Electricity is a good thing until it electrocutes someone. Authority is like that – a good thing until it’s not.
Not to be political, but the example is too obvious to overlook: America is seeing its founding strengths of freedom and independence morph into an extremist individualism that is hindering our ability to work together and make progress. We’re increasingly unable to trust and unwilling to submit to authorities.
What does that say to us about authority within our organizations? We might like to think our employees’ separate their attitudes about government authority from organizational authority. Maybe. But I suggest the default posture is that authority is authority whether in the home, work, government, or elsewhere. If you want to be seen in a different light, it’s up to you turn on the lamp. Continue reading Being and Being Under Authority
Tensions: Maintain high standards…cut them some slack. Focus on the task at hand…don’t lose sight of the big picture. Be yourself…continually improve yourself. Be consistent…know when to make exceptions.
The Power of Tension
The human thumb is an amazing appendage shared by only a short list of other animals. Its power comes by working in opposition to our other fingers. Imagine how limited we would be if our thumbs just lined up parallel to our other fingers. The tension created by our thumb opposing the other digits creates extraordinary new capabilities.
I grew up around the construction trades. Before I was even a teenager I owned my own power tools: A drill, jig saw, and circular saw. I still have the jig saw. But the circular saw had a problem. It was misaligned and it was hard to cut straight with it. I learned then that bad tools get bad results.
Good tools, on the other hand, make getting good results easier – assuming you know how to use them well.
We’re going to mix things up a little. Instead of my typical one-page blog article, I have a video blog for you. One of enLumen Leadership‘s clients, Action Property Management, publishes a video blog directed primarily at the leaders of the homeowner associations they serve. I recently had the privilege of being interviewed for one episode of this blog.
Join us as we explore topics like leadership styles, characteristics of a healthy culture and how to create one, why a culture where no one gets offended isn’t necessarily healthy, and the relationship between leading and managing.
There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for handling difficult conversations. Different cultures, personalities, relationships, and histories all call for high emotional intelligence in determining how to address conflict. But here are some tools that most leaders would benefit from pulling out of their toolboxes more often. Continue reading Healthy Disagreement
Good Leaders Know Who They Are and Have the Right Heart
How would you have described a leader when you were in the 6th grade? I cringe when I think what I would likely have said…things like, “gets to tell other people what to do”, “doesn’t have to listen to anybody else”, “makes the most money”, and “speaks in front of groups of people”.
Good questions are powerful. Not just because of the information they surface, but even more because of how they impact the asker, the answerer, and everyone else in the room. In short, our brains engage differently when we hear a question than when we’re told something. Continue reading Ask Anyway…
“They know that”. Possibly one of the most growth-stunting phrases in a leader’s mind. We tend to assume that others know what we know. The ideas have floated around in our own heads or in closed-door meetings for weeks (or months, or years), but they’re coming out-of-the-blue to others. We have to talk about them rather than assume others already share our head space.
Sometimes, tensions are a good thing to get rid of. Sometimes, getting rid of tensions can be dangerous. But the ones we keep need to be managed well if we’re to get the benefits that only healthy tensions can bring.
In his book, Building the Bridge As You Walk On It: A Guide for Leading Change, author Robert E. Quinn defines an unusual, but insightful model of leadership. To Quinn, leadership is a temporary psychological condition that we move in and out of. In our “Normal State”, we tend toward maintaining our own comfort. Whenever we move into the “Fundamental State of Leadership”, we embrace different mindsets that equip us to lead well.
Change is hard. Leading others through change is harder. Coercion and manipulation might seem the easy way, but you’ll pay a high cost in the long run. Using good leadership skills to inspire and support them through the changes will get you through with fewer casualties.
Paving the Path through Change
Change involves three states (see Figure 1). Have you ever tried to use a map
when you don’t know where you’re at currently or where you’re trying to get to? A map is pretty useless in that case. Continue reading Empathic Change Leadership