What if Leadership is not a configuration of the “right” qualities but instead a perspective that one views the world through? There are numerous interpretations of what makes a good leader. In fact, there are just as many interpretations of the definition of good leadership. Don’t believe me? Just Google either term and see how many results you get.
Consider that what’s crucial about leadership is how it “shows up” in reality. In other words, where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Leadership as a concept or description of qualities is not all that valuable. However, Leadership “on the court,” in the moment it’s needed is what counts.
This article will outline a framework for leadership that gives one access to providing and inspiring leadership in the moment it is needed. The four elements that make up this framework are Integrity, 100% Responsibility, Focusing on What Works and Creating the Future.
“Without integrity, nothing works.” ~ Werner Erhard
Integrity is a term that most people equate with honesty and morality and it is seen as a “fixed” state, i.e., either you have integrity or you don’t. What if instead integrity had more to do with honoring your word? Said another way, to have integrity means that you “walk your talk,” i.e., your words and your deeds (actions) match.
Effective leaders are those who do what they say by when they said it would be done and if they fail to do so, they acknowledge the broken promise and deal with the impact of the failure on others as well as re-promise when appropriate. Effective leaders do not take their words for granted. They recognize that if they dishonor their word they will lose the respect of others as well as their self-respect.
Consider each time you break a promise or act inconsistent with who you say you are, you are diminished in your own eyes and in the eyes of others unless you acknowledge the break in integrity and deal with the impact of your broken promise.
“Take your life into your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: No one to Blame.” ~ Erica Jong
The concept of cause and effect is an illusion. There is always more to the story than we know. If a boulder rolls down a hill and crashes into a fence, one could say the boulder caused the broken fence. But what made the boulder roll? If someone pushed it, are they the cause of the broken fence? But what if someone pushed them into the boulder? There is always something that came before.
Effective leaders do not look for who is to blame. They own their results, all of them, the good, the bad and the ugly. Effective leaders have the perspective that they are 100% responsible for everything in their lives, not because it is true but because it enables them to look for ways to alter their actions to create different results.
For example, if you ask an employee or colleague to perform a task and he or she agrees to do it, then you explain how you want it done and he or she does it incorrectly one option is to blame him or her for not listening or being stubborn or any of a number of reasons. Another option if you are being 100% responsible is to ask yourself, “What was missing from my explanation that led to that result?”
Being 100% responsible keeps you in the game of continuing to learn and grow and empowering yourself to positively impact the results.
Focusing on What Works
“We have reached the end of problem solving as a mode of inquiry capable of inspiring, mobilizing and sustaining human system change.” ~ Dr. David Cooperrider
At any given moment you have a choice of what to focus on: what’s working or what’s not working. Most people spend the vast majority of time and energy focusing on what doesn’t work and trying to fix it. Now this might elicit the response, “Of course I do that’s how to improve”.
Focusing on what doesn’t work actually slows down growth and development. It can keep you stuck and prevent you from moving forward. The bottom line is that the way we have been trained to think about change has been wrong.
It is not that you should ignore what doesn’t work but be honest, how long have you been working on it? For most of us it has been years of trying to improve the same thing only to see incremental progress.
Focusing on what works is another way to view life. Think about it, if you want to be rich, you would not study poor people. If you want to be thin, you would not study overweight people. Success is not found by studying failure and doing the opposite. Success has a texture and depth all its own.
Effective leaders know that discovering what works and doing more of it leads to more success. Focusing on what works energizes and enlivens people unleashing their natural creativity and enthusiasm.
Creating the Future
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
Effective leadership is predicated on the notion that the future is ours to create. In fact, one could say that a leader is someone who makes an unpredictable future come true. Great leaders understand that the future only exists in language. In other words, there is no future in reality because we are always in the present moment.
A leader creates the future they want by declaring how it is going to go then taking actions consistent with their declaration. They don’t look at the present situation and try to fix it. Instead they ask, “Given this situation, what do I want to create?”
Leaders realize that there are no barriers to what they want only design problems to figure out and new ways of thinking to invent. The greatest of leaders are willing to stand for something that seems impossible and trust that those around them will rise to the level needed to make it become a reality.
President John F. Kennedy did just that with the space program. He declared the United States would put a man on the moon within the decade. He made the declaration well before the technology was invented to make it happen. His declaration caused the scientists to think differently and figure out how to resolve many problems that never existed before. Landing a man on the moon was accomplished in eight years.
Each of these elements on their own will positively impact your results and your effectiveness as a leader however when these four elements are taken together you will have a breakthrough in your ability to inspire and provide leadership leading to unprecedented results that exceed your expectations.
I know this may sound like something everyone knows. However, in my experience people do not realize that their life is currently set up or designed for the results they have. If you want a different result, YOU MUST CHANGE the way your life is currently structured. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. That’s the definition of insanity.
Here is an example; one of my closest friends was very overweight for her entire life. I am not talking slightly overweight; she was well over 100 pounds over weight. She tried lots or things to lose weight but nothing ever stuck until one day at age 45 she was rushed to the hospital with a life threatening issue and she decided to handle her weight problem once and for all.
How you ask? She turned her life upside down. She became an avid bike rider, she completely overhauled her eating and she gave up her sedentary lifestyle. She has organized her life around living healthy. She not only lost all the excess weight but she has kept it off for many years. She REALLY wanted the results in her life to change. She wasn’t being mamby-pamby about it.
It took completely disrupting the way her life was structured to cause the results to change. Most people are not willing to do that for their goals. They try to fit things in without investigating how the current structure is perpetuating the problem. They take tentative actions that quickly fall by the wayside because their life is not designed for the outcome they say they want.
If you are not willing to disrupt your life, chances are you won’t get the new results you are looking for or be able to sustain them.
How do you discover what results your life is structured for? One easy way is to look at your calendar. What are you spending your time on? Is it the “old outcome” or the “new goal”. If you have a goal to increase your revenue, for example, look at your calendar or your actions and see how much time are you actually spending on revenue producing activity.
There is no mystery to results. What you spend time and energy on grows. Most of the time we are blind to the things that get in the way because most of the time it is our thinking that causes the problem. Your thinking is the first thing that needs to get disrupted in order to achieve new results.
If you want to explore your thinking, uncover the barriers to achieving your next level of success and experience a powerful coaching session, contact me today.
Do you have business card build up syndrome? A stack of business cards piled on your desk that you have collected at various networking events and now have no idea what to do with them. Should you call, add them to your list, send them an email??? What’s the “right” thing to do?
A big cause of the business card build up syndrome is making one or all of the three biggest networking mistakes:
1. Failure to plan
Most business people attend events to be seen or to make contacts but don’t make a plan of what they want to achieve at the networking event. As a result people have haphazard conversations that don’t lead anywhere. By taking time prior to the event to establish a plan of action you will have focused, intentional conversations that lead to appointments with people after the event is over.
2. Incorrectly answering the question, “What do you do?”
The most common networking mistake is to answer the question, “What do you do?” with your title or industry, e.g., Financial Planner, IT Consultant, Banker, Lawyer, etc. The moment you state your title (unless your title is unique like Zoo Keeper or Astronaut) you have lost the listening of the person you are speaking to. They already know ten people who do what you do. Now, instead of listening, they are politely nodding and smiling wondering how to move to the next person.
Instead of using your title to answer the question say something about what you actually do and for whom. “I help people to achieve audacious goals by giving them access to a whole new level of power and performance,” is what I say when people ask me what I do.
3. Talk too much
Listening is the most important networking skill there is. Not just any kind of listening; Conscious Listening is what’s needed. You have to listen to serve. Most people listen to reply or to have the right answer rather than to understand and learn. Mastering your ability to listen to serve or listen for what’s needed will significantly increase the number of follow up appointments you obtain. The people you meet will be eagerly awaiting your call because you will have a really good reason to call them.
To learn how to avoid these mistakes PLUS find out a proven strategy for getting business or referrals from your follow up appointment, join me for my workshop on March 20 at the Business in the Raw: Your Success Uncovered event.
I think of myself as an open-minded, flexible and change-friendly kind of girl. I have had many shifts and changes to deal with in my life and my business, some of them wanted and some not so much. I tend to look at the bright side, pull myself up by my bootstraps, dive in head first, etc. etc. etc. All the “right” stuff.
Right now I am engaged in a process of re-inventing my business, which is truly what I want. I have made this choice eagerly and freely. After being in business for ten years I did some honest reflection, made some decisions and powerfully created a new future for my business. I cannot stress enough how much I want this change. I REALLY WANT THIS CHANGE.
And yet… I keep finding myself taking actions consistent with my old way of doing things, quite unconsciously. There are so many new actions to take and old actions to stop in order to make this change a reality however I mostly keep doing the old actions.
One thing I noticed that has been extremely helpful to realize is that even though I did a lot of thinking about my new future in the creation of it, I did not do sufficient thinking regarding the implementation of it; the day-today, moment-to-moment, on-the-court impact of it.
This past weekend I spent several hours in conversation with my husband looking to discern what the hell is going on with me that I am not in action, blazing a trail to my new future. Through this in depth conversation I realized that I was very attached to the things I “know to do” that are from the past. I mean really attached. Arguing for keeping doing them even though the actions are not producing the desired result.
It was such a breakthrough to see the “in-the-box” thinking I was engaged in and the limits I had placed on my new future without even knowing I did it. The blank slate I was in front of was so intimidating that I began filling it with things I knew to do rather than invent new things to do. Now, I am freed up to engage in inventing actions to bring my new future into existence, and questioning my current actions (including blogging) to make sure they are truly consistent with my new future. It’s kind of hard even though I really want this change.
All of this started me thinking about the many calls I have received over the years from people telling me that their employees resist change and how difficult it is to deal with. It made me wonder if it is really resistance or if it is something else. Something like confusion or a lack of clarity about what new actions to take and maybe they need help thinking through the day-to-day impact of the change. Perhaps like me, they are clinging to old actions to cover up the fear of the unknown and are arguing for the old way in order to feel in control. Whatever it is, I have a new level of compassion for people undergoing change.
What if you access to greater performance or better results is not located in anything that you know? What if what you know is actually limiting your capacity to perform?
You have the ability to go beyond what you think is possible but you can’t get there by knowledge alone. Case in point; everyone knows how to lose weight; eat less, exercise more. The knowledge of how to lose weight makes little if any difference for the vast majority of people. Obesity is an epidemic in this country. There are more than 16,000 books on losing weight on Amazon alone. Clearly there is a plethora of knowledge on the subject. The access to changing your results in the area of weight loss (or anything for that matter) is not more knowledge.
Think about an area in your life where you want different results. I am willing to bet that you know exactly what you need to do to change it. You know you need to eat better. You know you need to make more calls. You know you should call your mom more often. You know you need to exercise more. You know you should be more attentive to your partner. You know, you know, you know, you know, you know, you know, you know. And yet, you don’t do it. All the “knowing” makes no damn difference. None, nada, zero.
This is not an individual phenomenon. This is a widespread occurrence. It is not something you can just explain away by individual characteristics, i.e., I am not disciplined enough, I need to focus more, etc. These are just more examples of stuff that you know that make no difference.
What if it is really about something else that you can’t see; a blind spot if you will? What if you are being driven by something that you are unaware of and you are not even aware that you are unaware?
Discovering this blind spot that’s holding you back will give you actionable access to making a real on-the-court difference in your performance and your results. It won’t just be more knowledge instead it will be access to a whole new world of power and performance.
People always do things that make sense to them. So if you want a different result and you are not taking the actions necessary, consider that there is a reason that makes perfect sense but it is nearly impossible for you to see on your own. Let me help you. I am highly trained in this arena and I promise you results, guaranteed.
The first thing you should know if you want to bring out the best in people is your people are people; they are not things. This may sound silly to say given it’s obvious however check yourself out. How often do you relate to the people you work with as the decisions you’ve made about them – lazy, reliable, cynical, resistant to change, outstanding, stubborn, etc., instead of as dynamic beings? You have an experience of the person from the past that led you to a conclusion and now that person is that way. That’s relating to them as a thing. They are now stuck in the box of your interpretations and most everything they do is interpreted through your description of who they are. In your world, they are lazy, or they are cynical.
Even a positive label can leave people feeling “thingified.” For example, Sally (not her real name) was considered a superstar at her office, reliable, the “go to” person. Sally appreciated the accolades; however, she was often left to fend for herself without support because everyone thought, “Sally can handle it.” When she requested help on her projects it was not given the priority because her manager knew she would come through. This treatment of Sally left her feeling not known or heard. Ultimately, it led to her seeking employment elsewhere and her manager and employer scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.
Making assessments of people and situations is natural and I am not suggesting you stop doing it. You couldn’t even if you tried. What I am recommending is that you pay attention to the assessments you make, get curious about how they influence your interactions with people and, perhaps most importantly, question their validity often. Situations change and the person’s needs and capacities change with them.
Remember your assessments are just that, your assessments. They are not the truth. They are the way you have connected the dots. Someone with a different history and perspective can look at the same set of facts and come up with a totally different assessment of the situation. It is not that that one of you is right and the other is wrong it is just that assessments are born out of a person’s “back-story.”
To bring out the best in people you must be present to who they are right now, in this moment. Take the time and energy to get to know more than your label. Get curious about the conditions that lead to their success, the things that light a fire in their belly and what they need to be their best. And remember, once you’ve reached those conclusions, keep testing them out. Understanding someone is not a “one stop shopping” experience. People change. They need different things in different situations. This way of interacting with your team will make them want to give their best and look for more ways to contribute. It might also get you a waiting list of people who want the opportunity to come work for you. Now that’s a nice problem to have.
Want to learn more? Contact me for a free strategy session.
“All in” is another way of saying are you committed? Most people have a weak relationship to commitment or being committed. In other words, they are committed unless a good enough reason not to comes up. They relate to commitment like it is optional or it depends on the circumstances at the time. It sounds like this, “I said I was going to but…” or “I am committed to eating healthier but my coworkers keep bringing in junk food,” etc.
I once heard this analogy for being “all in”: think of it like bacon and eggs; the chicken is “involved” the pig is “all in”.
Knowing how you are about your commitments is very valuable information. If you know you are like the chicken (involved) and only keep your commitments when everything lines up just right, then you can expect your results to suffer; you won’t likely achieve your goals or resolutions and other people will not think of you as dependable.
On the other hand if you are someone who is more like the pig, “all in,” then you stick to your commitments come hell or high water. You are a result producer. You take actions consistent with what you said and are more interested in keeping your commitments than being comfortable.
All in means that you really go for it and don’t hold back; there is no back door. It can feel like risky way to operate because of the fear of failing. However, when you hedge your bets and take tentative or uncertain actions there is just as much if not more risk of failure.
So when it comes to your goals or resolutions for 2014, are you willing to play full out and be “all in”? Be honest with yourself so you don’t have to go through the pretense of “trying” to make it.
Come on… GO FOR IT! If you want to go for it and want a partner in achieving your goals, schedule a free strategy session.
This is the year I am going to… get in shape, lose weight, quit smoking, make six figures, be more assertive, be kinder, have more patience, etc.
Good ideas, great intentions and likely you were incredibly committed at the time of saying them but predictably you will give up on your resolutions within a matter of days (or weeks). It’s not just you. Studies show very few people actually achieve their resolutions. Why is that?
Because it (whatever the resolution is) doesn’t fit into the model of the future you currently have. You see we all have a model of the future that we put out in front of us and then we forget that we created the model.
In reality, there is no future. It is a mental construct. There is only this moment of now and then the next and the next. But we humans don’t live like that. We are tremendous storytellers. We LOVE a good story. So we create stories about the future that become our model of the future.
This is only a problem because we base the stories of the future on the past. It’s how our brain works. When you make a resolution (or set any goal) you do it without regard to the past-based future that you have already unconsciously created. It is already in the way before the resolution gets out of your mouth.
What do you do?
If you want to set yourself up to accomplish your resolution, you first have to get clear about the story you have already put in your future. Then you have to determine what structures are already in place in the present to fulfill on your past-based future.
Once you get clear about those two things, then you can start to create a new future that is not based on the past. You can redesign your life consistent with accomplishing the created future.
Here is an example:
Sally makes a resolution to lose twenty pounds. Sally chooses what program to follow and is super committed to succeeding. The past-based future that she unconsciously created is all the times in the past she has dieted, how difficult it is to lose weight, the sacrifice required, the amount of time she needs to devote to it and so on.
The structures she has in place to achieve this past-based future are things like conversations with friends/family/co-workers about how hard it is, a jam packed schedule so she eats food on the go and doesn’t have time to exercise, unhealthy foods in her house, etc.
Without erasing the story from her future, Sally is doomed to fail because we always take actions in the present consistent with the future we anticipate.
If you want 2014 to be a breakout year for you, if you are tired of getting incrementally better and want something more or if you know you have the potential to be exceptional but keep winding up with mediocre results…
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