Consistency · development · employee relationships · Feedback · Goal setting · Leadership · Mentoring · Networking · respect · Success · Uncategorized

What Do Leaders Look Like?

If you search Google for great leaders in history, the search will probably bring up people like, George Washington, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Abraham Lincoln. These leaders all accomplished greatness in their time. This doesn’t mean that to lead you must hold a certain position in the industry or political world. These are just a few of the well-known leaders in history. This may be how you think a leader should look. Now let’s take a look at how leaders should act to make the portrait more dimensional.

Have you ever gone to a play ground and watched how the groups of children play? Or how about a sporting event, when the captain isn’t leading, but a team member is? How about in a meeting, you know who organized the meeting, but are they the ones leading the group? You can pick out the leaders of a group by watching the actions of the members. This is a true dimensional picture of what leaders look like.

As you watch the group of children at the playground notice who is clearing up a dispute about one of the group not wanting to follow the rules. Notice how some of them automatically turn to the leader when a question is asked about the rules of the game they are about to play. This is a natural progression for children during play. They are aware that one of them has played the game more often and knows the rules better then the rest, so they instinctively turn to the leader.

During a sporting event, such as a football game, on the side lines you will notice that one of the team members pats another on the back when a play went wrong. You will also notice that a player may start to pump up the team with an encouraging shout about getting to the end zone or simply yelling “We’ve got this!”

Now take these experiences and move them into a meeting at work and notice who is taking charge to lead the group. The organizer may have been the one to call the meeting, but are they the ones who are actually leading? Who is making the most suggestions? Is that the leader? Not necessarily. A true leader will get input from all members and encourage active engagement. They won’t monopolize the meeting with the sound of their own voice, but rather listen to other’s suggestions and build on them. This reminds me of an old saying, “you were given two ears and one mouth for a reason.” I’m not sure who said it, but I think they were referring to the basics of leadership.

The child who teaches another the rules of a game or how to play fairly. The teammate who encourages a fellow player when the play went wrong or builds up momentum for the next play. They are not doing this because they have the title of captain or leader. Even the leader of the meeting is using their abilities to guide the group to the goal of the meeting. These people are what leaders look like. They don’t have the title of leader, but they have what it takes to lead.

Leaders should consider their own view of what a leader looks like and then consider how others see them. A leader should portray qualities that inspire collaboration and communication. They should be candid and honest with team members. A leader will give and receive feedback while connecting with peers and team members. And the leader should care about the team and each of its members. These qualities were displayed by the leaders in the examples I discussed, and they are displayed daily by people around you. Just observe these scenarios, along with the many others, and find the leaders in the groups around you every day. Doing this will help you to better understand what a true leader looks like. You’ll be amazed at the leaders that you find in every day life around you.

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Consistency · development · employee relationships · Feedback · Leadership · Mentoring · Networking · respect · Success · Uncategorized

Show Some Appreciation

Appreciation goes a long way, so you should remember your team and all that they do. When things go wrong, bosses will find fault and leaders will find opportunities. Leaders will also show praise and do it often.

This doesn’t mean that you have to give each of your employees a $50 gift card when they perform a task that exceeds expectations. This is a simple acknowledgement for their efforts. A simple “Thank you” or “Good job, today” is often enough to let them know you appreciate what they have accomplished.

If you search the web you can find and borrow many great ideas for employee appreciation. Businesses often incorporate recognition programs to show appreciation and they often work when they are used. Take advantage of the programs that your company offers and even suggest some of your own ideas. But don’t stop at what the company offers find a way to personalize your appreciation.

Here are just a few ideas for you to think about when showing appreciation. Tell someone that you noticed an increase in the number of calls they make each day for sales and thank them for taking initiative. When you see one employee helping another complete a task, let them know that you noticed that by simply say thank you. Remember that saying “thank you” doesn’t cost you anything but pays you greatly in the end.

Other ways to show appreciation can include a box of donuts on a Saturday morning. You could make a batch of you mother’s famous fudge for the office to enjoy throughout the holidays. Simply write “Good job” on a post it note and leave it on their desk for them to find in the morning or when they return from lunch. For more great ideas, I suggest you visit web sites like Pinterest, you’ll be amazed at what you find.

Furthermore, remember that recognition doesn’t have to be record setting. Don’t just reward and show appreciation to the employees that break a production or sales record. Think about the team around the record and how everyone contributed to the success of breaking the record or increasing sales. As a leader you have to reward your follower’s efforts even when the results are not what you were expecting.

Consistency · development · employee relationships · Goal setting · Leadership · Mentoring · Networking · respect · Success · Uncategorized

Building a Team

Growing your team will make your dream a reality. Look at your motives for forming the team. If you are forming the team to benefit yourself, you have the wrong motives. A team should be formed for the benefit of the community or team experience. Forming a team to build the organization is another good reason.

Let your team see who you are. It precedes what you do, so let them see it. This is transparency which shows your openness to your team. When showing this transparency remember to be consistent, humble, courageous, confident, committed, and captivating. Show your consistence by focus on the vision and purpose. Be humble and show weaknesses to display courage. Show your confidence and commitment for your vision and purpose and this will captivate your team.

Your vision needs to be communicated to your team clearly, concisely, and continually. Your vision message should state:

  • Clarity to bring understanding and answer what the people must know and what you want them to do
  • A connection to the past, present and future of the vision
  • The purpose giving direction to the vision
  • Targets of the vision
  • Transparency to the vision which gives credibility to the leader
  • Relationship of the story to the vision
  • Any challenges of the vision
  • Passion which fuels the vision
  • Standards which brings accountability to the vision
  • A process of the vision

The more clarity of the vision conveyed to your teams the more engaged your team will be. Using this vision clarity will also allow you and your team to focus on the purpose.

A leader’s vision should attract challenges and bring teams together. The challenges cause team members to fight to achieve the vision targets.

Make sure you are equipping your team for success. Offering the tools that your team needs to complete the tasks you are asking them to complete is vital to their success. Their success is critical to your team’s success. Giving them the tools to complete the job is just one aspect to consider. You must also give them what they need to grow as a team and future leaders. Show them that you care by providing them with communication, recognition, and affirmation. Work on their weakness and build on their strengths. Offer them your time, energy, and focus on the vision and purpose. Let them seek you out as a resource for training, support, and tools. Communicate with clarity the expectations and remove any unnecessary burdens. And of course, praise them for their good work.

As a leader, when you feel insecure you might lose your focus on leadership. Insecurity leads to a blurred focus of your vision and purpose. This lack of focus may be due to lower morale, rejection from others, or when people stop liking us. When you start to feel this insecurity, stop and take a deep breath and regain your focus.

All leaders are rough gems that need polishing. Leaders have edges that need to be smoothed over and flaws that need to be buffed out. Even with the flaws, the leader is still a valuable gem. People depend on leaders to guide them into better performers and future leaders and this can’t be done without continuously improving yourself while improving others.

Leaders are required to see the whole picture of each project and team development. They can see a project mapped out for what seems like miles. Give them a team and they can envision how each person will serve on that team to make it succeed. It is incredible how easily leaders can describe in their minds the details of the purpose and vision before it has even been completely formed.

Even with this vision of the team structure, some of the most talented teams have failed. The question is why? Believe it or not, it all comes down to attitude. A terrible attitude with great talent will give you a bad team. A poor attitude with great talent will give you an average team. An average attitude with great talent will give you a good team. A great attitude with great talent will give you an awesome team. The better the attitude of the team members the better the team. You can try it out on your next project to see the results. Find the best attitudes available and see how great your team is.

As a leader grows the chain reaction is that the organization grows. A leader grows with the team that is being led. It becomes a revolution of change and improvement for teams and leaders. This revolution turns into an evolution as the teams and the leaders grow.

To ensure growth, pay attention to the people following your footsteps. As a leader you are the one that is being watched and duplicated. When your team is confident of your abilities they will mimic your actions to acquire the same results. This is a good thing if you are doing the right thing so remember to watch who is watching you.

Don’t forget that you are human. Try not to take yourself too seriously and remember your sense of humor. Your leadership role is important, but leaders need to be human beings with faults and humors. Being too serious could be a downturn in morale and cause your followers to look for a better attitude with other leaders.

Leadership is not motivated by manipulation or self-promotion but an attitude of building others to be their best possible selves. This positive attitude includes building of yourself in the process. Learning is a continual journey throughout the leadership role. Through this process you will find promotion in your team and self-promotion will become aware in your teams strengths and abilities.

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is playing the blame game. A good leader doesn’t fall into this trap. Don’t blame something on someone else. If you were the cause, and sometimes even when you’re not the cause, take the blame. A natural human instinct that needs to be squelched as a leader is to blame others. The best leaders don’t find someone to blame for a mistake that was made by them or one they were the cause of. True leaders take accountability for their actions and learn from that accountability. They ask themselves questions like:

  • What did I learn from this mistake?
  • How can I turn this failure into a success?
  • How can these mistakes be prevented in the future?
  • What was successful about this lesson?

Leaders will always take the responsibility for the error of their team as well as themselves. People who blame others for the failure will never overcome that failure which will prevent them from moving on to a new problem. They will only relive the same problems over again. Reliving problems will not allow you to grow. To lead you must learn to continually improve yourself and responsibility is the best way to reach your potential.

Taking accountability for your mistakes shows your team your values. These values promote loyalty and loyalty makes people continue to follow leaders. Loyalty is something that comes with time and can only be created with patterned history of success. Leaders start with small followings and then develop massive followings over time and consistent loyalty to those followers.

Remember that during your journey that you must balance life and work. Don’t forget that your family is one of the main reasons you are a leader. Most leaders have some form of family that has helped them develop in some way to a leadership role. Remember that those family members are your first followers and need to be appreciated for what they have accomplished and helped you with.

Consistency · development · employee relationships · Goal setting · Leadership · Mentoring · Networking · respect · Success · Uncategorized

Networking

You started building relationships when you started on your journey to be a leader. These relationships have become part of your inner circle. You may have also started to meet people of influence along the way. This is all part of your networking process that will help you enhance your leadership abilities.

Your inner circle should include people and other leaders that display a compatible attitude for leadership. The circle should consist of people with stability, success, productivity, strength and durability. They should be in a leadership mentality with the values listed in the previously. Surrounding yourself with others of a like mind about leadership will strengthen you as a leader. Leaders never succeed on their own, they all have friends that encourage them to better themselves.

Building your network is often natural to leaders. A network is highly composed of followers, but you must consider other leaders and people of higher influence. When you consider other leaders and highly influential people always look at their leadership skills and attitudes. You don’t need to be saddled with someone who is going to drag you down and change your attitude for the worse. Look for highly motivated people but make sure they are motivated by leading and not position or promotion.

Your network should include people who have experience, objectivity, loyalty to a leader, love of people, and complementary gifts. By this I mean they should have experience in the world of business and understand it. They need to possess objectivity and the ability to have a clear vision and purpose. Loyalty to a leader that has taught them the lesson to be a good leader. They should have an equal love of people to enhance your passion. They should have gifts that complement you and your leadership style.

Use your network as an extension of your influence. You must realize that the people closest to you determine your influence level, which in turn determines your success level. Building your network will help you build yourself and extend your influence.

Now that you have started building yourself, a task that will never end, let’s start building your team.

Consistency · development · employee relationships · Goal setting · Leadership · Mentoring · Networking · respect · Success · Uncategorized

Before You Build a Team

Leadership begins long before you are given the title of leader. More often then not, a leader is developed when they are part of a team as a team member. You may have been a member of a sports team or been assigned to be on a project for work. In these situations, you made the decision to act and change the outcome of the team. You decided to lead. In these instances, you began developing your leadership skills. This may have happened once or multiple times over the course of your decision to apply for a leadership position. Either way it was the turning point for you to develop yourself and that’s where it started.

From that moment you started to build your network and enhance your skills. You showed your methods for communication along with team work. You collaborated to help the team reach the final goal. You realized the differences in your team members and embraced them. These are all traits of a learning leader. You watched the formal leader of the group to see what nuances they possessed. You watched different team members to see what roles they played on the team. You were learning how the team was developed and then reviewed the results of the team.

Now that you have served on a few teams and understand the dynamics you need to step back and think about your purpose. I know that this might seem out of the box, but in the long run if you define your personal purpose you can move on to your vision. Knowing both of these will have a clearer focus on the team’s purpose and vision.

Consider what your dream is, not your goal but your dream. If you could do anything you wanted what would it be? Answer this question with the understanding that money, staff, time, energy, and any other obstacle is out of your way. If you had everything what would you do with it? This is your dream and the real value of your work.

Your purpose should be how you personally want to live. I know this sounds a little deep but if you want to live your dream you have to define it. Ask yourself a few questions to define your dream. Questions like:

  • Are you wanting to lead people to help?
  • Do you wish to have family vacations every year?
  • Is leadership your path to financial freedom?
  • What is your life passion?
  • Is your dream to help people live a healthy lifestyle?
  • Does learning or teaching others how you envision your life?

Knowing your end game helps to define your purpose. By defining your purpose, you can clear your vision. Let me give you an example:

My personal purpose is to share my experiences with others so that they can succeed in their business and personal life. I wish to help guide people to reach their potential.

As you can see, my purpose doesn’t show grandeur of riches or fame. It doesn’t serve a higher power, it is simply to teach others in hope to help. Your purpose may be to have financial freedom to afford vacations or travel the world. Your purpose is your own and only you can define it. Your purpose is the why behind what you do.

Now think of a way for you to measure your purpose so that you can track your progress. If you have a financial purpose, then tracking will be easily obtained with financial statements. If there is another reason behind your purpose, then consider tracking how many successful teams you have served on or led. If the purpose is to teach, track how many students you have taught or people you have helped. Tracking your successes will help to keep you focused on your purpose.

Once you define your purpose, remaining focused on your purpose will help you grow. If your purpose is clear and easy to understand then your focus won’t fade. Your purpose should motivate, strengthen your priorities, develop your potential, and evaluate your progress.

To continue building yourself you now need to define your vision. Remember this is your personal vision and not the team’s vision. When defining your vision think about how you see yourself progressing through life to reach your potential purpose.

Having a clear vision allows us to see ourselves and see things not as they are, but as we are. With clarity we see others and feel compelled to act. The vision allows us to continue through struggles, tribulations, and other hurdles. We will also have confidence to stand and speak when needed and have compassion to share.

Your vision should serve your purpose. An example of a vision would be:

To understand and help others understand all aspects of the roles and responsibilities of business as it relates to each of us individually. To lead myself and others toward a goal of success personally and professionally based on individual and group needs.

This is my vision statement which fuels my purpose of teaching other from my experience. Your vision may be longer or shorter depending on how you see and define your purpose. Vision is crucial to a leader. Why? A leader without vision is someone who just circles back to the beginning only completing the task at hand and not advancing to the next circle. A vision should start from within the leader. It should come from the history of the leader and meet other’s needs, gathering resources along the way.

Consistency · development · employee relationships · Goal setting · Leadership · Mentoring · Networking · respect · Success · Uncategorized

What Does Bad Leadership Look Like?

You would think that bad leadership would be just the opposite of good leadership but in all reality, it is not. Bad leaders tend to have most of the qualities that good leaders have. The key word being most in this statement. If you look at the list, New Year, New Habits, you will notice that one feeds off the other. Bad leaders will lack one or more of the qualities which will subdue the fuel to feed the other qualities.

Without integrity to start off the list, the bad leader will lack trust for your team and they will not have the trust in you. Without the trust you will not show honesty and your team will not be honest with you. With this lack of honesty, you will not be able to gain respect. It all feeds from integrity.

Bad leaders often want to gain prestige or have a personal agenda. This personal agenda often leads to distrust by gaining something at the cost of another person’s expense. This is a wrong doing and a bad leader will use it to their advantage. If a bad leader uses others to gain something, then the level of trust is destroyed. This leads your team to believe that you would not speak out against wrong doing because you are willing to participate in wrong doings.

When a bad leader makes a conscious decision to use people to make personal gains they are not being transparent to their team. This lack of transparency clouds the team’s judgement and hinders the development of the team and its members.

As you can see, even when a bad leader miss-uses the list one will feed from the other. So, the decision to be a good or bad leader lies in your conscious decision of how you will use the list and how you will develop.

Consistency · development · employee relationships · Goal setting · Leadership · Mentoring · respect · Success · Uncategorized

New Year, New Habits

This year I’m going to stop with resolutions, which only get broken, and start with new habits. My first habit goal is to write a daily post on leadership for the rest of 2018. My second habit will be to create a class once per week on excel, Visual Basics, technical math, leadership, and many other subjects. This is a total of 365 posts and 52 classes, now that’s a goal. With a goal that intense, the writing will only become a habit over time and the creation of classes will teach me along with others.

Let’s start with the leadership subject #1.

What Does Good Leadership Look Like?

Good leadership involves a leader that knows the team members. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each team member will help to build and develop the team. Before you can know the team’s strengths and weaknesses, you must know your own. Start with a self-assessment, these can be found all over the internet. Use this tool to define what skills you need to work on and then develop them.

Strong leaders have certain criteria, most of which you probably already have, these are a list of just a few to start off with:

  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Ethical Values
  • Passion
  • Standards
  • Confidence
  • Communicate Clearly
  • Trust
  • Consistency
  • Understanding and Empathy
  • Agility
  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Speak Out Against Wrong Doings
  • Don’t Gain at Other’s Expense

This list begins with integrity for a reason. The reason is that with integrity you gain trust and that is needed when you are leading a team. You must be able to trust your team and in turn your team needs to be able to trust you. If you have integrity you have trust and honesty. With integrity you will also gain respect and several of the other items listed here.

Standards and consistency help build trust among your team. Showing your team that you have expectations that are clearly communicated to them shows your level of passion for the team. This also lets them know what limitations or challenges they might be facing. When you set standards for the team you are also showing understanding and empathy of the tasks at hand.

With transparency you are showing your team that you are clear, open, and honest. Not only are you required to be transparent with your team but with everyone you work with. Being transparent also helps you to gain trust and respect from your team and the others you work with. This gives your team the expectation that you will speak out against any wrong doing and that you are not seeking personal gain at the cost of another person’s expense.

As I stated before, this is the starting list of a good leader. All great leaders are continuously evolving. With this evolution there is a constant stream of learning. Leaders are always learning new ways to develop themselves and their teams. This is the agility part of leadership. Always ready for a change and knowing how to deal with it.