Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Leaders: Make a Decision

Leaders are responsible for decisions. They are entrusted to make them and are expected to back them up. Unfortunately, many leaders are too hesitant to make decisions. They become overly concerned with the unknowns and the “what ifs” and end up missing key opportunities or losing the public’s confidence. Some of the real consequences to lack luster decision making are: lost revenue, reduced productivity, reduced growth and follower distrust. While opportunities come and go, regaining confidence once lost is a much more difficult process.
Some reasons I have noted that leaders fail to be decisive is their concern for the consequences. Often they feel that if they just had more information or that perhaps once a decision has been made there is no going back. These can be noteworthy concerns, but they should not paralyze the decision making process. The reality is that in a dynamic ever changing world it is impossible to know and calculate all contributing factors. So, good leaders note the risks and then execute measures within their control to mitigate those risks, but they move forward. And by moving forward they create success and seize opportunities.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Leaders are Bred




Leaders are bred like thoroughbred racing horses. But, even the most genetically endowed thoroughbred is no more guaranteed to win than a common plow horse; it must work to become a recognized champion; because by all practical accounts they are physically the same. Likewise we are very similar to each other, we each possess potential, but it is our training, experience and socialization that evoke leadership.
Time and again the “dark horse” has come from behind, conquered all odds and shattered stereotypes, this is because effective leadership results are the sum of personal talents, and experiences based upon the development and application of innate traits. One cannot effectively lead others if their personal abilities are so limited that they easily become overwhelmed with personal challenges. They must first have the capability to manage themselves followed with the capacity to then turn outward and influence others. This requisite for leadership is not a physical breeding like animals rather it is based upon conjoining experience with natural abilities which then produces a leader.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Gettysburg

I just got back from a trip to Gettysburg in which our tour not only covered the intriguing aspects of the battle but was hosted by an excellent guide, a retired Army colonel named T. Vossler who added his personal commentary on many of the leadership dimensions of this epic event. I came away with a much deeper appreciation for the responsibility leaders have for those they lead, for the devotion of followers and for the sacrifices of those men who fought during the Civil War.
This particular trip sparked some new thoughts related to leadership such as: risk, care, consequences, communication and determination. I plan on reviewing my notes and addressing these topics in future blog posts.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Know Thy Self

Leaders need to have an understanding of their own strengths, weaknesses, capabilities and limitations. In fact the level of success that a leader has in influencing others in proportional to the amount of self awareness they possess. There are distinct ways in which leaders can develop self awareness. The first in self evaluation, often called reflection. This is accomplished by reading books and articles, reviewing past experiences even journaling. Many leaders participate in some form of self evaluation. But when feedback comes from a single source there are limitations, especially if the source is based on your own perspective. So, I suggest two more ways to gain greater self awareness as a leader, they are having a mentor and using a coach.
Mentors take the self reflection one step further in that they provide the external feedback necessary for real growth. A trusted mentor can help promote new thoughts and insights. Their encouragement can provide the motivation for lasting change. The final resource leaders can use to get feedback is through a coach. Coaches are great because their purpose is to cause personal change. Coaches challenge the personal status quo by making assessments and then helping the individual focus on measurable goals.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Leadership Mindset

A leader must have confidence. Successful leaders have contagious attitudes that others draw upon as motivation. The key to having a contagious confident attitude is maintaining the mindset of a champion. Champions use constructive thinking to help mold their behaviors. One technique is the use of selective perception to see set backs as temporary learning experiences instead of permanent personal attributes and then using positive experiences to propel continued success. Another essential task is controlling self talk it is just as important as managing our personal perception. Too often we can be our own worst critics, by focusing on the negative whether real or perceived. Strong leaders do not put negative limits on themselves, rather the use the internal dialogue of the mind to help them evaluate opportunities and then implement ideas. We each face challenges, but taking charge can set the right mindset for success and provide more confidence for others to draw upon as motivation.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Good to Great Leadership

Good leadership is multi-level and great leadership is multi-dimensional. Good leadership influences others up, down and around. Great leadership has a lasting influence over time. One example of good leadership is when the leader petitions their next higher and is able to influence a decision that ultimately affects subordinates. That is good leadership. An example of great leadership using the same example would be that even after time has passed the result of the original decision is still in effect. This could be in the form of an established policy, personnel performance or a cultural value. The Founding Fathers demonstrated exceptionally great leadership as the architects of our nation and we still benefit from their leadership vision today.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Mentoring Important for Jr and Sr Leaders

Leadership is about having a vision focused on the possibilities of the future.
And one way leaders can shape the future is through mentoring the next generation. Mentoring is a critical aspect of leader development.
Mentoring is an activity that mutually benefits junior and senior leaders because the mentoring relationship creates a safe learning environment through feedback.
Junior leaders benefit from the time and attention of more senior leaders as they glean wisdom from another person’s experiences without having to live through the same events. While at the same time senior leaders benefit by sharing their philosophies on leadership and listening to different perspectives on leadership issues from those they mentor.
Mentoring relationships can take on many forms. They do not always have to be formal, long term relationships. In fact great mentoring often occurs in rather informal settings.
But the best mentoring is guided. Guided mentoring provides an outline or theme, which facilitates discussion and encourages both parties to focus their attention to a defined topic. This method certainly is not meant to limit, rather like farming it helps to “loosen and prep the soil” of discussion, resulting in an enriched discussion and deepened development.