Is “Inspiration” Enough?

Some leadership thoughts from a funeral service

My family’s schedule was impacted this week by the death of my mother-in-law. You can insert all of the standard mother-in-law jokes here if you want to. But, none of them were true in our case. My wife’s mother was an incredible woman. And I loved her dearly.

It is at times like these that we pause and look at a life well lived. And it is altogether fitting that we do so. Mom led a life that by all measures was well-lived. For a skinny girl with glasses that preferred books to boys, she had an incredible life and an incredible impact on so many.

But, merely reading her obituary does not really give you the true sense of the impact that she had on the lives of her family, her church, and her friends. She was an amazing woman. I was blessed to know her for almost 43 years. She was an inspiration to multiple generations who knew her as “Mom”, Aunt Jo Ann, “Grandmama”, and “Greatmama”, except that title was already taken by another extraordinary woman that is walking the streets of Glory today as well, so she just became Grandmama to a new generation.

Is there a leadership angle here?

This is just an observation on my part. But, it seems that we are willing to be inspired by Jo Ann and folks like her. But, are we willing to be instructed and to do the work in our own lives to have these virtues and values instilled in ourselves?

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Is It Still Worth A Try?

Coming Back from Exile

Is It Still Worth A Try?

Is it still worth a try? I believe that it is still worth it. At least I think so. What is the “it” in this statement? The “it” is the desire to return from exile.

Two weeks ago I looked at the issue of Leadership in Exile. We discussed the fact that many leaders are self-exiled. And that they are such by their own choice based on their own experience or circumstance. And I concluded that article with some example of some leaders who were self-exiled and some examples of what they did during that period of their lives.

Why were you in “exile” in the first place?

It is worth a quick look back at some of the reasons some have been in exile.

  • Exhaustion — You got really tired. Have you gotten some rest?
  • Frustration — You got really frustrated with your situation. Has it changed at all?
  • Lack of Followship — You looked around and no one was following? Have you figured out why that was the case?
  • Lack of Support — You had no support from your leader. Is there new leadership above you? Or have they gotten better as a leader?
  • Viewed as a Threat — You were viewed as a threat to existing leadership or the status quo. Has the situation changed or has your leader gotten more confident in themselves or in your ability to lead without feeling threatened?

Is it time to return from exile?

If we have self-exiled, then we have the power to re-enter the leadership arena, right? The question we constantly ask ourselves serves as the title of this article — “Is it still worth a try?”

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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:

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Anxieties vs. Aspirations

Help me focus on one more than the other!

Anxieties vs. Aspirations

Leaders inspire us as much as they lead us. Really great leaders inspire us by helping us to focus more on our aspirations and less upon our anxieties.

As I look around today and try to make some observations in the midst of an intense political season, one thing is clear. Most candidates (from both parties) are trying to tap into our anxieties much more than they are our trying to tap into our aspirations.

If they are correct, and we are an angry electorate, then we are the root of their methodology and approach. They are simply giving us what we want. We are full of anxiety and that anxiety has lead to frustration, which has led to anger. And they, in turn, are tapping into that deep seeded emotion.

If they are incorrect, and we are an electorate that still aspires to greatness, then they are completely misjudging the tenor and tone of the nation. They are pandering to a minority of voters and they will ultimately be rejected at the ballot box.

What is the leadership lesson in the midst of this political season?

The leadership lesson is this.

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Are You Moving Fast Enough?

Wit and wisdom from Will Rogers

Don't Just Sit There

The great social commentator of the 1920s and 30s, Will Rogers was a man of great insights. Some of his thoughts on the human condition are on one level very humorous. And on another level they are incredibly deep for a guy who dropped out of school in the 10th grade.

But, he is credited with a quote that I am finding to be very descriptive of some of the things that I see around me these days. Will Rogers said:

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

I see so many folks in leadership that are truly on the right track. They are not fundamentally heading in the wrong direction. Actually, many time they are not heading in much of a direction. They seem to feel quite confident and assured that just being on the right track is sufficient. It is not.

Let’s assume for a moment that you have stumbled upon the “right track.” How you got there may be a mystery. But your instincts tell you that you are indeed on the right track.

What’s next? Where do you go from here?

Just sitting there is not a long term solution. Will Rogers tells us that if we just sit there, someone will run over us. But, who is going to run over us? Consider the following potential candidates to run over us:

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Thinkers are Revolutionary Leaders

Revolutionary Thinking - Blog Graphics

Tomorrow is not “The Fourth of July.”  That is a date on a calendar.  It is not the name of the National Holiday that we celebrate tomorrow.  The name of the holiday that we celebrate tomorrow is Independence Day.  It is the day that we celebrate the declaration of our independence from England.

Today I wish to focus on that word – Independence.

Most organizations are looking for people (and leaders) who can think independently and have the necessary leadership qualities to help act upon those thoughts and make their organization successful.

A Leadership Definition

Many people have different definitions for leadership.  Some have boiled it down to just one word – “Influence.”  But in general, leadership is the ability of one person to gain agreement, support, and active participation to accomplish a task or a goal. Perhaps it is at the most basic level an ability to get people to follow you. Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon Bonaparte, Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, and Jesus Christ are all leaders in their own unique ways. Some would not be necessarily considered positive leaders.  Nor would we want to emulate their actions.

  • Julius Caesar ushered in the Roman Empire at the cost of the Roman Republic.
  • Abraham Lincoln held the fledgling United States together after the secession of the southern states and the Civil War.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte used his creative military strategies and personal charisma to create and rule a great empire.
  • Jack Welch took over the reigns at General Electric and during his tenure there, the company’s value rose 4,000%.
  • Steve Jobs used his intelligence and passion for computers to “revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.”
  • Michael Jordan became one of the greatest basketball leaders and players of all time because of his desire to continually improve, work hard, and take over in tough situations late in the game.
  • Joe Montana holds Super Bowl career records for most passes without an interception (122 in 4 games) and he has the all-time highest quarterback rating of 127.8.
  • And then there is Jesus Christ.  And, well, if you don’t get Him being on the list, then nothing I can say will change that.

Leadership Skills

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books on leadership. And there are thousands, or maybe even hundreds of thousands of blogs, just like this one,  dedicated to leadership. Many of these books and blogs identify similar traits, attributes, or skills that comprise a good leader. Here are a few of the most common:

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You can lead a horse . . .

You can lead a horse

You can lead a horse to water . . .

How many times have you heard that statement? It is an old bit of country wisdom. You can bring your horse to the water trough. But, if he ain’t thirsty, then he ain’t drinkin’.

Now, consider an update to that piece of rural wisdom.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. However, you can salt his oats!

In days gone by, our forefathers knew that if a horse has been sick and is weak and in danger of going down, you can put a little salt in his oats and that salt will draw it to the watering trough and make it want to drink. This is a great analogy of one of the skills that we need as leaders from time to time.

From time to time we will have reluctant followers. Their reluctance may be the result of factors beyond our control. Nevertheless, we have to lead them even when they are not exactly in the mood to be led.

What is the leadership lesson here?

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Why I Lead

Green man showing the leadership qualities and red man showing isolated people

I have asked myself the question: “Why do I lead?

And I have come up with the following reasons.

  • I lead in order to help others.
  • I lead that change might come to the people, organizations and cities I interact with.
  • I lead that others might find themselves, discover their purpose, be transformed and become mature, contributing members of society.
  • I lead because there are many negative influences in the lives of people and unfortunately at least some of the masses seem to blindly follow these influences, seemingly ignorant of consequences.
  • I lead because there do exist moral absolutes and principles which lives, organizations, culture and society need to be founded upon, but far too often are forgotten or ignored and someone needs to bravely proclaim these truths in the face of all opposition.
  • I lead because there seems to be a vacuum of healthy and helpful leadership.
  • I lead because common sense seems lacking and I believe that leadership, at least in part, can help to restore some manner of common sense to others
  • I lead that the lives and the future possibilities of those I lead might be improved.
  • I lead in the hopes of setting an example of living and serving that others will want to emulate.
  • I lead because when I see injustice, suffering, people struggling, or people who just need a hand, I simply cannot sit idly by.
  • I lead because there is an epidemic of sub-par and status-quo behavior and I believe that much of this is due to the lack of healthy leadership.
  • I lead because helping others is the right thing to do.

Why do you lead?

Photo credit: hang_in_there / Foter / CC BY

Leadership Inspiration

Leadership Inspiration

I set out preparing this article like many in the past looking for inspiration.  I wanted to think about what actually inspires me and what I do to inspire others.  This got me to really consider that word, Inspiration.

The online dictionary of Merriam-Webster defines inspiration as something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create.  I actually like the second one better, a force or influence that makes someone want to do something.

If your actions inspire others,
To dream more, learn more,
Do more and become more,
You are a Leader.
John Quincy Adams

It seems to me inspiration has two parts, an internal to me and an external to others. 

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Leadercast has a new Silver Sponsor!

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Leadership Voices, LLC is proud to announce
that we will be a Silver Sponsor
at this year’s Leadercast.

Leadership Voices, LLC will be partnering with Centrifuge Leadership, LLC to present the Leadercast simulcast in The Woodlands this year.

The lineup this year is outstanding and you won’t want to miss this exciting and inspirational time.  It will also be a great opportunity to network with other leaders.  Continuing education CEUs are available.  And your ticket price includes a great Chick-fil-a breakfast and lunch.

And there is one more thing.  If you use the Promo Code VOICES15 when you register, you will receive a special discount.  But you have to use that promo code.  Click this link below and register while there is still special Early Bird pricing available.  Use that promo code and get an additional discount off the early bird pricing.  You can use the promo code any time you register.  But you increase your discount if you register soon!

Click HERE to register for Leadercast 2015. 

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 Here is that link one more time.