Leadership is a fascinating discipline in the business world. Many academics and theorists have written at great length about the topic and published countless books for us to read and process their insights. New research is being published on the subject regularly to help us understand the essence of leadership. Here are seven observations that I discovered in an old journal that characterize what leadership is all about in the real world:
- Be ready to take decisions when you can’t be certain that you are right
- Invest more time and effort than you really want to in getting to know your team – talk to them and listen even when you know that what you are saying might not be right
- The key attributes of successful leader are focus, context and communication. You can learn them. The first 100 days are key: manage your team, listen to them and remember that to get 70% right, you have to get 30% wrong
- Run an operation through other people rather than doing it yourself. Step back and trust the people working for you
- A leader has to make the direction clear
- Effective leaders have a clear sense of purpose and strong values, but they also know when to make compromises
- Leadership is not achieved by riding into town and shooting it up. Skillful leaders spend time getting a sense of the place
Are you doing any of this? If not, you would we wise to do so!
Photo credit: Ulrik
MOTIVATION: “For one of the most marvelous lessons you learn on a path of personal transformation is that when your heart is open to change, you’re able to recognize the personal signals of encouragement your authentic self is constantly sending, no matter how unlikely the source”. – Sarah Ban Breathnach
SUCCESS: “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Sir Winston Churchill
LIFE & WISDOM: “You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus”. – Mark Twain
Life can be pretty stressful. On an emotional level though, stress is dangerous and really begins to set in and manifest itself in all sorts of unpleasant forms. Here are ten tips to keep things simple and manageable.
- Be yourself – Don’t become a clone of somebody else. Take strength from your individuality. If there is pressure to perform, don’t try to imitate others or else you might end up failing. Find out what works best for you and stick to it.
- If things aren’t working out – Things get worse before they get better and often bad news comes together. Remember that you have to have darkness for the dawn to come so be patient.
- Don’t strive for perfection – Sometimes it is sensible not to aim for the number 1 spot. Not positioning yourself to be number 1, would probably mean that you would never have to suffer from being knocked off the top so play it nice and easy.
- Don’t give up – The sooner you realise that success is tied to not giving up the better. Throwing in the towel is a lot easier so be the person who persists and responds when the going gets tough
- Don’t be averse to change -Some people hate change and as a result miss out on potential opportunities. Simply making a few adjustments to the way you think, or to your skills may open you up to a plethora of opportunities that otherwise might not arise.
- Happiness comes in small increments – Don’t expect to get quick outcomes when you put in the hard work. The path to success is littered with obstacles, small and large. Whatever you do though, make sure to celebrate the slightest successes in your life as that will get you into a happy, motivational mindset.
- Do something that doesn’t come easy – If you don’t go beyond your comfort zone, you won’t go very far. The difference between successful people and the not so successful is their ability to make sacrifices with their comfort zone. Push yourself to get what you really want
- Have a plan in life and aim for it – It really is very important to have some sort of goal in your life. Ask yourself what really matters to you in your life and have the end in mind i.e. what do you want to achieve by the time you reach 50. Goals can be perfect motivators and help create a disciplined mindset.
- Don’t be fazed by others – If somebody at work says something negative about you or takes a dig at you, don’t take it seriously. It might be that they see you from an entirely different perspective or are probably envious about you in some way. Either way, learn how to develop a thick skin.
- Take life as it comes – There’s no need to live life 100 mph. Slow down and take each day as it comes, and don’t try to over analyse life. If you get caught up in it, you are going to set yourself up to fail.
So don’t let the pressures of life run you down. Making the adjustments above will allow you minimise the stressors and instead you will focus on the things that truly matter to you and make you happy.
MOTIVATION: “To waste time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.” – Alan Lakein
SUCCESS: “The successful people are those who don’t give up when the going gets tough, persist despite repeated failures and those who endure treacherous challenges to reach their best.” – Zabe Khan
LIFE & WISDOM: How do geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans, know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it, that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
When you are running your own business and employ staff, you have to learn how to trust them and give them space to do their work with clear guidance and instructions. If you are constantly treading on their toes then you will have them heading for the exit door faster than you can think. Here are six things that bosses need to consciously avoid doing:
- Comparing your current employee with a former superstar employee – If you are constantly banging on about how a previous hire knew everything about the company and everything about the job around employees you are going to lose the confidence they have in you, and in turn you will create unnecessary insecurities among employees that will be detrimental to the company.
- Playing Big Brother – If you watch and constantly keep up to date with what employees are doing inside and outside the company, you are going to be viewed as a busy body and a micro manager. Worst of all is monitoring the performance of employees in order to reprimand them. Performance management in reality is about trusting your employees to do a good job and giving them the tools they need to do their job effectively.
- Always talking about employees bad points – As a boss, it is your job to inspire and motivate your employees. If you are constantly berating them about their weaknesses, you aren’t doing anything positive. What you should be doing is leveraging their strengths with the company’s requirements. Weaknesses can be improved upon through internal and external training.
- Getting worked up about tiny things – If you spend more time picking faults in your employees work then you shouldn’t even be a boss. Every employee is unique and has their individual style. If their style isn’t negatively impacting profitability then that is a positive sign. As one Director I once spoke to said, “I don’t mind how an employee does their work, as long as they do it effectively and on time.”
- Stop making assumptions about employee engagement – Yes that word ‘engagement’. You here it a lot and you will hear it even more. Some people don’t understand what it means but it means a great deal more than just to motivate and inspire employees. As a boss, if you think that paying an employee a salary on time, giving them their holiday entitlement and providing them with a job is enough, you are wrong. Employees want something more than that but it is often the simplest things that can make a colossal difference. In a recent magazine interview, Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo has cited the need to recognise what things matter to each individual employee and driving engagements efforts based on that. If spending more time with family matters to them then offer them flexible working.
The global economic depression has resulted in a lot of managerial shift. Managers have become younger and one criticism expressed by commentators is that this new generation of bosses does not have the neccessary skills required to create healthy and engaged workforces. What is required is to spend more time training would be managers in soft skills that will increasingly play an integral role in corporate training and development. From a board level perspective, training budgets should not be cut as the economic depression has seen, but boosted and prioritsed to the top of the corporate agenda.
MOTIVATION: “True motivation comes from achievement, personal development, job satisfaction and recognition”. – Frederick Herzeberg
SUCCESS: “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” -Tony Robbins
LIFE & WISDOM: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain
How do you motivate yourself? For some people motivation flows naturally like a river. For others it is an elusive element in their lives. One thing I have learnt is that no matter how hard things get and in times of great need, it is often the words of others that can trigger a spark in you that can kick start your motivation and allow you to bounce back. A blog post by Srini Rao (www.theskooloflife.com) has done just that for me. His post “Tips for Navigating the Waters of Life” is a tremendously inspiring and no nonsense look at dealing with life’s challenges. Below is a summarized version of the key points in his post.
- Your instincts are almost always right
- Your instincts are the higher self speaking
- If you go against instinct you are likely to land yourself in a complete mess
Be Wary of the Steps You Take
- If you decide on something, be absolutely 100 per cent sure you can see it through
- Know when it’s just time to bail out when you feel you can’t manage it
- Don’t worry about getting ahead of others, focus on what you are doing right now – play your own game
- Be present and the rest will take care of itself
- Being in the present will allow you to achieve peak performance
- Don’t focus too much on the future and don’t get caught up in the past, this is a recipe for mediocrity
Erase Failure and Get Back Up
- You’re ability to deal with failure and setback will determine whether or not you have what it takes to achieve what you are truly capable of in your life
- Often the second wave of opportunity is better than the first so don’t beat yourself up. Your friends are on their first wave of opportunity
- If you keep critiquing yourself with others then you are likely miss out on the second wave of opportunity which is often better than the first
- There is no need to live life 100 mph, just slow down because you will get where you want to go much faster and you are less likely to suffer a setback
Small is Better
- Don’t make gigantic leaps because it is the small things in life that make the big difference and you will spend less effort for more results
Timing is Important
- Take advantage of opportunities that may not be present in the good times.
- Tough economic times often drive people towards innovation and breakthrough and this just happens to be timing at work
Wave Selection is the Key
- The key to success in any area of life is dependent on the choices you make so choose wisely
- Catching the right wave will enable you to catch one wave after another
- Choose the wrong wave and you will have to endure a hard time and work extra hard to pull your head out of the water
Laugh and Smile Everyday
- The age old saying, ‘laughter is the best medicine’ is still true
- It is a medicine that you won’t find in any pharmacy and costs you absolutely nothing
Srini’s analogy of viewing life’s opportunities and chances as waves provides a fresh and sensible way of looking at life. This may be the only success principle you need to follow. It has certainly allowed me to look at life from a different perspective, and it may do the same for you too.
Photo credit: vagabond9