Fear can be good. Fear of predators kept our early ancestors alive. Fear of future problems keeps people from signing contracts that could create financial difficulty. However (and you knew this was coming), fear can also stop people from moving forward when it would be to their advantage to do so.

True story: a division of a large company was instructed to implement a new software system to increase production. This was going to add more workload to two departments. Corporate tried to help the division rebalance workloads, and supplied training and new procedures. Unfortunately, despite the fact that two sister divisions had already implemented the new software successfully, irrational fear of the new system took root during the months that preceded the implementation. The closer the go-live date got, the more afraid people became. With less than a month to go, they put it off for two weeks, then for another week. People said, “We’re not ready… We haven’t been trained enough… We need more people…” And some mid-level leaders said, “We’re supporting our people. They’re not ready.” The division’s CEO finally said, “We’re going live. We’ll work things out.” So they went live, with extensive on-site corporate support during the first week. Many of the people were actually relieved, because the uncertainty was finally over and the wheels had not fallen off. But at the end of the week when nothing bad had happened (yet!), one of the senior clerks opined, “This is like being on the beach after an earthquake. Just before the tsunami hits, everything is very calm, then the water draws way out to sea…” And this was duly repeated throughout the division, re-kindling the fear.

Yes, there were hiccups as the division adjusted to the new system. Like all systems, it was not perfect. But the fear was counterproductive; it caused great angst and hurt morale unnecessarily. FEAR can be a mnemonic for False Evidence Appearing Real. And that’s what it was in this case. In this case, the best path forward was implementing the system, because more delays would have only increased the fear.

So how does your organization deal with fear?

Gary Langenwalter

Selling = Listening

Yes, effective selling does equal effective listening. So, then it’s safe to assume that a customer will not buy a product or service that they do not need. But how often are we not really listening to prospect or a customer, making a big assumption about what we “think” they need. Old school selling was based on assumptions and the latest selling techniques and strategies for getting customers or prospects to think they needed something, when they really did not. New school selling is truly listening to our customers and understanding what they “actually” need. We are all sales people to one degree or another. Even when we’re embedded in operations, accounting or some other functional areas. Often we are selling our own ideas for product or process improvements to management. So, true listening is a skill that all of us need. Most of us have had many years of learning how to read and write, and to speak. But the irony is that we are not taught how to listen. Whether it was in school or in business.

So, what is effective listening? How do we know that we are understanding what the other person is saying or thinking? Effective listening shows respect for the other person and that you truly listening to what they are saying. You’re not offering any judgments or opinions, or jumping in with your own perspectives. You are ensuring that the person has completed their thought. Effective listening begins with focusing on what others’ are saying and demonstrate to the other person through body language and asking relevant questions. Increased rapport and trust will occur since the other person senses that you are really listening to them. They might seem more positive or happy as they continue talking to you.

Why is effective listening challenging? Because most people are more focused on what they’d like to say and how are intending to respond, rather than on what they are actually hearing. Effective listening will take time to practice where you become more fluent. Several studies have shown that we are distracted or forgetful 75% of the time when we should be listening. Right after after we listen to someone, we only recall about 50% of what is said. And then long-term memory, shows we only remember about 20% of what we hear. Not very much is it? Our goal is to drastically increase that percentage of understanding.

How do we perform effective listening (so we will be more effective at selling)?

1. Clear your mind of all current distractions. Even assumptions and observations about the other person.

2. Listen with your eyes and ears. Many people smile with their eyes. Do you? Lean forward with your body.

3. Place your entire focus on the speaker.

a. Listen to their words, both what is said and how it is said. Notice their body language. Distractions will float into your conscience; and you need to let them go. Minimize distractions by continuously refocusing your attention on the speaker.

4. Once the speaker has completed their thought. Ask them if they’re done with that thought.

5. Once the speaker has finished, then ask questions.

a. If you ask questions throughout their speaking, it interrupts their train of thought. Ask clarifying questions (from the speaker’s perspective), not probing questions (from your own perspective).

6. Repeat the understanding that you have. Empathize with the speaker and how they may have felt.

7. Ask what seems the most challenging. Or ask what would be the most helpful. What has worked in the past? Where could they now use help?

8. Offer possible ideas or strategies. Ask them what they think?

9. Try adapting your ideas with theirs. Definitely a “win/win”.

PLEASE NOTE: And please know that you will not master the art of listening overnight. It will take time and much practice to develop your listening muscles.

3 a.m. and Can’t Sleep

One of the lesser-appreciated costs of leadership is waking up at 3 a.m. and not being able to get back to sleep, because you’re trying to figure out a way forward where there are no decent guidelines. Sometimes it seems like there are no answers at all, but your organization can’t stay where it is! Other times, each alternative has a huge downside. Still other times (but much more rare, in my experience) is the choice between good alternatives.

So, what keeps you awake at night? Is it:

· Strategy – where to take your company? What new products and services to offer? Which current products and services to phase out?

· People – how to find and motivate and keep them?

· Finance – where to get money for expansion?

· Sales – how to increase? How to recover from the loss of a major customer? How to find customers who are willing to pay enough for your products or services?

· Expenses – how to cut?

· Competition – what they’re planning next (or what they’re already doing), and how to counter it?

· Customers – how to deal with them? How to attract and retain the customers you really want?

· Suppliers – how to deal with them? How to attract and retain the suppliers you really want?

· Regulations, red tape, other government issues?

· Other?

I hope you’ll reply to this posting, or e-mail me at gary

Gary Langenwalter 971-221-8155

Humble bosses are best

One more study has confirmed that humble bosses are best. Actually, the word “boss” says it all. The most effective leaders are not “bosses” per se, but leaders who empower and energize those who work with them. A study from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University supports this. The researchers interviewed CEOs of 63 private companies in China, plus about 1000 managers who work for them. They concluded that humble bosses are strong bosses. Their research corroborates a book by Sipe and Frick, The Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, which showed that companies whose CEOs practice servant leadership achieve a 24.5% return to shareholders, outperforming Jim Collins’ Good to Great companies which achieved 17.5% return to shareholders.

Gary Langenwalter

Portland Consulting Group

Helping Organizations Thrive



Leadership Worth Following

Typical change management programs focus on stakeholder management, getting “buy in” from others etc. While some of this is necessary, people are more likely to follow true leaders based on their conviction, confidence, and likelihood of success. This principle explores some of your underlying unexamined assumptions about leadership. In one of our workshops, you will identify your assumptions and beliefs regarding leadership and develop a leadership philosophy grounded in your core values. We can also have this conversation one on one.

Empathy is the #1 Leadership effectiveness trait!

Empathy & Leadership Effectiveness (excerpt)

What are leaders good at? What makes them the most effective?
· Business aptitude 1. Empathy
· Responsibility 2. Trustworthiness
· Clarity 3. Business aptitude
· Internal attunement 4. Depth

Excerpt from a study of 8,000 respondents rating 1,405 leaders in 47 countries. Blessing White, 2009.

How does empathy translate into competitive advantage?

It’s been said that employees join companies, but leave managers. To realize an organization’s full potential, leaders need to understand the power they possess to affect their employees’ level of happiness and engagement. Empathy is the catalyst for building positive workplaces and moving employees up the engagement ladder because it meets a primary human need: to be valued and recognized as an individual. The greater your employees’ engagement, the greater their loyalty and productivity and the greater your competitive edge.

I attended a very insightful Emotional Intelligence workshop recently conducted by Susan Zabriskie. She did an outstanding job with the content, exercises and facilitation! The role play Susan & I did is permanently etched in to my memory. The first part of the exercise with non-empathetic listening (interruption, dismissed, sharing her story, etc.). The second part, was true empathetic listening as shown by her true caring & genuine interest (acknowledging my feelings, my story & truly being present). Now, I am much more aware of how I might not be as empathetic as I thought I was.

Best Regards,


Greg Sievers, PMP, CPC

C 503-833-2016



Stop following someone else’s plans and start training dreams.

Stop listening to what other people tell you and just follow your dreams.

Stop going through the motions and work through your dream.

Stop trying to be perfect and stumble your way deliberately through your dreams.

Stop starting and stopping and starting and just keep moving towards your dream.

Stop comparing yourself to everyone else around you and just follow your dream.

Stop believing that someone else’s formula can replace hard work and relentlessly follow your dream.

Stop avoiding what needs to be done and live your dream. Not someone else’s.

Stop learning what you need to do and start doing what you need to do. Follow your dreams.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of going through someone else’s motions — doing what everyone else tells you you should be doing in order to be successful.

You’re told that you need to have a strong social presence. That you need to build a following. That you need to write a book so that “people take you will take you seriously”.

You’re told so many things by so many people that it’s easy to get whiplash — flailing from tactic to tactic, hoping that this time for one bit of effort you might actually end up achieve success.

But that’s not how success works. Never has been. Never will be.

And unless you’re one of the lucky few who happen to get lucky doing one thing, one time, someone else’s get-rich-quick tactics (or doing whatever one else tells you you should be doing) aren’t the answer to achieving breakthrough. Dreaming is. Dreaming big dreams.

Not sleeping. Not thinking. Not procrastinating. Dreaming is different than that. Dreaming is all consuming. All empowering. It consumes every fiber of your being. Your dream is what gets you up in the morning. It’s your reason for existence. It’s your light when the day is dark. Your sunshine when the days is cloudy.

You can’t copy someone else’s dream. You have to have your own. And, while it’s easy to follow the tactics of someone else who happened to be successful using those tactics, don’t be fooled for a moment that any tactic is a replacement for audacious dreams.

Dream big. Live big. Fight big. Believe big.

From Edgy Conversations 3/18/14 by Dan Waldschmidt