The Confidence of a Humble Leader

Not “The Arrogant or the Wimpy Leader”

Is it possible to be confident and humble at the same time? If you equate confidence with arrogance and humility with uncertainty then you would probably say, “no”.

What is Confidence?

Humble confident manOne of Webster’s definitions of confidence is, “faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way” [1]. That describes the kind of confidence we want to have in our leaders and want others to have in us as leaders. If we take another of Webster’s definitions, “a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances” [1], that sounds like self-confidence that could be good or bad depending on how we use it.

Let me suggest a tweak to that second definition that I believe better describes the self-confidence of a healthy leader: “a feeling or consciousness of our team’s powers or of reliance on our team’s ability to navigate the circumstances”. Continue reading The Confidence of a Humble Leader

Being and Being Under Authority

Authority vs. Individualism

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

Getting the Tension Right

Leveraging the Power of Opposition…

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.

Good leadership also requires us to harness the tensions produced by opposing ideas. Continue reading Getting the Tension Right

MEETINGS: Tools of a Leader’s Trade

Stop Resisting – Learn to Use Them Well

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.Meeting

Good tools, on the other hand, make getting good results easier – assuming you know how to use them well.

Since a leader’s job is to influence, most of a leader’s tools involve communication. For many leaders, meetings are a powerful tool in their shop that they haven’t learned to use well. Continue reading MEETINGS: Tools of a Leader’s Trade

Leadership Style or Culture

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.

Leadership Style or Culture Interview
Leadership: Organizational Culture and Values – The Uncommon Area, Episode 22

 

Healthy Disagreement

How Leaders (Should) Handle Differences

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for handling difficult conversations. DifferentDisagreement 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

Skills to Create Culture (Part 3/3)

Building Safety, Sharing Vulnerability, Establishing Purpose

In the first two parts of this series[1], we looked at Building Safety and Sharing Vulnerability. Now we’ll look at Establishing Purpose, the third of three culture-building skills defined by Daniel Coyle in his book, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Group.

Establishing Purpose

It’s great to have a sense of community that makes us safe and willing to share vulnerabilities. But then the question remains, why are we here? We want to know that we’re fulfilling some sense of purpose, making a meaningful difference.Establishing Purpose

Motivation involves channeling our attention to get us from where we are to where we’re going. To be fully motivated we need to be clear on both our starting point and our destination

But just stating the facts, here’s where we are and here’s what we want to achieve, isn’t enough to fully engage human motivation. Nothing modifies our perceptions and motivations as powerfully as stories. Continue reading Skills to Create Culture (Part 3/3)

Skills to Create Culture (Part 2/3)

Building Safety, Sharing Vulnerability, Establishing Purpose

In Part 1 of this series[1], we looked at Building Safety, the first of three culture-building skills defined by Daniel Coyle in his book, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups  Now we’ll look at the second skill, Sharing Vulnerability.

Sharing VulnerabilitySharing Vulnerability

Successful groups manage to get past the posturing and politicking that prevents average groups from synergizing their intelligence into something greater than the sum of the parts.  When we buy into the myth that strong leaders don’t reveal their weaknesses, we immediately limit the contributions we’ll get from every other member of the group. People value being needed, and a leader who admits they need help creates the space for others to bring out their best. We’re not talking about milk-toast, namby-pamby, undecisive leadership. We’re talking about leadership that is confident enough to humbly recognize that others hold pieces to the puzzle that we lack. Continue reading Skills to Create Culture (Part 2/3)

Skills to Create Culture (Part 1/3)

Building Safety, Sharing Vulnerability, Establishing Purpose

Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs is the longest tenured active coach in any major U.S. sports league. He’s led the Spurs to all five of their NBA Championships. Popovich is a hard-core authoritarian with a volcanic temper, known for yelling and cussing at his players. How does he achieve unparalleled success and the deep respect and loyalty of his players?Building Safety

Contrast Popovich with Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.  Hsieh is generally known for saying less than anyone else in the room. Yet he, too, fosters success and loyalty.

It’s clear that personality isn’t the key.  So what is? Continue reading Skills to Create Culture (Part 1/3)

Building Bench Depth

Building Depth by Building Breadth

It’s partly because they are so rare that “overnight success” stories of unicorn company founders attract so much media attention.  And all that media attention inspires hordes of other young people Bench Depthwho picture themselves on that next magazine cover.  I congratulate the fractional percentage of them who make it!

The more common path to success involves developing expertise and gaining experience that increases their value to the organizations they serve. Continue reading Building Bench Depth