Thursday, April 6, 2017

Developing the Leader Within You - Problem Solving : Part 3

We will continue our leadership journey, learning new skills and refreshing old ones, with John C. Maxwell's book Developing the Leader Within You.

The size of the person is more important than the size of the problem.

This chapter of Maxwell's book deals with the two things needed to effectively solve problems: the right attitude and the right action plan.


The two previous installments discussed Maxwell's observations regarding problems and problem-solving. Today, we will explore The Problem Solving Process.
The Problem Solving Process

  1. Identify the Problem.
    • Too many times we attack the symptoms, not the cause.
  2. Prioritize the Problem.
    • Whether you face three problems, thirty, or three hundred, "make them stand in single file so you face only one at a time."
    • Approach these problems, not with a view of finding what you hope will be there, but to get the truth and the realities that must be grappled with.
  3. Define the Problem. 
    • In a single sentence, answer the question, "What is the problem?"
    • Defining the problem in a single sentence is a four step-process:
      1. Ask the right questions.
        • Ask process-related questions.
        • Two words that always govern Maxwell's questions are trends and timing.
        • Most problem trails can be sniffed out if specific questions are asked in these two areas.
      2. Talk to the right people.
        • Beware of authorities with a "we-know-better" attitude.
        • These people have blind spots and are resistant to change.
        • Creativity is essential for problem-solving.
      3. Get the hard facts.
        • "Once the facts are clear, the decisions jump out at you." - Peter Drucker
        • Listen to what is not being said and gather the important data.
      4. Get involved in the process.
        • Get involved in the process by doing the actual jobs of the people concerned and see what problems arise.
        • Problems should be solved at the lowest level possible because that is where they appear. That is also the level where they are most clearly defined.
    • Select People to Help You in the Problem-Solving Process.
      • Before inviting people to attend a problem-solving meeting, ask these questions:
        1. Is it a real problem?
        2. Is it urgent?
        3. Is the true nature of the problem known?
        4. Is it specific?
        5. Has the group most competent to discuss the problem been invited and is each participant concerned about solving this issue?
    • Collect Problem Causes.
      • List all the possible causes of the problem by asking what caused the problem and how the problem can be avoided in the future.
    • Collect Problem-Solving Solutions.
      • List as many solutions to a problem as possible.
      • Options are essential because a problem continually shifts and changes.
    • Prioritize and Select the "Best" Solution.
      • Weigh all the possible solutions before deciding by asking the following questions:
        1. Which solution has the greatest potential to be right?
        2. Which solution is in the best interest of the organization?
        3. Which solution has momentum and timing on it's side?
        4. Which solution has the greatest chance for success?
    • Implement the Best Solution.
    • Evaluate the Solution.
      • Ask these questions to evaluate the responses:
        1. Were we able to identify the real causes of the problem?
        2. Did we make the right decision?
        3. Has the problem been resolved?
        4. Have the key people accepted this solution?
        5. Did I help people to develop problem-solving skills to manage conflict in the future?
    • Set Up Principles or Policies to Keep Problems from Recurring.
      • Whereas policies are set up for a particular function in a specific area, principles are guidelines for everyone and are more general. Policies change when their use is no longer essential. Principles do not change.
      • To teach principles effectively, you must:
        1. Model them.
        2. Relate them by answering the questions, "How can I use this in my life?"
        3. Applaud when you see the principles being applied in another's life.
    Wow! That's a lot of questions to have to ask ourselves and others to solve a problem. I guess a few more questions to ask is "How big is the problem?" and "How much do I want to solve it?" If it's big enough and you want to solve it bad enough, then Maxwell's recipe for problem-solving will help you get the job done.


    On another thought ... does this Problem-Solving Process remind you of the Rapid Improvement Workshop utilized by our Continuous Improvement Team in the Colas Goal Zero Process? Or, is it just me?

    Donald G Rosenbarger
    Senior Vice President
    Delta Companies Inc

    Developing the Leader Within You - Problem Solving : Part 2

    We will continue our leadership journey, learning new skills and refreshing old ones, with John C. Maxwell's book Developing the Leader Within You.

    The size of the person is more important than the size of the problem.

    This chapter of Maxwell's book deals with the two things needed to effectively solve problems: the right attitude and the right action plan.

    Last time, we ended with five of Maxwell's observations regarding problem-solving. Today, we will review five more:

    • A test of a leader is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.
      • Under excellent leadership a problem seldom reaches gigantic proportions because it is recognized and fixed in its early stages.
      • Great leaders usually recognize a problem in the following sequence:
        1. They sense it before they see it (intuition).
        2. They begin looking for it and ask questions (curiosity).
        3. They gather data (processing).
        4. They share their feelings and findings to a few trusted colleagues (communicating).
        5. They define the problem (writing).
        6. They check their resources (evaluating).
        7. They make a good decision (leading).
      • Great leaders are seldom blind-sided.
    • You can judge leaders by the size of the problem they tackle.
      • The size of the person is more important than the size of the problem.
      • Problems look larger or smaller according to  whether the person is small or large.
      • Our focus as a leader should be to build big people. Big people will handle big issues effectively.
    • Solve task-problems quickly; people-problems will take longer.
      • Problems never stop but people can stop problems. 
      • Suggestions for producing "problem-solvers:"
        1. Make a commitment to people.
          • Those who never take time to develop people are forced to take time to solve their problems.
        2. Never solve a problem for a person; solve it with that person.
          • Take that individual through the sequence that has already been given for recognizing a problem.
      • Climbing the ladder of leadership means that fewer but more important decisions will be made.
      • The problem-solving skills of a leader must be sharpened because every decision becomes a major decision.
    • The right attitude.
      • Norman Vincent Peale was right when he said that positive thinking is how you think about a problem. Enthusiasm is how you feel about a problem. The two together determine what you do about a problem.
      • If I could so anything for people, I would help them change their perspectives, not their problems.
      • Positive thinking does not always change our circumstances, but it will always change us.
    • The right action plan
      • Some people assume that a defect-free system can be developed for their lives.
      • Some people assume that something will do wrong and they need a backup system.
      • Too many times when a problem arises, we want to blame someone else and take the easy way out.
      • So .....
    So, ... next time, we will learn about "The problem-Solving Process."

    Donald G Rosenbarger
    Senior Vice President
    Delta Companies Inc

    Monday, March 20, 2017

    Developing the Leader Within You - Problem Solving : Part 1

    We will continue our leadership journey, learning new skills and refreshing old ones, with John C. Maxwell's book Developing the Leader Within You.

    The Quickest Way to Gain Leadership: Problem-Solving : Part 1

    The size of the person is more important than the size of the problem.

    This chapter of Maxwell's book deals with the two things needed to effectively solve problems: the right attitude and the right action plan.



    According to F.F. Fournies, there are four common reasons why people do not perform the way they should:
    1. They do not know what they are supposed to do.
    2. They do not know how to do it.
    3. They do not know why they should.
    4. There are obstacles beyond their control.

      These four reasons why people fail to perform at their potential are responsibilities of leadership. The first three reasons deal with starting a job correctly. A training program, job description, proper tools, and vision, along with good communication skills, will go a long way in effectively meeting the first three issues.

      The following are five characteristics from Maxwell's life:

      • We all have problems
         - We should remember the words of Paul Harvey who said that in times like these it is always helpful to remember that there have always been times like these.
      • Problems give meaning to life.
        - People need to change their perspectives, not their problems.
        - A life free of all obstacles and difficulties would reduce all possibilities and powers to zero.
        - Eliminate problems and life loses its creative tension.
      • Many outstanding people have overcome problems in their lives.
        - Policies are many; principles are few. Policies will change; principles never do.
        - Dolly Parton sums it all up with these words: "The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain."
      • My problem is not my problem.
        - There is world of differences between a person who has a big problem and a person who makes a problem big.
        - Their "problems" are not their real problems. The problem is they react wrongly to "problems" and therefore make their "problems" real problems.
        - What really counts is not what happens to me but what happens in me.
        - Why do achievers overcome problems while thousands are overwhelmed by theirs? They refused to hold on to the common excuses for failure.
        - They turned their stumbling blocks into stepping stones. They realized they could not determine every circumstance in life but they could determine their choice of attitude in every circumstance.
      • A problem is something I can do something about
        - If I can't do something about a problem, it's not my problem, it's a fact of life.
        - Be careful in resigning yourself to the position that there is no answer to a problem. Someone else may come along with a solution.
      Next time, we will explore more of Maxwell's observations about problem-solving.

       Donald G Rosenbarger
      Senior Vice President
      Delta Companies Inc

      Monday, February 20, 2017

      Developing the Leader Within You - Creating Positive Change : Part 4

      We will continue our leadership journey, learning new skills and refreshing old ones, with John C. Maxwell's book Developing the Leader Within You.

      The first order of things to be changed is me, the leader. After I consider how hard it is to change myself, then I will understand the challenge of trying to change others. This is the ultimate test of leadership.

      Last time we looked at ten strategies for creating a climate for change. Strategy #10 was "Give the People Ownership of the Change." We will explore methods of doing that in this lesson as we wrap up this chapter.


      How to Offer Ownership of Change to Others
      1. Inform people in advance so they'll have time to think about the implications of the change and how it will affect them.
      2. Explain the overall objective of the change - the reasons for it and how and when it will occur.
      3. Show people how the change will benefit them. Be honest with the employees who may lose out as a result of the change. Alert them early and provide assistance to help them find another job, if necessary.
      4. Ask those who will be affected by the change to participate in all stages of the change process.
      5. Keep communication channels open. Provide opportunities for employees to discuss the change. Encourage questions, comments, and other feedback.
      6. Be flexible and adaptable throughout the change process. Admit mistakes and make changes where appropriate.
      7. Constantly demonstrate your belief in and commitment to the change. Indicate your confidence in their ability to implement the change.
      8. Provide enthusiasm, assistance, appreciation, and recognition to those implementing the change.
      Change will happen. The question should not be "Will we ever change?" but "When and how much will we change?"

      Not all change is improvement, but without change there can be no improvement.

      "In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what you are." - Max Dupree

      It's a fact that when you're through changing, you're through!

      It is never too late to change.

      Make a choice today to change. And when change is successful, you will look back at it and call it growth.

      Donald G Rosenbarger
      Senior Vice President
      Delta Companies Inc

      Tuesday, January 24, 2017

      Developing the Leader Within You - Creating Positive Change : Part 3

      We will continue our leadership journey, learning new skills and refreshing old ones, with John C. Maxwell's book Developing the Leader Within You.


      The first order of things to be changed is me, the leader. After I consider how hard it is to change myself, then I will understand the challenge of trying to change others. This is the ultimate test of leadership.

      Last time, we talked about the various forms of resistance the change agent may encounter. Today, we will discuss how to create a climate for change.

      Human behavior studies show that people do not basically resist change; they resist "being changed."

      As you read the following, remember: you do not have to be the "boss" or have a title to be a leader.
      We are all leaders or future leaders. So, when you read the word "leader," think of yourself in that context.

      1. The Leader Must Develop a Trust with People.
        • First question to a leader who wants to make changes within an organization is always: "What is your relationship with your people?"
        • If the relationship is positive, then the leader is ready to take the next step.
        • The Leader Must Make Personal Changes Before Asking Others to Change.
          • "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do." - Andrew Carnegie.
          • Great leaders not only say what should be done, they show it!
        • Good Leaders Understand the History of the Organization.
          • "Don't take the fence down until you know the reason it was put up." - G.K. Chesterton
          • It is important to know what happened in the past before making changes for the future.
          • Place Influence in the Leadership Positions.
            • Leaders have two characteristics. First, they are going somewhere; and second, they are able to persuade other people to go with them.
          • Check the "Change in Your Pocket."
            • Every leader is given a certain amount of "change" (emotional support in the form of bargaining chips) at the beginning of a relationship. If the relationship weakens, the leader gives up "change" until it is possible for him to become bankrupt with the organization. If the relationship strengthens, the leader receives "change" until it is possible for him to become rich with the organization.
            • Always remember: It takes "change" to make change.
            • The more "change" in the pocket of the leader, the more changes that can be made in the lives of the people.
          • Good Leaders Solicit the Support of Influencers Before the Change is Made Public.
            • This ten-item checklist includes all the steps a good leader will go through in soliciting support for a change from a major influencer in the organization:
              • List the major influencer(s) of the major groups within your organization.
              • How many will be affected directly by this change? (These people are the most important group.)
              • How many will be affected indirectly by this change?
              • How many will be positive?
              • How many will be negative?
              • Which group is the majority?
              • Which group is the more influential?
              • If the positive group is stronger, bring the influencers together for discussion.
              • If the negative group is stronger, meet with the influencers individually.
              • Know the "key" to each influencer.
          • Develop a Meeting Agenda that Will Assist Change.
            • Every new idea goes through three phases: It will not work; it will cost too much; and, I thought it was a good idea all along.
            • A wise leader, understanding that people change through a process, will develop a meeting agenda to enhance this process.
          • Encourage the Influencers to Influence Others Informally.
            • Major changes should not surprise people.
            • A "leadership leak" done properly will prepare the people for the formal meeting.
          • Show the People How the Change Will Benefit Them.
            • The proposed change is what is best for the people, not the leader. The people must be first.
          • Give the People Ownership of the Change.
            • Openness by the leader paves the way for ownership by the people.
            • Without ownership, changes will be short-term.
              Donald G Rosenbarger
              Senior Vice President
              Delta Companies Inc

              Monday, January 9, 2017

              Developing the Leader Within You - Creating Positive Change : Part 2

              We will continue our leadership journey, learning new skills and refreshing old ones, with John C. Maxwell's book Developing the Leader Within You.

              The first order of things to be changed is me, the leader. After I consider how hard it is to change myself, then I will understand the challenge of trying to change others. This is the ultimate test of leadership.



              Last time, we talked about the Leader as a Change Agent. Today, we will discuss the various forms of resistance the change agent may encounter.



              Why People Resist Change:
              • The change isn't self-initiated.
                -When people lack ownership of an idea, they usually resist it, even when it is in their best interest.
                - Wise leaders allow followers to give input and be a part of the process of change.

              • Routine is disrupted.
                - Habits allow us to do things without much thought, which is why most of us have so many of them.
                - Habits are not instincts. They are acquired reactions. They don't just happen; they are caused.
                - First we form habits, but then our habits form us.

              • Change creates fear of the unknown.
                - Change means traveling in uncharted waters, and this causes our insecurities to rise.
                - Therefore, many people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions.

              • The purpose of change is unclear.
                - That's why decisions should be made at the lowest level possible. The decision-maker, because of close proximity to the issue, will make a better decision, and those most affected by the decision will know it quickly by hearing it from a source close to them and to the problem.

              • Change creates fear of failure.
                - Elbert Hubbard said that the greatest mistake a person can make is to be afraid of making one.

              • The rewards for change don't match the effort change requires.
                - What leaders sometimes fail to recognize is that the followers will always weigh the advantage/disadvantage issue in light of personal gain/loss, not organization gain/loss.

              • People are too satisfied with the way things are.
                - We choose to die rather than choose to change.

              • Change won't happen when people engage in negative thinking.
                - Regardless of his state in the present, the negative thinker finds disappointment in the future.

              • The followers lack respect for the leader.
                - People will view the change according to the way they view the change-agent.
                - When you love your followers genuinely and correctly, they'll respect you and follow you through many changes.

              • The leader is susceptible to feelings of personal criticism.
                - For growth and continual effectiveness, every organization must go through a continuous four-stage cycle of create, conserve, criticize, and change.
                - Either the creators handle criticism positively and begin to make changes or they will be replaced by those who will embrace change and, therefore, create.

              • Change may mean personal loss.
                - "How will this affect me?"
                - Usually there are three groups of people within the organization:
                        1. Those who will lose,
                        2. Those who are neutral, and
                        3. Those who will benefit.
                - Each group is different and must be handled with sensitivity, but also with straightforwardness.

              • Change requires additional commitment.
                - Time is the most precious commodity for many people.
                - Whenever change is about to happen, we all look to see how it will affect our time.

              • Narrow-mindedness thwarts acceptance of new ideas.

              • Tradition resists change. 


              Next time, we will discover how to create a climate for change.


              Donald G Rosenbarger
              Senior Vice President
              Delta Companies Inc

              Thursday, January 5, 2017

              Developing the Leader Within You - Creating Positive Change : Part 1

              We will continue our leadership journey, learning new skills and refreshing old ones, with John C. Maxwell's book Developing the Leader Within You.

              The first order of things to be changed is me, the leader. After I consider how hard it is to change myself, then I will understand the challenge of trying to change others. This is the ultimate test of leadership.

              Change the leader, change the organization. Everything rises and falls on leadership.


              Unchanged leaders equals unchanged organizations. People do what people see.

              "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."  Nicolo Machiavelli

              "You see, effective teaching comes only through a change person. The more you change, the more you become an instrument of change in the lives of others. If you want to become a change agent, you also must change." Howard Hendricks


              The Leader As Change Agent
              • Once the leader has personally changed and discerned the difference between novel change and needed change, then that leader must become a change agent.

                  • He must first understand the two important requisites to bringing about change: knowing the technical requirements of the change, and understanding the attitude and motivational demands for bringing it about.

                      • Both requisites are critically necessary. More often than not, though, when failure to change results, it is because of inadequate or inappropriate motivation, not from lack of technical smarts.

                          • A manager usually will be more skilled in the technical requirements of change, whereas the leader will have a better understanding of the attitudinal and motivational demands that the followers need. Note the difference in the beginning the skills of a leader are essential. No change will ever occur if the psychological needs are unmet. Once the change has begun, the skills of a manager are needed to maintain needed change.

                          Next time, we will learn why people resist change.
                          Donald G Rosenbarger
                          Senior Vice President
                          Delta Companies Inc