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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Spark, Connect and Ignite: The Power of Purpose

As a leader, how are you connecting with your employees on a personal level? Think about it: if you can’t spark, connect with and ignite your employees, how can you expect customers to become loyal followers? That is the power of purpose: when great leaders connect with our hearts, emotions and what truly matters to us, they inspire action.

I applaud leaders with big-hearted goals, high-minded ideals and higher purposes. Employees need a reason to serve, shared goals, a common cause and focus. They need to know what their organization stands for so they can embrace its stance. Without a fundamental purpose, organizations cannot steer efforts in any general direction. Read More »

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3 Leadership Proficiencies to Adjust Your Culture

Do you have the three leadership proficiencies necessary to adjust your culture?

It saddens me to see otherwise great leaders unable to answer this question. Unfortunately, some leaders are disinterested in their culture, considering it superfluous. But as I wrote in my last post, your organization’s culture can increase net income by more than 700% in an 11-year span.

Leaders who recognize this opportunity, but are too intimidated or unfamiliar, fail to take prudent steps (and sometimes make matters worse). A strong company culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Adjusting a culture is based on constructive relationships and interactions. But humans, by nature, often fail to engage each other constructively. Selfish impulses and habits get in the way. Fears, stubborn beliefs, prejudices and pride also inhibit healthy group dynamics. Read More »

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The Ethos Effect on Your Bottom Line

Truly savvy executives pay attention to the pulse in their organization. They understand how beliefs, attitudes and habits impact their bottom line: unless people embrace their jobs and their work wholeheartedly, they won’t sustain efforts in the face of difficulties.

I consider this as I watch some companies prosper and draw the business world’s attention. They continuously grow, innovate and impress. In contrast, others struggle, never breaking through to reach their desired success. The latter must deal with downsizing, financial shortfalls, market-share losses and tarnished reputations. The disparities are glaring.

While leaders of prosperous companies garner industry admiration, those who head besieged organizations wonder where they went wrong. They search for explanations as to why their operations haven’t fulfilled their potential. Research in social science and organizational behavior points to a critical quality, one that most directs every company’s future: culture.

Too often, leaders discount the importance of ethos and organizational culture, with predictable consequences. They must define, assess and strengthen their culture to thrive. Read More »

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How to Engage a Visionary Leader

Employees often flock to companies led by a visionary leader. The allure of free thought, excitement and cutting-edge innovations is alluring. But some visionary leaders can be difficult bosses; employee, colleagues and board members are often left wondering how to engage a visionary leader.

I have found in the work I do coaching leaders, most visionaries are naturally predisposed to excel in conceptualizing. They are big-picture strategists and future-oriented. Their weakness lies in getting things done, or engaging people for high performance.

A visionary leader may appear distant and disconnected, so employees wonder if their boss knows what’s going on. If this is case in your organization, I urge you to reach out and find ways to make a connection with your leader in a positive and confident manner. Read More »

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Balance for Visionary Leaders

While leadership has evolved over time, a key function for visionary leaders is to answer the question “Where are we going?”  This requires a balance between a widescreen view and in-the-trenches focus; conceptualizing and executing. When too little attention is paid to daily business needs, all the bright ideas in the world cannot keep the ship from sinking.

When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss how leaders make things happen. You see, as a visionary leader, your job is to help your people answer the question “How will we make sure we get to where we want to go?”

Time management is one of the primary areas requiring adjustment. Visionaries must understand that tactical leadership skills are equally as important as their visionary abilities. Coaching teaches them how to partition time and effort. Successful visionary leaders learn to ration dream time so other responsibilities are met. Limited time assigned to visionary work can be sufficiently rewarding. Read More »

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Understand the Visionary Personality

While the ability to focus on the future separates high-potential leaders from the rank and file, many of us fail to understand the visionary personality. The visionary’s mind runs far and fast. Ideas come naturally; the more unique, the better. The most active visionaries fashion ideas that interconnect and form a clever master plan.

I’ve been writing about this in recent posts. Visionary leaders find joy in dreaming big. They’re drawn to considerable challenges, huge potential and foreseeable payoffs. They have “bright shiny object” syndrome, as Dr. Chestnut explains in The 9 Types of Leadership: Mastering the Art of People in the 21st Century Workplace (Post Hill Press, 2017). The visionary personality is distracted by the latest, greatest idea to come along. (More mundane ideas are shoved aside.) They become curators of unfinished ideas and plans.

Visionaries love learning and the freedom to use acquired knowledge. Corporate systems, procedures and processes that slow them down or interfere with their creativity are regarded as roadblocks. Visionary leaders resist limiting forces like rules, management decisions or protocol because creativity “requires” boundless autonomy. They see brainstorming as an imperative privilege, one that outweighs all others. It gives them a strong sense of fulfillment and purpose. Read More »

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The Future for Visionary Leaders

Think about the visionary leaders you’ve followed or admired: what were their plans for the future?

Leaders are custodians of the future, and when we work for someone, we work to help create a better future as they see it. In my work as a consultant, I have seen successful visionary leaders make a positive impact on their organizations when they:

  • Dream optimistically, encouraging and supporting their people’s inventive activities.
  • Are always working on “the next big thing.” They want their organization to be a leader in its field, setting the pace for others to try and catch.
  • Develop great brainstorming skills that overcome challenges most leaders would deem infeasible.
  • Turn negatives into positives. More is always accomplished with a can-do approach, which lifts morale and feeds the visionary culture.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt, looking toward a positive outcome.
  • Are often sought after to create solutions, bringing notoriety and opportunity to their organization.

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The Allure of a Visionary Leader

We look to our leaders to envision a future, to figure out where the organization needs to go to succeed, to evaluate ideas for pragmatism and fit for the company’s core mission. Productive visionary leaders understand how people, money, resources and organizational capabilities will work together to get from the present to a desired future. A truly successful visionary leader attracts and retains top talent.

But some visionary leaders can be difficult bosses whose brainstorming and idealistic tendencies frustrate employees and create career obstacles. I have seen less skilled visionaries lose their way, devoting themselves to the future, the impossible and the things that could be. While everyone admires visionary thinking, too much of it creates a dangerous imbalance. Read More »

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