The Engaged Leader: A Surprise Visit by a Regional Vice President


Joined in business

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” –Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup

Our morning at the office was akin to any normal day; staff members arrive, greet each other, clock in, make coffee, and do whatever it takes to get the operational apparatus moving for the day. After thirty minutes, we settled into our workstations and commenced small talk with each other before engaging in our daily routine. All the sudden, I observed through the front office window what seemed to be the Regional Vice President entering the office at a fast pace. Somewhat startled, I exclaimed, “It’s the V.P.!” before he entered the office. I was surprised to see the Regional Vice President was by himself, without the usual entourage of the Regional and District Managers with clipboards in hand ready to write down every detail of the meeting. Normally, these types of meetings from out of town brass tend to create a tense working environment, where our district leaders prepare store managers and staff, days ahead of time. During these scheduled visits every office in the region walks on “pins and needles”, hoping team members will say the right things, present the goal board properly (the current performance metrics), and ensure the office is up to corporate standards; clean, neat and organized. Not this time?

As the Regional V.P. walked in, we got up and greeted him one-by-one. We were so happy to see him without the usual hype. In other words, we did not have to conform to a false corporate mold to make a good impression.

For reasons I will go into in a few moments, my colleagues and I were not intimidated at all by his presence. Our meeting with the Regional V.P. lasted about fifteen minutes. After his departure, the office was energized by his presence, so I sat at my desk and wrote down a short list of what I saw and felt from the Regional Vice President. One thing is for certain, I witnessed first hand a masterful leader working the room, and making impressionable connections with each employee. The following observations were noted.

  1.  An engaged leader is personable

The Regional V.P. was uniquely personable. As he entered the office he shook our hands, and called us each one of us by name. I couldn’t help but think, “This guy must do his homework before he visits a store. He knows each one of us on a first name basis.” His demeanor was totally non-threatening and genuine, unlike the meetings of the past. He was very personable, which made us feel like real people, and not corporate robots doing and saying the right things.

  1. An engaged leader gives hope

As he continued his conversation with another employee and I, he said, “We are going to grow old together, right?” We said in unison, “Yes, we are!” Immediately, I understood the meaning of this phrase; it is one used by married couples that are recommitting to each other for long period of time. I felt like he was putting us as ease by this comment. I felt secure and confident about the future. Leaders, like him, offer hope and build confidence for the future in a single and sincere sentence. Without hope you get a sense that there is no future to look forward to; only the daily grind of complying with charts and targets. The Regional V.P. simply imparted hope in a single sentence.

  1.  An engaged leader offers coaching

He soon asked, “How is your store’s performance?” So we led him to the break room where our goal board was located with updated metrics showing our activity, performance and profit for the month. After a brief overview by my colleague, he offered some coaching tips of his own. The coaching moment was helpful and pleasantly welcomed and acknowledged. We have not received this type of coaching even from our direct supervisors.

  1.  An engaged leader knows your status

Just before his departure, he asked a few of us about our status for our next level promotion. He went around the room asking and listening to everyone’s response. When he approached me, he asked, “Have you taken the test for General Manager yet? Surprised that he knew my status, I answered in the affirmative. What I could not grasp was his knowledge of my promotion, which was already in the works. I thought, “He is the Regional V.P. – He has got more important things to worry about.” This made me and the team feel that he cared for our professional development and advancement.

  1.  An engaged leader creates synergy

When he left the office, synergy was obviously present. We were all thrilled about his visit. We could not stop talking about what he said and what he was going to do for each one of us. The atmosphere in our office was literally transformed by his presence and concern for our future. After his departure, we then put our hands to work with more enthusiasm.

  1. An engaged leader follows-through

Some of us had some concerns about certain issues that were not being addressed in a timely manner; like our monthly bonus extensions, and promotions. Within a half-hour, after his departure, we were getting calls and emails from our District Managers noting, “We are taking care of that email you sent two weeks ago.” I was simply amazed at the speed of their responses. I have not seen such follow-through in such a short time frame.

Learning from Others

I was so fortunate to witness a leader who was engaged in what he did, and how he did it. The root meaning of the word engage is “to get the attention of” or “to bind oneself” with another as in a pledge. Our Regional Vice President certainly got my attention and respect. I was now interested in committing myself further under his regional leadership. Leaders who engage their employees, like our Regional Vice President, create empowering win-win cultures by lifting the attitudes and morale of front-line workers.

Everybody Needs a Coach at Some Point


Coaching, in its many forms, is simply creating a trust relationship with someone for the purpose of optimizing relational exchanges, thereby, facilitating learning, building more self-awareness, sharpening personal and leadership skills to produce excellent outcomes.

Coaching transforms lives by giving on the spot real time feedback, where the person being coached can make reasonable choices in the moment to adjust decision-making and behavior. Effective coaching facilitates a person’s transformation by producing new thinking coupled with new actions. If you desire to advance from your current state of “being and doing” you will most certainly need a coach to launch you to the next level. Latino Townhall offers the following coaching services:

Life Coaching: This type of coaching identifies personal restraints, then seeks to build strategies to bring the individual into greater realms of self-awareness and life purpose, so the individual can access and experience living at a higher level.

Leadership Coaching: In the end results matter to your supervisor, shareholders and consumers. To lead others you must gain their respect and trust so you can harness their collective power to garner greater results. A leader must learn to create an environment where team members can be empowered to enhance overall team performance, thus moving the agenda of the organization forward with superiror performance.

Strategic Coaching: Learning to gain perspective is everything! This type of coaching increases strategic thinking and implementation skills, which helps the individual move his or her business in the right direction by going through a three-point process to gain greater depths of perspective; these three perspectives are mastering hindsight, foresight and insight principles.

Transitional Coaching: Many individuals are challenged while transitioning from High School to college, from one job to another, mid-life crises, even transitioning from a career into retirement. Transitional Coaching helps individuals think through the ramifications of transition, then finding solutions for moving with success through these cyclical and common transitions. Transitional Coaching is about understanding and coping with loss, then engaging new strategies as you move into the next phase of your life. The goal of Transitional Coaching is helping individuals experience a “culture shift” rather than a “culture shock” as they move into a new season of their lives.

7 Reasons to Acquire a Coach:
1. Coaching engages your untapped potential.
2. Coaching increases self-awareness.
3. Coaching builds your confidence as a leader.
4. Coaching increases learning capabilities.
5. Coaching sharpens your personal skills.
6. Coaching fine-tunes your social competencies.
7. Coaching takes you to a whole new level in “doing” and “being.”

Email Joel at LatinoTownhall@gmail.com (cut and paste email) for more information.

The 5 Danger Signs of Compromise


A mentor is a catalyst for change in a young person’s life.” -Joel Garcia

A person seeks out a mentor for many reasons. In my experience, the most common reason is a person desires change but can’t achieve it alone.  The role of a mentor is to be a catalyst for change in a person’s life. They must first understand the struggles and obstacles in a mentee’s life, which are usually associated with what I call the Danger Signs of Compromise. Therefore, most mentees’ under your care will be going through some “trouble spots” in his or her life.

Once you have acquired a mentee, how do you go about discerning these trouble spots? The following “five danger signs” are examples of my mentoring experiences where I learned these danger signs. A mentor must understand the five “signs” of compromise if the mentoring process is to have some measure of success. A mentor is like a seer who perceives the danger ahead through:

1. Conversation – The first danger sign is evident by listening to a person’s conversation.

People will disclose vital information about their life if you just let them talk. A mentor must listen carefully by picking up on subtleties critical to a mentee’s journey. For example, if a person is disgruntled about their marriage, and speaks openly about it often, then a potential door opens to flirtation, followed by an emotional affair, and eventually consummating an adulterous relationship is highly possible. Adultery doesn’t happen over night; it’s a subtle process. An experienced mentor can perceive the possibility of this taking place.

2. Drifting Eyes – The second method in reading the danger signs is by watching your mentee’s eyes.

The eyes are the window to a person’s soul. A mentor should be look into the eyes of their mentee during every conversation. You can read a lot by watching someone’s eyes. Wandering eyes are a clue to what is steering them inside. A person with loose or wandering eyes has a lust problem and lacks self-control. Eventually, this problem can lead to poor relational boundaries or moral failure; it happened to a friend of mine.

3. Body Language – The third method of detecting a problem is by watching body language.

I learned this method by watching how teenage couples touch each other in public. The more intimate the touch in public the greater the likelihood of having consummated sexual intimacy in private. If they are showing physical demonstrative signs in public, like petting in the lower parts of the body, then how are they acting in private? I have seen this on two separate occasions but I was too late to warn them. A few months after observing these young couples I discovered, in both cases, the young female was pregnant (A lesson I learned the hard way. I won’t make this mistake anymore). Observation requires a degree of discernment to read the non-verbal language of others, and take appropriate action.

4. The Absence of Passion – The fourth sign to watch for is the loss of passion.

Watch for people who can’t find their passion or have lost it. When I teach at our weekly men’s Bible study I am looking around to see who is present and who is missing. This is my duty as a pastor to watch and discern what men are going through. When men lose their passion for righteousness they are not too far off from being consumed by other things.

5. Withdrawing – The fifth danger sign is withdrawing from others.

When you withdraw from others you tend to be vulnerable because you are less accountable and open to attack. God created us to be part of a community and not to live in isolation from others. Proverbs 18:1 (NKJV) reveals:

A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.”

Those who withdraw from the safety of the group are really sending a message: they are withdrawing from key relationships, accountability, and wise counsel. Deep inside their soul they are devising their own agenda. Unfortunately, it leads them down the wrong path.

As a mentor you must have the courage to speak up when you perceive a potential problem. When you perceive a potential problem, communicate it in a fashion that others will pay attention. You may have to speak about it more than once. If your mentee does not heed your words, write them down and date your journal. If the problem surfaces down the road you will be able to show them that your input was overlooked. Maybe next time they will listen more closely.

Is there another “sign” that leads to compromise?

Life Coaching for Teens


Life Coaching for Teens, a workbook covering three crucial areas vital for Latino teen success, was inspired when I witnessed first hand the need for mentoring and life coaching among a fast growing Hispanic population in the Las Vegas community.

First and foremost, teens need to build a healthy self image, which builds confidence.

1. Building Confidence

The first section introduces students to foundational principles and concepts of identity, significance and life purpose. These areas are critical for helping students know “who” they are, and “why” they exist. A person’s “self-worth” is tied to their identity. Without a clear identity, life purpose is much more difficult to comprehend.

2. Developing Character

The middle section introduces students to the Top 12 Virtues for Teens, which are crucial for building character. These virtues are:

1. Love: Overlooking the faults of others and building influence

2. Honesty: The ultimate character test

3. Purity: Staying “green” in a polluted world

4. Discipline: Staying on task – achieving your goals

5. Money Management: Mastering money so it doesn’t master you

6. Generosity: The sign of a satisfied heart

7. Courage: Standing strong in the midst of fear and doubt

8. Perseverance: Refusing to quit – Expecting to win!

9. Introspection: Finding self through silence and solitude

10. Wisdom: Navigating successfully through life and social situations

11. Foresight: Perceiving and interpreting the immediate future for sound decision-making

12. Magnanimity: The King of all virtues: self-mastery

3. Living Courageously

The final section encourages students’ to discover their innate gifts, and their passion. Finding one’s innate gifts are easy, there are many online tests to measure your temperaments and personal gifts. Passion is much more difficult to pinpoint but when someone finds it, they are naturally empowered. The section takes students through a series of questions that probe and pinpoint their passion. Once passion is discovered, a teen can then formulate a 5-year life plan to help them move forward courageously. Courage, therefore, plays a critical role at this point. Cultivating and expressing courage throughout life is necessary to achieve great results and become a lifetime winner.

What do you think, are these virtues relevant for today’s youth? (Post your thoughts below)

(The Top 12 Virtues for Teens, copyright (2009) Latino Townhall – all rights reserved)