In my early days as a business owner and leader/manager of employees I was a piece of work. I typically noticed only what was done wrong. There was little praise being delivered by me to those deserving of it. My stress level was high, so I tended to “catastrophize” just about anything that didn't go perfectly, creating unneeded anxiety in myself and consequently those working with me.

It took a lot of work on my part to become more of the person I wanted to be as opposed to staying the way I happened to be at the time. The small changes added up over time and I eventually got somewhat better at being both a leader and a manager.

A contractor friend of mine, Everett Collier (whom some of you will remember as a past president of NARI) took a different route. Early in his adult life, Everett was a drill sergeant in the U.S. Army. I am sure many of you are familiar with stereotype of that position: Someone who is in the face of a soldier, screaming his lungs out, doing his best to break that soldier down so the drill sergeant can build the soldier up into what the Army thinks is needed.

Everett has never been a screamer type of person. He's thoughtful and is open to considering different points of view.

By bringing a leadership style like that to being a drill sergeant, Everett was able to train his company to a level where it consistently outperformed the companies of the other drill sergeants. Why? I think he got the results he did because Everett was a responsible adult working with other adults, modeling the behavior he expected of them.

When I eventually realized was that behaving that way was the only way our remodeling company would get better and better. So my stress level went down and the performance of our employees became even better.

Being a motivator gets better results more consistently than being a dominator. How do I know? I have tried both ways!