Be a lighthouse rather than a lifeboat

“Be a lighthouse rather than a lifeboat. Guide by example, and let others find their own way.”

—Barbara Kipfer, author of 14,000 Things to be Happy About

Image of a lighthose on a clear day

Image from Unsplash by Courtney Corlew

To what extend do you consider yourself a leader? Perhaps you are a manager or executive. Maybe you have your own company or plan on starting one soon. What is your leadership style? Are you a lighthouse that shines your light as a vision to guide and inspire? Perhaps you operate as a lifeboat, constantly doing far too much of the heavy lifting and seeing it as your job to save people and carry them to safety.

Who are the leaders that have inspired you through their good examples and challenged you to always be and do your best?

The key word in the last sentence is “Your,” which points to the critical aspect of living an authentic self-directed life.

EXERCISE:

Where might a “less you” and “more them” approach to leadership be the best approach to realize greater fulfillment and success for everyone?

Note: If you happen to be a parent, please try this approach with your children. Feel free to reply to this post and let me know how things go!

Leadership is not about titles

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.”

—John Maxwell, American Leadership Author

Image of a mentor and mentee

Image from Unsplash by Monica Melton

The subject of leadership has fascinated mankind for millennia. We can all recall fantastic accounts of great leaders, recorded in various ways.

Who are some of the greatest leaders you recall? Which of them makes the list for their noteworthy contributions?

Unfortunately, many of us consider leadership a rarity, with only a very select and limited list of people who deserve the acknowledgement.

If, however, we remove the need for titles and look to see who has influenced others, we discover that we, too, are leaders for ourselves and others on a daily basis.

EXERCISE:

Where and how can you further your development and mastery as a leader with an even more positive and lasting influence on others?

When the heart is afire

“When the heart is afire, some sparks will fly out of the mouth.”

—Thomas Fuller, 15th Century British historian

Image from Unsplash by Jamie Street

Today’s quote is about leadership. Take a moment to consider the sparks flying out of people’s mouths these days. Gun control, global warming, nuclear proliferation, politics, and the economy are just a few of the hotly debated subjects.

What topics have your heart afire? To what degree do you share your own thoughts and opinions on those topics with others?

EXERCISE:

Where is the status quo unacceptable in your personal or professional worlds? Where can and will you play a greater leadership role and let a few more sparks fly out of your mouth, sharing your heartfelt beliefs?

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?