Have you had it with the “yeah, but” excuse? Me, too! In decision making, negotiating, or adapting to change, “yeah, but” needs to be removed from the vocabulary. In order to be an effective leader and respected authority, decisive statements and clear communication is a key element to earn loyalty and credibility and getting results. This is a lesson that not only needs to be embraced by principals of an organization but, as mentors, it is also our responsibility to assist our team members to learn.
In the attached article, extreme athlete and successful business woman Alison Levine’s recent book is highlighted. The lessons outlined are wide-ranging, but at the same time completely interrelated. They offer a comprehensive road map for strategic leadership.
Leadership success is clearly the result of applying broad concepts, often tried and true examples offered by writers such as Ms. Levine.
Here are the nine topics featured in the article;
- Prepare, Prepare – and be Aware!
- Sometimes You Have to Move Backwards to Move Forward
- Assemble a Team of People With Big Egos
- Solidify Relationships Before You Need Them
- Complacency Is the Devil
- Sometimes Weaknesses Can be Strengths
- Sometimes You Have to Break the Rules
- Set a Good Example (Even If You Feel Like Puking)
- Failure is Good
Leadership Lessons from an Extreme Athlete
An article that appeared in this month’s Florida Trend caught my attention for a number of reasons. Any theoretical perspective on leadership usually captures my interest, but this one was simple and straight-forward enough to deliver the salient points but without the “fluff” that usually accompanies such essays.
The leadership “elements” that writer Jerry Osteryoung postulates as the four essential traits of good leaders are: Confidence – Decisiveness – Intuition – Empathy. I further believe that the hundreds of other traits written about by so many other qualified experts are subcategories of these.
Enjoy this brief yet thoughtful article.
It is amazing to me that so many people think of themselves as great leaders, but do not demonstrate leadership qualities.
Being an owner or a boss does not make you a leader. True leadership is not about the position you hold, but the attributes you display. People follow leaders because they want to, not because they have to.
Serial entrepreneur and blogger James Caan made the case for four elements of leadership, and I completely agree with him. These elements often overlap, so there will be times when you see two are working together to address one problem.
In chemistry, we have the Periodic Table of Elements, which defines all matter as combinations of 112 to 118 basic elements. In leadership, our table of basic elements is made up of only four.
The first element is confidence. For me, this is where it starts because who would ever want to follow someone who does not demonstrate confidence? This is more than just putting on a confident face. I have seen so-called “leaders” using a mask of confidence to hide their insecurities, but they are unsuccessful since the staff quickly sees through this veil.
People naturally want to follow individuals who can articulate the direction they need to go and show confidence in their decisions. I have yet to see a true leader who did not radiate confidence.
The second element of leadership is decisiveness. A leader must be willing to make decisions and stand behind them. Just look at the number of business owners who, when the economy tumbled in 2008, did nothing. The true leaders, in contrast, took action to preserve their businesses.
The third element is intuition. This one is important since the majority of decisions a leader must make involve more than just the black-and-white numbers. Experience, knowledge and intuition — that gut feeling — are also factors.
A decision maker who relies only on facts and numbers is just not going to be as successful as a leader who understands there is much more to be considered. The successful leader lets his or her intuition guide them.
The last element of true leadership is empathy. A leader’s real job is understanding the staff and knowing how to motivate them. This would not be possible without empathy.
Too often you see managers trying to lead by saying, “I am the boss, so you are going to do what I tell you to do.” This is bullying, not leading. No one wants to be around a bully for long.
Being empathetic is understanding your staff’s human condition, recognizing the challenges in their lives, and being kind. When a leader shows empathy for the difficulties his or her staff is facing, they earn the dedication and loyalty of the team.
Now go out and make sure that you have the four elements — confidence, decisiveness, intuition and empathy — as part of your leadership manifest. If you find you are lacking one of these elements, arrange for some coaching to help you develop it.
You can do this!”
Another question might be, “What makes a good mentor?” Or how about, “What is the mark of a good mentee?”
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, written by Wendy Lea the CEO of Get Satisfaction a technology platform, titled “Behind Every Successful Person, There’s a Mentor”, connected with me. I started to make a list of the mentors that I trusted, listened to, admired, shadowed, debated, and valued who have infinitely shaped my life and career – both those known personally and the many whose careers I have followed at a distance – and the list was long! So I started another one. The second one narrowed the number to just a handful of mentors whose honest, direct, sincere, and encouraging one-on-one moments and messages have forever influenced my personal and professional style and attitude.
The topic is one that I have already covered in another post but, a recent special section titled “What’s Holding Women Back” and a follow-up article, “How Women Can Get Ahead: Advice from Female CEOs” in the Wall Street Journal (articles attached) have sparked such incredible dialogue I wanted to be sure that everyone has had a chance to read them, contemplate the many issues debated and even join in the discussion and offer your own tips and travails. The topic is always hot – the limited number of women who have reached the top spots in corporate America – but what really struck me is the optimism, confidence and encouraging outlook shared by many who participated in the conversation, both in the articles and other social medium.
So, you want to be a CEO of the brightest and most respected company? You may have an awesome concept or a one-of-a-kind product that everyone needs and wants, but do you have the team with you to really make an impact in the marketplace? Are you capable of revolutionary leadership?
One of my favorite moments as a corporate executive was when I had the great opportunity to challenge the thought coming from within the organization – or better yet, toss a completely new out-of-the-box concept into the middle of my spirited group when they were least expecting it and let them challenge and contest the very core of it. If my team wasn’t prepared for debate how could we know that the idea was going to hold up when we rolled it out publicly? How can you know that the idea, product or service is the best it could possibly be if you didn’t have diversity of thought and deliberation and open review by those that should be your most passionate fans…and ultimately your sale force?
“Form Follows Function” is a term coined in the worlds of art and architecture however it provides a great route for leaders to direct necessary, positive and continual successful change in organizations. The phrase essentially suggests that your primary function – your purpose, ideals, strategic goals, systems – defines your organization. Your form is what your clients see or perceive such as customer experience, client compassion, a vibrant business culture for your employees, the product your produce or even your building. Your ability and success in adjusting and adapting to the ever-changing marketplace has to be rooted in your purpose.
Well, the answer is yes…and no. Who doesn’t need to know that they are appreciated on occasion? However, when it comes to leadership, there is a clear difference in styles – and success – between those that need to “hear” the applause and those that “feel” the sense of accomplishment in order to be fulfilled. That’s not to say that an “atta girl” every now and then doesn’t help, just that leading by way of waiting for recognition at every turn is doing you, your co-workers and employees, and company a terrible disservice.
Anyone who has spent even the briefest time working with me knows how I feel about this topic. When I was appointed to take over leadership of The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, of the 300 or so employees and dozens of department heads and supervisors, women managers could easily have been counted on one hand. While at first it didn’t register as an issue needing attention, a swift but unforced transition took place.