Category Archives: Personal Development

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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Lead By Thoughts, Not Feelings

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One of the most tremendous truths about being human is how our thoughts, feelings, and desires interconnect.

Through our internal connectedness of mind, body, and soul, we can harness greatness within ourselves and develop each aspect to become stronger and more in tune with the other aspects.

Yet our humanness comes with a flaw, in that we can get our feelings out of proportion to rational thinking. When that occurs, we are governed by only one part of us which, if not checked and balanced with the rest of our being, can lead us and others astray.

Feelings are great for motivation, inspiration, and drive. But many people that live solely off of motivational seminars find themselves flat when they try to be in touch with their feelings much to the exclusion of their thoughts.

This can also be true of those who spend time in fear or worry and let those emotions override their actions. Too many times leaders are led by their feelings, and not their minds.

That is where leaders need to consciously and consistently track their thoughts, and not just their feelings.

REAL LIFE SCENARIOS BASED ON LEADING BY FEELINGS

  • A senior executive afraid of unfounded circumstances that calls meetings to solve problems that don’t exist
  • A new department manager who is agitated that things are done a differing way than what they’ve done in other companies
  • A shift supervisor who is worried that certain company actions mean they will be laid off
  • An employee who doubts the sincerity of leadership even though there is open and clear communication

In each of the scenarios, the following feeling-statements took over rational thinking…

  • “I feel…”
  • “We’re afraid…”
  • “We suspect…”
  • “I can’t believe…”
  • “You don’t see…”

These feelings, without being run through the proper process of thought and facts, can cause wrong actions, disengagement, and toxic culture to manifest. What is needed to happen with each feeling is to manage the feeling-statements through thinking-statements such as the following…

  • “This shows…”
  • “We know that…”
  • “The studies reveal…”
  • “Our culture supports…”
  • “The reality is…”
  • “I have found…”

When you or a colleague start to descend into making decisions driven by irrational feelings, it’s best to practice this two-prong approach as a standard action:

STOP & THINK

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By stopping how we feel long enough to think through our emotions and process the facts at hand, one can find a balance between gut feelings, emotions, sound process, and being rational. We can bring our feelings into their proper place, and then use the right feelings to propel our plan of action.

As leaders, we should be in touch with our feelings – and those of our people –  but be governed by sound thinking on what we always know to be right. When our emotions take us away from what we know to be true and correct, we fail to utilize our entire selves in our influence.

Fear has its place when it spurs us away from complacency. Excitement is right when it opens the doors to goals and innovation. Our feelings have their place when they intertwine with right thinking to create a stronger rope which we can give our teams to help us pull together.

Be led by right thinking. Infuse people with the right feelings. Help you and your teams stop and think throughout their day.

(images: dynamikhgynaika.gr, anaman.net)

(this post originally appeared in Lead Change Group)

 

How To Make Change After The Conference

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We’ve all seen and been a part of this: We come back from a workshop, conference, strategic planning session or other great event, excited to make these great changes. Great new ideas, lots of energy, and a broader vision has been instilled and you’re ready to effect change.

Fast forward just a few months later; the company has not been effected by those game-changing ideas, and any semblance of the workshop or conference’s impact is gone.

The same can be said for many of the books written, mastermind session hosted, or webinars attended. All loaded with great wisdom and sure to move the needle, these mediums for change seldom move the needle in an organization.

So much money is spent on conferences, travel, bookings, leadership and strategic development sessions and outside consultants only to see it get wasted because nothing lasting ever came out of those promising sessions. While, yes, some of what is put out there is fluff with no real depth, there is much more great content and resources out there that has true potential to make a difference if the right variables were in play.

So, what happened, and how can lasting impact be made?

First let’s look at some of the reasons why change did not occur:

  • Action plans were not made – many people fail to plan for what to do after. They just board the plane home and forget what they learned as they focus on what awaits for them back at work
  • Upper management saw the conference as an attitude adjustment for the employee – a lot of times managers send staff to events as a way to train or change the employee, without wanting to change themselves
  • The workshop was just for show – some companies have been know to be part of these events just by attending but fail to show they align with these initiatives
  • The attendees has a poor attitude about attending – a lot of individuals look at these events as drudgery, or as a mini-vacation from work, without any plan to improve or learn
  • Leadership is not aligned with any changes from such events – upper management never intended to change anything they do and would just rather stay their course of action
  • The one or few people who attend aren’t allowed much influence in subsequent changes – they come back with great ideas and are marginalized or squelched by their boss when they arrive and not allowed to implement any changes
  • Leadership minimized and wrote off what any impact would be – by sticking to their narrow vision and not seeing what new ideas or trends are out there, these types of leaders truncate any major impact these conferences or sessions can make for their company and customers

So if you want to get the best return for you investment form any book, webinar, conference, or workshop, here are the best ways to effect lasting change:

  • Get as many people attending as possible – does this cost more? Yes. But getting more people on board increases alignment, builds broader collaboration and generates more buzz and follow through to make a major impact
  • Have a team action plan session – have the people who attend make an action plan on what was learned no less than a week form the end of the event. if possible, make it within 48 hours while the ideas and energy are still fresh
  • Set goals and determine that the company will benefit from these ideas – make a hard goal plan that the organization will see these changes through towards improving operations, customer service, sales, etc. A goal will ensure the company adopts these changes and doesn’t forsake them
  • Set incremental milestones to make sure actions steps are on track – refer to the conference material after 30, 60, 90 days to ensure the momentum stays on track.  Nothing derails planned change like time; keep refreshing the ideas and energy at no more than 30 day periods.
  • Take the key points and find the best application for them in our business culture and model – it’s easy to tell yourself that some, or many, ideas won’t apply to your business. The best companies find a way to make these work for them and leverage a differentiation from them
  • Go with an attitude of learning and professionalism – many people who attend these events take them as a big bash and spend far too much time at the bar and instead of finding ways to improve themselves and their company

At the end of it all, it’s up to you as a leader to adopt ideas into lasting change. Don’t waste your time and money, and that of your employees, or the speaker’s time, by just attending and doing nothing to improve your company or your customer’s experience.

(image: wikimedia commons)

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