Leadership Without a Title
It’s easy when you’re the boss. You tell people what to do and they do it. Ok, maybe it’s not always that easy.
Authority does increase the odds that people will do what you want. But it doesn’t necessarily increase the likelihood that those doing the tasks will grow while getting the tasks done. Authority is a great management tool for driving for results. And it does have its place in the leadership toolbox. But authority can be a crutch that interferes with good leadership. Continue reading Influence Without Authority
It’s Not About You
How do you know if you’re a successful leader? Regardless of your title, two things are true if you’re really a leader:
- Someone is following you. No followers, no leader. Following under compulsion (like just to get a paycheck) doesn’t count. People choose to follow true leaders.
- You’re going someplace. If you’re going nowhere, you’re not leading.
Leadership is inherently other-centric. You only succeed when your followers do. My followers should be more successful with me leading than if I wasn’t. My success is multiplied when my followers become leaders whose followers are becoming leaders. As a student in a recent class commented, leadership is a “pyramid scheme”. Continue reading Defining Leadership Success
Giving Success the Attention It Deserves
It’s a well-established fact that accountability greatly increases the likelihood of success. Yet most of us cringe at the idea of being held accountable. Why is it so hard to set aside our egos and welcome something that we know would help us succeed?
Rather than dive deep into the psychology of our resistance, I want to propose just one idea that might lower the barrier to accountability we find in our followers. Continue reading Affirmative Accountability
But Don’t Say It Unless You’ll Live It…
I consider the most important values of an organization to be those that define how we treat each other. Here’s an example of such values that I developed with one of my clients. Perhaps there are some useful points here that you can adopt (or adapt), but be careful: Never claim a value as your own unless you’re willing to live every word of it. Don’t destroy your credibility by saying something’s important that you’re not willing to be held accountable to.
Continue reading Defining How We Treat Each Other
Leading People Who Are Not Like You…
I just finished reading another book on how to manage Millennials. As the most studied generation in history, there’s no shortage of perspectives available on the best ways to engage this generation and help them achieve their full potential. Since I often use the tagline, “helping young leaders become wise before they grow old”, I appreciate gleaning from the wisdom and experience of others on this topic. However…
Continue reading Different Is a Good Thing
Why Faster Isn’t Always Better
Throughout my career, responsibilities always came to me before titles. And I usually gave responsibilities to others before giving the corresponding titles. If this seem unfair, it’s more considerate than giving a title too quickly and having to take it away when it doesn’t work out. So rather than feeling under-appreciated when you’re given assignments that fit the next position up the ladder, consider it a sign of leadership’s confidence in your potential. Continue reading Climbing the Corporate Ladder
The Art of Managing Up
“If I were in charge, I would…”
But you’re not, and wishing won’t make it so. And if you were in charge, would you be equipped to lead your followers who would be saying, “If I were in charge, I would…”?
Managing up isn’t as different from managing down as you may think. Continue reading Leading When You’re Not the Boss
Getting the Results You’re Looking For
I spent the early part of my career as a software developer. The nice thing about software is that it is highly predictable. Barring hardware problems, software does exactly what the developer tells it to do. Even bugs aren’t the software’s fault – it’s just doing exactly what some developer (either of the application, the compiler, or underlying operating system) told it to do. Not necessarily what the developer wanted, but what it was told to do. The developer’s job is to provide thorough and accurate instructions so the software behaves correctly.
If only human interactions were that straight-forward.
Continue reading That’s Not What I Wanted…
Opportunities You Can’t Afford to Miss
This week I talked with a man who was frustrated by a boss who wouldn’t say, “thank you”. This isn’t a “high-needs” guy, but he’s self-aware enough to recognize that, like most of us, he’s energized by gratitude. Having just poured extraordinary effort into a successful endeavor, a little appreciation seemed reasonable.
Continue reading Gratitude: High Yield, Low Risk Investments
When “Just Do It” Isn’t Enough
Leaders tend to be smart people. That’s the problem. With an abundance of our own good ideas and answers, it’s hard to give others a meaningful role in our endeavors.
Our education-rich culture leads us to expect followers to flock to us if we simply reveal our wisdom. Sometimes short-term evidence affirms that idea. People get excited by our vision and imagine themselves in the picture. But eventually their energy wanes as they realize our vision lacks room for their ideas.
Continue reading Compliance vs. Commitment