4 Key Traits of Great Leaders

What is leadership?  Do you know it when you see it? How many great leaders have you worked for?  What has made them great?

Great leaders know how to prioritize, communicate, define a path to success, change course as conditions warrant and stay focused on the end game. They know how to drive you to do your best, to challenge you to do more.  They can reach into your soul and find what motivates you. And when you win, there is no feeling in the world like it.  You take the experience with you. It becomes a part of who you are.  It raises your expectations for all other leaders.

Found an awesome visual on blog.readytomanage.com that identifies the 4 key traits of a great leader.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.52.44 AM

How does your boss stack up?  How about you?  What are you doing to become a better leader?

Webman

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Who Are You?

My friend Elizabeth found the following wisdom and suggested that I share it with you.  You will notice a very common them from last week’s Comfortably Numb http://wp.me/p1WXuM-ut  blog focused on doing the best you can do regardless of the mediocrity and excuses around you.  This is a re-post of some additional recommendations on getting you to focus on success.  Original article can be found at:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130328120321-36052017-be-a-hero-five-steps-to-vanquish-any-problem?ref=email

1. No problem — Take the challenge

There is no such thing as a problem. What you call “a problem” is not a thing independent of you, but a situation you don´t like. It is “a problem for you.” To deal with it more effectively, put yourself in the picture. Think of it as your challenge. Take the difficulty as an opportunity to show your true colors.

I often catch myself saying, “the real problem is…” followed by the thought, “…that you don´t agree with me!” Equally often, my counterpart argues that “the real problem is…” that I don´t agree with him. Unless we recognize and give up these bad stories, we will each push hard to overcome the other. Push versus push equals stuck: a very expensive stalemate where we both spend tremendous energy for no result.

2. Drop “Who’s responsible?” – Be response-able

You didn’t do it. So what? You are suffering from it. People and things are out of control. It is tempting to blame them and play the part of the innocent victim. Don’t. The price of innocence is impotence. That which you blame you empower. Become the hero of the story; focus on what you can do to respond to your challenge.

The inspiring question is not, “why is this happening to me!” but “what is the best I can do when this happens?”

I once coached a financial services executive who would always blame external factors: regulation, competition, the economy, his employees, his boss, his peers. All these forces did impinge on his goals. It was the truth, but not the whole truth. The truth that he refused to accept, the one that blocked his growth, was that he was able to respond to these forces. (See the coaching questions I use, here.)

3. Forget what you don´t want – Focus on what you want.

Consider an issue that troubles you. What would you like to have happen? I ask this every time I coach. Infallibly, I learn what my client would like to not have happen anymore. This is a bad end for a hero´s journey. Avoiding what you don´t want will take your energy away from achieving what you do want.

Your brain doesn’t compute “no”. What you try to avoid you unconsciously create. If you don´t believe this, try to not think of a white bear right now and notice where your mind goes. Define a positive outcome precisely. Ask yourself, “What do I really want?” and visualize it in as much detail as you can. This will force you to put some flesh on the conceptual bones. Furthermore, ask yourself, “How would I know that I got what I wanted? What would I see? What would I feel?” In this way you will be sure that your vision has observable standards by which to measure success.

4. Take one eye off the ball – Go for the gold.

It’s not about hitting the ball; it’s about winning the game. Set your mind on what you are ultimately trying to achieve. Build a chain from means to ends, taking you from getting the job, to advancing your career, to feeling professionally fulfilled, to being happy. The ultimate goal and measure of success is happiness.

“What would you get, if you achieved X, which is even more important to you than X?” Ask yourself this question and discover that you never ask for what you really want—and neither does anybody else. We all ask for what we think is going to give us what we really want. Have you ever bought set of golf clubs hoping they would make you play better? And what would you get, if you played better, which is even more important to you than playing better?

5. Failure is not an option – Succeed beyond success.

Commit fully to achieve what you really want. Know that you deserve it and give it your best. This will make you more likely to get it. Success, however, is not the most important thing. To be a hero, pursue your goal ethically, as an expression of your highest values. Success may give you pleasure, but integrity leads to happiness.

Have a great day!

Webman

Spill the Wine

Watched “Remember the Titans” this weekend.  What a great movie and soundtrack.  Heard the following classic from War – once again, it is sing-a-long time….

“I was once out strolling, one very hot summer’s day, when I thought I’d lay myself down to rest in a big field with tall grass. I laid there in the sun, felt it caress my face as I fell asleep and dreamed. I dreamed I was in a Hollywood movie, and that I was the star of the movie.  This really blew my mind, the fact that me, an overfed, long-haired, weeping gnome should be the star of a Hollywood movie.  There I was. I was taken to a place, the Hall of the Mountain King. I stood high upon a mountaintop, naked with the world in front of every kind of girl. There were strong ones, tall ones, short ones, brown ones, black ones, round ones, big ones, crazy ones. Out of the middle came a lady. She whispered in my ear, something crazy. She said:  Spill the wine, dig that girl.  Spill the wine.  Spill the wine, dig that girl.  Dig that girl.  Spill the wine, dig that girl.  Spill the wine.  Spill the wine, dig that girl.”

Spill the wine – Eric Burdon & War

The movie is about football but more importantly, it is about life.  It is about overcoming adversity, conquering your fears, dispelling deeply rooted and unfounded prejudices, building friendships and respect for others, defining a goal and doing everything possible to achieve that goal.

The movie is set at a time of racial unrest in the US.  It is 1971 in Alexandria, Virginia, where T. C. Williams High School has just been desegregated, so tensions in the town are at an all time high.  It is about prejudice, it is not fair and it presents incredible odds to be successful.  It is about the human spirit, about persevering, about personal growth and about creating a winning attitude.  Driven by the need to illustrate that the school board is behind desegregation, an African American head coach Herman Boone is hired to lead the school’s football team. Coach Boone takes the coaching position from current head coach Bill Yoast who not only has been an incredibly successful coach in his own right but who has been nominated for the Virginia High School Hall of Fame, and initially rejects the idea of remaining as an assistant coach on the team. In a show of respect and in an attempt to ease racial tension, Boone offers an assistant coaching position to Yoast. Yoast at first refuses Boone’s offer, but is then tempted to join after the white players pledge to boycott the team if he doesn’t participate. Dismayed at the prospect of the students losing their chances at scholarships, Yoast changes his mind and takes up the position of defensive coordinator. The black and white athletes of the football team frequently clash in racially motivated conflicts at their football camp, including those between captain Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell.

However, after forceful coaxing and rigorous athletic training by Boone, the team achieves both racial harmony and triumph. In one scene, Coach Boone wakes the team u around 3:00 AM and takes them to a cemetery where Battle of Gettysburg was fought and delivers a speech about hatred. After returning from football camp, Boone is told by a member of the school board that if he loses even a single game, he will be fired. Subsequently, the Titans go through the season undefeated while battling racial prejudice, before slowly gaining support from the community.

If you have not seen the movie in a while, watch it again.  If you feel as if your life is full of adversity and challenges, well it is and it always will be.  Tackle those challenges with the same intensity as the Titans.

Webman

High Quality People

There are so many people that flow through your life, but when you think about it, so few go the distance.  What do I mean?  You know, the folks that are there with you through thick and thin, or the people that you meet professionally that whenever you think about them or contact them it is like you spoke to them yesterday.  The people that you respect, admire, that admire you; the people that you have gone into battle with and experienced success or failure, but that left an indelible mark on your life.  On the personal side, these are the people that you can trust with anything, the ones that you know without question if you called them at 2:00AM, they would be there as quickly as possible, regardless of whether you spoke to them last week or last year.  On a professional/personal side, the people that just get stuff done; no whining, no complaining, no what’s in it for me, no BS.  Just straight up, what is it going to take people; put me in coach people; what else can I do people.  These are “your peeps”, your go-to folks.

These people have at one time or another been very important to your success, have helped you to become the person you are, have helped you achieve greatness, have provided you with a new perspective, have assisted you in time of trouble, have created awesome solutions for you and helped you accomplish celebratory goals.  You know who they are!

I have been very fortunate to have many great folks as a part of my life.  Of course that starts with family, but today I would like to give you some examples of people that are not in my everyday life but those that are just awesome every time we engage.

I have three best friends from kindergarten, Armand, John and Jamie.  So I have known them for about 95% of my lifetime.  No age giveaways  here!  They have all led very successful lives with wonderful families, had business success and many individual accomplishments.  They have changed over the years, as we all have, and have become conditioned by their own life experiences.  They have matured into responsible adults (they will never admit that) and have their own large circle of friends and acquaintances that we all have today.  But the one constant is that we have an inseparable bond, one that was forged at a very young age, one where trust and admiration was built over many, many years.  During that time we spent more time with other people as well, but we always re-engaged.  We shared many incredible experiences at that very impressionable time of our lives.  We do not talk as often as we should, but when we do, it is like there has been no gap.

During my professional career, I have had the privilege of working not only with the best and brightest but also with people that care about me on a personal level and are always there to provide me counsel, advice, a new contact or forge the way for a new career opportunity.  Many of my former co-workers became CEO’s of both large and small businesses, successful investors, board members and industry leaders. A great example of this is my former CEO, Paul.  So many times over the years I have reached out to Paul for counsel, guidance and  career advice and he has always provided me with honest insight and perspective.  When I am looking for a new opportunity, he is one of the first people I call, not only because he is so well connected, but because he listens, learns and takes direct action to support my goals.  Whether it is merely an introduction, or it is an opportunity to work with him, he has always provided an honest and highly responsive approach to support my goals.

One final example for today is my friend and co-worker Alejandra.  I had the pleasure of meeting Ally in 2011.  She is an awesome web designer by trade but more importantly, is one of the highest quality people that I have known professionally.  Ally’s philosophy to work and life is “Put me in coach, I will do whatever is necessary to get it done.”  She is the proud mother of three children, expecting a fourth now, a tireless worker, extremely creative and she always keeps her eye on the prize.  When I ask her for her opinion, I get it.  When my idea sucks, she tells me it sucks, but of course offers an outstanding alternative.  When there is a tight deadline on a project, she provides you with the guidance and insight to get it done at the highest level of quality.  We are working on a project together right now that is just awesome.  I have not known Ally long, but I am a very good judge of character.  And she is quite the character 🙂

There are so many people that I could have written this blog about.  Upon reflection, I am really amazed by how many terrific people I know, that I can turn to whenever I need them, that can provide me with the thoughts and perspectives that I need to either accomplish a project, find a new opportunity or make a difference.

If you have not spoken to some of these great people in your life recently, pick up the phone and call them today.  They would love to hear from you!

Webman