Archive for April, 2012
It's perilous to ignore the way people expect you to behave. Like it or not, we have stereo typical expectations when it comes to talking and power.
We expect powerful men to talk more than their less powerful counterparts. This is not true for powerful women.
Women – men – who talks more:
You’d be wrong if you believed women talk more than men.
Leadership character: A six-part series by West Point’s Col. Eric Kail
By Col. Eric Kail
This piece is the introduction to a six-part series on leadership character.
Picture the faces of the two most influential people in your life, the leaders who had the greatest impact on you. What made them so large in your eyes—was it what they did or who they were? That is, was it their skills and abilities that left such an impression or their character?
Now think back to the last time a senior leader cost your organization valuable assets, from stock value to human capital. Chances are good that it was a character failure on their part, not a matter of their technical or managerial abilities.
While most leadership discussions center on what leaders do, this short series is intended to generate a dialogue on leadership character. Some might say that leaders’ character, who they are, in factdetermines what they do. I say, then all the more reason to focus our leadership literature and dialogue on character development. And when I say “character,” I don’t mean “personality.” Yes, there is a growing volume of empirical evidence regarding the role of personality in leadership effectiveness, but personality has been determined to be relatively stable over time. We are pretty much stuck with the personality we have by the time we begin grade school; our character, on the other hand, is definitely subject to development.
The following six blog installments will roll out over the course of 2011 and will each focus on the importance of a particular facet of leadership character: courage, integrity, selflessness, empathy, collaboration andreflection.
In the first installment, on courage , I’ll examine both the moral and physical elements of the trait. It turns out we are not as courageous as might think we are.
Second, I’ll make an argument for integrity that goes beyond the old adage that integrity means doing what’s right when no one else is looking. I’ll take a slightly different approach than the glass ball, or “pure until sullied” perspective on integrity.
Third, I’ll discuss the role of selflessness , and how being a selfless leader is actually the opposite of being a weak or soft leader.
Fourth, I’ll provide some thoughts on why we think we are so much more empathetic than we really are. Leaders probably understandempathy and its importance better than followers, and yet they tend to practice—if at all.
These first four facets of character are where most current thought on character stops, but I believe leadership character goes beyond just these four. The operational environment I first started leading in during the 1980s no longer exists. Back then, I was taught to use formal authority to impose my will upon others; that was leadership. Formal authority still has a place in my leadership lexicon, but the need lead more collaboratively is greater than ever.
So in the fifth installment, I’ll present two components of collaboration: peer support and seeing the big picture. Both are critical in translating leadership performance into leadership potential.
Finally, in number six, I’ll introduce the concept of reflection . The inclination for leaders to reflect is a critical character component for growth, self awareness and authenticity.
The idea behind this series isn’t just to identify and define these components of character, it’s also to help you assess how much you have them—and even more importantly, to introduce ideas for developing them in ourselves and in other leaders. I’ll look forward to your comments, challenges and opinions along the way. Stay tuned.
Col. Eric Kail is an Army field artillery officer who has commanded at the company and battalion levels. He is the course director of military leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He holds a PhD in organizational psychology.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
A little while ago I wrote a blog titled “Let’s Talk”. Of course communication is always a challenge. Recently I asked for some feedback on a talk I did. At first I got these vague reassurances saying that it went okay. Then I remembered something I’d heard Bill Hybels talk about and decided to write “Let’s Talk Part 2”!
Image by David Thyberg
You’ll never succeed until people listen to you.
Leadership is challenging because most people aren’t good listeners - leadership requires listeners. Earnest Hemingway said, “Most people never listen.” If they never listen, they can never be led. Watch children playing and you’ll see that listening is rare – telling is common.
In these economic times I know that there might be a few of you, who are questioning why you belong, and is it worth it?
Please can I try and assist by re-highlighting the Willow Creek association’s Purpose, Vision and Mission.
Our Purpose: To stir up, call out and equip leaders in churches around the world.
Our Vision : That each local church should realize its full redemptive potential.
Our Mission : To inspire and equip Christian leaders to lead transformation minded churches
This is what your WCA membership supports! YOU allow US, to not only serve you, but also
to serve churches across South Africa plus churches in 10 countries north of us. We consider
ourselves to be your missionaries as we work to achieve our Mission!
Member benefits have been improved, and I hope that you agree that they offer good value
for money, but as covered above, the kingdom impact of your membership far outweighs
any monetary benefits!
Can I also, at this time, invite you to make full use of your membership. We are here to serve
You! Providing the GLS, live speakers books and curriculums are just part of how we would
like to serve you. E-mail us your challenges, and let us see if we can help. If we don’t know
the answer, we’ll ask our “veteran” WCA members both here in SA and internationally.
We truly value our partnership with you, and look forward to serving you through 2012! Thank
you again for your support! Without it we would not exist!
12 Ways to Know If You Are a Leader
You’ve heard it at conferences. You’ve read it in books. Everyone is a leader. Do you believe this? I don’t.
While everyone has the potential to be a leader, most never take up the mantle. They are content to let others take the risk and do the work.
Several years ago, I read a post by Tony Morgan called “10 Easy Ways to Know You’re Not a Leader.” I took that list, and then inverted and expanded it.
Here are twelve ways to know if you are a leader:
- You long to make a difference.
- You’re discontent and dissatisfied with the status quo.
- You’re not waiting on a bigger staff or more resources to accomplish your vision.
- Your dreams are so big they seem impossible.
- You acknowledge what is but inevitably ask, “What could be?”
- You realize that you don’t have to be in charge to have significant influence.
- You refuse to blame others for your circumstances and take responsibility for finding solutions.
- You foster unity by bringing people together and encouraging dialogue.
- You are quick to say, “I messed up. Here’s what I am going to do to fix the problem I created.”
- You value relationships more than tasks.
- You walk your talk—not perfectly but sincerely and intentionally.
- You are a learner. You read, listen to podcasts, attend conferences, and ask other leaders lots of questions.
If this sounds like you, congratulations. You are a leader—or well on your way to becoming one. Leadership is not about experience, education, or talent. It’s about the choosing to lead. That’s where it begins.
How to Build (or Rebuild) Trust
Trust is to an organization what oil is to a car engine. It keeps the moving parts from seizing up and stopping forward motion.
But trust is not something you can take for granted. It takes months—sometimes years—to build. Unfortunately, you can lose it overnight.
Some people seem to have a knack for building trust. When they speak, others take them at their word. When they are absent, people speak well of them. Even when they make a mistake, people give them the benefit of the doubt.
Others are just the opposite. People distrust what they say. They are suspicious of their motives. They interpret every comment, every e-mail, and every action as one more reason the person cannot be trusted.
Years ago, I had such a person reporting to me. Justin started out well. He had come to our company with an impressive resume. People assumed he was competent. But over time, he single-handedly destroyed his own reputation.
He didn’t keep his word. He was always late to meetings. He didn’t follow-through on his commitments. Worse, he never owned up to any of it. He always tried to “spin” the facts in his favor. From his perspective, the other party simply misunderstood what he had said or circumstances beyond his control kept him from keeping his commitments.
Unfortunately, I put up with Justin’s behavior longer than I should have. No one trusted him. First, his peers began to complain. Then his direct reports (risking his wrath) started coming to me and complaining. Even my own boss didn’t trust Justin. I was the last man standing.
I finally woke up and realized that others were beginning to doubt my ability as a manager. I was hoping to turn him around. I had even coached him on specific behaviors. But he just didn’t seem to “get it.” So, I took a deep breath and fired him. The only one surprised was Justin. Everyone else patted me on the back and, I’m sure, wondered what took me so long.
But things shouldn’t have deteriorated to this point. Justin could have been salvaged if only he had owned what was happening. He could have taken specific steps—steps I had encouraged him to take—to rebuild trust with his direct reports and colleagues.
If you are in a situation where you need to build trust—or even rebuild it—here are four specific steps you can take. These will work with your employees, your colleagues, your customers, your vendors—or even your spouse.
- Keep your word.This is where it starts. People have to learn that they can count on you to deliver on your promises. If you commit to following up on something, do it. No excuses. If you can’t do it, proactively let the other person know.
For example, “Terri, last week I told you that I would get back to you with a proposal. However, I am waiting for a bid to come through from an outside vendor. It looks like that might add a week to my schedule.” People are usually very forgiving if you take the initiative to communicate. However, if they have to chase you down, you lose points. Your reputation will take a hit.
Also, be prompt to meetings. Tardiness also erodes trust. Sometimes, circumstances beyond your control prevent this, but you can’t allow it to become a habit. And, if you are late, apologize. Show some empathy and explain briefly why you were late.
- Tell the truth.This is harder than it sounds. Most of us like to think of ourselves as truth-tellers. But it’s easy to round the numbers up, spin the facts, or conveniently leave out the evidence that doesn’t support our position.
But if we are going to build trust, then we have to commit ourselves to telling the truth—even when it is difficult or embarrassing. People are more forgiving than you think. (Witness all the celebrities who have publicly blown it, apologized, and received a pass.) They don’t expect you to be perfect. However, they do expect you to acknowledge your mistakes and to come clean when you screw up.
Sam Moore, my predecessor as the CEO of Thomas Nelson used to say, “Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Whenever I needed a decision from him, I would give him both sides of the argument. I refused to withhold relevant information. I didn’t exaggerate. I always rounded down.
Then I would make my recommendation and tell him why. Over time, this built trust. He didn’t have to ask someone else to get the other side of the story. As a result, I usually received his approval on the spot.
- Be transparent.People will not trust you unless you learn to share yourself, warts and all. You have to take a risk and be vulnerable. This creates rapport and rapport builds trust.
However—and be warned!—you can’t use this as a gimic or a technique. If you do, people will see it as manipulation. Instead, you have to be authentic.
The reason this builds trust is because you are demonstrating trust. You are taking the initiative to go first. In essence, you are saying, “Look, I trust you. I am taking off my mask and showing you my true self. Some of it isn’t very pretty. But I am willing to take that risk, believing you will still accept me.”
In my experience, this kind of self-revelation almost always gives the other person the courage to take off their mask, too. And that builds trust. The relationship is deepened. It goes to a new level.
- Give without any strings attached. Nothing builds trust like love. What does love have to do with the workplace? As Tim Sanders points out in Love Is the Killer App, everything.
You have to be willing to share your knowledge, your contacts, and your compassion—without expecting anything in return. The more you take the initiative to give, the more it builds trust.
Giving lets others know that you know it’s not “all about you.” From this, people learn that they can trust you, because you have their best interests at heart. You aren’t merely looking out for yourself. You’re taking care of them, too.
But, like being transparent, you have to be careful how you give. Otherwise, it will be perceived as manipulation. You have to make sure your motives are pure. You can’t expect something in return.
Trust can always be rebuilt. Granted, in some situations, it can take years. It takes doing the right things over a long period of time. But in most cases, it won’t take that long. Relationships can be turned around quickly if you own the problem and take the steps I’ve outlined above.