Leadership Requires Making It Permanent

What a Railroad Can Teach You About Leadership

Leadership Requires Making it Permanent

In previous installments, I have been trying to challenge you to accept and use tension as a tool for establishing best practices. In addition, I have challenged you to use constant evaluation for ensuring the course of business is following the stated business plan. In this installment, I want to challenge and encourage you to recognize markers for ensuring integrity long after the business plan is established.

On the railroad project, the importance of this concept was evidenced in the need to set the rail in small units such that the shape and integrity of the track were established to carry the locomotive and passenger cars over the long haul. The project utilized spikes and spike plates every few feet to ensure the shape of the track was maintained. The project required the crew to think both short-term and long-term when securing the track. An outdoor track will experience a wide variety of weather and use conditions requiring each plate to hold its position and maintain the shape of the track. The same principle impacts effective business leadership.

Leadership requires individual and group markers to be established to ensure individual and organizational integrity long after the work is completed.

Tension created shape and shape allowed the crew to lay a course for the business of providing rides to tourists. A spacing tool ensured that our course was useful to the steam engine used to transport tourists from a loading zone back to the point of origination without disruption and injury. The final aspect of constructing the track reflecting leadership related to how the track was held in the designated shape long after the project was completed. In other words, getting the rail to the desired shape was only one part of the process. After the crew got it to the desired shape, there needed to be a method to hold it in place long after the crew left the premises.

The crew used spikes and spike plates to achieve the desired outcome.

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Be There and Be Punctual

Leadership Basics

Be There Be Punctual

Today marks the first in a series that I am calling “Leadership Basics.” These will be short and quick tidbits that will help focus on some of the things that I believe are fundamental and basic to being a great leader.

Be there

This one is so obvious and simple. Be there. You could also say be present. and you could say be visible. But, whatever you do, be there. Leadership is not a remote control activity. As leaders, we must be present and we must be visibly on the scene whenever anything big is going down.

Too often we like to show up for the big event if it is going to be fun and celebratory. That doesn’t take leadership and guts. How about showing up when the activity is going to be tense and potentially contentious? Are you there? Or are you conspicuously absent?

Be punctual

I do not know anyone who doesn’t possess a cell phone or smart phone. These devices have had clocks, watches, and alarm functions almost since the very first ones came on the market and were mounted in your car! There is really no excuse for being late. Period. Full stop.

Will it happen from time to time? Of course. You can’t always plan for every potential delay that you will face as your move about. But, better to leave early and arrive early than to leave without enough contingent time built into your schedule to account for the occasional traffic accident or blinking traffic light.

Why does this matter?

I am currently blessed with an incredible mentor. He is teaching me

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Be A Lighthouse

Leadership Lessons from a Lighthouse in Maine

Be A Lighthouse

Photography has always been a passion for me. And one of the things that I love to capture with my camera is a lighthouse on a clear day. Recently, my wife and I spent a week along the coast of Maine. This is a beautiful area of the country and if you have not visited this part of the country, you have missed some gorgeous scenery. And you have missed some spectacular lighthouses.

We all have an image in our mind of the quintessential lighthouse. It is likely the lighthouse at the tip of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. It is the tallest lighthouse structure in the U.S. One website that I consulted declared it as the tallest of the 437 lighthouses listed according to their height. It stands at a height of 210 feet. Many will recognize it because of that beautiful diagonal stripe painted on the tower that supports the light. I have not seen it yet, but I understand it is worth the trip.

The lighthouses that we saw last week were much shorter in height than the one on Cape Hatteras. My favorite lighthouse was the one at Cape Neddick Point. It is known as the Nubble. By contrast to the one at Cape Hatteras, the Nubble is only 41 feet tall.

Now wait a minute! Isn’t the height the central and most important feature of a lighthouse?

It was during this trip last week that it dawned on me that the central and most important feature of a lighthouse is its “light” and not its “height.” After all, it is called a lighthouse and not a heighthouse!

What is the leadership lesson from the Cape Neddick Lighthouse?

The leadership lesson from the Cape Neddick Lighthouse is that one of our primary functions as leaders is 

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Leadership Requires Constant Evaluation

What a Railroad Can Teach You About Leadership

Leadership Lessons from the Railroad-2

In the first installment of this series I drew a parallel between the tension needed to flex a straight piece of steel to create an oval train track and the tension necessary to create growth in business professionals and organizations. In the second part of this series I will discuss the importance of constant evaluation and review and compare that to the need for two tracks to be kept parallel and equally spaced to ensure the locomotive and passenger cars remain on track from point-to-point in a rail system.

Parallel tracks warrant that passengers will remain safe from point-to-point in a rail system. To ensure that a track is parallel requires the installers to constantly evaluate and assess the distance between the two rails. In our project, the construction supervisor kept assessing our placement of the rails before allowing us to drive spikes in the rail ties and secure the track in place.

LESSON #2Leadership requires constant evaluation and review to ensure the desired path carries the organization to the intended outcome.

The foundation that an organization establishes is similar to how we guaranteed the track was laid appropriately to carry the train from a designated starting point to the corresponding end point. The crew was required to certify every rail would safely carry tourists around the historical grounds. In laying the track, the tension and shaping of the rail was only as effective as the care given to ensure the tracks were parallel and equally spaced in relation to each other. The train, without parallel tracks, was sure to derail resulting in broken equipment and lives. The most important tool used in the project evaluated and assessed the distance between the two lines of rails.

The rail enthusiasts we worked with continually evaluated and assessed the distance between the two rails with a simple tool made from a piece of wood cut to ensure that when placed between the two rails the distance from one side to the other was constant and matched the width between the two wheels on the steam engine and the cars that carried passengers. Even the slightest divergence in the space between the rails required action to eliminate the deviation. It was not long into the project before the work crew knew the importance of the spacing tool and the need to measure our achievement in placing the rails on the ties in the appropriate alignment.

In organizational leadership, similar tools are required to ensure that the progress being made is measurable and meeting the desired outcomes. We measured in small increments to ensure that a small deviation did not result in a significant problem. In addition, we all faced the reality that honesty was better then denial in using the information we found using our spacing device. Evaluation and assessment do not always require complicated formulas or tools. Many times a simple device will provide the necessary data to achieve consistent performance. Consistent performance will ensure foundational results. And, foundational results will establish a long-term path to organizational and individual growth and development.

Adaptation to the benefits of tension and constant evaluation of progress ensure business practices guide individuals and organizations toward desired outcomes. Evaluation and assessment also aid the individual and organization in measuring progress toward ensuring the satisfaction of customers and elimination of issues related to defective products and services. The third, and final, lesson in this series will parallel the need to secure the track for the long-term and the importance of implementing a business plan which sets the course for practice and productivity.

My goal is that you will be able to identify tensions and how these opportunities contribute to the success of the established business plan. Additionally, I want you to be able to identify available methods for evaluation and assessment of a business plan to yield desired outcomes. In the final installment of this series, I will identify individual and organizational markers to aid you in securing a successful completion of a business plan long after it is established.

Special Guest Post by David Ruhman Bio PhotoDavid Ruhman – Please see his short bio below.  Reach out to him via email and check out his blog via the links below in his Author Bio.  And watch for more posts from Dave in the coming days.

Busy

Maybe too busy?

Busy

When you look at your blog and realize that several weeks have gone by since your last post, you are too busy! Consider this passage.

“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth for someone else to spend.” Psalm 39:6 NLT

Well, I don’t know about the wealth part of that sentence. But, I find myself rushing around a lot lately. Perhaps I should slow down and enjoy what God is doing around me right now.

So, that is a little bit of what my beloved and I are doing right now. We are stopping (albeit we chose to “stop” in Maine instead of where we live) and we are spending some time reconnecting with one another and talking about some important things that we don’t always find the time to talk over at home.

Recently she was in the same room and she listened to me while I was on the phone with a very dear friend and thought-leader that I often use to bounce ideas around and see if any of them stick. We were discussing a writing project that I have and he was asking some pointed questions. My wife has not heard me discuss this project much and that conversation that she was able to listen in on has provided a golden opportunity for us to slow down from our busy lives and actually talk about some things that are important to each of us.

What is the leadership lesson here?

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Kevin Bowser Finalizes Book Deal

Signing the Contract

Today was a great day for me and for Leadership Voices, LLC. This afternoon I completed the negotiation and finalized the contract to write a book with the help and support of all the great folks at Lucid Books.

I am humbled and honored to be a part of the great family of authors and writers that have been published by Lucid Books. Casey Cease has built an incredible team. They have been unbelievably helpful as I began the process of developing another writing project.  They have coached and encouraged me and they have also provided valuable insights and guidance as I am working my way through the process.

Kevin & Casey

If you have ever thought about writing a book, or you have a book idea in your head that you have not taken beyond the idea phase, please talk to the great team at Lucid Books and experience the joy of working with the great professionals that are there to help you get your idea out of your head and into a book.

Watch for more news to come as this book project takes shape.

I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad

What a Railroad Can Teach You About Leadership

Leadership Lessons from the Railroad

Effective leadership is fashioned through activities, which chisel away excess material revealing the masterpiece within. One summer I learned a lot about leadership working with troubled and troubling teens constructing a rail system for a local historical society in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. What I learned about leadership resulted from specific steps executed in the construction of the track. The project revealed three distinct lessons regarding leadership. The result of the investment made in the project and the people was an increased capacity to exercise effective leadership skills.

This article will detail the first in a series of three lessons learned during the construction of a small-scale, full-sized rail system for a local historical society. In subsequent installments, the second and third lessons will be shared. Each lesson stands alone; however, the three lessons combine to produce a compound effect. Personal application of each lesson is suggested to aid the reader in maximizing the transferability of the applied concept.

Lesson #1: To shape individual leadership skills requires varying amounts of tension.

The first observation on arrival to the site was

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Details Matter

Leadership Lessons from Disney World

Details-Matter

She was wiping off the trash can. Not only did she clean the outside of the trash can, she was actually cleaning the inside lip and edges of the opening where you throw the trash as you walk by the can.

Many companies care about the cleanliness of their environment. But very few take it to the level that you see at one of the Disney parks in Orlando, Florida. After all, no one really sees the inside edge of a trash can. And although you may not see it, your hands are very likely to encounter the edges of the openings to the trash cans. And Disney does NOT want your memories and experiences after you leave Disney to be sticky, stinky, and gross. That is why someone wipes down and cleans both the seen and the unseen areas of a trash can.

So, what is the leadership lesson from this observation?

The leadership lesson is

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Big Ideas

Leadership Lessons from Disney World

Big Ideas

Great leaders have BIG ideas. Not every one of them is necessarily big. But some of them must be.

Consider these words and the idea that they represent.

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

Those are the words of Walt Disney himself. He made that statement on the What Is Disneyland television program on October 27, 1954. In those words, Walt Disney expressed the incredible power of even a small idea. The idea was a cartoon mouse that would ultimately propel Walt and his brother Roy into the place where they could do, and would do, incredible things.

“He popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner. Born of necessity, the little fellow literally freed us of immediate worry. He provided the means for expanding our organization to its present dimensions and for extending the medium of cartoon animation toward new entertainment levels.”

Walt Disney wrote an essay in 1948 essay entitled, What Mickey Means to Me. In that essay, he recounts the “lowest ebb” and the “disaster” and describes it as an intellectual property theft of two things. One was the theft of his earlier and successful cartoon character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. And the other was most of the Disney artists that worked with him early in his career.

But focus on the idea that popped out of his mind.

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