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What actions that people do can you really evaluate their character?  I ran across a post at the Practice of Leadership Blog that linked to a post from the Happiness Project.  Here is a list of things that they said would define character:

  • “How a person treats a waiter.”
  • “Whether a person plays by the rules when no one is watching.”
  • “How people behave when they’re pulled over while driving.”
  • “How a person treats his or her own parents. And in-laws.”
  • “How he or she handles good fortune.”

How many of us would go through this list and think that some of these don’t matter? 

At one point or another I have had discussions with others about these.  The waiter one I think is so true.  You can treat a waiter how ever you want and they have to take it and you will probably never see them again.  Playing by the rules when no one is looking is one I have worked on when playing cards.  I used to be a habitual cheater when playing cards then realized how silly it was and how wrongly it reflected on who I am.  The other one that really stuck out was the parents one.  I have always been told and under the impression that you pick a spouse by how they treat their parents.  Most times that is a pretty good rule of thumb.

Is there any that you would add to this list?  There probably is, but this is a great start.

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From an article by Diane Coutu I found through a blog entry at the Practice of Leadership.

  • Competence lays the foundation for trust. It’s the thing that first attracts followers, even if the leader’s character is not particularly noble. Soldiers prefer winning tyrants to likeable losers. In business, employees look to their leaders to take the decisions that make sure they’ll keep their jobs and get paid.
  • Integrity is the next step in the hierarchy of trust. A leader must be honest in his dealings with others or he will quickly squander the trust that he earned through being competent. It’s important for leaders to remember that followers are more likely to forgive lapses in competence than lapses in integrity. "You’re incompetent," for example, carries none of the sting that "you betrayed me" does.
  • Respect is the glue that keeps the trusting relationship going. Civility and appreciation for the dignity of others is both the cause, and the result, of trust. The arrogance of the car bosses in calling for their executive jets showed a profound disrespect both for their employees and for the American taxpayer. This kind of disrespect boomerangs, eventually, given the emphasis most people place on fairness.
  • Consistency is the real engine of trust. Even if a leader shows competence, integrity, and respect, but fails to behave consistently, she won’t capture people’s hearts and minds. No one wants to follow a leader who is trustworthy one moment and unpredictable the next. Without reliability, there can only be pseudo trust between people – especially in relations where the power is asymmetrical.

All of these four add on each other.  First of all if you don’t show competence no one is going to respect you.  If you do not know what you are doing you cannot lead someone in that.  Next you need integrity.  For people to trust you, you need to do what you say you are going to do.  By having integrity and being competent you will gain respect for doing the right thing.  When people respect you they will go to the next level to do things with you and for you.  Do all of these on a regular basis and you will have consistency.  People love it when people are consistent and love it when people don’t change with the blowing of the wind.

Jon Gordon had this to say about great leaders:

  • Good leaders get people to believe in them.
  • Great leaders inspire people to believe in themselves.
  • Good leaders say “Watch what I can do.”
  • Great leaders say “Let me show you what you can do.”
  • Good leaders catch fish for others so they can eat today.
  • Great leaders teach people how to fish so they can eat for a lifetime.

After reading this does this inspire you to lead differently?  Does it make you want to look ahead to what the future could bring or does it make you want to work on the short term?

I don’t know about you but I am not satisfied with being good.  Good is having an above .500 record in college basketball.  Better is making the NCAA tournament.  Great is making it to the final four. 

What do you want to be remembered for and what do you want those you lead to be remembered by?  Are you more interested in making yourself great or in leaving a legacy of greatness in people you have affected?  One is addition and the other is multiplication. 

It’s your choice.  Do you want glory for yourself now.  Or do you want people to talk about how you changed a whole culture by humbling yourself and teaching others.

Dan Erwin on the Slacker Manager blog wrote about How to Give Effective Feedback.

Here are three simple rules for giving effective feedback that Dan Gave:

  1. Don’t blame.  Dwelling on the past is a waste of time – and harmful.  There’s an important principle that you might have learned in elementary psych:  Reinforced responses recur.  So if you keep talking about a failure, that failure may very well recur because you’re rewarding it by talking about it.  Weird, eh!  But that’s how the brain works. The other principle is that performance ignored tends to disappear.  Pay little to no attention to past failures.  Enough said? 
  2. What’s going well?  Get your employee’s insight into what’s going well on his projects.  Don’t misunderstand me here.  I’m not suggesting that you do this to make a person feel good before you shoot them.  Find out what they’re doing and what made it successful.  Then the same lessons can apply in the future.  Guess what!  It’ll take time to learn to look for what’s going well.  We’re just not programmed that way.  But don’t even go down the next road before you’ve worked over what’s going well and why.
  3. What needs to go better? Don’t be in a hurry to answer that question for your team member.  But use my exact words otherwise one of you will be liable to veer of into the usual s–t.  Dig the answer out of her if possible.   When this question is answered thoughtfully, often all you have to do is a bit of joint problem solving.  On occasion, however, you’ll want to give some concrete, specific suggestions–in brief format. 

Feedback is such a tricky thing.  How do you structure it with your employees?  Do you go through these questions with your people often?

For effective feedback to happen, you as a manager or leader need to make it a priority.  You need to make it a habit to get feedback from people early and often. 

Personal Growth Map had a great post on The Loaded Carriage Analogy.

There were some great points made in this post in how we feel like we need to learn everything before we start on something. 

There are many people I know who love to go through life playing it safe.  Then a big opportunity comes along and they get:

Paralysis by Analysis: Which in my terms is a condition where people analyze things so much that they get in a condition where they are afraid to move forward.  They feel like they need more info or they need more time before moving on.

Why are we so afraid of moving forward?  I know we need to make good decisions and then move forward but sometimes people think they need to be experts before doing something.  Why don’t you do something and in the process of doing that become an expert. 

Not many people become experts and then do something.  They become experts by doing something.

Stop waiting and do something.  Who cares if you fail.  If you do fail or succeed do it with flying colors.

Here is an excerpt I found that John Maxwell wrote about failure

Failing Forward
by Dr. John C. Maxwell

Vincent Van Gogh failed as an art dealer, flunked his entrance exam to theology school, and was fired by the church after an ill-fated attempt at missionary work. In fact, during his life, he seldom experienced anything other than failure as an artist. Although a single painting by Van Gogh would fetch in excess of $100 million today, in his lifetime Van Gogh sold only one painting, four months prior to his death.

Before developing his theory of relativity, Albert Einstein encountered academic failure. One headmaster expelled Einstein from school and another teacher predicted that he would never amount to anything. Einstein even failed his entrance exam into college.

Prior to dazzling the world with his athletic skill, Michael Jordan was cut from his sophomore basketball team. Even though he captured six championships, during his professional career, Jordan missed over 12,000 shots, lost nearly 400 games, and failed to make more than 25 would-be game-winning baskets.

Failure didn’t stop Vincent Van Gogh from painting, Albert Einstein from theorizing, or Michael Jordan from playing basketball, but it has paralyzed countless leaders and prevented them from reaching their potential.

 

No one remembers any of these people for their failures.  Their legacies were defined by their successes because of their failures. 

Why are we so afraid that people are going to remember our failures? 

I didn’t know most of these facts until I read them in the article Maxwell wrote.  We as a culture have shied away from failure and even when we teach kids in school we don’t teach them about all the failures some of these people had.  We love to glorify everything and make it sound better.  But success does not come as easy as everyone makes it sound in the books.  Success comes from learning from failures.

    Don’t let failure stop you from moving on.  Look back and learn from it, that is what failing forward is all about.

I was reading this post by Slacker Manager and this was the list of commandments he lived by as a manager.  I thought there were some great ones he had there.

These are some great commands that will cause you to become a better manager.  But how could you do all of these exceptionally?  I will explain in bold behind each one what that means in my life.  His Phil’s list is in regular font and I expounded in bold.

1) Never stop learning to be a better manager and better person.  Never stop reading and looking at ways to challenge yourself.  Get honest feedback from others around you on how you can improve.

2) If it can be delegated, it should be delegated, even if it takes more time.  Look at the long term effects of what you are doing.  If you are printing things off and cutting them out that is a waste of your time as a manager.  If someone can do a task 80% as effective as you then you should delegate it.

3) Take the shot and encourage your team to do the same.   Don’t penalize people for failing, REWARD them.  You don’t become remarkable by playing it safe.

4) Ask, don’t tell, when you need something to be done.  How do you feel when your spouse tells you to do something?  Do you do it grudgefully?  If your spouse says please and gives you a smile does it help?  I know it does me.  Treat others how you want to be treated.

5) Be grateful for the little things…and the big things!  Quit focusing on the few things that go wrong and celebrate all of the little things that go right.  Celebrate someone making a customer smile. 

6) Only hold necessary meetings.  Schedule meetings regularly but if you feel that they are not needed cancel them and tell your staff there was no need because they were doing such a great job.  Get them all ice cream instead.

7) No surprises for me, for my manager, or for my team.  Be upfront all the time.  Don’t do one thing and say another. 

8) Focus on strengths, not weaknesses.  Huge!!  Don’t make your number one salesperson have to do data entry.  Hire someone who is good at data entry.  Shift people to their strengths and away from their weaknesses.

9) Admit when you make a mistake (and know that you WILL make mistakes).  Say you are sorry.  I know some people who always make excuses for everything.  Stop making excuses and just say you screwed up and you are sorry. 

10) The team is more important than me.  It’s not about you.  The whole is better than anyone one part.

There are many people out there who claim they want to be leaders.  Although that may be true, what they really want to become is the hero.  They want everything to revolve around them.  They want to be recognized for everything and want most of the glory.

How do you recognize an Imitation Leader?

  1. They say “I” a lot: Imitation leaders talk a lot about what they can do and what they have done.  They don’t use “we” or “you” very much, if at all.  They fail to praise others and reserve the praise and glory for themselves.
  2. They don’t like people: Well, not all people.  But most of the imitation leaders don’t really like people.  They have to force themselves to talk to people are to care for people.  True leaders love people because they want to bring the best out of them.  That is why they are a leader in the first place.
  3. They fail to delegate: Imitation leaders try to do everything.  That is because they don’t trust that anyone can do as good a job as them.  In  turn no one really wants to give their best for them.
  4. They fail to train: Real leaders look into the future and see where they need to go.  They realize the long term rewards of training and teaching people right the first time outweigh any short term gains they would miss out on. 
  5. They care about what they have instead of who they are:  Imitation leaders always want more materially.  Real leaders always want more out of themselves character wise.
  6. They always try to add their touch: Instead of letting one of their team members go through with one of their ideas they try to add to it.  Imitation leaders think they always know best and what they think is better even if they aren’t familiar with the situation.

After looking at these are you an imitation leader?  I know in some ways I can be but it takes a humbling on a daily basis to realize the big picture.  Don’t forget this world does not revolve around you.

Just read a great post on Frustration with People Talking about Balance on The Personal Growth Map blog.

I am so tired of people telling me I need more balance in my life.  You need to do more of this and less of that.  I don’t live my life that way.  Everything in my life is intertwined.  I cannot separate one from the other.  While I am at work I do most of my work but it is not like I just shut off my brain from work when I am done.  I don’t just think about God on Sunday’s at church.  It is through my whole week, not just on Sunday’s.

Do you feel like your unbalanced?

Balance is a word that is over used this day and age.  Balance is great in a diet but not so great in other areas.  If you are balanced at work that means you are using your weaknesses the same amount as your strengths.  We all know that people are more effective when they focus more on their strengths.

How to Unbalance Your Life:

  1. Tell people to stop using the word “balance” around you.
  2. Figure out what you love to do.
  3. Figure out what drains you.
  4. Do more of what you love to do.
  5. Delegate More of what you hate to do.
  6. Stop Segmenting your life into home and work.
  7. Be consistent everywhere you are.
  8. Give your best in everything and that should balance everything out.

Stop focusing only on the numbers!   Stop focusing so much on numbers that you forget about what got you here in the first place.  As a leader you need to work hard on putting the vision out there for everyone to strive for.  In the process of this you need to use numbers in some ways but don’t make them the fuel that drives the car. 

Why do we focus on numbers so much?  Because that is the easiest thing to measure and we as humans would rather take the easy answer than work at finding the best.

If you focus on doing your best work the numbers will come.  You need to encourage people along the way with numbers but don’t make them the focus.  Make the right behaviors and actions the focus.  Try to find different metrics such as notes or comments that people have given you or your company.  Getting encouragement that way means a lot more than any number ever will.  In the same sense your employees need to know how you as a company are doing.  They need to know the score so they know what to strive for.  Just don’t make the score all about numbers.

Don’t get me wrong budgets, ROI, and Sales are all important.  But if you forget about the customer and the relational part of the business everything else will suffer.

Here is a related article I read by Steve Farber that is great