My Greatest Challenge? Me.

My job would be the greatest in the world if it weren’t for people!

Denis Baker

Here is reality. People are the reason I have a job. Probably the same for most of you.

What is the most challenging aspect of any position?

PEOPLE!

In the last few years my interaction with leaders and employees have been well……CHALLENGING.

I’ve found that regardless if the organization is growing, adding people or whether the organization was downsizing, people have been my biggest challenge.

Don’t get me wrong; some are very good, others well are…. CHALLENGING.

As I reflect on these last few years, I’ve realized the challenges with people is affected by my ability to manage my self-leadership.

I’ve also come to realize that being a leader is…..CHALLENGING. I found that leadership is, indeed, a 24/7 job. Leaders must practice the art of influence every time, all the time. If you sway, you will fall back into the same practices of those you lead.

Here is an example of one of my challenges;

In one of the organizations I’ve worked at (no longer there), we opened an additional manufacturing facility. That meant we needed additional leaders and employees. The CEO tapped into a retired individual without having any discussion with the executive leadership group. He was familiar with the type of business and had significant manufacturing experience, but didn’t have a great ethical reputation. It meant that he would be in charge of securing the location, ensuring the building was ready for manufacturing and recruiting people to build the product. He accomplished everything as needed. However, the way he went about it was not what I expected.

For instance:
……., he went to his former employer and convinced a large group to come over and work for us. He did this without any discussions or insight into our hiring process. That meant we had employees showing up for work without being fully authorized, without going through background checks, physicals, and orientation. I was frustrated! I immediately grew dissatisfied and refused to accommodate or help him in any way. He continued to defy our policies and procedures and was causing much discord between employees. I found myself resisting his ideas and refusing to support him.

After a year, we laid-off everyone and closed the facility.

My frustration was significantly affecting those whom I led. It was noticeable, and my attitude was not very good. The employees closest to me were asking what was wrong with me, why was I letting this guy get to me?

I realized that I was the problem.

I had the knowledge and ability to change this situation immediately. I was the company leadership example.

As the head of Safety and HR, people were looking to me for direction, watching my reactions to this guy’s actions, and I was failing.

As I began to think and meditate on the situation, I realized that I had done a poor job of self-leadership. I had temporarily walked away from what I knew and the very things I had taught and coached others on.

I realized that a leader’s greatest challenge is self-leadership.

I also found that my leadership example must be right-on for others to follow. I must always find a way to add value to every situation to influence others.

I needed to be a strong influencer to have this person do what was right. I realized that if I lead myself the correct way, others will follow. If you don’t lead, or lead poorly, you’ll push people away. Even those whom you consistently influence will become frustrated. They see your frustration and act similarly. Eventually, you will drive them away. These are the very people you need to influence.

When considering self-leadership, I like to follow three areas shared by John Maxwell.

Here they are, with my flair and take.

  1. Emotions – Like anyone else, leaders experience powerful emotions. However, good leaders know when to display emotions and when to delay them. I often hear people question leaders that show powerful emotions. We must demonstrate our emotions in appropriate situations. The wrong emotion at the wrong time can do significant damage. The right emotion at the right time can produce incredible results. Leaders must hold their emotions in check until an appropriate time and place. Remember, the ultimate goal in leadership is adding value. Emotions can add or detract value based on the way they are displayed.
  2. Thoughts – Leaders are thinkers. Thoughts are critical to making sound decisions. If you are too busy to spend time in thought, your decision-making ability is affected. A good leader must allow time for gathering and organizing his/her thoughts.
  3. Energy – Successful people are high energy people. However, high energy levels can create problems, both for you and for those whom you influence. My accomplishments drive me. I tend to focus on achievement, but tend to over-achieve and overwhelm people. In my training as an Executive Director with the John Maxwell group, I realize that I must focus my efforts on what provides the most significant results by adding value to others. To ensure I focus on the right things, I start every day reviewing my calendar and identifying the one or two activities that require the highest amount of energy. I focus my energy on them and sandbag the rest of the day. No, I don’t give them less effort, but I am slow and steady to complete these projects. I cannot afford to expend my energy on situations or people pulling me down as a leader. I must focus on people and projects that results in influence and ultimately, increases my leadership.

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER

Being in leadership is well…….CHALLENGING.

As leaders, we must remember to self-lead our actions. Whether it is a situation, person or group, the way we react and act is a direct result of our leadership frame of mind. Follow the three things mentioned above, and you will begin to self-lead yourself effectively.

Jim Rhone once said,

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor but without folly.”

Jim Rhone

I think if we can take hold of this, we can all be effective leaders who are up to the challenge.

Are You A Leader? Then You Must Be a Learner!

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In my journey to increase my leadership, I’ve come to realize the importance of self-growth and the value of always learning. Let’s face it, if you want to lead, you must learn to lead yourself first.

I’ve found that most successful leaders become successful through their insatiable drive to learn more. They are never satisfied with what they know; they always want to know more. In fact, successful leaders are somewhat obsessive with their desire and drive to learn.

Here are eight (8) ways to create an obsession to learning:

  1. Do it every day – Every discussion, every wrong turn, every meeting, every confrontation, every conversation; learn from it. Don’t waste the day; we only get so many. Never pass up an opportunity to learn!
  2. Never be satisfied with today – Whatever you accomplish, good for you, but remember tomorrow is coming and today will just be yesterday. Never forget yesterday, but rather learn from it and take today straight on!
  3. Serve others by helping to solve problems – Learn by helping others succeed. Leaders help those whom they lead. Invest in your people’s development, give words of wisdom and encouragement. Be a part of their struggles and successes!
  4. Read! – Everything and anything! Need to solve a problem? Need an answer to a question? There’s a book for that! Reading will not only increase your knowledge, but it will also improve your vocabulary and creative process. I used to hate to read. After college, I don’t think I read a book for ten years after graduation. Apparently, I’m not the only one. 42% of all college graduates will never read another book after completion of their formal education! Make reading a habit of learning and get ahead of 42% of the people!
  5. Ask questions – John Maxwell said, “Answers inform, but questions transform.” Ask questions and be willing to challenge the answer with the notion to understand the answer given. Remember, we don’t know it all, never will.
  6. Be an active listener – If you ask a question, be willing to listen to the answer actively. I’ve found I learn more by listening and less by talking. Listen and learn.
  7. Keep an open mind – Be open to new ways of thinking. Realize there is always another and maybe better way to do things. Remember you don’t know what you don’t know because you don’t know it!
  8. Always fail forward – You failed? Get over it! What did you learn? J.M. Barrie said, “We are all failures – at least, all the best of us are.” Always find the positive in failure. In fact, I think failure is the best way to learn.

Leaders who never stop to improve themselves are eager to take on new challenges, embrace change and help others succeed.

Become a leader who yearns to learn!

Education Knowledge School Learning Studying Concept

 

Self-Leadership, My Most Difficult Challenge

businesswoman hands holding sign find your way text messageWhy is leading myself more difficult than leading others? I ask myself this question EVERY SINGLE day!

Why do I say or do things I know are wrong (there is a biblical reference here)? It happens at home, work, with my wife, with my co-workers and those I love and lead.

The answer is simple. There are areas I don’t see until they sprout up. In fact, I believe there are times I don’t see myself from a realistic point. I see myself from my intentions, AND others see me through my actions and words.  I should probably also admit that I see my intentions from the training and talks I give.

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While I speak of myself, I am sure I’m not alone.  But how does one address this issue? Answer, look for the blind spots and deal with them! However, how do we identify the blind spots?  I look personally to three source for my self-leadership:

  1. Scripture
  2. My wife
  3. Co-workers and staff

These sources provide direct and/or indirect insights to the areas I need to change or improve.  With this information, I can apply these five principles.

  1. Control Emotions –  Like anyone else, leaders have  emotions.  In fact, I believe a leader’s emotions can be more powerful due to the passion and desire for success they possess.  However, a good leader knows how to control their emotions and display or delay them based on the situation.
  2. Meditate – Leaders are achievers.  And that means they hit the ground running, which leaves little time to stop and think.  Spend 30-45 minutes every morning mediating on the things that matter and planning your day.
  3. Focus Your Effort Where it Matters– A good leader wants to achieve more.  They are never satisfied with their achievements. For me, I tend to want to fix everything and solve everyone’s problems. However, to be effective we must learn to focus our efforts on what really matters.  I heard John Maxwell say, ” You can’t be 100% all the time.” I find that statement very true.  We must identify the times and events where we need to be 100% .  Everything else gets a good effort,  just not our best.
  4. Serve Others – Zig Ziggler said, You can have everything in life, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”  I am finding this to be very true.  Not from a selfish perspective, but simply from putting others first in every action or decision. Throughout my career, I have seen and reaped the benefits of putting others first by gaining their respect, commitment and dedication.  I simply look at it as, “you reap what you sow.”
  5. Get a Coach and/or Mentor – We all need to keep our minds sharp and our thoughts and ideas flowing freely.  Our minds can freeze or we experience those “blind spots” that throw us for a loop.  As a Coach and Mentor, I see the benefit from asking stimulating questions and the ability to seek wisdom and advice from others. I personally have at least five mentors that I can rely on for helping to address questions or walk me through situations.  I sleep better knowing I have access to these individuals.  I also can call several coaching colleagues for encouragement and guidance when needed.

Take the time to evaluate the effectiveness of your self-leadership to these five principles. Then establish a process where you consistently work to apply these principles and improve where needed.

A leader’s greatest challenge and most difficult task, is self-leadership. If you lead yourself correctly, you will influence others and they will follow.  Failure to manage your self-leadership will create a loss of respect and the inability to influence, causing people to leave and follow others.

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