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Great Leadership Opinions and information on leadership and leadership development by Dan McCarthy

  • Find Your Sweet Spot
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on February 21, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:An architect had earned her degree, gained her license, and joined the AIA. She found a well-paying job and even became successful. But she didn’t love it; she didn’t feel she was serving others as well as she could.A successful salesperson and sales team leader had a twenty-year, well-paid career, but she didn’t love her work. She couldn’t tolerate going through the motions anymore. With so many years and so much invested intheir careers, what could they do? The stories don’t end there. For the architect, after fifteen years in the field, she quit. She went back to school to study to be a registered nurse. She earned her nursing degree and has found a great job. She loves what she’s doing. She feels she’s serving people beautifully. She’s found her sweet spot.The salesperson applied at veterinary school. She was accepted and quit her sales job. She headed off to school this month. She’s so excited she can hardly stand it. She can’t wait to finish her doctoral program and serve animals (and their owners) in a veterinary hospital.You may not be in a position to quit your job and go back to school for your “perfect,” inspiring job. But you may have a good idea of activities that could be a source of inspiration for you.Are you doing what you’re great at? And what you love to do? Are you paid a living wage to do it?Perhaps even more important to your sense of personal satisfaction and purpose– are you servingothers well while you’re doing it?I believe that’s the ultimate sweet spot for each of us. Yet sometimes we settle for less than all four of those important elements.When we settle, we may limit our own joy – and limit our ability to contribute to our company, family, and community.If we find a career doing something we’re good at and are paid fairly for, but aren’t doing what we love and aren’t serving others well, we’re not going to be happy in the long run. Nor are we likely able to be our best self in every moment.If we find outlets – volunteering in your community, for example – that let us engage in activities we’re good at, love to do, and serve others well but get little compensation for, that’s a good thing! Activities like these may be a small portion of our week or month (several hours, maybe), but they feed our soul. We’re grateful for these inspiring hours.What, though, if these inspiring, engaging activities don’t offset the many more hours you spend in an unfulfilling career? What then?We can choose a different play, a different stage, and a different role – one that does fulfill us daily.The path won’t be easy. But it may be worth the time, energy, and risks to find that inspiring sweet spot.If your job isn’t in your sweet spot, engage in activities that nourish your soul and serve others well. Pay it forward – those you serve will be inspired by your actions.What job or activities fall into your unique sweet spot? In what ways do you nourish your soul and serve others? S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here.&nbs […]

  • Fond Memories: 3 Ways to Be Remembered as a Leader
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on February 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Guest post from Chris Dyer:Setting the tone for those with whom you work is a must for executives in the here and now. You establish yourself as the organizational authority. You suggest what type of behavior is acceptable. And you demonstrate the work ethic that will push your company to reach its goals. But on a personal level, the tone you set as leader will, in the end, determine your legacy. What will that be, and how can you influence it?You could build your legacy on the fly, showing through day-to-day decisions and actions how you guided your working team. Or you can give the matter some thought and attempt to live up to your own vision for your tenure at the helm. This approach will let you address all the nuances involved in the employee-boss relationship—the things that add color to the technical side of your job description.Your impact as leader spills over into the daily lives of your team. Do you handle the interpersonal details as well as you do policy nuts and bolts? Do you balance an insistence on accountability and productivity with your response to the human condition?We all have personal styles that drive our leadership images. Some take the tough-guy or tough-gal road, laying down the law with firm boundaries and serious consequences for crossing them. Other people just want to be liked and choose to lose some control in accommodating individual tastes. Both extremes will likely create as many critics as fans of your overall job as leader.To build a legacy that leaves you well respected by the majority of those with whom you work, take some time to compose your working obituary. How do you want to be remembered? Most of us want to be seen as approachable, objective decision makers who aren’t afraid to pitch in when the going gets rough. Even people who don’t agree with everything a boss does can respect one who is open, fair, and engaged.To your team, your work in these areas is every bit as important as how you manage your company’s brand and market share. Take a few minutes to evaluate where you are now and how you can improve. Here are three ways to help cement your legacy as a great leader.Listen WellEffective communication is vital at every level of company function. So, your role is to both model and promote good listening, the most important half of the equation. First, set yourself and others up for success by removing barriers to meaningful listening, such as•           background noise•           distracting activity•           mental blocksIf you’re running a meeting, for instance, control the environment to reduce or eliminate outside noise. Ban multitasking on phones and laptops. Encourage mental engagement by feeding the brain and body with snacks, humor, or a group activity.When you moderate discussions, help people suspend preconceived notions about what they are about to hear. An open mind is essential to accepting or forming a rational response to new information. Show that you are trying to understand what you heard by repeating a speaker’s words back and asking for confirmation or clarification.Model this openness yourself in one-on-one situations in which you may be predisposed to an outcome, such as an employee asking for a raise. Don’t jump to conclusions. Instead of an immediate response, a partial compromise or a wait-and-see attitude leaves the door open to mutual satisfaction.To be remembered as a good listener, practice in casual encounters in the hallway or elevator. Remarking on something that a person has said before shows that you were listening then and that you remembered a small detail. Don’t hesitate to take notes on your chance exchanges with team members, for future reference.Make Data-Driven Decisions When it comes to employee compensation, promotion, and acknowledgement, no leader wants to be seen as playing favorites, or condoning other decision makers in doing so. Set hard and fast rules on pay, job status, and recognition of good work—and let numbers do the objective work.Form a numerical scale for evaluating performance and job fit. This can be based on key performance indicators that you’ve identified to define success in various company roles. It can take into account the opinions of co-workers in surveys or ratings. You can even tie personality traits to numbers that show how they affect job performance.Putting the entire company on the same scale shows that upper management is fair-minded. Maybe incoming employees all take the same personality test. Maybe you average the number ratings by multiple managers or peers to determine an individual’s progress. However you do it, make your method and scale known to all, so that you can be trusted to use the same criteria for everyone on the team.Level the Playing FieldUsing objective or averaged data is a great way to afford each company employee the same opportunities to do their best and be remunerated for it. Make sure that the word gets out! There’s no reason to keep objective, fair treatment a secret. And demonstrate your commitment to it in every way that you can.Consider letting the rest of the company rank your annual performance, the way college professors ask students to do—and then post the results. Regularly convene virtual or in-person meetings that are open to employees at any level in every department. The more everyone knows, the better they can do their jobs. These are examples of how transparency builds trust and benefits productivity.Finally, take part in activities both in and out of your typical role. Most folks won’t notice your brilliant handling of closed-door meetings, but they will remember the time you showed up at the janitor’s birthday party. While some might rail at learning a new software program, they’ll respect you for sitting down to train with the tech crew alongside everyone else. Want to be remembered as a great leader? Don’t forget you’re part of the team.Chris Dyer is the author of The Power of Company Culture: How any business can build a culture that improves productivity, performance and profits, out now published by Kogan Page, priced $18.00. The Power of Company Culture draws on real-life examples to reveal how organisations including Google, 3M, Zappos, Apple, General Motors and Southwest Airlines have successfully built their outstanding cultures. Based on exclusive in-depth research, The Power of Company Culture outlines the practical steps that world-leading organisations are taking to build and maintain their culture, revealing the ‘seven pillars’ of success. Chris Dyer is the Founder and CEO of PeopleG2, a background check and intelligence firm based in California, USA. He is also the host of TalentTalk on OC Talk Radio and iHeartRadio and speaks at events around the world on company culture, remote workforces and employee engagement. […]

  • The Simplicity—and Power—of Stop, Start, Continue
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on February 14, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Guest post from Rodger Dean Duncan:Whether you’re a leader, follower, partner, or service provider, clarity is always important.Let’s say you’ve delegated a task to someone else. If a deadline will be missed or a key deliverable won’t be ready as expected, you want an honest and timely report. Honest in that it contains all the pertinent information, and timely in that it provides opportunity to shift gears if necessary.If you’re a follower, you need the same kind of clarity. Even if the “how” of the assignment is left to your discretion, you need a specific and mutual understanding of the “what.”In a partnership (and that includes a marriage), it’s always imperative that mutual expectations are honored.And if you’re a service provider—let’s face it, you provide service if you’re a leader, follower, or partner—you’re headed for trouble if you fail to meet agreed-upon expectations.Call it transparency, exactitude, explicitness or any other fancy name you wish. But by whatever label you choose, clarity in expectations will serve you well in any relationship.The key is to communicate early and often.I’ve found that a simple formula can help keep dialogue on a productive path. It’s called “Stop, Start, Continue.” If you report to someone else, don’t wait for your periodic performance review. Initiate a conversation with your leader by briefly confirming that you value feedback and you want to ensure that you’re meeting (and even exceeding) expectations. Explain that you’d like to use the “Stop, Start, Continue” framework to ensure that the conversation is helpful to both of you.Ask your leader if there’s anything you should Stop doing. Make it clear that you’re sincerely open to feedback and you want to catch any missteps early. Listen carefully. Resist the temptation to argue against or rebut any feedback you receive. Demonstrate by your demeanor that you really want to understand and make any necessary course corrections.Next, ask your leader if there’s anything you’re not currently doing that would be helpful to the project or cause you’re serving. Again, listen carefully. Ask follow-up questions if necessary. Focus on understanding, not any kind of rebuttal.Finally, ask your leader what you’re currently doing that you should definitely continue. Seek for specificity. For example, don’t be satisfied if your leader says something like “You’re doing a great job, just keep it up.” Express appreciation for the compliment, then ask for specifics. Is it the presentation you gave at last week’s all-hands meeting? What seemed to be most helpful? Is it the way you handled logistics on last month’s big project? What, specifically, should be repeated? Is it the way you’re collaborating with other departments? The work you’re doing to engage your team members? Get as many specifics as you can so you’ll know for sure exactly what your leader appreciates.If people report to you, teach them to use the “Stop, Start, Continue” framework in their dialogue with you about their work. And remember that it’s a two-way street. If you care about how they view your leadership efforts—and you absolutely should—it’s helpful to have open and honest conversation about what you’re doing that helps or hampers. And remember that the spirit in which you accept feedback provides a model for how you expect others to accept feedback from you.All kinds of relationships can benefit from the “Stop, Start, Continue” framework. In an organizational setting, peers can use the framework to learn how they can better serve each others’ needs. For example, department heads can use the framework in talking about how to avoid the common silo mentality that can be deadly to performance. You can even add one more element: Change. A process may be working to some extent but could benefit from minor changes. Open dialogue can help identify the needed tweaks.When it’s done in the right spirit, “Stop, Start, Continue” underscores mutual respect and collaboration. My wife and I periodically use this conversational framework to discuss our marriage relationship. Does it work? I’m happy to report that I have more than 50 years of positive evidence to justify a resounding “yes.” Rodger Dean Duncanis a sought-after speaker and leadership coach. His clients have included cabinet officers in two White House administrations and senior leaders in dozens of top companies in multiple industries. He’s the award-winning, bestselling author of LeaderSHOP: Workplace, Career, and Life Advice From Today’s Top Thought Leaders. […]

  • The Three Keys to Being a Great Leader
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on February 12, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Guest post by Raymond Houser:Being a great leader means getting people to do things that they didn't think possible. It's as simple as that.Many people confuse leadership style with true leadership. You don't have to be an extroverted, rah-rah motivator to be a great leader. If that’s your style, fine. But some of the greatest leaders have been quiet, introspective persons. Great leaders share several characteristics. First and foremost, they motivate people to do their best. They are also humble: they’re the first to accept the blame when things go wrong, and the first to give credit when things go right.  Great leaders don't talk so much about winning, but about getting the best from the individuals themselves. John Wooden, one of the greatest college basketball coaches in history, never talked about beating the other team. Instead, he inspired his players to exceed their own capabilities. Vince Lombardi was known as a strict disciplinarian, but the reason behind the success of the great Green Bay Packers teams was Lombardi’s ability to get each player to believe in his own abilities and to exceed them. Think about what got you into a leadership position: drive, persistence, vision, goals. If you want to become a better leader, you need to show each of your team members that you care about them as individuals, not just as employees, and the best way to do that is by getting them to articulate their own goals and aspirations. Remember, they’re not there to help you achieve your goals, they’re there to achieve their own goals. This leadership philosophy was summed up by Zig Ziglar, a great motivational leader who I was fortunate enough to have as my Sunday School teacher when I was growing up in Dallas: “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”Fred Smith, another leader who was Ziglar’s mentor, talked about the leader as servant: “Leadership is not a title that grants you license to force others to knuckle under; it’s a skill you perform, a service you render for the whole group.”This gets to the question of rewards. Many companies make the mistake of rewarding their top performers with things like a week’s vacation in Hawaii or a new car. But this assumes that everyone is capable of performing at the same level as the top 2%, which clearly is not the case. Performance is a combination of aptitude and attitude. Not everyone has the aptitude to be a star performer, but everyone is capable of motivating themselves to get to the next level. Shouldn't your reward system recognize efforts by the 98% who are trying to better themselves, and not just the 2% who are already at the top?My early career was as a sales manager for Southwestern Company, which involved recruiting college students to sell educational books door-to-door. (The door-to-door sales model is still in use today, even in the age of Amazon, by the way.) In the door-to-door book selling business, the biggest obstacle to success is the fear of rejection, of literally having doors slammed in your face. I told my team members that nobody enjoys having doors slammed in their face. But the thing to remember is they’re not rejecting you as a person, they’re rejecting you as a salesperson.  Maybe they’re too busy, aren’t interested in what you’re selling, a lot of reasons. They’re not denigrating you as a human being. In other words, it’s your role, not your identity, that’s being rejected. This confusion between role and identity is often carried over from childhood experiences. When a parent criticizes a child with phrases like: ‘How could you be so stupid?’ or “Why can’t you be more like your brother?’ the child will naturally carry these feelings into adulthood, with the result that criticisms will be taken personally even when they’re meant to be constructive. I developed something called the ‘ninety no’ contest. Any student who got ninety noes during their first two weeks received a prize. This turned a negative into a positive: the more doors that were slammed in your face, the closer you were to making a sale. It was simply a question of substituting the emotional fear of rejection with the rational law of averages. I used this approach successfully at Southwestern and subsequently with my own book business, which I eventually sold to Thomas Nelson, the largest producer of Bibles in the United States.To summarize, here are the three keys to becoming a great leader:·         Put the needs of your employees ahead of those of your own.·         Help people to achieve their own goals, not yours or the company’s.·         Reward attitude, while recognizing aptitude.Raymond Houser is the author of THE WINNING ADVANTAGE:  Tap Into Your Richest Resources. He started earning money by selling pecans when he was six years-old.  By the time he was 12, he had a paper route in addition to working in grocery stores and a bowling alley. When his dream of becoming a major league baseball catcher ended, he knew he had to focus on other goals. And that is what he did, challenging himself to overcome shyness and knock on doors until he became the highest-grossing divisional book salesman of his time for the Southwestern Company. After that he started, developed, and eventually sold, his own book company.His career had its ups and downs, including a bankruptcy. Yet, despite setbacks, he never gave up. Starting a new career in his 40s, he was hired at Merrill Lynch where he became a successful money manager who earned accolades—and substantial income for himself and his clients—through trust in himself and innovation. In time, he started, developed, and eventually sold, another company. Today he is a sought-after speaker who offers his experience and perspective on managing a career and, most of all, a life. He divides his time between Dallas and San Diego. For more information please visit, www.thewinningadvantagebook.com. […]

  • Learn Leadership
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on February 7, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Guest post from Leo Bottary:Leadership lessons exist all around us, all the time.  All we have to do is pay attention.  Let me offer two examples – one is about growth and the other involves the power of declaring victory.One of my favorite fictional characters provides a profound lesson in leadership in a wonderful book called The Offsite by Robert H. Thompson.  His name is Sam Arthur, and he is the groundskeeper at Tucson, Arizona’s La Mariposa Resort & Spa – the location of an offsite meeting for two high-powered teams from competing pharmaceutical companies.Consider for a moment that Thompson could have given Sam any job at the hotel – general manager, bellman, concierge, etc.  (Or, the author could have chosen one of the other high-powered executives portrayed in the book to be our teacher, so to speak).  The groundskeeper, however, serves as the perfect metaphor for servant leadership. Sam sees to it that the soil is healthy. He makes sure the plants get enough water and sun, and that their environment is free from weeds and pests.  The plants are given everything they need to succeed on their own. Sam knows that if he creates the right conditions for growth, his gardens will flourish.One would hardly imagine Sam screaming at the flowers to grow faster or fuller.  Sam’s approach to nurturing his garden is what great leaders do to build successful enterprises.  They create conditions for people to flourish!  Maybe more importantly, Sam reminds the executives attending the offsite, and us as readers, that we can learn something from everyone we meet, no matter what their job or station in life.  This is how we grow.When it comes to declaring victory, I experienced how leaders (coaches) can help people reframe tough challenges to ensure success.  About 15-20 years ago, I frequently trained for and ran a number of marathons.  Sometimes, on long run days or even during a few races, if I was not feeling 100% physically or just mentally beaten down by the distance, I would stop and walk for a while, run until I couldn’t run anymore, and walk again. I’d repeat the process until I reached the end of my training run or, in the case of a race, the finish line. An experienced runner once told me that this can happen to anyone, but that I was thinking about it all wrong. He said that if you have to stop and walk, that’s fine, but when you start running again, don’t run until you can’t go another step. When you do that, you’re engaging in a mental exercise of repeated failure. Instead, when you feel good enough to start running again, look ahead of you and spot a tree or a stop sign. Set that as your goal. Run to it and declare victory. Start walking again, and when you’re ready, identify another marker. Run to that and call it a win. He advised that declaring victory, rather than succumbing to repeated defeats, would help me finish more quickly and with a healthier attitude.  The recurring wins would actually bolster my confidence for the future. Of course, he was absolutely right. It works brilliantly. I once offered the same advice to my daughter Kristin during her first attempt at running a half marathon.  I explained the “declare victory versus succumb to defeat approach” to getting across the finish line. She tried it and was extremely grateful for the way this small change in mindset helped her complete the race that day. Now imagine Kristin, not as a runner, but as an employee.  She is charged with achieving a lofty goal, has a solid plan to achieve that goal, and then begins to implement the plan with all the energy in the world.  As she runs into difficulties along the way, her enthusiasm yields to the current circumstances and the reality of the long slog ahead.  She starts to believe that the situation is controlling her, instead of the other way around. When this happens, this is where the leader can remind her that it’s okay to walk for a bit, set a short-term goal, achieve that goal, secure a win, and set a new short-term goal. It’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other and declaring victory as often as possible. Some of the greatest leadership lessons I’ve ever received came when I wasn’t looking for them.  I can only imagine the stories and lessons the readers of this blog could share – especially those that were gleaned from unexpected sources and/or seemingly unrelated experiences.  If you have one, share one in the comments section.  It’s among the best ways to truly learn leadership.  Leo Bottary is a sought-after thought leader on peer advantage, an emerging discipline dedicated to strategically engaging peers to realize your business and life goals. A popular author, educator, keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. His new book is What Anyone Can Do: How Surrounding Yourself with the Right People Will Drive Change, Opportunity, and Personal Growth. For more information, please visit www.leobottary.com. […]

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