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Are You a Trusted Agent?

I’d just finished a four-day program in China for a long time culture client. The work with the Asia region leadership team couldn’t have gone better. I was packing for the next day’s flights back to the US and called my wife, Diane, to check in.

Diane had experienced a gallstone attack the previous day. She felt terrible and was at risk of going into septic shock. And I wasn’t there to help her.

Diane’s adult kids – my step-children – live close by us. Daughter Karin and son Andy – and their spouses – were totally on top of things. They got her checked into the hospital, coordinated with the nurses and doctors, communicated with me with detailed information about the plan, and stayed with Diane through much of her hospital stay.

Diane had an endoscopic procedure to pull the gallstone on Thursday (Friday in Asia, when I was flying home). That procedure went well. The doctors then decided to remove her gallbladder as they were confident there were more stones “ready to block the bile duct again.” That laparoscopic procedure was scheduled for Saturday.

I returned to Denver late on Friday night and was able to see Diane before her surgery Saturday, along with the kids and spouses. We hung out and visited Diane after she was returned to her room after recovery. Diane was released from the hospital two days later and is recovering nicely.

Our kids acted as “trusted agents” for Diane in my absence. They didn’t miss a beat. They coordinated with Diane, me, the hospital staff, and many more players, seamlessly. They were active participants in discussions and decisions. They were dedicated to Diane’s care and acted as a unified team with “one mind, one heart, and one voice.”

They had my back – and Diane’s.

I learned about trusted agents from a fine man and good friend, transitioned US Marine Raphael Hernandez. The US Marine Corps is one of the most values-aligned, high performance organizations on the planet. Their operating teams are crisis response expeditionary forces focused on specific threats and tasks around the globe. Marine Corps members align to this important, great purpose.

Raphael explained that trusted agents are like-minded players – peers and bosses – who have common values and shared goals. You trust them with your ideas and hopes – and they don’t use either against you. Trusted agents act in service to each other, all the time, every time.

While deployed in Iraq in 2004, Raphael worked with one of his best Marine commanders. Raphael was the director of operations, responsible for transporting 2500 Marines to Kuwait then to bases throughout Iraq. Raphael’s boss trusted him completely. Raphael shared ideas, concerns, plans, and questions with no fear whatsoever – and with no negative repercussions from his boss.

Improvised explosive devices (IED’s) throughout the country caused the team to fly most Marines to their bases for their safety. Approximately 100 Marines were transported via convoy to escort heavy equipment that could not be flown in Marine C-130 fixed wing aircraft. Raphael’s commander could have taken the safer route by flying. Instead, he chose to ride in the convoy with his Marines, along with Raphael, facing IEDs all along their route.

They arrived safely. By the commander’s choice to put himself in harm’s way, trust in him and in his decisions skyrocketed.

Convoys may not be part of your daily operations like they are with US Marines. You can, however, act as a trusted agent – serving others, supporting others, valuing their ideas, efforts, and accomplishments, at work, at home, and in your community, every day.

Who are your trusted agents? What do they do – how do they act – to deserve your trust and confidence? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © ALDECAstudio – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Happiness Factor

Male Owner Of Coffee ShopIt was nearly dark when I arrived at the resort in Colorado Springs. I was there to speak with veterinarians, practice leaders, and team leads who were attending an annual leadership institute.

Since the resort was only 90 minutes from our mountain home, I could drive. No airplanes, no security lines – just driving.

When I parked to go check in, I noticed someone in the brightly lit offices in front of me. An employee – a woman – was in her office, probably wrapping up her day.

She was having a fine time – dancing boldly through her office. Dancing! She probably didn’t realize that the office lighting meant her moves were clear for anyone outside to observe. And, she acted like she didn’t care if others could see in.

She was grinning from ear to ear. I couldn’t hear any music but she was bouncing to the rhythm of whatever she heard! She’d pick up a file and dance across the office to the cabinet where she stored the file. Then she’d dance back.

I watched for a couple of minutes. It put a smile on my face. “There,” I thought, “is someone who really loves their job.”

Happy employees generate great returns for your business. Yet many work environments are dull and frustrating for employees. Many work environments are so competitive that they are cut-throat. Employee engagement suffers.

Trust suffers! A 2014 Interaction Associates study found that only 40 percent of employees trust their leaders.

How can you gauge the health or quality of your work culture? Observe how leaders and employees interact with each other for a few days.

If employees in your company gossip . . . bend the rules to benefit themselves . . . withhold information that could help others . . . or worse, most employees are not going to be happy.

If leaders in your company discount or demean others or others’ ideas . . . spend more time and energy finding fault then praising effort . . . don’t delegate authority and responsibility to talented, engaged employees . . . or worse, most employees are not going to be happy.

When employees are happy, productivity goes up. A 2014 study by the University of Warwick found that happy employees outproduce unhappy employees by 12 percent.

When employees are happy, customer service goes up. Clients who implement my proven culture framework see customer service rankings rise by 40 percent.

When employees are happy, my clients have seen results and profits improve by 35 percent.

Some organizations really get employee happiness. The see employee happiness as the first step in creating a vibrant, successful, sustainable company. They align practices to ensure great performance by happy employees.

One of those companies – Madwire in Loveland, CO – was recognized by GlassDoor as the best small & medium company to work for in 2016 – as rated by employees. Madwire’s employees rate the company at a 4.9 on a 5.0 scale. 100 percent of employees would recommend the company to their friends, and 100 percent approve of the co-CEOs.

Employee happiness is within reach. It demands that leaders be intentional about the health and quality of their team or company’s work environment.

By observing how leaders and employees interact, you’ll see gaps. You’ll see that your culture doesn’t treat players consistently with trust, dignity, and respect.

How can you refine your team or business’ culture? By crafting an organizational constitution and holding everyone – including yourself – accountable to living those agreements, every day.

Do you dance at work? Do your leaders and team members enjoy work so much that their smiles shine brighter than the sun? Or are employees happiest when they’re leaving work – to go serve their passions? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Monkey Business – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The “AM” in TEAM

You’ve seen the poster that states “there is no ‘I’ in TEAM.” That statement promotes the absence of individuals on effective teams.

That’s a crock. Every team has individuals. When those individuals align to the team’s purpose, values, behaviors, strategies, and goals, you have a shot at that team being productive and inspiring to serve upon.

When those individuals don’t align to the team’s purpose, values, goals, etc., you have a shot at being one of the world’s worst teams.

We need to look at the “AM” in TEAM. What do I mean by that?

I mean that individual behaviors of team members are critically important. Every individual team member acts the way they think they should, daily. If some act in self serving ways, they do so because they think that’s the way they should act. Their self-serving behaviors are probably being reinforced daily – by being rewarded, by being tolerated, etc.

If some act in cooperative, aligned ways, they do so because they think that’s the way they should act. Their serving-the-team behaviors are probably being reinforced daily.

The “AM” in TEAM means that individual team members need to look at their own behaviors – their individual plans, decisions, and actions – as team members. They need to ask themselves, “How AM I behaving as a team member today?”

If individual team members answer this question honestly, they may discover “I AM protective. I don’t share information or my mistakes with team members.”

Or “I AM indirect. I don’t clarify exactly what I need from my team mates, so they frequently don’t give me what I need.”

Or “I AM clique-ish. I support my two friends on the team and withhold support from team members who aren’t my friends.”

Or “I AM critical. I frequently and loudly point out other team members’ mistakes and short-comings.”

An aligned individual team member, answering this question honestly, may discover “I AM supportive. I praise others efforts and accomplishments promptly.”

Or “I AM involved. I coordinate efforts with team members so we’re all in sync with our projects, deadlines, and customers.”

Or “I AM connected. I make it a point to learn about my colleagues outside interests – be it their kids, running, snowboarding, football, whatever – and engage with them about their interests regularly.”

Or “I AM kind. I smile when I see teammates. I say ‘Hello.’ I wish others well, regularly.”

This powerful question – “How AM I behaving as a team member today?” – can help individuals understand the degree of their cooperative interaction across their team. Once they understand how cooperative they are (or aren’t), they can shift their behaviors to be more aligned, more cooperative, more of service to their team.

Effective teams don’t happen by default, they happen by design. Leaders must engage team members to examine their behaviors to ensure everyone is productive and aligned while being treated daily with trust, respect, and dignity.

And – leaders can be proactive by crafting an organizational constitution for their team, and ensure everyone aligned their behaviors to it.

How would you answer the “AM” question? What aligned team member behaviors were demonstrated in your “best ever” team? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Kzenon – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Is your emergency brake on?

manual brakeHave you ever driven your car with the emergency brake on?

Newer cars won’t let you drive with the “parking brake” on without beeping at you or flashing lights on the dash. Some older cars, though, will let you drive on.

It’s a humbling experience. You get in, start the car, fasten your seat belt, look both ways, then proceed to your destination down the road.

The car doesn’t respond right, though. Acceleration is slower. Braking is amazingly quick – not as you typically expect. There are funny noises – unusual ones – coming from underneath the car. If you keep driving, those squeaks get louder. There may even be smoke coming from your wheels.

This just won’t do. You have to release the brakes to get the full benefit of your car’s abilities – it’s motor, smooth and safe handling, etc.

I find a lot of organizations operate with their emergency brakes on. Teams, departments, regions – even whole companies – find themselves “driving” a “vehicle” that doesn’t respond right.

In organizations, it’s not just one brake that causes problems. It’s many brakes.

One brake might be the absence of common goals. If people compete against each other, the overall organization suffers. Individuals may meet or exceed their goals but people don’t help each other. They may withhold information. They may cheer others’ mistakes and failures.

Another might be unclear goals and strategies. If leaders don’t know the right path, they’ll stumble – so their teams will stumble. If players don’t know exactly what’s expected of them, they’ll struggle to contribute.

Another brake might be micromanagement from bosses. Leaders don’t delegate authority or responsibility to talented, engaged team members. Leaders must touch every decision, no matter how small. Team members who are fully capable of making decisions independently are not allowed to use their brains. They are pawns, awaiting the decision of leaders above them.

Distrust is another big brake in organizations. If you set me up to fail, over and over again, I’ll not trust that you have my best interests at heart. If you promise to get me that report by noon today but that deadline passes with no response from you, I’ll not trust your word in the future. If you give me that report on time but it isn’t of the quality the project demands, I’ll distrust the quality of your work moving forward.

Other possible organizational brakes are lack of respect . . . unfair practices and policies . . . favoritism . . . fear . . . and more. The list goes on and on.

All of these brakes inhibit aligned effort, employee engagement, great service experiences, and consistent results and profits.

How do you know if you’ve got any of these brakes operating? Engage with players. Observe. Ask. Don’t defend – listen and learn.

Fix the issues that are raised. Don’t ignore them – repair them.

Then, proactively create a high performing, values aligned workplace with an organizational constitution – so the brakes are never on again.

What brakes are on in your organization? How does your team stay on top of brakes – and eliminate them quickly? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © terex – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Make a Difference by Closing The 3 Gaps

share_02 (1)The start of the new year is a perfect time to reflect on one’s life. There are a lot of things you’re doing right and a lot of things going perfectly for you. And, there are probably things that aren’t so perfect.

You can’t serve others if your own life isn’t fully inspiring. Your ability to make a difference – to yourself and to those around you – grows when you focus on what’s important to you each day and when you spend more time on those things each day.

Hyrum Smith‘s new book, The 3 Gaps, provides concise guidance to help you do just that.

Hyrum is one of the original creators of the Franklin Day Planner and co-founder of both Franklin Quest and Franklin Covey. Since 1984, he has been teaching people how to gain better control of their personal and professional lives through values-based time and life management. I’ve been a huge fan of Hyrum’s since learning his Reality Model back in the late ’80’s, hearing him speak, and crafting a friendship over the years. Hyrum is one of the kindest, smartest, and most dedicated humans I know.

The 3 Gaps presents Hyrum’s best thinking, founded on new research, about the vital gaps in our lives and how to close those gaps.

What are the three gaps? They include:

  • The Beliefs Gap, the gap between beliefs that lead to behaviors that meet our needs and beliefs that do not. Not all of our behaviors meet our needs. This books helps you understand and revise the beliefs underlying those behaviors.
  • The Values Gap, the gap between what we value most in life and where we actually invest our time and energy. If we’re not aligned to our values daily, we experience dissatisfaction and unhappiness in our lives. Hyrum guides the reader to craft their own “personal constitution” to help them measure the congruity of their choices.
  • The Time Gap, the gap between what we plan to do each day and what we actually get done. Most of us create goals in life. To achieve these goals, we must be intentional with our time and energy. And, we’re not consistently good at investing our time and energy effectively. The book presents tools to help you maximize what gets done in the time you have.

When you align your values, beliefs, and time, you’ll be happier, have more energy, and enjoy greater capacity to make a real difference in your own life and to those around you.

Close your three gaps by following the formulas in Hyrum’s new book, which launches this week. Download a free sample chapter or buy a copy at your favorite bookstore.

What’s one gap that inhibits your best self today? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © The 3 Gaps. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2015 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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