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There Is Value In Being An Underdog

underdogUnderdog – a participant in a fight, conflict, contest, or game who is not expected to win

The Oklahoma Sooners were a 17 point underdog last night against arguably one of the greatest college football teams and football coaches of all time – Alabama and Nick Saban. 17 points is the largest underdog that Bob Stoops has been since becoming the head coach at OU. Well we know how the story played out, the underdog OU beat Alabama 45-31 in one of the biggest upsets of the BCS Era. Not to mention, OU pulled off the upset with an underdog Freshman QB at the helm.

There are so many underdog stories of success and they should be motivation for everyone to keep an underdog mindset. There Is Value In Being An Underdog. With the right influences, leadership and coaching – underdogs seem to work harder, try harder and compete with “We don’t have anything to lose and everything to win mentality.” One of the major contributors to the success of an underdog is having little wins along the way and beginning to believe.

“If there’s one cultural quality we have, it’s that we always see ourselves as an underdog.” ~Bill Gates

The truth of the matter is that we all have some underdog in us from one situation or another. The key is to view your life and your situation as that of an underdog. Is life beating you down? Fight harder. Are you expected to fail? Prove them wrong. Does your boss think you don’t have what it takes? Keep working. Do you find yourself in a slump? Keep swinging. Are you having success? Prepare more and work harder because you can always get better. So you stay at the top of the mountain? Keep climbing.

Take on the mantra of the old cartoon Underdog.  “There’s no need to fear–Underdog is here!”

No Fear!

How Micromanagers, Control Freaks and Insecure Leaders Kill Their Organizations

ceativity killer 2Creativity is a key ingredient to a successful, thriving and growing organization. Unfortunately some Micromanagers, Control Freaks and Insecure Leaders Kill Their Organizations and the creative spirit without even realizing it.

Micromanagers take the dynamics of creativity off the table. Their negative and counterproductive process goes a little something like this: Team member tries something new, micromanager watches over their shoulder, questions them and doesn’t give the team members ideas any credibility. Team member gets frustrated and stops thinking outside the box, trying new things and stops leading in general – thus killing creativity.

“The most common mistake I see leaders make is to attempt to lead through control. As counterintuitive as it might seem, in order to gain influence you must surrender control.” ~Mike Myatt

It’s really a sad case when a leader wants a thriving, vibrant, creative organization and they don’t have the self-awareness to know that their insecure control freak nature is the bottleneck. The best position a leader can find themselves in is, “out in front and out of the way.” The only way a leader can remain out in front is to continuously get out of the way and let their team members lead.

In order to foster organizational success and a spirit of creativity, leaders must allow their team members to try new things, chart new courses and sail new waters. If a leader truly wants this to work, they must be willing to get out of the way and be okay with some failures and fumbles. Successes and failures should never be overlooked; however its important to applaud the thought and process of trying. Freedom, flexibility, solutions, ideas, risks, opinions, opportunity, experiment, failure… are all words that help foster creativity and effectually lead to success.

In order for creativity and a culture of winning to permeate through an organization, the insecurity of the micromanager must bid farewell.

15 Traits Of Great Leadership

HackingLeadership_box

Today’s guest post comes from my man @MikeMyatt, who in my opinion is one of the top if not the top Leadership Experts in the world. He is straight up brilliant and has been a great mentor to me personally. This week, Mike just released his brand new leadership gem Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly.” It’s awesome, go grab a copy now.

15 Traits Of Great Leadership

Today’s post will make the case for leadership development. While much has been written about the traits and characteristics that form great leaders, the truth is that leaders come in many different varieties…there is no one-size-fits-all formula for leadership. That said, all good leaders possess certain core qualities, and great leaders simply develop said core qualities to a higher level than their peers. Put simply, a leader’s shelf life will be equal to their ability to leverage their leadership traits through solid execution, and influencing their constituencies in alignment with the corporate vision with values. If you want to insure longevity and success as a leader, focus on developing your leadership acumen by prioritizing your efforts on the following list of 15 leadership traits:

  • 1. Integrity: Always do the right thing regardless of sentiment, and never compromise your core values. If you cannot build trust and engender confidence with your stakeholders you cannot succeed. No amount of talent can overcome illicit, immoral or otherwise ill-advised actions. A leader void of integrity will not survive over the long-haul.
  • 2. Excellent Decision Making Skills: As a leader you will live or die by the quality of the decisions you make. The practical reality of leadership is that you are often only as good as your last decision. When you’re the leader good decisioning is expected, poor decisioning won’t be tolerated, and great decisioning will set you apart from the masses.
  • 3. Ability to Focus: If you cannot focus, you cannot perform at the level necessary to remain in leadership for very long. The ability to do nothing more than understand and lock-on to priorities will place you in the top 10% of all leaders.
  • 4. Leveraging Experience: Inexperience, a lack of maturity, needing to be the center of attention, not recognizing limitations, a lack of judgment, an inferior knowledge base, or any number of other common mistakes made by rookie leaders can cause your house of cards to fall. If you don’t have the experience personally, hire it, contract it, but by all means acquire it. Great leaders surround themselves with tier-one talent, and the best advisors money can buy. They don’t make uniformed or ill-advised decisions in a vacuum.
  • 5. Command Presence: Great leaders possess a strong presence and bearing. They are unflappable individuals that never let you see them sweat (unless of course it serves a purpose). Everything about how they carry themselves messages that they have a clear vision and are capable of leading in accordance with said vision.
  • 6. Embracing Change: Great leaders have a strong bias to action. They don’t rest upon past accomplishments, and are always seeking to improve through change and innovation. In today’s fast paced and competitive environment, those leaders who don’t openly embrace change will often be shown the door prior to the expiration of their initial employment contract.
  • 7. Brand Champions: Great leaders understand branding at every level. They seek to build not only a dominant corporate brand, but also to leverage a strong personal brand. Leaders that are not well branded on a personal basis, or who let their corporate brand fall into decline will not survive.
  • 8. Boundless Energy: Great leaders have a boundless amount of energy. They are positive in their outlook, and their attitude is contagious. A low energy leader is not motivating, convincing, or credible.
  • 9. Subject Matter Expertise: Great leaders have a deep understanding of their subject matter, and a strong orientation toward achievement. Great leaders possess what often appears to be a sixth sense, or an almost instinctive feel for what  needs to occur in order to leverage their knowledge into a competitive advantage.
  • 10. Talent: Great leaders have a nose for talent…They understand how to recruit, develop and deploy talent focusing on applying the best talent to the best opportunities. They also know when it’s time to make changes, and to cut losses as needed.
  • 11. Organizational Acumen: Great leaders know how to engender trust, when and how to share information, and are expert listeners. They develop strong teams an healthy organizational cultures driven to performance by aligned motivations. They understand the power of well thought out, consistent, and clearly articulated vision. They can quickly diagnose whether the team/organization is performing at full potential, delivering on commitments, and whether the team is changing and growing versus just operating.
  • 12. Curiosity: Great leaders possess a powerful motivation to increase their knowledge base and to convert their learning into actionable initiatives. They question, challenge, confront and are never accepting of the status quo. They listen well and are exceptionally intuitive and observant.
  • 13. Intellectual Capacity: Great leaders are also great thinkers…both at the strategic and tactical levels. They are quick on their feet, and know how to get to the root of an issue faster than anyone else. I’ve never met a great leader who wasn’t extremely discerning.
  • 14. Big Thinkers: Regardless of the physical or geographical boundaries of their current role, great CEOs think big and add a zero. Limited thinking results in limited results. Whether global thinking is applied to capital formation, supply-chain issues, business development, strategic partnering, distribution or any number of other areas, those leaders who don’t grasp the importance of thinking globally will not endure. Great leaders are externally oriented, hungry for knowledge of the world, and adept at connecting developments and spotting patterns.
  • 15. Never Quit: Great leaders refuse to lose…They have an insatiable appetite for accomplishment and results. While they may reengineer or change direction, they will never lose sight of the end game.

Mike Myatt is America’s Top CEO Coach, recognized by Thinkers50 as a global authority on the topic of leadership, a Forbes leadership columnist, author of Leadership Matters,  CEO at N2growth, and is a Senior Fellow at the Gordian Institute. His new book, Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly, is available on Amazon.

The Most Important Piece Of A Winning Puzzle

winWhen people talk about success and winning, you often hear them talk about the importance of having a will and a desire to win. Although have a will to win is important, it’s not the most important ingredient in a winning recipe. Winning is more about having a will to prepare, a will to learn, a will to work and then oh yes a will to win. It’s easy to have a will to win; however a will to prepare and work hard getting there is another story.

There are a lot of stories of talented people who had a will to win, that never took the time to prepare, to work, to learn and therefore their winning never reached a level of significance. If you want to win, learn to couple your will to win, with your will to prepare.

“It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” ~Paul “Bear” Bryant

The “will to prepare” is the most important piece of a winning puzzle.

The Importance Of A Change Of Scenery

change sceneryI’ve seen it time and time again; where a leader, a coach, an athlete, a pastor, a teacher, a couple… move from one situation to another and their productivity and level of success increases. I was reminded of this while watching the NFL this weekend; specifically watching the Kansas City Chiefs. Chiefs 1st year head coach Andy Reid was fired last season after 14 years with the Philadelphia Eagles. In his debut coaching season with the Chiefs, Andy Reid has led the Chiefs to a 7-0 record and remain the only undefeated team left in the NFL. Did I mention that the Chiefs only won a total of 2 games the entire last season.

It wasn’t that Andy Reid was a bad coach or an incapable leader, it was the mere fact that he had been in Philly for 14 years and had possibly become comfortable and complacent. It’s an easy trap to fall into and it happens to the best of them. Andy Reid is just one example of thousands upon thousands of leaders and individuals who increased their capacity and raised their level of success simply by changing their scenery.

A change of scenery can heighten your senses, make you appreciate what you had and make you go back to the basics that contributed to your success. Great leaders generally look to change their scenery throughout the course of their leadership career. A change of scenery can be: a change of job, a change of duties, a change of team members around you, a change of venue, a change of approach… whatever it takes to change your view.

Sometimes that change of scenery is forced upon you due to being fired, laid off, being in an uncomfortable situation etc. It doesn’t matter how you get to that change of scenery, what’s important is the fact that you get there. Remember what may appear to be a set-back is actually a set-up for you to change your scenery.

How Leadership Is Like Riding A Bike

bikeAlthough there are thousands of leadership books and leadership gurus, leadership isn’t something you can simply read about… you have to do it. It’s not rocket science, it’s a simple science.

Leadership is just like riding a bike — you can’t just read about riding a bike, you have to get on the bike, have someone help steady you, or maybe use training wheels, try to keep your balance and start pedaling. At first you will be a little wobbly and you may even crash a few times.

If you learn from your mistakes and stay after it, you will definitely get better. Although you may become a proficient bike rider, you must be mindful of the fact that there are plenty of new bike tricks to learn and different levels of bikes to ride.

Leadership is the exact same way, you have to get on the leadership bike, have someone help you get started, start pedaling, crash a few times, learn from your mistakes and continue to grow.

Leadership Is Like Riding a Bike and boils down to these Simple Things:

  • Believe In Yourself
  • Believe In Others
  • Point The Direction
  • Provide An Environment For Growth
  • Inspire and Motivate Others
  • Move People From Here To There
  • dream BIG. think BIGGER.

Often times people make leadership more difficult than it has to be. Leadership is about trust, influence and relationships. Leadership Is Like Riding A Bike, Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu says it this way, “When the effective leader is finished with his work, the people say it happened naturally.” Simply put, it was simple.

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” ~Ernest Hemingway

Is leadership like riding a bike? Is leadership really that simple? Share your thoughts and experiences with leadership being made more difficult than it had to be.

Don’t Confuse Great Performance With Great Leadership

time leadershipLeadership can sometimes be tricky, by tricky I mean difficult to evaluate the true impact of one’s leadership. Some leaders push people really hard, create an environment where individuals can’t ask questions or challenge the king and results are more important than anything else.

These leaders and leadership environments may produce results for a season, but in the long-run, morale will be negatively affected. Those employees will do just enough to meet the performance expectations and they will begin to plan their exit from that environment when the 1st lateral or better opportunity comes available.

Don’t confuse great performance with great leadership. There are plenty or organizations, environments and teams that have great performance, while the implications of the leadership is devastating to the employees. These teams are generally over-worked, under-valued, under-appreciated, stressed out, carry their work problems home and are flat out unhealthy. Great leadership produces healthy teams.

The best way to evaluate the effectiveness of leadership is to get true and honest feedback from the team. If this feedback is filtered through an independent 3-party it’s even better.

Don’t measure success from performance alone, dig a little deeper and answer this question: “Are my team members happy, healthy, satisfied and excited to come to work everyday?”

Healthy teams are comprised of healthy people. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the leader to create an environment that fosters health.

Don’t Confuse Great Performance With Great Leadership.

Tapping Into Your Inner Greatness

greatnessWe live in a world where there seems to be greatness all around us. We get to watch our favorite TV programs with all of the great actors and actresses. Not long ago we were able to watch the NBA Finals where we get to watch the greatest basketball players in the world battle it out on the court. We get to attend conferences and hear from some of brightest minds and the greatest speakers of our time. We get to read blogs and books of some of the brightest minds on the planet.

We simply get to sit and watch greatness. We get to imagine what greatness could be and get a little glimpse of what it is. We get to watch greatness all around us and often times we are in awe because of it.

Every year I watch a little singing competition called American Idol where people who watched greatness for years decid to take a shot at becoming great. Twelve make it to the top, two make it to the finale and one becomes the great winner. What changed with these top 12? They chose to be great, they gave it a chance, they stepped in the ring, they got off the sidelines and they got in the game. If you are not in the ring, on the court, at the plate you will never be great, because those on the sidelines never become the greatest. They are spectators, they watch the great ones.

“Greatness is inside of you” is not some random quote or saying… it’s truth. You have potential for greatness, it’s time that you reach your God potential, it’s time to tap into your inner greatness.

“Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness but it is greatness.” ~George Bernard Shaw

You Can Watch Greatness or Choose To Be Great!

Understanding The True Value Of An Idea

idea 3I have lots of thoughts each and every day, as a matter of fact all of us do. There is varying research that suggests how many thoughts a day the average human has. Some research indicates that 100 years ago the average number of thoughts was 5,000 a day and today humans think around 50,000 thoughts per day. I guess we have a lot more to think about in this overly stimulating age and time.

I’m not sure what the accurate number of thoughts per day is, however I’d be inclined to think that I’m more aligned with the 50,000 thoughts a day number. I would also say that many of the thoughts that I have are ideas, dreams, visions and more ideas.

As a consultant the general deliverables for my clients primarily deal with ideas, connecting those ideas to strategy and moving that strategy into reality. The “always on” line of thinking works perfect for the way that I’m wired, because I’m a thinker and thinking is how I orient my world. I literally had 10 different business ideas, strategies, thoughts and aha’s on my drive taking my son and his friends to basketball practice yesterday. I got home did some research and realized that a couple of them didn’t make sense and I will pursue the others further. (In due time)

That’s the beauty of having many thoughts is the fact that you weed out the ones that need to be weeded out and you act on the others.  The more ideas you have the greater opportunity for some of those ideas to be great ones. My Go Daddy domain account is an example of that – I have an idea, I buy a domain, I let it sit for awhile, at the end of the year I chose to delete or renew. Buying the domain is simply investing in the potential of the idea.

The beauty an idea is the fact that it forces you to wrestle the question of, “Is this idea good, bad or indifferent?” Often times a bad idea has as much value and opportunities for learning as a good one. Ideas all have potential, it’s what you do with those ideas that determines whether or not the potential of a particular idea is realized. Potential unrealized is just potential.

What Is An Idea Worth? The idea itself is not worth much. The strategy, thoughts, wrestling and process of massaging that idea into something special is worth lots, maybe even million$ or gazillion$.

There are tons of success stories that simply began with an idea that was developed into something very special. What Is An Idea Worth?  It depends on what the person that has the idea is willing to do with it? We must learn to Understand The True Value Of An Idea.

Have ideas, sift through them and do something about them.

Share your thoughts on the whole ideation process.

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