My favorite Christmas stories are the ones where a humble hero offers the best gifts he can muster. It never looks like much on the outside.
In Why The Chimes Rang, a small child accomplishes what all the rich and famous could not with their extravagant gifts. He did what he could, with what he had.
The Little Drummer Boy, ”had no gift to bring” … but we keep singing about him. I could go on…. but the point is not about Christmas stories… it’s about you… and me.
Why Our Gifts Remain Ungiven
As leaders we don’t always bring our gifts to the table. We stop because we think our gifts are too simple. We sooth our conscience with stopping thoughts:
“I’m really not the best qualified.”
“There’s not much I can do” read more
Note: December’s Frontline Festival on Let’s Grow Leaders is all about gifts, I welcome participation from the Lead Change Community. Submissions due Dec. 13th. For more information click here.
Doug Conant, former CEO, Campbell Soup, said it many times, and he did again in a recent interview:
“Successful leaders should treat their leadership as a craft to be carefully honed and ever improving.”
Leadership as a craft is an interesting attitude to adopt. Leaders need to continue to grow and develop because times change, people change, and situations change. To lead through change, leaders need to adapt.
To hone our leadership craft, there are many practice we can embrace. Highlighted below are five suggestions as a place to start.
- Start or join a Meetup group. Over a year ago, we started Authentic Leadership Dallas. We now have 8-12 different people who get together monthly from across industries and backgrounds to share their insights and experiences.
- Volunteer regularly. Whatever the organization or initiative, working for a greater cause or helping others in need will make you a better leader.
- Exercise consistently. A healthy body feeds a healthy mind and outlook. Fit leaders benefit from fit exercises.
- Interview someone you don’t know. Through the telephone, Google Hangouts, or coffee conversations, get together with another leader and ask questions about what they have learned and how they have approached situations.
- Mentor ahead. Identify one or two individuals from Gen Y and spend the time the guide their leadership development. Younger generations need a sounding board of experience, and you can provide that platform.
Gain more insights on leadership as a craft here.
Kevin Kelly and I connected recently to talk about his latest book, DO! The Pursuit of Xceptional Execution. Kevin is an internationally acclaimed leadership and motivational speaker and best selling author.
A fellow pragmatist, Kevin is passionate about bridging the gap between theory and execution. For this book he interviewed entrepreneurs from around the world who are the leaders of some of the most compelling global brands and companies, ranging from one to 3,000 employees, with turnovers from $100,000 to $130 million.
He calls these people Xceptionalists. Here is an article from Kevin about what that means and how you can bring this notion of being an Xceptionalist to your everyday leadership.
A Department of Labor report on the glass ceiling noted that “what’s important [in organizations] is comfort, chemistry, and collaboration.”
Chris Argyris, business theorist and professor, says there’s a universal human tendency to organize our lives around remaining in control and winning.
Might these hidden needs be the reason most companies have failed at incorporating diversity as a normal business practice despite all the research that demonstrates its positive impacts on the bottom line?
Read more here…
For those of you that know me, you know I ask Why a lot (annoyingly so at times!). So that’s why (ha!) at BIF9, I loved what Matt Murrie is doing with getting “What If…?” out there – boldly! We all need to ask this more. So the next time you find yourself starting to say “no,” try saying “What If..?” instead and thank Matt. “We believe What If…? presents a unique value to people in every corner of the planet, so it is now our mission to grow a community to connect and spread it. This has been tremendously educational for us as we balance between a movement and a business.” Read more.
…Generating a supportive gaze from across the room as someone speaks up, letting them know you know it is taking every ounce of courage for them to speak their mind right now.
…Standing in the back of the room as someone takes the floor to speak publicly for the first time, giving them your full attention and nodding their way to let them know you are there rooting for them.
…Attending to an interruption or distraction in a meeting someone else is leading so they can continue leading on without missing a beat.
Last week, I had the opportunity to be with John Maxwell at an event to raise money to train leaders around the world. It was an outstanding experience. One of the highlights was a session John led about questions that changed his life.
I’ve long been a fan of great questions. I’ve even created an outline for a book I may write some day on this topic. However, John has beat me to it. He’s in the final stages of a manuscript on questions leaders ask. I can’t wait to read it.
From what John said, it appears as though the book will cover the topic in depth and from multiple angles. Here are a few of the ideas he shared regarding why this is such an important topic for leaders…
Read more here…
When breakdowns happen consider it is NOT a sign that something is wrong, but rather that you have simply bumped up against the limits of your current ways of working or thinking.
Nothing is wrong. No one is at fault. It’s just that even though something was working, doesn’t mean it will work forever. This includes our habits and behavior as individuals, as well as the more complex processes and systems in an organization.
Whenever you try to grow, expand, or change you are likely to break something.
In a growing system, both the system itself and the individuals in it will naturally bump up against their own limits. When there are breakdowns in a system, individuals will also have their own breakdowns to contend with if they are to respond by expanding themselves to be able to increase their capacity and expand their capabilities. It is a constant dance.
He thinks he’s ready to be promoted. You don’t. You don’t want to crush his spirits, but he’s not listening. He blames you, the system, politics and that crazy project you gave him last year. He’s a strong performer and a vital member of your team. You know he’ll get there, but only if he listens.
Tell the truth without crushing his soul.
Read more here….
With all the talk about Employee Engagement it seems as leaders we are primarily asking the question “Are THEY engaged?”
You may well be fully engaged, but if you are a leader and expecting something (like engagement!) from others it is critical that you take a look in the mirror and honestly assess whether you are truly creating the environment for engagement to flourish.
As a leader you must ask yourself: “am I effectively engaging my team?”
Here are 3 things to look for that might indicate the answer is no, and what you can do about it.