A Healthy Perspective

When are we at our best, when we are tired, irritable, sluggish or well rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves? The answer is obvious, when we are rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves. So how can we best take care of ourselves to ensure our peak performance?

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Healthy Perspective” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.

A Healthy Perspective

4 Tips for maintaining a healthy perspective

A Healthy Perspective

When are we at our best, when we are tired, irritable, sluggish or well rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves? The answer is obvious, when we are rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves. So how can we best take care of ourselves to ensure our peak performance?

We are constantly under the stress of trying to solve problems, dealing with conflict and making critical decisions without enough information. The everyday stress in our lives takes a hard toll on our mind and body over time. If we do not protect ourselves from being consumed by this constant attack, it will eventually reduce our efficiency and ability to be effective in our role as leaders. If left unmanaged it will ultimately lead to serious relationship and health issues that will severely undermine our ability to succeed.

Poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, the lack of exercise and constant conflict will inevitably take its toll on our mind and body. Typically it sneaks up on us as part of a busy life with many demands on our time.  It may start with not getting adequate sleep as we pack too much into our limited days. That may lead to having to grab some fast food on our way to our next appointment whether that be the after school soccer game, heading to the next meeting or running through the airport. We rationalize that just this time I will compromise on my rest and nutrition, but tomorrow I will do better.

Of course our busyness encroaches on our time to exercise as well as our time to calm down our thinking and process our thoughts. As a result our body responds by storing the extra calories as fat and our mind stores the unprocessed thoughts and emotions as stress and anxiety. Both of these things serve to reduce our ability to perform at our peak capacity. As we become more out of shape we become tired more easily and without time to process we become less able to deal with our emotions and fully apply our thinking. These things accumulate, reducing our ability to perform, and increasing our stress.

As we can see, these challenges build on each other and if not managed only serve to do us harm. So what are the key ingredients to maintaining our mind and body at peak performance?

Sleep:

More sleep tends to lead to better performance. We are more alert and have more energy when we start with a proper foundation of sleep. Studies consistently suggest that as adults we require seven to nine hours of sleep. Even though this is the most foundational part of our performance and stamina, it is the part most often compromised. A recent Gallup poll suggested that 40 % of us get less than six hours of sleep per night. Other studies have found that not getting a full cycle of sleep for even a single night can reduce the effectiveness of our decision-making by a noticeable percentage over those with a full night’s sleep.

It is important that we plan our sleep, just like we do any other part of our busy day. Without sleep as our foundation, we cannot build the structure that supports our activity and provides our success.

Nutrition:

Food fuels our body and without proper nutrition our body becomes unable to support our activity. There are numerous programs available to us to support adopting a healthy nutritional approach to fueling our body. The most important aspect is to purposely adopt a program that works for us and then give it the proper priority. Our performance is directly impacted by the ability of our body to sustain our activity and provide the stamina we need to maintain our peak efficiency across the entirety of our scheduled day. Providing the proper nutrition in the proper amounts at the proper time needs to be scheduled into our daily routine and should receive a higher priority than any other activity as it serves to support our ability to lead.

Exercise:

Exercise is essential for keeping our body healthy and helping to manage stress. Exercise allows our body to maintain and build our strength and stamina as well as circulate blood to better process food and remove toxins. It allows us to increase our endurance and condition our bodies to deliver a consistent level of energy over a longer period of activity, enhancing our ability to remain fully engaged throughout the long work days. Studies have proven that those who exercise on a daily basis rated significantly higher on overall leadership effectiveness than those who do not exercise. Just like the other aspects of maintaining our physical and mental capabilities, this must be scheduled in our day and set as a priority.

Meditation:

Time to think and process are essential to managing our emotional state. Whether through activities like Yoga or meditations such as quiet time or prayer, time to process our thoughts allows our mind to unload and regain our perspective. Studies of leaders considered top in their area across the corporate world universally find that these leaders set aside time to process. These studies find that the benefits include achieving lower stress levels, improved cognitive functioning, creative thinking, greater productivity and even improved physical health. These are all benefits that serve our ability to lead and as such should be considered as part of our daily routine.

Considering that these are all foundational elements to supporting our ability to operate at peak performance, it only makes sense to give these the highest priority in scheduling our daily activities. Not compromising on these activities will in fact support our ability to operate at peak levels of energy and thinking and provide more effective leadership. Compromising on our foundation only serves to diminish our capability.

Here are 4 tips for maintaining a healthy perspective:

Pay Attention

4 Tips for enhancing team engagement:

Pay Attention

“The secret to engaging our people is to pay attention.” — Skip Gilbert

Is our team truly engaged in their work? Do they see their efforts producing success in our organization or are they just putting in their time? Are they contributing with all of their creativity and energy or just doing what they are told? Do they believe we are headed in the right direction? Do they feel appreciated for their contributions? Do they have confidence in their leader? The success of our organization and leadership may be defined by how the members of our teams answer these questions.

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Pay Attention” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.

Pay Attention

4 Tips for enhancing team engagement

Pay Attention 

“The secret to engaging our people is to pay attention.” — Skip Gilbert

Is our team truly engaged in their work? Do they see their efforts producing success in our organization or are they just putting in their time? Are they contributing with all of their creativity and energy or just doing what they are told? Do they believe we are headed in the right direction? Do they feel appreciated for their contributions? Do they have confidence in their leader? The success of our organization and leadership may be defined by how the members of our teams answer these questions.

Years of scientific research have provided compelling evidence that engaged employees perform better, are less likely to leave or burn out, and more likely to lead and embrace change. Employee engagement has also been found to correlate positively with business performance and other measures of organizational effectiveness. With the current pace of change, we are all in need of bringing forward the very best our resources have to offer and keeping the activity focused on meeting the current business need. Our best chance for continued success is with teams that are aligned and energized to make a difference.

With few exceptions, individuals want to contribute to and be part of something special, noble, good, and significant. They want to work for good people they respect and who also respect them. The individuals on our teams are human, and humans want a higher purpose in life. As individuals, we want to know that our work makes a difference, has value and that we are recognized for our contribution.

The key to improving overall engagement is to pay attention to the individual and their efforts. People need to be seen and managed as individuals and recognized for their individual performance. As leaders our additional responsibility is to help individuals achieve results as a group focused on the proper goals, while respecting each other as individuals. This is how we build high performance teams.

Vision and performance are the two key factors that drive core behaviors, that reinforce the basic need for recognition and meaning. Vision provides direction to ensure that we can align our efforts toward the corporate goal without having to be told what to do. Performance measures the results of our actions. Contributing to the resulting success reinforces feelings of self-worth and satisfaction that drive engagement. We can see that we are valued as individuals and that our efforts produce success. It takes both vision and performance to produce these results. Either one by itself does not yield the feelings of self-satisfaction that drive engagement.

Individuals who believe the company is headed in the right direction are also aligned around that direction. As they internalize the vision and join in the belief that it leads to a greater outcome, they are naturally drawn into focusing their actions to achieve those goals. The stronger the alignment to the vision, the more powerful the resulting performance will be. The entire organization will be pulling ahead to achieve a common goal. Without alignment in the right direction overall performance will be exponentially reduced as energies are expended in non-contributory efforts. Alignment is a significant factor in achieving the full capability of the organization.

A proven requirement for achieving a high level of engagement in our teams revolves around the team’s belief in our ability to lead. Each of the individuals on our team needs to believe that we are caring and capable leaders. We must demonstrate every day that we are reliable and consistent and share a deep interest in them as individuals and the overall objectives. Any wavering in our behavior will only diminish the strength of their belief.

Gallup has investigated whether leaders are more likely to engage employees by building close relationships and attending to their wellbeing, or simply focusing on their performance. Gallup’s findings suggest that the most effective leaders need to do both. One without the other does not produce the same results. We have to know where we are going and care about the people that are going to take us there to achieve the success we desire.

In the end it comes down to paying attention. Paying attention to the individual. Paying attention to their performance. It is far easier to achieve our goals with an engaged team of individuals than any other way. Smart leaders know this.

Here are 4 tips for enhancing team engagement:

Servant-Leader

Are we leaders or rulers? Do we lead by telling others what to do or support the needs of those producing results? As a leader when we view the hierarchy of our organization, do we see ourselves sitting at the top or bottom of the pyramid?

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Servant-Leader” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.

 

Introducing Take 2 !

Welcome to a new feature on SkipGilbert.com. Take 2 ! is a new video feature on skipgilbert.com. It will feature a brief overview or additional information on my previous blog entry. At times I may include other topics of interest or announcements. We are all looking for ways to be informed and save time. These videos will be a maximum of two minutes in length and packed with information to make the best use of your time. Join me on these videos and let’s pursue Excellence together. Be sure to follow me at skipgilbert.com.

Servant Leader

4 Tips for becoming a better Servant-Leader

Servant Leader

“We succeed when we help other succeed.” — Skip Gilbert

Are we leaders or rulers? Do we tell people what to do or do we support the needs of those producing the results? The answer to these questions may very well set the tone for our success or limit our results.

As a leader, when we view the hierarchy of our organization, do we see ourselves at the top or bottom of the pyramid? Do we see ourselves sitting at the top of the chart needing to direct a group that follows our commands or do we see ourselves at the bottom of the chart facilitating the productive accomplishment of our mission? Let me ask this in a different way, are we leading an organization that needs to be told what to do next, or are we enabling the resources in our care to deliver their best performance in accomplishment of our goals? The answer makes a big difference in the type of organization we will build and our ultimate success.

If we see ourselves as the top of the organization and those below us as a necessary means to execute our commands, then we most likely subscribe to an autocratic style of leadership. In this model we typically prefer to have clearly defined tasks and closely monitor the activity and results. We prefer to make the decisions and highly value those that can follow our instructions. We generally leverage our experience and observations to make decisions that are intended to produce the outcomes we desire.

If we see ourselves as sitting at the bottom of an inverted triangle in our organization chart, we most likely view our role as being one of setting a vision, empowering teams or individuals to meet our goals and helping to facilitate their success. In this model we typically see ourselves as a servant-leader, one that sees a world bigger than just ourselves. This model is characterized by seeking a high level of participation in decision-making and delegating the work to those more capable to deliver. We generally benefit from gathering information and experiences from a broader audience to make a more informed decision that has greater buy-in. Having produced a decision, we then see our role as serving those that will execute the work and supporting their needs and efforts.

So which is smarter, a single individual or a the collective wisdom of many perspectives? Who knows the true outcome of a decision better, the people that perform the work or an individual that interjects their perception of the work? In most cases the likelihood of success is enhanced by having greater input into a decision with a larger buy-in to the outcome. In most instances the higher level of participation will yield greater ownership of the decision and better results.

So how does this work? I have finally achieved a level of responsibility and authority to have a larger level of influence in my organization and you are telling me that I now work for them? Exactly!! There is only so much work we can accomplish as an individual. Even with more hands and feet available to do our bidding, they can only accomplish what we instruct them to do and are limited to doing it the way we have instructed it to be done. As a leader, this will quickly become a limiting factor in the ability of our organization to adapt to ever-changing conditions and to overcome obstacles. In addition, we are not being good stewards of our resources by not tapping into their vast knowledge and experience to collectively produce a better result.

This can be really uncomfortable for the truly autocratic-style leader. Being in charge and forcing what seems like better decisions may feel comfortable. However in the end it will be our downfall. Once we run out of ideas and those around us become dependent on us to do their thinking, we will be at the limit of our organization’s capability.

As a smart leader, we are better serving the needs of our organization and our goals when we provide a vision, engage the thinking of our resources and then help them accomplish their work. It does not mean becoming passive in our role or accepting mediocrity as an operating norm. Quite the opposite, it requires an intelligent, engaged and confident leader to operate in this manner. It means setting a vision and clearing the road for our resources. It means involving more people in decision-making and helping to develop their thinking to make better decisions.

Here are 4 tips for being a servant-leader:

The Path to Success is Paved with Learning

4 Tips for Continual Growth

The Path to Success is Paved with Learning

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning” — Benjamin Franklin

The world is constantly changing, it has been and always will be. It is also a universal truth that our ability to prosper in a changing environment is dependent on our willingness to continually invest in our personal development through life-long learning. There is no shortcut and at the same time there is no higher return on investment available to us to increase our success, fortunes, and satisfaction. Investing in our ability to adapt and increasing our capability have no downside and for the most part cost us little beyond the work of executing a planned strategy.

We need to continue to grow which means developing our capabilities. When we stop learning we are stuck where we are. The world around us is going to continue to change and advance. If we are not willing to at least keep pace with the change, we will be left behind and just keeping pace with the change will not move us toward our goals. To thrive in a changing environment requires that we are developing our capabilities in a planned direction, with sufficient depth to increase our ability to provide value.

We master change through continuous learning. As an individual and a leader, continuous learning is about upgrading our skills and increasing our knowledge to be able to provide solutions in the future to questions that have not yet been asked. It is about combining our experiences with new ideas to have a better ability to adapt to new or different circumstances. Continuous learning involves viewing every experience as a learning opportunity and updating our understanding with the new information. We subjugate change to a common condition as we add to our knowledge and understanding and then apply our learnings to our environment. The very act of moving forward results in change and we become accustomed to change as a common component of every day life.

Our goals include personal growth. Continuous learning is such an important element in our personal growth and success that we should not leave it to chance. As we develop our annual development plans in alignment with our long-term career goals, it is important to identify specific educational and stretch-assignment opportunities to grow our experience. Ensuring that our goals have specific learning opportunities identified increases our understanding and enhances our capabilities.

The primary purpose of continual learning is to help us enhance our capabilities so that we are more effective in the future than we were in the past. This is the fundamental definition of the pursuit of personal excellence. In order to gain greater satisfaction from the results of our efforts, it is essential that we increase our capability. By investing in ourselves through continuous learning we enable ourselves to deal with future issues more effectively than we do today. We enable our future.

I have provided a framework for pursuing personal excellent in my book EXCELLENCE: You CAN Get There From Here! In the book I have outlined both a system for evaluating our strengths and talents and setting long-term goals and a process for pursuing those goals leading to greater personal success and satisfaction. These processes work together to help us set a direction and utilize continuous learning to maximize our ability to pursue personal excellence. We should not leave something as important as our personal success to the random whims of circumstance. If we are to be successful, we need to plan our success.

Here are 4 tips for achieving continual learning:

Embrace Who We Are

4 Tips for embracing who we are

Embrace Who We Are

“We are who we are” — Skip Gilbert

Do you ever feel the pressure to be like someone else? At times do you feel like everyone else seems to know more, be brighter, have more experience, or be more capable? Do you feel unsure of your suggestions because other people have differing perspectives? I know these thoughts have crossed my mind at times.

We need to embrace who we are and not try to be someone else. We are a collection of unique experiences, talents and skills. No one else has the same experiences combined with the same things we have learned. No one else has our exact education, social, or work experiences. Nobody has seen all the things we have seen, thought the things we have thought, learned the things we have learned, lived where we have lived, all combined into a single person. It is no wonder we feel like sometimes we don’t fit in. How could we? We are very unique individuals and anyone that tries to push us into a common mold is simply misguided. We are highly valuable and unique resources with a perspective that nobody else has.

Think about yesterday. There was not anyone with us every minute of the day. During that day we experienced new things as well as other things that either reinforced our opinions and perspectives or changed them. From just that one day alone we have a different perspective from anyone else on how the day went.

The path of our life is unique and distinct. We are the only one to have walked down this path. We have a unique set of experiences, molded and shaped by a unique set of circumstances and events. It is a journey that we are on alone, though there may be others with us at various points in time. We have a unique perspective and it is just as valid as anyone else’s. We have not come to our opinions lightly, but by what we have experienced and learned along the way.

Keep in mind that we are all unique people. Everyone around us is on their own journey as well. As a result they have formed their own perspective, based on their unique journey. From their perspective, their opinions and conclusions are just as valid as ours. Here lies the challenge and the opportunity. Each person has a unique set of opinions and conclusions based on their experience that may or may not align with ours or other’s perspective. But to that individual, they are solid conclusions.

As a smart leader, we recognize that everyone is vested in their opinion. We need to be sure to value that diversity and treat those opinions with care. If we need to help change someone’s mind, we should not imply that they are wrong, that would only setup a boundary. To influence a change in opinion we need to offer new information or perspective that will align with the experiences of the other person. We need to approach it carefully, thoughtfully, with respect and allow the other person to assimilate the change into their perspective.

There isn’t anyone else like us and there never will be. We are one of a kind, the only one; the original us. We should take pride in our journey and recognize that our perspectives come from our years of experience and knowledge. We were there for every learning and accomplishment. We know what we know and we should be confident in our ability to contribute.

Each one of us can be a better me. As I point out in the book EXCELLENCE: You CAN Get There From Here!, we are a work in process. When we choose to pursue Excellence, we put ourselves on a path of continuous improvement. We need to create goals, leverage learning opportunities and gain knowledge from those around us. Each one of us can always be a better me.

Here are 4 tips for embracing who we are:

Focus on Solutions

4 Tips to focus on solutions

Focus on Solutions

Nothing can be done about the past, but the future is ours to mold. — Skip Gilbert

Are your days perfectly in control or are you like the rest of us, surrounded by chaos? For most of us we continually battle against changes in priorities, miscommunications, actions that are not what we expected, and things that require our energy and attention to address. Chaos arrives in our inbox with ongoing frequency, our phone rings with problems or new demands and nothing seems to be going forward as planned. The mounting pressures can become overwhelming and no matter how hard we work, there is not enough time to fix everything. If this describes some of your days, welcome to the crowd.

As our inbox fills with issues we have to make a choice, we can either see these as problems or opportunities for solutions. That choice can have a huge impact on what we do, how we feel and how effective we are. Our choice will set our state of mind and that will dictate our emotional reaction to the situation. If we choose to see the issue as a problem, then we are going to be expending emotional energy reacting to the issue. Emotions such as anger, fear and doubt will take us down a path of worst case scenarios and negative outcomes, all of which require energy. Energy that does nothing to eliminate the issue, only serves to increase our anxiety around the situation.

A better response is to focus on the solution. What is done is done. Nothing can be done about what has happened in the past. Even if the news is something unexpected or unfavorable the fact that you are now dealing with it is as a result of something having happened in the past. Nothing can be done about the past, all we have is now and what we are going to do next. We are better served by focusing on the solution and putting the emotion behind us. It’s part of Emotional Intelligence.

Focusing on the solution allows us to expend our energy on overcoming the issue and getting to a better place. A place that does not include this issue. It puts us in control of our circumstances and makes better use of our energy to resolve the issue. It allows us to logically draw upon our experience and skills with a clarity unencumbered by emotion. We can layout the facts, look at alternative courses of action and find a solution, one that takes us away from this current issue or problem.

Why dwell on the past, what might have happened or what caused us to get to that point? We can address those issues once we get the problem resolved. For now we focus on the solution. We find a way forward and replace our negative emotions with hope and encouragement. We plan a way to make things better and move ahead bringing feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.

It is up to us to set the tone for our own thoughts. We can be the victim and see everything as a problem or we can focus on the solution and resolve the issue. We can wallow in fear and worry or move into accomplishment and satisfaction. It all depends on our choice. I choose to focus on the solution, how about you?

Here are 4 tips to focus on the solution: