Leadership!

Originally posted Aug 8, 2013 at & copied from: http://patrick642.wordpress.com/
Change. Improve. Innovate. Be better.
~ Pressing issues, from cyber security, to strategy, to innovation, to improvements (self, others, organizations)

Leading is about listening and being in charge, smartly. It is about communication, insight, respect, integrity and ethics.

Leading is also about courage and by this I mean a leader must be willing to learn from others around him/her (I’ll just be using ‘his/he’ after this point). It is about being the ‘buck actually does stop here’ when things go wrong. Then too, it is about sharing the credit when things go right! Leading is about setting the right example! If you do a good job, those around you may like it and will attempt to emulate the examples you are setting. Trust me on this count, it does work – just do a good job. Don’t tell people to do what you do, just do a good job and others will likely follow your example(s).

Yes, you are the leader but, if you as a leader cannot learn from those around you, believing that you know all the answers – you have already failed. No one knows all the answers and you should not be afraid to listen and learn from those around you. This is your team. They are your backstops, just as you are theirs. You must also not blow smoke, beat around the bush, mislead or lie about things going on that affect your team, your customers. I am not saying your team is always right, of course not but, they may have an aspect that you could use. They, or you, may have an insight that could be useful for that project, that task or some effort down the road.

Type A individuals – we don’t always need or want an individual who will drive themselves into the ground, or worse, drive those around them into the ground needlessly (or worse still – intentionally). Many of us have seen and worked for this type of person. We have far too many type As ruining the lives of others or causing those team members to leave that company for what is hopefully a better workplace elsewhere. These type As are individuals who think they know all the answers while no one else does. Or that no one else really matters. To these type A folks, the end goal is everything – no matter what transpires in getting to the goal. As a result, the people below that leader may end up providing answers the leader wants to hear and not the answers that should have been provided. Just to keep the leader happy.

Why can’t we have more type A leaders who actively use moderation? We need leaders who are willing to critically listen to feedback and possible answers and use that information, not just toss it out when that team member leaves the room. We need leaders that can recognize when they are stressing out their team and others around them. We need leaders that can recognize when to slow activities down and when there is the need to move things along a bit faster.

Leaders also know right from wrong – or they should, even though we continue to see so many leaders in the news around the world with their hands in the cookie jar or doing something so egregiously wrong. We probably need to have more ethics classes, not just in college but in high school, junior high and even grade school. It should be a mandatory class/course – and repeated a couple of times along the educational track, using real world examples. And yes, I need to say it, we need to expand ethics classes/courses in the workplace – private companies, city, state and federal organizations too, that is those not currently doing so. For the time being, as we all observe – everyday, we still have ethics issues around the country… In all levels of life!

Communication. All good leaders have got to learn or know how to communicate, whether it is speaking or writing – a good leader has “got” to know how to communicate to the team; subordinate, equals and that person’s own leadership. Good communication means that that leader conveys valuable, timely and effective information to all who needs it by ensuring that: a) the communication has “got” to include enough nuances to ensure the message is coming across as intended. b) that leader knows his audience and is aware of how he crafts his message(s) to ensure it is received as intended (see below). c) that leader needs to determine how best to craft and send his message because some people in the audience prefer written information, while others prefer getting that same info verbally – or even visually.

Sometimes, saying more is too much. Sometimes, saying too little is bad. The point is, one has to be aware when one is talking too much as well as being aware when the message is not coming across to the various levels of the audience. By that last statement, I mean that, as much as is possible, one has to know who they are addressing; 1) educational levels of the audience, 2) cultural backgrounds, 3) age levels, 4) economic levels, 5) gender 6) etc

Sometimes, delivering bad news info requires that a leader will also need to know how to do that eloquently, elegantly, respectfully and with dignity…

Then we come to respect. Respect is a two way street but it has to be earned. I personally am happy with everyone using first names, regardless of titles, as long as everyone respects the position they are in and that others hold. Respect should be earned and not used without any forethought. You may have heard me talk about integrity and ethics before but I cannot emphasize these enough. These two are corner stones of what makes an individual and leaders specifically must have these two aspects. To me, they are not only corner stones but are bedrock (basically the entire foundation of a person).

I realize these are simply my own observations and desires but they are ideas and ideals I prefer. As a result, I continually try to get those around me to try to follow these principles: a) Show respect to each other, and yourself, as much and as often as possible – do not take others for granted, b) Listen, constantly and consciously, not as an afterthought, c) Show courage, especially when you have failed in some task or endeavor – you only learn from your mistakes, you ‘must’ learn from your mistakes to grow d) Provide insight, useful insight, whenever possible to ongoing tasks – use some of that cognitive diversity that each of us has (we all have different learning’s, different backgrounds and different experiences) that can prove beneficial and most of all e) Leaders encourage others to speak up, especially the shy team members, the unconfident team members so their voices too can be heard.

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