How Should a Leader Handle a Verbal Attack on Their Point of View

How should a leader handle a verbal attack on their point of view?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told a short story.  He was defending the Republican Party against criticism that it was indifferent to the plight of poor people.

The audio is a bit low on this short clip of Cantor, so turn up the volume and hear how he defends the GOP.



What was missing from Cantor’s story? Bob Kaplitz asks.    He didn’t attack Democrat Nancy Pelosi, whom he was responding to.  Instead, Cantor took the high road.  Anyone aspiring to become a leader does just that.  And by telling a short story, he connected emotionally with viewers.   Also, Bob Kaplitz and Mark Fenner recommend:

  1. Plan your story starting with the takeaway message. Think about what’s important to the audience. The ending is the most important point of the story. This is the message we want to deliver, and the one that will linger with the audience.
  2. Keep your stories short.  Three to five minutes long works well.  Shorter even better.
  3. Find the challenge or conflict. Without these elements, stories aren’t very interesting. The compelling part of a story is how people deal with conflict–-so start with the people and the conflict.
  4. Think about your story like a movie. Imagine what it would like as a movie to get your message across. The story has to have a beginning, middle, and end.
  5. Start with a person and their challenge.  Add descriptions of place and people’s emotions.
  6. A good story always has ups and downs, so “arc” the story. Pull people along by including the tension.

Leaders use stories to connect with people.  Look for opportunities to take advantage of them.  Most of us tell a stories already.  For example:  “How did things go at the office today?”  That leads to a story.

And it’s rare to see a politician or President who doesn’t tell a story with a main character to get their political point across.  In fact, sometimes several of those people are standing behind the politician or President.  Yes, sometimes that looks awkward because it’s obviously staged.

Use the Power of Story and other tools to develop the leadership qualities of your team or yourself.  Turn managers into leaders to improve productivity, and the bottom and top line.  Contact Bob Kaplitz and Mark Fenner at the Rise Performance Group at 214.766.4236.

How a Leader Can Turn an Unhappy Customer Around


Let’s face it.  The last think we want to do is to call a billing/collections department to complain about a bill.  It’s aggravating — especially when a health insurance company is also involved.

Knowing the power of comments captured on video and distributed via social media like YouTube, I was just about ready to “go public.”  But this call to Mid-Cities HME/HomePoint Home Medical led to a delightful surprise.

When I called the company, the woman in charge of billing politely asked a series of questions and listened to my concerns.

“Mr. Kaplitz, let me check.  I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.  (A couple of minutes pass.)  This isn’t a mistake by you or the insurance company.  This was our mistake.  I sincerely apologize.  Would you like me to credit your account or put the money back on your credit card?”

Then “I hope you’ll accept my apology and consider continuing doing business with us.”

Who’s the woman who handled the situation as a leader would?  Misty Cleveland, Billing/Collections Dept. Manager of Mid-Cities HME/HomePoint Home Medical in Grand Prairie, TX, a Dallas suburb.

Why did Ms. Cleveland impress me as a leader?  She just didn’t take responsibility, holding her company accountable.  She did more.

Here are three actions she took that’ll help build your customer service leadership qualities.  This is short and sweet:

This yet another example of leadership guru John Maxwell’s point that you can lead from anywhere in your organization.

How do you recognize a leader so the people she reports to appreciate her?   It took less than a minute to capture this on an iPhone, post it on YouTube, then see within 24 hours several dozens of hits.  

However you recognize leaders at all levels of companies, we recommend you do it.  Recognizing others for their great work speaks to your leadership qualities — even if you’re “just” a customer.

Press Release: What Credit Unions Need Most Today is Strong Leadership, Says Rise Performance Group’s Mark Fenner

He Will Speak on Leadership at Cornerstone Credit Union League Conference

20130711_mark_fenner_8954cDALLAS, March 10, 2014 – For credit unions to meet the challenges they face today, they require more than effective lobbyists, creative marketing, and good customer service. What they need is strong leadership – throughout the organization, from top to bottom – says leadership expert Mark Fenner of Rise Performance Group.

“There is a constantly changing landscape that credit unions must deal with, and credit unions with strong leaders can leverage these changes and turn them into opportunities for positive, beneficial progress,” said Fenner. “Strong leaders not only see where their organizations need to go, but take them there, regardless of turbulence in the industry and the economy.”

Fenner emphasized that a credit union needs leaders at all levels of the organization because, he said, “our newest findings show that individuals in the middle and at the bottom of credit unions and other organizations can provide a tremendous lift, once you tap into their considerable potential.”

Fenner, president of Rise Performance Group, will present two important sessions on leadership at the Cornerstone Credit Union League annual meeting, April 22-24 in San Antonio. Those sessions will focus on the key traits of growth-oriented leaders and how young professionals can grow into the strong leaders of the future.

“Change is going to happen. Credit unions can’t do anything about that. But achieving positive changes requires real leadership,” Fenner said. “That includes the ability to formulate a compelling vision for the credit union, to create growth opportunities, and to drive responsibility and problem-solving to the individuals closest to these opportunities.”

As far as younger leaders are concerned, Fenner said, they need to be working now to maximize the value they can bring to their credit unions both in the short and long-term.

“Young leaders have a valuable perspective, but they need to gain influence for that perspective to be heard,” Fenner said. “It comes down to refining the ability to gain influence, among your peers and the people you work for and who work for you. That requires a ‘game plan’ for growing as a leader, and as your career advances the importance of effective leadership skills increases.”

Fenner, who has done extensive work with credit unions in his 25-year career, will address both of these issues in depth in his Cornerstone annual meeting presentations. He served  as an executive for TNB Card Services before forming Rise Performance Group, and currently consults with several credit unions in leadership development.

About Rise Performance Group
Rise Performance Group, founded on the belief that the right people are an organization’s greatest asset, offers a unique approach to helping organizations elevate performance. Rise Performance Group provides the tools, services, and expertise that can be applied to the entire talent management spectrum. That starts with acquiring the best candidate for the job and includes integrating new employees into the culture. Also, taking a forward-looking approach by identifying and developing leaders who can take the organization to the next level. For more information about the company, visit


Editorial Note: a high resolution picture of Mark Fenner is available by contacting Kevin Tanzillo at or 903-865-1078903-865-1078.

Kevin Tanzillo
Dux Public Relations


Leadership Insight from the Top: The Grandma Test

Leadership insights from top leaders usually focus on formal terms or principles, but…

What impressed Bob Kaplitz, partner of the Rise Performance Group, was Cindy Schamp’s, well, let’s call it “The Grandma Test.”

Cindy Schamp, President of Baylor Medical Center at Irving, spoke with Kaplitz about many leadership issues for a video series called “Thoughts & Visions” for the Irving Chamber of Commerce.

As you listen to “The Grandma Test,” you might consider creating or fine tuning your own test.


Kaplitz also asked a frequent question at leadership workshops:  How do you lead a major organization while being pulled in different directions?


Invest in your people by developing their leadership skills.  Turn managers into leaders, allowing your organization to rise to new heights.  Contact Bob Kaplitz and Mark Fenner at the Rise Performance Group:  214.766.4236.

Leadership: How to Identify Your Culture from the Inside

How to identify your culture from the inside comes down to a few simple suggestions.

Bob Kaplitz and Mark Fenner of the Rise Performance Group like to use the web company, Zappos, as an example.

Bob explains in this video.


Management guru John Maxwell says that culture is far more important than just visions and missions  That’s because your culture is about the actions you take.  In short, actions speak louder than words.  They speak louder than written visions and mission statements.


In leadership the greatest gap exists between knowing and doing. That is, people have training but don’t put it into practice. Bridging that gap results in productivity and people development.

  • What aspects of your culture would you like to see changed?
  • What small, initial step could you take to make a transformative difference in the area of culture that you feel needs to be reformed?

The greatest leadership challenge involves moving from doing to changing. In crossing that chasm, leaders transform a culture.

Kaplitz and Fenner say:

“Go ahead with your mission statements and definitely create your ideal future vision.  But remember how you spend your time and your money paints a portrait of your identity.”

Invest in your employees.  Help them become leaders throughout your organization.  Contact Bob Kaplitz and Mark Fenner at 214.766.4236.  They can customize a leadership program for employees in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.

Leaders Start with the “Why” before the “What”

Leaders start with the “why” before the “what.”

That’s because people need a reason to believe.  A cause.  That’s according to Bob Kaplitz and Mark Fenner of the Rise Performance Group.

As leadership expert John Maxwell says, “Leadership is simply about influencing people. Nothing more, nothing less.”

The true test of a leader is to ask him to create positive change in an organization.  Change starts with a vision of the future.  And visions start with “why”?  A “what” doesn’t matter until you have a “why.”

Author and leadership speaker Simon Sinek makes this point, with a caution:  As companies grow. they may fail to focus on their “why” — the reason or their being.


Beginning as a student in anthropology, Sinek turned his fascination with people into a career of convincing people to do what inspires them.

Through his struggle to rediscover his excitement about life and work, he made some profound realizations and began helping his friends and their friends to find their “why” — at first charging just $100, person by person. Never planning to write a book, he penned “Start With Why” simply as a way to distribute his message.

The Rise Performance Group focuses on the “Why” when helping clients to develop a strategic plan to drive leadership.  Questions include:

  • Why are you passionate about what you and your company do?
  • How does it drive your competitive advantage?
  • How can you reinforce your “why” for new employees or employees didn’t appreciate the “why”?

Recently, Fenner and Kaplitz raised the issue of the “why?” behind their existence with a client.  Their answer:  “Our product saves lives.  We do it by separating drinking from driving.  Our ignition interlock products are breath alcohol analyzers that keep drivers with DWIs/DUIs from operating vehicles if their breath alcohol level is over a pre-set level.”

“Talk about a cause!  Now that’s a why!” Kaplitz says.

Put the meaning of “why” back into the minds of your employees by investing in a leadership development program.  It turns managers into leaders.  Contact Bob Kaplitz and Mark Fenner for more information at 214.766.4236.

How Leaders Can Take a Stand

How leaders can take a stand begins with your tapping into your company’s vision.


  • What do you stand for?
  • As a thought leader, what position makes the most sense?
  • Can you support it in a factual way?
  • Can you anticipate what those disagreeing with you will say, and how you’ll respond?
  • Will it engage and provoke discussion?

You can’t lead from behind when it comes to major issues affecting your business, according to Bob Kaplitz and Mark Fenner of the Rise Performance Group.

This one minute eight second video shows examples from an opinion article on the Wall Street Journal website.

Whether you agree or disagree with the point of view, focus on how the writer communicated the information.  Also, keep in mind the article was written a year ago.


How will you create content reflecting your industry leadership?  And, okay, if you don’t think it best to take a strong stand, just help people evaluate the pros and cons of an issue in a clear way.  Provide perspective.  That way, your readers and viewers will see you as the leader you are.

Rise Performance Group is passionate about helping companies improve top and bottom line performance. Maximizing the potential and performance of any organization requires a relentless pursuit of acquiring and developing top talent and leaders. Leaders in high performing companies know that their employees are the organization’s most important asset and that the quality of the company’s talent is the leading indicator of whether the business is heading up or heading down.

Contact Mark Fenner and Bob Kaplitz at the Rise Performance Group to learn more.  Call 214.766.4236.

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