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 […]
How an organization makes decisions greatly affects whether or not it will have sustained levels of success. Any company can get lucky every once in awhile, but relying on ad hoc judgments is not a good strategy. One of the most important things a leader does is make decisions. He/she must also create a culture that knows how to make sound judgments without relying too much on any one individual. In essence, you want to foster an environment where you, your management team, and other key employees use decision making filters to increase the likelihood of making the right choices.
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.
It’s easy to have a new idea. It’s much more difficult to see an existing initiative through to completion. People get bored. Results take longer than expected and cost more money than planned. Unforeseen obstacles are strewn in your path. Execution can be tedious work. Employees may want clear direction but often struggle with managing multiple responsibilities and deadlines. As a result, most organizations end up using an ad hoc management style of putting out fires and responding to external events or internal pressures as needed. They take very little control of their own destiny.
Disagreement is a fact of life. It is next to impossible to imagine that you will see “eye to eye” with someone else on every single issue. We all see the world with a slightly different perspective. What matters is how you navigate these disagreements. Do you take different opinions as a personal affront? Are you cordial to the other person who sees things differently? How important is it for you to be perceived as always having the right answer (and at what cost)? How open are you to different interpretations of the same set of facts? Are you willing to learn from your mistakes and admit when you are wrong?
My whole life I have been accused of being too optimistic. I have always perceived this to be a compliment whether it is meant as one or not. The world has enough pessimism. Pragmatism does have its place, especially when it come to financial matters, however it shouldn’t be a primary mode of being. All our great leaders have been idealists and/or romantics.
There is certainly a place for being impulsive and trusting your intuition. We’ve all have examples of being forced to make tough decisions with limited information and time. However, more often than not this pressure is self-inflicted.
It is so easy to fall into bad lifestyle habits when you are stressed out, but this is the time to intentionally do the opposite. Your ability to manage stress is directly related to how fit you are, what you eat and drink, how much sleep you get, the state/strength of your closest relationships, how centered you are spiritually, and whether or not you have positive outlets for your emotional energy.
I recommend that in business or life before taking on anything important, step back and consult with the affected parties. Solicit their feedback not just on whether or not it’s a good idea or what steps are necessary for execution, but also what could make it fail.
I’ve found there is a direct relationship between how much time a leader spends actually interacting with people (at all levels of the company) and how they ultimately feel about their job. It’s very tempting to fall into the trap of becoming “Atlas” and carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, but it is unwise, stressful, shortsighted and inhibits your ability to actually lead.
When you are a leader or manager part of your job is to listen until it hurts. You need to force yourself to pay full attention to what the other person is saying and then ask clarifying questions to make sure you fully understand them. It is also critical that you pay attention not just to what is being said, but also the body language and tone of voice. Both provide clues as to what is important to that person.
History books and business journals are full of examples of leaders who ignored reality at great peril and plowed forward with a narrow minded or misinformed agendas doomed to fail.
Way too many leaders spend far too much time tinkering with the internal operations of their business or organization (often when their sales are stagnating or failing). The bottom line is that unless there is consistent and reliable sales activity, the internal operations will be a challenge anyway.
The truth in life is that every person you lead, manage, do business with or meet is an individual. We all are unique like snowflakes with each us different in some way, shape or form. Experts often try to categorize people or attempt to make it easy to interpret/predict their actions and motivations, but it is never quite that simple.
We all need to be inspired every once in awhile. Leaders especially need to find sources of inspiration because the very nature of their role is to inspire others. There are many ways to trigger inspiration but you must always find it within yourself.
The objective of a leader, especially a public figure, should be to bring people together and foster a dialogue that strives to bridge our differences and find areas agreement. The end result should be to tap into the greater good rather than pursuing a Win-Lose agenda.
One of a leader’s primary roles is to make the important decisions. Of course, these decisions should not be made without the input of the affected parties and/or others with expertise in a given area. It is also important that these decisions are made with an appreciation of the risks and benefits related to a given situation. And, the bigger the risks or potential benefits the more thoughtful the decision making process should be.
There is nothing more important a leader can bring to an organization than his/her values. It is the organizational DNA. Our values define us.
One a leaders primary responsibilities is to create an environment where people thrive and good work gets done. Never forget that you are always on stage and have an audience.
Leaders who try to get the world to conform to a static view of reality only end up frustrated and left on the scrap heap of history.