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Just about everyone knows who Lou Holtz is.  Some people love him, others may not care for him (especially if you’re not a Notre Dame fan).  For those who don’t know, Lou Holtz was a very successful (mostly college) football coach.  He is probably best known for coaching Notre Dame from 1986 to 1996.  During that time he lead Notre Dame to an unmatched record and a National Championship.

Coach Holtz credits much of his success to the lessons he learned from his mentors.  He also credits it to a philosophy he honed during his early years of coaching.  While Holtz has many beliefs, he boils the philosophy down to three key points:  Trust, Commitment and Care.

I have heard coach Holtz speak.  He is very motivational.  I recently watched an interview with him on a Golf Channel show called, “Feherty”.

I was pleasantly surprised that coach Holtz’s philosophy to success so closely mirrors the values we believe in at our company.  You see, we have said for twenty years that there are six core values to success in our business – Trust, Commitment, Responsibility, Care, Growth and Enjoyment.

More specifically, we say:

  • Be trustworthy
  • Commit ourselves to each other, our company and the industries we serve
  • Act responsibly
  • Care about others
  • Grow every day
  • Have fun

We try to apply these values in every action we take and every interaction we have.  We believe that doing so leads to success.

Coach Holtz at least agrees with Trust, Commitment and Care – they are his cornerstone values.

What values do you consider critical to success?

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I want to recognize one of my mentors and a lifelong leader in today’s blog post.

The founder of my company, almost 40 year association management leader, former political party leader, and my father is being recognized for his leadership within the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) working on conformity assessment issues.

Click here to read more about why Richard W (Dick) Church is receiving the prestigious award Gerald H. Ritterbusch Conformity Assessment Medal. 

I’m very proud of my dad for the leadership he has provided for our family, our company, several national industry trade associations as well as the international standards and conformity assessment marketplace.  Great work dad!

 

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We explore a lot about leadership in this blog.  Most of the discussions revolve around `characteristics of great leaders’, or `values of great leaders’, even `behaviors’ of great leaders.  We haven’t talked yet about when a great leader decides to step down from his leadership role.

Frankly, I haven’t thought about it much.  Why would I?  After all, I think of great leaders as leading their organization until they decide to retire altogether.

Well, that’s not necessarily true.  I read an interesting article today titled, “CEO Resignations:  Is it Time to Climb Down the Ladder?“.

There are some very interesting thoughts explored in the article and I suspect in the book referenced, Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows.  I plan to read the book.

Bottom line is this:  this CEO (and probably many others) realized he was no longer happy leading his company as the CEO.  Instead, he found a replacement and helped the replacement by taking a step down from the CEO position but not out of the company altogether.  The concept intrigues me for several reasons.

First, as a hard charging leader, one can burn out.  This concept allows the leader to re-charge by stepping aside but not out of the picture altogether.

Second, it seems this can also be a great transition plan for organizations.  Have the current leader step aside but not out.  Then he can help train and advise the new leader.

Of course this might not work for everyone or every organization.  But the concept is intriguing.

Have any of you felt burn out and changed your leadership position within your company as a result?

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Leaders tend to travel frequently – I know I do.  If you are a road warrior, you probably have developed a routine of things you do to make your travel more convenient and as pleasurable as possible.

Here’s an article I recently came across about the rituals of a road warrior.

While I don’t think I’ll ever bring my own candles and light them in my hotel room, I do see a few good ideas:  keeping an extra key in my briefcase, removing the bedspread and taking a key with you when you checkout so you can get back in the room to retrieve what you forgot.

I have had to go back to the front desk on more than one occasion when chasing down a phone charger or toiletry bag.

A few things I routinely do include:

  • Roll my dirty clothes and put them straight into a plastic bag (they take up less room in my bag on the way home)
  • Whenever possible, don’t unpack my suitcase – drawers in hotel rooms can be very dirty
  • Always carry two keys to the room in case one loses its magnetism
  • Leave the TV on when leaving the room so people think someone is in the room

Do you have any ideas to add to the list?

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I believe that a team reflects its leader.  By that I mean if a leader is compassionate, his team will be compassionate.  If a leader is grateful, his team will be grateful.  If a leader is a hard worker, his team will work hard.

Identifying and practicing the traits you want your team to possess is an important practice for successful leaders.  I read an interesting article today that addresses this.  You can read it here.

One of the suggestions in this article is that leaders regularly express gratitude for a job well done.  In fact, great leaders regularly find ways to praise their team members.  I know how it makes me feel when someone is genuinely thankful for something I’ve done for them.  It makes me feel like doing it again.

So, why not spread a little of that feeling every day with everyone you come in contact with – your team members, your family, the person serving you coffee at the local Starbuck’s.  I assure you doing so will make those around you happier; it will make you happier; and it will make you a better leader.

Thank you for reading this blog posting.  I hope it made you think about the traits great leaders possess and I hope it encourages you to demonstrate gratitude daily.

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If you study leadership, read about great leaders throughout history, or even if you just think about what you should do (and not do) to be a good leader, you may come away with a very wrong conclusion – that good leaders are always the smartest people in their organization and therefore have all the answers.

If you look a little deeper in your examination of leadership and great leaders though, you will discover that the very best leaders, the ones who were able to sustain greatness for their organizations over long periods of time, were NOT the smartest people in their organization and did NOT have all the answers.

Read this article for more information about what great leaders don’t know.

I may not be a great leader – yet – but I do study leadership and try to apply what I learn to the leadership of my company, my family and myself.  This lesson is one that is very important to learn and one I try to practice daily.

First, good leaders surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are.  At our company we try to find, hire and train people that are just that – smarter than me.  We know that if we have the smartest people on our team, together we can build something great.

Second, good leaders are regularly expected to make important decisions.  People on the team often look to their leaders with the expectation they must have the “answers” – that’s why they get the “big bucks” right?  The fact is, the decisions may be the leader’s to make but the input used to make the decision and the recommendations to be considered should come from the leader’s teammates.

When faced with a decision, I often (though I should always) ask my teammates for their input and recommendations.  I might say, “This is a challenging issue.  Are there any angles we haven’t explored?”  or “What do you recommend?  Why do you recommend that?”  or “If this decision were yours to make alone, what would you do?”.

My teammates feel more like teammates this way and not employees.  My teammates also may have different perspectives on the issue than me.  Getting their input makes the final decision a better one.

So remember – one of the marks of a good leader is knowing that you don’t know everything.  It’s okay not to.  It’s just not okay to act as if you do.

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“Listening is a skill”.  I have used those words many times – mostly saying them to my children when they haven’t done what they were asked to do – not because they’re bad kids, but because they didn’t listen to the instructions.

Listening truly is a skill.  As leaders, one of the most powerful things we can do is listen.  When we truly listen we learn more and we give the person we’re communicating with the impression that we truly care about them and their issue.  When people see that level of caring, they will go the extra mile for us.

I read a great article on listening today.  Click here to read it.

I am going to make a more conscientious effort to be an attentive and active listener in my interactions.  Let’s all do the same and share your results on this blog.

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