Leadership Success: Some Thoughts on Work, Life, Music, Distractions and Choice

Leadership-SuccessWhat would it take for you to experience leadership success? Let’s face it: there never really is a perfect work life balance. It’s a moving target. Just when we think we’re ahead of the game, life gets in the way.

In many ways, life is like a symphony orchestra. There are 110 instruments in an orchestra. Sometimes all we hear are the violins, but the other instruments must be there to provide necessary support and background. Then maybe it’s the piano in the foreground. Each section has it’s part to play, and none can be ignored. I once met a musician who played the cymbol. Sometimes he only had one note to play in the entire symphony. But it was often the most significant note of the performance. He couldn’t afford to miss it.

Sometimes, work takes the lead in the symphony of life. Other times, it’s the kids. Or even the dog. There’s crunch time in the office, and there are birthdays, wedding, funerals and illness at home. There’s no way anyone can control either life or work. All we can try to do is live a good life, give it our best, and know how to respond to the octopus of time pulling us in eight directions all at once. Read More »

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Leaders, How Exactly Are You
Going to Manage Priorities?

Manage-PrioritiesI’ve often said to my stressed out coaching clients that trying to manage time is like golfing with a tennis racquet. Wrong tool for the job. You can really only manage priorities.

Yet most of us don’t do a very good job of that. The thing is, to manage your priorities, you have to know what they are.  I read in HBR that 20% of executives don’t have a strong sense of what their leadership purpose is and fewer still have a clear plan for translating purpose into action. Leaders, to be effective, to be excellent, must manage all of life’s priorities.

How can you know what your priorities are? The way to manage priorities (and consequently, your time) is to be really clear and brutally honest about what they are. Most of us have adopted time management tools to get it done, and know how to distinguish the important from the urgent, as well as how to group the A, B, C, and D tasks according to importance. We know about the 3 D’s: Do it, Delegate it, or Dump it. Read More »

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Do You Have a Priority Management Problem?

Work-Life-Priority-managementFrom what I see in the organizations I work with, people don’t have a time management problem. They have priority management problems. I say that because I hear complaints like these:

  • “No matter how much I get done, I still have way too many things not done.”
  • “I don’t feel fulfilled, I feel stressed.”
  • “There’s only 24 hours in a day and I already work 10 of them.”

I believe that all the time management systems and books and experts contribute more to the problem. The work/life see-saw is heavily weighted on the work side, with little emphasis on living and enjoying life. Read More »

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The Search for Meaning at Work

Meaning-at-WorkEvery year, the Gallup organization reveals large numbers of disengaged employees. Research points to a lot of unhappy workers. Yet I believe that many of them crave more engagement. They’re hungry to discover meaning at work and to feel fulfilled. It’s human nature: we are all meaning-making machines.

The way I see it, many of the employees working in organizations today would love to be more engaged but they aren’t inspired, supported, or coached enough. They are under managed. The question is how can managers and supervisors reach and inspire them to get with the program? It’s a tough challenge. And most of us aren’t experts at motivating people for peak performance. Sometimes all we know to use are carrots and sticks. Read More »

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Redefining Leadership Success:
In Search of Meaning

Defining-Leadership-SuccessWhat makes for leadership success? How should we define and measure it? What makes us truly proud to do what we do?

Throughout the economic upheavals and rapidly changing global market place of the last decade, I’ve noticed an emerging desire. No matter the industry, no matter their age or gender or field, people want to do work that has a positive impact and provides meaning and fulfillment. More than higher salaries, promotions and status, they seek to contribute and make a difference in the world — and it’s not just the young and idealistic Millennials. Read More »

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Leadership Isn’t About Business:
It’s About Life

Leadership-Work-Life-BalanceI read a lot of the current books on leadership; after all, in the work I do in organizations, I coach leaders to find clarity, focus, and intention in their actions to produce optimal business results. I need to know all I can about leadership development and how to help people become the high performing leaders they’re capable of being.

Here’s what I’ve come to realize: leadership isn’t just about business, about finding ways to make more money and be more successful at work. Leadership is about life. You can’t development leadership on the job without it having an impact on your family, your self, and your community. Just about every person I’ve talked with and worked with on business leadership ends up becoming a better parent, a better spouse, better friend, and a more active participant in their community. Read More »

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6 Ways to Express Humility in Leadership

Humility-in-LeadershipIn my previous posts here and here, I’ve been praising the character trait of humility in leadership. It’s something praised by author Jim Collins in his classic book Good to Great. Humility is a defining character of Level 5 leaders, according to research on companies that sustain success over time.

Here are some suggestions for developing humility in leadership from authors John Dame and Jeffrey Gedmin in “Six Principles for Developing Humility as a Leader,” published in Harvard Business Review, September 2013: Read More »

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How to Develop Leadership Humility

Leadership-HumilityWhat exactly do we mean by leadership humility? And why is it important to develop?

In the classic book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes a Level 5 leader as an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will. You can read about these stellar leadership behaviors in my previous post here.

According to Collins’ research study, executives who possess this seemingly paradoxical combination of traits are catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one.

So what exactly is leadership humility? Humility has nothing to do with being meek, weak, or indecisive. It is not mere courtesy or an especially kind and friendly demeanor. Nor does it necessarily mean shunning publicity or the spotlight. Read More »

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In Praise of Leadership Humility

Leadership-DevelopmentOver the Holidays I had some reading time and reviewed a couple of my favorite leadership books, including Jim Collin’s Good to Great. I especially like his description of the personal humility of a Level 5 leader. In case you’ve forgotten, here are excerpts.

A classic example of a Level 5 leader is an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will. According to Collins’ research study, executives who possess this paradoxical combination of traits are catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one.

What does a leader do who acts with personal humility and intense professional will? Read More »

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4 Tips to Build Mental Toughness

Mental-ToughnessA good book on mental toughness is Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths by LaRae Quy. These suggestions apply equally to men.

1.    Identify your emotional hot buttons. Knowing who or what pushes our buttons and when it happens is critical to developing the ability to control a situation. This awareness allows you to carefully choose your actions and words, thus avoiding unproductive behaviors that sabotage success.

a.    Notice your emotions as they arise, both positive and negative, without judging. Simply observe them with curiosity.
b.    Slow yourself down with deep breathing so the fast, emotional brain doesn’t overtake the slower, rational brain.
c.    Pinpoint the circumstances that produce emotional reactions. This awareness will enable you to calibrate your reactions in future situations. Read More »

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