On Leadership and The Value You Bring Your Followers

Value Proposition

So Leaders: What’s your value proposition to your followers?

The employee is regarded by the employer merely in the light of his value as an operative. His productive capacity alone is taken into account.” ~ Leland Stanford

Compelling Value Proposition

In the world of modern sales and marketing, providing customers and clients with a compelling value proposition is the maxim.

  • Companies strive to engage by enticing potential customers with a vision of what life might be like if their pain were removed or they could achieve their dream.
  • Every effort is expended to nurture the customer until they beg to find out how this dream can be realised.
  • Then and only then is the solution provided and heaven help the company that fails to deliver the promised value.
  • This is not an equal exchange of value because modern consumers expect value greater than the money they pay.

Why then do many employers not have the same value proposition approach to their most valuable capital, their employees?

Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.” ~ Warren G. Bennis

Making Value Choices

All organisations want to recruit and retain high potential internally motivated staff to achieve the company mission.

>>> So what’s in it for the employee and why should they choose you over other opportunities.

>>> More importantly, what is it you do for them that would make them want to stay? (It is not just about money…)

>>> What is your value proposition for them and how do you intend to deliver it persistently and consistently?

Making Monetary Choices

To paraphrase Vernon Hill at Metro Bank, how do you turn your staff into fans not just your customers?

Telefonica O2 said, “An organisation that does not enlist its own staff to its ‘fan base’ is not maximising its long-term value.

Does it make a financial difference?

Towers Perrin-ISR’s 2006 findings four:

Those companies with a highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2 per cent over a period of 12 months, whilst those companies with low engagement scores saw operating income decline by 32.7 per cent over the same period.

Over a 12 month period, those companies with high engagement scores demonstrated a 13.7 per cent improvement in net income growth whilst those with low engagement saw net income growth decline by 3.8 per cent.

Making Value Propositions

You can find much more on the business benefits of a values proposition to employees in a report to the UK Government “Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement

So, let’s look at the employer/employee relationship at its most basic.

An employee offers their effort and expertise to an organisation and in turn they gain reward most usually but not always in the form of money. Balancing the equation is the hard part. The employee wants a fair reward for a certain level of input and the employer wants the maximum amount of input from the employee for as little as is reasonable to pay them.

It might be expressed as:

Motivation = Perception of benefits minus Perception of costs

The ideal situation arises when an employee invests “above and beyond the call of duty” just because they are motivated to do so by other factors outside of remuneration. Somehow their internal motivation has been triggered and they are self-sustaining. What value can you the employer give to your staff which would likely catalyse this behaviour or at least create the environment for it to develop? Peter Drucker said:

The true business of every company is to make and keep customers.” ~ Peter Drucker

But he also said:

Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”

If we synthesise the two we might get:

The true business of every company (organization) is to make it easy for its staff to make and keep clients

The Tangible and Intangible Factors

The value given to followers comprises both tangible and intangible factors.

Key contributions might be:

  • Authentic listening
  • Identification of direct interferences restricting employees’ capability to achieve goals
  • Mitigating or removing such interferences

This is essentially the same thinking used daily by sales people to convert a prospect into a customer. Warm the prospect up first with sincere enquiry to identify their pains and dreams and then explain how the pain can be removed or their dreams achieved by your product or service.

You can find a compilation of the personal visions of 12 TED speakers on the subject of inspiring, values proposition-based leadership here.

Sellling The Vision

Ask yourself tehse questions:

  • So, how might your task as a leader alter if you considered your purpose was to “sell” the vision of working (and staying) with your organisation as a value proposition?
  • What value would they receive in “buying” into your offer?
  • How can you maintain, nuance and increase the value they receive in order to keep them?

This does not mean you roll over and give more than you can afford but we are not just talking about the money here. As has been proven so many times the last thing you talk about with sales prospects is the cost the first is what will change for them and by how much. Why would you expect the mindset of your staff to be different?

Your key actions for today

  • In today’s conversations with staff did you add value or take it?
  • Are your organisation’s job adverts value propositions?
  • Review one report’s job description today – on a scale of 1 to 10 is this a value proposition or a description of demands (i.e. tasks and responsibilities).

Further Reading

Drucker on Leadership: New Lessons from the Father of Modern ManagementWilliam A. Cohen PhD

For those will an interest in basic research on the psychology of business:

Harter, Hayes and Schmidt (Gallup, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and University of Iowa) Business-Unit-Level Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, and Business Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
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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Articles of Faith: Strong and Courageous Leadership: The Joshua Effect

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.

An ongoing misperception in leadership is that a strong leader is an authoritative one. For centuries, it was acceptable that a leader must take control of his team and environment with boldness and a dogged determination to get the job done.

In the generation of our parents and grandparents who grew up at a time in history when more than half the men were veterans, the culture was established that “subordinates” followed a chain of command.

That belief was bred in the generations after, and today we still find leaders who are commanding, controlling, and micromanagers.

Finding a Better Way to Lead

To understand a more effective way to lead, we can find one of the best examples in a warrior leader profiled in the Bible.

Joshua was given authority to succeed Moses as the shepherd who would usher the Israelites into Canaan. What made Joshua a successful leader is that he was able to take the helm without disrupting the original plan. Moses had started the journey and nearly completed it before his death.

But then Joshua was instructed by God to complete the trip. He was told three times by God to “Be strong and courageous” suggesting that his efforts would not be without danger and fear. Sometimes those who are given the opportunity to lead feel that the only way to get through the tough times of a mission is to lead by intimidation, threats, and punishment.

This never works. Those who do find that morale declines as does job performance. Joshua helps us to understand that having authority does not mean being authoritative.

On Real Trust

We find in Joshua 1:10 that he “ordered” the officers of the people to go through the camp and tell them to get ready to cross over the Jordan River and enter into hostile territory. He prepared the men to fight the enemies who would surely come against them as they entered in.

But Joshua reminded the people that he had assurances from God that they would have success. He trusted God. He just needed to get the people to trust him as the leader appointed by God on the heels of a phenomenal Sherpa like Moses. He pulled the teams together and encouraged them to support one another.

Then the most satisfying words that any leader could hear came from the people:

“Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses.”

Then just like God they encouraged him to be strong and courageous.

Winning Loyalty and Respect

How did Joshua win the loyalty and respect of this people?

He had three things working in his favor:

  1. The people knew he had been coached and mentored by an established and wise leader like Moses. He had learned from one greater than he, and he was open to correction and training.
  2. He exuded confidence but not cockiness. He was humble enough to know he would not be able to take the land on his own. He would need the help of his team.
  3. He delegated responsibility to the officers and allowed them to go through the camp and give orders to the people in preparation for the big move. He did so without interference. He trusted his people to do what he’d asked them to do, and then he stayed out of their way.

All leaders can learn from Joshua’s confident and inclusive manner of leadership. He was strong but not overbearing, courageous but not arrogant, focused but not inflexible. Inasmuch as he was all these things, he was also wildly successful and prosperous.

Follow his lead.

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———————
Betty Parker, CPLP

Betty Parker is President of Sharper Development Solutions, Inc.
Her daily goal is to turn Managers into Leaders through Training and Coaching.
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On Leadership, You and Your Modus Operandi

Please watch this short two-minute Ted Talk above and then read on…

Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” ~ Alan Alda

Your Modus Operandi

Did you know that you have a blueprint on the way you think? And like most people, you are generally locked into this modus operandi. This blueprint is called your assumptions. But don’t feel too bad about this. Everyone operates on an internal list of assumptions.

Otherwise we could not thrive in our complex and confusing world. We would have no bearings and would continually get lost.

Our brains use psychological frameworks largely based on assumptions about value and likelihood so that we avoid cognitive chaos. However, if we see our assumptions as a “best fit” which if we pay no attention can go terribly wrong, we gain a clearer idea of how nature has equipped us for misadventure.

Living With Misjudgement

Take a look at the psychology of misjudgement with this Daniel Gilbert’s TED talk.

Daniel’s examples are relatively simple compared with the complexity of our assumptions about how the “real” world, about other people, and about ourselves.

Our earliest assumptions come from our parents, siblings, friends, teachers etc. and colour how we process new experiences and information for much of our later life. These assumptions are the filters overlaying our personal lens through which we interact with the world.

Our unique experience is just that: unique. And we use our assumptions to make sense of this. The problems begin when we attempt to impose our unique personal assumptions on the world in general and expect everyone else to conform.

Seeking Different Assumptions

If one world view is too narrow it follows we must seek more experiences and assumptions to broaden our world view. As we can’t live everyone else’s life nor acquire their assumptions we must learn to share them by collaboration.

“Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” ~ Miguel Angel Ruiz

Here there is a fork in the road. In one direction lies the pit of Groupthink and the other the garden of collaboration. If all you want is to have your assumptions reinforced then surround yourself with yes men. You will get a nice warm feeling but you court very public failure.

“Groupthink is characterized by a shared “illusion of invulnerability,” an exaggerated belief in the competence of the group, a “shared illusion of unanimity” within the group, and a number of other symptoms” ~ Fredric Solomon and Robert Q. Marston

On Courage and Facing New Challenges

If you have the courage to attract people with different views and encourage them to voice theirs, all evidence shows that together you will be more creative especially in facing challenge. Your innovations and solutions will most likely last longer and be more directly relevant.

“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Collaboration is vital but insufficient for genius innovation. You need creative tension. One definition of tension is “A balanced relation between strongly opposing elements.” If we think of the most creative people we think of polymaths or renaissance men (and of course women.)

They investigated art, mathematics, biology, music, literature etc. etc. seeing no boundaries.

Our modern world is too complex to excel at more than a few things so we must build “Renaissance Teams” to cover the ground. The leader’s challenge is to nurture creative tension, appreciate different assumptions, and gel the whole in a vision which supports common purpose.

Your Actions Today

  • As you approach each person, task or meeting make a note of your assumptions.
  • Reflect on the “life history” of each assumption; where/who did it come from?
  • On a scale of 1 (my opinion) to 10 (the truth,) rate each of your assumptions.
  • Were you able to appreciate, understand and integrate other people’s assumptions into your world view?

Recommended reading

To hone your assumption busting skills try The Reflective Journal by Barbara Bassot

Gary is the author of the upcoming book “Your Personal Leadership Book of Days – Avoid Cookie Cutter Solutions By Using Your Adaptive Intelligence.” Download a free mini-version HERE.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
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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Articles of Faith: Where Are All the Spiritual Leaders?

Spiritual Leadership

In recent blogs, I have offered for consideration a series of qualities that should characterize spiritual leaders—a few of the many.

If spiritual leaders are true to their vision, then they should certainly abide by the following list of commands:

  • Do no harm
  • Maintain a sense of humility
  • Repair the past
  • See and look at things in a new way
  • Maintain the dream
  • Recognize the importance of love in leadership

So who do you think embodies these qualities?

Leaders We Have Known

Last year we celebrated the life and leadership of Nelson Mandela. People from all walks of life all over the world praised his exceptional gifts of mind and heart. It was hard to listen to universal praise without thinking of the dearth of good leaders that we face in our own times, especially in politics, business, healthcare, and religion.

Moreover, there are more writers who readily identify the absence of good spiritual leaders than they who can give us examples of authentic spiritual leaders today.

Here are a few comments to help make the point:

“Whether we think of Congress or the courts, business or industry, the news media or mass entertainment, the church or other voluntary associations, many of us feel deepening despair about the capacity of our dominant institutions to harbor a human agenda, to foster human purposes.”

~Parker Palmer, Foreword in Seeker and Servant: The Private Writings of Robert K. Greeleaf, xi.

“The history of the world is full of such leaders, whose errors of judgment and refusal to listen to the good advice of their followers have left millions of followers as physical, emotional, or economic casualties.”

~Kieth GrintThe Art of Leadership, p. 420

“Leadership requires changing not only the way you think and the way you act, but also the way you will. Leading is taking charge of your will–the innermost core of your humanity.”

~Peter KoesterbaumLeadership: The Inner Side of Greatness, 2

On Serving Others

Let us hope that more men and women will take inspiration from Nelson Mandela and people like him and dedicate themselves to the service of others in leadership.

We need leaders motivated by inner values, and who are selfless, generous, and totally dedicated to others.

These are leaders who are committed to their position for the good it allows them to do and not for the status or money it gives them. However, when we look at our contemporary scene in leadership it looks as if it will take a long time to reach a situation where key leaders are men and women whose lives are motivated by inner values.

We are surrounded by greed for money, for power, for prestige, and for career advancement.

Faux Leadership

We see failures in leadership on a daily basis. Some pseudo-leaders do a lot of damage to their organizations and people not only by thwarting their growth but by creating unhealthy working environments that either draw the worst out of people or leave them depressed and sick at their own inability to get out of the situation that is stunting their values and growth.

Arrogant Aristocrats

Such an approach produces arrogant autocrats who ignore others, suppress their ideas, and intimidate when challenged.  Such leaders have a deep suspicion of liberty. Of course they are suspicious of others’ liberty, but not their own!

Failed Facilitators

Other managers and potential leaders give the impression of welcoming participation, but they are failed facilitators. Empowerment can not be taught by people who have practiced disempowerment for years, and workers quickly see through insincerity.

Unfortunately, the failed facilitator is often a good talker and seems to have the talents necessary for the work at hand. However, it is all show and talk and no substance.

Blind Visionaries

Some administrators make so many mistakes they seemed to have a natural ability for it. Typical indicators of incompetent administration include useless restructuring, a myopic immersion in trivial data, and the constant development of strategic plans that enthuse no one.

These blind visionaries, who surrender to mediocrity in their work and indifference toward their employees, may well occupy important positions but careful observation quickly shows that little actual management is being done.

Narcissist Leader

The narcissist who occupies a leadership role is primarily interested in self-importance and personal fame. At first he or she seems charismatic, offering grandiose plans and a compelling vision; the weakness is seeing their own vision, or their interpretation of events, or their direction and course of action as the only preordained path to follow.

Unfortunately, nothing comes of the hopes that followers place in this pseudo-leader because he or she is so focused on self, cannot work with others, and cannot accept input from others; this pseudo-leader limits others’ energy, contribution, and spirit.

Today’s Question

Recent examples in politics, business, and even religion, have confirmed the gut feelings of many regarding greed and lack of ethical commitment or social responsibility in many contemporary organizations and their leaders.

The selfishness reached overwhelming proportions as greedy people squandered enormous amounts of corporation money and perks on themselves while treating workers with meanness and disinterest.

In many organizations, leader pathology is a serious problem.

Although we witness many problems in organizations and frequent failures in administrators, we know many men and women who would like to move to a new leadership style. They are motivated by a selfless service of others, feel a sense of call or vocation to leadership, and are striving to live out some of the challenges presented in the chapters ahead.

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——————–
Dr. Leonard Doohand

Dr. Leonard Doohan  is an Author and Workshop Presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
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Hubris: The Megaphone of Overblown Confidence

Hubris

Finding the right “confidence/hubris” balance is critical for leaders. And when the balance tips toward hubris and too far away from humility, problems can arise and impact an entire organization, country, or society.

No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence.” ~Barbara Tuchman

On Charisma and Confidence

Society selects charismatic, confident and expert leaders who give a reassuring impression of their personal comfort with power. Over time and with the right circumstances leaders can progress from confidence to hubris.

Many examples of world leaders exhibiting hubris come to mind including:

  • Tony Blair
  • Bill Clinton
  • George W Bush
  • Barack Obama
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Winston Churchill

But excessive hubris isn’t limited to politicians. I am sure that sporting and entertainment stars and business leaders with excessive hubris soon spring to mind.

Order or Disorder?

Former UK Foreign Secretary Lord Owen and his collaborator Jonathan Davidson (Duke University Medical Centre) studied 100 US Presidents and UK Prime Ministers for evidence of hubris arguing it as a personality disorder.

What is Hubris Syndrome?

Hubris syndrome is a personality trait defined by fourteen key characteristics.

Proposed criteria for hubris syndrome (5, 6, 10, 12 & 14 are unique to hubris)

  1. A narcissistic propensity to see their world primarily as an arena to exercise power and seek glory.
  2. A predisposition to take actions which seem likely to cast the individual in a good light.
  3. A disproportionate concern with image and presentation.
  4. A messianic manner of talking about current activities and a tendency to exaltation.
  5. An identification with the nation, or organization to the extent that the individual regards his/her outlook and interests as identical; (unique).
  6. A tendency to speak in the third person or use the royal ‘we’; (unique).
  7. Excessive confidence in their own judgement and contempt for advice or criticism.
  8. Exaggerated self-belief, bordering on a sense of omnipotence, in what they can achieve.
  9. A belief that rather than being accountable to the mundane court of colleagues or public opinion, the court to which they answer is: History or God.
  10. An unshakable belief that in that court they will be vindicated.
  11. Loss of contact with reality; often associated with progressive isolation.
  12. Restlessness, recklessness and impulsiveness; (unique).
  13. A tendency to allow their ‘broad vision’, about the moral rectitude of a proposed course, to obviate the need to consider practicality, cost or outcomes; (unique).
  14. Hubristic incompetence, where things go wrong because too much self-confidence has led the leader not to worry about the nuts and bolts of policy.

“We’ve seen the hubris. And now we’re seeing the scandals.” ~David Gergen

It Depends on Context

Whether hubristic leaders are recognised and remembered as being more or less successful depends on their specific context and circumstances.

  • Winston Churchill was right for war, but not for peace.
  • Steve Jobs thrived in a rapid innovative world, but would he have been appropriate for a more placid business environment.

Whilst entrepreneurial endeavour requires a degree of measured overconfidence to succeed, organisations can also develop destructive Hubris Syndrome, think of Enron.

As with all behaviours, self-awareness is our most powerful buffer against excess; so how hubristic are you?

Detecting Hubris Syndrome

How can you detect Hubris Syndrome?

The way we all use language is a reflection of our thoughts and fortunately for researchers, hubristic leaders are so convinced of their personal mission that generally they make little or no attempt to sanitise their public pronouncements.

Instead they have a primal drive to tell us exactly what they feel about themselves, their ideas and their justifications!

Dr Peter Garrard  (St. Geoerge’s, University of London) has developed a method based on linguistic analysis to detect hubris in written material, and identified clear differences in word usage by the hubristic UK Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair compared with the more measured John Major.

 A Cure?

The antidote to hubris, to overweening pride, is irony, that capacity to discover and systematize ideas. Or, as Emerson insisted, the development of consciousness, consciousness, consciousness.” ~Ralph Ellison

Finding the right “confidence/hubris” balance is critical and prevention by raising awareness and developing preventative systems is much more effective and less disturbing  for all concerned (including the potentially hubristic leader) than attempting a cure; by prosecution, coercion or revolution.

In their excellent research paper, Beyond hubris: How highly confident entrepreneurs rebound to venture again; Mathew L.A. Hayward (University of Colorado at Boulder) and his colleagues explain why, “More confident founders of new ventures that fail are better positioned to start subsequent ventures; and, become better equipped to start another venture.

Curiosity is Your Protection

Constant non-judgemental curiosity about our thoughts, motives, words and actions is a brake on overbearing hubris developing.

This moment of mental re-framing gives us a breathing space to exercise that irony and consciousness so important for keeping both feet on the ground. How each of us achieves this dance in the moment is our business.

Want to spot your own hubris potential? – Ask yourself this:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10 where do I lie for each Hubris factor.
  2. If many of my scores are higher than 5 can I observe any specific expressions of my hubristic behaviour and the effects they trigger?
  3. How do people react to me when I behave confidently – over-confidently – arrogantly or hubristically?
  4. Does my hubristic behaviour nurture or deplete others?
  5. Does my hubristic behaviour achieve my goals and my organisation’s?
  6. Am I prepared to modify my behaviour if it ensure’s my organisation’s success?

Recommended reading

The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair & the Intoxication of Power – David Owen

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
 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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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
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Leadership Nostalgia: The Perils of Leading in the Past

Leadership Nostalgia

Are we leading organizations, ministries, groups or teams as though we are living in 1990 – or worse yet, 1950? Non-profits are most guilty, living in the founder’s dreams way beyond their life cycle.

Such visions were birthed in a former reality and the values, decisions, strategies and structures reflected that reality.

News Flash – it is 2013.

Looking Back

The past is cool, even if it was hard. Every day brought doubts, fears and unanswerable questions:

  • Will we have enough customers, recruit enough attendees, ever have a positive cash flow balance?
  • Will we be ready to handle what an uncharted future holds?
  • Will we ever really know what we we’re doing?

It was wild, and we were irrational. Especially we entrepreneurs! Just ask Jeffrey Bussgang

Leadership Nostalgia

Leadership Qualities

There is a kind of “leadership nostalgia” that robs us of present-day effectiveness and a truly transformational future. Just look at any arena of work. The problem is nostalgia is selective; we only remember the extremes.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” said Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities, a perfect opening line for any new venture! As we recall the past, we either lived from one crisis to another or “everything just exploded and we could not even keep up with demand…what a rush!!!”

There were no normal days…or so we thought. But leading in the past is dangerous.

Look at these examples:

  • In America, one political group wants to restore American values while another wants to recreate the protest–driven activism of the 1960’s.
  • One graduate school clings to maintaining a purist “on-campus” experience for everyone; another hires a new President who will “take us back to the glory years” of our institution.
  • One church does a contemporary makeover – cooler music, hipper pastors, newer buildings, but still equates more butts in seats and dollars in the budget as success. Another appeals to “the early church” as THE model, unaware that all 1st century strategies do not meet 21st century challenges.

Leading the Future

We need to be leading OUT OF the past, not IN the past.

We need to be learning FROM the past, not longing FOR the past.

Here is what it takes to make that change:

Look Backward Briefly

Driving blindly into the future creates the same head-on collision as staring intently into the rear view mirror. Mine lessons from the past quickly because too much leadership nostalgia sucks the creative energy from the room. And take time to learn from mistakes. Scott Berkun has a great post on how to categorize and analyze your mistakes.

But don’t dwell on the past – mistakes or successes.

People care very little about what you did 40 years ago; time to get connected to the world TODAY and tell some new stories.

Get Very Clear about the Core…and Move On!

Look closely at values, culture, services, and products. Do we need it all? What some think is “our DNA” is really an extension of personal philosophy. If the organism is changing, so is the DNA.

Preserve only what really matters.

The Future is Not Yours Alone

Here is where most founders and long-term leaders get stuck. They have a “This is my baby” mentality – I gave it life!” Thinking they are “passing the baton” or “preparing the next generation to lead” they have changed only the ship’s crew, asking them to sail the same vessel.

Sure, it got a paint job and some high-tech navigation equipment, but it is still The SS Yesteryear.

In the cargo hold you’ll find the same vision, same strategies, and desires for younger leaders to utilize the same leadership style (theirs, of course). For church leaders, look at Protégé: Developing Your Next Generation of Church Leaders by Steve Saccone and for business leaders you will gain much from Feeding Your Leadership Pipeline by Dan Tobin.

Do you have the courage to hand the rudder to a new crew and let them overhaul the entire vessel? Or even put this boat in dry dock and build a new ship? That’d be courageous leadership!

From Wall Street to Main Street to the streets surrounding Capitol Hill, it is time for new leadership models, approaches, strategies and structures.

Will you be part of the team to build them? Will you let others really own the process and the outcomes? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Dr. Bill Donahue
Dr. Bill Donahue is President of LeaderSync Group, Inc

Bill is a professor at TIU and a Leadership Speaker and Consultant
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Image Sources:  farm3.static.flickr.com, thumbs4.picclick.com

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