Leadership Starts With One

I recently came across an article in a magazine that I thought was spot on to achieve true leadership. It starts with self-development. Without that someone is just managing. When someone falls into management mode things can get stressful… business doesn’t grow as fast as you would like, lack of loyalty, lack of buy-in and cooperation from constituents. The article was written by Glenn Gutek – a consultant for professional workplace improvement. I hope that you can take something from this article and use in your personal life as well as your work environment as i did.  Hope you enjoy!

Great Leadership Starts With Leading an Organization of One

All leadership begins with “self leadership.” Before a leader can aspire to lead a thriving enterprise, he must first master leading an organization of one.

Tom and Susan are partners in the same firm and produce at a very high level. Over the past five years, Susan has not only outpaced Tom but also many of her senior partners. What is most surprising about Susan’s performance is that her ascent to excellence was slow in coming, and Tom was very reluctant to open the doors of partnership to Susan after her lackluster performance during her initial years in the firm.

Out of curiosity, Tom summoned the courage to investigate the root causes of Susan’s consistent growth. What Tom observed and discovered was that Susan had an incredible ability to do what needed to be done when it needed to be done. She seemed to respond appropriately to the right opportunities and dismiss the less-relevant distractions. Tom shared with his partners that Susan “leads herself with discipline and precision.”

What made an impression for Tom were the practices Susan engaged in to help her have a sense of what needed to be done. A leader engages in certain practices or disciplines to produce that result when required.  Self leadership employs intentional action in advance to ensure the right action happens when necessary.

Although some people are more naturally disciplined than others, for those who struggle with discipline, it can help to create the structures that promote greater “professional will.” To begin, consider the following five disciplines of self leadership:

1. Control Time

The most basic expression of self-discipline is controlling your time in such a way that you are focused on your “highest and best” use. Your leadership effectiveness is limited when you allow others to set too much of the agenda and spend your time on the trails of rabbits. There is a wealth of material available to assist with time management, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel; however, there are some practices you can intentionally engage in that will promote a greater ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done:

  • Time Blocking: Predetermine blocks of time allocated for your most important activities.
  • Landing the Plane: Do not allow meetings and conversations to extend beyond the appropriate time limit.
  • Time Cop: Give your assistant or colleague some authority to assist you in executing your calendar.
  • Power Sprints: Protect one-hour blocks of uninterrupted time to execute your most complex work.

2. Fuel Energy

Leadership is an energy-intensive endeavor. One of the primary reasons why leaders often sweep unsolved problems under the carpet is a lack of energy. It is imperative to sustain the appropriate levels of energy to intercept entropy at its earliest stages.

The disciplines most commonly associated with fueling energy often involve diet, exercise, and sleep habits. Beyond these practices, build into your schedule opportunities to engage in things that put wind in your sails. What are the activities that energize you and ignite your curiosity and passion? Below are some practices that you may want to be sure your calendar allows time to proactively pursue:

  • Reading, which helps you think bigger thoughts
  • Travel, which helps you see a bigger world
  • Networking, which helps you learn from other businesses

3. Temper Emotions

So much business literature will reference the all-important aspect of “passion.” There is no argument that passion is essential to effective leadership; passion is the natural reservoir of energy that propels a leader forward in the face of adversity. However, at times it is critical to practice the discipline of being “dispassionate.”

The discipline of being dispassionate allows a leader to protect the environment from becoming toxic and avoid engaging in the wrong battles. A leader should fuel his energy by investing in his passion but also keep things from running off the rails by not pouring gas on a volatile situation.  Below are few techniques that you can practice in advance to promote appropriate dispassion:

  • Ask questions.
  • Define the problem.
  • Spend more time on solutions.
  • Take deep breaths before speaking.

4. Focus Words

Just about every teenager wanting a driver’s license has most likely read a copy of the book, Rules of the Road. Unfortunately, once we graduate from grade school, there are no qualifying tests to ensure we have a license to speak. The most commonly used tool in the arsenal of a leader is his words. Far too often we lack the right words at the right time. Why wouldn’t the wise leader make time to practice the discipline of focusing his words for the greatest amount of impact?

The discipline of crafting or outlining scripts for crucial situations will assist in making sure that the words that flow from your mouth achieve the purpose of the right words at exactly the right time. Being prepared in advance with a script or outline, such as the following, is a wonderful exercise in self leadership:

  • Vision: A brief outline that calibrates key players on the vision of the organization
  • Conflict: A brief outline that defuses hostility and allow people to work the problem
  • Correction: A brief outline that identifies problem behavior and promotes improvement

5. Use Power

The fifth important discipline that must be an ongoing practice for a leader is disciplining power, particularly as it relates to knowing where the source of authority comes from. Are you building your power base from the positional role in the organization or your credibility with the people you lead?

As the industrial revolution comes to a close and we give birth to the “personal age,” it is becoming clear that the authority of a leader rests in the relationships he forms with the people he leads. The risk most often encountered when influencing people where there is a personal relationship is not maintaining the authority to exercise power. One practice that can assist in maintaining authority is identifying those with whom you need to come out from behind the desk and those with whom you must stay behind the desk:

  • Out from behind the desk: Individuals with the maturity to be clear on your authority
  • Stay behind the desk: Individuals who need you to maintain your position of authority

All leadership begins with self leadership. Practice the disciplines in each of the five areas of self leadership and you will find you possess an uncanny ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

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Building Teams… or Shredding Teams?

1 life    To be successful in today’s society, Community is the key. To create and to maintain a strong community, one must watch out for certain pitfalls. I will attempt to convey some of the pitfalls to avoid and some keys to maintain a strong community.

The other day while going through some older notes that I had taken at a LIFE Leadership Convention, I came across a page that I titled “15 Things that Shred Teams” that was based on a talk that LIFE Founder Orrin Woodward had given on building Compensated Communities. [Orrin is #6 on the list of world ranked Leadership Gurus, has written many best-selling books, and was awarded by the IAB with the #1 Leadership award last year!! Definitely the kind of guy to get leadership information from…].  I hadn’t looked over those notes for a while and thought that they were a very helpful reminder in not only Compensated Communities, but ANY type of community, whether it be a church, work, social group, military, political, or even in your own home. First I will go over the 15 things that Orrin says will shred a community and then I will cover the things to combat those areas to maintain a strong community, based on other information that I have accumulated over the years.

Top 15 Things That Shred a Communityshred

  1. Self-Pity – Someone who has self pity lowers morale for a group.
  2. Temper – People don’t like to be around someone with an unpredictable attitude. Always feels like walking on egg shells.
  3. Resentment – Disappointed, doesn’t like change.
  4. Jealousy/Envy – Can’t be happy for other’s achievements.
  5. Pride – Someone who thinks they know it all. (all that and a bag of chips, as the saying goes)
  6. Selfishness – Win/No Win in human relations. Not concerned about he well-being of the other parties involved in the proposal.
  7. Fear – Accumulates over time. Disables people mentally.
  8. Blaming – No responsibility.
  9. Greed – Concerned only of themselves and their personal state of affairs.
  10. Groan – Constantly complaining. Sucks life out of a conversation or a room for that matter.
  11. Hate – Turns into poison. Sours the heart and builds walls.
  12. Cheat – Lack of integrity. Cuts corners.
  13. Cursing – Foul mouth. Detracts from leadership or following.
  14. Criticism – Finding fault in others.
  15. Doubt – Second guesses goals or dreams. Limits themselves.

These things can turn any relationship or community sour if they are not confronted soon enough. The following is just a list of things that I believe combat these things, based on my notes from other leadership talks:

15 Things to Hold Communities Togethersticky

  1. Grateful – Be grateful for what you have, because you have been blessed beyond measure!
  2. Smile – Someone can’t be angry and have a temper for long with a smile on their face. Another thing that can help here is positive input. (motivational/leadership cds, books, or other positive association) “What goes in, must come out”
  3. Acknowledgement – Realize there is a problem and that you are in control of the actions of the outcome. Then get your heart in the right place.
  4. Edify – Congratulate others achievements in front of them and behind their backs. (the only time gossip is ok.) Realize that you can get where they are if you just do what they did.
  5. Humility – Be humble and know that there is a lot more to learn. There is always room for improvement. I believe there was only 1 Perfect human.
  6. Generous – Win/Win or no deal. Become a giver. Do what we know we should do but so few do.
  7. Courage/Action – Step out against your fears because they are really only “false evidence appearing real”
  8. Responsibility – Take personal responsibility for a situation. Once you take responsibility you can fix the problem. If you pass the buck you are basically giving up control.  As the saying goes when you point your finger at someone there are 4 pointing back at you.
  9. Giving – Give more and again get your heart where it should be.
  10. Thankful – Give thanks for what you have. It could be a lot worse. If everyone threw their problems into a bucket and picked someone elses they would likely ask for theirs back soon.
  11. Love – Be a compassionate, merciful person. That is what we were created to do. Love is not a noun, it’s something that we DO.
  12. Character – Have integrity. Don’t cut corners. Develop yourself.
  13. Uplifting – Don’t say bad stuff about things or other people. Uplift them. Encourage.
  14. Self-Seek – Search yourself for faults. There is always room for improvement. A relative of mine once said, “Don’t worry about your neighbors stoop, when there is snow on your own.”
  15. Believe – Have faith that things will work out. When you start believing, truly believing, that you will achieve something, your mind will start taking the correct steps to get you to whatever you are chasing down.

8 F's     I, myself am constantly working on these areas and will continue to, because there really is always room for improvement. I am on a leadership journey with the LIFE Community, and all of the materials offered through the LIFE Business helps a person fix the chosen areas that he/she wants to improve on in the 8 F’s of LIFE: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, Finance, Following, Freedom, and Fun. I pray that you are able to take something from this post and begin applying in your own life.

God Bless,

Jeremy Pethke