How exciting is decision-making?? I’ve always enjoyed the logic that goes into navigating the personal and professional crossroads of life. Sometimes things work out. Other times it’s a disaster. Did we make the right call? How can we know for sure?
I read a book a couple years ago that took decision-making to a whole new level. It was Decisive by Chip & Dan Heath. I don’t think I’ve heard as comprehensive (or creative) a thinking process as it relates to decision-making. And the best part is that is applies to nearly all circumstances, from business (should we sue a bigger company? offer a discount on our products?) to personal (should I break up with my significant other? let my adult child move back home? buy a new TV?).
Here is a brief summary of the WRAP decision-making process the Heath brothers use:
I was able to attend my fourth Leadercast seminar earlier this month. This year I attended a simulcast in Orlando, FL. As always, it inspired me with both new and familiar ideas. The theme this year was bravery. Here are some of my key takeaways – and you can also catch up on the social conversation with the tags #leadercast and #thebraveones.
Is complexity leaving your organization behind?
That’s a question we considered at a workshop I attended recently. Author Mark Miller and a team of facilitators walked a large group through the content of his new book Chess Not Checkers. The boardgame imagery? It’s symbolic for what happens as organizations grow. In the early stages of most small organizations or teams, the rules are simplistic and team members may play interchangeable roles much like the game pieces in a checkers game. But as growth occurs, complexity kicks in. Roles require specialists to address additional complications. The playing field starts to resemble a game of chess, rather than checkers. If we’re not careful, we’ll fall behind.
As a University of Kansas basketball fan, I’ve never rooted for Duke. But there is a Duke moment that stands out in my memory. It occurred probably 10 or 15 years ago. Duke was in the process of getting upset in the NCAA Tournament. They were playing hard that day but not well. Near the end of the game, the senior star player fouled out, highlighting the frustrating day for everyone. As he exited the floor for the last time as a college athlete, he headed straight for Coach Mike Krzyzewski with tears streaming down his face and the two shared a prolonged embrace.
My first thought was that Coach K must have really messed up his black suit hugging a really sweaty guy (probably a sign that I’d make a terrible basketball coach). The second was how evident the bond between the leader and the followers was that day. It wasn’t an expression of victory, but one of commitment.
Who gets to be a leader? From time to time, I hear an someone admonish a group of individuals by saying “you are all leaders.” Other times, I see organizational messaging indicating “leadership” is reserved for a small group of individuals who occupy certain positions. Which is it? Are we all leaders, or only some of us?
And how do we get more leaders in our organizations?
In order to figure that out, we’ve got to start by defining what leadership is begin with.
One of the things that disappoints me the most is hearing someone tell me they don’t want to be a leader. It’s unfortunate because I believe that everyone not only has the ability to be leader but also the responsibility to make a leadership contribution in the role they are in. But in this context, they usually associate leadership with a management-type position. And what they usually mean is that the perks of leadership (pay, perception, privileges) are not worth the stress (bureaucracy, pressure, time, work, people issues).
And unfortunately, in some cases, I agree with them. I’ve seen plenty of leaders abused to the point where others take note and stay put. Usually it’s the result of some type of organizational dysfunction which may be easy to see buy difficult to change. Other times the job really is that difficult.
So as you move up in an organization, does leadership get easier or harder? I have good news and bad news. The answer is “yes.” Here’s why.
I’ll admit I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years when it comes to identifying leadership ability in others. Some I’ve thought would be great weren’t – and others I didn’t give much consideration turned out to be amazing. It’d be a lot easier if there was a scientific method to show who could get the job done. Until then, we’ll have to do the best we can.
One of the first mistakes we often make is assuming that the person in charge is always the leader. Then, when it turns out they aren’t, we give up. But what if leadership doesn’t have anything to do with having a title? In that case, it would be possible to have an organization filled with leaders at every level.
Leadership comes with all sorts of headaches and complications. At some point, I’m sure every leader sits back and asks the question, “how did I acquire all this stress?” Sometimes the magnitude of responsibilities is so overwhelming that would-be leaders count the cost and pass up the opportunity altogether.
There’s no question that leadership isn’t easy. But when done right, it’s always worth it. When the stress becomes overwhelming, it can be helpful to take a step back and consider the reasons we took the leap in the first place. Here are some of the common ones.
“Coaching” has been trending corporate buzzword in organizational leadership for well over a decade. We’re all familiar with athletics coaches. But when someone asks us to coach someone to learn a new skill or solve problem, it’s usually in a professional work context. What do coaches actually do – or do differently?
The interesting thing about coaching is how dynamic of a leadership role it is. Supervisors can coach. Mentors can coach. Peers can coach. Executive coaches can coach (obviously). Just about anyone can coach at one time or another.
Whether you have the opportunity to be coached or to be a coach, let’s take a look at six things coaching leaders do that set them apart.
Today's guest post comes courtesy of Mark Miller, Vice President of
Organizational Effectiveness at Chick-fil-A and bestselling author. Receive his updates by visiting his website Great Leaders Serve or following him on Twitter.
Success is a lousy teacher. The best leaders know this and are always on guard against complacency. I recently received a question from a leader who has just completed a season of success. She is concerned her team won’t stay motivated. How do you keep your team fully engaged in the wake of success?
This is a very thoughtful question. Most leaders are focused on “What’s next?” as we should be. However, the leader who posed this question has an intuitive sense that a let down could be around the corner. Without her leadership, she may be right.
What if I told you you don’t need to have a solution for every single problem that comes your way in order to be a competent and mature leader? Well that’s exactly what I’m about to propose. Hopefully it’s as refreshing to you as it is to me. And the best part about it is that it can dramatically improve your leadership influence as well. The alternative to responding with advice? Asking great questions.
I had the chance to travel to Greece and Bulgaria recently and give a series of leadership presentations to several university groups with a small team of business professionals. The sights, food and people were reward enough, but getting to share our leadership presentations with the future leaders of two countries added a special sense of purpose to the trip. Even better, our message had been carefully constructed to include leadership principles that have proved timeless across all disciplines. Let me tell you more about it.
Mark Miller developed the SERVE model and curriculum and collaborated with Ken Blanchard to publish it in their book The Secret. Each member of our small team presented a portion of the model. I’ll summarize it for you here below.