More on Moving ‘Anchors’ to ‘Racers’

Leadership and connectedness is a process. It doesn’t happen in a day – it happens every day.

I’ve said it so many times, it’s almost become cliché – “Leaders go for the heart, Managers go for the hands.” And along with that, “We Lead People, we manage things”

Are there any among us that woke up this morning with the thought, “I hope my boss manages me today!” or “If only my boss or spouse would just manage me more!”

Doesn’t that just raise the hair on the back of your neck? People, as a general rule, have no desire to be “managed”. They are built with that internal desire to be free and independent… yes we have some level of a herd mentality – and yes, some people do need more hands on attention than others – but that does not mean that the majority want us to “Manage” them.

What I have found in people is that they welcome caring counsel, or advise from a trusted source – they hunger to be inspired and for someone to live a true model in front of them. In fact, they will gladly follow the ‘lead’ of someone that meets that criteria!

In the 2000 Goleman study, it was discovered that 70% of Employees perception of their working climate was tied to their leader’s Emotional or Relational Intelligence – their leader’s ability to connect with them relationally. If 70% of their job satisfaction and motivation is tied to our ability as leaders to connect with them – beyond just “managing them” – how profound of an impact can it make when we as leaders grow our relational skill set? Or determine to connect more authentically with our people? I believe that we would have far more racers than anchors!

People will follow – bigger, better, further, and faster – when we connect with their hearts instead of just trying to leverage their hands – when we aim for their heart – we get commitment – when we aim for the hands – the best we can hope for is compliance. How much more will our people ‘race’ when their hearts and hands are committed and connected to the mission?

So, how do you connect and lead your team?

“When it comes to team leadership, you lead your people one person at a time.”

Each person’s needs vary in some way or another – they will view life and business just a little different than each coworker – and the more diligent we are at connecting with them as individuals with their unique nuances– the more influence we will have with each – and “Leadership is Influence”

Consistently, I ask leaders what business they are in – and after they reply – I suggest that their response may be their product – but as leaders – we are all in the “People” business.

Maybe, just maybe – if we learn our people and connect with our people – they will be inspired to give more. How can they not be? They will be more connected and, relationally, when we are more connected we feel more obligated to not let our friends down.

Have a great weekend!

Unleashing the power of the team… Gaining employee engagement

As much as a leader is a ‘commander’ of people, he/she is, also, a servant of people. Engagement is not so much about commanding as it is connecting.

Bottom line(s): Valued, engaged people lead to Satisfied Customers and together, they will gladly and consistently contribute to a great BOTTOM LINE…

The Gallup Organization has consistently surveyed employees and businesses in the arena of engagement and the corresponding effects on the “Bottom Line”. They divide employees into three areas that in ‘Iditarod Leadership’ are classified as: Racers, Loafers, and Anchors.

Racers are between 25 and 30% of the average company. They are enthusiastic, committed, and run with passion and purpose. They feel deeply connected to your race! They consistently run at high performance levels and hunger to use their talents and strengths every day. They fuel creativity and move the sled forward.

Loafers are roughly 50 to 55%. They are trotting through the days, content to ‘go with the flow’. They are fairly neutral about the mission and the sled. They tend to take a “wait-and-see” attitude towards it all – sort of a, “if it looks like we may be in contention for something great – I may get excited – but until then I’ll just punch the clock”.

Anchors can range from 15 to 20% on average. Sleds, normally, have anchors(or hooks) that keep the sled in place as you’re lining up the team, but these folks are Anchors that actively dig in their heals as the rest of the team attempts to run. They, literally, drain the team of its energy and actively seek to spread their ‘Rabid” discontent.

Gallup estimates that the ‘Bottom Line’ effect of ‘Anchors’ in 2006 cost the US economy about $328 Billion in lost productivity and the corresponding ripple effects.

So, how can we develop a team full of ‘Racers’ and ‘Unleash the power of the team…’? Here are a few ideas to implement in your kennel for some immediate effects:

  • Clarity expectations – when dogs or people are unsure of their roles and expectations – they cannot race with their full strength. Learn to line out in simple language exactly what you want them to ‘DO’ and they will run faster.
  • Grow, Equip and Empower – Use training runs and growth exercises to teach them what they need to know , to stretch and grow them, and to equip them for the journey. When the time comes – set them free to run. The best days in a sled dogs life are when the musher says, “Hike” and takes away all hindrances to their running!
  • Leverage their Strengths – put them in the right spot on the team – where their personality and strengths will fit perfectly. When they are placed well – they will run well.
  • Be liberal with treats and ‘Ataboys’. Is there anyone among us that won’t pull harder when we know our efforts will be recognized or rewarded by our leader?
  • Connect on a personal level with them AND help them connect with the mission of the race – give them your heart and go for theirs. Once you know their heart, you’ll be able to see where their heart aligns with the overall mission and you’ll be able to help them connect and run with purpose.
  • Excellence and Contribution. We all want to know we are a part of something that is excellent – something of quality –AND that we have a valued contribution to that end. Set the standard for excellence on your team and when they contribute ideas – affirm their valuable input and seek to implement where possible. It will increase their self esteem and create bold and daring team members that pull voraciously.

As we serve, value, equip, and empower our teams – we will be astonished at the power that is unleashed and stretched as leaders as the sled starts to reach top speed!

Production and the bottom lines…

As I said yesterday, there has to be a bottom line. Production is a basis for trust and respect. Trust and respect are the basis for influence – and Leadership IS Influence.

Without producing the goods or delivering the desired results our leadership won’t last for long. Of all the roles that we discussed last week, the leader’s greatest role – the one that set him or her apart – is producer. The traditional bottom line is profitability. At the end of the day, does your dream or business have a ‘Net Income’? This is the, absolute, business bottom line and what I refer to as the 1st bottom line. Will we be able to keep our doors open tomorrow?

Again, using the race as a model… at the end of the race – the mushers get a prize. This prize comes from a number of sources, including entrance fees, sponsors, etc. As the prize has increased, the level of competition has grown and the end result (the bottom line) is that mushers could now run this race as something that could produce income – not just a hobby. So the race needs sponsors and without fans, there are no sponsors.

Since my mind is, usually, digging deeper, I’m tying the metaphor to business and thinking… fans and sponsors are their ‘Customers”. In the race and in business, ‘Satisfied Customers’ are critical. This has to be a constant question, “Do we have satisfied customers?” If we don’t have satisfied customers – we don’t have revenue – if we don’t have revenue we can’t have net income! This becomes the 2nd bottom line AND is directly tied to the success of the 1st bottom line.

Now I’m left with, “We have customers. How are we going to deliver the desired results and keep them satisfied?”

The answer? Our people, our ‘Team’.

We can’t run the race alone and if we tried, I doubt anyone would wait around for us to attempt an 1100 mile foot race. Bottom line – this business race and your dream should be too big for you to attempt on your own! AND we can’t lose sight of a profound truth:

“How you treat your people… Is how they will treat your Customers and take care of their orders”

Treat your people poorly and they will lack the motivation and desire to treat your customers any different. Their mindset will be, “they don’t value me – why should I value you?” Further, if they are not valued or don’t feel connected to a higher purpose in their journey, “Are they going to pull the sled with all their strength? Or enough to cover the bare minimum?” Bottom line # 3: we need valued, engaged team members, pulling with all of their heart and strength if we are going to satisfy our customers AND reach our ‘Burled Arch’.

Whether you want to be influential within your company or impactful within your industry, unless you deliver the goods on a consistent basis – your impact will only go so far. The purpose for Iditarod Leadership and the reason for why I write and speak is to help you increase your impact – to help you produce the desired result AND to communicate that it doesn’t have to come at the expense of relationship with our people and satisfied customers are critical.

Bottom line(s): Valued, engaged people lead to Satisfied Customers and together, they will gladly and consistently contribute to a great BOTTOM LINE…


The bottom line is that there are multiple bottom lines

People run the race for different reasons. Some, initially, become interested in the race for the adventure and the challenge – sort of the ‘man (or woman) and beasts versus the wild’. The adrenaline of: “I could die or suffer extreme harm” has an incredible allure over the mundane of cubicles, time clocks and ‘TPS’ reports.

There are any number of analogies that I could draw here in reference to life and business: becoming an entrepreneur, leaving corporate life for the thrill of starting your own business, leaving the ‘rank and file’ to become a leader in your organization, or even living your hobby or dream outside of work. Whatever the analogy, there comes a time when we must face the ‘bottom line’.

For the past couple of weeks, I worked with a great group of guys with a dream and an incredible opportunity. This dream and opportunity is right in line with their passion to reach people and develop a great business that provides them with income. In the process, if they make it…. they could achieve social recognition and a degree of status among their peers and business leaders in their country. In the midst of it all, my continued council was, “Great! But it won’t happen on its own. You have to have a detailed plan. You have to focus on the bottom line. The status or success you will achieve is more of a by-product of a great business plan that is executed with diligence and purpose!”

And if I could say that to you… If we could meet in a coffee shop – somewhere around the world – or sit with legs folded and ‘break bread’ and talk as friends – my council would be the same. “Go for it! Live your dreams! I believe in you!” and then I would precede to (as a loving friend) ‘hammer’ on you about your business plan and all of the necessary things in order for you to succeed. I would tell you that it doesn’t all have to be lined out in perfection and down to every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed when you start. In fact, if you wait until everything is perfect – chances are – you will never start. However, if the dream is going to be realized – there has to be a ‘bottom line’.

For as long as I can remember, this has been drilled into me – after all – my degree is in Accounting. I can still hear the mantra being chanted, “Focus on the bottom line. Focus on the bottom line. Wall Street only focuses on the bottom line.”

Then… I came to a new understanding of what the bottom line means and it is part of the entire ‘Iditarod Leadership’ theme.

Think about the actual race. It has many components but I would like us to focus on the big picture: The race has competitors, fans and sponsors. In order to keep the race going – all 3 must be satisfied. We and our teams must be willing to be ‘in the race’, the fans have to enjoy the experience and the competition, and the sponsors need to have a return for their investment.

The bottom line… and the discussion for this week…. is that in the race AND in business … the BOTTOM LINE is that there are three bottom lines.

Stay in touch this week and next, we will unpack this powerful concept.

The ‘Adventure’ of Indonesia

As many of you know, our ‘Leadership Adventure’ took us to Indonesia over the past 10 days or so, with a stop in California on the way to see my son, Zach, who is at Camp Pendleton. The word ‘Adventure’ is appropriate. Yesterday felt like I had been through quite a ride. It seems, at times, that everything only catches up to us when we finally stop or slow down!

It, usually, takes me a couple of days to shake off international travel and return to my routine stateside – but my heart is continually pulled back toward the blog and my connection with you that have chosen to join me on this adventure. I am a bit driven to share leadership principles every day and have a ‘destiny’ to add value to people Every Day – which leads me to shake it off and get back to posting blogs!! Thanks for your patience during the travel.

There are a number of blogs that are intense in my heart from the trip – adding to the thread started on the many roles we play as leaders, unpacking some leadership and life questions from discussions with Zach, and talking about a burning topic of the ‘bottom line’ of business.

However, I thought we could jump back in with just talking about the journey and maybe connecting on a more personal level, for today.

We started in California with a blaze of activity with Zach over July 4th and the pride of having two sons serving their country during that patriotic weekend.

We expected to see the beauty of California, connect with Zach, ship a care package to his brother and then enjoy the beauty of California before heading out to business in Indonesia.

We received a call during that time that was a reminder that serving isn’t for the weak and the fast realization that having sons serve the country meant their lives are, truly, on the line every day. Our oldest son, Josh, had come under attack and there were casualties in their unit. We went from being thankful that he made it – to empathetic and compassionate for the families that lost their sons.

Conversations about life, happiness, meaning, etc. ensued and all of the questions about what is true and lasting in this world (and the next) – all of the topics that transcend leadership of business into leadership in life and personal courage. (I know life isn’t always easy and I am thankful, daily, for the gift of each day with those that are close to me. We have experienced loss of loved ones in the past year or so and know that many of you are facing your own trials and pains and our hearts are with you!)

From there – we had a few days to enjoy La Jolla and the beautiful coast, caught the flight, connected through Hong Kong and landed in Jakarta. Our main seminar was scheduled for the Ritz and the smaller subsequent meeting for the JW Marriott.

Long story short, there were a number of circumstances that transpired that caused us to change our accommodations just a couple of days before suicide bombers (that were staying one floor up from us) walked into the restaurant during breakfast and carried out their deadly attacks – one at the JW and one at the Ritz. We are fortunate to be alive… there are 5-6 different reasons why we should have been there that morning and only providence that we were not.

We spent the next several days in the home of a business partner, not knowing when or if the next attack would hit, while working to wrap up the training certifications that we had committed to complete. It was a couple of stressful days with long hours followed by 30+ hours of flying time coming home – not exactly the best representation for my wife’s first time to accompany me on business!

Thanks so much for your prayers and support of me and my family!

I believe the people of Indonesia will overcome the evil that seeks to do it (and others) harm. The people I met were great – with a great hunger for leadership and excellence. We wish them all the best and will be back with them for more!

Long post for the first one back – if you want more on the bombings here’s a link.

The post for tomorrow or later today is on the triple bottom line – one of my favorite discussions!!! Thanks for allowing me to add value to your leadership growth!