The Forgotten Part of Communication 

Authentic Leaders know that they lead by example. Lesser leaders lead by example too, it’s just that they frequently don’t realize it. Both Authentic and lesser leaders know that effective communication is an essential tool of leadership. The difference is, Authentic Leaders talk with the people they lead and lesser leaders talk to the people they try to lead. 

Many leaders also often forget that communication is made up of three parts. Talking and listening are the first two parts. Authentic Leaders listen at least as much as they talk. Lesser Leaders usually talk a lot more than they listen. 

But it’s the third part of communication that is most often forgotten by both Authentic and Lesser Leaders. What separates the two groups is that Authentic Leaders forget the third leg of effective communication less than other leaders. 

The third leg of effective communication is action. As in, “walking your talk.” 

So let me ask you this. Do your actions match the words that come out of your mouth? Do you expect your people to do as you say? If you do, and your words and actions don’t match, you’ll have a very difficult time ever gaining the commitment of your people. That’s important because absent that commitment you will be unable to ever get your people to fully follow you. 

It is vital if you hope to effectively lead that you understand this basic fact of leadership. Your people will do what you do 10,000 times faster than they will do what you say. When you say something to the people you lead then you have completed part one of the communication process. When your people hear what you have said (Authentic Leaders by the way, verify with their people that what they said was what their people heard) then part two has been completed. That’s where many leaders stop. They forget about part three. 

After your people hear what you said they begin “listening” with their eyes. They want to see if what you said is what you do. They want to see if your actions match the actions you asked them to take. They what to see if the policies you just asked them to follow will also be followed by you. 

What they see after listening has much more impact than what they heard while listening. 

When there is a gap between what was heard and what was seen there will be a corresponding gap in the credibility of the leader. That gap separates a leader from the people they are trying to lead. That lack of credibility in one area causes gaps of credible in every area. 

That’s why it is so vital that anyone hoping to be an Authentic Leader realize that there are three parts to the communication process. The part most often forgotten may be the most important one. 

If you want to earn the right to Authentically Lead and the commitment of your people that comes with that right, then your words and actions much match. It’s as simple as that. It’s as challenging as that. 

If you have the discipline to match your words with actions then you have the discipline to change the lives of the people you lead in a very positive way. So before you say something have a plan for how you’ll “show” the same thing. 

On a another note… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

A Big Challenge

This is a little post with a big challenge. The challenge comes from one of Dale Carnegie’s first books. While not as well known as his all time best seller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” it is perhaps the book that has changed more lives than any other book he authored. 

The book is entitled, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” The “challenge” is actually one of the principles from the book. The principle says “Forget your unhappiness by creating happiness for others.” 

One way to do that is to commit each day to do something kind for someone and not let them find out it was you who did it. 

A couple of points before I send you off on your challenge.

You must understand the basic difference between being nice and being kind. Being nice is easy, it requires no real effort on your part. Being nice includes things like saying thank you, please and your welcome. Think of being nice more like having good manners. 

Being kind on the other hand requires some effort on your part. It might be offering a ride to someone on your way to the store. It is especially kind if where they are going is not on your way. That’s very kind of you but it doesn’t meet the challenge requirements because they will obviously know you give them a ride. 

Here’s an example that would definitely meet the challenge. Let’s say someone has broken something that they have treasured for a long time. They can’t fix it themselves or they can’t afford to have it fixed. So you secretly have it repaired and put back in it’s place. 

Doing the kind thing by having it repaired on the sly doesn’t meet the challenge either. But you’ve at least met the first half of the challenge. Quietly putting it back in place and NEVER mentioning that you took care of it will complete the full challenge. 

It’s a challenge because it’s human nature to want to get “credit” for our good deeds. I do kind things for people but then I tend follow them around like a lost puppy until they notice the kindness. When they ask if I did that, I just smile. I didn’t tell them I did it but I’m always open to accepting their gratitude. 

It’s hard not to seek recognition for the good things we do. But when we are successful it is a great feeling. 

Like all things worth doing, being kind and not seeking recognition for it is easier said than done. But if you want to do something incredibly special for someone…and yourself, you’ll do it anyway. 

Now, get to it, there is a kindness waiting to be done. 

How to Lead and How Not to Lead – Another of a periodic series

The most effective leaders, the ones who achieve the highest level of leadership, the Pinnacle level, are more than Authentic Leaders. They are Authentic Servant Leaders. They have turned their organizational chart upside down.  They put their people above themselves in the organization. 

Their impact on the organization far outlasts their time in the organization. Authentic Leaders make an impact but too often their impact leaves the organization with them. It is by serving the people you lead that you leave a legacy behind. 

But…that’s a whole lotta work. To be an Authentic Servant Leader you have to really want it. You have to sacrifice. You have to invest yourself in the success of other people. You have to give a healthy portion of your ego food to those you lead. You have to care for the people you lead. 

It’s far easier to manage the people who work for you. It’s not actually leading but so what, you’ve got a leadership position and a nice title and that’s what matters most. But people want consistency from their boss so it’s best to either always manage or always lead. Going back and forth will confuse your people. 

So here’s how to make certain they don’t sometimes see you as a leader. 

Never never never ask people to identify what they need to succeed. Avoid asking them how you can help them. As an experienced manager you know darn well that if you ask people what they need to succeed they will want more time, equipment and heaven help you, more money. Your experience tells you that if you give these people an inch, they will take a mile. 

Don’t get to know them as people. It’s best to think of them as an employee number. I wouldn’t call them by their number because it can be a lot of work to remember all those numbers. But never lose site of the fact that they are only a number. Thinking of them as people could get very confusing for you. They are only an asset, much like your computers and printers. Do not let your people even think you might care for them. 

Follow that advice and I promise you this, you may hold a leadership position but you will never be mistaken for an actual leader. 

Of course, you could always choose to make their lives better and your life more fulfilling by working to earn the right to Authentically Lead them. 

To Authentically Lead you must first understand the difference between managing and leading. We manage things. Things like budgets, buildings, equipment, inventories and the like. We lead people. Leading people requires that you care for them. You may care about the things you manage but you must care for people. Your people,  like you, can feel the difference between a boss who cares about them, like they care about the copier, and a leader who cares for them, like a human being. 

You can’t just tell your people that you care for them, you need to show it. 

You can do that by engaging with them frequently. By asking them how they are doing. Not necessarily at work,  but also how they are doing at life. Ask what you can do to help them, either at work or at life. Then do what Authentic Servant Leaders do…listen. Listen so intently that the person you’re speaking with gets the impression that in that moment, they are the only person in the world. 

Then do something else that Authentic Servant Leaders do…act on what you heard. Do everything you can possible do to meet the needs of your people. You asked and now they are waiting to see if your questions were for show or if your questions were to help them grow. 

If you can’t do what you were asked to do then do what Pinnacle level leaders do…go back and explain why and tell your people what you can do. A shrug of the shoulders and a sorry about that will not get it done. 

Once you’ve asked the questions that demonstrate you care, you have put yourself at the crossroads of your leadership journey. You will either move up the path towards Authentic Servant Leadership or down the path of a wannabe leader. 

The rewards for attempting to manage another human being are a position, a title and likely more money. The rewards for Authentically Leading others with a servant’s heart are limitless. You’ll make a positive impact on the lives of others. You will touch the lives of people you may never know. You will shape the future of your organization, for generations to come. You will be building more leaders who will build more leaders as well. Your leadership will far outlast you. Your life and leadership will have made a difference in the world.

The choice between leading people and trying to manage them is one that you must make for yourself. Pinnacle Level Leaders decide to leave a part of themselves behind when they are gone. They choose to give of themselves. In doing so they receive more in return than lesser leaders could ever imagine. 

So what will it be for you?

On a another note… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

Threatening to End an Argument 

I posted a tweet on Twitter a couple of weeks ago and was surprised by a rather large number of negative responses I received. The post seemed harmless enough…it said basically that you can’t win an argument by yelling. It suggested that rather than raising your voice you should improve your argument. 

I engaged one of the people who responded and said the most memorable statements are more often whispered than yelled. He replied that he wins most arguments by yelling. If yelling doesn’t work he then yells louder while threatening some form of violence. That he said, always does the trick. He said this method works with his kids especially well. 

Twitter limits tweets and responses to 280 characters so I could not even begin to properly reply. There is so much wrong with that line of thinking that I’d need 10 blog posts to do it justice. 

But let’s look at a couple of the problems with that thinking. First…arguing with your children? Really? The person didn’t say how old their kids were but that’s almost irrelevant. If they were very young it’s worse but arguing with your kids is just plain bad at any age. 

Next, arguing with anyone is a fools errand. No one truly wins an argument. Especially by yelling. 

Yelling is a sign that the “yeller” has lost control of their emotions. Threatening violence, especially against their kids, is a sign that they have lost control of their thinking. I can absolutely understand the frustration that comes from not being able to influence another person’s thinking. It can cause anyone to lose control. 

Losing control most often stems from the need to win. Winning an argument for many people means forcing their opinion on someone else. But losing control is far less likely to happen if your position is built with empathy and a sincere desire to help the other person in some way. 

While it’s possible to end an argument with shouts and threats it is not possible to win one that way. In fact, as the great Dale Carnegie wrote, “the only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it all together.” 

That doesn’t mean rolling over and playing dead. That means making your case supported by facts and a caring heart. If the other person is having a hard time hearing or understanding then whisper instead of yell. 

Remember, if somebody sees you yelling at a person because you think they are an idiot, that somebody may agree there is an idiot in the conversation but they might think the idiot is you. 

They might even be right. 

On a another note… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/

Living in Alignment With Your Core Values

Most people have three “versions” of themselves. There’s the version of themselves that they allow other people to see. There’s also a version of themselves that they show themselves when looking in the mirror. Then there’s the authentic version of themselves that they rarely allow anyone, sometimes including themselves, to see. 

One thing that separates less successful people from more successful people is that the most successful people show themselves, and other people, their authentic version far more often than less successful people. 

Some people don’t show themselves their authentic version because they have never contemplated what that version looks like. For instance, when asked to state your core values, those values that make you the person you are, how quickly can you identify them? Core values are your guideposts in life that guide, or should guide, every decision you make in your life. 

More than anything, the decisions you make in life will determine the life you get to live. When you know your core values it is far easier to make even the biggest decisions. If you have not taken the time to identify your core values you could end up living a life of contradictions and indecision. 

Core values are those values you will fight for. Your core values are qualities or standards that govern your behavior. Your principles are rules or beliefs that guide your actions. Whether you can state your core values or not, your principles are based on those values. Your core values are the foundation for your principles. Your core values are your deeply deeply deeply held beliefs that you carry with you regardless of who you are with.  Regardless of what you are doing or where you are doing it. 

People who tell you that holding on to anything thing that tightly makes you inflexible have not yet invested the time to identify their own core values. 

I am not a Bernie Sanders fan. At all. But I admire him. Anyone who is fine with being on the losing side of a 99-1 vote in the United States Senate has clearly identified their core values. They are also living them. 

One of the reasons there are so few Authentic Leaders is that very few people in leadership positions have ever taken the time to identify their core values. They can’t show their authentic self to others because they can’t even show it to themselves. They attempt to live the life of the person they see in the mirror. 

A mentor, one who is truly invested in your success, can help you bring your core values to the surface so you can see the real you. So you can live a life in alignment with your core values. That alignment is a big big deal. When your thoughts, words, and actions all align you’ll understand why you do what you do and why you respond to others the way you do. 

Living a life aligned with who you really are guarantees a life well lived. It ensures a life lived on purpose for a purpose. And this much I can promise you…there is no better way to live. 

A Leadership Disposition

I have known many people over the years who aspired to hold a leadership position. Many of them were even willing to put in the work they believed would earn them that position. Most of them did in fact manage to get promoted to a leadership position. 

But many of them never realized that while they were promoted to a position of leadership they were not promoted to leader. They didn’t know that no one could promote them to the position of leader. They also didn’t realize that having a leadership position or the title of a leader doesn’t make you one. 

They simply bought into the greatest of all leaderships myths. The myth that where someone is on an organizational chart determines their level of leadership. The reality is, all that position does is provide them with an little easier opportunity to earn the privilege of leading someone. 

Many “position leaders” assume that upon being promoted to a position of leadership that they have arrived. Upon “arriving” at this position their learning about leadership too often stops, assuming it ever started. It’s almost like learning to drive a car. Has anyone ever took more driver education classes right after getting their driver’s license? Many people in leadership positions don’t need any leadership development because they already “lead” every day. 

Except they don’t. They most likely attempt to manage people. I say “attempt” because it is if fact impossible to manage another human being. 

By far, the most effective leaders were leaders long before they ever held a position of leadership. They knew early on that leadership was way more about their disposition than it was about their position. Leaders who understand that fact are Authentic Leaders. They don’t need a title or position in order to lead. What they need is a decision that says “I choose to make a positive difference in the lives of others.” I choose NOT to wait for a position or title to make that difference. I choose to Lead Today. 

They do not wait for a position that people will “have to” follow. They work to become the type of person that people will want to follow. 

Authentic Leaders invest their experience, time, energy, and resources to help other people grow. Potentially, they help those people grow into leaders themselves. They know that to help other people grow they need to constantly be growing themselves as well. When they do find themselves in a position of leadership they don’t see it as “arriving,” they see it as part of their never ending journey of self-development. 

If you want to one day hold a position of leadership then don’t work to impress people who can promote you to a leadership position. Instead, work to earn the followership of people you help succeed while on your own journey to success. The people who can promote you to a position of leadership will notice. 

You won’t just have earned a leadership position, you’ll have earned the opportunity to authentically lead. 

On a another note… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

Leading People Who are Different Than You

All leaders, ineffective and effective leaders alike, have the same two problems. Problem might not be the right word but they all have the same challenge. The first challenge is that they are human. The second challenge is that the people they lead are human too. 

Humans don’t automatically like all other humans. We somehow find it easier to connect with people we like. We tend to stay closer to them. We talk more with people we like than people we don’t. I’m no psychologist but it seems to me we are more drawn to people who look like us, act like us, who have the same backgrounds and the same beliefs. While that may be normal it seldom helps us grow and develop. 

We need the diversity of backgrounds, beliefs and life experiences to broaden our thinking and open ourselves up to new opportunities. Leaders who hope to excel need that same broadening of their thinking. It is particularly important for leaders to embrace that diversity. Leaders must care for their people before they can effectively lead them. If you’re a leader who doesn’t truly know and value the people you are supposed to lead then it will be almost impossible for you to lead them. 

If leaders aren’t careful and intentional about how and where they invest their time they will naturally invest a disproportionate amount of their time with those members of their organization that they are most like.

But Authentic Leaders understand that it is their responsibility to lead and develop their entire team, not only the teams members they like the most and not only the team members who are most like them. 

Authentic Leaders are aware of their biases, both conscious and unconscious. They put processes in place to make certain those biases don’t get in the way of developing their people. Any of their people. 

They schedule time with every member of their team. That time includes discussions about work but also about the person. They ask questions to understand the entire person. They want to know about the person’s goals and what help they could use to achieve them. 

As a leader it is incumbent upon you to make judgments about your people. It is also important that you do that in a non-judgmental way. You can do neither of those unless you get rid of any biases you may have and the only way to rid yourself of those biases is to know and understand the person. 

I have been personally challenged in my life to overcome some of those biases. Years ago our daughter brought her new boy friend over for dinner. I’m almost embarrassed to say I was shocked by his appearance the moment he walked in the door. I had all the doubts that a parent would have. I questioned how we raised her and where we went off track. I wondered what our family and friends would say if they ever met him. 

But I’m kinda proud to say I pushed myself to expand my thinking. We had a good conversation, a nice dinner and even played a few games after. As different as he looked when he walked in the door I barely even noticed the Green Bay Packers jersey as he left. 

You may find that funny but it’s a realistic example of how unfounded biases can impact how we deal with people if we’re not careful. As a leader you are the example of successful behavior for ALL your people. If you want more open communication, better sharing of ideas, increased sharing of best practices, and more overall collaboration then you need demonstrate the value of diversity within your organization. You can talk about the value of diversity all you want but your people will do what you do far faster than they will do what you say. 

Leading people who are different than you can be very challenging. It can also be incredibly rewarding. It’s all in how you look at it. I hope you focus on the rewards rather than the challenges.