Successful Leaders are Enthusiastic!

20120520-195053.jpg

Do we absolutely have to be enthusiastic to be a successful leader? Probably not, we can likely find cases where a somewhat unenthusiastic person has become a success. What would be much more difficult to find however is an enthusiastic person who is not a success.

Dale Carnegie said that “enthusiasm is the little recognized secret to success.” I believe that statement is as true today as it was when he made it 70 years ago. It is true for anyone but maybe there is a bit more truth in it where leaders are concerned.

Think about it, you’re trying to convince a someone that your idea is best, so much so that it is worth taking a risk to implement. That’s hard enough as it is, it becomes almost impossible when you have the enthusiasm of an autopsy subject. How can anyone become excited about what you have to offer when you appear not to be? Would you follow someone just going through the motions?

Successful leaders are excited by what they’re doing and that excitement is contagious. They draw people to them because these people want to work with them, do business with them and just be around them. Are you that type of person? Many Dale Carnegie classes begin with a “warm-up” that has participants shouting “act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic.” I’ve seen that “warm-up” many times and I know that statement to be absolutely true.

Sometimes it is as simple as acting enthusiastic, because you see, you can even catch enthusiasm from yourself.

Why ARE You Doing That?

20120516-080731.jpg

Don’t reinvent the wheel! For years that has been one of my favorite sayings. I don’t, or didn’t, believe in reinventing something that works just fine. I believed that right up until a friend of mine pointed out that if the wheel had never been reinvented we would all still be driving on stone wheels.

So maybe we need to start thinking in terms of “just because it works doesn’t mean it couldn’t work better. Which brings us to the above question, “why ARE you doing that?”

We need to be able to answer that for every action we take, there is not one of us that can afford to mindlessly go through the day doing something just because we’ve “always” done it that way. In fact, doing something simply because we’ve always done it that way is the absolute worst reason for doing anything. It almost guarantees waste. Challenge yourself and your behaviors, make certain you know why, exactly why, you’re doing what you’re doing.

Push yourself to find a better way, never assume an idea is the best idea simply because it is your idea. Successful people know what they are doing, the most successful people know why they are doing it.

Which one are you?

The Kobayashi Maru

20120510-165825.jpg

When I was growing up I was a big Star Trek fan. My middle name is Kirk so you can imagine who my favorite character was. But it wasn’t just the people; I loved the gadgets on the show too. The communicators, the food replicators, and even the transporter.

It is amazing how much of the “Sci-Fi” stuff from the late 60’s we now take for granted. My favorite of course is the communicator. (Anyone for a flip phone?) I read that NASA is now actually working on a food replicator for use on long-range missions.

The gadgets aren’t the only thing from the show we can use today. The philosophy of the always knowing Captain Kirk can come in handy today as well.

As a student at Star Fleet Academy young Kirk was faced with the Kobayashi Maru. The Kobayashi Maru offers two solutions to an impossible dilemma, both of which lead to terrible results. It is an un-winnable scenario designed to teach prospective command students that sometimes you simply can’t win.

Kirk became the only cadet at the academy to defeat the Kobayashi Maru because he refused to accept that only two solutions existed. There were in fact, only two, until he “invented” a third.

Throughout the TV series and the 3 movies that followed, Kirk always refused to think in terms of either/or. He always demanded a third option. That philosophy served Kirk well in his fictional life and it can serve us well in our professional lives.

Call it whatever you want, thinking outside the box, green light thinking, whatever you call it the point is the same. In challenging times we cannot be limited to either/or options when both lead to some kind of un-winnable scenario. We must have that third option, even if we have to invent it.

The message of the Kirk’s Kobayashi Maru is clear; we don’t have to accept defeat. There is another way, there is always a third option if we are willing to work hard enough to find it. And yes, sometimes you may have to create a solution that doesn’t seem to be there. When we decide that defeat is unacceptable those unseen options suddenly appear and defeat fades off into the distance. I’m ready to win – Beam me up Scotty!

It’s About Your Attitude

20120429-155736.jpg

This post is about attitude, and not just any attitude, it’s about your attitude. I wonder how many people reading this post have a positive attitude? Do you? Most people would answer with a resounding yes, so I’ll assume that most people reading this post have a positive attitude.

So let me ask you this question – what are some things that can have an effect on your attitude before you even get to work in the morning? Think about that for a moment. Now STOP. STOP right there!

Do you realize that you’ve just been given a choice? It’s a choice you’re given every single day, and I’ll bet you didn’t even realize it was a choice. Now since most people reading this post have a positive attitude, what are the things you thought of when given that choice? Are you surprised by what you thought of? Notice I didn’t say what can have a negative effect on your attitude I just said what can have an effect on your attitude, you had a choice. What did you choose positive or negative? I know from experience that the vast majority of “positive” people thought of something negative.

That’s a choice you have the opportunity to make constantly throughout the day. It’s amazing how many people surrender that choice to other people or other things… the kind of things many of you just thought of when given a choice.

Authentic leaders realize that every interaction with a person leaves that person feeling either better or worse, there are no “attitude neutral” interactions. So, will you be a positive force with your attitude, or will you be a negative force with your attitude?

If you’re leading people that have less than a positive attitude, the first place to look for the source of their poor attitude is in the mirror. Their attitude is most commonly a reflection of yours. Authentic leaders are a positive model for their people. You can tell your people to have a positive attitude or you can show them how to have a positive attitude, the choice is yours. Choose well this week and notice the difference in you and your people.