The 5 Times Your Leadership Is Guaranteed to Fail

Lolly Daskal is another leadership blogger whom I have been following for some time. Her frequent posts have given me food for thought as I lead, and as I observe others lead.

In this post, she names five key characteristics of a good leader. Everyone has their own list, but I think that these five points are absolutely essential. Read this and see if you don’t agree.

The 5 Times Your Leadership Is Guaranteed to Fail

Posted on 17 May, 2016 by Lolly Daskal

Missed target

We all want leadership to be successful. But some circumstances are reliable pointers to failure. Learn what they are and how to avoid them.

Done right, leadership is difficult. It brings great rewards, but at great risk. You have to put yourself on the line—so when you do, you want the best possible odds of success.

In some situations, though, failure is all but guaranteed. Here are five of the most common. Get to know them so you can steer far clear.

  1. When there is no trust. Leadership is about credibility and reliability; to be an effective leader, your followers must have trust in you. That’s why it’s critical to always take responsibility for your actions. Make sure your people feel guided and supported in their work and show that they can trust your leadership.
  2. When there is no character. Leaders build excellence—helping their team become all that they are capable of. To reach that level of excellence requires leadership that is grounded in character. Excellence starts with leaders of strong character who model doing what is right, not what is easy.
  3. When there is no communication. No one ever became a great leader without first becoming a great communicator. Successful leaders connect with people on an emotional level every time they speak. Their words build relationships, teach, and inspire others. Great communication also means listening well and treating your team with candor and honesty.
  4. When there is no respect. You can’t lead anyone who doesn’t respect you, and it’s hard to lead those you don’t also respect. Respect must be first given before its earned. That means thinking about every small thing you do as a leader and how it is perceived. Leaders who know how to give the utmost respect will receive respect, in the form of loyalty and performance.
  5. When there is no ability. To be successful requires tactical and technical proficiency. In any organization it is the leader’s capabilities and performance that set the tone for the team’s engagement. Leadership is empty without an understanding of the work at hand, and the best leaders work constantly to improve their expertise.

How is your own leadership looking? Are you doing what it takes to propel it forward?

Lead from within: Decide what kind of leader you going to be—the kind who is content to think of themselves as the best, or the one of the few greats whose leadership achieves the highest levels.

The original post may be found here.

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A Good Leader Leads with Love

self_esteem_lion

There are many inspirational stories circulating around the internet. Some of them are true; others we hope are true. The following is a summary of one that is true, and may touch the hearts of the most hardened leaders. Thanks to Jemma Garraghan on the Why Lead Now blog for this summary.

Oh, and the story is true. See Snopes. And the complete story can be found at: All Good Things.

Leaders, look inward for the lessons to be learned from this story. I cannot share all the insights you may gain from reading this and pondering it. But I invite you to share any good insights you may have gained. 

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One day, a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list.

Before long, the entire class was smiling. “Really?” she heard whispered. “I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!” and, “I didn’t know others liked me so much,” were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. The teacher never found out if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another.

That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that student.  She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. “Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked. She nodded: “Yes.” Then he said: “Mark talked about you a lot.”

After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to lunch. Mark’s mother and father were also there, wanting to speak with his teacher. “We want to show you something,” his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.”

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times.

The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.

“Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.”

All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.”

Chuck’s wife said, “Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.”

“I have mine too,” Marilyn said. “It’s in my diary”

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said.  Without batting an eyelash, she continued, “I think we all saved our lists.”

Tears rolled down the eyes of the humble teacher.  We encounter so many people in our lives, and it’s a precious joy to see the good in all those journeys.

———————–

self-esteem_wont_build_character

Please note that this is not a call for mindless positive thinking. You don’t need to hold hands and sing Kum Ba Ya in your meetings. That has no place in the real world. Instead, it is a reminder that we cannot lift our teams by putting the members down.

Yes, there are times when correction is needed, but it can usually be given with love. Yes, I really said that. Love is a foundational principle of Steve Farber’s Radical LEAP (that’s Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof). Moreover, it is our team members who produce our bottom lines. Do we show them that we value their contributions? Where do our priorities lie?

And now for the homework. If you gained any leadership insights from this story, take some time to determine how you will apply them. And then go to work and sincerely share the love. As in Sister Helen’s story, the changes may not be immediately apparent, but you will reap benefits.

A good leader leads with love.

Overcoming the Shoe Drop Syndrome

I have followed Dan Rockwells’ Leadership Freak Blog for some time, and I have benefited from reading his posts. This one is particularly good. In part because I have an intense dislike for the critique sandwich. The praise always comes across as insincere. And I prefer a good roast beef sandwich to a bologna (baloney) sandwich any day.

Dan’s insights here are profound, and I will change my approach because of it. That is why I share it here with you.

Recall Carnegie’s admonition to be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” The baloney sandwich is neither.

If you enjoy this, check out Dan’s other posts at Leadership Freak. He is at a place where I am striving to be with my blog.

Here’s Dan on giving praise properly:

Shoe drop syndrome: Waiting for the bad news, after receiving the good.

Manipulative leaders use praise as the channel to give the bad news that’s really on their mind. Everyone ignores the good, and waits for the other shoe to drop.

search for the good

Feedback sandwich:

The feedback sandwich is filled with baloney.

You start and end with praise and slip the baloney in between. Go ahead, use praise as a courtesy, when delivering tough news, but don’t expect it to stick.

If the only praise you give is in preparation for bad news, you’re a jerk.

Search for the good. The stink finds you all by itself.

10 ways to look for the good:

  1. Schedule a daily walk about to look only for praiseworthy behaviors. Take 15 minutes every day this week to bring it up and brag it up.
  2. Use language that expresses emotion. I’m so proud to work here when I see ______.
  3. Think about things that are running smoothly. What isn’t broken?
  4. Seize imperfect moments to offer imperfect praise. Don’t wait for the perfect moment.
  5. Compliment small things. If you wait for the big stuff, you wait too long.
  6. Complete this sentence. I respect you for ______.
  7. Acknowledge effort as well as achievement.
  8. When you see behaviors you want more of, complement it right then.
  9. Who gets along, serves, speaks truth to power, or goes the extra mile?
  10. Use virtual channels if your team is spread across the globe.

Bonus: Ask, “What’s working?”

Look for:

  1. Energy.
  2. Reliability.
  3. Creativity.
  4. Loyalty.
  5. Endurance.
  6. Integrity.
  7. Skill.

Contributors:

Pour energy into contributors.

Don’t allow poor performers to consume your time, attention, and energy. Give them a chance. Help them step up. Offer training. But, don’t let compassion or hope be the reason you neglect high performers.

Focus on high performers and people who are growing, if you want great achievement.

How might leaders aggressively search for the good?

Re-posted from: Leadership Freak

The Thrill Is Gone: B. B. King and Leadership

BBKing_02092010_7670It was sad to wake up to the news Friday morning that B.B. King had passed away during the night. Not that it was unexpected: after he cancelled his tour last fall, then went on hospice care a few weeks ago, we knew the end was near. But it makes you feel blue to lose a hero.

Riley B. King was a pioneer in electric blues. He had the purest tone of any guitarist I have ever heard. He had a smooth, flowing style of playing, and could say more in two notes than many guitarists can say in thousands (and I said that before Lenny Kravitz did!). He helped to bring a beautiful ethnic art form to millions around the world. This white boy is very grateful for the blues.

But he also provided some valuable leadership lessons to us through his music and his work with other musicians. Let’s look at what seems significant to me.

First, and foremost, B.B. was an example of collaborative leadership. In concert, he frequently played with other guitarists who idolize him. If you have ever watched a group of blues guitarists play together, it is a tremendous show of collaboration. Each plays in a different register, and they defer to each other as they take their solos.

In these situations, the respect everyone had for B.B. was obvious. They deferred to him, but he gave it right back. 0He played with everybody and looked like he enjoyed doing it. In these group situations, he did not demand the spotlight: he shared it. Frequently the solo of another guitarist received an immediate compliment from him. That’s another good lesson!

Second, B.B. was not ego-driven. He was frequently introduced as the King of the Blues, but he didn’t let it go to his head. He said: “I just wonder where I was when the talent was being given out, like George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Eric Clapton… oh, there’s many more! I wouldn’t want to be like them, you understand, but I’d like to be equal, if you will.” But Jimmy Vaughan said that B.B. was the guitarist they were all trying to sound like – without success. Frequently during his shows, he would ask for the audience’s permission to solo: “Can I play Lucille now?” That doesn’t sound like a proud musician.

Third, he was an outstanding mentor. He loved playing with young musicians and did all he could to encourage the next generation of blues artists. He gladly shared the spotlight with them. Many experienced leaders could stand to learn from that example.

Fourth, like most blues musicians of his era, he worked hard in order to make it, and worked hard even after he had made it. During one year in the early sixties, he played 340 one-night stands! He developed his talents and worked around his weaknesses, and achieved mastery of his art. He once said “It seems like I always had to work harder than other people. Those nights when everybody else is asleep, and you sit in your room trying to play scales.” He didn’t take his talents for granted.

Fifth, like many blues musicians of his era, he faced the challenges of racism and prejudice. And he didn’t hold grudges. He said “When people treat you mean, you dislike them for that, but not because of their person, who they are. I was born and raised in a segregated society, but when I left there, I had nobody I disliked other than the people that’d mistreated me, and that only lasted for as long as they were mistreating me.”

In spite of it all, he maintained a sense of humor, and he used his music to bring people of all races together. And that is the magic of good music: it has the power to unite humanity.

Finally, he had an interesting attitude to being on the road. Instead of partying, gambling, and other vices displayed by some musicians, B.B. made an effort to improve himself. Once the internet was generally available, he would carry a laptop on tour and study new things as he traveled. He even learned how to use a computer. He took great pride in that. He said “The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.”

Even though I never saw B.B. King in person, and was not privileged to meet the great man, he touched my life in many ways. I will always be grateful for the music he added to the soundtrack of my life, and for the lessons he taught me.

Some parting words of advice from B.B.:

“You better not look down if you want to keep on flying
Put the hammer down keep it full speed ahead
You better not look back or you might just wind up crying
You can keep it moving if you don’t look down.”[1]
[1] Better Not Look Down. Jennings, Will and Sample, Joe. © Universal Music Publishing Group.