Leadership Thought #286 – You Either Hit Your Goals Or You Don’t

As we finish off the final accounting on 2011 it’s a useful exercise to reflect on the past year and how we actually performed against the goals we set out at the beginning of last year. I believe you start by being honest with yourself about whether hit your goals or you didn’t. There should be no wriggle room or rationalizations. Progress is certainly good, but it is no substitute for achievement. Too often in business and life we accept less than stellar results.

Leadership Thought #245 – Leaders Are Paid To Make the Hard Decisions

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.

Leadership Thought #348 – Do You Know What Truly Makes You Happy?

There are quite a few people out there who claim to know what will make us happy. I am always a bit suspect of accepting general answers to mostly subjective questions. One person’s happiness can be another person’s obligation or chore. My contention is that most people don’t spend enough time truly trying to get in touch with themselves as individuals and what honestly makes them happy. In fact, we often feel a bit sheepish or odd when we don’t follow a conventional formula for happiness. There is this overriding sense that it is better to fit in than be different – which is nonsense and direct pathway to personal malaise and/or unhappiness.

Leadership Thought #425 – 10 Ways To Ensure Your Business Success As A Leader

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.

Daily Leadership Thought #139 – When You Commit – Fully Commit!

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.

Leadership Thought #240 – Eight Questions Leaders Should Be Asking All The Time

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:

Remembering 9-11

As I sit here writing with the names of the dead lost on September 11 being read in the background on TV it’s easy to get very emotional. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since this terrible tragedy. You can still hear the pain in the voices of the family members as they take turns reading from the list. It must have been very hard coping with their grief all these years. I only hope they are able to find peace at some point.

Leadership Thought #202 – Do You Always Wait Until The Last Minute?

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.

Leadership Thought #403 – What Makes A Great President

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:

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.

The Courage Of Our Founding Fathers

As we get set to celebrate another Independence Day here in the United States, we should rightfully pay tribute the obvious courage that had to be exhibited by our Founding Fathers 236 years ago. Many of these men had much to lose and only marginal personal benefits to gain by signing the Declaration of Independence. They were already part of the established social and economic order and for the most part were beneficiaries of the existing system. In fact, although we often hear about the select few who rose to historical prominence, most of the others suffered great personal hardship as a result of their decision.

Memorial Day – What It Truly Means

As you raise your glass this weekend, please take a moment to reflect on what Monday truly means. There are currently several hundred thousand hundred troops stationed directly in harms way doing very dangerous often thankless work. We owe them and their predecessors a vast debt of gratitude.