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A Good, Decent Man on Leadership

Floyd Miller
Floyd Miller

Floyd Miller is the operations manager of the Millersburg plant of Forest River R.V in Indiana. I have known Floyd since 2005. He does a wonderful job leading the team members at his plant. A very humble man, he has developed into a trusted leader over the years who has valuable insight to share to all of us who aspire to grow as leaders.


I have always felt that a leader that emphasizes physical fitness helps set a tremendous example for his people. Floyd has always been committed to being in shape, and it has helped him a great deal. He was in Paris earlier this month where he ran the Marathon de Paris. He finished it in three hours and 56 minutes, which is Boston Marathon qualifying time for his age range. Floyd is sixty. He has set goals to run marathons on all seven continents! Two down. Five to go. He has one scheduled in for late June in Kenya, Africa and another in Antarctica in March of 2009! "I'm just so driven by the beauty of this world," Floyd told me.


Floyd has been a leader for over three decades. He worked his way up through the ranks. Being fit has helped him tremendously. "You feel so much better about yourself," he said. "No matter what you do, exercise washes away the stress inside. I think of things when I exercise. It clears your head, makes you more alert!"


I asked Floyd to share insights on what has made him such an effective leader of people over the years.


"Listening, really listening to people out in the shop is key," he said. "Making people really feel they are part of the team. And one of the biggest things I've learned over the years is you you hire people better than you, life is simpler. I've got that! I didn't always get that!"


Young potential leaders and managers, listen up! Floyd pays close attention to organization.


"I admit I am a fanatic at keeping things cleaned and organized," he said. " When I look at someone's desk, it tells me some of the kind of person they are. If it's not organized, maybe that would impact them as a leader. If their desk is unorganized, it could mean they lead 'by the seat of their pants.' They may not be able to look at the impact of something for a month or a year down the road. They could just think of the real short term."


(Mental note to myself: clean desk before Floyd visits me . . . )


As a speaker, I have found that I am getting more and more requests for the How to Build a Positive Attitude and Keep the Darn Thing Program. A good sized gathering turned out for a session version of it last week at the Illinois Credit Union Conference in Chicago. Floyd can see why.


"Positive attitude is everything," he said. "I have always told my people to hang around positive people. It's amazing how fast negative people can drag an organization down. I've had to literally fire people because they were so destructive with their attitude."


The great majority of his workers have been positive, team oriented people over the years. I did want to know how he dealt with the inevitable negative workers that we always have (...or maybe have been ourselves at one point...or two!) .


"We normally pull the negative attitude people aside and talk to them verbally," he said. "If that doesn't work, then write them up. But when you talk to them face to face and just say, 'What's going on?' you'd be surprised how many times you can help them turn it around. Many times it's something from their home, and you have to understand that. Many times I have helped them to see a doctor. I will move them to a more upbeat department if I can. Most of the time you can stop it, but the people that are mad at the world, you can't really help. As time goes on today, road rage and all the anger built up, dealing with attitude becomes more important. The goal is to strive for the attitude of gratitude, to somehow put out a smile so that others say, 'I wish I had that.'"


Floyd chuckled when recalling how he has dealt with 'very talented but bad attitude' workers. "Two or three times because they had so many good things to offer, I made them the group leader! Sometimes they would pick up the ball. That got them going! I made one mistake doing that once, though. Bad mistake. The man was smart, but the attitude was bad."


"In my Christian life, as a leader I've treated people fair," he said. "I've been up front, been an honest person. That makes for a relationship where people trust you as a leader."


Floyd is up at 3:30 in the morning and at the plant by 4:30 to lead his people. His wife Linda told me once he doesn't have to be there that early, but he does because he cares for them so much. At 60 he will retire from work one day soon, but never from life. He looks forward to doing mission work and continuing to stay in peak shape. In the Paris Marathon he got such a rush from running by all the landmarks. "I've never run in a marathon run so well," he said. "My best time ever in a marathon was 3 hours and 3 minutes when I was 42 (like I said, he has always emphasized being in shape, whether he was 42 or 60 - that's another sign of a consistent leader that team members feed off of). My son's goal is to beat that time."


"What I'd really like to do is climb Mt. Everest, Charlie. My wife says if she let me do that then maybe I'd finally be satisfied!"


(An update on Floyd Miller - May 2009)


Several months ago, I wrote about a man named Floyd Miller. He is a plant manager of Forest River R.V. Floyd is goal oriented. One of his goals in his life is to run marathons on all seven continents!


He has completed Boston, Paris, Africa and . . . . . Antarctica!


"In all of the travelling I have done," he told me, "nothing came close to the Antarctica Marathon."


Floyd was one of 188 people from 14 countries to run the unbelievable course earlier this year. Getting there was as much of a challenge as the actual run.


In Ushuaia, the southernmost town of Argentina, his group boarded a Russian ship called the Akademik Loffe, which was formerly used for spy operations. The group spent another 2 1/2 days crossing the Drake Passage, which is considered the roughest water passage in the world.


It is the place where not only are there high and strong winds that blow most of the time, but where the "Circumpolar Current" is squeezed through its narrowest gap. This is a Westerly flowing current that flows around Antarctica powered by Antarctic winds. It flows at the rate of around 140 million cubic meters of water per second, or the equivalent of 5000 Amazon rivers.


Once he got there, Floyd found that there group was about all that was there.


"Even though there are no residents on this island," Floyd told me, "there are 4 scientific base camps with people manning these camps. They come from Chile, Argentina, Russia and China. These scientists are very cautious on who is allowed on this location. Let's just say this is political. Each one of these countries must give their approval to come and then preparations are made by our US Embassy. In fact, approval was not granted until one week before the scheduled race. It had rained for 2 days before we got there so in many areas we had to run we had mud up to our ankles. Part of our course was on rocks, glacier and many hills. I must say this was the worst terrain I have ever experienced. It felt like being on another planet."


"I read a book called "The Coolest Race on Earth," said Floyd. "In there it talked about possible high winds and we experienced this on our trip home with up to 25 foot waves. In my bunk bed I would literally slide to the foot end of the bed to the head of the bed. This went on for 2 nights in a row. To me this was a part of the experience."


"This June it's the Easter Islands and then just two more to go. Hopefully, I can complete these next year, the good Lord willing. The last 2 marathons would be in China (with the Great Wall) and Australia or New Zealand."


"I have a wonderful family who totally support me and friends that are encouragers. All of my family members are running in some capacity. Maybe just for exercise or small competitive runs and even some Iron-Man competitions that my son participates in. We are all pretty health conscious."


"As I get older I feel it is so important to keep active in some form or another. Some people like to golf, walk, bike, swim, I happen to like running. I think I can say with a certain amount of confidence that every person has stress in their lives. An answer for me in this is to get out on a run and after a bit the stress starts to melt away. I enjoy also the time I spend with God on these runs."


"I work for an RV company, Forest River, Inc. As a general manager of one of the divisions which I have been here for 33+ years, I can honestly say my boss, Pete Liegl has been the best to work for and with. He has also allowed me the opportunity to take these trips as my vacation times. He has given me much freedom in the way I run this operation. He is not a person to be looking over your shoulders, and has allowed me to make mistakes to learn and glean from them."


"The one thing I know is that people perform so much better when they do have the freedom to make choices. I learn from my people and hopefully they learn from me. One of my philosophies has been to hire people who are smarter than myself (even if they don't have a lot of experience yet) and not allow yourself to be threatened by them. Our own job becomes easier. The people who work directly under me I have enough confidence in that when I take time away, I know that I can come back and things will be running like it was when I left."


"Charlie, someone asked me what is next and I guess right now I don't know for sure. A couple of years ago, I thought that I would retire between 60 and 62. Well, I am 61 and probably enjoy working more today than longer ago. I do know that my long distance running is most likely coming to an end. A lot depends on my health. Our church does mission trips to many locations and I think that is something I would enjoy after retirement. Right now, my wife and I enjoy the way things Are. We love spending time with each other and with family and friends and short trips. I have had a full life in 61 years and feel pretty content."

Floyd Miller is a highly effective leader who is goal oriented.


To learn more about the seminars "How Do I Stand With The Goals in My Life" and "The Leader who Ignites" contact Charlie at 574.254.0188.


- Charlie Adams, Motivational Speaker
574 807 2279 || Email Charlie