Lonely at the Top

Lonely at the Top – By Arnie Wohlgemut

I have heard repeatedly that top executive and folks in high level positions say it is lonely at the top.  I wonder why?

Is it that being successful attracts friends and family you didn’t know you had?  Are the tough decisions you make scaring folks away or attracting a ‘different’ crowd?  Is it the competitive nature of your business that limits your circle of friends?

Could be any one of these!

After all being in a position of authority is not about making friends, you have a job to do and results to deliver.

On the other hand, what would happen if you surround yourself with a great team of players that collectively make you stronger?  People that you trust and respect, those who you could frankly discuss both challenges and opportunities.  A team that has skills and experience that compliment yours.

I for one have never subscribed to the lonely at the top thing or felt lonely.  Maybe I was fortunate or naïve.

I believe it’s a matter of attitude.

John Maxwell says, “One is a number too small to achieve greatness.”  I think it is also too small a number to achieve great things.

Where do you stand?  Alone?

Cookies and Training: 6 Metaphors – by Arnie Wohlgemut

Cookies and Training: 6 Metaphors – by Arnie Wohlgemut

Those of you who know me will smile when I say, “I love cookies.”  Yes, it was no secret!

Each tempting bite is like the training opportunities.  If shared effectively; your team consumes every bite, leaving no crumbs behind and interested in a second ‘cookie’.

Here’s how I see it:
1. Know your team’s favourite cookie.  Understanding your team helps you tailor your training messages.
2. Presentation matters.  A good-looking cookie is extremely tempting!  Tempt your team with training that is presented well and they know what they are getting.
3. The “YUM” factor.  I love oatmeal cookies.  And, yes, I have a favourite brand.  I buy it again and again because I know what I am getting.  Credibility matters in taste and training.  When your team knows you are presenting with proven knowledge and experience, they will listen.
4. Hit the spot.  Each opportunity has a specific need; meet it!  The right amount, not to small or big.  Clarity is the key.  Leave the ‘hints of chocolate” in the palate.
5. Make sure it’s a treat.  Few people would see a cookie as a punishment or something they have to get through.  Training should be the same.  It gives them a boost to make it through the day.
6. Serve fresh.  The cookie bag that has sat on my counter, open, for about 4 weeks is not all that great.  Nor are old lessons repeated over and over.  Keep learning and have an open mind, I’m sure you can find a fresh way to present a tasty morsel.

Grab a cup of coffee and a cookie as you figure out your approach to training.

Values – By Martin Grant MSc

Values – By Martin Grant MSc

What do you think of when someone asks you to name an example of a value?  I have often asked myself the same question and I’m sure that like me, you think the traditional values that are commonly mentioned such as loyalty, discipline, integrity and love as examples.

It turns out that values are the specific belief systems that we have about that which is most important to us.  Here is the first dilemma in setting values: you have to be honest with yourself, and if you’re not honest with yourself then you cannot place value on your own values.  Asking yourself to be honest is difficult, as you may not like your own answer.

They are the fundamental, ethical, moral and practical judgments that we make about what is right and wrong.  This is our internal moral compass and it guides us accordingly.  As such, values direct our motivation and, in the same way, can be described as either toward or away from.  Similarly, whether operating at the conscious level or unconscious level, they guide our every decision and ultimately determine our behaviour and results.

What happens, however, if you do not have a clear idea as to what is most important to yourself and what your values are?  As a result of this you may do things and, then afterwards, you find that you are unhappy with yourself.  This is a type of “internal conflict” that arises because of opposing sets of values that conflict with each other.  Although you might take action at one level (conscious), there is a part of you (unconscious) that does not believe that what you are doing is right.

This type of internal conflict invariably results in failure and you end up feeling bad about yourself.  How many times have you not really tried at something and then, when you don’t get the result, you feel bad about yourself?  Not about the result but knowing you could have done better yourself.  This is often the case at work, at school and or perhaps going to the gym as an example.

In order to get the results that we want in our lives, we have to have a clear and fundamental sense of who we are, what really matters.

Values by Martin Grant MSc., Director Learning and Development, was originally published June 29, 2015.  See more about Martin and original post at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/values-martin-grant-msc-mcgi

Courageous Leaders

Courageous Leaders – By Arnie Wohlgemut

Vince Molinaro wrote in his book The Leadership Contract: “Let’s face it: Leadership is hard work, and it’s getting harder. To truly excel, to truly be a great leader over the long term, you must have the courage and persistence to do the hard work of leadership.”

On the surface this seems like a no brainer.  Work environments are getting more complicated, technology is advancing and demographics are changing. Traditional work habits are being changed by so many forces it’s hard to keep track.

So where does the notion of courage and persistence fit in?

I believe courage and persistence is essential, everyday.

Early in my career, I was managing an team of about 20 trades and supervisors for a local board of education and we were facing a new issue. The workload for some unknown reason was dropping fast. The number of service requests were in sharp decline. I assembled my supervisors and we collectively agreed to implement a planned maintenance program.

Believing I could implement this plan I shared it with my division manager, however, it was not well received – in short, we were told it was a poor plan and a political risk. So, these plans were shelved.

About a month later my team and I reviewed the workload and decided that we either down size or implement a pilot of the planned maintenance program.

The pilot was launched in two schools – it was a huge success. All the small things that normally were considered too minor for a service request were being fixed, staff were productive and the principals were pleased. Even the division manager supported it after receiving such positive feedback!

If it wasn’t for the courage and persistence of my supervisory team, jobs would have been lost and small maintenance items would eventually become expensive emergencies or real eye sores.

You see, as leaders, we can acquiesce to small thinking or discouragement. We can walk when we hit a wall.

Or we can be bold, courageous and persistent, leading for the good of the corporation, our team and those we serve.

Strategy is Destiny?

Strategy is Destiny? – By Arnie Wohlgemut

Strategic plans and tactical plans for facility and asset managers is a big part of my business.

So, I asked myself: why are they not always effective?

In an interview, Richard Kovacevich, former CEO of Wells Fargo Bank, suggested that what actually provides success and what is difficult to copy is not so much knowing what to do (deciding on the right strategy), but the ability to do it.

He had repeatedly argued that organizational culture and the ability to operate effectively (successful implementation) is much more important to organizational success than to have the right strategy.

How true is that!

The culture of action in an organization directly drives results.

He goes on to say, “I could leave our strategic plan on a plane, and it wouldn’t make any difference.  No one could execute it. Our success has nothing to do with planning. It has to do with execution.

Our actions – not our intentions – measure our success.

• Start doing those things you could and should do in the plan
• Start doing more than expected of you in the plan
• Start doing important things daily in support of the plan

Successful execution is destiny achieved.

How Many Leadership Secrets Are There?

How Many Leadership Secrets Are There? – By Arnie Wohlgemut

Good question!

I looked on Amazon and found there are over 29,000 books listed about leadership, nearly 8,000 listed about the ‘Secrets of Leadership’!  There are nearly 85,000 books listed about management alone.

By the time this blog is posted, more will have been added.

No wonder we are confused.

Larry Winget in his book It’s Called Work for a Reason writes: “There are books that talk about the seven secrets, the eleven secrets and the four secrets . . . . How many leadership secrets are there?  Here’s an idea to try: Lead.  Get out in front of your people and give them something to follow – just lead!”

Now there is the key!  Did you see it?

“Get out in front of your people and give them something to follow.”

Sounds easy.  But is it?

At a one of my leadership principles workshops recently, I asked the question: “what does a good leader look like?”

In a quick brainstorm, the group came up with:
* a person who is honest;
* someone who follows ethical principles;
* a leader is authentic and consistent;
* my idea of a leader puts others ahead of self;
* leaders are helpful.

See! No secret!

The same things that it takes to be a good leader today are the same things it has taken to be a good leader throughout history.

People want someone to follow.  Set the example.

We’ve always done it like that!

We’ve always done it like that! – By Arnie Wohlgemut

Now I would bet that every manager has heard that at least once in his career: “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it!”

This thinking is based on the premise that it presumably has worked in the past!

This example in Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense (a great book, by the way) really struck me….

Suppose you went to a doctor who said, “I’m going to do an appendectomy on you.”  When you asked why, the doctor answered, “because I did one on my last patient and it made him better.”

I think you would not be happy and promptly leave that office – because you know that the treatment ought to fit the disease, regardless of whether or not the treatment helped the previous patient.

Strangely, that logical thought process happens more often than we might care to admit in our businesses and in our communities.  We blindly follow others’ advise or simply repeat history.

In this changing world, the process ought to fit the market or the customers needs regardless of whether or not the old process worked.

It requires us to know the foundational principles of management, leadership and human behaviour and apply that knowledge to tailor a custom process for each unique situation.

If you’re hoping to grow your business – what got you here won’t get you there.

Think about this the next time someone says “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” and reach out to someone with proven experience and leadership knowledge to help you develop a solution-oriented mind-set.

The Law of Vibration

The Law of Vibration – by Arnie Wohlgemut

At a training event, Paul Martinelli, one of my mentors spoke of the “Law of Vibration”.

The law maintains that everything in this world is either in a state of growth or in a state of decay.

As I sat there and listen to him explain, I came to realize that this applied to nearly everything I do in my business.

We have all heard the quote “You may be on the right track, but unless your moving in the right direction, you’ll get run over.”  Or the success quote “What got you here won’t get you there.”

Here’s what I took away. Action is critical: do something; learn something; try something new.

Think of the world around you.  If a tree is not growing or cut off from its source of nutrition, it starts to die and decay.

The very building you live in or work in, unless it is maintained, decay happens. Paint peels, roofs leak, bricks fall and mortar falls out and carpet wears out.  It’s a fact of life.

The challenge for you today and everyday is this:

……….• What courses have you taken in the past year to help you reach your personal growth goal?  (Do you have growth goals?)
……….• Have you read 5 books that stimulate your mind towards personal or professional growth?  (Have you read a book?)
……….• What research have you done that will help your family, your relationships and your friendships?  (Research?)

“You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind.  You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” ― Zig Ziglar

Are you growing?
If not – well, think about the Law of Vibration!


Wildcard – By Arnie Wohlgemut

My favourite card game is called “Wizard”.  In the deck there are two special cards in each suit.  The Jester is worthless with the Wizard having the highest value.  Either can be played at any time, regardless of the suit.

In games, using a wildcard strategically can help you win.  In life, being a wildcard – not so much.  What do you mean you ask?

Being a wildcard means you’re not predictable.  Nobody knows when and what you will do.  It might be entertaining for a while.  It’s hard to have great relationships when you are like that.  I wonder if it’s hard living like that!

Being authentic means that your head, mouth and feet are all going in the same direction.  I’ve heard it said another way: your head, heart and mouth are in sync.  Trust me it is not always easy to do, especially with all the pressures, stress and high expectations in work environments today.

Being authentic is being real. 

A real person is:
– a person people can identify with;
– being consistent;
– setting an example by putting your words into action;
– being predicable.

Knowing the boss and depending on their predictability builds trust.  If they say what they mean and mean what they say, they are in sync.

Are you in sync?


Jellyfish – By Arnie Wohlgemut

Jellyfish are interesting creatures. They float nearly invisible in the ocean waters. They don’t look the least bit threatening. But if part of your body touches them, well, let’s just say it’s not very pleasant. I understand it’s a self-protection response against predators. Yet if you hold them in your hand, they don’t sting.

I’ve met a few jellyfish in my life.

Jellyfish coworkers are those that float around and appear to be harmless. But if trouble gets too close, watch out! They leave their mark. Hold them “in your hand” and things calm down. All they really want is respect and to be left to do their job.

In management, I found that one of my challenges was to figure out how to get the “jellyfish” to participate. To work along with others yet give them the space to float along at their own speed and be successful.

We all have jellyfishes in our lives. Heck we may have been jellyfishes ourselves. I for one found that the minute I started to encourage, mentor and empower my jellyfishes, I was rewarded with the pleasure of success.