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Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

I’ve been told on more than one occasion, by more than one person who knows me well, that my expectations for myself are extremely high, and these people are correct. They are. I’m sure I could tell you all kinds of reasons for why that is, but in terms of Strengths, I attribute it to having Maximizer as a dominant theme. Folks with high Maximizer have high expectations and work hard to make something strong into something superb.

I spent today with a team of fairly young leaders from a company I’ve been blessed to work with for the last several months. Today was our first workshop and it was a FULL day. As the day came to an end, and I packed up all my materials, I felt the too familiar “let down” feeling that I often experience after workshops I facilitate. I suspect part of it is the actual physical disconnect that comes when one has been fully engaged, mentally (and for me empathetically), with a group of bright, interested, interesting individuals for an extended period. I suspect the other part is the process of my internal self-assessment; the desire to determine how well I served them, and often find myself wanting.

You see, I can always think of one or two things I could have done more effectively to connect at a deeper level, to serve more effectively, to facilitate more new insights, to offer more new perspectives. I am fully aware that my opportunity, at that point, is to make note of these insights so I can implement them in the next workshop. What I strive for is to be able to have those insights earlier, to be able to adapt as I go through the actual workshop and improve in the moment.

Here are today’s two reminders:

You can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame. And, just because you can doesn’t mean you should!

I don’t usually use a lot of tools in my workshops. Yes, there’s high quality content, thought-provoking questions, facilitated discussions, group coaching, and exercises that will help bring the key lessons to life for the participants…but I typically don’t use a lot of worksheets, forms, etc. In my experience, often creating the space where some of these deep, meaningful, perhaps uncomfortable conversations among key team members can take place is the greatest value I can offer.

About a month ago, I had another leadership coach observe me in action. Her feedback included a recommendation that I enlist more tools; although she admitted to having a bias for tools. Today, I enlisted a lot more tools…and while some worked well, some didn’t resonate with me or the team I was serving. The day was too full…we all needed more room for the free-flowing discussion. We needed longer breaks. I needed to remember that just because I had access to the tools didn’t mean I needed to use them today.

What I’m most thankful for, at the end of the day, is that we walked through the “Today was great because ___________, and would have been even better if _____________” feedback exercise and they were candid with me about worked and what didn’t. I have their perspective on how to serve them better in the future. I look forward to having that opportunity.

In the meantime, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to work with and serve them today.

 

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Maybe you think that if you don’t think about it, pretend it’s not there, it might go away?

I assure you, it won’t! In fact, it will become bigger the longer you allow it to fester. Conflict comes with a lot of baggage — mostly our own, stuffed full over the course of our lives with a lot of stuff gathered during previous conflicts and experiences with the person in question.

Last week, two of my coaching participants were working through how to deal with some conflict that had been plaguing their work lives for some time. As we all know, what happens at work bleeds into what happens outside of work, and vice versa, so it wasn’t just something they were thinking about, dreading, 8-5, but all day.

One said he felt deflated when he left work because of what appears to be an idealogical misalignment with a coworker. He wanted to down play it, make it less significant than it actually is. The other was interested in maybe bringing me in as a facilitator without having attempted to work through it herself.

The conversations we had were direct, uncomfortable, and filled with apprehension and fear. Dealing with conflict is rarely a fun thing; rarely something we look forward to with positive expectations. But we all know, we have to deal with it somehow, some way, or it will eat at us daily until something happens.

It’s similar to dealing with acute versus chronic pain in our bodies. We can experience it every time we have an encounter with that person, which is like a slow death; or, we can commit to bringing it out in the open and working through it intentionally, and experience that discomfort all at once.

What I know is this: If we don’t deal with it in a straightforward manner, it causes us to leak energy throughout our day and over time it wears us out. It’s keeps us from performing at higher levels, from accomplishing more, from experiencing healthy, constructive relationships, and from experiencing joy…in all areas of our lives.

And, working through it will help you grow…as a person, friend, spouse, colleague, and leader. This is a skill that will serve you well throughout your life, because conflict will appear, again, at some point, as it inevitably does. And when it does, although it won’t be less comfortable, you can approach it with a little more skill and confidence, knowing you’ve walked through a similar fire before and survived.

 

 

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Image  This photo was taken in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace in Guatemala City, as we prepared for a ceremony including John Maxwell, Guatemala Prospera, and the Guatemalan President.

Exactly a year ago this week, I was in Guatemala City, one of 150 John C. Maxwell Certified Coaches teaching a Transformational Leadership process to ~19,000 leaders within the seven streams of influence. All of those leaders committed to taking a small group of people through the Transformational Leadership process over the course of 30 weeks. That’s right — 30 weeks! During that time, they would study and apply each of The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, as described by John in his book of the same name, as well as 15 Values, as defined by the Guatemalan people based on what they thought would be crucial in changing the culture in their country.

Today, those 19,000 leaders have taught and influenced nearly ~200,000 citizens within their country, and the work continues.

Make no mistake, that trip changed thousands of lives, not the least of which were the Coaches who traveled to a far-off land to give of themselves to people they’ve never met, and may never see, again. It certainly changed mine, in ways I find it hard to articulate, even today, one year later.

I’ve learned, without question, what it means to offer something of significance to someone else; some thing that will change lives in unimaginable, possibly indescribable ways. As I sit in my office today, in West Virginia, I think fondly of my week with such amazing people doing such amazing, life-giving work. I long to be there with them, again.

The good news is, I am confident that opportunity will come again, and perhaps even sooner than I imagine. Since our time in Guatemala City last June, the John Maxwell Team has been invited to do the same work in several other countries in Central America.

To my fellow coaches, the leaders of the John Maxwell Team, the talented translators who shared their time and language, and the people of Guatemala who welcomed us into their country, offices, churches, and businesses…Thank You. I am blessed by you. I look forward to being with you all, again, soon.

If this appeals to you, watch this short video on our trip to Guatemala. And if you long to taste significance and are interested in joining this amazing team, here’s your invitation. I hope you join our tribe! Be sure to tell them I sent you!

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Over the course of my life, I’ve not been known as the most diplomatic person, so perhaps you’ll forgive my choice of words.

This blog was posted today from a “builder” I have been following, and whom I respect immensely. In this post, Chet Scott points out that high performers self-identify and emerge from the pack. As a manager or leader, you don’t have to search for them…they will demonstrate who they are in a number of ways, and as a manager/leader, you get what you deserve. Here are a few things to watch for:

High performers seek feedback. They want to know how they are doing and will ask for feedback from people they respect, frequently. If you don’t respond with honest, candid feedback — both positive and constructive — they will know you’re feeding them a line, and over time their respect for you will deteriorate.

High performers seek challenge. They are not satisfied with, nor willing to accept, mediocrity. These are the people who will ask for more responsibility, look for projects and opportunities to continually learn, grow, and stretch themselves. They are hungry and if you don’t feed them, they will find someone who will.

High performers seek other high performers. They don’t want to be the smartest people in the room; they actively seek out people who are ahead of them in whatever it is they seek to learn or achieve, so they can learn from those who have gone before them.

High performers don’t get hung up in the HOW. These folks are internally driven, motivated to achieve. They are inspired by WHY, and if you can connect them to the Why of what needs to be done, they will find the way — the How — to make it happen, and they will attract those resources to them.

The question now is: What kind of a team do you deserve? As Chet says, do you need to kick your own a_ _, and demonstrate what you’re capable of, so you can attract high performers? If not, you will attract who you are and they will perform at, or lower than, your level.

So do the hard work, scrutinize who you are and what you have to offer before you evaluate the performance of your team. If you seek change in your team or organization, you need to start with you.

If you don’t have a “builder” or coach to help you through this process, I strongly encourage you to find one. Speaking from experience, you won’t get there on your own.

___________________

If you’re curious about my self-identified lack of diplomacy, here’s a little insight…

Over the course of my life, I’ve not been known as the most diplomatic person. You may find this ironic, considering my chosen career — Corporate Communication — for the past 20+ years, but it’s true. In fact, I went through a Harrison Assessment a number of years ago, and my “diplomacy” score was very low, which was brought to my attention by the VP of Marketing, with whom I worked frequently. He considered it a potential disaster waiting to happen, given my job.

Here’s how I explained it to him. The Harrison Assessment offers statements like “I enjoy diplomacy in my work.” As you go through the assessment, you note whether the statement is like you or not like you. As a professional communicator, word choice is extremely important; words matter, so choose them carefully. I think of “enjoy” in terms of pleasure, satisfaction, etc…So, while I understand and appreciate the need for diplomacy, and am perfectly capable of discerning when I need to practice it, I don’t “enjoy” it.

That’s it…

 

 

 

 

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I was thrilled and blessed to see Chris Isaak in concert last night at The Kent Stage, in Kent, Ohio, and have to say it was truly a highlight of my year. Not only does Chris, and his band Silvertone, put on one heck of an entertaining show, but they also demonstrate what it truly means to connect with others.

These guys travel a lot, and yet, they make a point of truly connecting with their audience whether they are in the BIG city (i.e. New York, Paris, San Francisco) or in a small town in the mid-west (i.e. Kent, Ohio!). Here are a few lessons in connecting that I was reminded of last night:

Connectors show appreciation for others. At the end of the opening song, Chris said, “Thank you for coming out tonight and supporting live music.” This resonated with me for a couple of reasons: 1) It was a snowy day, and the roads to Kent were not in fabulous condition. Having driven 3 hours to get there, we passed no fewer than 6 vehicles off the road (some in the ditch, some in the median, one Durango that looked as if it had rolled across several lanes, spilling its owner’s things thru the median and across the highway). Kent is a bit out of the way; it’s not far from Akron or Cleveland, but a bit off the beaten path. 2) We have so much access to music of all kinds at all hours of the day, fairly inexpensively. Attending a live concert these days is a bit of an investment — tickets, travel, maybe dinner out and a hotel for longer-distance travelers.

In addition, while the tour is titled “Chris Isaak,” it’s not all about Chris. He showcases each member of the band separately during different parts of the show, allowing each to shine with his instruments of choice. He also highlights, and pays tribute to those performers who inspired and mentored him…from Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison to Carl Perkins and Elvis.

Connectors create entertaining experiences for others. Chris and Silvertone put on a SHOW! For them, it’s not all about flash and special effects, unless you count the sequins or mirrored panels on the suits Chris wears when he’s entertaining! The Kent Stage has about 620 seats, old movie theater style, so there wasn’t a bad seat in the house, and the band took full advantage of being able to interact with the audience. Chris and his guitarist, Hershel, were both out performing in the audience during a couple of different songs. They tell stories, they make fun of themselves, they do some fun moves together (imagine the stage shows of bands in the 50’s and 60’s), they even had one of those ridiculous dancing Santa’s on-stage — you know the ones, they move when they are activated by sounds around them. They encouraged us to get up and dance and they performed for a full two hours.

Connectors respond to the needs of others. As  I mentioned, they were out among the audience performing. They invited a few audience members on stage to dance with the bass player. They did a couple of songs based on requests yelled out by members of the audience. If you’ve been to a concert, you know they have a “stage set” or planned play-list that they work their way through. Yes, they had a stage set, and I’m sure they stuck to most of it, but they also improvised in response to the audience.

Finally, there is something so powerful about watching people perform in their passion zone. These guys have been playing together for 25-30 years, and it shows. They were having a lot of fun, and so were we. It was one of those experiences during which I was truly “in the moment” the whole time. If these guys are coming to a venue near you, I highly recommend seeing them, you won’t regret it!

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Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.  ~Henry David Thoreau*

This is so true; don’t you think? Consider this…how would your life be different today if you hadn’t believed in yourself?

How would your world be different today if other leaders hadn’t believed in their potential, their vision, their mission?

What if:

  • Abraham Lincoln hadn’t believed slaves should be freed?
  • John F. Kennedy, Jr., hadn’t believed a man could walk on the moon?
  • Martin Luther King hadn’t believed in the dream of equality for all?
  • Susan B. Anthony hadn’t believed women should vote?
  • Jonas Salk hadn’t believed polio could be cured?

These are just a few examples; given time, and putting our heads together, we could probably come up with a list that would span countless pages of how others’ (and our own) beliefs have changed our lives, our communities, and our world.

Regardless of what stage of life — and leadership — you may be in, know that the first step you must take to move forward is the believe in yourself, in your dream, and your ability to accomplish it.

Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.  ~Charles F. Kettering

Do so, and success will surely follow.

Do so, and you will change the lives of more people than you can imagine, at levels you may not even be aware of.

Do so…we need you!

___________

Note: This concludes this 12-month, focused Intentional Leadership journey. Thank you for accompanying me. Remember, it is a journey; even though our study together is ended, it doesn’t mean you must or should stop working through this process. This work, this guide, is archived for you on this site, and you are welcome to revisit it — even go through the whole process, or pieces of it, as the need arises — at any time in the future.

*From the Intentional Leadership booklet, by Giant Impact.

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It’s hard to believe, but this will be our last daily post on this Intentional Leadership journey. I will, of course, provide a wrap-up of this month’s focus on Belief, tomorrow…but for today, I’d like to walk you through our Friday ritual one last time.

On this day, I am beginning a new coaching engagement with another John Maxwell Certified coach, and will spend some time learning about the goals and challenges of a colleague on an Advisory Board I am part of, with the intent of understanding how I might add value to her and her team in the new year.

I am preparing for a number of upcoming significant events in my life, including fun, travel, visiting distant family, continuing to work with several mentoring participants, and planning my new year. The fun and travel come first, as I will be at the Chris Isaak Concert with my husband tomorrow night, then off to Washington State on Sunday for some time with my family before the holidays. It won’t be all play, however. This is the beauty of working in my passion zone; I can do it from nearly any location on earth (assuming there’s a cell signal and internet access!) at almost any time of day or night, as my creativity does not live by a “work schedule.”

Again, I will spend a significant amount of time in the coming weeks preparing for the coming new year, following deep reflection on the year we are so close to ending.

I can say with absolute honesty, that Belief is the perfect theme for me to end this Intentional Leadership journey. Without belief in myself, my purpose, my passion, and my plan, I would not be here with you at all. While I know there are many challenges and obstacles ahead, I fully belief I am on the right path, doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

I hope you can say the same for yourself. If you can’t, I strongly encourage you to find a coach or a mentor to help you work through the process of discovering what that path is for you, and then developing a plan for going after it!

In the meantime, how will you spend your weekend? With whom will you spend it?

What is vying for your time, attention, and energy?

What do you have in mind for closing out this year and moving into 2014?

Whatever it is, I hope you’re intentional about it.

Thank you for joining me on this journey; it’s been my pleasure. I hope you’ve learned as much as I have and have moved yourself and your team/organization forward in many ways.

I hope you’ll continue to stop in and read. I have a lot on my mind and will continue to be here writing, sharing thoughts, and asking questions…at least once a week.

If you have questions, comments, and/or topics you would like to explore together, I would love to hear them. Use the comment box below or send me an email.

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