Sunday, December 29, 2013

People vs Results? There is no choice

Effective leaders use the skills of high engagement to create the conditions for people to perform with excellence.

Today’s overworked managers want to know what it takes to be successful. In my view, the key is to stay laser-focused on the two most important things, Results & People. Why? Because there is a vital connection between the two:

~ Your people deliver the results you desire. ~

If there is a secret to effective management, this is it!

Let’s dissect this formula into three component parts, People, Deliver, and Results.


The most effective managers develop their leadership capability. Leadership, by definition, requires Followers. You can’t be a leader alone. Your people are the means, the strategic channels, by which your organization reaches its goals. Therefore, your job is to do everything in your power to help your people succeed. At a high level, do what John Maxwell advises when he says: “A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” And sometimes the leader gets out of the way.


The verb “deliver” in this secret means “to do or carry out as promised; to give birth to.” Results don’t happen unless someone makes them happen. Interestingly, the origin of the word deliver means “to set free.” Effective leaders unshackle their people and do everything in their power to remove obstacles and facilitate successful performance.


Every organization has a definition of success. When President John F. Kennedy said that America would put a man on the moon, he set in motion a great engine of success that unleashed tremendous creative energy…and changed the world. As General George S. Patton once famously said: “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and why, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the origin of the term “deliver.” It stems from the Latin dēlīberāre, meaning to set free, to liberate. You can’t deliver by fettering your people. Paradoxically, to deliver, one must let go.

This concept of liberation is the breakthrough idea in Jack Welch’s legendary pronouncement that “What we are looking for are leaders at every level who can energize, excite and inspire rather than enervate, depress and control.”

The “old school” of managing said: Control people. Stay on top of them. Now we know that the most effective leaders set their people free to do what they do best so that they can deliver the desired results.

Recent organizational effectiveness research is pointing very consistently toward the key to this liberation. In a word, engagement. Gallup and other similar workplace research organizations are saying that the more engaged a workforce, the higher the productivity –and the profitability– of the company.

The research is also saying that there is one variable, among all the factors that influence employee engagement, that has the biggest influence: the quality and effectiveness of the company’s managers. As the saying goes, “Employees don’t leave their company. They leave their manager.”

So here’s the question: What must a manager do to become an Engaging Leader?

In my work with diverse organizations since the late 1990’s, I’ve identified ten practices that I have combined into an acronym that I call ALICE:

Align & Appreciate

These two practices are about High Focus. By Aligning, the Engaging Leader gets everyone focused on where the company is going (Goals, Objectives and Plans) and how each person can play a part in getting it there. By Appreciating, the Engaging Leader gets to know each person on his or her team, especially their talents, their strengths, their aspirations, and their life concerns.

Listen & Learn

These two practices illustrate the Leading By Example principle. By Listening, the Engaging Leader adopts an open posture, receptive to all points of view, even those that are different from his or her own. By Learning, the Engaging Leader continues to grow, replenishing and revitalizing his or her own sources of creativity.

Involve & Improve

These two practices tap into the human yearning for Purpose and the desire to Participate. By Involving, the Engaging Leader treats each person like a partner in the business and asks “What do you think?” By Improving, the Engaging Leader uses collaboration and teamwork to find better ways to do things, solutions to operating problems, and even innovations that can lead to breakthroughs for the company.

Communicate & Coach

These two practices, along with the next two, are the key to High Performance. By Communicating, the Engaging Leader establishes a clear channel of dialogue with each member of the team so that information and ideas flow back and forth continuously, resulting in Understanding and Commitment. By Coaching, the Engaging Leader gives on-going performance feedback to each of his or her players, supporting and encouraging them to do their very best.

Energize & Empower

These two practices replace the old “Command and Control” model of leadership with a new model based on motivation and trust. By Energizing, the Engaging Leader activates the excitement of Mission, tapping into the human desire for autonomy, for self-determination, and for self-mastery. By Empowering, the Engaging leader galvanizes and authorizes the team to Execute, to decide how best to get to where its going, trusting that a well-trained team will use its resources wisely to reach a high quality decision.

By doing these ten practices consistently and continuously, a good manager will become an Engaging Leader. And she will be able to move the needle on engagement, on morale, on productivity, and even on profitability.

So if you want to become a more effective manager, there are two things you must focus on, Results and People. And make the critical connection between them that Your People Deliver Results.

Now you know the secret. That’s what the Engaging Leader does.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Sunday December 29, 2013

Much of the above post originally appeared as a blog entry on the Rutgers Center for Management Development blog on January 27, 2012.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gewisto - a consulting fable

A plant manager was beside himself with worry because one of his machines was broken. As a result, the entire plant was idled. Several of his operators had labored in vain for hours to get the machine going again. Finally one of the plant manager's advisors whispered to him, "Better call Gewisto." Gewisto was an old retiree who used to work there and knew the machines inside and out.

Exasperated, the plant manager called Gewisto at the old folks home and explained what was going on. "I really need your help," the plant manager said.

In a short time, Gewisto's old beat-up car sputtered into the plant parking lot and out he came. Not looking like much, old Gewisto walked over to the machine, pulled up a stool, and leaned his head against the side of the apparatus and listened for a while.

Then he reached into his baggy pants pocket and pulled out a small piece of chalk. With the chalk, he made a little "X" on the machine at a certain place. He then motioned to one of the operators to come over. Gewisto whispered something to the operator who then attacked the problem again only this time at the site with the X on it.

Gewisto stood up and produced a small pad of paper from his shirt pocket. With a stubby pencil, he wrote out his bill and handed it to the plant manager.

The plant manager's eyes opened very wide when he saw that Gewisto had charged him $10,000.

"What do you mean by this!" the plant manager boomed.

Gewisto took the pad back and wrote an itemized bill:

$1.00 for the repair that the operator was now making at the X
$9,999.00 for knowing where to look

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Friday December 28, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

LearningVoyager's Year-End Blog Round-Up for 2013

As we approach the end of another year, it's time to take a look back at some of the highlights of this writer's output.

At this my main blog, Here We Are. Now What? there were a number of posts that resonated with audiences, including:

The Six Success Factors model which I am thinking of expanding into my next book.

This synthesis of two conference talks on Service Excellence and Leadership

A piece on Fearless Leadership

My 3-part series on Transformation and Change: Part 1, 2, and 3.

My 4-part series on a spirituality of business, service, and change: Breaking Bread, Love Made Visible, Only Serve, and Surf the Change.

My interview with Nick Heap where we talked about Core Process.

My interview with Robin Cook where we talked about Organization Development and innovation.

And a couple posts from December of 2012 that I want to sneak in because they are well worth another look...

My interview with Marcella Bremer where we talked about culture change.

My interview with Art Worster where we talked about business transformation through large scale change in organizations.

And of course my third book, Change for the Better, was released in October, both in paper and on Kindle.

To all my readers, thank you for stopping by. Especially those of you who left comments and tweeted my stuff to others, my gratitude.

Here's to more content on change, leadership, learning, and success in 2014!

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Monday December 16, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Gifts of Mandela

With the passing of Nelson Mandela, many writers have posted columns about his life, his struggle to defeat apartheid, and the significance of his accomplishments.

One of the things I have been thinking about is the fact that he spent 27 years in prison. How did he do that? Could I survive such an ordeal? In a Dickensian work of fiction, such an incredible injustice would warp and twist a man.

I think that in Mandela's case, it did change him. But it changed him for the better. He once said: "I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death."

There is so much to learn from his life. Here are a few quotes from Nelson Mandela that show what he was made of.

On courage: "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

On being formidable: "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."

On leading others: "It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership."

On being free: "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

On the impossible: "It always seems impossible until its done."

On transforming one's enemy: "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."

On love and hate: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Mandela is a case study in perseverance. In faith. And in transformation, going from being demonized as a terrorist to a beloved leader. He gives us an example of the power of forgiveness and reconciliation

Like Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and others who endured the horrors of hatred, his life is a testament to our ability to survive even the harshest conditions. He shows us what it takes to pass the toughest of tests.

He has taught us about being a leader: "A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind."

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Friday December 13, 2013

Terrence H. Seamon is an organization development consultant who provides leadership and team development services to employers in New Jersey. His book Lead the Way explores the challenges of leadership. Additionally, Terry is a job search and career coach whose book To Your Success provides a motivational guide for anyone in transition. His third book, Change for the Better, provides leaders with a guide to initiating, and navigating through, organizational change. An alumnus of PSG, Terry co-founded and co-moderates the St. Matthias Employment Ministry in Somerset, NJ. He can be reached at and via his website:

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Six Success Factors Model

In early 2011, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson published some of her research on the characteristics of successful people. With the immediate acclaim that her article generated, Dr. Halvorson went on to establish a "science of success" by studying what successful people actually do.

She says that "successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do." Which includes such practices as getting specific about your goals and "knowing exactly what you want to achieve." This, Halvorson says, "keeps you motivated until you get there."

Looking further into Halvorson's fascinating research findings, a few other nuggets gleam, including:

Successful people focus on getting better - Successful people never rest on their laurels. Rather they are constantly pushing themselves to find ways to improve their game.

Successful people are great finishers - They take decisive action. And they stay with it to the end.

Successful people have grit - Successful people are committed to their goals and do not quit. Instead, they persevere, no matter what the challenge or the obstacle they face.

Grit. It's a peculiar word, going back to Olde English, having to do with gravel and pebbles and dirt. But it has a metaphoric sense meaning indomitable courage, toughness, or resolution, pluck and spirit.

People with grit, like the young heroine of the novel True Grit, do not easily give up. Like a dog with a bone, they will stubbornly refuse to yield.

Lawyer and teacher Angela Duckworth has also studied success and agrees that it comes down to grit. She defines it as passion + determination for the long haul. Unshakeable belief in oneself. Perseverance in the face of setbacks, disappointments, and failure.

What else goes into success? With research by success experts as a basis, I have developed a six factor model of success:

Strategize and Prioritize: Where are you going with your life? Are you thinking ahead? Are you envisioning your future? Are you laying out the roadmap that will get you there? Have you identified the obstacles and opportunities ahead?

How are you spending your time? Are you doing what’s most important to you in terms of your vision and goals? Do you know what is most important? Are you making time in your daily and weekly schedule for yourself? for important relationships? for improving things? for lifelong learning? for thinking about the future?

In Stephen Covey's famous book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective people, he has two principles that are reflected in the above: Start with the end in mind, and First Things First.

Communicate and Delegate: Are you connected to people around you? Are you keeping people informed? Are you getting all the key people on the same page? Are you seeking input and listening for good ideas? Are you learning from others?

Do you have a healthy and productive team around you? Are they aligned and enthusiastic? Are you engaging them by sharing the purpose? Are you challenging them? Are you building their capabilities? Are you coaching them?

Manage stress: Are you taking good care of yourself? Are you coping with your own stress, as well as helping others? Are you exercising? eating right? getting enough sleep? enjoying life? replenishing your energy?

Adaptability: How well are you handling change? Are you bouncing back with resilience? Are you setting boundaries to protect and nourish each side of your life? Are you making sure that you have enough energy to give your best both to your job as well as to your life? Are you improving continuously?

These six factors each contribute to your overall effectiveness as a parent, as a teacher, as a manager, as a human being. With all these factors in place, you will be able to get (and keep) your focus in order to get things done and achieve your goals.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Monday December 9, 2013