Wise Leaders Embrace “Benign Subversives”

Benign Subversives

We all hate naysayers, snipers and back room gossips. They subvert our vision, undermine our message and divert attention from our objectives. They must be rooted out, disciplined, fired!

“Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.” ~ Henry Steele Commager

Valuing the Truth

I understand you, I really do. But if you are to excel as a leader you must develop a taste for high quality. sometimes unpalatable,  knowledge about the “State of the nation.”

You need to discern clearly between corrosive people and other people who simply don’t see it your way, but are nonetheless well-meaning and really want the organisation to succeed.

These are the “Benign Subversives.”

As a leader, you should embrace them as important allies, uncomfortable as it may be at first!

Recognizing the Benign Subversives

How can you recognise Benign Subversives and how best to employ their energy? The answer is to re-frame your impression of them and their objectives and see how you can learn from them in support of your own strategy and aims.

History is littered with examples of leaders, organisations and even governments whose drive to uphold an increasingly untenable core vision mutates into self-fulfilling “groupthink.” The organisation ends up assuming the best of everything and never prepares for the worst.

Schlomo Ben Hur, Nikolas Kinley and Karsten Jonsen describe this destructive scenario wonderfully in their paper “Coaching Executive Teams to Reach Better Decisions.”

“Leaders can get stuck in groupthink because they’re really not listening, or they’re listening only to what they want to listen to, or they actually think they’re so right that they’re not interested in listening. And that leads to a lot of suboptimal solutions in the world.” ~Jacqueline Novogratz

The Benign Subversive is Your Antidote

Leaders readily employ expensive external executive coaches to assist in their personal quest for understanding and success. They accept their challenges and inconvenient observations and pay highly for the privilege.

Great coaches act like human mirrors showing their clients the truth in their thinking, feeling and acting.

If you re-frame each internal Benign Subversive in this role you’ll see them as a positive force for purposeful change not an enemy.

Recalibrating Your Team

If you publicly affirm their valuable contribution and encourage them, the quality of their contribution improves as they become more internally motivated.

What’s more, other less assertive people will begin to contribute.

The richness and utility of this transparent information stream is the granular intelligence that great leaders and organisations thrive upon. For a research perspective De Dreu and West concluded in 2001 that, “minority dissent stimulates creativity and divergent thought, which, through participation, manifest as innovation.”

What the Benign Subversive observes may remain inconvenient and uncomfortable, but is a vital contribution to avoiding failure or achieving success. Rely on them to give you another view, one which would otherwise be invisible to you.

As leader you then have the choice to accept or reject their views but at least your decisions will be based on more complete information.

Remember this…

“It is easy to believe in freedom of speech for those with whom we agree.” ~Leo McKern

Taking the Next Steps

Now consider this:

  • Notice who in your team or organisation exhibits the characteristics of a Benign Subversive. How do you view them – problem or solution?
  • Gently encourage objective, non-judgemental observation and criticism; how do people respond? Decide how best to exhibit meaningful responses.
  • Notice the balance between your positive constructive versus negative destructive criticism is response your team or organisation reports to you.
  • How do you react emotionally to a report who disagrees with you or brings you inconvenient news?
  • Notice what happens when you receive objective criticism with a simple “Thank you I will definitely consider what you say”.

Recommended Reading
Managing Corporate Communications in the Age of Restructuring, Crisis, and Litigation: Revisiting Groupthink in the Boardroom by David Silver

Get your free mini-version of “Your Personal Leadership Book of Days – Avoid Cookie Cutter Solutions by Using Your Adaptive Intelligence,”

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 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Leadership Intuition: Learning To Listen To Your Gut

Intuition

Several years ago my strategic partner and good friend Hugh Massie, Founder and CEO of DNA Behavior International, mentioned that he was learning to trust his gut instincts more.

This caught my attention since he is a CPA by training and a very results-oriented, rational person.

Then as I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, I learned about this idea of the “second mind,” as he called it. Gladwell raised the visibility of the power of intuition, but I suspect that it was only for a short time for most people.

Using Intuition

Last summer at the National Speakers Association Convention, I met a leadership consultant who was building her speaking platform around the idea that leaders (who have mostly been trained like engineers to trust rationality and disregard feelings) needed to learn to use their intuition more to make better decisions.

Just recently I read another impressive book, THE WAY OF THE SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed and was interested to see that author Mark Divine, a former CPA and Navy SEAL, made instinct (awareness of gut feelings) a major theme of the book.

His proposition is that leaders should train like Navy SEALS to intentionally use both rational (conscious mind) and instinctive (drawing from the unconscious mind) inputs to make the best decisions.

Albert Einstein didn’t read Blink, and he certainly wasn’t a Navy SEAL, but evidently he discovered this related theory early on, saying this:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

I’m seeing a pattern from these different points on the topic of intuition, so let’s explore it a bit deeper.

Examining the Gift of Intuition

Intuition is about listening to your subconscious mind (gut instincts) to pull forward information and feelings that you’ve accumulated over a lifetime. Warriors have to rely on instinct, using every possible sense from outside and every stirring from inside to stay alive.

Having a good visual memory for shapes and landforms is crucial for a military pilot. Being able to store and recall patterns of logic and information is important for an entrepreneur or business person.

Emotional memory is probably the strongest memory that we have, and it’s also the one most quickly accessed. Emotional memory is the one we feel in our gut, and it helps us access the gigabytes of memory stored in our subconscious faster than any processor yet made.

“So, intuition is this stream of awareness that flows from our subconscious to our conscious, but it requires our tuning in to hear the signal.”

Can It Be Learned?

Can intuition be learned? The short answer is yes, but the issue is whether you will develop your awareness and then allow intuition to move from your gut to your mind. It’s not a problem when data is tagged with emotions; it’s ready for quick retrieval and usually easy to access. At other times, it’s as simple as stopping to ask yourself this:

“What is my gut telling me about this—what is my intuition?”

Sometimes data needed for intuition needs help in getting to our awareness, and this situation is where we have to be more intentional about accessing it. It usually means taking time to shut down our rational thinking and reflect usually in a quiet setting away from distractions. Sounds a lot like meditation and prayer, doesn’t it? I believe it’s very similar and can be the same.

Reflecting, waiting, and listening with our feelings for insight is a practice used by wise people throughout the history of civilization.

And it has become a lost art in our increasingly fast-paced society.

If we ignore or fail to cultivate the intuitive half of our decision-making abilities, we become less than our best as leaders and merely rely on the facts at hand.

My Experience With Intuition

I think that I’m a very logical and rational person, but I’ve also been blessed with a gift for patterns and a good memory. In recent years I’ve learned to value what these gifts reveal to me and trust my intuition more.

I do have to be careful about not jumping to conclusions with too little rational information, but overall I’m feeling more confident in my decision-making and greater commitment to execution.

What about you? What has been your experience? How often do you integrate your intuition in your decision-making? Why do you believe that some leaders ignore or don’t develop their intuitive abilities when it would produce better results and greater success? Please share your thoughts and comments.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
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.

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5 Sacrifices A Leader Must Make

Sacrifice

You may believe that as a leader your job is relatively easy, where you simply watch over and manage the behaviour of your employees; this is not so. As a leader, you have a number of responsibilities including not only watching over your employees but ensuring that they manage their work effectively and that they are happy.

It’s also part of your job to make sacrifices for the company and for those that work below you.

Not all of these sacrifices have to be extravagant or draw attention to your person, but they have to be made for the right reasons.

5 Sacrifices A Leader Must Make

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sac·ri·fice [ sákrə f̄̀ss ]

  1. giving up of something valued: a giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance

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1) Sacrificing Time and Energy

Giving both your time and energy in order to help others and the company that you work for is a sacrifice that all excellent leaders make. This is an important sacrifice because you cannot regain the time or energy that you have expended; once you’ve given them to somebody else they become lost to you. By giving your time and energy it also means that you are working hard towards not only your future, but that of your colleagues and employees too.

2) Ambition

Another sacrifice that is often made by a leader in times of need is that of their own ambition. By prioritising the needs of others including your employees, you leave less time for you to focus on yourself; any parent will understand this situation completely and the same applies to any leader.

To truly look after your workforce, you must focus on their every need to ensure their productivity. By helping those around you to succeed, you may have to sacrifice personal pursuits but these actions will always have a positive effect going forward.

3) Authority

As a leader there will come a time within your job when you are asked to sacrifice your absolute authority in order to let others progress and develop the skills that are needed to reach a higher position. Giving up authority can be difficult and threatening but it is important for your workforce to feel that they are progressing and learning new skills.

4) Benefits

As a leader it’s your duty to protect those around you and ensure their happiness; even in times of difficulty and instability. If your company is suffering from temporary financial instability (as many have during the recession), as a leader you should set the example by forgoing any bonuses and if necessary taking a pay cut. An excellent leader would never ask of anything from their employees that they aren’t willing to do themselves.

5) Relationships

As a decision-maker, you will understand that you may not always be liked or favoured for making the right decisions. For example, if you feel that an individual is not pulling their weight and fails to heed your warnings, you may find that your only solution is to remove this person from your team.

There will also be other times where you have to reject salary increases or defend requests for additional work hours to meet a deadline but by being the leader, you will sometimes have to play the villain.

Become Your Best Self

You may find that during your time as a leader, there are many other things that you must sacrifice in order to become the best leader that you can be. However, try to be fair at all times and don’t ever ask anything of your employee that you wouldn’t ask of yourself.

So, how do you feel about the idea that leaders must sacrifice in order to succeed? Do you think that if you reach a certain position or status that you no longer need to sacrifice? Or do you embrace the steps above and think that you will be more fulfilled if you learn these lessons and apply them? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Georgina Stamp

Georgina Stewart works for Marble Hill Partners
She helps Organisations to Recruit for Executive Roles and Interim Management
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Leadership Freedom Checklist – Where Are You on the Journey?

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
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.

Leadership Freedom Checklist [Infographic] by the team at FreedomStar Media

Articles of Faith: Who Do They Say that You Are?

Who Do You Say I Am?

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This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series here. Published only on Sundays.
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Have you seen the new movie Son of God? It’s an awesome display of interaction between leader and follower.

One of the most poignant bible verses regarding leadership is where Christ turns to His disciples and asks, “Who do the people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-30)

A simple, yet significant question which should be asked by all leaders to those they are leading, whether first degree followers such as the disciples, second degree followers such as the apostles and believers, or third degree followers such as the Pharisees (yes, our enemies follow us, as well).

The Question: “Who do the people say that I am?”

You Are a Leader

You are a leader, therefore, you have followers. Who do they say that you are? Everyone who follows you, everyone you lead, everyone in your circle of influence and, possibly, everyone in their circle of influence, refers to you in some manner.

From your pet to your pet’s vet, your mother-in-law to your mother-in-law’s hairstylist, your virtual assistant to your virtual assistant’s assistant.

In your life, whether near or far, first or last name basis, direct contact or by virtue of association, these people have defined you, pigeonholed you, categorized you, promoted or demoted you, simply by what they call you.

The Question is this: “Who do they say that I am?

On Being Named

The Lion of Judah received several monikers in response: John the Baptizer, Elijah, a prophet, and so on.

He then turned the question inside out, exposing their sub-consciousness, asking this:

“What about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Gutsy Peter nailed it, “You are the Christ, the Messiah!”

The Finisher of our Faith’s response to Peter: “The Father must have told you. No one else knew.”

My Own Personal Experience

Now, this is by no means, a comparison, but recently, I serendipitously learned what “they” (the “they” being those as referenced above) call me.

A reporter from our local newspaper wrote about me, calling me a slew of predictable names, self-proclaimed names that I had keenly persuaded my community to call me: writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, trustee (of a community college), and volunteer.

But, there was another term she used, one that wasn’t included in my marketing repertoire.

When she called me this name, like Peter, she nailed it! And, I knew that the FATHER had given it to her because no one else had verbalized it, certainly not me. It was a truth I may have realized it; but, never actualized, never embraced.

Assuming that she was using the term in its most positive connotation, yet intrigued in her so doing, I picked up the phone and dialed her number. When she answered, I said – with half of my accusatory voice implying a TV courtroom libel suit, the other half venerating as I sensed an addendum to my dossier had just been signed off by the Creator of the Universe.

“What did you just call me?”

She was caught off guard; perplexed even.

“Did I get something wrong?”

You see, as I am constantly cheering her on for the fantastic, professional, neutral journalist that she is, she had never imagined such an encounter as this…from me.

Before I could answer, she began reciting her adjectives.

“Yes,” I interjected, “you said all that, but you said something else.”

She drew a blank. So much pressure!

Finally, I said, “You called me a ‘civic activist.’”

She explained with the sincerity of encouraging intentions,

“Of course I did. That’s what you are. That’s how I see you. That’s how I’ve always seen you.”

It was the sound of her voice traveling through the airwaves, but it was the Voice which I heard, just as Christ must have heard as He read Peter’s lips. The Voice said

“You are truly blessed. It was I who told her what you are because it is I who created you. You are a leader; a civic activist, a compassionate advocate who loves your fellow-man and yourself equally, and who loves Me with all of your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.”

And with His gift of infinite instruction, He said “Now walk ye in it!”

Getting Ready For Your Next Level

Has the LORD blessed you with such a revelation?  Do you sense He is preparing to do so?  If your answer is yes, I would suggest you grab the safety bar, and hold on!

Your leadership feathers, having been clipped by the dull shears of unawareness, are growing in.   And you are being instructed to “walk ye in it!”

Now let’s contemplate a few questions:

  • Who are your followers: first, second and third degree levels?
  • Who do they say that you are?
  • Have you even asked or are you waiting – like Chicken Little – for the words to fall out of the sky?
  • Who do you say that you are?
  • Who does the FATHER say that you are?

And finally, do you walk yet in it?

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———————–
Donna Clements

Donna Clements is a Professional Writer and Motivator
She inspires Positive Social and Individual Change
Email | LinkedIn |  Web | http://www.wordpearlspress.com/

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Building Better Relationships, Building Better Business

Organizational Love

As an organizational communication professional, my goal is to help organizations do what they do, better. And I am very passionate about it!  

My earnest belief is that whether in a corporate, nonprofit, institutional, or government environment, employees are an organization’s greatest resource.

As such, developing and maximizing mutually beneficial relationships within and beyond the organization is critical to enhance satisfaction and effectiveness.

This is particularly true of leadership as their influence is so pervasively intertwined with the culture of the organization that it influences everything that occurs within that organization.

Types of Organizational Relationships

There are several types of organizational relationships:

  • Superior-subordinate
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Friendships

As well as the relationships with nonmembers, such as those between an organization and its various publics, including

  • Clients
  • Vendors
  • Contractors
  • And so forth.

Regardless of the level of connectedness, there are characteristics common to all relationships that must be considered to ensure that is rewarding to both parties.  Hon and Grunig developed guidelines for measuring relationships as a tool for public relations practitioners to assess the value of their programs.

These guidelines also serve as an excellent framework for examining our relationships, both organizational and interpersonal, to help reflect on areas which may need some attention to enhance the mutual rewards to all parties involved.

6 Components of Relationships

Hon and Grunig identify six components of relationships:

1) Control Mutuality

While balance in a relationship is key to its success, at varying times in the relationship one party will exercise greater control over the other. Control mutuality reflects the understanding between parties that this imbalance will occur, and recognizes (and accepts) that one party will exert greater control at given times.

For example, when a potential client asks you to present them with a solution to an existing problem, you control the situation through your selection of content, presenters and media which represents your organization and perspective in the best possible light.

Following the presentation, the control shifts to the client who, having several options from which to choose, can negotiate to their advantage.

 2) Trust

At some point in all relationships each party will open up to the other party, creating a level of vulnerability. Trust allows both parties to be confident in engaging in disclosures that help the relationship grow.

When pitching your presentation to a potential client whom you deem credible and desirable, you likely offer unique ideas and creative options. The client trusts that you will come through on the claims you are making and have the resources to do so.

Likewise, you trust that your ideas will remain proprietary and that the client will not use them to their benefit if they decide to go with another firm.

 3) Satisfaction

When both parties are happy because the positive expectations about the relationship are reinforced and outweigh the costs of the relationship, satisfaction occurs.

As the relationship with your new client progresses, satisfaction increases for the client as you continue to honor the conditions of your agreement by listening and responding to their needs and honor your commitments.

Your satisfaction increases when the client provides useful information from which to develop a plan; and also from the positive feedback received on the new project in your portfolio, as well as the potential for continued work or referrals.

4) Commitment

Relationships take effort, and commitment is indicated by a desire from both parties to continue with the relationship because they feel it is worth their energy to maintain and develop.

Even the best relationship experience challenges, but when a strong foundation based on trust and satisfaction is in place, it remains worthwhile to pursue. Communicating openly about concerns and disagreements help keep both the task and relational aspects in focus in order to achieve common goals.

 The remaining two components characterize the relationship more holistically.

5) Exchange Relationship

When one party in the relationship does something for the other party as reciprocation, either for a past or future service, it is considered an exchange relationship.

6) Communal Relationship

When both parties provide benefits to each other out of concern rather than payback, seeking no additional recompense, the relationship is communal.

For example, if your client moved up an important deadline to accommodate an unplanned visit from the CEO you might accelerate the schedule to meet the new deadline. As recognition for your effort you might request additional payment, or consideration for future projects (exchange relationship).

Alternately, you might make the necessary adjustments to meet the deadline simply because your client needs the assist (communal relationship).

Investments in Developing Relationships

While seeking compensation for services rendered is certainly reasonable, there may be occasions when building the relationship offers far greater benefits than would adherence to policy. As such, developing communal relationships should be an inherent organizational goal, particularly in key relationships, internal or external, that you would like to develop.

Beyond enhancing the relationship, individuals also experience positive outcomes such as greater self-esteem and satisfaction with life, further adding to benefits of engaging in such practices. Future posts will discuss each of these characteristics in more detail

Have you given thought recently whether your organization is (genuinely) people first or profit first? What practices do you employ that contribute to building communal relationships? Are these practices the norm within your culture, or “special circumstances?”

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———————–
Andrea Pampaloni

Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D is Professor of Organizational Communication at LaSalle
Her research focuses on Relationship-Building and Presentation of Image
Email | LinkedIn |  Web

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Bullet Proof Leadership: Leading with the Strength of Deliberative

Imagine this: You have great ideas, a lot of self-motivation, and you are ready to get started! Well, almost… Details are not your forte.

Not only that, you have no interest in them, much less troubleshooting your project.

Learning Vigilance

Instead, you go to your good friend and co-worker, Faye.

  • No matter the project, Faye has an innate ability to scour the details and identify, assess, and reduce risks.
  • She is able to slow you down, identify the potential minefields and bring them to your attention.
  • Her judgment and counsel are invaluable because she is inevitably able to see things you did not.
  • She has naturally good judgment, and after she is done with your project plan, it’s essentially bullet proof.

This because Faye is leveraging her Deliberative strength.

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

People strong in Deliberative know not to take everything at face value. Just because something appears to be air tight does not mean it is. You know that life is unpredictable, and beneath the surface you can sense the many risks.

For this reason, you approach life and your decisions with reserve.

You know that life is not a popularity contest, and that the right decisions are not always the most popular. Others can count on you to place your feet deliberately, and tread with care.

Leveraging Your Vigilance

As a Deliberative leader, your team can count on you to lead them in the right direction and to make well thought-out decisions for the team. You provide security and certainty, which is invaluable as a leader. Because you are not interested in popularity, you don’t play into office politics and can be relied upon to make unbiased decisions about your people and your team.

Your team will seek out your sound judgment.

As a leader, you also need to be aware that though you make great decisions, time plays a factor in the real world as well. Deadlines need to be met in order for things to get done. You know that all things carry inherent risks; it’s important for you to identify the most important ones and address those.

 

Balancing Strengths

It’s not efficient to deliberate over every single factor. Be prepared to leverage people with strong Command, Activator, and/or Self-Assurance Strengths. They will help you make strong, efficient decisions and implement them. It’s also important to be aware of your team’s perceptions.

No, being popular isn’t more important than making good decisions, but your Deliberative can be misconstrued as an inability to act or tentativeness when addressing challenges or change.

As a leader, that can be detrimental to your cause.

To avoid this, make sure you explain your decision-making process, and that you find the risks in order to mitigate and reduce them.

Leading The Vigilant

If you are leading someone strong in Deliberative, they can be a great asset for you, especially if you are strong in Activator, Achiever, or Futuristic. You will be inclined to move quickly and may not have thought of every possible outcome or pitfall.

Though it may pain you to take a step back and slow down, you will have more successful endeavors that not.

Your partnership will also benefit them because you will be able to push them forward, as they have a tendency to sit still for long periods of time.

If you are a Deliberative person, what’s your process for decision-making? Do others come to you to help them make decisions? How to you avoid taking too long while still being thorough? If you lead someone with Deliberative, do you leverage them in team decision-making processes? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————–
Alexsys "Lexy" Thompson HCS, SWP

Alexsys “Lexy” Thompson is Managing Partner at Fokal Fusion
She helps building Strong Leaders through Strong People Strategy
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 Image Sources: photographyblogger.net

 

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