Your Words

Leadership Thought #367 – Be Authentic and Honest In Your Communication

I find that most of us tend to avoid the emotionally difficult or awkward conversation. Instead of addressing an issue head on, we “beat around the bush” or try and avoid the issue altogether. This puts the onus on the other person to become a verbal detective and/or force the issue. This isn’t fair to them or us. Moreover, I find that most of these types of exchanges devolve into a passive-aggressive dynamic which is unhealthy for the relationship. You ever notice that avoidance never works – it just delays the inevitable. In matters of importance to you or someone else, when you don’t say what you truly mean (or feel) this is the textbook definition of be inauthentic as fellow human being.

Leadership Thought #467 – Leaders Should Listen More Than They Talk

Over the years I’ve noticed that it is inexperienced or mediocre leaders who feel like they have to dominate all conversations. It’s almost as if what anyone else has to say has limited or no value and it is only their opinion that counts. We’ve all been in meetings where there is that one person who simply will not be quiet and yield the floor to others. They are also often prone to interrupting their colleagues before they can finish their thoughts and using obvious body language when the center of attention isn’t focused on them. This is bad enough when it is a peer but even worse when it is the actual leader of the group. Nobody likes a “know it all.”

Leadership Thought #460 – You Set The Tone in Your Organization

The leader of an organization always sets the tone. Never forget this fact. I am often slightly bemused when I hear a leader complain about the state of things in their organization. It’s almost as if they remove themselves from the equation. They wonder how things have devolved to this point as if it is some deep mystery when all they have to do is look in the mirror. Your people are a reflection of your hiring decisions; the quality of your meetings is directly related to how you lead them and model this behavior for others; missing deadlines is a reflection of what you are willing to tolerate in others and yourself; a lack of focus almost always starts at the top; teamwork only ever happens when the coach sets the expectations and creates the conditions for this to happen; optimistic or pessimistic cultures are usually a reflection of leader’s point of view; etc.

Excerpts From The Road Less Traveled (Life Lessons)

A while back a colleague’s comments encouraged me to revisit the book, The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck. I am very glad this happened because it resonated much differently with me twenty years later. I’ve decided to end the year sharing some excerpts from the book which I have found especially enlightening and helpful:

Leadership Thought #453 – Are You Bringing Positive Energy?

I find that one of the most recognizable traits of an effective leader is that they bring positive energy to a room. You can feel it the moment they walk through the door. I have been in banquet halls far from the entrance and felt the presence of certain people as they arrived. It’s almost as if a small electrical jolt works its way through the crowd. While most of us aren’t blessed with this type of “rock star” aura, we can certainly notice and work on the effect we have on others. You are either adding energy to the group dynamic or diminishing it. It really is this simple. Leaders must be a source of consistent positive energy if they want to get the most of out of their people.

Leadership Thought #430 – Be True To Your Emotions And Allow Others To Share Their Truth With You

In my line of work you know you have tapped into a serious problem when you encounter disproportionate emotion. There have been many times where I have sat across from someone and literally watched them break down. I learned a long time ago to let the other individual have their moment and not try to downplay or negate their emotion. You don’t make someone feel better by making them feel embarrassed or disappointed about how they feel. All of us hit an emotional “brick wall” at times and become frustrated/upset with the rigors of life and work. We all need people we can turn to let us be our authentic selves, even when this isn’t pretty or easy to watch.

Leadership Thought #426 – What Are Your Principles?

What do you stand for? This is a question all leaders should able to answer fairly easily but most struggle with addressing. I’ve been in many organizations where if you asked the question, “What does this business stand for,” you would get blank stares. Values are the building blocks of any organization. Without a common set of beliefs and principles, a company is like a ship without a rudder – adrift in a sea of individual interpretation and situational experience. It has never been just about making money but how you make your money that matters the most. And, the how involves many issues such as the way you treat your customers, employees, vendors, the environment, etc.

Leadership Thought #421 – Listening Is A Lost Art

A conversation without listening is merely the exchange of two monologues. If we limit our exchange of information to what we already know or believe, we are limiting our capacity to learn, grow and have healthy relationships. Almost everyday you witness evidence of public or private figures that really have no interest in hearing what anyone else is saying. It has become practice to become intractable in your views and block out any contrary evidence. In reality, our society tends to reward brashness and poor behavior these days. Just look at who dominates the airwaves.

Leadership Thought #407 – Fear Sells, But The Costs Can be Significant

I don’t remember growing up in a fearful society, but I feel like I live in one now. All you have to do is turn on the TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper and eventually someone will be trying to scare you about something. We all seem so emotionally fragile and quick to identify an enemy or cause for our concern. The news media has perfected this art so well that they have helped to perpetuate a more neurotic generation in a time when just about every violent crime statistic is down significantly or at minimum on par with what existed when we were children (and our population has grown significantly during this time). As the saying goes, if it bleeds than it leads.”

Leadership Thought #401 – Your Pride Can Get You In Trouble

Imagine if someone was rushed to the Emergency Room of a hospital with severe symptoms of something wrong and then decided to tell the doctor that that it was no big deal and then selectively shared information about their true physical state. You would think this person was being irresponsible with their health. This happens all the time in business. Leaders let their pride and ego get in the way and it prevents them form being forthright and honest at the very time they need to be. I’ve seen many a business go down the tubes that didn’t have to because the leader was slow to act, slow to ask for help and unwilling to face reality. Avoidance rarely works in business or life.

Leadership Thought #383 – You Get To Decide How You Will Behave

There are many things in life beyond our realm of control, but you get to decide how you behave. You can take the high road or low road. You follow the belief that two wrongs don’t make a right or you can escalate the pattern of bad behavior. You can allow people to continually stretch your moral/ethical boundaries or you can stick to them. You can play the victim or move on. You get to decide who is in your social circle and who isn’t. I listened to a speaker utter the phrase many years ago that, “we are what we tolerate” and it resonated with me right away. We are also what we continually do and who we do it with.

Leadership Thought #346 – Are You Listening?

Most people I know aren’t good listeners. They are more focused on what they think and what they have to say about something rather than actually listening to what’s being said. I have a colleague who states that as a leader you need to “listen until it hurts” and I completely agree with him. It’s basic human nature that the level of satisfaction any of us have with a given conversation is directly related to how well we feel the other party was actually listening to what we had to say. Except when we are in a classroom no one actually enjoys being lectured to or talked at.