A Leadership Experience

This past week, I had the privilege of watching a group of leadership program candidates graduate from their experience.  As a Board Member for a local trade association, I was there as this program is a Board sponsored program. 

There were some important lessons that I took away from this dinner, aside from the fact the dinner, was AWESOME!  All of these lessons are more “duh” moments when you sit back and think about it, however, they definitely served as reminders that you have to take the time to get  back to the basics from time to time as leader.

1. Leadership is a journey, not a destination
2. Each person has their individual spin they put on leadership
3. Have a dream; develop a plan; execute on your strategy
4. No two leaders execute in the same manner, nor are their experiences the same
5. Just because leadership styles are different, doesn’t mean one is more right than another
6. If you are learning in a homogeneous environment, you lose diversity in thought and experiences
7. Successful leaders are always networking and exchanging ideas
8. Leaders must be open to differing perspectives and allow results to happen as a consequence of execution
9. Leadership is not about the leader
10. Leaders must take the time to “smell the roses” and celebrate the success of their teams and organizations
11. Leaders need to be facilitators for growth and development, not managers of activities
12. Leaders don’t need to be the smartest person in the room, but they need to have vision and effective communication skills

These 2013 graduates of The Austin Contact Center Association Service Leadership Academy did a great job in their journey.  Several of the graduates are already on their way to successful adventures inside their organizations, but also outside of their organization.  I don’t think that they realize how much they taught this member of the audience.  I hope they do now.

Have a great week!

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Directional Leadership

In 1984, singer Joe Jackson had a hit song with a line in it that said, “You can’t get what you want, until you know what you want”.  As a leader, the most important questions that can be answered is where are we going, and why are we going there?

Typically, business are started to solve a problem.  Whether the business owner is attempting to create a new product or to improve on an existing concept, they are fundamentally wanting to solve a problem.  The leaders reporting to the business owner must believe in the vision and direction that the owner has.  Leaders must engage the front line employees in the direction of the organization in order for the business to be successful.  As a result successful operations have top to bottom synergy.

In customer facing roles, the worst response that can be provided to a customer is “They say I need to follow this procedure, even though it doesn’t make sense”  If successful operations must have top to bottom synergy in direction, why would customers receive this response from front line employees.  Has the direction of the organization changed, and the top level management just hasn’t caught up or vice-versa?  This is a problem.

How do you know what you want?  What direction do you as a leader want to create?  It is essential to continually be taking temperature checks of the organization both formally and informally to ensure if conditions have changed in the market, that leaders are creating the direction and are being response to the intel provided to them at all levels.  Leaders that dismiss feedback, are doing themselves and their organization a big disservice. 

Once you have created organizational synergy and are providing directional, responsive leadership, you are then able to ensure the organization is being effective and efficient in the execution of the vision and mission of the the organization.  You can get what you want, if you know what you want.  As a leader, you need to invest not only the monetary and intellectual resources to creating organizational direction, but you must invest your human resources for long term organizational success. 

A baseball team would love to have a lineup of all .400 hitters, but what is the cost of doing so, pitching effectiveness, defensive ability.  What’s the benefit of scoring 15 runs a game, if you are giving away 16.  Balance and team work are imperative for baseball organizations.

This same balance and team work are imperative in other environments as well.  The difference is the directional leadership that is being provided and if the organization buys into the leaders direction.  You really can get what you want, if you know what you want!

Have a great week!

Late night ramblings

What is it about Leadership that Leaders are always looking for the Holy Grail?

As a Leader myself, I too am a consumate learner about how to improve and adapt my style.  I read, I watch, I observe. 

I had an “A-ha” moment today.  Effective leadership isn’t necessarily about making the decision, it is about being able to effectively relate to those who support you.  Think about it for a moment.

  • Politicians are deemed strong leaders when they are able to effectively relate to their constituents.
  • Businessmen and women are deemed strong leaders when they can effectively relate to members of their team, their department, their division.
  • Sports figures are deemed strong leaders when they can rally individuals towards a common goal.  These figures can be coaches or players.
  • Religious leaders are effective when they can create a belief among their congregations in something larger than individuals.

There is not a Holy Grail to being an effective leader, but rather effective leaders instill confidence, empowerment, and a sense of being among others.  I have had the opportunity to work with many people in many environments that were not in leadership positions.  These individuals never complained about their own role, but rather understood how their role was important to the success of the organization.  Effective leaders are able to translate organizational goals to individual effectiveness.  As a result, each individual feels empowered to make decisions that positively benefit the end goals of the organization.

I have the belief that leaders can be both effective and ineffective based upon situations.  I had the privelege of working in debt collections for an individual who shared that the best collectors are those that have fewer bad days than their peers.  The same holds true for leaders.  Leaders are most effective when they remember where they came from, not where they may be today.

I am a fan of leadership books that tell a story.  They keep me grounded and remind me about times where I have felt similarly to the characters. 

My advice.  Never forget where you come from.  Stay true to who you are.  Overcommunicate to create a common vision.

Thoughts?  Please leave a comment.  It’s All Good!!