The Easy Way vs. The Right Way
Leaders must be willing to have tough conversations. But the temptation to find a way to avoid those conversations is strong. If we’re committed, as we should be as leaders, to helping those we lead to succeed then we must be willing to do the hard thing. Here are a few of the common cop outs that we’re tempted to use instead of having a tough conversation:
Continue reading Don’t Cop Out on Good Leadership
Advancement Requires Change
“What got us here won’t get us there” is a truism that applies as we advance from one level of organizational leadership to another. When someone with professional or trade skills does their craft well they may be promoted into leadership roles – often without training in how to lead. The same is true when people are promoted through leadership ranks, say from supervisor, to manager, to VP, to CEO. They are frequently left to figure out on their own what the new role requires. At best, that’s inefficient. At worst, they never figure it out and keep doing what they did before without recognizing the changes required to do their new role well.
Continue reading Bends in the Leadership Pipeline
Content and Delivery Matter
A leader’s success is measured by the success of their followers. Those followers want to know whether or not they’re doing a good job. Good leaders use skillfully given feedback to keep them in the know.
The Ups and the Downs
Feedback doesn’t just mean making sure they know what they’re doing wrong. If your followers were computer programs you could just fix the bugs and move on. But they are people. People with energy to be harnessed, emotions to be leveraged, aspirations to be fulfilled, and skills to be developed. Ignore these and your leadership won’t tap the full potential of your followers. Continue reading Skillfully Giving Feedback
Leading Yourself to Greater Fulfillment
Looking forward to retirement? Perhaps you have visions of endless travels abroad or rambling around the country in a motorhome when you retire. That could be an exciting season, but is it a permanent lifestyle?
Maybe you dread the “R” word. Your identity has been wrapped up in that successful career that’s about to disappear…
If you believe that to retire is to end all meaningful purpose in life then you’ve been badly misled. Now’s your chance to really make a difference!
Continue reading Retire…Then What?
So Be Careful What You Think…
It’s often said that life is 10% about what happens to you and 90% about what you do with what happens to you. That’s why some people overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve great success.
Reaction vs. Response
Our split-second reaction when something happens is based on our history of conditioning and responses in similar situations. We can’t control that reaction in the moment. But in the seconds and minutes that follow we do get to decide how we’ll respond: Follow our conditioning or choose something different. Choosing a different response creates new conditioning that will not only change our present course but also influence future reactions. Continue reading Stress Is What You Think It Is
Part of a leader’s job is to create stress.
But before you get stressed about that statement, let’s dig a little deeper.
Eustress vs. Distress
In 1974, Hungarian endocrinologist Hans Selye introduced the term “Eustress” (Greek prefix “eu-“ means “good) to distinguish positive stress from its negative form, “distress”.
Stress, in itself, is a normal response to pressure. Putting weight on a steel beam will stress that beam. As long as the beam has the capacity to carry that weight, the beam is just doing what it was made for. Put more weight on it than it can handle and that beam will be in a state of distress.
Human beings are more complex than steel beams, so our stress may come in different forms, such as physical, emotional, mental, or relational. But stress is essential to growth. Your muscles, for example, will become weak if never stressed. Change always creates stress, and without it we can’t change and therefore can’t grow. Continue reading Stress is a Good Thing…
It’s Easier to Do It Myself…
You’re probably good at what you do. That’s why you’re in the position that you’re in. But now you’ve become the bottleneck. How can you possibly find time to do the tasks you’re expert at and lead others?
The answer is…You can’t!
Something Has to Give
As your organization grows, the demands on you also grow. If you want to model the Peter Principle and “rise to your highest level of incompetence” just try doing it all yourself.
So you have a choice. Continue reading Delegate? But I Do It Better!
When Leadership Seems Too Costly
Good leadership takes time. Time you don’t have. Higher pressure demands leave no time to invest in helping others be successful. That, by the way, is leadership: Investing in the success of others.
How to Grow Your Organization
Growth isn’t the only goal worth pursuing, but most organizations want to grow so let’s frame our discussion of leadership in that context.
You want to grow, and growth keeps you busy. Being good at your craft is what got you where you are. The more you grow, the more of what you’re good at there is to do. The bigger you get, the busier you get. We’ll assume you’ve successfully shed lower-level tasks so you can focus on your core skill. But eventually you become the bottleneck because your organization can’t grow past your ability to do what you’re good at. What’s the solution? Continue reading Too Busy to Lead
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?
One of Webster’s definitions of confidence is, “faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way” . 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” , 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
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