Are you a good leader? Ask yourself these 3 questions

Everyone’s path to leadership is different.

My leadership journey started in the military. I entered “management” at just 23 years old when I became the officer in charge of the Reactor Controls division on a nuclear submarine near the end of the Cold War.

I had trained for years for it.

I was ready for it.

I loved it.

I had a passion for the military, the Navy, and the mission of the submarine force. I wanted to lead sailors well and I felt a calling to serve.

Not surprisingly, I was surrounded by other leaders who felt the same way I did.

When I entered Corporate America, however, I found people who went into leadership for vastly different reasons. There were some good leaders, but…there were a lot of people who took management roles simply because of the perks.

They became managers to get recognition, more money, a fancy title, a better office, a bigger bonus check, or to further advance their careers.

They wanted the leadership job for personal gain.

And that’s a problem.

It’s one of the reasons why good leaders are hard to find in Corporate America and why employee engagement is so low.

Too many managers are just in it for themselves.

I like this quote from Lisa Haisha, “Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader… they set out to make a difference.”

“Great leaders don't set out to be a leader... they set out to make a difference.” Lisa Haisha Click To Tweet

In Corporate America today, finding leaders like this is rare.

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking addresses this issue in an article she wrote in 2017 for the NY Times.

She points out what’s wrong with leadership in Corporate America today.

She explains we have “glorified” leadership so much so that people are taking on leadership roles for the wrong reasons. Today, leadership, “attracts those who are motivated by the spotlight rather than by the ideas and people they serve.”

She hits the nail on the head!

There is a shortage of good leaders because many people are choosing to lead for the wrong reasons.

There is a shortage of good leaders because many people are choosing to lead for the wrong reasons. Click To Tweet

If you want to be a good leader, ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Do you have a passion for leadership?

Just like selecting any career, ask yourself if you have the passion to lead. To be a leader means you have the full responsibility of an organization and all the people associated with it. It means you will be accountable for everything that happens on your watch. It is a difficult and sometimes lonely job that demands a 24/7 commitment.

2. Do you care deeply about the idea or organization?

As the leader, all eyes will be on you. Your attitude toward the mission will reverberate throughout the organization. As a conductor, your team will be taking cues from you. If you care deeply about the organization’s mission, they will as well.

3. Do you love people?

Leadership is a people business. Your entire job is to motivate people towards accomplishing a goal. People are messy. They have issues, problems, emotions, relationships, and baggage. But your job is to see past the flaws, love your people, and motivate them to do great things.

News flash! You can’t be a great leader if you don’t love people.

You can’t be a great leader if you don’t love people. Click To Tweet

If you choose to lead, do it for the right reasons. And be a great leader.

Honestly, we need better, not more, leaders.

Deep Leadership Podcast

 

By the way, If you want to get more out of your daily commute, listen to my podcastDeep Leadership.  It’s available on all podcast apps.

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A strange word with an important meaning for leaders

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’m a “plant rat.” I love manufacturing and everything about it.

It’s real.

You can touch it and see it.

You can see raw material being transformed by employees into a final product.

Maybe that’s why I have spent more than 25 years leading manufacturing businesses.

Some of what it takes to run a manufacturing business isn’t 100% applicable to other businesses, but, there is one term from the world of Lean Manufacturing that is applicable to all businesses.

It comes from the Japanese and the word is Gemba.

Gemba is Japanese for “the real place.”

What does that mean?

It’s the place where value is added.

  • In manufacturing, it’s the shop floor
  • In a school, it’s the classroom
  • At a bank, it’s the teller windows
  • At a call center, it’s the call center floor

If you can’t figure out where that is in your business, in most cases, it’s where most of your employees are.

And, it’s likely not where management is. In fact, that’s the problem.

Too many leaders are sequestered in their offices or in meetings far from where the value is added, far away from where their people are.

Too many leaders are sequestered in their offices or in meetings far from where the value is added, far away from where their people are. Click To Tweet

Most leaders make decisions based on what they assume is happening in “the real place.”

Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer and the Father of the Toyota Production System, understood this. He knew leaders needed to understand what was happening in Gemba to make the right decisions.

And, I love this story!

To get his team to understand what was happening in Gemba, he would draw a circle on the manufacturing shop floor and tell young managers to stand there as long as 8 hours with a notebook.

Then he would ask them what they learned.

In every case, these engineers discovered problems that needed to be addressed. Real problems based on real observations!

Contrast this with the many managers who rarely venture out to where the magic happens.

We had an expression in the Navy which I love, “Expect what you inspect.”

Expect what you inspect. Click To Tweet

How can you know what’s happening if you haven’t seen it yourself? In other words, you need to get out of your office to see what’s really going on. I often say that “leadership is a people business” and you can’t understand the problems your people face if you’re locked up in your office.

So, get out there!

Go to Gemba and learn what is really going on in your organization. Your employees will appreciate it and you will gain a new perspective.

Deep Leadership Podcast

By the way, If you want to know more about Gemba and how it applies to your business, listen to the latest episode of my new podcastDeep Leadership.

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3 Simple Tips to Make your 2020 New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Have you embarked on a New Year’s Resolution in 2020?

You’re not alone.

45% of Americans are likely to make a resolution this year and half of those resolutions are focused on self-improvement.

The biggest problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that the vast majority of people never achieve them. Statistics show that 1 out of 4 people will drop out after just one week of trying.

So, what’s the problem?

In general, we talk more than we act. Yes, I said it. We overcommit and underperform.

I’ve always loved this quote (the author is unknown): “People with good intentions make promises. But people with good character keep them.”

“People with good intentions make promises. But people with good character keep them.” - Unknown Click To Tweet

So, how do we become a keeper of promises?

It’s simple, do the opposite. We need to undercommit and overperform!

Follow these three simple rules:

  1. Set realistic goals. Be brutally honest about the effort it will take. Don’t be afraid to set easier goals in the beginning, especially if you are going to be making a big change.
  2. Fully commit. Once those goals are in place, fully commit to achieving those goals. Make a promise to yourself that you intend to keep.
  3. Just do it. Take daily action to meet your goal.

It sounds easy but let’s be honest, there’s a limit to effort and willpower.

Shear determination, effort, and willpower will only get you so far.

To make a real change to your lifestyle, you need to develop habits and patterns. You need to create daily activities and routines that make it easy for you to meet your goals.

The other thing to consider is, let’s be honest, you are going to fail.

You’re going to slip up. You’re going to cheat. You’re going to go back to your old habits. This is where most people give up.

The simple trick to not giving up is to remember Step 3 above, just do it.

If you fail one day or even one week, don’t worry or beat yourself up. Start fresh the next day and just keep going. Don’t wait another year before you start again.

Remember the promise you made to yourself.

And, remember these words from the great Winston Churchill, “Never, ever ever ever ever give up.

“Never, ever ever ever ever give up.” - Winston Churchill Click To Tweet

This is your year. Let me know how I can help you achieve your goals.

Engage with me on Twitter and let me know what changes you are making this year.

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If one of your resolutions is to read more, might I suggest my bestselling book, “I Have the Watch” where I share my experiences in leading people over the last 30 years?

After the Christmas rush, we have 51 signed copies back in stock. Click here for more details.

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