Tuesday, February 02, 2016

When You're Down, Read Don's Book Report

Whereas last month's book selection needed some time to read and savor, Don's selection for this month is a quick read, quick use, always relevant type of book.  The author Jeffrey Gitomer is a favorite of mine.

In less than 200 pages Jeffrey Gitomer blasts the reader with positive affirmations.
This book does not build chapter to chapter.
You can begin in the middle and move to the front or choose a different page each time you finish one.
There are no chapters only elements of focus on attitude.
Jeffrey identifies six elements, however, he calls the sixth element 'Element five point five'

  1.  Insight to your inside attitude
  2. Self Awareness 
  3.  Actions 
  4.  Attributes 
  5.  Achievement 
  6.  Fulfillment

At the end of a few Element selections he gives you the opportunity to take a self-evaluation test with the rating system of 1-5... 1 Never, 2 Rarely, 3 Sometimes, 4 Frequently and 5 All the time.
It's an interesting tool and can help clarify where you stand in his total rating system which is sort of a positivity index. 

The book is cleverly laid out with lots of eye catching font colors, size changes, cartoons and cute drawings.
While "The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude" is not deeply philosophical it's a good book to have around.
It could be visited every time you need your 'Attitude Battery' charged.
To follow my often used food metaphor this book is a great light appetizer for those days you just don't want to digest a full meal.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Don's book report this month is a little longer than usual, but it is worth every word.  Enjoy and learn!  Begin below!

I recommend books to read for the leadership teams with which I work. We read a little bit each month and discuss our 'Take-A-Ways'.

I've used a couple of John C. Maxwell's Teamwork and Leadership books (he is one of the world's best teachers of leadership)

In fact, last December (2014)  I reviewed 'The 17 Essential Qualities Of A Team Player' in this space.  I recommend books and my clients generally accept my recommendations.

So, in November 2015 Andy Wolfe, President of Arronco Comfort Systems in Burlington, Kentucky announced to his leadership team and me that the next book we would study together would be John C. Maxwell's ' The Five Levels of Leadership'.

This was a proud and humbling moment for me.

I am proud of Andy. He is action not reaction. His company has grown from 10 people to over 55. This is the third time I've been invited back to work on a monthly basis since 2000. I'm proud to be able to work with such a great group of people.

I was humbled. It wasn't my idea and in fact, I never heard of the book.

So, I read it and this is what I think.  Wow! Maxwell has been focusing on Leadership for over 35 years.  This book is at the core of his teaching.

In 286 pages he reveals those five levels and for each he:

·         Explores the critical definition

·         Focuses on the Upside

·         Examines the Downside

·         Talks about the 'Laws of Leadership

·         Points out how you can move to the next level

In each of the discussions about levels are wonderful stories which illustrate the insightful points he wants us to understand.  In the discussion of Level 1- Position he uses this analysis from the Andy Griffith Show.  "Barney Fife was your typical positional leader. His desire to feel important and have authority created many humorous story lines. Armed with one bullet and a badge, he took every opportunity to let people know he was in charge.  In contrast, Sheriff Andy who seemed to spend all of his time being a calming influence on his misguided deputy, had real authority and power. But he rarely used his position to get things done."

In the discussion of Level 2-Permission he uses the following story to illustrate his  point.

Peter, a successful businessman, had the opportunity to have breakfast at Nelson Mandela's home. He asked Dumi, one of his company drivers, to take him there. Peter reflects on that time.  "I felt both extremely  elated and humbled that Mr. Mandela was waiting outside for me. He warmly greeted the driver and me. He then gestured that we enter the house. However, in the traditional ways of corporate behavior and protocol, the driver retreated quietly and remained in the car. Mr. Mandela invited me to the breakfast table. Just before we started eating, my host seemed to miss something. He asked, 'Peter, I thought there were two of you.' I responded, 'No, sir, I came alone' 'What about the other gentleman? He insisted, and I replied, 'No, sir. That one is just a driver. He will wait in the car.' At that point Mr. Mandela stood up and went out to where the driver was. He introduced himself to the driver and asked him to join us for breakfast. Mr. Mandela then walked to the kitchen and said, 'Dumi is joining us for breakfast. Can we have another plate, please."  Peter continued, "When leaders learn to see the personalities that lie behind these seemingly humble titles the people in those jobs do not just feel appreciated, they discover and walk into new horizons of their lives."

I could provide stories from each level. I've identified 66 Take-A-Ways from this book.

But, you get the idea.

Get the book.

Read the book.

It's worth your time.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

December Book Report

In my stack of library books was Simon Sinek's new book "Leaders Eat Last."  I had just started reading it when Don Kardux sent over his book report for this month -- the very same book.  So get a little peek by reading below.

The words Potpourri and Smorgasbord come to mind after reading Simon Sinek's most interesting collection of facts, theories and stories.

The subtitle "Why Some Teams Pull Together And Other's Don't" really is answered in the source of the title. A United States Marine Corps' tradition is that during their gathering to eat. General George J. Flynn writes in the forward to the book "you will notice that the most junior are served first and the  most senior are served last. When you witness this act, you will also note that no order is given. Marines just do it. At the heart of this very simple action is the Marine Corps' approach to leadership.
Marine leaders are expected to eat last because the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own."

Throughout this book Sinek continues this approach to leadership and the understanding that members of the team - employees- are the most important part of the leadership and success equation.

He emphasizes the 'Circle of Safety' and illustrates it with Aesop's  sixth century B.C. fable. 

"A lion used to prowl about a field in which four oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them they turned their tails to one about, so that whichever way he approached he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling amongst themselves and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four." 

His focus on the 'Circle of Safety' also directs itself to primitive man and gathering around the fire for mutual protection.

James Sinegal, cofounder of Costco, is one of the examples used to illustrate this 'Circle of Safety'.
Sinek recalls "In April of 2009 Costco experience a 27 percent decline in sales. The industry began to retract and some chains announced layoffs. What did Sinegal do? He approved a $1.50 -an hour- wage increase, spread out over three years." He summarized his decision "This economy is bad, we should be figuring out how to give them more , not less."

I have noted over 37 really interesting revelations in this fine book.

One of my revelations focused on motivation through chemicals. The chemicals to which Sinek alludes are produced naturally in our bodies:
·         "Our ability to work hard and muscle through hard labor is thanks to endorphins
·         "Our ability to set goals, focus and get things done comes from the incentivizing powers of dopamine. It feels good to make progress and so we do."
·         "Serotonin is responsible for the pride we feel when those we care for achieve great things or when we make proud the people who take care of us."
·         "Oxytocin helps us form bonds of love and trust”

Which leads to his conclusion about motivation. Sinek writes:

"We cannot motivate others, per se. Our motivation is determined by the chemical incentives inside every one of us. Any motivation we have is a function of our desire to repeat behaviors that make us feel good or avoid stress or pain. The only thing we can do create environments in which the right chemicals are released for the right reasons. And if we get the environment right. If we create organization cultures that work to the natural inclinations of the human animal the result will be an entire group of self- motivated people" but, its premise is sound and it is worth the read.