Leaders Learn to be agile

Businessman in education and learning. leaders learn

There’s no doubt about it, we live in a complex world.  And in this global economy it is important to be agile; 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.

Leaders Learn to Promote The Learning Organization

The 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.

 

Leaders Know This Personally

The most influential leaders learn this lesson through their own experience. Warren Bennis said, “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from followers.” 

Leaders know this because they live it. In their desire to truly serve the people they lead, leaders discover that they must constantly expand their capacity. That doesn’t mean expanding it in terms of time or even effort. Great leaders expand their capacity to think, which can only happen through learning and growth. As we mentioned above, staying agile is critical. Agility is only possible through growth. Grow or die.

Benefits of the Learning Organization

Never stop learning written on a memo stick. Lifelong learning concept.

The result is a more empowered organization, one that is flexible enough to adapt, They develop 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. Productivity rises. 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. Real sustained success as a leader and an organization comes from intentional continual learning. There is no substitute or shortcut.

[tweetthis]Sustained success comes from intentional continual learning. #leaderslearn[/tweetthis]

How to get started on becoming A learning organization

Just think DIME

The basic tenets that get a leader or organization on the road to becoming a vibrant learning organization are contained in the acronym 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. Focus on 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. Being a high “I” personality on the DiSC profile, this is one of my biggest struggles. I am very attracted to THE NEXT BIG THING. The seminar postcard that came in the mail. The book someone recommended we get. The video on LinkedIn or Facebook. And we pursue these without really knowing whether it meets our needs or the needs of the organization. Chasing the shiny object is not a growth plan, it’s a random series of events.  We must be more intentional about choosing the growth path that best meets our immediate and future needs.
MISTAKES
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Leaders learn their best lessons from making mistakes. Success doesn’t occur with big time screw ups. Give yourself permission to take risks and make mistakes.
Give your employees that same 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.
One of the best stories I have heard on this is about an engineer who discovers a design flaw he made. He calculated it was going to cost the company over $150,000 to fix it. He knew he had to tell the CEO. He fully expects to be fired for this grievous mistake. Late in the day, he reluctantly makes his way into the CEO’s office and slowly unfolds the tale of this costly disaster. When he finishes he says, “Well, I’m sorry. I’ll go clear out my desk.” The CEO says, “No you won’t! I just paid $150,000 for you to learn a lesson! I’m not letting you go now! But you better learn it!
ENGAGED
Leaders learn by engaging in 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 do your leaders learning?  How do you learn?  Share your comments below.

Walking the path of a learning leader and learning organization is challenging. Never do it alone! Let me walk along with you and help you succeed. Schedule your free Discovery Strategy Sessiontoday!
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Compelling Reasons a Leadership Coach Can Help

A leadership coach can help you get from here to thereEveryone needs a sounding board. In all my years in business, I have as yet to meet a single person who was so supremely confident in every decision they made that they needed no feedback. That’s where a leadership coach can help.

A Valid Sounding Board

The problem with most of the sounding boards that leaders tend to gravitate towards is that they have skin in the game. They have some sort of vested interest in the outcome. Talk to a colleague, chat with an assistant, share with your spouse. They are involved somehow. They can’t disconnect themselves completely from the situation enough to give feedback that isn’t somehow skewed. It’s not necessarily intentional, it’s our nature when our own emotions or well-being is involved.

By contrast, the Leadership Coach can provide that perspective. They can listen objectively. Ask questions. Challenge assumptions. Best of all, they help you discover the answers hidden from you.

“Does coaching work? Yes. Good coaches provide a truly important service. They tell you the truth when no one else will.”Jack Welch

A Leadership Coach is Not a Consultant

In fact, an important distinction is that a leadership coach is NOT a consultant per se. A consultant gives you answers. They are typically expert in your industry. And they are good for that. If it is a question of process, a consultant is a good option.

It’s Rarely a Matter of Process

The thing is that the issue is rarely one of process. It is usually one of leadership and people. No one can give you the answers to that because the correct approach is one that is inherently you. A leadership coach can help you find that answer that is only inside of you. And it will be the best solution because it is yours and not someone else’s.

A Leadership Coach is an Expert

So an excellent leadership coach does not need to be an expert in your field. That’s not where you want the answers. They do need to be an expert on leadership. And communication. and relationships.

More Reasons for a Leadership Coach

The right coach provides benefits that are almost unfathomable for the leader. Here’s some of the other benefits provided by a leadership coach.

Experience is NOT the best teacher

You have most likely heard that phrase from someone at least once in your life. Maybe you have even used it. But it’s a lie. We all have experiences every moment of every single day of our life. If experience was really the best teacher shouldn’t we be pretty close to perfect by now?

Therefore it’s not the experience, it’s the lesson. If we spend time REFLECTING on our experience there is a lesson to be derived. We can take the pain of the experience and turn it into something that adds value to us. A leadership coach plays a vital role in helping you find those lesson gems inside of each experience. That’s hard to do on your own.

Your WHY can get lost in the woods

There is the old saying that when you are up to your ears in alligators it’s hard to remember that your objective was to drain the swamp (there is absolutely no political commentary there). When we are dealing with the crisis of the moment we can get lost. We forget WHY we are doing what we do to begin with. Your coach will help you keep your eye on the prize, bringing you back to center when you need it.

Focus or flurry

Action alone isn’t necessarily useful. As John Maxwell says, many people major in the minors. We spend a lot of time being active and busy. Is the right actions? The right kind of busy? We can busy ourselves with a flurry of actions that get us no closer to our goals. A leadership coach will help you focus your efforts so that they are more productive and more in line with your personal or organizational goals.

Overcome Resistance

a leadership coach helps you break through resistanceAll of us are naturally resistant to doing anything that puts us out on the line. So if you find yourself having those feelings know that you are in good company. Left on our own, we will often give in to that resistance. Even the high achievers you see give in to resistance a lot more than they would likely want to admit.

Yet study after study has shown that we are less likely to give in to resistance when someone else is holding us accountable. A coach who knows the actions we have determined and the deadlines to meet keeps us in check. Can’t just anyone do that? Only if they are there specifically for that purpose. A leadership coach will know how to help you move past the resistance and go forward.

Clarity

Sometimes our actions are like driving through the fog. We are getting work done but not really sure where it’s taking us. We see a little ahead but can’t really see the road fully. This is where a coach who is not an expert in your field can really be a benefit. A coach who doesn’t make assumptions based on industry knowledge will ask questions others won’t. You explain it and just that process can lead to thoughts that break down mindsets that block us. We get clarity when we see beyond where we are.

Save time

A coach can help you get there faster than you would likely do on your own. Because of the all the other things a leadership coach can do for you, you spend less time spinning your wheels. You benefit from more productive time. You become more effective.

Get from here to there

If your intent is to move forward, a leadership coach can be the bridge that helps you get from here to there. Where is there? It’s wherever you want to be. A coach will help you define in specific terms what your THERE is and develop a specific plan to achieve it. No one does it alone.

A coach is dedicated specifically to your success. They won’t drag you there or stand behind you pushing. However they will walk alongside you as a friend and a guide.

Find out how a coach may help you. Schedule your FREE Discovery Strategy Session with me today!

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2018 Has to Be Better, Right?

Depending on how your 2017 went, you may be happy or sad to see it go. But go it must and we enter 2018 with new hope. To maximize that hope, we look back at 2017. It’s not to be nostalgic but rather to learn the leadership lessons that events have to teach us.

With that in mind, let’s look at some critical moments of 2017 that we can learn from. This is by no means an exhaustive list. In addition, it is by no means THE most critical moments. They are, however, vital for what we can learn from them.

Leadership Lessons from 2017

Solar Eclipse

leadership lessons from the solar eclipse of 2017On September 21, a solar eclipse occurred and swept across the United States. People from all over the world flocked to “ideal” locations for viewing the full eclipse. Many spent hundreds and thousands of dollars for this opportunity as they may never see it again.

Where is the leadership lesson in this? Know that most people live in the moment. Hundreds of thousands of people took off work for this event. Those who traveled invested money, some probably more than they actually had, to go to location in the path of the full eclipse. They did this to experience a moment that lasted all of 7.5 minutes.

Therefore, while part of a leaders role is to give hope it’s not just to look at the future. It is also to help make the present better. If your people are living in the now, you have to determine how you can improve the current situation.  Help your people live in the now as well as hope for the future.

And if you missed it, the next U.S. solar eclipse is April 8, 2024.

Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinsteins scandal teaches us valuable leadership lessons.The New York Times in October published an article detailing allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein. He was a producer and his company was behind numerous movies, as well as television and radio programs. Many known actresses came forward and detailed the allegations of offense. All in all, over 30 years of alleged harassment.

Weinstein at first publicly acknowledged and apologized that he has caused a lot of pain. Yet he denied the harassment. His lawyer even threatened to sue the New York Times. And the allegations still to this day continue to mount up as more employees and actresses come forward.

There are indications that his exploits were known as far back as 1990 when he was with Miramax. Despite that, it appears that other than occasionally settling with someone who threatened to go public very little was done about it. What has happened since is that Weinstein has lost his company, his career, and any connection with the industry. He has a lifetime ban. His wife left him and his family has practically disowned him. Further, it’s still not over.

What is number two in our leadership lessons? Well, first I think the lesson for a leader is that when you mess up you gotta fess up. Would his early confession and apology have made things any easier? Who knows? However, it is likely that at least some relationships could have been saved. Helping people move towards healing faster.

For others involved, the lack of timely and appropriate intervention exacerbated the situation. Think of it, lack of response prompted 30 years of damaged lives. As leaders we cannot ever stick our head in the sand, no matter how awkward or unpleasant the circumstances. Courage is a necessary component of leadership.

The Oscars

The Oscars Best Picture mix up in 2017 revealed important leadership lessonsBack in February the highlight of the awards ceremony by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is the OSCAR for Best Picture. To present the award legendary actors Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty come onstage. The nominees are presented, the envelope is opened and the OSCAR goes to…La La Land! Producers, directors, and actors flock to the stage to accept the award. And then, on live television it’s discovered that in fact the Best Picture OSCAR actually goes to Moonlight, not La La Land! Confusion and embarrassment wrack the stage for several minutes.

It turns out that somehow the wrong envelope was given to the presenters. It was actually discovered and corrected onstage by Jordan Horowitz, the producer of La La Land. PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) oversees the whole process of envelope management and someone simply made the mistake of pulling the envelope from the wrong pile.

So number 3 in our leadership lessons is a positive one. PwC owned up to their mistake – in fact took total ownership of it – and took steps to make sure it did not happen again. They didn’t focus on spin or making the best of it, they simply confessed, apologized, and worked to fix it.

Travis Kalanick and UBER

I talked about this story back in June and a lot happened since then.

Ok. On the surface this seems to be the same leadership lessons as before. However, there is more to be seen and learned. Like being a celebrity, being a leader means you sacrifice certain things. You no longer have the luxury of angry tirades. Your behavior is seen and evaluated every day. Being dismissive is no longer an option. Consistency in your character and behavior are crucial to successful leadership. It creates safety.

United Airlines

Where to start with this! It was not a good year for United Airlines.

First, in April United Express flight #3411 out of Chicago was allegedly overbooked (United later denied this). I talked about that story here.

This was two weeks after an incident where United made two teenage girls go change clothes before they could board a flight. Apparently they were on employee family passes and as such were representing United Airlines. United considered leggings as inappropriate clothing. Those incidents were followed by the death of a giant prize rabbit and a family dog in the hands of United. A couple heading to their wedding in Costa Rica are removed from a United flight due to conflict over their seats.

It’s all about culture here in number five of our leadership lessons. When culture places a greater importance on the bottom line over employees and over customers, it’s a recipe for disaster every time. Focus on treating employees well, equip and empower them to do the right thing, and everyone wins. Don’t believe it? Look at Southwest Airlines. Do they always get it right? No, but apparently they do more often than others. That says something.

Google

I also wrote about Google’s biggest faux paus last year. Of course, added to that is the revelation that despite the intent to create a safe workplace they apparently consistently pay female employees less than male counterparts.

As a result, number six of our leadership lessons stays the same as before. Leaders must consider how actions to manage behaviors and attitudes factors into first creating a safe workplace and second supporting or suppressing opposing viewpoints. In their attempts to create a safe workplace, Google ended up quieting someone who opposed some company policies and stances. The result was to create an unsafe workplace for those with opposing views.

Do you agree with the lessons here? Disagree? Are there lessons here I missed? What is your favorite leadership lessons of 2017.

Share your thoughts here or email me at psimkins(at)BoldlyLead.com.

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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.
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Rich Leaders and Learners

Tim SandersTim Sanders was the third speaker at the L2:Learn-Lead event on October 10, 2014.  Tim was the “Maverick CEO” of a company called NetMinds and is a former Yahoo executive and a noted author and speaker.
Tim’s emphasis was on People-Centric Tools for Leadership.  Here are some notes from his talk at L2.
  • Talking about purpose, he remembered a book he read titled Working the Room by Nick Morgan.  Nick said that the only reason for giving a speech was to change the world.
If you don’t want to change the world, then get off the stage. -Nick Morgan
  • Success is not a destination, it is a direction: FORWARD.

The Modern Leader Needs to be Able to Lead With

A Clear Mind

To Unclutter and Clear Your Mind

  1. Reduce your sources of information.  Own the first 45 minutes of your day and avoid email and social media.  Spend the time in devotion and reflecting on someone who helped you in the past and think of someone who will help you.
  2. Create a culture in the workplace that is upbeat and hopeful and action-oriented.  Remember that culture is a conversation about how we do things around here.
  3. A Clear Mind is an educated mind.  READ DAILY books and periodicals of significance that help you grow.
  4. Remember if you let your calendar get full you will be an ineffective leader.  You need time to think; to be curious.
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it killed the competition. -Sam Walton

A Creative Tendency

  • Most issues in a company are design issues, not people issues and need creative solutions
  • He has found that highly successful salespeople have creative projects within their life.
    • Creativity = Problem Solving
  • Make NEW mistakes
  • Trust people
  • Policy is the scar tissue of an organization.
If you have to rely on policy, you need a corporate cultural change.

A Compassionate Way

  • You can only effectively lead those you love.
  • Treat everyone like family
Mentorship is a program of highly effective leaders, not HR
  • Learn to listen without power – give empathy
What I like about Tim Sanders is that I believe he “gets it”.  Tim has learned that motivating through fear, dismissal, and non-emotional focus just doesn’t work for any extended period of time.  Either people burn out or they become totally disengaged.
Work is personal.
You can’t spend 1/3 or more of your day in one place and not have it be personal.  As a result, the rest of our lives are influenced by what happens at work and what happens at work is influenced by what’s happening in the rest of our lives.
If you want to create sustainable productivity and empowering employee engagement, as a leader you must spend time learning about your people.  Their hopes, their dreams, their fears.  You don’t have to solve their problems, in fact if you do then you are doing them a disservice; but you do have to know where they are and what’s going through their minds.
That’s how a modern leader achieves success.

What do you think?  Is there a “fine line” between relational leading and task-orientation?  What would be your two-word theme for how you lead?

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