I was reminded this week about a simple leadership tool I often forget: the power of taking time to learn while you are driving. Who reminded me? My boss Mike Bidwell, the chief operations officer of the Dwyer Group. Each month Mike circulates a CD that to Dwyer’s seven presidents that he has already listened to. I’m grateful he has remained diligent to this practice.
I flashed back to watching/listening to one of my favorites, Zig Ziglar. Sadly, he passed away last year. He helped me change my attitude when I was going through a divorce at age 30. He taught me the folly of holding “pity parties.” I invited many to attend, but no one ever showed up.
Zig introduced me to AutomobileUniversity—a way to take advantage of the time one spends in the car every day by listening to motivational CDs. This valuable time is frequently wasted listening to sports radio or music.
Before Zig, I remember what a zealous person I was in every phase of my life. I would watch a Cleveland Browns game (I was in Cleveland at the point of my life) and when the Browns lost I’d have a terrible Sunday afternoon and evening. Trust me, there were many bad Sunday nights.
Silly isn’t it that I let a sporting event control my life? Why should anyone let a game … and, yes, it is still a game … destroy relationships and cost effectiveness at work the next day?
After Zig, it finally dawned on me that I couldn’t control how the Browns played on Sunday. If they won or lost was not going to change my life. After each game the players shake hands, laugh and smile and there I was mad at the world.
I’m sure we are all busy and often think that there is no way we have time to squeeze in educating ourselves. Running a business, getting involved with your church and/or community and raising a family maxes any possible free time we have. So the question is: “How do we improve our productivity, our knowledge base and our leadership skills with our busy schedule?”
Leadership is a huge responsibility. What kind of environment are you creating every day? Are your employees happy to see you each day or can’t they wait until you leave for the day? Are they afraid to ask you questions? Do they feel that they are part of a team and are glad that you lead that team?
I worked for a gentleman I’ll call Bob (because that is his name) who created stress for everyone the minute they walked in the shop. He was intense and reminded people of the mistakes they made the previous day. This usually happened within the first five seconds after arrival.
On the other hand, I worked for another person named Jerry. He was one of the most beloved bosses I’ve ever met. Last year he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Within three hours of his diagnosis there were 75 people at his house showing their love and respect. Some were former employees. Jerry is a Cubs fan and, fortunately, the success (or failure) of the team has nothing to do with his attitude. He is someone that lives the creed that Zig preached.
Back to AutomobileUniversity. What do you need to learn? I just went to Amazon and there are 681 books on tape on the subject of “motivation.” Leaders find the way to become better at motivating others.
If you haven’t done this—try it. If you’ve done it before and got out of the habit, I hope I do for you what Mike did for me. Here’s your chance to take the next step and become a better leader.