Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

Hard Conversations: How Personal Accountability Has Suffered in the Age of "Everyone Gets a Trophy"

By Leadership Resources 10/02/2018
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The key to personal growth is honest, constructive evaluation. The past few decades have seen the rise of a mindset that casts every individual as equals, not just in opportunity, but in outcome. While few deny that people should be treated fairly, we’re starting to see the negative consequences of rewarding everyone evenly, regardless of differences in effort, ability, or intelligence.

By giving everyone a trophy, we fail to equip young people with an understanding of how the world works. In truth, some people do better than others in life. But without knowing the underlying reasons for this variation of outcome, people become embittered and their own personal development is stunted as a result.

So, when someone underperforms in the workplace, leaders need to find effective ways to approach the subject, knowing that this person might not have received this type of criticism before. How can leaders tackle employee performance management in the modern age?

Making Expectations Clear

One of the most important tasks of a leader is laying out expectations early and often. The more staff members hear these expectations, the more likely they are to follow them. Then, if anyone fails to meet them, there should be no confusion as to where they went wrong. In this way, clear expectations lead to increased accountability.

These guidelines can be iterated in many ways. Some businesses create acronyms or mantras that keep their mission statement front and center at all times. Hosting daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings that go over these expectations can also help improve employee and business performance management. These meetings should dive into real world applications to reinforce the importance of maintaining these standards.

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Talk with Transparency

When it comes time to confront an individual who is underperforming, be as open and transparent as possible. There is no benefit to talking around the issue. So many people have been let down by coaches, parents, teachers, and other leaders avoiding the real problems and resorting to platitudes. Leaders must speak directly to the person and address their shortcomings – but they can’t stop there.

To truly foster personal and leadership growth, a good leader must explain why they’re giving this feedback, and how it can be used as a teachable moment where this person can learn and grow. Negative feedback simply isn’t enough and it might even shock the person if they’re not used to receiving it. By offering full transparency and constructive criticism, leaders can help lift up their team members and strengthen the entire business. If expectations have been clearly established, this person should be able to see where they took a wrong turn and how they can right it moving forward.

Limits of the Blame Game

Yes, sometimes something is entirely one person’s fault. In these cases, the person should take responsibility for the mistake and seek to fix it. This is a crucial part of leadership development. However, when people begin playing the blame game, either casting all the blame on themselves or others, things can go awry.

Some companies have built into their performance management operations “autopsies without blame” (a term coined by Jim Collins). These are meetings involving all relevant team members where a problem is dissected but not targeted to one individual. The goal here is not to rid anyone of accountability, but to address a real problem and move forward as a team, with full knowledge that everyone makes mistakes. For large scope business performance management concerns, this approach is often warranted. People will feel less alienated and more willing to solve the problem collaboratively.

Conversations involving performance management are not easy and some people aren’t used to receiving harsh criticism. Still, there are ways for leaders to make these conversations easier and more productive in the end. By setting clear standards, speaking openly and honestly, and not casting targeted blame for larger issues, team members will perform better and grow as individuals.

Leadership Resources helps leaders hone these interpersonal skills. Through education, personalized business coaching, and a large library of resources, we make the impossible possible by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. For more information, contact us today.

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It's Not the Money: Why Compensation Models Have Limits in Motivating Workers

By Leadership Resources 09/26/2018

Everyone wants to earn more. No surprise there. Money can certainly incentivize employees to work harder, seek promotions, and clinch more commission-based sales. However, compensation has its limitations when it comes to how managers motivate employees. Why is this? And what else can managers do to encourage hard work and participation?

Why More Money Loses its Appeal

One might feel extremely motivated when first getting a promotion or a new higher-paying job. Over time, however, things change. It doesn’t take long for most people to begin getting used to their new wage or salary. Once a huge perk, this pay raise becomes normal and perhaps feels as restrictive as a previously lower pay rate. In this scenario, the worker might attempt to earn another raise by working harder – but even then the cycle tends to repeat. Eventually, money becomes secondary to a worker’s overall happiness and sense of meaning in the workplace.

If you’re a manager in charge of employee productivity management, this should raise alarm bells. But if more money doesn’t equate to more productivity, what does?

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Reward Systems in the Brain

The human brain is wired with reward systems. These systems help humans learn, interact with others, and behave in certain ways. Money certainly ties in to these reward systems. The human brain lights up when receiving rewards with perceived value (such as cash, gift cards, rare items, etc.). But money alone doesn’t trigger this response. Something as simple as receiving a compliment or affirmation can yield similar results. Hearing a “Good job,” or “I appreciate you” can go a long way in motivating employees. In this way, creating a positive work environment might be one of the best employee management tools available.

Finding Meaning in Work

Cash and kind gestures feed the brain’s reward system to a certain extent, but humans also want meaning in their lives. Since so many people spend the majority of their time at work, they often seek meaning there. If they can’t find it there, they’ll look to their family, friends, hobbies, or other interests. Meaning can be found in any and all of these places. Still, work can begin to feel like a drag if an employee lacks a sense of purpose in the office or at the job site.

A good employee management system should incorporate information on every employee’s interests, goals, preferences, and unique abilities. This way managers can get to know their people more personally and better find ways to make their work more meaningful, even if it’s just a small way. This might mean creating events for employees with shared interests, asking employees for feedback on how certain tasks get accomplished, or simply utilizing each person’s unique capabilities in the workplace if applicable.

People want to do a good job, but more than that, they want to be recognized for their hard work and feel their work is purposeful. Financial compensation can and should reflect an employee’s value to a company, but without the sense of meaning and gratitude behind it, the money will feel cold and worthless. Managers tasked with overseeing performance management should know that employees will feel more motivated when they feel valued as people.

Leadership Resources focuses on people and how a single person can make a massive difference in the workplace and the world. We offer videos, worksheets, and more to help develop powerful leadership skills and patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. For more information and resources, contact us here!

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Investing in Personal Development: In a Workplace of Constant Change, Personal Leadership Growth Is a New Basic Skill

By Leadership Resources 09/26/2018

We live in a time of unprecedented technological advancement. Massive strides in automation, artificial intelligence, and communication have caused turbulence in almost every sphere of work. For businesses undergoing these changes, owners and managers must find ways to adapt their behaviors, hiring practices, and sales models.

Individuals must adapt as well. In a workplace that’s constantly changing, personal development should become the focus. Likewise, continued business development hinges on fostering this leadership growth.

Personal Leadership Growth is a Business Growth Strategy

A business is only as strong as its people. If sales are down, it may or may not be the fault of your staff. However, sales will only improve if you and your people actively work together to solve the problem. Staring at the sales growth formula simply isn’t enough. In other words, the better your people do, the better your business does – and vice versa.

To cultivate this business development, current leaders must encourage the personal development and leadership skills of other members. When a company is filled with self-motivated, team-oriented people, it will continue to thrive. Plus, this personal development branches out exponentially. As new leaders emerge, more resources are available to bring others up with them.

The more empowered your people are, the better they’ll be able to adapt to new challenges. If you lose sales, or a model is forced to change due to regulations or technology, you and your leaders will be equipped to find creative solutions moving forward.

Personal Development: Areas of Focus

Personal leadership development takes time, but there are some areas you can focus on to prepare your employees for whatever changes lie ahead.

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The most common cause of error is improper communication. Paradoxically, there are so many avenues of communication available today (text, email, phone, instant messaging, video chat, etc.) that some people lose focus regarding what’s on their plate and how to express it most efficiently. Other staff members might not feel empowered to speak their mind and end up keeping feedback, ideas, or questions to themselves.

By focusing on effective leadership communication skills, every team member can learn how to effectively relay information to other workers, clients, and partners, and ask crucial questions. An open door of communication will build an atmosphere of trust in the workplace. A major part of communication is listening. The best leaders don’t only express themselves well, they listen well, too.

Working Together

Personal development doesn’t mean others are excluded. A huge part of personal development involves working with others. Collaboration often yields better results than one mind working alone. Teamwork depends on proper communication, so this aspect of leadership growth hinges on the previous one. Good leaders don’t micromanage, they work with their team members to solve problems.

Willingness to Learn

No one has it all figured out, especially in a workplace that changes all the time. Great leaders know that they don’t know everything, but want to continue learning and growing. In other words, personal development never ends. Even if you’ve risen to become a major leader at your business, there’s always more to learn. Your openness to learning should also lead you to teach others as they embark on their personal development journey.

For a business to grow and change, it needs its people to grow and change as well. When individuals learn and grow, they develop into leaders who can take on tomorrow’s uncertainties. Leadership Resources understands how crucial personal development is to building the future. We provide individuals with the tools they need to continue their leadership growth process and develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. For more information and solutions, contact us here today!

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Leadership Resources Joins the Omaha Community

By Beth Bartek 10/12/2016
Leadership Resources Omaha Skyline

We want to invite clients, vendors and the public to join us for an open house on Thursday, October 27 th from 4 to 6 p.m. at our new Omaha office, located in Miracle Hills at 1045 N. 115th Street, Suite 350.

Join us for food, tours of the new building, a ribbon cutting with the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and a chance to meet our team.

The local demand for leadership development and strategic alignment within growing organizations has allowed us to open a second office. Our new location will house a team of Leadership Development Specialists’ and staff, while providing a space for coaching, facilitation and forums.

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By strengthening our presence in Omaha, we are eager to continue building on and fostering growing relationships within the community. We have worked with hundreds of companies throughout the region and are excited to be able to provide an additional location for meetings and coaching sessions.

We believe that development in an organization is vital to a company’s growth and success. We will create customized development journeys by identifying, aligning and developing high potential leaders within your organization. Through leadership content, strategic solutions, and our proprietary software LRSuccessPath®, we have a proven process that drives organizational and personal success.


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Real Men Wear Pink in Solidarity with Breast Cancer Fight

By Beth Bartek 09/22/2016
Leadership Resources Boyd Ober Wears Pink

You may know Boyd Ober as CEO and President at Leadership Resources, but this year he has taken on an additional role. Boyd is the 2016 Chairman of the Lincoln chapter for Real Men Wear Pink. Real Men Wear Pink is a national breast cancer fundraising and awareness campaign.

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“There are a lot of women that go through breast cancer or any other cancer and don’t have that support network,” says Ober, so he and his team wear pink everyday as sign of their commitment to raise money and awareness to fight breast cancer.

Read the full article from The Daily Nebraskan to learn more about Boyd’s personal connection to the disease and the Real Men Wear Pink Campaign.

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Boyd Ober World Motivator of the Year

By Beth Bartek 07/20/2015

Boyd Oberleadership development omaha, President and CEO of Leadership Resources was recognized as the 2014 World Motivator of the Year by Leadership Management, Inc., (LMI). LMI has 141 Licensees in the United States and nearly 1,000 licensees in 70 countries. “The award is presented to the LMI Licensee who best exemplifies the LMI concept and has distinguished himself through outstanding service to clients, sales associates and other LMI Licensees.” Randy Slechta, CEO and President LMI.

Boyd Ober’s desire to help others achieve success inspired him to found Leadership Resources in 2003 and continues to fuel his passion today.  “The World Motivator of the Year Award is both exciting and humbling.  These awards only happen as a result of being blessed with a tremendously talented team, a group of remarkable clients, great mentors and an extremely supportive family.” Boyd Ober, President and CEO of Leadership Resources.

As President and CEO of Leadership Resources, Boyd Ober offers clients a unique perspective from a number of experiences, ranging from business ownership to roles in government and corporate settings. Gifted in helping leaders establish vision for themselves as well as their organizations, Boyd combines poignant questions with active listening to help clients clarify strategy, adjust behavior, and make a difference in the world around them. An avid advocate of the success chain, Boyd is deeply devoted to his clients and employees, bringing passion, humor, and extensive knowledge to the development process.

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Ober is an avid supporter of the local community in both Omaha and Lincoln and has established Leadership Resources as an active member of each city’s Chamber of Commerce. Personally, he donates his time to a number of local organizations including Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools Board, Tabitha Inc. Board, Lincoln Independent Business Association, and the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development. Graduating with a master’s degree in economics from South Dakota State University, Boyd believes in actively learning and developing daily by putting himself in scenarios with other business leaders to bring best practices and experience to the Leadership Resources team and clients.  He and Megan, his wife of over 25 years, have three children: Matt, Maddie, and Alex. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, golfing, coffee conversations, and helping with church activities.

Ober was presented with the 2014 World Motivator of the Year Award at the 2015 Annual World Convention of Leadership Management, Inc., (LMI) in San Antonio, Texas.  LMI franchisees and sales associates from throughout the world were in attendance. Convention highlights included presentations by Leadership Management, Inc.’s CEO & President Randy Slectha, plus many top award winners from around the world.

Leadership Management, Inc., headquartered in Waco, Texas is one of the world’s largest producers of executive, management and leadership development programs.  Founded in 1966 by Paul J. Meyer, its products are marketed in more than 70 countries in 23 languages.

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Do you really need a stretch goal?

By Boyd Ober 07/14/2015

This and other words of advice for sales professionals.

Rowney JensenRowney Jensen is the VP of Business Development at Leadership Resources, and has decades of experience in the sales industry. We recently had an opportunity to sit down with him and ask him a few questions about sales success, goal setting, and advice for sales professionals.

Q: What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve been given that has impacted your success?

A: The best advice I received early on in my career was something that has obviously helped me as a sales professional, as well as in a number of other roles – never be afraid to ask a question. Make certain you clarify what’s expected of you. Expectations are best managed when you help to set them. That’s why, in the sales industry, it’s key to help clients understand what they should expect – Expect “this” from our service. Expect “this” from our product. If you don’t clarify, it makes it very difficult for both parties to deliver.

Q: When you set sales goals, do you approach this any differently than regular goals?

A: For sales professionals, our goals are set in a couple of different ways. I typically have an individual do a self-evaluation and really identify where they’re been on the track of success. Review the last 12 months, what went well, what didn’t go well, where they need to improve. And then we talk about where they want to go. What aspirations do they have, what skills do they need to add, and obviously, what numbers would they like to achieve. Through encouragement and discussion, we set two goals. The first one is an expectation of an outcome, such as sales numbers or closed accounts. The second goal is a higher-level stretch goal.

Q: How is a stretch goal different?

A: A stretch goal is typically 10 to 15% above what an individual believes they are capable of producing. We all have self-limiting beliefs, and while there are people out there that overestimate, the majority of us underestimate because we’re afraid of failure. To set a stretch goal, you need to consider questions like: What did you accomplish last year? What would you like to accomplish this year? What would it take to get there? This helps frame the stretch goal from a sales perspective. Goals need to be forward facing – they’re not necessarily dollar driven, they might be behavior driven. In order to perform at the current level, maybe you’re making X number of phone calls. A stretch goal will help you increase frequency or success of the behaviors that lead to higher level success.

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Q: How does the success chain play into all of this?

A: When you have the repetitive nature of sales – making phone calls, practicing, sitting down and conducting sales interviews – you naturally start to develop the conditioning of doing it properly. Having the right attitude, habit of thought, and behavior, is really important to creating a successful sales career. You start to repeat behaviors that work – asking questions, using up front contracts and other things, and will naturally lead to success. The success chain is a fantastic model to use in building the path to results. We talk about this a lot during the Natural Selling Process.

Q: What if the only thing that needs work is the attitude? Does it really have that much of an effect on sales results?

A: If you or your sales team doesn’t believe in the product, you’ll have a hard time performing the behaviors and actions necessary to get results. This is true as well if your habit of thought is negative about yourself and your skills. Say for example, you aren’t confident with your speaking or presentation skills. Chances are, you repeat that negative mantra to yourself, either consciously or subconsciously. As a result, it impacts your behaviors and ultimately your success in a negative way.

Q: Sales people hold a lot of value since they have direct contact with customers. What is a way a company can harness that value?

A: As a sales professional, you are the direct link to the client and the market – you have an understanding of what the market is asking for, what the competition is doing, and some of the key benefits people/clients are looking for. Sales professionals hold the key to product development and iterations that may lead to profitable ideas within an organization.

Q: What is one way a person could improve their sales skills in the next 10 days?

A: Deliver a live demo online using a webinar service, and record the webinar. This is fairly easy to do. By simply hosting an online demo, or conference call, you’ll discover many nuances that you can, and should work on. Perhaps you’ll hear the filler words that enter the conversation ever few minutes, or an analogy that you’ve used far too many times. Or maybe you’re not pausing to let the prospect process your question before you insert another question into the dialogue. Recording, whether online or in person, and analyzing your behaviors, is an excellent way to improve the presentation part of the sale. Just remember to alert the prospect of the recording. If it is a demo, this is an added bonus as they can download the recording later (or you can use it as part of your follow-up). So in this case, the recording provides even more value. Slight edge improvements in your sales presentations can go a long way and may also improve your cold calling and follow-up communication.

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Success Story: Delegation & Tracking

By Boyd Ober 07/08/2015
Leadership resources: success story

Leadership Resources client, Nathan Stewart, ties together the concepts of goal setting, alignment, delegation, accountability, metric tracking, and balanced lifestyle with his success story:

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.One of my personal goals through Effective Leadership Development was to eat dinner as a family more often. In the spirit of getting all family members engaged in this process, I placed my oldest son in charge of keeping us accountable. He quickly added “family dinner” to his existing chores chart and tracked it with stickers. He monitored and pointed out if we weren’t quite hitting our targets. This demonstrates how delegating goals and tracking can help engage those under our leadership in the process and help us all reach our goals collectively.

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Radway Repurposes

By Boyd Ober 07/01/2015
Leadership Resources Radway Repurposes Banner.

leadership development omahaAfter nearly 10 years of loyal dedication to Leadership Resources and its clients, John Radway believes it now time to step back and enjoy time with Karen and their family.  Please join us in thanking John for his impactful time as part of the Leadership Resources team.  As John says, “I see this as repurposing my life not retiring.”

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John will continue to represent Leadership Resources at Lincoln Chamber of Commerce events and will be ever-present in the community and in our hearts.

Thank you, John!

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What do I do when a star employee leaves the company?

By Boyd Ober 06/26/2015

It’s no secret that people are one of the most valuable assets for a growing organization. That makes employee retention a key concern for executives. After all, individual talents, skills, and time are leveraged by a company to achieve results. Spend any time online and you’ll see business outlets and media sites sharing a number of facts and statistics about hiring and retaining skilled employees:

Company leaders put a lot of effort into the recruitment process. And we hope that our recruitment strategies are just as effective.

But, the truth is – employees have their own personal goals and ambitions, and despite our best efforts, they may choose to pursue outside opportunities. What do you do when this happens?

Oh no! One of my star employees just announced his resignation!

In this situation, the first step is to take a deep breath.

“It’s important to not over-react,” says Patty Marmie, coach and facilitator at Leadership Resources. “If the news came as a surprise, you may experience an ‘amygdala hijack,’ with your reptilian brain jumping in with the first thing that comes to mind. Take a step back and process a bit before you respond.”

As Patty suggests, it’s important to seek the “why” behind the decision. Ask questions to find out why the star is leaving. Whether they are pursuing a higher level of responsibility, tackling new challenges, or seeking a change of pace, you’ll want to know the reasons for their departure. The intent behind these questions is not to convince him or her to stay, but to learn how you can be proactive in keeping employees instead of reacting when they leave.

Keep in mind that not all exits are negative. Even though this person was a star employee, the opening within the company may provide an opportunity for others to step up and demonstrate leadership skills they’ve gained through development and individual coaching.

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.Should I still invest in my employees? What if those I invest in end up leaving the company as well?

This is where a great sports analogy comes in – the classic case of “playing not to lose” rather than playing to win. Coach Patty Marmie says that it is our responsibility as leaders to develop the people around us.  Successful, growing organizations develop their emerging leaders and make a positive impact on the culture.  Development of leaders is a win-win for individuals and organizations.

A negative or hesitant attitude toward employee development, based on the fear that they may exit the company one day, is damaging to company culture and individual performance. Perhaps you’ve seen this humorous, yet thought-provoking image that often pops up on social networks:

Invest in Employee Retention
CFO: What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us? CEO: What happens if we don’t, and they stay?

Instead of letting this fear paralyze the development plan, have a strategic conversation with each individual at your organization to discover his or her strengths, goals, ambitions, and dreams. You may discover that your organization is an excellent five to ten-year stint on the journey to an individual’s ultimate destination. If done correctly, the years they spend with you will generate far more ROI than you initially invested. Plus, the employee will emerge a better leader, with more confidence and willingness to serve as a referral source for future employees and clients.

How do I fill the opening for this star employee’s position?

Two words: Succession plan.

If the employee is truly a star within the organization, there needs to be a strategic process surrounding the promotion or department of this individual. Develop a cross-training program in your organization so success does not depend on a single individual but the team as a whole. Identify strengths and talents within the organization that could easily adapt, move up, or transfer to blossom into a new leader in this area.

A general housekeeping note – make sure there is documentation for all procedures. Check on this regularly. You don’t want a star employee to hold all the processes in her mind, only to take them with her when she goes!

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