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4th Gear Blog

3 Questions That Will Tell You If You Are Leading Others

Posted by Randy Hall

Oct 16, 2014 3:52:18 PM

I get to work with a lot of good leaders, senior executives and rising business superstars.  These emerging and accomplished leaders have a few things in common that separate them from the others.  One of these things is their definition of leadership. Leadership is one of those words that we think can be defined in terms of preference or style- as if there is no right or wrong way to do it.  Unfortunately for businesses, having this mindset means people can call themselves a leader because of their title, not because they actually lead. If a salesperson stopped selling for very long, they wouldn't get to keep the title of salesperson.  If a builder stopped building or a driver stopped driving, the same fate would be waiting for them. But, if a leader doesn't lead, we simply say that's just HOW they lead.  Why would we allow bad management to just be considered a different form of leadership, when we wouldn't settle for that in many other jobs?

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Topics: Leadership, Leader

Creating a Culture of Client Service

Posted by Bethany Swartz

Sep 17, 2014 10:00:00 AM

If you are like me, you go through the day interacting with many people and very rarely stop to evaluate those interactions.  In any given week, I might visit ten or more businesses as a customer or client.  From getting gas, to buying lunch, dropping my child off at daycare, a doctor visit, or running into the pharmacy for toothpaste...I have multiple opportunities as a consumer to be wowed.  Yet ask me to pinpoint the last time I had an exceptional customer experience and I for the life of me cannot think of one. Similarly, ask me to recall when the last time I had an awful customer experience was, and I will also struggle. Am I walking through life with blinders on?  Am I spending too much time reading emails on my phone and not paying attention to the wonderful levels of service I am receiving out there?  Or am I simply not experiencing anything worth remembering?

It is often stated that consumers are more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one….yet the sheer lack of a negative experience is not shown to improve customer retention or loyalty. Giving a customer an experience that matches their expectations- no more or no less- will not help your business retain those consumers.  

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Topics: Employees, Leadership, Company Culture, Leader

5 Ways Questions Can Make You a Stronger Leader

Posted by Randy Hall

Sep 11, 2014 2:18:05 PM

As I work with leaders to support them in their development I find myself discussing the importance of good questions a lot. When we get right down to the tactical changes that leaders need to make to be more effective, increase the capability on their team or change the culture of their organization, asking great questions is usually a part of those changes. Questions are one of the most powerful tools a leader has to inspire, develop, support and engage their team. I don’t subscribe to the theory that there is a secret to leadership but asking well thought out questions is a skill and a habit that may just come close to that silver bullet some people are searching for.  

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Topics: Leadership, Leader

The Art of Transparency

Posted by Bethany Swartz

Aug 28, 2014 10:22:00 AM

As leaders, it is critical that we are able to engage with our teams, be seen as trustworthy, and position ourselves to lead with influence.  One way to accomplish this is to increase the level of transparency throughout the organization.  In fact, a recent survey indicates job seekers value transparency in a company more so than a fun, relaxed, or casual environment.* Why?  Because people want to feel connected to more than a set of tasks.  They want to trust their leadership, feel connected to their company, and spend their day among people they can relate to and fit in with.  

While there are many ways to display transparency,the most important are to remain consistent, appropriate, and genuine in your attempts.   I use the caveat “appropriate”  because like many things, transparency is a balancing act.  As a leader you can quickly cross the line or unintentionally give others the wrong impression of who you really are and the type of leader you want to be.  Show too many cards and you risk offending others or having your team lose respect for you as a leader; don't show enough and people will question your intentions, think you are a know-it-all, or struggle to build a trusting relationship with you.  So, where is that line and how do you walk it?  In my opinion, there are three ways to master the art of transparency all while maintaining a boundary of respectful behavior.

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Topics: Building Relationships, Employees, Leadership, Employee Engagement, Trust

Blog Roundup: Culture Change

Posted by Bethany Swartz

Aug 20, 2014 11:42:17 AM

Change is necessary, inevitable, and not always easy. As an individual, managing our own change is challenge enough, but as a leader, managing change throughout an organization filled with various teams, departments, and employees takes additional capabilities. Planning for it, following a process that works, and committing ourselves to the change can make all the difference. The following blogs were pulled together to help support you on your change journey and represent our views, lessons learned, and tips on change management.  We hope they help and as always, feel free to reach out for guidance, support, or coaching along the way!

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Topics: Building Relationships, Employees, Employee Engagement, Hiring, Onboarding

Trust and Leadership

Posted by Randy Hall

Aug 14, 2014 1:38:45 PM

There have been scores of books, blogs, and articles written on the importance of trust in leadership. Most experts, authors, gurus and thinkers agree that without trust you cannot lead. You may be able to herd,or coerce, or corral, or even intimidate, but you cannot lead. And while leaders everywhere would probably agree that this is true, there are very few who know how to go about defining and building this much needed trust. I say defining and building because it’s almost impossible to build, create, or work towards something we can not define. If we relegate trust to that set of things that are simply up to others and we have no influence on them, then we are left to hope it happens. Hope by itself is not a great strategy for a business or for becoming a more effective leader. How we define trust has everything to do with how we set out to create or influence it.

There are probably thousands of definitions for the word itself. Webster’s dictionary goes with: belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc. I don’t think many people would dispute this statement, but it doesn’t necessarily help us create a path toward building trust. Consider this definition:  Trust happens when people believe we have their best interest at heart. If we think others are engaged in genuinely trying to help us, we listen and think about their words differently, even when we initially disagree with them. We are quicker to accept information from others that we think has some of our agenda in mind, not just someone else’s. I also think this definition helps us see a path to building trust with any individual, regardless of our experience, our skill, our history, or theirs. We then start to ask the question; How do I demonstrate to someone that I genuinely have their best interest at heart?

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Topics: Building Relationships, Leadership, influence

What Your Calendar Says About Your Leadership

Posted by Randy Hall

Aug 6, 2014 11:19:34 AM

One of the best parts of my job is being able to work with senior leaders and business executives as a coach to help them achieve more of their goals, chart their career course and build stronger, more accountable teams around them. Each individual is unique; they face different challenges, have different opportunities and different sets of patterns, habits and experiences. After literally thousands of coaching conversations, however, several themes have emerged. One of the most common themes I see is the gap between what a person would like to happen, and what they have planned to make happen. Often people will have the intention to make a change, do something different, be more strategic, spend more time with their people or less time on the chaos and they will clearly state those intentions. A question I often ask at that point is does your calendar look significantly different for the next month than it did for the last month in terms of what it prioritizes? Awareness and intention are the first steps to change but sometimes it stops there and the calendar is often a very accurate reflection of whether change is being implemented or simply hoped for.

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Topics: Leadership, Management, Choice

6 Ways to Engage Your New Hire on Their First Day

Posted by Bethany Swartz

Jul 30, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Starting a new job is a challenge.  As a new hire, there are so many questions and unknowns that it can add extra stress to the process of starting a new job. Great employers do whatever they can to minimize as many of these anxiety provoking experiences.  They know that doing so helps the new hire focus on building relationships with their new co-workers, learning the job, and gaining the competence and confidence to do the job more quickly and efficiently.  The last thing you as an employer want is for your new employees to be spending time worried about breaking the printer or wondering if they get a lunch break. Alleviate these common concerns and your employee will likely retain more of the training and experience-based learning that will improve their performance and engagement on the job.

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Topics: Building Relationships, Employees, Employee Engagement, Hiring, Onboarding

How to Motivate Others

Posted by Randy Hall

Jul 23, 2014 9:30:00 AM

In almost every workshop, consulting engagement, or coaching interaction, I get some form of the question “how do I motivate others?”  Leaders and managers want other people to change their behavior or do something different, but they simply get tired of making them change.  It’s exhausting to keep telling people things over and over and feel like you were ignored, dismissed, or not heard.  So, the question is a common one.  But it’s the wrong question to ask.  You cannot motivate others, only they can motivate themselves.  What you can do as a leader is set up all the necessary ingredients for motivation and then help others discover the path that leads to their own motivation.  So a better question would be “what drives motivation?”  Let’s look at some of the necessary components for helping others find their motivation to do something different.

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Topics: Business Goals, Leadership, Performance, Management, Employee Engagement

4 Tips for Increased Employee Engagement

Posted by Bethany Swartz

Jul 16, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Google the term ‘employee engagement’ and over 15 million results appear in under .3 seconds.  There are an abundance of reports, polls, blogs, articles, and research studies out there that all seek to understand this concept and its impact on businesses. With data consistently showing direct correlations between engagement and organizational outcomes, companies are spending countless amounts of time, money, and resources trying to figure out what employee engagement is, what does it cost to get it, and perhaps more importantly, what does it cost to not have it. For these reasons, I seek to join the millions of other writers out there who want to shed light on this topic and demystify the concept of employee engagement.

Maintaining a workplace of engaged employees is no easy task, but it is not quite as scientific and prescriptive as others often make it seem. Here are a few take away points to remember about building engagement throughout the business.

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Topics: Employee Engagement

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