Thoughts on Love

While I disagree with the commercial exploitation of Valentine’s Day, with its manipulation and emotional pressures, I do think it is good to think about love. Not just on February 14, but throughout the year.

You see, we have an innate focus on love: every human needs to be loved. It’s like oxygen, water, food, and sleep. You can’t go long without it.

Love is not confined to an exclusive romantic relationship, nor is it found in multiple romantic or sexual encounters. It is much more than giving a feeling to another, or getting something from someone. Love is foundational in business, education, commerce, and our social worlds. In fact, love starts in me.

Until I love myself, I can’t love others. Love is a two-way street; giving and receiving. Acceptance, affirmation, encouragement, correction, service and self-sacrifice are all facets of love. These are all given and received. Until I accept myself, I can’t love you. Until you love yourself, you will struggle to accept love from me.

Yet love is not just an internal awareness or personal wholeness. Love is inherently interactive. The golden rule counsels us to love others as we would love ourselves. The focus is on how the love we have embraced for ourselves overflows in the way we express love to others. Love is only love if it is given and received.

Receiving takes courage, it is a vulnerable action. I can’t receive from you if my defenses are up, or I have rejected your contribution for some reason. I can only choose to be vulnerable if I have already come to peace with myself; who I am in the present, and who I am created to be (my purpose). In that love of myself is the power to choose vulnerability, to receive from others. What I receive may be pleasant or ugly: I can learn from both. Input from others is treasure, if we will seek and receive it.

As I reflect on what I receive, I can put new understanding into action toward a unity of purpose, strengthening my love for myself. And I can also offer my whole self to those around me, loving them as I love myself and doing all I can to make my offerings to them beneficial and affirming. This pays dividends in business, education, government, and all of society. There is power in interaction, and love is the fuel source.

How will you love yourself more fully? Who will benefit?

Leadership is a choice, not a position.

A common misconception of leadership is that you have to wait to lead until you are given a position. This is entirely false. In fact, leadership is tarnished by those who are placed in "leadership" positions without first being leaders.

If you are waiting for that new position, or promotion, or permission to lead, you are misunderstanding the nature of leadership. You don't become a leader by being made a leader.

So is leadership innate? Are some born leaders and the rest of us had better get used to following? Not at all. There is no such thing as a born leader. Rather, those who lead from a young age have a combination of the right opportunities and the traits to take advantage of them. Neither of these assets guarantees leadership prowess, nor do they exclude those who initially lack them. Instead, leadership is like money; you can grow it, invest it, and maximize it, or waste, mismanage and lose it. The choice is yours.

The key word is CHOICE. To be a leader, you choose to lead. In other words, your choices make you a leader. 

The first choice is to stop excusing yourself by blaming, or hiding behind, others. When you choose to lead, you are bringing yourself to the table. You bring your strengths and weaknesses, you bring your experiences (good and bad), you bring your learning, you bring your uncertainties and fears, and you place them on the table for the sake of the team or setting in which you choose to lead. Leaders cannot use others as a reason for not offering themselves. 

A second choice a leader makes is to learn to lead. You never stop learning, unless you stop leading. Learn from those who lead you, learn from those around you, learn from those you lead. Most of all, learn from those who know more than you!

And a third choice follows: choose truth-tellers. A wise leader who mentored me once said: "If you can find someone who will tell you the truth, pay them!" Truth-tellers come in different forms: data, current trends, 360° review, learning and experience, to name a few. But the most valuable truth teller is an unbiased person who knows you and wants you to succeed as a leader. Those are the people to cultivate in your life! Watch for counterfeit truth tellers: those who tell you what you want to hear, or those who tell you their version of the truth for their advantage, to help you fail. 

Having the courage to choose trustworthy truth tellers is a quality that sets great leaders apart.

There are many more choices of leadership, but these three have been the most prominent in my experience. Which choice challenges you the most? Why not make it (or renew it) today?

Teambuilding Around Strengths

In my experience, teams are usually built around skills: “we need a finance person,” “let’s add more sales reps,” “where can I find a better leader?”

These approaches are not wrong, but they can be akin to buying a car based on the number of wheels it has, or purchasing the first pack of cheese you see in the grocery store! You will get a car, or some cheese, but it may not be the best fit for your needs. There are details within those ‘skills’ that matter a lot. On a team, the most important is the strengths that team members bring within their skills; such as passion to encourage, desire to raise standards, or attention to detail. These “soft” factors can help or hinder a team’s success far more than team members’ skills alone.

The wise leader will consider these areas when building, or growing, a team:

  1. What are the existing strengths on the team? Are any under-developed or unused?

  2. Can the team meet its goals with the current mix of strengths?

  3. If skills are missing, and need to be added, what strengths are needed with those skills?

  4. If we are adding a person or two, how will their strengths mesh with the rest of the team?

  5. How do my strengths (as the leader) challenge, develop, and incorporate the strengths of my team as we pursue our goals?

The answers to these reflection questions take the leader a step beyond Valuing Differences and move the team further toward their goals.

Valuing Differences

A key aspect of team building is learning to value differences, and it’s an art that is becoming more challenging in a society that is increasingly tribal and polarized.

Although media and news sources divide us into “us” and “them” to create conflict and increase engagement, this is not a good way to build teams!

We need to develop the skill of seeing differences as a strength, not a divisor. Valuing differences starts with understanding the value of our own strengths, because insecurity feeds polarization. Then we can also learn to recognize the individual strengths of those in our teams, and plan to maximize the benefits of each contribution to the team’s goals. Successful sports teams use this strategy, as do successful business teams.

A factor that we often overlook is the importance of time: snap decisions or responses in the moment are common in this social-media-driven age, but successful team building requires time to reflect on strengths (as well as weaknesses) and to develop strategies that help us win.

One reason why I love coaching is that none of us can see the whole picture of our teams, but a supportive outside observer can be invaluable in broadening our understanding as we take the time to value differences.

Here’s to all that becomes possible when every member of your team plays a unique part and fulfills his or her potential!

Learn to Translate

Let’s assume you have learned to Direct Your Uniqueness. (I can help you if you’re not sure on that).

You will still face challenges as you focus your strengths for the benefit of others, while acknowledging your weaknesses.

The primary challenge is that “no man is an island” and you will have to interact with others.

The good news is that you are not the only unique person on this planet. The hard news is that this means you are not the same as those with whom you interact!

A key skill we develop, after discovering individual uniqueness, is learning to translate.

Which of your circle are the hardest to communicate with? It’s probably because you are each speaking your own language and misunderstanding the other. I remember a season in our lives where Jane and I worked in a community of young volunteer workers from all over the world. Thirty or more enthusiastic young men and women, drawn together by the desire to serve others and learn English. The cultural misunderstandings were sometimes hilarious (and occasionally painful)!

It’s the same in our day to day life. Your difficult colleague or family member may not be speaking the same language as you. Learning to translate is key!

Each unique blend of communication styles has needs, and filters through which we approach communication. Any difficulty in communication can be addressed, and often resolved, by uncovering the other person’s communication need.

Maybe your challenging person is characterized by action. If your approach is usually slow and thoughtful, it may need to be translated into acknowledging their need and offering what you can to help meet it: “I know this is important to you and you want to move it forward. I want to help achieve that, so if you can give me an hour to think it over, I’ll come back to you with my best ideas”.

You may be trying to interact with a person who is primarily emotive; they feel every feeling, and want everyone to be part of the solution to any challenge. This would be difficult if you are strong in planning and resourcefulness, and have already worked out the best way to do things. Here the translation might look like this: “I know this challenge is hard for us, and it feels overwhelming, but I have some ideas of what we can do. Could you get with one or two others who are affected by this, and see what they feel about these ideas, so we can go forward with as much input as possible?”

These “translation” approaches can serve to bring people together, rather than misunderstanding driving them apart. And the onus to translate falls on those who already understand themselves. But it’s not all one-sided. If you are struggling to communicate with someone who doesn’t understand themselves well, you can offer to help them discover their profile. Once they know their uniqueness better, you can share your profile with them, and you will both benefit from mutual understanding of your differences!

Direct Your Uniqueness

Before the holidays we talked about Defining your uniqueness. Each of us is a gift to the community around us, whether workplace, family, neighborhood, school, or group of friends.

Today I want to challenge you to take another step beyond defining your unique contribution. How will you direct your uniqueness in 2019?

Let me sketch out what I mean:

Each of us has a unique blend of strengths to offer. Each of us also has our own cluster of weaknesses that hinder that offering. Maybe you are a strong action person; great at moving projects forward or raising the standards in your sphere of influence. Along with that you may have an Achilles heel: “she never finishes what she starts” or “if I don’t agree with him, he resorts to attacking my motives”.

Maybe your strength is in your intelligence, or your resourcefulness, but it carries with it a weakness that you seldom act on your knowledge in a timely manner, or you withhold resources from those you mistrust. In another scenario, you a great at empathizing or understanding others, yet you find conflict too challenging or take differences personally.

Your ability to fulfill your potential rests on identifying your strengths, and your influence depends on acknowledging your weaknesses. Those who discover their personal strengths and weaknesses profile unlock the potential to direct their uniqueness.

By “Direct Your Uniqueness”, I mean that you focus on your strengths and direct them for maximum impact, while understanding your weaknesses and craft customized solutions to mitigate them.

In my work, I benefit from the strengths of encouragement. enthusiasm, and connectedness. But one of my weaknesses is failing to listen. So I set myself the challenge of asking more questions as I direct my influencing personality to the benefit of those I coach. In this way I am directing my uniqueness for the benefit of others.

What about you? Where are you strong? What challenges come with your weaknesses? Do you have a plan to make the most of who you are for the benefit of others?

Define Your Uniqueness

December is a time for giving, and for most of us, that sets us thinking about those who will receive our gifts. What we give usually depends on the recipient. You don’t give Aunt Joan the latest video game, or your young nephew a set of knitting needles or a crochet set!

Each of us is unique, and different gifts suit different people. Sometimes we don’t know what to give, so the gift is just cash. That may be appropriate for international giving: my kids always looked forward to their $50 bill in a Christmas card from my father because my dad resembles the portrait of President Grant on the bill - they called the cash “Grandad vouchers”! But aside from such long-distance giving, a gift of cash is seldom a sign of thoughtful benevolence to those nearby.

Thinking on this prompted me to consider - how well do I know those around me? And how well do they know me? Can I define my uniqueness in ways that enable others to relate to me in a way that benefits them AND me? I’m not just thinking about holiday gifts (I am not a big fan of all that material distraction) but my focus is on the impact my life can have, if I am clear about why I’m here, and what I have to offer. Because that is my gift to the community around me.

So I have recently started receiving coaching from a new coach, who worked with me on a self-discovery exercise. Over a two hour period I was able to identify five core values I hold, together with a collection of authentic ways of being that all lead toward my identified life purpose. It is so helpful to have such a collection of truths about ME. These set me apart from others, and help to inform my living to fulfill my potential.

I could not have defined my uniqueness without help from my coach. I had some idea of who I am, and why I am here, but the exercise of exploring this with a supportive, yet unbiased “stranger” was both revealing and affirming. This is MY identity and uniqueness, and now I am able to offer this to others with confidence and humility.

How will you define YOUR uniqueness? Hopefully not just in terms of what gift you want for the holiday celebrations, but in terms of your place in the community and your contribution to our world! We need you to be fully YOU - nobody can take your place! We look forward to benefitting from the gift you are, as you identify, and live out, your uniqueness.

I’d be honored if you felt I could help you with this; let me know!

Thankful

This is the time of year when we focus on Thanksgiving (at least for a day or two before we dive headlong into the festival of excess which is December).

I’m an import to the USA, so I don’t have a lifelong tradition of observing Thanksgiving, but I have been here long enough to know that most people focus their gratitude more on relationships than material things.

And I would suggest that is both wise, and insightful. Because relationships have the power to affect us more than money, possessions, or even experiences.

In your thankful moments, reflect on WHO you are thankful for (and maybe invest a little time or energy into expressing that gratitude tangibly).

But let me also turn it around: there are people who are thankful for YOU. Do you know why? Can you describe your contribution to others? Such self-awareness is the foundation of effectiveness in life, because you can only make an impact if you know your key relationships, and what you bring to them.

Thank you for caring about your place in this world and investing your time in understanding yourself better. Here’s to more thankful reflections as we grow in understanding!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We Need Others

I recently completed a Mastermind series unpacking learnings from Live2Lead, the John Maxwell team event each October. I realized how valuable the group were to me in my journey to relational and leadership health. The bottom line is that we can’t see what issues hold us back unless someone is willing to engage with us and bring those issues to light. But also, we are never fully functioning in relationships unless we allow who we are to be seen by those around us. In self-disclosure we offer our strengths to benefit others, and our weaknesses to validate and encourage others as they offer their strengths to us.

These exchanges are just as important to our society as the buying and selling of commerce or the pedagogy and debate of education. Sadly, these things get more difficult as we allow media, politics, or special interests to polarize us.

It’s time to reclaim the power of others, by inviting those who differ to engage with us for our benefit as well as theirs. If you agree, let me know, and let’s see how we can make a start!

How To Mess Up

Select any of the following:

Be sure you are right

Be defensive when questioned

Be busy without direction

Be isolated

Be driven by others' opinions

Be judgmental of others

Be superior to your peers

Be comfortable with lack of integrity

Be paralyzed by analysis

Be predisposed to self-pity

Be focused on weakness and negatives

Be the center of attention, the king of the hill

Be constantly quick to act or speak

(what have I missed?)

The Value of Space

In the summertime, schedules often change. If you are in a leadership role which enjoys less pressure in these months, this post is for you! If that doesn't apply, don't despair - I have some thoughts for you too!

Less pressure = More space

Physics was nowhere near my most favorite subject in school, but a scientific principle from those classes has stuck with me: less pressure means more space. Or in simple terms, a helium cylinder takes up much less space than all the balloons you can fill with it! The cylinder is under pressure, enabling it to do work quickly, while the balloons are much less pressurized and can float almost anywhere.

What's the application to leadership? We all need space to do our best thinking. And without that space, our leadership becomes little more than a jet of high pressure gas shooting out of a cylinder. So I'm suggesting you embrace the space of summer (if your role allows) and do some big space thinking. Kick back, put the laptop and phone aside, look out into nature, and let your mind and heart expand into new leadership insights, or follow up opportunities that need space to flourish (like that book you've been planning to read for months).

Like the balloons, there's no telling where that freedom may take you. Your next great idea, or the inspiration you need, may be just a less-pressured space away!

And I said I had a thought for those whose summer does not lead to relaxation: not all space is "blue sky" space. You may not have low pressure, wide-angle space available to you, but you can still treat yourself to a mini-space. A two-minute breather after a long phone call, a short walk in the parking lot after a meeting, a deliberate delay before moving on to the next task. Even these small spaces are valuable. I took one this morning, and it prompted the idea for this post!

 

Self-awareness grows

Several times recently, while reviewing LIFE Languages™ profiles with people, I have noticed that the process of discussing the results of this well-designed instrument often leads to growth in self-awareness.

Like the time when I was discussing with a husband what might be some signs if the needs of his primary languages were not being met; he was nodding in understanding, and his wife looked surprised as some of his behavior suddenly made sense!

Or another time I was talking with a man who has several languages close together in his profile, meaning he can easily switch between them in communication and teamwork. He said "I thought that was me being unpredictable, but now I see that I'm wired to be flexible!"

These insights (and many more like them) are a great gift to the healthy leader, because they open the door to further self-awareness, and thus to increased emotional intelligence. The leader is certainly not the only one to benefit from this growth. As a famous leadership speaker once said: "everyone wins when a leader gets better!"

So don't fall for the mistake of thinking that self-awareness is a waste of time or narcissistic. Your effectiveness as a leader depends on growing self-awareness. The closer to continuous you can make that process, the better! And remember that you can't see what you can't see, so find someone who will speak truth to you, and pay them! 

Self-awareness 101

Continuing our focus on self-awareness (or lack of it) among leaders, let’s think a little more about what is involved in being self-aware.

First, let’s remember that self-awareness is the first component of growing emotional intelligence, so self-awareness is a starting point, not a finish line. But you can only run the race if you start, and failure to be self-aware will be a key reason why you fail to lead as fruitfully as you desire.

Second, let’s understand that self-awareness is best developed by a combination of personal reflection and input from others. I need to develop the skill of understanding myself first: to recognize how I am wired, the strengths and weaknesses that make me unique. Then I benefit most from getting input from those around me, both confirming and augmenting the insights gained from personal reflection. 

Thirdly, self-awareness is a journey; expect your self-awareness to grow and develop over time. One suggestion I have found helpful in my own life is to plan regular opportunities to invest in self-awareness. Subscribe to a blog that builds on your strengths, take some training in an area of weakness, read a book on self-awareness issues, or schedule a regular time with a friend or mentor.

Finally, apply your self-awareness to your leadership. Build teams that combine different strengths for optimal success, look for those who are strong in areas you are not, set an example of self-awareness for those you lead and encourage them to grow their own awareness. 

In all these ways, you will begin to turn the tide of self-awareness and we will all benefit from the personal and organizational growth that results.

Better than an MBA?

Harvard Business Review published an interesting article earlier this year: "Self-Awareness Can Help Leaders More Than an MBA Can." It is a fascinating thought for those of us without MBAs!

HBR reports that about 40% of CEOs are MBAs, and studies show that leadership based solely on MBA-trained logic is not always enough for delivering long-term results, in fact it is often detrimental to an organization’s productivity. 

Researchers studied 440 CEOs who had been featured in the business press, on the covers of magazines such as BusinessWeek, Fortune, and Forbes. They split the CEOs into two groups — those with an MBA and those without one — and then monitored their performance for up to seven years. Surprisingly, the performance of those with an MBA was significantly worse. 

The Journal of Business Ethics looked at more than 5,000 CEOs and came to a similar conclusion.

One CEO interviewed for the article was forced to face the fact that he was a much worse leader than he thought, with evidence to support that conclusion from comprehensive staff surveys over several years showing declining morale and a worsening staff perception of his leadership. "I was leading from my head and not from my heart" he explained. A major recalibration was needed.

Bill George, a professor of leadership at Harvard Business School, and former CEO of Medtronic, says that self-awareness is the starting point of leadership. Self-awareness is the skill of being aware of our thoughts, emotions, and values from moment to moment. Through self-awareness, we can lead ourselves with authenticity and integrity — and in turn better lead others and our organizations.

Self-awareness starts with an external, non-biased assessment of strengths and "wiring" such as the LIFE Languages™ profile. This then builds with self-disclosure, and a developing understanding of others, into Bill George's sweet spot of consistent self-awareness.

You could go for an MBA, or you could invest a great deal less in simple tools for self awareness. The choice is yours!

Keeping Going

Last week I wrote about Starting (whatever is in you to start). This week I have some thoughts on Keeping Going! Have you ever run a race? You'll recall that there are points along the way where you want to give up. The longer the race, the more drop-out points there are.

We need you to be you (that's last week's post) AND we need you to KEEP ON being you! Winston Churchill is quoted as saying "success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm"! This post has the goal of boosting your enthusiasm to keep you stumbling along!

The first encouragement that comes to mind is Keep your eye on the prize. Remember what prompted you to start what you started? Why you got in the race in the first place? Well, with your eye on that prize, organize & execute to reach it. Organize is planning to succeed, execute is acting on planning. Both combined will bring you success by the Churchill method of stumbling along enthusiastically!

While you keep your eye on the prize, the second secret to keeping going is to Take another step. That seems obvious, but it is not the way most of us operate. Let me explain: have you ever climbed a mountain? In my youth I was a Boy Scout, an avid mountain hiker, and I loved to scale the peaks in my native British Isles. I learned early on that the way you conquer peaks is to take another step. Don't only look ahead to the summit - seeing how far away it is can result in discouragement. But focus on the next step and you will discover that incremental rewards add up! And from time to time it helps to review: look back and see how far you've come, then refresh your focus on the summit ahead, and return, encouraged, to taking the next step.

Here's another lesson I learned in scouting: Fires burn longer, hotter, and brighter than firebrands. If you pull a burning stick from a fire, it burns for a while, but soon dies out. But if you gather a group of burning brands, they become a hot fire. In the same way, one of the keys to keeping going is to Gather a tribe. I'm deliberately using Seth Godin's word for a life-giving living group, because it expresses clearly the need for connectedness, with a leader and a uniting idea. Who is on the journey with you? Since you started, who has followed? Allow the gathering of a tribe to give you the safety, encouragement, and fuel for the journey. I never climbed a mountain alone, always with a group.

And finally, as you keep going, Fail forward. By this I mean (in the terms of John Maxwell's book of that name) - failing doesn't make you a failure. In fact, failure is your friend; giving you the ability to learn and then revise your plan. Thomas Edison is famous for inventing the electric lightbulb by way of repeated 'failures'. Edison is quoted as saying: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." When you fail (as you will), learn to slay discouragement with the sword of vision and the shield of community. Remember why you are in this race, look around at the tribe running with you, take another step, and KEEP GOING!

 

Starting

It is always a challenge to start something.

You have to battle the feeling that there is no room in the world for what you want to start, as well as the self-doubt or fear that you don't have what it takes to bring it about. Then you face the unconscious resistance of others who don't see what you see, or don't understand what you are creating. 

There are many other reasons why starting is challenging; what would you add?

Nevertheless, there is something built-in with every person that (at least infrequently) longs to start something: call it creativity, calling, purpose, or frustration with the status quo, every one of us longs to start because every one of us is unique and has something to offer.

Recently, my wife and I started a new church in our area. Around the same time I started this Leadership Coaching business. Both have brought us into a new place of fulfillment and challenge that we have found exciting (and scary). Through the process, we have learned more about ourselves, and how we are wired. We have found others who want what we have to offer, and who we can help to fulfill their unique destiny.

Along the way, we have seen how our LIFE Languages™ make our starting different from the ways others start. If we hadn't learned that, we would have been tempted to copy someone else's model or method. That would have been frustrating and hurtful to what we have started, because it would have deformed our unique offerings.

What are you waiting to start? How does your uniqueness shape your starting? How does what you are starting reflect who you are and what you bring to our world? 

By all means take time to reflect on those questions, ask for help if you need more clarity, but whatever you do...

... START!

Thanks from a world that needs you to be you.

Authenticity

One of the key foci I have identified as my coaching purpose is AUTHENTICITY. I have valued and sought to grow in authenticity throughout my working life, and now I hope to help others discover and develop this treasure.

But what is authenticity in leadership? I recently re-read an article I'd saved from Dan Rockwell's excellent blog Leadership Freak where Dan interviewed Karissa Thacker about her book "The Art of Authenticity". With credit to them for some of the wording, here's my take on Authenticity:

First: Know who you are. 
Self-awareness is the heart of authentic leadership. This is why I teach and recommend the LIFE Languages™ profile. Until I know how I am wired, I can't be true to who I am. Thacker says "Authentic leaders practice habitual reflection on personal strengths, passions, motivations, and values". The insights a LIFE Languages profile offers will show you that in some ways you are just like many other people, and in other ways you are completely unique! That's what I love about this tool: it doesn't box you in. Although self-awareness is the heart of authenticity, it is not the whole picture.

After discovering yourself, the second step of authenticity is to Let yourself be seen. 
Too often leaders resort to hidden agendas, or manipulation, or even backstabbing, to reach a goal. These tactics leave you guessing where the leader is coming from, or what is coming next. But these are not compatible with authenticity. Instead, an authentic leader will have the courage and confidence to let herself be seen; meaning that she is clear with others about her intentions, motivations, and beliefs (often the very things she has clarified in the self-awareness step). Holding back the truth is often excused as consideration for others, when it is really fear. You can be considerate in the way you communicate the truth of your position, but hiding it is not consideration.

A natural sequel to being seen is to Engage with others. every self-aware, self-disclosing leader will focus these strengths on engaging with others. This means actively seeking opposing views, considering a range of perspectives, and the options they offer, then acting consciously and purposefully on the outcomes this process delivers. Impulsivity is not an option for an authentic leader. As Thacker's book puts it: "You need to be on the lookout for a brilliant antagonist or three for every team".

And finally, authenticity is completed when you Follow Your Heart. This means you live out your values in your own actions, the directions in which you lead, and the ways you treat others.
As Dan Rockwell wrote to summarize the article: "Authentic leaders embody their values." 

I hope I'm more authentic today than I have been in the past. No more pretending or unpredictable leadership! How about you? Which of these four steps can you take today to increase your authenticity?

Work Week Leadership

What does leadership look like in the 'standard' work week? I know - there's no such thing as a 'standard' work week any more. The days of 9-5 are long gone, lost in a sea of side-jobs, flexible 'gigs' and an increasingly service-based economy. But my point is that you likely have a 'standard' week, even if that means different schedules on different days or different locations for different tasks. 

So pause your reading for a second and picture what your 'standard' week looks like, in all its complex glory!

Now, let's ask the question again: what does leadership look like in YOUR standard work week?

First, it needs Purpose. What is the reason you are leading? Where are you heading? What is your goal? If you described amazing success, what would it look like or sound like? Your purpose guides every aspect of your leadership. I know my purpose includes helping others find their purpose; that's why I write, coach, encourage, and meet.

Second, your 'standard' leadership week needs a component of Development. What are you learning? How are you investing in your own growth? Leaders are readers, because readers grow (and reading can be magnified by listening to podcasts, watching videos, and learning from others, but I question if it can be replaced by those other things).

Next, you need Replenishment: if you consistently give more than you receive, you will dry up or burn out. With the erosion of "the weekend" under the onslaught of 'flexible' scheduling, increased work expectations, and multiplying social media and activities, we are losing the art of replenishment. What refills your tank? Sleep? Quiet time? Relaxation with friends? Disengagement from electronics? Time outdoors? Whatever it is, why not schedule a couple of hours of replenishment and see how your leadership capacity grows?

Finally, there must be a Influence element in a leader's life. Today's complex world requires that we meet the challenge of empowering others in new ways; to learn to influence in new ways that counteract  the distractions around us. Influence is still powerful, provided we find new ways to influence. 

Here's to a work week full of great leadership!

Investing in leadership potential

A central priority for me is to invest in the leadership potential of those younger than myself. Finding younger leaders becomes easier with each passing year! 

Here are a few of the principles I hold as I seek to invest in those younger than me:

1) Don't tell them, ask them.

2) Help them see themselves as others see them.

3) Ask them to reflect on their strengths and challenges as mirrored in the perceptions of others.

4) Challenge them to maximize their strengths for the benefit of others. 

4) Encourage responsibility, not conformity, entitlement, or rebellion.

5) Affirm as much as possible, and encourage personal, honest clarity.

6) Believe in them;  make room for them to try, and to fail.