3 Awesome Attributes for Leaders

Happy Tuesday!  Today’s is an awesome day!  Isn’t it!?

Recently, I was talking with some colleagues about leader behaviors.  When I asked what attributes they valued the most, I found their responses intriguing.  Not surprising, but interesting.

While there are certainly many important attributes that are critical to a leader’s success, the three we pared it down to were well worthy of a mention.  A leader that does these three well will find themselves in a good place with their teams and colleagues.

What were they?

#1:  ACCESSIBILITY – People want access to their leaders.  This takes different forms depending upon the roles.  Good leaders are characterized by utilizing the “open door” mentality. This doesn’t mean that people can demand any specific time and or amount of time from their leaders, but it does mean that their leaders are available to them within reason.  It also means that team members feel comfortable knowing that their leader will be there for them when it really counts and that they will spend an appropriate amount of time addressing their needs and/or issues. 

Leader Actions:  For you leaders (again) your actions may vary by your role and circumstances, however, the key is ensuring that you set the expectations and ground rules for what accessibility looks like.  It could be, “I hold open office hours MWF from 8-10am”.  Or weekly recurring meetings with direct reports.  Or allow unscheduled in-person drive-bys.  Or quick response via email, text, IM, or whatever medium.  The key?  Make sure your people know how they can access you.

#2:  APPROACHABILITY – People want their leaders to be friendly, cordial, easy to talk to, and open to what they have to say.  This isn’t the same as accessible.  Just because you’re door’s open doesn’t mean that people will walk through.  They need to feel like it’s okay to walk through.  Unfortunately, I’ve actually heard someone say, “I’m not their friend, I’m their boss.”  Clearly this person misses the point.  It’s not so much about being BFFs as much as it is about people feeling like you’re open and engaged.  Approachability leads to greater communication, greater engagement, and greater morale.

Leader Actions:  The number one action you can take to be more approachable is to LISTEN.  Active listening tells people that you’re interested in what they have to   say.  Ask good follow up questions.  Mind your body posture and non-verbal cues – make sure they are sending the signal that you are invested in the person that is talking.  Don’t clock watch.  Be in the moment with that team member. Don’t be immediately dismissive of their ideas. Listen.  Don’t always be so serious.  Praise in public.  One of my favorite leaders always saidDon’t give some of the credit away, give it ALL away.   Smile and laugh WITH your team.

#3:  AUTHENTICTY – The most important attribute that people wanted from their leaders is for them to just be the ‘real deal’.  People have an uncanny way of seeing through facades – they may not always see it directly, but they can feel it.  They can tell when you’re not being yourself.  Even when well intentioned, not being yourself comes across as fake, disingenuous, and untrustworthy.   People want their leaders to be genuine and natural.  Trust is an earned relationship and one that works both ways.  Authenticity is a key to building a trusting relationship.

Leaders Actions:  Simply put – Be yourself.  Be real.  Be genuine.  Don’t put on fronts and facades.  Don’t make yourself out to be something you’re not.  Be a straight shooter and honest with others but always in a respectful manner.  Serve others.  Be humble.

Again, while there are many more attributes that are useful and necessary – these three felt right on spot.  And not just for formal leaders – but for the informal leaders as well.

Especially now, when the business environment is swirling with change, people need to anchor on their leaders.  And they need their leaders to be accessible, approachable, and authentic.

What leadership attributes to you see as critical?

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Don’t assume they know. Tell them!

SuppotDon’t you just love it when you can see the lightbulb come on in others?

Recently, I had a conversation with one of our senior leaders and they were talking extensively about servant leadership and the importance of it in our business.  As I then sat through several meetings after that, I was very keen in my observations of those leading and participating.   

What did I see?  That we need more servant leadership.  We need to lose the egos and practice some humility.  We need to stop working in silos.  We need to be inclusive of other perspectives.  We need to be respectful of people’s time and opinions.  We need to champion and challenge each other.  We need to get away from what’s most important to ME and put others and the good of the organization first.  We need people to realize that ‘how’ we get there is just as important as getting there (if not more so).

In listening to Walmart CEO, Mike Duke, over the last few years he has been very clear that servant leadership is an attribute and behavior expected from our leaders at all levels.  So why is it that this message isn’t always filtering down or demonstrated? 

Then I remembered one of Tim Yatsko’s (EVP @Walmart) favorite Don Soderquist (former COO @Walmart) quotes, “Don’t assume they know.  Tell them.”  While this is a paraphrase and Don was referring to Integrity – I think the theme of the message is equally relevant here.  Maybe their leaders, mentors, and peers aren’t telling them.  Or holding them accountable to it.

So, I am telling you.   Be a good servant leader. 🙂

If you become known for this throughout your organization, I guarantee you that your career will blossom and flourish.

Servant Leadership is one of those topics that should be a regular course of conversation, because it’s important!  And not just at work, but in life in general.  It’s not something that we turn on and off.  It’s something that permeates who you are and is reflected in your thoughts, words, and actions.   

I realize that we all have different aspirations, styles and ambitions in life, but my personal experiences have led me to the truth that I am most fulfilled and accomplish the most when I am able to help or serve others.

If servant leadership is a new concept to you or is something you don’t understand, feel free to reach out to me, your mentors, or your leaders and inquire.  This is one of those “journey” things.  We all have to start somewhere.  Once we start, we find that there is always more to learn.  And the people that care about your growth and development should be happy to help you on your journey.  🙂

Special note for leaders:  Teach.  Teach servant leadership.  In your words.  In your actions. Talk to your teams about it. Don’t assume they know.  Expect it from the leaders on your team, whether up-and-coming or seasoned.  Hold them accountable to it.  Teach them to teach it.  If you want to leave a mighty legacy – invest this in others.

 If you take anything away  – let it be this –>   Be a good servant leader. 

 How do you demonstrate good servant leadership?

The Illusion of Effectiveness

magician-dove-hat-101206-02In our careers, there are common roads we all must travel.  Some of those roads are rougher than others.  Some are littered with pot holes and speed bumps.  One of those rougher roads is making the transition from doingbeing a high potential individual contributorto leadingmotivating others to perform at their best. 

Whether we like it or not, our role changes as we progress in seniority from being “one of the team” that performs tasks, to being the leader that get things done through others and then finally to a senior leader that gets things done through multiple layers of others. 

The challenge we often face is that throughout our early professional roles, we’re rewarded for our effectiveness as doers, and when we achieve a more senior position we often assume that our effectiveness as leaders will rely upon the same behaviors that have fueled our success up to that point. 

This can lead to the illusion of effectiveness

I think I am more effective and successful because I am ‘getting stuff done’.  Thus the illusion.  The reality is that we live in a world where we are required to churn out more with less.  If we continue to try to leverage the same skills that got us here, we’ll find ourselves being a high paid individual contributor that works around the clock to churn out “more”. 

The further reality is that this not only limits our capacity and potential, but it limits the capacity and potential of the talent that is entrusted to us.  If we always “do it ourselves”, our people never learn, experience, and grow – which is not good for us, for them, or the organization.  Success hinges on being able to effectively delegate and entrust our teams and the teams around us to deliver.

In our journey to become great leaders, we should all take a minute to evaluate ourselves and identify where we are personally doing, when we should be doing (well) through others.  

Below are 6 tips to help keep you out of the business of ‘doing’:

ONE:  Evaluate where you have to compensate for others on your team.  Then address it.  Get to the core of the issue, develop them, and get past it.  Continuing to compensate means that you are working at a level or two from where the company expects you to be.

TWO:  Evaluate your to-do list each day.   Ask yourself if the tasks are things you should be doing or things you should be teaching your team to do.  If it’s the latter – teach them.

THREE:  Entrust others with important opportunities.  There is a difference between delegating and entrusting.  Entrust is a key word in delegating:  It means that you care about the results of what you delegate, and you’re willing to provide the support needed to help the team member achieve those results.  Our job as leaders is to build future leaders, which means that sometimes you have to take a risk so that they can learn. 

FOUR:  Empower your team.  To empower your associates is to do three actions:

  • Give associates the freedom to get a job done (no breathing down their necks).
  • Provide associates with the right level of support to get the job done well, including information, training, resources, and so on.
  • Hold associates accountable to produce the outcomes needed.

All three actions work together as part of the process. Thus, when you delegate effectively, you empower your team.

FIVE:   Identify mentors and trusted leaders that lead well and ask them for input as you develop your leadership style. Ask them how they avoid the pitfall of being an individual contributor when they should be leading. Tip:  Most leaders love to teach / give advice, so just ask. 

SIX:  Copter down, but don’t forget to copter back up.  There will always be times when you need to roll up your sleeves and jump in to help get things done.  You may find yourself in a position where there is no choice but to be an individual contributor.  It’s the nature of our culture. The danger is that if taken to an extreme, the person becomes so involved in doing things the old way that they neglect the leadership aspects of their role.  Make sure that if you dive down, you pull yourself back up and don’t stay mired in individual contributor mode.

The benefits of getting it right –

Think about the leaders you know who lead well and trust, teach and train the team to do their jobs.  One of the common things I’ve noticed about these stronger leaders is that they are generally more available.  Because they are not personally driving each initiative, they typically don’t have to fill their calendars with endless meetings week after week.  They trust their team to attend the regular project meetings and insert themselves when there are broader decisions to be made.  This is a good “gut check” for any of us.  Are we available on regular basis throughout the week to spend time with our teams teaching and guiding?

On your leadership journey, continue to evaluate and push yourself to lead at the correct level.  Empower your team to drive initiatives and be available to teach / train as necessary.

The illusion of effectiveness distorts reality but if we are intentional in our leadership approach, we can unlock our potential, our team’s potential, and lead well.

 Question:  What tasks or projects are you doing now that should be driven by your team? 

“Hold on Tight” Customer Service

Pay Attention!

You can learn anything, anywhere, anytime, but you have to be paying attention.  Case in point.

I was on a whirlwind trip this last week and found myself at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with my team. 

We had just dropped off the rental car and caught a rental car bus over to the terminal.  Once we were inside the terminal, I got that sinking feeling in my stomach when I realized that I didn’t have my backpack with me, which also meant that I didn’t have my wallet, ID, etc.  It was in the bus!  I left my carry-on bag with one of my peers and took off running back to the parking area to see if the bus was still there.

It was.  I ran across the street and jumped on the empty bus and looked around frantically.  No backpack.  I ran to the front of the bus only to realize it was a different bus driver.  Which meant – it was a different bus.

Clearly seeing that I was only slightly panicked, he asked me how he could help.  I quickly explained that my backpack was on board the bus that was just here before him.  He asked me if I had told anyone.  I replied, “I’m telling you.” Again, slightly panicked.

Without batting an eye, he said, “Hold on tight.  I think I can catch him.”  And with that, he shut the doors, put it in drive and took off. I stood behind him and grabbed the overhead bar for support.  For a brief moment, it reminded me of something out of a movie and expected dramatic theme music to start playing.  In case you’re wondering – we were the only ones on the bus.

As we sped past the departure drop off area, he grabbed the mic to his radio and started calling for his dispatch and the other bus.  While dispatch replied, the other bus didn’t answer.  Dispatch then began calling for the other bus, but still no reply.

Then we came to a fork in the road.  He asked me a quick question about whether or not there were passengers for other terminals on our bus.  My “I don’t know” response didn’t help.  But that was okay, because he replied, “Okay…then if I were him, I’d go this way.”  And he jerked the bus to the right.  Up and around the terminal we went.

As we leveled out in the arrival area, we approached a line of buses.  He said, “I believe this is your bus.” and pointed to the one directly in front.  As I jumped off his bus, he said, “I’ll wait here.”  I shouted my thanks as I ran to the bus in front.

I leaped on to the bus in front to discover my backpack sitting there all by its lonesome.  I startled my old driver as I let out a triumphant “Yes!”  He asked me if he could help me.  I told him that I had left my backpack, but everything was okay now.  I’m sure I left him a little baffled as to what had just happened and how I got there.

I climbed off the bus and held up my bag to the awesome driver to show success.  He gave me a smile, a wave, and then drove off.  I waved my thanks to him.

As I walked back to my party, I couldn’t help but think how great of customer service this driver displayed.  He didn’t have to help me.  I’m sure it wasn’t in his job description.  But he did it nonetheless.

Besides not leaving my bag on the rental car bus, here are 3 things I learned that day about exceeding expectations with a “hold on tight” level of customer service.

  1. 1.      Take Immediate Action – when a customer presents you with a crisis or problem they expect you to deal with it – don’t wait You can be anyone’s superhero.  Don’t pass the problem off to someone else.  Take ownership.  You’re action shows them that you are committed to solving their issue.  It shows that you are committed to them
  2. 2.      Include Others – if you don’t know how to solve a customer’s problem or need help – get it Use the resources available to you to find the right people or incorporate others in to the solution.  Leverage them to help. 
  3. 3.      See It Through – Once on the path to solving an issue – see it through to the end.  Like the driver said to me when he found my bus, “I’ll wait here”.   He did this to make sure that what he did solved my problem.  If it hadn’t, I imagine we would have been off on another adventure.  Even if you do pass it to someone else – follow up.

Exceeding a customer’s expectations doesn’t happen by accident.  It takes action.  Take every opportunity to go above and beyond!  There were so many examples of this in my story.  From the initial “hold on tight” all the way through to the “I’ll wait here”. 

I don’t know the name of my driver, but I’ll always remember the impact he made on me by providing awesome customer service!  And this is what we should want for our customers – to remember us and our company this way.

Be known for providing awesome customer service.  And as leaders, be known for teaching awesome customer service!

What “hold on tight” customer service have you provided lately?

4 Steps to Doing the Right Thing

Do you do the right thing?

I want to revisit where we were last time – talking about Integrity.  This is a timeless topic, but in recent days is timelier than ever before.

Before we get to far away from it, I also want to revisit the example we were using previously in talking about the University of Arkansas Head Football Coach situation.  While I don’t want to draw too much attention to this situation I do want to take a different look at it – this time through the lens of the actions and decisions of the Athletic Director Jeff Long.

While the coach’s actions brought about a very public ethical dilemma, Long’s response/reaction mitigated a lot of the negative that the coach had created and may have created an even greater positive focus on the integrity of the program that will have long lasting positive effects. 

He showed that the university valued ethical behavior over a winning coach, which is a lesson in and of itself not only the players, students, coaches, faculty, and fans, but for us as well.

How often do we focus on the results over how we achieved the results?  This plays out in business all the time.  Our job as leaders with integrity is to ensure our people understand the importance of the ‘how’.

Most interestingly for me was the ‘how’ in the way that Jeff Long tackled this ethical dilemma.  I’ve categorized these in to four distinct areas of action that were taken.

  • Acknowledge.  Houston, we have a problem.  Have you ever tried to avoid a negative situation because you know that it’s going to be painful and energy consuming?  I have.  But when it comes to ethical dilemmas we really can’t just sit on the fence and wait for things to blow over.  We need to deal with it.

When confronted initially with the situation, the first thing that Long did was acknowledge it.  While this was a very public situation for the university, he didn’t try to hide it. Instead, he stood in front of reporters and told them what he knew.  More importantly, he also said that he didn’t know everything and didn’t succumb to the requests to speculate. 

  • Set Expectations.  Okay…so we know have a problem.  Now what?  You need to define what needs to happen next.  And whether that is simply for your own benefit to organize or to publicly let others know what your plan of action is, definition is important because it gives you structure for dealing with the situation.  Jeff Long did this very well. Once he acknowledged the situation, he said, “Here is what I’m going to do next.”  He didn’t paint himself in to a corner either by setting artificial timelines.  He simply said, “Here is what we are going to do.”  And more important than setting the expectation for himself and the public, he followed through on what he said, which improved his credibility significantly.
  • Consult.  Do I need to shoulder all of this responsibility myself?  Absolutely not.  While I don’t possess a PhD in human psychology, I have a hard time believing that humans are built to handle tough decisions alone.  We have a safety net of people that make up our social sphere that help guide us along the way.  This may be your parents, or a sibling, best friend, pastor, boss, career mentor, legal resource, counselor, or other source.  The fact is, gaining other perspectives on tough decisions is a great idea.  I know that I use a network of trusted people in my life to help give me perspective all of the time.

In his statement, Long stated that he sought counsel and perspective from others.  Undoubtedly, there were very different perspectives presented, but in the end, he had to take in all of the information, filter, and then make the best possible decision.  The same is true for all of us.

  • Decide and Act.   Making tough decisions isn’t easy.  Acting upon them is sometimes even harder.  As I looked at these two actions, I thought about splitting them out in to their own points.  But as I looked closer, I believe that you can’t separate them because they are absolutely interconnected. 

As a leader, you can’t decide and then not act. If you don’t act then you really didn’t do anything, now did you?  Leaders make and act on tough decisions.  Don’t forget that.  If you can’t, then being in a leadership position may not be for you.

At the end of the day, Long made a very tough decision.  He made the right decision (in my opinion).  But he didn’t stop at the decision.  He followed through with action.  He terminated the coach, he started a search for a new coach, and then hired a new coach.

One other side note and observation that I wanted to cover is the compassion that Long exhibited in the handling of the situation.  Not only was he sensitive to all that were impacted in the words that he used and privacy he maintained,  but his tone, demeanor, and delivery conveyed that he really cared about all of those involved (including the coach).  Following the above steps in a sterile manner may get you through the situation, but what people will remember is your sincerity and how you made them feel about it.

Every ethical decision that you come to in life may not be hyper-complex.  Some may be much more black and white and easy to quickly determine.  However, I’m confident that you will experience at least one or more difficult, complex, ‘gray’ decisions to make in your life.

Having a framework to approach and deal with these situations will be very important to your success.  Just remember to be sincere and compassionate as you face these challenges.

As leaders, we all have tough decisions to make.  Many may not be as public or complex as the one that Jeff Long faced, but tough decisions nonetheless.  While none of us are perfect, having the right tools in our toolbox will help us when those tough decisions come along.

My questions for you are:

  • Will you step up when it’s your time? 
  • Will you make the right decision when no one else is looking? 
  • Will you act with integrity? 
  • Will you teach integrity to those that look up to you?

Leading and Living with Integrity

Fortunately or unfortunately, it’s good to take advantage of current events to drive home a point. A great colleague of mine, Matt Martin, sent the below email out yesterday morning touching on the recent negative press around Arkansas Razorback’s Head Football Coach Bobby Petrino and used it as a learning opportunity. How bad was the press? I’ll put it this way. It was bad enough that it was trending nationally near the top of the list Thursday night on Twitter.

Integrity is foundational and critical to every leader’s success! Matt’s reminder about acting with integrity is not only appropriate today, but appropriate every day. Matt also forwarded a great piece by Michael Camp on Leading and Living with Integrity. Please see both below.

While Camp talks through a couple definitions of integrity below, one of my new favorites comes from Jeff Neria on my team. She says, “Integrity is the moral courage to make your actions consistent with your knowledge of right and wrong.

Above all as leaders it is important not only to act with integrity, but to teach the importance of integrity to others. Don Soderquist, one of the great former Wal-Mart leaders has said repeatedly, “Mentor your leaders; assume they know nothing about professionalism or integrity. Teach them before they fall and impact others.

Are you living and leading with Integrity? Do you teach the importance of integrity to others?

Matt’s note is below.  You can also follow him on Twitter @samsclubmatt.  Michael Camp’s piece on integrity is below that.

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Team,

With the news around Bobby Petrino surfacing last night, I was reminded of the importance of integrity in leadership. I was also reminded of how quickly trust and credibility can crumble with one lapse of judgment. I was specifically reminded of a document that recently came across my email written from a peer on the Walmart side.

In the attachment (printed below) he talks about how we must protect and guard our integrity and compares it to an eggshell saying “Once an eggshell has even a slight crack, the structure can no longer be depended on to handle the pressure of the environment. It is simply a matter of time before the egg is completely compromised”.

Take a minute to read it and feel free to share with others. Our associates deserve to have leadership they can trust and respect every day and the attachment is a good reminder for us all.

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LEADING AND LIVING WITH INTERITY

By Michael Camp

Someone can easily say they are ‘leading with integrity,’ but the challenge lies in actually following through. I believe the majority of us have been told the importance of being honest since we were children. Unfortunately, some people struggle more than others to live with integrity, no matter how many times they hear it.

What does the word integrity actually mean? Most of us could easily define the word integrity and have a pretty good idea of what that really looks like; or could we?

Integrity is not a characteristic you can demonstrate sometimes, or even 99% of the time. Leading with integrity means demonstrating it ALWAYS! Integrity can be defined most simply as “being honest” or “following moral and ethical principles.” Integrity has also been defined as being when “a person’s behavior is the same whether someone is watching them or not.”

I like to consider integrity to be like an eggshell that must be protected at all times in order to keep the egg (or your integrity) whole. Once an eggshell has even a slight crack, the structure can no longer be depended on to handle the pressure of the environment. It is simply a matter of time before the egg is completely compromised. A leader’s integrity (or eggshell) is the exact same thing. A leader can do the right thing 100 times, but on the 101st time, they choose to deviate from their behavior; therefore, their integrity comes under scrutiny from those around them. Even though we may live a life of integrity during the first 100 situations, if we choose to act incorrectly the 101st time, the way people perceive us can change forever.

If we want people to follow us there MUST be a strong level of trust. Keeping your word and living with integrity are two critical pieces to this process. Trust is not something built overnight; however, it can be lost instantly. The easiest way to come across as not being honest is when we say something but do something completely different. When people choose to follow us, they need to know the words coming out of our mouths are genuine and that we will not deviate from what we said we would do. Some people believe if they always handle the big issues with integrity, the little issues don’t always need to be handled the same way, especially if no one will know. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. A person who leads with integrity will ALWAYS keep their integrity untarnished and will not waiver, regardless of the size of the issue at hand or whether or not people will ever know what they did.

There is nothing worse than listening to someone speak about what they plan to do when we know their actions will not match what they said. This type of dishonest behavior is what usually creates the first crack in what I call the “TRUST FOUNDATION” that the leader – follower relationship is based on.

As a leader today, the challenge is for us to live the true lifestyle of a leader with integrity at work and outside of work. When people see us acting differently in public than we act in the workplace, our genuineness becomes questionable, as does our integrity. Show the people who choose to follow you what kind of leader you are by keeping your word and living with integrity ALWAYS.

I would ask you to take the LEADING AND LIVING WITH INTEGRITY pledge with me……

“This year I will commit to doing whatever it takes to:

Become a leader trusted by my co-workers, my family, my community,

Demonstrate outstanding servant leadership,

As I LEAD and LIVE WITH INTEGRITY to build trust with those whose lives I influence.”

“As Wal-Mart leaders we MUST live in a manner so that when our Associates think of honesty and integrity, they think of us.” – Michael Camp

A Quick Friday Leadership Lesson

As is always the case, I had a different plan for a post this week, but changed my mind at the last minute. But it’s okay…..because it’s Friday.

Last night, a colleague of mine forwarded out a great summary of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. You may know John Maxwell for his many lectures or books on leadership (e.g., The 5 Levels of Leadership, Talent Is Never Enough, and Everyone Communicates, Few Connect just to name a few).

I haven’t read this book in particular, but have been exposed to many of the teachings.  As I read through the summary, I thought this would be fantastic to share with those of you that haven’t seen it before or at least it would be a great reminder for those of you that have seen it. The information is very timely as we are off and running in 2012.

Why? Because every organization needs great leaders at all levels. And they need them now.

To drive this home, the end of the summary included the five sentences below. I’ve brought them to the front because I think they make a great point.

Personnel determine the potential of the organization.
Relationships determine the morale of the organization.
Structure determines the size of the organization.
Vision determines the direction of the organization.
Leadership determines the success of the organization.

Are you the leader you need to be? Are you determining and/or driving the success in your organization?

I’ve included the summary of the laws below. While they are all great points, my favorites are #20 and #21.

Thank you Sonia Spinks for sharing this with our team! We appreciate your leadership!

Enjoy!

Jason

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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

1. The Law of the Lid. Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The higher you want to climb, the more you need leadership. The greater the impact you want to make, the greater your influence needs to be. Even though there is a lid, you can raise it.

2. The Law of Influence. The true measure of leadership is influence-nothing more, nothing less. If you don’t have influence, you will never be able to lead others. True leadership is not awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that can’t be mandated. It must be earned. The very essence of all power to influence lies in getting the other person to participate. If you want to find out whether your people are capable of leading, send them out to volunteer their time in the community because if they can get people to follow them there, then you know that they really do have influence.

3. The Law of Process. Leadership develops daily, not in a day. Becoming a leader is a lot like investing successfully in the stock market. If your hope is to make a fortune in a day you’re not going to be successful. What matters most is what you do day by day over the long haul. Successful leaders are learners. And the learning process is ongoing, a result of self-discipline and perseverance. The goal each day must be to get a little better, to build on the previous day’s progress. You can be a great leader, but it won’t happen in a day. Start now. You don’t become a champion on the field or court. You become a champion in your daily routine.

4. The Law of Navigation. Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. Have a vision for the destination and understand what it will take to get there. A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others do. Navigators draw on past experience, listen to what others have to say, examine the conditions before making commitments, and make sure their conclusions represent both faith and fact. The secret of the Law of Navigation is preparation.

P redetermine a course of action.
L ay out your goals.
A djust your priorities.
N otify key personnel.

A llow time for acceptance.
H ead into action.
E xpect problems.
A lways point to the successes.
D aily review your plan.

5. The Law of E.F. Hutton. When the real leader speaks, people listen. True leaders have character, relationships, knowledge, intuition, experience, past success, and ability.

6. The Law of Solid Ground. Trust is the foundation of leadership. You can’t take shortcuts no matter how long you’ve been leading people. You start with certain amount of change in your pocket, then with every decision thereafter, you are either building up more change or paying it out, and then when you are out of change, you’re done. To build trust, one must exemplify competence, connection and character. Character makes trust possible and trust makes leadership possible.

7. The Law of Respect. People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. When people respect someone as a person, they admire them. When they respect her as a friend, they love them. When they respect them as a leader, the follow them.

8. The Law of Intuition. Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias. A leader has to read the situation and know instinctively what play to call. People need a goal to galvanize them. Know who is for you and who is against you. Whenever leaders encounter a problem, they automatically measure it, and strive to resolve it.

9. The Law of Magnetism. Who you are is who you attract. You draw people to you who possess the same qualities you do. Birds of a feather flock together. You tend to attract and be drawn to people of similar attitude, generation, background, values, life experience and leadership ability. The better leader you are, the better leaders you will attract. If you think the people you attract could be better, then it’s time to improve yourself.

10. The Law of Connection. Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand. Connections happen between individuals. A great leader stands in front of his team and sees more than the collective group, he sees individuals. To connect with people in a group, relate to them as individuals. Leaders initiate connection with people. Walk slowly through the crowd and shake hands and encourage and express gratitude. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. To lead yourself, use your head; to lead others, use your heart.

11. The Law of the Inner Circle. A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him. Associate with good people. Look for these type of valuable people – potential value, positive value, personal value, production value and proven value. As iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other. Hire the best staff you can find, develop them as much as you can, and hand off everything you possibly can to them. You have more potential that you haven’t reached, and if you want to get there, surround yourself with the best people possible.

12. The Law of Empowerment. Only secure leaders give power to others. Lead by lifting up others.

13. The Law of Reproduction. It takes a leader to raise up a leader. If you try to keep others down, then you go down with them. Raise giant-killers like David who raised up a group of mighty men. We teach what we know and reproduce what we are. Spend time with great leaders.

14. The Law of Buy-In. People buy into the leader, then the vision. The leader finds the dream and then the people. The people find the leader and then the dream. People at first don’t follow worthy causes, they follow worthy leaders who promote worthwhile causes. People want to go along with people they get along with. Leader + Vision = Result.

15. The Law of Victory. Leaders find a way for the team to win. When the pressure is on, great leaders are at their best. 3 components of victory: 1) unity of vision, 2) diversity of skills, and 3) a leader dedicated to victory and raising players to their potential.

16. The Law of the Big Mo. Momentum is a leader’s best friend. Constantly fight negative momentum. Two keys – preparation and motivation. It starts with a little progress. Momentum helps teams perform better. Momentum is easier to steer than to start. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.

17. The Law of Priorities. Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment. Pareto Principle: If you focus on the activities that rank in the top 20% in terms of importance, you will have an 80% return on your effort. Three R’s: What is required? What gives the greatest return? What brings the greatest reward? Increase focus, but reduce number of actions.

18. The Law of Sacrifice. A leader must give up to go up. Leadership means setting an example. When you find yourself in a position of leadership, people follow your every move. Sacrifice is an ongoing process, not a one-time payment. When you become a leader, you lose the right to think about yourself. As you rise in leadership, responsibilities increase and rights decrease. If leaders have to give up to go up, then they have to give up even more to stay up. The higher you go, the more you give up.

19. The Law of Timing. When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go. 4 possible outcomes: 1) The wrong action at the wrong time leads to disaster. 2) The right action at the wrong time brings resistance. 3) The wrong action at the right time is a mistake. 4) The right action at the right time results in success.

20. The Law of Explosive Growth. Leader’s math: To add growth, lead followers, but to multiply growth, lead leaders. It’s the leaders responsibility to build the people who are going to build the company. Leaders who develop followers add one at a time. Leaders who develop leaders multiply their growth.

21. The Law of Legacy. A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession. Leadership is one of the things you cannot delegate. You either exercise it, or you abdicate it. A legacy is created only when a person puts his organization into the position to do great things without him. Success is not measured by what you’re leaving to, but by what you are leaving behind.

17 Truths from Above and Below

Inc. Magazine is one of my favorite “pick up and reads” when I have a little down time. I always seem to walk away with a few nuggets that I can tuck in to my own leader’s locker.

And then as I go through varying experiences, I’m able to pull those nuggets right back out of the locker and use them.

In the last 48 hours, I’ve had four different development discussions with mentees and colleagues, each of which centered around awareness of what was happening above and below them.  Meaning – situations that involved their boss, their employees, or both.

Often in these discussions, a number of questions surface – like “Why doesn’t my boss understand me?”, “Why am I being micromanaged?” or “Why won’t my folks listen?” and “Why can’t they just get it done right?

To get to their answers, some times all you have to do is sit and listen and they work it out themselves. Some times they need a little prompting or encouragement. And some times (albeit few) they need to be told that they are causing the problem.

Regardless, the solutions usually revolve around them being more aware of the people they follow and the people they lead. Where you sit on the bus offers you a different perspective as compared to where someone else sits. Taking the time to understand where they are coming from or their perspectives often cures a lot of ills and misconceptions.

These discussions reminded me of an article I read in Inc. Magazine last month by Jeff Haden called 7 Things Your Employees Will Never Tell You. This was a great article chalked full of right-on-spot information. So, I set out to find it for you.

As I searched, I came across another Inc. Magazine article written by Haden a couple days ago that was trending in social media called 10 Things Bosses Never Tell Employees. As I read it, I was like, “This one’s true. Yep that one too. True. True. Oh, that’s just funny – but true.” Haden is a genius! In two brief articles, he provided the answers to many of the questions that were asked during my discussions – as well as many more.

So, my suggestion for you is to check out the two links above to the 17 truths inside Haden’s articles and get a good perspective of what’s going on above you and below you. Then use your new found knowledge to improve your understanding of your own work environment. You’ll also find that in your own role today as both boss and employee that you probably have these very same thoughts yourself.

What are some other things that a boss or employee will never tell you? (but should)

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