Influential Listening

Raising the Bar on Leadership Listening

Think about a conversation with someone who gives you his full attention, is genuinely interested in what you say, and doesn’t talk about himself all the time.  These conversations leave you energized and willing to do your best to help that person.Ear-Crop

Compare that to a conversation with someone who is all about his own agenda and knows you need his wisdom and stories.  Your energy and commitment to help him succeed is diminished. Continue reading Influential Listening

When “Excellent” Isn’t

Why “Excellence in Everything” Produces Excellence in Nothing

Like most people, I’m a fan of excellence. But when everything gets labelled “excellent”, rolls-royce-526054__180we devalue the word to where it doesn’t really mean anything. And it certainly doesn’t create the motivation we’re trying to inspire when we use it in our mission, vision, and value statements.

The problem is that no one can be excellent at everything. Continue reading When “Excellent” Isn’t

The Power of Informal Communication

Making Clear What’s Really Important

Paul felt his staff’s productivity was being hampered by constant disruptions giraffes-627031_640from other staff members. So he made it a standing agenda item at his weekly staff meetings to remind everyone to consider the impact on the other person before interrupting. Was the issue urgent enough to justify the disruption? He offered tips each week, like collecting non-urgent disruptions and handling them all at once instead of interrupting for each one; or using email instead of text messages if an immediate response wasn’t necessary.

After a couple of months, Paul was frustrated that he wasn’t seeing much change.
Continue reading The Power of Informal Communication

Do You Really Want to Change…?

…Or Just Wish You Wanted to Change?

The prologue to the award-winning musical, Into the Woods, starts off with the key characters reciting things they wish for, like this stanza by Jack’s mother:caterpillar-butterfly

I wish my son were not a fool.
I wish my house was not a mess.
I wish the cow was full of milk.
I wish the house was full of gold-
I wish a lot of things…

Wishing is one thing; wanting it enough to take action is something different.  Pursuing what we really want is hard because it requires us to change. Continue reading Do You Really Want to Change…?

Compliance vs. Commitment

When “Just Do It” Isn’t Enough

Leaders tend to be smart people. That’s the problem. With an abundance of our own good ideas and answers, it’s hard to give others a meaningful role in our endeavors.

Our education-rich culture leads us to expect followers to flock to us if we simply reveal our wisdom. Sometimes short-term evidence affirms that idea. People get excited by our vision and imagine themselves in the picture. But eventually their energy wanes as they realize our vision lacks room for their ideas.
Continue reading Compliance vs. Commitment

Success From the Start

Leveraging Your Personal Values

Andrew CROPOur guest blogger, Andrew, is currently serving as an intern at enLumen Leadership Services.  Andrew wrote this article about his older brother, Timothy, who continually inspires Andrew toward excellence as he pursues his career in the music industry.

Timothy was nineteen when he landed the job in Community Care, a public relations branch at Action Property Management Company. Typical kid, typical entry-level job. What set Timothy apart were the values behind his work ethic. Timothy is the sort of person who will not rest until he has done the best, most efficient job possible. From day one, he demonstrated this through his tireless pursuit of excellence at Action. Continue reading Success From the Start

The Changing Narrative of Leadership

From Institutions to Networks

Leadership is fundamentally about using pooled resources to achieve some purpose.  The narrative behind traditional organizational leadership goes something like this:

Historical Org Leadership Narrative

That approach has served us well for several generations.  But as has oft been said, “what got us here won’t get us there”. Continue reading The Changing Narrative of Leadership

Hills, Skills, and Wills

Diagnosing Obstacles to Performance

basketball-89829_640In his book, Hills, Skills, and Wills: How to Improve Yours (and Others) Performance, Michael J. Ayulo identifies three categories of obstacles that hinder a person’s performance. As the title suggests, he labels them as hillsskills, and wills. These are useful handles to put on some important distinctions.

If I go to the doctor with a serious illness, it’s important that the doctor diagnose the cause of my illness correctly. Otherwise, the treatment he proposes may not work or might even make things worse. The same is true in diagnosing a performance problem. Continue reading Hills, Skills, and Wills