3 Signs Your Team is Malfunctioning

You have to identify the malfunction. Determine what it costs to fix it? And do everything you can in your power to get your team into top notch performance again.

The check engine light pops on in your automobile and you look in your handbook to find out you need to take your car to the dealership to have a million dollars worth of work done to it.  Your vehicle has many different components that have different functions but all work simultaneously to allow for a smooth ride and safe travels.  When one of those components malfunction, it sets off the check engine light indicating that something is wrong with the car.

This is exactly how teams work.  Everyone has different functions, but every member works together to create a high functioning unit.  When one of the members gets out of wack, we have a malfunction within the group, and the team suffers for it.  Not only the team, but every individual or company that the team directly affects.

I want to give you 3 signs that your team is malfunctioning.

1.) Leadership is Dysfunctional  

Have you ever known a team whose weakest link was the leader?  The team is determined, they have skills, they have passion, but they have no direction and instruction.

There have been ball players that were amazing at playing the game, but when they retired and tried their hand at coaching, their teams suffered and never succeeded.  Why?  Because they were good ball players and captains, but they lacked leadership skills and the ability to facilitate their players to the playoffs or championships.

We hear about people that have the money to purchase a business, hire employees, and even do some type of marketing.  But the business goes under or suffers for years. Why?  Because the leadership is toxic and lacks the leadership skills to meet the needs of their people or customers.

It’s not difficult to find signs of leadership dysfunction in most organizations – all you have to do is open your eyes.

-Mike Myatt

Here are four signs of a dysfunctional leader:

  • They seek ultimate control vs. liberating their employees
  • They are always negative vs. being inspiring
  • Always threatening vs. being instructing
  • They take up petty issues vs. being constructive

To build dynamic teams and keep them running smoothly and efficiently, quality leadership is a must.  It’s imperative that we leaders reclaim the spirit of true leadership and seek to guide and coach our teams to be well running machines.  If the leadership malfunctions, the rest of the vehicle doesn’t run right.

2.)  The Atmosphere is Toxic

Once again the leadership is a catalyst for setting the right atmosphere.  If the atmosphere is toxic your team will suffer.  How many of you have been apart of a team that suffocated from an environment that choked the life out of your group?

Automobiles can create an atmosphere full of smog and pollution.  That is why they have components on the car that recycle exhaust, and maintenance that cleans out the carbon build up.  When the proper maintenance is done to a vehicle the Malfunction Indicator Lamp illuminates indicating an issue with various parts.

To have the right atmosphere we must have constant maintenance and the right components in place to absorb the bad pollution.  For example:

  • Encourage unity instead of gossip and bad attitudes
  • Reward for good behavior and meeting goals instead of nit picking every little mistake
  • MICROMANAGING pollutes the atmosphere
  • Shut down clicks and always work on team building
  • Developing clear cut boundaries and rules instead of setting unrealistic and unclear expectations 

I am sure their are many more thoughts and maybe you can comment on some ideas that you have.  But I know this for sure, there are things we can do to clear up the atmosphere that allows our teams to perform at the maximum level.

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”

-Ken Blanchard

“As long as I have this one person, my business, my team will be A-OK!”  Only problem with this attitude is when you take out that one person your team suffers.  But a good environment that fosters teamwork will bring everyone to the same level of efficiency and the team will succeed no matter what’s thrown at them.

3.  Leaders Fail to Produce Leaders

Notice a common thread here?  Leaders fail!  Leaders, please take responsibility for your team, no matter if it’s at work, at home, on the field, or at church.

We as leaders face a daunting task, and that is to create leaders around us.  Your organization will only rise as your team rises.  If you do not want your team to be dysfunctional, then the best way to remedy this is to create a ladder for everyone to get on so they can go up.

Creating a tight group of people and fostering growth will develop a foundation for future leaders.

Training, training, training is everything.  Knowledge is power.  Giving them the information that they need to succeed will determine the type of leader they will be.  Technical skills, people skills, and personal development training would be a great start to growing leaders.

Goal setting and projecting.  Maintaining a strict goal program.  Cast the vision and maintain steps to meeting these goals.  People get bored and anxious when they just have a job to do.  They want purpose and they want to make a difference.

Give individual team members responsibilities.  Allow them to make decisions and coach them along the way.  Allow for failure and mistakes.  Remember, THEY ARE NOT PERFECT!

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

― William Arthur Ward

Determining to take your team to the next level demonstrates the type of leader you are.  Making a difference in their lives, and helping them grow the leader within them should be your ultimate goal.  By doing this you reduce stress, create great customer interactions, the loyalty and morality will rise.  They will care about the business not just a paycheck.  They will care about the team and the family versus their own good.  It has always and will always be about others.


Is your check engine light on in your team?  Is there a malfunction and dysfunction somewhere?

You have to identify the malfunction.  Determine what it costs to fix it?  And do everything you can in your power to get your team into top notch performance again.  Do not let your team become dysfunctional, and if you inherited that kind of team, take the challenge and grow with them!

Dustin L. Carr





“No Guts, No Glory!”

“Who am I kiddin’? I ain’t even in the guy’s league…It don’t matter, ’cause I was nobody before…I was nobody. That don’t matter either, ya know…It really don’t matter if I lose this fight. It really don’t matter if this guy opens my head, either. ‘Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody’s ever gone the distance with Creed. And if I can go that distance, ya see, and that bell rings, ya know, and I’m still standin’, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life, ya see, that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood.” 

-Rocky Balboa

Rocky is without a question one of the greatest movie series of all time.  I mean, what is there not to love about a small-town underdog competing with big league boxers, overcoming great odds, and marrying the woman of his dreams?  We all can quote the movie, we love to run upstairs and throw our hands up and start shadow boxing like the Italian Stallion, and all of us guys can quote the scenes where Rocky is trying to woo Adrianne with his savvy Italian accent and goofy little sayings.

The left-hander seemed to have it all, but what made him so great was the fact he had guts!  When you think of the Anatomy of a Leader, you cannot bypass the fact that every great leader has guts.

It is almost like this meme I seen the other day, “I was cut from a different cloth, and they don’t make my fabric anymore.”  Have you ever met people like Rocky that were cut from a different cloth?  Every generation has them, every age group has their rising star, every industry has their genius, every army has their general, and every family has their patriarch or matriarch. These stars outshines the rest of the pack, they stand head above shoulders to their peers.  They saw differently, spoke differently, acted differently, but most of all they had the guts to lead their generation.  Let me give you a few points that will hopefully inspire you to be a successful leader.

 1.) Be Willing to Start at the Bottom

Rocky Balboa is a fictional character, but gives a true representation of all the great leaders that we have come to know and love.  He was just another kid, scrapping his way around town and trying to make his mark on life.  It takes guts to step into the ring each day and battle your way to the top!

Starting at the bottom is awesome!  I see three things that gives me optimism with starting from the bottom:

  • There is room for advancement
  • There is so much knowledge to gain
  • It teaches you work ethic and perspective

My mom worked at McDonald’s, and she decided she wanted to make more money, so she got into the management program at McDonald’s. And that’s how you move up the chain. It’s not by demanding that minimum wage is raised; it’s by actually acquiring the skills. That’s the way that people get ahead in life.   -Raul Labrador

It takes guts to start at the bottom and work your tail off to rise to the top!  I do not know where I saw this from, but our generation complains about $8 an hour when our grandparents seen it as opportunity in their day.  I love that!

Rocky rose to the top!  He worked to the top!  He bled to the top!  And when you rise to the top this way, you feel humbled, yet you feel like you belong there.

2.)  Be Willing to Rise to the Top

My mind goes back thirteen years ago, as a young man starting in the preventive maintenance industry vacuuming cars and cleaning their windows.  I never thought of being anything other than that.  A few short years after starting with the company, I became the assistant manager and then a year or two later I rose to the top management position.  

Drawing from my own experience I can give you a few things that assisted me in rising to the top.

  • I worked my butt off– As a courtesy technician I worked my tail off.  We were doing to 35 to 45 cars a day and I was working 54 to 58 hrs a week.  Every position I took, I strove to be the best.  Do not wait for luck to come your way, prove yourself and create your own luck.
  • I wanted to learn–  I wasn’t satisfied with just doing courtesy.  I wanted to know every position in the building and be the best at every position.  When I became management, I made a ton of mistakes but I bought every book, watched every video to help me maximize my effectiveness.  Now, later in my life I decided to go to school for business management to rise to the next level.
  • I was never satisfied–  I am never satisfied where my team is.  I want to always drive for records.  I always want to maximize my team’s efficiency.  I want to take our team to whole new heights.

It takes guts to rise to the top.  The ascent to the top is full of obstacles and setbacks, and it means having guts of steel to make it to the highest summit.

3.)  Take Others With You

Never forget that when you climb the summit all by yourself you are only risking your own life.  That is the safest way to go.  When you get to the top by yourself, you alone get all the glory.  That is the selfish way to go.

climbers on everest

It is when you take others with you and you invest in people that you take the greatest risks.  It takes guts to invest in others.

John C. Maxwell said it best, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”

The leader trains, they communicate, they cast a vision, and they bear the load so that their team shines in the end, so when it is all said in done the leader can say, “We did it together!”

Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.

-Chris Hadfield


This is no doubt my most important blog yet.   Do you have the guts it takes to be a true leader?  To train harder, work harder, risk more, shine less, and be the leader that you need to be to make a difference.  Never be satisfied and get the guts it takes to make it!

Can You Hear Me Now?

I loved those famous cell phone commercials featuring two individuals communicating on their phones with one another; with one confused and listening real hard, as the other person is saying over and over, “can you hear me now?”

Watching this scene reminds me of a lot of conversations that I have had in the past with those that were my superiors.  As part of the anatomy of a leader, I want to discuss the ears of the leader.

It was funny, as a young manager, when my boss was trying to correct me on an issue. I would always respond, “I hear you.”  He would then ask me, “Yes, I know you hear me, but were you listening?”

That has always stuck with me, and I want to pass on a few lessons we can learn about listening.

The Vincent Van Gogh Effect

In 1888, a painter by the name of Vincent Van Gogh cut the bottom part of his ear off while under severe depression.  A world class painter painted a self portrait demonstrating his ordeal with his separated ear.

To be a true leader, one must master the art of listening. This can be applied to anyone in any position.

A listening master has a lot of similarities to great artist.

  • You must study:  Study to be quiet, but may I say to you, take it a step further and study to listen.
  • You must practice:  Be conscious in your next 10 conversations and practice listening.
  • Develop mastery:  When you study and practice, you begin to build an amazing art that most individuals will never have. You will stand out among your peers.

Do not cut your ears off. Rather listen with an artistic touch!

The Waitress Effect

“I said, I did not want any onions!” There are two types of waitresses – great ones and those that are terrible. I hate going to a restaurant, and I tell them, “No onions,” and the cook puts those big round onion slices on my burger. There are a few reasons for this that can teach us some valuable lessons on listening.

  1. Write down notes– When I say no onions, the waitress tries to commit it to memory because she’s a”professional.”  It is best to write down notes when your employees, or anyone for that matter, is talking to you.
  2. Listen with your face– I despise a waitress that is taking your order down, but she’s more interested in the large party down at the other table. Or, she is so consumed with her own issues that she is half listening.
  • Smile, be friendly.

  • Make eye contact 

  • Nod your head in agreement

  • Ask questions like, “What else happened?” Or “Tell me more.” 

  • Then listen with sincerity, and make it a point to to understand.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.                 -Stephen R. Covey

The Good Ol’ Boy Effect

Trying to “up” each other is the ultimate sin when it comes to listening.

The good ol’ boys stand around telling their fishing and hunting stories. One of them tells the other, “I caught a 5 lb bass the other day!” And as he proceeds to tell this amazing fishing story, the other person interrupts and begins to top that story.

Have you ever been around those that won’t let you get a word in?  With a lot of leaders, there’s no back and forth communication. They do not listen and try to understand you. Instead, they just run you over. Here’s a few tips:

  1. Do not interrupt. EVER!
  2. Listen with empathy all the way through, even if you disagree with their point of view.
  3. Do not be selfish. Let someone else talk once in a while. 

We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.

-Zeno of Citium

In closing, do not be that person that volleys back and forth with an onslaught of words to get your point forced into someone’s mind, but rather listen and seek to understand. Then you will find you can direct others and lead with confidence with the respect of others.

Watch Your Mouth!!!

“If you don’t watch your mouth, I’m going to wash it out with soap!!!”  How many of you heard that before?  How many of you actually had to stick a bar of soap in your mouth, or brush your teeth with soap because you slipped up and cursed in front of your parents or smart mouthed them in one way or another?

Words are a powerful tool!  The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” Proverbs 18:21.  All the ancients understood the magnitude of this part of the body.  The way a leader communicates is paramount in their success.  How you talk to your kids, how you speak to your spouse, your co-workers, your church members, or any team member, is the difference between success and sure failure.

Some “leaders” need to wash their mouths out with soap and clean up their conversation.  When was the last time you had a boss talk down to you?  Or when was the last time you heard a parent belittle their child?  Look at the reaction of the co-worker and the child and tell me how effective the “leader” was.  I want to give you a few ideas on how to use your words to get the most out of your relationships, and especially the ones you lead.


One of the most powerful phrases that I ever heard was, “Think before you speak.”  You love your team right?  Your children?  As a leader you should have a passion for your co-worker’s success, right?  If that’s the case we as leaders should stop before we speak, so we can examine our words before we catapult them out there.  Here are a few things to consider.

  • Learn restraint – Control your emotions and hold back your outburst.
  • Remember your teammates are humans and they aren’t perfect.  They aren’t underneath you, they should be beside you.
  • Consider the outcome of your words before you filet their emotions

Some “leaders” keep their teams scared and nervous because of their constant abuse with their tongues.  Yeah you may get them to do what you want and even achieve some sort of success, but the long term affect on your people will be crippling.

The most powerful tool you can use to motivate your team is not money, gifts, and trips, but words of encouragement and inspiration.

“You can say whatever you want, as long as you say it in love!” -unknown

Choose Your Words Wisely

Your ability to manage your words can increase your effectiveness greatly.  There’s many great books out there that teach us the power of our words.  A book I have that I love to read is, How to Say It to Sell It, by Sue Hershkowitz-Coore. This book teaches you phrases that increase your odds of making the sales.

You may not be in sales, but as a leader learning how to effectively communicate with others is the difference between “leaders” and leaders!  Here are some examples of communication, and take notes.

  • Verbal Communication
  1. Be clear and concise in what you say.
  2. Mirror the other person’s speed and talk.  But nothing silly, just connecting with the other person.
  3. Use clean language. Never vulgar.
  4. Project your voice. No mumbling.
  • Non-verbal Communication
  1. Make eye contact. But don’t be weird.
  2. Stand up straight.
  3. Stay out of the other person’s comfort zone.
  4. Smile and stay positive.

There are many other cues to consider but we are just hitting the highlights in this article.

 “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” –Jim Rohn

“Running Your Mouth”

“Running your mouth” is like running a business, it takes a lot of  work and lots of management.  If you want to become a master of communication, you must be willing to change.

  • It takes training.
  • It takes growing.
  • It takes maturing.

“Run your mouth” like a professional manager runs a top notch business. Be willing to educate yourself, read books, articles, take courses, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE some more.
My sister was called “Mouth of the South” for many good reasons. LOL.  She actually ran her mouth non stop, mainly because I aggravated the death out of her.  I was a little angel!

Most managers, parents, “leaders” are very juvenile in their communication.  Most feel like no one listens and frustrated because they can’t motivate others.

The art of communication is the language of leadership.  -James Humes

So watch your mouth as a leader. You can be a very effective communicator. Turn yourself into a communicating ninja!

-Dustin L. Carr







“Eye” Dare You!!!

Let us dig a little deeper into the anatomy of a leader. We will look at the eyes or rather look through the eyes of a leader!  “Eye” dare you to adjust your vision, broaden your scope, and look through the lenses of a true leader!

We find ourselves in a generation “of the blind leading the blind.”  Wandering around aimlessly, bumping into every opportunity, but never seizing upon the gift of success that was handed to them and their teams.  I want to pose three different ideas to help you clear up your vision.

Get Your Reading Glasses On

Never forget this, “Leaders are readers!”  Now, there are many things we can read. Libraries, magazine racks, and the Internet are stocked  full of goodness for us to indulge our inquisitive minds in.  But remember, you have to be reading the right stuff.

I ask you, “What are you passionate about?  What is it that you desire to do, or what field do you want to go into?”  Find every available material to consume and become an expert in your field of study.

Sales?  Customer service?  Automotive?  Entrepreneurship?  Pastoral?  Hair stylist?  Anything that gives you the information to help you stand apart from your competition, gives you the advantage to becoming successful.

A readership crisis is really a leadership crisis.  – Michael Hyatt

The more you read, the more you learn.  The more you learn, you develop the ability to maximize your skills to their highest potential.  When you accomplish that, you get noticed, recognized, and you become an industry authority.  In other words, the “go-to person” in your field.

What Do You See Right Now?

Reading, learning, educating, describes the process and the in and outs of your particular passion.  That includes YouTube videos and websites that can give you another outlet to learn.  Sometimes that means taking courses and going to college to get a certificate if need be.  I don’t know about you but I want a nurse that has gone through school and has a nice diploma showing that she satisfies the states requirements, to legally practice her profession.

So, you want to be a leader?  Awesome!  Now study!  Do the little things now to make a big impact on your future.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu

One of my personal motto’s this year is, “embrace the grind.”  Most people don’t want to do the hard part to get to the easy part.  Look at the hear and now, and determine on what you need to do to make you a success.  Leaders understand the power of the present.  Seizing opportunities and creating discipline in their lives that will affect them positively down the road!

That’s why you need to create a “dream board.”  Get you a pin board to hang on your wall in a prominent spot.  Pin a picture of what it is you ultimately want.  Then put underneath it or put it at the center with strings stretching from the center to another picture that describes a step that you’re going to take everyday that is going to help you reach your goal.  Keep it in  front of you so you can see it!

Remember, the first step is the most important step!

Look to The Stars

Peering through a microscope gives you the details, gazing through a telescope gives you inspiration.  We need daily inspiration to help us maintain the drive and vigor needed to get us through the hard times.  Inspiration will do a few things for you:

  • Help prevent burnout or at least get over it-  Burnout affects everyone and in order to keep from getting in a rut, you need inspiration.  My inspiration is my family’s future. I keep that in mind when I get weary and tired and it helps me to “embrace the grind.”
  • It keeps you evolving- Look at the NASA program.  At one time people were looking with their own eyes at the moon with wonder.  Then the inspiration came to peer closer, so they built a telescope.  They were so inspired that eventually they built machines that gave man the ability to put earthly boot prints on the surface of the moon.  When you can see your future and what it is you want you will keep changing and adjusting your attitude and mentality of the here and now.
  • You give inspiration to others- “Hey come over here and look at this!”  When others see you looking through the telescope they get curious.  You get excited because you give them the opportunity to see the splendor of what it is your looking at.  After all what is a true leader?  A leader that creates other leaders!

One person said that, “Inspiration is better caught, than taught!”

“Eye” dare you to lead!  “Eye” dare you to make it happen!  Become top of your field!  Shine bright, stand out, help others get to where they are going, and I promise that the leader within you will break out like Clark Kent.

-Dustin L. Carr

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