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Gary Winters

Leadership Coach

Win one for the Gipper?

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You look around, and you realize it’s going to be another one of those days. Everyone – you, your staff, your boss, your peers – just about everyone seems to be stuck in a rut. Same stuff, different day.

Ever wish you could channel a little Knute Rockne?

“Well, boys … I haven’t a thing to say. 
Played a great game…all of you. Great game.
(Rockne tries to smile.) 
I guess we just can’t expect to win ‘em all.

I’m going to tell you something I’ve kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew George Gipp.
It was long before your time. But you know what a tradition he is at Notre Dame.

And the last thing he said to me, “Rock,” he said “sometime, when the team is up against it – and the 
breaks are beating the boys – tell them to go out there
with all they got and win just one for the Gipper.”

Knute’s eyes become misty and his voice is unsteady as he finishes. 
”I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock,” he said. “but
 I’ll know about it – and I’ll be happy.”

Of course, all the players roar and charge out into the stadium.

It’s not that simple.

Despite all the talk about vision and mission and purpose and goals and strategy and continuous improvement and employee involvement and all of that stuff, people get bored, they get tired, they get burned out, they get complacent, and they become less productive.

We’re not machines. We’re human and we get distracted or moody or anxious or angry or disillusioned. And when we do, a pep talk probably won’t turn the tide.

But there are four practices you can engage that can minimize the impact of ruts. They can help people refocus, recharge, and recommit.

  1. Remind your people how what they do has an impact on the larger aims of the organization – and how these aims help make the world a better place.
  2. Be hands-on only as much as needed and hands-off as much as possible.
  3. Look for opportunities for people to expand their capabilities and assume more responsibility.
  4. “Catch ‘em doing something right,” as Ken Blanchard was fond of saying. Remember, what gets rewarded (with a little recognition) tends to get repeated.

You might not prevent the occasional rut altogether, but you can create an environment which fosters achievement and commitment.


It’s time to get S.T.A.R.T.ed again!

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The seventh iteration of the S.T.A.R.T. program as presented through the Centre for Organization Effectiveness is right around the corner, but there’s still time to register. The program opens on June 11, and concludes on June 18.

S.T.A.R.T. (Supervisors Transition and Readiness Training) is ideal for newly promoted, or soon-to-be-promoted supervisors. We cover four critical content areas:

  • What does it mean to be a supervisor?
  • How do you make a successful transition?
  • What are the practical issues you’re going to face – and how should you approach them?
  • How do you create a results-oriented Transition Action Plan that will ensure your transition is successful?

Call the Centre today to register or for more information.

Hope to see you there!

S is for Start the Presses!

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JIT_cover_rev2Stop the presses! Stop the presses! No wait – START the presses!

My newest ebook, Managing the Soon To Retire Employee has just been released and is available on amazon.com. It’s filled with tips, insight, and practical solutions to issues that can arise when you manage people who are approaching retirement.

Highly effective managers vary their approach and use different techniques with various subsets of employees. A style that might work well with seasoned veterans could be highly ineffective with a group of new hires. One group that has received little attention, from a manager’s perspective, is people I call Sooners. 

These are folks who are three years or less from full retirement. As a group, they share some critical characteristics:

  • They are likely to be older than most of their peers and perhaps their boss. 
  • They are in the midst of a major transition – from employee to retiree
  • They face the unique challenge of staying focused on their job while looking ahead to the time when they will no longer be working. 
  • They may be overwhelmed with anxiety, a sense of isolation, nostalgia, positive anticipation or negative reluctance, burnout, etc.
  • They may face stereotyping (such as being seen as resistant to change or aloof or self-absorbed)

 Managing the Soon To Retire Employee is an ebook you can read in an hour or so. You’ll learn just what it’s like to be a Sooner, the three stages of transition, why some Sooners become problem employees while others become outstanding contributors – and what you can do to facilitate a positive experience in their remaining months and years. You’ll read an Open Letter from a real-life Sooner which makes a compelling case for managers to adjust their approach to better lead Sooners. 

This may be the first book of its kind – with a focus on equipping managers with the tools they need to get good performance from their Sooners while “being there” for them in terms of helping them prepare for retirement.  If you have Sooners on your staff, you should check this one out. 



J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q and R are for Sigh…

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charlie-sighI began blogging an alphabet collection of ideas on April 1st as a response to a suggestion from Arlee Bird on the blog Tossing It Out.

I managed to get to the letter “I” before other priorities in life, such as finishing and submitting the final manuscript for my latest book, Managing the Soon To Retire Employee) overtook me, and I set the alphabet posts aside.

I skipped everything from “J” to “Q,” and realized today should be “R” day. I can only wonder what I would have written about during that interval had I had the time.

Now, we’ll never know.

Perhaps I would have had an insight so bold, so brilliant, that it would have changed the practice of leadership forever.

Then again, perhaps not.

What I’m realizing this morning is that all I have is the present – what’s passed is past, and what lies ahead remains unknown. And author Terri Guillemets reminds us not to “let the past steal our present.”

With that in mind, I’m letting go of feeling any angst, disappointment, or even curiousity about what I would have done with J-Q. I’m betting you, too, didn’t get everything done you had in mind from April 12-19th.

Let’s all take a deep breath and let it go.

Today, I have R.

R is for resilience, response, reaction, rehabilitation, rebound, and revolution. It’s for repeat, and renege, and reiterate, not to mention review, revoke and reveal. It’s also about renew, and that’s what I propose to do with the A-Z suggestion.

I’m renewing my commitment to completing the challenge. I’m already wondering what will emerge when I consider S, tomorrow.

But that’s for the future to reveal. Today, I’m going to enjoy the now.


This article is part of a series of 26 posts for the month of April called “Blogging from A to Z,” an idea first suggested by Arlee Bird of Tossing It Out.

I is for Imagine

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imagineTake a moment, if you will. Breathe deeply and hold your breath for a few moments, and then slowly release it. Repeat twice more, so that you are completely relaxed.

Now, imagine a day at work, visualizing you and your team. Now take it up a notch – imagine a perfect day at work. A day where everything goes right and nothing goes wrong.

Imagine how it begins, with people arriving, greeting one another, heading to their desks. Hear their greetings. What do you notice about them?

Imagine everything gathering for a quick meeting. See them come together and take their seats. Imagine you welcoming them to the meeting. Notice their reactions and expressions. Remember, this is a day when everything goes right and nothing goes wrong.

Imagine you leading the meeting. Imagine people becoming engaged in the dialogue. Imagine ideas being put forth, and people reacting to those ideas with enthusiasm. Imagine the group tackling a particularly thorny problem that’s been on everyone’s mind for some time now.

Imagine a creative solution being proposed, and imagine it is offered by the person you would have thought the least likely source for that idea. Imagine the group embracing the idea and realizing it is the ideal solution for the problem.

Imagine that!

A meeting where everything goes right, and nothing goes wrong.

Imagine people leaving the meeting and returning to their individual stations. Imagine you going through your email and inbox and organizing the rest of your day. Everything goes right, and nothing goes wrong.

Imagine working throughout the morning on important tasks. Imagine making enormous progress on the most critical. Imagine calling people and having fruitful, engaging conversations. Imagine being interrupted, from time to time, and seeing those interruptions as a normal, expected part of your flow.

Imagine having lunch with a close colleague, and coming back feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready to take on the afternoon.

Imagine having several brief meetings with members of your staff, catching up on their progress on their progress. Imagine yourself offering useful suggestions and taking a moment to recognize their accomplishments with them. Imagine them leaving your office filled with satisfaction for having stopped by.

Imagine your boss calling you with major concerns about a looming deadline. Imagine letting the boss know that everything’s coming together beautifully, and there is no reason for worry. Imagine your boss accepting your input gratefully.

Imagine realizing the end of the work day is approaching, and everything you had hoped to accomplish today is just about finished. Imagine taking out a pen and jotting a few things down on your To Do List for tomorrow.

Imagine gathering your things and striding for the exit, greeting those employees who are still there, each finishing up something before heading home.

Imagine a day where everything goes right, and nothing goes wrong.

Tomorrow, do it again, and the next day, again. Learn to imagine a day where everything goes right, and nothing goes wrong in sixty seconds.

Practice imagining that day without a little voice in the back of your head that says, “Yeah, but…”

Imagine a day where everything goes right, and nothing goes wrong for the next thirty days, just as an experiment.

Imagine what might happen.


This article is part of a series of 26 posts for the month of April called “Blogging from A to Z,” an idea first suggested by Arlee Bird of Tossing It Out.