State of No Ethics

If you have been following this blog at all, you no doubt realize that I seldom discuss politics.  Yet after last night’s “State of the Union” address, I can’t hold back any longer.

In Leadership training, we often talk about ethics, and one part of an ethical leader to me is someone I can trust.  For me to trust someone they cannot lie or twist the truth.  From my point of view, the twisting of events in the State of the Union was just a lot over the top this year.

I can understand trying to spin things toward your point of view, but leaving out little details that would lend to a different conclusion is just plain dishonest.  As one pundit said after the speech, he was surprised how our President seems to believe one way and governs another way. (I’m paraphrasing him)  What I hear was his walk doesn’t match his talk.

As far as I’m concerned it is time for some real hope and some real change this election year.  Maybe if we are lucky we can find candidates that walk their talk, and spin a lot less.  Maybe we can find leaders that are ethical and don’t lie to us so that we see what they are really all about.

Okay, I can dream can’t I?

Plan Your Vacations

Usually by the second week of January my wife and I have plotted out our vacation days on a year at a glance wall calendar.  We both love to travel, and we use some of that time off to stay home for our improvement projects.  This year we are painting the exterior of the house one week- yippee!

I am a planner and I find that knowing when I want to take time off allows me to shop for vacation destinations early and save a good amount of money being the early bird.  But mentally I look forward to the next trip or break in the normal routine.

While I am an advocate of planning to save a dime, I also plan things to increase my individual productivity.  I am self-employed, so I have to be careful not to be on vacation more days in a year than I am working, or the money dries up.  I have always been one of those employees that gave more than a day’s work for a day’s pay, which is why I am such a supporter of anything that increases productivity.

The reason I am promoting the idea of planning your vacations is so that the remainder of the year you can concentrate on working.  As I watch numerous clients diddle away their 40-hours every week and think nothing of pushing a project down the road for 6 months, I am appalled that some of them continue to collect a paycheck.  Not only do they lack personal accountability for their productivity, their employers seem to be out to lunch too.

Vacations and Holidays are for rest and relaxation and the remainder of the days in a year are for work.  Whether you are on a salary or paid hourly, it is vital for your company’s success that you put in a full-time effort.

So whether you are planning to stay home and paint, go camping, or fly to a resort or cruise this year, plan the time for vacation, and spend the rest of the year earning your paycheck.  You will feel so much better this time next year if you exercise life and workplace balance.

A Model of Leadership

I lost my Father to a sudden heart attack when I was 14.  My whole world was rocked, as well as my faith of what God was up to.  Three years later I would begin to see a part of that plan unfold when my Mom would marry again and I would have a Step-Dad and ultimate best friend.

After battling numerous health issues, he passed away this morning in his sleep.  Yet even over the past two weeks as friends and family came out of the woodwork to say their goodbyes, he remained the role model I have looked at these past 35 years as a true servant leader.  He was eager to move on, and yet patient enough to wait for God’s timing.

His faith was as strong as anyone could ever hope to achieve, and the reason my faith was restored a long time ago that God is actively working in our lives for our good.  He walked his talk more than he talked it, and for someone who definitely had the gift of gab that is saying something.

Years ago when I started to learn the concepts of Servant Leadership and what types of actions it takes to live that kind of role, it didn’t take me long to realize I had a model of leadership in my own family.  He never judged people and always looked for ways to help them succeed.  He never acted differently than the ways he wanted others to behave.  He walked his talk.

If you are struggling to find a hero or a role model to follow, may I suggest you look around your close family and friends.  While it is admirable to look at political and historical people of the past, you just may find more inspiration and motivation in the personal relationships close by.

In memory of Gerald J. Sponsler 1929-2012

Back to the Basics

My wife and I recently purchased a mountain cabin that needs a little fixing up.  Construction work and painting that I know better not to try to do myself if I want the job to look good.  What I’m finding frustrating is the lack of basic customer service by the companies that say they need work, and yet can’t even return a phone call or email.

Now granted the holidays may have diverted people’s attention, but for weeks I’ve been trying to line up people to work on this house.  I leave phone messages, and emails and I get nothing returned.  I know the economy is bad, and that the amount of work is minimal for some of these companies, so I’m stymied as to why the lack of responsiveness.

I’m working with a company right now that wants to improve customer service, and frankly they are making such a major project out of it that by the time they actually start training they could have been done already.  I have been trying to focus them on the basics, and finally made headway last week.

Do phone calls get returned in your company?

Do your emails get answered within the day?

Do you need to follow-up with people on a regular basis to get responses?

I asked these same three questions, and I encourage you to ask yourself the same ones.  If things are not going smoothly with the basics, can you imagine the difference if just phone calls and emails were answered?  Wow!  Do you really need a 6-month training program to improve customer service?

So as we begin 2012, I want to encourage you to get back to the basics of every process you want to improve this year.  Before you make a mountain out of a mole hill, take a step back and try something simple.