This week a client asked me what I felt was the most important quality of a successful leader. My response was authenticity because, like a knife, it can cut through undiscussed issues, opening up conversations and making a lot of other problems solvable. Many leaders unfortunately pervert the concept of authenticity, using it as justification to rip into people and ideas without making themselves vulnerable.
At a recent dinner with a long standing client she reflected on the pride she felt for what her team had been able to achieve over the last year. Under her stewardship they had realized a market leading position in a very competitive niche. I asked her what she felt drove their strong performance. I loved her answer.
In any endeavor, you get bombarded with more information than you can handle. If you try to focus on too much you’ll scatter your energy – and lose your effectiveness. To succeed, sort out major issues from minor ones. A client of mine uses a powerful tool to get at this idea.
The title is a quote by William McKnight, former CEO of 3M. It’s a powerful statement regarding the responsibility of leadership. However, it doesn’t go far enough in describing what great leaders do. There should be a second sentence. “If you don’t help people TEAR DOWN fences, regardless of how they got there, you also get sheep.”
One of my clients runs a fast-paced technology business. A frequent struggle of his is staying on course throughout the day. One process we implemented to help him is called “3 Things”. Each morning he uses it to determine the 3 significant tasks he’s committed to completing that day. If he strays, he uses it to pull himself back.
One of my clients, a successful 40-year veteran in the insurance business, is a master at using confusion to his advantage. 75% of what comes out of his mouth are questions to clarify something. It’s like watching an episode of Columbo. When we chatted about his style, he explained it this way . . .
Contrary to popular belief, your decisions don’t drive your long term success – your decisiveness does. Said another way, when you reach a crossroads on any issue, the act of choosing creates power, not the choice itself. One of the most common breeding grounds for indecision is to-do lists.
Last week a friend was venting some frustrations about an organizational culture change initiative at her company. She’d been working on it for 6 months and didn’t feel like she was getting much traction. When I asked her how much input she’d been getting from the executive team, she said very little. Then she started to defend them by saying they were too busy. . .