Leadership Advance

Leadership Thoughts for Life Long Learners

Archive for the tag “leadership”

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?

You Might Be A Nag If?

We have all been guilty of eavesdropping in on a conversation at a restaurant or a coffee shop.  The other day I was guilty of listening in to a conversation between two individuals.  From all appearances it was a manager or employer with an employee.  The main mode of operation from this individual was to take out a microscope on everything that the employee had done wrong.  Mind you, I believe clear communication is important and there comes a time when you need to sit down and communicate effectively and clearly as to what the expectations are in the relationship.  This conversation did not feel like a clear communication moment from leader to team member, it felt more like the leader was “nagging” about every little thing the team member was doing.

While it may feel like human nature to nag for performance enhancement, it rarely…. if ever actually works.  The moment a leader begins to nag is the moment the leader ceases to lead.  There are many reasons why I believe nagging does not work in leadership, here are just a few:

1.  Nagging focuses on what is going wrong as opposed to what is going right.

2.  Nagging makes the assumption that the team member knows what to do and how to do it.

3.  Nagging takes the approach that the leader does not value the individual over the task.

4.  Nagging is more about lifting the leader’s ego than actually moving the team forward.

So, if nagging doesn’t work, what does?  The best way to change behavior is to focus on inspiring change.  Instead of focusing on what is wrong, focus on what the individual is doing right and then transition to raising the bar where they are falling short.  Inspire your team to BE more so that they can DO more.  Leaders will many times skip the human “being” (inspiration) of people and focus on human “doing” (the task).  For example, it is much easier for me to love when I have been loved, it is much easier for me to forgive when I have been forgiven.   So…… LEADER, how does your team view you?  As an Inspiration or a Nag?  Hopefully this blog INSPIRES you to be the Leader your called to be.

Self Fulfillment vs. Self Development

I was reading John Maxwell book, “15  Invaluable Laws of Growth” and was deeply impacted by what he stated in the Law of Contribution.  Maxwell differentiates the difference in living a life focused on Self Fulfillment vs a life focused on Self Development.

Self Fulfillment – thinks of how something serves me.

Self Development – thinks of how something helps me to serve others.

Self Fulfillment – feeling good is the product.

Self Development- feeling good is the by-product.

I do not know any leader that would not list one of the goals of their lives as desiring a feeling of self fulfillment.  Yet, according to these definitions we realize that living with the focus of self development is a much deeper and generous claim.  I have no doubt fallen into the trap of desiring self fulfillment at different times in my life.  Yet, when self fulfillment becomes the goal it sabotages the culture you work in.  The insinuation is that there is a defining moment when we arrive.  The moment we think we have arrived we begin to lose our grip on the progress we have made.  When self development becomes the aim, we never buy in to the mindset that there is some elusive “arrival” and we focus on consistently getting better as we progress forward.

 

 

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

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Yesterday I was struck yet again with the fact that many of the best lessons we learn in life come from ordinary things.  I had such an experience yesterday while I was getting a haircut.  As I made my way to the chair the stylist asked a question that causes stress to rise in just about any guys mind, “How do you want your haircut?”  The answer to this question is the same as every other time; I desire my hair just how it is, just shorter.  Then the stylist asked how much hair I wanted her to cut…. a half inch… and inch?  So, in the best way possible I gave her some pointers and she told me she would cut it and then I could take a look at it and let her know what I thought.
When a few moments were completed she turned my chair around for the final REVEAL.  I looked straight into the mirror in front of me and checked out the front of my hair.  After a quick perusal I looked in the mirror as it reflected an image of the back of my head from another mirror.  The stylist then asked me a question that stirred my thoughts, she said, “Is this what you were thinking?”  In that moment the stylist was looking for me to evaluate the work she had done and give her feedback as to whether everything was exactly how I desired it to be before I left.  To be honest, she really didn’t even need to ask me for feedback because if it didn’t look right I would have immediately said something and had her fix it.  I have to live with my haircut- it affects everything about me, so feedback is not just crucial it is necessary.

This leads me to a simple thought, you wouldn’t even think about getting a haircut, or dressing in the morning without taking a glance in the mirror to get some perspective as well as some feedback as to how you look.  Feedback is crucially important to our confidence.  If feedback is that important, why do so many organizations never create a feedback loop into their culture?  Many organizations operate by a leader casting  a vision of some compelling future and then handing the task of creating that future in the hands of everyone else.  The problem with this is that it leads both parties frustrated.  The leader is frustrated because what is created never ends up looking like what they had in mind and the team players are frustrated because they create something based upon their interpretation of what the leader said, not necessarily what the leader visualized.

I am challenged to become better at creating a feedback loop in the culture of the organization I lead.  Providing feedback is not only important to the overall stress level of the organization, but it will also be a game changer to build confidence in the culture moving forward.  As a leader are you providing feedback, or are your expectations of others performance based upon a dream in your head and not an idea which has been properly communicated with sufficient feedback along the way?

Inspire Me!!!!

Motivation can not be taught, it can only be inspired.  For this reason, I would rather have one individual that is internally motivated with little experience over ten professionals that lack drive.  The world in which we live is filled with people that promise 10 step plans to motivate those who refuse to be motivated. Additionally, companies spend large percentages of profit for the sole purpose of keeping a sales force motivated, and on and on the cycle goes.

I am convinced the problem is not a lack of motivation, but a lack of inspiring work.  People desire to be game changers.  They desire their life as well as their work to matter…. to somehow make a difference.  The desire to matter does not come from some external ideology or corporate tag line, but rather it is born in each of us from the day we take our first breath until the moment we take our last.  It is something internal, not external.  Motivation is temporary, Inspiration is eternal.

Many leaders have bought into the idea that you can somehow motivate inspiration!  They do this by rallying the troops and pushing people to limits far beyond any healthy boundaries all for the sake of desiring something inspiring to happen. This has created a culture of hype, with little substance or meaning. The product of trying to motivate inspiration is do more, be more, try harder.  This leaves people feeling inadequate and under an elusive goal that always seems to never be achievable.

A much better way to approach people is not by pushing or even pulling them, but rather by inspiring them to something greater.  Nothing pulls people out of mediocrity quicker than the inspiration found through the recognition of our meaningfulness in the grand scheme of the greater story!  Possibly a better approach to loyalty and motivation would be to inspire people rather than demand from them.  In what ways have you communicated their significance in the story of life change?  The world doesn’t need another manager trying to motivate.  The world needs a leader willing to take a risk and live life on an adventure that could possibly change the world forever!  When a leader does this, they will not have to demand allegiance or motivation, they will have to turn people away from desiring to be a part of the meaningful story that is being written.

Today is a Gift

Today is a gift. I know, if you are anything like me you have to admit that the daily grind rarely feels like a gift and more like a treadmill. The problem with viewing the daily grind as a treadmill session is that it removes the joy of every moment a day can bring. Admittedly I am not great at this, but I am slowly learning that life does not have to be viewed as a list of daily routines and lists, but can be viewed as empowered segments of time that are loaded with possibility. Two key words are found in the phrase “today is a gift”.

First consider “today”. You can not live any other day but today, so why not make the most of it? Regrets over past poor choices or worry over future events have never changed the reality you are facing right now in this moment. What if you approached, this moment, today, for what it was and could be. Don’t allow past performance dictate the results of this day, but choose to make today start with a blank canvas.

Secondly consider “gift”. A gift is something that can not be earned or deserved or else it loses it’s meaning. Many confuse a gift with a payment. You are not given today because you earned it, you are given today because it was gifted to you. This simple shift in thinking takes the focus off of ourselves and what we think we do or do not deserve and shifts the focus to appreciating what we are given. So, what are you going to do with the gift that has been given to you? You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so make today count.

Are You An Oddball?

Why do we find it offensive when someone describes us as a little bit different? First of all I am very grateful that we are all unique in our own way. Your uniqueness is what makes you an original, something that is rare and of high value. Personally, I think we should embrace our oddity. The reason we should embrace our oddity is because too many individuals spend their lives trying to fit a specific mold they have convinced themselves they have to fit. When I consider the good leaders that I have been blessed to work with I recognize that they were anything but “normal”. As a matter of fact, those who spend their lives trying to be “normal” discover at the end of their lives that they have very little to show for themselves. The reason we have heard of leaders from a variety of fields such as Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, Kobe Bryant… etc is simply because their level of risk or discipline or ingenuity is just simply not normal. If any of these individuals would have embraced and pursued being “normal” as opposed to the oddity that made them who they were, we probably would have never heard of them. I have decided, maybe I am slightly odd. I’m ok with that. My oddity makes me unique. My uniqueness makes me valuable. At the end of the day, I can live with that and you should too.

Do Not Try Harder

Curiosity is a value that opens new worlds to us.  New experiences, challenges and opportunities await you when you develop the art of curiosity.  I enjoy the familiar and comfortable as much as anyone else, but I have worked to incorporate into my life intentional curiosity.  It was this curiosity which led me to decide to try to run a Marathon last year.  If I were to ask what my motivation for signing up for this Marathon was, I would have to say it was the simple answer of curiosity.  What if I tried and succeeded?  What if I was a natural talent?  What if I fell in love with running?  I would never know unless I tried.

While I have always been in pretty good shape and had even maintained a disciplined exercise routine the year or two prior to signing up for the Marathon, I really did not recognize what I was about to dive into.  It became glaringly obvious that you do not just decide to try to run a Marathon one day.  You can’t just wake up one morning and decide you are going to try to run 26.2 miles in hopes that you will discover you are a natural at it and will fall in love with it. In my experience, people that wake up and try such feats usually end up never accomplishing what they set out to do, or worse, they injure themselves, sometimes permanently.  This is why I say that trying is not good enough!  Even saying you will try harder next time is not going to advance you.  The answer comes in the form of Training, not Trying.

The transition from Trying to Training separates the novice from the elite.  While it is true, there are some things in life that we pick up one day and try, only to discover we have natural talent. Nobody ever became great at something just because they tried it one day and found they had natural talent.  Natural Talent must embrace the philosophy of Training for it to ever produce sustainable and unnatural results.

I wonder how your life would change if you embraced the mindset of training rather than trying?  What if every new experience was not viewed as just something you are trying, but a real life laboratory from which you could learn lessons to prepare you in life for the future?  I wonder how your business or organization would transform if you did not just approach each day by trying harder, but rather focused on lessons presented to you each day so you could progressively become better?

The beauty of viewing each day as a day to Train as opposed to a day to Try is that trying harder will eventually cause you to lose your energy and you will burnout. Training takes each day in stride and you recognize the value of bad days and good days, because each day is a day to learn something which can be applied to your tomorrow to create a better world.  I challenge you as a leader to not try harder, but Train Better!  Oh, and just in case you were wondering….. I completed my first full Marathon in 4 hours and 38 minutes and have already signed up for another one this fall with a goal of doing better based on my training, not trying.

 

4 Steps to Produce More

I desire to produce more!  This statement is one that I hear continually.  The very nature of leadership itself moves you to desire to operate at a higher level; to see more results; to produce at a greater rate.  Several observations must be considered if greater production is what we desire.

First, greater output will require greater input.  You can only give what you have.  While this may seem basic, this very concept is where many leaders hit a ceiling in their effectiveness.  When we desire to produce at a greater level, we must begin by looking at the input of our lives first.  What personal plan do you have in place to increase the level of input you receive?  What blogs/books do you read?  What people do you spend time with?  Whose voice do you listen to the most? When was the last time you intentionally listened to something new? The answer to these questions will help you to determine whether the current level of input is sufficient for the output you desire.

Secondly, greater output will require a greater capacity!  Your ability to increase your learning capacity will determine your ability to be more.  Two vehicles may get the same miles per gallon, but the vehicle with the larger gas tank will go further!  Your capacity is therefore directly linked to your ability.  The good news is that all of us have the ability to expand our capacity as leaders, which leads me to my third point.

Third, expanding our capacity as a leader will require us to grow.  The only way you can expand your capacity is if you are willing to stretch yourself and grow.  Play it safe leaders rarely operate at the capacity they are capable of because they are always concerned about the question, What if?  What if it falls apart?  What if I fail?  What if I don’t like the new reality?  Too many leaders have allowed their growth to be stunted out of the fear of what if?

Last, a new expanded capacity presents a new reality.  The leader that expands his capacity will have to learn to grow into his new reality, thereby producing more.  The longer the leader fails to internalize growth into his DNA after being stretched, the greater the risk the leader will never grow.

 

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