“Leaders don’t force people to follow—they invite them on a journey.”

“Leaders don’t force people to follow—they invite them on a journey.”

—Charles S. Lauer, late publisher of Modern Healthcare magazine

Image from Unsplash by Matt Heaton

We have all been taken to school lately on the subject of Leadership. What messages are you hearing that touch and stir your head, heart, and soul?

Who is speaking a future that resonates on the frequency of your vision and value?

Who is describing a journey with passion and purpose? Who is inviting you to contribute your best to a worthy mission?

When strong leaders demonstrate such qualities in words, actions, and enduring character, they engender us to follow and become leaders as well.

EXERCISE:

Where have you been called and invited on an important journey?

Where can and will you invite others in your personal or professional communities to join you in creating a better world?

“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.”

“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.”

—John Guare, American Playwright

Image from Unsplash by Leonardo Yip

Time travel is not just possible. Today’s quote suggests that we all do it daily in our thoughts. Through forms of mindfulness such as meditation or leisurely walks in nature we can view our thinking mind with greater perspective and objectivity.

How often do you review or replay the events of yesterday with a critical eye of what worked and what didn’t? How self-satisfied or perhaps upset do you feel about various events, efforts, and interactions? How easy is it to let these thoughts go, be present, and look toward the future you intend to create?

The power of a vision is miraculous in that it pulls us like a tractor beam in a sci-fi space adventure. This gravitational attractive force is a critical element of self-leadership—and leadership in general—when we are intentional about thinking and speaking about a bright future.

EXERCISE:

How can and will your own self-leadership efforts to speak and create many better tomorrows make up for any yesterdays that didn’t go as you hoped? What would be the value of doing this exercise on a daily basis?

“Being charismatic doesn’t make you a leader. Being a leader makes you charismatic.”

“Being charismatic doesn’t make you a leader. Being a leader makes you charismatic.”

—Seth Godin, American Author

Image from Unsplash by Ani Kolleshi

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested all of us in may ways, personally and professionally.

Who are the individuals that stand out in your heart and mind as true leaders, taking a stand for what they value and believe?

Consider the folks at the grocery store, your mail carrier, your local banker, and other essential business professionals. How about those health care workers putting their lives on the line, leaving their homes to help those hit hardest, some even going to other states?

What about our military professionals and government officials? Who has truly stepped up? Who has side-stepped or blamed others for how things are or are not progressing?

EXERCISE:

How can and will you more fully acknowledge and recognize the acts of leadership all around you? How and in what ways have you stepped up to be seen and heard in your communities? What would be the value if all people around the globe did the same?

“You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time.”

“You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time.”

—J.S. Knox, Associate Professor of Sociology, Liberty University

Image from Unsplash by Josh Calabrese

Have you ever participated in a team building session with your professional colleagues? One of the goals of such exercises is to gain a greater understanding of each other, and to provide constructive input toward one another’s leadership styles and effectiveness.

The assessment I use for team building sessions categorizes individuals into one of four potential styles, depending on the situation. The four styles are:

  1. The Team Leader, who focuses on both people and results
  2. The Taskmaster, who focuses solely on results
  3. The Social Worker, who focuses solely on people
  4. The Benchsitter, who focuses on neither

EXERCISE:

How would you—or better yet, your associates—describe your leadership style? How might you and your colleagues—maybe even your family members—rate each other as it relates to being an influencer versus an antagonist?

“We are the masters of our fate, the captains of our souls, because we have the power to control our thoughts.”

“We are the masters of our fate, the captains of our souls, because we have the power to control our thoughts.”

—Napoleon Hill, 20th Century American author of Think and Grow Rich

Image from Unsplash by Philippe Oursel

Perhaps one of the primary reasons for the rapid growth of the coaching industry is its ability to significantly increase our mindfulness and self-awareness. The phrase “Wherever you go, there you are” is poignant in that we always bring along our minds, which strongly influences and creates our worlds.

The majority of my work with clients focuses on executive leadership and business matters. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed considerable attention shifting to more personal and soulful issues and the idea of living a far more meaningful life.

EXERCISE:

If you, too, wish to dig deeper into being your own soulful captain of life, I strongly recommend the book Toward a Meaningful Life by Simon Jacobson.

A well-developed sense of humor

“A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.”

—William Arthur Ward, 20th Century Author of inspirational maxims

Image of Pope Francis in a crowd

Photo from Unsplash by Ashwin Vaswani

Are you a student of leadership?

If so, I highly suggest you watch the Netflix film, Pope Francis – A Man of His Word.

The film demonstrates a man who lives what he preaches and who has gained the trust of people across the world, from all religions, cultures, and social backgrounds.

His universal wisdom and message of hope provides views on many global questions and issues including social justice, immigration, ecology, wealth inequality, materialism, and the role of the family.

Toward the end of this film he suggests that each of us can participate in this global community effort by wearing a smile more often, and by developing a better sense of humor to add more balance to our lives.

EXERCISE:

Consider watching this important film with family and friends. Allow time after the viewing for discussion and dialogue to see how you can and will benefit from his universal message of hope.

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?