New video of me sharing what has my attention these days in the area of life purpose, work life balance, goal setting, achievement and fulfillment.
Great leadership is the display of a combination of tools, skills and behaviors. It isn’t the result of position power or personality. Consequently, it can be learned and demonstrated.
Think of the great leaders you’ve known. I’ll bet they demonstrated most if not all of these skills.
Here’s my list of the top tools, skills and behaviors.
Great leaders set high standards for themselves and the people around them. They expect people to ‘step up’ in ways they may not even believe they can. They require exemplary behavior and thinking. They inspire others to perform at the highest levels possible.
Honest, authentic communication is the hallmark of a great leader. They are able to express difficult sentiments, communicate expectations and let people know how they are performing vis-a-vis the expectations while leaving those people empowered and ready to forge ahead.
Rewards are great for creating external motivation for achieving goals. Effective leaders understand the unique values and priorities of the people around them and custom tailor rewards to activate the intrinsic desires that make people perform and excel.
When great leaders encounter inappropriate behavior, they don’ t stick their head in the sand and ignore it. They stamp it out – quickly and decisively. They are swift in their response to restate expectations and request those expectations be met. This creates and a sense of fairness on the team and credibility for the leader.
John C. Maxwell is often quoted as saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” When leaders go out of their way to demonstrate their humanity, empathy and concern for others, they create an ultra-strong bond with the people around them.
Great leaders have an unwavering belief in the potential of people. They assume people want to excel and just need pathways, resources and the confidence to express their excellence.
Regardless of where you are in an organization’s hierarchy, you can practice using these tools and behaviors thereby enhancing your effectiveness as a leader.
One of the big mistakes some people make is waiting for energy, happiness and prosperity to descend upon them. Someday, things will be better, they muse.
Well, I’m here to let you know that you control how soon ‘someday’ arrives.
I was out on my morning walk the other day and spotted this dredging machine cleaning out a water canal of one of the local utilities. Over time, dust, leaves and trash accumulate in the canals and slow the flow of water. These ‘routers’ remove the debris so the water flows more easily.
This cleaning process made me wonder how often we rid ourselves of our debris in life.
If you want to create more ‘flow’ in your life, here are seven simple things you can do.
1. Set and communicate boundaries
We get resentful when people’s behavior doesn’t meet our expectations. Yet, we’re often guilty of not communicating those expectations. (They should just know, we righteously tell ourselves.) You have to let people know what makes you happy or not and what you need from them.
2. Un-volunteer from activities that have become a burden
If you’re involved in activities or responsibilities that leave you feeling unhappy or anxious, graciously remove yourself. Don’t just run away. Turn things over in a responsible manner. Identify ‘next steps’, find someone to replace you, train them and step away.
3. Renegotiate relationships
Years ago, I realized that one of my best friends couldn’t keep her mouth shut. I would share things with her as good friends do, but then learn that she had shared them with someone else. I started specifying that this item is confidential, but even those disclosures got repeated. I finally decided to only tell her things I wanted everyone to know. I never felt violated or disappointed in her again!
4. Donate or sell your stuff
Our neighborhood organized a community garage sale this past weekend. We didn’t participate but it did remind me to deliver that bag of items I had set aside for Goodwill or Salvation Army. If you have things lying around ‘just in case’, get rid of them. eBay is another good option that allows you to make a little money from your purge.
Stuff accumulates in our homes. It becomes invisible to us but still drains the flow of ‘chi’, that life force energy that surrounds us and that blockage eventually drains our spirit.
5. List (and finish) your incomplete projects or items
Our soul gets burdened by the accumulation of ‘someday I’ll finish xyz‘ thoughts. Whether you’re afraid to tackle it or it’s just not high on your to-do list, it’s existence is weighing you down.
Empty your head of all of your ideas. Write them down on paper. Attach completion dates to them, even if the date is “Never”. Then get to work. If you start with the scariest, you’ll feel amazing once it’s done. If you start with something easy, you’ll feel successful too. Just start somewhere and keep going.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. If your to-do list is too long, give some of the items away. Even though you might do it best, it may not be best for you to do. Give it to someone who can get it done well enough. It will get done faster and you’ll be relieved of one more burden.
7. Deliver undelivered communications
One of the biggest thieves of our souls is stuffing important communications and tolerating unpleasant situations. They consume our mind and energy. They rob us of important progress we could make in our lives. Find a gentle way to broach the touchy subject, get it off your chest and come to some sort of resolution with the other person.
Do these seven simple steps and you’ll discover energy, confidence and opportunities you didn’t know you had!
I’ve learned a lot of lessons having survived 10 years in business plus 30 years in Corporate America. I’m sure you have too. Here are some of the top tips that come to mind as I reflect back on my happy and not-so-happy days.
10. Admit your mistakes
This can be hard to do, especially if you’re the boss. However, people will respect you more when you show the courage to own up to your humanity. You will endear yourself to them in ways you can’t if you present yourself as infallible.
9. Make people feel important
I know there are a lot of egos out there and it’s tempting to not ‘fan the (already- inflated ego) flame’. However, it really doesn’t cost you much to be appreciative. People will love you all the more when you place them on what feels like a pedestal to them. I’m not saying to undervalue yourself nor ignore your own needs. Just put a little love in your heart and share it.
8. Take control of your own career
Time was, when you took a job, your future seemed to be controlled by the bosses. The employment ‘deal’ changed a few years ago. Career ladders aren’t what they used to be. Nothing is a given. Set your sights on where you want to be, experience and learn what you need to in order to best prepare yourself. Stretch yourself. Try new things.
Don’t blame ‘the system’ for your lack of progress. Take aim and steadily move forward (whether sideways or out). My husband, Karl has sometimes said ‘That person doesn’t have 20 years of experience. (S)he’s had 1 year of experience 20 times.’ Don’t be one of those people.
7. Ask for help
People are often afraid to admit they need help because they think it will make them appear weak. If you whine all of the time, that definitely won’t reflect on you well. But when working on something critical, in an emergency or when you just don’t know what to do, asking for advice or help could save your company or business a lot of money. The key is to ask the right person/people and to ask in a way that they see the benefit to them for honoring your request. Don’t make it about you. Make it about them and the business.
6. Have fun
If you’re not having fun, you’re in the wrong job or business. I realized decades ago that I spent too much time working not to enjoy it. So I’ve left a couple of ‘good’ jobs that I hated and let my personality out at work in the jobs I stayed in. (Encourage your team/staff to do the same.)
5. Stand up for what you believe in
Your perspective is important. What makes teams produce incredible results is harvesting the wisdom of everyone in the group. If you tend to be quiet, speak up more. Your voice needs to be heard. If you’re one of the ‘loud mouths’ your perspective is still important. Just don’t cry ‘wolf’ too much or you’ll lose your credibility.
4. Ask your clients / bosses / employees what they need, then give it to them
I fundamentally believe that most people are doing the best they can with what they have. If you want to be successful, the people around you have to be succeeding too. It’s hard to be a rock star with no fans or roadies. When you invest in others, you’ll gain dividends and rewards you were never expecting.
3. Keep your eyes on the prize
This presumes that you have a ‘prize’ – the reason you’re working or in business in the first place. When you’re clear about your purpose in being there, you’ll make better choices, set stronger boundaries about what you’ll tolerate or not and be less affected by the little things that don’t go the way you’d like them to.
2. Remember, this too shall pass
Whether it’s a bad economy, an intolerable boss or a project from Hades, it won’t last forever. Someone once said to me “Never take or leave a job because of the boss. They won’t be there forever”. (That may be less comforting in the public domain where I hear people can stay in jobs a really long time.) In any event, take heed of the earlier tips, do your best and remember you’re in charge of your life.
And the #1 tip for surviving anything…
1. To thine own self be true
I harp on this a lot. You have a purpose. You’re on the planet for a particular reason. You may not be entirely clear about your purpose just yet. If that’s the case, stay true to your values. They will point you in the right direction. (I presume you know what’s important to you. If not, take some time to figure that out.) Don’t engage in behaviors that compromise your integrity.
If something feels inherently wrong, don’t stand by and suffer in silence. Express yourself or extract yourself.
Your life is too important to waste your talents, time or passion.
I spent years in corporate America helping people who were frustrated with other people find the right words to express their disappointment, resentment or anger.
People either explode with rage or sit and simmer until they reach the boiling point or develop ulcers.
How do you get your point across without killing someone or sabotaging your own self esteem and power?
You may need to assess your beliefs about conflict. It’s bad. It never turns out right. They’ll hate me. etc. Your beliefs dictate how you handle feedback. You must believe that if you handle it well, that it will be well received.
The key is to release your thoughts in the way that steam is released from a pressure cooker…a little at at time. Don’t wait until you can’t stand it anymore. It may be OK to let an incident or two go by (if they aren’t major). But the moment you see anunwanted pattern developing, it’s time to address it.
Clearly, there is no guarantee your message will be heard in the way you want, but there are things you can do to increase the chances of that.
1. Make sure the person has at least a few minutes to have a conversation with you. Something as simple as a polite “Do you have a few minutes?” is a good start.
2. If you’re reluctant to start the conversation, identify the source of your reluctance and start the conversation there. “I have something to talk with you about but I’m afraid… “I’ll hurt your feelings” or “you’ll be angry” or “this will have a negative impact on our relationship” or what ever your concern is.
3. Talk about the other person’s actions and behavior, not your assessment or judgment about them. Labels like ‘neurotic’, ‘controlling’, ‘irresponsible’ or ‘passive-aggressive’ are incendiary and will almost certainly raise the hackles of the receiver and start a fight.
4. Get clear yourself about specifically you need from the person that you aren’t getting. State in as specific behavioral terms as you can muster what you expect or want to see instead. “I need to get a response within 48 hours of contacting you” or “I need you to put your files/clothes/equipment away as soon as you’re done with them”.
5. Thank them for listening and ask if there is anything you can do to help them fulfill the request you’ve just made. You might actually be part of the problem. (Hmm, imagine that.)
If you practice talking about observable behavior rather than someone’s intentions, motives or character, you’ll be more successful and build confidence in your ability deal with difficult situations.