Growing Influence: Using Easy Leadership Moments

Lead in the MOMENT

Key executives and business owners get consumed by thoughts of big picture responsibility. Thinking big is a valued trait, right? Sure, we expect our leaders to provide us vision. You have to be able to see the big picture to become a successful executive.

Lead in the MOMENT

However, there is one big catch to this blue sky thinking. Sometimes you get so heavenly minded you are no earthly good.

While good leadership helps build and communicate the vision, great leadership does something really small too. The best leaders know how to lead in the moment; right here, right now. They don’t wait for the stage at the shareholders meeting. They use the easy moments to demonstrate their ability to lead. They seize each and every moment with their team to assert their leadership influence.

Living in the moment is a concept we know too well in sports. The quarterback who leads his team to a come-from-behind score as time runs out (think Brady, Manning, Brees, and Favre). The golfer who sinks a 20 foot put to win on the 18th hole of the final round of a 54 hole tournament. The hitter who swings for the fences and hammers a home run with the score tied and two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning.

All of these are memorable moments that make sports history but wouldn’t have happened unless the athlete had trained for that moment. Leaders can do that too. By preparing for and making ready for each little moment, the small things can make a leadership career famous.

What are some examples?

Before the Meeting – The senior exec who has called a meeting of his team can exhibit some amazing leadership skills in the small moment right outside the conference room. Walking up, he or she sees the attendees waiting. Making small talk can become a make or break situation. Rather than hurriedly rushing into the room without eye contact or a warm comment, use the moment to acknowledge those present. Say something to express a connection. Crack a simple joke or tell a short story about how proud you might be of this “amazing team”.

When I’m in this mode, I’ve sometimes said something like “I hope this is going to be good.” The joke, of course, is on me because I called the darn meeting. I can control how good it may be.

You have to be genuine and sincere or don’t try it at all. But those leaders who can pull this off create huge volumes of goodwill with their staff.

One on One – For many executives this is actually the toughest thing they do; holding one-on-one meetings. Don’t let the intensity of the moment consume you. This is a great moment to shine. Break the ice. Help the other person feel at ease. Welcome them into the discussion. Be clear and specific about what you’d like to talk about, but make the moment feel real.

Avoid the pompous air. This moment might be happening in those stuffed chairs in your private office, but help the other person feel at home.

Once, I worked for an executive who led a group of over 400 employees. She had developed the uncanny ability to recall everyone’s name. Passing them in hallways or seeing them in meetings, she spoke to them by name. Her stock value as the department head was greater than any other manager at her level. I wish I could say I too had developed that skill. Not so. Yet I have made it a practice to be open and available, even vulnerable when I engage employees and team members wherever we may be.

In Small Groups – Great leaders really shine in small groups. Those with the best reputation often know how to tell a story to set the tone, ease the tension, or make clear, decisive points. Then the meat of the discussion can open up. Again, warm and genuine wins the day.

With Their Peers – The best leaders can work the moment with their peers. Some of the same traits that work for the moments mentioned above work here too. Being able to connect with your peers despite the known edge of competition that might exist, is a delicate balancing act that only the best leaders figure out how to perfect. However, it still comes down to living in the moment.

What can YOU do?

Think about the next time you’re going into one of these situations. Try a new approach. See what comes of it. Building your leadership muscle takes practice. Build a repertoire of warm, genuine comments and questions to ask those around you. Engage them whenever possible. I guarantee you’ll see a rise in the relationships and a new respect for what you are trying to do.

[reminder]What do you do to lead in the moment?[/reminder]

Burn the Ships – Eliminate the Easy Out

Burn-the-boats

We all like Plan “B” options that afford us escape when things don’t work out. In 1519, Captain Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz to begin his great conquest. Upon arriving, he gave the order to his men to burn the ships. How’s that for bold leadership? As a leader, you must decide when and how to burn your own ships.

Burn-the-boats

What Cortés did was force himself and his men to either succeed or die. A retreat was not an option. To truly achieve the level of success we each desire, there are times when we need to “burn the boats.”

 

The obvious question becomes “what are my ships”? For starters, your ship may be anything that you are afraid to let go of.

My three-year-old grandson has his favorite blanket he drags everywhere. It is his actual security blanket. We hope he abandons it by the time he’s ready for high school graduation, but maybe he won’t. I’m kidding of course, but how silly would that look? A handsome 18 year old walking the stage at graduation with this tattered, filthy, and well-worn blanket tucked under his arm.

What are they?

Ironically, plenty of people hang on to some form of security blanket or ‘ship’. Here are the big ones:

  • Your current job –  Yes, you may be hanging on to that lousy job because you need the security of it; the actual financial security. While those reasons may be logical and practical, are they holding you back from achieving something even greater?
  • Your field of employment – Does a career change make more sense? Are you drained by the thought of challenges in any other position within your industry?
  • Your comfort zone –  This is a big one. What would it look like to have to step outside of your comfort zone every day? Falling back into that zone is just like the ship you should probably burn.
  • Wrong relationships –  It’s sadly funny how many folks stay in bad relationships, business or otherwise. There’s a thought that you have time or money invested, so you hate to walk away, even though all indications are negative.

Are you willing to burn a ship? That means eliminating the escape hatch, safety valve, or parachute. As comforting as having such an escape may be, there are times when you have to get rid of the escape mechanism so that you proceed without fear, doubt, or skepticism.

Having the escape plan gives you the chance to make a half-hearted attempt to succeed, knowing all the while that at the first sign of trouble you can pull the ripcord and make the escape.

The Easy Way Out

Sadly, I’ve known too many couples who enter into marriage with a stated position that “if it doesn’t work out, we can always get a divorce”. While I am not a legalist on the topic of divorce, I do believe that making that option too easy is a sure fire way to make it become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So back to Captain Cortés and your work team. If you are the leader of your team, what ships have been docked nearby that will allow your whole team to escape if things start going wrong? Have you, as their leader found ways to make it clear that the ships have been burned?

Being the leader and giving the command to burn the ships may be the toughest command you give. I’m guessing Cortés slept with one eye open for quite some time after he first gave the order and watched the ships go up in flames. You too may suffer from the fear of the team’s reaction to the command, but it may be the best thing you could ever do for them.

[reminder]Share some ways you have eliminated the escape hatches where you work.[/reminder]

Measuring the Milestones of Life

milestones

Have you ever stopped to think what the milestones in your life are telling you? Or do you even keep track of those moments? We all have decisions, outcomes, and experiences that shape and mold the person we become. Some call these defining moments.

Taking a look at the list of the key moments can be very helpful when trying to make new decisions about who we are and where we’re going.

milestones

I confess, this week one of those milestone moments happens for me. It’s my birthday and it’s a big one. I won’t bore you with the details. And, no, this is not a weak plug for attention, but instead an opportunity to share some thoughts with you.

Birthdays can be examples of some classic milestone moments; turning 16 to get a drivers license or 21 to be “legal” for drinking can be big deals. But then we start counting birthdays in fives; 25, 30, 35, etc.

A friend once shuddered at his 35th  birthday. In his mind, thirty-five was a serious pivot point in his life. Somehow everything was going to be downhill. Ironically, my father-in-law always said “no one pays attention to you until you turn 40”, but that’s another story.

There are many other examples of life-changing moments we experience that become milestones for us. Graduating from school, getting married, having children, getting a divorce, being transferred, making a big move, changing jobs, changing careers… all of these serve to set markers in our life from which we can see a picture start to form. There are many more.

Decisions are critical influencers of when, where and how some of these markers get created. Bad decisions send us down paths that either make us learn something, or keep us from learning. Better decisions build experience and wisdom. The older you get, the more you will see a picture unfolding. You see a shape and a pattern come to life.

The Challenge

If you are reading this and feeling stuck where you are, take a moment to recount the milestones in your own life. You might even take a notepad and draw the timeline of your life, placing markers at the various key moments. It doesn’t matter whether they are positive or negative, just draw the map.

From this drawing see what picture you find. Are there common themes that jump out? Is there a hobby or skill that keeps coming up? Is there a body of work that inspires you more than the others?

If you’ve never done an exercise like this, you might just find a new you in there somewhere.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Steve Jobs 

[reminder]What are your milestones telling you?[/reminder]

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

Call To Action

If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now!

Leaders: So Much for Good Intentions

There’s an old saying in management and leadership training. Good intentions make sense, right? However, there’s a problem with that. People don’t know your intentions, only your actions.

action-speaks

For someone in a leadership role, your day to day action speaks far louder than the words you say or the emails you write. If you are responsible for a team of fellow workers, the way you conduct yourself is the first, and sometimes only measure the crew will use to judge you.

Remember, being a leader involves being able to influence others. Influence comes from a complex blend of many things, but the first item on the list is the respect you can earn from those around you. When you are placed in a management role (or take one on as in opening a business) you have a position of authority that only lasts for a flash. As soon as the team around you sees how you are going to operate, choices get made. If the team decides they cannot respect what you do, you will forever suffer the inability to influence them.

You can have the best of intentions to be a good boss, but you can miss the mark daily. All you need to do is step out of your office and do something that runs contrary to everything you say you stand for.

I’ve known some wise people and otherwise good managers who tripped along the way. One bad action lost them almost everything they had gained in terms of human capital; the respect of their team. One bad goof wipes out everything else. Here are some of the areas where these fatal flaws can emerge:

Character

It’s a bit old-fashioned, but people still look for solid character. If your actions set off everyone else’s BS meter, you are in trouble. Character is about your word. Can people trust exactly what you say you’ll do? Say one thing but do something different, your character suffers.

Integrity

When I look at the definition of integrity, it’s defined as a “concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.”

Consistency is about being the same regardless of the situation. For example, do you know of leaders whose mood changes by the day and make rash decisions on certain days, yet calm and engaging on other days? This would be an example of the inconsistency of actions and outcomes.

Integrity stems from the Latin word ‘integer’ which means whole and complete. So integrity requires an inner sense of ‘wholeness’ and consistency of character. When you operate with integrity, people should be able to visibly see it through your actions, words, decisions, methods, and outcomes.

When you are ‘whole’ and consistent, there is only one you. You bring that same you wherever you are, regardless of the circumstance. You don’t leave parts of yourself behind. You don’t have a ‘work you,’ a ‘family you,’ and a ‘social you.’ You are YOU all the time.

Honesty

Honesty or accuracy of one’s actions requires intentionality and thought. How honest or accurate are your behaviors, actions, and words with other people that you lead? I was at a meeting recently with a CEO who cares deeply about values yet is out of integrity because there is a lack of honesty and authenticity in how he behaves.

While he says that he cares about teamwork, he doesn’t listen to others and gets defensive when challenged with different views. He believes in creating a culture of love but publicly berates and belittles junior employees.

Wrap Up

In today’s world, all the social unrest about workplace conduct is warranted. Too many people in positions of influence have abused their power by making inappropriate advances. It seems years of pent-up violations are coming to light almost daily. The headlines are filled with named celebrities or community leaders being accused of something.

While physical or sexual aggression is clearly the worst of all possible behaviors in the workplace, there are plenty of other failings that undermine a leader’s ability to lead. Fooling yourself into thinking your intentions are good enough pales in comparison to the actions you take each and every day.

Your action becomes the standard by which you will be measured. It begs the question, what was the intention anyway?

[reminder]What actions have you taken that might undermine your otherwise good intentions?[/reminder]

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

Call To Action

If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now!

Leaders: What is the Right Answer?

getting it right

It has been said there is one big difference between management and leadership. Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.

getting it right

Have you ever asked yourself this question? What IS the right answer anyway? For people in leadership roles, you are looked upon for the right answer. You better be able to deliver.

However, there are times when the right answer seems so hard to find. Here are some things to consider so that you, as a leader, can do more to find the “right” answer.

Situational Approach

Situational problem solving seems to be popular. In one case, the right answer might be green, but in a different situation, the answer is red. Both pose what seems like the same sets of facts and circumstances which should lead to the same answer, but you will see decision makers opting to let the outcome be different because of the audience that is involved. If the stakeholders are different, the answer gets shifted despite the facts and details bearing on the matter.

The idea of situational problem solving is often referred to in morality debates. There are those who get very excited about certain social issues, making claims for absolute answers involving right from wrong (think gun control, abortion, legalized marihuana, etc.). Yet when it is their family in jeopardy, they choose to go another route.

I contend the truly right answer needs to fit all situations. Circumstance shouldn’t change what was decided as to right or wrong.

The Leaders Curse

Anyone who is deemed a leader, whether at work, at home, or in the community, is expected to come up with answers. Those who are following the leader expect the answers to be “right”.

For the person who sits in the leadership chair, the pressure can be intense. If you are genuinely committed to quality leadership, the power of the position will not be enough. Power alone can literally dictate decisions. However, leaders who embrace the higher calling of duty and seek to make right decisions will suffer the burden of the process to get there.

Perhaps your style is to seek counsel from those around you. I am a big fan of hiring smart people, then getting out of their way. Yet when the final decision is needed, it rests on the leader’s shoulders to make the call.

Once all the input has been reviewed and processed, the right answer is yours to make. What you decide is right is the way things will go.

Oh my, but what is RIGHT?

I never thought about being right in this exact context before. I participate in an organization of highly regarded business leaders. They each have their own resume of incredible accomplishments. Internal meetings with this group are lively and interesting, to say the least.

When I see discussions in the group unfold, there is, on one hand, amazing thought that goes into the answers. So many different angles get presented and explored.

On the other hand, there is the occasional hard stand that insists their individual answer is best (and the only answer). When this happens, the group often tables discussion for a further review. One could argue that lack of consensus is a natural outcome when a group of A++ personalities joust it out, debating the right answer for a question.

The bottom line is this; right is totally a function of the view from the first chair. The type A++ who has been accustomed to making final decisions may not be able to play nicely in a group of similar personalities when the authority is spread across the group and not centered in one seat.

My point is simply this…. the “right” answer may surprise you.

Leaders: How Do You Find Right?

When the responsibility of leadership falls on you, likely you will seek to pull together all your experience, knowledge, wisdom, and technical ability to make good decisions; the right ones. The process is different for everyone.

Think about your own decision-making process. Do you make lists of pros and cons? Do you draw a grid? Do you immediately turn to advisors? Or friends? Where and how do you decide “right?”

How often do you rely on your gut? I hear that a lot. Truthfully, it works. The greater your experience in leadership roles, the greater may be the accuracy of your gut. I see this being true more often than not in the leaders who fully appreciate the role of leader. The key factor though is whether your gut is objective, not subjective. Unfair biases can misguide the gut reaction to finding right.

Managers who are first starting out lack the benefit of seasoned experience. Their gut reaction may be founded on emotion not reality. The experience becomes a teacher, but not by itself.

Experience is not a good teacher. Evaluated experience is. ~John Maxwell

As you gain experience by exercising your leadership decisions making, your sense of right and wrong decisions will get fine-tuned. If you are just now starting out in leadership, keep notes for yourself. You will revisit facts and circumstances from time to time. You will be able to gain strength of conviction through repeated use of your choices.

If this post has been helpful, share it with someone. Like us on Facebook 

 

 

 

Procedures? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Procedures

Process and Procedure

Managers and leaders at all levels rely on process and procedure to execute scalable and sustainable delivery of the work they do. Yet from time to time, you will hear talk of being totally free-form in the operation of a business. Results speak for themselves. When you dive deep into the leadership success story of business, you will find prescribed process that is reliant upon standard procedure to make it hum.

Process and ProcedureOnce, as I was assuming responsibility for an operating unit at the bank were I worked, I was talking to one of the clerks. I asked her to describe the work she did on a daily basis. Her description was, “I take this form out of this drawer, make these entries in the computer, and place the form in the other drawer.” The drawers were right side/left side of her desk. I paused, thought, then asked “Well, who puts the form in the right side drawer and who takes the completed form out of the left side drawer?” She said she didn’t’ know because it happened on another shift. I asked how long she had been with the company. “Three years in this same job.” Wow, I was stunned.

I decided to research the rest of the story. I talked to the people on the other shift and got their version. I then went back to the first lady and explained the whole process. Turns out, her part was an important piece of the overall procedure that allowed my unit to operate at peak performance, yet she had no idea. When I shared with her the significance of what she did, she got very inspired. We arranged a meeting between personnel on both shifts to share their views of the work. The harmony this generated was appreciated by all.

While this seems like an overly simple experience, it happens thousands of times daily with hundreds of operations everywhere. Procedure is something that must be understood by all employees. As the leader of a unit, the responsibility for establishing this understanding is on you. Yes, you may delegate the training and monitoring of the work, but when the final tally is made, it will be on you to be sure procedure has been followed.

Depending on the circumstance and the nature of your work, procedure takes on significance ranging from the mundane to the life saving. Go out on a military firing range and ask whether procedure needs to be followed or not. “Keep your weapons pointed up and down range” is a procedural command that saves lives. With live rounds chambered in a weapon, the participants in target practice cannot be pointing the weapon at other people. Your job may not be as dramatic, but the importance of following procedure is just as important.

At the Beginning

There was an interview where a company representative said “At my company, we see as many as 92% of our job applicants failing to follow the prescribed job posting procedures. We count that as immediate elimination.”

No kidding! Wow, 92% of the job seekers applying to this company’s posted jobs cannot follow enough instructions to pass through the grid and become potential interviewees. What are these people thinking? Ok, maybe the company has some special requirements they have laid out, but so what? I am sure the nature of their business has some unique requirements too (as do most companies). If someone cannot or will not follow the steps, then what kind of worker might they be?

Since the job search process is as much about elimination as it is selection. Candidates cannot give the employer a reason to eliminate them by failing to follow a step in the process. If your company has rigid procedures that must be followed, job candidates must follow procedure in order to be deemed a fit for that environment.

Leadership for the Procedures

Once a process has been defined, procedure must follow. When Henry Ford decided how the assembly line would operate, procedure had to follow to let every worker know the steps they need to perform. Skip a step and a wheel might fall off.

Leaders must introduce, teach, train, monitor and adjust procedure so that maximum execution can be achieved. Management can check the boxes toward completion and delivery, but leadership brings the people into the fold. With effective leadership, you can obtain total buy-in by the work team. Since process, driven by procedure is unavoidable for best execution, the people cannot violate the procedure. Otherwise chaos happens.

Leaders must be able to inspire the team to follow the procedures that have been written. If there is any confusion about the expectation it must be resolved. If there is any inconsistency in following procedures, it must be dealt with. Coaching by the leader to address individual exceptions to the rule is required.

[reminder]When was the last time you had to enforce a procedure to make your team perform better?[/reminder]

[callout]

Learn more about executive and business coaching offered by Doug Thorpe
[/callout][button href=”https://dougthorpe.com/home” primary=”true” centered=”true” newwindow=”true”]Learn More[/button]

Leaders: Are You Coachable?

groupthink

In my consulting and coaching business, I often ask the question “are you coachable?” It is amazing how many times the prospect says “well, yes I believe I am.” After a few sessions with input and feedback, it becomes apparent they really are not coachable. How do I know? It manifests itself in many ways.

Business owners and professionals at all levels sometimes struggle with being coached. Success and achievement creates a false sense of not having any need for change. If you are getting results, why interrupt the methods that got you there? That may be a good mindset in the short run, but long term success requires growth.

To find good examples of being coachable we can look directly at athletics where the concept of coach and student are most notable. When you explore the story of the truly great athletes (think Michael Jordan or Jerry Rice), you will find stories of tireless pursuit of perfection. Regardless of the season they just had, these guys worked relentlessly to improve their stamina, skills, and techniques.

Recently Jerry Rice, football great and now, NFL Hall of Famer, was being interviewed. He was on the driving range at a celebrity golf outing. Rather than merely slap some golf balls around, he was on the range with both his caddy and a coach. When shots were not going the right place he was asking for guidance and advice. Golf isn’t even his game, yet the discipline of looking to perfect a skill was at work. His desire to do well at whatever endeavor was before him drove his will to be better. That’s being coachable.

Here are the a few thoughts about deciding if you are truly coachable.

  1. Do you routinely seek advice and counsel to improve some aspect of your professional or personal life? Or have you learned it all and know it all? Being open to the pursuit of growth as a professional is key. The best individuals in any aspect of life will be constantly trying to improve. Whether that includes technical knowledge, insight, or wisdom, the effort is there. Those who excel believe there is always more to learn or be.

  2. When you get advice do you act on it; following through with using the information to achieve more? Or do you discount the information and talk yourself out of action? Using what you learn is important. In leadership, it takes practice. Once you learn and understand a skill, you must apply it to your tool kit. By using your newly found understanding, you help to create confidence in its worth. Just as athletes work to build muscle memory for critical physical moves, leaders can build “influence memory” to work to their advantage.

  3. Do you seek follow-up from the coach to be sure you understood the coaching and that you are properly performing the actions that were recommended? Or do you move on without ever doubling back for refining advice? Even the best coaches require feedback from the client to know whether the teaching and training is working. Be proactive in giving that feedback to your coach. When you realize you are working on a new dimension of your training, open up the communication with the coach. Let them know what feels right or needs better explanation.

Make Your Decision

If your current professional or personal situation is not producing the results you expect, then perhaps some coaching is needed. But before you simply engage a coach, ask yourself whether you are truly coachable.

#Entrepreneurs: Finding the Edge

“Finding the Edge” is something we frequently think about but seldom do. I am beginning a series of business coaching messages centered on helping entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners identify and reach out to their “edge”. Entrepreneurs commit to starting their business based on a great idea. However, it takes much more to reach any level of success in the business. “Finding the Edge” has multiple meanings. It includes operating at optimal performance as well as getting the edge on the competition.

The following text is contributed by Heiner Karst**, a business and executive coach from Australia.

Here are some great thoughts about the “Finding the Edge”

Where are you with finding yours? You know, finding “that” edge that allows you to always be the best you can be?

Downhill Racing

What does living and working at “the edge” mean to you? How do you know where your edge is? How often have you “pushed the envelope*” and had to suffer a setback as you found where the edge was. Or are you “coasting” through life, well within your boundaries, taking no risks so that you can’t fail? Are you using all your talents to live an exciting and stimulating life, or does “that edge” just appear too dangerous? A matter of perspective, isn’t it?

A great example of finding the edge

I was talking to a motor cycle racing rider at a BBQ last weekend, fascinated by what drives grown men to such “daring drives bordering on insanity”. There appears to be such an incredibly fine line between being upright and skating across the tarmac on your behind, isn’t there? And all that at several hundred km/h.

We discussed how he knows where to find that edge between winning and crashing, and he agreed that to find that edge, you have to cross it to know where it is. And that meant in his sport to be found cart wheeling onto your behind from time to time, hopefully not too battered and bruised in the process. OK, that was just a bit too far…. next time I’ll know. And so that “over the edge” experience defines the benchmark – for now, because someone at some point will find a technique or a way to extend the boundary to that edge just that little bit further, won’t they?

I asked him about his age (he is close to 50!) and about his lap times. He surprised me by suggesting they are still consistently coming down as technology gets better, but also because he is that much more experienced than the “young guns”. But mainly because he is doing what he loves best and keeps working on being the best he that he can be. I was inspired.

The message

I was enthralled by a further context, namely how the enjoyment has shifted, in that as a “young gun” the rush was finding the “edge” whereas at a more mature age the enjoyment of the experience keeps bringing you back and the challenge shifts to staying at “your edge”, not necessarily the “groundbreaking edge”. For me that means we don’t always have to be the best there is, we just need to be the best we that we can be. To feel great about “our edge” and not detracted that we might not have hit “the edge”.

I realized such a powerful life message. As long as we keep “pushing our envelope” in that way and keep striving to improve ourselves, we will not only raise our game, we will keep feeling great about ourselves. Like the proverbial “dog in the hunt”, with that attitude there just won’t be much time (or need) to “search for fleas”. For those of you than have children, please never underestimate how much they are watching and learning from us, no matter how old we are. It’s hard to expect them to “push the envelope” when we are “sitting on the couch”.

Forgive me pasting the full famous quote of Theodore Roosevelt here, but he said it so long ago so much better than anyone could:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

So what?

So why don’t you just reflect on this past month and have a think of examples of where you “pushed your own envelope”. How did that feel? Whether it worked or you ended up “on your behind”, didn’t it feel great to “have had a go”?

Think of where you could have, but didn’t. How did that make you feel, and how do you feel about that now?

You know, I have learned that we can’t change a lot of things. We certainly can’t change other people, particularly those close to us. We can only change ourselves. And we can change ourselves so that we can be the best we can be.

You can you know? And if you feel you might be struggling with that, why not find yourself a coach and have them help you find the right options and perspectives that will work for you, and “get you off the couch”?

What if you could?

*By the way, in case you were wondering, as I was, where this term comes from I looked it up: The envelope here isn’t the container for letters, but the mathematical envelope, which is defined as ‘the locus of the ultimate intersections of consecutive curves’. In a two-dimensional example, the set of lines described by the various positions of a ladder sliding down a wall forms an envelope – in this case an arc, gently curving away from the intersection of the wall and floor. Inside that envelope you will be hit by the ladder; outside you won’t. So there we go – now you know. I really hope it got you math whizzes excited, because my head is still spinning….

**Contributed by Heiner Karst who’s purpose is helping already successful business people in making a difference in your life’s work. He has 30+ years of corporate executive leadership experience with Siemens and SAB Miller in Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia. As a CIO, he mainly focused on leading professionals in orchestrating measurable business change through M&A, technology and enhanced business processes.

[reminder]Do you know your business edge?[/reminder]

Leadership Thought: Is Your Myopia Your Utopia?

Single vision

When it comes to leadership and management, nearsightedness or myopia is a common occurrence. What does that mean? Is Your Myopia Your Utopia?

Single vision
Single vision

Since effective leadership is part art as much as part science, I see too many managers taking a nearsighted look at their role and responsibility. Nearsightedness is called myopia. By this I mean we place more emphasis on the duties and responsibilities (the science) where policies and procedures govern and control the thinking. This happens while the more subtle aspects of leadership (the art) like communication and delegation suffer.

In your early years of management duties, you had a specific team with clearly defined duties to push widgets or turn cranks. Much of what gets done there is process or project oriented. Process is derived from principles and procedures. Get the process right over and over again, BAM! you’re a good manager. OK hooray for you.

That kind of success starts to sink in and you get swallowed up in a false sense of accomplishment. You figure if you keep doing that, you will keep getting bonuses and promotions. The nearsighted myopia creeps in.

You get so enthralled by the surety of your achievements as a manger, you never explore the more subtle art of becoming a leader. The success seems like Utopia. Why should you ever change?

Legalism in Life

There are other kinds of myopic behaviors I’d observed in life. People everywhere subscribe to some new teaching (think child rearing – Dr. Spock in the 50’s v. now, the Little’s). Teaching spawned by doctrines such as these generate disciples who would rather argue you to death than entertain an alternate answer.

That is myopia at its worst. Locking in on a belief like this can become dogmatic to others. The comfort that comes from the engrained beliefs creates the Utopia effect. I call it legalism; pure science, no art.

Growth as a Leader

Leaders, or people wanting to be leaders, must embrace a mindset for growth. Whatever your natural capacity is to lead (and we all have some capacity), you can grow beyond that level.

As [easyazon_link keywords=”John Maxwell” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]John Maxwell[/easyazon_link] cites, there is a Law of the Lid (from the book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership“). Some call it the Peter Principle. We all have maximum capacity beyond which we struggle. The fortunate truth is we also can grow beyond that capacity.

However, the first step in growth is knowing there is something more. Myopic vision will never allow that. If you stay fixated in a comfort zone, you cannot grow.

The Key Question

The primary question to ask yourself if you profess to want to be a leader is, who am I going to be? What will you be to those around you; the 360 sphere? How will you handle your team? How will you represent yourself to your boss?

When you begin to build a vision for the leader you want to be, you can set your growth targets on the attributes where you are the weakest. The traditional ways to begin growing are these:

  • Find a coach or mentor –  someone who has been there before and who can come alongside to guide you through the growth process
  • Build accountability – Create your own personal board of directors with whom you seek counsel, bounce ideas, and get feedback.
  • Read –  Reading cannot be encouraged enough. With so many great authors and thought leaders sharing ideas and insights, you simply must indulge.
  • Practice –  Great leadership must be exercised. Practice every day. State your vision and demonstrate your intention to go that way.

Committing to grow as a leader requires intentional action. Dreams only go so far.

[shareable cite=”Gino Wickman, Creator of EOS”]A vision without traction is just hallucination.[/shareable]

You must put things in motion. There is a certain irony here. Think about it, if you want to be a leader, but never execute any action, what kind of leader are you?

Above all, stay away from letting a myopic vision of prior success stop you from growing into a leader.

[callout]

If you are looking for ways to grow your own leadership team, call today for a brief consultation. Learn how executive coaching can help.
[/callout]

[button href=”https://dougthorpe.com/call” primary=”true” centered=”true” newwindow=”true”]Schedule your call HERE[/button]

Leaders: Are You Disturbed?

Disturbed leadership

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?