A Lesson from Life in Leadership

Here is the perfect lesson in leadership. Not to be political, but to share a point. Clearly, if the results were different, I’m wondering if the actions would have been any different. However, this was a poignant lesson in leadership just the same.

Election night thousands of Clinton supporters waited for hours throughout the day. They stood and watched, all exuberant when the initial polling reports came in. They stood and watched as the numbers started coming in. They stood and watched as the expected New England states started flipping for Clinton. They stood and watched as critical swing states like Ohio and Florida were lost. They stood and waited for their leader.

They stood and waited for something that never came!

Behind the scenes, Clinton was calling Trump to concede, while on stage she had sent her Campaign Manager, John Podesta, address her supporters. “Go home,” he said, “we’re not done yet.”

Yes…yes, you are. 

The moment the leader fails to be a leader and abdicates their responsibility to another is the moment the leader stops becoming a leader. 

By sending Podesta to address (and lie) to her thousands of supporters, she has shown that this is all about her and not about them. A servant leader would have empathized with her people and would have known that they needed her to speak.
Instead, she called, conceded, and went home to bed. The next day she called a press conference at 10 am, but didn’t speak until almost noon. This time it was only to staff, aides, and cameras. Worse yet, the loss was blamed, through veiled statements, on a system designed to keep a woman from the Oval Office. 

This was the best display of poor leadership, demonstrated at the highest levels. What to learn from this:

1. If you lose, something fails, it breaks, etc., get out there and address your people. Be transparent and provide them closure.

2. You’re in charge. Accept the blame and move on. Blaming anything and everything else on the failure might make you feel better about yourself, but it robs you of control of the situation. Taking ownership, means taking control and that’s what your people want to see–it provides hope, not defeat.

Please take a lesson from this and not be like this.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.vox.com/platform/amp/policy-and-politics/2016/11/9/13572218/clinton-concession-speech-not-speaking?client=ms-android-att-us

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Self-Efficacy and Locus of Control

It all begins with youLeadership is a dying art in the world today. The great leaders of the past are found few-and-far between these days. There are some that have been fairly successful that have rose to an iconic status, but have they been truly great leaders or just really successful at running something?

Often there is contention between the skills that a leader needs and what a manager needs. I believe, if you’re not a good leader, you won’t be a good manager, and if you’re not a good manager, you won’t be a good leader. It is my contention that those who apply both of these talents expertly demonstrate what I call, “LeadermentSM.” This is the expert combination of Leadership and Management together.

LeadermentSM | Leadership Begins and Ends With You

In my opinion, self efficacy and locus of control are the two most important concepts anyone can learn and improve upon. Leader and managers, especially, need to focus on this. This is why I talk about this in Leading Yourself.

Both self efficacy and locus of control are measurable psychological aspects of a person. In other words, everyone has self efficacy and locus of control, but the manner in which it manifests itself determines the leader.

Let’s examine each of these and discuss.

Self Efficacy. The extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals. Self-efficacy affects every action we take; it strongly influences both the power a we have to face challenges competently and make the choices we need to make.

Self efficacy is measured from a low to high scale based on your belief in your own abilities. Assessment tools general provide back your self efficacy based on several questions rating aspects of yourself from a strongly disagree to a strongly agree.

Those with a low self efficacy have a developed fear of risk. They see themselves as being unable to be successful and as a result, they are often unwilling to take risks or try new things because they are convinced that they will fail. In line with this fear of risk is their fear of uncertainty. A low self efficacy creates a level of self-doubt and uncertainty, which prevent someone from trying things without a guarantee of success.  As a result of these two fears, someone with low self efficacy often approach new and difficult tasks half-heartedly are less likely to experience success–thus they are more likely to see themselves as a failure (proving themselves right). Consider to my blog on LeadermentSM last week regarding the Power of Positive Thinking.

 

Those with a high self efficacy are more self confident in their ability to be successful as a task. They approach tasks or situations with a sense of their ability to be successful. This self-confidence tends to lead to more experience, which further increases their ability, which leads to greater self-confidence. Individuals with a high self-efficacy tend to be able to accurately evaluate their performance and are neither overly-critical nor overly positive but able to examine themselves realistically in order to pursue self-improvement. Of course they have a willingness to take risks because they understand that taking calculated risks increases the chances of success and they are not fearful of failure or mistakes. Generally, those with high self-efficacy feel a sense of accomplishment when they complete something because they believe in themselves and that their ability made it happen.

The main way to increase your self-efficacy is through practice and experience. It’s derived from doing the thing that people with a low self efficacy dread–taking risks. However, success when taking risks, even small risks, can lead to a positive cycle.

Locus of Control. The extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them.

Locus of control is measured from an external to internal on a low to high scale. Individuals with a high internal locus of control believe that events in their life derive primarily from their own actions, whereas people with a high external locus of control would tend to praise or blame an external factor.

Like self efficacy, you can find several assessment tools to measure your own locus of control.

The person with a high external locus of control is obviously the opposite of the one who has a high internal locus of control.  This person believes that the whole world is plotting against him, that luck exists, and that life is unfair. The main reason that person believes in luck is to explain how are there people around him succeeding while he can’t. The person who has external locus of control always blames other factors for his failures such as god’s will, bad economy, or lack of luck.

High internal locus of control is a personal trait that every successful person has. People who have a high internal locus of control feel responsible for the outcomes they realize in their lives. They would never say something like, “I failed because it was hard,” but instead they take responsibility by asking themselves, “What was the wrong with what I did,” and, “How can I prevent that from happening the next time?”

In order to build a better internal locus of control, the first thing you have to do is realize that you always have choice to change your situation, even if you don’t like the choices available at the moment. When you are faced with a decision, make a list of all possible courses of action. You can build this list yourself or work with others to help you. When you have a list, evaluate each course of action and decide on the best course of action for you. Don’t lose the list as you might have to go back to it later. Repeat this practice with every decision and you begin to expand your mind to new possibilities by doing this quicker and mentally.

Leadership begins and ends with you. Possessing a high self efficacy and high internal locus of control make great leaders. Not believing in yourself to take risk and believing everything is based on luck and out of your control will lead you to repeated failure. Assess your inner being and then work to improve the areas you need to focus on.

Now when you think of great leaders think about what styles and concepts of LeadermentSM they employed. What did they do that was so effective…that propelled the masses under them to great things. As we can see, these styles vary in application, but an effective leader and manager should understand and apply all traits in a combined approach as appropriate.

LeadermentSM and YouniversitySM are service marks of Crosscutter Enterprises

Power of Positive Thinking

Positive ThinkingLeadership is a dying art in the world today.  The great leaders of the past are found few-and-far between these days.  There are some that have been fairly successful that have rose to an iconic status, but have they been truly great leaders or just really successful at running something?

Often there is contention between the skills that a leader needs and what a manager needs.  I believe, if you’re not a good leader, you won’t be a good manager, and if you’re not a good manager, you won’t be a good leader.  It is my contention that those who apply both of these talents expertly demonstrate what I call, “LeadermentSM.”  This is the expert combination of Leadership and Management together.

LeadermentSM | Envision the Shot, Believe in the Shot, Take the Shot

Have you ever heard that Great Leaders possess Great Vision?  It’s more than just “having great vision.”  It’s believing in that vision and acting upon it.  It is easy to think and dream big, but it is risky to go forward with your vision.

A true Leader and Manager, under the LeadermentSM YouniversitySM not only has to be able to envision the future, but believe it is possible, and be willing to take the risk by moving forward and executing on the vision.

As an avid golfer, I understand the power of positive thinking.  Golfers can take from 60 to well over 100 shots on a golf course in a single round.  Professional understand that every shot requires a routine of mental activity.  When preparing for your shot, you stand behind the ball and picture in your mind how the shot will look.  Confidence in the shot looking like that comes from practice and experience…if you have the practice and experience, you can believe that the shot will happen as you envisioned it.  Then simply trust in your skill to make the shot happen and be willing to accept the consequences if it doesn’t.

You might remember the saying, “It’s better to aim high and miss then to aim low and hit.”  Leadership requires all three variables: Vision, Confidence, and Execution.  Bringing the three together is a core skill in Leading Yourself in the LeadermentSM YouniversitySM.

Let’s explore these three things a bit closer:

Envision: To picture mentally.  Visioning is the act of purposefully thinking about the future of something.  Strong leaders and managers are effective at stopping what they’re doing as a routine of their day and envisioning the future.  LeadermentSM is about making this routine in your day-to-day life.  The best place to practice this is at home.  Take a few minutes to sit quietly in a room or in your back yard.  Look around and ask yourself if you are happy with the way things look today.  Think about the future of your view…what could change over time.  If your view could look differently, how would you like it to look.  Getting that mental picture doesn’t take hours, days, or weeks–it takes minutes.  When you come to work in the morning, envision your day.  When faced with a new project, envision the end of the project and the results you expect.  Being able to briefly stop what you’re doing and actually think about the future of it is active visioning.  Doing that throughout the day is powerful for any leader or manager.  I’m not advocating that you spend hours day dreaming at work, just being a little more thoughtful about what you do.  Many of us tend to get so wrapped up in what we are currently doing that we seldom think about why or even challenge if we’re doing the right thing.

As part of routine, you should be able to stop often and consider what you’re doing.  Think about playing golf, even if you never have before.  In a four-hour round of golf, let’s say you take 90 shots–that’s a shot about every 2.7 minutes.  To be effective, you must develop a routine of envisioning that shot before you take it.  That’s stopping yourself briefly and really thinking about what you expect this to look like.  I want you to think about something…professionals normally score in the low 70s and high 60s in golf, while amateurs normally are over 100.  Both professionals and amateurs take four hours on average to play a round of golf.  This means professionals take about 3.5 minutes to execute each shot and amateurs take over a minute less for each shot.  Why?  Because they don’t take the time to envision the shot and thus end up taking an average of 30 more swings of their clubs during the same four hours.

That’s a pretty power thought picture isn’t it?  If you have eight hours in the day, how would you like to get the same amount of work done 30% better?  Simple visioning activities can make this happen–now tell me you think it’s a waste of time!

Above is a simple daily routine of being more thoughtful about what you’re doing and thus becoming better at doing the same amount of work in the same amount of time.  However, some things require a bit more dedicated thought.  When first given that big project how do you react to it?  Do you dive in and get started making it happen or do you stop and take your time thinking about what you’re going to do?  I’m not talking about the simple visioning routine above, but more of a dedicated thought process.  The extent of the project could dictate taking an hour, a day, or several hours over several days.  This is when you need to employee effective visioning approaches and tools.  Here are some ideas:

  • Silent Brainstorming.  Take a blank piece of paper or bring up a blank document on your computer.,  At the top of the page, write out a sentence or paragraph that essentially describes what task you are about to think about.  Clear your mind and remove distractions and take 30 to 60 minutes simply coming up with as many words, phrases, and sentences that come to mind when you look at your purpose on the top of the page.  Make sure you set a timer and don’t stop until you’ve run out of time.  If you are on a roll and the time runs out, keep going until you’ve run out of ideas.  I often do this with groups and have them write each thought on a 3×5 post-it note.  Once you have all your ideas, then arrange them in groups that seem to make sense–you can’t go wrong, so just do it.  Then go back and rewrite your purpose sentence taking in account each group or write a sentence or paragraph that describes each group and make them bullets to your first sentence/paragraph.  Now you have a much deeper understanding of what you’re expected to do.
  • Thought Maps.  In the center of a page–I like to use 11×17 or butcher block paper–write your task in the center of the page and draw a circle or box around it.  Think about the major aspects of that task and write each of them around the central idea, putting them in a box or circle and connecting them to the main idea with a line.  If they are related to one another, connect them via lines as well.  Continue to re-explore each thought bubble the same way for an hour or so.  What you’ll end up with is a very interesting and interconnected mind map of the item you’re faced with.  I use thought/mind maps often to stay focused on a big project with lots of things happening at the same time.
  • Reflection.  Simply stop whatever you are doing, sit quietly for about 15 to 30 minutes, and just think about what it is you’ve been tasked to do.  Think of this as expanding the visioning routine I talked about above.  After 15 or 30 minutes, quickly write down your thoughts in the form of a sentence or paragraph, or write a main point and then bullet items beneath.
  • Interviews.  Write down your task and then take it to several people you trust and ask them what they think about the task.  Write down their thoughts.  After you’ve done your interviews, sit down and refresh your memory by reading what you wrote and then consolidate their thoughts into one paragraph.

These approaches can obviously be used together in any number of ways or you can use all of them.  They also can be used over and over again with the same thought at different times or with small groups either in person or over the internet.  The size and scope of the task should dictate how much time and effort you spend on this.  If you are starting out the year and developing your strategy for the next several years, you probably want to take much more time than if just dealing with a short project.

There are some professional approaches out there that can help you envision the future.  Here are just a couple that I like:

Grove’s Strategic Visioning Model.  Grove’s model is part of their visual techniques for brainstorming and thought generation.  I particularly like their cyclical visioning model because it makes you think about how to reflect on the past, think about the future, and ground yourself in the present.  I love using this quote, “Plan for 100 years, live for today.”  Grove’s model kind of sums up that quote.

Grove's Strategic Visioning Model

TRIZTRIZ.  TRIZ (pronounced “trees”) is an innovative Russian problem solving methodology.  I really like the basics of the concept and one specific item has always stuck with me.  “Someone somewhere has already solved your problem.”  In a nutshell, the solution or approach you’re looking for has already been done, you just have to look for it.  Additionally, the TRIZ approach addresses ways of using the problem as part of solution and focusing on contradictions to solve a problem.  It’s a very interesting topic that is quickly gaining ground in the western cultures.  Back in 2007, there was little out there about TRIZ and now it’s becoming a common approach to innovative thought.  I think it provides a nice set of tools for visioning.

Believe: To have faith, confidence, or trust.  It’s great to have big dreams and ideas, but for many of us, this is about as far as we go.  Much of this is because of fear–we are afraid of failure.  If I openly share my ideas and dreams with others, they might ridicule me.  Most of the time I think this because I’m personally challenging these myself.  The power of believing is nurtured by experience and mental fortitude.  First you have to believe in your vision and then you have to be able to share your belief.  Most people will not believe in you if they have no experience in your vision.  In my role as a consultant, I often have to share a vision of what I believe can happen to people who don’t believe it’s possible.

In golf, you can have blind faith–which basically means you’ve never experienced it and have nothing to convince yourself that what you believe is actually true, but you believe in it anyway.  I believe; however, that this leads to “over confidence.”  Practice on the range and the course is what builds confidence.  Taking chances and trying new things in the game, especially when nothing is on the line, builds a level of understanding of what you can and cannot do.  However, you always have to push yourself to do better.  All you have to do is watch professional golfers play and you know that anyone can do better.

So, being able to believe is about having the confidence to know that what you believe is at least possible, if not definitely probable.  Confidence comes from experience and knowledge.  The combination of these two things makes leaders and managers powerful, because now you can believe in your visions.  Gaining the confidence comes from reading, education and training, talking to others, going to conferences, attending webinars, and basically being a voracious consumer of information around the subject.  Additionally, practicing and actually performing the thing you believe in greatly builds your confidence.  If you’re going to give a speech, they say to practice the speech in front of a mirror and in front of others.  If you’re going to practice leading others, do so through volunteering.  This is a great way to practice the skills I’m teaching you through the LeadermentSM YouniversitySM.

Execute (Take the Shot): To put into effect, or carry out.  If you have a vision and believe in that vision, the final step is to simply act on that vision–just do it!  All too often, leaders and manager don’t have the follow through.  They come up with great ideas, or at least big ideas, and they talk up a great game, but their ideas never actually materialize.  I find this with volunteer leaders in professional organizations all the time.  We’ll have a meeting or go to an annual conference and everyone will start dreaming up ideas based on what is being discussed and what they’re learning.  They will talk about what they’re going to get done between now and the next gathering, then nothing happens.  This is “follow through;” when people do what they say they’re going to do.  Some don’t because they don’t know how, some don’t because they’re too busy, some don’t because they’re afraid of failure, some don’t because they’re just lazy; most don’t because of a combination of all these reasons.

In golf, when I have the shot in my mind and I am confident I can make that shot, I line up the shot, address the ball, take one or two practice swings, check my distance, and then I step up and take the shot.  If I shank the shot, or pull it left, it is what it is.  Examining what you did wrong before you even take the shot is admitting defeat beforehand–failure is sure to follow and thus confirm your belief.  Trust and execute.

A great movie and book that I have enjoyed over the years is The Secret.  many people have read this book, watched the movie, or both.  I definitely would suggest you do the same.

As part of Leading Yourself, The Power of Positive Thinking is a basic tenant of LeadermentSM.  Learning to Envision, Believe, and Do in your daily life will greatly improve your ability as a leader and manager.

Now when you think of great leaders think about what styles and concepts of LeadermentSM they employed.  What did they do that was so effective…that propelled the masses under them to great things.  As we can see, these styles vary in application, but an effective leader and manager should understand and apply all traits in a combined approach as appropriate.

LeadermentSM and YouniversitySM are service marks of Crosscutter Enterprises

Start With A Strategic Mindset

Leaders Think Strategically All the TimeLeadership is a dying art in the world today.  The great leaders of the past are found few-and-far between these days.  There are some that have been fairly successful leaders that have rose to an iconic status, but have they been truly great leaders or just really successful at running something?

Often there is contention between the skills that a leader needs and what a manager needs.  I believe, if you’re not a good leader, you won’t be a good manager, and if you’re not a good manager, you won’t be a good leader.  It is my contention that those who apply both of these talents expertly demonstrate what I call, “LeadermentSM.”  This is the expert combination of Leadership and Management together.

Leaders Think Strategically All the Time.

Great leaders don’t hold strategic planning sessions once a year; great leaders think strategically all the time.  They still hold strategic planning sessions annually and more than not, once a quarter.  Because great leaders know that their leadership team doesn’t always think strategically and they have to set aside time for them to think as the leader does.  But the leader–a true leader–is always mentally in the strategy realm.

This doesn’t mean that they are out-of-touch with reality.  If you understand strategy, then you then know it’s more than just visions and big ideas…it’s tactics and actions that make these things happen.

I don’t care who you talk to, everyone has a different definition of strategy.  It becomes even more difficult when you through in terms like strategic plan, strategic planning, strategic mindset, strategic, thinking, etc.

I’m sure I’ll get a lot of comments from “strategy experts” on this, but for this blog, thinking strategically, means you think always about your Mission Vision, Values, Goals, Objectives, and Action Plans–your thinking takes the form of a strategic plan.  To Develop the Leader Within, you must learn how to think like a leader–this is a skill all managers and leaders should develop.

“Stuff” happens at the Tactical-level with whatever you do.  This is where the day-to-day activities take place.  We “live” here mentally all the time.  That’s because it’s what’s front of our nose’s day-in and day-out.  It is very hard for managers and leaders to step out of this tactical-level because they feel that if they take the time to focus elsewhere, they will lose focus on the operation and things will fail.  This is human nature.

Normally, managers and leaders are promoted to the their position because they showed skill at the Tactical-level as an employee.  This sent a message to their leadership that they might be good managers and leaders.  This doesn’t always prove to be true, but mainly this is because the newly promoted person can’t get their mind out of the tactical-level.  Normally, they are too worried that mistakes will happen and the mission will fail, so they stay overly focused on the day-to-day.  This often leads to micro-management of the people and frustrates everyone.

Focusing on the Tactical-level is a failure of effective LeadermentSM.

Above the Tactical-level is the Operational-level.  Here, long-range objectives become your daily bread.  Almost everything in the Operational-level falls into the form of projects and programs.  For definition sake, projects are duration-based activities–in other words they have a beginning and an end.  Programs run for a long time–they may end at some point, but they last a long while.  Many employees initially have trouble transitioning from the Tactical to Operational levels because they still think day-to-day.  Non-exempt employees are used to being hourly and when they move to exempt status and find themselves in the Operational-level, they often have trouble reacting.

Formerly non-exempt employees tend to move in one of two directions, which defines their behaviors for the future.

  1. They treat everything as a day-to-day task.  Thus, they can’t think in long-term projects and programs.  They feel overwhelmed because they feel that they can never get their work done.  This is frustrating to them and their managers because often they are shying away from long-term necessary work and focusing on things they can get done during the day.  They look at their day as a eight-hour schedule and see what they can accomplish in that time frame.
  2. They become workaholics that put in excessively long hours to try to get long-term tasks done quickly.  Their focus is to get everything on their plate off their plate as quickly as possible.  Thus they stay late to work on a project and push things through.  They’re often not extremely collaborative on their projects, because others don’t move at their pace.  Their management tends to reward these “high performers,” but the employee burns out and eventually gets frustrated because no matter how hard they work, the work never seems to get done.

Neither of these behaviors at the Operational-level are desirable.  Focusing on the Operational-level is a failure of effective LeadermentSM.

Then we have those that literally live in Strategy Land.  They’re constantly dreaming up things to do, directions to head, and brand new ideas.  They’re the big thinkers and the dreamers and we’ve all worked with and for them.  Life is easy for them, because they never get their hands dirty.  They’re the ones pushing new projects and programs to the Operational-level that fit the purpose of the day and move with the winds of change.  Managers and employees who exist and operate at the Tactical-level never know what direction the organization is heading, so they burrow in and simply focus on the job.

Leaders that live in the Land of Strategy find themselves very frustrated that all their grand ideas never seem to get accomplished, especially in the time frames they envisioned them occurring.  They become more-and-more impatient and they tend to push their employees beyond their limits.  They stress the entire organization and frustrate even the hardest and most dedicated workers.

Focusing on the Strategic-level is a failure of effective LeadermentSM.

So, if thinking strategic, operational, or tactical is a failure of effective LeadermentSM, how should a Leader think?

Leaders Think Strategically all the time…

This doesn’t mean they live in Strategy Land…this means they think all the time like their strategic plan.  Refer to the image below:

Strategic Thinking

All Leaders and Managers, regardless of what level they work at, should apply Strategic Thinking every day.  When you think strategically, everything you do starts to change.  This means that you are always considering all three levels every day and with every decision.

Strategic Thinkers ground themselves in the values, principles, mission, and vision of the organization–regardless if they came up with them or not.  They are constantly evaluating every decision to ensure it fits within the values and principles, is it part of the mission of what they should be doing, and does it move the organization toward the vision.

Strategic Thinkers understand that nothing–I repeat NOTHING–happens at the Strategic-level outside of creating direction.  Things do not get done at the Strategic-level and if they think they will, they’re simply fooling themselves.  If you are waiting for something “strategic” to happen, then you’re going to wait a long time.  Things happen at the Tactical-level.

Strategic Thinkers ensure that their programs are aligned to the strategy of the organization.  Programs are long-term and very lasting, thus they should be 100% aligned with the mission.  Programs do not support the vision–I know that may surprise you, but they don’t.  Strategic Objectives, which are aligned to Strategic Goals, take the form of Projects.  Operational Projects, which are temporary in nature, should be primarily designed to evolve Operational Programs to move the organization toward its vision.

Projects are not always 100% aligned to the mission and vision of the organization, but for the most part they should be.  Occasionally, you might have to do something that simply doesn’t move the strategic needle.

Strategic Thinkers know that this means that Programs are mission-focused and Projects are vision-focused.  Thus, Strategic Thinkers don’t live in Strategy Land pushing down new idea after new idea.  They ensure the programs running in the organization support the mission 100%.  They also ensure organizational Projects are designed to move the organization’s Programs toward the vision.  If something isn’t supporting the strategic plan of the organization, it must be questioned.

At the Tactical-level, Strategic Thinkers know this is where the real work gets done.  However, there are two types of tactical work–Program and Project.  Understanding this helps those who operate at the Tactical-level connect to the mission.  Also, understanding this helps those that operate at the Operational-level better focus on how their day-to-day actions affect the bigger picture and thus relieves a lot of stress and frustration.

Additionally, Strategic Thinkers understand that the act of strategic planning is a tactical activity that should operate within an operational program–in other words, organizational strategic thinking is a strategic program that should always exist.  The problem is that it seldom does.

If you work at the day-to-day Tactical-level, your actions exist within a Program and sometimes they support a Project designed to evolve a Program.  Just thinking this way fully aligns what you do every day to the strategy.  If what you’re doing every day doesn’t support this, ask yourself why.

If your mind exists in one level–strategic, operational, or tactical–then you will fail to achieve effective LeadermentSM.  No matter where you operate, you must always think strategically–think like a leader.  Following this guidance will build your competence in the LeadermentSM YouniversitySM and prepare you for greater challenges.

When you think of great leaders think about what styles and concepts of LeadermentSM they employed.  What did they do that was so effective…that propelled the masses under them to great things.  As we can see, these styles vary in application, but an effective leader and manager should understand and apply all traits in a combined approach as appropriate.

LeadermentSM and YouniversitySM are service marks of Crosscutter Enterprises

Leading Yourself

Developing the Leader WithinLeadership is a dying art in the world today.  The great leaders of the past, George Washington, Winston Churchill, Alexander the Great, Martin Luther King, even Adolph Hitler, are found few-and-far between these days.  There are some that have been fairly successful, like Steve Jobs for instance, that have rose to an iconic status, but have they been truly great leaders or just really successful at running something?

Often there is contention between the skills that a leader needs and what a manager needs.  I believe, if you’re not a good leader, you won’t be a good manager, and if you’re not a good manager, you won’t be a good leader.  It is my contention that those who apply both of these talents expertly demonstrate what I call, “LeadermentSM.”  This is the expert combination of Leadership and Management together.

LeadermentSM | Developing the Leader Within.  Welcome to my LeadermentSM YouniversitySM!

Last week I kicked off my LeadermentSM blog with a quick overview of what to expect.  Every Sunday I will share skills that I believe make one both a better Manager and Leader.  Inherently, managers manage things and leaders lead people.  That is the core difference between a manager and a leader.  However, the skills that these two very separate roles employ are essentially the exact same.

Developing the Leader Within is the core block of the LeadermentSM YouniversitySM.  LeadermentSM starts with you–if you can’t lead and manage yourself, then you simply can’t lead and manage other things and others.  Developing the Leader Within focuses on providing you the basic building block personal skills to refining your personal LeadermentSM skills.

Some of you might have heard of, or even read John C. Maxwell’s book, Developing the Leader Within You.  This block is not like his book–it is focused internally on how you lead yourself, not leadership traits.  Once you have mastered the art of leading and managing yourself effectively, we will move onto leading projects.  Developing the Leader Within is all about your personal abilities to apply LeadermentSM every day in your daily life.

There are six key sections of this block of LeadermentSM learning at my YouniversitySM.  Each section is focused on unlocking your inner Leader and Manager and then deploying it in a relatively non-threatening environment.  The areas of Developing the Leader Within that will cover over the next several months are as follows:

Strategic MindStart with a Strategic Mindset.
For several weeks now I’ve been running a Saturday morning professional development blog called Think Big, Take Small Steps.  If you haven’t read it and want to be a great leader, I recommend you get caught up and stay current with my blog.  Starting with a Strategic Mindset is about thinking strategically–always.  In every situation, at the forefront of your thoughts, should be mission, vision, goals, and actions.  If you are doing something–anything–that doesn’t fit within the mission and isn’t moving you toward the vision, why are you doing it.  Think Big, Take Small Steps is about building a rock solid organizational strategic plan that won’t fail like 70% of them do.  Start with a Strategic Mindset is about building an internal focus on strategic planning in everything you do.

Positive ThinkingHarness the Power of Positive Thinking.
Envision It, Believe It, Do It!  If you have ever played golf, that is a sport all about thinking positively.  But you don’t have to be a golfer to Harness the Power of Positive Thinking.  This section will focus on understanding and improving your self-efficacy and locus of control, building your personal motivation and confidence, and turning on your creative mind.

Interpersonal SkillsEstablishing Key Interpersonal Skills.
Be slow to anger-especially over petty issues.  Anger is always more harmful than the insult that caused it — Chinese Proverb.  Communication, memory mastery, and interpersonal relationships are things, once developed, no one can take away from you.  Developing the Leader Within emphasizes these types of interpersonal skills that make you a fantastic leader and manager.

Business FocusDeveloping a Personal Business Focus.
Personally leading and managing your time, finances, and the change going on around you are as important to your personal life as they are to your professional life.  In Developing a Personal Business Focus, I will focus on ways to perfect these skills to use every day of your LeadermentSM life.

HealthYour Health and the Leader Within You.
You have to take care of your health always–physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually–or you will not be able to focus on other things and other people.  Leaders and managers that cannot focus on things other than themselves because of any of these four health issues, cannot excel in LeadermentSM.  We will talk about ways to improve each of these critical areas and to constantly grow as you move forward throughout this YouniversitySM.

VolunteerismVolunteerism — The Personal Training Ground for Personal Development.
The capstone to Developing the Leader Within is to put what you’ve learned to use in the greatest LeadermentSM Learning Laboratory known.  That’s volunteering, but not just raising your hand and stepping up, but stepping up to lead and manage in volunteering.  Volunteerism — The Personal Training Ground for Personal Development will focus on establishing or enhancing your personal volunteer focus and growing this capacity through the entire LeadermentSM learning process.  As you proceed into Leading Projects–the next block–I want you to apply what you’ve learned in this block and what you start learning in the next in a volunteer environment.  The emphasis on this section is to use volunteerism as your testing ground.  See, no one fails at volunteering–that is the greatness of volunteering.  You do your best and everyone appreciates you for it, regardless if you succeed or fail.  As we proceed through the learning blocks of LeadermentSM, you will maintain this volunteerism engagement to apply, test, and evaluate what you learn.  It’s your real world capstone.  At the end of every block, I will give you an evaluation methodology for you to see how well you feel you have done.

Developing the Leader Within sets the stage for your LeadermentSM journey and begins your involvement in the YouinversitySM.  This is all about you becoming a better leader and manager and it starts by looking in the mirror and leading yourself.

Now when you think of great leaders, the likes of Lee Iacocca, Winston Churchill, Colin Powell, Adolph Hitler, or even the Egyptian Pharaohs, think about what styles and concepts of LeadermentSM they employed.  What did they do that was so effective…that propelled the masses under them to great things.  As we can see, these styles vary in application, but an effective leader and manager should understand and apply all traits in a combined approach as appropriate.

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LeadermentSM and YouniversitySM are service marks of Crosscutter Enterprises

Key leadership trait to pass to your admin assistant

Many times, the leadership traits that are the most recognized go unnoticed until they aren’t there. So, you could be demonstrating a great trait all the time, but no one will know it because, by demonstrating it, people don’t even realize you’re doing it.

The problem can be that those that “speak” on your behalf sometimes might not even be aware of that leadership trait or even care. After all, they aren’t in your position and they might not even realize the importance of the trait. They might me doing what they think is right at the expense of your reputation as a leader.

This can be especially true of the leader’s administrative assistant. This person sends out messages, accepts meeting requests, and sends out meeting invites on your behalf. That’s just a small part of their job, but in this aspect, they are often speaking as you.

So, let’s examine the leadership trait of Respect and how it applies in this situation.

In a business environment, a stellar way of demonstrating respect for others is to not schedule a meeting with them when they have another meeting scheduled, when they’re planning to be out of the office, or when they’re taking the day off. In today’s day and age, most big businesses use Outlook where you can look for open time on someone’s calendar. If you don’t have this tool at your disposal, it would be proper protocol to ask when is a good time. Outlook has definitely streamlined that process.

Additionally, once you schedule a meeting with someone’ you really want to try to keep that meeting as scheduled and not juggle it around. The person(s) that you’re meeting with have other priorities and are probably scheduling around your meeting and might actually turn some important things down to be respectful to your meeting request. So, it can be really disrespectful to be constantly moving a meeting date and time after it’s been set up.

This pretty much rings true for meetings that others requested as well. You don’t want to be constantly moving, canceling, and adjusting meetings that someone else set or requested once they’re set.

This is a very easy thing for us, regardless if we are in a leadership role or not, to ensure we do. For the most part, most of us do this, but some however have to learn this. Not respecting someone’s time and schedule is essentially not respecting them. If you respect someone using this rule, the people you work with probably won’t even notice. Don’t do it and they’ll get the message.

So, what if you are leader and have someone that manages your calendar? They respond to meeting requests and send out meeting invites on your behalf. You might have the ultimate respect for people’s time and schedule, but you’re not the one sending out the emails.

This person’s job is to literally manage your calendar and make sure you get to the meetings that are important and your time is managed effectively. Sometimes, that means the person doing the work might not be focusing on the same thing you might–they may be disrespecting people all day long through your Outlook calendar.

I have dealt with these people. They schedule meetings based on the boss’ time without regard to what is currently on your calendar–it’s not what’s best for you, but what’s best for their boss. They also propose alternate times for meetings you set up that aren’t convenient for you. The last and most frustrating thing they do is constantly moving meetings.

Leaders are busy and sometimes their schedules get high jacked by others who are more important than them–normally their admin assistants. The little guy or gal, are the ones left in the lurch. They get meeting requests when they’re planning to be on vacation or out of the office for errands or appointments. They get double booked by the boss and then they have to cancel some other meeting they planned to attend or they even set up themselves. Of course, when bowing out or canceling the meeting they are respectfully sending an email apologizing and then reschedule based on the other person’s open schedule.

Leaders…you need to share your trait of respect to your administrative assistant. They need to respect other people’s time and schedule just like you would. If they don’t, they’re giving you a bad reputation.

The impression people get is that you are rude and could care less about others as you constantly ignore their lives and upset their day. I’m pretty sure that you do not intend for this to happen, but it’s happening anyway. And what’s worse is that it has your name on it.

For those leaders that don’t give two cents about other’s time and schedules, this blog is not for you and it’s a wonder how you got to where you are today being that way. I will tell you that everyone that works for you thinks that you are a total jerk.

For those who have assistants that act this way without regard for others, everyone also think you are a total jerk.

If I were you, I would take a closer look at what’s going on in your front office. What message are you unintentionally sending?

Leaderment (SM)

LeadermentLeadership is a dying art in the world today.  The great leaders of the past, George Washington, Winston Churchill, Alexander the Great, Martin Luther King, even Adolph Hitler, are found few-and-far between these days.  There are some that have been fairly successful, like Steve Jobs for instance, that have rose to an iconic status, but have they been truly great leaders or just really successful at running something?

Often there is contention between the skills that a leader needs and what a manager needs.  I believe, if you’re not a good leader, you won’t be a good manager, and if you’re not a good manager, you won’t be a good leader.  It is my contention that those who apply both of these talents expertly demonstrate what I call, “LeadermentSM.”  This is the expert combination of Leadership and Management together.

Two days ago, I posted a blog titled Skill Requirements for Today’s Workplace.  In it, I highlighted two key personal skills of Analysis and Problem Solving.  This was the primer for my new Sunday blog (LeadermentSM) to compliment my Saturday blog (Think Big, Take Small Steps).  I will continue to blog in my Meandering Genius section Monday through Friday.

In this blog I will pull from experience inside and outside consulting as well as experience as a repeated business owner and nonprofit leader.  Additionally, I will pull from and incorporate information additional resources and experiences much like these:

  • Quality Engineer/Technician
  • Program Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Lean/Six Sigma
  • Professional in Human Resources
  • Human Performance Technology
  • Financial Management
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Change Management
  • Facilitation

Every week I will cover a specific topic aligned to this outline listed below.  I will probably jump around every week so that the blog provides value to every audience depending on where you are in this outline.  See the outline below:

  • LeadermentSM
    Becoming a better leader and manager
  • LeadermentSM — Yourself
    Exploring the basic building blocks to develop the “Leader Within”
  • LeadermentSM — Projects
    Developing skills and abilities required to lead and manage projects and things
  • LeadermentSM — People
    Developing skills and abilities required to lead and manage individuals
  • LeadermentSM — Capabilities
    Developing skills and abilities required to lead and manage programs made up of things, projects, and people
  • LeadermentSM — Organizations
    Developing skills and abilities required to lead and manage organizations

I hope you are as excited to start this journey as I am and watch next week for my first installment that expands on Developing the Leader Within You.

LeadermentSM is a service mark of Crosscutter Enterprises.

Leaderment

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