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6 Steps To Effective Leadership

Leadership is an art and it’s an art that anyone can learn for the most part. Just because someone learns an art doesn’t mean they will be good or effective. Just think about all of the painters, musicians, communicators, or artists of any sort; although they have learned an art very few get through the threshold of simply being an artist, to being an effective artist. That same statement is true for the art of leadership… there are many leaders who never become effective leaders.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” ~Jim Rohn

6 Steps To Effective Leadership:

  • 1. Recognize- Recognize that leadership is a gift, an art, a craft… that has to be continually developed.  Seek out and be willing to learn from effective leaders who have developed this craft we call leadership.
  • 2. Realize- Realize the fact that although leadership is a craft, it is not rocket science.  STOP MAKING IT SO DIFFICULT.  I repeat, unless you are a leader at NASA, your leadership role is not rocket science; chill-out and quit making things so hard on yourself and others.  BTW- If you are a leader at NASA or a rocket scientist, you should probably be asking the tough question: “Is what we do still necessary or relevant?”
  • 3. Remember- Remember The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you!”  Most leaders’ barley remember the bronze rule, let alone The Golden Rule.  As a leader it’s important to care about your people, to love your people, to care about their interests, care about their success… to treat them how you would want and expect someone to treat you.  Remember in order to become an effective leader you have to understand that “Relationships Matter!”
  • 4. Replicate- Replicate what works and don’t force things that don’t work.  Don’t try to be a replicate of another leader or simply replicate what you have read in a book, but rather replicate the effective “What Works” concept into who you are and what you do!
  • 5. Resurrect- Resurrect a dying team member; an effective leader has the ability to take a dying team member on the verge of being fired and help resurrect them into a story that begins with this sentence… “There was a time when so and so team member was on the verge of being fired and so and so leader believed in them… Wow, Look at how successful they are now!”
  • 6. Reinvent- Reinvent the way leadership is carried out!  Break the box, find a new way, figure out what works for you, don’t be scared to be different, reinvent what might has been seen as irrefutable.  Reinvent out of hunger, creativity, thinking, believing, seeking etc.; don’t reinvent for the sake of reinventing!  “Don’t reinvent the wheel” applies to those who reinvent for the sake of reinventing!

Have you seen any of these steps carried out?  Share your thoughts on these steps or what it means to be an Effective Leader.

Ray Lewis’ Inspirational Post Game Interview

Above is Ray Lewis’ Inspirational Post Game Interview after the Ravens defeated the Broncos in a double overtime 1st round playoff game… He wore a shirt with Psalm 91 on it last week and this week’s Post Game is laced with scripture and God inspiration all over it.

Ray Lewis inspires me and I think his retirement season is going to inspire many, as he leads the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory. There is something special about what’s going on with the end of his career and the beginning of his life post football. Every time I hear him speak, I learn a lot and walk away inspired. There seems to be a special anointing on his life.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on this interview and the miraculous nature of this post game since his retirement announcement.

“Rule 31”

For those of you that have followed me online for awhile, there are a few things that I hope you have come to know about me… I Love Jesus, I Love My Family, I Like Developing Leaders, I Love Encouraging My Boys, I Love Helping Others Win, I Like Sports and I Used To Be A Prison Warden. Speaking of sports and my boys, I love watching their games, teaching them and watching them grow as athletes and more importantly as young men.

One of the things that I have always had to balance when it comes to my boys and their athletics is atta’boys and encouragement vs. outlining areas for improvement. I have always tried to strike a balance of making sure I give enough encouragement and highlight the good before the bad. The natural bend can easily be to focus on the areas of improvement.

To combat that negative tendency my boys and I came up with the rule that has evolved into what we call the “Rule 31.” Rule 31 is basically this:

  • After a game, practice or competition, before anyone says anything about performance other than “Good Game,” our boys have to first point out “3 things they did well and 1 thing they can improve on.” They must start with the 3 positives first.
  • As parents if we agree we simply say “We agree” or if we saw things a little different then we can do the same thing, offer “3 things they did well and 1 thing they can improve on.”

Rule 31 was actually inspired from my days as a prison warden and specifically when I ran a Maximum Security Juvenile Facility. We tried to make sure that we had 3 times as many rewards as we did consequences. The 3-1 positive ratio seemed to be some sort of magic potion.

What “Rule 31” has done for us is allowed space to not say anything until our boys can self-evaluate. It gives us the opportunity to simply agree with their assessment and it allows all of us to accentuate the positive and call attention to the area of development.

Rule 31 is a great concept for leading teams, families, interactions with a spouse, teacher/pupil relationships, pastor congregants, trainer/trainee and the list goes on and on.

Accentuate the positive and allow individuals to self-assess, you’d be amazed the growth you will see both them and yourself.

What do you think? How do you see “Rule 31” working in your life?  

Nick Saban and The Difference Between Winners and Losers

Many of us grew up hearing the phrase, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” The reality is that statement isn’t totally true. Winning does matter and deep down everyone has the desire to be a winner, including: the business that you work for, your church, your children’s school, your favorite sports team, your daughter’s gymnastics club and even those who don’t like winners.  As much as I don’t like the Alabama Crimson Tide and Nick Saban, I love the fact that Nick Saban is a big time winner.

Many people say that Saban is too hard on players and doesn’t like to have fun. His response to those that don’t hink he’s a happy person or doesn’t like to have fun is, “Winning is fun, I’m happy and have fun when we win… I’m a very happy person.”

If winning is fun and it keeps Coach Saban happy, he’s probably one of the happiest people you could ever meet. All he does is win, Coach Saban has led his teams to win 3 out of the last 4 BCS Titles and straight up put a beat-down on top ranked Notre Dame 42-14 and it wasn’t even that close. One of Coach Saban’s mantras is this:

You can’t feel entitled if you want to stay on top.”

Coach Saban’s response after last nights BCS Beat-down pretty much sums up his philosophy and the difference between Winners and Losers:

“I feel great for our players, fans, administration, and the people of Alabama. Our guys maintained their focus and played through the adversity of winning during a tough season and difficult schedule. My job is to put the players in position to win. I want them to be able to look back 25 years from now and say they won the national championship… We will take a couple days to celebrate this, and then it will time to start a building toward a next season. “

The Difference Between A Winner & A Loser is the desire to win and the desire to keep winning. Vince Lombardi said it best when he said, “Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is everything.”

What’s The Difference Between Winners & Losers?

You tell me… share your thoughts on winning, losing and the success of Nick Saban.

Seth Godin Shares “How To Change The System”

What do you think? Why do so many people overlook the brilliance and reality of this process?

We Need To Stop Recycling… In The NFL

There seems to be lots of talk about the coaching carousel that’s happening in the NFL and most sports for that matter. It happens to a degree in both college and pro sports; however the NFL is the King Of The Recycling Carousel. Simply take a look at this year alone: 7 coaches and 6 General Managers fired.

I want to start with a definition of recycling:

re·cy·cle [ree-sahy-kuh l] verb, re·cy·cled, re·cy·cling, noun.
Recycle – to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse, to alter or adapt for new use without changing the essential form or nature, to use again in the original form or with minimal alteration: to cause to pass through a cycle again, repeat a process from the beginning.

I am all about giving coaches, leaders and individuals from any spectrum a second chance and a new opportunity. I’m a firm believer in the 1 man’s trash is another mans treasure, environments matter and people are successful under different regimes and new cultures. I just think it’s important that organizations look to renew and refresh and not simply recycle.

It feels like there is a lot of settling on the recycling front when it comes to NFL Head Coaches. Many chalk the “settling” up to the fact that the NFL Head Coach is an elite and Exclusive Fraternity. Because of this elite fraternity perception/reality, the day a coach gets fired, he’s on the shortlist to get hired by another NFL team that currently has a vacancy sign in the window.

Below are a few of the 7 NFL Firings/Recyclings:

  • Arizona Cardinals ask Ken Whisenhunt to fly away… so what? The Bills will be interviewing Whisenhunt to replace their recently fired Chan Gailey. Gailey’s record: a sad 16-32 over the last 3 NFL Seasons.
  • After 14 years of coaching and a crazy year both on and off the field, The Eagles dropped Andy Reid like some roadkill… so what? Before Reid could even get his office cleaned out the Cardinals swooped in like an Eagle grabbing some food and appear to be down the road on finalizing a deal. And they aren’t even the only team he’s interviewed with.
  • Probably the most controversial was the Bears dropping Lovie Smith like he was hot, although the Bears were a Minnesota loss/Adrian Peterson not making a Big-Time run away from making the playoffs… so what? There are many teams trying to scoop Lovie away from the windy city.

I spoke of this Elite Fraternity known as NFL Coaches earlier, well the 3 coaches that were fired above all are a part of an even more Elite Fraternity… coaches that have taken their team to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they are also part of a Fraternity of coaches that have been to the Superbowl and didn’t win.

Apparently the Cleveland Browns are not going to go the Recycling route as they have their eyes set on a coach from the college ranks. The up in coming, no huddle, pro offensive, spread master mind Chip Kelly from the Oregon Ducks. I’m all for 2nd chances; however when it comes to the NFL Head Coaches, there may be some better solutions out there. How about taking a risk on an up in comer and giving them a first chance. If you don’t think taking a risk on the up and comer works, look at Jim Harbaugh and the success he’s had with the San Francisco 49ers in just a couple seasons.

I’m all about recycling when it comes to preserving the environment, but when it comes to recycling to preserve the status quo – Not So Much. We Need To Stop Recycling… In The NFL.

What do you think?

11 Attributes Of Great Leadership

There are many attributes that various leaders possess, many of them positive and unfortunately some not so positive. People are looking for particular attributes in leaders they want to work for. Leaders that possess these attributes generally have a positive, healthy work environment with minimal turnover.

Below are 11 Attributes People Are Looking For In a Leader. We will creatively title them:

11 Attributes Of Great Leadership

  • 1. Honesty – Tell the truth; even if lying is easier — tell the truth. || “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” ~Thomas Jefferson
  • 2. Integrity – Do what’s right; even if nobody is watching — do what’s right. || “There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Politics without principle; Science without humanity; Business without ethics.” ~Mahatma Gandhi and I will add an 8th “Leadership without integrity.”
  • 3. Visionary – Have some vision for where you’re going; empower your team to get you there and if you don’t do anything else — have some vision for where you are going. || “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” ~Thomas Jefferson
  • 4. Self Awareness – Know who you are; the good, the bad and the ugly, know who you are. ||  “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” ~Lao Tzu
  • 5. Risk Taker – Be willing to try new things, new strategies and embrace new ideas; even if the ideas aren’t yours — be willing to try new things, new strategies and embrace new ideas. || “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~Harold R. McAlindon
  • 6. Caring – Truly care about those you lead; people can care less about how much you know until they know how much you care — truly care about those you lead. || “Our love is like the misty rain that falls softly, but floods the river…” ~African Proverb
  • 7. Stand For Something – Lead by convictions; know why you do what you do and why you think what you think — lead by convictions. || “You must stick to your conviction, but be ready to abandon your assumptions.” ~Denis Waitley
  • 8. Spirit Of Development – Develop other leaders; without leadership development, the pipeline of leadership is halted — develop other leaders. || “My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.” ~Jack Welch
  • 9. Good Listener – Be willing to listen; if you’re always talking, there is a good chance you are not listening — be willing to listen. || “To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation” ~Chinese Proverb
  • 10. Lifetime Leaner – Learn from anything and everything; no matter how many degrees or titles you have, you always have the capacity to learn — learn from anything and everything.  || “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” ~John F. Kennedy
  • 11. Humility –  Stay level-headed and don’t think that you’re better than others; no matter how much success, praise or fortune you receive, stay level-headed and don’t think that you’re better than others. || “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” ~St. Augustine

What do you think about these 11 attributes? Share your thoughts and experiences. 

Letting Leaders Run Their Race

I have been in a number of conversations with friends, colleagues and clients where the topic of discussion has been the inability or freedom to lead. I just recently had a conversation with a Senior Leader of a very large organization about this very problem. (could be a church, non-profit or business) I’ll let your imagination fill-in that blank.

This guy is a strong, gifted, visionary leader who is being hamstrung by his governing body. Not only is the this crippling him, it’s setting their organization back years.

Just like the famous triple crown horse Secretariat needed to be freed up to run, not only run, but run the race that only he could run. That’s the same situation for leaders being held back in organizations around the country. Leaders want to be free, they want to run and they want to lead.

Organizations and organizational leaders have an opportunity and responsibility to free up their race horses to run and to lead. These races must be within the boundaries of the established organization; however it should be encouraged that they push those boundaries to the limit.

The potential for greatness exists at all levels throughout most organizations and a major hindrance is control and an unwillingness to let the horses run their race. Leaders are looking for a License To Lead and the ability to Run Their Race.

The famous quote from the movie Secretariat are this, “Let him run his race.”

Please let your race horses run their race!

Author and Financial Guru Dave Ramsey says it this way, “Hire thoroughbreds and let them run their race… thoroughbreds will run off the donkeys, because thoroughbreds don’t run with donkeys.”

Share your thoughts and experiences with race horses being allowed to run their race or race horses being held back at the starting line.

The Supervisor Lid Principle (SLP)

Have you ever heard the phrase “My Supervisor Is Holding Me Down!” or some variation of it? Most of us have either heard that phrase or uttered it ourselves. The reality is this phrase can definitely be a harsh reality and many times it’s unintentional.

I am a firm believer that an individual’s success within an organization is directly correlated to what their immediate supervisor thinks of them.  In other words, the supervisor can put a lid on, or take the lid off of an individuals success. Ultimately leaving an employee’s success in the hands of the perception/reality of their supervisor.

I call this the Supervisor Lid Principle (SLP) and I have seen it in full effect throughout my various careers and even within sports teams. This principle results in individuals failing, not performing and even faced with termination. These negative effects permeate until they’re placed under the tutelage of another supervisor, whom has a different set of lids or removes the lids altogether.

The most effective way to combat against (SLP) is to merely recognize that it exists. Once you recognize that it exists you can begin to identify methods, strategies and techniques to remove the lids that your supervisor may have either inaccurately or unintentionally placed on you. Overall, the removal of those Supervisor Imposed Lids will inevitably allow you to be more effective and free.

Supervisors need to be aware of the unintentional or inaccurate lids they place on their employees.  Both supervisors and employees need to recognize that (SLP) is real.  Dear Mr. or Mrs Supervisor, if you want an employee to fly, free up their wings or rather remove their lids. If you want your employees to struggle, fail, be tentative, second-guess themselves and not soar… keep putting your unnecessary, narcissistic and limiting lids on your people.

The organizations and supervisors that tend to “Hold Their People Down” must begin asking these questions:  Do I live with an abundance or scarcity mentality? Do I operate by freedom or control?  Am I secure or insecure? The answers to these questions and making the necessary adjustments is key to raising up a pot full of boiling leaders, that nobody can hold down. Let em’ Boil and Let em’ Fly!

“In any organization, you will only be as successful as your supervisor thinks you are or allows you to be.

What Do You Think?

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