Is it Time to Do Some Pruning?

I was pruning my rosebushes this weekend, trying to promote some new flower growth.  This is an important thing for most flowering plants, because they’ll continue to send energy and nutrients to all parts of the plant – even the diseased and already-bloomed parts.  The plant doesn’t know it’s wasting fuel and energy.

When you prune properly, you help your flowering plants to use their energy wisely.  The plant can no longer waste, so it only flows nutrients to areas that can really flourish.  As a result you see the fruits and blooms of energy well spent!

This same concept applies well to leadership.

As I’ve witnessed and worked with newer leaders and leaders with increasing responsibility, this seems to be one of their greatest challenges: knowing where and how to spend their time; understanding where they can be most effective.  One of the biggest barriers to their success is that everyone wants a piece of their time.  Everyone.

A great leader knows where to prune.  They’re able to assess what needs to be off-loaded or delegated, and when they should just plain say “no!”  They know where to target their energy instead; where they can make the greatest impact.

Here are four categories of “disease” that require pruning for the health of your leadership, team and organization.  Leaders should explore these carefully to determine what makes the cut!

  • Time-Wasters – anything that makes you busy but can’t be traced to productivity. And don’t think for a second that building necessary relationships falls into this category! That very much factors into your success and productivity as a leader!
  • Energy Vampires – the people who bring you down every time.  They make you feel “less than” on a regular basis.  Instead, surround yourself with positive people, as well as those that will challenge and support your growth and learning.  Oh, and make sure you eat and drink to support healthy energy levels too…and I’m not talking about pounding Red Bull, either, by the way!  (Caffeine SO dehydrates you!)
  • Bottom Feeders – those low performing, never going to get out of your bottom 10%, but takes up so much of your time and energy employees.  Sorry, it’s the hard truth.  They’re probably not in the right job, and frankly, you’d be doing them a favor by letting them go, so they can perform well (and feel better about themselves) in the right position!  Then, you can invest your time more wisely with your superstars and up-and-comers who bring results and energize those around them.
  • Culture Killers – any people or practices that do not align with what you preach about your culture.  People whose actions don’t support the culture only contaminate others – and this disease spreads.  You can’t let them infect others.  And, you must look closely at your policies and practices too. Many times they don’t encourage behaviors that would help the culture to flourish.  If they don’t, they’re not needed anymore.

If leaders can pinpoint these and carefully prune them, they can focus their energy on vision, positive momentum and growth, building teams, culture and leadership.

It’s widely known that you can identify a tree by its fruit.  Only with careful attention, proper pruning and focused energy on the right things can the fruits of success grow.

Is it time for you to do some pruning?  What other signs do you look for?

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life. 

 

 

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Just as the Sun Rises, so Truth Remains.

Since my move to Dallas about nine months ago, I’ve had much time to think about leadership, life and legacy.  As I knew would happen, I’ve been challenged, stretched and have grown.  I’ve had more time to reflect and ponder my life, my past and my future.  I’ve had to strengthen and rely more on faith, and I’ve gained perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten had I remained in my hometown of Cincinnati.

Although I miss my family, friends and all Cincinnati has to offer, I’m grateful for “lessons learned.”  That’s the payoff for change and discomfort – life lessons.  As an avid learner, these lessons are meaningful to me.  And…(and it’s a big one)…these lessons help me to be a better person.

To me, this is what life is all about: being a better person…becoming the best person you can be…and having the most positive impact you can on the people and happenings around you.

Possibly the greatest point I’ve learned through this life change is that although Cincinnati and Dallas are very different, there are truths in life that always remain constant.  These are the truths we can all hold on to and know that as life changes, these don’t.  These are the truths that have provided comfort, ah-hah moments and grounding when I needed it.  These are the truths that will continue to stretch me and always keep me growing in the right direction…to be my best, and to give my best.

What other truths have you learned in your life and career?  What would you add to the list?

Leadership:

  • Be courageous enough to lead authentically.  You’ll naturally attract like-minded people who will enthusiastically join your mission.
  • Care about your people first, results second. Do the first, and they’ll work to bring you the second.
  • Be prepared and knowledgeable as a leader.  Charisma and like-ability will only get you so far.
  • Strengths matter. Know yours and leverage them.  Help others to enhance their strengths and empower them to fill in the gaps of your own weaknesses.  Team up to help everyone succeed more.
  • Great leaders are also servants to their people.  It’s NOT about you, so kick your ego to the curb!

Life:

  • Faith matters and is worth the investment to strengthen it.  It can hold you up when nothing and nobody else can.
  • Family is forever, even when you no longer live together, but love should be a forever constant.
  • Friends are “chosen family” – a true gift that should be treasured.
  • You can have lots of acquaintances, but be discerning with your “inner circle” of friends, who should share your same values and lovingly hold you accountable to them.
  • Grudges are never worth it, nor is the negative energy you waste on them.
  • Money is needed for survival, but it’s not a requirement for happiness, nor does it guarantee happiness.  Never allow the pursuit of money to trump important relationships in your life – it’s too high of a cost, and money can’t buy them back.
  • Maturity and logic need to trump emotion sometimes.  Your heart may not always be as smart as your brain. There’s a healthy balance to be found, and it’s called Emotional Intelligence. Get smart about it.
  • Sleep, diet and exercise matter.

 

Legacy:

  • With every meeting and every conversation, you have an opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life.
  • Optimism and positivity are contagious.  So is a smile.
  • Kids learn from everything you say and do.  Be a role model for them.
  • If you’re fortunate in any way, share your blessing with others.  Be generous. Volunteer.  Give back.  You’ll be glad you did.
  • Your greatest investment will always be in people.  Spend more time on this investment strategy than any other.
  • Be kind, thoughtful and encouraging.  Always.  There’s never a reason to be anything else to another human.

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life. 

Unless You Lead…

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

This weekend, I took my kids to see the new Dr. Seuss movie, The Lorax.  The show is colorful, musical and intentional with its message of preserving Earth’s resources (and not allowing greed to get the best of us.)

Since seeing it, I keep thinking about the Lorax’s use of a single, powerful word: UNLESS.

Most of us typically think about what –if…  We can let our imagination and dreams run wild with what-if scenarios.  These times can fuel our creativity and help us to innovate, challenge ourselves and even better prepare for what may lie ahead.

What-if thinking can help us ponder so many possibilities.

It’s interesting, though, to consider a different perspective.  The Lorax’s challenge: unless.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s just not.” ~ The Lorax

In addition to dreaming about the what-if we do scenarios, should we also be thinking about the consequences of what if we don’t?

What if we don’t do what’s right?  What if we don’t do our best?  What if we don’t help others?  What if we don’t care?  What if we don’t stand up and lead?

What if nothing gets better UNLESS you do something?  What if YOU are the catalyst for positive change?  What price does your company, your co-workers or your family pay until you do something?

Is it worth it?

I want to challenge you today to fill in this blank with a situation or relationship that you want to see improved…

Unless I care…unless I lead…unless I take that first step, (fill in the blank) may not change for the better.

I may not be The Lorax, and I may not speak for the trees, but I’ll speak for the leaders of this world, and I believe you are one of them.

Will you care a whole awful lot?  … Because I think you can make things better.  I think you can hit the spot!

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life. 

Are You Giving or Taking…or Stealing?

My family and I went out for frozen yogurt the other day, and I was appalled by the behavior of a grown woman who was also there with her family.  This yogurt establishment was kind enough to have small paper cups by each yogurt flavor.  The generous intent, of course, is for patrons to be able to taste the flavor, ensuring they’ll love their yogurt selection before filling their regular-sized serving cup with it.

We watched from our table as one woman went back to the same yogurt machine more than a dozen times with her “tasting cup.”  She would fill the cup, stacking the yogurt as high as it could stand, immediately put her mouth over it before it toppled over, take two more bites from the remainder of her cup, and then go back to the same machine for more.

This is stealing, was all I could think.

She didn’t need to, either.  She was clearly financially able to pay for it.  In fact, her husband and children had tasted and purchased yogurt.  Not her, though.  She just kept going back.  Again and again with her paper cup.  Each time, enjoying her yogurt, and each time, making me more and more uncomfortable.

This is a small business.  In a competitive market.  In a tough economy.  And you are STEALING from themWhat you are doing is WRONG, I wanted to shout!!

My husband and I used it as a learning opportunity to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong, and then we quickly left.  I couldn’t watch it any longer.  (I did discreetly notify the owner on our way out, though.  I felt it was the right thing to do.)

Then I started wondering…how many times are people really stealing when they don’t feel like they are?  How many times do we just take, when we should be giving something in return as well?

Do you give your best at work every day?  Do you perform like the person you sold them on in your interview?  Because that’s what you said you would do.  That’s what you’re being paid to do.  Are you taking money for a service you promised, but not delivering to the extent of your word?

What about at home?  Do you take things from your spouse without showing appreciation?  Are your children giving you unconditional love without you paying them enough attention back?  What else do you happily receive, without thinking about how you can give back?

Are there areas in our life where we’re just plain stealing, without giving the proper reimbursement that is due?

On this Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to think about this.  Consider where you can give more than you receive, because at the end of the day, everything comes at a cost.  Don’t try to steal it.  In the end, the price could be so much more costly than you’d ever want.

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life. 

What Are You Closing Out of Your Circle?

I want you to think back to elementary school gym class for a second.  Remember when you had to get all the kids in your class to hold hands in a circle?  Inevitably, a perfect circle would be formed…And then a few more kids, who were off dilly-dallying somewhere, would show up and try to force themselves into the space that now doesn’t have enough room for them.

The gym teacher would then have to ask everyone to take one giant step backwards to open up the circle.  One big step backwards made all the difference.  Suddenly, space opened in the circle and everyone could be included in the game.

Consider this for a moment: Do you regularly look around to see if you’re closing anyone out of your circle?  What would one giant step backwards open up for you?

In business, new employees (whether new to the company or new to a team) should feel welcomed and encouraged to jump into projects and begin contributing.  Often times, fear of stepping on others’ toes holds new employees back.  Fitting in, navigating office politics or worrying about a first impression seem to take a priority, and so it takes months before the business gets the true benefit of that new employee’s strengths and fresh perspectives.

As leaders, we should encourage everyone not to hold back.  Always speak up, always contribute an idea – even if you’re new, even if it sounds crazy and even if it comes from the most unlikely person.  We should create a positive, energetic and creative environment that draws people in and includes their strengths, ideas and feedback.  A closed circle blocks all of these things, but one step back could create a new dynamic that feeds everyone’s success.

In life, we should look to see who the newcomers are to our neighborhood, church, school, community or sports organizations.  Do you seek these people out and see how you can help them feel more comfortable?  Wouldn’t you want someone to do that for you?

What if that new person has something great to contribute to your community?  What if they’re just the kind of friend you’d love to be around?  What if they could enrich your life?

You’d never know unless you opened your circle to them.

Perhaps people come into our circles for a reason.  Perhaps they’re sent to us with purpose and a plan.  Perhaps it’s fate, or perhaps it could be dumb luck.  Regardless, take that step to open your circle.  See what happens when you invite others to the game.

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life. 

Leading Change with Style!

Change.  Most people hear the word and immediately feel their stomach tighten.  We brace ourselves for it, don’t we? …Because we assume it may be bad.  Or hard.  Or both. (UGH!)

For those that follow me on this blog, or Twitter, or Facebook or LinkedIn, you know that my family and I moved to Dallas about six months ago.  Yes, it’s already been six months!!!

Talk about change!  The move brought so many changes – some planned, some not planned, but mostly all good things.  Hindsight allows me to see this.  Fear and self-consciousness preventing me from enjoying some of these changes at the onset (lesson learned!)

About a month into our new community, I realized I needed to do “something.”  I needed to do something that would satisfy my need for connection – the kind you get in-person and in your own neighborhood.  You know what I mean, right?  I’m talking about feeling totally comfortable “borrowing” an ingredient instead of going to the store; letting your kids go play inside someone else’s house and knowing they’re well taken care of; or just seeing someone outside and spontaneously starting a Friday night, multiple family night of fun.  See what I mean?  Total comfort, connection, grace and love.

I knew I would have to push myself outside of my comfort zone.  That was the first step – get courageous.  Then, I had to push myself outside of my “normal” thinking.  What do I need to do differently to get the results I’m looking for?  I need a great conversation starter that most women can relate to or enjoy.

Enter Stella & Dot.  This has been a game-changer for me in more ways than I expected.

I’d been enjoying Stella & Dot’s fashionable jewelry for years, so I thought why not represent the company and have a great reason to casually hang out with other women, meet their friends and expand my community?!!  I’ve been able to do just that and have gotten to know some really wonderful women I otherwise would not have met.  That was part of my proactive plan…but I have gotten so many other benefits as a result of my out-of-the-box thinking!

Stella & Dot is an example of female leadership at its finest Founder and CEO, Jessica Herrin and Chief Creative Officer, Blythe Harris are seriously motivated, creative, highly educated women who are most concerned with helping women increase confidence, feel worthy and independent, and grow skills they can be proud of.  Awesome, NYC-designed jewelry just happens to be the medium they’re leveraging.  These women are innovative industry-leaders, and their business acumen is putting the company in the press’ spotlight on a regular basis for its success story…and I get to learn from them every day!

The business model also puts me in a great position to lead and mentor other women.  This is a passion of mine and something I have spent time and energy on in my leadership company, Sagestone Partners.  I wasn’t thinking about jewelry as a way to put me in this position, but I now have a wonderful opportunity to build into women and to be purposeful about helping them achieve their own definition of happiness and success.  This really fuels me, and I’m finding that it’s a significant benefit to women who want to find more meaning and purpose in their lives.  Again, the jewelry is the vehicle to helping women understand what they want from life.  Who knew this would happen?  But what an outstanding opportunity to create a legacy!!

I’ve had a few people ask me if I plan to continue doing both Stella & Dot, as well as Sagestone Partners, and the answer is unequivocally YES!!!  I am currently coaching executives, doing keynote speeches and developing training nationally.  I’m grateful that my business is strong and yet flexible so I can balance work and family in a way that makes sense for us.  Stella & Dot only adds fashion, fun and more opportunity to do what I love while connecting with other women, and I have to add…the extra income is nice icing on the cake!!

When I think about this huge life change for me and my family, I could have sat back and let life lead me where it may.  But I’m not wired that way.  I’m wired to be a leader.  A positive change agent.  A role model for my children.  A partner to my husband.  A builder and supporter of successful, happy women.  A value-adder.  I’m someone who wants to make a difference, and only I can take the initiative to lead that charge.

I am a woman and I am a leader…and I’m going to lead change with style…and fully enjoy the ride!!  Want to join me?

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life. 

A Loss for the Broncos; A Win for Tebow’s Leadership

Talk about a blowout.  The New England Patriots did just about everything right in Saturday night’s NFL playoff game.  If you’re a fan of the Denver Broncos, not only were you disappointed in such a butt-kicking loss, but you were saddened to see their ‘against-all-odds’ run, led by quarterback Tim Tebow, come to an end.

Like most of the world, I am fascinated by the media attention given to and the resulting impact of Tim Tebow.  This athlete is like no other quarterback, sports professional or even celebrity we’ve ever seen!

Because of his outspokenness, Tebow caused John 3:16 (his favorite Bible verse) to be a top-trending search on Google.  And, this isn’t the first time he’s done that, either.  His name is adorning headline after headline – some reinforcing his encouragement, some criticizing it.  Nonetheless, he’s without a doubt one of the most talked-about people in our nation right now.

There’s just something different about him, don’t you agree?  It’s that something that has everyone talking.  I think that something is his leadership.

Tebow demonstrates leadership in a way we don’t often see, and from a position that hasn’t often been leveraged to this extent off the football field.  He is an outstanding model of four key leadership principles that we can all learn from.

He’s not afraid to be different. 

How many people can really say this?  Not many from what I’ve seen.  We all have these “little voices” in our heads that undermine our confidence, and instead of allowing us to stand-out, cause us to conform to everyone else.  We want to be liked and accepted.  We want to be in the “in-crowd.”  We want to fit in with everyone, perhaps being at the “top” of everyone…but not so much that it would cause us to be different.

But the best leaders, the ones throughout all of history that we can all point to, they are all different.  They are non-conformists.  They are passionate about their different way of thinking.  They know it’s their difference that will make all the difference!  Abe Lincoln took an unpopular and different stance against slavery; Martin Luther King, Jr. had a different dream for equal rights; Steve Jobs took a different approach to give most people access to computer technology; Tony Hsieh addressed customer satisfaction differently by creating and nurturing a happy workforce.

The list could go on, but the point is clear: confidence in thinking differently breeds innovation and change.  You can’t be just like everyone else and lead people to someplace new.  For Tebow, it’s leading people to Christ, and he’s not afraid if that makes him different.  (By the way, he’s also proud to be the first homeschooled athlete to win the highly notable Heisman Award, because it provides a great example of homeschooling success, for both academics and extracurricular activities – another big difference versus “traditional” thinking.)

He models humility and service to others. 

Tebow is known for serving his teammates, his community and children with severe illnesses.  He easily gives away credit where it’s due, and his interviews reflect a heart not eager to be famous, but rather to make a difference.

For every game, Tebow brings a sick or terminally ill child and his/her family to spend time with him before and after the game.  He genuinely cares, and although he wants to win a football game, he seems more passionate about putting a smile on a child’s face.  His actions inspire long-time sports fans and writers alike.

During a game, he is known for encouraging his teammates, giving grace when mistakes are made and keeping energy levels up.  When a perfectly thrown pass is dropped by a receiver, Tebow is likely to help his teammate blow off the mistake, because he “still needs to catch the game-winning pass.”

Like a great leader, Tebow makes his presence known, not for self-serving purposes, but to somehow make life better for those around him.

He provides hope and vision.

There are so many things about Tebow that seem to be “unexplainable.”  His unorthodox style of quarterbacking has experts both baffled and frustrated when it results in a win for his team.  He helps us to believe in the unbelievable – for some, perhaps a step into Christian faith, for others, a simple belief that the underdog can win.

Tebow has overcome doubters and obstacles all his life; starting from birth, when his mother was advised to abort him after receiving medical treatment when she didn’t realize she was pregnant.  During his college years, he received numerous awards and honors, including launching a non-profit on campus and making philanthropy “cool” for college kids.

As a professional NFL player, Tebow, who may not be the most consistent quarterback, uses the platform to provide hope to fans, viewers and teammates.  He often comments about the importance of relationships he has built with his players and coaches.  And, perhaps, most importantly to him, he is helping millions of people to believe in something bigger than themselves.  He is consistent in his behavior and words, making it hard for people do doubt his belief or intentions….which only leaves them with hope that maybe, just maybe, there could be truth in what he is saying.

Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted as saying, “a leader is a dealer in hope.”  Tebow provides a vision filled with hope.  His actions even have coined a term called “tebowing” and he is one of the most popular NFL players, with his jersey and fathead likeness flying off the shelves.  It’s hard to argue that people don’t want more of what this leader is dealing.

He is passionate and purpose-driven.

Millions of people are Googling Bible verses.  Sexy magazines are polling people about the value of virginity and waiting until you’re married.  People everywhere are seeing the value of giving back, or even just being a person of integrity.  Tebow is making values seem “cool” and it’s motivating people to mimic him.

Like all great leaders, Tebow is passionately focused on his purpose.  He is unabashed about it, despite heavy criticism by some.  The criticism doesn’t sway him.  Ever.  He is focused, fully-believing in what he’s supposed to be doing with his life.

Tebow’s unwavering may be what is most convincing to others.  His confidence and passion in his purpose seems to stir something in all of us.  After all, don’t we all want to better understand what we’re here for?  Purpose is something that most people want to better understand and claim for their own lives.  Tebow seems to know his with clarity.

People want to follow a leader who is this sure, this passionate about his purpose.  We want a piece of the dream, and we want to be marching behind someone whose intentions are this clear in getting us there.

Tebow many not be the best NFL quarterback in history, and who knows if he’ll even be a starter next season.  Regardless, he’s made his mark on the world, and he’s made millions think and hope.  And, I don’t think he’s going away any time soon.  I think he still has more leading to do.

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life.