Monthly Archives: January 2017

Love Language Leadership

Busy day in the Frantz household. Jackson was busy researching global unrest while Colin was working the phones, dispatching the Avengers to areas of need. They were on a “church high” and wanted to save the world from bad guys. As I sat watching their intensity (yes that is my blue cast foot), I came away impressed how two imaginations combined in a way that shows team work in its simplest form.

 
Later in the day Jackson and I had some one-on-one time and I wracked my brain on what a one-legged dad could do to entertain a rambunctious 4 year old (a few years from beer, wings, and sports). I decided to engage his imagination that he showed earlier with his brother. After a quick haircut we went to Target, grabbed some Sharpies, and construction paper. We then set up shop at Starbucks… where luke warm hot chocolates were the choice. 

To further set the context of our day, one must understand that I promised the boys that I would build them a fort instead of a swing set when I could walk. Jackson has been obsessed with what the fort would contain. So I decided to listen to his deepest thought until I heard the magic words “I think that’s all daddy”. After an hour and several drafts our finished product looked like this:


It was a refreshing way to begin (I think of Sunday as a beginning) a week after the previous week saw talks of a wall, immigration bans, protests, and so on. My interactions with my boys made me think of how important team work is, but as head of household, how vitally important it is to lead with humility, even when emotions kick in. 

Last week in my “Managers Book Club” meeting, my managers and I spent an hour talking about good and bad managers and how we could be humble leaders in a high-stress field. The conversation with my team had an educated balance, but the same core lessons as my conversations with my son. The lesson learned, that I want to share with those of you still reading, is to be IN the moment but not CONSUMED by the moment, aka self-awareness.

So what makes a good boss per my team? Authentic, clear, good communicator, and a good listener. We drove the conversation around performance evaluation time (’tis the season). A good boss gives authentic feedback, not just a pat on the back. He knows how to speak the love language of every employee on his team. She knows how deliver feedback that is precise and gives opportunity to improve and celebrate successes. A good manager drives accountability without fear mongering, no matter the heat of the moment.

A bad manager conversely does the exact opposite. Passive aggressive, everything is a fire drill, bad communicator, and employs the “one size fits all” communication style?

What type of leader are you?

Are you sure?

I will close with this example of how many team responded this week to adversity. We had a department wide issue that caused me to have to pull the “fire alarm”. Instead of pulling the alarm and running, I mapped out a plan before pulling. I addressed my senior managers first, laid out the problem, how we got there, what the end goal needed to look like, and we built a plan. AFTER the plan, we carefully pulled the “alarm” with a call to action email laying out the problem, the game plan to address it, and the accountability expected of each of the 19 managers. We then came together as a management team and put the “love language” plan together at a micro level to address the 115 employees. 

By the end of the week we had steered the ship away from the iceberg and toward the shore. My managers made it succeed,  but it succeeded because the egos were left at the door, all sleeves rolled up, and we spoke each other’s love language until the problem was resolved.

Will you join me at home and at work in practicing emotion management and speaking the love language of those entrusted to you?

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“I Must Forever Make the Complex Simple”

Jackson (near 5 years old): “Daddy, I would like to tell you about Marvin Ladder King Junior. Did you know that he had a Dream”?

Me: “I do know of Martin Luther King Junior, Jackson, but I would like to hear what you know of him”

Jackson: “well daddy, he had a dream that people would love each other like Jesus loves them. But daddy, a bad guy shot him and he died. Why would someone kill him because of the color of his skin daddy? His skin is like my friend Avery’s, and it is beautiful”.

“Why”? The most unanswerable question posed by a son to his father. The answer could send the child down a path of bigotry and hate, fear, or plant the seed for social justice through love.

That conversation occurred at 5:30 Monday evening and had a profound impact on my week. As I was studying tonight I came upon a quote by Martin Luther King, and the title of this weeks blog, “I must forever make the complex simple”. MLK spoke these words in response to how he, as a preacher (not yet a Civil Rights activist), would lead. 

Jackson and I had a deep conversation, as deep as one can have with a five year old, with chirps from Colin chanting, “Marvel Ladder King Juror” from the left side of the car. Tuesday I started my next journey in leadership determined to make the complex simple.

My number one priority as a leader is to build a “pay it forward” culture. Each week I gather the 6 leaders that report to me and the 15 managers that, collectively, report to them. We spend an hour doing a book study (currently working through Emotional Intelligence 2.0). This week I focused our conversation around Emotions, all the while thinking back to my conversation with Jackson, and the leadership of MLK. I ant to share some of that conversation with you and I hope you find it valuable to pay it forward at work, home, and social settings.

100% of the time, 10 billion out of 10 billion times, it is certain that the result of an event is an emotion. Seeing my wife walk down the aisle on 6/12/2010, Jackson’s birth on 2/9/12, and Colin’s birth on 4/15/14 caused. Controllable happiness. 6/26/2015 when we laid our son Andrew to rest was uncontrollable pain. Seeing two planes crash into the twin towers on 9/11/2001 caused fear and anger. These were al emotions stemming from life events, but let’s keep it simple. How do you respond at work when your “buttons are pushed”, your time is demanded, an employee complains, a work item is pass due. Write down your emotion. Now how do you respond?

As I posed these questions to the management team Friday, you could see wheels turning. Our environment is one that is highly scrutinized and often filled with pressure. We have multiple layers of quality control, and that alone, causes hundreds of potential emotional responses daily. Our team focused on healthy habits, big and small, that we can do every day to create an accountable environment, but one built on respect and collaboration. Here are some takeaways for you!

1. Own the emotion- you cannot prevent feeling, but you can control how you respond

2. Respond- Instead of thinking “how to respond” think about “how not” to respond. Don’t respond in anger, condescending, or uncaring

3. Physical Responses- when emotions are heated your hearing shuts down and your eyes glaze over. Make a physical response by turning your head, shift your body, etc to reset your eyes and ears.

4. Pay it forward- My favorite! Now that my managers are aware of how emotions impact their day-to-day, they are committed to making conscious choices to own their emotions and control their responses. They in turn pass on the healthy habits to their teams. The fruit we see is better responses between departments (I.e. AML and QC, regulator partnerships, etc.

I would love to hear feedback if you try any of these tips out! Have a great week everyone!

New Years Resolution- Find Your 1 Million

So I purposefully waited to write my New Years Resolutions until January 17th. We’ll sort of…. half of the month has seen me in bed, hopped up on pain pills, and recovering from ankle surgery. As I was NOT sleeping last night I thought about New Year resolutions. More so I thought about how all of us probably jammed Christmas cookies into our mouth and washed it down with <beverage of your choice> on New Years Eve.., saying “it all starts tomorrow… next year…  now that is the year I will be able to see my feet again”! What was it for you? Are you going to run a half marathon this year? Go to church more? Lose 10-20-30 pounds? Finally clean your garage?

I tell you what I did… I wrote on my page “Do or Do Not” (thanks Yoda) and put a period to end my goal writing. Remember, I told you I’ve been on bed rest… so yeah this isn’t suppose to make sense… but stick with me.

Let me introduce you to Jackson, 4 years, and Colin, 2 years. They are bottomless pits in many ways. They eat like their weight in food daily, ask questions like auctioneers, and have an insatiable appetite for love. Let me also introduce you to the 117 people that work for me at Discover. You know what they all have in common? All 119 have eyes, ears, and mouths (some larger than others).

So what am I going to give to these 119 lives that I have been entrusted with? “Hey Jim, I’m going to run a half marathon for you buddy”! “Hey Colin, this year I am going to read my Bible every day just for you”! Jim would give a positive encouragement and Colin would respond with “daddy I am going to be an Avenger”…. or maybe Jim was the Avenger and Colin the encourager…. meh.

So I further scratched in my journal… “this year I am going to do when I should do and don’t when I should don’t. When I don’t and I should’ve done and I do when I should’ve don’t, I will own it. Regardless of when I do and when I don’t and should and shouldn’t not, I will do no less than do with humility, patience, and a general desire to pay it forward for all the do and don’t times that we’re blessed upon me”.

Wow I really don’t make sense! Or does it? Boil that down into non-pain killer English… my goal is this…. change the world one action at a time. I spoke of my boys and my employees, so here are two tips for you to think about to start your year:

My Boys- I sat in bed with them last night and just talked about nonsense. Are the Avengers real? Why was the Hulk green? What they wanted for their birthdays, etc. Do you know what I did? I just listened and answered their questions. While they may be silly questions to you or I, they were important to my boys. What they learned is that I will listen to them and take them seriously. It’s a foundation of any relationship, people want to be heard and taken seriously, in turn you build trust and respect in that relationship.

What about work? Is it possible to be relational with 117 people? Of course not! I mentioned earlier “pay it forward”… so let’s talk about that. I have 5 directs and they have a total of 16 managers that report to them. So my goal is to pour into 21 people to “push it” to the remaining 97. Simple, right? Everyone wants to be heard and taken seriously, so as leaders we must put people in those situations and develop those skills. I purchased Emotional Intelligence 2.0 for all those managers and we do a weekly “book club”.  Why? If 1 person can engage 20 people, and those 20 impact 10 each, that’s a small company! How many generations of “pay it forward” to touch 1 million people? Slightly more than 5! My friends… THAT is a positive revolution that can change the world! (The world… assuming a 7.5 billion population… that’s slightly less than 9 generations of “pay it forward”) 

See wasn’t lying 😜