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.
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.
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. Democracy is a fragile experiment. It’s extremely difficult when the environment is rife with the diversity of person, background, […]
I have been a Charles Handy fan for many years and find that his work only becomes more prescient and meaningful with time. It’s amazing how he could envision the world we would be doing business in before it happened. His thoughts on life, business, and leadership are timeless. I had my son revisit his […]
“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, especially in the face of adversity. – source: reference.com” The simile I like to use with my clients is […]
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.
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 these two men our country wouldn’t exist or at least wouldn’t be as strong and united as it is […]
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:
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:
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.
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:
In small business settings once you get past the obvious knowledge and competency screens, success decisions are most often a matter of personal choice.
Great book by Jim Collins worth reading by every business leader – How The Mighty Fall I just wish he published more often… Five Stages of Decline: Hubris Born of Success Undisciplined Pursuit of More Denial of Risk and Peril Grasping for Salvation Capitulation to Irreverence or Death “The concept of hubris is defined as […]
What are the traits of high performing leaders? Because of my line of my work I am fortunate to spend time with many successful people and study and research the topic even more. One theme that runs through of my experience/research is that financial success (while important) is not the primary driver of an individual […]