Are we really thinking? Are we doing any real deep thinking?
I too often find myself “too busy” to think deeply or I am too easily distracted. As someone on the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation, I am pre-Internet and have always enjoyed reading and reading deeply and then reflecting on that reading. I have now found that my heavy use of the internet and the use of social media has shortened my attention span. I am actively working to change that corrosive habit.
It makes me wonder how often we, as leaders, are making decisions based on habit, emotional reactions to whatever is the fad on social media, and without really thinking and reflecting on our thinking.
We are so busy doing that we seldom stop to think about the why behind our doing.
So, pause a bit and think and reflect. You will be better because of it.
He always had a smile playing around the corners of his mouth ready to burst into that full fledged humorous smile that made others around him smile in spite of themselves. He had a sparkle in his eyes and a jaunty spring to his step. He had a gift for seeing the humor in almost any situation and was quick to point it out.
He always had a kind word for people; always encouraging others and he seemed to know when you needed it the most. He was the kind of person that caused you to become better just by being around him.
He was optimistic about the future and was always “planting trees” for the next generation. He didn’t look back, but was always looking expectantly towards the horizon.
When I was first privileged to meet him, he was already well into his 70’s and had retired from his vocational job many years before. In his 70’s he was a “younger” and more optimistic person than most 20-year olds. He had endured much and walked with a limp due to a German machine-gun bullet that had gone through both of his legs.
We both sat on the governing body of a nonprofit as volunteers and had no formal authority as individuals. Many times our meetings got quite lively if you know what I mean. Yet when that gentle man quietly started to speak, all the noise, all the fuss stopped as everyone waited to hear what he had to say. Just a few quiet words of wisdom from that man changed the direction of many meetings – in a good way.
He was a man of integrity, a man of honor, a man of wisdom, who cared for people, who cared for the truth, was passionate about the mission, and was ever looking forward. He was a leader because of who he was, not because of any title.
I miss Mr. Al and I want to be like him when “I grow up”.
“More is written about leadership than ever, but we have fewer real leaders.” I have heard this, or something similar, many times and I have often said it myself. We have seen failure after failure of high profile business, political, and other types of leaders in the news—both local and national. It gets downright depressing at times.
One thing that I have noticed is that many leadership failures come from what I refer to as “celebrity leaders.” Celebrity leaders have achieved fame as “leaders” through media infatuation, self-promotion, or because their company is unusually financially successful. Often when you dig a bit into these “great leaders” you find failed marriages, estranged children, toxic work environments, a “win at any cost” mentality that discounts the worth and dignity of people, and a litany of other things that I personally would not count as successes.
However, I have come to realize that I was looking in the wrong places for examples of good leadership. The best examples of leadership have been all around me—past and present. I remember my football coach who took a bunch of poor to mediocre athletes at a small school and turned them into a formidable team. I remember U.S. Army officers who quietly went about their business of leading well, though they did not fit the Hollywood version of military leaders. I know a couple in the Midwest who serve as community leaders working behind the scenes to help some of the poorest of the poor in a neighboring city. I remember an extraordinary woman at Texas Instruments (incidentally, she was from Mississippi) who tried not only to develop her team members but also to help them advance in the company—it was a delight being on her team.
Currently, I am working with a company whose leaders range in age from late 20s to mid-40s. They are quietly building a good business by taking care of their employees as if they were family members. They have had employees turn down offers for more money at other companies to stay because of the culture—because of the leadership.
I have worked at a company where the culture was so positive that executives took major pay cuts just to come and work in that environment. In towns and communities across this land, there are wonderful leaders making a real difference. You don’t see them on TV or on websites because these people are not concerned with fame or notoriety and they certainly don’t fit the Hollywood mold of leadership (thankfully!). You don’t see them being quoted on social media or posts about their “Top10 Secrets of Leadership” because they are unconcerned about social media and too busy getting something done to worry about the artificial worlds of Twitter, Facebook, or the like.
Discouraged about what you see in the media/social media about leadership? Then just stop for a bit and look around you and see the wonderful examples of everyday people performing acts of extraordinary leadership. You will be encouraged.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20 (ESV)
Choose wisely the people you spend time with as they shape you whether you are aware of that happening or not.
If you choose well, these people will help you become a better person. If you choose only people that don’t challenge you to be better, that don’t challenge you to set higher standards, that don’t speak truth to you – you will become something less and you definitely will not grow as a person.
Choose wise people that will speak truth to you so that you can grow and become even better.
Tomorrow, July 4th, we have the privilege of celebrating Independence Day.
Tomorrow, we are to celebrate and we are to remember that what we celebrate was purchased with great sacrifice. Our freedom is something we should never take for granted and we must be ever vigilant or it will gradually slip away.
Our family has been blessed to have had the honor of being a small part of earning and protecting that freedom beginning with a young lieutenant in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary war.
What does “humility in the workplace” mean? Why is it important?
For many, the word humility has many connotations. Some are very positive and some not so positive. It seems some people equate humility to weakness and being a “doormat”. I beg to differ from that view of humility. In true humility, there is great strength.
Regarding humility in the workplace, for me it means – An objective understanding, an awareness, of the strengths a person brings to an organization as well as an objective understanding, an awareness, of their gaps – their weaknesses or gaps in knowledge – thus an understanding of their need for others to be effective.
A proper understanding of humility results in an understanding of people’s need for others to be effective in their role in the organization (and life in general). That understanding should result in someone who greatly values collaboration and understands the need to be a good teammate at work.
Humility in the workplace is not weaknesses – it is a strength and wisdom.
Do you want to be more effective – try some humility at work (works at home as well!)
“Being anticipatory can mean many things. In some cases, it’s about identifying opportunities for major disruptions that you yourself can introduce (think Uber, Kickstarter and other ideas that set entire industries on their ear.) But being anticipatory also means being aware of disruption from others that may impact you—and knowing how to prepare accordingly.
Assessments can help increase efficiency in teams, reduce turnover, improve communication, reduce workplace conflict and stress, identify best employees and grow them, and hire people ideally suited to the job — creating job matches that please employers and employees, too.
If you are interested in improving your team through the use assessments, see what we offer through Coachwell, Inc., developed by Target Training International.
Much is written about how to use questions to lead; about how leaders need to be asking the right questions of those they lead.
However, one key aspect of leadership, is answering questions for the people that you are leading. In one of my favorite organizational health books, The Advantage, my favorite organizational health / business author, Patrick Lencioni, lists “Six Critical Questions”. These six questions must be answered by leaders of organizations for their followers if they want to optimize the performance of their organization.
Why do we exist?
How do we behave?
What do we do?
How will we succeed?
What is most important, right now?
Who must do what?
So, how are you answering those questions for your organization?
I enjoy learning and sharing about leadership, so I keep up fairly well with the current literature. Additionally, I have been an adjunct professor at the graduate level for about 14 years often teaching on management / leadership using various texts.
I have seen a bit of a disturbing trend in the literature and online that sends, or implies, the message “Leaders = Good, Managers = Bad.” People are encouraged “don’t be a manager, be a leader!” as if managers are not leaders. That is the wrong message!
The contrast some writers make is actually about being a good boss versus a bad boss. For others, the distinction is that leaders operate at a strategic level while managers work at an operational or tactical level. The implication here is that the strategic is more important than the tactical. However, we all know that unless it is well executed at the tactical level, a strategy is meaningless. Leadership skills are required to transform strategies into action.
Managers are leaders and supervisors are leaders! Without managers and supervisors, we would never get anything done! They are leading the teams that are actually doing the work.
What we really have are:
Strategic Leaders or Managers(Executives)—setting organizational level vision, direction, and strategy.
Operational Leaders or Managers(Directors and Senior Managers)—coordinating the work of multiple tactical level teams in order to execute the strategy set by the strategic leaders.
Tactical Leaders or Managers(Managers and Supervisors)—leading the teams of people actually doing the work of the organization.
So, please do not use the term “manager” as if it is somehow less than the term “leader.” Being a manager is an honorable role and it is a leadership role.