passionate about delivering value, and when they care about the company’s reputation, then they will go the extra mile and see to it personally that excellence is never sacrificed.

Difference makers turn problems into possibilities. Be it the restaurant industry or any other service-based business, good customer service is the life blood of your operation.  How many potential possibilities are wasted every day because someone could not see past the problem or act to correct it?

The leadership skill in play here is empowerment. Think for a moment of the positive impact that can be made when team members are empowered to resolve problems and act in good faith on behalf of the organization.  Face it; we are human and we all make mistakes. Do not make matters worse by not empowering your team to do the right thing, the right way, and right now. When you empower your difference makers you are unleashing the power of leadership.

Difference makers are the future of your organization. When difference makers are trained and understand the vision and expectations of your organization it is the best long term investment you can make. People are the most appreciable asset you have in the operation of your business. When you invest in them they will deliver for you.

The leadership model here is legacy. Difference makers build your brand not just for the benefit of today but secure it for the future. When you commit to the expectation of team members being difference makers you send the message loud and clear – we are not here to be care takers.

Are you a difference maker?

© 2012 Doug Dickerson   

* Your comments are appreciated! Please share your thoughts in the box below.