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Interview with Joe Farcht, Author of "Building Personal Leadership"
Interview with Joe Farcht
author of Building Personal Leadership: Inspirational Tools & Techniques for Work and Life
Genesis Publishing (2007)
Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (6/07)
Today, Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views is delighted to be joined by Joe Farcht, author of “Building Personal Leadership.” Joe Farcht’s new book focuses on the progressive development of personal productivity, personal leadership, business leadership, and overcoming the barriers to success. Joe Farcht has earned a BSEE degree, MBA, is an Air Force Lt. Col. (Retired) Vietnam veteran and fighter pilot, is certified as a Master Personnel and Executive Coach, is an expert in the Myers-Briggs Personality Typing, and a 13 year successful business owner.
Tyler: Thank you, Joe, for joining me today to discuss your new book. To begin, will you tell us a little bit about the idea of progression in “Building Personal Leadership”—is it a matter of developing the individual leader first so he or she can then develop the employees?
Joe: Tyler, you hit the nail right on the head. First you develop personal leadership and then you can lead other people. Employees observe their supervisor very carefully and judge them by their actions. What they say is largely disregarded. The greatest problems arise when an employee detects discrepancies between what the boss says and what he or she does. 75% of employees quit their jobs because of their immediate supervisor. Getting your act together as a leader of yourself first is the key to becoming a great supervisor of people. Think about it! The success of a leader is totally dependent upon the success of the people who work for them. If you don’t develop and grow your own skills, how can you help your employees grow and develop? Only if you are building your own personal leadership skills can you help others and assure your own continuing success.
Tyler: Joe, I understand your book focuses on many factors affecting the effectiveness and productivity of people including the motivation of employees. Having been a manager myself, I know money is not the only thing that motivates an employee. What other factors do you find are motivators for employees?
Joe: Tyler, that is a great question. I have done tons of study on the subject and teach it at the University. I have found that most motivational theories are in agreement on what motivates employees. Anyone who studies Maslow, Herzberg, Kovach, and others will find some very startling agreement. While motivation for each person is unique to that person, some generalities can be found in the population. The need for achievement is one of those motivators. Achievement can be found in stretch goals, learning through striving for new results, and doing something you have never done before. Closely associated with achievement is the motivation derived from recognition, appreciation, and increased self-esteem (doing great work and being / feeling valuable as a person). Achievement and recognition are powerful for the general population. However, if you are under 30 years of age and making less than $30,000, you will probably be motivated by money or money equivalents like promotion. One last word on motivation, get to know each individual personally. What are their goals, aspirations, hobbies, interests, and motivators? Then integrate what you know about the general population with the specifics of each person and you will become a great motivator of employees. By the way, this works with children, spouses, significant others, and friends.
Tyler: I’d like to go back a minute and comment on the primary reason you mentioned people leave their jobs—their immediate supervisors. Having been in middle-management myself, I know how difficult it can be to motivate your employees when the people higher up the ladder are uninterested in motivating, encouraging or rewarding you, which puts you in a position where you feel powerless to help yourself or reward and motivate your own employees. What suggestions would you have for people in such middle-management situations?
Joe: My whole purpose for living is to help people like you described to understand that they are not powerless to help themselves and that no matter what the work environment, they are able to encourage, coach, and motivate the people who work for them. You see, we have a choice. We can shrink from challenges, become powerless, or we can choose to lead by example, set ourselves apart, and be the leader we were meant to be. Middle managers who develop themselves into leaders are upbeat, guided by inner values, and care for each person who works for them no matter what the work environment. I wrote my book to help middle managers become leaders, model the right attitudes and behaviors, and overcome the shortcomings found in many organizations. I was one of those middle managers at one time. I was positive but found that my values and the organization’s values were too different to remain employed in that company. I was faced with taking a job I could do in my sleep or be downsized. I took downsizing. It was the best decision I ever made. It allowed me to create a wonderful and rewarding life.
Tyler: That’s a fantastic observation, Joe–that you have to make sure your personal values and the organization’s values are similar. But is it really that easy? What advice would you give to the many people who probably feel trapped working in jobs they dislike for companies they dislike simply because they feel they can’t leave if they want to pay the mortgage or feed their families? How can these people become their own leaders out of such quagmires?
Joe: Feeling probably trapped is a choice. It is based on fear and will drain the energy right out of a person. Everything is a choice. We choose to feel trapped. We choose to fear not being able to pay the bills or feed the family. We choose to slog on each and every day without the courage to choose something else. We choose limitations that keep us from using more of our potential and greatness. I’m going to be a little in everyone’s face and say that you can choose change. If you want a better life, well then make that choice and plan how you can accomplish that plan. You see, if you do the things you have always done, then you will get more of what you have always gotten. You must choose to learn, grow, and become something more. Like Oprah Winfrey, you need to hold a larger vision of yourself than you presently have. Ok, so here is what you do. Choose to buy my book. Turn to page one. Read the article called, “Back to the Basics.” Highlight insightful ideas you have. Take the best idea and start practicing it in your work and life. Do that for all 337 pages and your life will be transformed in a year and you will be prepared to make that leap to a better job, better life, and the joy and happiness you deserve. Oh, by the way, Amazon.com has the book used for $8.50. Is that too much to invest in your future?
Tyler: Your book also spends time on time management. What do you think are the biggest obstacles to getting people to manage their time properly?
Joe: The Habit Trap! We grow up amongst role models who have poor time management skills. Business cultures reinforce inefficient methods of working. People don’t know any better because no one is coaching them to improve because no one knows better ways of working. Everyone is trapped in in-effective and in-efficient ways of working and living. If a person is lucky they find a great book or resource that provides exceptional techniques to use your time more effectively and productively. If you are even luckier, your boss discovers and enrolls you in a development program that provides transformational attitude and time management skill development. If you are even luckier, your boss is a master at time management and coaches you to mirror his or her level of success. It is in his or her best interest to do that.
Tyler: Your examples then range from self-motivation to having a very supportive and motivating environment. Can an employee become his or her own personal leader, motivating himself to do a good job even if it seems like no one higher up cares? Can that one person turn that organization around?
Joe: Every person can develop personal leadership attitudes, skills, and competencies leading to self-motivation no matter what their circumstances. There are hundreds of examples of individuals overcoming adversity to achieve great things. Les Brown and Oprah Winfrey come to mind. Developing and exercising effective personal leadership attitudes and skills will set you apart from higher ups, peers, and others. It insulates you from the negative forces that would pull you down to their levels. Great personal leaders understand that their every thought and action is a choice and they choose the higher paths in their work and life. They don’t depend on the approval or caring of others. They recognize the source of their power is from within. They have so much to give and they give abundantly. Can one person turn the organization around? The answer is yes and no. Yes, you can if you are the top executive in the organization and you are smart about organizational and cultural change. No, if you are a middle manager bucking top leaders who have self-serving agendas. Middle managers will try but find their efforts very frustrating, deflating, a huge energy drain, and that they are not making any progress. In some cases there may be value clashes and the only option is to leave the company and find a more compatible place to work.
Tyler: I have heard it said that no one comes to work with the intention to do a bad job, yet we constantly see examples of poor customer service or employees who just don’t seem to care. What can a manager do to turn that situation around?
Joe: Tyler, I like this question. The manager can’t do anything! It is a top leadership problem and the top leader in the organization must make the changes to motivate managers and front line employees to provide the exceptional service that is desired. I recently had a one-on-one conversation with Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-fil-A, and what I learned will make you stand up and applaud. Dan Cathy has traveled to the top of his family owned corporate ladder but discovered that the answers to continuing success were not there. They rested with the front line employee serving the customer. Dan Cathy now spends considerable time sculpting, training, and leading front line employees to providing exceptional service to customers. In this way, Dan Cathy will ensure the continuing success of Chick-fil-A. You see, customer service and motivated employees start with the top leadership of an organization.
Tyler: That’s a great example, Joe. In “Building Personal Leadership” you emphasize the importance of setting goals and creating the attitudes and competencies for exercising effective personal leadership. However, I know lots of people have difficulty just figuring out what it is they want out of their personal lives and their jobs. What advice do you have for these people?
Joe: Oh, that is a great question! Let me explore how we get to this point in our lives and then I’ll provide some advice. We grow up in imperfect situations with mostly well meaning but imperfect parents, teachers trying to do their best in crowded classrooms, the influence of friends trying to find themselves, relatives who have their own problems and blemishes, and in neighborhoods that don’t support becoming all that a person can become. We develop limiting beliefs, attitudes, and habits of behaviors that severely limit what we can accomplish. So people know they have more to offer, but they feel lost and unable to contribute like they would like to. Often they become victims and don’t take responsibility for where they are in their lives. That said, now here is the answer. Understand that you had little control of your life until now. Today is the moment of decision. The life you live today is a result of your choices in the past. The life you live tomorrow is a result of the decisions you make and actions you take today. Decide today that you need to let go of old beliefs and ineffective conditioning in the past by learning new things, developing new habits, and changing into a new person. One new step each day. That is all it takes. Little changes each day and over time you will make big leaps in your leadership, success, and the results you enjoy. A great resource to start that journey of change is my book “Building Personal Leadership.”
Tyler: Your book was created from weekly emails and monthly newsletters you send to participants of your leadership development programs. Would you describe for us a little bit of the writing and organizational process that was involved in constructing the book?
Joe: I took hundreds of articles, threw them up into the air, and they magically fell into like piles. Well, ok, it didn’t happen quite like that. I did sort through them at a rather high level of organization and found four major themes of my writing. Then I hired a person to organize them into chapters with similar information. They were all combined into the book, which was then edited. My work then was to dive into the details, content, and all the supporting sections of the book. I learned a lot that will be incorporated into my next book. Just a comment, as I use my book in the leadership development process of my participants, I am always inspired by the content. There is something special about the content. Read it and you will experience the same special feeling.
Tyler: Do you see the book as evolving then into future editions—or you mentioned your next book—what will that be about?
Joe: I really love using my intuition and experiences to write for the several thousand people who receive my weekly messages. I have enough material since my book “Building Personal Leadership” to compile another book of similar organization and content. For sure my next book will be about personal leadership but exactly what form or the title, well, I’m looking to learn from the marketing of this book and to be inspired with the approach that might reach out to even more people. You see, there is nothing more important to me than helping people become more effective leaders in order to create the lives of their dreams. That is my purpose for living. Unleashing more of the unlimited potential and greatness that we all possess is my mission. Personal Leadership is everything!
Tyler: Do you have any thoughts about how email has changed the workplace, both from an employee and a management perspective?
Joe: That is an interesting question. I think a book could be written on the subject. From the employee’s perspective, they now use e-mail to communicate with other colleagues sitting next to each other in separate cubicles. It is also being used to keep historical records for a variety of purposes including their own protection (CYA). I also know employees who are teaching people to communicate with them via e-mail so they can manage their time better and keep focused on the important tasks they need to complete. From the management perspective, some managers work from home and send out literally hundreds of messages asking for information, following up on assignments, and in some cases micromanaging their subordinates. Using e-mail for these purposes can be good but I know some managers who get stressed out and write caustic and damaging e-mails causing great stress and unhealthy emotions among employees. Considering e-mail more globally, I think it is revolutionizing how we communicate and work. There is less personal contact, more computer face time, work done at home and traveling anywhere in the world, whole books are written through e-mail, new markets have emerged, and communication is timelier. The world has changed. What a glorious time to be alive. Our work and lives are filled with opportunity. Those who learn how to use e-mail and other technologies first and who seize the opportunities will win. E-mail is here to stay but like any communication tool, you need to know when to use it and how to use it to be effective.
Tyler: Thanks, Joe, I have to agree with you that because of new technology like the internet and e-mail, communication has improved and consequently, this time is one of the best to be alive. Could you tell us now a little bit about why you felt the need to write “Building Personal Leadership”?
Joe: I had many recipients of my articles and newsletters comment on the value and the inspiration they received when they read my weekly communications. During a networking meeting, a colleague suggested that I form them into a book. It took a couple of weeks for the idea to take hold and so I decided to do it! Now, I’m delighted with the book and I have plans to form an even more powerful book to become a resource to those courageous people who want to build their personal leadership attitudes, skills, and competencies. Change one life, change the world. Change many lives and change the Universe forever.
Tyler: And what do you feel sets “Building Personal Leadership” apart from all the other books out there about leadership and business management?
Joe: “Building Personal Leadership” contains hundreds of “in the trenches” tools and techniques for working smarter and creating the life you dream about. Each one is presented in a short one-minute or less reading with a call to action. Implement the tools and techniques in your work and life and I guarantee you will experience greater material rewards, happiness, and joy. It is uniquely organized and presented to capture and keep your interest. The index provides a complete guide to explore those particular tools and techniques in which you have an interest. If you want to go far in your life, then you must take this book along on your journey.
Tyler: Joe, would you be so kind as to share just one of those tools or techniques, or a success story in the workplace that resulted from using a tool from “Building Personal Leadership”?
Joe: I like stories. I was asked to work with a VP of Procurement of a food manufacturing company. He worked with the company for 17 years and did great work. However, his subordinate wouldn’t talk to him and he was having communication problems with the CFO. The executive team was very concerned with his dysfunctional behaviors and problems. In working together we learned he was an Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging type personality (ISTJ Myers-Briggs Type) with some really rough attitudes and habits. His emotional intelligence was very low showing the effects of the stress and problems he had but could not understand or manage. I used a leadership development program that lasted about 16 weeks with meetings of two hours each for 12 meetings. He had lessons to complete between meetings, extensive coaching during our meetings, and practiced the new skills and competencies we explored together. All those skills and competencies are recorded in my book.
As a result, his employee started to talk with him again, he initiated reconciliation with the CFO, and made other dramatic work life changes. His wife and family started reporting a new happier husband and father. Everyone could see him smiling more and he was happier. So I thought, I’ll administer the emotional intelligence assessment again and see if there were any changes. His emotional intelligence improved by three sigma (from the lower 5% of the population to the top 15% of the population). The story continues. He has been promoted and I just saw him and he is still smiling. This story is consistently repeated with the people I work with. The tools and techniques found in the book Building Personal Leadership simply work. YES! That’s why I live!
Tyler: That’s wonderful, Joe. I can tell from such an example that you really care about people and that they are the main reason why you wrote your book. Thank you so much for joining me today. Before we go, will you tell our readers your website address and where they can get more information about your book and your email newsletters?
Joe: My web site is [http://www.leadershipadvantageinc.com] and you can learn more about my services, products there. More detailed information about my book can be found at [http://www.leadershipadvantageinc.com/personal_leadership.html]. You may subscribe to the weekly emails and monthly newsletters at [http://www.building-leadership.com] and after subscribing and receiving a confirmation e-mail, just click on the link to activate your subscription. My blog can be found at [http://www.farcht.com/blog] and you may explore leadership articles at my article site found at http://www.leadership-e-article.com. It has been a pleasure to answer your questions and explore the subject of Building Personal Leadership with your audience. I appreciate your great questions and I extend to you a heart felt Thank You.
Tyler: Likewise, Joe. I’ve been very pleased to speak to you and to hear good practical advice that I know from personal experience will be effective in the workplace. Good luck with “Building Personal Relationships” as well as your next book.
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