We as leaders have the ability to create opportunities for other leaders, or people we lead, to learn, change, grow…and to be different. We are not responsible for the choices that others make when given those opportunities; we cannot make the choice for them. For accountability to exist, only they have the ability to choose to be different in each unique situation. This interview with Simon Sinek shows us how to inspire leaders to do remarkable things just by creating opportunities!
I never truly considered myself a leader until I had the title of “manager,” and even then it was a difficult pill to swallow. Why? One: because I was so busy with my day-to-day obligations, it didn’t occur to me that I was being looked at as a leader. Two: being a leader is scary. It means we have to deal with a lot of problems we don’t really ask for. It means we have a big responsibility – to be role models, to take care of conflict between co-workers, to “know all the answers” – all on top of doing all the other stuff our jobs require.
So, what does being a leader really mean to YOU? Some believe it’s all in the title, but does having a fancy title automatically make you the perfect leader? Certainly not.
Think back to a great leader or mentor you’ve had. What made him or her great? The qualities I remember about some of the best leaders I’ve worked with include the following:
- Passion for their work and the people they worked with
- They asked tough questions and truly sought to understand the why
- They did more listening than talking
- They built trust by sharing their experiences and mistakes and what they learned from each
Now think back to a bad leader you’ve had. Believe it or not, there is value in having bad leaders, too. They can make you react in ways you may not have thought of before. For example, what not to do in certain situations or how to go about things differently. And they can still have a positive impact on you and help you learn a great deal from the experience.
Here are more talking points my colleagues and I came up with on how you can uncover your strengths as a confident leader:
Show Your Vulnerability
Defined as “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” Being vulnerable is certainly a risky proposition and one most of us are not excited about experiencing, yet it’s a key trait all of us must possess in order to be a great leader. And leaders who are passionate about their work and their people will show their vulnerability because they believe in what they do through good times and bad.
Vulnerability is not weakness. And neither is not “knowing all the answers.” Quite simply, our vulnerability builds trust because it shows others we are human.
Be Open to Feedback
Seek out feedback and wisdom from other leaders or just those people who inspire and challenge you, whether in your organization or not. And remember – you don’t always have to be the smartest person in the room to be a good leader. Be humble by opening up yourself to ask for help. C.S Lewis once said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” If you possess the willingness and courage to admit when you’ve made a mistake, you will also earn the respect of your peers and leaders alike.
Know Your Beliefs and Biases
Based on past experiences, we all bring our own beliefs and biases to our relationships, to our jobs, let’s face it…to everything we see and do. Recognizing these beliefs and biases, your values, and what drives your behavior are so important when leading others. You will no doubt bring them to the table when making decisions or handling conflicts between others, so by identifying them ahead of time can help you manage the situation at hand more objectively.
Books by Steven Covey, Simon Sinek and Patrick Lencioni (to name a few) and tools, such as the DiSC or Myers-Briggs assessments, are great ways to help discover your strengths. But be warned, they are not the only way. Tools like these do not predict job or leadership success.
Leadership is not one-dimensional and should not be approached from only the technical or scientific aspect. And it’s more than tactical – as much time that’s spent on the tactical side should also be spent on the interpersonal side. In other words, tools can be very useful, but connecting with people by a regular cadence of communication is key.
Consider Your Culture
It may feel like some people are natural born leaders and have it all figured out, but they still need to be nurtured and developed. Remember that the type of leadership you have in your organization is what determines your culture. It sets the foundation. If your foundation is growth-minded, transparent, creative, and innovative, then that culture will follow. You can have all the talent in the world in your organization, but if your foundation of leadership, thus your culture is weak, then all that talent will either fall into bad patterns or go elsewhere.
One last thought…do things that scare you, push your boundaries, things you don’t really think you can do. All of these things can help you uncover strengths you never thought you had!
And if you need more help, Pathmakers can help you and your leadership team uncover your strengths, individually and collectively. Visit our website and contact us today for more information.
The other day my colleagues and I were discussing some of the toughest conversations we’ve had to have at work. These ranged from terminations that did not go well, to bad behavior at the company Christmas party (with the CEO nonetheless!), to a son no longer wanting to be part of the family business, to a coworker with body odor. Many leaders have been there and understand the discomfort that comes with each of these. In fact, one shared that another colleague told him he’d have to fire him before he’d have the body odor conversation!
During our discussion, we listed the excuses, or “myths” we tell ourselves as to why these conversations can wait…or not happen at all:
Change…does it make you feel like you’ve jumped out of an airplane without your parachute? Change is constant, inevitable, and usually follows a predictable pattern, especially in the business world. So, we should be used to it, right? Why does that simple word cause panic and anxiety in so many of us?Read More
The value of strategic planning is clear when followed through upon to successful completion. But plans alone do not equal success. At the core of business success is people.
“If you ever want a strategic plan that’s going to work, make sure you have somebody handling all of the things that come out of strategic planning – the self doubt, the fear, the contradiction, the animosity. Plans get executed because of individuals, not because of the content in the document.”
Doug Page, President & COO, Performa
It’s an all too common situation. Leadership understands the importance of strategic planning, sets the stage for business growth, hands over a significant investment in exchange for a hefty bound document and then it happens: nothing. Tactics lie dormant, processes never change and the needle on sales and revenue remains motionless.
Statistics show only one out of every three organizations integrates its plans into its daily operations with high effectiveness. Why? Because the focus is on the plan itself. A solid strategic plan is the foundation, but when it comes to executing on that plan—underlying considerations crucial to its success are often left unaddressed.
It’s the things like open communication, contradiction, fear of change and animosity—the things that occur thanks to human nature—that poise you for success or failure. It’s the people and the relationships that move organizations from plan to execution to realization of goals.
A strategic plan alone is not enough, it must go hand-in-hand with the following:
- The Right People Involved: One of the greatest points of failure in strategic business efforts revolves around making sure the right team is on the bus. It is essential that planning team members are people who are committed to the growth of the company, and who can provide valuable input to the process.
- Open, Transparent Communication: Right alongside having the right team members involved comes ensuring all are on the same page and working together. Good communication is a failure point in any business situation but one that is intensified in such a high profile, high impact initiative.
- Never Create a Plan for Plans-Sake: Every good organization has a documented plan, right? It’s a common business mindset. Yet, when approached incorrectly, this notion easily translates to teams simply going through the motions of developing a plan simply because common sense warrants it. Don’t create a plan for plans-sake. If you’re going to take the time to do it, do it right.
It’s the people that must, together, buy into the vision. It’s the people that need to accept accountability for implementation. It’s the people, at the end of the day, who will make the biggest impact. At Pathmakers, our job is to help you address the elements of strategic planning that don’t come top of mind to most. We help hold you accountable and guarantee the right people are involved, communicating and united towards the same vision—to get you from flashy new binder to actual business impact.
What’s the first thought that comes to mind when a company seeks to make a purchase? ROI. Return on investment as quantified by a multitude of data, sales numbers and tangible results. It’s no surprise in our fast-paced, highly competitive world today that decisions are made almost by way of mathematical equation, computable efforts that lead to measurable results.
Stop and think for a second. Is there a boss, mentor or colleague that has inspired you, someone you’d go above and beyond for? What is it about them?
Picture this: You’ve gathered the brightest people, the clear experts and the highest performing teammates to solve a problem. With brainpower like that in one room, there is an inherent expectation for a rapid, impactful solution. Then, weeks go by with no solution or one that has negatively affected productivity, growth, culture – or all of the above. The culprit? Poor team dynamics.