Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Make Others Better

Hall of Fame baseball player Reggie Jackson once said. “A great manager has the ability to make a player think that he is better than he is. He convinces you to have confidence in yourself. He lets you know that he believes in you, and before long you discover talent that you never knew you had.”

Coaches often talk of certain players on their team ‘who make others around them better.’ Meaning that this one individual elevates the performance of his or her teammates. That’s powerful stuff.

To me, this is one of the simple keys to great leadership. Can you make those around you perform better? Can you draw out from them talents and abilities that others might not be able to? Can you identify what makes those around you respond positively, what motivates them to exceed expectations?  Great leaders understand that not all individuals respond to criticism the same way, not all individuals respond to praise the same way. Not all individuals are motivated by the same things. So, the question is, as a leader will you invest the time to identify what makes the people around you do what they do?

Often times, leaders are reluctant to make better those that work with and for them. Why? Because we’re afraid that one day they will be better than are we and will take our job or our position. It’s the wrong attitude to have, but it’s understandable because it’s human nature. We want to protect what we have. But a good leader can only be as strong as the weakest member of his team. So should you build up others around you, or keep them down?

I do want to make a distinction here. I’m all for making certain that the newbies and young people on your staff, team, department, EARN their way up the proverbial ladder. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if I hadn’t performed all the seemingly menial tasks along the way. But I was fortunate in a number of my positions during my younger years that I had mentors who were not threatened by my talent, my ability or my determination. I know how confident I felt when a superior trusted me with an important task or project. I know how I felt when he demonstrated that he knew what was important to me and what my strengths and weaknesses were. I also remember how I felt when I was taken under the proverbial wing to expand my professional capabilities or was shown how to deal with something that was not listed on my job description.

As a senior administrator for 15 years, I tried to return the favor. And the amazing thing is, it’s remarkable how hard people will work for you and with you when they know that you have their best interests at heart. When you try to bring out the best in others, they want to prove to you that you’re confidence in them is not misplaced. It’s a powerful tool, but it can’t be applied just for the sake of getting something in return. It’s got to be done with sincerity, determination, and consistency.

So, again I ask, should you build up others around you, or should you keep them down?

Posted by on November 28th, 2012 No Comments

What’s the Key to Being a Good Leader?

Ever since I wrote my leadership book, Final Four Leadership, I often get asked what I think makes for a good leader. The good thing is that we’ve evolved from a society that traditionally had one style of acceptable leadership, to one that now has been able to identify a variety of leadership styles that work. The traditional style to which I refer was one born from the military, and it was utilized by strong politicians, athletic coaches, as well as corporate business folks. That style still has value today, and it’s still utilized to a great deal in a variety of professions.

But back to the initial question. What do I think makes up a good leader? Drawing from my dozen years competing in the athletic arena, my 28 years in the professional world (including 15 years as a senior administrator) and my 16 years coaching youth sports, I’ve seen it all, good and bad. Over a few posts, I’m going to try to describe for you some of the significant characteristics that make up good leaders.

This has nothing to do with the upcoming election between President Obama and Mitt Romney, and it has no political juice to it whatsoever. So if you’re searching for controversy, you’re in the wrong spot. Although I’m sure reasonable folks will have an opinion on what I think comprises a good leader.

#1 – I’ve written about this before, but after interviewing the eight coaches for Final Four Leadership, and then using that lens to examine other leaders I’ve come in contact with, I think the most important trait for a leader to exhibit is Authenticity.

What does that mean? In the simplest terms, Authenticity means that no matter what setting you find yourself in, the people around you know that what they are seeing and hearing from you is the same thing that other groups will be seeing and hearing from you. When people see you in the grocery store, your behavior and  your attitude will be consistent with what people see in your place of business, your place of worship or in your home.

In other words, DON’T BE A PHONY! People can identify a phony from a mile away, and with the myriad of technological devices, you can’t get away with anything. When you are a phony it destroys your credibility, and it decreases the level of trust that people will have in you. If your colleagues, your friends, or, heaven forbid, your family, has to figure out with whom they are dealing with everyday, it’s difficult to build solid relationships.

If you’re a jerk, be a jerk consistently. People can adjust to that. But if you’re a jerk one day and Ghandi the next, you’re sending mixed signals and folks will avoid you completely. Does that mean if you’re a jerk you shouldn’t change? No. But if you can’t make a complete transformation, going halfway won’t help your cause.

Just be yourself, regardless of the setting or circumstances. People will gravitate to you and follow your lead when they know who they are dealing with on a consistent basis.

Posted by on October 25th, 2012 No Comments

The Personal Touch

One of the primary theories proven in Final Four Leadership is that it takes a different skill set to lead a group of men as opposed to leading a group of women. That’s not a bad thing nor a good thing, it just is what it is. The successful female leaders profiled in the book have developed a number of strategies that help them relate to and motivate the individuals under their guidance. The good thing is that these strategies apply to either gender.
When the term, Personal Touch, is tossed on the table of a leadership discussion, the first thought that bangs into your brain is “touchy-feely.” Which leads one to think that you’re ‘soft’ in your leadership style. Soft, obviously, is not used here as a term of admiration.
When I talk about personal touch, however, I’m not talking about creating a personal relationship with those whom you lead (although that can happen). I’m talking about making a personal connection. There’s a difference.
Individuals will come to your team, your department, your company from different backgrounds, different social circumstances, different levels of education, with different personalities and different agendas.
Likewise, each of these individuals has a different measurement of success, a different way in which they like to be recognized and certainly a different manner in which they are motivated.
One size does not fit all. Male leaders sometimes have a difficult time grasping this concept. I’m reminded of a scene at a freshmen girl’s basketball game a few years ago. The coach was a male, and during timeouts he would yell at and chastise these 14-15 year old girls. You could see that the players tuned him out as soon as his voice began to rise. A colleague said to him, “you can’t yell at girls the same way you yell at boys.” The response from the moronic coach was, “why not?”

Retired Hall of Fame women’s coach, Jody Conradt, said, “Because you are dealing with people, you can’t have a cookie cutter approach. You have to constantly find ways to not just relate to people, but to understand whatever it is that is motivating them. There are certain things that everybody has to be treated the same, abiding by team rules and things like that. But everybody communicates differently, everybody accepts criticism differently and everybody needs praise to a different level. I think the real secret…trying to figure out what everybody needs, what motivates them, what brings out the best in them, and trying to do that.”

Invest the time in making personal connections with your co-workers. Add it to your leadership tool box and watch performance improve.

Leadership thought for the week: Don’t hold grudges, just move on.”

Posted by on October 8th, 2009 No Comments