Leadership Advance

Leadership Thoughts for Life Long Learners

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People Matter

“Where there is no vision, the people perish”

Proverbs 29:18

  Vision is clarifying.  Possessing a vision of the preferred future is critical to every area of an organization.  According to the ancient Proverb we find that vision is necessary for sustainability.  As a leader we must constantly be laser focused on the vision in order to stay on the right path and end up at the correct destination of vision fulfillment. 

  Over the last few months I have been refocusing my energy and efforts back to the vision of the church that I lead.  Honestly, I have to admit that this is a sobering exercise for any leader.  I am sold out to our vision.  I think about it daily.  Hardly a moment goes by when the vision does not compel and move me.  Yet, in a moment of honesty I had to ask, “do the people on my team and in my church know the vision God has given us?”  While I believe most know the vision, have seen it and probably at moments have been moved by it, I have to admit that I could probably do much better at keeping the vision in focus and clear.  This leads me to an important truth that has hit me over the last few weeks in this vision focus.

Without a vision the people perish.  But, without PEOPLE the VISION perishes!

  There are many noble visions I have heard of what a preferred future looks like.  Some of those visions are even God-given visions.  Yet, the difference between a vision spoken and a vision accomplished rests in the hands of the ability to not only articulate the vision to people, but move people to carry the vision themselves.  The more people that carry the vision, the greater potential the vision will be realized.  Do people matter?  You BET!  We love to highlight and celebrate the role of the vision caster, but what if we began to consider the importance of the vision carrier?  Without people rallying around, buying into, and lifting the weight of the vision it would simply die on the vine and be fruitless.

  Your job as a leader is to have a vision and cast that vision often and continually for sustainability.  But recognize, for vision to be realized it must have people.  Don’t let a God-given vision die on the vine, but find a way to incorporate people into the vision.  Find ways to celebrate the people that rally around the vision.  Discover how the vision impacts the people who carry it.  You never know, it could be the difference between the life and death of the vision.  So, what are some of your thoughts on how to get people to buy-in to vision?  I would be curious to know.

 

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VISION < ?

I have always heard that a compelling VISION is the most important ingredient in building an organization. Vision gives a common focal point for all to push towards and build around. No doubt, a compelling vision is necessary if you desire to attract people to your organization and ultimately make measurable forward progress. The only problem with focusing all of your energy as a leader on a compelling vision is that vision may attract people, but CULTURE will keep them. Your vision tells me what you desire to do, but culture tells me how you will actually accomplish the vision. I have met a lot of people with grand visions, yet their organizations are extremely unhealthy. Vision may attract talent, but the culture that exists in your organization will determine whether the talent stays. Vision may attract high energy and high impact people, but culture will determine whether they will remain high energy and if they will be high impact. For this reason, I have determined that vision is necessary to give us a focal point to work towards, but culture will determine whether the vision is ever accomplished. If you never see your vision come to pass, the problem may not be the vision, it most likely is the culture that is trying to accomplish the vision. As a leader, do you know your VISION? Also, have you considered the CULTURE it will take to see that vision happen?

The “BEE” Method of Empowerment

I am privileged to lead a monthly small group in our community which pulls business leaders together to discuss leadership principles and how they apply to our current situations.  This last week our topic was on the concept of Empowerment.  While thinking about this topic throughout the week, I have come to believe that Empowerment encompasses three elements, which I will call the BEE Method of Empowerment.

Empowerment always begins with Believing in someone first.  One could argue that it is impossible to empower another leader unless first you believe in them as an individual.  Empowerment begins with Belief in.  When someone believes in us, it sets wind to our sails and frees us to know that our value is not in proving our worth, but in making progress.

Unfortunately, many leaders are convinced that believing in someone is all that is required to empowering an individual.  Nothing is more frustrating in life than having someone believe in you as an individual, yet feeling as though you do not have the proper tools or knowledge needed to accomplish the task set before you.  I may be a very skilled writer, but if I am never given a computer with word processing capabilities, the fact that you believe in my writing abilities means nothing.  We all have natural talents…. the difference between those who achieve and those who don’t is found in those who believe in their talents and are equipped to use the talents for the betterment of all.  This is why the second stage of empowering someone is to EQUIP them.  I see someone with potential that I want to Empower, so I 1) Believe in them, 2) Equip them.

The last part of empowering someone can be difficult for the leader that has pride issues.  The completion of Empowering someone comes when you Believe in them, you Equip them and then finally you Endorse them.  Leadership is influence and influence comes through permission.  When a Leader Endorses someone they are moving their belief into action by giving the one whom they have equipped permission to influence others. The reason this is difficult on the prideful leader is because once an endorsement is made it reflects on our character.  Yet, I have come to realize that it is impossible to create a culture of empowerment without being willing to put your character on the line every once in a while.
“BEE” Empowering – 1. Believe In 2. Equip 3. Endorse

How To Create The Culture You Desire

Can you define what a good organizational culture looks and feels like?  While it may be a little difficult to define the many intangible aspects of a positive organizational culture, just about anyone could tell you immediately what destroys organizational culture.  The culture is the life blood of an organization.  I would even take it as far as saying that vision, mission and even codes of conduct matter little if the culture of your organization is not healthy.  So, as a leader, how do I create the culture I desire for my organization?  Simply put, there are two elements the leader must consider if culture building is their desire.  First, your conduct is the most powerful tool you have to create culture.  Secondly, your communication can reinforce your conduct.  When these two elements are in place, you will begin to create the culture you desire.  One of the largest mistakes leaders make while trying to build culture is by communicating first and expecting the culture to be created.  While there is no doubt that communicating a vision has power to create the future, it does little to create culture if your actions are not in alignment.  As a leader focus on acting in the way you want others to act, then reinforce your actions by verbally communicating and rewarding others as they emulate what you have shown them.  While this process may not create the culture you desire overnight.  Consistent actions, backed up by communication will create a culture that is healthy and vibrant.

 

10 Actions to Cultivate Trust

Leadership is dependent on trust.  If trust is not established, leadership will not happen.  Regardless of your skill, knowledge, pedigree or ability you will not lead others if they do not trust you.  Trust therefore becomes the permission slip to lead.  Recently I read an article that was published in Leadership Excellence in April 2008.  The author of the article was Noreen Kelly.  Kelly gave a list of 10 actions the leader must do to cultivate trust within their organization.  I found these very helpful and thought I would share them for others to read.

1.  Live the Values-  match your actions with your words.

2.  Tell the Truth – be simple, straightforward and consistent.

3. Communicate, Communicate, Communiate-  Listen to others, engage and involve people at the grassroots level of projects.  Remind people early and often of the values and expectations of the organization.

4.  Have Integrity-  Be realistic and make sure you under promise and over deliver.

5. Be Authentic –  Engage in honest conversations and be credible.  Make sure you words and actions are in alignment.

6. Be Accountable-  Admit mistakes and show that you are accountable for your words and actions.

7. Be Transparent – Be visible to others.  Give information if it is needed, do not try to lead people who are in the dark.

8.  Respect the Individual – Be inclusive and show empathy.  Honor people’s feelings and concerns.

9. Share Information –Keep people informed and address issues when they arise.  Give FEEDBACK!

10. Do the Right Thing- ensure that the right thing is done, regardless of the cost associated.

I hope this list helps you as much as it did me.  Trust is everything, so identify which of these areas are lacking in your leadership and begin work on them today.

Reference:

Richardson, J. E. (Ed.) (2011). Annual editions: Business ethics 11/12. NY, NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0073528656

The Gift of Value

In a difficult economic season of our nation we have seen a trend occurring across the different sectors of business.  One sector in particular that has latched onto an important concept which I call the gift of value is the restaurant industry.  While their are many things which drive business to a restaurant such as environment or style, I find the greatest driver for restaurants that brings sustainability over the long haul is their value to the guest.  If an individual feels they are receiving a good value for the price they pay, they will return to the place of business over and over again.  As a leader one of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is simply this, ” Do I add value to the people I am leading?”  If the answer to this question is no, you most likely will not be leading for long, or if you do, you will find the culture of your organization affected in an adverse way.  If the answer is yes, you will discover those who follow your leadership will build loyalty around the vision you are leading them to.  It is very easy for leaders to become so caught up in the day to day tasks that we forget a fundamental truth, the greatest asset to any leader are the people we work with, not the things we do or accomplish.  So, make a deposit in someone today by giving the gift of value.  Ask yourself a simple question, “Do I add value to those who are connected to me?”

The Leadership Challenge

I am of the personal opinion that leadership contains both the greatest potential for good or disaster. The concept of leadership is both simplistic as well as complex. While the world is constantly evolving, the life of the leader is constantly pressing onward. The leader is pulled in many directions, a few of which are understanding the history of the organization they are apart of, having a firm grasp on the reality they currently face, recognizing the preferred future they desire, all while being an innovative expert of change! If this list is not enough to define the challenge that leaders face we could add many more aspects to the list, but one of the greatest challenges of a leader is simply recognizing the impact your life makes on others. Welcome to the Leadership Advance blog. I have desired for some time to have a venue to share with others the lessons I have learned while leading others. I hope you find value in this blog and recommend it to the community of leaders who are making a difference in their world.

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