Seven Ways To Follow Like A Leader

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.

photo credit: streetwrk.com via photopin cc

photo credit: streetwrk.com via photopin cc

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.

Three Characteristics Of An Influential Leader

There’s a simple test you can take to see if you’re a leader: turn around and see if anyone is following you.

People may follow you for all kinds of reasons. I tend to break them into three categories:

They follow you because they have to – you are an authority over them.
They follow you because they need to – you have something they want.
They follow you because they want to – you influence them in a positive way.

photo credit: manufrakass via photopin cc

Influence is a leader’s most valuable currency. When you spend your influence in the right way, it can help you overcome an obstacle and move a group of people toward a certain goal or objective.

I believe a person can increase his or her level of influence. A potential leader can develop a greater influence in the lives of others.

10 Communication Myths We Thought Were True

I am taking a break from writing for a few days to strategize for the second half of 2012 and for a speaking engagement in Southern California. While I’m away, I’m re-posting some of my most popular posts from the last year. I hope you enjoy reading or re-reading these posts. I’ll be back and better than ever on July 16, 2012!

You can improve your ability to communicate. You can get better at it. Oftentimes, you don’t even have to learn something new. By simply unlearning false assumptions and common misconceptions, you will notice that your communication style becomes more effective.

At some point, each of us has probably thought that one of the following 10 myths would make us a better communicator.

1. We thought that we could take someone else’s message and simply pass it on.

This is like learning to paint by numbers. The true artist paints from an inborn passion about what s/he sees. When we paint by numbers, we attempt to copy someone else’s passion. If we want people to truly hear our message, it must be communicated with passion and belief.

5 Questions That Will Change Your Perspective, Not Your Problem

I am taking a break from writing for a few days to evaluate the second half of 2012 and for a speaking engagement in Southern California. While I’m away, I’m re-posting some of my most popular posts from the last year. I hope you enjoy reading or re-reading these posts. I’ll be back and better than ever on July 16, 2012!

Don’t let the title of this post fool you. Changing your perspective may be the very thing you need to do in order to change (think solve) the problem.

Too often, people are surprised by problems. Not only are they surprised, they’re quickly offended or angry by the situation. They think problem-free living should be the norm. So when problems do occur they end up disappointed by life. They think that somehow, someway, life has it in for them.

But what if it’s not about the problem? What if it is more about one’s perspective of the problem?

What if, instead of looking at a problem and asking, “Why?” we started asking some different questions.

As a leader, you can’t be surprised by problems. The best you can do is to be prepared for them. One of the ways a leader prepares is to have the right perspective when problems occur. The questions you ask about the problem has a way of shaping the perspective you have toward the problem. In fact, your ability to handle (as well as solve) the problem is often determined by the questions you ask. Perhaps it’s time to ask better questions.

Five Ways To Deal With Difficult People

I am taking a break from writing for a few days to evaluate the second half of 2012 and for a speaking engagement in Southern California. While I’m away, I’m re-posting some of my most popular posts from the last year. I hope you enjoy reading or re-reading these posts. I’ll be back and better than ever on July 16, 2012!

What do you do about the difficult people in your organization, on your team, or in your group? Chances are, you’ve run into a few people who you just can’t get along with. People who seem intent on being unhappy and difficult no matter what you try to do. I’ve had students in my office, having come face-to-face with a difficult person. They’re surprised that someone else would treat them harshly or act in a difficult manner. These students sit there in disbelief and wondering: What do I do?

The Three W’s Necessary To Accomplish Your Goals

I had a recent conversation with a group of young people at a leadership roundtable. As we went around the table, each shared about success and failure as it related to using their time wisely each day. Some people acknowledged their tendency to procrastinate while others talked about the pressure of deadlines. Throughout the conversation, the one thing crystal clear to all of us was this: it’s often a struggle to get stuff done.

When it comes to my own productivity and growth, I find myself struggling in two key areas:

1. I am not sure what to do next.
2. I know what to do next but I’m not sure how to do it.

Each of these areas can paralyze a person into inactivity. It is the uncertainty that keeps me in a holding pattern. I think this all relates to the way we approach the goals in our lives.

How To Choose A Positive Attitude When You Feel Negative

I just returned from a great conference called Storyline. The whole conference was dedicated to learning how to live a better, more significant story with your life. The conference took place in downtown Portland. What an incredibly fun city.

On my way home from the conference, my truck broke down about an hour from home. I ended up having to call a tow truck, spend the night in a motel, and spend about $400 for a new alternator in the morning to continue my journey home. Not exactly what I had in mind.

Life is like that. No matter how much you plan and get intentional with your life, there are going to be unforeseen circumstances that interrupt your strategy – even if it’s a good strategy. In those moments, when your options are limited, you still get to make some choices. In my momentary dilemma with the truck, one of the first choices I got to make had to do with my attitude.

Your attitude is going to effect your story. It will shape your perspective. It can turn an accident into an adventure. It is a choice you and I make…every…single…day.

Twelve Questions To Evaluate Your Student Leadership Year

Did you learn anything this year?

My hope is that you have taken the time to think about your student leadership experience. I am amazed at how many students will invest an entire year in student leadership and then just walk away. Do you know how many valuable lessons you might have if you just take the time to think about what you’ve just experienced?

You may find yourself sitting in an office somewhere trying to interview for a position. The interviewer will ask you about the experience you just had in student leadership. What will you tell that person?