Are You A CAREfrontational Leader?..John Page Burton

The vast majority of us will serve in some type of leadership capacity. Many of us will lead companies or sales organizations, others will lead classrooms, community organizations, political groups or non profits. The most important leadership role we may ever experience is the role of parent and family leader. We must also focus on becoming a consistent leader of self. During a recent conversation with my friend Ross, he referred to me as a “CAREfrontational” business coach. I asked him what he meant and he replied “you are very direct in your communication, yet your compassion and understanding clearly shine through”. I liked his term CAREfrontational and promised Ross that I would incorporate it into my next article on leadership. Let’s take a closer look at two different leadership models…

CAREfrontational vs Confrontational Leadership.

Far too many leaders in their quest for significance, employ a confrontational, authoritarian style of leadership. Most confrontational leaders believe their approach produces results and garners respect. In reality, this approach is extremely polarizing within an organization and over time it tends to contribute to higher turnover rates and a decrease in productivity due largely to the volatile nature of the work environment. Some of the words commonly used to describe confrontational leadership include; argumentative, combative, contrary, volatile, quarrelsome, contentious, scrappy, authoritarian, unfair and dictatorial. Some of the feelings this type of leadership creates within the rank and file of an organization include; mistrust, fear, doubt, drama, self protection, concern, trepidation, anxiety and security. Confrontational leaders create a culture of ME vs you and “I am always right”!

The “CAREfrontational” leadership approach is focused on the organization as a whole. The CAREfrontational leadership model seeks to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, understand their primary communication style and focuses on exploiting the strength and leveraging the weakness of each member of the team. This leadership style encourages delegation and prioritizes time management. The communication style of a CAREfrontational leader is explicit yet respectful and is designed to instruct not degrade. Words used to describe this leadership style include; team, health, welfare, maintenance, concern, interest, importance, provision, responsibility, collaboration, growth and trust. Some of the feelings this leadership style creates within the organization include; pride, integrity, belief, autonomy, freedom, creativity, expression, fulfillment and personal responsibility. Doesn’t this seem like a more inspiring and empowering WORK environment?

QUESTIONS…

Which type of leadership model do you believe fosters a true sense of team? Which business environment might have a lower turnover rate? Which model encourages vision and collaboration? Which business environment is more authentic to the human spirit? Which environment would you prefer to work in?

The myth surrounding the CAREfrontaional leadership approach is that it is to “liberal” and doesn’t create a big enough gap between “leadership” and the “employee”. I disagree. The confrontational leadership approach has proven to be highly effective in the United States military where breaking our soldiers down and building them back up is essential for survival and success on the battlefield, however, the confrontational leadership approach is very INEFFECTIVE in today’s competitive business environment where INNOVATION tends to trump intimidation. Unhappy, stifled employees, simply transfer their talent to an environment that is more conducive to their personal and professional growth. The CAREfrontational leader understands that TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK and they strive to create synergy as they grow and protect the financial interests or their organization.

THE BOTTOM LINE…

Over the past 20 years I have had the privilege to spend time around an array of very dynamic, highly effective, CEO’s and business leaders. One of the common traits inherent to each one of them is their ability to create a compelling vision and sell that vision to their entire organization. I refer to this as the “buy in”. The “buy in” is essential for creating massive results in any organization. Rather than take an authoritarian approach, CAREfrontational leaders take a much different approach. They seek out and hire “play makers” and are then willing to get out of their way and let them make plays. In the sports world, this philosophy has proven to be a successful formula for winning CHAMPIONSHIPS. Another significant trait found in CAREfrontational leaders is their ability to build, nurture and maintain influential networks. THE TAKEAWAY…A truly effective CEO or business leader is rarely the person who has the most impressive credentials but rather the person who carries the most influence. Our personal and professional circle of influence say’s more about who we have become professionally than our resume does. In the spirit of polarization, confrontational leaders tend to infuse their insatiable need for significance into the organizations and networks they belong to. On the other hand, CAREfrontational leaders understand the value of relationships and make building and nurturing them a top priority.

In my role as an executive coach, my clients hire me for one reason, they desire to become more effective leaders. I am not concerned about being popular, I care about my clients achieving the results they seek. Can I be direct? Yes. Do I care? Absolutely. Can I be extremely CAREfrontational, you bet! Do the majority of my clients respect me? I believe my authenticity shines through more often than not. I encourage each of you to take a closer look at your current leadership style and ask yourself if it is helping or hindering your organizational growth? Admittedly, this is a tough question to ask as our Ego has a significant investment in our current reality but it is a question that we must pose if we desire to be the amazing leader we are capable of becoming.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.a41

6 Lies That Kill Dreams & Stifle Opportunity…John Page Burton

No matter how honest we believe we are, most of us are guilty of lying. Many of us have created a habit of lying. Our lies cost us financially and emotionally. Our lies may keep us from rising through the company ranks, starting our own business or from enjoying a truly intimate relationship with our partner. In the world of dreams and opportunity the TRUTH can indeed set us free!

The 6 Lies…

*If he/she would just change, my life would be so much better! Not only is this a lie but it means that we are willing to give away our personal power. Many of us tell this lie as it relates to our relationship partners, employers, business partners and friends. In reality, the person who tells this lie is fearful of introspection and prefers to avoid taking the bottom line for their life experience. We can either go through life playing the role of “victim of circumstance” or we can take responsibility for the people and circumstances we have attracted into our life and make different decisions going forward. Choose to be proactive!

*I don’t have enough time. Most of us will make time for anything we deem important. We can easily “find time” to hang out with our friends, go fishing, watch TV or engage in any other activity that makes us “feel good”. The reality of this lie is that many of us consciously choose to use our “lack of time” as an on demand excuse to avoid anything that requires us to leave our comfort zone. Time is our most precious commodity, it is up to us to allocate it wisely.

*I am not educated/qualified enough. The reality of this lie is that some of the biggest companies in America were founded and built by people who never attended a day of college or in some cases didn’t make it past junior high. As I share in my book, Wisdom Through Failure, I am apt to hire a person with a high I WILL over a person with a high IQ. The person who possesses both is a bonus. Is it really our lack of education that is holding us back? In many cases a lack of motivation is the real culprit.

*I’m not attractive enough. Intelligence outweighs looks. We live in a society where first impressions do favor job candidates, however, in the end, it really doesn’t matter how “good looking” you are if you suck at what you do! Even the most aesthetically pleasing people will eventually become a liability and sent packing. Taking care of ourselves and presenting well should be a priority for all of us, however, the belief that we are somehow limited because of the way God created us is a fear based fallacy. We are better served to focus on developing our skills than hunting for a plastic surgeon.

*I don’t know the right people. It’s true that our “connections” can help us move through life and business at a faster pace but keep in mind our connections will take time to develop and nurture. The reality is that in order to attract the “right people” both personally and professionally we must become the person we desire to attract. Our job is to focus on becoming the best version of our self. To quote my favorite movie line…”If you build it they will come”.

*I don’t deserve to be successful/happy. This lie is based around the guilt we feel about something that occurred in our past. We have deemed our particular situation(s) to be so “heinous” that we have subconsciously determined that it is far better to be mediocre than strive for greatness! Each time we find ourselves moving forward, the voice in our head reminds us of what a “complete loser or imposter” we are. The reality of this lie is that we are much wiser because of the experiences from our past and we can use this wisdom to help us make better choices and decisions in the future. Our past doesn’t determine our future…we do!

When we make the decision to stop telling these lies we can move toward the compelling future awaiting each of us. One of the fastest ways we can change our lives is by changing the story we have been telling ourselves. Here’s to the TRUTH!

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Thank God For Dirty Dishes…John Page Burton

I recently attended a dinner party. The evening featured a plethora of great conversation, an abundance of laughter and it seemed that everyone genuinely enjoyed being in each others company. As the evening wound down, our host sighed and said, “I guess it’s time to tackle all of those dirty dishes” at which I remarked “thank God for dirty dishes”. We pitched in, cleaned up the kitchen, said our goodbyes and headed out into the night. On the drive home my wife and I began talking about the significance of “dirty dishes” and just how grateful we are for all of the “dirty dishes” we continue to have the privilege to wash.

What it means to have “dirty dishes” in my sink.

*I enjoyed a meal.
*I have the financial resources to purchase food.
*I am not starving.
*I have a roof over my head.

Many of the things that I take for granted are considered a luxury in 97% of the world. Most of what I complain about would be met with a blank stare by a person who lives in Haiti. The “left over” food that many of us routinely throw away would save lives in 3rd world countries. Being mindful of just how good I have it tends to keep me grounded whenever I find myself going into “complainer mode”.

With this being said, I must leave you as my wife has just informed me that it is my turn to do the dishes.

With much gratitude…..

Embracing our MISTAKES…John Page Burton

Many of us routinely “beat ourselves up” for making mistakes. Rather than embracing and learning from our mistakes we speak negatively over them. “How could I have been so stupid” or “I never get anything right” are some of the common utterances of a person who is in bondage to their mistakes. When we shift our perspective and begin viewing mistakes as learning opportunities we become increasingly open to venturing outside our comfort zone and we begin taking the type of risks that can significantly elevate our game. Remember, mistakes are one of the prices we pay for growth.

What our MISTAKES can teach us…

Modification. Mistakes can provide us with an opportunity to change our behavior. For example, if you or someone you know has ever been cited for DUI, you are well aware of the behavior modifications that must take place if the person charged desires to remain out of jail and keep their job. Mistakes are often the gateway to massive change.

Introspection. Mistakes provide us with an opportunity for self examination. Whenever I make a significant mistake I engage in a process of introspection. What could I have done differently? What led me to make this decision in the first place? What will I do differently next time? Rather than “beat myself up” I choose to reflect and re-direct.

Sabotage. Why do we make the same mistake over and over? When we continue to make the same mistake over and over it is often an indication that we are intentionally trying to avoid something we perceive as uncomfortable. Recently, one of my clients experienced a life changing breakthrough when she recognized that she had engaged in a series of “abusive” relationships because she was afraid of allowing herself to be completely vulnerable and intimate with a man. For years she had been sabotaging her happiness.

Trust. Embracing our mistakes allows us to trust ourselves at a much deeper level. By accepting that I am not immune from making mistakes, it becomes easier to make bold decisions. I recognize that I will make mistakes (poor decisions) from time to time, however, my intention is to use them as a barometer for my growth rather than berate myself because I am not “perfect”.

Accountability. Mistakes shape our character. When we make a mistake do we take personal responsibility or do we seek someone to blame? Far too many people in leadership positions look for a “scapegoat” rather than taking responsibility for their decision, learning from it and moving forward. Accountability and personal responsibility are key characteristics of authentic leadership.

Knowledge. If we are open to learning, mistakes can provide us with a wealth of knowledge. Many of us have heard the saying “only a fool makes the same mistake twice”. Not true. Many of us are capable of making the same mistake several times before we grasp the lesson. I say “only a fool doesn’t eventually learn from the same mistake”

Empathy. Mistakes can help us to be more understanding and tolerant of others. Once I embraced the concept that I am always going to make mistakes, I became less judgmental of others.
Over the years, this understanding has helped me become a much more empathetic, effective leader.

Solutions. Mistakes usually inspire us to look for solutions. Throughout my academic career, math was not my best subject. I routinely made mistakes. My teachers would encourage me to keep reworking the problem until I found the solution. This same philosophy serves us well in any area of our lives where we find ourselves routinely making mistakes. We can’t stay stuck in a problem if we are actively seeking a solution.

Remember, when we choose to embrace our mistakes we are choosing to embrace personal growth.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

The Problem With Perfection…John Page Burton

I recently visited with a client who has spent the majority of his lifetime struggling with the concept of “perfection”. For as long as he could remember, he had been admonished to do things “perfectly” and was routinely chastised or punished when he failed to achieve the level of “perfection” required of him by a series of “well meaning” role models, including his parents. Because of his skewed reality around perfection he struggled to achieve a true measure of happiness in his intimate relationship or career. Millions of us can relate to the expectations of “perfection” that have been placed on us by our parents, athletic coaches, teachers and other role models we have encountered along our journey. I know that for many years I felt like a total “loser” for not living up to the demands of perfection placed on me. That was then, this is now. Today, I strive to do my very best in every endeavor, however, I realize that for me, “perfection” rarely happens and I’m fine with that. One of the fundamental problems with our obsession for perfection is that over time it tends to create an array of personal and health challenges. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Avoidance strategy. Many of us are using our quest for “perfection” as a means of avoiding potential rejection and therefore protecting ourselves from opening up and becoming vulnerable. For example, we have all known someone who is looking for the “perfect partner” and isn’t willing to “settle” for anyone who doesn’t measure up to the exact profile they have designed. Or how about the person who won’t go to the beach until they are in “perfect” shape. In both cases “perfection” is being conveniently used as an excuse to keep them from addressing their self doubt and fear and in both cases it is keeping them from having fun and meeting some really awesome people.

Judgment. How many times have we failed to make a connection with someone because they were not driving the “perfect” car, wearing the “perfect” clothes or living in the “perfect” zip code. Our need to pass judgment may be preventing us from meeting talented, progressive people. I know several extremely accomplished professionals who drive older model vehicles,regularly wear shorts and flip flops and live where they “feel the vibe”. You can’t possibly know anything about someone unless you have a conversation.

Health. Our quest for “perfection” can lead to a variety of health problems, including diet pill addiction, Anorexia, Skin Cancer, disfigurement from plastic surgery and an array of other health related challenges. Accepting ourselves for who we are is the first step toward optimal health. Diet and exercise are natural, proven strategies for living a longer, more enjoyable life.

Parenting. Anyone who has been subjected to the pressure stemming from parental demands of “perfection” has experiential knowledge regarding the emotional damage it can cause. As parents we want our children to do and be their best, however, the reality is that from time to time they are going to fall short of our expectations. It is up to us to teach our children that failure is an essential element of success and encourage them to embrace failure as an important part of the success process.

Self Examination. When we demand “perfection” in others it is always a good idea to examine our own motives. Why are we demanding “perfection”? Years ago, I coached high school baseball. I remember a particular parent who managed to always find something wrong with his son’s performance. One night, after a game in which his son had gone 4 for 4 and made several spectacular defensive plays, I observed the father verbally abusing his son as they walked to the car. Troubled by the incident, I called the players father and asked him why he had been so upset after the game? He explained that there had been a professional scout in attendance and that his son had gotten a late jump on an attempt to steal second base. The father went on to share that he had never been able to play college or professional baseball due to an eye injury suffered during his senior year of high school and that all he had ever wanted was for his son to have the opportunity that had alluded him. FYI… His son never played another inning of baseball after he graduated from high school. A few years ago I ran into him at a local restaurant and asked him why he had decided not to pursue college ball? (He certainly had the talent) “Coach, by the time my senior year rolled around I hated the game, no matter what I did it was never good enough for my dad and I just didn’t want to see him in the stands anymore”.

The problem with “perfection” is that it is unrealistic. I believe we should all strive to be the best at whatever we do, however, we must also realize that we are human and that we will fail and experience set backs. The pursuit of “perfection” can cause us to hold back from trying new things, meeting new people and from taking risks. Strive to be the best version of yourself and show yourself some grace.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Learning To Approach Life With A Profound Sense Of Purpose…John Page Burton

Are you treating your life like a hobby or are you approaching it with a profound sense of purpose? Far too many of us are in “hobby mode” because we don’t believe that we deserve success or we have become deathly afraid of failure. Others have not given themselves permission to dream any bigger than what they were told they could achieve by parents, teachers, friends or others who themselves were afraid to leave their own little box to explore all of the amazing opportunities available to them. If you truly desire to play a much bigger, more impactful game of life then the tips below are guaranteed to move you in the right direction, provided you initiate them.

5 tips for playing a much bigger game of life….

1. Quit dabbling. Far too many of us are “dabbling” our way through life. We get excited about something, run with it for awhile and then lose interest and move on to the next “bright shiny object”. When we live with a profound sense of purpose we are able to harness the power of focus and begin accomplishing great things. What would your life look like if you quit dabbling, defined your purpose and applied the laser focus necessary to see your dreams become a reality? My guess is that you would begin to feel better about the new, committed you!

2. Get curious. Curiosity leads to opportunity. As children most of us were quite curious about the world around us. We tried new things, explored unchartered terrain and didn’t take NO for an answer. Slowly but surely, we found ourselves stepping into a custom designed box. We were encouraged by our parents and teachers to choose a specific path and then follow a set of instructions that would lead us to our “final” destination. Many of us woke up one day to the realization that this plan wasn’t working and the air in our little box was getting thinner. What would your life look like if you began approaching it with a sense of curiosity and you gave yourself permission to try new things and explore new opportunities? My guess is that you would quickly tear the lid off your tattered box and begin racing toward the opportunities awaiting you!

3. Give yourself permission to be great! We are usually our own biggest critic! Most of us judge ourselves far more harshly than anyone else ever could. We compare ourselves and our success to those around us and when we don’t feel like we are measuring up we become even more judgmental and critical toward ourselves. What would your life look like if you took your gaze off of others and began running the race you were destined to run? My guess is that you would have more energy and be a much happier person!

4. Seek role models. Once we define our purpose it’s time to find a role model, coach or mentor who can help us create a road map to reach our destination. There are no shortcuts to success, however, a good coach or mentor can help speed up our learning curve by sharing advice and designing strategies based on proven results. What would your life look like if you had a clear cut plan of action for achieving your goals as well as a coach or mentor to hold you accountable? My guess is that you would experience the magic that happens when responsibility meets accountability!

5. Embrace failure. I recently wrote a book titled Wisdom Through Failure. The premise behind this book is that in order to gain true wisdom we must accept and learn to embrace failure. We are all going to fail. When we personalize it we build scar tissue that causes us to become resistant to taking risks or trying new things. What would your life look like if you put yourself in a position to fail? My guess is that you will feel far more empowered than you will if you continue to play it safe?

I believe that all of us desire to make a difference in our world. The difference between you and somebody you envy is that you settled for less! As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Cheers!

10 Reasons Why Moms “ROCK” In Business…John Page Burton

After a recent conversation with a female client who manages to effectively balance the roles of being the primary care giver to three small children with also being the CEO of a progressive start up company, it dawned on me why “moms” tend to make such outstanding business leaders. The skills that are required of motherhood are basically the same skills that are required of a successful business person. Below are 10 examples of the traits and skills inherent to both “moms” and business leaders.

1. Organizational skills. “Moms” are highly proficient at multitasking. They know where things stand and how to maximize both time and material resources. They are masters of logistics who understand that the devil is often found in the details. They routinely inspect what they expect.

2. Problem solvers. “Moms” rarely sweat the small stuff! They know where to focus their energy and when to release control. When a problem or obstacle arises, they transition into solution mode and stay there until they achieve a favorable outcome.

3. Master negotiators. “Moms” occupy a permanent seat at the bargaining table. They must possess the ability to impartially consider all evidence, weigh each argument and often render their decisions in the face of extreme opposition. They make decisions that are congruent with their core beliefs and values.

4. Financial management. “Moms” are masterful at establishing and living within a budget. They understand the value of a dollar and how to make it stretch. They are value oriented and consciously seek out the highest return for their investment. They will plan for a “rainy day” and they understand the fundamental principles of income to debt ratio.

5.Resource management. “Moms” can make 3 peanut butter sandwiches using 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and convince their kids that bread is what makes the sandwich so tasty in the first place. They are masterful at recycling clothes, shoes, books, bicycles and just about anything else that can serve a secondary purpose and still keep them within or under their budget.

6. They are true servant leaders. Need I say more. The early stages of motherhood could be described as a thankless job in which the compensation is low and the frustration is high. Motherhood requires an extreme outward focus.

7.Patience. “This to shall pass” becomes a daily mantra. “Moms” learn that all storm clouds will eventually blow over and be replaced by blue sky and rainbows. They recognize that maintaining patience is critical to their sanity. They learn to focus their energy on what they are able to control in their present moment rather than dwelling on the past or living in the future.

8. Flexibility. “Moms” recognize that life happens when they are making other plans. They instinctively understand the value of contingency plans and must be extremely quick on their feet. They are acutely aware when they are trying to put a square peg in a round hole and will usually be among the first to acknowledge that NOW would be a good time to head in a different direction.

9. Compassionate understanding. Life holds a profound truth…STUFF HAPPENS! Feelings get hurt, ego’s are bruised, fears surface, anger arises, jealousy brews and through it all a “mom” must remain objective and compassionate with those in her charge. Compassion is a guiding light to those who are lost.

10. Sense of humor. “Moms” know the secret to life…don’t take yourself or those around you to seriously. Maintaining a sense of humor is the healthiest way to navigate through trying times. A sense of humor helps us to maintain perspective and is also a reminder that we should not go through life treating everything as either do or die. A smile can often melt even the hardest heart.

In short, “moms” are natural family leaders who also make outstanding
business leaders! As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.