Drop the hammer and pick up the shovel

“Drop the hammer and pick up the shovel.”

—attributed to J.A. Dever

Image of a shovel full of dirt

Image from Flickr by Daniel R. Blume

If you are a student of leadership and management theory, I’m sure you are fully aware that the old school “Command and Control” Taskmaster, or in this case, “Drop the Hammer” approach to success is history.

With the intense competition for talent, organizations and their leaders must create collaborative and cooperative cultures wherein each employee can develop and contribute in a meaningful way to remain engaged. Without the side-by-side pursuit of individual and organizational achievement, many top people will seek their futures elsewhere.

EXERCISE:

Where would more of a “Pick up the Shovel,” team leader approach to people and results be just the ticket for you and your organization to thrive today, and well into the future?

Who Can You Give the Credit to

“Who can you give the credit to, before you take some for yourself?”

—Michael Bungay Stainer, Founder of Box of Crayons

Image of Jim Collins

Harry S. Truman once said, “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.”

The classic book, Good to Great by Jim Collins supports this idea as a critical characteristic of what he calls Level 5 Leadership. Collins found, through extensive research, that the focus on the success of others rather than on one’s own contributions and accomplishments were key attributes for those who achieved breakthrough results.

EXERCISE:

Who in your professional or personal communities has earned and deserves far more credit than they are currently given? When will you recognize and reward their significant contribution – today, and on an ongoing basis?

 

We would rather have one man or woman working for us than three merely working with us

“We would rather have one man or woman working with us than three merely working for us.”

—J. Danby Day, per Forbes Magazine

Image of cast of "Who's the Boss?"

Image from Zimbio

When it comes to the subjects of leadership and management, one of my biggest pet peeves is the word “Boss.”

I find myself squirming, often downright repulsed by the idea of one person managing an individual or team through the “top-down / command-and-control” manner conveyed by this word.

My 35+ years of experience working for public and private companies have shown me that people are far more fulfilled, empowered, satisfied and successful when they work with one another rather than for others.

Because of the feeling of contributing to a community, people experience a heightened sense of impact and purpose, knowing they are truly valued.

EXERCISE:

How can you become a more masterful leader, manager, and coach in your professional and personal communities so people gravitate and look forward to working with you?

No One Agrees With Others Opinions

“No one agrees with other people’s opinion. They merely agree with their own opinions expressed by somebody else.”

—Sydney Tremayne, Canadian Stock Investment Strategist

Image of man holding placard saying "Ask the right questions"

Image from FlightJobs

How would you like to be a more masterful leader and have far greater influence in your professional and personal relationships?

For this to occur, it requires less of you and more from others.

Have you noticed that virtually everyone is far more interested in what they are thinking than in what you may be saying? Being interested rather than interesting can be just the strategy to discover their opinions and leanings on any topic. Their perspective and beliefs can point you to the areas where they can be more easily led and influenced.

EXERCISE:

Where and with whom can you tap into the opinions and beliefs held by others, to significantly increase your current levels of leadership and influence?

The Heart of Any Good Business

“At the heart of any good business is a chief executive officer with one.”

—Malcolm Forbes, late publisher of Forbes Magazine

Image of Malcolm Forbes - heart quote

Image from Adweek

The unemployment rate is at the lowest level in decades, and the search for talent is more competitive than any time most of us can remember.

With over 70 million Baby Boomers having exited or in the process of leaving the workforce, the prospect of attracting and retaining top talent to compete successfully in the global economy is not likely to get any easier.

Beyond all the benefits, perks, and bonuses, many leaders are finding it difficult to attract and retain the best and brightest.

EXERCISE:

What heart-based or heart-felt behaviors and cultural efforts can you initiate and sustain throughout your organization? What needs to happen – especially within the leadership ranks – to be one of the Good to Great and Built to Last organizations we so admire?

 

Punishing others is punishing work

“Punishing others is punishing work.”

—John Heider, The Tao of Leadership

Image of a judge's gavel

Image from Flickr by slgckgc

How often do you play the role of judge or jury in your personal or professional life?

How often are you on the receiving end of judgement and criticism?

What are the benefits and costs of being right and making others wrong?

In the arenas of organizational leadership, criminal justice, and even the family unit itself, punishment is rarely effective in controlling behavior, and fear is a horrible teaching strategy. It is exhausting, and sucks the life out of everyone involved.

EXERCISE:

What alternative and empowering strategies might you use to produce the behaviors and attitudes that will benefit your world?

Aim at nothing and you hit it every time

“Aim at nothing and you will hit it every time. Know where you are going and you can take anyone with you.”

—Ken Davis, Motivational/Inspirational Speaker

Today’s quote, for me, is about leadership. It points to the critical factor of having a vision for the future, and articulating your compelling message to others within your community, to garner their support and join you on the journey.

When we aim at nothing we get just that, every time.

EXERCISE:

What work do you need to do to sharpen your aim and clarify your personal and professional direction? With whom will you share the message? Who will you invite to join you on the journey?

If You Think You’re Tops

“If you think you’re tops, you won’t do much climbing.”

—Arnold Glasow, 20th Century American Businessman

In his 2001 classic business book, Good To Great, Jim Collins and his team of researchers found distinct patterns of behavior that drove leading companies to excel.

One key characterization was Level 5 Leadership, demonstrated by:

  • Extreme personal humility
  • Intense professional will
  • Shunning the spotlight of celebrity
  • Channeling ambition toward the goal of building something great
  • Setting up others for success
  • Consistent, diligent effort and honesty

EXERCISE:

How would the development and engagement of your own Level 5 Leadership efforts keep you climbing? How would it support your personal and professional “Good to Great” journey?

 

A Pessimistic General

“I never saw a pessimistic General win a battle.”

—Dwight D. Eisenhower 34th President of the United States

Image of Dwight D. Eisenhower

What battles are you fighting in your personal or professional lives? Along with optimal training and the best equipment possible, Eisenhower advises us to bring a “Can Do,” optimistic attitude to win the day.

All students of leadership would agree that articulating a hopeful and positive future is essential to engender the buy-in and alignment of our troops, family, and teams.

If the phrase, “What we think about comes about” is true, who would ever follow a reluctant, half-hearted, pessimistic leader anywhere? After all, they aren’t even sure they want to go themselves.

EXERCISE:

Where and in what ways can you be an optimistic “General,” leading yourself and others within your communities to a better future?

The Shortest Distance

“The shortest distance between two points is under construction.”

—Noelie Altito, Poet

Image of orange construction cones on a curved road

Image from Flickr by Aftab Uzzaman

Here in Michigan, we joke about how we have only two seasons – winter and construction. There is rarely a straight line from Point A to Point B, and anywhere you go usually involves lots of orange barrels!

EXERCISE:

As you explore the way between Point A and Point B in your professional and personal projects, consider how you can proactively improve the road conditions by using the finest construction materials possible.

Consider increasing your personal mastery as a leader, manager, coach, and communicator to optimize your construction efforts.