This post is an excerpt from my new book Ignite Your
Leadership Expertise, which is available on Amazon.com.
Recently I had an idea for one of my corporate leadership programs that has over 6,000 leaders enrolled. In an attempt to make the program communications more personal, I included an insightful reflection one of the participants “Mark” had shared at the bottom of the email message. I didn’t have to wait long for a response, but I was surprised who it came from. Within minutes an email reply appeared from our company president. He had cc’d me in a reply directly to Mark and included Mark’s entire executive chain of command. Our president began by thanking him for his engagement in the program and leadership in his function and ended with a “proud to have you on the team!”
I don’t know anyone busier than our company president, but he still found time to give a personal kudos. I don’t know Mark personally, but I bet he went home walking on air with a story to share with his family over dinner. “That was really fun to be a part of,” I thought. “I want to do this again.”
One of my favorite quotes of all-time comes from the 18th century English writer Samuel Johnson, who observed, “The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.”
Each of us are “single human beings.” We qualify. Your applause is of great consequence, and so is mine.
Celebrating the success of others is definitely a “nice” thing to do, but if we think a little deeper, it has some real benefits for us as well.
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.
I’ve been thinking about career selection and management a lot recently. When I’m asked how I landed where I am, I’m quick to reply that I wouldn’t wish my career path on anyone but I sure do love where I am now. In all honesty, there has been a lot of hard work, difficult choices and tough breaks along the way. But that’s true for anyone who wants something more.
So what does career management have to do with leadership? It’s a lot harder to lead if you’re not in the right job fit. One of the best ways to excel as a leader is to choose the right context.
Here’s some of the best conventional wisdom I use with myself and others when it comes to charting out a career path – or just making a change.
If you’ve worked for any length of time, you’ve probably wondered, “Why is it so hard to find good leaders?” You’re not alone. Not only are employers finding it tricky to find qualified help, management & executive roles have become increasingly difficult to fill. These employers can only expect retirement to continue to raid the Baby Boomer portion of their leadership ranks. So who will step up to fill the leadership gap? More specifically, where should we look?
Everyone wants to work for a strong leader and to have dependable people supporting them. But it’s not a given. So if you’ve ever asked where all the good leaders have gone, it may be helpful to tweak your perspective.
I don’t know what last year brought your way, but as the saying goes: all new beginnings are hopeful. I believe that’s true when it comes to leadership effectiveness as well. Wouldn’t this be a great year for some meaningful strides? If you haven’t thought much about it, I’d like to share some of my leadership themes for the new year.
Excellence is a blessing and a curse. It’s always a noble pursuit. But it can be intimidating as well. With so much information and many high profile examples of what excellence looks like, how can we contribute in a significant way?
Regardless of what you aspire to do, excellence is a worthy goal. But it probably won’t be your starting point. So how do you get there? Try this.
I haven’t forgotten one of my first coaching interactions that took place years ago. My client was stuck. She talked about wanting go back to school and make some new contributions with her life. But she couldn’t do it, she explained. What was holding her back? Her husband didn’t fully support her to the extent she needed. I remember thinking, well, why don’t you try it anyways?
I’m not sure if she ended up pursuing school in the years since or if she’s still waiting for that support. Here’s what I do know: having other people in your corner can mean the world – especially the ones closest to you. But unfortunately sometimes the support of others is unavailable. Then what?
It’s a popular belief these days that no one attains success on their own. There is always a supporting cast. In many cases this is true, but fortunately, not in all. If you’re on your own, you can still make it. Here are the top two reasons:
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.
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.
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.
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.