Leadership Rocks

Leadership Rocks!

I’d much prefer to be led by a leader who loves rock ‘n roll than one who doesn’t.  

A rock-lovin’ leader is likely to be full of passion and not emotionally flat-lined.

The rock-lovin’ leader is more likely to cherish independent thinking, and will be repulsed at the thought of smooching the tails of those higher up on the organizational food chain. And a rock-lovin’ leader will deeply “get” the connection between leaders and those he or she is privileged to lead.  Without a tight band and without screaming fans a lead singer is just a Karaoke crooner.

Rock-lovin’ leaders prefer to live out loud…at decibel 11 (made famous in the rock-mock-umentary, This is Spinal Tap). What follows are some high decibel leadership characteristics that we can adopt from real-life rock ‘n rollers…

Leadership Rocks

Rebellious Spirit

Rock-lovin’ leaders value mavericks who are willing to buck the system in order to improve performance.

They don’t want to be surrounded by milquetoast sycophants. They want people with fighting spirits and stiff backbones. The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again epitomizes this sort of rebellious nature. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…”. And if you really want to turn up the volume, check out Alanis Morissette’s in-your-face anthem, You Ought to Know or Nirvana’s generation defining Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Fist-raising Tribe Builders

Rock-lovin’ leaders make people feel “chosen” – that they are part of a unique and special tribe.

Each tribe member feels like they are on the “inside” and that they are unified by common values. There are some great tribe-building bands out there, but the greatest of all-time was the Grateful Dead. Check out this version of West LA Fadeaway at 3 Rivers Stadium in 1995. (R.I.P Jerry!).

Indignant Optimism

Rock-lovin’ leaders shine the light on the brighter days ahead.

They help us see that goodness resides at the end of hardship, and that our best days are always in front of us. A good example is Bob Marley and his uplifting songs Three Little Birds (Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright) and Positive Vibration. Alicia Keys spread her optimism to suffering New Yorkers after hurricane Sandy with this version of No One (notice her deft use of cell phones!). Finally, Irish rockers, U2, frequently remind us that despite all our worries, today is a Beautiful Day.

 Psychedelic Social Consciousness

Few things are as powerful as a rock-lovin’ leader with a cause.

Neil Young is a rock god and has influenced everyone from Willie Nelson to Eddie Vedder to Kurt Cobain. In addition to being a co-founder of Farm Aid, Mr. Young and his wife Peggy started the Bridge School for severely disabled children. Each year top rock artists gather for the Bridge School Benefit concert to raise money for the school. Check out this rockn’ version of Rockin’ in the Free World. Notice how the disabled Americans get the best seats in the house…on stage with the rock legends.

Higher Calling Transcendence

The most noble aspect of rock-lovin’ leadership is when they help us rise above our petty human condition.

The greatest rock-lovin’ leaders appeal to our better angels. Again, U2, provide a great example with this tribal version of Elevation. Or this gospel-like version of U2’s One with Mary J. Blige. But the absolute pinnacle of rise-above-yourself transcendence belongs to John Lennon and Imagine. “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can…”

Brash Humility

One of the main reasons we rock out with rock-lovin’ leaders is because most came from humble origins just like us.

We love them most when we believe that, despite their lavish wealth, they know where they came from. Pete Townshend and The Who showed us how keenly aware of the illusions of fame with this confidently humble version of Eminence Front.

You can tell a lot about a leader by what’s on his or her radio dial…and how high that dial is turned up. The more of a rocker he or she is, the more likely they will be good at building a strong sense of community, fostering creative improvisation, and promoting independent thinking.

And the more they do that, the more you’ll raise your fist in the air and shake your head “yes!”

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Bill Treasurer
Bill Treasurer is Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting, Inc.
He serves his clients with courage-building resources that reach the bottom-line
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook Web | Books 

Image Sources: Image Sources: muralesyvinilos.com, studentleadership.net

 

On Leadership, Passion, and Gluttony: The Courage to Change

Beer Diver

For better and for worse, I am an immoderate person, with an appetite for life that is at once passionate and gluttonous.

Once I commit to something, I am “all-in” and have little use for moderation.

Passion and Gluttony

In some areas of my life this has served me well. For example. the nose-to-the-grindstone focus with which I pursued my graduate degree is a time when I benefited from my passionate behaviors. But in other areas of my life, my immoderation brought out the worst in me. For many years, especially during the time when I was on the U.S. High Diving Team, I drank way too much.

Passion and gluttony, the bedfellows of immoderation, brought out the little devil in me.

Heavy Drinking and SportsThe lifestyle I led as an extreme athlete was conveniently conducive to my immoderate ways.  For over 7 years I would hurl myself off a small platform over 100-feet in the air. I loved and lived for those potent self-generating drugs adrenaline and dopamine.

Few high divers actually like doing the high dives, but every high diver loves the high that it produces. We seek it out…everywhere we can. By day, during those raucous years, I was an All-American high diver. But at night, I was a low-dow barfly.

In the towns where my teammates and I performed, everyone seemed to want to buy us drinks.

And we graciously drank what they poured.

Over time, though, the balance between goodie-two-shoes athlete and falling-down drunktilted off the bar stool.

In a word: I needed help…

Enter a Man Named “O.K.”

Men, I think, need male mentors. Mine came in the form of a person named O.K. (Even today I can’t tell you what O.K.’s initials stood for, but that’s okay with me.) What matters more is what O.K. himself stood for:

  • Rigorous Honesty
  • Personal Fidelity
  • Perpetual Gratitude

He modeled all of these characteristics, and in the process, I like to think, helped bring them out in me. I met O.K. about 9 months after I entered a program to stop drinking. I liked the way he made me feel welcomedin a room full of strangers. He’d ask me how I was doing, and seemed genuinely interested in my well-being.

So, I asked him to be my sponsor in the program…

And as it turns out, this was a wise choice!

It turned out that O.K. was sponsoring about 40 other men just like me.

Leadership Model

O.K. did what great mentors do; he helped me come to terms with who I am, warts and all. He helped me learn to hold myself accountable to the person I was destined to become, and to honor my dreams. He helped me develop a spiritual identity, and to take stock in all of the things for which I should be grateful.

In short, O.K. helped me move away from my Peter Pan-like perpetual adolescence so that I could become a man.

Behavioral Excellence 

O.K. was simply a great man. He was there for me in big ways and in small. Four years ago, for example, the night before I had prostate cancer surgery, it was O.K. who stayed with me and calmed my nerves.

His own father had also had prostate cancer surgery, and at the same hospital, 4o years prior.

He shared with me that the experience he had mentoring me had become an opening to a much better relationship between him and his dad. Somehow hearing that story was comforting to me:

That cancer could actually result in something good.

Lifelong Excellence

Yep, O.K. did what mentors do; they share their story and in the process help you develop and improve your own. Change, for most human beings, is seriously uncomfortable, and thus mostly avoided. But change we must if we are to evolve and grow.

Because of this, I am still an immoderate person.

Today, though, because of O.K., I direct my immoderation towards healthy things like being a good dad, husband, and friend. And that’s a change for the better. I had to willingly redirect my passion and intemperance to ward a greater goal. And to do this , it took a great mentor and a lot of courage.

Recently, after some complications associated with a stent in his heart, O.K., my friend and mentor, passed away. Though deeply sad, I am filled with gratitudefor having known such a beautiful human being.

The best I can do is to honor his life by trying to be a mentor to others by sharing my story.

So, do you have struggles in life that impact your efficacy as a leader, associate, or friend? Are you in need of a mentor? What are you doing to couple with another, or seek out help? Conversely, do you have something to offer others in need? What can you do to make others’ lives a little more “O.K?” I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Bill Treasurer
Bill Treasurer is Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting, Inc.
He serves his clients with courage-building resources that reach the bottom-line
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook Web | Books

Image Sources:  tommyland

What I Learned About Courage from a Night in Jail

Night in Jail

It wasn’t supposed to start this way.

London was supposed to be the launching point of my Global Courage Tour. A large financial services company had hired me to do a series of Courageous Leadership workshops in London, Zurich, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sydney.

A Screeching Halt

As the start of the world tour, you can imagine how excited I was as I hurried down the ramp at Gatwick Airport and headed to the customs agent.

Then, however, everything came to a screeching halt.

After asking me a few harmless questions about the purpose of my visit, the customs agent said he would have to detain me because I didn’t have a work visa.

“Huh? I’m working in your country for a total of 3 hours. I need a work visa for a 3-hour workshop?”

Nothing is quite as frustrating as a bureaucrat who does his job too well. This dude was a by-the-book kind of guy. Before I knew it, I was being interrogated about the nature of my trip. It was entirely perplexing and humiliating. The reality was, if I had lied about the purpose of my visit, saying, for example, that I was “on holiday,, I would have breezed through customs. But because I readily offered that I was there to conduct a workshop on behalf of a global financial services company with a presence in the UK, I was now set to be refused entry into the UK.

Big Expensive Repercussions

The silly little customs man refused my entry into the UK. As a result, my client would have to cancel the UK and Zürich sessions, inconveniencing literally hundreds of employees. My company’s June revenues would be off by thousands of dollars due to the lost revenues associated with the cancelled sessions.

And I would have to spend the night in an immigration detention center before being sent back to the United States.

Keep in mind that when you’re an immigration detainee, you are not charged with a crime. You are not “under arrest.” You pretty much aren’t anything in the eyes of the country refusing you. Though you aren’t charged with a crime, you are a sort of persona non grata.

You are not welcomed.

Go Directly to Jail

Got To JailSo, instead of standing in front of 100 eager executives sharing my insights on how to lead more courageously, I would be spending the night at The Brook House Immigration Removal Center, at Gatwick Airport.

Except for the fact that I wasn’t handcuffed, I was treated like a common criminal.

I was placed in the back of a locked van, driven to the high-security “detention center” (aka prison), stripped of my belongings, and given a 5-minute phone call.

My choice? The US Embassy in the UK.

Their answer?

“We’re sorry that you’re going through this experience, but we have no authority of the decisions over a foreign sovereignty.”

They did, however, offer to call my client to so they could cancel the session.

A Global Issue

Throughout the world there are tens of thousands of men, women, and children being held in immigration centers. In Australia, for example, there are over 4400 detainees. 65% of them have been there for over 6 months.

The experiencing is so frustrating and harrowing that many are suing the country because of the psychological damage that can result a result of the trauma-inducing experience of being incarcerated.

One man, for example, was awarded $800,000 after being detained for over 3 years. In the process he had gone mad, sewn his lips shut, and attempted suicide.

Profound Affects

I am no wimp. I teach about courage for a living. But I can tell you, if I had to spend 3 years in a detention hell hole, I would go mad too. Though my detention only lasted about 30 hours, it affected me profoundly.

  • First, your communication is severely limited. My family was unaware of my plight for most of my stay.
  • Second, you are left to wait for hours on end.
  • Hours go by as your waiting for the customs person to render the decision as to whether you’ll be allowed entry.
  • After you’re refused entry, hours go by before you are transported to the detention center.
  • Then more hours go by as you are placed in the aptly named “waiting room.”
  • Still more hours go by as you wait to see a nurse – a requirement of all entering detainees.
  • Finally, hours and hours go by as you wait for the seemingly endless night to pass.

A Number, Not a Name

There is a starkness to being in jail.

What could be more institutional, as a setting, than a detention institution.

Everything reeks of depersonalization.

Here you aren’t a person, you are a number.

The guy in cell 108-A.

The floors are linoleum.

The narrow windows are yellow-stained Plexiglas.

The tall fences are topped off with razor wire.

Everything is cold. Including the food. If you can call it that. The word “gruel” seems more fitting.

According to a 2010 report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, Brook House is one of the worst detention centers out of the 17 in the UK. According to the report, “…we were disturbed to find one of the least safe immigration detention facilities we have inspected, with deeply frustrated detainees and demoralized staff… our surveys, interviews and observations all evidenced a degree of despair amongst detainees about safety at Brook House which we have rarely encountered.”

Learning From Experience

I guess if you’re going to teach about courage, you have to learn about courage. Brook House provided me with ample new lessons, though I would have preferred to learn these lessons remotely instead of firsthand.

Here are four things I learned:

Hope Builds Courage

Part of what makes being in jail so hard is the sheer hopelessness of it all. Your pleas of innocence fall on deaf ears. The jail staff could not care less about the specifics of your situation. My own hope was dashed when I learned that there was a good chance that my detention would be extended because a volcano was spewing ash in Greenland, and it was expected to delay flights in the UK.

But my hope grew during the middle of the night when I looked out my cell window and saw a bright moon through a clear sky. Maybe, just maybe, my flight would still be on. When you’re in jail, any bit of hope will build your courage.

Human Connection Builds Courage

Despite being way too overcrowded, jail is a very lonely place. Everyone is a stranger, and most are from far off different lands and speak strange languages. You are altogether, alone. My conversation with the staff member from the U.S. Embassy, and later conversation with my client (she called me at the prison after the embassy had called her), meant a great deal to me.

Human connection, in the form of empathy and understanding, builds the human spirit. Regardless of how alone you feel, when others tell you that they are thinking about you, and rooting for you, you can’t help but be encouraged.

You Have to Manage Your Mind

Your mind can be friend or foe. During the night especially, my mind raced with negative thoughts. What if my plane is delayed? What if my detention lasts for weeks? What will happen to my business? How will I pay my bills? Etc., etc.  It’s amazing how negative the mind can be when it fills in the blanks for all the unknowns.

What helped me harness my mind, and temper my emotions, was to get out a pen write what I was learning, real-time. I wrote about my emotions and what the felt like. I wrote about the injustice I was feeling. I ranted about my captors, the dirty shower stall, and the shitty food. Purging everything helped my mind refocus and become more positive.

Courage is Beyond the Land of Fear

The hard truth about courage is that it requires fear. Fearlessness may define bravery, but not courage. To even be courage, one has to be afraid. Thus courage is, by definition, fearful. When you are afraid to the point of being petrified, such as I was during my jail stay, it is helpful to remind yourself that your intense feelings of fear may be the best indicator that your courage is being activated.

Courage may be attractive to those who admire the courageous from a distance. But for the person who is experiencing their courage, it sure doesn’t feel very good.

Back In the Saddle Again

In the end, none of my fears turned out the way I had envisioned. When I got back to the states, my client asked me to resume my travels, starting in Japan, which I did – all without any immigration instances. I know look back on my jail stay with some sense of pride. It’s a new merit badge that brought me new firsthand insights about the topic that is so near and dear to me. However long one lives, one should never stop learning about how to be more courageous.

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Bill Treasurer
Bill Treasurer is Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting, Inc.
He serves his clients with courage-building resources that reach the bottom-line
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook Web | Books

Image Sources: travel.usnews.com, stevemiller4lasvegas.com

Leading with Courage

John Wayne Courage

Both inside and outside of work, these are fearful times.

Over the last few years, the world has suffered through an unusual amount of anxiety-provoking situations, including the economic meltdown, many wars, the toppling of governments, and multiple natural disasters.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to throw in a radioactive nuclear disaster.

Guard Against Fear

From a business perspective, leaders need to guard against fear-saturation among the workforce. Research shows that workers who are full of fear have higher instances of depression and sleep deprivation, both of which significantly hinder performance.

Simply put, fear is bad for business.

Fear makes workers clam up, restricting the flow of feedback that is so necessary for keeping leaders from making bonehead decisions.

Fear heightens workers suspicions of one another, undermining the trust that interpersonal relationships need to flourish.

Fear causes workers to be unduly preoccupied with safety, strangling their willingness to take risks and extend their skills.

Fear lowers morale, damages relationships, erodes trust, and builds resentment.

Ultimately, fear lowers confidence, standards, and profits.

Given the debilitating impacts that fear has on productivity, performance, and morale, it is striking that so many leaders still resort to stoking people’s fears to get things done. Perhaps all this fear-mongering explains why Human Resource Executive Magazine estimated that, on average, workers spend 20 hours a month complaining about their bosses.

The cumulative impact of all that wasted time is estimated to be over $350 billion dollars a year.

One way to get some of that $350 billion back would be for leaders to focus on building confidence and courage among the rank and file.

4 Steps to Build Courage

What follows are four steps a leader can take to build workplace courage.

First to Jump:

If you want workers to have more initiative, take on greater responsibility, embrace change, and assert ideas, you have to do so first. As a leader, you have to be the first one to climb up and off the high-dive ladders that you are asking workers to climb. You must be the one to set the behavioral example that you want others to emulate.

Ask yourself, “Where am I playing it too safe at work?”

Show the Sunrise:

As a leader, (during fearful times especially,) you need to provide hope and optimism.

Here’s an overused phrase to stop using today: “What keeps me awake at night is…

Showcasing how worried you are about the company only serves to heighten people’s anxiety. There are more effective ways of engaging and motivating people, such as inspiring them with a clear and hopeful vision for a better future.

So instead of bragging about what keeps you awake at night, how about focusing on what gets you up in the morning?

Create Safety:

Workers will extend themselves beyond their comfort zones to the extent that you make it safe to do so. This works in reverse too. If workers think that you will bite their head off if they disagree with you, they’ll keep their mouth shut instead of providing you with close-to-the-action insights that could inform your decision-making.

Make it safe for people to disagree with you.

Be sure to coach them about how to disagree with you in a way that will cause you to be open to their pushback.

Modulate Comfort:

One danger that can emerge when workers experience fear over protracted periods is that they start to become comfortable with being afraid.

They become comfeartable.

As a leader, your job is to activate peoples’ courage to keep them from becoming disengaged and apathetic.

When people are performing in a lackluster way, provide assignments that stretch and challenge them. Once achieved, let them settle into those assignments only long enough to gain confidence. When they do, it’s time to stretch them into discomfort again.

Workers who are courage-led are more committed, optimistic, loyal, and change-embracing. Why wouldn’t they be? Imagine, for example, working for a leader who is a positive role-model of courageous behavior; whose vision of the future was so bold that it actually excited you.

Wouldn’t that help grow your courageous behaviors?

A Step Further

Go a step further and imagine what the whole company might look like if all the leaders led by building peoples’ courage and reducing their fears. There would be a lot more honesty, and a lot less nail-biting. There would be a lot more personal accountability and a lot less apathy. And there would be a lot more confidence and a lot less anxiety.

The bottom-line is this: Who would you rather work for, a leader who stokes your fear or a leader who filled you with courage?

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

**********

Bill Treasurer
Bill Treasurer is Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting, Inc.
He serves his clients with courage-building resources that reach the bottom-line
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook Web | Books

Image Sources: barewalls.com

Related articles

Courageous Unlearning

Courageous Unlearning

Image courtesy of Stefan Suarez

Leaders are busy people and are often so focused that they get their needle stuck in a groove when it comes to enlightened learning.

So here is a lesson on leadership designed to snap you out of your ordinary life and give you another way to look at learning how to improve your leadership. And it has to do with kids…

So here we go…

Kids need to grow up. So to help the process along, parents patiently guide and coach their children to behave in ways that honor their individuality and spirit.

…Or not…

Controlling the Controls

When dealing with a back-talking, ever-whining, emotion-manipulating kid, patience walks out the door and parental control walks in.

But when things go too far, and things get stressed to the breaking point, parents become more concerned with behavioral compliance than inspiring individuality. Parents begin to act in survival mode and end up forming their children in an adversarial environment that their kids are not yet ready to deal with. This impacts the formation of the soon-to-be-adult person.

This has long-term consequences that may stick around forever unless this knot of emotional response is undone.

Over-Control

Few things are as parentally transformative as an errant child.

When our kids express too much individuality, we are converted from a patient and loving teacher, to a jaw-clenching and over-controlling taskmaster.

When this happens, instead of providing our children with the space and freedom to do things their way, we slap on a psychological straightjacket and force them to do it our way.

We, as parents, above all, must be obeyed!

Parental conditioning is elemental to the process of child development. The challenge in raising chidren most effectively emerges, however, when children become adults and their behavior is still dictated by the haunting tense voices from their past.

Adults are, after all, just grown up children…with bigger clothes, bigger sandboxes, and bigger egos. Despite our “bigness,” very often, we adults don’t think for ourselves.

We tend to think the way our parents told us to think. Or worse, we think in the way they forced us to think.

Puppets To the Past

As adults, too many of us are still puppets to the past, doing what was told us forty-years after our “indoctrination!”  To illustrate this, ask yourself this:

How may people belong to the very same religious denomination as their parents without ever questioning why?

What causes this?

  • Habituation?
  • Loyalty?
  • Fear?
  • Indecision?
  • Lack of spiritual exploration?
  • Fear of going to hell?
  • What???

Courage to Unlearn

Unlearning in ProcessIt takes courage to disentangle the hairball of your psychological make-up to pick out what is truly your own values and desires from those that were implanted there by your parents.

It takes courage to claim your own beliefs outside of what you were told to believe long ago.

But, to not claim your own belief struture is even more dangerous.

When all you say and do is just a rehash of all your parents said and did, you aren’t really a person at all. You’re just a reflection of the past.

Honor and Build

The Bible commands us to “honor” our mothers and our fathers in the 10 Commandments. The best way to do that isn’t to live the life that they wanted you to live, but by courageously embracing the fullness of your individuality by becoming the you that you are supposed to become…independent of them.

To do that, you may have to unlearn everything that you were told!

What about you? What parts of your early-childhood conditioning are you still abiding by but have outgrown? For you to be a truly independent adult, what do you need to unlearn? Finally, when it comes to your own kids, where might you be over-imprinting your own preferences and aspirations on their lives? Do you have the courage to unlearn? Go ahead, be naughty! Your parents aren’t watching.

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

**********

Bill Treasurer
Bill Treasurer is Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting, Inc.
He serves his clients with courage-building resources that reach the bottom-line
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook Web | Books

Image Sources: http://stefansuarez.com, pluggd.in, i6.photobucket.com

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