Be Teachable

Are You a Teachable Leader?

be-teachable

They are called “Teachable Moments” and we assume that we are the “teacher” in those moments. But, have you ever considered that you might be the one in need of a little teaching?

What exactly is a Teachable Moment?

According to Beth Lewis, “a teachable moment is an unplanned opportunity that arises in the classroom where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to his or her students. A teachable moment is not something that you can plan for; rather, it is a fleeting opportunity that must be sensed and seized by the teacher.”

Did you notice the emphasis on the teacher? In most scenarios, the teacher is the leader. However, in all of my research, I found very little information about the importance of the moment from the student’s perspective. In fact, it was as though the students just stumbled into the moment and thank goodness the teacher was there to save them.

But what if it is the leader that has a teachable moment? Are you, as a leader, teachable? Do you have a humble and open spirit to what others may have to say to you? Are there people in your life who can speak truth, hard truth at times, into your life?

What are the teachable moments for a leader?

Click here to continue reading »

20 Things You Need In A New Leader

Is it time for a change in your organization?

20-things-you-need-in-a-new-leader

Perhaps we don’t really “need” a new leader. Maybe we just really “want” it. Do you ever feel that way?

Change is inevitable. I know, that is so cliché. That doesn’t make it any less true. Leadership change is often needed when organizations have plateaued, been through a crisis, or leaders have taken themselves out of the picture for various reasons. In each of those cases, someone must take a hard look at the organization and the needs of all the parties concerned and select another leader.

What are some things that an organization should consider in selecting a new leader? Consider with me the following as a partial list of key skills, abilities, traits, or tendencies. It is not an exhaustive list by any stretch. But it may spur some thoughts and ideas as an organization moves forward with seeking and selecting new leadership.

They must possess Leadership Abilities– This one almost goes without saying. When selecting a leader, make sure they have demonstrated leadership somewhere and some place before you bring them into your organization.

They Must Demonstrate Past Performance / Results – When searching for a new leader, do your research. Check out the leadership candidate. Has he/she demonstrated strong leadership in the past? Do they get results?

They Must Realize That They Are Part of Something Bigger – Each of us is a part of a much larger organization. And we should consider that we are building something that is larger than our local organization and it should fit well with the larger organization.

They Must Show That They Have Learned From Past Mistakes – Everybody makes them. How does the leadership candidate show that they have learned from mistakes made in the past?

They Must Show That They Can Fit Within the System or Personality of the Organization – Does the candidate mesh with the organization’s overall system or personality? If not, you are destined for conflict.

Click here to continue reading »

Leading a Team of Direct Reports

Three Things That Will Make You a Better Leader

leading-a-team-of-direct-reports

Leading and coaching people who directly report to you is a different endeavor than coaching someone who has no formal accountability to you. Coaching people can be exceptionally fun and rewarding, however when those being coached see you as “the boss” the dynamics of that relationship are much more complex. Because of cultural depictions of “the boss” and individuals’ personal experiences with previous managers, sometimes it is an extremely difficult and delicate task to lead direct reports. In this post, I want to give you 3 practical steps for leading direct reports that will make your entire experience more enjoyable and more profitable.

First, to be an effective leader of a team of direct reports you will need to overcome stereotypes and individuals’ perceptions/misperceptions of you. We are always initially judged by people not based on who we are but based on the employers/managers/bosses who came before us. It would be an impossible task to try and identify everything that has ever been done wrong in the name of leadership but there are three big things that always come up:

  • “He is so bossy”
  • “She doesn’t pay any attention to me”
  • “I don’t ever know what’s going on around here”

How Do I Fix That?

As a leader of direct reports, work diligently to let your team know that they are valued, they are important to you and the team, and that you are available to them but will not smother them with your presence. Make sure to communicate and over-communicate important data about the organization and team but also about the roles, abilities, and accomplishments of the team.  If a team member senses your trust and respect of them, and the value you place on them as a part of the team you will be able to overcome some of the baggage they brought with them regarding leaders.

Click here to continue reading »

Full Contact Leadership

Are You Ready For Some Football?

full-contact-leadership

We are in the beginnings of football season. The college season started two weeks ago and the pro season started last week. But, teams have been practicing for quite a while.

I played football many years ago in high school. To be honest, I wasn’t that good at it. But I remember it well. And I was thinking about those experiences recently.

If you ever played football in an organized fashion you will remember that there were multiple kinds of practices. In the summer, there were “2-a-Days”. Those were a morning session of practice followed by lunch followed by another practice followed by complete exhaustion. There were “Walk-Throughs”. Those were usually conducted in very light athletic gear. That meant that we wore no pads and sometimes even wore no helmet since no one was going to get hit. They usually were more strategic and educational. The coach taught us new plays and showed us our blocking and routes.

Full Contact Leadership

Click here to continue reading »

Lincoln on Leadership

The original "Great Communicator?"

Lincoln on Leadership

We are in the midst of a heated and contentious political season. During this time every four years there seems to be renewed interest in great former presidents such as Abraham Lincoln. So, what is the deal with Lincoln? Was he really the greatest president of all me?

Donald T. Phillips wrote a book in 1993 entitled, Lincoln on Leadership. The subtitle was Executive Strategies for Tough Times. In that book, he provides significant insight into leadership principles that Lincoln exhibited and that he also cultivated in those around him. Phillips points out many unique qualities of Lincoln. He also focuses on what he calls The Lincoln Principles. He goes on to develop Lincoln’s Principles of People, Principles of Character, Principles of Endeavor, and Principles of Communication. I don’t have me to develop each of these. But, I recommend the book if you are interested in pursuing this line of thought on a political figure that has become a pop culture figure again of late.

More than meets the eye

One characteristic that caught my eye was the fact that Lincoln is the only U.S. president to hold a U.S. Patent. Lincoln received a patent for a method of making a certain kind of boat more buoyant. Not all that remarkable in and of itself. But it demonstrates that Lincoln was creative. He was not just a “community organizer”. He was actually a contributor to the business community and he understood that government is not the solution.

He was not only creative; he was also a great developer of leadership intelligence and information from those around him. Lincoln was keenly aware that people (his cabinet and his military leaders) were the major source of information and that in order for him to be a great leader he had to stay close to them. But being close to them was not enough. He needed the relationship to be real and intimate. He built those relationships by holding meetings that were more informal with these people rather than structured and formal meetings.

What is the leadership principle here?

Click here to continue reading »

Be Succinct

Veni, vidi, vici

be-succinct

In 47 B.C., Julius Caesar is asked for a report on his recent military exploits. The Roman Senate seeks to know what has happened out on the eastern edges of the Empire. His response: “Veni, vidi, vici.”

In English, it is translated as: “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

That is about as succinct as it can be. In it there is a statement about logistics — I came, a statement about planning — I saw, and a statement about the execution of the plan — I conquered.

What are the leadership implications of communicating like Caesar?

I think that confident leaders have a brevity of speech that still communicates powerfully and effectively. That confidence allows them to shortcut much of the chatter and the nonsense of much of our communication. Leaders at the highest levels do not have the luxury of “small talk” with any and all that they must deal with. So, they adapt their style and take a minimalist approach.

Normally, my articles on leadership topics range from 500-750 words. But, today, I am taking my own advice and practicing a briefer approach. This one is less than half of that. And so, I leave you with a picture

Click here to continue reading »

Inspiring and Leading to Greatness

4 Things You Can Do Now!

Inspire Others

What does it take to inspire and lead others to greatness in their own lives and in the organizations they are part of? How do we draw out of them their potential and their giftedness?

In the general sense, we have to convince them of what is possible. We will have to paint word pictures, cast vision, set goals etc. But in a very practical, “where-the-rubber-meets-the-road” sense, the work we have to do is more specific than that. As leaders, we must meet with people one-on-one and lead with questions, affirm their abilities, develop their perception of themselves and the world around them, and practically expand in their minds the realm of what is possible.

Inspire Others

Here are 4 specific and practical things you can do to inspire others:

Click here to continue reading »

Be Generous

Three Things That Generous Leaders Share

Be Generous

Leaders that folks want to follow are generous by nature. That doesn’t mean they give you money. That means that they have a giving spirit or a generous heart.

Generosity is a word with a historical meaning that is lost today. It once referred to one’s nobility of birth and the obligation toward those of lesser means and lower standing. There was a cultural expectation that leaders (nobility) would behave in certain ways that would demonstrate their worthiness.

But before we can identify the behaviors of a generous leader, we need to identify the motivations of a generous leader. Generous leaders are motivated by the success (whatever that looks like) of those around them. Generous leaders lead the way that they do because they place a high value on the overall success of those who follow them.  On the other hand, leaders who are motivated by their own success tend to measure their achievements in terms of their compensation package, the power in their position, the status as compared to those in their peer group, and whatever recognition they can garner.

Generous leaders hold themselves to different standards. Generous leaders value their empowerment of others, their service to their organization, and their relationships with their followers.

Generous leaders give in ways that are not always measured in terms of dollars.  They are generous on many levels. They usually are generous with their money.  They are often the benefactors of many charitable or ministry organizations.  And they are often the ones behind the anonymous gifts that their followers find at just the right time. But they are also generous with their time as well as their talents.

What does a generous leader look like?

Click here to continue reading »