Archives For Leadership

Who are you talking to and what do they want to hear?

I’ve been doing this blog thing for the last four months and these are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself. I’ve written and published 54 blog posts; some I’ve loved and others not so much. It’s a lot of work and on the days I haven’t felt like staying up late to finish, I’ve wondered what’s the point. The one thing that’s kept me going is remembering I started out with a clear purpose to challenge, encourage and maximize leaders. Without this rudder I would have been tempted to give up already.

So, I’ve made up my mind to keep after it, but how can I be sure I’m reaching my audience?

Get to know them.

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Criticism. No one loves getting criticism. We often look for feedback from those in authority over us, usually chasing positive affirmation. When the feedback comes and it’s critical, we can find ourselves wondering what we were looking for. Criticism is generally a commentary about how we can do something better. Some people appreciate it, but the implication is still that they must have somehow failed.

We all need criticism.

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I enjoy learning and writing about leadership—mobilizing people and resources to seize opportunities and solve problems. Nothing makes me more giddy than seeing progress and growth. I love it when things get done. 

In leadership conversations, everyone talks about the importance of delegation in order to get more accomplished. Delegation, at it’s finest, empowers an individual or team to do more than they could ever do alone. Delegation, at it’s worst, is passing the buck on a to-do list you just don’t care about, but probably should

Delegation is a matter of healthy growth, and sometimes survival. However, there are two things that you should never delegate. They are important, but not always urgent… until it’s too late.

There is a war on our time and priorities.

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Vision. It’s a tricky thing.

Extremely important, yet sometimes elusive and hard to pin down.

Without it, an organization is lost. But with competing visions, an organization is doomed to frustration. One person says to go left and another says to go right, and it doesn’t take long for everyone to be confused. Vision and clarity have to be driven by the senior leaders of the organization. Those with the authority and responsibility need to set the course and direction for everyone to follow.

BUT, vision also needs to be fostered from the bottom up. A healthy organization draws the best out of its people and creates an environment for them to dream and add momentum to the vision.

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“I don’t care.”

One of the most dangerous comments people – and especially leaders – can make. 

We’ve all had those situations where we’re juggling a million things, and someone comes up and asks yet another question, or has yet another idea, and the knee-jerk response is “I don’t care, figure it out.”

The real truth is: leaders do care.

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This post is part of the Maintaining the Balance series. See my previous post on Clarity and Morale.

Speed and Stability are both necessary, whether you are completing a project, building a leadership team, managing organizational momentum, or participating in an athletic competition.

Some of us are motivated by passion to prioritize speed over stability. Others are hesitant to move too fast, perhaps out of fear, and err on the side of being too cautious.

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Leading and Learning

March 7, 2013

Your business often hinges on the people who are not directly part of your organization. Vendors, consultants, and partners are, in many ways, as much a part of your organization as the people on your payroll. This puts you in a leadership position with them, much like your own staff team.

These secondary organizations have their own internal missions, and they see you as a customer, not necessarily as a member of your organization. No matter how helpful UPS is to your distribution, your business will always be one of many customers looking for shipping solutions. The key is to find a way to engage your partners, consultants and vendors as part of your organization.

Your success means their success

And you know better than they do how your organization will be able to succeed.

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Consider these words:

A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring spring rain.

A leader’s words hold much power.

Power to bring life or death to those under their oversight.

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Safety, really? Why safety?

This may sound counter-intuitive to the typically touted strong, courageous, “go get ‘em”, Rambo-esque paradigm that we so often hold up as the perfect leadership model. But I would argue that one of a leader’s greatest needs is safety.

What safety doesn’t mean is a low-risk, overly comfortable, and tenured job security that keeps the wrong people on the team because you don’t like to deal with conflict. Rather, safety does mean a strong foundation, a refuge from the demands of the job, and a place of strength for the team to work from.

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Hiring Change Agents

February 19, 2013

No organization is stagnant – everything that lasts is capable of evolution. Even brand logos change over time, and these shifts in branding represent major shifts in a company’s identity. Changes in technology can drive brand evolution, and so can company reorganizations, geopolitics, and even war. Companies that can’t adapt are sunk.

The same is true for individuals within an organization.

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