Several years ago I generated a list of rules for success. It is important to write down a set of rules for yourself, just as it is to document your values.
Having a list of rules gives you something to hang on to when there is too much confusion. Another benefit of a list like this is that it helps other people know how you operate much quicker.
I would review this list and my passion for each item whenever inheriting a new group. People appreciated that I made a special effort for them get to know me in this way.
1. The most important word that determines your success is “attitude” – how you react to what happens in your life. The magic learning here is that you control your attitude, therefore, you can control your success.
2. Engagement of people is the only way to business success.
3. Credibility allows freedom to manage in an “appropriate” way (which means if you are not credible, you will be micro-managed).
4. Build a “real” environment – maximize trust – This requires honesty and transparency.
5. Create winners – help people realize their dreams of success (which means, grow other leaders).
6. Recognize and reward results at all levels (reinforcement governs performance).
7. Operate ahead of the power curve (which means, be organized and get things done well ahead of the deadline).
8. Don’t get mired down in bureaucratic mumbo jumbo, negotiate the best position possible, out flank the Sahara. However, feed the animal when necessary (which means pick your political battles carefully).
9. Enjoy the ride – when it is no longer fun – leave.
10. Admit when you are wrong and do it with great delight. Beg people to let you know when you sap them and thank them for it (which means Reinforce Candor).
11. Provide “real” reinforcement that is perceived as reinforcing by the receiver. Build an environment of reinforcement.
12. Keep trying and never give up. You will succeed.
There are many other things that could be mentioned, but if you can master the things above, most other things become subcategories of them.
For example, another bullet might be “Treat people as adults and always demonstrate respect.” That is really a sub item of the second bullet.
Or another bullet might be “Always walk your talk.” That is one thing (among many) you need to do for bullet four to happen.
I believe every leader should have a documented set of beliefs such as the one above. I am not advocating that you adopt my list. Think about it and develop your own list.
Don’t worry about being complete, just start an electronic file and add to it over the years as you grow and encounter new ideas. You will be amazed how this simple task enables you to operate with congruence and grow in your leadership skill.
The preceding information was adapted from the book Leading with Trust is like Sailing Downwind, by Robert Whipple. It is available on http://www.leadergrow.com.
Robert Whipple is also the author of The TRUST Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals and, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online. Bob consults and speaks on these and other leadership topics. He is CEO of Leadergrow Inc. a company dedicated to growing leaders.
Normally, organizational visions are created by leaders because they have the best perspective and organizational scope to imagine what the organization can become.
For sure, a key leadership function is creating a vision for the organization and communicating it at every possible opportunity.
The mistake many leaders make is not involving the individuals in the organization more when formulating a vision. This is often done for expediency.
Gaining the input of a wide constituency is tedious and time consuming work that seems unnecessary. I believe it is necessary if the vision is to have the ultimate power required to make it a reality.
Individuals who work on the shop floor may not have all the fancy degrees as the boss, and they certainly do not make as much money. But people in the trenches have a unique perspective that no CEO can have.
They understand how things really work. CEOs believe they know, but in reality, they are often clueless about how the organization actually functions at the lowest levels.
The knowledge of ordinary people on what is possible and what would be wise is invaluable information to include in the visioning process. To do without it is sub-optimal.
Many a flawed vision has been perpetrated by leaders who thought they knew what was going on when they really had only a partial view. Their information was eclipsed by layers of middle management who filter information and spoon feed top leaders information that has a heavy agenda attached.
In addition to information, the shop floor people are often the most creative people in an organization. This is because they are unfettered by bureaucratic clap-trap and can think about problems more objectively.
They have a simple approach that looks at a problem and figures out ingenious ways to deal with it.
Finally, including all levels in the generation of a vision improves the ability to pull it off because when people are part of a process, they become emotionally attached to its success. They have trust that the vision is the right path for the organization.
This is the concept that Joel Barker called “The Vision Community.” The people in the organization have as much power as the boss to achieve or torpedo a vision. When the Vision Community agrees to support a vision because they were part of its creation, there is a much more robust pathway toward success.
Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations.
There are hundreds of assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. Here is one of my favorite measures.
Strong leaders are enablers
On this dimension there is a stark contrast between great leaders and poor ones. In organizations with great leaders, people view their leaders as enablers. They provide a clear and believable vision of the future that is truly compelling to the workers.
They provide the resources and support required to reach that vision. They engage and empower people to put their best efforts into the journey toward success.
They celebrate the small wins along the way. If there is a problem, the leaders work to reduce or eliminate it.
Strong leaders also enable trust by creating a SAFE environment where people are not afraid to express their true thoughts.
Weak leaders are the opposite
When leaders are weak, you see the exact opposite. Leaders are viewed by the employees as barriers. They get in the way of progress by invoking bureaucratic hurdles that make extra work.
They use a command and control philosophy that stifles empowerment. There is a foggy vision or the vision is not that exciting to employees. Like if they struggle to make it happen, the result will not be so great.
Weak leaders destroy trust by creating fear within their organization.
A real example
I felt that kind of leadership in my final years with a company I once worked for. The vision was very clear; they had to shrink their way to success. That meant huge stress and more workers who would be let go year after year.
What an awful vision! I left and never looked back. In organizations with that kind of vision, people feel they are operating with both hands tied behind their backs. Fear lurks around every corner.
This condition leads to poor performance, and so the leaders pour on more and more pressure to compensate. It is a viscous circle that reminds me of the water funnel in a toilet. In fact, it is very much like that.
If you want to measure the caliber of a leader, just start asking the people in the organization if that leader is an enabler or a barrier to progress. Their answer will tell you quickly how talented that leader is.
Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585-392-7763.