Why do we follow leaders?

I’m not known for talking about politics, and in fact I don’t talk about them for obvious reasons. However, similar to business and sports team leaders, the people in these positions all play an important role in our society. Although their respective assents to their leadership roles are generally remarkably, and curiously different. 

Take for example just about any CEO or leader of a sports team organization. Or, a head sports team coach. If you were to ask them where they went to leadership school, most would look at you oddly. Why? Because there are limited ways for leaders to obtain their skills from an educational perspective. Skills that are truly meaningful.

In other words, leaders learn how to lead from actual experience of leading others. Not by simply reading about how to lead others. I’m not disparaging the wonderful leadership books out there, I’m just stating that I have yet to come across a leader who said they learned everything they needed to become an amazing leader via reading about the topic.

Similar to a trade role (e.g., plumber, electrician, welder), leaders gain the majority of their skills by practicing and applying them in a physical way. Although trade persons are highly skilled, they do not have to master the soft skills that effective leaders need to gain. Unless of course they are the owner of the company. Then I would place those individuals in the same category as business and sports team leaders.

The most impactful skills that leaders need to acquire and master are ones which are more difficult to measure. I’m referring to the skills of communication, influence and emotional intelligence (e.g., EQ). Granted I want to stress that the EQ skill isn’t something one can learn, as this is one of the skills in the innate category. You are either fortunate to have lots of it, or not enough for your or others liking. Having common sense is also one of the beneficial skills the top leaders possess. However, it’s one of the other skills you either have, or you don’t.

Of course, all leaders start out as followers. The interesting factor to consider is at what point is the cross over to leadership made? Depending on the type of leadership role, it could in fact take years before someone steps into that role. However, we have all seen instances where an individual is placed into a leadership role they are ill prepared to take on. Everyone suffers when this occurs. With a few exceptions.

One of the exceptions is that the newly minted leader is supported by others to buffer their learning curve. The supporters will play the role of advising the majority of the new leaders decisions, until they reach a point when they can make more of the decisions on their own. However, without this arrangement in place as an exception, the new under prepared leader will experience a steep and often painful learning curve themselves, and for those they lead. I guarantee you have seen this. Perhaps you have even had the misfortune of being led by this individual? The good news is that most of these ill prepared leaders will be filtered out, and replaced by an actual experienced leader. Although not always.

At what point do people know they are ready to lead and make the crossover into leadership? Below are some ways you will know when the time is right for you to make this leap.

  • Gaining experience takes time. Most leaders will need a minimum of a decade worth of experience to have had enough opportunities to learn, and to have made enough mistakes along the way to be effective when they step into their role. With this said, having 15-20 years of experience is even better.
  • You have had the opportunity to learn about multiple facets of the business, or acquire deep knowledge about the sports team you are leading. Additionally, you have had a minimum number of roles (e.g., 2-4) to provide you with insight only gained from having exposure to critical functions which impact the company, or sports team you will be leading.
  • You are at a point where you are able to mentor others.
  • People you respect and who are in leadership roles begin seeking you out for advice or your opinion on how to handle different situations.
  • You are able to see the big picture, and can effectively communicate strategically as well as persuasively to your peers and leadership members above your current role. 
  • You have made enough calculated mistakes and recovered from them without tarnishing your reputation.
  • Others trust your judgement and are comfortable with letting you make critical decisions, as you have solid track record for demonstrating this.
  • Not everyone who can step into a leadership role wants to do so. In fact, many shy away from the enormous responsibilities that go along with being the leader. It’s not a role for the faint of heart, or those who have difficulty with making, sticking to and applying decisions to be carried out effectively.

Moving into a leadership role is a privilege, and not one to be casually entered into.  In fact, I can tell you that you will intuitively know when you are ready to take on becoming the leader. If you can’t trust your gut instinct with this decision, then it’s not likely your time to step out of the follower role yet. 

Tags: #Business #Success #Leadership #Teams #Sportsteams #Headcoaches #Sportscoaches #Coaches #Headsportscoach #HeadSportscoaches #Strategy #Management #BusinessManagement

Impact. What’s yours?

Math has never been one of my talents, and calculating someone’s impact potentially is associated with a mathematical formula. Having acknowledged this, I would rather interpret impact via other methods. In this situation, my interpretation is more closely associated with emotional intelligence and common sense. For fun, let’s toss in awareness too.

The explosion of social media use has certainly amped up the awareness people have on the Sir Issacs Newton’s three laws of motion. You can look this one up if you are not familiar with it, but when I was considering another factor contributing to a person’s impact, this scientific principle came into my mind. In the simplest way of describing this concept, it has to do with the basic science theory of by doing something, you get a reaction. Perhaps not the reaction you want, but generally a type of reaction will occur.

Some forms of impact are calculated. In the case of social media, people are generally trying to have an impact. Whether they are strategically planning the impact or not, there is a subconscious element of them wanting to have some reaction and impact based on their activity.

If a person is plotting to have a positive impact, then all the more power to them. However, we know there are unfortunately people in our physical and digital worlds who are intentionally scheming to have a negative impact. In my opinion, this is purely wasted energy, and sad that people do this. Especially since they have the capacity to instead have a positive impact, but choose to go in the other direction.

When you think of a brand, which one or two comes to mind? Generally, they will be one that elicited an emotional response. A response tapping into one of our six basic and core human desires (e.g., anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and shame). I would add the following to this list and include feeling safe, loved and hopeful. The next time you see your favorite brand, consider which of the core human desires they are tapping into. I assure you it is one of them.

Having an impact on another person, or multiple people, when the intention of doing so is positive, should be the goal. I believe it is, and I am immensely grateful and supportive of people who are in this world who do this. Particularly ones who do not appear to have a selfish agenda or hidden motive behind their actions.

Someone asked me the other day why I continue to write my books and produce my business tv show. In other words, they were wondering what my motivation is. I asked them what they thought it was, as I was curious about what their interpretation of my actions happened to be.

For the record I am not influenced by what others think, but from time to time I like to hear what others consider my impact to be. Mainly as a method of having an instant feedback system. Granted I am aware of who I am asking, and typically I will only ask people who I know will be brutally honest with me. This isn’t always easy to do. However, I consider it necessary to keep a pulse on whether my impact is heading in the direction I intend it to be.

If you are looking to have a positive impact on either a person, or many people, below are some suggestions I have you can consider applying to do so.

  • Think about yourself as a brand. Which of the core human desires do you regularly elicit when someone interacts with you, or based on your actions which impact a wider audience?
  • Have you ever stopped to think about whether your impact is positive or negative? Hint. It is likely a mix, but only you will know the percentage of what the mix is.
  • If your impact is leaning towards being more negative, is this something you want to address?
  • If your impact is negative and you want to address changing your impact to be more positive, have you factored in ways you can do this? Perhaps you will need a partner to help you do this.
  • If you intentionally want to have a positive impact on others, think about what steps you will need to take to make this happen. I always start with writing what I want to accomplish on a list. Why? Because putting something in writing feels more like a commitment versus simply talking about it.
  • Factor in what will be your measurement system for knowing whether you are having an impact. You do not need to share this with anyone, but being aware of your influence can be both motivational and provide a tangible way of defining what impact level is.

Those of you who are considered to be achievement and goal-oriented people have most likely thought about what impact they are having on others. Perhaps not. The point is everyone has the ability to have an impact on someone or something. If you haven’t figured out how to do this, and want to do so, I hope my suggestions above will kick start you in this direction.

TAGS: #Brand #Business #Productivity #Self-awareness #Sales #Marketing #Leadership #Teams #Management #Impact #Brandimpact #Personalbranding #Communication #Perception #PersonsalPerception

Preparing for what’s next.

Let’s face it. Having a crystal ball would help us in many ways. However, there may in fact be certain things we don’t want to know about. Although knowing some information ahead of time might help us to be better prepared emotionally. That would be the upside, but there is a downside too.

Due to the fact we don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future, or at least I don’t, how I look ahead and prepare for what’s in front of me isn’t a perfect science. However, let’s say my system is a work in progress and continuously being refined. I would say it’s better to have a system in place than not. Or, at least I find comfort in attempting to have plans in place, or a contingency plan.

When I talk to business leaders and sports coaches, I am always fascinated with their different approaches to how they lead and guide others. Especially in times of adversity.

Adversity is something no one is immune from experiencing. Especially teams as they can be more complicated to deal with versus comparing them to an individual and how they handle adversity. We all know that when you have multiple factors involved in a scenario, it tends to complicate the situation. However, there are ways to simplify and confront a team dealing with a difficult situation.

One of my favorite business memories was when I was working with a sales team who was struggling to meet their numbers. I’ll contrast this with a sports team I was also working with who was rebuilding their team, and the challenges that were present.

In both of the team scenarios, neither one had an adversity contingency plan. This is fairly common, as most teams will strictly be focused on achievement and the process of everything going well. As we know, this isn’t realistic, and precisely why teams and their leaders get into trouble when adversity shows up.

By discussing with each team leader how we were going to handle adversity if it occurred, I prepared both teams in an entirely different manner than they were accustomed to. At first there was some reluctance on both team’s leader/coach to the approach I was recommending, as they thought it would be detrimental to think about something negative occurring.

There is a phrase that I’ll make less crude, and refer to as “life happens”. We know it does, but we are not always willing to embrace the fact that things may not go the way we want them to. However, when we have a contingency plan that can prepare us for a situation that takes us off track, it is mentally much easier to deal with the adverse circumstances when they do occur. In fact, how often do plans typically play out one hundred percent the way you expect them to?

Let’s go back to the two different teams I was referencing. They both eventually conceded and agreed to putting a contingency plan in place. In fact, they put multiple ones in place in order to handle a number of adverse situations they may encounter. Once the contingency plans were in place, both the leader and coach admitted that crafting their respective contingency plans was easier for them to do then they had originally expected.

There is another expression attributed to Benjamin Franklin that I will often cite, and which is related to this topic. It is “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Yes, this might seem slightly harsh, but it has served me and many others extremely well. Especially when an adverse situation occurred.

So, if you are curious about some techniques you can apply to help you or your team prepare for what’s next, below are some ideas for you to consider.

  • Make a list of the positive outcomes expected from your team.
  • Using your positive team outcome list, create a second column and include one or two potential reasons the outcome may not be reached.
  • Leveraging your two columns above, create a third column. This column will include a proposed solution to handle the potential adverse outcomes of your plans.
  • Some of your contingency plans may in fact be able to cover multiple scenarios.
  • If possible, it is recommended you include your team in the contingency planning.
  • If you do not include your team in the contingency planning, make sure you convey to them you have a plan in place if they get off track from their expected positive outcomes.
  • Ideally, you will want to role play the contingency plans. This is because, if you have to put them in place, it will be a more fluid experience for the team since they have knowledge of what is expected of them to do in the contingency planning scenario.
  • Mindset plays a large role in helping your teams to get through adversity. Make sure you have thought about what plan you have in place to leverage your team’s positive mindset when you need to do so in adverse scenarios.

If you are wondering whether these two teams had to enact their contingency plans, I can assure you they did. More than once in fact. However, they were incredibly relieved they had them in place. Even better? They both achieved and exceeded their initial plans, despite the unplanned and encountered adversity along the way.

Tags: #Business #Success #Adversity #ContingencyPlanning #Leadership #Management #BusinessManagement #Strategy

Re-inventing yourself. Do you need to?

Every once and awhile I think about whether I am at a place in my life that I want to be. Most of the time I am happy with where I am. Although there are times when I consider what it would be like to re-brand or re-invent myself. As a matter of fact, I have done this a number of times.

If you are considering re-inventing yourself, the trick is to do it subtlety. In fact, you will know if you have done this well when others start to comment that you either seem different, or that they can’t figure out what is different about you.

Let’s consider you have reflected upon your personal brand, and have determined it isn’t the one you want to have. Or, perhaps you want others to have a different perception of who you are. Is it possible to make either of these changes on your own? Yes, it is. However, you will need to factor in having a plan to do so.

As a former marketing executive, I have spent decades perfecting the art of re-crafting the images of companies and products. I enjoyed doing this. It’s partially due to the fact I embrace change, but really because I love the challenge of re-invention. Do you need to have these same characteristics to alter your image? No, but without experience in doing this, the path to doing so might be slightly more challenging.

To decrease the challenge of re-inventing yourself, I will provide you with some suggestions below about how to approach doing this. If this is in fact your goal.

Before we dive into how to go about changing others perception of you, first consider why you want to do this. This is important to think about, as you might not need a complete overhaul of your image. In fact, there may be some minor tweaks you can make to have a similar outcome from a more aggressive self re-branding experience.

One thing I want you to do before we proceed, is to critically and genuinely rate yourself on your ability to gauge how others perceive you. Is it possible your perception is off? In my experience, many people have not what I refer to as “held a mirror in front of them”. What I mean by this, is that they do not truly understand how they come across to others. Worse, their perception meter is way off, or completely broken.

When someone is challenged with a faulty or broken self-perception mirror, it often will create other problems for them. One of them is that they are essentially blind to how their actions, words and persona comes across to others. How is this possible? One of the reasons this occurs is that people have not developed their self-awareness level enough. Age is independent of this factor, as I have seen very young and self-aware people, and people who are well advanced in their decades who are completely unaware of how others perceive them.

Popping back to the concept of subtly changing your image, what I mean by this is that there are minor things you can do to shift others perception of you. However, you first need to commit to wanting to make these subtle but impactful changes. If you do, here are some ways you can go about doing so.

  • Have you ever genuinely asked someone you trust to tell you how you come across to others? Keep in mind we might in fact need to ask people who see us in different roles in our lives, as it is possible we alter our image in certain situations (e.g., at home vs professionally, with friends).
  • Sometimes it is our exterior image (e.g., what we choose to wear) which impacts others perception of us. Have you ever tested or felt differently when you feel you look a certain way? Possibly you felt more confident. This is a subtle way of being able to shift others perception of you, simply by altering your outward appearance .
  • Altering your outward appearance whether by clothing, or perhaps by a new haircut, getting in shape or eating healthier and looking and feeling more energetic are other ways to shift both your own perception, as well as others of you.
  • When was the last time you either recorded how you speak, or listened to a recording of yourself speak? How did you sound? Did your voice come across the way you think it comes across to others?
  • I have had people listen to how they speak to others and realize they are always coming across aggressively, when in fact they had no awareness of doing so until they listened to themselves.
  • Listening and seeing are different. Consider video recording an interaction you have with someone. Are you able to see or recognize body movements you didn’t realize you do when you are interacting with someone (e.g., you bite your nails as you listen to them, you defensively cross your arms all the time, you appear to not be listening and look distracted when you are engaging with someone, you always appear to look like you are angry or in a bad mood or you look nervous or afraid).
  • The point is, you are going to see lots of body movements you need to be aware of. All of which you can alter to help with your external image re-branding.  The first step is being aware, and then doing something about your new awareness of your outward perception.

If you are considering re-branding or re-inventing yourself this year, be kind to yourself, as it isn’t easy to do. However, if you believe you will benefit from doing so, I encourage you to also think about the goals you will want to be associated with the effort towards this journey. Otherwise, it might not be worth the effort you will need to put in to accomplish this.

TAGS: #Image #Confidence #Self-improvement #Reinvention #Newselfimage  #Howtorebrandyourself #Howtorebrandyourimage #Business #Success

The perception of success

I’m positive others do this too, and I often consider what shapes our thinking about the definition of success. It’s possible due to the type of profession I am in, and that since its foundation is focused on helping people to become more aware of who they are, this notably has immense influence on my thinking.

The fact I am regularly working with others to define and achieve their goals isn’t easy work. In fact, it can be extremely challenging, but it’s exactly the type of challenge I thoroughly enjoy taking on. By working with others to assist them in guiding them to achieve their goals, is by definition a type of success. For both parties. It’s the type of win, win scenario that most would agree is highly desirable. Even potentially for those that define themselves as being hyper competitive.

You could argue that everyone is successful. Especially when looking at the surface level, and you are casually considering anyone’s accomplishments. How is this possible? It’s possible because going back to what I mentioned before, everyone defines success differently for themselves. The challenge of the perception of success is when you allow others to define it for you. Are you saying to yourself, yes, this has happened to me!

If you have allowed others to define success for you, take comfort in knowing you are not alone. What I can tell you is that this isn’t a permanent state. In fact, success is more similar to water, as it’s often in a fluid state. Of course, the exception of this is when it’s frozen. My point is that success can be achieved, but it might not be sustainable in all situations. In fact, arguably, you might not want it to be. Especially if you are the type of person who is driven to keep on achieving more. However, you define what “more” means.

Often success can be perceived, and may simply be an illusion of reality. Take for example social media posts. We all know that what gets posted by the majority of people are carefully edited versions of the perception they want to convey to others. Most of the time the crafted images or messages are fortunately happy or positive. Sometimes they are not.

Each day, what you want others to see is controlled by you, or potentially by what you think others expect from you. Possibly not, as it appears some people socially post with complete abandon. More concerning, with the absence of thinking through the outcome. We have all seen too many examples of this.

Circling back to the concept of the perception of success, below are some thoughts to consider to help you wrap your mind better around how you can define success for yourself, versus being subjected to feeling the pressures of succumbing to what you think others expect your definition of it to be.

  • Being happy, and happy as often as possible could be included in your definition of success.
  • Success and its definition can and should in fact be modified around circumstances.
  • When you lock the definition of success into either an unattainable measure, or one that isn’t sustainable, you will always be disappointed with the outcome.
  • Consider whether you have allowed others to define what your definition of success is.
  • The definition of success doesn’t always have to be tied to a monetary number. In fact, having good health and maintaining it could be someone’s ultimate definition.
  • I have written about the importance of not comparing yourself to others. So, when you are developing what it means to be successful for you, either in writing, or in your mind, be sure to consider whether you are being true to yourself and not letting others influence your definition.
  • Everyone has different abilities, so focus on capitalizing your success being partially defined by having your strengths support what goals you are striving to reach.
  • Your ideal version of your life and how you will define what it ultimately it will shape up to reveal; at any point in time, can be influenced by circumstances beyond your control. Keep in mind many situations are temporary, and don’t let setbacks allow you to redefine what you want to accomplish.
  • No one is perfect. Our world would be quite boring if everyone was. Embrace who you are, how you think, how you act and most importantly, be proud of how you represent yourself. If you are not proud of who you are, you have the power to change this. Perhaps with help, so make sure to ask for support when you need it.
  • Our perception of our own and others success only matters if we allow it to matter. Always keep this in mind.

Even people who perceivably have attained success; defined either by themselves or others, have tough days. Please remember that everyone’s success is going to be different. More importantly, I ask you to not be critical of this, but instead supportive of them being content with their own definition.

Tags: #Business #Success #Definingsuccess #Leadership #Perception #Perceptionofsuccess #Whatissuccess