Lucky and Leadership

Lucky and Leadership

How a Horse Named Lucky Taught Me a Lesson in Leadership

reed laws your employment solutionsI was standing in 4-inch thick, perfectly combed dirt ready to face one of my lifetime fears. The indoor arena had a light chill and dust could be seen swirling in the air. A dozen of us, teamed up in pairs, were standing face to face with an 1100-pound, ready-to-kill-you animal. It’s eyes intimidating, the power it held was extraordinary and with one swift kick: you could be dead. My heart was pumping at a high rate as I recalled a childhood memory of falling off one of these creatures.

I signed up for a 2-day, hands-on leadership course where a good majority of classroom time didn’t involve using desks. The classroom was held in an indoor arena and the “hands on” portion was to lead and direct a horse.

You read that right, a horse. I hated horses. I guess I didn’t really hate them, but I was certainly afraid of them. “I paid money for this,” I thought to myself. “How in the world does this have anything to do with leadership training?”

This course guaranteed 4 leadership outcomes:

  1. Confident Humility
  2. Being Responsible
  3. Motiving with Fierce Resolve
  4. Being a Genuine Partner.

For this article, I will solely focus on Confident Humility and explain how this four-legged creature dramatically changed my view on leadership.

What is Confident Humility?

“Confident Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis.

horse training toolStanding in the middle of the arena the instructor held a device in her hand and explained how the tool was to be used. This tool, called a carrot–not the vegetable but a device–if used correctly, would help lead and guide your horse. This carrot is about 10 feet in length and looked much like a 6-foot rope tied to the end of golf club shaft. The tool was to be used for two reasons that oddly seemed to contradict each other. First, the carrot was used as a calming mechanism, or to help create a safe environment for the horse. Second, it was used as a whip or a way to help motivate the horse to follow directions.

My turn came far too quickly and the carrot was now being gripped tightly in my hand. I followed directions given earlier with perfection. I slowly lifted the carrot over the horse and then softly allowed the rope portion to slide over the head, neck, back, and then hind quarters. I would lift and repeat this pattern until I felt a safe environment had been reached.

“Good job everyone” the instructor said. “The next challenge is walking backwards.”

Still nervous and trying to slow my heart, I told the instructor I have been doing that for years and personally showed her. “This dirt isn’t going to slow me down!” I shouted, sarcastically. She gave me a courtesy laugh and said it was now the horses turn. I took a deep breath, lifted the carrot and with a horrible attempt, tried to back up the horse. I failed. My second attempt didn’t fare much better, fail. Third, fourth, fifth, sixth, yep you guessed it, all failed. As my attempts continued I started to feel the horse’s frustration.

Seeing my lack of progression, the instructor asked me to pause momentarily and asked me a very simple but powerful question. “What is the horse doing?” Not allowing me to answer her question, she walked away.

What is the Horse Doing?

“What is the horse doing?” I asked myself. “What IS the horse doing?” I asked again. “I’ll tell you what the horse isn’t doing,” I mumbled under my breath. I guess this comment was a bit louder then intended, as I noticed the instructor looking at me and laughing.

I have taken dozens of leadership courses, embedded myself into networks and boards, listened to hundreds of books and podcasts, spoken at high school and college events and have even made myself vulnerable enough to organize a leadership event for high net worth CEO’s and Presidents, yet I found myself miserably failing a simple task, getting a horse to take one step backwards.

Then it happened, the ah-ha moment of Confident Humility, one of the leadership outcomes. The timing was perfect and the instructor knew it. Watching me struggle, calling a time-out, asking me a question and then walking away was all part of the experience. I had it all wrong, I was so focused on me and my success I lost sight of what the horse was thinking, or in this case, doing. I was irritating the horse by trying to force commands rather than working with or leading the horse.

confident humilityMy focus was now where it should have been, on the horse. Repeating the same techniques, with the carrot, and a bit more confidence and poise, the horse walked backwards.

On day two of the training course I once again found myself standing in 4-inch thick, perfectly combed dirt, ready to face one of my old fears. The indoor arena had a light chill and dust could be seen swirling in the air. A dozen of us, teamed up in pairs, where each ready to stand face to face with a 1100-pound animal, and the power they hold is truly extraordinary. So extraordinary that in one day, a horse named Lucky helped teach me an important lesson about leadership: Confident Humility.

Reed Laws
Your Employment Solutions

 | Google+ | YouTube

Your Employment Solutions is Utah’s best staffing agency!

The Four Cornerstones of YES

Having a Solid Foundation is Key to Success

Recently I had the opportunity to sell my old house and move. In some ways, it is exciting and fun to look forward to a new adventure, but on the other hand it is stressful and a ton of work. All of a sudden I am thinking about how solid and put together things are or what needs to be fixed at the new house. There seems to be an unending list of things that need to be fixed or “tweaked” a bit to make sure the house is working properly and in good condition. Not only at the new house but also at the one that we were selling. Man, am I glad it is over. Now I just have the next 10 years to unpack and put everything away.

foundation inspectionDuring the beginning stages of the buying of the new home we hired an inspector who goes around the home and highlights all the good and bad, including the areas that show wear and the areas that need to be fixed. The foundation is always checked and focused on. Why? The whole home depends on it. As the foundation goes, so goes the rest of the house.

A Solid Business Foundation

The same principle goes for any business. There has to be a solid foundation for a company to be successful. It is a great idea to occasionally assess a business foundation to make sure you are headed in the right direction and building appropriately. During difficult times, the foundation is something the company can rely on. This is also true during the good times or growth of the company so that it has something solid to build upon.

At Your Employment Solutions, we have four main cornerstones which we have built our company upon.

four cornerstonesCornerstone 1 – Our Business

First, “Our Business.” This includes our mission statement of, “Delivering the right people on time the first time.” The ability to match the employee with the right client ensures success for both the client and the employee.

Cornerstone 2 – Relationships

Second is our “Relationships” with those we work with, both vendors and clients. As our relationships improve we create an environment where we can have open discussions for the improvement of the working relationship. There has to be honest and open communication to be able to maximize the objectives both parties are working towards. It is the only way to really get down to the core of the problem and find a solution.

Cornerstone 3 – Processes and Operations

Third, our “Processes and Operations.” These include the processes we use to properly vet, qualify and place our potential employees with our clients. Each client has their own qualifications to hire an employee. YES has to make sure we appropriately “on-board” our employees for each client by following their requirements.

Cornerstone 4 – Our Team

Finally, “Our Team” – at YES, we try to consistently train/develop our staff and empower each other to do what is right.

Having a solid foundation is key to success in business and in our own homes. A solid foundation gives us confidence and is something we can rely on in the good times and the tough times – it is something to build upon. If a foundation is not done right, or as we move further away from the foundation – mistakes will increase/multiply. The foundation YES is built upon is solid and as we continue to grow our four key cornerstones will help ensure our continued success.

Kerry Westenskow
Your Employment Solutions

Connect With YES!
Facebook | Google+ | YouTube

Getting and Keeping Your Employees Engaged at Work

keeping employees engaged at workWhen your employees are engaged, they are productive, positive and less likely to quit because they are satisfied with work. As a business leader, it should be your goal to make sure that your employees feel engaged and satisfied while they are at work. So, how do you get (and keep) your employees engaged in the office? Here are some guidelines:

Don't be afraid

When you manage your company out of the fear of people quitting, they will never be engaged. Push yourself to be a great leader and encourage your team to be the best possible. When your team accomplishes something great, all the push is worth it. A team that isn't seeing any accomplishments is composed of the wrong people or working from the wrong plan.

Be transparent

Your employees need to know what's going on at all times if you want to keep them engaged. People are more engaged with leaders who share, sacrifice, communicate and hold themselves accountable for problems. Take ownership and fix this problem.

Start with Yourself

If you aren't engaged in your business, your employees won't be either. Set an example for others and engage along with them. Spending time with the people you work with will create a good relationship and encourage them to stay engaged and positive. When you engage with them personally, most people will become engaged professionally.

Get Rid of Poor Attitudes

No matter how talented an employee is, bad attitudes are destructive. A good team becomes a great team when it is only made up of positive people. Spend time with people and learn who the complainers are. Once you cut them, your team will be more effective.

Set short-term goals

Company culture is created from people and their accomplishments. You should set monthly or quarterly goals that employees can easily hit. These goals need to be discussed and appreciated. If everyone is pushing hard to achieve goals, no one will be unmotivated.

Getting and Keeping Your Employees Engaged at Work

Logan Laws
Account Manager | North Salt Lake Staffing Office
Your Employment Solutions

Facebook | Google+ | YouTube

Creating Effective Leadership

If you had to “draw” leadership, what would it look like?

effective leadershipAfter a year of interviews, data-mining, employee surveys, and over 10,000 management behavior observations, Google came up with the top 8 steps in creating an effective leader. Starting from the most important (1) and working towards the least important (8), Google found that most managers spend a majority of their time on the last step.

Step 1: Be a good coach

Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive.
Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees' specific strengths.

Step 2: Empower your team and DON’T micromanage

Balance giving freedom to your employees, while maintaining an open door policy for advice.

Step 3: Express interest in team members' success and personal well-being

Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work.
Make new members of the team feel welcome.

Step 4: Don't be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented

Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it.
Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.

Step 5: Be a good communicator and listen to your team

Communication is a two way street.
Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.

leader vs bossStep 6: Help your employees with career development

Career development isn't about just being promoted, it’s about growth, acquiring, learning, and sharing expertise.

Step 7: Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.

In the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused!
Involve the team in setting and evolving the team's vision and making progress towards it.

Step 8: Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team.

Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the team.
Understand specific challenges of the work.

Effective leadership is not based on experience, although it does help. An effective leader who can help promote, lead by example, share experiences, and knowledge defines a leader. Focus on the most important step, Be A Good Coach and work your way towards the remaining 7 steps to effective leadership.

Jordon Cissna
Account Manager | Ogden, Utah Staffing Office
Your Employment Solutions

Connect with Your Employment Solutions
Facebook | Google+ | YouTube

3 Leadership Styles Learned at the Ballpark

leadership and baseball

Leadership Lessons Learned from Baseball

There’s something special about a night at the ballpark. The warm weather, the foot-long hotdogs, the peanut shells crackling under foot, the man-made wave surging thru the crowd and, probably best of all, the crack of a bat sending a ball over the fence!

As one sits and takes in all the sights and sounds of the ballpark, it’s interesting to ponder the roles of all the people involved in the game. There are many types of people who can be found at a ballpark: security officers, concession stand attendants, mascots, fans, players, sports casters, etc.

In reference to the ballpark, a leadership coach from Petrous Leadership once shared an analogy with me about three specific types of people we can draw some serious leadership traits from. I’d like to elaborate on that lesson learned.

Leadership Style #1: The Parent

A parent of the players sits in the stand and has unconditional love for their child. They are sad when they don’t perform well, they are ecstatic when their child does something special and the player is eager to perform to the best of their abilities because their parents are in the stands.

A “Parent Leader” is one who has great desire for their employees to perform to the best of their abilities. They are compassionate for their employees when they fail and encourage them to try again, reassuring the employee they’ll do better next time. Their employees appreciate the compassion of their leader and do their best to impress their leader.


parent leadership
coach leadership

Leadership Style #2: The Coach

The primary goal of a player’s coach is to develop talent and position players in a way to build the strongest team in order to win as many games a possible. They teach players new techniques, improve their performance thru drills and practices, reviews film of previous games and critiques errors. A coach is less compassionate than a parent. They will punish players for making mistakes by being more strict on them in practice, making them do more drills, make them run more laps and motivate them to improve in order to get the player to sharpen the skills that came up short in the game. They praise top performers with game balls and MVP honors.

A “Coach Leader” is one who teaches their employees how to perform to the best of their ability. They are not as compassionate as a “Parent Leader” if an employee makes a mistake, rather they discipline the employee, correct the error and may have to micro-manage the employee until they prove they are able to perform up to the “coach’s” standards. They are great motivators and encourage teamwork to achieve company goals and encourage employees to finish projects. They recognize top performers with praise, employee-of-the-month honors and sometimes bonuses.

Leadership Style #3: The Umpire

The umpire of the game is responsible to ensure the rules of the game are followed to exactness and must have an eye for the tiniest of details. They have to make tough calls if a player is out or safe, sometimes with split seconds to decide. They have zero compassion for who’s trying their best or who deserves to win the game. They have a black and white view of the way the game is played and they must enforce the rules.

An “Umpire Leader” is one who has no concern for the people they manage. They are very stringent about company policies and procedures. They are strict about employees being a minute late or not finishing their work on time. They have no sympathy for personal problems affecting the employees and they demand results and timelines. They don’t care if you tried your best and they are not concerned about your technique or helping you improve. They rule by the book and it’s their way or the highway.

umpire leadership

Managing The Triple Play

When we look at these three examples, it’s important as a leader that you find a balanced leadership style and learn to possess portions of each style. Having too much of one style will not allow you to be a successful leader. You’ll also find that you need to manage certain employees with a different balance of leadership styles than with another. Some employees and/or industries may require more structure, discipline and strict deadlines while other employees and/or industries require more compassion and caring. It’s important to know what balance works best for you and your team.

A day at the office can be just as fun and euphoric as a night at the ballpark. All you need is the right balance of leadership styles infused with passion and determination.

It wouldn’t hurt to also have a “Wacky-Wardrobe Wednesday”, a “Foot-Long Friday” or a “Seventh-Inning Stretch” from time to time! Heck, just take your team to the ballpark, enjoy the real-deal experience while teaching them these three leadership styles and write it all off as a “Leadership Training” expense. ;)

Jarum Stone
Training & Safety Manager
Your Employment Solutions
yes safety

Connect With YES!
Facebook | Google+ | YouTube

Constructive Criticism at Work

Offering Constructive Criticism in the Workplace

constructive criticismMany experts say that when offering constructive criticism at work you have to stay positive with your employees. That when someone does something wrong on the job that you should start by telling them the good that they are doing. I think that is a very solid way of building a healthy, positive work environment and is something that should be practiced a lot more.

It will make offering constructive criticism easier, and the reception of said criticism more favorable, if the employee or coworker consistently hears more positive than negative in the workplace.

The 80/20 Rule

I used to tutor children with autism for about 4 years. The golden rule for children to learn is 80/20. We strived for more success with every teaching session. If we weren't keeping 80% positive and successful with their learning the children wouldn't improve.

We have to do the same with our own employees. Make sure we give them enough responsibility to succeed. Set them up to do well. That way if/when the day comes that an employee don't reach a goal or need to improve in a specific area we can let them know what they've succeeded with and then help them on what they need.

But What If They Fail?

If a worker makes too many mistakes we then need to pull back the reins on their responsibilities. If they are failing more then succeeding, odds are we haven't done our jobs as managers. Sometimes an employee just doesn’t have the skill set to accomplish a required task and possibly need additional training. This isn’t always the case though and I believe, more often than not, it turns out that a poor-performing employee just has too much to do and aren’t able to keep 80% positive.

We need to try and strive to make sure our employees are succeeding more than failing. It makes it much easier to give them constructive criticism, and genuinely try to help them improve, when a mistake happens.

Brigham Yates
Director of Client Relations
Your Employment Solutions

Facebook | Google+ | YouTube