DOUG THORPEDOUG THORPE http://dougthorpe.com Leadership Powered by Common Sense Fri, 21 Jul 2017 23:12:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i2.wp.com/dougthorpe.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/cropped-h-logo.jpg?fit=32%2C32 DOUG THORPE http://dougthorpe.com 32 32 114195028 Entrepreneurs and Returning to Basics [Video] http://dougthorpe.com/videos/entrepreneurs-returning-basics/ http://dougthorpe.com/videos/entrepreneurs-returning-basics/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 23:10:24 +0000 Doug Thorpe http://dougthorpe.com/?post_type=video&p=4148 Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Video Post

This episode is dedicated to my clients who own their own businesses.

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Leaders: Sometimes There Aren’t Enough Rocks http://dougthorpe.com/sometimes-there-arent-enough-rocks/ http://dougthorpe.com/sometimes-there-arent-enough-rocks/#respond Wed, 19 Jul 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Doug Thorpe http://dougthorpe.com/?p=4112 Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Being a child of the 60’s I love the movie “Forrest Gump”. It was on cable recently, cycling through the home spun wisdom of the south and reflecting on the troubling times of the age. There are many classic scenes throughout the movie. There is one that touches me every time I see it. Forrest and […]

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Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Being a child of the 60’s I love the movie “Forrest Gump”. It was on cable recently, cycling through the home spun wisdom of the south and reflecting on the troubling times of the age.

FORREST GUMP, Robin Wright, Tom Hanks, 1994

There are many classic scenes throughout the movie. There is one that touches me every time I see it. Forrest and Jenny are walking through the countryside and come upon her childhood home. At first she gazes, then stares. She steps slowly toward the old, ramshackle house that once was a home. Paint is dried an peeling. Windows are broken. The roof sags. It’s obviously not lived in for quite some time.

Slowly Jenny’s stare turns to anger. She bends over, picks up some rocks, and begins hurling them at the house. Her frenzy intensifies.

Forrest is stunned, not knowing what to do. Jenny finally connects with a fast ball through one of the windows. Glass shatters. She tumbles to the ground sobbing. For sure this house was NOT a home to her. There had been too many disturbing memories. By her own admission her life was a mess. Now we seem to know why.

As she sobs, Forrest quietly and slowly bends over, first a crouch, then he takes a seat in the mud beside Jenny. In the narrative voice you hear him say “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.”

Let’s talk about rocks and leadership.

Anger can be like that.

A burning hurt or disappointment can fester over the years. Unresolved issues boil into contempt and rage. Have you ever worked for someone who seems to be right on the edge with such emotion? It’s not a pretty picture.

As managers and leaders, we run out of rocks before we start. I contend you cannot be willing to throw even the first rock.

He who throws the first rock usually loses.

No, leaders must refrain from letting emotional turmoil boil over. Any issues you might be handling must be dealt with in more subtle, but hopefully, effective ways.

Your team doesn’t deserve the outburst. To be an effective leader, you must be seen as more even tempered. Though things may be swirling around you, the heat of battle cannot trigger other, unrelated matters that might cause some rock throwing.

Oh, it’s easy

Wanting to throw a few rocks seems easy. A rock is small but hard. It makes a great projectile when launched with the right velocity. Here’s the problem. Most of us don’t throw that well. I mean that figuratively.

Even when launching a tirade intended for one someone or some thing, the message might be misguided. If it lands off the mark, you certainly may cause collateral damage.

You might be furious at Steve, but spew something that hits Sally. Steve feels fortunate to have been missed, but Sally is now upset. Steve knows it was intended for him, so he starts running scared. It’s a mess that can only spiral further downward.

Managers and leaders have to do much better. There just cannot be any ‘rock throwing’.

Effective Leadership needs a throttle

To be a good leader you have to have a throttle mechanism. Let’s face it, the heat of battle can fray your nerves. Pressures mount and you have to vent somehow. A well disciplined leader knows NOT to vent in the direction of the troops. Your people never deserve that.

While you might have occasion to sit everyone down and have a stern talk about performance, direction, or momentum, the message should never feel like you are throwing rocks.

I started this piece by saying ‘sometimes there aren’t enough rocks’. In leadership, there shouldn’t be ANY rocks.

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Feeling Stuck? Find a Change http://dougthorpe.com/feeling-stuck-find-a-change/ http://dougthorpe.com/feeling-stuck-find-a-change/#respond Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Doug Thorpe http://dougthorpe.com/?p=4093 Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Ever felt stuck? You know, you feel like you don’t know which way to turn. Do the pressures of the situation have you feeling like you cannot make any progress? I see articles, blog posts, and books about getting unstuck. Yet I have never heard anyone talk about getting unstuck by focusing on the real […]

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Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Ever felt stuck? You know, you feel like you don’t know which way to turn. Do the pressures of the situation have you feeling like you cannot make any progress?

Feeling stuck

Feeling stuck?

I see articles, blog posts, and books about getting unstuck. Yet I have never heard anyone talk about getting unstuck by focusing on the real problem; it’s about making a change. Being stuck is, IMHO, a direct symptom of an unwillingness to change.

Here’s a story about being stuck

In 2008 when I opened the doors for Jobs Ministry Southwest (JMS), we were committed to helping people in career transition. Remember, 2008 was the big recession. Jobless rates were double digits in most markets. Times were tough for job seekers.

People who hadn’t looked for a job in 20 years were being forced out on the streets. Within five years, JMS had served over 4,500 job seekers. We had a 68% success rate in helping land meaningful positions. Yes, 68% was high for agencies like ours.

Using this sampling of 4,500 professionals, I realized there was a distinct separation in the crowd. Interestingly, what I am about to tell you seems to explain the two-thirds success ratio almost to the decimal point.

Results were divided

Our program participants fell into three pretty distinct groups that were evenly divided. Let’s call them red, yellow, and green for graphic effect.

The GREEN group got it. They soaked up our coaching and teaching like sponges. They applied our principles, accepted our teachings, and executed on the job search plans without much hesitation. Their lead time in the search window was relatively short and definitely shorter than everyone else. They embraced change.

The YELLOW group hesitated a lot. They wanted to debate the teaching we gave them. They wanted to prove they knew something no one else did. And they expressed frustration on a regular basis with having to deal with job loss. They had hostilities toward old employers, but they slowly released those emotions in favor of commitment to their job searches. This group stumbled with making changes, but eventually got there.

The RED group was really stuck. They refused to listen to coaching and teaching. They would sit in groups with arms folded and frowns on their face. Talk to them and you’d get a heavy dose of bitterness and from some, outright anger. The world had dealt them  a bad hand and they were going to wallow in it. The red group could not and would not accept change.

It’s all about the CHANGE

The green group looked at change like a welcomed relief. They accepted their plight as just another step in their career progress. They were ready to move forward. Offer them new teachings? Great! “Give me more” they’d say, almost in unison. The green crew would return for a couple of sessions, but it wouldn’t be long before they were announcing new positions and job opportunities.

Some of the green group members took the job loss event as a blessing. They explored passions they had bottled up. They took chances on going whole new directions in their career. Some decided to go back to school for the certificate they needed, but never got. Others sought out funding opportunities to start self-employment. One guy shaved off a beard he had worn for 20+ years. The clean shave gave him a fresher, younger look that resulted in almost instant success. Changes were going on everywhere in this group.

The red group stalled, postponed, argued, and didn’t go anywhere. Soon the would fall away, presumably going to another group, somewhere else to vent their frustration.

Using simple math, adding the green and yellow groups together, you get roughly 66% of the total JMS population. Our job landing success rate was 68%. That’s a strong argument for embracing change. The only real differentiation was the red group absolutely opposed change of any sort.

Being stuck is about avoiding change

My story today has been about job seekers. Yet it applies to all aspects of life. The same dynamics have been demonstrated time and time again in families and in businesses everywhere.

Which group might you fall into?

I suggest that opportunities to change are everywhere. If you feel stuck today, look for the opportunity to make a change. Whether your situation is about a job, a relationship, an assignment, or a cause. You don’t have to stay stuck.

However, you do have to embrace change as the catalyst to make a move in a new direction. If you tend to be opposed to change, you may stay stuck for a while.

Question: If you know exactly where and how you are stuck, what would a change look like? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Leaders: Are You Disturbed? http://dougthorpe.com/leaders-are-you-disturbed/ http://dougthorpe.com/leaders-are-you-disturbed/#respond Wed, 12 Jul 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Doug Thorpe http://dougthorpe.com/?p=4077 Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

The meeting had been going on for a few minutes, when a junior executive rushed in, late. The boss looked up and glared. The junior said “excuse me, I didn’t mean to disturb.” The executive grinned and said, “No problem, I’ve been disturbed for quite some time.” There were uncomfortable chuckles. What can you make […]

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Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

The meeting had been going on for a few minutes, when a junior executive rushed in, late. The boss looked up and glared. The junior said “excuse me, I didn’t mean to disturb.”

The executive grinned and said, “No problem, I’ve been disturbed for quite some time.” There were uncomfortable chuckles.

Disturbed leadership

What can you make from that? On one hand, there’s the obvious, which is a more literal interpretation. The boss admitting his deranged approach to people and life. Thus the chuckles and the squirms in the chairs.

I prefer to take another view to explain the statement; one which I favor a great deal. I like staying disturbed; in perpetual motion with a hunger for growth and advancement of new ideas.

I love being able to remain open to new ideas, fresh thoughts from sources you trust, or great books and programs.

Disturbed or Comfortable?

Being disturbed is the opposite of being comfortable. Comfort zones feel good for a while, but they prevent sustained growth and performance. The world around us doesn’t sit still. Why should we?

Fresh ideas make for growth. There is nothing worse in a leader than the attitude “this is the way we’ve always done it.” I actually hate that mindset.

The global markets today like to talk about disruptive ideas. Uber disrupted transportation. AirBnB disrupted hospitality. Amazon disrupted retail shopping. SO on and so on…

Ford’s Ford

Disruption causes disturbing ripples wherever it goes. The status quo gets disturbed in a big way. Henry Ford has been quoted as saying “I had no interest in asking people what they wanted in transportation. They would have said faster horse.” Ford’s “Quadricycle” that later became the Model-T disrupted the horse and buggy era.

At approximately 4:00 a.m. on June 4, 1896, in the shed behind his home on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Henry Ford unveils the “Quadricycle,” the first automobile he ever designed or drove.

Ford was working as the chief engineer for the main plant of the Edison Illuminating Company when he began working on the Quadricycle. On call at all hours to ensure that Detroit had electrical service 24 hours a day, Ford was able to use his flexible working schedule to experiment with his pet project–building a horseless carriage with a gasoline-powered engine. His obsession with the gasoline engine had begun when he saw an article on the subject in a November 1895 issue of American Machinist magazine.

The following March, another Detroit engineer named Charles King took his own hand-built vehicle–made of wood, it had a four-cylinder engine and could travel up to five miles per hour–out for a ride, fueling Ford’s desire to build a lighter and faster gasoline-powered model.

As he would do throughout his career, Ford used his considerable powers of motivation and organization to get the job done, enlisting friends–including King–and assistants to help him bring his vision to life. After months of work and many setbacks, Ford was finally ready to test-drive his creation–basically a light metal frame fitted with four bicycle wheels and powered by a two-cylinder, four-horsepower gasoline engine–on the morning of June 4, 1896.

When Ford and James Bishop, his chief assistant, attempted to wheel the Quadricycle out of the shed, however, they discovered that it was too wide to fit through the door. To solve the problem, Ford took an axe to the brick wall of the shed, smashing it to make space for the vehicle to be rolled out.

With Bishop bicycling ahead to alert passing carriages and pedestrians, Ford drove the 500-pound Quadricycle down Detroit’s Grand River Avenue, circling around three major thoroughfares. The Quadricycle had two driving speeds, no reverse, no brakes, rudimentary steering ability and a doorbell button as a horn, and it could reach about 20 miles per hour, easily overpowering King’s invention.

Aside from one breakdown on Washington Boulevard due to a faulty spring, the drive was a success, and Ford was on his way to becoming one of the most formidable success stories in American business history.

That was total disruption of a period in history. There have been many more since.

As a leader, are you disturbed? Maybe you should be?

 

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Get Your Leadershift in Gear http://dougthorpe.com/get-your-leadershift-in-gear/ http://dougthorpe.com/get-your-leadershift-in-gear/#respond Mon, 10 Jul 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Doug Thorpe http://dougthorpe.com/?p=4085 Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Leadership means different things to different people. Not all managers are good leaders, but good leaders usually manage well too. Management is about control. You can control quality, time, and money. Each one of these has a direct impact on the other two. It’s a delicate balancing act. For example, increased quality often requires more […]

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Get your shift together

Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Leadership means different things to different people. Not all managers are good leaders, but good leaders usually manage well too.

Management is about control. You can control quality, time, and money. Each one of these has a direct impact on the other two. It’s a delicate balancing act. For example, increased quality often requires more time and money to produce. Go short on money and quality will suffer. Spend too much time delivering on a promise, and it will cost you. So on and so on.

Notice I never mentioned people. Some think you can control people. That’s an old school of thought that remains on the books century after century. Today’s conventional wisdom says NO. You don’t control people, you must lead them.

Gen. Eisenhower

I’ve seen a beautiful illustration that has been attributed to General Dwight Eisenhower. The story says he used to take a chain and coil it into a pile on a desk. He would ask his subordinate commanders to push on the pile and tell him where it will go. Of course no one could say for sure.

Then Ike would tug on the end of the chain, gently pulling it out of the pile. Link after link would fall into place and go wherever he directed. Lesson learned. You don’t push people, you pull them along. They follow your lead.

The Leader Shift

The shift from management to leadership is a critical step in the growth of any executive who is responsible for people. Is your leader-shift in gear? Are you in full swing recognition of the need to shift your mindset out of simple control by management?

Remember when you were first put into a management role? Weren’t you freaked the fist time you held a team meeting? It was odd having the faces look back across the table. You realized things were now different. You were no longer a single contributor. You were supposed to be in charge.

What changes did you think about then? Likely you were undergoing a seismic shift in the thoughts you had. Before you were worried about your personal deadlines, but now you had responsibility for the whole crew.

Or if you are an entrepreneur and you hire your first small team to build your business, remember that feeling? Yes, writing that first payroll check was daunting.

Regardless of which scenario is your story, clearly a shift had begun. Now the question is, do you still have a shift happening?

Growth Is Not Optional

For anyone in leadership, growing in the role is not optional. OK, if you want to get fired soon, you can refuse to grow. However, anyone with a glimmer of hope for success will embrace the idea for finding ways to grow. Moving away from a management mindset to a more fully developed leadership thought process is a learning experience.

Leadership skills can be acquired. You don’t have to be born to lead. It helps, and some are born leaders, but most are not born with it. You learn from examples and you study effective leadership. Plus, you cannot give what you do not have. You cannot lead without a base from which you give; give knowledge, give expertise, give inspiration. As the world around you changes, you must grow with it.

Pursuing your own personal growth helps you build a following. It has been said:

… you recognize leadership not by the person but by the following.

—DOUG THORPE

Tweet Quote

I agree with that synopsis. You have to have a following to be a true leader. Being a leader in your own mind without a following, is well, just narcissistic.

Shift is Not One and Done

Making a productive shift is not done once and for all. It is a process that must be embraced. The process requires a loop. As with any change management effort, making a key change requires design, structure, implementation, feedback, adjustment, and repeat.

The repetition is the secret sauce. Making a shift in your leadership style stick, will need practice and repetition. You have to experience the impact of exercising your new ideas and skills. The experience enforces the learning. The learning needs to be done again, so that it becomes more of a natural habit for executing.

Just like athletes at the top of their game rely upon muscle memory for maximum performance, top executives also have a leadership memory that can kick in for better performance. As you get confronted with challenges, you shouldn’t have to think too hard through the leadership toolkit to make decisions. It should become more natural.

You get this natural flow of your leadership effectiveness with process, growth, and practice.

Get Your Shift Together

Want to move beyond just managing your world? Want to be a better leader? Then go out there and get your shift together; leader-shift that is.

Question: When was the last time you made a shift in your leadership approach? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Messages Can Be Lost by the Messenger http://dougthorpe.com/messages-can-be-lost-by-the-messenger/ http://dougthorpe.com/messages-can-be-lost-by-the-messenger/#respond Wed, 05 Jul 2017 09:00:25 +0000 Doug Thorpe http://dougthorpe.com/?p=4056 Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Effective executive leadership requires a keen ability to communicate. Some of the best leaders rely upon story telling to convey their message. Messages take many shapes. They can be as grand as the “big idea”; the core vision for an organization. Or they can be as simple as daily instructions for small steps and easy tasks. […]

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Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Effective executive leadership requires a keen ability to communicate. Some of the best leaders rely upon story telling to convey their message.

Messengers

Messages take many shapes. They can be as grand as the “big idea”; the core vision for an organization. Or they can be as simple as daily instructions for small steps and easy tasks.

Yet communication breaks down when the people receiving the message neither respect nor trust the messenger. This puts a huge burden on the executive trying to bring the message.

What you and I do on a day to day basis has an impact on our ability to be heard when it is important to communicate. The way leaders are perceived by their cohorts and teams is an accumulation of events and circumstances. Your reputation becomes a benchmark for making your message heard. It has been said:

Your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear your message.

Introducing Executive Intelligence

The Kouzes-Posner first law of leadership is that if you don’t believe the messenger, you won’t believe the message.  Executive intelligence is about developing and sustaining the credibility of the messenger.  Executive intelligence is a function of executive presence and emotional intelligence.

When we speak of executive presence, we are really talking about gravitas – confidence and consistency under fire; decisive decision-making; balancing approach-ability with seriousness; polished speaking and body language; as well as strong competence and expertise.

Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, requires self-awareness and control as well as social awareness and understanding.  As people, we are drawn to individuals who possess self-confidence, and who are consistently adaptable and resilient.

We are particularly drawn to those who listen as well as they communicate, who are empathetic, who are invested in developing others, and who effectively manage and resolve conflict.  Executive intelligence is arguably the most difficult and time consuming fundamental to develop.

In their book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” authors Chip & Dan Heath elegantly illustrate why.  They compare the brains two independent systems to a rider and an elephant.  The rider is the rational side whereas the elephant is the emotional side.  Under normal circumstances, the rider is in control of the elephant.  The instant the elephant goes wild, the rider is helpless.

The analogy is great because we can all relate to moments when our emotions cause a reaction we wish never happened after the fact – or to use Heath’s analogy, our rider lost control of our elephant.

The difficulty in developing executive intelligence is in the process of not only developing more control of our own elephant, but also understanding how to appeal to the riders and elephants of others to influence them to act.

Building Trust

The other key influencer of effective communication involves levels of trust. As the messenger, do you have the accumulated trust of your audience that allows them to hear the message?

In the situation where you are communicating to a work team you lead, you should have a standing level of trust. The history you share with the team should be solid. They should be able to take your word. There should be no doubt about the integrity of the message, that is, if you are delivering the message, it can be counted on.

This trust can be delicate. There are plenty of circumstances in which you as the manager cannot be totally forthcoming. There are moments when some information is necessary, but not all information should be shared. Those moments require real leadership; effort that maintains credibility while balancing the scope of how much you can or cannot say about a particular topic.

If you miss this balance, you lose trust. Your credibility suffers. Sometimes it is best to admit there are things moving around you that prohibit your full disclosure of what is happening, but you can pledge to inform the troops as soon as it is appropriate to do so. When you do share the rest of the story, your action should be recognized as honorable, credible, and trustworthy.

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Independence Day http://dougthorpe.com/independence-day-2/ http://dougthorpe.com/independence-day-2/#respond Mon, 03 Jul 2017 09:00:04 +0000 Doug Thorpe http://dougthorpe.com/?p=4064 Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Tomorrow is July 4th. In the U.S. we call it Independence Day. It is a good time to reflect on the real meaning of deep, personal independence. I love this picture showing the dawning of a new day. When we declare independence, there is a new day, a fresh beginning. Independence implies a freeing from […]

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Overcoming a personal foe

Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Tomorrow is July 4th. In the U.S. we call it Independence Day. It is a good time to reflect on the real meaning of deep, personal independence.

Courtesy 123rf.com

Courtesy 123rf.com

I love this picture showing the dawning of a new day. When we declare independence, there is a new day, a fresh beginning. Independence implies a freeing from something. The history of the United States declares a freedom from rulers who, at the time, were seen as oppressive, demanding laws without representation. Yet the quest for independence can be very personal and far more significant.

When any of us is impacted by a force that controls us, we need independence. The control can be a bad boss, an unethical company, a work environment that is oppressive and cruel. The control can be internal; like a mindset, substance abuse, limiting thoughts, or emotional scars from prior experiences.

As my pastor says, “There’s a story on every pew.” People all around us face challenges to release themselves from something.

  • Bad habits
  • Bad relationships
  • Poor choices
  • Health problems
  • Financial problems
  • Bad bosses
  • And the list goes on . . .

Regardless of the force or factors from which you are claiming your independence, the stage is set for a new day. Facing the truths of who you are and what you believe can give rise to making a fresh new start.

Helping others overcome tough odds is a noble and honored effort. Countless numbers of good neighbors do that in communities large and small every day. Each victory is deserving of a celebration.

Yet, I think the toughest challenge most people face is driving change for themselves; overcoming those personal things that hold us back. Yes, joining a community or a tribe of like-minded souls who, themselves are trying to make a change, can be a big help. However, the ultimate change is up to you and you alone.

For those of you who, as I do, hold dear to a deep faith in God, we have Him to hold onto while we fight to claim our independence. He is an unending source of power and courage through the fight. Take a moment and reflect. Ask yourself these important questions.

Question: What is your fight today? Have you made progress to overcome your foe(s)? What strength will you choose? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Happy Independence Day! One day your fight will be won. Why not let this day be the first day of the rest of your new life!

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Can I develop leadership qualities and skills through books and practice? http://dougthorpe.com/can-i-develop-leadership-qualities-and-skills-through-books-and-practice/ http://dougthorpe.com/can-i-develop-leadership-qualities-and-skills-through-books-and-practice/#respond Wed, 28 Jun 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Doug Thorpe http://dougthorpe.com/?p=3981 Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Being an executive coach puts me in front of audiences and the frequent inquiries from followers. This post is in reference to a simple question I received not long ago. Can I develop leadership qualities and skills through books and practice? My answer, absolutely! Books are a great place to start. Books can help increase the leadership […]

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Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Being an executive coach puts me in front of audiences and the frequent inquiries from followers. This post is in reference to a simple question I received not long ago.

Can I develop leadership qualities and skills through books and practice?

Growing Leadership

My answer, absolutely! Books are a great place to start. Books can help increase the leadership growth process. It can also “lift your leadership lid”. Growing from manager to leader requires input. You cannot give what you don’t have. That requires learning and absorption.

One of the greatest writers of our time for leadership thought is John Maxwell*. He has published dozens of books and sold over 25 million copies worldwide. He is hands down, the most prolific writer on the subject of leadership. And his books exude his genuine passion for the topic and his heart for helping each one of us grow.

As I said in my own book. “The Uncommon Commodity: The Common Sense Guide for New Managers”, there have been hundreds, if not thousands of books written about management and leadership. The more of these books you read, the more you will find some core competencies and traits that define effective leadership. Yes, different authors will describe the principles in different ways, but the facts remain. There are clearly specific areas from which you can grow.

Here’s the amazing thing about leadership development and growth. With so many attributes making up the patchwork quilt of good leadership, no one, absolutely no one starts exactly the same.

We each possess certain unique views and mindsets from which our ability to lead emerges. The challenge is learning to understand which leadership skills you might have been born with and which ones you need to develop.

All leadership skills can be improved upon over time. Regardless of the innate ability you might have, or the “calling to be a leader” you sense, there is always room to grow. Maxwell describes it as a simple scale. If leadership is scored 1 through 9, the 1’s can learn from everyone above them. The 5’s need to look up to the 6, 7, and 8 people. The 9’s are few and far between. You get the picture.

Maxwell also says:

You cannot give what you don’t have.

This means that as a leader, you must desire to grow. You will never increase beyond where you are without growth. You cannot give what you don’t have.

Practicing Leadership

As to practicing leadership, again, my answer – absolutely. But you should engage a coach to guide your development. The sports analogies fit. I can go to the gym by myself and do some things I read in a book, but my body may not be ready for certain exercises and complexities.

Leadership is that way too. A coach can shape your progress, guiding you carefully up the development curve.

Practicing the principles, applying the teaching you receive to real life situations will give you the experience to grow further. It is very much like mountain climbing. You have to keep moving upward and onward. Each successful step up the climb gives you a little more confidence to take the next step.

Without practicing your leadership, you never prove to yourself what works well and what doesn’t. Without life application, the things you read are only mental exercises. You need live fire drills to enforce the principles and strengthen your understanding of the use of each one.

Experience is a great teacher. That sounds cliché, but applies perfectly here.

Growth is Required

Back to the original question –  Can I develop leadership qualities and skills through books and practice? I argue the question is not optional, but required. The best leaders keep growing. They use experience to fine tune their skill sets, but they look for better and deeper insights from those who have focused attention on writing and coaching.

Every few years, thought leaders emerge that the masses follow. In no particular order, I like Stephen R. Covey “7 Habits“, John Maxwell, Brian Tracy, Jim Collins “Good to Great“, Simon Sinek, and most recently Seth Godin “Tribes“.

Disruptive thought is the mindset du jour these days. Anything that is seen as being disruptive to traditional thinking is cool. Don’t get me wrong, I am big fan of this disruptive mindset too. That is why looking for voices that have meaningful messages is important.

Here’s My Bottom Line

You can get immersed in very academic debate about management and leadership theory. You can get lost in vocabulary and terminology that adds no good value and serves no good purpose.

I suggest to you that the best leaders I have ever served with or known, operate with a high degree of common sense. Sadly, common sense is truly an uncommon commodity. That is why I named my own book just that.

If you are an aspiring manager who wants to become a better leader at work, at home, or in your community, find mentors who have demonstrated their leadership in bigger ways, far beyond making money for some organization. Instead look to the following they have.

Decide whether the following represents the values and principles you want to stand for. What has the flowing accomplished.

I close with this example. John Maxwell has grown an organization of over 20,000 coaches worldwide. They serve in 70+ countries around the world. These Maxwell coaches influence people in all walks of life; educators, business people, care givers, etc.

That, my friend is leadership.

Question: Share your experience with finding a meaningful book or mentor to follow. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

*Note: John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 12 million books. His organizations have trained more than one million leaders worldwide. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of Injoy Stewardship Services and EQUIP. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and organizations as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point and the National Football League. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell was one of 25 authors named to Amazon.com’s 10th Anniversary Hall of Fame. Two of his books, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” and “Developing the Leader Within You“, have each sold over a million copies.

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Are You Managing Your World or is Your World Managing You? http://dougthorpe.com/managing-your-world/ http://dougthorpe.com/managing-your-world/#comments Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Doug Thorpe http://dthorpe75.wordpress.com/?p=200 Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

For everyone in leadership, you need to take a pause from time to time to make some key assessments. I like to call it recalibration. Let’s face it, the demands on your time and your life can get overwhelming. In today’s tumultuous market, we really never know from day to day what next may come.

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Simple ways to recalibrate

Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

We all suffer the daily grind. Some days are better than others. For anyone in management or leadership, you need to take a pause to make some critical assessments. I like to call it recalibration. This is a key leadership quality. Let’s face it, the demands on your time and your life can get overwhelming. In today’s tumultuous market, we really never know from day to day what next may come.

managing world

In my consulting days, I was project manager of a very large engagement with over 400 consultants working for me. It was a coast to coast assignment with teams scattered across 7 job sites. I had nine different work streams running concurrently, with cross-over dependencies between teams.

The hours were long and the travel compounded the pressure. The client was a large national banking institution and the mission was to help the bank respond to a critical regulatory mandate. To say the least, the stakes were great. It could have been easy to get overwhelmed with the scope of the situation. I confess, at times I did feel consumed.

Fortunately, my many years of prior training, both military and civilian, had prepared me for just such a mission. I was a long time practitioner of the principle I am about to share

If you let these pressures mount without routinely asking yourselves some essential questions, you run the risk of spinning off into some other orbit that you never intended.

I suggest that one of the most essential questions to ask yourself is :

Are you managing your world or is your world managing you?

The Frog

There is an old story of the frog in the pot. The story says that if you drop a frog in boiling water he immediately jumps out. But if you set him in cool water and slowly add the heat, he’ll boil to death. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be like the frog.

boiling-frog

You have to gauge the temperature on a regular basis. Are you getting comfortable with the heat rising?

You have to pay attention to the circumstances around you. There needs to be the routine recalibration of your own role in the middle of the work demands going on around you.

React or Respond?

Here’s another point. If a doctor prescribes medication and I have a reaction to it, that is NOT GOOD. Yet if I respond to it, I am going to get over the condition. Just like with the medicine, being reactive to the things in our world really will not help the situation. Of course there are things that may happen that are totally unexpected. We have to deal with that.

At the core of this idea is the challenge between being proactive or reactive. The point here is that we should not let everything that happens become a topic of reaction. Truly we should be able to do some things to be proactive with what may come. Proactive people are better positioned to respond to the situation and manage their world. However, being reactive allows the events of the day to manage YOU.

So where do you stand? Are you more inclined to be in control of the things happening around you or have you started just reacting?

People Can Mess Things Up

people mess things up

Courtesy 123rf.com

You may think you have developed the best plan in the world to attack the next chapter of your life (ok, maybe just the next few hours). Then, what do you know, the very first person who walks into the office seems to blow the whole plan out of the water. What do you do?

Don’t react! Force yourself to pause and process the matter according to your plan. This is how you manage things rather than let things manage you.

Is it easy? Of course not! That’s why we so often feel overwhelmed at the end of the day.

Even if you are successful at maintaining the focus on your plan, it likely will take lots of energy and effort. But people who have been able to adopt a discipline for doing this find it becomes easier to do. If your outward aura is true to this inner control, the people around you will start to get the picture. Their demands will become less intrusive, plus they will learn they cannot get “the reaction” out you they used to be able to do.

LIFE IS A SELF-HELP JOURNEY

Managers getting it right

Managers getting it right

Maybe the self-help books are not as popular as they once were. The truth is, this journey we call life is full of self-help moments. Rather than waiting on others to pitch in or hoping that circumstances may change, you need to take control of your own destiny.

Personal and professional growth only happens when you choose to make it happen.

—DOUG THORPE

Tweet Quote

At each and every step of the way, keep asking yourself if you are managing your world or does your world manage you? Take the time to recalibrate. Get back on plan.

Question: When was the last time you were able to stand back and realize your world was managing you? How did you regain control? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

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Leadership: Play Silly Games, Win Silly Prizes http://dougthorpe.com/leadership-play-stupid-games-win-stupid-prizes/ http://dougthorpe.com/leadership-play-stupid-games-win-stupid-prizes/#comments Wed, 21 Jun 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Doug Thorpe http://dougthorpe.com/?p=3950 Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Once you are given management responsibility, you have to focus on the core principles of the unit. You have to learn the people and the mission. Your effectiveness as a manager hinges on being able to lead the team. If your style of leadership is, in any way about playing games with those you lead, you […]

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How to avoid gamesmanship at work

Here is the latest article from Doug Thorpe

Once you are given management responsibility, you have to focus on the core principles of the unit. You have to learn the people and the mission. Your effectiveness as a manager hinges on being able to lead the team.

Competition

If your style of leadership is, in any way about playing games with those you lead, you will lose before you start.

Play silly games, win silly prizes. –  Anonymous

I once worked for a boss who refused to rate any employee better than what he had been rated. He wasn’t a very good manager, so his annual performance ratings were pretty weak. There were three of us, direct reports to this clown. After two review cycles of being handed poor results too, we banded together and vowed to take him down. How?

It wasn’t that hard. In meetings with more senior managers, we quietly but effectively deferred questions by saying things like “here’s my answer, blah, blah, blah, but Jim, what do you think?” He never had good answers. He would stumble and fumble, but our expertise was heard by those above us. There was no doubt he was being shown for the ineffective manager he truly was.

His gamy way of treating us at review time got blown up. What do I mean by being gamy? There are several ways this very unproductive leadership style comes across:

Type 1

You constantly ask for answers but never use the information. Making your team respond to countless questions then never showing any sign of using the answers for any good is just plain gaming. Why would you do that? Just to pester the crew? That’s silly. It’s a huge waste of intellectual and emotional capital.

Type 2

Asking questions when you already know the answer. I had an employee once who tried to game me. After walking away from a meeting this employee stopped me and asked me a question. It was somewhat technical in nature. I was glad to explain the answer and show him how to calculate a solution. He said “I already knew that. I just wanted to see if the ‘big dog’ knew how too.” My response? “How do you think I got to be the big dog?”

By the way, he got fired a few weeks later for pulling a similar stunt with a client who knew our CEO.

Type 3

Being a gamesman at work is manipulation. Being the one who pours on the guilt or the ridicule is a bad position to be in. We’ve all known someone who is manipulative. They tweak the story just enough to infer that doing anything contrary to their point of view would be disloyal on your part.

These gamesmen find ways to shift the spotlight away from their faults and place the blazing light on you. Dealing with them is a roller coaster ride.

You get what you deserve

When a team is impacted by a manager with a gaming mindset, it soon will retaliate. Frustration and hostility will bubble up. The manager will be set up to fail. Refer back to my story.

Need a coach

If there is any chance your attempt at being gamy is due to your own insecurity, come clean and get serious. The team doesn’t deserve it.

Gamesmanship loses the war. As a leader who perpetuates games at work, you lose all credibility. Please STOP!

Question: In what ways have you seen bosses who play games at work? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

 

 

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