The struggle is part of the journey. I’ve always been a fan of the John Adams quote, “People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity.” Collectively and individually, we learn little about ourselves when things are going well. In fact, we tend to take our success for granted. The more comfort and […]
Time is short and markets are uncertain. As a leader, the time to act is now. Of course, you need to be thinking about the long-term and how your industry is changing. You also need to be building the foundation and pushing for these changes now. Every leader should constantly be asking themselves, “What is […]
Making the leap from entrepreneur to CEO isn’t always an easy journey. I’ve seen many people struggle with this transition. The ability to lead is not something you are born with; it is something you must constantly cultivate. And, the more success you have, the more leadership will be required. It is one thing to […]
By Glen Calderon In January 2014, McKinsey & Company conducted a study that examines the 4 main reasons why leadership development programs fail: 1. Not allowing for context. Simply, leadership development training is unique. One size does not fit all regardless of a homogenous company, management or culture. An organization should ask why do we […]
Regrettably, I am in a profession where there are minimal barriers to entry and just about anyone (within reason) can claim to do what I do. Just about every week, I meet another person who is billing themselves as a business coach or executive coach and charging a considerable amount of money for something they have no business doing in the first place. More often than not, it is someone who has been downsized from an existing position or exiting a failed business endeavor, an individual who has hit a career brick wall themselves, an academic with free time on his/her hands, an independent consultant looking to supplement their income, or a psychotherapist who has figured out they can charge more money if they change the title of what they do. I shutter sometimes when I think about the bad advice which is regularly disseminated to executives and business owner by often well-intentioned, but under-skilled or poorly trained business coaches. Here are a few questions I recommend you ask before working with someone in this capacity:
Mistakes are a part of life. As the saying goes, “sometimes we are our own worst enemy.” I’ve seen many good leaders travel down a “rat trap” of their own making. Often this is done with the best of intentions, but the results usually have nothing to do with the original intention behind them. The […]
We all get in our way sometimes and leaders are no different. Just because we know we shouldn’t do something doesn’t always mean we won’t do it. However, not all mistakes are created equal. There are fifteen things a leader should strive never to do:
If a leader isn’t properly motivated then it will eventually trickle down throughout the organization. We all look to our leaders for both inspiration and direction. Every organization has to maintain a certain edge in this regard and must continually fight complacency. It’s hard to stay on top. You must never accept the status quo or rest on your laurels. High performing leaders are never just going through the motions. They show up to work every day with a sense of purpose and responsibility to do what’s needed and what’s right. They don’t need other people or external factors to force them into action. They are self-motivated to build the best possible organization they can.
I see far too many leaders who view their role as a burden. While there will certainly be moments of hard work, leadership should not be excessively hard and there should be many more moments where it feels easy and you truly enjoy what you are doing. If you are getting minimal joy from your work and increasingly believe the rewards aren’t worth the effort, then you are doing something wrong. Of course, sometimes a situations isn’t salvageable but that is rare. More often than not, you are making it harder than it should be. The opportunity to lead others is a privilege and should be embraced accordingly.
I often meet business owners/leaders who think they have it all figured out. Whenever this happens a red flag goes up for me right away. The best leaders I know are in a constant learning mode. They are very aware of what they don’t know and need to learn. They soak up information like a sponge and are energized by new thoughts and ideas. Leaders who are unwilling to admit their own shortcomings or lack of knowledge are eventually confronted with the very reality they are ignoring. It may take time, but it always happens. It’s even worse if they are completely unaware of where they fall short and end up getting blindsided. In leadership positions, ignorance is not bliss.
Admitting you don’t know enough about something to make a good decision is a sign of wisdom. Being open to alternative points of view and challenging you own conceits is the pathway to professional maturity. Listening without judgment is a prerequisite for effective leadership. Arguing for the sake of arguing or being unyielding in your positions is sign of emotional immaturity and intellectual bravado. This doesn’t mean that you don’t remain steadfast to core principles or have some non-negotiables, but if everything fits this description, then you are nothing more than a roadblock to success and progress.
In sports and in life, it doesn’t matter how much potential you have or how good you are, if your team/organization consistently loses or doesn’t live up to expectations. I’ve seen many capable and talented leaders stumble when it comes to getting results from others. It’s not always the smartest, most confident, and technically superior person who wins, but rather the leader who is able to get great results from average people. Leaders need to grow and leverage the capabilities of their team, continually develop their own skills sets, and step up in the clutch if they want to leave a legacy of winning and high performance.
We’ve all met people who seem to argue for the sake of arguing and we also know how we typically feel about them. Some people just have to have to find flaws in everything and/or disagree to be disagreeable. Just like the parable of “the boy who cried wolf” if you are find fault with everything, then it begins to diminish how seriously people take your opinions as a whole. It’s one thing to have a different point of view. It’s quite another to always default to having a different perspective. There’s a fine line to being objectively critical and becoming a crank.
Every business leader should be able to make the case clearly and succinctly why their company is the preferred choice. You won’t always have alot of time to communicate your position. In fact, the more words you use, the less likely your audience will be able to remember your message. I’ve seen many talented executives and business owners stumble on this point. Sometimes the answer to a very simple question gets lost in muddled thinking or a genuine lack of understanding. A critical step in leadership success is to figure out why you should be in business in the first place.
What strikes me the most is how many organizations view planning as an event to get through rather than the impetus for an ongoing strategic dialogue that is critical to long term success. When it comes to planning, you are never done, just sharpening your focus and increasing your performance capability as you go along.
As a verbal person I don’t have issues with talking. However, I do find myself rambling on at times and taking the long way around to making my point and/or connecting the dots. I do my best to remember some advice I received from a mentor many years ago that when communicating with others in a professional setting “less is more.” These days people have very short attention spans. Most of us are literally bombarded with communication all day long. It’s hard to keep everything straight and know when to pay attention. Sometimes it feels easier just block out whatever doesn’t resonate quickly.
Talent will only ever get you so far in life. You have to regularly exercise that talent and push yourself to do better. The moment you start getting too comfortable in your role is the moment you become vulnerable to someone else who wants it more. As all high performing athletes instinctively know the difference between success and failure can literally be measured in inches or seconds. This doesn’t mean that you have to become a workaholic but it does mean you should take nothing for granted. The landscape of leadership history is littered with countless numbers of talented people who never fully realized their potential and/or settled for being “good enough.”
Knowledge is one of the biggest advantages you can have in life. If you know something and other people don’t then there is automatically a need for your informed opinion. It is the ultimate equalizer because it has nothing to do with age, gender or race. Some people may begin life with a genetic head start or environmental advantages, however, unless they keep learning it is very likely someone else will pass them buy.
In my experience, the best leaders are comfortable in multiple and diverse work and social settings. They are able to adjust their style to meet the needs of their audience or conform to the group dynamics. They understand that a leader without a receptive audience is handcuffed in his/her ability to turn a vision into reality. People tend to connect with others that they feel they can relate to. All conversations are a search for some level of common ground. The quicker you get there the sooner you can focus on the purpose of the discussion.
When you teach leadership at a graduate level (which I do part time) it’s easy to be an optimist. You get to see the vibrancy and drive in people. These are individuals who are proactively investing their money and time to better themselves and create a more hopeful future. Some students automatically rise to the top while others shine in different ways depending upon the assignments/discussions. If you are paying close enough attention, it does support the management philosophy that every individual has a strength to share and will step up if they are properly motivated and given the opportunity to do so. No one at this level wants to fail. It’s important to remember this reality as the instructor.
Many leaders often have a hard time getting real honest feedback about their performance. There are many reasons for this, but fear is usually the primary obstacle. Most people have a hard time commenting critically to others who have the ability to directly influence their work situation.