Today I’m excited to bring to you the best blog posts from the Lead With Giants group. There are many interesting articles with great insights into leadership topics. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
It’s common for people to say that leaders must have integrity. We are quick to point out CEO’s or politicians who make ethical mistakes and talk about their lack of integrity. These are easy to point out. We also identify public figures who act in ways that demonstrate their honesty and integrity. Yet how easy is it to fall short of the ideal level of integrity?
There are some very subtle ways in which we may be acting which brings our integrity into question. We often don’t even realize that our actions are not aligned with our values. Unfortunately others will be watching what we do and compare it to what we say. Here are some simple things that can trip up even the most honest people.
- You say you hate gossip and actively discourage it; however you comment on a person who isn’t there at the time.
- You encourage and evaluate your team on personal development yet you never find the time to take a class yourself.
- Your company policy says that you will not accept gifts from vendors over a certain value but you allow a vendor to pay for you to play golf on a course whose fees are higher than the limit.
- You hold people accountable to deadlines yet you often miss deadlines of your own.
- You promise to give people honest feedback however you avoid the difficult conversations about performance because people will get upset.
- You promote teamwork and collaboration but you are normally too busy to pitch in when asked.
Some of these examples are more obvious than others. However, each one of these is an indication that you are not demonstrating the level of integrity that you may desire. There may be reasons why you do some of these things but if you are honest with yourself it becomes obvious you are not practicing what you preach. Even these small things can harm how others view you. If they see you ‘cheating’ on the small things it can create doubt on how you will behave on the big things.
There is a story about President Abraham Lincoln who is well known for his honesty. It demonstrates how keeping to your word may be uncomfortable in the moment but powerful over time.
While a member of Congress, Abraham Lincoln was once criticized by a friend for his seeming rudeness in declining to test the rare wines provided by their host.
The friend said to him: “There is certainly no danger of a man of your years and habits becoming addicted to the use of wine.”
“I mean no disrespect, John,” answered Lincoln, “but I promised my precious mother only a few days before she died that I would never use anything intoxicating as a beverage, and I consider that promise as binding today as it was the day I gave it.”
“But,” the friend continued, “there is a great difference between a child surrounded by a rough class of drinkers and a man in a home of refinement.”
“A promise is a promise forever,” answered Lincoln, “and when made to a mother, it is doubly binding.”
As you go about your day think about the choices you are making. Are your words and your actions perfectly aligned? Have you made allowances for falling short of keeping a promise or meeting a deadline? Integrity is something that everyone wants in their leaders and in their teammates. It can be hard to take the high road all the time and you run the risk of offending someone by sticking to your principles. Yet over time people will think more of us when we do. Leaders make hard choices all the time and this is one area that you completely control. Choose wisely.
Here are some quotes I like on courage.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
Courage means to keep working a relationship, to continue seeking solutions to difficult problems, and to stay focused during stressful periods.
What quotes or phrases inspire you to be more courageous?
There are times when you need more courage than you think you have in you. When you enter unknown territory you need to have the courage to move forward. These situations often appear completely unexpectedly and catch you unaware. As leader you have to be able to quickly pull on your reserves of courage to get you through the tough times.
You may need courage to:
- Make a tough decision
- Take on new responsibilities
- Share your position on a topic
- Get out of your comfort zone
- Be vulnerable
- Admit a mistake/error
- Speak in front of a group
- Delegate an important assignment
- Ask for help
These are just a sampling of when you might need to find the courage to proceed. It’s important that you manage your fear so you can step up when needed. It’s okay to be afraid; in fact if you aren’t ever afraid of failing, or letting someone down, or being wrong about something important then you really aren’t committed. Healthy fear means the outcome matters to you. When you have no fear, nothing matters anymore. So embrace the fear just keep it in perspective.
To keep your fear in its proper place you need to balance it with courage. Courage comes from confidence. Build your courage by building your confidence that you can succeed. Confidence is created from recognizing and acknowledging past success in a related area. If you have previously negotiated a contract successfully you will be more confident of your ability to do it again. The real challenge comes when you venture into new territory, one where you have no direct past experience to use as your compass.
Here are several tips to build confidence when you are in a new situation:
- Look for similar experiences. Maybe you are giving a speech in front of 500 people which is 400 more than you’ve ever done before. However, speaking in front of people can be the same no matter the size of the audience. If you did well with 100 you can do well with 1000.
- Identify transferrable experiences. If you are good at making decisions in a project based environment you can be successful making decisions in other environments. Decision making skills transfer across industries and organizations.
- Remember past unexpected success. Think of times when you accomplished more than you believed possible or even met a goal that seemed unachievable. Once you have done the seemingly impossible you can do it again.
- Enlist the input of someone who has succeeded. When you are going into something totally new and unknown find a mentor or coach or trusted colleague who can share how they succeeded in this kind of situation. You can use their experience to learn what is needed to succeed.
- Take action decisively. Once you make the decision to brave the unknown act quickly and decisively. The more time you spend preparing yourself the more time you will have to create doubts by worrying. As Nike says “Just Do It”.
Use your past success to give you the courage to dare to do something new now. Be brave and take a stand, do something new or go where others fear to venture. The more successes you have in new things the more likely you will be to have the courage to go further and do more than you dreamed possible.
If you are a leader, your courage to go out on a limb will inspire your team to do the same and the results will be even greater than imagined. Create an environment where fear is okay but courage is cherished. Be brave for yourself and your team.
When did you have to dig deep for courage?
If you would like help building your courage to face new situations contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Each of us has responsibilities, to ourselves, to our families, to our jobs, and so on. It’s one of those facts of adulthood. With freedom comes responsibility. The real question is how well we handle all of those responsibilities. We also have choices on what we take on as a responsibility. This is very true as leaders.
When we assume a leadership role we are being placed in a role with responsibilities. We are accountable for our team’s performance as well as our own. We become responsible for guiding, directing, and correcting the behavior of those around us. How much we take on ourselves will often determine how well we perform as a leader.
The challenge of being responsible for the performance of others is how much of their success or failure do we really own? When is their failure ours and when is it theirs? What is our responsibility as a leader for those who are on our team? Here are 6 questions to help determine when it’s your responsibility and when it’s not:
- Have you given clear direction, and checked for understanding, on what is required?
- Have you provided the training and coaching needed for success?
- Have you given feedback on their performance, including corrective ideas?
- Are you letting them act independently and not micro-managing?
- Are you available to them for support and guidance?
- Have you created an environment where people can innovate, act on ideas and questioning is welcomed?
If you answer yes to all of these questions then you are doing all that you can reasonably do to help your team succeed. Some team members will flourish and grow in this kind of environment. There will be some who aren’t well suited for the tasks at hand. It could be that they just don’t have the abilities or capacity to meet the demands of the position. They may not have the right attitude for the role they are in, or they may not want to grow in the direction needed.
When someone can’t or won’t gain the skills needed to do the job assigned and you as their leader has worked with them to help them get there it becomes your responsibility to help them move to the right position. This may mean leaving your organization or it may mean transferring to another area. Your responsibility is to the entire team and the organization so you have to make sure the right people are in place to accomplish your goals and mission.
Responsibility is part of our lives, at home and at work. When we take our responsibilities seriously and act on them with integrity and compassion we help our teams become the best they can be, together and individually. Remember while we as leaders are responsible for the team’s results each person is also responsible for their performance and their results. We must coach, train and guide them towards success but we have to let them succeed or fail on their own. If they can’t succeed in the given role we must be responsible to the team and make a change.
You have to pass on the responsibility for personal performance to each person on your team. Along with that you must share the responsibility for the overall team’s success with each member. Build trust and collaboration by passing the baton of responsibility to your team. Get them engaged in their individual and joint success. Everyone wins then.
Have you ever had issues related to passing responsibility to others? Share your experiences below in the comments.
If you would like help defining your responsibilities or learning to build your team’s abilities contact us at email@example.com
Leaders need some flexibility so they can reach their goals. Whether you are leading teams or projects you will have a vision of the results, a plan to get there and the ability to adjust to circumstances that arise along the way. The secret to being successful is having the right amount of flexibility. There is a spectrum from very rigid to very pliant and we all fall along it in different places on each aspect of our lives.
A week ago my college aged son had shoulder surgery and he cannot use his left arm at all for the near future. Many people would sit around, feeling sorry and do nothing because of the limitations. He takes a different approach to it, he is very careful of his injured should but he looks at each situation in terms of what can he do not what can’t he do. This is a great mindset for striking the right balance in flexibility.
As leaders there are things we must hold firm to like our vision, our passion and our integrity. However, we need to be adaptable to new opportunities, new ways to reach our goals, and new resources that can help us move forward. When we create a plan there must be room for change and adjustments. Too often a leader builds a plan and will not deviate from it even when it is doomed to fail. This is blind allegiance and there is no room for that in a leader’s world.
When moving forward towards a dream or vision leaders must be willing to listen and change based on the input of their team. Others will see opportunities or come up with ideas that will move us forward quicker or more efficiently. Allowing that change to take place is critical. What a leader must avoid is giving up all control over the vision. If the leader becomes too pliant then the group can pull the team in a new and different direction which may not meet the original vision. Turning everything over without staying in control of the vision can lead to disaster.
Flexibility allows you to accommodate the needs of your team and adjust for obstacles or challenges. When you are able to adapt your plan to the needs of the team, the team will buy into it because they now have a piece of it. Obstacles and challenges require a change in approach where flexibility will lead to more innovative solutions. Flexibility in methods builds buy-in and creates an environment conducive to innovation.
Here are some questions to ask to maintain your flexibility balance:
- Is this idea/opportunity true to my vision for the results?
- Could this be a better way to get things done?
- Will this help us reach our goals while allowing the team to personalize their efforts?
- Can this meet the goals of the vision as well as meet the needs of the team?
- What would happen if this adjustment is made?
- How can we work around this obstacle or challenge?
- Will this make the end results even better?
Think of a slinky, like the one pictured here. They hold their over all shape yet to move forward they bend, twist and adjust to get to the destination. As a leader that kind of flexibility will help you succeed. Hold true to your vision, passion and integrity while adapting to the needs and ideas of those on your team. Stretch yourself to learn more, do more and go places you never thought possible.
How do you work on your flexibility? Share your best practices in the comments below. I would love to learn new techniques.
To start the new year off in a great way I am sharing with you the best blog posts from the Lead With Giants group. There are many interesting articles with great insights into leadership topics. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by, commented and shared my posts this past year. Here are the top 5 posts from the year:
- 5 People Every Team Needs
- Defining Personal Productivity
- 10 Tips for Project Success
- A Leadership Parable
- Making Hard Choices
I’m looking forward to 2014 and sharing more thoughts with you as well as learning from your comments and feedback.
Let’s make 2014 the best year yet! Have a great New Year!!
If you would like help developing your project management or leadership skills contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can help you create clarity around your goals, develop a strategy to reach them and support your during your efforts.