7 Things Great Leaders Do to Be Courageous by Erik Sherman

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In the Harvard Business Review, Julie Irwin, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, examines the dangerous myth of absolute loyalty to a leader. Not only are there many examples of people having been led astray, but such fealty presumes that a leader has all the answers and is the most important aspect of the organization.

As Irwin notes, nothing could be further from the truth. Investing that degree of deference and assumption of omniscience is dangerous and has created such disasters as Enron and the financial meltdown that brought on the Great Recession.

Rampant ego helps create such an unhealthy atmosphere, certainly. But so does fear. People find themselves in an executive position, buy into this ridiculous model of the perfect leader, and then fear that they will fail and be found out. The fear then drives dysfunctional behavior.

When I co-authored The Everything Leadership Book, 2nd Edition, the topic of fear among leaders and followers was something that repeatedly rose up. Not a surprise, if you think about it, because fear is one of the major aspects of emotional life. However, you can lead in a way that minimizes fear and eventually supplants it. Here are seven practices of great leadership that you can adopt to begin changing everything.

Embrace the intelligence of the team

Smart leaders recognize that no one can know everything. Instead, they look for and welcome intelligence in team members. You want a variety of experiences and bodies of knowledge to bring to bear on the organization’s goals. Encourage people to be smart and active in planning and execution.

Give people authority and responsibility

You can’t know everything and you can’t do everything. Micromanagement never makes sense when you can train people and then depend on them. Team members need responsibility to grow and have a good relationship to the organization and they need the authority to undertake the responsibility.

Read the rest here:  http://www.inc.com/erik-sherman/7-things-great-leaders-do-to-be-courageous.html

Follow Up…it makes a difference by Jim Johnson

I attended a meeting this morning where a manager (not one of my direct reports) shared a frustration with a staff member of his.  This employee would often “forget” to get something done – sometimes something fairly important.  This manager asked for suggestions that would help him coach more effectively.  A few suggestions were floated around:  “You need to find out why they forget these things.”  “Maybe they’re not clear on what you want.”  etc.

I had a suggestion but kept quiet in the meeting.  I’m not sure why I did.  I was a guest of this group.  Perhaps I didn’t want to impose my thoughts where they might not have been welcome.  I also could have left it there.

But I didn’t.

I later called the manager.  In fact, we just finished chatting.  I shared some specific ideas he could use today to move this forgetful employee towards improvement.  We already have some great coaching tools and technology he could use today.  We had a very good talk, and he ended our conversation by thanking me for my “insights” into management.

I’ve not interacted with this young man before.  I enjoyed our talk.  I could hear the passion in his voice.  I could sense his wanting this employee to grow beyond this stage of forgetfulness.  I appreciated his desire to help others grow and develop.  I wouldn’t mind having this leader on my team!

I would have missed all of this had I not acted and followed up with him.

This post is simply an encouragement to act on intuition.  As a leader, you have experience to offer others.  Act.  Get involved.  Follow up.  It’s worth it.

 

Act Like You Own It by Jim Johnson

Go, Leader, Grow!

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So you’re a middle manager who runs a department for your company. You’ve got a staff of 7-10 individuals…maybe more. What mindset do you have in regards to your role? Glorified babysitter? Prison warden? Cruise ship activity director?

Try this one: act like you own the place. Yes, I’m talking about ownership. You may not own the company, but act like you own your piece of it. What does this look like?

If you truly owned your space in the company and this department was a reflection on you (hint – it is!), would you be satisfied by what you see?

  • Is the area clean and tidy? Messy work areas can lead to sloppy work getting done. If customers/outside team members come into your area, what does the mess communicate to them? Nothing positive! Clean it up. You own it!
  • Is your staff representing your department in a way…

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What the Leaders of the Past Can Teach Us Today by Ken Sundheim

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In order to get a true feel of what comprises a leader, it’s crucial to analyze those who came before us. Both their cultivated and natural leadership qualities led them to success in various situations. The concrete examples by proven leaders below act as guideposts for our ambitions toward becoming great leaders that attract remarkable people to join our journeys.

While leadership takes work and self-discipline, you’ll quickly realize that transforming yourself is well worth the effort.

1. Learn Continuously

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” ~ Albert Einstein

Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879. Despite his name being synonymous with the word “genius,” Einstein’s academic track record was anything but impressive. His formal education began early at age 6. While he could be described as an above average student, Einstein was quiet and often withdrawn from his peers. At age 11, he left his school, the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich. He became an autodidact, learning from books lent to him by family members.

Still, he was rejected from the Eidgenoessische Polyechnische Schule school in Zurich. It would not be until 1901 when Einstein gained employment at a Bernese patent office did he begin extensive research into theoretical physics.

Regardless of getting a late start and untraditional path, Einstein would go on to develop the general theory of relativity, one of two pillars of modern physics. He would also go on to receive the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics and would be paramount in helping the Allies deliver victory in WWII by encouraging President Franklin D. Roosevelt to begin research into making a nuclear bomb.

Today, a conversation about genius can barely go 5 minutes without the word “Einstein.”

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2. Consistent Resolve

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” ~ Winston Churchill

Often regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders in modern history, Churchill would overcome immense obstacles to eventually lead the British people to victory over Hitler’s Nazi Germany in World War II.

Churchill is best known for his demeanor during the Battle of Britain where Germany’s air force, the Luftwaffe relentlessly attacked British airfields, infrastructure and civilian populations during the summer of 1940. Despite heavy losses and a pending German invasion, Churchill adamantly rejected any notions that the U.K. should negotiate with the Nazi forces. He knew who he was unwilling to work with and who he wanted to work with. Many nations joined the Allies.

During the London Blitz, Churchill instilled confidence amongst the British population by remaining in London during the heaviest bombing campaigns and often regularly visiting areas that were heavily damaged.

When times are tough, resolve goes a long way.

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3. Uncanny Ability to Energize Others

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” ~ Sam Walton, founder of WalMart

Read the rest here:  http://smallbiztrends.com/2014/12/leaders-of-the-past-teach-us.html

10 Actions That Highlight You As A Business Leader by Marty Zwilling

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It’s time to take a hard look in the mirror to see how many of these actions already show in your persona, and which need a bit more of your focus and learning:

1. Ability to communicate clearly where you are going and why. This requires that you first know who you are and what you stand for and have a vision for change. Then you need to be willing to communicate that vision to everyone around you. People won’t follow you if they have no idea where you are headed and why it’s good for them as well.

2. Feels a passion and commitment to the cause behind your business. This conviction is what motivates everyone around you to their best efforts, and keeps them going in hard times as well as good. Building a business is harder than it looks. Seth Godin said that “the average overnight success takes six years,” and he is an optimist.

3. Can demonstrate domain expertise and experience. In any business domain, there is no substitute for skills acquired by personal experience to supplement any academic training and the Internet. You have to lead by example, setting a personal standard for competence for all to follow if you intend to lead your competitors and customers.

4. Constantly strengthening your network of relationships. No entrepreneur can build a business alone. Your network of connections needs to grow with you and your business. That only happens if you take an active role in your community and relevant business associations with like-minded people. Make an honest effort to help others.

5. Willingness to make timely decisions and take action. Remember that a good decision made early will more likely save your business than a better decision made later. In general, any decision is better than no decision. Smart entrepreneurs take reasonable time to consider alternatives, and then move forward, never looking back.

6. Practices self-discipline and calm predictability. People don’t like to follow a leader who is unpredictable, inconsistent and prone to daily changes in direction. Authentic leaders are willing to open up and establish a connection with everyone around them. They build trusting relationships that result in loyalty and commitment from others.

7. Encourages innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. In business, this means fostering a mindset of creativity, risk-taking and continuous improvement. Don’t wait for competitors to force the need for better products, lower prices and better customer service. Reward failures as well as successes if the result is a lesson that advances the company.

8. Allocates adequate resources to overcome constraints. Hoping for good luck and applying pressure is not leadership. Being able and willing to size and allocate the resources to win the small battles will ultimately win the war. This means hiring the right people, providing training and tools, and improving systems to overcome challenges.

9. Incents business growth and people’s well-being. As a role model, you must continuously upgrade your own skills, be alert for new developments and hone your listening ability. It means rewarding team member growth, no punishment for failures and opportunities for success. This applies to suppliers and business partners as well.

10. Always accepts responsibility for business actions and results. Entrepreneur leaders don’t need excuses, like a down economy, bad timing or demonic competitors. Every company and every one of us makes mistakes, which are a normal consequence of tackling new business challenges and unknowns.

The good news is that no one is a born leader — all of these habits and mindsets can be acquired by learning and a determination to improve.

Read the rest here:  http://blog.startupprofessionals.com/2014/12/10-actions-that-highlight-you-as.html?m=1