What comes to mind when you think about leadership responsibility? Taking charge? Casting vision? Setting strategy? Getting results? Every time I get to ask this question in a workshop setting, the list gets long very quickly.
Let’s make it more personal with this sobering question: are the people you lead better or worse off because of you? What is the experience of each person on the other end of your leadership?
Since there are so many leadership responsibilities, let’s focus on just a few that have enormous implications for the people in our wake.
Napoleon Bonaparte claimed, “A leader is a dealer in hope.”
Hope is a strangely human enigma. It can’t be handled but it can be shared. It can’t create anything on its own but it can pave the way for new accomplishments.
Whether you’re celebrating a new beginning (like the start of a new year), caught up in new adventure or struggling to maintain the status quo, hope plays a key role. Not only must leaders be positive (no one wants to follow a pessimist!), they must deal in hope that can be felt and transferred.
Here are several ways to grow and share your hope.
When you’re new to the workforce, enjoying leadership success can be a far off goal. The main focus is finding the right role and doing quality work. I know that was the case for me. But with time and experience (and a lot of hard work) come new opportunities to lead at higher levels. You go from joining a team to leading a team to eventually leading a department or major organizational function. Each time the strategy shifts.
A couple years ago I was privileged to have Mark Miller guest post on my site about surviving success. We all need a game plan to kick off a new opportunity. But our behavior needs an adjustment as well.
In his bestseller What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, executive coach Marshall Goldsmith shares twenty habits that can be largely overlooked at lower organizational levels, but have the potential to absolutely derail a senior leader who doesn’t change course. There isn’t room to share them all in this post, but I’d like to highlight five extra critical ones. Fail to implement them, and your best people may go looking for a new leader.
In the 16th century, political consultant (for lack of a better term) Niccolò Machiavelli’s works were published in the controversial manuscript The Prince – which is still in print today. In it, Machiavelli shared his theories on how a ruler could maintain control of his province – especially when gaining new subjects through military or political conquest. Essentially, it’s a dictator’s best practices manual.
Dictatorship is alive and well in the world of global politics, but it’s a not-so-subtle organizational management style as well. So if you want to lead like a dictator, here are some unfortunate suggestions for you, including some from Machiavelli. And if you prefer a more serving style of leadership, note the contrasts.
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.
When was the last time your face was the unfamiliar one? You may have gotten a new job or joined a new team. Maybe you moved to a new area, joined a new network or gave a presentation to a new group.
How did it go?
If you had anything to say, share or contribute, chances are at some point you found yourself wondering, “how can I make myself credible to these people?”
The interesting thing about credibility is that it can never been attained for oneself. It can only be conveyed by others. You can only ever be as credible and others decide you are.
So what can you and I do? Quite a bit, actually. Here’s a sample of the ways I’ve noticed people gain credibility with others.
This year has just about come to a close. The Type As among us are probably wrapping up their goals and planning for the new year (if they aren’t finished already). The rest will catch up. Maybe.
I saw a great post from Mark Miller last week on New Year’s resolutions for leaders – and it really challenged my thinking. I’m not sure what your leadership goals are for the new year, but if you haven’t thought about it, I’d suggest picking something from these ideas below.
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.
One of the leadership questions I often hear is this: how can I be a leader when I’m so young?
I can’t think of a better example to share than this month’s leadership profile Malala Yousafzai.
I first heard of Malala when it was reported the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley had attempted to assassinate the then 15 year-old girl on her way home from school, shooting her in the face at point blank range in October, 2012. Her only “crime” was standing up and speaking out for the education rights of girls in the region. After an amazing recovery in Birmingham, England, Malala slowly but surely redoubled her efforts to speak out on behalf of education equality. Her book I Am Malala was released one year after her assassination attempt and she was the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Malala’s media story has yet to peak, but I believe there are several takeaways from a leadership front as well, particularly for young leaders. Here they are:
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.