Defining Your Leadership Style

Note: The following is an excerpt, Chapter 5, from one of my newest books, Blue-Collar Leadership & Supervision: Unleash Your Team’s Potential. The format is 30 easy-to-read, three page chapters. It’s perfect for leading your leaders through a 30 day book study one short chapter per day.

Defining your leadership style

Do others follow you because they have to or because they want to?

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” – Mahatma Gandhi

You’re given a position, and you’re told what and who to manage. But, how you lead is up to you. The position does not define you. You define the position. Your values will determine if people follow you because they have to or because they want to. It’s all about your style. How do you operate?

No one but you can, or will, determine your leadership style. When it comes to climbing the leadership mountain, your leadership style can launch you like a rocket, or it can hold you back like an anchor. Your values will determine your style. Who you are on the inside is what people will experience on the outside.

Most often, the managers who hired me when I worked as a process improvement consultant typically thought I was extremely gifted and could do amazing things.

Actually, I usually didn’t know very much about what they were doing, how they were doing it, or why they were doing it.

I want to share a story to illustrate two very different leadership styles based on two very different values.

The manager in this story had over 30 years of experience in their operations. I didn’t have any.

What I do have is a very effective leadership style that allows me to quickly connect with and influence people. This enables me to get their buy-in quickly, to get them to work together quickly, and to unleash the potential within them that their managers don’t even know they have. Any high impact leader can do the same thing.

I was leading a process improvement event as an outside consultant. The team’s goal was to redesign the layout of a manufacturing work area to improve the work flow in order to make the process more productive.

A lot of changes were needed. It had been the way it was for many years. I was brought in by the top leaders, so everyone had to play along. They didn’t have to change. If they didn’t want to, they could have blamed me. They would have been right because I was the leader. I simply wouldn’t have been invited back because I was ultimately responsible.

When I arrived on Monday morning, I was a stranger. I didn’t have any formal authority. I was basically a hired leader, but the manager that hired me didn’t understand that. If they would have, they wouldn’t have hired me. First of all, they wouldn’t have needed me. They would have already developed a team of internal leaders. And secondly, they would be out making things happen themselves.

Remember, I was new to the area. It was my first day on the job working with the team. Everything that happened or didn’t happen that week was a direct result of my leadership style. I didn’t have a clue about what they were producing. But, I knew they did. Without formal authority, my only option was to lead with influence by applying the principles I’m teaching you in this book. However, I had to do it quickly. I was only going to be with the team from start to finish for five days. We would not be planning. We would be doing.

My style involved coming in on Monday and immediately connecting with the team and conducting leadership training with them. I wanted to get to know them. I wanted them to get to know me. And, I wanted to share key leadership principles to get them in the right mindset to achieve amazing results together. I had done this many times before. It wasn’t new for me, but it was new for the manager.

The manager, who was also a team member, had never participated in an event like the one I was leading. He didn’t know what he didn’t know. However, his style was built on a foundation of pride and ego. He wanted those on the team to know he was the boss. The first thing he did when I started connecting with the team was roll his eyes. He was a manager of people. Then, he proceeded to let the team know we were wasting time. He thought we should be out on the shop floor making changes. After all, in his mind, that was the only reason we were there.

The manager’s style was to come in and take control of the team. My style was to come in and empower the team. They had been controlled long enough. The manager’s style was to give orders and do all the talking. My style was to ask questions and do all the listening. This was the type of environment where I truly learned to be a high impact leader. Situations like this were common as I built up over 11,000 hours of experience leading cross-functional teams through change.

Don’t miss the point, this manager “owned” the area. He could have already made any changes he wanted. He didn’t want changes. But, if changes were going to be made, he wanted to be in charge of those making them. Managers value being in control. Leaders value letting the team be in control.

I immediately focused on building trust with the team. I also ignored the manager’s need for control and leveraged his strengths to benefit the team. He was there all week, but he had very little influence beyond his authority. He wanted to be in charge, and formally was, but I had the most influence. Positive influence trumps negative authority every time!

We made it happen in spite of his inability to lead and his desire to manage. He didn’t have to know how to lead that week, I was doing the leading. He simply needed to follow.

The team delivered amazing results! They already had all the answers and knew what needed to be done. They simply hadn’t been allowed to do it. My style of leadership released them. The manager’s style had suppressed them. Style matters, and it matters a lot!

“Nobody wants a boss. Everyone wants a coach.”  ~ Art Williams

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7 Benefits of Leveraging Change in the Workplace

Note from Mack: The following is an excerpt (my perspective on Chapter 10: Leveraging Change) from our just released book, Change Happens: Leading Yourself and Other Through Change, which I co-authored with my wife Ria Story. It’s now available on our Amazon and our website TopStoryLeadership.com. I’ve had the privilege of leading leaders and their teams through over 11,000+ hours of change and transformation. I love change and leading others through change! Ria and I speak at conferences and offer corporate training on change.

The book has 15 chapters. Ria and I both offer our own separate perspective on change in each chapter. Ria focuses primarily on leading yourself through change, and I focus primarily on leading yourself and others through change.

Chapter 10

Leveraging Change

 

MACK’S THOUGHTS

  “A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.” ~ Denis Waitley

Once you’ve made the choice to embrace change, don’t stop there. Leverage the change for maximum benefit. Leveraging change means doing more than simply making the change. Leveraging change means you will seek ways to intentionally grow your influence during the change.

You will benefit greatly by simply embracing change and choosing not to resist. When you move from resisting change to embracing change, you move from being viewed as reactive to being viewed as neutral. But, if you choose to leverage the change, you will move from being viewed as neutral to being viewed as proactive.

When it comes to change, who will have the most influence with their leader? Someone who is reactive, neutral, or proactive? No doubt, the proactive person will have the most influence. As you begin leveraging change, there will be many benefits that will help you grow and advance your career professionally.

7 Benefits of Leveraging Change in the Workplace

 

  1. You will be noticed for taking initiative. The first to help always gets the most recognition. Quickly implement change and be sure to suggest change that will benefit the process, team, or business in some way.
  2. You will build strong relationships with the game changers. When you embrace change, you are attracting others who embrace and initiate change. The best advertisement is word of mouth What are your co-workers and leaders saying about your business (YOU)?
  3. You will get to learn more about how the business operates. As you interact with more game changers, you will build trust. Be sure to ask questions to learn the thought process behind the change. This will most likely increase your influence in the future.
  4. You will have more input in implementing the change. When you get involved with making the change happen, you will be given a voice. You will be asked your opinion, and others will learn how you think.
  5. You will have more input in future changes. As you build relationships and interact with leaders during change, they will begin asking your opinion about future changes. At this point, you’re gaining valuable influence.
  6. You will become more valuable. When leaders start to benefit from your support and your ideas for improving the processes and moving the organization forward, you become more valuable to them and the organization.
  7. You will be considered for promotions. Those who make an impact helping the leaders implement change will be more quickly considered for pay increases and promotions because of the strong supportive relationship they have built with the decision makers.

As you begin to realize these and other benefits, you will have leveraged change. Those who are neutral or resistant will never receive these benefits. As you already know, most people don’t like change and put their energy into resisting and complaining. When others are moaning, groaning, and whining, it’s easy for you to start shining.

When you choose to be proactive when everyone else is being reactive, that mindset is already allowing you to leverage change to your benefit. Look for those opportunities when there is a change. Be the first to support the leader not only privately, but also publicly.

Loyalty publicly leads to leverage privately. This is another way to intentionally leverage change for your benefit. When you support those responsible for change openly, in a way they know you are behind them, you will increase your influence with them when you meet with them privately, perhaps to recommend a change of your own.

When you leverage change, you’re essentially building trust. The more trust you have with the leaders, the more influence you’ll have with them. As Amy Cuddy says, “If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative.”

When you’re leading (influencing) others, your goal should be to motivate, not manipulate. When you are motivating, all parties benefit. When you are manipulating, only you benefit. Therefore, as you begin to leverage change for your benefit, you must do it in a way that allows the leaders to benefit. And, if possible, those on your team. When more people benefit from your actions, you will gain more influence.

The ultimate test of a leader is to produce positive change. Leading change leverages change. Are you ready?

The #1 Reason People have Bad Bosses

Stress quote by Simon Sinek

One of the questions I get asked the most is, “Why are there so many bad bosses?”

The answer is very simple: There aren’t enough good bosses to fill all of the positions.

If there were enough good bosses to fill all of the positions, the bad bosses would be struggling to hold an entry-level position. Bad bosses would have to change (develop their character), or they would be changed (replaced).

However, this blog post isn’t about why there are so many bad bosses. It’s about the #1 reason people have a bad boss. Not everyone has a bad boss, but many go to work day after day and deal with a bad boss.

Why do people do that? They obviously don’t like doing it. Most of them moan, groan, and complain endlessly about “having to” work for a bad boss.

If you have a bad boss, the reason is probably not what you’re expecting. You may not even want to hear it. But, you absolutely need to hear it. And, you need to act on it, or nothing will change.

The #1 and only reason people have bad bosses is because they choose to work for them day after day.

Of course, those with bad bosses don’t blame themselves for “having to” work for a bad boss. You won’t hear them say I work for a bad boss because I choose to do it day after day. That would require them to accept responsibility and take action if they want to change their circumstances.

Instead, you will hear them blaming the bad boss for being who they are and acting the way they do. And, those with bad bosses will find others that feel the same way and are happy to join them in the blame game. They don’t accept responsibility for their choice to work for a bad boss day after day. They transfer it. When they do, they guarantee things will most likely remain the same.

I agree it’s the fault of the boss that they are the way they are and act the way they do. However, that has nothing to do with why someone works for a bad boss. These are two very different issues. One you can’t control. One you can.

Choosing to work for a bad boss has nothing to do with the bad boss and everything to do with you.

Many years ago, before I figured this out, I worked for bad bosses. But, once I figured this out and started developing myself, I began to create options for myself. Having more options means having more choices. One of those choices was to fire the bad boss and hire a new one.

What do I mean? I mean transfer to a different department or facility within the same organization or leave the company completely. Those who blame the bad boss don’t have this option. That’s why they blame the bad boss. However, a bad boss isn’t responsible for creating your options. You are.

I haven’t worked for a bad boss in years, and I will never work for a bad boss again. However, there are many that I worked alongside that blamed the bad bosses I used to have. Guess what? They are still working for the bad bosses. And, they are still blaming them. Therefore, nothing has changed for them.

There’s only one person that is truly responsible for your circumstances: YOU.

If you’re tired of working for a bad boss, what do you do? Quit! It’s really that simple for those with options.

If you can’t quit, why not? Why don’t you have options? What are you doing with all of that time between the time you get off work and the time you back to work?You decide if you pick up a beer or a book. You decide if you go to the beach or to a class.

You decide if you invest your time developing yourself and creating a better future or if you waste your time escaping from the life you’ve already created.

The bad boss doesn’t determine what you do when you’re not at work. However, what you do when you’re not at work has the biggest impact on where you work, what type of work you do, when you work, what you get paid to work, and most importantly, who (which type of boss) pays you to work.

In my early days working for bad bosses, I decided to go to college so I could become a “better” boss and get a better job working with a better boss. Was it hard? Absolutely! Did it work? Absolutely!

But, I didn’t stop with a four year degree that took me nearly eight years to get. I started reading process improvement books daily between 2005-2008. Then, in 2008, I began reading leadership books daily and will never stop. Everything in my life has changed as a result. Also as a result, I’m helping great leaders develop their people. I’m also helping people with bad bosses develop themselves, so they can walk away and create a better future for themselves like I did.

If you’re a part of the entry-level, blue-collar workforce, I’ve just written a book, Blue-Collar Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines, that the bad boss will not want you to read. It will actually benefit anyone with a bad boss regardless of the type work you do and regardless of your position. If you read it, learn the principles, and apply them, I can assure you that everything will change for you.

You will get noticed for the right reasons by the right people. You will get promoted for the right reasons. And most importantly, you will have options you’ve never had. And, you can say goodbye to any bad boss you encounter.

Stop blaming bad bosses for your circumstances. Take responsibility, develop yourself, and create options for yourself. If you don’t, no one else will. You must choose to make it happen.

Why You, and Everyone in Your Organization, Should Think and Act Like a Business Owner

Leadership Speaker Mack Story

Note: The principle of thinking and acting like a business owner applies to everyone in any industry at any level. And, it’s the secret to success!

The following is an excerpt (Chapter 7) from my newest book, Blue-Collar Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. Click here to order the book. 

This entire book was written as a resource for developing the entry-level, front line, blue-collar workforce. In it, I help them understand why they should lead themselves well and how to lead themselves well. My goal is to leaders help their team members think and act like a business owner. When they do, everybody wins.

Chapter 7

THE SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS

YOU GET PAID BY OTHERS, BUT YOU WORK FOR YOURSELF

When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life. ~ Albert F. Geoffrey

I’m about to share the inside scoop with you: the secret to success. As you read this chapter, keep the chapter on common sense in mind. Actually, you need to keep that chapter in mind throughout this book, but especially here because uncommon sense is needed to get the full value out of what I’ll be sharing.

Who do you work for? Think about it. Understanding your answer matters, and it matters a lot.

When I’m speaking to groups on leadership, one of the questions I often ask them is, “Who do you work for?” Immediately, people begin to shout the name of the company where they work. Some with great pride and others simply because they think that’s what I want to hear.

It’s always instantly clear to me they haven’t thought much about the answer to the question or the impact the answer has on their choices day in and day out while they’re at work.

I believe this will most likely be an eye-opening and key chapter for you as you begin to see things differently.

Once the shouting dies down, I follow up saying, I didn’t ask, who is paying you to work? I asked, who are you working for?”

Someone else is always paying you to work, but you are always working for yourself. This is true whether you own your own company or whether you work at someone else’s company. If you weren’t working for yourself, you wouldn’t expect to be paid.

For some reason, it’s easy for others to see that people who own their own business are working for themselves, but so is everyone else when you really think about it. And, you really need to think about it.

When people understand they are working for themselves, they have a different mindset. They see themselves as the business owner and everyone else as customers, potential customers, and/or as potential advertisers telling others about their business through word of mouth referrals. Everyone agrees word of mouth is the best type of advertisement.

They expect to serve the customers who are paying them to work, not be served by them. They care what customers think about doing business with them. They intentionally do a better job because they know it matters. They care how they make their customers feel because their customers will determine how well their business does in the future. Will it grow or will it slow? They want more business and as much positive word of mouth advertising as possible. Who wouldn’t?

You most likely work at a company owned by someone else. However, if you accept a payment for the service/labor you provide, you are definitely working for yourself. Let that sink in for a minute.

You are in business for yourself because you are working for yourself. Your product is physical labor mixed with shared ideas.

For many, this is an odd way to look at yourself and your job. No matter how odd it may seem, if you apply uncommon sense, it is crystal clear. As a result of this new discovery, your view on everything about your job and those you work with should be reconsidered. What needs to change?

The lessons in this book will now be even more important. That’s a small example of how being aligned with the proper reality can change your thoughts. When your thoughts are aligned with reality, you are much better positioned to build stronger relationships and achieve amazing success.

If the light bulb hasn’t gone off yet, let me help you. What this means is everyone you interact with at work is either a customer, potential customer, and/or a potential advertiser spreading either positive or negative word of mouth advertisement about your business: YOU.

To generate good profit, it’s critical not only to understand but to anticipate what customers value, their expectations, measures, incentives, needs, alternatives, and decision-making processes. ~ Charles G. Koch

This also means your boss is your #1 customer. He or she can help you or hurt you the most.

Do you treat them as your #1 customer? If you do, things are probably pretty good for you. If you don’t, anyone with common sense will know things may not be so good.

What type of word of mouth advertising is being spread about your business (YOU) throughout the organization by your boss and all of the other people you work and interact with?

All of those people will talk to others about you and how you serve them as customers, just as you do to others. When they are interacting with you for any reason, they are your customer. Just like when a business owner provides complimentary service and hopes the non-paying customer will, at a minimum, give positive word of mouth advertisement, this is what happens every day on the front lines. People talk about other people.

How you serve your paying and non-paying customers has a major impact on your promotions, your raises, your influence, your options, your growth in the company or your termination from the company, and ultimately, your future working in other departments or even other companies.

How you operate, your business, matters. And, it matters a lot!

The key to moving beyond average is doing what exceptional people do, not wanting what they have. ~ Mack Story

Is Your Boss a Manager, Leader, or Leadership Expert?

Mack Story Leadership Expert

“A winner knows how much he still has to learn even when he’s considered an expert by others. A loser wants to be considered an expert by others before he has learned enough to know how little he knows.” ~ John C. Maxwell

I’m proud to say I am a leadership expert.

I don’t say this with pride and ego but rather with humility and confidence.

What makes someone a true leadership expert is the fact that they are first and foremost committed to spending the rest of their life as a student of leadership because they are fully aware of how much they don’t know and may never know.

For many years, I have been doing at least one of the following every day: reading about leadership, watching leadership videos, listening to leadership audios, attending leadership seminars, and applying what I’ve been learning along with sharing it with others. Not some days, every day.

Leadership experts do not focus on being the best teacher. They focus on being the best student.

And, the others that I know to be true leadership experts are doing the same thing. That’s where I learned what I’m sharing with you. Real leadership experts model being a full-time student of leadership.

If you want to easily discover if your boss, or anyone for that matter is a manager, leader, or leadership expert, ask them what leadership book (audio/video counts too) they are reading or have read. The more the better. Low level leaders (managers) don’t read at all. When asked, they will give you excuses, not titles. If they have attempted to read/learn about leadership but don’t buy-in to the principles, they will not continue. Their leadership journey has ended. They will remain managers throughout their career.

If the answer is I’m not reading anything and haven’t read anything, they are a very low level leader (manager) at best, regardless of their title or position or how many people report to them. If they are reading something at the moment, that means they either are or are working on becoming a leader. If you learn they have been reading leadership books for many years regularly and frequently and have an extensive library, they either are or are well on their way to becoming a leadership expert.

Leadership experts see life as a “science lab” where they apply and test what they are learning about leadership on a daily basis. A true leadership expert doesn’t just learn about it and talk about it. They live it. They model it. Their first and most important focus is on transforming their own lives in an effort to help others do the same.

What makes someone a leadership expert is not that they know it all, although they do know a lot more than most. However, it’s just the opposite. I’ve discovered those who truly know the most about leadership are also the same ones that are endlessly and consistently trying to learn more on a daily basis because they are most aware of what they don’t know but need to know.

Leadership experts already know more about leadership than 99.9% of people on the planet. Yet, they are attempting to learn more every day.

What’s interesting is that those that know the least about leadership think they know the most and are usually doing nothing to intentionally learn more. Because they truly know so little, they think they don’t need to learn any more. In reality, they don’t have a clue and think they know it all or that they know enough. And, they do know enough to get by. But they don’t know enough to be effective leaders. Can they manage? Maybe. Can they lead? Potentially at a very low level.

Those with an actual leadership position need to know the most about leadership because that’s what they get paid to do: lead. It’s their job. They are actually responsible for the growth and development of people. But, those that are not growing and developing themselves will never be able to grow and develop others. So, they typically struggle day in and day out to get their team to do their job. If they can master this, they feel as though they have accomplished the mission. For a leader, getting the people to do their job is the minimum requirement.

Most with a leadership position or title think leadership and management are the same thing. If you ask them to tell you the difference, they look at you like you just asked a really stupid question. So, most only manage while a few may actually attempt to lead, regardless of how big their title is or how prominent their position is. They can’t lead. They don’t know how, but they truly believe they are leading others. They are only fooling themselves.

However, the vast majority of people with a leadership title, have never and most likely will never read one leadership book, much less become a full-time student and leadership expert. They think they don’t need to. And, unfortunately, they’re right. They can climb right to the top without it. Why? Because their position and title gives them control and artificial influence that allows them to accomplish their mission. But, they can’t come close to accomplishing what a leader can accomplish with the same team.

I often have the opportunity to meet very high level positional “leaders” that have accomplished much and are responsible for much and many. They are great people. However, most are not leaders. They are managers, and sometimes, they are outstanding managers achieving great results. But, they are not leaders of people. They are managers of things and people.

What I’ve found is that most people on the front lines know more about the principles of leadership (influence) than those at the top. Why? Because they can only get things done on the front lines with real, earned influence based on relationships, not position and title. It’s about who they are not what they are.

Many on the front lines are also hungry to grow and learn. But, they also don’t know what they don’t know.

This is why my latest focus has been to create a new resource to help leaders develop their front line team members and to help those on the front lines develop themselves while they are working for a manager that doesn’t plan on developing his/her team. We need more leaders at the top, not more managers. To my knowledge, there is no other resource like this on the market. I hope that it becomes the cornerstone to inspire many on the front lines to become true leadership experts.

As they do, they will be offered positions and titles based on their ability to lead, not only manage. When this happens, there will be effective leaders to replace the ineffective managers. Until there are enough leaders to fill the positions, they will continue to be filled with managers.

Many will manage, but only a few will lead.

Note: I encourage you to be a river, not a reservoir. Please share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.

Make an impact!

Mack Story

Hey Boss, Humility Will Make You a Better Leader

HUMILITY

Merriam-Webster’s definition of humility:

  • the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” ~ C.S. Lewis

When we have humility, we should add value to ourselves but not focus on ourselves. We should value our achievements and successes, but we should focus on helping others achieve and succeed. Humility is a hard character trait to develop for some. However, humility strengthens the other character traits.

As you grow and get results, who you become during the process will greatly impact your influence. You can be very confident and be humble at the same time. The key is how you are being while you are confident. Humility is the foundation for confidence while pride and ego make up the foundation for conceit.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of conceit:

  • too much pride in your own worth or goodness

Merriam-Webster’s definition of conceited:

  • having or showing an excessively high opinion of oneself

Confidence and conceit are separated by a very fine line. The instant the positive confidence we have on the inside is expressed with arrogance on the outside, we have crossed the line. There is absolutely nothing wrong with valuing yourself highly and believing you can and will accomplish anything you set out to do. You should feel this way. What you do not have to do is tell everybody you meet about how great you are. Take Nike’s advice, “Just do it.” Go quietly and confidently on your journey.

Stop and Think: When you hear someone with conceit bragging on themselves about what they have done and are going to do, do you want to hear more? Do they have more or less influence?

One of the quickest ways to build trust is to get results. Things can get tricky in this area. When you are meeting someone or a group for the first time, in order to influence them at a high level, you must do two things. You must build a relationship with them based on your character (who you are). Humility is key here. You must also let them know you are competent (what you know) and have been successful in their area of interest. Results are key here.

Getting results is a competency trait. The quickest way to lose trust is through one of the character traits. Humility is weighted very heavily in the character equation. Little or no humility definitely lowers your trustworthiness. If you think it’s about you, you are more likely to believe you deserve the credit more than someone else.

“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” ~ John Wooden

You may or may not be a person of faith, but you surely understand you, like everyone else, were born with a specific set of natural talents. You did not have to earn them.

Wooden said, “Be humble.” You do not deserve the credit for your natural talent, so don’t try and take the credit. On fame, he said, “Be grateful.” Fame can only be earned through influence. You cannot decide you are going to be famous, only others can choose to make you famous by recognizing you for good or bad. Wooden said it best at the end, “Be careful.” He is talking about conceit. No one can make you conceited. Only you can choose conceit. You can also choose to be humble and avoid it. Both are choices.

To better understand humility, let’s look at what it is not. When someone chooses to be conceited, they are choosing arrogance, pride, and ego over humility. For these individuals, it is about power and recognition. It’s not only about getting the credit, but also about taking the credit from others to boost their own ego.

They need it. They seize it. And, they feed on it. Their influence, if they have any, typically comes through fear and intimidation manifested through a position of authority. This authority could be as a parent or a teacher. It could come from having rank or a title.

Without a position of authority and without resorting to violence, these people would not have very much influence. No one would want to follow them or do what they said do if they did not have to do it. These people get their influence from borrowing power and strength from their position or their authority.

If we’re a manager, a boss, a parent, have higher rank, or have been granted formal authority over others, borrowing power from our position does not automatically make us a higher level leader than someone without a position. It can actually lower our level of influence if the power associated with the position is abused. People who “have” to follow us will not give us 100 percent. They will resent us and withhold the extra effort a humble leader would easily earn.

Nearly everyone has had a “formal authority” boss with low level moral influence. Formal authority is about power and position over others. Moral authority is about humility and earning influence with others while respecting them regardless of one’s own position. One leader, we prefer not to be around or work with, and the other, we love and appreciate. With high level leadership (influence), we feel it more than we see it.

Whether you have a position of authority or not, if you want to increase your influence with others, the key is to develop strong, positive relationships based on your character. Consider the motive behind a conceited person and a humble person. Why do they seek to influence? Their benefit or someone else’s? What’s their intent?

Stop and Think: If you know someone is influencing you only to boost their ego, are they building trust or creating distrust? Will they have more or less influence?

Stop and Think: If you know someone has your best interest at heart and will give you the credit for your success, are they building trust or creating distrust? Will they have more or less influence?

You will never find an arrogant, prideful, ego driven person serving others. You may absolutely find them using others in the name of service, but they will be found out eventually. Humility serves while conceit deserves.

Stop and Think: If someone’s intent is to serve you, do they build trust or create distrust? Does their influence increase or decrease? Are they more likely to be humble or conceited?

Stop and Think: If someone’s intent is to be served by you, do they build trust or create distrust? Does their influence increase or decrease? Are they more likely to be humble or conceited?

“We have to humble ourselves and the way we do that is by serving other people.” ~ Tim Tebow

Be sure to check out my newest book, Blue-Collar Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. It’s a resource for developing the entry-level, blue-collar workforce.

Mack’s story is an amazing journey of personal and professional growth. He began his career in manufacturing on the front lines of a machine shop. He grew himself into upper management and found his niche in lean manufacturing and along with it, developed his passion for leadership. He understands that everything rises and falls on leadership.

 

There is an “I” in Team

I wish someone would have given me this book nearly 30 years ago when I started my career on the front lines. It would have changed my life then. It can change your life now.

Separate yourself from the crowd quickly by learning how to master the traits High Impact leaders value most. You will learn how to get noticed for the right reasons and how to get promoted for the right reasons. You will learn how to become recognized as a front line leader worth following, and you don’t need formal authority (position) because you will develop something better: moral authority (influence).

Note: The following is an excerpt (Chapter 5) from my newest book, Blue-Collar-Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. Order now by clicking here. I’ll be posting the first 5 of 30 chapters as a short series.

Click here to start with Chapter 1

5

THERE IS AN “I” IN TEAM

EVERY TEAM IS MADE OF “I”NDIVIDUALS

“I’m just a plowhand from Arkansas, but I have learned how to hold a team together – how to lift some men up, how to calm others down, until finally they’ve got one heartbeat together as a team. There’s always just three things I say: ‘If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, they did it.’ That’s all it takes to get people to win.” ~ Paul “Bear” Bryant

Paul “Bear” Bryant was one of the greatest college football coaches to ever lead a team of young men down the field. He was also a “plowhand” from Arkansas. A blue-collar worker. The blue-collar world has produced some of the greatest leaders of all time, so you should be proud and hold your head high. Without them, the world as we know it would not exist.

There’s nothing holding you back but you. As my blue-collar friend, Donovan Weldon, stated so well, “The only person between you and success is you. MOVE! The only person between you and failure is you. STAND FIRM!” Those are strong words of wisdom. Donovan started on the bottom just like you and me. But today, he’s the CEO of Donovan Industrial Service in Orange, TX near Beaumont.

Donovan’s success didn’t happen by accident. He made it happen. You can make things happen too! He’s a blue-collar leader that believes in and develops his team on a regular basis. I know because my wife, Ria, and I had the privilege of being brought in to speak to his team about leadership in 2014. They are making it happen on purpose for a purpose!

It’s time for you to stop playing small and start playing tall. A college degree is not required for you to play at a higher level. Not having one is simply an excuse some people use to continue playing small. If you want a college degree, use what you will learn on these pages to find a way to get one. If you don’t want a college degree, use what you learn on these pages to make it happen without one.

You are the key to your success. You must believe in yourself. You must grow and develop yourself, which is what you’re doing as you read this book. Do not stop growing! And when the time is right, you must bet on yourself.

Understanding your role as a team member is another must. Those on the front lines often underestimate themselves because they can’t see the big picture. They can’t see the value they have to offer. Far too often, their boss isn’t a high impact leader and needs a lot of growth and development too. Bosses are often given the title without any formal development.

When I write about the front lines on these pages, I’m not only talking about the people in entry level positions. Sure they are obviously on the front lines, but they also have leaders that are on the front lines with them and various team members supporting them too. They can all learn from these pages.

This book was written specifically for anyone at any level that visits, interacts with, or works on the front lines.

The principles I share with you must be applied if you want to make a high impact and be recognized for leading from the front lines. Regardless of your position, the more you apply these principles, the more options you will have, and the more positions you will be offered as you climb even higher.

Teams are made up of “I”ndividuals, so there are many I’s on every team, regardless of how many times you hear, “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM.” As a matter of fact, you are one of them. Every person on a team is an “I” and has the potential to lead (influence) the team, positively or negatively.

“Leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less.” ~ John C. Maxwell

You must understand there are many official and unofficial teams in the organization where you work. They are very dynamic and constantly changing.
When most of us think of which team we are on, we immediately think of our peers, the ones on the same crew, in the same department, or working on the same job. This is our core team, but it only represents the smallest team we’re on. We also support other teams too, as others support our team.

When we choose to contribute beyond our immediate team, we are choosing to be part of a bigger team. Often, this only requires a choice to do so. Your choice to get involved in other areas sends a clear message to the high impact leaders.

When you play tall, you choose to contribute because you know it will increase your influence and your impact on the front lines. If you want to play tall, you should want to be noticed, to be selected, to volunteer, to share information, to accept more responsibility, and ultimately, to make a contribution at a higher level.

As a direct result of your choice to step up, your influence increases. You’re demonstrating you can lead from the front lines and will be seen and respected by all high impact leaders as a high impact leader. Your actions will not go unnoticed.

When you play small, you choose not to contribute because you don’t want to do more. If your goal is to coast until pay day, it won’t be a secret you can keep. When you make every effort not to be noticed, not to be selected, not to volunteer, not to share information, not to accept responsibility, and ultimately to not contribute, you will absolutely be noticed.

As a direct result of your choice not to step up, your influence decreases. Your influence on the front lines and with your leaders will be diminished. You are more likely to become reactive and frustrated blaming others for what you have chosen. Blaming others will further reduce your influence.

You first make your choices, then your choices make you.

“The most valuable player is the one that makes the most players valuable.” ~ Peyton Manning

I hope you’ve enjoyed the sneak peek into first 5 chapters. There are 25 additional chapters  packed full of great leadership principles and lessons. This book is a great new way to invest in those on the front lines and create trust with them by showing them they matter.

Common Sense is Never Enough

I wish someone would have given me this book nearly 30 years ago when I started my career on the front lines. It would have changed my life then. It can change your life now.Blue Collar Leadership Cover picture

Separate yourself from the crowd quickly by learning how to master the traits High Impact leaders value most. You will learn how to get noticed for the right reasons and how to get promoted for the right reasons. You will learn how to become recognized as a front line leader worth following, and you don’t need formal authority (position) because you will develop something better: moral authority (influence).

Note: The following is an excerpt (Chapter 4) from my newest book, Blue-Collar-Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. Order now by clicking here. I’ll be posting the first 5 of 30 chapters as a short series.

Click here to start with Chapter 1

4

COMMON SENSE IS NEVER ENOUGH

COMMON SENSE MEANS WE UNDERSTAND WHAT SHOULD BE DONE, BUT ACTUALLY DOING IT OFTEN REQUIRES UNCOMMON SENSE

“We only truly know something—that is, have personal knowledge of it—when we can apply it to get results.” ~ Polanyi

As you continue reading, I’m sure you will often find yourself thinking, “This is all just common sense.” It is commonly understood. However, when it comes to human behavior, what’s commonly understood, often referred to as common sense, is most often not commonly practiced. If it was, there would be no market for leadership and people development, and everyone would be amazingly happy and tremendously successful.

But, leadership is a HUGE industry! Many people are unhappy at work and at home while struggling to make ends meet. Nearly all of them know something they should stop doing to improve their lives and know something they should start doing to improve their lives. But, they don’t do it! Why?

Common sense alone will not lead you to success. It will help, but it’s not enough. Knowing and doing are two very different things that will lead you to very different results. Knowing how to lose weight doesn’t mean someone who wants to lose weight will lose weight. We all know how to lose weight. We watch our calories in (what we eat) and exercise (calories out). It’s common sense. Everyone knows that!

To know something and not do it is not truly knowing it.
To understand something and not apply it is not truly understanding it.

Everyone seems to know common sense is not common practice. However, most people don’t seem to know why.

Knowing why common sense is not common practice requires an intellectual level of understanding far beyond common sense. In other words, you need to be an above average thinker.

When I speak on the subject of common sense in my leadership development seminars, everyone in the room always realizes the leadership principles I speak about are common sense. They also know they are not commonly practiced by most people.

Why isn’t common sense always common practice?

I’ve come to understand the problem is found in the definition of common sense which leads to our expectations sometimes not being met. When someone says something is common sense, they mean it is commonly understood.

What most people are missing is this: There’s a huge difference between understanding what should be done and doing what is understood. And, it often takes more smarts to do something than it does to understand something.

Doing what is commonly understood often requires uncommon sense.

Here’s a simple example to prove my point:

It’s common sense to understand you should invest your time and money into your own personal growth and development if you want to become more effective and successful at work which will also improve your life when you’re at home. Do you agree? If you want to be better, you need to get better. Common sense right? Of course, it is.

But, are you doing it frequently and regularly? You’re doing it now as you read this book. Is this your first personal development (leadership) book or one of hundreds? Do you think the person reading a leadership book for the first time is getting the same results as someone that has read hundreds of leadership books? It’s highly unlikely.

Leadership is influence. The more influence you have the more options you will have at work and at home. Who will get the promotion, the person with the most influence or someone else? Who will have a more enjoyable day at work or at home, a person with more influence or less?

“The top 5 percent of achievers invest an average of $3,000 per year on personal growth while the other 95% average only $7 per year.” ~ Les Brown

If we invest in ourselves and become intentional about moving ourselves forward, we will move forward. Our personal and professional lives will get better. Most people will instantly agree. But, most people don’t do it. Most people won’t do it.

Instead, most people will choose to waste more money on a weekend hanging out having a good time than they will invest in their own personal growth and development in a whole year.

Why is this the case? Because common sense means we understand what we should do. However, doing it requires uncommon sense. I’m sure by now you get the point. After all, it’s common sense.

I added this chapter because I want to be sure you realize up front it will take much more than common sense to apply what you will learn in this book. You will have to develop and use uncommon sense to get the results you deserve and are capable of achieving. Don’t just zip through the pages. Think deeply about what you’re learning and the impact applying it will have on your life.

You can apply it. But, will you apply it? I hope you do!

“The critical skill of this century is not what you hold in your head, but your ability to tap into and access what other people know. The best leaders and the fastest learners know how to harness collective intelligence.” ~ Liz Wiseman

You’re perfectly positioned to get to the next level

I wish someone would have given me this book nearly 30 years ago when I started my career on the front lines. It would have changed my life then. It can change your life now.Blue Collar Leadership Cover picture

Separate yourself from the crowd quickly by learning how to master the traits High Impact leaders value most. You will learn how to get noticed for the right reasons and how to get promoted for the right reasons. You will learn how to become recognized as a front line leader worth following, and you don’t need formal authority (position) because you will develop something better: moral authority (influence).

Note: The following is an excerpt (Chapter 3) from my newest book, Blue-Collar-Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. Order now by clicking here. I’ll be posting the first 5 of 30 chapters as a short series.

Click here to start with Chapter 1

Chapter: 3

YOU’RE IN THE PERFECT PLACE

YOU’RE EXACTLY WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE BUT NOT WHERE YOU HAVE TO BE

“An educated person is not the one with the most knowledge, an educated person is the one who is willing to reflect, evaluate, and modify his most cherished beliefs when a new idea comes along.” ~ Christian Simpson

There’s a story about a tourist who paused for a rest in a small town in the mountains. He went over to an old man sitting on a bench in front of the only store in town and inquired, “Friend, can you tell me something this town is noted for?”

“Well,” replied the old man, “I don’t rightly know except it’s the starting point to the world. You can start here and go anywhere you want.”

The same is true for you and me. No matter where we are, we can start and go anywhere we want. Will it always be easy? No. Will it always be possible? Absolutely, if we’re willing to pay the price.

Obviously, very few people start at the top. But, we don’t all have that in common with those lucky few. However, what we do have in common is this: If we want to move forward from wherever we are, we all must start.

“Most people fail in the getting started.” ~ Maureen Falcone

I agree, some do “fail in the getting started,” but I think the bigger issue is failing to keep going once you have started.

If you’re on the front lines like I was when the engineer believed in me and inspired me to get started again, that’s where you start if you want to get to the next level and beyond. You’re in the exact place you need to be. You’re at the starting line. Getting to the starting line in life is easy. All you must do is step up. Then, you must choose to run.

It’s much easier to go from failure to success than it is to go from excuses to success.

This book is going to help you think in a way that will allow you to get started or, if you’re already started, keep going. It will also accelerate your thinking.

You had to get started at some point to be where you are. It didn’t just happen. You didn’t end up there by accident. Like it or not, you ended up there by choice.

If you want to move up in the company or move forward with your life in general but feel stuck wherever you are, I’ve got good news. You haven’t run out of choices. You’re simply not making the right choices.

Why? I have no idea. Only you can answer that question.

When you think of why you’re stuck, don’t make excuses. Excuses are like exits when you’re traveling along the highway to success. Excuses don’t take you where you want to go, they take you someplace you don’t want to go.

An excuse is simply a choice not to do what you know you should do.

I want to give you something to think about whether you’re stuck or not. If you’re not stuck, use it to help someone that is.

Most of the time people quit growing and going when the price gets too high. Many people are not willing to part ways with the toxic people in their lives or sacrifice their time and/or their money to continue moving forward to the next level. Growth usually requires a lot more time than money, so not having the money is just another excuse. And most often, it’s not even about our time. It’s about our choices.

Before you get too deep into this book, I want to help point out a few key choices I hope you will make as you’re reading and thinking your way through it.

I encourage you to look at this book as a tool, not a book. A tool you can you use immediately to identify areas in your life you may need to change. A tool you can use in the future when reflecting on changes you have already made or changes you weren’t ready to make initially but will be ready to make eventually.

Whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE IT AWAY! I made that mistake when I first started reading leadership books. I didn’t realize the value of keeping them and revisiting them, especially my highlighted key points. Today, no one gets any of the hundreds of leadership books I’ve read. I may give away new ones, but not the ones I’ve read and marked up.

You should personalize this copy by marking it up in a meaningful way, underline key points, fold the pages when something on a page really has something meaningful you want to revisit and reflect on. And most importantly, write down some of your own thoughts about what you are reading and what you may need to do differently.

Once you’ve finished it, if you know someone else will benefit from reading it, and you believe in them, show them by buying them a copy as a gift, but don’t give them your copy. Sure, they could read it and give it back. But, to get the most out of it, they will need to personalize their copy, make it their own just like you, and be able to reflect on it later.

Have you ever wondered why people don’t do the things that seem to be common sense? Things like we’ve just covered like get started or keep going. It seems like common sense to me.

“If we refuse to become a leader because we don’t believe we can get to the top, we are limiting ourselves from reaching our potential; and we are limiting the impact we can have on others.” ~ Ria Story

Thank you to the Blue-Collar workforce!

I wish someone would have given me this book nearly 30 years ago when I started my career on the front lines. It would have changed my life then. It can change your life now.Blue Collar Leadership Cover picture

Separate yourself from the crowd quickly by learning how to master the traits High Impact leaders value most. You will learn how to get noticed for the right reasons and how to get promoted for the right reasons. You will learn how to become recognized as a front line leader worth following, and you don’t need formal authority (position) because you will develop something better: moral authority (influence).

Note: The following is an excerpt (Chapter 2) from my newest book, Blue-Collar-Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. Order now by clicking here. I’ll be posting the first 5 of 30 chapters as a short series.

Click here to start with Chapter 1

 Chapter: 2

I BELIEVE IN YOU

MOTIVATION COMES FROM THE OUTSIDE,

BUT INSPIRATION COMES FROM THE INSIDE

“The dictionary defines belief as trust, faith, and confidence. However, that definition is selfish and requires judgement. I think we need to change the we way we believe in people. We need to redefine the way we believe in people. We should redefine belief as encouragement, empowerment, and engagement. This definition is selfless and doesn’t require judgement.” ~ Joshua Encarnacion

You may be wondering, “How can Mack believe in me? He doesn’t even know me.” Well, my intent on these pages is to express my belief in you in the way Joshua defined belief in the quote above, as selfless and without judgment. I like to refer to this type of belief as “unconditional” belief which is similar to unconditional love.

When we believe in someone or love someone unconditionally, it simply means we believe in them or love them because they are people, not because they behave or act in a certain way. I do believe you can make your life better. Believing in someone unconditionally is a choice. It’s a choice that builds trust and strengthens relationships.

Since I don’t know you, I can’t trust you, have faith in you, or have confidence in you based on what I know about you. That would be based on conditions or “conditional” belief. However, I can easily have unconditional belief in you. But, when we work with others and depend on others to get the job done, it’s too easy to become selfish, judgmental, and base our belief in them on specific conditions being met first.

I want to share a real example from my life where a stranger unconditionally believed in me. It not only changed my direction, but it also changed my life. I share this story in more detail in my first book, Defining Influence.

It was 1995. I was 25 years old. It was around 2am. I was wearing old, dirty jeans, an old t-shirt, greasy steel-toed boots, safety glasses, earplugs, and an old, dirty blue jean apron hung around my neck. As usual, I was at work in the middle of the night when most people were home sleeping soundly with their families.

I operated a large drill press and a CNC lathe machining holes in steel parts. It was a dirty, boring job, but it paid the bills. I was in the middle of what would become a three month streak of working 12 plus hours a day for seven days a week without a day off. Long hours and weekend work were a normal part of my life on the front lines.

On that particular night, there was a corporate industrial engineer from our headquarters observing me. He was there to do a time observation study. I was surprised because he could have done what he had to do on the day shift.

He informed me the Plant Manager (PM) had asked him to work with me because I consistently recorded high production. As I worked, the engineer observed me. After we got to know each other a little, he told me the PM believed I had the potential to be more than “just a machine operator” if I would apply myself and get some additional education.

The stranger had no idea I barely graduated high school.

Throughout the night, he expressed his belief in me and continued to do his best to get me to see my potential. He had no idea. I wasn’t interested in going to college. Not me!

I didn’t plan to ever go. I knew who I was and what I wanted. I didn’t need anyone, especially a stranger, telling me what I needed to do to advance in the company. What did he know about me? He knew I had potential. He knew it. I didn’t.

I had never seen him before and never saw him again. He has no idea how his words impacted me. He inspired me to become intentional about changing my life.

I thought it was just another night in the grind on the front lines. But, something happened. I started thinking differently. He had planted a seed of possibility inside of me. I hope I can plant that seed in you.

I began to ask myself many questions:

  • What if I went to college?
  • What would change?
  • Should I do it?
  • Could I do it?
  • How could I do it?
  • When could I do it?

I took action and enrolled in the local community college the very next semester. I decided to officially rescript my life simply because a stranger had believed in me unconditionally.

“We already live with many scripts that have been handed to us, the process of writing our own script is actually more a process of ‘rescripting,’ … As we recognize the ineffective scripts within us, we can proactively begin to rescript ourselves.” ~ Dr. Stephen R. Covey

I started college, as a single parent, while working long hours and weekends to make ends meet. I didn’t enjoy high school, so volunteering for more schooling was a big sacrifice.

It took me nearly five years to get my first two year degree, but I did it. I was paying the price to change my circumstances. I did have potential. I did not have to keep doing the same thing for my entire career. When I began to change my thoughts, my life began to change. I was slowly moving away from being a reactive person and was becoming a more responsible person.

If you want things to change, you must change the way you think. And no, you don’t have to go to college to live better.

“The reason so many people never get anywhere in life is because when opportunity knocks, they are out in the backyard looking for four-leaf clovers.”
~ Walter P. Chrysler