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I know myself pretty well. I have been through pretty much every behavioral profile known to man. I am aware of my strengths and seek to avoid situations that magnify my weaknesses. As I look back on my career, I have to admit that was not always the case.

Years ago, as a country boy who had rarely ventured outside of North Georgia, I had the opportunity to travel to New York City. I have countless trips to this great city under my belt now, but I will never forget that first foray into the metropolitan jungle. I flew into Laguardia in the middle of a snow storm. When we finally landed, my best option to get me to my hotel near Times Square was a taxi. I remember being concerned about my safety. It didn't help that there was a language barrier that eliminated the possibility of communicating.

On August 1, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued updated posting requirements for the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) and the Employee Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The DOL updated the posters in part because the penalty amounts in the previous posters need to be updated with the increased amounts. The DOL made other changes in these posters, most notably adding to the FLSA poster:

Certain executive and administrative employees are exempt from being paid for overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). One of the requirements is that the executive and administrative employee must be paid a minimum fixed salary. Effective December 1, 2016, the minimum salary requirement will be increased from $23,600 to $47,476. As an example, consider a manager who is paid an annual salary of $37,500. Simply paying for five hours of overtime each week would increase the manager’s pay by over $7,000 under the new rule to $44,531.25. 

The flooring industry has long been viewed somewhat suspiciously by the buying public. Frankly, I believe this dubious viewpoint has been deserved. I served on the Northeast Kansas Better Business Bureau board of directors for many years and each year we were provided with a list of more than 200 business categories ranked by the number of inquiries received. Please note that these are inquiries and not complaints.Inquiries come before a purchasing decision is reached and complaints are registered afterwards.

In the 1990’s, my firm was among several dealers asked to monitor all installation related interactions that our firms had with customers. We not only tracked installations, but all correspondence that we had with our customers which may have lead to them being disappointed with the service experience that they received. There were both single and multiple store operations included. This group represented dealers with employee and contract installers. These surveys were gathered over a period of six months.

"How are you doing?" We hear this question multiple times daily and likely respond with a "Fine, how are you?" This interaction happens so often that we don't even wait to hear the response. It has become simply the polite thing to say.

Leadership, at its core, is all about influence through relationships. I have often noted that the greatest leaders are not those who feel they have to do it all, but those who have the ability to create loyalty from a team who can do it all – a team made up of quality people with differing skill sets that when combined allow you to do what no one person alone can do - achieve your vision.

One of the greatest mistakes leaders make is focusing on their own performance over that of their people. There is no doubt that all leaders need to seek continual improvement, but in order to improve your business, self-improvement is not your best route. Instead, focus on improving those around you. Create an atmosphere that allows and encourages your employees to seek continual improvement. Doing so multiplies your potential to succeed.

This is an election year, so it makes sense to evaluate leadership in the most visible platform we have available in 2016. Now before you think this is a political column, think again. There are, in various forms, leaders on both sides of the isle. Though there have been good leaders, and some may even argue great leaders, there remain no perfect leaders.