John Crnokrak & Associates

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July 2, 2015

July 2, 2015


Trust is the Essence of Leadership


When we trust someone, we assume they will act honestly and truthfully, and be reliable and predictable. Also, we assume they will not take advantage of our trust. Trust is the essence of leadership because it’s impossible to lead people who don’t trust us.

As an executive coach. I’ve had many situations where I have worked with individual presidents, and top management executives who apparently don’t think in-depth about the link between trust and leadership. Part of a leader’s task has been, and will continue to be, working with people to find and solve problems.

However, whether leaders gain access to the knowledge and creative thinking they need to solve problems, to me, totally depends on how much people trust them. Trust and trustworthiness dictates the leader’s access to knowledge and cooperation.

When employees trust a leader, they certainly are willing to be vulnerable to a leader’s actions; confident their rights and interests will not be abused. People are unlikely to look up to or follow someone who they perceive as dishonest, or was likely to take advantage of them.

Honesty consistently is the driving force for most people’s list of characteristics of which they strive to admire in their leaders. In fact, it’s an absolutely essential component of leadership.

Being a manager is a privilege and it is no simple task to earn the trust and respect of those you lead. However, there are actions that a good leader must adhere to in building trusting relationships.

For example, a leader must be open by keeping people informed, providing a rationale for their decisions, candid about problems and certainly, fully disclose relevant information. Also a leader must be fair, before making decisions or taking actions. A leader must consider how others will perceive them in terms of objectivity and fairness. Certainly be able to give credit where credit is due, be objective and impartial in performance appraisals and certainly pay attention to equity perceptions in reward distributions.

A good leader will always speak his or her feelings, by doing this, others will see their leader as real and human. Without question always tell the truth! Truth is definitely an inherent part of integrity. Once any leader lies and is found out, their ability to gain and hold trust is greatly diminished. From experience I can tell you, most people are generally more tolerant of learning something “they don’t want to hear” then finding out that there manager misrepresented or lied to them.

A good leader will show consistency because people want predictability. Mistrust comes from not knowing what to expect. Strive continually to fulfill your promises as a leader. Trust requires people believe their leader is dependable; thus a leader needs to ensure he or she keeps their word and commitments.

So very essential is, maintaining confidences! People trust those who are discrete, and upon whom they can rely upon. People need to feel assured their leader will not discuss their confidences with others or betray their confidence. If people perceive their leader as someone who leaks personal confidences or someone who can’t be depended upon, they won’t be perceived as trustworthy!

In closing, let me remind you, effective leaders know how to frame issues. Framing is a way to use language to manage meaning. It’s a way for leaders to influence how events are seen and understood. It involves the selection and highlighting of one or more aspects of the subject, while excluding others.

Hope this blog has been informative to those of you who have followed my writings. John Crnokrak


How often are you faced dealing with difficult people? I’m one that believes our emotions get in the way of our ability to follow through in dealing with a situation, whether it be the first time or ongoing dealing with a difficult person. What I’ve learned is simple, believe that you’re in control of your emotions, feel-good then, deal with the issue/problem/solution.

In my coaching of executives, I remind them, dealing with a different situation or person, we must first recognize we are not going to solve the problem immediately.Since there are many issues when dealing with a difficult person or situation, identify the “initial part” the situation you can’t stop thinking about. Then defined the “what it is” that is stressing you out from the person or situation.

Once you have figured that out, stay focused on specific and practical solutions rather than “running from addressing it” or worse yet, “letting your mind wonder”with confusion.People with a less than “positive or depressed attitude”have a tendency to elicit a sympathetic feeling in us and desire us to help solve their problems. The trouble with this is,any help we offer; “simply feeds their powerless behavior pattern.” People can be “influenced” to change and we can influence them to make that happen.

Ask yourself this: “When have you recently or even taken the time to think about a positive desired outcome?” And if and when you do it, it is usually what we do not want from the other annoying person that they continue to do! So, deal with a problem in “bite- sized” pieces and do it, one piece at a time. Take a look at your unsure patterns, then decide if you want the problem to continue in the future. It’s important to remember, we all want to feel calm and confident when dealing with a difficult situation or person!

So, to resolve the problem; describe the outcome you want, “using positive terms only” without the words; “NOT- STOP- LESS, ETC. Now while in the process, keep in mind, we “cannot change a person’s core personality;” so don’t strive for an objective, you know is impossible.

Let’s say, for an example 2 people are deciding to leave, Wisconsin. One person doesn’t really know why the other wants to go to Minnesota, however this other person has a plan. If the first person doesn’t want to move, this situation possibly could end up even worse off. It’s important to remember we exist to realities daily. Our inner and outer reality, the two are in alignment with the other and certainly these are times when people display separate existences.

Our “Inner reality” is the sum total of all of our past experiences such as: “our upbringing, learning, values, personal comfort levels, our expectations how people behave toward us, and our perception of what we are capable of, etc.

In learning this through the years, it appears this is all our beliefs, thoughts and feelings bundled into a virtual reality experience within our mind/head and outside our normal “conscious awareness.” It appears, most of the time, “inner reality” precedes “outer reality,” however, the outer reality we live in is a reflection of our inner reality. So we unconsciously create our outer lives, to match up with the life we have on the inside for better or worse, clear or confused, whether we realize it or not.

To be successful with difficult people we need to build an “inner reality” where we see the other person conveying the desirable behavior we want to see. Things like cooperativeness, being friendly, receptive to new ideas and smiling, etc. To accomplish this, it is essential “we personally see” ourself in that inner reality, behaving in a positive manner that “brings out” these good qualities in the other person.

What I’ve truly learned through my many years of experience, dealing with difficult people is; “NO ONE is difficult all the time, and yet once we have had a difficult encounter there is always the tendency for us to assume that they will always be difficult in the future. Taking the attitude a person will be difficult, we will surely approach them in a way that will bring out these difficult issues or whatever.

In all my readings I found the secret is to bring into our thinking process a positive mental attitude and confident feelings from another mental set that exists somewhere else inside our mind. If we think of our mind as a computer, it makes more sense. In my coaching of executives, I remind them to learn how to take on the “Persona of a Successful Role Model” who they know can handle the situation they are in confidently and effectively! Doing this will help anyone to inspire themselves to rise above a situation!

The point of any tough situation is to “develop some kind of positive attitude” toward a person or situation, if you are to be truly successful. It is important to keep in mind, when we practiced to attempt to deal with a difficult person or situation, it’s like when we first learn how to “ride a bike”or swim, or any other complicated task.

Naturally we initially didn’t to it perfectly! So, with difficult people or situations it is usually “impossible” to establish a regular rehearsal session since people are not usually that cooperative about giving us their difficult behavior at just the right times. Thus, we need to be prepared in dealing with it constantly.

So I challenge those of you reading this blog, begin now to prepare your mind to; “start to learn” and learn how to experiment with different ways of handling issues until you come up with an approval that seems to produce a productive results for you. So start now to think to:


NEVER FORGET, WITHIN EVERY PROBLEM IS A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY! Have you realized how your “subconscious mind” sends you good information; (often in unusual and symbolic ways)? How do you truly do things in a different perspective and become more “detached” from provocations? We can when we truly do not let anyone “trigger our fears and distress!”

In closing, remember, it is okay to make mistakes as long as we LEARN from them! But even better, to make them in our mind first. Like the old saying goes “MEASURE AT LEAST TWICE, BUT CUT ONCE!” Never stop believing that; “WE DO NOT OWE ANOTHER PERSON AN ANSWER; JUST A RESPONSE!

I wish all of you reading this message continued success, be well and safe. John Crnokrak


In coaching executives, I remind them continually, everyone “sees” from their own unique perspective, and it is naturally bound to be different from yours. In fact, I’m confident the majority of you reading this blog would agree; we all want to be fulfilled, satisfied and happy in our career role and life.

If we take a moment to think about this last statement mentioned, I think you also may agree people change to gain pleasure. They change to avoid pain! Living and working in different environments cause some people to think and act differently. Why you may ask? Because their experiences, and hence their perception of reality is different.

Think about this statement; No matter how illogical, strange or irrational some behaviors appear to the observer, it usually makes sense to the person exhibiting it. And interestingly enough, it is at that moment, fulfilling to them. So before you react to anything you feel strange, think first about how you will react and respond to the behavior.

I’ve come to the conclusion true understanding comes primarily from experience. A decided course of action is appreciated by those who assist in its formulation. Leaders today in any organization must make peace with reality and realize this. A good leader must be able to influence and even fire up those he or she leads. Motivation for these people comes from within. People can only motivate themselves, the leader can help through being very influential.

On another thought, feelings and emotions are often far more powerful than rational judgment. Needless to say, I have seen much of this behavior throughout my own career and now in the coaching of executives.In fact, true cooperation is possible only in a win-win situation. The benefits and rewards must be appreciated and of course attainable by all.

There are many various methods used to garner cooperation, and in fact may even be more significant than the cooperation itself. Feelings and attitudes change when people convinced themselves that change is beneficial to them; not before. How are you leading change?

The best perspective from which to understand the perceptions, attitudes and behavior of those you lead, is from each person’s internal flame of reference. Never forget, employees represent an opportunity to inspire, not a burden to carry. Also, words may inspire, but only action creates change. How are you, the leader, discussing and managing actions that lead to the needed change?

In closing, let me say, leadership is not a license to do less. Leadership is a responsibly to do more; not to mention a privilege. However, each of you reading this blog and hopefully evaluating your leadership style, what are your initial thoughts? I learned long ago, the future is only scary if we try to avoid it. What, if anything, are you trying to avoid daily?

So never forget, communication is not about saying what we think. It’s about ensuring others hear what we mean. How would you grade yourself here? Enough for this session, best wishes to all who are reading my blogs, and may you and your families have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday.May the new year be filled with joy and success. John


How do you view change? I believe change begins with awareness. We all need to identify the truth about ourselves. And in the process strive to expose the beliefs we continue to believe so strongly in. Also in the process we need to define the barriers that keep us from change; and list the benefits we with derive by leaving those barriers along with the negative beliefs and lies we tell ourselves.

When was the last time you asked yourself; ” are you being honest and putting all the issues you face daily or feel on the table?” It is always best to make right choices while we are still feeling any pain, fear or sorrow. Also how have you been or will you find a balance to take action if you continued to focus on threats and do not have the ability to move beyond any real or perceived barriers?

When I was in college many years ago, a Jesuit priest told me, “there’s a great disparity between what we know about ourselves and what we know about others.” In addressing change and making the proper choice delivering a solution, it usually comes from and through a different state of mine… “consciousness.” How many times have you questioned your durability of having an opinion because you feel uncomfortable? How have you worked through and eliminated any; indecisiveness, skepticism, indifference and confusion?

Now, ask yourself; how do you seek understanding? Also, how do you keep relevant information in your mind? Do you understand fear is emotion? How do you view yourself: are you an energized person or a potential drainer type person? These are the type questions I asked individuals I am fortunate enough to coach in my business as an executive coach. When you are challenged, do you ask yourself this question: what do I need to resolve this challenge/issue that I am facing? Also. to ask what are the next best steps I need to take?

Too many times people focus on threats and in the process it creates more issues in one’s thinking more clearly and making the right choice. We all have the ability to influence ourselves to become motivated. Influence as I view it, is the power to produce the desired results and in the process have an impact in a certain way that ends up beneficial.

It’s essential to keep in mind, there are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist or accept responsibility for changing them. We are always “one choice” away from changing our situation in life! If you step back and take time to think about this, you’ll find that our lives today are what our choices have made it. However, with new choices we can change direction this very moment!

I can’t remember who said it but it’s so true: “Life is change. Growth is optional!” By accepting that statement, you have the opportunity to ask yourself am I choosing to make a more meaningful and positive difference in my life? We are all leaders, and as a leader we need to keep in mind; sometimes one single choice not only changes the direction of our lives, but that too, many others.

So in closing I leave you with this thought” “It is choice, not change, that determines our destiny.” Good luck and best wishes to each of you who have taken time to read this blog. I wish you much success in each and every one of your career endeavors. Cordially, John Crnokrak


First and foremost Happy New Year to my readers. I am in one of those moods where I feel like sharing some of my personal thoughts and philosophies on life. Recently I had a situation with a client where they were frustrated, stressed out and not pleased with their present position both in their career and personal life.

In any event, I’m certainly not a psychologist, but I reminded this individual that we all have the “power of choices”and each of us has the power to make choices that will enable us to live in a calm, cool, productive and healthy manner; at least most of the time.

We have the power of choice to decide what task to accept whom to associate with, and how many hours to work etc. We all have the ability to strive to attain valuable assets, such as patience. When we acquire patience we will vastly improve our decision-making effectiveness by learning to suspend judgment.

In the process, we have a choice to back off immediately and take a detached stance. It’s important we listen and gather more information in a relaxed state in order to process properly and make a good decision. But really it’s important we learn what the other person’s point of view is, and assumed it has merit even if it differs from our own values.

It’s time we all stop to evaluate how we are striving to educate and develop ourselves to grow, develop and enhance our value to the organization we work in daily. Never forget, “education opens up opportunities” and “knowledge provides skills” something many either don’t realize or forget to think about.

I feel that for the believer there is no question, for the non-believer there is no answer! Also, pain is inevitable, but never forget, suffering is optional! And yet so many times we allow ourselves to forget the important things as mentioned in the last two sentences; and in the process frustrate ourselves.

For those of you who are committed to personal growth and success in both your career path and life I challenge you to answer the following questions:

* How do you know and evaluate your climb on the’rung’ up the ladder of success?
* How do you get results from people you have no control over to meet your personal success objectives?
* How do you strive to continue with your leadership development?
* How good are you at delegating as a leader?
* Do you know how to say no and not feel guilty?
* How are you interacting and assisting those you lead in developing their skills?
* As a leader, how do you bring people together to establish a common approach to a problem?
* Do do silos exist within your department or organization?
* Last and so important— Would you work for you???

That last question should get you thinking! So as you strive forward in the New Year, make a commitment to yourself to: “BE SIGNIFICANT AND HELP OTHERS BE SUCCESSFUL!” HAPPY NEW YEAR —John

Successful Business Owners and Leaders Focus on Self-Improvement

The most successful business owners and CEO’s I’m convinced, never stop learning! In fact,every challenge, every setback and every barrier ( whether real or perceived) and experience should be viewed as a learning experience. We all must keep in mind, we are engaged in a lifelong pursuit of self-improvement. My philosophy is; “learn, unlearn and relearn” every day of our life.

Just think about it, this is an approach we can benefit from as well. In today’s highly competitive business arena, it is essential to keep finding and implementing ways to keep improving your business and gaining a competitive advantage. As the owner, or CEO of any business, this is one of a leader’s most important responsibilities. never forget the importance of one of your main objectives “bringing out the best in others” is a great formula for success.

Here is an idea to start evaluating, and taking steps you know have the greatest margin for improvement to start raising the bar on your personal performance and those associates you lead. In fact, when those you lead observe you striving to enhance your abilities, it becomes one of most important responsibilities starting at the top; for your team of professionals to keep aiming higher as well.

* Start serving your internal and external customers and identify the three biggest gripes both have about your business and company. you might really be surprised both in a positive and negative way. But by not contacting and talking with your external and more importantly are internal customers you’ll never know what needs to be enhanced.

* Start to evaluate your management agenda, and what is causing you to run your agendas based on habit. This particular habit dictates a familiar pattern when you work, who you talk to, and the priorities you establish in dispatching your responsibilities. Although this routine may give you a sense of comfort never forget your personal world and everything around you keep changing, for both you and those you lead.

* Start to commit yourself to improving your lowest competency/skill set. No doubt you have surrounded yourself with very bright individuals, but never forget you can only gain by having a high level of personal knowledge and experience as an owner and top executive.

* When was the last time you personally contacted every major customer you failed to do business with in the last year to two? Take the time and strategy to seek to determine whether the relationship is, unglued and if so why. In the process use the insights gained to identify trends that demand management attention and in the process, try to convince the former customer to give your business another opportunity; even if it’s in the area of a contingency plan to move forward.

* When was the last time you made it a must do, to at least think of one employee you believe has untapped potential and empower that person to rise to a new level in the company? You can start by asking yourself how the worker could tackle a problem creatively or employ an innovative approach to seizing a business opportunity; or solving a present and challenging issue. Take the time to surprise yourself and discover you just may have some diamonds in the rough with great ideas that will help you and the company achieve your present and future goals.

Keep in mind, in business, the easiest thing to do is to maintain the status-quo, relying on past success to guarantee the future. In my opinion that kind of thinking does not allow future success and for the “lead dog”and to hunt! However in a period of rapid change, that can be a prescription for disaster, threatening a company’s ability to grow, prosper and even survive in the year years ahead.

Happy New Year—-John Crnokrak




Failure is an Orphan

I’m convinced that failure should set the table for one’s learning! One of the biggest challenges/roadblocks I believe today in any organization is “fear” and most likely it starts with fear of failure. I suggest the first thing those of you reading this blog should ask yourself is ,”How am I reporting and discussing real or perceived crippling issues, I feel are hindering me to move forward positively?”

I’ve come to the conclusion many people today feel they are not worthy unless they are successful. To me, success does not  establish our worth! Also dissidents can drive us away from things; it’s a conflict of people’s opinions/actions/chemistry/disagreements and dissension that add to various people’s fears and anxiety.

After 50 years of experience functioning in various organization and at top management levels, I have come to the conclusion in various walks of life there are high achievers who at times have a tendency to believe they are complete fakes. To the outside observer, these individuals appear to be remarkably accomplished; often they are extremely successful leaders. However sadly, they consider themselves less than successful and sadly some view themselves as frauds.

It’s time to ask yourself, am I setting non achievable goals and abandoning any attempt to have a work-life balance? I have seen much of this throughout my lifetime in the business world taking place. Some of the ensuing self-destructive behavior I have seen in very bright people includes, procrastination, abrasiveness and the inability to delegate. Where do you stand in these three categories?

Another challenge for many top executives is poor listening skills, as well as a tendency to micromanage which are syndromes also. These skills can definitely dent staff morale. I always tried to explain to those I was fortunate enough to work alongside and lead, that anxiety over performance can be self-destructive. Could you possibly be on a tract to self-destruct?

All top managers and employees must understand clearly that it is important to learn criticism comes with responsibility. I remind new manager/leaders that they should not compare their work unfavorably with long serving senior executives. Such a comparison is unrealistic and unfair to any individual. Also, of great importance, every individual in an organization and a team, need to understand some mistakes are inevitable!

Confidence is so important for everyone in every aspect of their life. To allow fear of any source to take control of your life can be devastating to some. Never forget most of us suffer adversity at sometime in our life. However if we want to test our character, give us power. The way any leader/manager handles power conveys a great deal about the individual. We all know power can corrupt!

Comfort has and continues to be the enemy of “change”and too many times many people do not want to leave their comfort zone. The comfort zone which some people live in are the area/arena of activities they have often done, which allows them to feel comfortable. A good leader/manager should be on the lookout to understand and assist these team members. It is important to open up dialogue and influence them to look within and discuss openly how the leader/manager can help them feel more confident and less fearful’ and become even more successful

Never forget when we do something new, something different, we push against the elements of our comfort zone. Thus if we do the new things often enough, we surely will overcome the fear, and our comfort zone begins to expand. We need to remind ourselves that when we expand in one area it expands other areas as well. When we succeed, our confidence and self-esteem increases. Then we take that confidence with us on another endeavor.

It’s time we all learn how not to give into our comfort zone, and not let our comfort zone shrink to the size of our home surroundings. We all have to work to exist and survive in these challenging times. so as you move forward daily leading others. keep in mind, strive for adequate information for a decision that must be made. And adequate information for decision may include:

* A list of options to be considered * A list of pros and cons for each option * Values important to making the decision *  Relative importance of each value * A recommended decision with reasons for the recommendation.

By following this process it can help you and those you lead feel more comfortable in the decision-making process. Also it will help remove a great deal of fear when people are included in the decision-making process.

Enough for today, I’m getting the feeling I’m starting to ramble. Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to my readers.