Category Archives: Leadership Strategies

Great Leaders Learn From Anywhere

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As people we need a myriad of things in which to live and grow:

  • Air
  • Food
  • Oxygen
  • Sunlight
  • Proper Temperature

And within these items we have multiple needs within them. Take foods for example, we need a balance of food to get the correct nutrients in our bodies to facilitate growth and health.

In our quest to grow as leaders, we often look to grow from a variety of sources: books, podcasts, networking, seminars … the list goes on.

Now think of the things you use to grow as a leader. How many of those resources that you consume are made from the things that you like?

Now consider the things that you don’t like, and ask yourself this:

Can you, or will you, seek them to learn from those you don’t think you can teach you anything?

Take for instance the teen that doesn’t like broccoli or avocado or fish. They are missing some vital nutrients that are still beneficial. Even if they don’t like it, they can still benefit from it.

So if we apply this to our leadership development, we can virtually always benefit on those things we don’t like, or don’t think are good for us. We just need to be willing to try, willing to see, willing to hear.

The story goes of how Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart and his team toured some of their competitor’s stores. These stores were poor in their merchandising, assortment, and their execution. The team tried to get Walton to leave, saying that there was nothing they could learn from. Walton then spotted something and stopped to point it out to his colleagues. Excited, he exclaimed “Hey, why aren’t we doing that?!” and just then, what looked like a waste of time became a key component of the burgeoning company’s retail execution.

I often read books from people whose philosophy on leadership (and life) are not in line with my core values. Sometimes I’ll plug into a podcast from someone who is prideful and coarse but know that I’m going to receive a gem of wisdom from them.

My most profound leadership lesson learned was from a teenager whom was shortly fired for theft when I was a young manager. While his job performance would normally lend one to believe that one could never learn anything from him, his profound statement by his father has stayed with me for many years, still to this day.

Learn from whatever sources you can but keep this vital thought in mind at all times:

Don’t discount the information just because the sources is not what you agree or are comfortable with.

That goes not only for the author, speaker, or presenter, but also the format, the background, and the belief system or core values that generates those ideas.

With an open mind to be able to listen and learn something positive from anyone – even those in direct opposition or viewpoint to you – you can gain an advantage of learning and growing that you otherwise might have shut out due to our preconceived notions.

Keep your eyes, ears, mind and heart open and keep learning and growing.

(image: pixaby)

 

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How Urgency Is The Enemy Of Success

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In our fast, uber-breakneck world it is essential that we make decisions on the fly and be able to not only keep pace but if at all possible be ahead of the pace around us.

This speed in which we work to keep up with comes with the delicate balance of qualifying what is urgent and what is not.

An urgency by definition are the quality or state of immediate action. These need to be:

  • VerifiedĀ 
  • Led by facts and not feelings
  • Driven by the organization and not external forces

An urgent matter that is not properly verified and led by the perception of an immediate action can result in these negative impacts:

  • Rush to act without qualifying
  • Wasted time when it’s importance is revealed to be less
  • Bumping truly important matters that yield more impactful, sometimes even immediate, results
  • Additional stress to the organization
  • Diminished trust in processes or people

If led by an external forces, such as customer demands or market forces, the organization can in effect:

  • Give leverage to customers by setting precedents they cannot maintain in the future
  • Take the company off its foundations by reacting to the market instead of shaping it
  • Forgetting the core values for the sake of the urgency
  • Giving more resources to areas that are not mission critical

Urgent matters do arise and need to be attended to regularly. The task leaders have before them is to take the needed time to verify how truly urgent an issue is and if they need to allocate any resources as necessary. When an unqualified urgency arises and leaders make the team go all-in for nothing, credibility or the leaders, the process, and the organization will always come into question.

Taking this time will make you a much more astute business leader and more effective in steering your organization down the right road to success.

(image: pixaby)

Why You Need To Break Your Chain Of Command

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Organizations that operate using a “chain of command” hierarchy are quickly becoming an outdated management model.

A chain of command model takes it’s roots from the military chain of command. It’s theĀ order in which authority and power in an organization is wielded and delegated from top management to every employee at every level of the organization. Instructions flow downward along the chain of command and accountability flows upward.
Proponents of this method feel that the more clear cut the chain of command, the more effective the decision making process and greater the efficiency. Military forces are an example of straight chain of command that extends in unbroken line from the top brass to ranks.

This model of leadership became very prevalent in the mid-20th century but ceases (outside of the military) to have any relevance in today’s organizations, especially those that are looking to have more employee engagement and voice into the overall performance of the company at large.

Where the shortcomings of “chain of command” leadership often happens can be seen in the following simplified example (to which I have seen repeated far too often):

  • Employee voices concern to manager based on objective criteria
  • Manager makes decision but discounts the validity of employee’s input
  • Employee decides to express concern to the manager’s boss
  • Manager’s boss says employee needs to follow the “chain of command” and talk to manager

The resulting interactions result in an employee caught in a no-win situation. They walk away feeling disregarded, less valued, and that they cannot voice their concerns if they are not agreed with by their direct boss. As issues continue to come up, and especially with more serious issues, the employee loses more faith in their leadership and will disengage more and more. And any attempt by the employee to circumvent the chain to find a voice for their concerns gets thrown back in the employee’s face for not following the hierarchy.

Where “chain of command” succeeds is enabling poor leadership to manifest, not be bothered by what they don’t feel is important, and keeping leaders at the higher levels less and less accountable for how they engage or value their people.

Where it fails is on all other levels. Leadership accountability, collaborative efforts, shared vision, voice, and values are often minimized or cast aside in favor of the hierarchical “chain”.

This type of leadership also succeeds in defending itself because if it doesn’t fit into the “chain” it will not be recognized.

The most successful and people-oriented engagement models in any organization are those that foster open input from all sources, give avenues for ideas and innovation as well as concerns, and keep upper levels of leadership accountable both from above and below.

Chain of command is a weak leadership mode. Take the time to break it.

(Chain of command definition http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/chain-of-command.html)

(image: wikimediacommons)

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