Mastering Leadership: Lead with Intention

Leaders are facing unprecedented levels of stress, dysfunction and disappointments, taxing their energy and productivity. Some leaders have even shared with me that keeping up with the chaos has become an acceptable achievement. But great leaders are strategic about their time and energy. They lead with intention.

You see, leaders can’t be busy just to be busy. Their time must count. In my work coaching executives, I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have to guard their time, attention and fight off distractions.

What Matters Most

An intentional approach focuses on the most beneficial areas, and thinking can be one of them. You find what matters most by recognizing that the things bringing you the most joy are just as important as the things bringing the organization the most benefit. The intention is to pursue both. Read More »

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Hone Your Attention to Master Leadership

One of the problems people have in mastering leadership is the tyranny of the urgent—it’s difficult to think about the future and where you want to go when you’re focused on staying afloat. But when you hone your attention, you keep that from happening. It’s how great leaders focus on the things that matter most.

When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss how preparing for the future should be a thoughtful and optimistic matter.

For example, time must be dedicated to evaluating the possibilities and potential. This means that you’ll need to split your time between current tasks and potential or future tasks. This doesn’t necessarily mean an equal split, but some kind of proportionate division, dependent on the circumstances. It comes down to deciding what to let go of in order to focus on the future. Read More »

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Create a Framework to Master Leadership

As a leader, what does it take for you to be successful, and have the career and life you really want? From what I’ve seen, I believe we need to create a framework for clarity. I introduced this in my last post.

You see, clarity of mind stands as a basic framework to hang other usable skills, and great leaders learn how to find it. Clarity is the ability to see things as they are with an accurate perception and understanding. It’s a freedom from uncertainty or confusion. It’s the skill to grasp fundamental truths and distinguish false alternatives.

In Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, and Inspire Action on Your Most Important Work (Wiley, 2018), Peter Bregman writes that one of the most distinguishing character traits successful leaders possess is clarity. I agree. This encompasses not only reaching a state of clarity, but continuing to embody it. In other words, providing clarity to others is just as vital as establishing it within yourself. After all, what is the point of a leader being clear if no one else benefits from it? Read More »

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Mastering Leadership: From Effective Leader to Great Leader

Are you an effective leader, or a great leader?

Effective leaders have mastered leadership competencies like setting strategic direction, communicating a clear mission, monitoring resources and ensuring that processes, systems and people achieve results. In addition, the great leaders I have worked with assess what they do, why they do it, and how they can improve it. They periodically take a look at their beliefs, thinking, and motivations. This is not always an easy task.

With the rapidly changing competitive environment and new technologies, it’s hard to keep up. The time leaders can afford to spend on their leadership skills and personal growth seems to shrink every year. All the while, leaders are under increasing pressure to make their companies all they can be, with little time taken to making themselves all they can be. How they go about mastering leadership is key. Read More »

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Great Leaders Address Weakness

In the organizations where I consult, I remind leaders that even the strongest, most talented people have flaws and weaknesses. Since the most damaging leadership liabilities have to do with the inability to work well with their people, leaders benefit best by making effective relationships a priority.

You see, the greatest challenge in minimizing these kinds of liabilities is to find an optimal balance between a focus on tasks and relationships. Anderson and Adams point this out in Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most (Wiley, 2019). This is easier said than done.

Great leaders address weaknesses with self-awareness and an understanding of their character and liabilities. A trusted confidant can offer a different perspective and help you take a deeper look. This may be a close colleague or better yet, a qualified executive coach who has an impartial mindset. Read More »

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Emotional Deficiencies

Understanding the role of emotional deficiencies in leadership is critical in today’s corporate environment. Employees look to their leader to establish safety and trust; they expect emotionally healthy leadership. Leaders accomplish this in part with behavior that is rational, calm, logical and wise.

Leaders who portray a solid, steadfast source of guidance and direction earn the trust of their people. The opposite is true for leaders who can’t control their emotions when the pressure hits. Employees question their security when their leader doesn’t put the team first. Read More »

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Leaders Who Devalue Employees: 3 Signs

Even seasoned leaders can have a lack of self-awareness, unacknowledged weaknesses and leadership liabilities. I’ve been writing about this in recent posts. Why? A surprising number of workers claim that their supervisors don’t value them: that they are treated like subservient slaves. It is a significant reason why people quit their jobs. As a popular saying goes, people don’t leave companies, they leave their bosses.

Here are three signs of leaders who don’t value people:

  1. Leaders devalue employees when they don’t treat them well. Employees may be driven hard, given unrealistic expectations, buried in work that they have no way to accomplish, or go unforgiven for past mistakes. This is a signal that their needs are not considered important, that they have little value in the eyes of the leader.
  2. Leaders devalue employees when they micromanage. This often stems from the leader’s belief that no one can match their high standards, so they must be over-guided to get things right. People are not considered competent or trustworthy enough. Micromanaging is demoralizing, and creates a stinging liability.
  3. Leaders devalue others when they listen poorly. A leader who is lost in their own thoughts signals that only their thoughts are significant. They send the message that others have nothing important to say, that they can’t contribute. But as communicator and author Andy Stanley puts it, “Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing significant to say.” That’s a serious liability.

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What Your People Skills Reveal

Leaders are the glue that holds a team together. They create an environment in which groups perform harmoniously for optimal results. However, I have encountered some leaders who simply don’t like people.

Although every leader needs others, some leaders behave in ways that indicate otherwise. This proves to be a significant liability and it’s generally not difficult to spot. Poor people skills are an indicator.

Leaders who don’t treat people well signal their dislike for them. Common signs include not acknowledging others by initiating or returning a greeting, and being non-responsive to questions or comments. Adding arrogance or disrespect is a more blatant clue. Read More »

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Great Leadership Starts with Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is key to success in work, life, and relationships. It is the foundation of strong leadership, providing an inventory of character, skills, strengths and weaknesses. I have worked with some pretty great leaders who are self-aware, and they lead with an incredible sense of purpose, authenticity, openness, and trust.

You see, a focus on strengths is very worthwhile and profitable, but leaders can’t reach peak effectiveness without taking a hard look at their weaknesses. The most significant personal growth can come from understanding what thoughts, feelings and behavior is blocking collective success. Read More »

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Create An Environment of Trust

I believe that trust is the single biggest issue confronting leaders today, especially for those engaged in adjusting a culture. Too often, I see leaders undermine trust, with predictable consequences. But when you extend trust and are trustworthy, you create an environment of trust, where people can count on each other, take risks together and benefit from the resulting successes.

When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss how leaders enhance trust when they’re transparent and humble. For example, leaders can display humility by expressing a need for help. Admitting fallibility and weaknesses, and setting aside insecurities, reveal a real person who can be trusted.

Trust builds teamwork, which inspires cooperation and a vital interconnectedness. Trust is founded on relationships—and the stronger the relationships, the healthier the culture. Read More »

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