WHAT WILL YOUR LEADERSHIP LOOK LIKE IN 2020

“Don’t Fool Yourself; LEADERSHIP IS HARD!”

In my effort to cultivate and grow my leadership, I find it challenging to stay the course and achieve what I read, witness, and teach. In fact, I often find myself telling people one thing and doing the exact opposite. Doing that can hurt those you lead, coach, mentor, or teach. If you don’t improve, you will ultimately lose respect, trust, and, eventually, the ability to influence. 

As 2020 approaches, I decided to evaluate my leadership abilities and identify those things I do well and those areas where I need to improve. The last four years have been a personal leadership challenge for me. I’ve had a job change that put me in a role with no direct reports and limited my decision-making authority. I’ve had to learn to lead differently. The term; “influence without authority” has become an actual reality challenge for me.

During my self-evaluation, I identified my top 5 strengths in leading others and having a strong influence on the decision making process.

1. I am a very HIGH ENERGY AND PASSIONATE leader in the areas I believe in.

2. I am willing to embrace CHANGE, even if I don’t entirely agree with it

3. I am PERSISTENT in my approach to achieving my desires, goals, and objectives

4. I am CONFIDENT in my decision making but open to ideas and suggestions

5. I am a strong ENGAGER of people

It is always good to identify your strong points, but it can be challenging to identify areas for improvement. The way I approached this was to reflect on 2019 and the many conversations, suggestions, and feedback I received throughout the year. I am always asking for feedback (although many times I don’t want to hear it or I have an excuse) 

Based on my evaluation and reflection, I will focus on building and improving the following five leadership traits in 2020. 

1. Being Clear in My Communication – I will work to enhance my communication approach through tone and word choices. Working to pull my feelings and frustration back and undoubtedly transfer my thoughts, ideas, and expectations. I will explain the “why” more often and ensure people are well informed. People want to be “in the know.” People want to deliver expectations, but can’t be successful if we don’t clearly and successfully communicate. They also want to know what the rewards are for good work and the consequences for sub-standard work.

2. Build Stronger Relationships – Relationships are critical to leadership. Strong relationships build trust and respect and offer the opportunity to influence. I will work to be present with my customers, leaders, and the workforce. I will reach out for general conversations and make sure I follow-up with the right people. I will work to show how much I care about all facets of the business. It is said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” They are looking for you to care for them and build a working relationship. I will work harder to learn and remember names and recognize that life is going on outside of work.

3. Humble Myself – I am am very confident in my role but must be better at leading with humility. I don’t know everything and always make the right decisions, but I will work diligently to illustrate my knowledge through the quality of my choices. I will recognize all persons, regardless of position, and work to realize that no one is any more important than anyone else. I will demonstrate this through my actions and interactions. I will let each know how important they are by involving them and getting their brains in the game.

4. Be a Stronger Encourager – I will continuously look for and recognize the great work people are doing. I will express my gratitude and exemplify the positive difference they are making. I will encourage them for their actions, the work they perform, and the value they add.

5. Have Courage – I understand creativity and innovation drive progress and performance. I will make bold decisions, push back when needed, but fully support the final decision. I will have difficult conversations when necessary, and I will do the difficult right things.

With a new year and new decade roll into place, I feel like it is the optimal time to increase my influence and achieve more than I ever have. I don’t know where most of you fall within your leadership needs (unless I know you). Still, I believe the results from my self-evaluation will encourage many of you to look within yourself, identify areas of improvement, and make the necessary changes to become a stronger influencer and more effective leader.

3 LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES YOU MUST GET RIGHT

Like some of you, leadership has been a continual growth process for me. It seems that there are some who “get it” from the get-go. However, for me, it’s been a journey. I’ve struggled with resistance from individuals. As a safety professional, the most difficult thing to change in a program is the belief that “we’ve always done it this way,” or “we didn’t budget for that.” In the safety profession, influence is the key to success. The safety profession serves an essential purpose in the work field, but it does not produce a product or generate cash flow.

Consequently, we must be able to influence others to make the right decisions for the right reasons. Success in the safety field is determined through the reduction or elimination of injuries. Ultimately, the worker and their families benefit from our efforts. Over the past several years, three principles have emerged that have helped renew my energy and commitment to influencing those who make the decisions. These principles aren’t new, but I have become more intentional in my implementation. I am deliberate in focusing on each of these principles, and because of such, I have seen significant results.

“Principle-centered people are constantly educated by their experiences.”  – Steven Covey

I want to share these 3 principles with you. I believe that EACH leader should acquaint themselves with these truths to obtain powerful influence.

RIGHT PEOPLE
The first question to ask is “Am I influencing the right people?” Different people need to be influenced by various reasons and circumstances. For instance, does a production employee need to be influenced to purchase a new piece of equipment? No. The focus needs to be on finance and production leadership. However, the production employee does need to be influenced by the need to make appropriate behavior choices. If we are not influencing the right people for our current demand, then our time and effort become lost. The second question is “Do you have the right people on your team?” For leaders, the motto has been that people are your greatest asset, but that saying needs some fine-tuning. It’s not just people; it’s the right people. When you’re bringing someone aboard your leadership team, put forth ample time into the resume/interview process. Develop engaging interview questions and include other team members to ensure the person can become an effective team collaborator and has the right skillset to “fill in the holes.” A leader is only as good as his/her inner circle. These are the people that make the vision a reality. Sometimes organizations put excessive emphasis on the senior leader, when in fact it’s more than just one man.

Moreover, it’s not just whom we bring on, but also whom we hang onto. It’s hard to let an employee go or to tell a team leader that their season has come to an end. Ultimately, do what is best for the team and the overall organization.

Consider whom you are currently trying to influence, are they the right person for your needs? Do you have the right people on board and in the right positions? Focus on influencing the right people and ensure your inner circle consists of qualified, committed individuals and success will be achieved.

WELL-DEFINED MISSION
Second, it is vital to have a well-defined mission. A clear mission keeps us on track to complete critical tasks. You and your team must define a mission that supports your vision. Evaluate all the things you’re doing and make the difficult decision to cut out (even good things) that don’t fit within that defined mission. This pruning process will help you avoid “mission drift” and make your leadership more effective.

UNWAVERING FAITHFULNESS
So finally, when you have the right people and a well-defined mission, go after it with all your heart. Those who are passionate about what they want will be successful. Passion drives us through difficult times. In our ready-made culture, we want immediate results. The reality is that any constant endeavor, a marriage, business, or ministry takes time to build. I remind people that they’re embarking on an adventure that requires an investment of faithfulness. Be committed to putting the time and effort in; day by day, person-by-person, project by project.

undefinedDenis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

Managing Work/Life Balance

 

o-WORKLIFE-BALANCEI recently began a new job. Yes, I said a new job. The last two years have been very challenging, but that is a topic for a future blog. Man, I wish I could keep a job like I keep my wife (we’ve been married for 32 years).

With a new job comes the need to re-balance the commitment to work with the commitment to life. That takes a lot of effort. Let’s face it, a new job not only takes a lot of effort to build relationships, learn the job and become familiar with the organization, but it creates a desire to make a great first impression.

However, our personal life is the most important. Whether you are married, dating or simply just like your alone time, work-life balance is essential to your physical and mental health.

As leaders, we want to set the pace and set the expectation. If you are a true leader, the best way to do that is to exceed your own expectations. I find many leaders do this by coming to the office early and staying late. In fact, if I come to the office and someone is already there, I find myself questioning my commitment and leadership. Even though I know better, I will fall into this thought process sometimes.

I think the challenge of work-life balance is one of perspective and mindset. I heard someone say,

In order to change the way we work, we must change the way we think.”

I agree, to achieve balance we must think like the leader we are and not the doer we want to be.

I’ve heard it said that being “busy” is the badge of honor among leaders.”
I used to model that saying. However, I realize I was merely wasting time. There is a time within the end of a day (for me about 9-10 hrs) where my concentration and focus lacks. I only exist at the office to create a perception. Longer days don’t generate accomplishments.

As a leader, here is what is needed to create a fair work-life balance:

  1. Make a list of things you need to do. And make a list of things you want to do. Create a combined list based on both “need” and “want.” This will generate a desire to accomplish both while creating a more enjoyable work environment.
  2. Identify your priorities each day. Priorities change, so it is essential to take time in the morning, and afternoon to re-evaluate and make adjustments.
  3. Schedule time in the early morning to give you an opportunity to achieve items on your priority list before people start interrupting.
  4. Look for ways or opportunities to overlap projects.
  5. Limit emails, answering calls or checking voice mail.  Set aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon to answer emails and voicemails. In fact, I have a code for my staff and family. If there is an emergency or critical situations, they are instructed to use the code, and I will immediately answer.
  6. Assign appropriate roles and responsibilities to your staff. This will reduce your workload and free up time to accomplish your priorities.
  7. Trust your team. Some of you will say this is easier said than done. If that is the case, I suggest you reevaluate your team members. Give them a challenge and the freedom to perform and succeed. I use the approach of “Ready, Fire, Aim.” Meaning I let them do what they do, and we course correct as needed.
  8. Learn to say NO! It’s ok to say no. People will respect you more when you do. When we figure this out, we free up time to accomplish other things and spend more time with family or taking care of ourselves.

Creating a healthy work-life balance doesn’t just happen. It takes commitment and persistence every day. However, seasons do come and go. There will be situations where the balance is off, however, be persistent in trying to maintain and create the balance because a good work-life balance will create a better you and stronger relationships.

balance

 

AUTHENTIC INTEGRITY

I was talking with a group of people the other day when one of them began talking about how much integrity they had and how they strive to do the right thing always. That statement caught me by surprise, because I know this person and have had many discussions concerning their lack of integrity.  It made me realize two things.

  1. If you have to have tell someone you have integrity, you probably don’t.
  2. Authentic integrity is built within a person’s character through their actions.

Authentic integrity is the foundation of a person’s credibility.  Credibility creates confidence and that confidence allows influence.

“Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do” – Don Gater.

Someone once said,

“You are already of consequence in the world if you are known as a man of strict integrity”.

That’s how essential integrity is in your personal life. In fact, if you have nothing else, authentic integrity will catapult you past everyone else.

Dwight Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible.

I agree with Eisenhower. I cannot emphasize enough about the importance of having authentic integrity if you want true leadership in your life.

Integrity gives you so much as a leader; credibility, trust, confidence, influence and much more.

Be a person of integrity and be a person who people want to follow.

Integrity Seal

BECOME A LEADER WHO INFLUENCES THE INFLUENCERS

To be an effective leader we must influence.  We’ve all seen John Maxwell’s quote, “Leadership is Influence, Nothing More, Nothing Less.”  People who can influence can lead.  But how does one become a leader of leaders?  The obvious answer is to influence the influencers.

Balancing a team leader with a great team. A team of three executives stands on a balance where the counterweight is a great team leader.

How do you influence the influencers?  It begins by identifying your strengths and weaknesses and making adjustments as necessary. In addition to your basic influence, you increase your influence on the influencers by;

  1. Being fully in the game – Follow and align with the organizations vision and goals, regardless of what you think.  Influencing the influencers; means being a team player. Remember; Power comes to those who live under authority.
  2. Use your strengths to help others succeed – Les Brown said, “help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.”  Influencing the influencers; means remembering there are others that need your help.
  3. Ask for feedback – How can you exceed expectations if you don’t know if you are meeting expectations. Influencing the influencers; means knowing how to exceed expectations.
  4. Just Do it – My favorite saying, “Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, show me what you’ve done!”  Influencing the influencers; requires achieving more than others and doing it better.
  5. Ready, Fire, Aim – Do what you need to do to, to accomplish what you need to accomplish.  Remember the saying ,“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.” Influencing the influencers; means being first, because first always wins!
  6. ALWAYS see the bigger picture through the weeds – Sanford I. Weill said, “The details create the big picture.”  Influencing the influencers; means seeing the big picture in all circumstances.
  7. Give second chances – We all make mistakes, some more than others (talking about myself).  Influencing the influencers; requires recognizing we all make mistakes and helping others become successful.
  8. Hold yourself and others to high standards – My staff knows this principle well.  If we can’t exceed expectations, how can we expect others to do the same. Only those who think great, become great!  Influencing the influencers; means doing it better all the time, every time.
  9. Ask good questions – Become good at asking questions.  “Answers inform, questions transform”, John Maxwell.  Influencing the influencers; means having the answers before everyone else does.
  10. Be persistent – Don’t give up, EVER!  Don’t stop until you accomplish what you set out to achieve and then achieve more!  Influencing the influencers; requires persistence in the things that matter.
  11. Be consistent – Avoid impulsive decisions and think before you speak.  Influencing the influencers; requires consistency in our actions and behaviors.
  12. Call out the elephant in the room – The Old English used a term, “There it is”.  It was used when calling out the obvious or ridiculous in something or someone.  Not addressing an obvious issue is passing up a chance to influence and more than  likely being viewed as intimidated.  Influencing the influencers; requires guts and courage.
  13. Assemble an inner circle that believes in the vision – John Maxwell said, “A leaders potential is determined by those closest to him/her.”  Influencing the influencers; requires exceptional influence from you and your entire team.
  14. Be direct, but respectful –  It’s important to speak your mind when the timing is right.  However, be respectful in all conversations.  Influencing the influencers; requires people with the audacity to get to the point and do it respectfully.   
  15. Admit your mistakes and fix them – No need for excuses, just admit the wrong doing and make it right.  Influencing the influencers; requires humility, not arrogance.
  16. Seek wisdom from the wise and obtain knowledge from those who have walked before you –  Some know the way because of the wisdom they posses.  Some know the way, because of the experiences they’ve experienced.  Influencing the influencers; requires seeking counsel and advice when needed.Leader speaking / 3D render image representing an leader speaking in front of a crowd

Those who influence the influencers, are those who influence those who have influence. In other words, to lead leaders, you must influence those who lead others.  Do what you do well and lead those you lead with conviction and passion and you will find yourself leading leaders.