19May 2015

How do leaders accomplish more than others? And how do they achieve

IQ bulb great things with others? I believe a leader’s success is due to his or her IQ: implementation quotient. That is the difference between common knowledge and consistent application. Implementation isn’t just about having good ideas; it is about acting on them.

In a longitudinal study by Fortune magazine, 70% of CEO failure was because of his or her failure to deliver results. Many leaders start with grandiose visions but depart their positions with dreams unfulfilled.

If you desire to achieve more, you can easily increase your IQ. Here’s how to do it:

1) Dream big.

Don’t become a victim of puny dreams. Not only will those dreams fail to compel others to action, they will also fail to ignite and maintain your own passion.

Little dreams are almost as bad as no dreams at all. My friend Erwin McManus says it well: If you’re big enough for your dreams, your dreams aren’t big enough for you. Dreams should challenge us, not comfort us.

2) Plan small.

This step is critical. Once you have the dream, you need the details. That requires asking four key questions.

What compelling reasons do we have for doing this? The power to achieve any goal lies in the purpose behind it. Compelling reasons are the fuel of motivation.

What needs to be done? Identify the specific steps and components of the project that cumulatively are necessary for success?

Who will do what? Identify who is specifically who responsible for each piece of the project. This is essential to create accountability. Many projects have failed because everybody thought somebody else was doing what needed to be done.

When will things get done?
The timeline for a project is another aspect of accountability. The goal is timely completion. By developing a timeline of completion, it is easy to track progress towards the goal.

3) Collaborate with others.

Encourage and appreciate the people on your team. If you’ve “planned small,” each team member knows what he or she is responsible for doing. Track individual progress and regress, and monitor the timeline.

Make people accountable for results rather than activity. People can look busy and accomplish little. Measure what you treasure –results.

4) Implement boldly.

Remember that people will be watching your performance. How you act will greatly influence their enthusiasm and commitment. The quality of one’s performance is the best indicator of his or her commitment and belief.

Whatever you choose to do, do it like there is nothing else you would rather be doing.

5) Keep striving.

Jean-Pierre Rampal, a renowned flautist, said “There are nights I go out and play a piece perfectly. Then the next night, I go out and play it better.”

As you and your team execute the plan, keep looking for ways to make it even better. Completion is the goal, but the higher goal is to achieve the best possible results.

And if things get off track, convert discouragement into determination by focusing on what has gone right, and what can be done to address what has gone wrong. Complaining identifies obstacles, but leadership overcomes them.

When you do these things, you will achieve the kind of results that most people only dream of attaining.

Adapted from You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader: How Anyone, Anywhere Can Make a Positive Difference by Mark Sanborn, Currency.

14May 2015

In the most recent Five Friends post, “You’re Fired,” there is a common thread.5 friends commentary

The situations and the kind of people or organizations who got fired vary greatly, from a landscaping company to a restaurant chain to a medical doctor.

The reasons for the firings vary, too. Some were triggered by something relatively small like a lack of responsiveness or food wrappers in backyard.

Others were caused by something significant like the lack for care for a patient’s needs and a nightmarish attempt to collect money that was owed.

What all had in common was this: each situation created negative emotion.

The deciding factor in business is usually how people feel about doing business with you, regardless of the product or service you provide.

When customers leave happy, they tend to come back.

When they leave unhappy, they tend to leave forever.

Make a customer angry enough and he or she will formally fire you.

Here are three questions to consider:

  1. Are customers happier when they do business with you? If not, what will you do differently?
  2. Are customers unhappier after they do business with you? If so, what will you do to change?
  3. What are you doing to teach you team how to create positive emotions and experiences and prevent firings?

Bring Mark Sanborn to you: for information click here.

12May 2015


Five best-selling authors, Speaker Hall of Fame recipients, internationally-acclaimed business consultants and best buddies give their insights on business and life.

From Randy Pennington:


We fired the service that had done all of our lawn care, landscaping, tree trimming, and holiday lights for 17 years. There wasn’t one single incident that caused us to leave. It was the culmination of a number of little things over an 18 month period.

In the beginning, the owner closely supervised the crews, paid attention to quality, and was excellent in following up and communicating. Then again, his business was new and hungry.

Over the years, the service level and responsiveness diminished. Emails and telephone messages went unanswered for up to a week. The quality of the work became inconsistent, and we could no longer count on him to follow-through on requests without constant prodding.

And yet, we weren’t really looking to change. He’s a good guy, and we tried to understand when he told us that he had so much business that keeping up was difficult. But we fired this provider for the same reasons that many personal relationships fail – inattention. We felt ignored and taken for granted. Someone made us feel wanted by asking for our business, and we said, “What have we got to lose?”

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to

From Joe Calloway:


A couple of years ago I fired a company that had become irrelevant to me, but the ensuing madness and incompetence was almost beyond description. I will never do business with them again. I had a telephone line with AT&T for my office – a land line that I almost never used. Finally I pulled the plug, cancelled the service and that was that. Not.

For six months I dealt with AT&T reps who threatened me with collection agency action for my unpaid bill – on a line I had cancelled months earlier. One rep would say “I’ll take care of it.” The next day I’d get a letter from their legal department saying “You’re delinquent on your bill – we’re suing.” Back and forth, to and fro, one rep more incompetent and uncaring than the next.

I think the two, big, common mistakes that AT&T made were 1) having a system in which one department had no idea what another was doing, and, 2) hiring people who simply didn’t care about the customer.

I guess if I were to boil it down even more, I’d say to AT&T, “Don’t be incompetent. Don’t be mean. Don’t be stupid.”

Peace out.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better.

From Larry Winget:


I set an appointment to buy garage doors.  He didn’t show and didn’t call to let me know he was running late. He didn’t answer his phone when I called. When he got there four hours later, I told him I wasn’t doing business with him because he was disrespectful of my time and that if he couldn’t keep his word about an appointment, then I didn’t trust his doors, quote or delivery date.

An air conditioning company left a mess behind after working on my air conditioner. They could have sold me a new one, but after leaving their food wrappers and wire clippings in my yard, I found another company.

A doctor’s receptionist told me to “go sit down” when I inquired why it was an hour after my appointment time and I still hadn’t been seen.  I’m a grown man; you don’t get to talk to me like I’m 7 years old when I inquire why you can’t keep your word.

My motto: Do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it, the way you said you would do it. If you don’t, you’re a liar and we won’t do business.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development®, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to

From Mark Sanborn:


I fired one of my favorite restaurant chains.

I took my family to our local Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen to celebrate a birthday. The experience was a parody of what should have happened: slow service, wrong drink orders, wrong food orders and more. It was exasperating.

A young manager, however, saved the day. She comped the entire meal and provided me a $50 gift certificate to encourage me to return.

I tried to compliment her to corporate. The website feedback form was convoluted but I filled in the required information and praised the assistant manager. The promised “response within 48 hours” never came.

I called corporate to follow up. Whoever I spoke to wasn’t very helpful, so I asked for a manager to call me. Instead the local store manager called and left a message. He said he’d be out of town for a few days and would follow up when he returned. He never did.

When I tried to use the $50 certificate, I found unexpected restrictions. It was the final straw.

At the time I was writing a Five Friends blog about our favorite restaurants. I dropped Pappadeauxs from the list.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit

From Scott McKain:


My wife and I were sharing with her oncologist about our just-completed weekend in Napa.

The doctor said to us, “Don’t spend your time doing frivolous things like Napa.  Your life will be ending soon.”

I was flabbergasted – why would you not want to enjoy the time you had left?

“Sheri’s situation is terminal and she will be gone soon.”  The doctor was talking as if my wife wasn’t sitting right there in front of her.

Standing up, and looking at the doctor, I said three words to her: “You are fired.”

Her jaw dropped.  “You can’t fire me,” she replied, “I’m a doctor.”

“Call it whatever you want,” I said, “but you will never see us again.”

We found another oncologist – a wonderful, compassionate doctor – and Sheri had another three years of full living, enjoying each day.

Sometimes when we think about firing, we tend to think of the examples of retailers or service providers that are mentioned by my friends here.

Yet, when professionals at the highest level of social respect fail to exhibit empathy, or place themselves on a pedestal that interferes with the experience of the customer, client, or patient – they, too, deserve to be fired.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information:

05May 2015

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ― Nelson Mandela

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a group of seventh graders from Berean Christian School. Their teacher, Kevyn Brown, had them read the Fred Factor and then we discussed the book over Skype. I was really pleased by how well they interpreted and understood the messages of the Fred Factor.  This group of seventh graders truly got the concepts and were able to discuss them in an impressive manner. They shared with me their favorite messages from the book and I have chosen some of my favorites to share with you:

The smallest things can impact people’s lives.Fred Factor Mark Sanborn

Everyone makes a difference no matter how old you are.

How to treat and make people feel good – It doesn’t have to cost a thing. A compliment can change someone’s world.

You can be a Fred even without saying a word.

Being a Fred means fighting the urge to be lazy.

Be a Fred even when no one is watching.

Do more for others than I do for myself.

Be a Fred even if there is no reward given.

Do things that are unexpected.

I like being caught doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing.

Being a Fred means being kind wherever you are.

Each and every student had a positive response to the book. These students now have some incredible tools to make a difference in the world as they grow and mature within it. I hope you will share the Fred Factor with students, of all ages, in your life.

What is your key learning from the Fred Factor?

27Apr 2015


Five best-selling authors, Speaker Hall of Fame recipients, internationally-acclaimed business consultants and best buddies give their insights on business and life.

Businesses want people to be creative and unique in order to help them be different and distinctive. But is that always the best approach. Viewers of Katy Perry’s halftime show at the 2015 Superbowl probably remember how the “Left Shark” did his own thing apart from the other dancers. It got the 5 Friends thinking about this idea: Is there ever a time when being creative and different hurts more than helps?

From Joe Calloway:

joe-calloway-headshotYou could make the case that the Left Shark going “off script” with his (her?) creative renegade dance steps actually got the whole halftime show an amazing amount of post-performance publicity.  It may have taken attention away from Katy Perry, but it certainly sparked a few days of interest and conversation that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, so maybe it ultimately benefited Katy Perry.

If being creative and different serves the purpose of attracting attention to a value producing endeavor – then I vote yes.  On Facebook our friend Toni Newman has posted dozens of brilliantly creative ways that organizations market and communicate in order to get their messages above the fray of sameness and mediocrity.

On the other hand, I think that in business people sometimes get so carried away with the idea of being “different” that they lose site of what the ultimate mission of creating value.  They simply make noise.

Being creative and different for its own sake can be a grand and glorious thing.  I thought the Left Shark dancer was a hoot.   But, a renegade “ creative” violinist in a symphony could destroy the experience for everyone.

So I say be creative, be different.  Don’t be stupid.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better.

From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-headshotI don’t even remember the sharks at the 2015 Halftime Show with Katy Perry. Why? I was watching Katy Perry: meaning a couple of things, but in this context it means that some are focused on the star and not the creative distractions.  In your business, some of your customers just want your product or your service to be the star and all of that creative stuff is nothing but a distraction.  Often, businesses sacrifice the product or service trying to be overly creative. Don’t.

Along the same lines, this past week at the ACM Awards, Florida Georgia Line’s performance was so full of pyrotechnics that it was a distraction. (Probably, covering up what I consider to be a lack of talent.) How many businesses don’t have any substance but are covering that fact up with creative distractions?  Too many.

On another note, sometimes creativity runs amok and the entire message is lost. Political Correctness, business jargon and marketing-speak are all fancy ways of cluttering up a message. To prove that, I said “marketing-speak.”

My lessons here:  Creativity is good unless it distracts. Creativity can’t cover up a lack of talent forever.  Creativity can clutter up your message.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development®, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to

From Mark Sanborn:

mark-headshot“Jump the shark” describes an implausible  plot construct (thanks to Fonzie water skiing over a shark in Happy Days). I doubt “dance the shark” will catch on, but the question of when to be different is a good one.

One way to judge is to ask if the difference is valued. We want to grow our value proposition for customers and we can’t do that doing what we and others have always done.

Another question: is the difference valued by the team?  If the deviation from script makes others look bad and negatively affects their performance, then it isn’t such a good thing. Different has risks in a team performance.

And what if the left Shark had tried something different and it had bombed? Consider the response of, “Wow, that was stupid!” There are few guarantees that what you do differently will be well received, and we mostly hear about the spectacular success, but less about the colossal failures.

In the final analysis, deciding to be different is a judgement call with no assurances. But that call needs to take into consideration everyone who is affected by it, not just what the performer wants to do.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit

From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-headshotBeing creative and different is rarely a good idea in three situations:

1. There are clear safety guidelines. I don’t want nuclear reactor operators to be proactively creative. Likewise, I would rather my surgeon be boring and good rather than creative and different.

2. There are clear legal guidelines. Enron got creative with how it handled accounting, and that didn’t work for them.

3. There is no value to be added. There is a fine line between being creative and being weird or distracting. That line is crossed on a regular basis.

There are definite exceptions to all three.

The U.S. Marines – a highly disciplined and regimented organization – live by the motto of Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. I hope nuclear reactor operators and my surgeon adopt that same principle in the face of a crisis. And, don’t we all secretly want our CPA to be creative enough to secure a deduction without triggering an audit?

Which leaves the “Left Shark.” There are times when weird and distracting morph into remarkable and fun. It was a risk that worked. Not all of them do. To paraphrase an old saying, “Some days you eat the shark, and some days the shark eats you.”

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to

From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-headshotThere are times you need to just do your job.

At the risk of sounding like Clint Eastwood telling kids to “get off my lawn,” I wonder if our age of rampant individualism has reached the point where many believe they are entitled to do whatever they want, whenever they want – and without consequences?

Discretion is about understanding when it’s appropriate to go off script – and maturity is having the personal discipline to back up that knowledge with action.

I was recently on a program with another speaker – not one of the “Five Friends” – who dramatically exceeded his prescribed time limit.  Like “Left Shark,” he was enthralled with his performance – joyously reveling in the attention of the audience.

The problem is that he threw the rest of the program out of kilter.  Lunch was served cold, because the group was late.  Several other presenters had to tighten up their presentations – upon which they had labored extensively – because the “free wheeling” speaker didn’t understand the ripple effect of his “creativity.”

Innovation is an important element in creating distinction.  Yet, your individuality needs to be respectful of the work of others, as well.

Sometimes, you just need to do your damn job.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information:

21Apr 2015

“It never hurts to ask.”

We often hear that said.

But is it true?

Recently someone asked me for a favor. The request came in an impersonal form email.

I had some business dealings with this person many years ago. Since then, I had heard from them only once when they asked another favor.

I was being asked to promote something on my social media network.  The request did not offer an excerpt, a preview, a sample, or any compelling reason why I should offer my assistance and ping the people on my email list.

I thought, “Why should I help?”

The implied assumption that I owed this individual something, or that I should help for no reason other than they asked seemed a bit off-putting.

Have I helped an unfamiliar person before? Yes, there have been circumstances where I was glad to do so.

But “do this for me because our paths crossed” is not a good reason.

Sometimes it does hurt to ask.

Sometimes it comes across as inappropriate or entitled.

Asking someone for a favor when you have no relationship with him or her is a bad idea.

Making a request of somebody simply because they have the means to help but no reason to help is also a bad idea.

Most people like to help. Few people like to waste their time or energy. Nobody likes to feel someone has taken advantage of them.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for a favor or assistance. Just make sure you ask the right person for the right reason in the right way. Otherwise, you might damage your reputation and your relationships.

14Apr 2015


Five best-selling authors, Speaker Hall of Fame recipients, internationally-acclaimed business consultants and best buddies give their insights on business and life.

This is the first reader question we have answered in the Five Friends blog. It seems many want to know how we all got started in this business and we are happy to share that with you. Remember, if you have a question, be sure to let one of us know and we will consider it.

From Scott McKain:


The back row of Loeb Playhouse at Purdue.  I was just an 8th grader — listening to a speaker who moved me to think about my life and potential in a different manner than before. That’s where it started…

A student organization – FFA – gave me the opportunity to serve as a state and national officer. I dedicated two years to speak to students, parents, and professionals across the nation.  By the age of 21, I had met with the President in the Oval Office, dined in the boardroom with the Chairman of GM, and chatted privately with Bob Hope.

Later, I worked as a fundraiser for my alma mater with an annual salary of $12,000. After gifts to the college almost doubled, they offered a raise – to $13,000. I decided that a career in higher education wasn’t my future.

My peers from college were earning exponentially higher salaries climbing the corporate ladder. I loaded my car with meager possessions and drove from speech to speech in a myriad of towns.  I was paying my dues. I wanted to become excellent at my craft – believing that if I did, success would become inevitable.

That worked for me – just as it can for you.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information:

From Joe Calloway:


In 1978 I moved across the country to go into the real estate business.  Shortly after joining a small firm, I became the sales manager, then general manager.  Part of my job was to lead a meeting of all of the agents every morning.  What I liked about that was the challenge of coming up with ideas that could help all of those agents be more successful, as 100% of my pay was determined by their success.

After that job, I move back to Nashville, took that “help them succeed” experience and began offering workshops to businesses around town.  After living on the edge of starvation and holding on by my fingernails for a couple of years, things started to catch on.  Occasionally, someone would ask me to give a speech to their trade association or company meeting.  From those jobs, little by little I learned how to do keynote speaking.

In 2004 my first book was published, and I have since developed a great enthusiasm for writing.  I’d love to make a living 100% from writing, and if I can manage to make my next book good enough, maybe I’ll reach that goal.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better.

From Larry Winget:


My business went belly-up and I lost everything I had. I had a choice to make: get a job or figure out how to make a living doing what I love most: being the center of attention. My ego won out and I became a speaker.  I started as a sales trainer, then became a motivational humorist and ended up The Pitbull Of Personal Development®. From the beginning, I busted my ass to learn how to get really good at telling a story, communicate ideas and be entertaining. But just as important, was that I never forgot that speaking is a business. No room for passion, love or ego in my business plan: I ran my speaking career like a business. I had a product (me) and I learned how to sell it at a profit, bring great value to my audiences, how to become one-of-a-kind and exploit it all via speeches, books, audio and video. Later, I was able to add television to the mix because of the uniqueness of my style and the way I articulate my point of view. I have been fortunate, but I worked hard to become good enough to be where I am today.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development®, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to

From Mark Sanborn:


At the age of 10 I entered my first public speaking contest. I did so badly and was so embarrassed that I committed myself to learning how to be an effective public speaker. I entered every youth competition I could find and practiced constantly. Because of my young age I got invited to speak to civic groups and even churches giving short messages about motivation and patriotism (at the time, mostly ideas I’d read from great books).

In high school I developed an interest in leadership. I was able to combine my speaking abilities with my leadership skills and get elected to state and national office in the FFA, an experience that further fueled my interests.

When I was 16, I drove 90 minutes to hear Og Mandino speak. That’s when I fully realized some people were able to make a living speaking and writing.

I have a passion for ideas and sharing them through the spoken and written word. Although my formal education is in economics, my life education has been in sharing ideas through speaking and writing. I’m blessed to have made my living for the past 29 years doing just that.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit

From Randy Pennington:


Looking back, much of my life was preparation for what I do today. I started playing in bands at 12 and ended up performing at Six Flags Over Texas. I wrote sports for the local newspaper in high school; learned how to hold a group’s attention as a Water Safety Instructor; and became fascinated with how organizations succeed in graduate school.

But, I had no idea that this could be a career until I read In Search of Excellence and saw Tom Peters present. I naively said, “I can do that.”

My first “paid gigs” were three years of management seminars for the local community college while I worked as an administrator at a child and adolescent psychiatric facility. Full-time consulting and training began when a boutique consulting firm convinced me that I could broaden my impact by joining them. Speaking and writing were a natural outgrowth.

I made partner and might still be there except for a philosophical disagreement with the majority partner. So you could say I was born to do this on my own or that I was pushed into it. Either way, I worked – and continue to work – my butt off to earn the right to be here.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to

07Apr 2015

What does it take to make teamwork work?

Teamwork happens quickly and naturally when: 1) everyone on the team knows what needs to be done, 2) they have the skills and ability to do it, 3) there are 2.17.15no barriers to prevent them from doing it, and 4) they are willing to work together to get it done.

Once you’ve created the foundation of teamwork, here are four more tips that will help you and your team perform better:

1. Your Team Needs to Learn Together

Rarely do teams learn together. Too often, increases in skill are confined to individuals. Sometimes that can become a barrier to teamwork: because there are dramatically different knowledge and skill levels, some team members aren’t able to keep up. When an individual attends a course or discovers a useful practice, he or she should be encouraged to share it with the team. And periodically putting the entire team into a learning environment is critical.

2. Peer Recognition is Powerful

If you’re a team leader, understand that despite your best efforts, you will be incapable of adequately recognizing every team member’s efforts and contributions. Good work will slip by and go unrecognized. If this happens often, the team member may well become disillusioned. Relieve yourself of the burden to be the sole dispenser of recognition: ask team members to recognize each other. Make it a team expectation to thank other team members for their assistance and to look for opportunities to catch each other doing something praiseworthy.

3. To Win More Together, Think Together More

Have you ever held a team retreat? When was the last time your team came together for the express purpose of thinking about the work you do? Do you periodically pause as a group to reflect on what you’ve learned and internalize the lessons? Do you meet to consider opportunities, and not just to solve problems? The team that thinks more wins more.

4. You’ve got to expect it and not tolerate it if you don’t get it

Some managers, knowing how difficult it can be to create great teamwork, undermine their efforts by making teamwork “optional.” That is, they appreciate the people who are good team players but they tolerate those who aren’t. As the old adage goes, what you allow, you condone. Those on the same team should know that figuring out how to get along and work with other teammates is their responsibility. Those who refuse to be team players should at the very least not enjoy the same benefits, and at worse, should be removed. It might sound harsh, but it is necessary if you want teamwork to work.



02Apr 2015

Every leader yearns for a team that rises above merely “going through the motions” to get the job done. The dream is a team that distinguishes itself by itsBraveheart excellence, a team that displays enthusiasm, innovation, and a sense of ownership. The question, of course, is how to lead a team to that place of self-motivated brilliance.

Getting your team from where it is now to where you would like it to be might seem like a quantum leap. The first step is grasping a solid understanding of the difference between compliance and commitment.

Let’s start with compliance. Compliance is something you probably do every day. Some businesses, especially with a Legal or Human Resources department, deal with compliance issues on a daily basis. It’s a matter of following regulations and rules to avoid trouble.

You probably practice compliance when you get into your car. You follow traffic rules about stopping and starting, turning left and right, and going forward or backward. Even though the speed limit is not always where you would personally set it, you know you must obey the law or face the consequences.

Compliance has its benefits. Generally, people stay safe if they follow the rules. Generally, we all know what to expect from other drivers on the road because they follow the rules. Compliance is great about keeping order. Compliance is all about doing what you are supposed to do, in order to avoid unpleasant results. It’s pretty easy to get compliance – all you have to do is outline the penalties for breaking the rules, and most of your team will comply. They will show up on time; they will cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s, they will do just what you ask them to do… but no more.

That’s about the limit for compliance – if your team is stuck in mere compliance, achieving the extraordinary will remain just a dream.

Commitment, on the other hand, is a powerful thing. Commitment is the quality that drives people to greatness. Commitment leads to innovation, to boldness, to above and beyond the call of duty dedication, to excellent problem solving, and to record-breaking results. Commitment stirs people’s sense of honor, of purpose, of urgency.

The movie “Braveheart” is a perfect example. William Wallace and his band of Scots were so committed to winning freedom for their people that they ran headlong into battle. They bound up their wounds and kept fighting. They faced fear and danger as heroes. They were even willing to be tortured and die to achieve their goal. They demonstrated commitment. If they had only followed out of compliance, they would have turned back at the first sign of trouble.

So, how do you move a team from compliance to commitment? It takes more than just delivering a rousing speech or waving a battle flag. It takes more than just a carrot or a stick. Commitment comes from seeing a connection between what you do and why you do it. Commitment springs from connecting action with purpose.

A great leader must take the time to help each team member identify their goals, and the motivation they will need to reach them. A great leader provides the example, support, and resources a team needs to stay the course.

Commitment takes more time and energy than compliance. It requires a leader to demonstrate commitment to the team and to each member’s success. It requires a sense of ownership, of purpose, and of steadfast determination on the part of a leader. It requires accountability – did you do what you said you would do? It looks at results rather than reasons.

Commitment requires more honor, more devotion, more honesty, and more courage than compliance – but it produces a team that accomplishes more than they ever imagined. Working with a team that demonstrates true commitment will spoil you forever for working with mere compliance. The process, the results, and the legacy that is left behind will drive you to re-create the atmosphere of commitment with every team you lead from that point forward.

31Mar 2015


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