Tag Archives | Integrity

5 Tips from Lee Sklar

10308554_10152120369101430_3067860134782587280_nI’m a working musician on the side. I’m blessed to be a part of a talented, values aligned band that loves making music that makes people dance and smile!

I see (and have written about) a lot of parallels between music teams and business teams. A recent MusicRadar interview by one of the finest musicians on the planet, Leland Sklar, really rang true for me.

Lee has played bass on over 2500 albums for artists as varied as BB King, Phil Collins, James Taylor, Hall & Oates, and Lyle Lovett. He’s a sought-after studio and tour musician. And, he’s a genuinely nice guy. His world view is interesting & entertaining, and he engages willingly with fans on social media.

What’s Lee’s approach? What does he do – to get hired again and again – that countless other musicians don’t do? Lee says, “It’s not about bringing your chops (skills) to the date – it’s what kind of energy and professionalism you bring with you and how you improve the creative process.”

By tweaking Lee’s language a little for business application (with his permission – thank you, Lee), let’s apply his insights to the question, “How do you make yourself a valuable, sought-after business team member?”

Learn As Much As You Can
“It behooves you to bring as much facility and versatility” to your work opportunities as you can. Refine your skills constantly. Toss rusty, less valuable skills while building needed skills nimbly. Be proactive – don’t wait to be asked.

Learn The Language & The Tools
In the music world, musicians that can sight-read sheet music have a huge advantage over musicians that can’t. Every business has frameworks, systems, and approaches that it prefers. Be adept at your company’s language and tools. Study. Speak up with suggestions. Inquire why. Be skilled at your company’s foundational methodologies.

Personality Counts
“Be somebody that people get along with.” Be nice. Be a positive person in every interaction. Be engaged – if the team is reviewing progress and performance, don’t text or email; be present & offer insights. Be enthusiastic! Be the person that moves things forward, nicely. “Be the person you’d hire if it was your business.”

Stay Healthy
You can’t effectively serve anyone else if you’re not 100% healthy – spiritually, mentally, and physically. Take good care of yourself so you can contribute genuinely, happily, and consistently. Drugs and alcohol incapacitate you. “If you go on stage and you’re messed up, you’re disrespecting your fellow musicians and audience members.” Eat right. Sleep right. Exercise. Repeat daily!

See the World
“Anything you can do that makes you a better person will be reflected” in the work you do. Don’t sequester yourself! Take advantage of opportunities to see different companies. Go to customer sites to learn how they use your company’s products and services. Talk with people. What you learn, see, and hear can help you see the world from their eyes . . . and adapt to serve better.

What is your experience? What tips would you add to this list? Please share your insights, comments, and questions in the comments section below.

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway: the Great Boss Assessment and the Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

My next book, The Culture Engine, will be published by Wiley in September 2014. Pre-order your copy now! Subscribe to my weekly updates to get free resources, insights, and news on my book launch.

Get the “Inside Scoop” on Chris’ Book Launch!

Photo © Courtesy of Leland Sklar. All rights reserved.

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

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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Tied for First

Business Finish LineQuick – note down your top four personal values, the desired principles that guide your day-to-day plans, decisions, and actions.

If you’ve formalized your personal values, this exercise took mere seconds. If you’ve not formalized them, it probably took a bit longer.

You can’t consistently act on your values unless you understand them. Formalizing them is a really good thing. You’ve just done the first step, which is identifying desired values. Then, add your definition for each value. Finally, include three or four behaviors for each value, behaviors that ensure you’re effectively living that value day to day.

Here are my life values:

  • Integrity – Definition: Do what I say I will do. Behaviors: Formalize my commitments with clear agreements. Keep my commitments. Live my values and behaviors.
  • Learning – Definition: Actively seek out information that builds new knowledge and skills. Behaviors: Scan the environment for current research and discoveries that enlighten me. Refine my skills often; toss antiquated approaches for improved approaches. Proactively share my learning so others benefit.
  • Joy – Definition: Celebrate the pleasure derived from doing things I’m good at and which serve others well. Behaviors: Be happy; if I’m not happy, change it up so happiness is present. Surround myself with happy people who see the good in others. Engage in the grace I feel when serving others well.
  • Perfection – Definition: Deliver excellence. Behaviors: Deliver what I promise, on time and under budget. Exceed standards or expectations where possible. Consistently WOW my partners and customers.

Have you prioritized your values so you know which ones are more important than the others? Or, are all of your personal values “tied for first?”

There is a school of thought that says prioritizing values is the best way to act on them, especially under pressure. For example, if you had “safety” as your top value and “service” as your number two value, safety would take precedence over service. A safety issue would demand action even if it meant service would be negatively impacted that day (or hour).

Another school of thought says that all of your values are of equal, top priority. If you’ve outlined your values, why would you make one more important than another?

I believe the best approach lies somewhere in between. Start with the belief that your values are all tied for first, and understand that your values are in “dynamic tension.” Reality, time constraints, emergencies, etc. will require you to act on only one or two values at a time! Acting on certain values while setting other values aside, even for a moment, will require you to circle back and apply any valued behaviors that were “passed over” in that instance.

So, if you acted on your “safety” value and inhibited “service” for a time, you would follow up with the player (or players) that you missed the service value on to explain what happened and make amends as soon as possible.

How do you manage competing values? What suggestions would you add to address values in “dynamic tension”? Please share your insights, comments, and questions in the comments section below.

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway: the Great Boss Assessment and the Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

My next book, The Culture Engine, will be published by Wiley in September 2014. Pre-order your copy now! Subscribe to my weekly updates to get free resources, insights, and news on my book launch.

Get the “Inside Scoop” on Chris’ Book Launch!

Photo © istockphoto.com/petesaloutos. All rights reserved.

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

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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Choose Your Play

Good dogAre you doing what you’re great at? And what you love to do? And you’re paid a living wage to do it?

And – a hugely important consideration – you’re serving others well while you’re doing it?

I believe that’s the ultimate sweet spot for each of us. Yet sometimes we settle for less than all four of those important elements.

When we settle, we may put a cap on our own joy – and on our ability to contribute to our company, family, and community.

If we find a career doing something we’re good at and are paid fairly for, but aren’t doing what we love and aren’t serving others well, we’re not going to be happy in the long run. Nor are we likely able to be our best every moment.

If we finds outlets – volunteering in your community or YMCA, for example – that let us engage in activities we’re good at, love to do, and serve others well but get little compensation for, that’s a good thing! Activities like these may be a small portion of our week or month (several hours, maybe), but they feed our soul. We’re grateful for these inspiring hours.

What, though, if these inspiring, engaging activities don’t offset the many more hours you spend in an unfulfilling career? What then?

We can choose a different play, a different stage, and a different role – one that does fulfill us daily.

The path won’t be easy. But it may be worth the time, energy, and risks to find that inspiring sweet spot.

Two acquaintances shared with me recently the stories of their spouses who embarked on very similar mid-life transitions.

One was an architect. She’d earned an architecture degree, gained her license, and joined the AIA. She found a well-paying job. She was successful. But she didn’t love it; she didn’t feel she was serving others as well as she could.

After fifteen years in the field, she quit. She went back to school to study to be a registered nurse. She earned her nursing degree and has found a great job. She loves what she’s doing. She feels she’s serving people beautifully. She’s found her sweet spot.

Another friend’s spouse was a successful sales person and sales team leader. She was well-paid and successful over a twenty-year career. And, she didn’t love her work. She couldn’t tolerate going through the motions so she applied at veterinary school. She was accepted and quit her sales job. She headed off to school this month.

She’s so excited she can hardly stand it. She can’t wait to finish her doctoral program and serve animals (and their owners) in a veterinary hospital.

You may not be in a position to quit your job and go back to school for your “perfect,” inspiring job. But you may have a good idea of activities that could be a source of inspiration for you.

If your job isn’t in your sweet spot, engage in activities that nourish your soul and serve others well. Pay it forward – those you serve will be inspired by your actions.

What job or activities fall into your unique sweet spot? In what ways do you nourish your soul and serve others? Please share your insights, comments, and questions in the comments section below.

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway: the Great Boss Assessment and the Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

My next book, The Culture Engine, will be published by Wiley in September 2014. Pre-order your copy now! Subscribe to my weekly updates to get free resources, insights, and news on my book launch.

Get the “Inside Scoop” on Chris’ Book Launch!

Photo © istockphoto.com/andresrimaging. All rights reserved.

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

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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Be Yourself

iStock_000019135640SmallI’ve been struck recently by people’s chosen personas – the way a person chooses to act in his or her situation.

People on opposing sides of issues were in meetings I facilitated or observed. In one case, the members of an opposing side chose to disconnect, to not engage.

They limited their involvement in the proceedings. Their leader was the puppet master – the members of that team watched their leader closely to get clues about how to act, whether to speak, whether to share ideas or pose solutions.

In another case, the members of an opposing side took a very active role. They engaged in the activities. They shared their experiences, their thoughts, even their hopes. Their leader was simply another team member who was equally participative and engaged. People were free to dialog with no strings attached.

In their meeting, the flow of ideas, the understanding of others perceptions, and the team’s active involvement helped move both sides towards potentially breakthrough solutions that all can support.

The leaders of these two teams chose very different personas. Each chose their role. Just like a talented actor or actress, these leaders immersed themselves in their “character.” They each played their role as they felt their role should be played.

In the first case, the role inhibited progress towards a mutually beneficial solution. In the second case, the role enabled that progress.

When you choose a persona, you are masking your true self. You are playing a role – for a day or a month or a career – that is different than who you really are at your core.

The “acting” required of any persona requires energy to maintain. It can be exhausting! When you invest great energy in a persona, you have less energy available to you to engage in the aligned activities that might inspire you.

It can get more complex. I’ve seen people play multiple roles in their organization – and each role requires a different persona. One would have to work hard to keep the personas consistent – acting one way on a project team, for example, but acting quite differently on your own functional team.

It requires effort to keep the personas straight, to remember which role you’re playing in which situation.

Why do we engage in these personas? There are dozens of reasons. The persona might be one a parent played or it might be one your boss demands of you.

Your organizational culture can place role demands on you. If you live in a cut-throat, “I win, you lose” culture, you may have to embrace a cut-throat persona to survive.

If the roles you play or the personas you present exhaust you, you might be acting in conflict with your true self, your personal purpose and values.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

How can you be yourself? Start by being intentional about your true core by defining your personal purpose, your “reason for being” on this earth, and your personal values and behaviors.

Once you clarify your purpose and values, it is less likely that you will invest time in roles or personas that are contrary to your purpose and values.

Reduce the energy invested in mis-aligned roles or personas. Be the best self you can be, in your family, your workplace, and your community.

Please share your insights, comments, and questions in the comments section below.

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway: the Great Boss Assessment and the Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

My next book, The Culture Engine, will be published by Wiley in September 2014. Pre-order your copy now! Subscribe to my weekly updates to get free resources, insights, and news on my book launch.

Get the “Inside Scoop” on Chris’ Book Launch!

Photo © istockphoto.com/merzzie. All rights reserved.

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

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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Prioritize Your Values

iStock_000017529275SmallWhen values are clear, decision-making is easy.

This week a Russian TV reporter quit her job over the coverage of the downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over war-torn Ukraine.

“It’s the level of disrespect for the facts that really bugs me,” Sara Firth explained. She described that reporters were ordered to cast blame on the Ukrainian government or other factors instead of on Russia.

“I couldn’t do it any more,” Firth said. “We’re lying every single day … and finding sexier ways to do it.”

Sara’s values include respect for the facts. When confronted with a job role that demanded disrespect for the facts, she chose to leave.

Once you clarify your personal purpose, values, and behaviors, you can see plans, decisions, and actions in a very different light.

That intense light enables you to see values gaps with greater clarity. That brings you to a “fork in the road.” Will you follow your values or will you discount your values, “going along” with mis-aligned actions?

Sometimes the choices we face regarding values alignment are not quite so simple. You may hold values that compete with each other at times. How can you resolve that conflict?

Let’s say that you hold these three values: stability, integrity, and family. You work hard to provide stability for yourself and your family while demonstrating integrity at the same time.

Your three values are “all tied for first place.” You strive to behave in ways to honor these three principles in every moment. No one of these values is more important than another.

However, real life (and work) causes a constant push and pull on our values. They’re in “dynamic tension” every day!

If you find yourself in a similar situation to Firth’s – your job demands behavior that is not aligned to your values – you must choose how to respond.

You could quit your job – but that would severely impact your stability value for you and your family.

You could engage in discussion about the values conflict. The best scenario would be that you help your team or company change their approach so the values disconnect is diminished or eliminated.

The worst scenario is that the approach does not change – and you still face the values conflict.

A third response might be to put your head down and do your best – while beginning a job search for a more values-aligned opportunity.

To make our values more actionable, I believe we need to prioritize them. Prioritized values lets us prioritize values conflicts so we can address the most important gap first.

If you evaluated your three values in order of importance, you might come up with family as your first value, integrity second, and stability third. (Some of you are already debating these priorities in your mind! You might have a different order than what I’m suggesting.)

With these prioritized values, your response to the sample values conflict might be easier to justify and embrace. The third choice would seem to be the most aligned, to me.

Are there additional choices you would suggest? I would love your insights – add them in the comments section below.

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway: the Great Boss Assessment and the Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

My next book, The Culture Engine, will be published by Wiley in September 2014. Pre-order your copy now! Subscribe to my weekly updates to get free resources, insights, and news on my book launch.

Get the “Inside Scoop” on Chris’ Book Launch!

Photo © istockphoto.com/BettinaSampl. All rights reserved.

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

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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