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10 Things You Do Not Know About Leadership #7

Welcome to the seventh installment of the 10 Things You Do Not Know About Leadership. In this weekly, series I cover topics that tend to be overlooked, forgotten, or completely misunderstood. By sharing with you, it is my hope and belief that I help in eradicating many of the misconceptions that come with leadership.

LEADERSHIP INVOLVES GETTING OUT THERE

In case no one ever told you or no one before you ever knew, trust me when I say: No Leader ever became a GREAT LEADER by sitting behind a desk.

Also, no Great Leader ever became great by dictating from behind their desk in the comfort of their office.
Well, I am lying, a bit. In the case of Napoleon Bonaparte, General George Patton, and other such Great Leaders of that caliber did become great by leading from behind their desk and in the comfort of their office. Their desk happened to be atop a horse, a tank, in a foxhole and their office was the battlefield, with a business address that’s on a street called, “THE FRONT LINES”. These leaders were fortunate enough to be out there where the bullets were flying. They were the ones that were leading others not only into battle but onto victory and ultimately into the history books.

While the goal of any leader is not to make history the goal is to make more leaders. The primary goal of any leader is to make more leaders, make better leaders. Making more leaders is ONLY done not by dictating but by leading by example.

How does one make leaders by leading by example? What is the example to lead by? The example is simple: Get out there and be visible. Be highly visible. Get into the trenches, the foxholes, troop the line and everything else that comes with getting out there and being visible.

However, standing around, taking up space and breathing everyone else’s oxygen is NOT what getting out there and being visible is all about. It is about ensuring the people not only see you out there but know that you are out there with them and among them. Be visible constantly, consistently and most of all, be approachable.

Get out from behind your desk, out of your office and get into the thick of it. Help out when you can, do more than is expected and always find ways to do more for those that are out on the frontlines, fighting the good fight. It is your job to do more than just shake hands, kiss babies and smile.

It is your job to get to know the people that you are there to support. Remember, it is your job to ensure that they can do their job effectively and efficiently. You are there to support them in every way possible. It is not and never will be the other way around. You hired them to do a job, then let them do that job by you going out there and ensuring they know how to do the job, have the right tools to do it and know that they have your support in doing that job.

Do not for one second, let it enter your mind that they are there for you. That is not an automatic. What is automatic is that you know as a leader you are there to support those you lead. Remember, your followers made you the leader, they can take that away. Also never forget those that hired you, those that brought in, did so with the understanding, you may the title of manager but you were never given the title of leader. That title you have to earn and you have to earn it each and every day.

You earn it, by taking care of those that made you the leader. You earn it, every day that you are present, available, and out on the front lines. There is no short cut, there is no cutting corners. What there is, is you being visible, present, and with them with the sole purpose to support and lead them.

That being said, please know that those you lead, those that follow you will be there for you only after you have shown them that you are there for them, first and foremost. Never ever forget that. If you do forget that, you do so at your own peril.

Now, get out, shake hands, kiss babies, smile, say hello. I do hope you know what I mean. Get out there every day that you can. Be out there in the muck and the mud. Be there with them and for them. When you cannot be out there, make absolutely certain they know where you are, how they can get ahold of you, and most of all, when you will be back.

Yes, they do deserve that much and so much more.

-Dave

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blog Leadership Leadership Principles

10 Things You Do Not Know About Leadership #6

Welcome to the sixth installment of the 10 Things You Do Not Know About Leadership. In this weekly, series I cover topics that tend to be overlooked, forgotten, or completely misunderstood. By sharing with you, it is my hope and belief that I help in eradicating many of misconceptions that come with leadership.

#6. LEADERSHIP IS NEVER LEARNED FROM A BOOK

As previously mentioned, there are countless books on Leadership (mine included). Those books are a tool, a guide but NEVER a substitution for actually doing. Books should always be used as a guide, a starting point but never the end all, be all. Books are never used as instead of getting out there and doing it, making it happen. So do not for one second believe there is that one book that will be the only book you will ever need when it comes to leadership. Actually, that one book should be a jumping off point for more books, ideas and concepts.

All current or future leaders, must always be expanding their knowledge, gaining experience and thus increasing wisdom. Putting all your faith in just one book will never suffice. That one book should lead you towards expanding your horizons and thus reading more books, putting the lessons those books share into action.

Let’s look at this from a different perspective when it comes to turning reading about things into doing those things. Currently, there are countless books, articles, and videos on how to start a campfire. While the how to start a campfire catalogue is near infinite, nothing and I do mean nothing will ever compare to actually starting a campfire. However, there are so many ways to start a fire, each has its purpose and process. Discover the other ways of starting a campfire.

Well, the same applies to knitting, jogging, and of course, Leadership. You can read and listen and watch but all that is moot until you are actually out there taking those steps to leading. Until you are out there dealing with those you are responsible for, until you are doing your part to accomplish the mission then will you be putting the words into action.

In 1871 Helmuth von Moltke (Prussian Army Chief of Staff) wrote, “No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the main enemy forces.” That same concept applies to reading about leadership versus actually trying to lead.

When reading about any leadership concept or idea, in any book, know that the concepts or ideas are set in a perfect environment, with everything in its proper place and the responses and reactions are anticipated, expected and there is a solution for everything. Of course, as in battle and just like in life, nothing is ever perfect, nothing is ever in its proper place. Plans have a knack for going awry.

Thus, it should serve as a warning that depending too much on the words written in any book without actually trying to put into practice what you have read. By practice, I mean, create situations of failure. As nothing is perfect and no matter if you read one book or thousands of book on the subject of leadership you will fail. However, by practicing to fail, the chances of actually failing, especially when it is time to put steel on target, will exponentially decrease. Remember, failing to prepare for that letdown will all but ensure no chance of success.

One other thing to consider when it comes to putting what you read into action. Know that what you read should be taken with a grain of salt and will NOT work if you act on what you read word for word. Take your time to understand what you read before employing any tactic or strategy.

What you read will work or fail only when you get out there and DO! Then you will know. However, never for one second believe that because the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People| worked for Dr. Stephen Covey or “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” worked for John C. Maxwell, it will most certainly work for you.

It worked for them because they made change happen in their lives. They took what was there before them and made it unique to them. They did the homework. They saw that things were not happening and asked themselves what next. They went to work on themselves by figuring out what needed to be done to effectively answer the question of what next?

That is what prompted me to write The Walking Leader. I read about Managing By Walking Around, MBWA if you will, but nowhere could I find how to do it. It was as if by magic or osmosis, people would just know how to get out there and do the MBWA thing. Not finding answers, I came up with the twenty rules or guide or principles to getting out from behind your desk and making things happen.

I put my unique spin on managing by walking around in The Walking Leader and you must put your own unique spin on what you have read, been taught, learned and then get to work. Get to work on NEVER exactly copying anyone’s leadership style. Again, what worked for Napoleon Hill, Tom Peters, Dale Carnegie, Patricia Thompson, and countless others will not work for you. I promise you that much.

What will work for you is making your own leadership style and fine tuning it to suit your unique perspectives and situation. Take what all those books are sharing, the authors imparting their knowledge onto you. Take that knowledge and wisdom flip it, spin it, toss it around and make it your own. Then get to work.

-Dave

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Humans are Irrational and emotional. Focus On The Rational by David Guerra (06/100)

When we are young one thing is certain: WE HAVE HUGE EGOS! Our egos are so huge that it is a miracle that we survived. As Stinger (James Tolkan) told Maverick (Tom Cruise) in the motion picture, TOP GUN (1986), “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash!” Lucky for Maverick, he never cashed in or out (depends on how you look at it.)

It was a matter of time before our ego caught up with us or we out grew the false bravado and façades to be come the rational and in-control individuals we have become.

There is one thing to remember: we never grow up. There is always something or someone that will trigger your ego and there we go with irrational, emotional behavior. Sad but true. For some, it may be quicker and for others it may take a little more prodding but it will happen.

That’s OK, we are only human after all. We are not perfect. Sure, many want to believe they are perfect. Yet, perfection is subjective and thus; no one is perfect. I am not perfect; you are not perfect. Did I mention I am not perfect?

By recognizing we are not perfect and there will be times when we become irrational & emotional, we can then to work on improving ourselves. We can begin work on the rational. By being aware and cognizant that by being rational focusing on that, we can accomplish more, we can be more.

By learning the valuable lessons that come with falling into the trap of being/becoming irrational then we can focus on the rational. The focus we have, built on the mistakes and actions of the past, will only work if we can admit to ourselves that we messed up, that we fell victim to our ego, that we cannot blame anyone else for our own failures and shortcomings.

It is not easy for some people to confront themselves over the fact that the ego can be manipulated, easily triggered. Once we can overcome that hurdle then can we make some serious change to our life process. That is if you want to make a conscious effort to improve and leave the lack of focus, the irrational and emotion in the past, then be ready to work.

While, you will never be completely emotionless. Remember, in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Spock could not complete the Kolinahr, the Vulcan ritual to purge all emotions. He was half-human after all. So, what did he do? The only logical thing. This was to admit that he was also human and proceeded to live his life with his emotions. The learned that emotions were part of who he is and what he will be.

However, because he worked at controlling his emotions, the character of Spock, went on to be better and do better. The same can work for you and you do not have to be half-Vulcan. As a matter of fact, you can be 100% human and work on being clear and level headed.

You can do this by committing to being better, doing better, and working on focusing on the rational. It will serve you well when it comes dealing with people and situations that will tax you. Avoid them while you start the process of focusing on the rational. Of course, you cannot avoid people all the time. However, you can avoid those individuals that would be considered bumps in the road to your success.

Do what it takes with what you have but do not give up hope, deny patience, and most of all stick to your commitment to being successful.