Characteristics of the ideal leader

I was in a meeting the other day for a possible Change Management contract. The leader of the organization walked in and impressed me with the way he carried himself, responded to questions, and generally led. I left thinking, not only do I want to work with that guy, I want to be like that guy.

This morning I came across an article with a tremendous bullet list describing several characteristics this CIO has.

Here are some characteristics that make for my ideal leader:

  • You’re noticeably calm and comfortable at work. You’re aware how your attitude and behavior affects those around you, and you care deeply about having a supportive climate at work.

  • Work is one part of your life. You fit your work into healthy working hours. You take vacations. You switch off. When you choose to work unusual hours, you don’t expect others to, therefore you don’t disturb them.

  • No matter who you’re speaking with, when you’re speaking with them, you are present.

  • You listen.

  • You operate on intentional, thoughtfully chosen processes based on what you and your team value. Because you value other’s engagement, and time, you don’t add or persist process for the sake of process.

  • You don’t just expect your people to do their best work, you empower and trust them to. You give or find them the support they need to grow into new challenges and be successful.

Read the full list and article here

Influence

Steve Moore has written a new book called “The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible” and the introduction has already profoundly impacted me. He discusses a man I’ve never heard of, Samuel Logan Brengle, so passionately that I will begin reading more about this man.

The quote which I latched onto was:

Influence, not position, is at the core of leadership. When a person without leadership capacity is given a leadership title or position, the result isn’t a complete lack of influence, but rather a greatly limited power base. This is true in life and in the Bible.

You can read the intro here.

The answer to a perplexing question

This is an excerpt from the book ‘Strength to love’ by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is addressing the problem that has always hampered man: his inability to conquer evil by his own power. In pathetic amazement, man asks, “Why can I not cast it out? Why can I not remove this evil from my life?”

Though the evils of sensuality, selfishness, and cruelty often rise aggressively in his soul, something within tells him that they are intruders and reminds him of his higher destiny and more noble allegiance. Man’s hankering after the demonic is always disturbed by his longing for the divine. As he seeks to adjust to the demands of time, he knows that eternity is his ultimate habitat. When man comes to himself, he knows that evil is a foreign invader that must be driven from the native soils of his soul before he can achieve moral and spiritual dignity.

So, how can evil be cast out? Men have usually pursued two paths to eliminate evil and thereby save the world. The first calls upon man to remove evil through his own power and ingenuity… Give people a fair chance and a decent education, and they will save themselves. This idea, sweeping across the modern world like a plague, has ushered God out and escorted man in and has substituted human ingenuity for divine guidance.

But in spite of the astounding new scientific developments, the old evils continue and the age of reason has been transformed into an age of terror. Selfishness and hatred have not vanished with an enlargement of our educational system and and an extension of our legislative policies. The humanist’s hope is an illusion, based on too great an optimism concerning the inherent goodness of human nature.

The second idea for removing evil from the world stipulates that if man waits submissively upon the Lord, in his own good time God alone will redeem the world. The fallacy of thinking that God will cast evil from the earth, even if man does nothing except sit complacently by the wayside, is that no prodigious thunderbolt from heaven will blast away evil. No mighty army of angels will descend to force men to do what their wills resist.

The Bible portrays God not as an omnipotent czar who makes all decisions for his subjects nor as a cosmic tyrant who with gestapo-like methods invades the inner lives of men but rather as a loving Father who gives to his children such abundant blessings as they may be willing to receive. Always man must do something. “Stand upon thy feet,” says God to Ezekiel, “and I will speak unto you.” Man is no helpless invalid left in a valley of total depravity until God pulls him out. Man is rather an upstanding human being whose vision has been impaired by the cataracts of sin and whose soul has been weakened by the virus of pride, but there is sufficient vision left for him to lift his eyes unto the hills, and there remains enough of God’s image for him to turn his weak and sin-battered life toward the Great Physician, the curer of the ravages of sin.

There is so much more to discuss and Dr. King’s thoughts on this are profound and life-changing to the reader. Please buy this book, read the rest of this chapter, and let’s discuss this further.

Increase your effectiveness with this one simple question

We all want to be more effective; increase profit and productivity while decreasing spending.

I came across an article discussing the value of being empathic towards the customer as well sharing the story of why you come to work every day. In one organizations weekly meetings they found that asking the below question increased sales by 23%. Employees began to hear and envision their “why” and were able to find the excitement in how they were helping their customers, not just selling products.

How did we make a difference for a client since last time we met?

Leader Empathy: The Key to Effective Relationships

Leader Empathy: The Key to Effective Relationships

Empathy is one of the Social Awareness competencies in the twelve-competency Leadership Competency Model developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis. Empirically linked to leadership performance, Empathy is present in leaders with an understanding of the motivations of others, and the ability to relate to differing perspectives.

Strength in this competency is also demonstrated by leaders who:

  • Listen attentively
  • Are able to understand unspoken or confused attempts at communication
  • Engage in actions indicating a sincere interest in others
  • Have an increased capacity to respect diversity

Uber’s New CEO taught a Major Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

Background: London announced they would not renew Uber’s licence to operate in the city — major blow to the organisation. This comes after a series of mishaps and scandals kept Uber in the news for months–for many reasons–the company’s board of directors decided that former chief Travis Kalanick was no longer the right man for the job.

The new CEO stepped in and responded to the London announcement by stating:

While the impulse may be to say that this is unfair, one of the lessons I’ve learned over time is that change comes from self-reflection. So it’s worth examining how we got here. The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation. Irrespective of whether we did everything that is being said about us in London today (and to be clear, I don’t think we did), it really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours, where actions in one part of the world can have serious consequences in another.

It’s good to listen to criticism and check ourselves, we all have blind spots.

Read the article at inc.com

Having trouble receiving good feedback? Try this

Remember the raison d’etre, the reason your project is.

Ask for feedback related to either the vision or user goals. For instance, if working on a website, instead of a completely open-ended question like “What do you think?”, try a more focused question like “How well does this design help users find volunteer opportunites based on their desire?”

Lao Tzu

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

Thomas Huxley

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.

Books recommended by Global Business Leaders

Of the 16 books recommended in this article, I would like to read at least these few:

Woo, Wow, and Win

Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight

Authors: Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell

One Sentence Summary: This book promotes the concept of designing your company around service and offers strategies based on the idea that the design of services is different from manufacturing.

Recommended by: Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick


Technology as a Service Playbook

How to Grow a Profitable Subscription Business

Authors: Thomas Lah and J.B. Wood

One Sentence Summary: A guide to decision making and execution around the “as-a-service” model, with the intent of putting a company on a path to profitable growth by changing how “offers” are designed, built, marketed, sold, and serviced.

Recommended by: Stephanie Newby, CEO of Crimson Hexagon


Delivering Happiness

A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Author: Tony Hsieh

One Sentence Summary: The CEO of Zappos explains how he created a corporate culture based upon the concept that there is value to happiness, both for employees and customers.

Recommended by: Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Worldwide


Freakonomics

A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Authors: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

One Sentence Summary: A set of amusing case studies illustrating that economics is the study of how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.

Recommended by: Jeremiah Owyang, CEO of Crowd Companies

A gratitude journal to combat the worst f**king year

John Oliver called 2016 the worst f**king year. I feel like this outlook is very dramatic and shows the emotional intelligence of those who hold that view. 

In response to this, the author of this article kept a gratitude journal and was able to realise some incredible revelations about his life. 

https://apple.news/ATSjc5ee0Q8i5Ti3PWbmESg

What do you think? Regarding the photo: I’m so very grateful to have had an incredible opportunity to climb into the enchantments near Seattle for my friends’ 40th birthday. 

Simon Sinek on Millenials in the Workplace

I am researching Millenials in the Workplace and how to develop better employees. A friend of mine sent me this video last night and wanted my take.

He breaks down ‘4 pieces or characteristics that lead to happiness’ as:

  1. Parenting
  2. Technology
  3. Impatience
  4. Environment

The main point he tries to get across is that Millenials are entitled and lazy, and it’s not their fault, but the fault of the parents who were following terrible parenting advice.

Five Leadership Hacks

“To me, a hack is a clever or unexpectedly efficient means of getting something done. A good hack should feel like cheating because the value created by the hack feels completely disproportionate from the work done.

With this definition in mind, I present five leadership hacks I regularly use. These are not practices designed to redefine your leadership philosophy. They are hacks.”

  1. Two minutes early for everything.
  2. The clock faces you.
  3. Office Hours.
  4. Three questions before any meeting.
  5. Continually fix small broken things.

In reading this, I really appreciated the five hacks, but number four and five especially stood out to me. Three questions before any meeting or else it doesn’t happen: brilliant. He resolves to have three questions which need to be answered in order to prove the value of that meeting taking place.

The last hack is the easiest and it’s the best: fix small broken things. Always. It takes seconds to clean that whiteboard, to plug in the clock in the conference room, and to stop, lean down, and pick up a piece of trash. Seconds.

The value created isn’t just the small decrease in entropy, it’s that you are actively demonstrating being a leader. I understand the compounding awesomeness of continually fixing small broken things.

Read the whole article here

Ethics: Do you have enough?

It seems a lot of the shaking that is happening in 2016 has been bringing up some good things. Just this morning I’ve run into a great infographic laying out the hierarchy of profit and then I came upon Seth Godin’s recent thoughts on Ethics. His thoughts, the infographic, and other items I’m noticing in my news feed all seem to be pointing to a dissatisfaction in business for profit and more towards empathy.

Perhaps profit and market share and the rest could merely be tools in service of the ability to make things better, to treat people ever more fairly, to do work that we’re more proud of each day.

Read Seth Godin’s full post here

Wait and Hope

This quote seems a little depressing, but I wanted to post it because I think what he’s touching on is the fact that if you haven’t experienced exhilaration then you can’t empathize with grief or vise versa. Being in a current state of Waiting and Hoping, I feel I’m experiencing both pain and joy at the same moment. (In my attempt to practice becoming more self-aware, my introspection is becoming too philosophical at the moment).

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.”

“Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope’.”

– Alexandre Dumas

Self-Awareness and Leadership

I had to write a quick response today to the question:

Why do you believe a leader needs to be reasonably self-aware if they are going to be a good leader?

What do you think of my response:

When I envision a leader who is not self-aware, I think of an individual dealing with insecurity then attempting to hide it with pride and arrogance. There are several reasons a leader must be self-aware, but I will discuss the one most important to me: If you are unable to read what’s going on with yourself, how will you read your subordinates and lead them well? A leader with no self-awareness would end up making choices on whims versus logic and would demoralize everyone who works for them. Beyond having a high employee turn over rate, this type of leader would end up costing the organization money and time due to them working on ego boosting projects while avoiding rather than delegating other projects. They would not be capable of delegating due to their lack of personal skills as well as not being able to recognize the skills of their subordinates. 

Further Reading:

Humility

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. – Jack Welch