communication

15 Things I want my Grandkids to Know about Leadership

True, godly leadership—in any context—is inspiring another person to reach for his or her potential.

  1. Why they must forever study and work to be accomplished leaders and managers.
  2. Why Christ-like servant leadership is always best—period.
  3. How to be creative, bold, visionary.
  4. Why culture is so powerful; how to create and maintain a healthy, nourishing culture.
  5. To understand themselves, other personality types and nationalities to create teamwork.
  6. That their personal example is the most powerful way to influence others so they must demonstrate spiritual and emotional maturity, trustworthiness, and competence.
  7. About the complexities of human motivation; how to tap into their own and help others to become highly self-motivated.
  8. That, as leaders, they hold the precious potential of other people in their hands and have a sacred stewardship responsibility to detect, develop, and deploy the gifts and talents of others.
  9. That they need a variety of leadership tools and should thoughtfully choose how to act in different situations.
  10. That their leadership role should always include coaching to help others grow and succeed over the long haul (and to resolve conflict positively).
  11. How important it is to communicate (write and speak) effectively so their messages are timely, appropriate, powerful, understood, and acted upon.
  12. That humans really learn by doing so they must share opportunities and skillfully delegate to develop others.
  13. That crafting clear, measurable organizational and personal goal statements are a powerful way to ratchet up performance and invoke mature, self-accountability.
  14. They must persevere for their job will never be finished
  15. They don’t need a formal position to lead. True, godly leadership—in any context—is inspiring another person to reach for his or her potential.
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Are All of These Created Equal?

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As the pop culture icon and celebrated intellectual Madonna is to have said, “Everyone should be entitled to my opinion.”

Many blogs should include a tobacco-like warning: This article looks appealing, but its contents may damage your brain.

Opinions have always been popular, but the Internet Age has catapulted them into rarified public air historically reserved for the famous. Today there is a bull market for Opinions with plenty of buyers and sellers; trading is brisk.

Social media provides an egalitarian platform. Career academicians with multiple terminal degrees and people who were held back in the third grade 12 times and get most of their world news from the National Enquirer get the same invitation—share.

Surely freedom of speech is precious and should be guarded with vigilance. But are all opinions created equal? What if we disagree? The problem is not that we have opinions and want to share them—the problem is the trading value we expect and give.

Access to simple, slick packaging is both boon and bane. It has never been easier to dress up a pig in a fine suit of clothes, brush his hair, whiten his teeth, give him a breath mint, and parade him in front of the whole world like a gentleman dandy. Even the neophyte computer user can produce and publish stylish, image-rich, attractive content that may be absolute bunk.

Many blogs should include a tobacco-like warning: This article looks appealing, but its contents may damage your brain.

It is becoming harder to pick out the expert opinion that comes from someone who has made a career of studying the subject at hand, like a meteorologist. We rightly tend to give their opinions more credence than, say, Grandpa’s bunion pain predicting a tsunami. The dilemma with finding an expert opinion is the surety of finding another one that is 180 degrees diametrically opposite. Sorting out the truth is tricky.

Personal opinions about taste, on the other hand, are never wrong. “I like my steaks medium” becomes problematic only we try to force our personal opinions on others. We should publicize our personal opinions with the understanding that being heard is fair coin for the exchange. We should read personal opinions realizing there is no guarantee they came from a sane person.

Opinions become important when they influence our personal choices. When the issues are complex we tend to get the data we use to draw conclusions from sources we trust. But we have information overload, ambiguity, and conflict.

When studying a matter we should exercise due diligence and remember that all opinions—even our own—are not created equal. Don’t let easy access to information dilute disciplined research.

As the wise sage Ben Franklin wrote:

For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.

But then that’s just his opinion. What’s yours?

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4 Cs Define Trust

What is trust? First, think of someone you do not trust. How do you feel when you think about him or her? What do you believe to be true about this person? Is it someone who lied to you, tricked you, or took advantage of you? Or is it someone who just comes across in a way that sets off your radar—something feels wrong, out of place, or too good to be true?

Slick, high-pressure, manipulative sales people set my teeth on edge and make me sprint for the exit like I just spotted a raptor in aisle nine. Four hundred glistening teeth in a put-on smile, pats on the back like we went to grade school together, and easing up into my personal space until we become conjoined twins are clues to me that the guy I met five seconds ago may not have my best interests at heart.

Trust has to do with belief. It is what you and I believe to be true about another person. It is what others believe to be true about us. Beliefs have to do with perceptions, which may or may not have anything to do with reality, but carry the weight of conviction. What does it mean to trust? What do we say about a trustworthy person?

  • I trust you to be reliable—that you will keep your word.
  • I know you will not deceive me—that you will always tell me the truth, even if it hurts me to hear it.
  • I believe you can do what you promise—that you have the strength to deliver.
  • I have confidence in you—that you have cared enough to prepare and are able.
  • I know you will keep me safe—that you would never intentionally hurt me.
  • Most importantly, I am convinced that you have my best interests at heart—that you will never use me for your own, selfish purposes.

How do people feel about you and me? Are we trustworthy?

Trust is easiest to define in terms of things. My Honda is reliable and starts every time I turn the key. These bathroom scales have, unfortunately, never been wrong. This rocking chair is strong enough to hold me and my sweetie. Water will always turn to ice in our freezer. My underground shelter will keep us safe in this storm. But things have no heart. With people, trust gets to the heart of the matter.

In short, we are confident a trustworthy person is caring, consistent, competent, and candid.

Outstanding business owners and leaders focus on building trust with everyone: employees, customers, lenders, investors, vendors and suppliers, strategic partners, and even competitors. Why? Because trust is the lubricant that enables smooth, positive, friction-free human interaction. Trust is a requirement for sustained high productivity.

You and I must work hard to be caring, consistent, competent, and candid.

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How to Write an Effective Vision Statement

A powerful, compelling vision inspires, energizes and spurs commitment, hard work, sacrifice, and excellence. You should write yours down.

How about? A world where everyone has a decent place to live—Habitat for Humanity

The first step in writing a vision statement is to realize that producing a formal document is not the end, but the beginning of leavening your culture with a compelling vision. The rigor and discipline required to produce a well-written statement will bring valuable focus and clarity. But if you do not plainly describe your vision for your company over and over again without using Jay-Leno-like cue cards, a typeset, framed sentence or two hung on the receptionist’s wall will have the value of an airbag on a motorcycle.

Or? To fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality—Hilton

Here are some suggestions for codifying what you should have internalized as a driving passion:

  • Make your vision big, bold, appealing and include a touch of the impossible.
  • Remind yourself that a vision statement is not a mission or goal statement. A vision statement describes the results if you accomplish your mission.
  • Look forward, not back; look to the future, not the past.
  • Think of the impact on customers, employees, partners, society, and the environment.
  • Paint vivid word pictures that spark imagination.
  • Write in clear, concise terms and avoid jargon.

 

NOT: Our vision is to leverage our core competencies by operationalizing our human capital to think outside-the-box and proceduralize bleeding edge products that result in transitioning the world into best practices. And, oh yeah, our employees will know they are our most important asset.

Please do not say your product will be “best-in-breed” unless you produce puppies with a dog that won Best in Show at a Westminster Kennel Club’s riveting cage-fighting event. My wife has raised poodles so I happen to know that no athletic male can watch a dog show without taking blood pressure medication.

Rather say, clearly and concisely, that you will build innovative products that lead the competition.

Or perhaps? Our vision is that all people reach their potential in fulfilling work—the McNeely Group

If you have crafted a well written, motivating, effective vision statement—congratulations! You have climbed the first of 203 steps to the top of the Great Pyramid. Unless, however, the vision becomes part of your organizational culture the statement is virtually as useless as Congress.

It is why you must become  a business evangelist–one who cannot refrain from sharing cherished beliefs.

Make your powerful, compelling vision inspire, energize and spur commitment, hard work, sacrifice, and excellence. Start by writing it down.

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