5 Ways To Be An Exceptional Leader

5 Ways To Be An Exceptional Leader #Infographic

On Leadership, Soaring and Embracing the Power of Belief

Airshow

A while back I was in Oshkosh, WI attending the 2012 AirVenture event, a week-long airshow and exposition of experimental aircraft, homebuilts, and generally everything aviation for the civilian aviation enthusiast.  

It’s quite a show that attracts aviation enthusiasts from all over the world.  In my previous post, we explored beliefs and how they impact our perspective.  Today, let’s continue that thread by looking at the idea of strong beliefs and how important they are for success. 

The Early Belief in Aviation

Aviation as we know it began with the Wright brothers – bicycle shop mechanics and inventors who believed they could fly.  They kept at it until they proved they could.  Another name heard often here at AirVenture is Dick Rutan, the former Air Force fighter pilot who in 1986 along with his co-pilot, Jeana Yeager, made the first ever non-stop, unfueled flight around the word.

And yes, their “Voyager”, was a one of a kind experimental aircraft designed by Dick, his brother Burt, and Jeana.

If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right

Here at Oshkosh, as I look at rows upon row of literally hundreds of beautiful flying machines constructed by the pilots who flew them to Oshkosh, I am impressed again with the power of belief and, of course, hard work.  They tend to be partners to success in life.

The saying, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right” may have been first coined by Abraham Lincoln, but it’s most often attributed to Henry Ford.  Regardless, it seems to bear much truth.

Witnessing Belief and Confidence

As an instructor pilot, I trained many students right out of college to fly supersonic jet aircraft.  Most made it through the course and a few washed out. The one common characteristic was the degree to which they believed they could succeed.  It takes a great deal of confidence to fly at 500 miles an hour with three feet of wingtip spacing on your leader.

Not only does it take a great deal of skill, but without confidence you will never be able to perform consistently.

I often told my students, “I can see you have the talent to do this and I’m confident that I can teach you.  But for it to work, you must picture it in your mind and you must believe that you can do it.”

And predictably, most of those who didn’t make it were those who just couldn’t believe they could do it.

So what about you (and me)?  What is it that we’re struggling with right now that we have the capability to do, but just aren’t sure if we have what it takes?  Quite often when we lack confidence we also lack passion; they seem to go together.  What’s motivating you to want to achieve a goal or make a change in your life?  Can you picture yourself succeeding?   Do you really believe down deep it can happen?  If the answer is “yes I can”, then you probably can. 

These are my thoughts, but the Leading with Honor community would love to hear from you.  Many of you can speak to this issue of believing (confidence) and we’d all benefit from hearing your thoughts.

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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.

Image Sources: thedigitalaviator.com

On Leadership and The Crisis Moment of a Decision

Decision Making
Recently I became acquainted with a leader serving an interim position. 

“Interim” positions are always difficult, both for the organization as well as the person filling the temporary role.

Leading in the Moment

I have been an interim leader twice in my career, and so I fully appreciate the transient-feel of the role. By definition, the person must keep things going and serve as a leader in the moment, yet very few interim leaders I have known feel comfortable enough to make a l decision impacting long-term on the basis that the assignment is short-term.

I was the opposite:

While I was “interim,” I felt a strong responsibility to act decisively and make decisions that would impact short and long-term gains, but most “Interims” I have known do not feel this way.

A Wobbly Interim

My recent acquaintance is one such leader.  So far, 100% for 100%, when a decision has come up or just before a final deadline, I have been on the sidelines watching the Interim choke, hyperventilate, paralyze, and hold up progress while everyone looks in bewilderment for a reason for such a slow-down.

This person shares strong opinions openly, a range of criticisms (some that have improved certain areas exponentially), and strong views about nearly everything—even pop culture.  Technically he has most of what is needed for the role, and when he is focused on an area that area gets an enormous amount of valuable support.

All of this and yet I haven’t seen any real leadership-level decision come about, at least not without a painful journey by all who surround him.

We all know this type of person. And he is not the first I have encountered. So it got me thinking: “Why?”

What Drives a Decision?

I chuckle at the sound of “making a decision.”  I joke that it is really about “concluding a decision,” if that makes any sense at all.  There are so may things that go into the process of decision-making, and the study of this topic could keep anyone up for days.

Just Bing “The Anatomy of a Decision” and you will see what I mean.

Each resource always mentions the various steps to decision-making, from gathering information to assessing various outcomes, blah blah blah.

Case in Point

The one I like the most, though, is from Fordham Law Review (1984) where Judge Irving R. Kaufman takes on the decision-making topic in a most interesting fashion.

If you look at Judge Kaufman’s time as a Federal Judge for the United States, he was involved in some of the most interesting cases in the 20th century, from the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case to his rejection of the government’s attempt to deport musician John Lennon.  Most of us will never know the pressure of making a decision at that level.

Most of us will never make decisions at that level, either.

And even more of us will never think too long about how we might make a decision or how much will go into it: we either make one, stall out, or reluctantly finally get around to it.

Easier Said Than Done – For Some

Sure, some would argue that a simply Myers Briggs will help us (face it, some are more comfortable with making decisions than others), but the truth is that decision-making is far more than just a matter of innate preference for closure or commitment, as Myers Briggs or any Jung-type assessment would suggest.

Judge Kaufman’s decisions, for example, had far-reaching implications—far more than the ones we are generally up against each day: whether an inexpensive training should take place, or if a meeting of senior leaders should include financial business analysis, or what to eat for lunch, for example.

Then how do you do it?

4 Ingredients in Making Decisions 

Of all the resources I have reviewed, and years in my own decision-making (and sometimes decision-deflecting) tenure, four items remain steadfast for decisions, good or bad.

I have marginalized these common items to a fault, but you will get the gist:

1) Facts

Good or bad, the starting point of a decision is what you know and the best decisions are based on hard cold unbiased facts and data points.  Period.

2) Interpretation

This is related to what you do with the facts after you review them, and it is largely based on who prepared the facts, who is telling you the facts, how you like the facts, and whether you believe in them.  This is also when confidence builds up or shuts down.  This is the crisis point of decision-making and usually when leaders (or anyone) realizes whether he or she is up for the task.

3) Guidelines or Governance

After the facts are interpreted, we often have guidelines or governance that will help us along the way… and sometimes not so much.  If we interpret that a project will be late based on all the facts, various project rules will require us to escalate immediately.  Black and white, yet not always done for a number of reasons.  This goes to the next item:

4) Courage

Defined in The Free Dictionary as “the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.”  Yes, leadership always goes back to Courage, doesn’t it?  And when all is said and done, when it comes to decisions (particularly the difficult and ethically based ones), this is really the one that will galvanize what people remember the most.

So what are some of your thoughts of recent events around the globe?  How do leaders around the world make decisions?  What are the basis points for your decisions? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Christa Dhimo
Christa Dhimo is President & Founder, via Best Practices
She helps clients by aligning human capital performance with business results

Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Bing Search

Image Sources:  media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

Leaders and Difficult Decisions: The Syrian Crisis Scenarios?

Syria

Hard choices come with the job of a leader. Imagine almost 1 million Americans dying in a modern American civil war over the last two years, comparatively speaking.

That is the ratio of people that have died in the current debacle in Syria—many of them innocents caught amid the violence.

It’s a tangible example of the difficult choices regarding how deeply America should be involved in this conflict.

Facing Tough Choices

The US President and American national leaders are facing a situation where there does not appear to be many good choices with conditions erupting now in Syria. We don’t want to help Assad and his terror-sponsoring regime, but the situation has deteriorated to the point where terrorists have taken over the fight for the opposing rebels in many areas.

“This dilemma of having to choose a best path when there doesn’t seem to be any good choices isn’t that unusual for leaders—or even people and families for that matter.”

The Syrian crisis is a good case study for building a model for making tough decisions.

I’ll initiate some thoughts and best practices, and then you the readers can critique and improve. Let’s see if we can actually come up with something that will help all of us, and who knows—maybe even be helpful to those who drink that funny water inside the DC beltway.

L2L Discussion Please Vote

Check Your Mindset

Mindsets drive behaviors which have either positive or negative outcomes, and mindsets are based on assumptions.

For example, facing tough decisions like this, I must assume that I don’t know everything that needs to go into the decision; so, I need the wisdom, knowledge, and experience of others who have relevant information and expertise on the subject.

Getting the full picture will help objectively evaluate the various courses of action. This step also assumes that the decision-maker is willing to listen to diverse opinions and withhold judgment until appropriate information has been gathered and all advisers have been heard.

Get Everyone to Put on the “Big Hat”

This means putting the needs/mission of the highest level of the organization first over individual parochial and political interests. I’ve heard the CEO of a Fortune 500 company lament that this was the biggest challenge with his management team of division presidents.

They had problems taking off their division hat for the sake of the greater mission. If it’s true in business, imagine how much more so in government cabinets and congressional political parties.

Complex, difficult decisions require a deft self-awareness of your personal motives and natural biases.

If you can objectively make the best difficult decision—even when it may not benefit you personally—that is a hallmark of true sacrificial and honorable leadership.

Establish Ground Rules for the Management Team

What is okay and what is not okay? How will we stay focused on the main thing? And, if I’m the senior leader, I make it clear that we need courage to speak up with dissent; there is no benefit from having “yes men/women” who won’t give their true opinion.

And again, clarify your assumptions. A team that can have passionate, courageous debate (or as Patrick Lencioni calls it—“creative conflict”) is almost always a better environment for good decision-making.

Identify Your Sources of Counsel

Start with your key managers and advisors. Decide if you need input from professional experts like a lawyer, CPA, engineer, or other specialist. Above all, get counsel from a diverse group and listen to them.

Clarify the Various Options 

Which choices will best serve your highest aim/goal—whether it’s an organization or the ideals of a particular country or culture? What are the most likely outcomes with each? What are the potential unintended consequences? Play each option out as best you can to see the end results.

Courageously Make a Decision

Since we said it’s a hard decision with not many good choices, it will take courage to decide and move ahead. Courage means making the right decision even when it doesn’t feel natural or safe. Overcoming fears to do what you know is right will enable you to courageously make a decision, and following the previous steps will help you make the best one.

Stay United and Execute the Decision

Make sure that you have a unified message and communicate it to the lowest level of the organization.  Everyone should understand the logic you used and remind the team of the principle of unity (we have done our best and we all own this decision). Anything less is disloyalty and undermines the success of the organization.

These are my ideas, so how do you see it? What has been your experience?  What worked and what didn’t? Please share your thoughts.

Article Reference – “Syrian Civil War: How Did We Get Here?

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
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.

Image Sources: images.alarabiya.net

Dear Leader: Do You Believe in Love?

Love

The 21st Century belongs to the aware, focused, & loving leader.

Our workplace needs love. What we need is for the individuals who make up our organizations to step forward in love; eliminate judgment; embrace uniqueness; and, with care, create accountability while behaving with responsibility. Love defined for the leader is to lead others with confidence while leading others to their own confidence. −Wading the Stream of Awareness (Love Chapter)

It is impractical to consider providing encouragement to another if we do not hold the deep abundance of love inside; a self-love that appropriates the transformation into our brand of leadership love.

We want to build a story with you.

The collaboration in the telling of the story is animated as we love the flow, love the person, and love the story.

Aware: Love the Flow

It is imperative to learn to hold the tension in the middle stand that is your balanced awareness−where internal desire joins with external intent and finds you captured by the flow.

Narrowing in on my own brand of leadership love enriched my work and life as I became more consistently conscious of my voice of love. The intensity of my love strengthened my focus.

Love flows through your work only after doing its work in you.

Focused: Love the Person

Paul is an expert in Smart Design creating Positive Environments for freedom in living. He holds a particular passion for those battling the disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). He is not merely a construction expert. He partners in the care of the client.

During Karen’s Smart Design project, he would take along material samples so she could actually feel the differences while he explained the details. Paul told me that providing functional space for an individual like Karen is as empowering for him as it is for the client. These experiences are fulfilling his own purpose as the physical spaces he designs give freedom to the individuals who occupy them.

Story lives in your moments, folds into your potential, and unfolds in your love.

Loving: Love the Story

Only those who are totally secure in their love can live thus fully the present moment. −Thomas H. Green, When the Well Runs Dry

It is good to confidently peer into the vision of tomorrow. Embracing the outline−the structure−of your story frees love in the present; the only location where we truly live with any significant degree of influence.

There is no influence without love.

To take those you lead, influence, and serve beyond mere expectations, you must love them.

Love moves one through fear and limitation.

It takes the working love of a confident leader to build the confidence of others.

What do you need to fortify your self-love? What will free you to love those you lead more authentically? How can you increase team performance by creative an atmosphere where love thrives? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Jeff Brunson
Jeff Brunson is Owner of BasicApproach (Building Confident Leaders)
His passion is Building Confident Leaders
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Blog | Book | Skype: jeff.brunson3

Image Sources: 1.bp.blogspot.com

On Leaders and Accountability (Part 2): Crucial to Life and Superbowl

Super Bowl 2013

We recently experienced Superbowl XLVII. 

Thirty-two teams started the season. Sixteen NFC and sixteen AFC with each conference having four divisions–North, South, East, and West–with four teams each.

The goal for the season was the same for all 32 teams—reach the Superbowl, but only two made it. The consequence of losses along the way knocked out the other 30 teams who were relegated to armchair quarterbacks. Whether we like it or not, consequences come into play in all areas of life, and that’s one reason that accountability is so important. 

Understanding Accountability

In a recent blog, I began a discussion on accountability. This issue is so crucial in today’s workplace (and society in general) that I want to continue in the same vein. And in the weeks and months ahead, I’ll share a series of blogs on this subject including:

Now, let’s get some clarity around the Why part.

Understanding Human Nature

The Individual Problem — Our DNA Requires Accountability

Without accountability, organizations and people typically get off track, miss their goals and begin to deteriorate. So, what’s the problem and why is accountability so difficult? I think it has a great deal to do with our human nature.

Both our bodies and our psyche are governed by the second law of thermodynamics. Regardless of how dedicated and disciplined we are, somewhere in our DNA is a natural bent to just get by; to put out the least effort needed; take the easy way out; and avoid pain and hardship as much as possible. Some call this lack of effort “mailing it in.”

“Regardless of how dedicated and disciplined we are, somewhere in our DNA is a natural bent to just get by; to put out the least effort needed; take the easy way out; and avoid pain and hardship as much as possible. Some call this lack of effort ‘mailing it in.'”

Understanding Technology

Ironically there’s a twist because this tendency to be lazy can serve us well by inspiring us to develop more efficient technologies and pursue process improvements. Fortunately, the marketplace provides the consequences that sort out effective and efficient innovations and kill those that don’t cut it. Accountability eventually has its day.

Individually though, without accountability we tend to sink to a lower level of human performance. The cold truth is that we’re naturally lazy and may not be willing to expend the effort required to engage life and work with excellence and reliability.

The problem becomes compounded by other strains in our DNA–selfishness and greed can push us to take short cuts to getting what we want. Pride can keep us from seeing ourselves as we really are, and fear can cause us to avoid engaging difficult issues that make us uncomfortable (like affirming others or alternatively holding them accountable).

Helping People

Accountability Helps the Individual 

Accountability takes into account some other positive aspects of our human nature that can positively improve our performance like -

  • our need to achieve
  • our desire for approval
  • our need for boundaries and consequences.

We all want to “count for something”–to make a difference. Properly applied, ac-“count”-ability actually helps us get where want to go in terms of achieving our goals and fulfilling our responsibilities. As leaders, we know that holding people accountable is essential for getting results and developing others. So we must approach every situation with a mindset of accountability and diligently develop and implement the skills to make it happen.

Helping Teams

Accountability is Essential for the Organization

There is an old management adage that “You can expect what you inspect” (also “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect”). In other words, a leader needs to know how progress is going and lead/manage as needed to keep things on track. Without meeting goals and achieving success, you can’t remain viable in business.

In the military, executing plans in a timely and effective manner can mean life and death, so accountability is taught as an essential part of military leadership. Keeping your word and doing your duty are requirements for serving as an honorable person and leader. But isn’t that true in any work setting or relationship?

“A leader needs to know how progress is going and lead/manage as needed to keep things on track. Without meeting goals and achieving success, you can’t remain viable in business…Keeping your word and doing your duty are requirements for serving as an honorable person and leader.”

Helping Ourselves

Look around at our culture. It’s clear that accountability would solve many of the problems that we see in government, business, education, nonprofits, and individually as well. We need a new mindset that will act like a digital billboard, flashing ACCOUNTABILITY in bold caps, grabbing our attention and reminding us that accountability is essential for progress.

Without it we usually don’t progress, but rather we tend to regress as we’re overtaken by that second law—laziness.

So where do you stand on this issue–is it personal or cultural? In what ways are you succeeding in holding yourself accountable? In what areas are you “mailing it in”? How hard is it for you to hold others accountable? Please share your thoughts and let’s get a conversation going. Your response may be that digital billboard flashing for someone else. We can help each other.

See Part 1On Leaders and Accountability: Notes From the Cliff

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
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.

Image Sources: etcyouth.org

Leadership Deception: Not Taking the Easy Way Out

Easy Way Out

There are many situations in which it’s wise to take the easy path.  After all, why should we waste time and energy doing things the hard way? 

Clearly, compressed-air nail guns and modern washer/dryers are far more efficient than the toilsome methods of earlier generations.  But when it comes to issues of character and integrity, the easy way is often very deceptive and taking it can lead us on a path of pain and dishonor.

Let’s take a look…

Cheating Student & Deceiving Teachers

In Atlanta, public school teachers (with a wink from some administrators) were changing students test responses in order to raise scores on standardized tests. They wanted their students to look smart, but evidently they were not able to facilitate successful student achievement.

Changing the students’ answers must have seemed an easier alternative than dealing with the realities of the situation.  But like most situations, the benefits of taking the easy way out only lasted for a short time.

Eventually, accountability arrived and it was not pretty.

Those who suffered included not only the guilty parties, but the entire system and most of all the students who desperately needed good teachers who would equip and inspire them to meet the standards.

“Ethical laziness is abundant in our society today; just pick your profession and you can find plenty of examples”

Two More Unethical Examples

Ethical laziness is abundant in our society today; just pick your profession and you can find plenty of examples. Mostly, we hear about the high flyers that make the headlines. In reality, it goes from top to bottom.

Two of the most obvious and famous examples come from college coaching—remember Coach Tressell from Ohio State, and more recently the Penn State mess where even some key administrators tried to take the easy way out regarding Jerry Sandusky.

We know the collateral damage that caused—it spread far and wide impacting many lives forever.

An Innocent Bystander

One innocent person you may not have heard about who took a hit is the other Gerry Sandusky.  Yes, that’s right—Gerry with a “G.”  He has also experienced life-disrupting, collateral damage just because his name sounds like the bad guy who has received all the attention.

Instead of being a victim though, Gerry has stood tall and reminded us all about the importance of taking the hard road when it comes to living and leading with honor.

This Gerry Sandusky with a “G” is the very talented play-by-play broadcaster for the Baltimore Ravens football team. He also is the son of 37-year veteran NFL coach John Sandusky, who earned a Superbowl ring.  Recently ESPN did an interview with Gerry to discuss the struggle he and his family have undergone due to his mistaken identity.

Watch it here:

“…doing the easy thing in the short run is almost never the right thing to do in the long run.

The Difficult Way – The Honorable Response

When asked if he would change his name to avoid the confusion with the Penn State Jerry Sandusky, he replied this:

Never! I’m not going to turn my back on my mother. I’m not going to turn my back on my father. The easiest thing in the world for me to do – in the short run – is to change my name.  But if life has taught me anything, if the Penn State situation has taught America anything, it’s that doing the easy thing in the short run is almost never the right thing to do in the long run.  I’m not going to make the same mistake they did.

Three cheers for Gerry with a G!  It could not be said any better or clearer.  Doing the right thing is almost never easy, but always pays off in the long run.

So what have you learned about taking the easy way out?  And what have you learned about trying to dodge accountability by covering up?  What will it take for us all to learn from the failures of others?  Do we have to make our own tragic mistakes?   How do you see it? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
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.

Image Sources: godsgracecc.com

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