Leadership Traditions Build a Leadership Legacy

Practice Makes Permanent

Leadership Traditions Build a Leadership Legacy

How many of you are already thinking that I have made a mistake in my writing the subtitle of this article? Most of us have grown up hearing that “Practice makes perfect.” Well, for those of us who have done any coaching, we will tell you that “Practice makes permanent.” Therefore, your practice must be focused and it must direct you toward an ideal.

Recently I had the opportunity to observe the Traditions Ceremony at the school where several of my grandchildren attend. It was interesting to observe. At the Traditions Ceremony, there are special items that are presented to the students throughout their time at the school. Every other year they receive a Tradition item.

  • Children in Kindergarten receive a Bible with their name and their year of graduation printed on the cover. This provides the foundation for everything else that they will learn.
  • Second graders receive a Compass. This reminds them of the importance of guiding principles and the importance of being able to find our way.
  • Fourth graders receive the School Crest. This contains the Knight’s Code and reinforces the duties as well as the rights and responsibilities to speak truth, right wrongs, live pure and follow Christ.
  • Sixth graders receive a Journal and Pen. It is with these that they will begin to formulate and articulate their thoughts and practice the rhetorical skills that are needed to communicate clearly and with conviction.
  • Eighth graders receive a Blue Blazer with the school crest on the left over their heart. The crest has those principles of the Knight’s Code.
  • Sophomores receive a Gold Leadership Pin to wear on the right lapel of their blazers. This is to remind them of their ascending leadership role to the rest of the school community.
  • And seniors receive a Walking Stick. Yes, that’s right. They receive a walking stick.

Why a Walking Stick?

Well, to be perfectly clear, it is not a walking stick. It is a “walking staff.” What is the difference between a stick and a staff?

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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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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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7 Questions To Answer To Move Beyond Good Intentions

Does Effort = Performance?

7 Questions - v1

Are good intentions enough? At some point, it is reasonable to be evaluated based on our performance and not just our intentions.

So much of what is mainstream thought today seems to indicate that as long as you try really, really hard, then you have accomplished something. That may or may not be accurate. You have indeed expended effort. And maybe you have expended a lot of effort. But is effort the same thing as performance? Have you actually accomplished anything of value or significance?

Is effort alone enough when it comes to leadership?

Or, in other words, are good intentions enough? Or at some point, do our followers and the community around us have a right to expect some results?

I cross multiple worlds in my own personal experience. Much of my time is dominated by a secular environment where results are pretty important. So much so that compensation and career advancement are dependent upon identified and verified performance and value generated as the result of expected accomplishments. While the rest of my time is spent in a variety of volunteer, ministry, and non-profit endeavors.

Each world views this topic very differently. But does that necessarily need to be? Is it reasonable to have some measurable performance indicators outside of the business world that are not just appreciated because of their level of effort?

Regardless of whether you are a leader in a for profit or not for profit organization, we must have some understanding of, and answers to, the following questions:

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Who Are Your Cohorts?

Cohort? What’s a “cohort”?

Who Are Your Cohorts?

Leadership can be a lonely endeavor. As recent as January 8th of last year I wrote an article entitled Loneliness in All Aspects of Leadership. In that article I dealt with the sense of loneliness we can experience when we lead with a strong sense of conviction that may be at odds with popular sentiments.

What Can Be Done About Loneliness in Leadership?

Leaders many times feel lonely because there are often not enough peers in their immediate circle of influence who have a common understanding and sense of what they are experiencing. That is merely a restatement of the problem. But, what can we do about it?

Recognizing a problem is always a first step in solving a problem. Leaders must recognize their loneliness and sense of isolation. They must then move on with confidence that loneliness and isolation are not signs of weakness in a leader. They just go along with the territory.

Now That We Recognize It, What is Next? 

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How to Choose a Coach? 

Don't pick someone you already know!

How to Chose a Coach

By now you may be beginning to see the value of having a leadership coach who will work with you and guide you along the journey of life. But, how do you choose a coach? What are the criteria that you should consider?

Unfortunately, selecting the right leadership coach is often a decision that is made based on a flawed set of criteria.

Let me just say quickly, in this article, I am going to be dealing with non-technical criteria. Certifications, degrees, and experiences are all technical criteria when it comes to what may make a good coach. I want to focus today on less technical selection criteria.

So, what is the selection criteria?

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Where Do Leaders Go For Help?

Even leaders need it!

Where Does A Leaders Go For Help?

Even leaders need help. Or, maybe I should say, “Especially leaders need help.” I am not sure if that is the right way to say that grammatically, but I think you get my point.

I have been doing leadership coaching, working with non-profit boards, and doing one-on-one coaching for many years. Several years ago I founded Leadership Voices, a collaborative site for all kinds of leaders. Over the last few years, we have grown this community from nothing to more than 2500 “followers.”

Resting on current achievements has never been a part of my operating procedures. And recently I began to feel a real need to reach out to get some help and advice. But, just where does a leader go for help? That is the question facing me and probably many of you as well. Who can I turn to for help and advice on what I am doing wrong and what I am doing right?

So, here is what I did.

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Leaders and Resolutions

4 Resolutions Every Leader Should Make

Leaders

Tis the season for many things. Not the least of which is making New Year’s Resolutions. Each of us should consider making some resolutions. And as leaders, here are a few that I think you should consider putting on your list.

Resolve This Year To Be A Better Leader — This one is exceedingly obvious. Yet it is surprising how many leaders are not intentional about developing their leadership skills. So, resolve this year to find some way to increase your leadership skills and abilities. There are so many resources available to help us develop as leaders. Several resources jump to the forefront of my mind at the very thought of leadership development. I am a very big fan of Leadercast and I have been a co-sponsor of one of the local simulcasts here in the Houston area. There are also many books on leadership that can be obtained via Kindle at much lower costs rather than in hard copy. Nearly all of my books are in some eReader format. Just reach out to me if you are looking for resources and I can help you identify some.

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Weak Leaders

And the Relationship to Weak Followers

Weak Leaders

Weak leaders naturally attract weak followers. That is my hypothesis. I am not sure if there has ever been an academic or scientific study to prove that hypothesis or not. But, it is clearly an observation that I have made over many years of observational study.

Why do you suppose that would be the case? And who is really attracted to who? Is it really that it is the weak leader that is attracted to weak followers?

My fear is that it may in reality be the weak leader that is attracted to weak followers. For it is in that setting that they can operate without much fear of any challenges to their leadership or true accountability for their actions.

I have not yet met a leader who would admit to being a weak leader. Often they will admit that they are not as strong as they would like to be. But they usually don’t admit to their weakness in this area.

According to Les McKeown of Inc. Magazine, “The problem comes when a weak leader masquerades as a strong leader. Outwardly, they appear effective, dependable, on top of things. But look closely at what they believe to be strong leadership and what you see is, in fact, a set of dangerous, destructive behaviors. Behaviors which will eventually strangle the organization.”

McKeown goes on to provide some typical behaviors of weak (or in his words, “ineffective”) leaders. I will not elaborate or comment on all of them. But I would offer my thoughts on how weak leaders interact with their followers.

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What Sharpens Iron?

What sharpens iron?

What sharpens iron? Every leadership “junkie” has probably been exposed to the Biblical passage from Proverbs that gives us the answer to that very question.

It is iron that sharpens iron. Or at least it is some other substance that is as hard as iron such as a whetstone or grinding wheel. If that is the case, that iron sharpens iron, then what are the implications for you and I as leaders?

We often only look at ourselves as the ones that will be doing the sharpening. But what (or who) is sharpening you? We need to constantly be in contact with something or someone who sharpens our leadership skills.

The first time I was exposed to this concept was many years ago in 1990 when Steven Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “Sharpen your saw” is Habit #7. This habit was encouraged so that we take care of ourselves on physical, mental and emotional levels. Only then would we have the “strength” to remain highly effective.

Only the confident and strong leaders will offer themselves to be sharpened by others. In fact,

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