We need leaders to reclaim the positive leadership narrative and model responsible behavior. We need leaders in charge who genuinely care about other people and want to make the world a better place.
Your Leadership Role
We are certainly in trying times. It feels like a period where our country is crying out for leadership. And, sadly, leadership seems to have taken a vacation.
I think we all can agree there’s been a dearth of leadership lately. It feels like our country is coming apart at the seams.
I have the good fortune of working with over 50 businesses on a regular basis. I get to see the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to leadership challenges. Here are some observations that I hope you will find useful as you continue to manage through these challenging times.
In my twenty plus years of advising leaders, I have noticed the following five benefits of encouraging dissent in your leadership discussions:
High impact leaders focus on doing the right things well and consistently live up to their commitments especially when it is hard. You don’t ever have to worry about their personal behavior or professional discipline.
If you are a CEO, the time to lead is now! It is a fact of life that the only constant in the world is change. You cannot resist the future you must only embrace it. …
Weak and flawed leaders try to divide and conquer their followers. Recent events in our country have indicated the importance of unifying leadership. It is far too easy for society to come apart at the seams. …
People are complex especially when under duress. I am always reticent to give simple answers to difficult questions. Not because I think that there are never simple answers that suffice, but because it often shows a …
“A lighthouse can symbolize various things, such as overcoming challenges and adversity or guidance. It is most commonly used to symbolize a way forward and help in navigating through the world. … The first is of the lighthouse itself, which can symbolize salvation and safety, …
Today is George Washington’s birthday. There are very few people (and an even a smaller number of Americans) where you can honestly say that their birth ended up changing the course of human history. Not only did he lead the upstart Continental Army to victory against of the most powerful military power in the world at that time, he also walked away from supreme power when he refused to become king of the newly formed United States of America, and voluntarily gave up his position as our first President. I think sometimes we forget how unusual, risky, and selfless these two actions were at the time. You can seriously argue that if George Washington had not existed, the U.S. experiment with democracy would have never had a chance of taking flight and much of modern history could have turned out differently.
Donald T. Phillips in his wonderful book, Martin Luther King on Leadership, does a nice job providing significant detail as to why Martin Luther King (MLK) was a great leader. We often focus on the rhetoric and powerful speeches that he gave, but there is so much more substance to the man than just what he had to say.
Leadership is very rarely about doing what’s easy. If the decision ends up on your desk it typically means no one else can or should be making it. As Harry Truman was fond of saying, “the buck stops here.” If you are delegating properly, then your people will feel empowered to step up and make most day to day decisions. If you are picking the right people, then they will be capable of using sound judgment and thinking through just about anything. However, some issues still do come down to leadership prerogative and accountability.
No matter how far out the tide goes, all waves come crashing back to shore. The same is true with business cycles. We have experienced a very good run in business over the past decade or …
Leadership isn’t rocket science. Creating the conditions for business success is actually pretty basic: be clear about where you are going and why; define what success looks like and track performance; make sure all of your key people on the same page; don’t “wing it” when it comes to important decisions; ensure that every single employee knows how they fit in the big picture and what they are supposed to be doing; create a process for providing on-going performance feedback; hold people accountable for results (including yourself); be careful about who you hire and put in supervisory roles; provide extensive training and support; never stop communicating with your customers; and make sure everyone shares in the success of the business but also feels the pinch of nonperformance.
President’s Day is a very special day. We take time to honor two great men and past presidents: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. A case could easily be made that without the influence and leadership of …
As we wind down another year, I thought it would be useful to share some best practices I have observed over the years by leaders who tend to end every year on a high note:
I am regularly flabbergasted by the number of professional people I interact with who think it is okay to just miss meetings and/or deadlines as it suits them. This is especially true when it come to philanthropic or voluntary responsibilities. I do my best to give people the benefit of the doubt and understand that they can be stretched way too thin, but after awhile, why should this be anyone’s problem but their own. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? We are all busy. We are all striving to find work-life balance. Life is about making choices and establishing priorities.
As I’ve covered many times in previous blogs it becomes less and less and about you working harder or having all the answers and more about you diligently asking the right questions and letting others guide you. You need to become an expert question asker and never miss an opportunity to interact with all employees in this manner. There are seven question that when asked on a regular basis will encourage your people and ultimately the company as a whole to learn and grow:
I’ve heard many leaders tell me they always wait to do something until the last minute because they perform best under this type of pressure. Sounds like a bit of rationalization to me. I know that when I procrastinate on something it’s not because it is the best way to work – it is often quite the opposite. I just don’t want to do whatever it is because I view it as drudgery, am unsure how to proceed or I’m not sure I’ll be pleased by the outcome. I cannot imagine any scenario where purposefully putting yourself under time pressure until the last minute makes any sense.
In less than two months we will have a presidential election here in the United States. Billions of dollars have been spent trying to influence voters to lean one way or another. Interestingly enough a majority of people will simply vote their party line and put very little effort into understanding the position of the other candidate or their leadership abilities. As a result, a comparatively small number of swing voters in an equally small number of states will end up deterring the final outcome. As someone who certainly has a strong sense of party loyalty but has crossed party lines on many occasions this has always frustrated me. No one party has the market cornered on good ideas or is the sole wellspring of capable leaders – the history of our nation has proven this.
I have spent considerable time studying leadership and observing leaders. I also enjoy reading about the presidency and the 43 occupants of the oval office. In my humble opinion, the most successful presidents have exhibited the following traits: