Why Great Leaders Value Reputation Before Revenue

How to Put Principles Into Practice

Reputation

In 1996, I walked away from my first million-dollar client. Anyone looking at my company’s profit and loss statements would have questioned my sanity.

We were less than a year old at the time, and this was by far our highest-profile customer. I made this seemingly crazy decision because I value my company’s reputation over its revenue.

Making Business Decisions

Many leaders rely on Excel spreadsheets to drive their decision-making. They think something is only worth doing if the numbers add up and the price is right. My company, on the other hand, uses a set of five core principles to gauge every business decision it makes:

  • Employees come first, always.
  • Work as a team; win as a team.
  • Reputation comes before revenue.
  • Commit to safety.
  • Make it happen!

Our big client didn’t share any of these values with us. Further, he was overly harsh with my team members and set unrealistic expectations. Our weekly status meetings with him became sources of dread because it didn’t matter how well the previous week went; it was never good enough.

The entire office’s morale suffered, and I had to make a decision:

Do I put my principles first, or do I put my revenue first?

I quickly realized that if I put revenue first, there didn’t seem to be much of a point in having principles. If I sacrificed our core values in the name of profit, how could my team ever respect me or our values again?

The decision became easy — we walked away.

Money is Fleeting. Reputation is Forever

As leaders, we’re often tempted to compromise things — be it ethics, principles, or happiness — to maximize short-term profits. While compromise might immediately boost our portfolios, it doesn’t necessarily help build our reputations.

I’d argue that a company’s reputation is all that really matters, and having a good one is the only way to ensure long-term success. It’s the reason my company has so many great clients today, and it’s the reason they constantly refer new business to us.

This is a philosophy that was instilled in me during my youth in the Midwest. We had a folksier way to sum it up, though:

Pigs get fat, and hogs get slaughtered.”

Everyone has a right to a living, but greed yields guaranteed downfalls — and I’m not interested in being a hog.

Staying on Course

The benefits of this approach aren’t just lasting. By removing immediate profits as sole drivers of business decisions, you’ll no longer be tempted to veer your company off course to accommodate difficult clients with deep pockets. This will solidify your brand as a stable, upstanding, and moral institution — and that reputation alone will drive your growth today and tomorrow.

The great corporate scandals of the world (think Enron) typically involve companies that value short-term revenues over all other considerations. And what does that earn them? Bankruptcy, bad press, and prison time.

Putting Principles Into Practice

Having personal principles is one thing, but having company-wide shared principles that guide every level of decision-making — from the corner office to the reception desk — is something that requires practice, patience, and communication.

Here are a few tips to help you instill this reputation-centric mindset into your company:

  • Provide mentorship and coaching. Look for opportunities to mentor, coach, and train your employees to make sure they have clear understandings of your company’s core values. Show them what it looks like, and feels like, to do the best quality work in your industry while maximizing your company’s reputation.
  • Ask great questions. There’s a management style called “inspect what you expect” that involves asking your employees quality questions to ensure the things you want completed are, in fact, being completed. It’s a low-impact form of oversight that’s more trusting and less stressful than full-on micromanagement — and it will help you determine what’s going on outside the walls of your office.
  • Align expectations. Meet with every employee and client to make sure they understand what your company is all about and how you got to where you are. Also provide them with a list of your core values, as well as specific examples of those values in action. This will give everyone a clear understanding of what to expect, and it will also show employees how to exceed expectations.
  • Make happiness your success metric. Don’t look at your bottom line to assess whether your company had a good year. Instead, look at the quality of your work, the happiness of your employees, the contentment of your clients, and the state of your recurring

Don’t let that one difficult, deep-pocketed client turn your business into something it isn’t. If you stay true to the values near and dear to your heart, the right clients will find you.

So, do you have a client or supplier that has dramatically different values than your organization? If so, would you give them up despite the cost to save your reputation? How important is your reputation you? I would love to hear your thoughts!

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
——————–

Steve Randazzo is the founder and president of Pro Motion Inc
He builds deep emotional connections with consumers to create lifelong relationships
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

Image Sources: yesterdayslaundry.files.wordpress.com

 

 

 

On Leadership, Communication and the Personal Touch

Why Leaders Still Needs the Personal Touch In Today's Digital World

Electronic Communication

Digital channels like email, instant messaging, social media, and video conferencing can make communication within a business a lot easier easier.

It can allow leaders and teams to keep in touch with the office even if you are on the other side of the world.

However, it is important to realise that these methods cannot completely replace face-to-face conversation.

The Power of Person

Indeed, speaking to someone directly offers several benefits that cannot be recreated digitally. Personal communication remains the best method for delivering crucial information. If you need to get an important point across, inspire your workforce, handle a sensitive issue, or move people to action, face-to-face remains the best way to effective communicate.

This is why leadership training should still contain a strong direct communication element.

This article looks at some of the reasons why a good leader in the digital world still needs the personal touch.

The Personal Touch

Personal Relationships

Despite the obvious convenience aspect of modern digital communication methods, a significant part of leadership involves forming personal relationships with the people you are leading.

This is much easier to do when you are in the same room as them, talking to them directly.

Furthermore, direct conversations allow you to give people your undivided attention. If you are on a video call, or using an online messaging system, you may become distracted by an email or by having multiple communication channels open at once.

Talking to someone on a one-to-one basis lets them know that you value them enough to drop everything else and allows more authentic, individual connections to form.

The importance of forming meaningful connections with your employees is often emphasised in management skills training and it is significantly more difficult, if not impossible, to do that through an electronic device.

Clarity and Nuance

One of the primary advantages of digital communication is said to be speed. And indeed, when it comes to simply getting a message to someone else, it can be extremely quick. However, that speed can be counter-balanced by a lack of clarity, ultimately making it less efficient than face-to-face conversation.

Mina Chang, CEO of Linking The World explains it this way:

It’s easy to misinterpret a text or email. For sensitive or otherwise important communication, having tone and body language for context makes a difference.”

Research shows that effective communication relies on non-verbal cues. Generally, digital communication removes these, along with nuance, increasing the chance of misinterpretation. Tone, for instance, cannot be conveyed through email or text messaging, while even video communication impacts upon the ability to read body language.

Sensitivity

Throughout their leadership career, people will encounter a number of serious or sensitive issues, which need to be dealt with carefully. For example, they may need to address an employee’s personal appearance, deal with a complaint about workplace bullying, or give a staff member a strong verbal warning about their conduct.

Dealing with such issues face-to-face demonstrates your personal commitment to reaching the best possible outcome. It helps to foster a greater level of trust between you and the employee in question and it is the best way to ensure that their dignity is preserved and your message is clear.

Reactions and Feedback

Finally, leadership often relies upon feedback and the ability to gauge reactions accurately, which can be done more easily through direct communication. You may notice hesitations or changes in facial expressions, which can act as a cue for you to develop points further or ask for opinions.

This ability is inevitably lost through digital communication channels.

Employees like to feel as though they are valued and their contributions to discussions matter. Once again, it is easier for them to make contributions during face-to-face conversations, which allow for interruptions or deviations.

Moreover, people pay closer attention and participate more actively in conversations if the person they are speaking to is actually present. This is partly because they are also aware that that person can pick up on their reactions.

So, what can you do to make your communications more effective by making them more personal? How can you create environments that make it easier for all team members to communicate confidently with personal tones and calm body language? What steps can you take to evaluate how you come across to others? I would love to hear your thoughts!

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
——————–
Alison Brattle

Alison Brattle is a marketing manager at Uk Based Company AchieveGlobal
She specialises in providing Exceptional Leadership Management Courses
Email | LinkedIn | Web 

Image Sources: melinaabbott.com, rawstory.com

 

Leaders: You Do Not Need to Be Nice to Be Kind

Chess Move

Kindness is not softness, it is not weakness, and it doesn’t always have to be nice.

In fact, sometimes kindness requires you to be tough and direct. I have seen the misinterpretation of this word negatively impact many organizations.

Leadership Mistakes

Leaders, in an attempt to be kind, move under-performing employees from position to position in the hopes that they will finally succeed or at least survive. Others allow deadlines to pass without repercussion or avoid having that fierce conversation that is needed in order to drive improvement and productivity.

Many of these leaders have adopted this style of kindness out of a reaction from working with or for a tyrannical ruler. They have witnessed how ineffective fear is in motivating people and driving an organization forward.

However, in an effort to be the antithesis of what they witnessed, they too have become ineffective.

Some are just new to their leadership role and worry about being liked. They lack the self-confidence needed and therefore, spend much of their time trying to please who that work for them.

But, neither of these is true kindness.

Leadership Wisdom

People need to understand where they stand, how they need to improve and what is at risk if they don’t.

Kindness requires empathy, honesty and trust. It means that at times you must be a mirror, reflecting back to a person the impact of their habits and behaviors.

Feedback, constructive criticism and accountability are all forms of kindness. People need to understand where they stand, how they need to improve and what is at risk if they don’t.

Leadership Looking Glass

It means that at times you must be a mirror, reflecting back to a person the impact of their habits and behaviors.

It may be counterintuitive, but letting someone go from their job could be a great act of kindness. For that individual, it very well may be that you are releasing them from the pain of being in the wrong job, giving them the freedom to finally pursue one that better fits their skills.

It could also be that difficult but teachable moment, where someone with a sense of entitlement finally realizes in fact they are not. Although no longer employed by you, they are now much better prepared for their next employment opportunity.

Maybe most importantly, it is an act of kindness to the rest of the organization.

It can be so demoralizing to be hard-working, a driven performer and not see those who aren’t be held accountable for their lack of performance.

Leadership Courage

When we care about others, we don’t want to be the cause of any pain or suffering.

No one relishes having difficult conversations or enjoys taking tough action. When we care about others, we don’t want to be the cause of any pain or suffering. But, avoiding those conversations and failing to take the needed action can be far more damaging in the long run.

Not only damaging to that individual, but also, to the efficacy of your own leadership and to the organization as a whole. Kindness requires that you push past your own discomfort and insecurity to take the needed action that best serves the interest of the company you help to lead.

You do not need to be nice to be kind. But, you must make people feel heard, cared for, valued and respected.

It is also essential that you always act with integrity and honesty and, that you have the conversations and take the action needed to best serve the organization you represent.

If you do all that, you are in fact a kind leader.

Remember: You do not need to be nice to be kind.

Thanks for reading.

Please join our GROW Community. We will share helpful articles, tips, tools and videos. We will never share your email address.

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
———————–
Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal Consultant of The Intertwine Group, LLC.
He works with companies to Deliver Tools that Enable Growth
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+GROW | Website

Image Sources: chessclubmedia.com, tattoostime.com

 

How Leadership Is Evolving In 2015 and Beyond

Millennials CollageAs the Millennial generation comes of age, there are changes happening in the workplace that are revealing just how Generation Y will leave their mark on society in the decades to come.

When it comes to the workplace environment it has becoming clear that factors like diversity and making sure everyone has a voice are crucially important to this new wave of employees.

But that’s not all.

Millennials are also looking for new styles of management to match their unique approach to the workplace. And with Millennials already overtaking Baby Boomers in prominence in the workforce, the winds of change are going to continue blowing for a long time.

Here are some of the environmental building blocks that management should be using in 2016.

Humility

It may sound strange to old-school management, but leadership in 2016 is no longer about creating an environment that caters to the rock stars within the company. Today’s Millennial workforce grew up on television shows like The Office, where faux-Type A leaders like Michael Scott and overeager disciplinarians like Dwight Schrute were mocked.

Meanwhile, the show’s characters gravitated naturally toward employees like Jim Halpert, with his easy-going confidence and a sense of low-key humility. Cultivating a similar mix of humility and confidence in your office can create a synergy and a collaborative spirit that will help lift productivity and keep your employees around longer.

Transparency

The days are long gone when management could keep a closed-door to employees and hide key information like expected salary range and how the company is performing financially.

Employees nowadays are smarter and have more potential mobility than ever before.

Sites like Glassdoor.com make it easy to compare salaries, both within a company and for similar positions in different companies. They can also reveal warts about a company’s leadership or divulge how the company is managing hiring and layoffs. And, frankly, with fewer benefits like pensions to keep employees around for life, generation Y is looking to know the companies they work for more intimately than ever before.

The company behind social media tool Buffer has set an incredible precedent for transparency, posting their salary formula for each and every position at the company as well as how each dollar a customer spends is used to fund the company. While I’m not saying you have to go quite that far, don’t hide the type of information that your employees need to know in order to decide whether they want to invest themselves in your company long-term.

Flexibility

With more and more companies adopting a more mobile workforce, questions that surround managers today include allowing employees to bring their own devices to work and whether or not they will require remote access through a VPN or the cloud when they are offsite.

In some organizations, the worksite has become more like the incubator office where employees can meet up when needed while working primarily offsite. Look for this trend to continue in 2016.

This idea was echoed by Kevin Brogan, VP at Meadows Casino.

He says this:

Whether it is a workflow or an end result giving your team the freedom to create more efficient ways of working has allowed the US to help bring back some jobs that were previously moved overseas.”

It also helps workers take advantage of their natural focus and energy ebbs and flows and cuts down on commute time, “getting ready” time, etc. It also incentivizes “staying in the zone” and working as efficiently as possible instead of pacing one’s self to make sure that everything takes exactly 8 hours to complete.

Putting your employees in control of their schedules tells them that they are responsible for getting results by any means necessary.

Empathy

In customer service, the maxim used to be: Feel, Felt, Found. It was a way of empathizing with the customer so that one could say, I know how you feel. I have been in that situation myself before, and here is how we can resolve this. Applying that to your employees in abbreviated form is an area of being a manager that should pay dividends in 2016 and beyond.

After years of being hit by ‘toughen your emotions for the war’ in the media, it is now okay to show your emotions and feelings about something.

Of course there is really no need to be maudlin, but showing that you are alive and empathetic will be appreciated.

2015 has been a pretty good year for business in the United States. Employment is up and management trends continue to emphasize a more humanist approach as a means of motivating and building productivity.

By correlating details of the environmental desires of your workforce with your management style, you can be in position in 2016 to reap the benefits.

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Tayven James

Tayven James is a Freelance Business and Tech Author
He focuses on Emerging Trends and the Marketing Methods behind their Success
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter

Image Sources: usatcollege.files.wordpress.com

 

L2L Infographic: Emotional Intelligence and Your Career

Emotional intelligence helps us manage stress, it is vital for enhanced co-operation and teamwork, and it helps us to learn in relationships. Studies have found that 67% of all competencies deemed essential for high performance are related to emotional intelligence. Leaders who score higher in emotional intelligence are more likely to be highly profitable in business.

Emotional Intelligence and Your Career

Infographic Courtesy of Brighton School of Business and Management

 

6 Leadership Lessons From Rudolph

by Eleanor Biddulph

‘Tis the season! One annual tradition in my house is gathering to watch Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer. This year, I watched it through the lens of leadership.

Imagine Burl Ives, as the voice of Sam the Snowman, applying the lessons of Rudolph to the workplace…

6 Lessons in Leadership

Scenario 1

Rudolph first apppears as the new deer at the playground. The other reindeer notice Rudolph’s shiny nose as it glows, and begin to laugh at him and call him names. Meanwhile, at Elf School, Hermey the Elf is also being ridiculed because he wants to be a dentist. Hermey has lots of ideas about how to make sure the dolls have healthy teeth, which, of course, the other elves think is just silly.

Lesson #1:

As leaders, we need to be in tune with how new employees are being welcomed into the team. Hopefully, we’ve created an environment that welcomes new people bringing new experiences, new ideas, and new skills to help the organization be great. Diversity of all kinds must be embraced, not driven away. Ideas should be respectfully heard, not ridiculed.

Scenario 2

The head elf even tells Hermey, “You’ll never fit in! Now you come to elf practice, learn how to wiggle your ears, chuckle warmly, go hee-hee and ho-ho, and important stuff like that. A dentist! Good grief! ” Soon, both Rudolph and Hermey are singing the same song; “Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nitwit. You can’t fire me, I quit. Seems I don’t fit in.”

Lesson#2:

As leaders, it is important that we have the right people in the right positions, matching an individual’s skills and desires with job function and team purpose. We also need to recognize when a team member shows an aptitude for another role. A good leader will help that person reach their career goal, rather than forcing them to be in a role they are clearly not a fit for.

Scenario 3

Rudolph, feeling rejected, runs away and meets up with Hermey, on the road after quitting elf school. The two of them then meet Yukon Cornelius, the prospector who also doesn’t fit in with the general population. All three set out to try a find a place where they can fit in.

Rudolph, Hermey and Cornelius come upon the Island of Misfit Toys. There’s Charlie-in-the-box, Spotted Elephant, and more. Charlie is the sentry who welcomes them to the island. It is clear, as he bounces about, that he can be a great toy. The only thing “wrong” with him is his unexpected name. Spotted Elephant is cute and cuddly. He would make some little girl or boy a wonderful gift, except that his outside isn’t the color people would expect.

Lesson #3:

As leaders, we need an awareness of any pre-judgments we are attaching to people. Someone might not look or act the way we expect them to, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be successful. A team member might not have the background we expected, but they might still be well-skilled for the job at hand. Are we minimizing people because of our ideas, rather than welcoming them for theirs? Are we treating them as mis-fits, just because they are a little different?

Scenario 4

After a time, Rudolph, Hermey, and Cornelius set out to tell Santa about the Island of Misfit Toys. They promise the toys that they will help Santa see that even though the toys aren’t what people might expect, they can still be loved and enjoyed by a needy child.

Lesson #4:

As leaders, are we in tune when our team members “manage up?” Sometimes, we don’t realize how our own behavior or ideas impact others. We can be even better leaders if we are open to the wisdom and observations of others. The success of the leader and the team is interdependent and we need to welcome feedback that is shared with us.

Scenario 5

As we all know, the story ends well. One foggy Christmas Eve, Santa realizes that Rudolph’s nose, so bright, is just the thing to guide the sleigh that important night. Once the leader embraces Rudolph, so does the rest of the reindeer team. The sleigh stops at the island to pick up the misfit toys, and drops them into the homes of needy children who will love them dearly.

Lesson #5:

As leaders, we set the example. If we view a new project with enthusiasm, so will the team. If we see a challenge as an opportunity, the team will follow our lead. If we seek out ways to use the strengths of our individual followers, they will be embraced by the rest of the team for their uniqueness, rather than ridiculed for it.

Scenario 6

And, then, there’s the Abominable Snowman. Throughout the story, he is feared. He’s big, loud, grouchy, and mean. However, it turns out that he has a major toothache! After Hermey uses his dental knowledge and pulls the Snowman’s bad tooth, the monster becomes a big old softy. His height is perfect for adding the star to the top of the Christmas tree.

Lesson #6:

As leaders, we all have experienced that really difficult employee. Sometimes, there just doesn’t seem to be anyway to break though a tough exterior. They might be rude, disruptive, attention-seeking, poor performers. Or, they might be someone with a lot of potential who is in some kind of pain – physical or emotional. If we take the time to have an honest conversation with them, coming from a place of caring about their success, we just might find that what is “wrong” can be made “right.” This may not always be the case, but just imagine if your abominable snowman ended up hanging the star on your tree.

Can you see leadership lessons in any other holiday tales? I hope you’ll add a comment and share them. Have a wonderful holiday and successful new year of leadership and growth!

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Eleanor Biddulph
Eleanor Biddulph
 is the EVP of Client Services at Progressive Medical, Inc.
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

Image Sources: wp.appadvice.com

 

The Most Valuable Leadership Gift This Season

The Sacrificial Gift and Benefit of Listening

One of the most important ways to lead with honor is actively listening to your colleague, team, and clients. Lee share his valuable how-to advice in this video clip. 

Listening

Leading with Honor Coaching Article

“Leadership Gift-Giving Pressure and the Value of Listening”

You may be feeling the pressure of the gift-giving season. How can you make your gift meaningful? What do you give the person who has everything?

As you plan your giving, I have the perfect gift suggestion; it’s costly and valuable, but you don’t have to spend any money on it. But, first my personal confession…

Read Now

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

 

 

How to Ensure Motivation Trickles From the Top Down

Water Trickle

Motivation is considered to be one of the most important contributing factors to high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction.

However, as illustrated below, motivation must start from the top in order to be most effective.

Executive Engagement

Research shows that the modern work environment has drastically changed. To illustrate, workplaces are more complex, markets are more volatile and younger generations are more demanding. Therefore, executives must carefully manage their company culture.

Industry icons, such as Apple’s Steve Jobs, were famous for their charismatic ability to inspire employees and customers alike to seek excellence and pursue their dreams. Consequently, executives must play a regular, proactive role in communicating with employees.

Visionary executives who non-invasive methods to appeal to their employee’s emotions will enjoy higher levels of teamwork, production and employee satisfaction. Thus, executives must make constructive motivation a top priority for management.

Motivation from Management

Research from Gallup clearly shows that managers influence almost 70 percent of critical business variables such as productivity, performance and profitability. Even more disheartening, approximately 70 percent of employees are not engaged at work.

This means that the majority of employers are disengaged and indifferent to their work.

Managers play a key role in determining employee engagement and satisfaction levels. Gallup’s research shows that accurate and meaningful communication is extremely important to employees. A healthy business relationship will include daily face-to-face communication, not randomly vague emails.

Clearly, executives must set the expectation that management will invest time and energy into daily interaction with their subordinates. This will identify and resolve many problems before they become serious issues.

Proper Performance Management

Members of upper management rarely receive formal performance reviews like regular employees. Therefore, they often fail to understand how annual performance reviews can affect an employee’s motivation and job satisfaction. Annual performance reviews can create intense emotional pressure and apprehension.

Managers tend to view performance reviews as just another task to complete.

However, performance reviews are an important opportunity to review progress, set goals and get excited about work. Executives should model engaging and productive performance reviews through formally meeting with management and helping them to set their own goals.

Nevertheless, performance reviews are of little worth without quarterly follow-ups with employees. Regularly meeting with employees will reinforce their commitment to growth and the company.

Data Analytics

Executives need factual data in order to better understand their employees. Fortunately, there are excellent ways to glean insightful data about employees. For example, HR software programs can create customized reports that detail important employee metrics.

First, there are financial reports such as:

  • Cost per hire
  • Turnover cost
  • Training investment
  • Recruiting cost ratios

Turnover costs equal the total amount accrued through separation, vacancy, replacement and training. High turnover and hiring costs can financially weaken a company because every hire may cost between five to 10 thousand dollars.

There are other important metrics, such as turnover, absence and vacancy rates. Turnover rates exemplify the state of employee engagement and satisfaction. Executives should consider also performing quarterly employee satisfaction surveys.

Public Perks

Executives should consider unique employee appreciation ideas. While they do not have to be expensive, perks are an excellent way for upper management to demonstrate their commitment to employees.

For instance, flexibility is an abstract concept that matters a lot to employees, who may be single-parents or returning to school. Management should embrace flexible scheduling as a way to motivate employees to increase efficiency and production.

Once employees understand that they are empowered to manage their workload, they will be more responsible and willing to go the extra mile.

Motivation is a deciding factor between high employee engagement and high turnover rates. In order to properly increase motivation, executives should use customized reports created through HR software.

So, how are you as a leader allowing your strengths in motivating your followers work to influence them to motivate others? What are some of the steps you can take today or tomorrow to step back from your daily routine and think about how you can better increase you motivation for others to follow? I would love to hear your thoughts!

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

Image Sources: mediaassets.knoxnews.com

 

Leading in the Wrong Direction

Wrong Way

Leadership is a gift given. It comes from the belief of others, in you.

It should be viewed as an honor and a privilege.

With it comes a responsibility to use that influence to move people, organizations and society forward. But sadly, we have far too many leaders who are leading in the wrong direction. One need only to listen to the rhetoric emanating from the political campaigns to understand what the misuse of leadership influence sounds like.

I want to be clear that is not a political commentary, rather it is a leadership commentary.

On Responsible Leadership

There are fundamental requirements to responsible leadership. Leaders should help people reach beyond their fears. They need to inspire and bring diverse people together.

Leaders should enable others to see the potential that they were blind too. They should work to open eyes, minds and hearts. Had not JFK helped us to see and believe in the potential, would we have put a man on the moon?

Leading Through Fear

Turn on the news, read the paper and it will quickly become obvious that our leaders are not honoring their responsibility.

They are leading people into their fears.

Rather than helping them overcome them, they are encouraging them to build walls around those fears. They are serving to solidifying them, making them more real and concrete. These same leaders aren’t expanding our vision; they are narrowing it.

They aren’t facilitating our ability to envision our true potential. Instead, they are aiding our retreat. They aren’t bringing us together; they are dividing us. We aren’t celebrating diversity; we are running from it and I for one, am disgusted. We should be revoking their leadership cards!

Going the Wrong Direction

Our politicians are an almost satirical example of leadership in the wrong direction. We should, however, use them as a reminder. We ought to be looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking, “Am I leading in the right direction?”

Hopefully, your business challenges aren’t as frightening or as daunting as those that we face geopolitically. But, we do face fears, and it can be difficult to keep that future potential in sight. The same leadership risks exist, albeit on a slightly different scale.

A Brave Future

We should be looking to see if we are actually encouraging our organization to circle the wagons or, if in fact we are pushing through that which scares us. We must be painting a picture and connecting the dots so that everyone, including ourselves, sees and believes in that future state.

We want to be sure to bring people together, encouraging diversity of thought, of beliefs and personality. We need to be expanding horizons, making people feel better about what they do and how they fit into the greater organization. We should inspire others to reach their full potential. If we do all of these things, we will be leading in the right direction.

Leading Responsibly

I am a realist. I recognize that the vitriolic and myopic nature of politicians is unlikely to change in the near future. Yet, I am also an optimist. I believe that if each one of us takes the personal responsibility to lead in the right direction, then just maybe in aggregate, we can inspire change.

To me, this is such an important conversation.

Social media gives us an unbelievable platform from which to have one. Please, use the comment section below to share your thoughts on leading in the right direction and what we can do to inspire change.

So what type of leader are you? Do you tend to rely on a fear-based approach, or do you lead your followers through fear and on to a better picture of tomorrow? What can do you to know the current obstacles and find better ways to lead in the right direction? I would love to hear your thoughts!

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
———————–
Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal Consultant of The Intertwine Group, LLC.
He works with companies to Deliver Tools that Enable Growth
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+GROW | Website

Image Sources: targetprocess.com

 

You, The Truth and Nothing But Your Leadership!

Building Platforms for Converting Potential into Performance

Platform Building

Is there anything new under the leadership sun?

Leadership Platforms

With the wealth of information available to us about leadership—the sheer numbers of which have been well-covered in other L2L blog posts and myriad other sources—it would seem easy to answer this question in the affirmative.

In fact, this post is yet another example and becomes inexorably part of the statistic.

Recognizing that, in writing this, it is impossible to avoid falling into that trap, I still want to caution all of us not to jump too easily toward an answer we believe is nothing more than a blinding flash of the obvious. We also shouldn’t assume away the question as rhetorical or disregard the question as some sort of trick.

Grappling with the Answer

Leadership certainly appears to be among the most overused terms of the 21st Century, so much so that it begins to suffer the death of a thousand qualifications—rendering the term almost meaningless. As I’ve written elsewhere:

This isn’t all that surprising. With the rarity of real leaders, the preponderance of imaginary leaders-in-position and the sheer amount of new information mentioned earlier, most now tune out at a mere mention of the word Leadership.”

We can get so overwhelmed in trying to understand what leadership “is” or “looks like” that we either get lost in the shuffle or simply start shuffling along with the lost. The natural but dangerous side effect of this is that we never begin defining, describing or developing it on a personal level. Continuing a thought from the previous quote:

[We’ve] already heard it all and have “had it up to here” with all the talk about leadership, so little effort is ever applied to defining it personally and little consensus is ever reached on how it should be defined organizationally.”

Yet, as you search farther backward to examine the etymology of leadership or further inward to get at the essence of leadership, it really comes down to a personal recognition of two things:

  1. The limitless capacity of “born-in” potential as human becomings
  2. The limiting tendency of “made-in” performance as human beings

We are all born with unlimited potential for learning, changing, growing and leading, but there are myriad tendencies that inhibit our capacity for improving performance. These include our orientations toward awareness, acceptance, action and achievement. But the most interesting thing about the debate around whether leaders are born or made is that they both relate to a person, not to an impersonal idea or abstract concept.

In fact, when questions of leadership are raised, they are either raised by a person or about a person. And the questions are considered legitimate only because people have intrinsic value. And herein lays the secret…the hidden TRUTH to anything new in leadership.

Building Your Platform

If you really want to create something new when it comes to leadership, try building (or refurbishing) your own leadership platform.

In fact, I’ve become convinced that the only way something new in leadership can truly emerge is when individuals—unique in time past, present and future—start answering the questions they are asking. If we really want to understand what Leadership looks like, we need to look in the mirror.

We need to honestly describe or define who we are as a leader, and be open to accept feedback from what others observe and feel when they evaluate our leadership. This is not easy, however, because as Ravi Zacharias puts it, in any interplay between a person and information, the first test is not the veracity of the information, but the truthfulness of the person.

Avoiding the Pitfalls

It’s easy to think that the “person” mentioned in the last statement is the one providing the feedback. While it may be true that some will not provide honest feedback due to their own hang-up’s, I’ve found that most will give you straight talk, but only if they believe you:

  1. Are genuinely interested in them and what they have to say,
  2. Have demonstrated that you are serious about getting better at who you are and what you do as a leader, and
  3. Will never hide, hurl, blame or retaliate—otherwise known as defensive misattribution of failure—when the uncomfortable information is presented, will give you straight talk

Indeed! There are a lot of conditions to whether or not you’ll get at the “new information” about your leadership that is yet to be written or revealed. But there is an even bigger danger lurking in the shadows, poised to jump out and stop-you-up-short when it comes to truly learning, changing or growing as a leader: defensive misattribution of success.

The defensive misattribution of success occurs when personal leadership success (e.g., how I got this job in the first place or why I’m the boss and you’re not) is attributed inappropriately to the very behaviors that are causing incredible damage through the persecution of people, process and profit, ultimately deteriorating long-term organizational performance.

Understanding the Implications

Robert Cooke and Janet Szumal, Human Synergistics International, include a great organization-level expansion and exposition for this unfortunate reality in their Chapter 9 contribution to the Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate (Ashkanasy, Vilderom, Peterson; 2000).

They contend that the defensive misattribution of success occurs when organizational success is attributed to a Defensive culture when instead it is substantial resources and/or minimal demands that account for the success currently enjoyed by the organization.

Organizations with strong franchises, munificent environments, extensive patents and copyrights, and/or massive financial resources are likely to perform adequately, at least in the short term and possibly even over the long term, if environmental pressures for innovation, adaptation, or flexibility remain minimal.”

In such cases, they say that managers can “get away with” creating an Aggressive/Defensive and/or Passive/Defensive organizational culture. Worse yet, it is almost guaranteed—thanks to attribution theory and self-serving biases—that these managers will credit the Defensive culture that they created (or inadvertently allowed to emerge) as being the source of their organization’s effectiveness.

Sadly, this holds back anything new when it comes to the real creative potential of leadership and keeps the organization locked in yesterday. Cooke and Szumal conclude this section of the book as follows:

Although the impact of culture may be overshadowed by the impacts of resources and demands, Constructive norms would nevertheless enhance the performance of these organizations, increase their adaptability, and protect them from being blind-sided by forceful and unanticipated environmental changes.”

Breaking Free to Newness

The good news for all of us is that there is a way out. There is a means by which we can find newness in leadership. It is a simple but difficult journey for all who endeavor, but it will produce the kind of performance that all of us are after. All that is required is you, the truth and nothing but your leadership. Are you ready?

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Richard Dillard

Richard S. Dillard is Founder/ Managing Partner at Dillard Partners, LLC
Pursuing Success at the Speed of Leadership!
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Web | Blog | Book

Image Sources: productnation.in