4 Ways to Be a Great Leader Today

4 Ways to Be a Great Leader Today

The abilities to cast vision, communicate, and motivate don’t make you a great leader. Hitler did all those things and more.

Great leadership isn’t about sitting in first class, entering through a private entrance, or a corner office.

Intelligence, position, good looks, or a big bank account aren’t essential for greatness.

A successful leader and a great leader are often different things.

A successful leader and a great leader are different things. Image of the reflection of the sky in a lake.A successful leader and a great leader are different things. Image of the reflection of the sky in a lake.

Great leadership is:

A great leader serves with an open hand and generous heart.

Greatness is pursued indirectly. It’s a result, not an end.

4 ways to be a great leader today:

#1. Quiet your ego.

If you don’t have an ego problem, you don’t see your arrogance.

Relax! You aren’t better than others. You don’t control the world. The universe won’t flinch when you’re gone.

The foundation of great leadership is humility.

The foundation of great leadership is humility is humility. Image of a cabin on a rock in the middle of a river.The foundation of great leadership is humility is humility. Image of a cabin on a rock in the middle of a river.

#2. Embrace learning.

Compared to all the things that could be known, you’re a moron.

“Those who think they know, don’t.” Edward de Bono

Learning and relearning are more important than the things you know.

#3. Lift others.

Arrogance puts people down. Greatness lifts people.

How do people feel about themselves after spending time with you?

#4. Stand for something that matters.

Being great requires unbending commitment and unquenchable tenacity.

5 threats to your greatness:

  1. Seeking approval.
  2. Needing appreciation.
  3. Comparing yourself to others.
  4. Making self-care an end in itself. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
  5. Trying to outshine others. Bring your best without needing the spotlight.

Forget about great leadership if your main goal is to get and keep as much money and power as possible.

Great leadership is about the people you serve, not the people who serve you.

How might you serve with an open hand and heart today?

Still curious:

Humble Leadership, Edgar and Peter Schein

What is greatness and what does it mean for you?

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Powerful Insights from Questions You Hear

Powerful Insights from Questions You Hear

Dingbats don’t ask questions. Smart people ask powerful questions.

Geniuses gain insights from the questions they hear.

You might feel like Mr./Ms. big britches when people ask you questions. But lousy leaders hear more questions than skillful.

Leaders who repeatedly hear, “Is it OK if…,” are lousy leaders.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Lao Tzu

Skillful leaders know what to notice. You’ll be a better leader if you notice the questions you hear.

Geniuses gain insight from the questions they hear. Image of a pile of question marks.Geniuses gain insight from the questions they hear. Image of a pile of question marks.

Questions you hear:

Permission-asking questions.

You have better things to do than give permission. Frequent permission asking suggests disempowered people.

Notice the people who frequently ask permission. What’s behind their need for permission?

  1. Eliminate personal behaviors that create reluctance in others – tweaking, second-guessing, and punishing responsible mistake-making, for example.
  2. Clarify role, responsibility, and authority. Some people ask permission because they don’t know how much authority you’ve given.
  3. Teach people to take initiative. Use the “I intend to,” method. Instead of permission-asking, have people tell you what they intend to do. (See Marquet)

Real leaders give authority, not permission.

Real leaders give authority, not permission. Image of cartoon people standing around a leader.Real leaders give authority, not permission. Image of cartoon people standing around a leader.

Decision-making questions.

When people repeatedly ask you to make decisions for them…

  1. Explore responsibilities. People who ask you to decide for them want you to be responsible.
  2. Clarify goals. When goals are unclear people need permission more frequently.
  3. Explain values. The playing field of good decision-making is values.

Conflict-resolution questions.

People want you to choose sides when there’s conflict between people. Don’t!

Explore what’s best for the team before exploring what’s best for individuals.

Tip: The first question to ask when people repeatedly seek permission, decisions, or guidance is, “What have you tried?”

What are you learning from the questions people ask you?

Still curious:

The Ten Principles of Permission-Giving

Moving from Top-Down to All-In

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Successful Time Management isn’t about Getting More Done

Successful Time Management isn’t about Getting More Done

You can find lost keys, but a wasted hour is gone forever.

You complain that you don’t have enough time. But if you can’t manage time, it doesn’t matter how much you have.

Time management is self-management. Image of a person with a clock-head.Time management is self-management. Image of a person with a clock-head.

Time management isn’t:

#1. Time management isn’t about getting more done.

There’s always more to do and there’s never enough time when managing time is about cramming more into your day.

Constantly working to get more done is a never-ending treadmill of despair. The get-more-done treadmill eventually ends with apathy.

Time management is about doing what matters, not getting more done.

The second hand never negotiates. Close up image of a clock face.The second hand never negotiates. Close up image of a clock face.

#2. Time management isn’t about time.

Time management is self-management.

Imagine you could add 8-hours to your frantic day. Instead of a 24-hour day, you had a 32-hours day, every day. It doesn’t matter how much time you have when you can’t manage yourself.

“… until we can manage our own personal time, we can’t manage anything else.” Peter Drucker

You can manage how you use time, but time can’t be managed.

If you’re consistently frantic during a 24-hour day, you’ll be consistently frantic during a 32-hour day.

The second hand never negotiates.

#3. Time management isn’t complicated:

Managing time is about two things.

  1. Avoiding what matters less.
  2. Doing what matters most.

There are only three ways to ‘get more’ time.

  1. Accelerate. Increase your speed.
  2. Delegate. Get someone else to do it.
  3. Eliminate. Stop doing something.

Time management. The busier you feel, the more likely you are to neglect important work. Image of a person with a clock head.Time management. The busier you feel, the more likely you are to neglect important work. Image of a person with a clock head.

7 time management tips:

  1. Establish priorities that align with mission and vision, not urgencies.
  2. Forget most urgencies. Schedule priorities.
  3. Integrate rituals.
  4. Leave work on time. Constantly working late is mismanagement.
  5. Eliminate low-value activities. What could you stop doing?
  6. Schedule micro-breaks throughout the day. Take 3 minutes to prepare for your next meeting, for example.
  7. Build in buffers. Don’t schedule anything back-to-back.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Socrates

What time management strategy has most helped you?

Still interested? 20 Time Management Tips for Professionals | Indeed.com

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10 Stupid Things Smart Leaders Do

10 Stupid Things Smart Leaders Do

“Stupid is as stupid does.” Forest Gump

The danger of stupid is it seems smart.

Smart people do stupid things.

You must quit doing stupid things to make room for smart things. The person who can’t quit, can’t change.

Comfort with stupidity means continued self-defeat.

Smart people do stupid things. Image of two moths flying over a flame.Smart people do stupid things. Image of two moths flying over a flame.

10 stupid things smart leaders do:

My friend, Stan Endicott, tells managers who ask for advice, “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Two kinds of stupid.

  1. Stupid things you know you’re doing.
  2. Stupid things you don’t know you’re doing.

Don’t-know stupid:

You need other people to help you see stupid things you don’t see – if you’re smart enough to listen. Someone will say something to you that seems stupid. It might be what you need to hear.

Explore things that seem stupid. When someone says, “You’re working too many hours,” reflect on their motives. Consider your lifestyle.

Quality of life is the result of repeated behaviors.

What do your repeated behaviors say about your future?

Quality of life is the result of repeated behaviors. Image of a cat licking it's own lips. Quality of life is the result of repeated behaviors. Image of a cat licking it's own lips.

Do-know stupid:

Smart people know they do stupid things.

Life would be better if you just stopped doing stupid things.

10 stupid things:

  1. Having crucial conversations on email.
  2. Bringing up a problem or complaint and expecting someone else to solve it for you.
  3. Eating ice cream from the container instead of putting one serving in a dish.
  4. Working till you can’t think clearly.
  5. Trying to fix people.
  6. Allowing confidence to become entitlement.
  7. Expecting performance from novices.
  8. Hanging on to offenses.
  9. Assuming you communicate clearly.
  10. Waiting for perfect circumstances.

Image of quote, Image of quote,

Tip for dealing with stupid:

Be concerned for yourself like you are someone you love.

Talk to yourself as if you want to help yourself instead of beating yourself down.

What’s true of people who don’t stop doing stupid things?

What are some stupid things smart leaders do?

Still interested: Solving the 12 Dumbest Things Leaders Do

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4 Things You Need to Quit Now

4 Things You Need to Quit Now

The first thing you need to quit is lying to yourself. Everyone who rejects their humanity lives a lie.

Superman and Wonder Woman only exist in comic books.

Arrogance destroys you, but you reject self-sabotage when you embrace your frailty.

Successful people learn how to quit. Image of an empty railroad track.Successful people learn how to quit. Image of an empty railroad track.

4 Things You Need to Quit Now

#1. Quit setting goals you never reach.

You disrespect yourself when you consistently don’t do what you commit to do. Good intentions – you never attain – are self-sabotage.  

The person who hasn’t worked out for five years rejects their frailty when they commit to workout 5-days a week for a year.

#2. Quit ignoring your frustrations.

Buried frustration promotes self-destruction.

Don’t go around spewing anger. Listen instead. What is frustration telling you? When you listen closely, you learn about yourself.

#3. Quit trusting experts.

In technical matters, experts are useful. In personal development, an expert with a universal program is often an imbecile with a hammer.

Universal principles require individual application. Experts know what THEY should do. Learn from experts but choose your own path forward.

#4. Quit going with your gut.

You are filled with biases that dilute your perceptions.

Your gut is useful for personal decisions. Should you live in the city or suburbs? But going with your gut is dangerous.

4 cognitive biases everyone has:

  1. Dunning-Kruger effect – people who don’t know think issues are simple and progress is easy.
  2. Confirmation bias – you favor ideas that confirm existing beliefs.
  3. Negativity bias – you avoid loss more than you pursue benefit.
  4. Attribution error – you attribute people’s failure to their character.

Here’s a list of 20 cognitive biases that screw up your decisions. I also highly recommend, Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.

The surprising side of success is quitting.

What might you add to the above list of things to stop doing?

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How to Mentally Prepare for Your Next Meeting in only 3-Minutes

How to Mentally Prepare for Your Next Meeting in only 3-Minutes

People who run from one meeting to the next end the day wondering what they got done. You will lead better if you give yourself three minutes to mentally prepare for the next meeting.

You will survive if you don’t mentally prepare for your next meeting, but you won’t flourish.

Prepare for the next meeting or you won't flourish. Image of a bird of prey staring at the screen.Prepare for the next meeting or you won't flourish. Image of a bird of prey staring at the screen.

How to mentally prepare for the next meeting in only 3-minutes

#1: Schedule a 3-minute break to prepare for the next meeting.

Back-to-back meetings dilute the quality of meetings and drain your energy.

The people at their best know how to rest.

Rule #1 could be, “Make back-to-back meetings a sin.”

The reason your day feels like a blur is because it is. End one thing before you begin the next.

Ego confuses fatigue with importance. Image of a white dog looking at the screen.Ego confuses fatigue with importance. Image of a white dog looking at the screen.

#2: De-stress during breaktime.

Breaktime isn’t time to cram in one more task. Give yourself 3-minutes to de-stress. No email. No quick calls.

#3: Breathe deep for 60 seconds.

Have a micro-meditation session. Let stress leave your body.

#4: Honor imperfect accomplishments.

Your inner critic hates gratitude. He loves reminding you that you fell short. If perfection is the standard for gratitude, you’ll always be ungrateful.

Gratitude requires humility.

Use breaktime to notice what you did right.

You aren’t a complete loser. I know you did something right.

You might say to yourself, “I’m thankful I …,” or, “I’m glad I ….”

Image of a bottle on its side. Unexpressed gratitude is ungratefulness.Image of a bottle on its side. Unexpressed gratitude is ungratefulness.

#5: Turn to the next thing with intention.

Think about the people you’re interacting with in the next meeting. Bring to mind something you admire about them. What are they doing right?

Determine how you want to show up. Often, I choose calm curiosity. I’m naturally curious, but not naturally calm. Calmness lets others know you’re comfortable with them and yourself.

How might leaders refuel energy in micro-moments?

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Initiative: 4 Ways to Act without Permission

Initiative: 4 Ways to Act without Permission

New ideas always encounter resistance.

Success requires initiative.

Leaders act without permission.

There’s too much permission-asking in organizations.

You’ve been asking permission all your life. It began when you were a kid.

How might you take initiative when you’re surrounded by naysayers?

Success requires initiative. Image of two dogs playing with a frisbee. Success requires initiative. Image of two dogs playing with a frisbee.

4 ways to act without permission

Reject the idea that good employees ask permission.

  1. Display regard for others. Don’t think of initiative as getting your own way. Act with the best interest of others when you take initiative.
  2. Use curiosity, not anger. When you’re afraid to speak up, anger builds up. Initiative based on anger is self-serving. It’s about making things better for you. Self-serving leaders lose influence.
  3. Be proactive, not reactive. A lousy boss is no excuse to do what you want to do. Initiative is acting-for, not acting-against.
  4. Act with openness. A closed mind reflects a better-than spirit. Initiative is about humility, not arrogant superiority.

Anyone committed to 'steady as she goes' finds reasons to stay the same. Image of a sailboat on still water.Anyone committed to 'steady as she goes' finds reasons to stay the same. Image of a sailboat on still water.

Don’t solve a naysayer’s objections.

The first response to new ideas is usually no.

The worst thing you can do is solve a naysayer’s objection. The moment you answer one objection, a committed naysayer spouts two more.

Anyone who is committed to ‘steady as she goes’ finds reasons to stay the same.

3 ways to respond to naysayers:

  1. Seek input early and first. Don’t ask naysayers for permission to try something new. Tell them you’re developing a new course of action. “What problems might we encounter if we…?”
  2. When they say, “That won’t work,” say, “What exactly did you try? What specifically did you learn that didn’t work?”
  3. When they say, “We can’t,” say, “Lets come up with three reasons it won’t work and three reasons it will.”

What suggestions do you have for someone who wants to take initiative? (Act without permission.)

Still curious: Taking Initiative

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