Feeds:
Posts
Comments

To most people, the concept of becoming “lean” connotes having less or doing more with less.  For example, I am 35 pounds leaner than I was fifteen months ago.  My company is managing more associations today with fewer employees than we did two years ago – we are leaner.  To many businesspeople the concept of lean is also associated primarily with manufacturing businesses.  It’s a concept that’s applied to the operations of the business, not to leadership.

I read an article recently about a book called The Lean CEO.  You can read the article here.

I think the concept of the lean CEO is interesting.  In fact, it mirrors many of the same leadership traits we often discuss in this blog.  The author of the article suggests that lean isn’t just a cost-cutting thing, or only applicable to manufacturing.  Instead, he believes lean is a cultural change that brings about success for the employees and the business.

Here are a couple of the key concepts of lean:

  • It creates an environment that is motivating to workers by involving them in making the business better.
  • It is about continuous improvement and involves everyone in that process.
  • It improves productivity but not by asking people to work harder and longer but getting them to work together as a team.
  • It’s about respecting people.  The teammates, the customers, management.

Sound familiar?  These are all concepts we have come to know and expect from great leaders.

Perhaps we should be talking more about Leanership.  I plan to read The Lean CEO.

There are many traits successful leaders have.  We have discussed many of them through this blog.  Of course, there are some traits shared by most, if not all, successful leaders such as, honesty, focus and commitment.

There are other leadership traits that we commonly think of when we think of great leaders such as communication, selflessness and humility.

Leaders become leaders because they are often smart, well-liked, able to set and achieve goals and able to get a group (or team) of people to work together toward a common mission.

One leadership trait we don’t talk about enough is sharing.  Leaders who share their knowledge, their experience and their goals are the most successful leaders.

I recently read an article about the importance of sharing as a leadership trait.  You can read it here.

What I really liked about this article is it draws attention to something I truly believe – that great leaders are not great because of who they are, but what their team is.  Great leaders encourage and embrace a culture of sharing.  They don’t hold their knowledge close to the vest and keep others from gaining it.  Rather, they share that knowledge and in doing so, encourage their teammates to do the same.

The result?  A team of people who trust each other, are confident in their ability to do their job well and an industry leading organization meeting the challenges of its customers.

What kind of leader are you?  Do you share openly and honestly with your team?  Or are you concerned about sharing certain knowledge – afraid that doing so will make you less valuable to the team?

I challenge you to give some thought to this concept and implement it in your business.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

I’ve often wondered if I could be a better leader if I was less connected to email, google, news feeds and apps through my smartphone.  I try not to be rude about my smartphone use.  I try hard to not check it during business meetings or when I’m in a conversation with someone else.  I was particularly struck by our connection to smartphones the other day during a family meal.  We were having a conversation.  I looked away from the table for a second and when I turned back EVERYONE in my family had their head down looking at their smartphone.  This was frustrating and eye opening.

I decided to document the number of times per day I check my phone and the approximate amount of time per day I spend engaged with my phone and not the people around me.  Here are the results:

  • I check my smartphone approximately 14 times per day.
  • I spend approximately one hour per day checking email, calendar items, news, weather, etc on my smartphone

Those numbers don’t sound so staggering.  They’re significantly less than most people.  However, the fact remains that time could be spent engaging people in face to face conversations to solve problems, create opportunities, or just make people around me feel valued.

I wondered if many business leaders disconnect themselves by not having smartphones or not using them during certain times.  Guess what – some do!  Here is an article by Sheldon Yellen, CEO of BALFOR about that very topic.

Technology has improved our lives in so many ways.  I wonder though if there isn’t a case to be made for improving quality of life and productivity by stepping back from some technology.

I challenge you to measure how many times per day you use your smartphone for activities other than phone calls and how much time that takes.  Then try to spend a day without the smartphone and see if your quality of life and productivity in business is affected.

That’s my next step!  I’ll let you know if I’m brave enough to do it and what the results are.

Leadership Lists

We’ve all seen them.  Some of us have written them.  I’m talking about lists…not grocery lists or to-do lists.  I’m talking about the tenets of leadership lists.

I love reading other people’s tenets of leadership lists.  I like what those lists allow me to learn about the people who wrote them.  The lists give a real insight into the kind of leader these people are.

I’m constantly working on my tenets of leadership list – I hope you are too.  I’ll share a few of my tenets here.  However, I encourage you to read two other recent blog postings I’ve read to see what others think are important leadership tenets.  The first is 16 Ways to be the Leader of Choice.  Interesting title for that blog.  I must admit I really like a few of these tenets (some of which closely align with some of mine).

For example:

  • Choose meaningful goals.  I suppose this is obvious.  However, if a leader’s goals aren’t meaningful, who will follow them?
  • Respect others.  Absolutely critical in leadership.  The caveat is you can’t ask for or “demand” respect.  You have to earn it.
  • Sacrifice for the benefit of others.  I love this one.  Putting others first is one of my tenets.
  • Have enough ego to aspire to leadership but not so much that you forget leadership is about service.  I laughed when I read this.  Not because I don’t agree with it – I do.  But I just thought of all the “leaders” I have known who were egomaniacs and thought leadership was about being served, not serving others.

The other leadership blog I read recently was about former North Carolina basketball coach, Dean Smith, who passed away this week.  I have always liked North Carolina basketball.  Perhaps it was because of Michael Jordan and that unbelievable shot he made as a freshman in the National Championship game.  Or perhaps it was because Dean Smith attended the University of Kansas, my alma mater, where he learned basketball from the best ever – Phog Allen.  Read the blog posting here.  I think you’ll agree Dean Smith was a great coach, mentor, and leader.

So, what are some of my leadership tenets?  Here are a few:

  • Always do what’s right.
  • Put others before yourself.
  • When possible, lead by example.  When not, don’t lead.
  • Be a caring servant of others every day.
  • Commit yourself to your goals.

They are still a work in progress.  I hope you find some you can use.

 

NBA great and Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley once famously said, “I am not a role model”.  I like Sir Charles and even can understand his point to a certain extent – I think he was trying to let parents and teachers know that they have daily interactions with children and should be their role models.

Unfortunately, Charles was wrong and so are many leaders.

You see, whether he liked it or not, Charles was in a leadership position.  He was and is a leader of his family, he was a leader on his team, and as a high profile professional athlete, he was a leader of young athletes everywhere.  As such, it was and is his responsibility to set a good example – to be a role model.

I read a great blog posting on the topic of leaders as role models recently.  Click here to read it.

The posting points out that no one is perfect and even the best leaders occasionally aren’t the best role models.  Nonetheless, when in a leadership position, every action you take (or don’t take) and everything you say (or don’t say) is seen and heard by your team – by those you lead – they deserve your very best.

So this blogger had a list of the six “saboteurs” of being a positive role model:

  • It’s what you were taught
  • Just this one time
  • It’s easier
  • It’s faster
  • You’re frustrated
  • It feels good to let off a bit of steam

I know I’m not always a great role model – and therefore probably not always a great leader.  However, understanding that as a leader I am a role model is vital.  What great leaders do is find ways to make being a positive role model a habit.  And habits are hard to break.

 

I came across a great blog posting recently related to – you guessed it – Leadership.

What a cool story this blogger has to tell about their grandfather and the 20 Mantras of Great Leaders he developed through a business and teaching career.  Read the full post here.

I think my three favorite (maybe the ones I connect best with) are:

1.  Followers choose leaders they trust, respect and feel comfortable with.

(Those values of trust, respect or responsibility and caring really resound with me)

2.  Be yourself.

(People know when someone is phony and they won’t respect and trust that person. You can only be an effective leader when you are yourself.  Just because you might be a different leader than others, doesn’t mean you aren’t a leader)

3.  Integrity is the bedrock of effective leadership.  Only you can lose your integrity.

(This couldn’t be more true.  Great leaders have integrity)

These three “Mantras” of leadership are things I strive to live up to daily.  Which ones do you find important?

Many times leaders are presented with ideas by their teammates.  How they respond to these ideas separates the good leaders from the bad leaders.

Think for a minute about how you responded the last time an idea was presented to you by one of your teammates.  Did you keep a positive look on your face or a negative one?  Were you enthusiastic or dejected?  Did you comment positively on the idea or negatively?

I recently read a blog posting on this topic that was helpful to me.  Click here to read it for yourself.

I like the ten suggested responses to ideas.  Perhaps most of all, I like the notion that no idea is perfect.  If you wait for the perfect idea or try to modify the idea so much in an attempt to make it perfect, you lose the momentum created by the idea in the first place.  I also really like the idea of running a “trial” or a “pilot” for new ideas – in other words, I like the idea, let’s see if it works the way we think it should.

I thought the 4 principles were helpful:  (my summation)

1.  Respecting the idea is respecting the idea creator.

2.  Don’t exaggerate the challenges you anticipate with the idea.

3.  If you change the idea too much, it becomes yours, not theirs.  Don’t steal ideas.

4.  If they own the idea, they will see it through.

Even good leaders can’t be good all the time for sure.  However, hopefully you more often than not encourage the development and presentation of new ideas by your teammates through positive responses.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 248 other followers