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Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

“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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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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Interesting post recently from the Leadership Freak titled, “32 Things to say to Young Leaders“.  Read the list.  I’m sure you’ll agree with several and disagree with a few; you’ll also probably have more you could add to the list.  One thing should be clear from reading the list, though – Future Leaders are important to your organization and its your job as a current leader to develop them.

Several of the associations we partner with have created “Future Leaders” committees and other networking opportunities.  These give the future leaders of the industry an opportunity to network and learn from each other and to share the issues affecting their professional and sometimes personal lives.  Often the things keeping future leaders up at night are not the same as the things keeping current leaders up.  They definitely have their own needs, their own ways to communicate,  their own beliefs of what is important and what isn’t. We have found these Future Leader committees and other networking opportunities to be very valuable to the future leaders themselves and as a result, the association’s have become more important to the future leaders.

So, the list of things to say to “Young Leaders” was interesting to me.  A few highlights from the list for me are:

  • Tell me what you expect from yourself
  • What’s the next step?
  • What are you learning (from this situation)?
  • What will you do differently next time?
  • Which option feels good to you?  What feels good about it?
  • What did you do today to bring out the best in someone else?

Here are a few more I’ve thought of.  Let me know what you think and start adding to the list.

  • What would you recommend?  Why do you recommend that?
  • That’s a good idea.  Follow it through to its logical conclusion for me.
  • How do you see this situation playing out?
  • Why is this critical?
  • Where do you see this taking us in the next three years?
  • What can we do for you to help you grow in your role with the organization?
  • What three things could we implement to achieve success?
  • Great job.
  • How can we assure the results we expect?
  • If this were your decision to make, what would you do and why?  Then explain your decision and why you are making it.

Bottom line:  People want to feel they play a critical role in the success of their organization.  Future leaders want to learn leadership lessons from current bosses and mentors (the do’s and the don’ts).  Future leaders want to prove themselves and at the same time shape the future of their organization.

 

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Interesting article in Associations Now today.  The article asks the question, ‘Can a company or organization survive without a CEO’?

Read the article here.

I was confident I knew the answer without reading the article – “NO”!

But I read the article anyway.  I guess I was curious more than anything else.

Turns out my instincts were right.  It seems a few organizations have tried to be run without a leader (where the buck stops) but it doesn’t appear they have been resounding successes.  In fact, my impression from the article is that companies that have tried such a model have increased their middle management numbers, decreased their efficiency and created cultures where accountability is questionable.

That’s not to say that new models for leading businesses cannot be found.  In fact, one of the hallmarks of great leaders, in my opinion, is they are constantly thinking about ways to adjust or change their business model to make it better.  Great leaders are always thinking about the culture of their organization and how to make it better; the efficiency of their organization and how to make it even more efficient; the value their organization is delivering to its customers and how to become even more valuable.

Can a company survive without a CEO – probably on the short-term but for the long-haul organizations need a leader who is developing their culture, refining their vision and LEADING the employees to deliver value to their customers.

 

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My brother-in-law graduated from the University of Texas.  I’ve often thought fondly of UT.  I remember watching great UT football teams in the 1970’s and again in the 2000’s.  My oldest son has been a HUGE UT fan since he was very young.  One wall of his room is painted burnt orange and the skull of a Texas Longhorn hangs on it.

Recently, my brother-in-law sent me a copy of the text of the University of Texas 2014 Commencement speech given by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, Ninth Commander of US Special Operations Command.  If you watch the entire video of his speech, it will be the most valuable 20 minutes you spend today, and likely this weekClick here to watch the video.

The leadership lessons provided by Adm. McRaven are among the best ever.  If you aren’t willing to invest the twenty minutes it takes to hear it first hand, at least read this excerpt from his speech.  The entire premise is that everyone has the ability to make impactful and positive changes to the world:

Start each day with a task completed.  Find someone to help you through life.  Respect everyone.  Know that life is not fair and you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up…

If you do these things, you will change the world.

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I read several business related blogs.  One of them is called Leadership Freak, written by Dan Rockwell.  Today Leadership Freak had an interesting post about what leaders do to energize (and sometimes de-energize) their teams.

Read the post here.

The theory behind the post is that everyone has energy inside them.  A leader’s job is to exploit that energy and build on it.  In other words, to quote REO Speedwagon, leaders need to “Keep the fire burnin'”.

Of course that’s easier said than done.  What kinds of things can leaders do to ignite fires in their team and keep those fires burning?  Also, what should leaders do to avoid putting out the fires in their team?

In his post today, Dan offers several answers to these questions.  Here are a few of my own:

  • Serve your teammates.  Nothing energizes people more than being served – especially by their leader
  • Use positive words and expressions to get your point across – ALWAYS
  • Smile
  • Ask your teammates about things they’re interested and invested in – their family, their hobbies, etc (Be interested)
  • Even when you don’t feel high energy – fake it until you make it – people you lead will follow your example
  • Find out what energizes (and de-energizes) your teammates

What do you do to “Keep the fire burnin'” among your team?

 

 

 

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Great leaders seem to always have a set of values upon which they rely when making decisions.  These values are a barometer for them – If I make decision A, my company will be more profitable but we will violate one or more of our key values in doing so.  I believe great leaders don’t abandon their values, even when they require more work, less profit or more stress.

These values or guiding principles can also cause leaders to form opinions about certain issues or even people.  Sometimes, it becomes easy for leaders to confuse their opinions (which are based on observations masquerading as facts) with actual facts.  In other words, some leaders are so confident in themselves and their abilities that they may think (or give other people the perception) that they are always “right”.

As a leader and as a person, I suffer from this challenge.

I read an interesting article today about this very subject.

My takeaways –

  • I need to learn to distinguish between facts and opinions or assessments.
  • When communicating opinions or assessments, do more listening than talking.
  • Remember that opinions can’t be true or false, right or wrong.  They are just that, opinion.
  • People don’t like to be told they are wrong – avoid that when communicating opinions or assessments.

I really loved the last sentence of the article, “True humility is, at least in part, being able to see one’s own assessments as assessments, rather than believing them to be truths”.

I want to be a humble and compassionate leader.  Sometimes I am.  I’m going to try to remember these takeaways in my daily life – both personal and business.  Perhaps if I do, I can have better, clearer communications with my employees, customers, friends and family leading to a happier, more productive and successful lives for all.

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