Expectations on the Leader

A leader has to face more than just the task at hand. Often they also have to face perception. I was reminded of a book I read called The Work of Leaders.  It was written by a team of four authors at Wiley Press. I heard one of the authors, Julie Straw, present a briefing on their research.  One thing item got my attention at the time and I thought of it again. I shared these thoughts once before but time also deepens our perspective.

Employee Expectations

Misguided expectations put pressure on a leader. Businessman supporting stone under pressureStraw mentioned a survey on employees asking about the shortcomings on their leaders.  After distilling it down they came up with three primary issues that people have with their leaders.  They are, in order,

  1. Employees want leaders to be more active about finding new opportunities for the team
  2. They also want them to focus more on improving process and making things easier for people
  3. Finally, they want them to spend more time motivating and encouraging their followers

Interestingly, what struck me about this was the comments themselves.  Certainly number three is a quality that leaders should embrace.  In fact, a leader should spend the vast majority of their time encouraging people, equipping people, and motivating them to become better than they are.  But the other two items, #1 and #2, are not really leadership issues; they are management issues.

Manager or Leader

One of the things this tells us is that many people put management and leadership in the same bundle.  When people say that the leader should be more active about finding new opportunities for the team and focus more on improving process, they are really saying that these are behaviors they would like to see in their managers that obviously they aren’t seeing.

Remember the simple formula:


Therefore seeking new opportunities and improving process, making life easier for employees; those are the job of the manager.  Equipping, empowering, encouraging, motivating, and growing are the roles of the leader.

That said, to be a truly effective manager you must also be an effective leader.  In fact, perhaps what the results of the survey really tell us is what people would like to see. They would like to see managers be more proactive in their management roles but also  better leaders than they are now.

A Leader is Grown Not Born

Above all leaders have a responsibility to grow their followers. It’s an enormous responsibility. However for a leader to grow others, they must first grow themselves.  You cannot give what you don’t have.  I think leaders are recognizing this more and more.  Another survey cited in the book The Work of Leaders is about what people think they need the most in order to be better equipped for the jobs.

What was number one?

Leadership Training

Leaders Sail the Waters Daily

A Leader, like a sailor, must learn to navigate well.When sitting in a boat you are surrounded by the tools you need to sail. However, you may not have any knowledge about sailing. Therefore to use those tools effectively you must spend time developing and applying sailing skills. You develop the skill to gauge the wind, navigate the water, trim the sails, and plot the course.

You then bring all these elements together to move in the desired direction on the water.  Sometimes it pays to be mentored by a more experienced sailor.  There is learning from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. And you must do all of this day in and day out to become the sailor you desire to be.

Leaders Develop Intentionally

If you are not developing your leadership skills on a regular basis you simply will NOT grow to become an excellent leader. At best it will be inconsistent or very slow.  Books and newspapers are full of stories of leaders who are only willing to grow so far. They aren’t willing to make it a deliberate part of their life. As a result, they only realize so little of their potential.

Leadership growth occurs best when it is

  • DAILY –  you must do something every day to develop your skills
  • INTENTIONAL – you must have a plan for the skills you need to develop and how you will develop them
  • SCHEDULED – you must set aside time on your calendar for it; otherwise any excuse will help you avoid it
  • GUIDED – Someone needs to help you see and navigate the process; like a coach or mentor
  • PROGRESSIVE – build on a skill one by one; don’t attempt to master anything in a day

Spend time on developing yourself and your people than do on management or process problems.  When you do, you will be surprised to find how many management problems seem to take care of themselves.

How much intentional is your growth as a leader? What is your biggest challenge making it more intentional? Comment below or send me a note at psimkins(at)BoldlyLead.com.

Are you not sure how to start on the road to intentional leadership? Schedule your free Discovery Strategy Session today.

Double-Dose of Leadership

John C. MaxwellWe had the benefit at the 2014 L2:Learn-Lead simulcast to hear from John C. Maxwell twice.  He opened the proceedings, which I documented in the post Why Leaders are Learners – Part I, and then closed it with another talk.  This was an excellent close for many, who left raving about what they learned from this.  I did too!

Leaders are Learners By What They Ask Themselves

John emphasized that the first place he looks to ask questions is to ask questions of himself.  The questions we ask ourselves direct us — and sometimes re-direct us — to keep us focused on our vision and goals.  They help us determine if we are improving, if we are making an impact, and if we are truly leading.
Asking yourself questions on a regular basis helps keep the main thing the main thing.  It keeps us from majoring in the minors and getting lost in the details.  It helps us maintain a big picture view.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

1.  Am I investing in myself?
When we take time, energy, and money to invest in our own growth, we prepare ourselves to lead more effectively, to be a more productive contributor, and primarily to unlock more of the potential in others.
[snaptweet]It doesn’t get any better for my people until it gets better for me.[/snaptweet]
This requires DAILY, INTENTIONAL growth.  I call it being a 1%er.
[snaptweet]Focus on growing yourself by just 1% a day.[/snaptweet]  That seemingly small 1% compounds quickly and soon you find yourself doing great things before you realize it.
Three Investment Indicators
  1. MY SELF-IMAGE – How do I perceive myself?  Do I truly believe in myself?  Quickly gauge yourself on this on a scale of one to ten.  Where are you?
  2. MY DREAMS – Do I have BIG dreams of what I want to achieve?  Are they scary and yet exciting?  Quickly gauge yourself on this on a scale of one to ten.  Where are you?
  3. MY FRIENDS – The Law of Environment kicks in here.  Are the people around you encouraging and uplifting?  Do they challenge you?  Do they add value to you?  Are you able to encourage, uplift, challenge, and add value to them?  Quickly gauge yourself on this on a scale of one to ten.  Where are you?
We will only invest in ourselves if we can honestly rate ourselves high in these areas.
2.  Am I investing in the right people?
  1. Do they influence others?  Who do they influence?  How many do they influence?
  2. Do they have potential to grow?
  3. What is their attitude and competence level?
  4. Chemistry Factor – Do they fit into the formula?  Do I like them?  Do others like them?
  5. Passion Factor – Do they have a genuine passion for what they do?  Are they motivated?
  6. Character Factor – Do their character traits fit in with the character traits I desire for my team?  Are they grounded?  Trustworthy?
  7. Values Factor – Are their values compatible with the team or organization (or my) values?  Critical to have this for the right culture within your team or organization.
[snaptweet]Culture eats vision for lunch![/snaptweet]
  1. Team Work Factor – Are they able to fit in and perform well as part of the whole?  Or are they a lone wolf?
  2. Support Factor – Are they supportive of other team members and organization objectives?  Can they support and complete me?
  3. Creative Factor – Can I count on them to seek out creative solutions to challenges?  Can they find possibilities out of impossibilities?
  4. Options Factor – Can they give me options?
  5. Ten Percent Factor – Can they give me the last 10%?  All the fruit is in the last 10%.  Can they stay for the harvest?
3. Am I genuinely interested in people?
Leaders see more than others see and see before others see.  Do I really care for others?  If so, I can use my advantage to add value to others.  If not, I will only use it to add value to me.

Where did you find yourself on this?  What questions do you ask yourself regularly?  Do you set aside time to think?

Add your thoughts and comments below.

Labor Day Means No Work?

This week we celebrated Labor Day!  Our family went out in the boat and went to a little island on the Indian River for swimming and a picnic. (NOTE TO SELF:  When you put on the sunscreen, don’t forget your face!).  Overall, a great time!
I did a little research to see about the purpose of Labor Day. According to the Department of Labor, the purpose of Labor Day is a yearly national tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. In other words, it’s a chance for those who work hard throughout the year to sit back a little bit and celebrate the importance of the contribution they have made to making this country what it is today.

Work That Deserves It

There are some though that don’t put forth that effort all the time. They sit back and wait for things to come to them and wonder why they don’t get the success they want. I keep a poster up on my wall in my office to remind me of this. It’s a quote by Maya Angelou that simply says,

Nothing works unless you do
So if you want that success, you have to put forth that effort first.
Here’s some key things to remember to work towards achieving your success that are going to help you throughout the rest of the year.
  • BE IN THE MOMENT. When you are at work, be at work. When you are home, be at home. Focus on giving your best to the moment and you will be more productive and more effective in every situation.
  • REFUSE TO ASSIGN BLAME. Many people want to contribute their lack of success to the economy, the administration, any number of things. But ultimately you have to take responsibility for your own success. If you do that, you can overcome any obstacles in your way.
  • growth by 1% a dayWORK YOUR 1%. We have talked before being a one-percenter; you have grow yourself by 1% a day to be the person you want to be and achieving the success you want to achieve.
  • SETTLE FOR NOTHING LESS THAN YOUR BESTHow you do anything is how you do everything! When you put forth your best effort in every situation, success is naturally going to follow.

What ways do you make sure your work is successful?  Comment below.


New World Order

There’s no doubt about it, we live in a complex world.  And in this global economy it is important to be flexible; to be able to quickly respond to the changing demands of our society and our economy.  Adapt to change or else.  It’s the reality of the new economy – grow or die.
There is nothing in between.

The Learning Organization

learning and leading togetherThe best way we grow is through continual learning Peter Senge, in his book The Fifth Discipline, advanced the principal of the Learning Organization.  Basically, a learning organization is one that engages all the members of the organization in continual learning. They recognize that as everyone learns, the opportunities grow through greater knowledge and capability.   These companies invest in their people to move them and the organization forward.

Benefits of the Learning Organization

The result is a more empowered organization, one that is flexible enough to adapt, developing a mindset of creative solutions; it’s been proven that the more we learn the more creative we become. Employees collaborate more, there is improved employee morale, they are more productive, and you create an ongoing legacy, so that when the inevitable happens and someone moves on to another role, there is someone ready to step up into that role.
[snaptweet]Sustained success and profitability come from intentional continual learning.  There is no substitute or shortcut.[/snaptweet]

How do we get started on becoming the learning organization we desire to be?

Just think DIME:
DAILY – Growth has to occur on a daily basis.  I often talk about being a 1%er and this is what it is all about, growing yourself by just 1% a day.  That doesn’t sound like much, but over time it compounds and at the end of a year you have grown yourself over 365%.  As the saying goes,  by the mile its a trial but by the inch its a cinch.  This does not necessarily have to be formal learning every time.  It could be something as simple as having the team reflect back on the day and talk about lessons learned.
INTENTIONAL – Too many times we chase the next SHINY OBJECT; the seminar announced in a mailing, a book or video someone recommended we get, without really knowing whether it meets our needs or the needs of the organization.  Chasing the shiny object is not a growth plan, its a random series of events.  We have to be more intentional about choosing the growth path that best meets our immediate needs.
MISTAKES – Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Give your employees permission to go out and make mistakes without fear of punishment.  It is from our mistakes where we are going to learn some of our best lessons about how to move forward.
ENGAGED – Get engaged with this learning process.  Encourage your employees to engage with one another so that not only do they learn from their mistakes but also from the mistakes of others.  This can significantly shorten the learning curve and allows us to move forward at a much quicker pace to become the dynamic learning organization that is prepared for the future.

How are you learning?  How often?  How do you determine what you have learned?  Share your comments below.

Recipe Disaster

Caramel FlanOne of the things I like to do to relax is cook.  A couple of years ago I decided to make a special treat for everyone and I wanted to make a Caramel Flan for dessert.  Now I had never made one before and so I had to find a recipe and follow it closely.  One of the ingredients in the recipe was one cap (capfull) of Vanilla Extract.  Well, I misread the recipe and thought it said one cup of Vanilla Extract.  I thought that was extraordinary but the recipe must be right.  So I had to run to store and buy more vanilla and added one cup of Vanilla Extract to the mix.
Well, as you may guess, the result was horrible.  The smell and taste of the vanilla was so overpowering that no one could eat it and we had to throw it out!
I had the right ingredients but I didn’t have them in the right balance.

Seeking Balance

As an entrepreneur, as a small businessman, and as a leader we make those choices for balance on a daily basis.  We recognize the importance of balance but it is very hard to achieve.
We need to keep things in perspective and understand first of all that you are never going to achieve perfect balance in our lives.  There are always going to be things that happen daily that tip the scale one way or the other.  No matter how good our plans are, life will get in the way of our quest to achieve balance.
What’s important to us is progress, not perfection.

Right Ingredients, Right Mix

A key to making progress is having the right ingredients in the right mixture.
  • The right skills in the right quantities
  • The right knowledge and information we need to make good decisions
  • The right spirtual foundation
  • The right team members around us
  • The right environment
Again, understand it will be a continual struggle. We want progress and not perfection.  You will make balance choices each day and the scales will tip first to one side and then the other.  The real balance is in the choices of how we spend our time and where it is most important to spend it now.  Being consistent with those choices will help move us towards balance.


Don’t try to balance your life; work, home, church, community, friends. Instead, try to be consistent. Consistency seeks its own balance.


Here’s a few things that will help you along towards making progress on achieving balance:
  1. Establish priorities in advance – when your priorities are clear, decisions about where to spend your time become easier.
  2. Gather an effective team – Without the support of people around you, you tend to view yourself as indispensable.  When you do that, leaving work becomes harder to do.  A good team gives you confidence.
  3. Seek wise counsel to give you perspective – We all need someone to take our blinders off and see other points of view.
  4. Find an accountability partner – Someone to help hold your responsible for your commitments.  Someone who is preferably not your spouse or business partner.

Have you achieved balance? What things do you do on a daily basis to balance you life?