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Posts Tagged ‘following’

Climate Controlled Leadership

May 9, 2011 1 comment

Leading CultureI showed up to work in a foul mood once when I was a platoon leader. I can’t remember the exact circumstances, all I know is that I was far from chipper. As the morning dragged on, I began to receive bad report after bad report. The crewchiefs were at each others’ throats. My maintenance officer was upset with the support battalion. The pilots were complaining about the flight schedule. By lunchtime I was convinced my platoon had been the victim of some psychological attack.

Curious, I decided to try something. I deliberately changed my mood. I forced myself to look on the bright side of things for the rest of the day—just to see what would happen. By the end of the day, the crewchiefs had worked out their issues, my maintenance officer was working with the support battalion on a compromise, and the pilots…well, the pilots were still complaining about the flight schedule—but in a much more civil manner.

I was amazed. I knew my experiment wasn’t conclusive, but I was pretty sure I had just turned my platoon’s day around, by merely changing my mood. Who knew that my emotions could have that much impact, in that short a time, on the people I led? Could my team’s morale really depend on the kind of day I’m having?

You bet.

I realized that day that leaders are thermostats, not thermometers. They set the emotional temperature in a room, a team, even a company. And they do it with astonishing speed—whether they realize it or not.

Your moods are already affecting everyone around you—for good or for bad. So why not use them to create the effect you want? If you want a positive, pleasing, and productive climate, start by getting your own mood in order!

How do you go about managing your moods as a leader?

Are You Enjoying Your Followers?

February 23, 2011 6 comments

leading joy childToday my one-year-old daughter danced in circles whilst tickling herself silly. Meanwhile, my three-year-old son built a castle-spaceship-car out of Lego’s.

I love my kids.

I believe that’s one of my chief jobs as a Dad—to enjoy my children. Sure, Sarah and I can teach them to use the potty, say “please” and “thank you”, tie their shoes, eat their veggies, play nice with others, work hard, and, overall, become productive members of society. But if they never learn that they are enjoyable—not just useful—they’ll never know true joy themselves, regardless of how “successful” they become.

We often place such a disproportionately high value on the utility of a person that we forget to enjoy them. The truth is, positive reinforcement just encourages someone to repeat a desired behavior. On the other hand, delighting in someone for who they are (not just what they do) unleashes confidence, creativity and poise. It frees them to be themselves and offer the best they have.

If that’s the case, then one of my chief jobs as a leader must be to let others know how much I enjoy them.

How have you seen enjoyment unlock a person’s potential?

7 Reasons Why No One is Following You

August 31, 2010 18 comments

poor leadershipI believe everyone has the capacity to lead. If that’s true, then why aren’t there more skilled leaders out there? I (and a slew of my betters) spend a lot of time thinking, writing, and talking about how to lead well – how to take what you’ve got and use it to guide and inspire others. Even with all this help we struggle sometimes to muster all our gifts and talents and skills in the right direction. We fail to connect with those we mean to lead. We fail to convince others to join us on the adventure.

Many blame their inability to attract great followers on external factors like the economy, poor timing, lack of capital, no experience, or even bad weather. I believe the biggest thing that holds us back isn’t external, its internal. We sabotage ourselves with runaway emotions and uncontrolled attitudes.

So here are 7 ways that I’ve seen leaders make themselves unattractive to followers. I hate to admit it, but I’ve fallen prey to each of them to some degree at one time or another. So watch out!

1. You’re selfish. Nothing stinks more than a selfish leader. This can be subtle. But it’s easy to sense selfishness in a leader, and the stench will turn your stomach. Leaders serve people and organizations. Period. Be generous!

2. You’re anxious. Fear is healthy; anxiety is deadly – to you and your followers. Go ahead, be afraid. Then do what needs to be done in spite of your fear. That’s courage. That’s what people follow.

3. You’re insecure. An insecure leader, trying to gain worth or significance from others, is just plain pathetic. You must trust yourself before you can expect others to do the same. Know what your identity is rooted in.

4. You’re short-sighted. People want to go somewhere grand and accomplish great things – no one dreams of being a loser. If you can’t see the bigger picture, the bigger vision, you definitely can’t lead anyone there.

5. You’re not going anywhere. You can’t steer a parked car; neither can you lead without moving. The movement doesn’t need to be physical; you can move hearts, minds and beliefs – but you’ve got to move!

6. You’re entitled. Think you deserve to be trusted? Think again. Trust is always – always – earned. Followers choose to give it or withhold it. If you want their trust, ask for it, don’t demand it.

7. You’re a jerk. At it’s core, leadership is a relationship. You can’t hope to get the best out of someone if you treat them with disrespect or contempt. Great leadership springs from a genuine care for others.

Which of these 7 do you struggle with the most?

Did I miss any?

Taking Responsibility as a Leader

February 23, 2010 7 comments

leader choose responsibility followersWhat do paranoid schizophrenics and self-proclaimed leaders have in common?

Wherever they go, they think people are following them.

The truth is, people are following you – and odds are it’s more people than you think. But none of them are following you because you chose to be a leader. You don’t get to choose to be a leader – it’s not in your power. You only become a leader when someone else chooses to follow you.

Sure, there are things you can do to help people choose to follow you, but ultimately it’s their decision. They are responsible for their choices just as you’re responsible for yours.

So what can you choose as a leader? The first choice you have is to take responsibility for those you’re already leading. Look around. Who is looking to you? Who is waiting to follow your lead? Your kids? Your boss? Your twitter followers? That client? That coworker?

No one is an island; your life influences the lives of those around you – in your family, your community, your workplace. Regardless of whether you take responsibility for them or not, you’re still responsible for your actions and the effect those actions have on others.

Once you start to sense the people you influence – and take responsibility for them – then you’re ready to start leading on purpose. You’re ready to take them someplace worthwhile. You’re ready to start living for something beyond yourself.

Who are you leading in your life? And, more importantly, where are you leading them?

3 Ways to Make Yourself Easy to Follow

January 27, 2010 6 comments

Great Leaders Make it Easy to FollowOf all the questions leaders ask themselves, “Are you easy to follow?” rarely makes the list. I think we make leadership harder than it really is. Fundamentally, what is leadership? At it’s core – underneath all the strategy and psychology – isn’t leading just having people follow you? We get so wrapped up in trying to do the “right” things and say the “right” things. But if no one is following you, sorry, you aren’t leading – you’re just taking a walk!

You become a leader the moment someone follows you. Conversely, you cease to lead when others cease to follow. On a very real level, your followers define your leadership. So how do you attract and captivate the best followers? You start by making it easy for them to follow you:

1. Dream Big. What are you aiming at? What are you trying to accomplish? Is it remarkable enough to entice others to join you? Is it worthwhile enough to inspire others to action? This is where it all starts. You must be willing to unleash your dreams and believe in yourself and others. You’ve got to offer them a journey to a destination that truly speaks to their hearts and minds. A bold vision clearly communicated will draw people to you.

2. Get Results. Can you make it happen? Can you get it done? Dreams are one thing, reality and accomplishment are something else. Great things don’t happen by accident. You’ve got to wake up, make a decision, and take action. Discipline yourself, get support, and sacrifice for the big dream. Build a reputation of someone who gets things done – ethically and honorably. People drift toward people who have a big dream and a reputation of coming through on what they say they’re going to do.

3. Prioritize People. Will people make a stand with you? You can have the dream and the resolve to carry it out, but it’s the people following you that will multiply your vision and actually make it a reality. Bottom line, people like to be around people who put them first. To keep your followers and sustain your success you need to sincerely care for them. You’ve got to genuinely put their needs ahead of your own. (FYI, if you’re human, this goes against your natural inclination)

Dare to dream big dreams. Find a way of delivering those dreams. Care radically about other people. Do these three things and people will follow you. Fail to do any one of them and your leadership will fade into the background.

As a leader, which do you struggle most with – Dreaming, Doing, or Caring?