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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.

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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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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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Good leaders have many common traits and behaviors.  We’ve explored many of them through this blog.

For example, good leaders often surround themselves with good, smart, effective people; good leaders have a sense of purpose and are able to communicate that purpose with those around them; good leaders have certain values they live by and to which they hold themselves accountable.

I also believe good leaders try to make decisions and take actions that they can be proud of.  In other words, good leaders operate so they can “look themselves in the mirror” every day.

Check out this video clip and short blurb from a 2014 NBA Playoff game between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers.

In the clip, a Pacers player is seen blowing into a Heat players’ face in an apparent attempt to distract the Heat player.  Of course we know ultimately this didn’t work as the Heat won the series and went on to play for the NBA title.  However, I can’t help but wonder how the Pacers player felt the morning after the game when he looked himself in the mirror.  Was he proud of his actions?  or Was he ashamed and embarrassed by his actions?

I guess we’ll never know for sure but I contend that good leaders typically don’t take actions they won’t be proud of and on the occasion they do make a mistake, (because everyone – even good leaders – make them) they address the mistake, apologize for it, take responsibility for it and then move on.  (check out my March 3, 2014 blog post “Hard to Say I’m Sorry and Other Leadership Anthems)

So, if you want to be a good leader – heck even if you just want to be a good person, start thinking about the consequences of your actions before you take them.  Think about what you will see in the mirror tomorrow morning.

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