Friday, August 7, 2009

Hello, my name is Chris and I Love Leadership

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by LEADERSHIP. I enjoy reading biographies about great leaders and the characteristics that make them successful. Also, I have kept a personal journal for the last 10 years of observations of behaviors that I have seen in outstanding and "not so" outstanding leadership. My readings and personal journal will be the foundations of a book that I have planned to complete within the next 5-10 years.

If I were to sort and categorize those characteristics and behaviors I believe that make successul leaders, there are several that would be a common theme across a high percentage of successful leaders. Here's a brief snapshot of the dimensions of successful leadership from my observations and readings:

  1. Integrity - #1 characteristic. Without this, a leader is not a leader because they have no followers. In my opinion, this is the cornerstone of outstanding leadership.

  2. Desire - Outstanding leaders have a strong and burning desire to be leaders and to succeed. Almost an obsession-like focus. Most people are looking for leaders, these people want and know they are leaders.

  3. Results Orientation - Leaders are in leadership roles primarily to make things happen through other people - get results. They are very goal oriented, planful, organized and focused when it comes to achieving challenging results.

  4. Focused on People - I have met and worked with many good leaders that talk the talk on people focus but don't show the behaviors. They may be 3s on a 5 point scale. The best leaders ( the 4.5s and 5s on a 5 points scale) deeply care about their team and each individual. Outstanding leaders take the approach that their team is their #1 customer and the #1 customer needs to be treated as such. They realize that nothing happens without their team and the development of their team is crucial to the success of the mission.

  5. Vision - Vision can be an "overused" word in leadership. I view vision as the ability to innovate and create the needs and plans for the future while the team is focused on the current mission. Without vision, the organization becomes stale and complacent. Complacency is a tragic flaw in leadership. Outstanding leaders have the "pedal to the metal" 95% of the time, if not a 100%.

  6. For my sixth and final dimension, I will select passion. The "cream of the crop" leaders have a burning within them about their expertise, people and business. They gather as much knowledge as they can about their business on a daily basis. They enjoy what they do and thrive on teaching their team and others. Their work ethic is second to none because they are so passionate about what they do. Outstanding leaders can get others "fired up" about their business because they can transfer their passion to the audience.

I realize that I have not mentioned dozens of characteristics and behaviors such as communication, interpersonal, social, technical and financial/business skills. This list is my top 6 and ones I have observed in my career.

I would love to hear your comments on this list and other views of leadership. That's what makes leadership such a great topic - we could discuss and debate for hours. If you are ever interested in doing that, give me a call I'd love to participate.

Until next time, Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Give Yourself To Others - Inspire Someone

We all have known a person in our lives that inspired us to set challenging goals, provided advice and wisdom along the way and celebrated the victories in life that we achieved. Many times these people are teachers, parents, supervisors, church members or sports coaches.

What if you could become one of these people or even enhance your ability to inspire others? How would that make you feel? How would that make the other person feel? In my opinion, it’s a win/win situation for everyone involved.

I like the list Michael Angier developed on ten simple ways you can inspire people (family, friends, co-workers) to be their best:
  • Be a good example. People watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. Be someone worth emulating.

  • Care about others. People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. Ask questions. Take a genuine interest in people.

  • Encouragement. Everyone goes through tough times. When you support people and encourage them through these times, you’ll be inspiring them to see the best in themselves and in the situation.

  • Be inspired yourself. Look for people, ideas, environments and knowledge that you find inspiring and motivating.

  • Share from your own experience. You have more to share than you realize. Mine the rich experiences of your life and share your wisdom from your unique point of view. You may be the only one who can touch someone with your inspiring message.

  • Be vulnerable. Be willing to share your failures as well as your successes. Others will relate to you. They’ll understand that they’re not the only ones with challenges.

  • Tell stories. Facts tell and stories sell. They inspire, too. We learn best from parables and we all need to develop our own inspiring stories.

  • Be a good communicator. Increasing your ability to communicate effectively is a critical element for you to inspire others. Watch how you speak and what you say. Invest in your communication skills.

  • Challenge people. Many of us have had teachers who at times seemed more like tormentors than mentors. They challenged us to do our best, and we were better for it. Practice "carefrontation"—the careful and caring confrontation of others.

  • Read. It may not follow that all readers are leaders, but certainly all leaders are readers. Stay informed. Share what you read with others. Tell people about books that have inspired you. Share the knowledge.
Inspirational people can spread cheer, hope and optimism wherever they go and make others feel good about themselves. That's a guaranteed way to make friends, influence others and put a smile on peoples' faces.

Until next time, Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Developing Ourselves...Just Do It!

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
- Aristotle

I think we would all agree that our world has become a very fast paced and ever-changing environment. It will only get faster as technologies and ability to communicate with anyone in the world increases. I truly believe that developing ourselves personally and professionally is critical, and not an option, in our new world if you want to be a true success. Personal development requires a serious commitment to your daily habits, on-going learning, networking and relationship building.

I’d like to share some practical tips that I learned along the way in my personal and professional life. Some may work for you, some may not. Pick the ones that may work for you to increase your focus and results around your personal development.

Put your action step for your development goal in your daily to do list and make it a top priority. For example, to listen to 20 minutes of an audiotape on Effective Selling Techniques may be a daily personal development goal.

Visualization is a technique that athletes use quite often and I have found to be effective in keeping the motivation strong. Visualize your goals so you see a crystal clear picture of what success looks like.

Learn from others. Our spouses, family and co-workers have knowledge. People love to share their wisdom with others. Just ask for advice or lessons learned. I remember before having children asking parents what advice they had for us as new parents and got a lot of great feedback.

Consistency. Do just one thing every day to move toward your personal development goals. In working with leaders in my past jobs, the top 5% percentile of successful ones said they spent at least 5-20 minutes a day on their personal development, whether that was reading a magazine or journal focused on a topic they wanted to become more knowledgeable in, or having lunch to seek advice from a mentor. They weren’t too busy to invest in themselves because they knew the investment would create positive results.
Limit your focus – Progress on 2-3 most important goals is more meaningful than having a laundry list of 10-15 things you want to focus on. Keep your focus tight and get laser focused on 2-3 things. Once you knock those out, move on to 2-3 more.

Take the time to reflect – Examine what happens when you focus on your development and the lessons you have learned from feedback and experience. Think about how you change and adapt based on those lessons. Ask yourself everyday “What have I learned?” and keep a journal and refer to it periodically to reinforce and remind yourself of what you have learned.
Consider investing in a top-of-the line self development program - My wife, Jewell, and I just completed the premiere self development product on the market and it has significantly changed the way we view our beliefs, marriage, family life, self-confidence and business. It has also helped us to get dialed in our priorities, mission in life and vision for the future. We invested 56 consecutive days in this program and it was time and money well spent.

Think of yourself as a company, You Inc., and ask yourself how you can make this company better, a leader in their market and more prepared for the future. Personal development does take time in our busy lives along with our career, family, leisure activities, and spiritual events. Start out by trying to spend 5-10 minutes a day investing in yourself, your success and your family’s destiny. If you can do that, I guarantee you that you are in the 95th percentile of all people. You may come to enjoy spending that time on yourself and will become more effective, knowledgeable and an expert in whatever you seek to learn. A wise mentor of mine once told me “it’s good to be considered an expert in something”.

We would love to hear your comments about your experiences with Developing Ourselves… Just Do It”. Please feel free to write back on our blog site with what you experienced. Also, if you know of others that may benefit from this, please pass our blog along to them.
Until next time, Control your Destiny or Someone Else Will!