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Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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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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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