The Truly Humble Don’t Know It

Or, if they do, they are too humble to mention it!

The Truly Humble Don’t Know It

Last week was a blur. I spent the entire week in New Orleans at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s (WBENC) Summit & Salute.

According to their website, “WBENC’s Summit engages participants in a two-day program filled with a focus on the future of various industries, business networking, and development opportunities. The Salute follows the Summit and is a festive evening that highlights America’s Top Corporations for Women Business Enterprises for 2016.

An otherwise typical awards dinner took on special interest to me and to my colleagues when one of our peers was recognized for a life of leadership to various organizations. One of our colleagues had a friend who posted a great description of the award winner. She called her an “iconic and humblest of all souls.” Wow! what a description! Wouldn’t you like to have that said of you?

And the winner is . . . 

The winner of the award was my friend and colleague, Susan Stentz. Susan has spent much of her career supporting women and minority business enterprises. She is a “go to” person on our team. She is a wealth of experience and insight. I, personally, call her on the phone often to answer questions and get her feedback on thoughts and ideas that I have. Everyone on our team recognizes her leadership in this vital area of commercial dealings with potential suppliers.

What is the Leadership Lesson from this?

I think it is simply this. The greatest leaders are great without losing their humility in the process.

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The Value of Team Briefings

And a little bit about communication

The Value of Team Briefings

We have many communication options these days – phone calls, faxes, emails, text messages, and so on. You can even communicate with just a single emoji. Who hasn’t sent a message to someone that was just a single emoji? (And, I bet it was probably the little “poop” emoji. wasn’t it?) Sometimes it seems as though traditional, face-to-face meetings are disappearing. In fact, it looks like the more options for communicating that we have available, the less real communication occurs.

The Value of a Good Team Briefing

I often say, “I am a B.A. guy in a B.S. world.” By that, I mean that I am probably one of the only individuals at my place of employment without a Bachelor of Science degree. Most are engineers. My degree is a lowly Bachelor of Arts degree. And it is in Mass Communications. And, finally, it is from a fairly unknown school. However, I have leveraged that little degree fully throughout my career. And one of the things that I recall about the communication process is that it has 3 parts and not just 2. We often think of the “sender” and the “receiver”. But we often forget the all important “feedback”. And unfortunately, feedback is extremely hard to discern outside of face to face communication. And even then it is hard to discern its real meaning.

So, for today, let’s look at Team Briefings and what role we have as leaders in that setting. And let’s consider the characteristics and benefits of well-run team briefings.

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Size Really Does Matter

But, maybe not how you think . . .

Size Really Does Matter

I recently got to spend some time at a working farm and family friendly venue with animals to pet, a hay maze, some slides, a little zip line, and some big trikes and pedal cars. The little track with the trikes and pedal cars provided an interesting lesson in leadership and human nature.

The little track had about 5 or 6 different sizes and styles of self-propelled vehicles. And, invariably, as kids entered the area, they were seemingly “drawn” to the biggest pedal cars on the track. It was almost a metal and magnet kind of attraction. Children would walk right past smaller pedal cars and big trikes and go straight for the biggest pedal cars that they could find.

I watched it happen and here is what happened next. A small child would get to the big pedal car and try to mount it. If they were successful in doing that, they then tried to have their little feet and legs reach the pedals. Only to be disappointed. Most of the time, they were not tall enough to reach the pedals. Oh, they would stretch and strain. But, in the end, their legs just weren’t long enough.

Size Matters

Either the cars were too large for the children, or the children were too short for the cars. I saw it with some of my own grandchildren. They wanted to ride on the biggest car that was out there. They couldn’t resist. But, in either case, there was a size issue. And whether or not it was the size of the child or the size of the cart, it just became frustrating and not a whole lot of fun. Fortunately, the wise old grandfather saw what was going on and was able to coax them onto a smaller and more “size appropriate” vehicle. Then they were able to have some fun.

What is the Leadership Lesson?

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10 Tips to Boost Your Confidence

Are You Feeling Confident?

10 Tips to Boost Your Confidence

Leadership and confidence usually go hand in hand. But sometimes you feel awkward or even silly. You may feel silly and awkward inside, but you can learn to overcome those feelings. The inside feelings don’t necessarily have to show up on the outside. You can develop the ability to both look and feel confident even though you feel a little silly from time to time.

Researchers tell us that the number one fear of most people is the fear of public speaking or some other public exposure. Now, in full disclosure, I will admit that I have never suffered from that fear. I was a “theater guy”. I loved being on stage. Many years ago my wife and I owned our own business where I was a paid professional public speaker. I have made a living standing and talking in front of a crowd. It doesn’t scare me – it energizes me. But I realize that I am the oddball in this regard. (Maybe some other regards as well . . .)

10 Tips for Improving Your Confidence

Here are 10 tips and suggestions to boost your confidence and to help you get over the fear of looking silly and also help you gain confidence and portray confidence to those around you.

Stand Up Straight and Tall — It is easier to exude confidence when you have a confident posture. No matter how awkward or embarrassing the situation you may be in, standing tall through it all will make people respect you for your ability to keep walking through the fire of adversity and hold your head high, no matter how scared you may feel inside. Remember what mom always said – – “Don’t slouch.”

Apologize, But Only Once — Being over-apologetic about a little mess-up just gets irritating after a while. Simply acknowledge your mistake, apologize genuinely, and continue on with whatever you were doing. This is a trait that I have seen with many “sales type” individuals. They seem to think that by apologizing they will be perceived as being more open, likable, trustworthy, or vulnerable. This is not the case. Instead, they just get annoying after a while.

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The Value of Perspective

Leaders always need to keep things in perspective

the value of perspective

Perhaps this article today will deal more about life than about leadership. But, who knows? I am just going to let my thoughts flow and see where they take me. Hang on. Here we go!

Comparisons Can Be a Trap

One of the things that I have learned in life is to find a way to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself. However, every once in a while, I allow myself to fall victim to comparisons. I compare what I have (which is a lot by global standards) with that one person that I know that has that one thing that I would like to have. I compare my stuff to his stuff and I determine that I need more stuff.

Leaders Also Fall Into This Trap 

Sometimes we look around and we see that someone we know is really gifted with a particular leadership skill or trait. It is one that we wish we had as well. We compare ourselves and we become dissatisfied. Or worse, we become jealous. At best, it keeps us constantly looking for that one leadership book or seminar that will give us that leadership “mojo” that will surely make us a great leader.

I am currently reviewing an article soon to be published by a very talented organizational health and growth coach who is working out in the real world what he also teaches in the academic world. The opening paragraph of his article recounts his recent “Google” (it is a verb, don’t you know?) of the term “leadership.” He got almost 800 million hits!

Why is that?

I think it is because

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The Value of a Translator

Could you use a little help with your message?

The Value of a Translator

I had an incredible opportunity yesterday to speak on a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. I am currently on a business trip to Bangalore, India and I was given the opportunity to speak on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. — Legacy Leadership.

There was only one problem. I don’t speak Kannada. There are more than 51 million individuals from the state of Karnataka who do speak it natively and I was asked to speak at a place where the entire day’s activities would be among a group of people with whom there were precious few who had even a limited understanding of English. Most had no understanding at all. That is a tall order for one American who struggles himself from time to time with the English language!

Help! I need a Translator

Fortunately, my host was completely aware of my linguistic shortcomings. And he provided a person who spoke English fluently but was a native Kannadigaru. And he would be my translator and interpreter.

One of the things that became very clear to me very early on in the development of my message was that I had to be crystal clear in my message and concise and succinct in developing any supporting information.

An unexpected problem

I was given twenty minutes. No problem. I can deliver a wealth of information in 20 minutes. Oh, wait a minute.

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Is it Time for a Post-Mortem?

Consider it for the living!

IS IT TIME FOR A POST-MORTEM?

OK, the title is a little morbid. Especially in light of the fact that I have been really sick with the flu and now I find myself in a part of the world where Malaria is all too common for those of us without a natural immunity. In fact, I had a Malaria Test Kit waiting for me and sitting on the desk in my room when I returned to the hotel several days ago. That always makes you feel good!

But have no fear. I am alive and well. So please stick with me for a minute or two. Because I want to discuss a tool that I have used many times with clients when I was more actively involved in consulting. This particular approach that I recommend that you try attempts to take a look at what exactly happened during an “event” so that all of the stakeholders can understand it clearly. Not all will see it the same way. But, with enough individual views, a collective view will emerge.

This approach can be particularly helpful when there is already an acknowledgment that there are a number of issues that need to change. This approach requires a high degree of trust among the team because it can naturally focus on the negative of what took place. It is very similar to the critiques we used to receive in the theater at the end of a performance or a rehearsal.

A Post-Mortem in a Leadership Context

The kind of review that I am referring to today is different from those that we used in the theater. The kinds of critiques that I am suggesting are a little more interactive and participatory. The best critiques included all of the components below: 

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Leadership Lesson from the Flu

A Flu Shot Would Have Helped!

Leadership Lesson from the Flu

Influenza-B. The was the emphatic word from the nurse at the after-hours clinic last Monday. That certainly explained why I felt like I had been hit by a freight train. And one of the first questions that she asked me as I walked in was, “Have you had your flu shot?”

Her question bothered e a little. She didn’t ask if I had “A” flu shot. She asked did you have “YOUR” flu shot. She personalized it. She made me take ownership of something that I didn’t actually own nor had I taken advantage of receiving the many times it is offered to employees where I work and many other places for those of us of a certain age and stage of life. But, I had not taken MY flu shot.

Perhaps I should have taken MY flu shot. All of the real medical evidence seems to indicate that if it doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu, it will at least lessen the duration and magnitude of the symptoms. Unfortunately, I like so many, chose to believe otherwise about the efficacy of the annual flu shot.

What is the Leadership Lesson?

The key to learning a leadership lesson from this is to understand what the flu vaccine is, or was.

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Confessional Leadership

Confessional Leadership

Confession is good for the soul, right? If that is true, then here is a confessional moment. I have made many mistakes in the many leadership roles that I have had over the years. Fortunately, I didn’t make all of these at the same time! And some of them, I still make from time to time. However, leadership is as much of a journey as it is a destination. So, I continue on.

Nevertheless, here are a few mistakes that I have made, but more importantly, I have learned from. Maybe you will learn from them also.

I have often allowed poor performance from staff when I know they are capable of better performance or more output. Am I doing everything that I can do to get the most and the best out of them? So, I ask myself now – Am I doing everything that I can do to get the most and the best out of them?

I have tolerated unacceptable behavior, sometimes for a very long time. Here again is an area where it is important to resolve conflict and not merely manage through it. Depending on the situation and the person’s role in the organization, you may need “allies” or some of their peers to establish acceptable standards and to set limits. Most often, the imagined outcome is not near as bad as we imagine it will be. So, I ask myself now – What’s the worst that could happen if I take a stand with this person?

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Conflict and Leadership

Is there a hidden opportunity in conflict?

Conflict & Leadership

I have been thinking a lot lately about conflict and conflict resolution. We are certainly seeing it played out on a daily basis in the news. Although I think we can all agree that some level of conflict is unavoidable, we do seem to have it in abundance and it is coming more and more because we are so polarizing in our communications with those around us. However, how we face it and resolve that conflict says a great deal about our own leadership styles and abilities.

Conflict as Opportunity

Consider the following statement by Warren Bennis, one of the foremost writers on leadership and organizational and management theory.

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity.” 

Leaders, this is one of your primary responsibilities. I believe strongly in delegating. But, you cannot delegate this one. Nor can you pretend that conflicts do not occur within your organization. I have spent much of my adult life working in the corporate world during the week and serving in a non-profit and volunteer organization on weeknights and weekends. And conflict is common to all organizations. Yes, even within churches and religious organizations. But you, as leaders, have the responsibility to sense a conflict at its earliest stages and resolve it before it affects the entire organization.

True leaders do not avoid or run from conflict. I am not proclaiming that they go and seek it out or invent it where it does not exist. But, leaders lead in times of calm and in times of conflict. And by the way, while we are on this subject, let’s not just “manage” the conflict, let’s “resolve” it once and for all!

Conflict Resolution is an art as much as it is a science. The goal of conflict resolution is to assess and resolve disputes at the lowest level possible and do so before they escalate into something major.

What is Conflict?

Conflict is fundamentally an indication of a miscommunication that has an enhanced level of emotion attached to it. It could begin as a request for clarification based upon a perception. And, depending on how that clarification is requested, received, and interpreted, it can lead to a conflict.

Conflict and Conflict Resolution Require Emotional Agility

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