Motivate and Inspire People

According to a recent Gallup Business Journal article: only 30% of American workers…were engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace. An alarming 70% are not showing up to work committed to delivering their best performance, and this has serious implications for the bottom line of individual companies and the U.S. economy as a whole.

Leaders Discuss Motivation

How can leaders best motivate employees? Here are some answers, expressed in their own words:

  • “Great leaders facilitate, they don’t command or control like infantry officers in combat. Even under those dire circumstances, great infantry officers understand how to motivate troops. They recognize the need for discipline, but the best of them temper it through motivational techniques. So, why do some business leaders feel the compunction to act as infantry officers (as they see them)? It’s ego, pure and simple. And, in the long run, it doesn’t work. Great leaders understand that facilitation is the key to motivating employees.”
  • “Continuous learning is the foundation for improvement and the cornerstone of motivation. When employees learn, they grow, and when they grow they are motivated to do better jobs, to engage, to participate, to be part of the team. Learning is an inclusive experience that brings everybody into the fold.”
  • “You’ll really see the effects of motivation in periods of crisis. That’s when a motivated team pulls together, and their combined strength is mighty powerful. It’s equivalent to synergism, where one plus one equals three. Without that motivation you don’t have engagement, and when you don’t have engagement, results seldom exceed mediocrity.”
  • “Contrary to what some leaders believe, compassionate management isn’t for sissies. It doesn’t mean abandoning performance standards at the expense of placating employees. It does mean empathizing with people who have problems by driving to the core reasons for those problems and providing employees with the tools to fix those problems. Compassionate management, in that sense, is a potent motivational tool.”
  • “Never underestimate the effect your bearing, your facial expressions, how you walk and behave, has on employees. If you hold yourself erect, maintain a calm demeanor, keep the expression on your face consistent, and walk with a sense of purpose, even under the most stressful circumstances, it will spill over to employees, from workers through executives, and motivate them to face their problems with a sense of purpose and resolve.”
  • “Motivation doesn’t work when you have the wrong people working for you. Highly effective leaders hire outstanding performers, place them in the right jobs, empower them, and watch as they accomplish great things.”
  • “Successful leaders never accept the status quo. They continually ask questions and seek answers and alternatives that are thoroughly explored. This is the kind of intellect that identifies hard-thinking employees and gives them the opportunity to excel.”
  • “It’s difficult to let go, to assign employees the responsibility to what you now do. But if want a highly motivated workforce, that’s exactly what you must do. You’ll be amazed at what people accomplish when they’re given both the authority and responsibility for their work.”
  • “True leaders meet problems head on. They don’t evade, delay, avoid, and make excuses. Their ability to see things clearly, to possess the fortitude to accept responsibility, sends a clear message throughout the organization and motivates employees to do the same.”
  • “One of the most destructive influences in a company is politics that flourishes unchecked. When employees see that real achievements take a backseat to fawning, servility, and insincere flattery, their motivation goes into free fall. When you find a successful leader know that they have eliminated that pernicious influence.”
  • “In the successful company, its leaders have curbed the need to extract as much as possible from employees and replaced it with the need to instill value in them.”
  • “One of the greatest tests of any leader is the ability to identify the strengths and weaknesses of employees and find ways to place them in jobs that magnify those strengths and minimizes weaknesses.”

by Jeff Wolf

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Building an Optimal Team – Team Health

By Jeff Wolf –  Seven Disciplines of a Leader

All the competitive advantages – strategy, technology, finance, marketing – that we’ve pursued in the past are gone. The disciplines haven’t disappeared, but they have lost their power as meaningful competitive advantages, as real differentiators that can set your company apart. Why? Virtually every organization has access to the best thinking and practices on those topics. As information has become ubiquitous, it’s almost impossible to sustain an advantage based on intellectual ideas.

However, one simple, reliable, and virtually free competitive advantage remains – team health. Healthy teams all but eliminate politics and confusion from their cultures. As a result, productivity and morale soar, and good people almost never leave. For those leaders who are a bit skeptical, rest assured that none of this is touchy-feely or soft. It is as tangible and practical as anything else…and even more important.

Even the smartest team will eventually fail if it is unhealthy. But a healthy team will find a way to succeed. Without politics and confusion, it will become smarter and tap into all of the intelligence and talent it has.

Team health requires real work and discipline, maintained over time, and the courage to objectively confront problems hindering true team achievement. Leaders must confront themselves, their peers, and the dysfunction within their teams with honesty and persistence. Persistent leaders walk into uncomfortable situations and address issues that prevent them from realizing the potential that eludes them.

Four Disciplines

To get healthy, leaders need to take four simple, but difficult, steps:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team. Get the leaders of the organization to behave in a functional, cohesive way. If the people responsible for running a team, department, or organization are behaving in dysfunctional ways, then that dysfunction will cascade down and prevent organizational health. And yes, there are concrete steps a leadership team can take to prevent this.
  1. Create clarity. Ensure that the members of that leadership team are intellectually aligned around simple but critical questions. Leaders need to be clear on topics such as why the organization exists and what the most important priority is for the next few months, and eliminate any gaps between them   Then people who work one, two, or three levels below have clarity about what they should do to make the organization successful.
  1. Overcommunicate clarity. After the first two steps (behavioral and intellectual alignment), leaders can take the third step: over-communicating. Leaders of healthy organizations constantly repeat themselves and reinforce what is true and important. They err on the side of saying too much, rather than too little.
  1. Reinforce clarity. Leaders use simple human systems to reinforce clarity in answering critical questions. They custom design any process that involves people from hiring and firing to performance management and decision-making to support and emphasize the uniqueness of the organization.

Healthy teams get better at meetings. Without making a few simple changes to the way meetings happen, a team will struggle to maintain its health. Healthy teams rarely fail. When politics, ambiguity, dysfunction, and confusion are reduced to a minimum, people are empowered to design products, serve customers, solve problems, and help one another. Healthy teams recover from setbacks, attract the best people, and create exciting opportunities. People are happier, the bottom line is stronger, and executives are at peace when they know they’ve fulfilled their most important responsibility: creating a culture of success.

Applying the principles of great performance is hard, but the effects of deliberate practice are cumulative. The more of a head start you get in developing people, the more difficult it will be for competitors to catch you.

–Jeff Wolf

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Priorities, Planning, and Execution

We have a greater need now to be highly effective through clear focus on purpose, centered on principles, and execution around priorities. If there is little agreement on purpose and direction, the culture is characterized by control, contention, and confusion. The reason for this tragic ineffectiveness is a lack of focus and execution.

Priorities. Focusing on priorities unleashes talent and energy and creates a culture where each person shares a common focus and executes around priorities. When change accelerates, formerly successful processes and practices don’t work. Nothing fails like past successes. Today everyone must have the same purpose, principles, and focus; they must know who they are, what they are trying to do, where they are trying go, why they need to get there, and how they will cooperate. It must be internalized. Leaders get people on the same page, executing around priorities, which releases talent and energy.

Planning. Set goals that lead. Well-defined goals are among the most effective tools available to any leader, yet most leaders don’t set goals that lead their people in the right direction. The purpose of this discipline is to produce clear and measurable annual goals. Pursuing these goals will lead people to align their daily activities with the few vital objectives set in the strategy. The result is a brief goals statement that every team member can support.

Execution. Work the plan. One of the best learning tools is the individual quarterly plan. In this discipline, every person works with the team leader to develop individual plans for the coming quarter. These goals are reviewed and aligned with company goals. This plan serves as a time-saving template for a weekly status report. Every person knows how to set goals, understand priorities, take responsibility for those goals, become accountable, report progress, and solve problems.

Let’s examine the previous three points in more detail. We put first things first; we’re proactive and responsible; we’re a product of our decisions, not our conditions; and we regularly renew our focus and execution.

  1. Through this discipline, a plan, is born. The plan depicts the desired end or aim and specifies the best means for achieving it.
  2. This discipline seeks to optimally organize resources to achieve the plan. This requires identifying all actions and activities and organizing them to maximize resources and results.
  3. Measuring Performance. This practice recognizes that what gets measured gets managed and gets done. This discipline measures how well these activities are performed and signals management when they are poorly performed.
  4. This means assigning all of the plan’s activities to employees to perform (nothing left to chance). This leads to attaining the plan. Executing expectantly engages and empowers employees to ideally perform their assigned activities and holds them accountable when they don’t.
  5. Following up. This practice generates actionable feedback, aligns expected outcomes with actual performance, instills cooperation and accountability, and reinforces making right things happen.
  6. Real-time reporting. This takes collected feedback (timely, reliable, and accurate performance data), shares it, and makes it readily available so mangers can take action to address problems.
  7. Problem-solving. This occurs when problems are identified, understood, addressed, and monitored. This requires a system that provides quantitative and qualitative feedback with which to resolve problems and improve performance. This system ensures the constant use of the seven learned disciplines. Systems drive action, and these actions produce certain outcomes.

You can replace ineffective habits of coasting, avoiding responsibility, taking the easy way out, and exercising little initiative or will-power with the discipline to focus on the important but not necessarily urgent matters of your life, thereby gaining leverage and influence. You go from victim to creative resource, from futility to hope, from having can’t and won’t power to being focused and having can and will power and the discipline to realize your top priorities.


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Teamwork and Strong Teams

Effective leaders know that their organizations will realize substantial benefits by building strong teams to reach their objectives and strategic goals. Bringing people together on the same page is highly effective because people can accomplish more collectively than individually.


Every participant brings a unique skillset to the team. Some may be highly creative at coming up with new ideas, others may excel at details, and some have the ability to move the group’s ideas forward and follow through to completion. It’s rare to find one person who has all of these skills. By working together and combining what everyone brings to the table, the group’s goals will be realized much faster.


Teamwork also builds camaraderie and encourages open communication. When every member is focused on a single outcome, strong relationships and trust are built, one of the most important aspects of teamwork, if not the most. Every team member must have complete trust in fellow participants as well as faith in others’ desire to work in the best interests of the team and company.


When building a strong team, leaders should look at each member’s strengths and abilities to determine whether the group can gel. When there’s a good fit, teams combine their strengths to achieve the group’s overall goals. Leaders should also nurture team growth and development to ensure everyone contributes in a positive way.


To build strong teams, develop a team culture that includes:


  • Defined expectations, clear goals, objectives, and shared vision.
  • An established timeline with individual and team accountability.
  • A clearly articulated purpose for the team’s existence.
  • Team members’ complete acknowledgement of the roles they play.
  • Well-defined processes/procedures on how work will be done.
  • Team access to all available resources required to reach the goal.
  • A diverse team composed of members with complementary skills.
  • Individual and group commitment to the work to be performed.
  • The shared knowledge that each team member is valued and will be rewarded for hard work and effort.
  • Clear, honest, and open communication among all team members.
  • Rules of conduct, including steps to resolve emerging conflicts.


As companies struggle to become more innovative, teams will become more important. Bringing together people with multiple skills and competencies leads to innovative products, services, and strategies.




Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop and grow your leaders and teams:, 858-638-8260 or


According to a Deloitte University Survey, leadership remains the #1 talent issue facing organizations around the world, with 86% of respondents rating it urgent or important. Only 13% of respondents say they do an excellent job developing leaders at all levels.


Our newest Leadership Development Program will be customized to fit your specific needs.

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Fear of Failure is Dangerous to Your Job Health

Fear of making a mistake can cripple even the most talented leader’s efforts to succeed. It stifles creativity and discourages risk-taking, while upping the stress ante and creating a tense work environment for everyone within a department or team.

Imagine how many inventions and technological innovations would never have become realities if the people who came up with them had been afraid to fail!

Anyone who ever did anything truly great failed first. Failure is part of trying. It will happen. What matters is how you deal with it. Famous failures include Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and Michael Jordan. They prove failure can be a powerful teacher that leads to success.

Worrying about making mistakes is counterproductive, zaps your energy, and leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. You may irrationally fear that you’ll never be good enough and that you’ll face the disapproval of other negative feelings if you’re less than perfect. This can cripple you, especially as you move up the career ladder and take on new responsibilities that are outside of your comfort zone.

Hara Estroff Marano, editor-at-large for Psychology Today describes perfectionism as “a steady source of negative emotions.” She explores how our performance should not be a measure of our self-worth.” “Rather than reaching toward something positive, those in perfectionism’s grip are focused on the very thing they most want to avoid – negative evaluation,” she writes. “Perfectionism, then, is an endless report card; it keeps people completely self-absorbed, engaged in perpetual self-evaluation, reaping relentless frustration and doomed anxiety and depression.”

I encourage managers and leaders to write down their fears. This forces them to acknowledge these anxieties and dissect the faulty logic that may paralyze them. Consider keeping a journal that tracks what’s bothering you and how you react to missteps. Does one type of error bother you more than another? Are you better able to recover from a mistake when you’re having a good day? What, exactly, are you feeling? Humiliation? Embarrassment? Depression? A sense of even greater fear? How can you use reality checks to weaken the hold these feelings have on you?

You need to practice being unafraid. Perform at 100% of your capacity, and recognize that mistakes will still occur in rare circumstances, despite your best efforts to prevent them. Needless to say, if you make huge errors regularly, you may be in way over your head.

If you’re a leader or manager who is plagued with chronic anxiety and unrealistic perfectionism, you must learn to diffuse the fear time bomb so you can succeed at the work you love.


Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop and grow your leaders and teams:, 858-638-8260 or


The Wall Street Journal reports that, by 2020, there is likely to be a shortage of approximately 40 million high- skilled workers around the world. Which means you will need to rely on developing and promoting current employees instead of finding outside talent to meet the needs of your organization.

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Seven Disciplines of a Leader

All proceeds go to our wounded service men and women.

  • Named One of the 11 Most Thought- Provoking Leadership Books of the Year


  • Named One of 3 Books Small Business Owners & Leaders Should Read


  • Named one of 3 books to read by KYW-AM Philadelphia


  • “…like hiring a business coach; it will help you build leadership skills, improve your decision-making and become a more effective leader.” –Small Business Forum


  • “The great value of this book is found in his explanation of the “how” and “why.” In my opinion, the information, insights, and counsel he provides can be of incalculable value to middle managers who aspire to become leaders. Also, to those now preparing for a career in business or who have only recently embarked on one. There is another constituency to which I also highly recommend this book: Owner/CEOs of small to midsize, privately-owned companies who are eager to strengthen their skills in one or more of the areas that Wolf explores.” –Blogging on Business


  • “……is going to become a leadership classic. You’ll mark up every page you read as you spot valuable principles.” – Pat Williams, Co-founder and Senior Vice President of the NBA’s Orlando Magic


  • “…..describes state-of-the-art techniques that leaders at any level of the organization can use to improve their performance. His remarkable advice is sensible, easy to understand, and noteworthy.” -Marshall Goldsmith, author of the NY Times and global bestsellers: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, MOJO and Triggers.


  • “….delivers major benefits for its readers. It very effectively demonstrates how to build core leadership skills, improve decision making, interpersonal relations, and teamwork skills and reveals techniques of highly effective and dynamic leaders.” -Edgar Tu, former President, Home Entertainment of America, Sony Electronics


  • “….has given us a comprehensive list of the many ways that the aspiring or current manager can sharpen his leadership skills in order to be able to compete effectively in today’s challenging business environment.” – John A. Warden III, Colonel, USAF (retired) and author of Winning in Fast Time


  • “….he has laid out a flight plan to guide you through both blue skies and turbulence to achieve your leadership goals. He shows how successful leaders continue to learn and grow….reading it and absorbing its lessons will imbue you with the courage and confidence it takes to become a great leader. Consider it a flight plan to support you team and you en route to your destinations” – Howard Putnam, Former CEO Southwest Airlines and Braniff International


  • “…insightful and straightforward, a book you can put to use immediately. This book is not theory, it’s action. Real case studies lead to real takeaways you can practice now. Whether you are a new or experience leader, this book will make you better!” – Andrew Field, CEO, Printing for


  • “…is a seminal book on leadership in business, a groundbreaking study that leaders in any line of work can use to increase their effectiveness on the job. Its penetrating insights will be helpful for frontline supervisors, managers, and chief executive officers alike.” – Dale Sohn, former President and CEO, Samsung Telecommunications America