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Values Driven Leadership with Dina Dwyer – Episode 186 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Values

Behind the fancy job titles, the awards, the TV appearances, and the $1 billion-dollar-business that her company’s service brands do each year, Dina Dwyer-Owens equates her success to having a living by a proven Code of Values. Her first book Live RICH: How to build success in your company and your life with a proven Code of Values has connected with thousands of readers by offering a simple message that in a world of constant change, values can be ever-present. Now in Values, Inc., named one of the Top Ten Business Books from 2015 by Forbes, Dina aims to help inspire more hope for the future by taking the spotlight and shining it on those doing the things she loves to cheer about: living and leading with integrity.

Show Highlights:

 

  • Live R.I.C.H: Respect, Integrity, Customer Focus and Have fun in the process. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • People create the systems and then we coach those systems. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • We teach our principle and system to people. Franchising is our vehicle. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • Focus on re-earning your position every day in every way. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • Continuously strive to maximize customer loyalty. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • We always think about systems. If something isn’t working, there isn’t a system or something is broken.  @DinaDwyerOwens
  • Anytime there is a meeting of 3+ people, in the beginning we are reading our values. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • Values driven leadership is not for the faint of heart. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • Enforcing vision requires constant vigilance. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • The rewards of operating by values are too great to ignore. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • @rory_vaden shares steps to creating a company creed or set of values.

 

Download your free copy of the Create Your Culture workbook by visiting: dinadwyerowens.com

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

How to Become a More Admired Leader…By the End of the Day

admired

There is a lot to learn about leadership.

Leadership is in some ways very multifaceted, complex, and unique to the situations where it is called for.

Recently, I attended the unfortunate and unexpected yet uplifting funeral of a legend of Southwestern culture, Spencer Hays. Spencer was a personal mentor of mine and someone whom I’ve always admired.

Spencer made generous decisions as a leader that will impact many eras of people who come after him.

And one by one as his friends, family, colleagues and business partners took the podium to talk about him, a recurring theme kept coming up…

It reminded me that, while sometimes complex, there are some simple truths about leadership that are bankable.

One of those is that leadership is always about working with and through other people.

And people, although also incredibly diverse and unique, very often exhibit similar behaviors, desires, and needs in similar situations. 

Generally speaking, one thing people yearn for is to be appreciated.

Very often, even more than making more money, they yearn to feel valued.

They yearn to not only be recognized, but to feel wanted, successful, and admired.

Therein lies a tremendous opportunity that is immediately available to anyone who wants to become a better leader and that is this: 

Learn to make people feel special.

Learn to make people feel important.

Learn to make people feel wanted.

Become an expert at it.

If people feel cared for, they will likely be more committed to contributing.

Because we don’t live in a world that really lacks information, knowledge, or education.

We live in a world however where people are often starving to feel valued and important.

Spencer was a rare leader who understood this and practiced it day in and day out in a way that mattered to so many. 

It’s ironic perhaps that in our social media society we have more “friends” and get more “likes” than ever before, and yet somehow it has all seemed to erode the number of times in our life where we actually feel special.

That creates an amazing opportunity for us to lead because that is one of the core parts of what leadership is: connecting with and inspiring people.

If you want to lead people; listen to people.

If you want to lead people; look after people.

If you want to lead people; lift up people. 

If you want to lead people; love people. 

Make them feel special. Make them feel valued. Make them feel important.

If you can do that then many of them will immediately follow you because unfortunately there are only a rare few, like Spencer, who actually know how to truly make everyone feel special.

Why Competition is Over Rated

Competition

You don’t have to beat other people to dominate in business. 

There doesn’t have to be a loser in order for you to be a winner. 

And the business world today, seems to be rewarding those who have more of a selfless focus on serving than those who have a relentless focus on competing. 

Those getting ahead seem to have more of an intrinsic drive to improve than an extrinsic drive to defeat. 

Success in business today doesn’t really allow time to be concerned about how you rank compared to other people. 

Because in order to survive and compete in this fast moving generation, you need every extra ounce of that energy focused on how to improve your customer experience. 

You have to have more of your creative capacities going into innovating and less going into comparing. 

It’s not about finding ways to defeat your competition; it’s about finding ways to serve your customers. 

The speed of communication, the speed of technology and a growing overall climate of customers becoming accustomed to having their needs and preferences hyper-tailored to, means that we need every resource possible focused on keeping up with and surpassing their expectations. 

If we do that we’re more likely to win. If we don’t we might be in trouble. 

Many of the industries that have experienced disruption have resulted from the traditionally stable providers benchmarking against their competitors more so than thinking about how to better solve the customers problem. 

That line of thinking encourages the status quo inside an industry and opens the door for those outside the industry to come in and find a better way. 

It’s as if innovation is sometimes forced to come in from outside an industry when the age old players inside the industry are squabbling for market share instead of obsessing over customer needs. 

AirBNB, Uber, digital cameras and Netflix were all created from players outside an industry. 

When it could’ve been hotels, taxi companies, Kodak and Blockbuster that figured out a smarter way to serve customer interests. 

The point is that when we focus on beating other people, we might risk missing out on something more valuable. 

When we focus on serving other people we activate our senses. We come alive. We invent. We innovate. And we combine time tested principles with modern tools to find a smarter and better way to solve customers problems. 

The same is true of personal success. 

Our success is irrespective of what is being accomplished or not accomplished by those around us. 

Our success is measured by how we perform compared to ourselves. How we perform compared to our potential. And most importantly how we perform compared to our capacity to best serve those around us. 

We are only trying to beat who we were yesterday. 

We are only trying to crush the way we’ve always done it. 

We are only trying to compete with the best possible ways to get ourselves and our clients to the next level.

5 Steps to Create Transformational Team Unity

Unity

A team is a group of people held together by a unifying set of beliefs.  

But what those beliefs are, unfortunately all too often are unspoken.

Typically, people gather with people who they are like or who believe what they believe.

Yet there is some nearly mystical power that comes about as the inspiring byproduct of when a team takes the time the codify their beliefs.

At Southwestern Consulting, we’ve walked many of our clients through this and we call this “The Creed Conversation”.

We first discovered the power of this activity by realizing the need to apply an age-old part of Southwestern’s culture around positive self-talk to our Southwestern Consulting team as a whole. We realized we had not yet taken the time to write out our shared philosophies at Southwestern Consulting. It ended up being one of the most transformational pivot points in the history of our own company.

It’s so simple to do, that virtually any team at anytime can have a “Creed Conversation.” Many companies have a formal “mission statement” or “values” but this process takes it a step further by empowering collaboration and most importantly assimilating it into the regular course of our workflow.

All you need is an audio recorder, someone who can type, a group of some of your key leaders and a facilitator. Then follow a few steps:

1.Set the Stage – Explain to everyone that despite being a team for x amount of time, it dawned on you that you have never created, as a team, a list of the principles that you all believe in. While you may have a company mission statement or something, it’s not nearly as powerful as something created by the team of people who do the work every day. Tell them the goal is simply to document a list of shared philosophies of the team. It can also be a good idea to play for the Simon Sinek’s famous Ted talk “Start With Why.” 

2.Ask the Questions – Start the audio recording (so you have it for future reference) and then simply ask the group (best if done in person with less than 20 people) a series of open-ended questions just to get them thinking in the right direction. Write down EVERYthing everyone says in the random order that it comes out. If possible it’s best to do it on a word document on an overhead projector so everyone can see it start to take shape and come alive. Here’s some sample questions you can ask: 

  • What do we know to be true about the way we do business?
  • Why do we work so hard at this business?
  • What philosophies do we have that are un-compromisable?
  • How do we want to treat our clients and each other?
  • How do we want to be remembered as a team?
  • What do we want to be known for?
  • What do we want people to think when they think of us?
  • What are we most proud of in the way we do business?

You can ask any question in this vein and you can’t really go wrong. The only way you can mess this up is by taking too much control of the conversation and providing all the answers yourself. This is for the team to come up with, and you are a team member so you can contribute, but let them speak and create it.

3.Organize and Edit – Once all has been captured now it’s time to assimilate and edit. It helps to have someone with some decent writing skills here to guide this step. What the writer will want to do is first copy and paste similar statements or philosophies together into paragraphs without altering any of the statements as they were initially said. You’ll notice that many themes probably kept getting repeated during the exercise and that’s a good thing but here’s where we’re going to manage that.

After that, the writer is going to have the challenging role of reducing many of the paragraphs down to one sentence each based on the recurring themes so there is 1 sentence per theme. The key here though is to try and preserve the actual semantics used by the people in the group as much as possible. Try to grab key phrases, repeatable mantras, or colorful language from the group but without being too repetitious.

 Then the last and hardest part will be to edit and massage all of these ideas into simple, concise, powerful, active sentences. Don’t say “we strive to do the best we can for our customers whenever possible.” Instead say, “we always do the right thing.”

Once you have all of the statements complete, next you will want to write an opening paragraph that pulls in some of the corporate vision, values, and mission statement. And then write a short closing paragraph that is a unifying and rallying call to action to live out and execute all of the philosophies that were just listed. Oh…and all of this at most has to fit onto one page.

4.Represent for Approval – Now that it’s all been synthesized by the writer/editor, the next step is to send it back out to the team for final suggestions and feedback. At this stage it’s a good idea to even send it out to the team at large (who wasn’t included in the initial meeting).

Invite the team to discuss this in their smaller teams and within their departments to get reactions from people all throughout the organization. Give everyone an opportunity to suggest additions or changes.

It’s a chance to get everyone’s feedback and input. Work on the edits until everyone agrees and you can formally vote on it and ratify it as a part of your continuing corporate culture. (It should be a living document that can be edited later as necessary with unanimous vote.)

5. Put it in Use – The key to making a creed work is making sure it doesn’t just end up in a drawer somewhere with other corporate jargon that never gets looked at. It needs to come alive and be referred to early and often. Here are some of the best ways to get it in use:

  • Read it out loud at the start of every meeting (there are many fun ways you can vary this up.)
  • Refer to it whenever you have a difficult decision to make.
  • Make it be the first thing you show to recruits and new hires and explain that it is the predominant criteria for being hired or getting promoted.
  • Cite elements of it whenever you roll out a new change for the company.
  • Ask people to cite it whenever they see something that is a real-life illustration of a principle that is documented in the creed.
  • Ask people to cite it whenever they see something in the company that needs to be improved or challenged.
  • Include elements of the Creed on walls, trophies, certificates, and anywhere else it makes sense.
  • Consider creating awards in your company for people who exemplify specific lines of the Creed.i)“Initiate” new people by inviting them to read it out loud (or part of it) their first day on the job.
  • Make it a part of your personal affirmations that you read every morning.

A Creed can be a synthesizing and rallying time for your entire team.

There is something tremendously powerful about having a documented, agreed upon, and declared set of values that govern the behaviors of members.

It can turn losers into winners.

It can turn doubters into believers.

It can turn pacifists into activists

If you create a Creed, you will create a culture. 

The First 10 Books You Should Read as a New Leader

leader

So you’re a leader, now what?

What do you do? 

What actions do you take?

How do you know what to do as a leader? Where do you learn leadership?

Most companies don’t have a lot of resources dedicated to formally training their leaders because they are either spread too thin, or frankly just don’t know how to actually teach leadership. 

So, you can find a mentor, take classes on it, get into coaching and of course learn from your own experience.

But still one of the best ways to learn what to do as a leader is to simply read books!

Books have some of the most concentrated wisdom available in all the world and you can glean from a person’s years of experience and/or research for free at the public library. 

So what books should you read if you’re a leader? 

Not counting the 2 books that I’ve written and the Bible, which I would genuinely recommend as fabulous resources, here are the first 10 books I think all leaders should have to read, the order I’d suggest reading them in, and why:

1. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek – This book strikes directly at the core of what leadership is: caring for and looking after others. I wish all leaders would shape their paradigm around what leadership is by reading this book because if every leader understood this, it would change the world.

2. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell – A true classic that outlines the fundamentals of all leadership. If you understand them early on in your leadership career you’ll be in great shape. 

3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale CarnegieLeadership is always and only about your skill with people – and I don’t know how anyone could survive in that role without having read the world’s seminal work on dealing with people.

4. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman Similar to the previous, this book is fundamental to being able to understand, communicate with, and influence people. Technically, this is a book about romantic relationships, but don’t underestimate it’s power as a leadership necessity.

5. 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni – Now that you have some strong foundation of what leadership is and some of the basic skill sets you need to develop in order to work through people to create results, you need to know the 1 thing that makes every team fall apart and this quick and easy gem of a masterpiece will make sure you never forget it.

6. Start With Why by Simon Sinek It was hard for me to put this one so late in the list since I think it is so crucial, but all of these are crucial and so it’s the order that I’m really laying out here. This book unlocks the hidden secret of the world’s greatest leaders and just about the time you start to feel overwhelmed with all there is to do as a leader this will help remind you of the simplest and most powerful job one of the leader: vision.

7. Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry PorrasThis book is the perfect follow up to Start With Why as it connects the dots of making the leader’s vision become a reality by building “mechanisms” inside the business that make the core principles come alive. Good to Great is of course what Jim Collins is better known for, and that is a great book too but not one that I would count as core to the initial 10 books a leader should read.

8. Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels The leader of one of the largest churches in the world, Willow Creek, Bill Hybels shares rich personal stories and compelling truths about the importance of being a great leader. This is one of those rare times to sit at the feet and learn from someone who has actually done it as a leader – not just someone who writes about it. 

9. EntreLeadership by Dave RamseyThe power of this book is that it’s practical. Unlike many of the others in this list, it’s less about philosophy, and more of a how-to manual to actually implement sound leadership practices on a daily basis. Plus, similar to the previous one, you’re learning directly from someone who has built a huge organization that truly changes the world so you have to take advantage.

10. Leadership Gold by John Maxwell This is the perfect way to round out your first 10 leadership books because it highlights and punctuates all of them in an inspiring and uplifting way. Written by Maxwell later in his career, this boils down an entire lifetime of leadership lessons into one simple text.

 I don’t personally see how anyone could reach their true leadership potential without reading these 10. If nothing else, it’s a tremendously powerful start on your way to becoming a great leader!

What other ones would you add to this list?

How to Separate Yourself as a Leader

separate

It’s easy to be a critic.

Anyone can tear down other people.

Anyone can point out what is wrong with the world.

Anyone can highlight the negative.

You know what’s hard?

Being amazing.

Doing something amazing.

Changing something to be amazing.

That’s why we don’t respect people who tear down, cut down and put down other people and their ideas.

A few weeks ago I got to hear Craig Groeschel speak and he said something powerful, “Real leadership is about being about what you’re for; not about what you’re against.”

Leadership is talking about what is positive and what is possible.

Leadership is about promoting what is good.

Leadership is about finding solutions and finding a way.

We respect that because that takes work, and courage, and creativity to be for something.

The whole world is out there telling people what they shouldn’t do.

If you want to separate yourself as a leader, then focus on inspiring people about what they should do.

Show them another way, a better way, a higher way.

Be about what you’re for, not about what you’re against.