On Leadership, Growth and Doing it Anyway

Do It Anyway

Do you know that song by Martina McBride titled “Anyway?”  

In the very first verse of the song she says this:

You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway”

On Life and Making Lemonade

My husband graduated from college and spent 6 years in the Air Force.  Then we settled down in my home town to raise our family and he went to work as an engineer for a large company.  We raised 3 boys.

I began a business. We invested and began preparing for the day that we could retire. We seemed to be on the right track as a couple and a family.

But despite our best laid plans, life brought us some lemons. Our lives changed in directions for which we had not planned:

  • We did not expect that my husband would lose his job after 15 yrs
  • I did not anticipate that my business would begin to lose money
  • We did not know that our son would cost us everything that we had worked for (at least as far as the things of the world are concerned.)

Lemons, Lemons, and More Lemons

Our youngest son became involved in drug and alcohol abuse.  He spent 4 years going to jail, hospitals, and rehab. There were about 3 years that I did not sleep through the night in anticipation of a phone call from the police. I was never sure if they would want us to pick him up or identify his body.

To say the least, these were very difficult years for our family!

The courts held us financially responsible for the crimes that our son committed while he was a minor child.

  • We paid fees, restitution and hospital bills
  • We paid for couple of rehabilitation periods
  • We suffered emotionally, mentally, and career-wise

Because of the time away from work for court and family rehab sessions, my husband’s work performance decreased. When it came time for layoffs at his workplace, he was on the list.  When he lost his job, we lost our ability to pay for our home. My business began to fail and our property investments no longer rented for enough to pay the mortgage.

…More Lemons

As a result, we lost 2 properties, our home, and my business. We continued to fight to save our son. My husband finally found a job in a different state and he relocated. I had to remain where I was to close my business, sell the properties, and be with my son who was not finished with school.

On Making That Lemonade

Over time, my son finally completed his GED and got a good job. It took all the worldly possessions that we had, but our son is alive, healthy, drug free, and working.

After 18 months I was able to join my husband in our new home. I had to start over. He had to start over. I won’t lie, it was the most difficult time of our marriage. We became stronger than ever as a couple by pulling together for the sake of our family.

Although we were financially ruined, I can say with all the confidence in the world this:

Losing your fortune is not that big a deal. After all, it is just money. You can get more of that.

There is no battle more worth fighting that the battle to save a child. There is no amount of money that could change my opinion on the financial, emotional, and family decisions that we made. In fact, I would do it all over again for what we gained.

Keep Trying. It’s Worth It All

Now it is time to start building again.

Did I hesitate to start over? 

Absolutely.

Did I fear the idea of losing again?

You better believe it.

Is it going to be painful and difficult?

You better believe that, too!

Did it stop me?

NO!

There is nothing more painful than the thought of losing a child. Losing “stuff,” well that was easy by comparison. Your true success lies in what you put your hope in.

So, what sort of life-altering challenges have you faced that you were able to overcome? How did that build your character, your family, your relationships, or your business? Are you facing something now and need encouragement? If so, please connect with me and I think I can offer some sound personal advice. I would love to help.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Phyllis Rodriguez

Phyllis Rodriguez is a Producer at Insphere Insurance Solutions
She serves as an Associate Broker, Short Sale and REO Specialist
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Web | Personal | 520-220-4021

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5 Ways To Be An Exceptional Leader

5 Ways To Be An Exceptional Leader #Infographic

On Leadership and The Personal Courage Required to Be a Leader

Personal Courage

One of the most overlooked aspects of being a leader is the inherent need for personal courage.

“Personal courage is the ability to act on the tough but necessary decisions guided by a moral compass that serves to benefit the team or stated goals.”David Stricklin

On Personal Courage 

At a cocktail partly last night, I was discussing leadership with my cousin who is the director of operations for a global health care corporation. As we verbally crossed through the different aspects and principles of leadership, we quickly realized one of the most overlooked traits in writings today was the personal courage required to be a leader.

We both agreed strongly that personal courage must be a bedrock of leadership.

A quick search of the internet for leadership principles reveals over 13M returns but target this to personal courage and the returns are reduced by over 60%. To be successful, a leader must display both moral and physical courage. This is accomplished by showing a willingness to take calculated risks, acting independently, and demonstrating personal responsibility for their actions.

On Focus and Intensity

The leader must persist with focus and intensity even when faced with adversity and, in when faced with challenge, project confidence, credibility, and poise.

As Aristotle informed us so many years ago:

Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” ~ Aristotle

Without personal courage, leadership cannot be effective, revolutionary change is not possible, evolutionary advancement will not occur and an organization will quickly find themselves on the express path to extinction.

The Personal Courage Required to Be a Leader

Leaders must have the personal courage to stand up for what is right.

They demand accountability…from followers, superiors and themselves. Leadership is about doing what is right, not just doing the right things. Successful leaders are never yes-people, but they respectfully dissent.

They also understand that decisions may be delegated but responsibility can not. Courageous leaders are always responsible for their actions.

Leaders must have the personal courage to make decisions.

A leader is continually asked to make decisions with incomplete and variable data sets. The choices many times are not right or wrong, but differing degrees of good enough with conflicting second and third order effects. This draws many leaders into analysis paralysis where a decision is delayed into nonexistence because of the continual search for a perfect solution.

A courageous and dynamic leader knows their worth is determined by their ability to properly analyze situations and take deliberate, calculated risks to move the team forward.

Leaders must have the personal courage to ensure positive change.

It takes courage to question everything, to break from the status quo, to challenge the norm and determine how it could be improved.

A successful leader strives to make positive change every day.

They are not afraid of leading paradigm shifts to ensure success and positive progress. 

Leaders must have the personal courage to deliver bad news as well as good news.

All leaders deliver good news, good leaders delivers bad news. Negative feedback is painful for both sides, but your followers will appreciate your candor when their behavior is improved in the early stages of poor or unsatisfactory  performance instead of waiting until the issue becomes so large it is almost impossible to deal with simply.

We have all needed constructive criticism in our lives. A successful leader cares about their followers enough to have the awkward conversations to discuss missteps, mistakes, or mannerisms.

Making each person better helps the team be better. It takes personal courage to do the right thing and not just calm the troubled waters in your organization. 

Leaders must have the personal courage to develop their followers.

True leadership is not found in an individual, but the people developed. The true measure of a leader is not just measured by success of their organization, but by the measure of leaders they influence and develop to follow in their footsteps.

Successful leaders invest in the future of their followers and not just the organization.

The more you care about your followers, the more personal pride and motivation they will feel toward you and your organization.

Leaders must have the personal courage to delegate.

Leaders must give their team vision…Courageous leaders trust their team to execute their vision. As any new leader can attest, one of the toughest actions is to do nothing on a task and trust your team to execute your direction and wishes.

This is the transition from a tactical level action officer to an organizational and strategic level leader.

Leaders must have the personal courage to seek help from others. 

Leadership has many aspects and principles, but the first building block of a successful leader must be personal courage. The U.S. Air Force defines courage as what allows you to remain calm while recognizing fear.

Further, moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault.

Improving Your Personal Courage

The obvious question looming is how do you improve your personal courage? You can begin your quest to control fear by practicing self-discipline and calmness. Determine the area in which you experience the most fear in your daily life, and your leadership duties, then force yourself to do them until you can satisfactorily control your reaction.

Personal courage allows the right questions to be asked, followers to be developed and credibility established.

Persoanal courage is simply not letting your fears overcome your goals and define you. It is the ability to admit and learn from your mistakes, and the continual quest to become a better person.

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” ~ Billy Graham

What aspects do you consider vital in the personal courage to be a leader? How do you improve your personal courage? Is there any other aspect of leadership which you consider more important? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————– 
Chris R. Stricklin

Chris R. Stricklin is Chief Growth Officer of The General Leadership Foundation.
He is a Leader, Mentor and Coach integrating Fields of Negotiations and Leadership
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Google+ | Web

 

On Leadership and Leading a Legacy

Legacy Wake

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

Fifty years ago, on November 18, 1963, President John F. Kennedy made a stop here in Tampa, FL.  Who would have had any idea that four days later he would be assassinated in Dallas, TX?

Your Leadership Legacy

I just watched a special on the Tampa visit, and it got me thinking . . . I mean seriously thinking . . . what legacy would I leave behind?  What plans would I have, in place, that would keep going after I was suddenly gone?

When a prized leader leaves an organization, you normally hear things about how “he did this” and how “he did that.”  But that’s all in the past.  Times keep changing.  Needs keep changing.  Are the things that you DID, lasting through to the future and making an impact?

We all want to be remembered for something.  But that’s where the problem starts.  “Something” tends to be singular.  It’s a definitive.  You do it, it’s done, people remember . . . for awhile.  Think big – think bigger – – think long-term.  You’ve given a lot of time to your employees and your organization.

So why does it have to stop when you leave?

Legacy Planning

Now don’t confuse this with succession planning.  Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing your internal employees with the potential to fill your leadership position(s) in the company.  You could have the most detailed succession plan possible but still not leave a lasting legacy.

The key is to THINK of your job in terms of how you will leave it.  This provides a different way to look at your work and what you want to accomplish. Instead of focusing on the day-to-day tasks, it helps you to focus on the bigger picture and take a more organizational view of your work. Consider your own job, your team, your department, the leadership, and how all of these pieces are connected to bring the overall organization together.

On Talking and Walking

So many people can talk the talk.  But how many people can actually, truly, walk the talk?  I love Mark Miller’s analogy in his new book, The Heart of Leadership.

He uses the example of an iceberg:

As you look at the iceberg, you only see about 10% of it.  The other 90% is below the waterline. The portion you see above the waterline represents leadership skills – reproducible by many.  Below represents leadership character – practiced by few.  The people who talk the talk represent the 10%.  The people who walk the talk represent that, along with, the other 90%.

I’m going to use my favorite example again . . . Disney.  Walt Disney passed away from lung cancer in 1966, before his vision of Disney World in Florida was realized. After much mourning and wondering where to go from there, his brother and business partner, Roy O. Disney, postponed his retirement to oversee construction of the resort’s first phase.

Walt had vision and plans for the company that extended for years.  And, to this day, things are still being developed from Walt’s original visualizations.  In fact, it wasn’t decided until well into the construction process to name the resort WALT Disney World, in honor of the man whose ideas and visions brought it to life . . . five years after he passed away.

On Big Shoes and Footprints

So maybe you’re not the owner or the CEO of the organization.  What does that matter?

You still have the opportunity to leave some pretty good-sized footprints.

Not trying to blow my own horn here, but at my last two jobs I developed customer service programs, from scratch, that saw great success within the first two months.  Now if I had been putting things together month by month, my legacy would have ended when I left.

But I had a whole vision, training materials, schedules, tracking procedures, customer response actions – the whole package.  My footprints weren’t in the sand.  I “lived on” through the people who took over after me.

The Nurse Bryan Rule

In his book, The Essential Drucker, management guru Peter Drucker told a story about how a hospital adopted what came to be known as “Nurse Bryan’s Rule.”

“A new hospital administrator, holding his first staff meeting, thought that a rather difficult matter had been settled to everyone’s satisfaction, when one participant suddenly asked, ‘would this have satisfied Nurse Bryan?’ At once the argument started all over and did not subside until a new and much more ambitious solution to the problem had been hammered out.

Nurse Bryan, the administrator learned, had been a long-serving nurse at the hospital. She was not particularly distinguished, had not in fact ever been a supervisor. But whenever a decision on patient care came up on her floor, Nurse Bryan would ask, ‘Are we doing the best we can do to help this patient?’ Patients on Nurse Bryan’s floor did better and recovered faster. Gradually, over the years, the whole hospital had learned to adopt what became known as ‘Nurse Bryan’s Rule.'”

– At the time this story took place, Nurse Bryan had been retired for 10 years.

Leading a Legacy

Someday, you’ll look back over your career and ask, “What did I really do?”  You’ll regret the opportunities you missed and time you wasted.  But you’ll also remember all that you did right.  And people will still come up to you and say, “Oh yeah, you’re the one that ______. We still use the guidance from your _____. Our team wouldn’t be as successful without you.”

Ask not what your organization can do for you. Ask what you can do for your organization.

What kind of future for your organization are you looking at?  What is important to you?  What parts of your work do you most value?  Is there a need in the organization you can fill? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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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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——————–
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

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On Leadership and Making Difficult Decisions

Making Difficult Decisions

Decision making skills are one of the most important skills required from a leader. Leaders are constantly making decisions on different aspects of their job, life, and society.

For some leaders, decision-making comes naturally; and for others, it often is a daunting task.

On Making Difficult Decisions

Some leaders have a structured process for making decisions and some base it off of their intuition. It really depends on how a leader thinks and what he is comfortable with.

But keep in mind, there is no one right way to make decisions.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why decision-making can become difficult and what leaders can do when faced with such a situation.

• Too Large to Handle

If the situation is of a large magnitude and the leader has little or no experience handling such a situation, he may not be able to effectively decide how to move forward. It could be physically or emotionally daunting for the leader to single-handedly come to a conclusion.

If one is not sure of their decision, they can always consult a few trusted colleagues before taking action but they shouldn’t shy away from it.

It is therefore very important to have a network of trusted confidantes around you and have that network of people on whom you can lean.

Of course, the leader should do due-diligence before taking a decision, but he should never be afraid to take action.

• Analysis Paralysis

A leader may sometimes go into a loop of thinking “what-if” scenarios or worst-case scenarios and never decide which path to take. This kind of thinking is sometimes termed as “analysis paralysis.”

It is important for the leader to know how much analysis is enough and when it gets in the way of decision-making.

The key to moving on from this stagnation point is simply to pick the best options with the facts that are known. Just pick.

• Being Paralyzed by Fear of Failure

Another reason for a leader to not be able to take action is fear of being judged by peers or fear of taking the wrong decision. This fear can sometimes paralyze the leader from taking any action whatever.

They could be so afraid of taking the wrong decision that they will not take any decision at all.

It is the fear of public failure. It is the fear of being judged. When this happens, it would be wise to team up with another person who can nudge this leader into taking action.

An Opportunity for Personal Growth

Difficult DecisionsWhat is important in these cases is for the leader to be able to recognize these situations as an opportunity for personal growth.

It is the natural tendency of human beings to feel a certain amount of pressure from peers or supervisor when dealing with a critical decision-making task.

The pressure and visibility of the situation is also determined by the position of the leader.

Sometimes the visibility and pressure can paralyze people from taking action.

Leaders should be able to not succumb to such pressures and be able to take a sound decision.

So, what type of difficulties do you regularly face in making difficult decisions? Are you paralyzed by facts or fears? Or are you decisive in making those hard decisions when they come your way? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Aditi Chopra
Aditi Chopra is an experienced leader in the software industry
She is a consultant, writer and a leader
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Wishy-Washy Leadership! How To Tell If You’re Too Inclusive

Indecisive Leadership

Today, many leaders are suffering from too inclusive of a leadership style. They look to their team to vote on direction, try to balance everyone’s needs, and do their best not to upset anyone.

This is not leadership!

Wishy-Washy Leadership

This desire to include everyone can translate into a high “affiliation motive.”  This high need to be liked results in the leader making decisions to appease each person. The result is that no one on the team is happy with the manager.

They see their leader as weak and wishy-washy because they make too many exceptions to accommodate every team member’s wish.

Consistency of direction and purpose erodes.

Effective Leadership

To be effective as a leader you need a two power motives. The first is “Personalized Power” and the second is “Socialized Power.”  Personalized power is also referred to as “ego.” Although there are many articles telling leaders that ego is something to be avoided this isn’t true.

Leaders need to have a healthy level of ego or desire for personal power to be effective.

It is this ego that makes a leader believe he or she is good enough to rise above the ordinary and to lead a group a people in a direction. That leader has to have enough confidence to believe they have chosen the right direction even though there is no guarantee of success. This takes guts and a willingness to take risks; it takes ego.

No one wants to follow a leader that doesn’t exude confidence.

In a Harvard Business Review article by David C. McClelland and David H.  Burnham entitled “Power is the Great Motivator” the authors shared research showing that:

…an important determining factor of high team morale and outcomes was related to a leader’s need for power being higher than their need to be liked.

Getting Things Straight

This is not to say that leaders shouldn’t have some desire to be liked. An absence of this need would create a sociopath and too little in a leader would result in the personal power taking over and the leader becoming the uncaring egotist or abuser.

The affiliation motive needs to be present but the need for personalized power must be higher.

The authors also found a second power motive that was attributed to the most effective leaders –  socialized power. Socialized power is the desire to use your power to do what is best for the organization.

The most effective power profile is highest in socialized power, has a moderate level of personalized power and a lower need to be liked.  The research demonstrated that this profile results in the best revenue results, clarity of purpose and direction and teams with high morale and personal responsibility.

Front End Alignment

Here are some tips to get your power profile back in alignment by growing the power pair:

1) Use Consultative Decision Making

Instead of consensus take the team members’ opinions and views into consideration and then set a decisive course of action.

2) Question Your Motives

Are you pushing your point of view because you believe it is what is best for the organization, best for your group, best for you or you just want to be right?

3) Demonstrate Consistency

Company policies and guidelines are in place to help you maintain consistency when people ask for special favors.  It’s okay if the employee doesn’t like you for your response. You’re their manager, not their friend.

4) Think of the Bigger Picture

Your job as a leader is to keep the business profitable so it can continue to employ the great people who work for you. If you give in to each employee’s requests without considering the impact to business you hurt everyone in the long run.

Leaders and companies need to remember there is a critical balance between creating an inclusive workplace and enabling leaders to lead.

What other tips would you offer to keep leaders’ power properly balanced?

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———————–
Carlann Fergusson

Carlann Fergusson is owner at Propel Forward LLC
She provides seminars and consulting on Strategic Leadership Challenges
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Skype: carlann.fergusson

Image Sources: workplacepsychology.files.wordpress.com

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