Lucky Leaders

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by Kevin Eikenberry

Oftentimes people look at others who appear to have gained stature or success and explain their results as “luck.” While leaders are rarely as popular or visible as rock or movie stars, more than once I’ve heard people talk about a leaders as being lucky.

They started at the right company . . . went to the right school . . . met the right people . . . the list goes on.

Here’s my perspective: luck is loser language. Explaining things others achieve as luck is a way to justify why you didn’t succeed. The best definition of luck that I’ve ever seen is an acrostic.

Laboring
Under
Correct
Knowledge

If you simply thought about doing that – laboring under correct knowledge – your success as a leader would soar. It implies that becoming (and being) an effective leader is work. It also reminds us to gain the knowledge (and skills) we need from the right sources – practicing the wrong skills or at the wrong time or in the wrong ways won’t lead to success or “luck.”

But I want to take you a bit further today.

Taking the idea of the acrostic to spell the word, here’s how leaders can get lucky.

Listen
Understand more
Create a team
Know you don’t know it all

Let me explain what I mean, and then challenge you with some questions for your application. Because, you want more luck too, don’t you?

Listen. The best leaders are great listeners. They listen to their teams, their peers and their Customers. They listen to learn. They listen to acknowledge. They listen to show respect and build relationships. They know that one of the best ways to influence others is by listening first.

– How effective are you as a listening leader?
– Is your first response to talk, or listen?

Understand more. Leaders realize they have to see the world differently and proactively seek a new viewpoint on things around them. The best leaders actively work to understand the world around them better. This includes understanding human behavior, the marketplace, their industry, their community and a hundred other things. It is hard work to find ways to build these perspectives and gain this understanding.

– What information inputs do you use?
– Who do you talk to?
– Are they giving you the understanding and perspective you need to see the bigger picture for your organization, team and yourself?

Create a team. There may be a rebel without a cause, but there is no leader without a team. No one can do it all themselves, and the best leaders know that. The leaders that you see making a big difference are doing it with a team they have selected, created and nurtured. The best leaders know that their team is the best possible leverage they could have – and that with their team excelling much more can be achieved.

– How much time are you investing in your team?
– What are you doing to help your team succeed?
– Does your time and effort invested correlate with your belief in the value of these activities?

Know you don’t know it all. The best leaders are healthily humble – they know what they don’t know, aren’t ashamed of it, and are ready to learn. The best leaders are constantly learning because they know that successful leading isn’t a destination – you never arrive. This learning mindset not only helps the leader personally, it sends the right message and sets the right example for those they lead.

– Would people call you humble? If not, why not?
– What skills are you intentionally trying to learn now?
– Are you clear on your weaknesses?

Becoming a highly effective leader doesn’t require the “Luck of the Irish” or “counting your lucky stars”. Becoming an effective leader is available to you if you are willing to do the work necessary. Call it “making your luck” if you wish, but I’d rather call it making a bigger difference in the world – which is what Remarkable Leaders do.

It’s your lucky day! Would you like $916.25 of leadership development resources as my gift to you? If so, learn more here: http://asp.remarkable-leadership.com/campaigns/rl-bronze-launch/index.asp

photo credit: billaday via photopin cc

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Free Resource for Stronger Teams

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A Free Resource for You

If you’ve read The Secret of Teams, then you know the basic steps that Debbie Brewster and her team learned that would help them go from good to high performance. Now what?

Or perhaps you haven’t read the book but you are looking for help in building a high performance team.

Mark Miller’s Secret of Teams Field Guide and Workbook is designed to give you step by step instruction and practical applications so you can begin to develop and excel in the three elements of high performing teams: Talent, Skills, and Community. Use this guide alone or use it with a group.

To receive your free copy of this 124 page Field Guide, subscribe now. If you are already a subscriber, you will receive an error message, but we’d love to help you get the download, so email us at info@greatleaderserve.org and we’ll send you a link for the download.

Subscribe Now for Your Free Field Guide Download: http://greatleadersserve.org/secret-of-teams-field-guide/

Find Mark’s book, The Secret of Teams, online at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Secret-Teams-Great-Business/dp/1609940938/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362913597&sr=8-1&keywords=The+secret+of+teams

Employee Engagement: 4 Cs to a Happy and Motivated Team

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By Jason Nazar
June 17, 2011

The most important variable to the success of a startup or small business is the quality/performance of your team. It’s often also the biggest challenge. Keeping your team happy and engaged not only makes for the best business, but also ensures you’re all enjoying the journey. Here are my 4 C’s of Employee Engagement.

COMMUNICATE ….. CULTURE ….. COMPENSATE ….. CULTIVATE

Communicate (Expectations) We all want to be great at what we do. To feel this way, we have to know what success means: how do we know when we’ve done a great job? It’s the responsibilities of the employer to make sure your team clearly knows and believes in the goals and results for which they are responsible. We need to take time as managers to precisely communicate our expectations for success and make sure the results we’re striving for are aggressive, attainable and meaningful for the business. On the other hand, we also need to give our team the opportunity to communicate their needs to us. What motivates them, what work environment is engaging, what do they specifically need to be successful. You may not always be in a position to deliver on each of these expectations, but by taking the time to really listen and make your best efforts to meet their needs, you’ll always be ahead of the game.

It’s also vital how you communicate. As a business leader, it’s important that you never lose your cool or publicly demean any of your employees. Even if a team member is justified in being reprimanded, critical feedback should be delivered in private, while praise should be made public as often as possible. It’s easy to forget that we’re all motivated by so much more than security and monetary rewards. We seek both the approval of people we respect as well as their insights on how we can improve and better ourselves. Over communicate with your team, and you’ll reap long lasting rewards that will far outweigh the initial investment of time and patience.

Culture (of Success) Every company has its own de facto culture, the real question is that the culture you want to have? Have you built a culture of success where your team feels engaged and motivated? A culture of success is fostered in a variety of ways. First, we always get the job done. Secondly, we always help each other. Third, we take responsibility for making things better. Fourth, we over communicate internally and externally. Forth, we celebrate successes. This list can go on and on. What’s most important is that you’re company’s culture is a conscious choice and that everyone in the company describes that culture in the same positive light. For more of my thoughts on the subject you can read the post: “10 Lessons Startups Can Learn From Superheros” and check out Tony Hsieh’s book “Delivering Happiness” (CEO of Zappos and guru of building great company cultures).

Compensate (Generously) You should have high expectations for your team, and you should reward your employees when they meet or exceed those high expectations. Your team needs to know that the better they preform the more rewards they can reap. Most of us are motivated by financial success, and by tying financial rewards to results, you’ll help continuously keep your employees focused on achieving results. As owners and operators of a small business, we often struggle with cash flow and want to be judicious about how and where we spend money. But, investing in people, most specifically your core team is just that, an investment. Everyone (including those of us at the top) should earn their way to financial rewards, but if you hire motivated & talented employees, then make sure after you communicate goals and build a culture of success, to compensate your team generously for a job well done.

Cultivate (Growth) Ultimately, the most meaningful rewards are the ones we can’t quantify in a dollar amount. We all strive to be better professionals and want to be engaged, motivated, and happy at work each day. It’s our responsibility to help mentor and grow the individuals that work for us, and help them cultivate their professional skills and persona. One of the most important aspects to being engaged and motivated is having the opportunity to cultivate new skills and grow as a professional. You can help cultivate your employees by both providing them the tools and resources they need to accomplish meaningful results, but also by empowering them to take responsibility and get credit for solving difficult challenges.

Jason Nazar, is the co-founder and CEO of Docstoc. He’s a frequent author and speaker on small businesses topics. You can read more of his posts here on Docstoc and at his blog Jasonnazar.com and can follow him on Twitter via @jasonnazar

5 Dementors of Collaboration

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By Mark Miller @LeadersServe

In the Harry Potter series, Dementors roamed the earth attempting to suck the soul out of unsuspecting victims. In our world, there are equally insidious forces at play that seek to suck the life from our organizations. Left unguarded, one of the victims will be collaboration.

Collaboration is not a new idea. However, as we’ve consciously tried to get better at collaboration at Chick-fil-A, the more I’ve realized – it is not the norm. Also, upon serious reflection, I’ve realized I’ve often been guilty of stifling collaboration even while singing its praises and championing its cause.

What do leaders do to unwittingly kill collaboration?

Fail to see the big picture – Many things in an organization are connected. If we don’t pull up to a sufficient altitude, we can miss the obvious. Once we see the overarching themes, patterns and interconnectivity, we’ll be more willing to seek out others and their ideas.

Not allowing enough time to collaborate – The truth about collaboration is it requires time. If I don’t allow enough time in a project plan to meet with others, to discuss options and think creatively, it won’t usually happen. What I’ve discovered over the years is the additional time is almost always worth the investment. Collaboration adds HUGE value.

Work in your functional silo – Another manifestation of the two previous conditions is a natural tendency to work in our own area. Let’s face it; people in other functions and disciplines are different. They take us out of our comfort zone. Therefore, there is a gravitational pull toward your own area. We’ve got to fight this if we truly value collaboration.

Assume you know it all – As much as we don’t want to admit it, sometimes we don’t collaborate because we don’t think we need to. Arrogance and hubris are deadly – they kill more than collaboration – they ultimately kill organizations.

Keep your ideas to yourself – In many organizations, competition has run amuck. In these instances, it is literally survival of the fittest and every man for himself. Clearly, competition is not bad, but left unchecked, it can be deadly. Not only will you squelch collaboration, trust will not take root in this type environment.

So what do you do with this? I have three suggestions…

Decide what you believe about collaboration. Is it a nice idea, good to have if possible, or do you see it as one of the keys to taking your organization to the next level? Is it integral to your competitive advantage and ultimate success or just a time-consuming feel good strategy? Your beliefs drive your behavior.

Do a collaboration audit. This doesn’t have to be formal or fancy. You don’t even need to hire a consultant. You can begin by looking for the signs mentioned above. Are you killing collaboration? Do you see collaboration on a regular basis or not? Talk to the people in your organization. Do they see collaboration as essential or extra-curricular?

Respond based on what you find. If you see like what you see, affirm it – if you don’t, change it.

You are the leader.