Be Succinct

Veni, vidi, vici


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

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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?

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Be Genuine

Leadership Basics

Be Genuine

One of the buzzwords bandied about these days is “genuine.”  You will also see that used almost synonymously with the words “authentic” and “real.” But what does that mean?

Almost every definition indicates that to be genuine, authentic, or real is to be the same on the inside as you are on the outside when it used to describe a leader. It may be defined well by stating what it is not — It is not FAKE.

It is also not an excuse to be a jerk! Many times I have seen it used as nothing more than an excuse for one’s own bad behaviors or to excuse poor interpersonal skills. I have seen it used as an excuse to let a baser set of reactions govern our lives and coarser language dominate our speech when we need to be striving to elevate our behaviors and our words.

What does it look like to be genuine?

Consider with me for a moment 5 things that will help us recognize a leader who is genuine.

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Be Accountable

Leadership Basics

Be Accountable

What do you do when something goes bad? Where are you when there is a failure or when a major deadline or deliverable is missed? Real leaders that folks want to follow understand that the “buck” really does stop with them.

Failure is inevitable. And failure does not have to be fatal to your leadership or your career. I recall working for a CIO many years ago. His mantra was; “If you aren’t failing, then you aren’t attempting big things.” Now, he wanted us to be calculating in our risks. But he wanted us to be taking risks. So often the greatest rewards come from the greatest risks. But you must still be accountable.

One of my greatest failures came from managing a project to restack most of the floors in a high-rise tower. We were reorganizing to increase our efficiency and foster greater collaboration among the business units. One of the major phases of the project was creating a call center on one of the floors. All of the construction work was done and the call center furniture was in place. All that was left was for my team to re-install all of the IT and communications equipment over the weekend. We finished about 2AM on the Monday morning that the call center was to “go live.” And we all went home for a few precious hours of sleep before coming back to work later in the morning.

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Be Polite and Be Approachable

Leadership Basics

Be Polite Be Approachable

Welcome to the second in a series of Leadership Basics that we all should reflect on now and again and that we should make sure are a part of our every day repertoire.

Be Polite

“It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.” Those words have been quoted by many and attributed to many. The one attribution that I am most fond of is the late great football coach — Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Coach Bryant is legendary. For the folks in some parts of Alabama, his stature is almost god-like. And for folks here in Texas, he is legendary as the coach who took Texas A&M from a 1-9 record his first year to winning the Southwest Conference Championship 2 years later.

He tells a story about one of his first recruiting trips after he became the head football coach at Alabama. I will not recount it here. But the short version of it is that he ultimately recruited a very talented young football player years later because of the kindness that he showed the boy’s grandfather on his first trip to that part of Alabama by stopping at his humble cinder block restaurant and fulfilling his promise to send the old man an autographed photo to hang on the wall of the restaurant.

Consider this quote as well before I move on to my next Leadership Basic:

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Be There and Be Punctual

Leadership Basics

Be There Be Punctual

Today marks the first in a series that I am calling “Leadership Basics.” These will be short and quick tidbits that will help focus on some of the things that I believe are fundamental and basic to being a great leader.

Be there

This one is so obvious and simple. Be there. You could also say be present. and you could say be visible. But, whatever you do, be there. Leadership is not a remote control activity. As leaders, we must be present and we must be visibly on the scene whenever anything big is going down.

Too often we like to show up for the big event if it is going to be fun and celebratory. That doesn’t take leadership and guts. How about showing up when the activity is going to be tense and potentially contentious? Are you there? Or are you conspicuously absent?

Be punctual

I do not know anyone who doesn’t possess a cell phone or smart phone. These devices have had clocks, watches, and alarm functions almost since the very first ones came on the market and were mounted in your car! There is really no excuse for being late. Period. Full stop.

Will it happen from time to time? Of course. You can’t always plan for every potential delay that you will face as your move about. But, better to leave early and arrive early than to leave without enough contingent time built into your schedule to account for the occasional traffic accident or blinking traffic light.

Why does this matter?

I am currently blessed with an incredible mentor. He is teaching me

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