Denis Waitley

Why comes before How

Understanding how to accomplish something is an important part of being successful. You won’t go far if you don’t know what you are doing. So first we learn how, then we can succeed, right? Wrong. If you really want to win, you first understand why – the purpose of the something you are doing or learning how to do. Because very little that we do is always easy and you will need to hold on to your why when the how is hard.

“Winners are people with definite purpose in life.”– Denis Waitley

Clarity of purpose is especially important when it’s not just you alone working for success, and this is almost always. For some the identification of the team you are on is obvious, for others it is more nuanced. But for almost everyone, you are relying on others to accomplish their individual parts in order to win. The only way this works if there is alignment on purpose.

When you’re surrounded be people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”– Howard Schultz

A few examples of Why

Music – “Bob Marley is a huge influence…I love the purpose of the songs he writes…It takes your worries away and makes you feel good.” – Cobbie Caillat

Research – “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”– Zora Neale Hurston

Political Leadership – “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”– John F. Kennedy

Art – “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”– Pablo Picasso

We are more likely to win when we keep our focus on why – the purpose – of what we are doing.

What is the measure of a leader?

measure of a leaderThe only true measure of a leader is in the followers.

John Maxwell once asked, “If you’re all alone as a leader, are you really leading?” He went on to say, “If you think you are leading and no one is following, you are only taking a walk.”

With all due respect to social media (I use it myself), but the measure of a leader is not just in the number of followers; it is in the success of followers.

Why do followers follow leaders? In the short run it could just be the latest fad – everyone else is…or it could be that they are looking for something big. In the long run, if you see a leader with committed followers it’s because they are successfully fulfilling these three needs of every follower:

Strategy – Opportunity – Priority

Strategy. Everyone wants to be a success in their life. Each of us wants personal success along with all that we are involved in to be successful. We want the team to win, and we want to be a winning part of that team. The first measure of a leader is their ability to devise a strategy for that to happen for every member of the team.

According to Tom Rath, author of six NYT and WSJ bestsellers on the role of human behavior in business, health, and well-being, “Followers need to see how things will get better and what that future might look like.”

Opportunity. Each person is gifted with abilities unique to them. The key to individual and team success is to use the abilities of each person. The second measure of a leader is how well they connect their followers to opportunities that use their strengths.

Sochiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motors, talked about a Japanese proverb that says, “Raise the sail with your stronger hand,” and explained that it meant, “You must go after the opportunities that arise in life that you are best equipped to do.”

Priority. There are always more ideas and projects than any team can accomplish in limited time with limited resources – and do them well. Prioritization is a requirement of winning people and teams. The third measure of a leader is do they give their followers permission to not do some things so they can do great things.

Bestselling author and expert on high performance human achievement, Denis Waitley, says this about prioritizing, “Don’t be a time manager, be a priority manager. Cut your major goals into bite-sized pieces. Each small priority or requirement on the way to the ultimate goal becomes a mini goal in itself.”

What’s Next Leadership

next chapterLeadership is always looking forward. It doesn’t matter if you are just coming off a big success, or you think things couldn’t be worse. Leaders don’t chase what’s now, they create what’s next.

Completed a project – What’s next? You and your team have just completed a big project, it was thoroughly successful. Is it time to kick back, look back and revel in your success? The answer is yes, for about ten minutes, then you turn your focus to what’s next.

Get your team and yourself ready for what’s next. The next project, next goal, next team. Go where the people are that need leadership. Don’t relax, don’t take it easy.

“Leadership isn’t about your comfort, it’s about your commitment.” – Denis G. McLaughlin

Made a mistake – What’s next?  You and your team just dropped the ball, made a poor choice, or missed the issue entirely. Is it time to drop your shoulders, look down and remember all that went wrong?   The answer is sure, it’s ok to be frustrated, for a bit, and you should analyze the cause of the situation, but defeat only happens when you stop trying. Take stock in the mistake, learn from it and get onto what’s next.

John Maxwell says there only two positions that leaders are ever in: Up and Getting Up.

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” – Dennis Waitley

Leadership is not about what is…it’s about what’s next. – Denis G. McLaughlin

Leading a company the military way

patton on leadershipI was recently asked if a military model of leadership was adequate to run a company.  When I responded seeking the definition of military leadership, I understood why the question was being asked.

There is a misperception of what military leadership really is: marching and drills, marching and drills…This initial response is usually taken from a movie, or television show that focused on basic training (boot camp) where the very beginning of military leadership is formed. Even children’s stories are filled with these ideas: Colonel Hathi’s March (The Elephant Song) from The Jungle Book says it this way: “The aim of our patrol,  Is a question rather droll,  For to march and drill, Over field and hill,  Is a military goal!” 

But the military wouldn’t be successful if this was the full extent of its leadership. The military has eleven principles of leadership.  I have summarized them below with a reference to how each of these is viewed in non-military professions.  You will see from these principles that the answer that a military model of leadership is not just adequate to run a company it is essential.

ELEVEN PRINCIPLES OF MILITARY LEADERSHIP 

1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement – Learning is a lifelong task that you should continue no matter what you are doing. 

“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise.  View life as a continuous learning experience.” – Denis Waitley

2. Be tactically and technically proficient – In whatever business or profession you are in, aim to be the best.

“I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.” Abraham Lincoln

3. Know your soldiers and look out for their welfare – Take time to get to know them and look out for their health and well being. They will notice you genuinely care about them and probably perform better.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – John Maxwell

4. Keep your soldiers informed – Tell those you follow you what your plans are, accept their insight and suggestions, make them a part of the planning.

“We must open the doors of opportunity.  But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

5. Set the example – In everything you do you must do it well and set a good example.

“What you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished – Make sure you give clear instructions, ask for feedback on what your followers think you said.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

7. Train your soldiers as a team – Create community and teamwork.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

8. Make sound and timely decisions – Look at the options and then make the best choice.

“If a decision-making process is flawed and dysfunctional, decisions will go awry.” – Carly Fiorina

9. Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates – Delegate certain jobs and tasks, training up new leaders.

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important that hiring and developing people.  At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Larry Bossidy

10. Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities – Align strengths with responsibilities.

“The key to any game is to use your strengths” – Paul Westphal

11. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions –Taking responsibility for things is a key trait of a leader

Success on any major scale require you to accept responsibility…In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have is the ability to take on responsibility.”Michael Korda

Future, Present, Past – Three views of a leader

Losers-live-in-the-past_-Winners-learn-from-the-past-and-enjoy-working-in-the-present-toward-the-future_It appears as if the order of the words in the title are backwards – Future, Present, Past. But when it comes to leadership this is the correct order. Let me tell you why I say focus first the future, then the present, then the past.

When you are leading a team the first question they will have is, “If we follow you where will be going?”  Your team views the future possibilities with you as their leader.

The second question they have is “Now that we are following you do I like where we are going?” Your team views the impact of you as their leader in the present.

Their last question is “Now that we have followed you, do I like where I ended up?” Your team views the past and what they learned that helped them become the leader they are today.

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All leaders have one thing in common; their humanity.

LeadersSuccessful leaders invest their time and energy learning all they can about their world so that they, and their teams, achieve their goals.  This is what we all look for in our leaders; isn’t it?  While we do look for knowledgeable and focused people to follow, there is one more trait that sets apart those who are passionately followed – EMOTION!

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato said, “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”  You see, knowing what you want (desire) and learning how to get it (knowledge) isn’t enough for us humans. How we feel about our walk in life (emotions) really matters.

Emotions aren’t something else you do; they are integral to everything you do.

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To be the best, Invest more than the rest. Are you investing in yourself? Are you continuously growing in knowledge and wisdom?

As a leader, you owe it to your team to run the race just as fast, if not faster, than they are.

I attend conferences all over the country to hear from the best.  I recently attended a conference in San Diego where I had the pleasure of hearing great leaders fill me with their wisdom. Leaders like Les Brown, Sharon Lechter, Gene Landrum, Frank Shankwitz, and others, all spoke from their experience.

We were in a packed room sitting close enough that I could see each of these special teachers in their seats before and after their time to speak.  As I was busy taking pages of notes, I could see out of the corner of my eye that each of them was taking just as many notes as I was.  At one point Gene Landrum asked the people at my table if anyone had more paper so he could continue taking notes.

Along with the knowledge I gained from each leader, I learned a life lesson that day:

No matter how much you know; there is always room to grow!

Denis Waitley said, “All of the top achievers are life-long learners…Looking for new skills, insights, and ideas.  If they’re not learning, they’re not growing…not moving toward excellence.”

As a leader, you owe it to your team to run the race just as fast, if not faster, than they are.

What have you done today to invest in yourself?  What will you do tomorrow, the next day…How are you continuously growing in knowledge and wisdom?

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