The Persistent Pursuit of Leadership – Baidu

How persistent are you?

Persistent Pursuit of Leadership

There are many things that we take for granted in life. “Google” is probably high on that list. At least it was for me.  That was until I took my first business trip to China several years ago. I also didn’t realize until that trip just how important social networking sites like Facebook and Google’s search engine were to me.

I learned a lot on that first business trip back in 2014. And I learned some stuff in some very unexpected ways.

Most of the people that I spoke to while I was there about this did not really feel a sense of loss. Perhaps that is because they do not know what they are missing. Or, perhaps it is because there is an alternative that provides most of the features and functions of the suite of tools and portals that Google provides. China’s equivalent to Google is “Baidu”. Baidu exists because China has blocked Google’s access to the 1.2 billion people in the country through its state-sponsored filtering software.

Baidu Logo - LargeThe name, Baidu, was inspired by a poem written more than 800 years ago during the Song Dynasty. The poem compares the search for a retreating beauty amid chaotic glamor with the search for one’s dream while confronted by life’s many obstacles. Consider this line from that poem.

“…hundreds and thousands of times, for her I searched in chaos,
suddenly, I turned by chance, to where the lights were waning,
and there she stood.”

What is the leadership lesson here?

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The Tough Questions

Leadership Lesson from an Unusual Source

the-toughquestions

This is the time of year when many of us as leaders are “asking the tough questions” about our organizations. It is the time of year when we seek to evaluate and assess how our organization has performed and whether or not we have accomplished our goals in this last year.

I live in two worlds. One is a for-profit entity within the corporate world. That industry has been impacted significantly by the economic downturn and some economic policies that many folks would argue are hurtful and damaging to our opportunities to succeed. These economic times have caused us to reexamine our performance and how we go about our daily business. We have always prided ourselves in being an incredibly efficient organization. Much more so than our competitors. Well, these economic conditions have provided the opportunity to prove that theory. We know how to and we ask tough questions on a daily basis.

My other life is within the non-profit world. I spend as much, if not more energy, working in that world. It is painfully obvious that this world does not know how to ask these kinds of questions. Oh, we give “lip service” to asking them. But we really don’t.

Perhaps that is because these organizations are non-profit and ministry organizations. So, we feel that asking that kind of question would be too business-like, mean, or “un-Christian.” And when we do ask questions, they are usually not the right questions. And they certainly aren’t tough questions. They are usually softball questions or questions that don’t really offer any hope of getting to any root causes or issues.

The Unusual Source

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Thought Leadership

Can You Be a Thought Leader?

can-you-be-a-thought-leader

There was not as much backlash as I had anticipated. I was expecting a much stronger reaction from the leadership community where I hang out most of the time. There are many who do not look upon this as being “real” leadership. But, there are many that do.

And all of that prompts a question. “Can you be a thought leader?”

Can You Be a Thought Leader?

The question itself almost indicates that being a thought leader is something that we should seek after. And if it is, can you become one?

Just like some basic leadership skills that can be developed over time, basic thought leadership skills can be developed as well. Having said that, everyone can become a thought leader to some degree.

Thought leadership takes time (it takes a lot of time), it takes knowledge, and it takes a recognized expertise in a particular field or endeavor. Further, it takes a certain level of confidence in your own ability, a commitment to pursue excellence, and a willingness to go against the grain or to challenge the way things have always been done.

One of the challenges that exists today in many organizations is the creation and staffing of “Centers of Excellence.” More often than not these are staffed with young, talented folks who have lots of potential. They may even have advanced degrees that were tucked on immediately to their undergraduate work. Their degrees are impressive. So, let’s make them “thought leaders” and put them in a COE.

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Thought Leadership

Is “Thought Leadership” Really Leadership?

thought-leadership

I am prepared for some potential backlash from my topic today. The article title may indicate a preconceived notion about thought leadership. But, in reality, I have not already made up my mind. So, it is a legitimate question.

“Is thought leadership actually leadership?”

 

What is Thought Leadership?

Wikipedia provides this definition: A thought leader can refer to an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.

However, one man’s definition is another man’s example of useless business jargon. Have you ever played “Buzzword Bingo?” This is a game often played as an ice-breaker in strategic sessions where players are given “bingo cards” with words like “Thought Leader”, “Out of the Box”, “Metrics”, “Takeaways”, and “Paradigm” are placed in a grid and players are instructed to place an “X” over each word as they hear them throughout the event and then shout “Buzzword Bingo” when the get 5 in a row. Therefore, thought leadership, unfortunately may be just another buzzword with no real substance or meaning.

Is this Thought Leadership?

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Building Leaders: A Better Model

If creating more leaders is the main goal, why do we spend so much time creating followers?

building-leaders_

Outside of the moral absolutes that we would all commonly accept, there really aren’t a wholly agreed upon set of absolutes for the many pursuits of our lives. And, although I would reject moral relativism, I do accept a certain continuum when it comes to leadership and leadership development.

What does that mean?

That means that there is an acceptable continuum of leadership skills, goals, and objectives. However, my experiences over the last two Sunday afternoons have reinforced within me the objective of creating more leaders and not just more followers. So, toward that end, let’s look at that a little more, shall we?

The kind of leadership that I want to focus on is the kind of leadership that differentiates itself from just good leadership. The differentiator that separates good leaders from great leaders is one that creates other leaders.

While good leaders excel at motivating their followers to do what they are asked, great leaders motivate followers to develop and become leaders themselves. Good leaders only lead followers. Great leaders lead, create, and develop other leaders.

So, if you want to build an organization that endures, you must realize that having good leaders is not enough. You must build an entire culture of leadership throughout your organization that cultivates an environment where great leaders are empowered to create leaders to go out and replicate and even improve upon the foundation laid for them.

What is a Culture of Leadership?

What does it mean to have a leadership culture in your organization? In an organization that has embraced a culture of leadership, all individuals (and not just those that have the words “VP” or “Chief” on their business cards) are expected to think like and to act like leaders. But, what does a leader “think” like and “act” like?

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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?

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20 Things You Need In A New Leader

Is it time for a change in your organization?

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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.

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Help Others Get What They Want

Is that the best way to get what we want?

Help Others Get What They Want

“Your function in life may not feel like it has anything to do with sales, but when we deal with others it matters to remember that the best way to get the outcome we want is to help others get the outcome they want.”

This was a statement that I made about a photo meme that I posted on Facebook. It sparked a brief dialog with a close friend and one of the driving forces behind LeadershipVoices.com. And it has caused me to share some more thoughts that further develop my original post.  But first, here is the question that prompted my additional thoughts.

The Question

How do I do that when our wants are sometimes at cross-purposes? Or, what if what they want is detrimental to the health of the organization?

The Answers

There are some problems in life we can’t solve.

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Emotionally Adept Leaders

The Case for EI is the Case for EA

Emotionally Adept Leaders

To make a case for one of them is to also make the case for the other. Because to truly grasp Emotional Intelligence (EI) and not put it into practice in every area of life would be to deny by your actions that you really “get it” when it-comes to the topic of EI.

I am in the process of writing a book on the topic of what it means to take Emotional Intelligence beyond just “knowing” and onto the important steps of incorporating that knowledge into our daily lives. In other words, becoming emotionally “adept” and not just full of knowledge that is never applied to how we live our lives. I am terming this, becoming “Emotionally Adept” and it is part of the overall process of becoming an “Emotionally Adept Leader.”

However, before I continue and expand on what it is to be emotionally adept, I should probably set the background for those not familiar with EI or reset the background for those that are familiar.

High-level Summary of EI.

By now, many of you have read the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. So, just what is emotional intelligence? The quick answer is to say that there are four components of emotional intelligence that best define it. The first two are about yourself, while the remaining two are concerning others or those around you.

Self- consciousness (Being aware of one’s own emotions) 

Knowing yourself and being conscious of your emotions is the first component of emotional intelligence. Becoming aware of

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Nice Guys Finish Last

The Lost Art of Calendar Discipline

Nice Guys Finish Last

Maybe nice guys don’t finish “last.” But they often finish “late.” What do I mean when I say that?

One of the most glaring leadership issues that I observe on an all too frequent basis is a lack of calendar disciple. Calendar discipline is the internal discipline to make sure that as much as in me lies, to start a meeting on time and to finish a meeting on time. To be transparent here, this is a personal pet peeve and a Quixotic quest to always be punctual in starting and ending my meetings. I learned many years ago that although you can be too late for a meeting or an event, you cannot usually be too early.

This discipline is especially important when we are scheduled in back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings. As soon as I start or end a meeting late, I begin a chain of events that will have a negative impact on people that are not even aware of it yet. And that chain reaction may cause them to then miss their committed time for their meetings and events that have nothing to do with my meetings and events.

A colleague of mine from many years ago had a little maxim that he quoted about his daily work habits. He said:

“Each day I have two goals. The first is to get to work on time. The second is to go home on time. And just because I fail at the first goal, it does not mean that I need to fail at the second.”

It was meant in humor, but there is a ring of truth to it that we can apply to getting ourselves back on schedule.

Why does this seem to happen?

This thing tends to happen because as leaders we try to be too nice. I realize that this article may seem to be a contradiction to my most recent article. But bear with me.

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