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

So let’s start with the how not to lead. 

In order for your people to follow you they will need to trust you. Trust is a two-way street so if you’re wondering how NOT to lead the first step is to demonstrate that you absolutely do not, under any circumstances, trust your people. They will find it impossible to trust you when it’s obvious you don’t trust them. You will be responsible for turning their work situation into a nightmare. You can bet your last dollar they will do likewise for you. 

To demonstrate that you do not trust them you’ll want to first convince yourself that no one can do as good a job as you. That will be second nature for too many people in leadership positions but some people will only be convinced of that the first time one of their people makes a mistake. 

Once you’re certain that you do pretty much everything better than anyone else you can move up to delegating tasks to the people likely to screw them up. Be sure to delegate only crap jobs that you don’t like to do. There’s no sense in delegating a task because it may help them grow as team members or people in general. 

Once you’ve assigned them a task be certain to manage every single step in the process required to complete the task. Constant nonstop micro-managing will ensure even your worst team members will turn in good results. As “everyone” knows, people love to be micro-managed so manage the heck out of everything and everyone. 

This method of “leading” will also help eliminate questions in the future. Rather than attempting to accomplish anything on their own and needing a question answered along the way, your people will simply wait and do nothing. That should make for far fewer messes for you to clean up. 

Plus, if you were ever “charged” in a court of law with being a leader there would be absolutely no evidence to convict you. 

But let’s assume for a minute that you’re reading this blog because you actually do want to lead more effectively. 

Let’s see what that would look like. 

First, remind yourself that you don’t know it all. Remind yourself that there may be more than one way to accomplish the same task. Remind yourself that your way may in fact not be the best way. Once you become an experienced Authentic Leader you won’t have to remind yourself of these things anymore. They will have been proven to you again and again. 

Then you can delegate whatever tasks you think will help your people grow. It may be that you’re sure they can handle it or it may be something that will “stretch” the limits of their comfort zones. Either way the goal should be to meet the required objective while helping people grow. It might be easier if you did the job yourself but you know that Authentic Leaders take a longer term view of people development. They realize that the time they use to help people learn a new job or task is an investment, not an expense. 

Now you can turn them lose and give them the autonomy that demonstrates you trust them. You can offer them support, some training or other assistance when required. But if they don’t ask for assistance then allow them to do their thing. If you’ve followed a well defined delegation process they will be fine. You will be fine. Even if they accomplished the task in a different fashion than you would have. If the task was completed ethically, on time, within the budgetary guidelines and the objective was met then your leadership efforts have been successful. 

If for some reason the task wasn’t completed as required then you have the opportunity for additional coaching to improve their results next time. Before you do any coaching you need to determine where the delegation went off the rails. Was it something your team member did or didn’t do? Perhaps it was some detail you forgot to discuss with them? Authentic Leaders never assume the fault is the responsibility of the people they lead. They look first at themselves to determine if and how they might improve as well. 

So there you have it. Are you more on the leading side or the not so much side? If you’re on the “not” side then you have some work to do…but only if you truly want to lead. 

On a different subject… 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 Self Fulfilling Prophecy

This is a story about a prosperous, or formerly prosperous, Hot Dog vendor in a major metropolitan city. He began his business with a single Hot Dog stand in the heart of downtown. He was a gregarious fellow who served excellent all beef Hot Dogs with all the fixins’. 

He could talk up a storm and always had something of interest to share with his customers. His customer base expanded over the first couple of years. His profits grew to the point he was able to pay for his son to attend one of the finest universities. 

The dad continued to do well with his Hot Dog business too. So well in fact that he added several additional stands throughout the city along with a handful of employees. All while his son was away at school. By any measure his business was booming. 

His son graduated with a degree in finance and triumphantly returned home. Upon learning of his father’s rapid growth he was shocked and concerned. He told his dad that he was very likely growing his business too fast. He added that the economy was on the cusp of a recession and he needed to downsize to “protect” his business. His business was sure to decline and he would be stuck with overhead and bills he wouldn’t be able to pay. 

The dad was surprised and disturbed by this news. He had no idea about the “mistakes” he had been making. All his bills were paid. He had no debt. His customers and employees were all happy and his profits were continuing to grow. But he had no formal education and his son had a newly minted degree. So he decided to follow his son’s advice. 

He immediately closed one of his stands and as his son had predicted sales began to decline. So he closed a second stand and once again, as his son had predicted sales and profits fell even further. 

Over the course of the year he laid off all of his employees and closed all but his original Hot Dog stand. Sales were once again at the level of years earlier before his son had gone off to school. 

The dad was amazed at how accurate his son’s “predictions” were and thanked him immensely for “saving” his business. 

Now this isn’t a true story but it very well good be. And if you’re not careful it could be your story too. 

As we continue in our turbulent times and approach a recession, or maybe already are in a recession, the “experts” will be out in force. The naysayers and doom makers will have ample “evidence” as to why you can’t succeed. Listen intently, use what you can from their “insights” but always always always decide for yourself. 

You know you better than anyone else. You know what you’re capable of. You know your business. You know your marketplace and your customers. The consultants and experts can add to your knowledge base but they can’t decide for you unless you allow them to. 

Never allow them to. Don’t become so “data driven” that you allow data to take over for your critical thinking skills. There was zero data to indicate any consumer demand for something called an iPod or a touch screen phone. But Steve Jobs went with his gut and moved forward anyway. It seems to have worked out reasonably well. There are still “experts” predicting the imminent death of the iPhone but I’ll bet Apple builds a few more next year anyway.

Good business plans, excellent leadership, sound values, integrity based principles, and undeterred perseverance will always win in the long run. Don’t let anyone who doesn’t truly know you and your business tell you otherwise. 

And never let their “predictions” become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

On a different subject… 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.

The Trail of an Authentic Leader

I’m sometimes asked how I can tell when someone is an Authentic Leader. People want to know what to look for, what to listen for and what “signs” signify that someone is an Authentic Leader. 

While there are certainly identifiable character traits of Authentic Leadership there is one surefire way to know without a doubt that someone is an Authentic Leader. They leave a trail behind them. The trail is littered with leaders. 

Authentic Leaders invest the time required to develop their people. They begin the process of developing their people with the understanding that people need to be reminded more than they need to be taught. That is particularly true when it comes to leadership. 

Leadership is “modeled” much more than it is taught. That’s why it is so important that leaders always keep in mind that they are the models for successful leadership behaviors. They don’t tell people what to do, they show them. They know that people will do what their leader does 1000 times faster than they will do what their leader says. 

Authentic Leaders grow new leaders through consistency and persistence. They don’t offer drive by coaching. They know that elevating others requires work, patience and a willingness to suffer the occasional setback. Maybe even more than occasional. They don’t coach in their free time, instead they set aside time, often daily, to invest in their people. They don’t provide all the answers for their people, they help their people develop answers on their own. 

One of the reasons Authentic Leaders don’t give all the answers is that they admit they don’t have all the answers to begin with. They are willing to learn from anyone, anytime. They know the best leaders are constant learners. They also are not afraid to admit when they are wrong or have made a mistake. They take ownership of and responsibility for, their actions. 

They also give ownership away to help their people grow. They delegate tasks and the responsibility for getting them done. They allow their people to take ownership of the task. The allow them to make decisions and determine the steps to make to ensure successful completion of the task. 

Authentic Leaders know that the best way to help people learn to make decisions is to let them make decisions. That also means allowing them to clean up the messes they make from a poor decision. 

Authentic Leaders make most every decision with an eye towards the future. The full future. That includes who they will leave behind as leaders when their own time in the top spot comes to a close. 

I ask people in leadership positions who they are currently developing to fill future leadership positions. Many of them tell me they are too busy leading to “spend” time on developing people. That tells me without a doubt that while they may hold a leadership position they most certainly are not an Authentic Leader. 

Authentic Leaders consistently “invest” the time to develop the next generation of leaders and they leave a substantial trail of leaders behind them as a result. 

So…who are you developing today for the leadership roles of tomorrow?

Are You a Leadership Fool?

Some people like being fooled so much that when they can’t find somebody to fool them they will fool themselves. One group that fits into that category is people who somehow find themselves in leadership positions but are most definitely NOT leaders. 

They have no aptitude for leading. They have no leadership training. They have no interest in helping the people they are supposed to be leading. Their only interest is in claiming whatever title and perks come with the leadership position. 

They fool themselves into thinking they are actually leading when in fact they don’t even know what Authentic Leadership is. The worst part of fooling themselves is that it prevents them from growing into an actual leader.

If they were interested in actually leading they would learn the difference between managing and leading. They would learn that “things” can be managed but people cannot. They would discover that people need leadership. 

That would hopefully cause them to learn the characteristics of Authentic Leadership. They may even attempt to internalize those characteristics. Those characteristics include, in no particular order…

Self-awareness. Authentic Leaders reflect on their decisions and corresponding actions. They consider their own strengths and weaknesses with the goal of continuously improving their leadership skills. They accept responsibility for their decisions. While they frequently pass on compliments to their team you will never see them pass the buck.

Empathy. Authentic Leaders know that leadership comes from the heart. The relationships they develop with their teams can go very deep. They develop those relationships using empathy, listening skills and courage. 

Integrity. Strength of character is vital for an Authentic Leader. They say what they mean. People trust them because they honor their commitments. They work daily to earn the respect of their people. They understand that if their people can’t trust them then their people can’t follow them. 

Judgment. Authentic Leaders have great judgment. That doesn’t mean they are correct 100% of the time but they get the big decisions right. While making judgments about people they refrain from being judgmental. Authentic Leaders know the difference between the two. 

Listening Skills. Authentic Leaders know that can’t learn anything when they are talking. So they frequently listen more than they talk. They listen not only with open ears but with an open mind and an open heart. They are willing to consider ideas different from their own. They are willing to change their mind and their course when it makes sense. 

Consistency. Authentic Leaders are not fickle. They make principled decisions based on their Core Values. Their people know what to expect. They know that while they may not agree with every decision the decisions are made for the benefit of the team and organization, not only the leader. 

Vision. People want to know where they are being led. Authentic Leaders lead with purpose, vision and passion. They add value to the lives of the people they lead. Not only in their professional lives, but personal lives as well. They set high standards for themselves and the people they lead. They bring their vision to life in such a way that their people can see themselves in it. And they like what they see!

The greatest leadership “myth” of all is that a position or title makes someone a leader. Never never ever fool yourself into believing that myth. Leadership is serious stuff. It takes dedicated effort to develop yourself into an Authentic Leader. 

The rewards for helping people reach their full potential makes that effort very worthwhile. In fact, I’d challenge you to find one Authentic Leader who would say otherwise. And if they do they might just be fooling with ya. 

An Overlooked Quality of Authentic Leadership

Much has been written about the qualities and characteristics of Authentic Leaders. But one essential quality of Authentic Leadership is seldom discussed. 

That quality is self-discipline. Developing the quality of self-discipline is part of leading yourself. Leaders sometimes forget this fact but if a person can’t lead themselves it is almost certain they can’t lead anyone else. 

Building self-discipline requires that you understand, develop and follow your priorities. If you can’t clearly state what your priorities are you will always struggle with time management. People who tell me “they don’t have time” get frustrated with me when I challenge that statement. The fact is they have as much time as any person on this planet. They struggle to get things done because they don’t understand their priorities. 

Not understanding their priorities causes people to spend time on seemingly urgent tasks rather than investing their time on important things. It’s the important things that pay long-term dividends. When you get your time under control you’re on your way to living a self-disciplined life. 

To further develop your self-discipline you need to challenge your excuses. That process begins by understanding the difference between an excuse and a reason. The example I most often use to explain this difference is being late. 

If you show up late, to anything, and say, “sorry I’m late but the traffic was brutal” that’s an excuse. An excuse indicates that you accept no responsibility for your tardiness. It also shows you have no intention of doing anything different to prevent it from happening again. 

If you show up late and say, “sorry I’m late, the traffic was brutal and I failed to take traffic into account this time of day. I’ll pay more attention to that next time.” That is an example of a reason. It indicates that you accept responsibility for being late and you will take steps to try and prevent it from happening again. 

Excuses are plentiful and easy to find…or make up. Just remember people who are good at making excuses aren’t very good at making progress. If you allow yourself too many excuses you’ll limit your ability to life a disciplined lifestyle. 

Living that disciplined lifestyle requires that you focus on results. Success is a process and results often come slowly. Success seldom follows a straight line, it’s more of a zig zag. Accept all results as a win, no matter how small and no matter how slowly they arrive. 

Living a disciplined lifestyle can seem like a daunting task. It may feel like we can’t be disciplined and have fun. Develop the mindset that being disciplined is fun itself. Also realize that you don’t have to be disciplined every day, you only need to be disciplined one day…and that day is today. When you wake up tomorrow you’ll discover that tomorrow is another today. 

As a leader you likely want the people you lead to be disciplined as well. It is vital, and this is why self-discipline is such an essential quality of Authentic Leadership, it is vital that you always keep in mind that you are the model of successful behavior for your people. 

If you don’t display self-discipline then don’t expect to see it from anyone you lead either. 

On a another subject…Donald Trump and Joe Biden both say they “never miss a video from LeadToday on Twitter!” Well… they would say that if they had ever heard of me, or if one of them hadn’t been kicked off Twitter. The videos they aren’t talking about are something new I’m trying 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.

Are You a Lazy Leader?

There has never been a time when it was easier to find excellent information on what it takes to be an effective Authentic Leader. There are many outstanding TedTalks and books and blogs on developing yourself as a leader. Much of the content available online is free. You only need to be willing to invest in yourself. 

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, too often some of that content falls under the category of “you get what you pay for.” Along with the excellent content there is stuff provided by hacks who have no business talking about leadership. Actually, they have no business talking at all. 

I came across one such blog post a few weeks ago. The author made the suggestion that leaders should NOT take the time to get to know their people personally. Getting to know someone on a personal level is not necessary. They said you are better off keeping to yourself than wasting time talking with people about non-work topics.

They said connecting to people on a personal level could be misleading and cause them to think you cared about them. It could even lead to the “disastrous” thought that you like them. 

At first I thought the author was being facetious. But as I continued reading it became clear that his recommendation was serious. It also became clear that has was a knucklehead. 

But I’m sure some people in leadership positions agreed with what he said. That’s most likely because while they may be in a leadership position they are certainly not leaders. They are too lazy to invest the time required to Authentically Lead. They won’t invest time to know, understand, and appreciate the people they are supposedly leading. 

Authentic Leaders know that their people want to connect with and get know their leaders. Authentic Leaders get to know each person on their team, their history, their goals, and their aspirations. They understand getting to know their people on a personal level helps them establish rapport and make deeper connections. People generally want to know that those they work with care about them and respect them for their contribution to the team’s success.

Leaders make decisions and judgments about their people that have a tremendous impact on their lives. Authentic Leaders know they can’t do that well without knowing those people. By the way, I should point out that making judgments about a person’s ability to contribute to a team’s success is not the same as judging them as a human being. Authentic Leaders don’t judge people, they make judgments. If you struggle to understand the difference then you’ll likely struggle to lead as well.

It doesn’t take a huge investment of time to know the people you lead but it does require an intentional investment. Don’t think you can learn about your people in your free time…cause there ain’t no such thing as free time for an Authentic Leader. 

Instead set aside 5 minutes EVERY DAY to conduct an “Innerview” with one of your team members. Not an “interview.” An interview is what you do when you’re hiring someone. An “Innerview” is what you do when you want to understand someone enough that you can help them grow, as a person and as a team member. You ask questions to gain an “inner” view of who the person really is. Their goals, personal and professional. Their challenges and struggles, again, both personal and professional. 

Yes, you can do that in 5 minutes a day. IF you do it everyday. Pick a different person each day, if you have a small team you may have several conversations with each of them a month. If you have a very large team then dispatch other leaders in your organization to conduct “innerviews” of their own. 

Knowing your people is vital to helping them grow and develop. If you can’t invest 5 minutes a day to do that then you might be a lazy leader. Too lazy in fact to Authentically Lead.

On a another subject…Donald Trump and Joe Biden both say they “never miss a video from LeadToday on Twitter!” Well… they would say that if they had ever heard of me, or if one of them hadn’t been kicked off Twitter. The videos they aren’t talking about are something new I’m trying 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.

How Trust is Really Built

I’m not sure why but I’ve seen a ton of blog posts and various articles lately about building trust. Most of them are about particular words you either should or shouldn’t use if you want to build trust. 

Some of them talk about tone of voice or making eye contact when you want someone to know you’re being particularly truthful. I love that word combo “particularly truthful.”

Imagine someone writing about building trust and in the article seeming to indicate that sometimes you’re more truthful than others. When you want to convince someone you can be trusted then you should be “particularly truthful.” They don’t explain what you should be the rest of the time so I’m left to wonder about it. 

What surprises me about every single article and post I’ve read the last few weeks on building trust, and there have been many of them, is that not a single one of them talked about being trustworthy. The talk about using “trustable” words and phrases. A few even talked about behaving in a certain way to convince people you can be trusted. 

But not one said to build trust by actually being trustworthy. 

To me being trustworthy is saying exactly what you mean and doing exactly what you say. All the time. It’s about honoring your commitments, every commitment. All the time. 

When your words match your actions, even if not everyone agrees with them, you will be trusted. 

If you’re forced to use certain words for people to trust you then I’d have to say it’s possible you’re not trustworthy. If you have to behave in any other way than being your normal self then it’s very possible that people shouldn’t really trust you. 

If you want to be trusted then don’t say yes when you know your actions are going to show you meant no. Don’t commit to doing something today when you know darn well it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to do it today. 

Trust isn’t built on what we say, it’s built on what we do. There’s no need to read a bunch of articles on how to be trusted. All you need to do is be trustworthy. 

One other thing, if you’re wondering how you can tell if someone else can be trusted there is only one sure way to know. Trust them, they will quickly show you if your trust is deserved or not. 

On a another subject…I’m trying something new over 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 regular Twitter followers. 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 perhaps 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 just 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.