Hero or Victim?

Have you complained to your boss about a problem and didn’t get the results you wanted? That can easily put a damper on things. And if you tried again with the same result, you may have given up.


In fact, many people see themselves as “victim,” complaining they don’t have the resources they need. And for some, the “victim” mentality becomes an excuse not to try to influence up.


In reality most strong leaders don’t want passive subordinates who see themselves as victims. Mark Fenner, president of Rise Performance Group, advises you need to be influential to get resources, permission, or support. And that’s not just for your sake, but also for your boss’s sake as well.


Many things that a direct report wants is also in the boss’s best interest. So what’s the problem? The direct report needs to frame it that way. When you frame it, and link it to your organization’s mission and vision, you can have a lot of influence.


Whether you’re a boss who’s frustrated because you can’t get your people to raise the bar or you’re blaming your boss for the problems, you can gain insight by watching Mark Fenner’s video, above.

The mistake is seeing bosses as “impossible” when many really aren’t – as you build your ability to influence them as pointed out in this Stanford Graduate School of Business article How Do You Manage Up in the Workplace? http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/headlines/david-l-bradford-how-do-you-manage-up-workplace

How to Guard Against the 4 Deadly Sins of Leadership

4 Deadly Sins of Leadership The latest financial reports were bleak. Leadership was challenged to act quickly…but didn’t. Within a year, the company filed bankruptcy. Within three years, this company that had been in business for 70 years was dissolved, with significant losses to bondholders, corporate vendors, and 16,000 employees. What killed this once-thriving multi-billion dollar company?   And, more importantly, what could have been done to save it? Four things:

1.  Lost Focus

For years, the company thrived under a culture of service to its members and providing quality products to its customers. Employees were highly valued, and in response, fiercely loyal. But then the focus shifted. A new CEO came on board. He brought two dangerous mindsets to the equation: “What’s in it for me?” and, “How do we one-up the competition?” Compensation and competition are important, but when they become the singular focus, the company starts to lose focus on its core values and mission. In this article, Rise Performance Group and John C. Maxwell provide perspective about the importance of finding a vision’s “true north”.  As Mark Fenner, president of Rise Performance Group, notes: “A leadership team that is focused, not on themselves, but on strong mission, vision and values will not only survive – it will thrive. We see this no matter the size, no matter the type of organization.”

2.  Imbalance

Previously, the company had a CEO who was growth-minded and people-focused. He realized the need for balance, so he hired someone named “Lefty”. Lefty was the numbers guy, the guy who questioned things. This gave the business two critical components at the top: the expander and the container. Together, they saw healthy growth, and the company thrived. When the new CEO took the reins, he failed to bring in a “Lefty” to create balance. Inc. magazine provides some great guidelines here for managing growth in a way that is healthy and balanced. It is important for leaders to surround themselves with those who have complementary strengths. If the members of your management team all think like you, it might be comfortable – but it could also be a sign of imbalance. Bringing on someone who respectfully challenges your thinking could strengthen and grow the company.

3.  Bad Decisions

Under the new CEO’s direction, the company made several ill-advised management decisions. Though some later admitted to questioning those decisions in their own minds, no one was willing to risk asking hard questions. It was a case of weak leaders following a proud leader – a lethal combination. In his book, Today Matters, John C. Maxwell states that, “successful people make right decisions early and manage those decisions daily.” And there is a Biblical principle that advises that in a multitude of counselors, there is safety. As a leader, surround yourself with a strong cabinet of advisors – and strive to make the right decisions and manage them daily. Decisions are powerful tools.

4.  Apathy

Apathy was the final nail in the coffin. Had the CEO and top leaders of the company cared passionately about the company, its people, its stockholders, and its customers, it could have been saved. In fact, the divisions that were sold off in the process of dissolution went on to thrive under new and more passionate leadership. Rise Performance Group partner Bob Kaplitz comments:  “In analyzing literally hundreds of case studies, we find apathy is corrosive.  Employees become disillusioned when their suggestions are ignored. Then they conclude quickly,‘If management doesn’t care, why should I’”? This recent opinion article in the Wall St. Journal (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304677904579536170749456890?mod=trending_now_1 ) discusses the issue of apathy and its effect on a company – or a country. As business leaders, it is our responsibility to create companies that thrive – and that requires us to avoid these four deadly sins of leadership.

Who Stands Out?


Try to answer this question posed in a recent business conversation:
Who stands out domestically as a leader with great integrity?

The question was met with…silence.

Mark Fenner, president of Rise Performance Group, summed up the concerns of many when he said, “We believe there’s a dearth of leadership in our country.”

And Rise partner Bob Kaplitz added:  “Our research shows the excitement a few years ago over ‘hope and change’ has ended in disappointment and skepticism about anybody making any promises – especially during campaign season.”

At every level – Federal government, state governments, schools, businesses, sports, churches, families, and on a personal level – there is a societal breakdown. The American dream that once involved raising the bar, tackling the tough challenges, and serving others has been replaced by a tear-down mentality. If someone is ahead of you, pull them down. If someone has a higher income than you, tax them more. If someone is leading, pull them back.

One thing is certain. Where there is a dearth of authentic leadership, something will fill the void. This was illustrated recently in the NCAA unionization issue. If the leaders had dealt with the issues at the onset, there would be no need to consider unionization. Where leaders don’t make decisions or stand for principles, the government will step in to make the decisions and set the precedents for them. In the end, when leaders don’t fulfill their roles, they begin to forfeit their leadership.

Jim Rohn said it well: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

Building is hard work. Creating businesses, increasing productivity, and generating income are definite challenges. Being a leader is demanding work. It demands that you be more and do more than the average. And it means you have to fight against the pull to average – and below – that is fast becoming the hallmark of our society.

We encourage our fellow leaders to follow the advice of President John F. Kennedy:

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

DO the hard things.

What could we accomplish in the next decade if every leader just made that one decision?


Your Golden Opportunity Within the Current Crisis


Who can you trust?

Chart-Trust-2014Not politicians. Not Congressmen. Not General Motors. Not the head of IRS. And, forgive us, but not even the President of the United States if you read the polls.

There is a resounding theme in news reports these days, and it is “Integrity”. Unfortunately, it has emerged because there are so many examples where it is missing.

The issues with General Motors, the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius in the midst of the healthcare rollout, and the blatant disregard toward U.S. leadership by the leaders of Russia are indicators of a serious integrity crisis.

You might find it strange, but this presents you with a huge opportunity. People see a sizeable gap between the level of integrity they want – and what they’re getting.

Fill that gap because you deliver on what people see as integrity, and your business will thrive. This is obviously not a matter of touting, “I have integrity.” Rather, your actions speak louder than words, as leadership expert John C. Maxwell reminds us. So you need to deliver on integrity in a heartfelt, real way – and consistently.

That raises the question:  “What does ‘integrity’ look like?”

How do you know someone has integrity? What do they have to do to prove it? And, yes, people don’t assume integrity. You have to earn it.

As you can see in the examples above, where there is a breach of integrity, there is impairment, liability, dysfunction, and ultimately, real risk to human life. As an organizational leader, you may not be able to change world events or solve the healthcare crisis, but you can start where you are to create a zone of integrity within your organization.

Here are three ways to focus on and begin to own the very important “integrity image,” according to Rise Performance Group’s Mark Fenner and Bob Kaplitz:

1. Trust

Honest, fair, and trustworthy are powerfully important words. Your word is still your bond, and if trust fails, your business will fail, also. This is what GM is facing – and they have a massive job on their hands to rebuild the trust of their previously loyal base. It is far easier – and much less costly – to be upfront, honest, fair, and trustworthy than to have to remediate after the damage is done. Are you doing all you can within your organization to build – and just as importantly, maintain – trust? John Maxwell says it well: “You build trust with others each time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience, or honor over personal gain.”

2. Transparency

Mark Fenner captures it well: “The people you are wanting to influence see your faults. Be proactive and acknowledge what they are already seeing. Those we are influencing do not expect perfection. What they want in a relationship is transparency.”

Transparency is the art of being real and honest. Take responsibility for your mistakes. If one of your projects looks like it is getting behind schedule, let the client know – especially if the oversight is yours. Bob Kaplitz cites this as a real world example from a Rise Performance Group technology client. Kaplitz says, “Transparency gets you points with clients, often deepening the relationship. And what’s more important than trust in a relationship?”

We have seen throughout history that cover-ups don’t work. Bob cites prime examples from his career as an investigative reporter where officials have tried to cover up covert actions. None of them were successful. As a leader, check transparency on a daily basis by asking, “Are we being open and honest in our daily activities and interactions with co-workers, clients, and employees?” If there is an elephant in the room, deal with it proactively. Transparency will happen – either of your choosing or by exposure.

3. Humility

Great leaders are very often humble leaders. They may not say much, but their actions speak volumes. In contrast, boastful leaders are what we in Texas call, “Big hat, no cattle.” Leadership is a big hat – a huge responsibility. As a leader, do you have the cattle to back it up? It is your responsibility to learn all you can about your business and your industry and to surround yourself with a team that adds even more value to the organization.

The company focused on these three principles may not change world events…but it would impact the culture inside and outside the organization. Will you be a leader people can trust? We believe there’s never been a more perfect time.

When Is It Okay for a Leader to Cry When Presenting?


It was a powerful moment…when Kenny Chesney cried.

After years on tour, he decided to take some time off to focus on his music. And so as he found himself on the stage in Indianapolis for his final concert, the intense connection with the crowd and the realization that a chapter in his life was about to close suddenly hit him. His powerful voice, in that moment, could find no words.

And then an amazing thing happened – the crowd sang for him.

It was a golden moment for Kenny and everyone in the audience. And with over 700,000 hits on YouTube, it continues to strike a chord.

Kenny Chesney has had an impressive career thus far, with 15 albums, 14 of which have been certified gold or higher. He has also produced more than 30 Top Ten singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, 22 of which climbed to the top of the charts. Chesney has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. He has been honored with numerous awards from the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, American Music Awards, Country Music Television, Billboard Music Awards, and People’s Choice Awards.

But it could very well be that his greatest moment – the moment for which he will be most remembered – was the moment he couldn’t sing.

In today’s world, “real” stands out. And Kenny is real. His audience knows he cares about them and values their contribution to his success. This authenticity connects and underlies his influence in the country music industry.

Mark Fenner, president of Rise Performance Group, comments: “Influence strengthens when followers feel a person really cares. Caring is an emotion that creates motion.”


Bob Kaplitz offers perspective:  “Also, people respond emotionally to a person who’s transparent – and not afraid to let their vulnerability show. It’s another way they grow their influence – and, in this case, their audience.”

Comments posted on YouTube about the video include:  “A man that can cry is a real man!!”  Also, “Nothing but a genuine artist with genuine music, my favorite in country music hands down.”  Again, “genuine” and “real” speak to important leadership qualities.

Have you ever connected with your audience at such a deep level that you – or they – felt the proverbial lump in the throat? When that happens, it indicates that what you are saying has resonated deeply with them.

While we are not suggesting you lose your voice and depend on your audience to finish your next business presentation, we are strongly suggesting you seek to be real. Some of the greatest business leaders of our time were also some of the most genuine in their speeches and presentations. Steve Jobs is an outstanding example of this authenticity.

Bob Kaplitz advises:  “Hold off on the singing unless you’re as good as Kenny Chesney, but look for stories that help you make your point – connecting you to your audience.”

Learn to be a leader with influence. Brush up on your leadership skills or develop those of your employees.  Transforming people into leaders improves both the bottom and top lines.  Learn how.  Contact Mark Fenner at 469.293.6198 or markf@risepg.com.


3 Timeless Pricing Secrets


How much do you charge for your services?

It is a question every business owner struggles to answer and a quota corporate managers wrestle to maintain in a world of very tight margins. Do you compete based on economies of scale, or do you specialize in a more customized boutique business where quality is valued over cost? Making this decision is a bigger challenge than ever.

Brian Montgomery, founder of healthcare technology service company, Crest Services, has an interesting perspective on pricing. In his youth, he mowed lawns, and he never once set a price. Instead he asked customers to pay what they thought his service was worth. You would think this would negate his income, but instead, he was handsomely rewarded for his efforts. What he learned from that experience forms the foundational values he maintains to this day in his business.

Here are Brian’s Pricing Secrets

  • Focus on the work, not the payout. “Pay me what it’s worth,” was his creed, and it worked.
  • Do business on a handshake. These days, formal agreements are a requirement, but Brian still places value on a handshake. He firmly believes your word is your bond, and though you may have the agreement in hand, the handshake is still the commitment that matters.
  • Treat customers well. Talk to them. Brian spent just as much – or more – time talking with his customers than it took to mow their lawns. He listened to the widow ladies – he showed compassion. In a recent survey conducted by a world-renowned company, the biggest value by far in customer service – even in this era of technology – was still the personal connection.

The fact is, if you focus on doing the best work possible, stay true to your commitments, and make your customers feel they are truly valued, the income will come. —- Rise Performance Group honors leaders and shares their wisdom.  As John Maxwell says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”  Brian Montgomery has done just that. Nominate a leader so we can recognize them. Remember leadership can come from anywhere in an organization, including the very bottom of the org chart. Contact Bob Kaplitz with your nomination at bobk@risepg.com. We’d love to tell their leadership story. Are you growing your business by developing the leadership qualities of your team or yourself? Contact Mark Fenner at markf@risepg.com or 469-293-6198 to learn how leadership training can improve your bottom and top lines.

From a Bedroom Office to More than $50 Million in Sales in 12 Years

From a Bedroom Office to More than $50 Million in Sales in 12 Short Years

Learn the five keys to that success from Brian Montgomery who blazed a path leading a healthcare technology service company, Crest Services, during a down economy.

Rise Performance Group’s Mark Fenner and Bob Kaplitz asked Montgomery to share the leadership principles responsible for his success.  He starts with the values he learned from his parents, which gave him a jump start on leadership.


Rise Performance Group honors leaders and shares their wisdom.  As John Maxwell says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”  Brian Montgomery has done just that.

Nominate a leader so we can recognize them.  Remember leadership can come from anywhere in an organization, including the very bottom of the org chart.  Contact Bob Kaplitz with your nomination at bobk@risepg.com.  We’d love to tell their leadership story.

Are you growing your business by developing the leadership qualities of your team or yourself?

Contact Mark Fenner at markf@risepg.com or 469-293-6198 to learn how leadership training can improve your bottom and top lines.

Visit http://www.riseperformancegroup.com to register to attend the next workshop.

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