Friday, 29 April 2011
UnEmotional Rescue


For those of you who are Rolling Stones fans, I thought you’d enjoy the title of this blog post.  While in a meeting this week, a business person whom I respect greatly gave some feedback in answer to a question I had about how to best help high potential executives improve their people skills.   He proceeded to talk about scenarios that I know all people find themselves in every day and then provided some helpful tips that I felt very compelled to share.

Have you ever left an encounter with an individual after basically shutting down on the individual because you were not pleased with the way the conversation went?   I know I have personally experienced conversations where, because of some specific comment or situation, I gave up on the discussion and looked for a hasty, but humane, way to exit.   It’s only natural that in our day to day dealings with people, we will inevitably have experiences that we find less than comfortable and our first instincts are to find a way out of the encounter as rapidly as possible.

The question we have to ask ourselves in the preverbal “heat of the moment” is what about this specific situation can we personally control to help ensure it meets our expectations.   A great example – when you walk in a restaurant and the wait person assigned to you is less than friendly, you can choose to shut down on the person and thus ensuring that your dining experience is at best, un-memorable and at worst, a disaster.   An alternate approach is to shower that person with kindness, interest and politeness in hopes of positively impacting whatever it is about their day that is going wrong.   You not only have the opportunity to help another person but also give yourself a better chance of having a dining experience that in turn, brightens your day.   When you compare the options and outcomes, what do you really have to lose by trying?

So what can we all take away from the above story?   If we can control negative emotions that surface in specific situations, we can have the state of mind to think thru potential options of influencing conversations towards more positive outcomes.   When your instincts are telling you the current conversation you’re having is a waste of effort, try a different approach and see if you can influence and change the situation.   The ability to do an “Unemotional Rescue” would seem to be a skill that would benefit many of us in our business careers.   It is definitely a skill worth practicing and pursuing.

Posted on 04/29/2011 11:39 PM by Scott Carlton
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Leadership and Energy


In managing change there is a belief that if you can manage the energy you can manage the change.  Energy is that element without which nothing gets done, but which is often pointed in the wrong direction.  Think of the times when there was an issue at the office which commanded most of your energy—mostly in the form of worrying about the issue.  If we can learn to channel our energy in the direction of action, which is forward-oriented, rather than anger or worry, we are much more likely to be successful.  Jim Loehr, author of The Power of Full Engagement, talks about managing energy, not time, to maximize our effectiveness on the job.  He goes on to say that if we can focus and stay energized to the point that we are fully engaged when we need to be and relaxed when we don’t, our success will soar.

Leadership is tough.  We need every advantage.  Always put your energy to its best use.

Posted on 04/27/2011 5:01 PM by Mary Fink
Monday, 25 April 2011
Recognizing performance sets you apart!


Just look into the eyes of someone who has been recognized for a job well done. They shine. As my mentor Tom Hennesy always said: Recognition is the number one motivator of people. Try to make this part of your regular routine:


Congratulate someone in front of others - it has even great significance. Offering a team member sincere appreciation for hard work will in turn earn you greater respect as a leader and, ultimately, enhance your image among other employees.


Celebrate success: Meetings are a perfect time to recognize and celebrate success. Even in a small, routine meeting you can usually find something—and someone—to recognize. When you start off on a positive note meetings often run more smoothly. Likewise, large sales gatherings should always be a time for recognizing the best performers. The more you take the appropriate time to celebrate individual successes, the more people will strive to achieve that same level of success.


Tell success stories:  Telling success stories is an engaging method of recognition and education. Get in the habit of passing on success stories at every opportunity. When you share success stories, you are recognizing both an individual for accomplishment and a larger team achievement. In addition, others will learn from the success story about how they might achieve a similar result. 


We all win by giving recognition. First, everyone feels more positive in a recognition-driven culture. Second, recognition reinforces desired behavior. Finally, leaders who provide sincere recognition earn the respect and admiration of the whole team.


Posted on 04/25/2011 12:16 PM by Joe Scarlett
Thursday, 21 April 2011
Your company is on Facebook - now what?


Most of my blog posts will revolve around our experiences in growing our business and maintaining as close contact as possible with our alumni base.  Our goal is to ensure that once you are a student at the Scarlett Leadership Institute, you will always be a student.  We want to continue to “fuel and feed” your desire to learn long after your classroom experience is over.

As we’ve started to grow our company, we have adopted the standard approaches to connecting with our constituents.   Our new Website is up and we’ve set up shop on all the typical social networking locations – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.     

It’s a bit intimidating thinking thru how to appropriately leverage all of these assets to truly help our business and our customers.    A great resource I’ve personally used is the book “The Now Revolution” by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund.   This book advises companies to start to think of themselves as a TV station or Magazine – telling their story in a relevant and authentic fashion.    Jay also has a blog where he provides additional information about this relevant topic at   I highly recommend it for anyone trying to figure out how their company should participate in social media. A very key point that Jay and Amber make consistently, social media isn’t just about what you say – it’s even more important to be listening to what others are saying about you.

We like to tell stories here at the Scarlett Leadership Institute so I’ll leave you with an interesting one I heard from a colleague about this very topic.   The conversation revolved around how my generation, early stage generation X’ers, “think too much” about what to say and how to say it in these social media settings such that what we want to say loses its relevancy.   We worry too much about what someone will think of what we’re saying, how we’re saying it or even what our picture looks like as we’re saying it.   This compared to the Generation Y’ers or Millenial’s, who do a much better job of treating these opportunities like normal conversation – just being themselves.   This person had gotten some great advice from her son – a Millennial who was very active in the social media space professionally.   That advice was to “just get over yourself– this isn’t about you or any one particular person – it’s all about the value you have to share.”   This person’s advice, don’t over think it – just start sharing and participating and most of all listening to what others are saying.   That’s exactly what we intend to do in our new endeavors– we assume you’ll let us know how we’re doing.

Posted on 04/21/2011 7:44 PM by Scott Carlton
Monday, 18 April 2011
Leadership Behind Customer Service


Leadership (or the lack thereof) shows itself in every aspect of our lives.  The most obvious is in our own organizations, where we succeed or fail, thrive or survive, and enjoy or just tolerate our time on the job, depending on the quality of leadership.

But if we are aware, we recognize good (or bad) leadership all around us—in the service we receive from a fast food restaurant  to the dry cleaner to the doctor’s or dentist’s office.  Whenever I experience really wonderful customer service, I am aware that what is behind that service is great leadership.  Great leaders know that it is the employees that deliver that unforgettable service to customers, and that by treating employees as though success or failure were in their hands (it is!), those employees will rise to the occasion every time.

There are a few establishments that I will go out of my way to do business with because of the experience they create for the customer, and I am always delighted when I find another one.

Posted on 04/18/2011 8:41 PM by Mary Fink
Saturday, 16 April 2011
Just back from the Offsite with Signature Executive Class 11


The highlight of the Signature Executive Program is the week-long retreat, in which participants go off-site to the beautiful Monteagle Inn and spend five days with some world class speakers.  This past week was one such week.

The learning was incredible, everything from life balance from one of the Canyon Ranch’s best, to practicing difficult conversations with two individuals from Cambridge, one of whom is the author of the book by the same title, to spending a day with the world-famous Marshall Goldsmith, whose lessons and stories of every kind of leadership experience was both inspiring and educational.

While the instructors are the center of the week, the camaraderie of the group living and eating together for a week are just as important a part of the experience.  We learned about each other and our families, told stories about ourselves and our companies, and generally bonded in a way that will be hard if not impossible to duplicate.

We left yesterday with our heads full of learning and our hearts happy with our new “family”, looking forward to the time (two months from now) when we will be together again.

Posted on 04/16/2011 10:08 AM by Mary Fink
Sunday, 10 April 2011
Welcome to the new Scarlett Leadership Institute

Welcome to our new website and blog!

Please check back here to see writings from our team here at the Scarlett Leadership Institute including those from Joe Scarlett, previous CEO and Chairman of Tractor Supply Company.   

It is our goal to help organizations build leadership qualities in their employees.   Thru this blog, as well as our presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, we plan to provide helpful advice and recommendations that will assist anyone interested in extending their education and skills on this important topic.

Please check back often as this is our passion and we plan to leverage this location to fuel it!

Thank you! 

Posted on 04/10/2011 10:06 AM by Scott Carlton
Sunday, 10 April 2011
Put Your Best Foot Forward


Put your best foot forward

This is the first blog entry from me on our new website so let’s start with the message to put you best foot forward.  Everything about you sends a message to others so your goal is to be the best in every possible way.  Remember that “you are always on stage.” Here are a few tips:

Look like a pro: check yourself in the mirror before you leave for work every day and ask yourself “Do I look the best that I can for what I do?” Hair combed? Shoes shined? Smile on my face?

Talk like a pro: Speak in full sentences, not too fast, with good vocabulary but minus buzz words and minus anything that could be considered bad language.  

Sound like a pro: Change your voice mail every day and do it with personality – sound cheerful and upbeat.  When someone first hears your greeting they are forming an opinion so the better you sound the better the impression.

Everything about you sends a message and the better that message the greater the chances for your success.  If you are in the business world “you are always on stage.” 

Posted on 04/10/2011 11:10 AM by Joe Scarlett
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