vision

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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It is Difficult to Scan the Horizon When Examining a Mole’s Rear

When should we have our head in a tiny mammal’s tunnel and when should we float in the clouds in a small basket suspended from a potential fireball?

I’ve noticed this interesting phenomenon. Succeeding generations of leaders, managers, and volunteer boards seem impelled to make a mark by undoing previous work, adding layers of bureaucracy, or drilling down to examine sub-atomic particles. (To understand “making a mark,” see Wikipedia about our now deceased and sorely missed poodler, I mean, poodle, Mr. Bigelsworth.) There might be a time for such (although developing a form that is always approved without thought and fed to the file’s gaping maw is never attractive to my way of thinking.)

The trick, to me, is perspective. It is difficult to get a bird’s eye view of the horizon when examining a mole’s rear. Conversely, one cannot pull dangerous weeds out of the garden from a hot air balloon—even with a Ronco Inspector Gadget arm.

When should we have our head in a tiny mammal’s tunnel and when should we float in the clouds in a small basket suspended from a potential fireball? (It is not on my bucket list to travel with a bag of gas and a lit flame. My compliments to those who do.) Tough question. One thing for sure—we should never get stuck just doing one or the other.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves if our probing or drifting will make a contribution to improving organizational performance or if it is window dressing. The benefits should outweigh the costs. In the accounting world, the concept of materiality takes into account context and flirts with gushy notions like relativity. (Not the Einstein version, the beancounter version.)

This is the struggle of the ages for the finicky “detailist.” It means there is no set rule. It means $1,000 could be material and $1,000,000 could be immaterial – depending on context. (Make no mistake, I love me some good finicky detailists all the livelong day. Please don’t eyeball it on structural engineering or wing it on airplane design – get it? Wing it…)

Anyway, what is wanted is a bit of judgment. An Accounts Payable manager who worked on my team years ago had a small paper taped to her giant, alien-head shaped monitor. It said, “Will it matter in 10,000 years?” If the context is I forgot to pay a bill and got a late charge the answer is always “No!”

For us how about: Will my mark—whatever it is—make a measurable, positive difference to all concerned? Is it material—meaning the benefit is greater than the cost? If yes, proceed. If no, maybe dial it back and rethink.

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Unleashing Diverse Talent while Working in Glorious Harmony: Key Elements

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In the hopes of inspiring further study of a complex topic, here are some keys to engaging and motivating creative people to produce their best work—in unity:

  1. See the future. Build a grand vision and work tirelessly until it is shared.
  2. Get bold. Set crazy-hard-to-reach goals and allow for groundbreaking initiatives.
  3. Paint targets. Negotiate and agree on outcomes and how to measure results.
  4. Share the wealth. Construct and publicize reward systems (it’s not always money) that are based on personal accountability and team success.
  5. Be Radar O’Reilly. Embrace the role of supplying resources and being a resource-on-call.
  6. Party on, Wayne! Celebrate the freedom to fail and try again. If people aren’t making mistakes they’re not trying hard enough.
  7. Sit on the bench. Let the players play the game, but capitalize on the occasional teachable moment by coaching.

 

Learning to lead effectively is a lifelong commitment. I hope this helps you want to learn and practice more.

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What Might Have Been…

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One vital key to a meaningful life well-lived is to seize, wrestle with, and squeeze the life out of every day for one purpose: to create a better future.
It struck me that I was watching what might have been if things turned out the way I imagined then.

I had a crazy dream last night. I remember it, well, in fragments. My dreams are usually unremembered in the morning. This one has bits that are clear, I reach for the next connecting piece and it alludes me—like grasping for a wisp of cloud. The result is a layout for a short film with storyboards missing, but enough reclaimed to name a theme.

It was long ago and it was now. I was with family now and friends from then—people I used to go to church with and close friends from college. We were all together in a way that is impossible because of our life choices and the events that have shaped and separated us.

It struck me that I was watching what might have been if things turned out the way I imagined then.

There are a couple of lessons we can remember.

First, it is pointless, impractical, and impossible to re-create the past. Foot on the gas, transmission in “D,” eyes glued to the rearview mirror is a recipe for a very short ride. And you will not be aware of the upset and confusion caused until the crash.

Secondly, one vital key to a meaningful life well-lived is to seize, wrestle with, and squeeze the life out of every day for one purpose: to create a better future—for ourselves, those we impact and influence, and generations beyond.

There is a favorite scripture that headlines my personal goal statements:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

And lean not on your own understanding

In all your ways acknowledge Him

And He shall direct your paths. –Proverbs 3:5

The point is not mindless, effortless waiting for a supernatural sign. The point is partnership and the confident assurance that striving righteously will lead to more wise choices than poor ones. (We are, after all, human.)

What might have been… is unimportant. The future you and I create today is everything.

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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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