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.
I’m afraid I’ve come to recognize a serious leadership deficit today in America. It’s probably nothing new. It’s what I call “the fear of the finger.” Not the middle finger, mind you. I’m talking about the index finger. Precious few individuals are willing to risk being on the other end of a finger that could end up being pointed at them. Especially when it turns into many fingers in high profile situations.
In other words, there is a great reluctance to take a stand in ambiguous or unpopular situations and declare, “If this doesn’t work, I’ll be the one who goes down with the ship.”
The great tragedy is that the opportunity for true leadership, the kind that welcomes responsibility and takes courageous and necessary risks in spite of the unknown – that kind of leadership, has never been in higher demand. Worse still, the kind of leadership that takes a stand is exactly the prerequisite to rallying others to unite and follow.
I recently got the chance speak to several college and high school student groups about leadership. It reminded me of my college experience when the subject of leadership really clicked with me for the first time. As always, our future rests on the ability of the next generation to lead well.
So I want share with you a few simple ideas that all young people (as well as the rest of us) need to hear about leadership. I encourage you to share them with the young people you know – either with this post or more importantly, with your own words. Here they are.
For the third year in a row I had the pleasure of attending the Leadercast leadership seminar at a local simulcast location. This year I attended in Daytona Beach, FL with about 80 other local leaders. The event was fantastic, as usual.
I don’t get to attend as many leadership events as I’d like to, but I always take something away from the ones I do. This year’s Leadercast was no exception. These were the highlights for me.
Most organizations have core values. Somewhere anyway. They’re usually posted on the website and probably printed on a brochure somewhere. But do people talk about them individually? Does anyone know them? Are they specific and meaningful enough to make a difference?
At the end of the day, the organization is going to do what it’s going to do, right? So maybe a better question is: why do we even have core values?
We’ve probably all come across sets of core values that were easy to make fun of or were too vague to impact anyone. But well constructed, specific core values can add tremendous benefit both to organizations and individuals. In fact, here are three ways I’ve seen this happen.
Truth: Leadership is about influence, not position.
Leadership is about one thing and one thing only: influence. Leaders use the influence they have to create positive change. The more positive change, the more influence.
Go into any corporate boardroom, military garrison or government building and you’re bound to find someone who has a title and a position, but lacks the influence he or she needs to get the job done. Even though they’re in charge, their followers resist them at every turn. The ones who stick around, that is. People follow them when they have to… but that’s it.
On the other hand, go to the front lines of any war zone, the kitchen of any restaurant or the teachers’ lounge at any school, and you’re bound to find someone who truly leads, regardless of where he or she falls on the totem pole. All you have to do is ask, “who is the real leader around here? Who has the influence to get the job done?” You’re sure to get an answer.
I took a college class one semester from a guest instructor who had recently been the president of a large and influential organization. His presidency had lasted over twenty years and he had overseen numerous high-profile change initiatives. I enjoyed the class immensely and was really challenged in my leadership thinking. I even remember staying after class to share some theories I was working on and get his input.
So when I called up a friend who had been associated with the organization this man had led, I couldn’t have been more shocked at what he told me.
Have you ever taken a personality assessment? What were your results? Were you an INFP? A “high D and low I?” A fire with a bit of earth mixed in? An eagle or an otter?
If you spend much time on social networks, you’ve probably even seen personality quizzes that blend with pop culture. Which Lord of the Rings character are you? Or Disney character. Or past U.S. president. Personality assessments are definitely trending right now.
Now before you get the idea I’m about to start hating on personality assessments altogether, I should mention first off that I’ve taken several myself and helped administer them in professional settings as well. Some of the assessments I’ve worked with are Myers-Briggs (probably the most popular), DiSC (my favorite), and FIRO Business and I’m familiar with several others. I’ve also worked with strengths assessments and 360 degree assessments.
Clearly, there are many benefits to personality assessments, so let’s start there.
Is the glass half empty or half full?
You’ve undoubtedly been asked this rhetorical question before. Apparently how you answer is supposed to quickly reveal whether you are an optimist or a pessimist – and perhaps a lot more about your inner worldview.
I’m not sure what the “right” answer to the the glass question is – although I always think it should somehow depend on what’s in the glass to begin with. But when it comes to being an optimist, I’m am sure of this: optimists are in high demand.
Zig Ziglar once said that “a goal properly set is halfway reached.” I don’t know about you, but I always figured if I could get a 50% head start in anything, I’d take it! Of course it can take a lot of effort to slug through the dog days of execution, especially if your goal is to run a marathon or something tough and long-term like that. But the greater battle is usually for clarity at the onset.
So how do you get clarity when it comes to goal-setting?
You’ve probably heard about SMART goals before. If you haven’t, this little model could change your life. If you have, it’ll be a good refresher. Here are the steps to transforming regular, ordinary goals into SMART goals.
Several years ago when I was in graduate school, I invested a summer at a major restaurant franchise with the hopes of landing a corporate role after I graduated. I worked with an incredible operator who went out of his way to help me build my network with the corporate staff. Through one of the connections he shared, an area director agreed to stop by the restaurant to chat with me one Friday.
I still haven’t forgotten that day, but not for the reasons you might expect.
“I don’t like to micro manage,” my friend lamented. “But even when I set clear expectations and deadlines, I find myself having to guide the entire process or else the ball gets dropped. Is that an employee issue or a leadership issue?”
It’s hard enough to want to delegate in the first place. Many leaders lack trust, are insecure or are control freaks. But once you get past those barriers, what happens when your followers can’t pull their weight? Let’s talk about a few ways managers can guide their projects so that everyone can contribute.