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

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

Leadership Lessons from the 6th Grade

Good Leaders Know Who They Are and Have the Right Heart

 

6th grade leadershipHow 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”.

Jeanie Coca decided she wanted her 6th grade class at Friends Christian Middle School in Yorba Linda, CA to see leadership differently. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from the 6th Grade

Talk About It

The Danger of Assuming They Know

“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.

Talk About What?

Here are some things you might be under-communicating because you assume others already understand them: Continue reading Talk About It

The Tensions of Leadership

Embracing Essential Tensions

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.

The Fundamental State of Leadership

Figure 1 describes the four characteristics of this leadership mindset and illustrates the tensions that exist between them. Continue reading The Tensions of Leadership

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)