What’s your attitude towards others? “You can’t make the other fella feel important in your presence if you secretly feel that he is a nobody.” This is a quote from Les Giblin. What a revelation! I always said people do and respond to what they see others do in response. People know when you are sincere and when you are hypocritical. Worst of all, you know your true feelings, which are evident in your actions and deeds. If you want the best from others, give them your best. Make them feel valuable. Biblically, it is the golden rule; doing unto others as you want them to do to you. The law of reciprocity applies here.
Maya Angelou famously said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” People don’t care about your prestige, knowledge base, or high position. They want to know that you demonstrate and care about them. And show them that you stand by them. This is the yardstick upon which a person’s sense of responsibility is measured.
If you genuinely don’t want to help others but want them to help you reach an advantage, then you have problems and conflicts. When this happens, we must rely on manipulation to get people to move toward our benefit. Stop the manipulation; motivate instead! Like in any relationship, you must put something in it to get something out.
To influence people is to show them how important they are and the value they bring to the relationship, the organization, or the community. Respond kindly to people and be humane in your interactions with others. Instead of manipulating people into obedience for your advantage, admit their importance through appreciative acts.
Don’t criticize or condemn; instead, compliment.
Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Become genuinely interested in others.
Make others feel important and do it sincerely.
Give others a reason to be proud of their good deeds.
Do not, by your attitude, make people feel less important.
In the words of Sydney J Harris, “People want to be appreciated, not impressed. They want to be regarded as human beings, not as sounding boards for other people’s Egos. They want to be treated as an End in themselves, not as a means towards the gratifications of another’s vanity.” What’s your attitude towards others? I hope in 2023 you will add value to them rather than devalue them.
The basic principle of success is constant growth and achievement of your next goal. It is done through dedication, commitment, perseverance, and hard work. What it also requires from you is a conducive environment where it can flourish.
Such an environment can be produced when you surround yourself with like-minded, successful individuals. These are people who share your vision for success, and who believe in your goals as much as you do. The quality of the people you surround yourself with will continue to have a major influence on the trajectory of your life. This is one of the most important lessons I have learned, and one that has signified to me the importance of good company. I learned through Jim Rohn, that we become the combined average of the five people we hang around the most. He would continue this thought by saying, “you can tell the quality of health, attitude, and income of this person by looking at the people around them.”
The individuals in our lives serve as a catalyst: they can either help us reach ever-higher heights in our lives or become blocks that prevent success. I have been lucky in being surrounded by individuals who shared my values and goals, from family to teachers and mentors. The roles they have played at critical junctures of my life have helped me determine who I am, and the direction my life has taken.
The book of Matthew states “Do not give dogs what is sacred, do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” This is a simple lesson in surrounding yourself with people who understand and share your values and goals, rather than those who would trample them.
There are a great many examples to be found from all around us of the power of surrounding yourself with the right people. Henry Ford, from the moment of first acquiring his wealth, to exponentially expanding it, kept himself in the company of such individuals as Thomas Edison and John Burroughs, men who shared his ideals and compassion. He tried to associate himself with great men, who possessed the knowledge base, intelligence, and creative thoughts that ultimately helped him on his way to immense success.
This is an approach we all must adopt if we wish to be truly on the path of continuous success. You must become highly selective of the people you allow in your inner circle. Do not feel bad about the people that are excluded, so defined your inner circle of friends and mentors you can call on. At the same time, make sure you are around people who are successful, who themselves are already where you want to be.
Now go one step further. Examine your inner circle and ensure these are the people who give you confidence. Make sure they enhance your creative and decision-making abilities and give you the strength and ability to face any challenges that come your way in the pursuit of your goal.
At some point, a person feels the need to evolve, to enter a new dimension of life. Perhaps, to advance a skill, a new career, or develop their relationships with others. This requires growth to happen. But for growth to happen, the person’s environment must change.
We all know how growth happens in plants. It starts with a seed that must be implanted into fertile soil full of nutrients to form roots. It also needs sunlight, air, and water, which, through the process of photosynthesis, helps the growing seed produce its own food source. In the right conditions, the seed begins to grow into a plant, and that plant grows to its full potential. If one of these elements are absent, the seed may never take root or achieve full growth. If you plant a seed in an environment where one of these elements is absent, growth is inhibited, and the seed’s full potential is never realized. The seed remains dormant.
That principle works the same in your life and mine. For growth to happen, your environment must be conducive to growth. It must have the right nutrients to stimulate growth. If you want to change your current situation or circumstances, you must change your present environment. To quote, John Maxwell, “Growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow is going to get better.”
In my two decades in the military. The stage was already set for growth opportunities, even though, I did not know at the time. Every new assignment I went to, something was always wrong. Logistical processes were not in place, customers were unhappy for not getting their supplies on time. And the morale of the troops was down which, compounded the unhappy-customers problem. Sometimes I complained to my peers that I always got the most challenging assignments. It was then that I recognized another of John’s principles: you must get out of your comfort zone to grow. When I finished the assignment, the logistical processes were far better than the previous ones, the morale within my area of responsibility was extremely high, and my customers were giving my operation rave reviews.
At first, I didn’t understand why I got the hard and challenging jobs. Later, I realized that the military, gave me the growth environment needed to recognize and grow to my potential. As the saying goes, with each promotion comes more responsibility. I must have impressed my senior officers because they expected my performance to be top level. My performance in my military career led me to exponential growth, higher compensation, and bonuses.
What does a growth environment look like for you?
Remember, in order for a seed to grow, it needs the right soil, sunlight, air and water.
Is your present environment helping you, and not holding you back? Assess where you are right now!
Are you in a place where others are ahead of you, or are you the go-to person? Are you the smartest one in the room? Then what and who is pouring into you? You are not getting the necessary nutrients for growth. If you are pouring everything you have into others, who is pouring into you?
Are you challenged on a constant basis, if not find the right environment to grow in.
Lastly, leaders must create a growth environment within their organization or areas of influence. Used these tips to build an organization with growth potential.
Set the bar high on proficiency, efficiency, and innovation.
Give employees challenging work, nothing beneath them. And if they do not know how to do it, train them the right way first, then expect them to maintain the standard.
Cultivate an affirming atmosphere. Nurture and nourish your people for growth.
Model growth in front of them. Lead from the front, not the rear. I always say: “The most valuable gift I can give to others is a good example.” There is nothing more confusing than a person who gives good advice but sets a bad example. To quote (again) John Maxwell: “A pint of example is worth a gallon of advice.”
Remember, growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow will get better. If you don’t know whether your present environment is a growth environment, do an assessment and make changes.
The bottom line is that a growth environment aids in growth. It doesn’t hold you back.
Lastly, if you are a leader, you are responsible for helping others grow and creating an atmosphere of growth. Grow leaders, don’t just tell them what to do.
We’ve all heard the phrase: “Lead by example.” In battle, the troops must see the Army Officer in front of them, leading them boldly towards their objective. The leader exemplifies courage, selfless service, and inspires trust in his followers.
Example-setting is the only way a leader will get his followers to buy into his plan. Albert Schweitzer said: “Example isn’t the main thing in leadership – it is the only thing.”
Most people are visual learners, not verbal learners. Good communication makes the vision clear, and good modeling makes it come alive.
A leader must want his followers to model the desired behavior. How do you do that? How, as a leader, do you get your followers to exhibit the you want to see? The answer is simple: be a leader, not a naysayer. Leaders must lead themselves first.
To do this a leader, a manager, supervisor, team leader – whoever aspires to lead – must have self-awareness. They must know their weaknesses and their capabilities before barking out orders. But building awareness about one’s habits of thought, emotions, hopes, and behavior is a task. Leaders must know what makes them tick, their beliefs, their priorities, their aspirations, values and fears (Boaz and Fox, 2014)
Most leaders want status, but not the responsibility. Are they at that level to get more pay and more status, or to get themselves and others to buy into the organization’s mission, vision and goals?
We have a biblical example of this in Kings II Chapters 22 through 23. King Josiah ruled Judea for 31 years. When he was 18 years old, he was in the midst of a restoration project of the temple of God, where a scroll of the book of the law was found by the high priest and was given to the royal secretary to be read to King Josiah. When the king heard the words of the law, he immediately tore his robe. In the Old Testament, this was a sign of repentance, remorse, and despair. Josiah was known as a very righteous king, yet through the word of God, he repented and became aware of his own sins towards God. Here you see how the king Josiah (leader) made a change within himself (self-awareness). His internal reform brought about the internal reform of his people, which led to the restoration of God‘s covenant throughout Judea.
How inner awareness affects the leader’s outer change
People do as they see, so the leaders’ actions speak louder than words. As mentioned previously, the example isn’t the main thing – it is the only thing. Organizations that want to implement new strategies create new policies and procedures. But the new processes will fall short if the leader does not exemplify the desired change. In their research, Boaz and Fox indicate that new strategies often fall short because of a failure to inspire the “underlying mindsets and capabilities of the people who will execute [them].”
Research indicates that if the leader doesn’t role model change and maintains the status quo, the people on the ground will maintain that same motivation. (Boaz and Fox, 2014). In my Biblical example, the people saw their King change from within. All of his actions illuminated his internal change, and this motivated the people to also change and move toward transformation.
Learning to lead means cultivating awareness of self. You must be aware of your inner thoughts, character and the values that you hold firm to, regardless of the situation. Self-awareness requires you to know what makes you tick – your inner desires, your strengths and weaknesses, the interests you had as a child, and what motivates and inspires you as an adult. But in this day and age, having inner awareness of one’s self is not easy. Many voices out there harbor confusion, deception, fear, but a few voices have vision and purpose. Nevertheless, to lead others, one must lead one’s own self.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ―Aristotle
If you model the behavior you want everyone in your organization to exhibit, then change will happen without resistance. In a research study, seasoned executives with 15 or more years of experience were asked to name the critical leadership competency for successful change efforts. The answers were communication, collaboration, and commitment.
In the area of communication, the leaders explained that followers must know the “what” and the “why” of the change and understand how these align with the organization’s values. In the area of collaboration, successful leaders encourage people to work together across boundaries with other teams or departments to achieve a common goal. In the area of commitment, leaders aligned their own beliefs and behaviors to support change.
The successful leaders also had to step out of their comfort zone and not appear to be resistant or inflexible. The successful leaders embraced change by devoting time and effort to it. Those who were resistant to and negative about change were unsuccessful in implementing change in their organizations (Center for Creative Leadership, 2020). The bottom line is that people model the behavior of their leaders. Followers (employees, team) will do what they see their leader do. General Colin Powell said it best: “You can issue all the memos and give all the motivational speeches you want, but if the rest of the people in your organization don’t see you putting forth your very best effort every single day, they won’t either.” Be an example of the change you want to see.
Starting a new job is always daunting, so it helps to have
some idea what to expect—especially if you’re working abroad. You may be
confident in your ability to do the work, but what about fitting into a foreign
workplace? Learning the language is crucial, of course, but it’s only part of
the picture. Countries such as the UK, the USA, and Australia all speak English
. . . but they’re so different in other ways that they frequently baffle each
other. Obviously, no two workplaces—let alone two individual human beings—are
the same. Not all Americans are workaholics and not all Brits are shy about
telling you what they think. That said, if you’re thinking of working in one of
those three countries, here are some cultural differences to keep in mind . . .
If your British boss says “By the way, perhaps you could
make these changes?” then you’d better make them. If they call something “a bit
disappointing,” you should be very concerned. Understatement can be confusing
and frustrating to people from cultures that prefer to communicate more
directly. But from the British perspective, telling someone bluntly what you
want them to do feels arrogant and aggressive—they’d rather leave room for you
to pretend it was your idea all along.
In an Australian workplace, you probably won’t have much
trouble figuring out what your colleagues actually mean. Communication is
usually direct, even blunt . . . once you get to the point. Australians are
often uncomfortable with overt displays of authority, and have their own ways
of avoiding the possibility of being seen as too pushy. It’s common to spend a
good fifteen minutes at the start of a meeting talking about anything other
than work. You’ll also encounter a lot of slang and plenty of swearing.
You don’t have to do much reading between the lines in a USA
setting either—direct questions and literal statements are the norm, and
there’s no lingering on other topics before getting down to business. But if
something goes wrong, Americans are less likely to be blunt about it—they’ll
explain the problem, but they’ll try to “wrap” it in positives too. The focus
on optimistic, upbeat communication is also key to how Americans expect you to
talk about yourself.
Despite their other differences, both Britons and
Australians are uneasy about self-promotion. Not so in the USA, where making
sure your accomplishments are recognized is a necessary skill.
Each country’s attitude towards love in the workplace
varies, with the USA the most strait-laced, Australia the most easygoing, and
the UK somewhere in between. One-third of American businesses have policies
prohibiting romances between team members, and one in ten won’t even tolerate
relationships between workers from different departments. Such rules are rare
(even, arguably, illegal) in the UK and Australia, though some UK workplaces
will expect you to disclose relationships to a manager. In Australia, so long
as it doesn’t interfere with your work, you should be fine.
Norms in the UK and USA are fairly similar, at least as far
as differences in climate allow. Some industries, such as law and banking, are
more formal, with suits, tailored garments, and somber colors still the norm.
In more creative industries there’s an increasing trend towards more casual
wear. You should still probably dress conservatively at your interview and on
your first day to be on the safe side, but don’t be surprised to see t-shirts,
jeans, and sneakers when you get there.
You should err on the side of caution to begin with in
Australia too—but you’ll rarely be expected to wear a tie or a suit jacket. And
when small, creative workplaces get casual, they sometimes get very casual—you
may even see bare feet!
Given their reputation for being tightly wound, it may be
surprising that it’s the British who are most likely to go home on time and
least likely to complain if you’re late. They also have the longest holidays
and the most paid sick leave (although less of both than many neighboring
European countries.) But perhaps it’s partly down to their long commutes: the
average Briton spends 54 minutes getting to work each morning—it’s just 29
minutes for Australians and 23 for Americans. Meanwhile, Australia may be
famous for being “laid-back,” but lateness is frowned upon, as is rushing out
the door as soon as your shift is technically over.
Of the three, the USA expects the longest working hours, and
there’s no legal requirement for employers to provide any paid time off or sick
leave, although private sector workers do receive an average of 15 days off.
Whether you consider America’s “very hardworking” self-image
accurate will depend on where you come from—plenty of nations work longer
hours, including South Korea, Greece, and Russia! The payoff is the potential
for higher earnings—an American senior manager can earn almost twice what an
equivalent worker in the UK can expect.