This is a guest post by Mark Miller. Mark is launching his book The Heart Of Leadership this week.
As we launch The Heart of Leadership, I’m reminded of how grateful I am that several of the leadership character traits I outline in the book were instilled in me early in life. I’ve not mastered all of them, but thanks to my parents, I wasn’t starting from scratch as an adult.
For years, when asked about helping someone develop leadership character traits, my response has most often been, “It’s called parenting.” I still stand by that sentiment. Thankfully, adults can still form and transform their character, but the best time is when we’re young.
Most parents work to instill fundamental character traits in their children - honesty, integrity, loyalty and the like – this is essential. The often-untapped opportunity is to go beyond the foundational traits and begin, at an early age, to develop in children the traits and characteristics that will set them apart as adults – leadership character traits.
If you wanted to try this with your kids, grandchildren or with young people you know, how would you begin? Here are three ideas…
This is a guest post by Robert L. Dilenschneider, author of A Briefing for Leaders: Communication As the Ultimate Exercise of Power.
There are many fine values, such as courtesy, confidence, ingenuity, thrift, and so on. The trouble is that the list of values grows easily and can cause many employees to lose their focus. They fail to prioritize. A “short list” of values is far more useful in putting the workplace back on track.
Moreover, when the core values exceed four or five points, it becomes difficult to communicate and reinforce them. The following are five candidates for the practical values having foremost importance:
I know companies — strong organizations — centered on these values. They are invariably successful. Almost always, these core values generate other values in employees.
I recently did a “live” webinar for the amazing sales associates of Thirty One gifts. This webinar was hosted by Courtney Hawkins. She is a Senior Executive Director at Thirty One Gifts.
We recorded the webinar and I wanted to make it available to you. You can access it by clicking the picture or the link below.
Webinar Title: Leadership Starts With You
Topic: Every single person lives with the responsibility to lead him or herself well. Self-leadership precedes successful leadership. In this webinar, I cover seven key areas that each person can develop and grow in their personal, leadership journey.
Feedback: At the end of the webinar, Courtney sent me the following message: YOU are AAAAAAAMAZING! I am LOOOOOVING everything you are sharing! YOU are awesome!!!!!!!
Question: What are you doing on a daily basis to lead yourself well?
We had just spent a full day of training. My students got to hear from a variety of speakers. I walked out of the conference hall and headed toward a group of them huddled up in the corner staring at their phones. “So…how were the speakers?” I asked.
Here are some of their responses…
They were great!
I feel better prepared for the year.
I was sort of sleepy.
I liked this one guy’s stories.
I felt like she knew what I was going through.
I tried to press them for more details, but in the end, what I mostly got were their impressions of the training time. Most of them agreed on which speakers offered the most meaningful presentations. They felt like the best presenters were those who engaged them and related to them in a more personal way.
Communicators…are you listening??
The age-old saying is still true today: People remember how you made them feel long after they’ve forgotten what you said.
I slumped down next to a tree near the finish line. I was exhausted and I was frustrated. I had just completed a cross country race. It was the second race of the season.
I came in last place.
It’s no fun being last. Every single one of the 80-90 runners that day had crossed the finish line in front of me. As I sat there, with my head leaning back against the tree, I kept saying to myself, “I’m done with this.” My coach approached me. He must have read my thoughts because the first thing he said to me was, “Are you going to quit?”
He went on to encourage me, to talk about all of the other things I added to the team besides my finish times. He knew I had to make a choice at this pivotal moment. I could quit the team and leave because of my failure. Or I could choose to do something different. I could choose to learn from this moment. I could analyze, reflect, and use my failure in this race to make me better, both as a runner and as a person.
Here is a quote that communicates a profound truth in a simple way.
There are leaders and there are those who lead.
The quote is by Simon Sinek. He is the author of a fantastic book called Start With Why. He also offers his insights in quotable form on Twitter.
The quote serves as a warning. You might have a leadership position or a leadership title, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a leader. Title and position alone aren’t enough to be effective. In fact, I’d say it this way: Having the title of leader doesn’t make you one anymore than wearing an NBA jersey makes you a basketball player. (Click to tweet that)
I’m not saying we don’t need leadership positions. Of course we do. But the effective leader is one who sees his or her position as a platform and opportunity. The effective leader understands leadership as a verb more than a noun.
I need to make a confession. I like tools. I’m always resisting the urge to slip an extra screwdriver or socket wrench into the cart. I can’t walk down the aisles of a Home Depot without seeing a tool I’d like to have. Even if I don’t need the tool now, I can always imagine how it will come in handy…someday.
But it doesn’t end there. I have the same love affair with productivity and organizational tools as I do with hammers, drills, and mitre saws. I am always on the lookout for the next great piece of software (for my phone or laptop) that will take my productivity to the next level.
When I stopped to add up all I had collected, I realized I was bordering on some type of software schizophrenia. My iPhone held five different to-do list apps, four calendar apps, five quick-capture memo apps, and a few reminder apps. I told myself I was simply comparing each program to see which one was the best. What I wouldn’t admit was how much time I spent duplicating my processes. I ended up inputting the same data into multiple apps. Crazy, right?
At this point, I feel like it’s my turn in the circle…”Hi, my name is Tim (…hi Tim…) and I’m a organizational app-aholic.”
I’ll often get asked what it takes to be a great leader. Those asking the question are typically looking for one or two standout, key principles or characteristics. They want it simple and succinct.
I’ll be honest here, my answer to that question often changes. Leadership is a matter of context, so I’ll often tell them it depends. When pressed further, I’ll usually respond with something that’s a combination of taking responsibility, achieving results, and building relationships.
But last week, I blurted out an answer that I hadn’t shared before. It kind of caught me off guard. A student posed the question and I looked him straight in the eye and said…
If you want to be a great leader, you must learn to be a great follower.