How Leadership Is Evolving In 2015 and Beyond

Millennials CollageAs the Millennial generation comes of age, there are changes happening in the workplace that are revealing just how Generation Y will leave their mark on society in the decades to come.

When it comes to the workplace environment it has becoming clear that factors like diversity and making sure everyone has a voice are crucially important to this new wave of employees.

But that’s not all.

Millennials are also looking for new styles of management to match their unique approach to the workplace. And with Millennials already overtaking Baby Boomers in prominence in the workforce, the winds of change are going to continue blowing for a long time.

Here are some of the environmental building blocks that management should be using in 2016.

Humility

It may sound strange to old-school management, but leadership in 2016 is no longer about creating an environment that caters to the rock stars within the company. Today’s Millennial workforce grew up on television shows like The Office, where faux-Type A leaders like Michael Scott and overeager disciplinarians like Dwight Schrute were mocked.

Meanwhile, the show’s characters gravitated naturally toward employees like Jim Halpert, with his easy-going confidence and a sense of low-key humility. Cultivating a similar mix of humility and confidence in your office can create a synergy and a collaborative spirit that will help lift productivity and keep your employees around longer.

Transparency

The days are long gone when management could keep a closed-door to employees and hide key information like expected salary range and how the company is performing financially.

Employees nowadays are smarter and have more potential mobility than ever before.

Sites like Glassdoor.com make it easy to compare salaries, both within a company and for similar positions in different companies. They can also reveal warts about a company’s leadership or divulge how the company is managing hiring and layoffs. And, frankly, with fewer benefits like pensions to keep employees around for life, generation Y is looking to know the companies they work for more intimately than ever before.

The company behind social media tool Buffer has set an incredible precedent for transparency, posting their salary formula for each and every position at the company as well as how each dollar a customer spends is used to fund the company. While I’m not saying you have to go quite that far, don’t hide the type of information that your employees need to know in order to decide whether they want to invest themselves in your company long-term.

Flexibility

With more and more companies adopting a more mobile workforce, questions that surround managers today include allowing employees to bring their own devices to work and whether or not they will require remote access through a VPN or the cloud when they are offsite.

In some organizations, the worksite has become more like the incubator office where employees can meet up when needed while working primarily offsite. Look for this trend to continue in 2016.

This idea was echoed by Kevin Brogan, VP at Meadows Casino.

He says this:

Whether it is a workflow or an end result giving your team the freedom to create more efficient ways of working has allowed the US to help bring back some jobs that were previously moved overseas.”

It also helps workers take advantage of their natural focus and energy ebbs and flows and cuts down on commute time, “getting ready” time, etc. It also incentivizes “staying in the zone” and working as efficiently as possible instead of pacing one’s self to make sure that everything takes exactly 8 hours to complete.

Putting your employees in control of their schedules tells them that they are responsible for getting results by any means necessary.

Empathy

In customer service, the maxim used to be: Feel, Felt, Found. It was a way of empathizing with the customer so that one could say, I know how you feel. I have been in that situation myself before, and here is how we can resolve this. Applying that to your employees in abbreviated form is an area of being a manager that should pay dividends in 2016 and beyond.

After years of being hit by ‘toughen your emotions for the war’ in the media, it is now okay to show your emotions and feelings about something.

Of course there is really no need to be maudlin, but showing that you are alive and empathetic will be appreciated.

2015 has been a pretty good year for business in the United States. Employment is up and management trends continue to emphasize a more humanist approach as a means of motivating and building productivity.

By correlating details of the environmental desires of your workforce with your management style, you can be in position in 2016 to reap the benefits.

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———————–
Tayven James

Tayven James is a Freelance Business and Tech Author
He focuses on Emerging Trends and the Marketing Methods behind their Success
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter

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L2L Infographic: Emotional Intelligence and Your Career

Emotional intelligence helps us manage stress, it is vital for enhanced co-operation and teamwork, and it helps us to learn in relationships. Studies have found that 67% of all competencies deemed essential for high performance are related to emotional intelligence. Leaders who score higher in emotional intelligence are more likely to be highly profitable in business.

Emotional Intelligence and Your Career

Infographic Courtesy of Brighton School of Business and Management

 

How Successful Leaders Ensure Continued Success

Global Success

Continued success is something that every successful leader in business strives to achieve. Those who have been very successful have a record of staying in some of the best positions in their respective industries.

A Global Environment

The work environment over the last several years has largely taken on a global outlook. Because more companies do business on an international scale, it is necessary for successful companies and their employees to have a focus towards global success. The executives who run such companies need to make a global outlook part of their major strategy.

Fahad Al Rajaan and other successful executives in a global business environment have shown skill in using their most successful careers to their advantage. Those who want to be successful in today’s competitive, global environment will likewise need to take full advantage of their opportunities.

One of the many advantages of a global outlook is being able to adapt to business changes that affect the business environment in meaningful ways. By being able to adapt to these global changes easily, companies will have a broader reach within the wider world.

Professional Memberships Make a Difference

For many fellow business professionals and customers, an executive’s membership in a professional association gives them a greater air of authority. There are many people in the business world who are more likely to avoid a fellow professional without any serious credentials.

Executives have a leading, if not the most important role in determining a company’s success on an international level. Even though other employees implement these strategies, it is usually the executives who have the most knowledge of the global situation. When a company has a good knowledge of the global business environment, their plans will always have this focus.

One of the ways for executives to ensure that their employees keep this outlook is to keep everyone interested in events that affect the way they work. When employees see something that impacts the company as relating to them, they are more likely to take a more active part in significantly contributing to the company’s success.

Management Needs to Be Attuned to Changes

Even though it is in a company’s best interests to keep management on top of things, sometimes too much is delegated to lower-level employees. This practice can sometimes lead to a disconnect that makes it harder to adopt global strategies. Employees and their managers need to feel at ease with each other to get the most work accomplished.

Genuine teamwork is necessary to ensure that everyone is on board with the global strategy. The executives and other members of management need to be closely involved with the process to make sure that each team member is on the same track towards success.

Regular meetings help ensure that all members of the team have adequate time to discuss strategy. When there are regular meetings regarding global strategy, it helps everyone adopt a better attitude towards working together.

Measuring Success

Although the total measure of success takes time and relies upon the heavy use of data, a dedicated team will likely see some positive results within a shorter period. Determination also makes a difference in these situations.

On Towards a Global Future

As the business world becomes increasingly globalized, it is likely that more companies will include a global focus within their main strategies. Innovative business leaders will be able to put everything into place in a way that helps them succeed with all the innovations available.

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6 Leadership Lessons From Rudolph

by Eleanor Biddulph

‘Tis the season! One annual tradition in my house is gathering to watch Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer. This year, I watched it through the lens of leadership.

Imagine Burl Ives, as the voice of Sam the Snowman, applying the lessons of Rudolph to the workplace…

6 Lessons in Leadership

Scenario 1

Rudolph first apppears as the new deer at the playground. The other reindeer notice Rudolph’s shiny nose as it glows, and begin to laugh at him and call him names. Meanwhile, at Elf School, Hermey the Elf is also being ridiculed because he wants to be a dentist. Hermey has lots of ideas about how to make sure the dolls have healthy teeth, which, of course, the other elves think is just silly.

Lesson #1:

As leaders, we need to be in tune with how new employees are being welcomed into the team. Hopefully, we’ve created an environment that welcomes new people bringing new experiences, new ideas, and new skills to help the organization be great. Diversity of all kinds must be embraced, not driven away. Ideas should be respectfully heard, not ridiculed.

Scenario 2

The head elf even tells Hermey, “You’ll never fit in! Now you come to elf practice, learn how to wiggle your ears, chuckle warmly, go hee-hee and ho-ho, and important stuff like that. A dentist! Good grief! ” Soon, both Rudolph and Hermey are singing the same song; “Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nitwit. You can’t fire me, I quit. Seems I don’t fit in.”

Lesson#2:

As leaders, it is important that we have the right people in the right positions, matching an individual’s skills and desires with job function and team purpose. We also need to recognize when a team member shows an aptitude for another role. A good leader will help that person reach their career goal, rather than forcing them to be in a role they are clearly not a fit for.

Scenario 3

Rudolph, feeling rejected, runs away and meets up with Hermey, on the road after quitting elf school. The two of them then meet Yukon Cornelius, the prospector who also doesn’t fit in with the general population. All three set out to try a find a place where they can fit in.

Rudolph, Hermey and Cornelius come upon the Island of Misfit Toys. There’s Charlie-in-the-box, Spotted Elephant, and more. Charlie is the sentry who welcomes them to the island. It is clear, as he bounces about, that he can be a great toy. The only thing “wrong” with him is his unexpected name. Spotted Elephant is cute and cuddly. He would make some little girl or boy a wonderful gift, except that his outside isn’t the color people would expect.

Lesson #3:

As leaders, we need an awareness of any pre-judgments we are attaching to people. Someone might not look or act the way we expect them to, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be successful. A team member might not have the background we expected, but they might still be well-skilled for the job at hand. Are we minimizing people because of our ideas, rather than welcoming them for theirs? Are we treating them as mis-fits, just because they are a little different?

Scenario 4

After a time, Rudolph, Hermey, and Cornelius set out to tell Santa about the Island of Misfit Toys. They promise the toys that they will help Santa see that even though the toys aren’t what people might expect, they can still be loved and enjoyed by a needy child.

Lesson #4:

As leaders, are we in tune when our team members “manage up?” Sometimes, we don’t realize how our own behavior or ideas impact others. We can be even better leaders if we are open to the wisdom and observations of others. The success of the leader and the team is interdependent and we need to welcome feedback that is shared with us.

Scenario 5

As we all know, the story ends well. One foggy Christmas Eve, Santa realizes that Rudolph’s nose, so bright, is just the thing to guide the sleigh that important night. Once the leader embraces Rudolph, so does the rest of the reindeer team. The sleigh stops at the island to pick up the misfit toys, and drops them into the homes of needy children who will love them dearly.

Lesson #5:

As leaders, we set the example. If we view a new project with enthusiasm, so will the team. If we see a challenge as an opportunity, the team will follow our lead. If we seek out ways to use the strengths of our individual followers, they will be embraced by the rest of the team for their uniqueness, rather than ridiculed for it.

Scenario 6

And, then, there’s the Abominable Snowman. Throughout the story, he is feared. He’s big, loud, grouchy, and mean. However, it turns out that he has a major toothache! After Hermey uses his dental knowledge and pulls the Snowman’s bad tooth, the monster becomes a big old softy. His height is perfect for adding the star to the top of the Christmas tree.

Lesson #6:

As leaders, we all have experienced that really difficult employee. Sometimes, there just doesn’t seem to be anyway to break though a tough exterior. They might be rude, disruptive, attention-seeking, poor performers. Or, they might be someone with a lot of potential who is in some kind of pain – physical or emotional. If we take the time to have an honest conversation with them, coming from a place of caring about their success, we just might find that what is “wrong” can be made “right.” This may not always be the case, but just imagine if your abominable snowman ended up hanging the star on your tree.

Can you see leadership lessons in any other holiday tales? I hope you’ll add a comment and share them. Have a wonderful holiday and successful new year of leadership and growth!

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———————–
Eleanor Biddulph
Eleanor Biddulph
 is the EVP of Client Services at Progressive Medical, Inc.
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How the Boss Found Christmas

by George Brymer

How the Boss Found Christmas

How the Boss Found Christmas

By George Brymer (with apologies to Dr. Suess)

All the workers
Down at Who’s Corp.
Liked Christmas a lot…

But the manger
Of the Who-town division,
Did NOT!

The chief thought that Christmas was too much of a drain
On the productivity he strived so hard to maintain.

It could be that HIS boss was a mean, nasty jerk.
It could be, perhaps, that he hated his work.

But the most likely reason that could explain why
May be that the home office set his goals much too high.

But,
Whatever the reason,
His goals or his boss,
He fumed every Christmas about efficiency loss.

Staring out of his office with a frustrated look
At the now-empty cubicles, his head he just shook.

For he knew every worker at Who’s Corp. was sharing
A Christmas Eve noontime full of laughter and caring.

“And they’re having such fun,” he said sounding dire.
“They’re enjoying their lunch, while the work piles higher.”

Then he growled, “I have an idea to teach them a lesson!”
“I MUST make their work HARDER, let me think for a second…”

And THEN
He slipped into the workroom
Where he lurked all around,
The desks of his workers
Without making a sound.

He slithered and slunk, like a Grinchy old fool,
Around the whole office, and he took their work tools.

Cell phones! And laptops! Keyboards! And mice!
Flash drives! And shredders! He took EVERY device.

He hauled out the server. But here’s the real rub:
Why, that boss even took their beloved Bizhub.

It was quarter past lunch…
When the people he called “staffing”
Returned to their desks and continued their laughing.

As he stared at the workers
The boss questioned his eyes!

What he saw them all doing
Came as quite a surprise!

Every worker at Who’s Corp., with jobs big and small,
Was working their hardest! Without any tools at all!

He HADN’T stopped productivity.
IT CAME!
Even with no Bizhub, it came just the same!

And the boss, with his boss-look froze to his face,
Stood puzzling and wondering how they kept up the pace.

He wondered awhile, looking out of his door.
Then the boss thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe productivity doesn’t come from an Office Max store.
“Maybe productivity…perhaps…means something much more!”

And what happened then…?
Well…at Who’s Corp. they say
That the boss took the goals
And he threw them away.

That very minute he felt his heart lighten,
And his outlook on Christmas? He allowed it to brighten.

And this part…is true…I swear to our readership:
For the rest of the day…

…HE HIMSELF…!
The boss read Linked 2 Leadership!

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——————–
George Brymer

George Brymer is the creator of The Leading from the Heart Workshop®
He delivers Leadership Workshops that help leaders at all levels evolve

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: allsquareinc | (419) 265-3467

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Leading a New Work Environment

The Coolest Office Spaces in the World

A Look at Some of The Best Office Spaces Across the World

Whether you’re designing a brand new office building or renovating a dated, ineffective one, it’s crucial to find the right layout for you, your employees, and your business in general. This infographic designed by Avanti Systems examines several different office spaces that have been meticulously planned to be inviting, efficient, and brought up to 21st century standards.

Modernizing your workspace could mean designing an underground bunker perfect for an online gaming company. Alternately, you may want a sleek, minimalistic office that encourages employee health and wellness. Regardless, your office needs to be based on the atmosphere you want for your current and future personnel. As this infographic suggests, many organizations have found increased employee productivity while also upping their overall levels of satisfaction.

21st-century-office

 

The Most Valuable Leadership Gift This Season

The Sacrificial Gift and Benefit of Listening

One of the most important ways to lead with honor is actively listening to your colleague, team, and clients. Lee share his valuable how-to advice in this video clip. 

Listening

Leading with Honor Coaching Article

“Leadership Gift-Giving Pressure and the Value of Listening”

You may be feeling the pressure of the gift-giving season. How can you make your gift meaningful? What do you give the person who has everything?

As you plan your giving, I have the perfect gift suggestion; it’s costly and valuable, but you don’t have to spend any money on it. But, first my personal confession…

Read Now

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——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

 

 

How to Ensure Motivation Trickles From the Top Down

Water Trickle

Motivation is considered to be one of the most important contributing factors to high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction.

However, as illustrated below, motivation must start from the top in order to be most effective.

Executive Engagement

Research shows that the modern work environment has drastically changed. To illustrate, workplaces are more complex, markets are more volatile and younger generations are more demanding. Therefore, executives must carefully manage their company culture.

Industry icons, such as Apple’s Steve Jobs, were famous for their charismatic ability to inspire employees and customers alike to seek excellence and pursue their dreams. Consequently, executives must play a regular, proactive role in communicating with employees.

Visionary executives who non-invasive methods to appeal to their employee’s emotions will enjoy higher levels of teamwork, production and employee satisfaction. Thus, executives must make constructive motivation a top priority for management.

Motivation from Management

Research from Gallup clearly shows that managers influence almost 70 percent of critical business variables such as productivity, performance and profitability. Even more disheartening, approximately 70 percent of employees are not engaged at work.

This means that the majority of employers are disengaged and indifferent to their work.

Managers play a key role in determining employee engagement and satisfaction levels. Gallup’s research shows that accurate and meaningful communication is extremely important to employees. A healthy business relationship will include daily face-to-face communication, not randomly vague emails.

Clearly, executives must set the expectation that management will invest time and energy into daily interaction with their subordinates. This will identify and resolve many problems before they become serious issues.

Proper Performance Management

Members of upper management rarely receive formal performance reviews like regular employees. Therefore, they often fail to understand how annual performance reviews can affect an employee’s motivation and job satisfaction. Annual performance reviews can create intense emotional pressure and apprehension.

Managers tend to view performance reviews as just another task to complete.

However, performance reviews are an important opportunity to review progress, set goals and get excited about work. Executives should model engaging and productive performance reviews through formally meeting with management and helping them to set their own goals.

Nevertheless, performance reviews are of little worth without quarterly follow-ups with employees. Regularly meeting with employees will reinforce their commitment to growth and the company.

Data Analytics

Executives need factual data in order to better understand their employees. Fortunately, there are excellent ways to glean insightful data about employees. For example, HR software programs can create customized reports that detail important employee metrics.

First, there are financial reports such as:

  • Cost per hire
  • Turnover cost
  • Training investment
  • Recruiting cost ratios

Turnover costs equal the total amount accrued through separation, vacancy, replacement and training. High turnover and hiring costs can financially weaken a company because every hire may cost between five to 10 thousand dollars.

There are other important metrics, such as turnover, absence and vacancy rates. Turnover rates exemplify the state of employee engagement and satisfaction. Executives should consider also performing quarterly employee satisfaction surveys.

Public Perks

Executives should consider unique employee appreciation ideas. While they do not have to be expensive, perks are an excellent way for upper management to demonstrate their commitment to employees.

For instance, flexibility is an abstract concept that matters a lot to employees, who may be single-parents or returning to school. Management should embrace flexible scheduling as a way to motivate employees to increase efficiency and production.

Once employees understand that they are empowered to manage their workload, they will be more responsible and willing to go the extra mile.

Motivation is a deciding factor between high employee engagement and high turnover rates. In order to properly increase motivation, executives should use customized reports created through HR software.

So, how are you as a leader allowing your strengths in motivating your followers work to influence them to motivate others? What are some of the steps you can take today or tomorrow to step back from your daily routine and think about how you can better increase you motivation for others to follow? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

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Leading in the Wrong Direction

Wrong Way

Leadership is a gift given. It comes from the belief of others, in you.

It should be viewed as an honor and a privilege.

With it comes a responsibility to use that influence to move people, organizations and society forward. But sadly, we have far too many leaders who are leading in the wrong direction. One need only to listen to the rhetoric emanating from the political campaigns to understand what the misuse of leadership influence sounds like.

I want to be clear that is not a political commentary, rather it is a leadership commentary.

On Responsible Leadership

There are fundamental requirements to responsible leadership. Leaders should help people reach beyond their fears. They need to inspire and bring diverse people together.

Leaders should enable others to see the potential that they were blind too. They should work to open eyes, minds and hearts. Had not JFK helped us to see and believe in the potential, would we have put a man on the moon?

Leading Through Fear

Turn on the news, read the paper and it will quickly become obvious that our leaders are not honoring their responsibility.

They are leading people into their fears.

Rather than helping them overcome them, they are encouraging them to build walls around those fears. They are serving to solidifying them, making them more real and concrete. These same leaders aren’t expanding our vision; they are narrowing it.

They aren’t facilitating our ability to envision our true potential. Instead, they are aiding our retreat. They aren’t bringing us together; they are dividing us. We aren’t celebrating diversity; we are running from it and I for one, am disgusted. We should be revoking their leadership cards!

Going the Wrong Direction

Our politicians are an almost satirical example of leadership in the wrong direction. We should, however, use them as a reminder. We ought to be looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking, “Am I leading in the right direction?”

Hopefully, your business challenges aren’t as frightening or as daunting as those that we face geopolitically. But, we do face fears, and it can be difficult to keep that future potential in sight. The same leadership risks exist, albeit on a slightly different scale.

A Brave Future

We should be looking to see if we are actually encouraging our organization to circle the wagons or, if in fact we are pushing through that which scares us. We must be painting a picture and connecting the dots so that everyone, including ourselves, sees and believes in that future state.

We want to be sure to bring people together, encouraging diversity of thought, of beliefs and personality. We need to be expanding horizons, making people feel better about what they do and how they fit into the greater organization. We should inspire others to reach their full potential. If we do all of these things, we will be leading in the right direction.

Leading Responsibly

I am a realist. I recognize that the vitriolic and myopic nature of politicians is unlikely to change in the near future. Yet, I am also an optimist. I believe that if each one of us takes the personal responsibility to lead in the right direction, then just maybe in aggregate, we can inspire change.

To me, this is such an important conversation.

Social media gives us an unbelievable platform from which to have one. Please, use the comment section below to share your thoughts on leading in the right direction and what we can do to inspire change.

So what type of leader are you? Do you tend to rely on a fear-based approach, or do you lead your followers through fear and on to a better picture of tomorrow? What can do you to know the current obstacles and find better ways to lead in the right direction? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————–
Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal Consultant of The Intertwine Group, LLC.
He works with companies to Deliver Tools that Enable Growth
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+GROW | Website

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You, The Truth and Nothing But Your Leadership!

Building Platforms for Converting Potential into Performance

Platform Building

Is there anything new under the leadership sun?

Leadership Platforms

With the wealth of information available to us about leadership—the sheer numbers of which have been well-covered in other L2L blog posts and myriad other sources—it would seem easy to answer this question in the affirmative.

In fact, this post is yet another example and becomes inexorably part of the statistic.

Recognizing that, in writing this, it is impossible to avoid falling into that trap, I still want to caution all of us not to jump too easily toward an answer we believe is nothing more than a blinding flash of the obvious. We also shouldn’t assume away the question as rhetorical or disregard the question as some sort of trick.

Grappling with the Answer

Leadership certainly appears to be among the most overused terms of the 21st Century, so much so that it begins to suffer the death of a thousand qualifications—rendering the term almost meaningless. As I’ve written elsewhere:

This isn’t all that surprising. With the rarity of real leaders, the preponderance of imaginary leaders-in-position and the sheer amount of new information mentioned earlier, most now tune out at a mere mention of the word Leadership.”

We can get so overwhelmed in trying to understand what leadership “is” or “looks like” that we either get lost in the shuffle or simply start shuffling along with the lost. The natural but dangerous side effect of this is that we never begin defining, describing or developing it on a personal level. Continuing a thought from the previous quote:

[We’ve] already heard it all and have “had it up to here” with all the talk about leadership, so little effort is ever applied to defining it personally and little consensus is ever reached on how it should be defined organizationally.”

Yet, as you search farther backward to examine the etymology of leadership or further inward to get at the essence of leadership, it really comes down to a personal recognition of two things:

  1. The limitless capacity of “born-in” potential as human becomings
  2. The limiting tendency of “made-in” performance as human beings

We are all born with unlimited potential for learning, changing, growing and leading, but there are myriad tendencies that inhibit our capacity for improving performance. These include our orientations toward awareness, acceptance, action and achievement. But the most interesting thing about the debate around whether leaders are born or made is that they both relate to a person, not to an impersonal idea or abstract concept.

In fact, when questions of leadership are raised, they are either raised by a person or about a person. And the questions are considered legitimate only because people have intrinsic value. And herein lays the secret…the hidden TRUTH to anything new in leadership.

Building Your Platform

If you really want to create something new when it comes to leadership, try building (or refurbishing) your own leadership platform.

In fact, I’ve become convinced that the only way something new in leadership can truly emerge is when individuals—unique in time past, present and future—start answering the questions they are asking. If we really want to understand what Leadership looks like, we need to look in the mirror.

We need to honestly describe or define who we are as a leader, and be open to accept feedback from what others observe and feel when they evaluate our leadership. This is not easy, however, because as Ravi Zacharias puts it, in any interplay between a person and information, the first test is not the veracity of the information, but the truthfulness of the person.

Avoiding the Pitfalls

It’s easy to think that the “person” mentioned in the last statement is the one providing the feedback. While it may be true that some will not provide honest feedback due to their own hang-up’s, I’ve found that most will give you straight talk, but only if they believe you:

  1. Are genuinely interested in them and what they have to say,
  2. Have demonstrated that you are serious about getting better at who you are and what you do as a leader, and
  3. Will never hide, hurl, blame or retaliate—otherwise known as defensive misattribution of failure—when the uncomfortable information is presented, will give you straight talk

Indeed! There are a lot of conditions to whether or not you’ll get at the “new information” about your leadership that is yet to be written or revealed. But there is an even bigger danger lurking in the shadows, poised to jump out and stop-you-up-short when it comes to truly learning, changing or growing as a leader: defensive misattribution of success.

The defensive misattribution of success occurs when personal leadership success (e.g., how I got this job in the first place or why I’m the boss and you’re not) is attributed inappropriately to the very behaviors that are causing incredible damage through the persecution of people, process and profit, ultimately deteriorating long-term organizational performance.

Understanding the Implications

Robert Cooke and Janet Szumal, Human Synergistics International, include a great organization-level expansion and exposition for this unfortunate reality in their Chapter 9 contribution to the Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate (Ashkanasy, Vilderom, Peterson; 2000).

They contend that the defensive misattribution of success occurs when organizational success is attributed to a Defensive culture when instead it is substantial resources and/or minimal demands that account for the success currently enjoyed by the organization.

Organizations with strong franchises, munificent environments, extensive patents and copyrights, and/or massive financial resources are likely to perform adequately, at least in the short term and possibly even over the long term, if environmental pressures for innovation, adaptation, or flexibility remain minimal.”

In such cases, they say that managers can “get away with” creating an Aggressive/Defensive and/or Passive/Defensive organizational culture. Worse yet, it is almost guaranteed—thanks to attribution theory and self-serving biases—that these managers will credit the Defensive culture that they created (or inadvertently allowed to emerge) as being the source of their organization’s effectiveness.

Sadly, this holds back anything new when it comes to the real creative potential of leadership and keeps the organization locked in yesterday. Cooke and Szumal conclude this section of the book as follows:

Although the impact of culture may be overshadowed by the impacts of resources and demands, Constructive norms would nevertheless enhance the performance of these organizations, increase their adaptability, and protect them from being blind-sided by forceful and unanticipated environmental changes.”

Breaking Free to Newness

The good news for all of us is that there is a way out. There is a means by which we can find newness in leadership. It is a simple but difficult journey for all who endeavor, but it will produce the kind of performance that all of us are after. All that is required is you, the truth and nothing but your leadership. Are you ready?

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Richard Dillard

Richard S. Dillard is Founder/ Managing Partner at Dillard Partners, LLC
Pursuing Success at the Speed of Leadership!
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