Dear fellow leaders,
It has come to my attention that we are our own worst enemies. The lack of our effectiveness and success is primarily due to our own stupidity and failure to get out of our own way. We tend to get wrapped up in our own little worlds and forget that our primary goal is to influence others to higher levels of performance. We forget that the energy we bring to our team through our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual presence is what sets the tone for their morale, productivity, and well-being.
It’s time to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. Here are three key checkups I suggest you perform:
Check your attitude — If you come to work acting like Mr./Ms. Grumpypants, how do you expect your team members to act? They’re going to act just like you. Remember, when you’re in a leadership position, you’re always under the microscope. Does it get tiring? Yes. Is it reality? Yes. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice, so try putting a smile on your face, remember to say please and thank you, catch your people doing something right, and spread a little sunshine to your team. You’ll find that it’s contagious.
Check your ego — Get over yourself. You’re really not that big of deal (everyone else already knows it so you might as well admit it). Our oversized egos are often the primary culprits of our undoing. A little bit of power can be intoxicating, and if you don’t manage it properly, you’ll find your head growing bigger than the rest of your body. Make sure you have some “truth-tellers” in your life that will keep you down to earth by speaking the honest, hard truth about your performance even if everyone else thinks you walk on water (they really don’t think you can walk on water, they just flatter you by pretending they do).
Check your motives — Why did you sign up for this leadership gig anyway? Was it to make more money? Was it the only way to move up in the organization? Do you like toboss people around? Or were you interested in helping people learn, grow, and achieve their goals? While you’re checking your motives, you might want to examine your core values as well. Whatever values you hold dear are probably the driving force behind your motives and behaviors. Get your values and behavior in alignment and you’ll be a leadership dynamo.
Being a leader is a tough job and it’s not for the weary or faint of heart. Don’t make it harder by acting stupid. Use your brain. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
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.
It’s imperative that you are “social” in your leadership and influence today. A new reality exists, and as leaders we have to be not only aware of this, but also willing to jump in and embrace a new reality of Social engagement like never before.
Here are a few thoughts on Social Leadership:
1. Social Media equals Influence. Bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers, and Social media junkies are now the normal outlets to tap into for getting the word out. I’ve seen this the last few years with everything from new movies to new books to new conferences. These leaders are being sought out not just for their networks, but also for their endorsements. It’s a new era. Exponential influence in ways never seen before is happening through blogging, tweeting, facebooking, pinteresting, etc. Digital mavens are shaping what we are listening to, reading, watching, and learning.
2. Social Entrepreneurs– A new wave of leaders has emerged. Leaders who combine business savvy with charitable endeavors and social innovation. Scott Harrison, Charles Lee, Blake Mycoskie, Jamie Tworkowski, Laura Waters Hinson, Eugene Cho, Jeff Shinabarger, Kohl Crecelius and Jason Russell just to name a few.
3. Social Accountability– Leaders are constantly being evaluated in todays culture. You can’t hide anymore behind a position or title. Leaders are being held to a standard never seen before because of constant media- video, flip cameras, blogging, twitter. Your leadership has constant real-time evaluation. Especially well-known leaders. And Authenticity is crucial. Being honest, genuine and real is important for continual influence.
4. Social Good– it’s now in vogue to “do good.” And society in general is taking notice. Celebrities gain more influence because of causes they’re involved in. Businesses are “doing good” and focusing on the triple bottom line, which is now a normal measurement of success in business. Meaning what was our “gift back to society” and how did we “leave the world a better place.” It’s not just about making a profit anymore.
5. Social Politics in organizations is fading– Positional leadership doesn’t really matter anymore. Not about what position or title you hold, but more about what you are delivering. If you are executing and getting things done and creating value for the organization, your influence will have impact.
6. Creating a social “community” is now a norm, not an exception. A great example of this is Zappos, and the kind of culture that Tony Hsieh has created there. Employees enjoy being around each other, and take pride in a sense of family that exists within their company.
7. Flattening of the “social hierarchy of influence.” I can learn from all kinds of great leaders in todays culture, and not know them personally. I can also connect with well known leaders much easier than in the past through technology and social platforms. Information and inspiration has never been
so readily available to us. When you follow someone on Twitter, you feel like you know them personally, even if they have hundreds of thousands of other “followers.”
8. Social Justice is not just a fad. Connected to #4, but my opinion is that especially within the Church/faith community, this shift towards the “living out” of the Gospel through justice and mercy is here to stay.
9. A new generation of employees expect a “social workplace.” This is a Reality of a new generation, according to Tim Elmore is his great book Generation iY :
– Experiential- all about the 5 senses. Sensory engagement is critical and a reality in terms of what Millenials have grown up with and desire.
– Participatory– want an experience to be customized. Millenials have grown up in a participatory culture. They don’t just listen, but actually want to participate. This is very important in terms of creating a work environment/team culture that is attractive to 20 somethings.
– Image-Rich– all about pictures, video, large screens, large TV’s, high res pics on your phone, etc. Pictures/video are an incredibly powerful learning medium for Millenials, vs. just text. Especially in terms of memory.
– Connected– information is constant for Millenials. Text, facebook, twitter, phone, email. This can be both a positive and a negative.
How are you & your church or organization being “social”?
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!