leadership dot #1825: names

Today’s dot is written by Erika Betz from Hilbert College’s Leadership Applications class:

How many people truly know all their coworker’s names or a little bit about them? I know for me, remembering names is difficult.

Recently, I observed the owner of my workplace demonstrate a leadership skill by taking the extra time to remember the interactions he has throughout the day. With the company growing at a fast pace, there are always new hires joining our team, so I always wondered how the owner remembers all 300 employees, even when he does not interact with them everyday.

When I asked him, he shared his secret. To maintain close, long lasting relationships with his employees, customers, and anyone that has an impact on his day, he uses his Notes app on his iPhone. There he types the correct spelling of a person’s name and details about their last conversation (e.g. person’s characteristics, family news or personal interests) to refer back to for the future.

It reminded me of Dale Carnegie’s Principles for Enhancing Relationships, which principle #6 stated: “a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” He went to say that “respect and acceptance stem from simple acts, such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate instead of the often-overused Hey!” Carnegie developed LIRA, his own secret to remember names, which represents Look and Listen, Impression, Repetition and Association.

Think about how you felt when someone remembered your name or a detailed part of your life that you did not think was important to others. Whether you take notes, use the LIRA strategy, or create your own name game, how can you strengthen the skill to remember the names of those you encounter? Doing so will surely enhance your relationships and make them more meaningful.

leadership dot #1824: habits for success

Today’s dot is written by Chase Harmon from Hilbert College’s Leadership Applications class:

There are very few people in this world who can walk into any situation and come out on top without any sort of preparation. For example, there are some gifted athletes out there that can get tossed into any sport and be successful. For the rest of us, it takes years and years of practice and preparation to find that success. The same precedent applies for so many other situations besides sports.

After taking multiple courses on leadership, when I think of preparation, the first thing to come to mind is the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The simple seven habits, given to us by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, can be used in almost any context and can be the key for us less fortunate souls to find success.

My college lacrosse team uses these steps, without even realizing it. We start with Being Proactive, as our team collects film and creates a scouting report on our opponents. When we Begin with the End in Mind, everything we do in this preparation stage is to ensure that we have a chance to win the game. Then we Put First Things First. To perform this step we choose things we need to improve on during practice and determine how much time we spend on that aspect.

The next habit is Think Win-Win. As a team, we need to believe we can win the upcoming game; if we do not do this, there is no point to even play the game. Then we Seek First to Understand, then to Be Understood. I believe that this habit is directed towards the player listening to what the coaches have to say when they tell you that an aspect of your game needs to be changed or improved.

To Synergize, if we are going to win any of the games, we have to play as a team. One player is not going to make or break the game for us. We have to play together. Finally, we have to Sharpen the Saw. Once we use all of these steps and find a winning formula, we cannot stop practicing the habits. We have to continue going back to these habits so that we can put together a successful season, not just one game.

Think about how Covey’s Seven Habits could apply to you and whatever you may be trying to accomplish. If you want to find success for yourself, or maybe the group you lead, you cannot just walk in and expect success to fall into your lap. It takes a lot of hard work. Everyone is capable of finding success; how much success depends on how much work you are willing to put in. No one wins championships overnight; it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to eventually reach your peak of greatness.


leadership dot #1823: calling

Today’s dot is written by Grace Adams from Hilbert College’s Leadership Applications class: 

Hei Hei It’s Monday!

For those of you who haven’t yet seen Moana, here comes a spoiler alert! Moana is a Disney movie about a young teenage girl who seeks out the Demigod Maui to save her island and people. Throughout this movie, she faces many trials and comes to a heart-warming revelation at the end.

Moana’s animal sidekick is a chicken named Hei Hei. He’s stranded at sea with a teenage girl… you could say he is a little out of his element. In a scene where Moana realizes Hei Hei is on the boat with her, every time she removes the coconut from his head he screams when he sees his surroundings.

While some may think Hei Hei is an incompetent and simple minded chicken, I believe he is a metaphor for life. Often times we get in situations where we question ourselves: “What am I doing?” “Why am I so stubborn?” “Why can’t I get out of my own way?” “ What am I missing?”. In life, we find ourselves in these situations; we are out of our normal surroundings and our comfort zones and that can be frightening.

Throughout the entire movie, Moana is chasing what she believes to be her calling. What she doesn’t realize until later is that her ancestors, her people and her destiny are her calling. Hei Hei’s calling is to provide comic relief to Moana on this voyage to restore the heart of Te Fiti. He is a piece of her home while she is at sea and, while he might frustrate or worry her, on several occasions he gives the calmness of home.

So next time you are asking yourself questions like “What am I doing?” or “Why am I so stubborn?”, think about the bigger picture. What are you passionate about? Where do you feel at home? Since Moana was a child, the ocean was her calling and her mission in life was to save her people. What is calling you?



leadership dot #1822: change

Today’s dot is written by Benjamin Unverhau from Hilbert College’s Leadership Applications class:

It is a common saying in Buffalo that you can experience all four seasons in one day. In one week week the city could have temperatures in the high forties with lots of sun, then rain, and then back to twenty-degree weather. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that Mother Nature has some cold feet about changing seasons.

In the same way, many individuals and organizations sometimes fail to embrace the changing of the world around them, just as Mother Nature does not seem to want to let go of one season and transition into another. This can have dire consequences to businesses, such as Blockbuster, who became obsolete after the rise of Netflix. A similar threat is now facing private colleges in New York, who are being seriously threatened by the proposal of making public colleges free for households that are under a certain income level.

Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law states that an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force. As a leader, we must often act as that outside force to push those who are under our responsibility to take the necessary steps to change. Change is rarely something that people look forward to, but it is often necessary for survival. If Blockbuster had made a move to enter the online market before it was too late, there may have been more than a handful of the stores left today.

The changing of the seasons is constant and unavoidable. Just like with the transitions in weather, we must accept that change is inevitable and learn to embrace it, or at the very least, not become obsolete by being set in our ways.

leadership dot #1821: maintenance

Today’s dot is written by Austin J. Good from Hilbert College’s Leadership Applications class:

The act of maintaining something is defined as keeping something in an existing state, or preserving something from failure or decline. People maintain various things in their lives: their cars, homes and relationships, and some things are maintained by a service or company for the benefit of people. People maintain things because they frequently rely on them to accomplish tasks or receive support in their day-to-day lives. Without this regular maintenance, certain aspects of a person’s life may suffer or lead to decreased productivity and frustration.

I have been experiencing a serious lack of maintenance on certain websites recently and it has made being productive much more difficult. On certain websites, material fails to post when the deadline is quickly approaching; this leads to me scrambling to see if there is an issue on my end or on the website itself. I attempted to reach out to someone who may be able to help, but received no response prior to the deadline or after. Another website is restricting me from going beyond the log in screen and, more times than not, I cannot access material.

These websites should be aware that people require their service, and often pay for it, and need the sites to be working efficiently and correctly 24/7. Failure to do so leaves customers upset and wanting to find a different and more reliable option.

Maintaining a service, or anything else in life for that matter, is imperative to success. This is not only true for the people dependent on the service, but also the people providing it. If the service is well maintained, reliable and efficient, people will want to use it and may insist that other people check it out as well.

A leader must also maintain their organization to ensure success. Leaders must make sure all the parts are running smoothly and completing the task they should be. If this is done, success will not be far behind. What have you done to maintain your organization lately?


leadership dot #1820: Kaizen

Today’s dot is written by Dalton Reynolds from Hilbert College’s Leadership Applications class:

Recognized as an ancient Japanese philosophy, the word “Kaizen” promotes continual improvement everywhere. This can relate to work, life, school or relationships, but the key is to establish a goal, and grow daily in some aspect to achieve an objective. Introduced to the Japanese society following World War II, this philosophy allowed their community to rebuild through continual development.

The Kaizen mindset has been used for many years and it is apparent in many strategic planning methods. Toyota implemented this philosophy in order to grow into one of the BIG 3 car companies of Japan. In addition, their high quality and low cost reputation provided them with an opportunity to also compete in the United States. In another example, coaches implement the Kaizen philosophy in team training methods in order to decrease the likelihood of errors on the field and increase the success rate of quality appearances to produce wins.

When a group or team operates with the intent of achieving one goal, the opportunity to succeed increases tremendously. Implementing the philosophy of Kaizen into any organization allows every member to improve their skills and impact the company — from the most basic manufacturing process to executing plays on the field. In all organizations and team sports, Kaizen can be applied.

The likelihood of success improves through continuous improvement. Which of your goals could benefit from the infusion of Kaizen?


leadership dot #1819: sonder

Today’s dot is written by Lauren Carlin from Hilbert College’s Leadership Applications class:

Often as I am in my car sitting at a red light I find myself looking at the other people on the road or people next to me. I wonder who they are, where they are going, what their life is like, and what their story is. Have you ever thought about the amount of people and their intricate lives that you pass on the highway each day?

If so, you are experiencing a word called “sonder.” Sonder is the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. This is truly an amazing enlightenment when you contemplate it.

No two people have will have the same background, think the same or live the same future. I recently went on a mission trip to a poor area in the Dominican Republic. I was astounded by the amount of happiness the people possessed with the little they had. Despair to one person may be contentment to another. It all depends on each individual’s way of thinking. I believe life is 10% what happens to you, but 90% how you react. You may not be able to control the traffic or the weather; however, what you can control are your emotions, what you say and the actions you take.

In a leadership position, being aware that each of your followers’ lives is just as complex as your own will strongly impact the way you lead. Suddenly, different opinions, ideas and views are shared and expressed. You will never always know what the people on your team have been through in their past or what they are currently going through. That sense of curiosity will always be the multifarious mystery of the human race. The only thing you can control is your personal response.

Treating your followers with respect and kindness when providing inspiring feedback will create a positive environment, and, in time, your team will grow intellectually stronger and more productive.

leadership dot #1818: skill gap

Today’s dot is written by Marisa Huffman from Hilbert College’s Leadership Applications class:

For some people, skills just come naturally. A classmate of mine automatically understands every topic we study. A teammate of mine seems to dominate the field so effortlessly. There are some people that seem to be born with the skills that they obtain.

For others, practice is imperative. I must constantly study to maintain good grades. I put extra hours in on the field and in the weight room to be a better lacrosse player. People work hard at all kinds of things to better themselves and their skills.

Those of us who must work harder to compete with the naturally talented need not to get frustrated, jealous, or bitter. We must find what works best for us, stay dedicated, and push ourselves to be the best we can. We must practice relentlessly and commit ourselves if we want to succeed.

How hard are you willing to work to eliminate the skill gap between you and your competitors?


leadership dot #1817: magical service

Today’s dot is written by David Mellerski, Jr. from Hilbert College’s Leadership Applications class:

During the Fall of 2013, I was given the opportunity to partake in the Disney College Program. I was one of 3,000 selected, through an interview of nearly 60,000 college students from all over the world. Over the next few months, Goofy, Woody, Prince Flynn Rider, and others became uniquely special friends of mine; I grew to embody their personalities and embrace the Disney culture.

Though I spent only a short time there, the experiences I had left lasting impressions on me. What made my program so incredible was witnessing every single cast member (Disney Employee) embracing the philosophy “Where dreams come true and magic comes to life,” and giving a blissful experience to co-workers and guests alike. It takes a true act of genius to synergize the reputation of an organization with the necessary policies and procedures of human resources, but somehow the Disney Company accomplished this and created a magical list, seen below.

Disney’s Seven Service Guidelines

  1. Be Happy…make eye contact and smile!
  2. Be like Sneezy…greet and welcome each and every guest. Spread the spirit of Hospitality…It’s contagious!
  3. Don’t be Bashful…seek out Guest contact.
  4. Be like Doc…provide immediate service recovery.
  5. Don’t be Grumpy…always display appropriate body language at all times.
  6. Be like Sleepy…create DREAMS and preserve the “MAGICAL” Guest experience.
  7. Don’t be Dopey…thank each and every Guest!

(For those who are not so savvy when it comes to Disney and its iconic characters, the italicized words above are all of Snow White’s Seven Dwarves)

What would it look like to personify the culture of your organization and impress that image on your clients and coworkers? – And, if for some reason, the image you are portraying isn’t all that appealing, what it is you’d like your company to represent, and how you can be that vision?

The little things we say and do can have profound impacts on those around us.

leadership dot #1816: guests

A dear colleague of mine, Jim Sturm, teaches a leadership class at Hilbert College in New York. He assigned his class an assignment to write a thought paper in the format of a leadership dot, and asked me if I would read them. Not only did I do that, but I am going to share them with you.

For the next ten days, leadership dots will be presented by my guest authors from Hilbert’s GS460 Leadership Applications class, the capstone to Hilbert’s Leadership minor. These are juniors and seniors who have come to see the world (at least for this assignment) with “dot eyes” — as it reinforced that concepts about leadership are everywhere. You’ll read dots about Disney, website maintenance, Dale Carnegie, the skills gap and good news. I hope you enjoy them.

In addition, think about applications from this partnership for your own organization. Can you collaborate with someone — even halfway across the country — to do a project that is mutually beneficial for both of you? Is there a new format for reflection that you can use with those you lead? If YOU were going to write a leadership dot TODAY, what observation would you make that could form the basis of that lesson?

I hope you will follow the lead of the students and see the world from the perspective as if you were writing a dot of your own.