Monthly Archives: November 2012

Successful Leaders Don’t Rock the Boat

Successful sailboat captains can attest to one sure thing: As long as a boat is moving, it’s rocking.

You see, in leadership, just as in boating, you can’t expect calm waters to move you forward toward success. The only time you don’t feel the boat rocking is when you aren’t in the boat; the faster you are moving forward, the more the boat rocks.

As a successful leader you should remember this lesson: If your team is moving forward, then the boat will already be rocking. If your team is not moving forward, then no amount of rocking will make the boat move forward.

If you want to make a difference in this world, if you want to be a successful leader, don’t rock the boat; use the waves of success to lift and carry you forward.

Now Is The Time To Share What You Know

Each year I get together with about one hundred leaders from around the world to be mentored by John Maxwell over several days.

John and his team take us places we might never see on our own, where we learn about leadership from the best. This year was Boston’s Fenway Park where we talked with Hall of Fame Red Sox great Jim Rice.

Along with lessons on leadership from Jim Rice, we all took batting practice and had the chance to shag fly balls in the outfield.

Jim told us how he was mentored as a ball player throughout his life. He honed his athletic ability in his neighborhood growing up with older kids where he learned how to work hard to be better every day. The art of catching a fly ball off the Green Monster came from Carl Yastrzemski when Jim was a rookie. Ted Williams showed him how to hit out of a slump before Rice was in a slump.

He then showed all one hundred of us how to swing the bat to ensure a single the way Ted Williams taught him. Wow, batting lessons from a hall of famer – it doesn’t get better than that.

Jim Rice taught me that sharing what you know with others is best done before they need to use your knowledge.

Leadership Vision Set Into Motion

Whether you are starting a new team, or just became the leader of an existing one, things will be different for this particular set of people on this particular team.  They might all buy into the goals you set, but your vision for how to achieve those goals will be unique and new.

For your vision to be effective you have to set it into motion.

The best way to set your vision into motion is through success.  And the best type of success is that which consistently delivers many small successes for each team member.

Vaclav Havel, the first president of the Czech Republic said:

“Vision is not enough. It must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.”

I call this “stepping up the stairs” quick winsFor quick wins to be effective they must both support your vision, and have an immediate impact on your team. Your team needs to see progress toward the goals, and feel their job satisfaction improving. Pick five to eight things that you can personally drive to success and make them happen.  This will set your vision into motion.

Leaders: How to Set Expectations For Success

Leaders: People will perform up to your expectations – set your expectations at your team’s full potential, then help them succeed.

Names Effect Enthusiasm

Sports teams select names that are meant to encourage the team to succeed and inspire the fans to cheer.

Some professional teams have names that represent action like:

  1. The San Diego Chargers
  2. Detroit Tigers
  3. Chicago Bulls

Other teams have names that celebrate their towns like:

  1. The New England Patriots
  2. Phoenix Suns
  3. Montreal Canadians

Can you imagine sports teams with a name like: “The Fumblers” or “The Strike-Outs” or “The Penalty Box?” Of course not.

Read the rest of my latest post on linked2leadership on setting expectations for success.

The ABC’s of Successful Leaders: Get The Best Information

Benjamin Disraeli was a prominent member of the British government during the 1800s. He served in leadership positions for three decades including twice as prime minister. Disraeli said:

“The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes…The more extensive a man’s knowledge of what has been done, the greater will be his power of knowing what to do.”

In order for you to be a success as a leader you need to understand the conditions in and around your team.

A) What internal and external pressures HAS the team faced in the past?

B) What internal and external pressures IS the team facing now?

C) What internal and external pressures WILL the team face in the future?

Here is the process to gain that understanding:

A) Look for information that already exists in books, surveys, or websites – This is a great place to learn what did happen and what is happening

B) Listen to people with information gained through experience -Talk to your team, your boss, experts in the industry

C) Learn what people need by analyzing the two together – Decide how you will achieve your goals now that you understand the conditions

The information you gather by looking, listening, and learning will be that on which you base all future steps to successful leadership.


Delegation: All of us are smarter than one of us

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan.

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”Ronald Reagan

Delegation of authority is serious business. It requires that you trust others with the authority to implement your vision. For a leadership team to be successful you have to be able to delegate.

Yes, your leadership team has to be all focusing on the same goal, but there are multiple paths to each mountain.  Some leaders surround themselves with other leaders who could be mistaken for their mirror images and don’t get the benefit of different perspectives.  When this happens, every new challenge has only one solution: the ones we already know.

While each individual is limited by their own knowledge and experience in their ability to offer solutions to problems; each person has a diverse set of strengths formed by their abilities, knowledge, and experience.

When people with diverse strengths are brought together, the ability to offer multiple solutions to problems becomes possible.

An ancient Japanese proverb sums this up well: “All of us are smarter than one of us.”

Leaders, resolve to listen first and maximize second

Blaine Lee, one of the founding partners of the Franklin Covey Institute said, “Before you attempt to set things right, make sure you see things right.”

If you are a leader who has passion for maximizing everything and everyone, that is a great strength and a great calling. People need leaders who are in their corner, always encouraging them to be their best.

In the spirit of wanting to help everyone succeed, they offer their opinions freely. Leaders that see so much potential in every person and every situation should know that if they aren’t careful their actions can come across as being critical.  Believe me; I speak from personal experience in this area.

If you are one of these passionate leaders, here’s what you should do.  When you really feel that passion to maximize someone or something, before you offer your opinion, remember Blaine Lee’s advice and Resolve to listen first and maximize second.

Leaders with a history of success have developed a habit of working hard to achieve their success.

Vince Lombardi said, “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” How does winning become a habit? Sarah Knowles Bolton, a press correspondent and author of the late 1800s, wrote several books that summarized the lives of successful people: statesmen, artists, and scientists, to name a few. In her research she found that “The victory of success is half done when one gains the habit of work.”

The word habit is usually associated with something bad that needs to be stopped.  Hard work is one habit that you can be proud to claim. Does your history of success show that you have developed the habit of hard work?

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