Leadership Greatness through High Performance Poetry

Innovation demands that we seek different and distinctive ways of stimulating our imaginations. This may be achieved by making an association through poetry, which is not often seen as a companion of business thinking. It is the other soft skill. Hopefully you are open to this additional insight.

book_of_poems

High performance poetry is an invaluable vehicle for expressing leadership greatness. This art form emphasizes key elements of achievement and helps to cultivate development for personal and professional gain. “Leadership above the Rim turns out to be a shockingly original collection of poems by Orlando Ceaser, a manager-cum-poet who shares them at team meetings and when his direct reports are promoted.”1 This comment from the Financial Times magazine was an early confirmation of the radical insight found in poetry.

People go to work and school and keep their gifts or their light hidden from their peers. Those with a gift of poetic expression will shy away from putting it on full display due to a perceived negative stigma. However, poets can be important to business. Poets have keenly developed powers of observation, outlook and curiosity that lead to investigation and interpretation. These powers can lead to leadership greatness and high performance if we harness the inherent strength of the language and imagery.

Poets use their senses to gain a better understanding and appreciation of their world. They are introspective, intuitive and deep thinkers who are able to view a situation from many perspectives. They are used to experimenting with different approaches. This can be very helpful in leading people and running a business.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a poet as:

  • Gifted in the perception and expression of the beautiful or lyrical
  • A creative artist of great imaginative and expressive gifts and special sensitivity to his medium.

The poet has inspirational words for winning, has a vocabulary for victory and can speak effectively against the language of losing. The poet is a panoramic thinker. The poet can use

high performance poetry to link the vision and mission of the organization to desired outcomes. Further, through conversations with their peers, poets can help you sell the vision and the goals of the organization. They can approach a subject, such as business, with the radical insight that could lead to inspiring innovation in ideas, products and services. Their observations and perspectives will add to brainstorming and problem-solving sessions.

High performance poetry focuses on using achievement-oriented language to encourage and celebrate excellence. Dana Gioia, a poet with extensive business experience, is a graduate of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and the former Vice president of General Foods. In addition, and quite notably, he is the past Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts. As he rose up the managerial ranks, he felt he had “an enormous advantage over his colleagues because he had a background in the imagination, in language and in literature.”2
In a business setting, high performance poetry allows people the use of language, through stories and metaphors. Through these stories and metaphors, the poet is able to paint a positive and attainable picture of the company’s vision. On a deeper level, the poetic communications will touch the hearts of people to build trust and engagement.

The poet may be the introvert in the room, deriving their energy from absorbing everything around them and processing it later in the day. They may be the creative ones, who are insightful, observing and analyzing problems from many different perspectives. They may see things that others don’t see, mainly because they are looking. In my book, The Isle of Knowledge, I tell a story about my friend Buttons from my childhood. During our walks around the West side of Chicago, Buttons was always finding money and other things of value. I tried to match his skill, but with little success. His secret was that he was always looking down and therefore, had a greater opportunity to find things. He was looking where the treasure was located. The poet is always looking for treasure in the places where they reside.

They are always observing, always using their senses, always connected and involved in the world around them. Identify the poets in your midst. Whenever possible, be sure to include them on cross-functional teams and you will be rewarded with a higher performing team that will exceed your expectations.

Another quality that poets bring to the table is a love for experimentation. Their use of metaphors, similes, allegories and hyperbole are some of the ways in which they explore different portrayals of the current reality. At work, they use the same talent to experiment with different solutions, searching for more than one right answer, to improve the quality of decision-making.

It is beneficial to know the poets in your organization and to encourage their expressions of creativity. When these individuals and others focus on high performance poetry, they will leverage their talent to help you utilize and maximize the innate abilities within the team.

You may have heard that poetry and business do not go together. However, this perception may hinder people from exploring and experimenting with a valuable perspective. The high-performance poetry featured in this book will help employees examine its use for achieving their goals. This perspective, if harnessed, will improve the culture within your business in a myriad of ways.

Max DePree, former CEO of the Herman Miller furniture company, tells a story in his book Leadership is an Art, which is a part of the Herman Miller company history. It is a story about a millwright. “In the furniture industry of the 1920’s the machines of most factories were not run by electric motors, but by pulleys from a central drive shaft. The central drive shaft was run by the steam engine. The steam engine got its steam from the boiler. The boiler, in our case, got its fuel from the sawdust and other waste coming out of the machine room – a beautiful cycle. The millwright was the person who oversaw that cycle and on whom the entire activity of the operation depended. He was a key person. One day the millwright died.”

One day the founder of Herman Miller went to the house of the recently deceased millwright. While visiting his home, the widow asked if the young manager would mind if she read some poetry aloud. After listening to her read beautiful poetry, he asked the author of the work. She replied that it was her husband, the millwright. For years the young manager and others at Herman Miller who were apprised of the story wondered,” was he a poet who did millwright’s work, or was he a millwright who wrote poetry?”3


High performance poetry will start you on the path of discovering more about the people in your group or organization. It will help you to explore various aspects of the work experience. It will illuminate and elucidate human motivation and the desire to innovation on an even grander scale. This greater understanding of people will be instrumental to the team’s commitment to exceeding expectations.

Max Dupree goes on to say, “understanding and accepting diversity enables us to see that each of us is needed. It also enables us to begin to think about being abandoned to the strengths of others, of admitting that we cannot know nor do everything. This simple act of recognizing diversity in corporate life helps us to connect the great variety of gifts that people bring to the work and service of the organization.”4 Leadership greatness can be achieved through many avenues. Achieving leadership greatness through high performance poetry is another way to experience the variety and versatility present within your team. I trust that this book will assist you in extracting and multiplying the greatness around you and within you.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface

Acknowledgments

Adapting

An Ancestor’s Apprentice

Ask (Acquire Selling Knowledge)*

Athletes Leading As Role Models – (ALARM™)

Be humble as you hustle

Be strong to the finish

Championship Thinking

Circle of Excellence*

Coming Through in The Clutch

Confessions of a Corporate Climber

Do You Ever Want to Spin with Me?

Follow through

Front-line Leadership*

He Makes Leaders for a Living*

Habits and Hustle

Hustle

I Am Not the One

I am in sales

I Am the Good

Faith Effort

Imagine a Company Anarchy On Demand

Inertia

Intellect Fulfilled is an Awesome Thing

It Is Time

Keep the Ones We Love Alive (Drive

Defensively)

Last Will and Testament

Leadership in a turbulent Season

Leadership is Allowed

Let them Lead

Make your own good news

My time and my touch

Obstacles

Passion makes you cry

Paying your dues

Peace

Quest for meaning*

Quotas and forecasts*

She is not too old

Someone you may never know

Stronger together

Structure

The Box

The Hunger

The Lady and her Legacy

The Leader Within

The Mark*

The Old Guard and the New Way

The Third Quarter of Life

The Temple of Wasted Time*

The Unabridged Life*

The Un-led

The Year in Review

Uncertainty

Universal Coach

We are committed

What will you be known for?*

When I say diversity, What do you hear?*

When we announced the merger*

Where is the diversity?

Whether Report

You have been chosen to lead*

About the Author— Orlando Ceaser 

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31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 29 – Burnout

Scrolls Burnout

 Burnout occurs when we try to do all things and be all things to all people. When we bite off more than we can chew and much more than we can digest. When we are running 100 miles an hour and need to reduce speed and take a rest, but we ignore the warning sign and keep going. Burnout occurs when we fail to acquire the skill to shape our lips and say No.

Burnout has three definitions that I would like for us to consider. The first two are from the Oxford dictionary.

  1. the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion.

  2. the failure of an electrical device or component through overheating.

The third is from http://www.helpguide.org which defines burnout asa state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. … Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.”

Together these definitions describe a situation where an individual is physically and psychologically drained. This is not a desirable state in high performance individuals or organizations. We are more productive and more valuable to our company and families if we develop strategies to preserve our overall health.

I coined the phrase, “we will kill you if you let us.” This was spoken because I saw people with good intentions, deny their families, allow the workplace to encroach into their living rooms by failing to structure their time and priorities properly. They refused to delegate or ask for help when the workload was too high.

When the burden is great and before it is too late, we must slow down. Review the poem, Slow Down and make a list of tactics you will use to improve work/ life effectiveness. This is a phrase that many organizations use instead of work life balance, because they realize that balance may not be possible.

 

Slow down

How many signals do you need?
A mind is tired,
A body fatigued;
A heart is idling
At high speeds;
As you push harder
To succeed.

You’ve seen examples
Of careers,
That crashed and burned
In overdrive.
You’ve seen the sorrow
In your peers,
Who lived each day,
But never alive.

You better slow down
Before you go down
For the count.
You’re running red lights
And go to bed nights
With what amounts
To a weary heart.

How long have you seen
Warning signs?
How long have you been
Scorning signs?
You awake and
The morning lines,
Are unkind,
For you can’t unwind.

You better slow down
And get the low down
On your soul.
Don’t let the red zone
Lead to a headstone
On the goal.

How many signals do you need?
A mind is tired,
A body fatigued;
A heart is idling
At high speeds;
Create the balance
And succeed.

Copyright © 2001 Orlando Ceaser

Reprinted from Leadership Above The Rim

By Orlando Ceaser

Personal Reflections

  1. What can you do today to slow down?

  2. What activities can you remove from your plate as you delegate?

  3. Who do you know that has a reputation for being well organized?

  4. What books or other resources can you on time management?

  5. How do you prioritize what’s important to accomplish?

  6. How can you need more of your work at work?

  7. Do you schedule time with your family?

  8. Do you schedule time with your spouse to decompress and relax?

Working Weekend

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com.

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

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31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 28 – Courage

Onyourside

Courage is not the absence of fear but proceeding in its presence. Courage is not necessarily acts of bravery against a life-threatening adversary. Courage can be defined as a situation where you are prompted to rise, step forward and risk something, to benefit yourself or others. You must be willing to go to the front of the line to demonstrate bravery. Therefore, Courage is not always about us. It is performed as a practice, a template, a role model to benefit others.

There are instances during a day or a season when you are being watched by your family, group, team, peers and community. How will you respond in difficult situations? When a fear generating dilemma appears, there is a courage stimulating response that is required. How will you respond? Will you be brave?

When an intimidating moment appears in the leadership gauntlet, it is a perfect opportunity to stand up, show courage and be on the front line and take the lead with your people. What does courage look like? It varies with the demand and the scale of the crisis. Courage could mean standing up for them when they are bullied by peers, strangers or management. It could be when unfair assaults on their skills, reputation and performance occurs during a meeting or performance review. Courage could occur during periods of uncertainty when patience and guidance are needed to help someone make it through a frightening predicament.

Courage could also manifest itself in the ability to show weakness, vulnerability, empathy and compassion. Courage provides the opportunity to let down your guard and connect with people. Look for opportunities to show people that you are on their side, that you can identify with them and fight with them. You can roll up your sleeves, join the fight and work with them.

Front-line Leadership

https://youtu.be/bhB6r02clVk

 

When in the clenches or against the ropes

Or in the trenches where it’s hard to cope;

When in the battle to succeed,

On the front line is where you lead.

To make decisions cowards fear to broach,

You’re on the field as player and coach;

To give followers what they need,

On the front line is where you lead.

You are the traction on a slippery slope.

Your plans and action are symbols of hope.

Momentum grows by word and deed,

On the front line is where you lead.

So, by example you show them the way.

You’ve rolled up your sleeves and joined in the fray.

For in the battle to succeed,

On the front line is where you lead.

Reprinted with permission from Teach the Children to Dance

Copyright © 2001 Orlando Ceaser

Personal Reflections

  1. How have you taken the lead to show someone that you are on their side?

  2. How can you demonstrate to someone that you have them back?

  3. Describe a situation when you weren’t there when someone needed you?

  4. Where do you need to show courage more consistently?

  5. Describe a time when you went to bat for someone.

  6. What situations are more difficult for you to show courage?

  7. What is the worst thing that can happen in most situations?

  8. Does the worst thing that can happen, consistently happen?

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser    

31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 24 – Curiosity

Noahcat (2)

As children we were told that curiosity killed the cat, but our response was always, but satisfaction brought them back. On one hand we accused curious people of being nosy. However, curiosity was a good thing when you were called precocious. Curiosity is a critical characteristic to possess. Cultivating the habit of being curious is a precursor to creativity and innovation. Employees who constantly approach products and practices with a curiosity lens, are an asset to you, for they will develop ideas to improve your organization.

A corporate culture saturated with curiosity is vibrant and expanding. These individuals examine the status quo to understand its origins, as they look for ways to improve design and execution to increase overall quality. One of the tools of the curious is an enhanced ability to ask questions. They know that the right question will provide them with the information they need to understand and improve overall performance. Why have we always done process, this way? Many professions depend on the ability to ask questions; lawyers, salespeople, counselors, coaches, teachers, parents, years, psychiatrists and lawyers.

Curiosity paired with questioning skills will uncover information needed in an environment of continuous improvement. Think of ways that you could be more curious and set up a process to establish a curiosity infused workplace. Have fun with it because it will be exhilarating.

 

A.S.K.

(Acquire Selling Knowledge)

 

We ask for trouble;

To be there on the double;

For affection, for directions,

For a dime.

We ask for the weather;

The shoes are they leather?

Was I blatant?

What’s your statement?

What’s the time?

Yet this three-letter word

Is forgotten, deferred,

By the greatest inquisitors of all.

We speak from our chair

With articulate flair,

But with rarely a question in the call.

In eloquent fashion

We probe with a passion,

For a date,

For a dollar,

For our due.

We ask for a dance,

A third second chance,

For advice,

For a price,

For a clue.

But we won’t inquire

To learn what inspires,

A customer to buy;

Their need, reason,

The why.

They are willing to share,

Who, what, when, how and where,

If we ask and listen to their reply.

Copyright © 2001 Orlando Ceaser

Reprinted from Teach the Children to Dance

Personal Reflections

  1. Are you creative?

  2. How do you cultivate a climate of curiosity?

  3. Since curiosity and creativity are often linked, what are you doing to grow either skill, personally or professionally?

  4. Are there certain people in your organization who are naturally curious?

  5. Have you developed the art of asking questions to seek information?

  6. Can you identify with the sentiment stated in the Ask poem above?

  7. What can you do to ensure that more questions are asked in presentations and conversations?

  8. Have you informed your people about the importance of asking the right questions?

  9. What kind of training or resources do you provide in the area of curiosity and asking questions?

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com.

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser    

 

31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 23 – Spiritual Leadership

MADEfocus (2)

New leaders, in my day, were given 3 pieces of advice. These words were to guide us throughout our business careers. These words could also be a gauntlet for any leader. They have been known to demolish the morale in an organization and destroy someone’s reputation and career. We were told to never get involved in conversations regarding sex, politics and religion.

A new leader had many areas to grow and we did not need to be distracted by these very volatile topics. We can debate the relevance of this advice today, but I would like address one of the topics in a positive way.  We frequently hear about the desire for employees want to bring their entire selves to work.  We cannot deny that spirituality is important for many people.

Spirituality is a key part of our makeup that defines who we are. Organizations may not discuss religion in the workplace, however many of them will provide space for people to reflect, study and pray at work. Organizations should be sensitive and aware enough to encourage religious expression, outside of proselytizing (recruiting) and making others uncomfortable.

Spiritual Leadership in our 31 Day leadership gauntlet refers to the way our spirituality influences our decisions and our interaction with others. It also covers how we express personal values that align with corporate values. Creating a climate where morality, respect, responsibility, integrity, caring and forgiveness are practiced, is essential for a respectful workplace.

 

The Lord is My Leader

The Lord is my Leader I shall not lack

Direction for He is standing at my back;

While in front of me He makes decisions

To meet my needs with ample provisions.

I shall not want for his abundance fills

My cup with affluence and as it spills,

As water flowing from a mountain top,

His goodness and mercy will never stop.

He mends my brokenness

And I find rest,

As He restores my soul,

He refreshes my spirit,

Changes my countenance

And makes me whole.

  

He leads me where the waters are still;

He tutors me as I study His will;

He comforts me in righteousness;

Though I walk through the valley

Of difficult times;

Disease, disasters and immoral crimes

I fear no evil for He

Protects me from my enemies

And loves me though there is sin in me,

And promises me an eternity

Of matchless splendor and serenity.

(Adapted from Psalms 23)

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Practical Reflections

  1. How can we address spirituality in a way that allows people to be comfortable at work while practicing their faith?

  2. Can people gauge from your behavior, the spiritual foundation that influences your leadership style?

  3. Can people of different faiths practice prayer and Bible study in your workplace?

  4. What role does God play in your decision-making process?

  5. Which spiritual values do you illustrate at work?

  6. Do you believe in the second stanza to be true? How powerful is your faith?

  7. God is making you whole as you read this. Discuss the importance of these words. The Lord is your leader.

  8. How are you resting on His promises and finding comfort in His words?

  9. God as a leader has a vision for your life. Discuss your thoughts about his vision for you.

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser    

31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 22 – Relapse

i believe-001

Developing new skills requires a change management mentality. New skills must be practiced and reinforced over time, with continuous application. The more powerful and experiential the training with total immersion in the new skills, will result in new behaviors that are sustainable.

However, you must deal with inertia, which is resistance to change. Secondly you must contend with the temptation to resort to previous behaviors in the face of difficulty. Observation and experience reveal that in a crisis, if the new skills are not firmly embedded in the subconscious, we revert to previous behavior. We retreat to what is known, comfortable and firmly established. We may discard the new information, new practices for the comfortable behaviors of the past.

If change is not fully incorporated into your rote memory or natural rhythms, you may easily relapse. Therefore, it is important to have powerful implementation procedures that are rapidly reinforced repetition to replace the memorized subconscious behaviors.

Additionally, you must firmly believe in your people and adhere to your leadership pledge to their success. In the heat of battle, turmoil or a crisis, remember that your long-term effectiveness as a leader may hinge upon the following. Your ability to be steady, call while refusing to relapse and abandoning new programs and practices for the old way of doing things.

 

Leadership Pledge

To value and respect you

For your accomplishments each year;

Reward your focus on the bottom line,

Elicit feedback and design

Improvements to work conditions

And ways to fight the competition.

To give clear goals, not good intentions;

Form tactics that defy convention

And set a course for the clients needs,

Sometimes at warp or breakneck speeds;

But always mindful as we advance

To keep egos intact and skills enhanced.

To value and respect you

For loyalty and candor,

For personal leadership modeled

When understaffed and at full throttle,

To praise you when change is prominent,

Receptive when stress is dominant;

And listen actively to your voice,

For you have freedoms,

You’re here by choice.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Reprinted from Leadership Above the Rim

Personal Reflections

  1. How do you demonstrate to others that you believe and trust them?

  2. What new programs have you put in place to improve the climate in your workplace?

  3. Think of behavior changes successfully implemented and what you did to make them work.

  4. Give examples of old habits that you have successfully replaced.

  5. What do you do to prevent yourself from relapsing into old habits? Give an example, personal or professional.

  6. Review information on change management to strengthen the intellectual and logical justification for your new practices.

  7. The element of surprise is a strong reason for reflex behavior. When you are caught off guard you may tend to relapse into old ways of thinking.

  8. Anticipation will help you stay with your new skills and let the old habits stay in the past.

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com.

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser    

31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 20 – Adaptation

Crystal Ball C

Survival is our strongest need, according to many philosophers. Abraham Maslow lists it among our basic needs, which we must fulfill before we move on to satisfying other needs on our list of priorities. Survival is dependent upon making the necessary adjustments to changes in our environment. We must include these adjustments, as a part of our evolving skills.

The quality of survival is linked to our adaptation ability, therefore our success in making adjustment to competitors in the marketplace or whatever environment surrounds us.  Our objective is to aim higher , rather than barely making it. We do not want to do just enough to get by. We want to thrive and prosper. A standard of living above the baseline of existence is a desirable goal. But to achieve this enhanced quality of life, we must make continuous adjustments to our behavior.

The poem Adaptation addresses the adjustments we need to make educationally, relationally and professionally to improve our prospects for higher earning power and fulfillment of purpose. Charles Darwin wrote about the survival of the fittest and that holds true in the development of species and in developing a personal profile competitive enough to make it in the business world. Adaptation encourages the survival of the fit; those who take the time and make the effort to anticipate challenges and respond to change. Only progress is satisfactory. Movement is essential to momentum.

Adaptation

 

This is what the world has come to,

If you’re lost, you’re left behind.

So, you need something they can’t

Take from you,

A treasure stored within your mind.

Survival has a new battle cry,

“Learn to adapt or learn to die.”

The work is becoming more difficult;

Best practices rapidly obsolete;

The business that focuses on results

Lacks tolerance for those who can’t compete.

You try to fail if you fail to try,

“Learn to adapt or learn to die.”

Distractions are greater, and times are hard,

And there are numerous reasons to quit.

Your peers may entice you to disregard

Being versatile and mentally fit.

I caution you to look them in the eye

And say learn to adapt or die.

Innovation is a survival tool;

Flexibility a requirement.

Those who survive and ultimately rule

Always adjust to their environment.

Industries and species that don’t comply,

“Learn to adapt or learn to die.”

 

There are many reasons to not achieve

But you owe it to yourself to attempt

To climb the mountain, but you must believe

The goal that was not captured was not dreamt.

Distinction or extinction will apply,

“Learn to adapt or learn to die.”

Copyright © 2011 Orlando Ceaser

 Personal Reflections

  1. How have you changed in the last year?

  2. If someone has not seen you in several years, what change would they notice?

  3. How has your business environment changed?

  4. What adjustments have you made or must make to keep up with new demands in your profession?

  5. How have you adapted to the technological demands of your profession?

  6. How do you stay on top of matters that require your attention?

  7. Alvin Toffler mentioned that technology has accelerated in this world of high tech, but we have not changed that much socially, in something he calls high touch. How are you socially keeping up with the times?

  8. How are you adapting to find time for the ones you love?

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com.

 

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser