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.
Will definitely not be like the old boss. That one you worked with for years, learned the ropes, had some success, some failure; built a bond, war stories to share, had a beer or two. Over time you built trust and mutual respect. You had a camaraderie, a cadence; you were in your comfort zone. Nice!
A friend of mine just got a new boss. As we know this is one of the more stressful times for an employee. Who is this person? What are they like? Can I work with them?
So what do we do now? We check out their Linked In page. Find out what makes them tick. See how many contacts we have in common. Zero was not what you were looking for. Called a couple of co-workers. “Hey, do you know anything about my new boss?” The responses intrigue and worry you. Mostly worry.
You start off hopeful, giving them the benefit of the doubt. And then it happens. They contact you for the first meeting. You exchange pleasantries, start to feel each other out, kind of like the first round of a boxing match. “Hey, that went OK I think.”
You are then invited to your first team meeting. You are the new kid on the block, focused, on your best behavior, mostly listening because you do not yet know the rules of engagement. The learning has begun. You repeat to yourself, “Hey, that went OK I think.”
After the meeting, the new boss calls you into the office and asks how did the meeting go? You say that you learned a lot and that you felt like it went pretty well. Then your new boss says, “You need to change the look on your face because you are coming across hostile.” And you think, What the F are they talking about? Is he/she crazy? This is just not going to go well.
This type of situation happens everyday because the manager and the employee did nothing to gain each others trust. Without first establishing a level of initial trust, the relationship starts off negative and will not likely ever become what it could have been.
To get a new work relationship started the new boss and employee need to work together to establish an initial level of trust. This is easily accomplished by establishing a “dialogue of partnership”, learning about each others professional and personal experiences, sharing past successes and failures, identifying areas that you might have in common and gaining an understanding of your personality type and work behaviors (Myers-Briggs, DISC, Kolbe e.g.).
Learning about each other upfront in an open, honest and non-confrontational way will get the relationship off to the right start. What happens after that is up to you.
With all of the talk, books, seminars, training and discussion about leadership, why is it so hard to find? Do you work for a leader? Someone that has passion, curiosity, compassion, daring, generosity, accountability and grit? Or do you work for someone that is just looking out for numero uno, protecting his or her ass at all times? No really, who do you work for?
Do you think about the person that you work for as a leader? Do you come into work everyday and wonder what you will learn today? Or think, I hope he/she spends some time with me today, because I want to learn something new? I want to develop skills like them. Well do you?
Who do you look up to in your company, in your life? Who do you admire? Where do you get your inspiration? Is anyone out there that stirs your mind, your intellect, your curiosity, your passion?
A brief musical interlude………..
You might work for the greatest leader in the world, someone you respect and admire. I hope you do. Most of you do not. You are subjected to bosses (Not leaders) that merely sit in the spot above you in the organization chart. Someone that might have a bit more experience, someone who is resting on their accomplishments from years before, someone that has figured out how to work the system, someone that never does anything proactive for the business, you, your career or anyone other than themselves. Maybe you work for the dreaded “Insecure Manager”. (Blog on that next week)
Well if you are blessed with a great leader, what are you doing to learn the most you can? If you are working for Sluggo, what are you doing to change it? A recent Harvard Business Review article mentions the following attributes as true signs of a modern leader. The leader that does not need authority to make a difference. Do these describe you?
Seers — individuals who are living in the future, who possess a compelling vision of “what could be.” As human beings, we’re constantly looking forward, and we love to sign on with individuals who are already working on “the next big thing.”
Contrarians — free of the shackles of conventional wisdom and eager to help others stage a jailbreak. It’s exciting to be around these free-spirited thinkers who liberate us from the status quo and open our minds to new possibilities.
Architects — adept at building systems that elicit contribution and facilitate collaboration. They leverage social technologies in ways that amplify dissident voices, coalesce communities of passion and unleash the forces of change.
Mentors — rather than hoarding power, they give it away. They believe the primary job of a leader is to create more leaders. To this end, they coach, tutor, challenge and encourage.
Connectors — with a gift for spotting the “combinational chemistry” between ideas and individuals. They help others achieve their dreams by connecting them with sponsors, like-minded peers, and complementary resources.
Bushwhackers — they clear the trail for new ideas and initiatives by chopping away at the undergrowth of bureaucracy. They’re more committed to doing the right thing than to doing things right.
Guardians — vigilant defenders of core values and enemies of expediency. Their unflinching commitment to a higher purpose inspires others and encourages them to stand tall for their beliefs.
Citizens — true activists, their courage to challenge the status quo comes from their abiding commitment to doing as much good as possible for as many as possible. They are other-centered, not self-centered.
So who are you and what are you doing about leadership or lack there-of.
But only two types of meeting communications are valuable:
Requests – When you need something from a meeting participant, be clear and precise. Your request should include full details and a deadline
Promises – These are commitments made by a person to fulfill requests. That is why specificity is critical. As the meeting leader, your follow-up is to define the requests, promises and timing. One record for executing against the promises
In an era where there are more and more ways to reach and communicate with your customers and prospects, every day challenges us in how to connect and have meaningful dialogue. How do I capture their attention? What is it about my brand and my promotions that they care about? How do I best engage customers for meaningful feedback or to reward them with special incentives that are relevant?
Smart devices provide a new and unique way to communicate with your customers. Smart phones are projected to hold a 50% market share in the US by the end of 2011 and a 75% market share by the end of 2013. This new medium provides incredible new opportunities to reach your customers in ways never before imagined. Are you able to take advantage of these opportunities?
As a local retailer, you know it is all about location, location, location. Well location now has a completely new meaning. It is not about the location of the store, but the location of your customers and prospects to your store. Mobile consumers are willing to share their location in exchange for real-time offers. 66% are willing to share their information in exchange for coupons, 55% for loyalty rewards and 37% for exclusive sales.
The exponential growth in use of smartphones, iPhone/iPads, and tablets (we’ll group all of these into “smart device” for this article’s purposes) attests to our preference for portability. Unlike the PC or laptop counterparts, we typically keep these devices within 3 feet, 24x7x365(“Will 2010 Be the Real Year of Mobile?” (December 10, 2009), Jason Steinberg”) indicating our strong preference for smart devices as the communication device of choice.
Just as social networking changed the way companies communicate with their customers, so too will the adoption of smart devices. While any business should consider how to take advantage of this trend, consumer driven companies in particular MUST start incorporating smart phone and device communications as an important part of their overall communications plan.