In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
If you are like me, you learned that rhyme sometime in elementary school.
Specifically, Columbus left on his first voyage on August 3, 1492, sailing in search of a seagoing route from Europe to Asia with the vision of creating a trade route for spices, silk and more.
He led a crew of three ships on that voyage and, as history shows, instead found islands of North America. While not the first European to make this discovery (the Norse did it 500 years prior), it was his voyages that lead to the widespread awareness (and eventual colonization) of “the New World”.
I am writing about Columbus not because of his discoveries, or even his major mistakes, but because of what his life can teach every leader.
Here are five specific lessons, as valuable today as ever, that we all can take from Columbus` legendary life.
Exercise your belief. Columbus believed the earth was smaller in circumference than most did. This belief led him to the logical (based on his beliefs) assertion that within a few weeks his ships could reach Asia. While he was wrong, he built his plan based on that belief, gathered support for his plan in spite of ridicule and disbelief, and crafted a plan to test those beliefs. This is what leaders do.
When did you last exercise your beliefs in a tangible way?
Find great supporters. Columbus didn`t have the resources, power or money to put his plan into action. He tried to build support in Portugal and England, before finally persuading Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain to support his plan. Even Royalty wasn`t enough – his supporters also included a group of Italian business interests. Great leaders know they can`t do it alone, and they are persistent in building support for their visions and beliefs.
Have you created a team of supporters for your vision?
Don`t be satisfied. Columbus found land in his first voyage (what is now the Bahamas), but he didn`t find the trade route he sought. So he went again, and again and again. Ultimately he led four voyages; each finding new territory (and getting as far as Panama). While you could classify him a failure in achieving his desired goal, you can`t call him a quitter. When your vision is clear, and your belief strong, you can lead persistently.
How persistent are you? Do you lead past the first challenge or failure?
Build a plan. Columbus didn`t just go to Queen Isabella, turn on the charm, lay out some ideas and then go hop on the ship. His navigational beliefs, his travel plans, and his funding support came together over several years. The funding process alone started seven years before he sailed. Over that time he honed his plan, made adjustments, and continued to build as he brought the plan to ultimate fruition.
Do you plan? Are you willing to adjust and modify when necessary in service of your beliefs and vision?
Think bigger. In the time of Columbus you could get spices from Asia on the overland route. Before he sailed, people had even gotten there by sea by sailing around the tip of Africa. Columbus, though, thought bigger. He believed from his study and planning that he could make it directly, more quickly and more cost effectively by sailing west. He didn`t tie himself to conventional wisdom or approaches. He thought bigger. It was this bigger thinking that ultimately helped him sell his plan.
How big do you think? Are your visions large enough to captivate, persuade and engage others to follow you?
The story of Columbus proves that we can learn from events and actions from more than 500 years ago and while the context has changed, the lessons are as real and valuable as ever. The lessons are always there, when we look for them.
The other major message of this article isn`t just the lessons, but is found in the questions after each idea; questions that beg application of the lessons. Learn the lessons, but answer the questions to really bring the lessons to life for you and those you lead.
Remarkable Leaders are continually learning and practicing the lessons of Columbus, which is just one example of why learning continually is one of the competencies of The Remarkable Leadership Learning System – a one skill at a time, one month at a time approach to becoming a more confident and successful leader. You can get two months of that unique system for free as part of our Most Remarkable Free Leadership Gift Ever today at http://MostRemarkableFreeLeadershipGiftEver.com and become the leader you were born to be.
One may ask? Wow! Why did Dr. Baiz, pick “The relativity In Leadership” as a topic of discussion? We all know that the word “Relativity” is typically referenced to the man whom has been recognized as perhaps the smartest man who ever lived; and, so therefore why make such an attempt? Well, if I may, I would like to paraphrase what Albert Einstein once said about the subject of relativity. Einstein said it would take a well versed trained physics scholar, two weeks to understand just the very rudiments of relativity, just to understand what relativity is, just the “rudiments”. You see Albert Einstein was denied the Nobel Prize eight times; and quite frankly denied because the Nobel Prize committees reviewing his work just did not understand fully what he was trying to explain, he truly was a man way ahead of his time. Einstein in his time was the premier scientist of his day and beyond. He was a leader, In spite of being denied eight times for the grand Prize all scientists seek. He held firm and worked away at his theories.
Albert Einstein is the innermost figure in our world that taught us that: “everything is relative” – now one must be careful and not just simplify the issue of relativity and think that you are now an expert in relativity by applying it in any random approach to the problem solving process of resolving challenges. The scope of “Relativity In Leadership” is to understand like Einstein understood in his theories of Relativity that In the end there is no end. Some have said plan with the end in mind. My answer to that is how? As there are no ends to: things, beings, or developments. Action is an evolving manifestation and leadership is constantly in the face of relativity. How? Let’s take a brief look at leadership and relativity and synthesize how the two are partners in progress. Let’s review the political, psychological, and social aspect of leadership as it pertains to relativity. In politics it is a broad base stratum of economics and finance, in psychology it is a broad base strata of philosophical approaches to human behavior and treatment while in the social it is a complex application of a cultural trends and social solutions to society’s sicknesses. The relativity In Leadership within the above mentioned social factors are the ever ending explorations of finding where the truth lies in leadership and what is the best mechanism to apply the best system; within the realm of all that we have at our finger tips that is Relative to Leadership! It is definitely there one just has to look for it.
Be prepared to apply relative conceptual solutions to leadership approaches and define your leadership by applying the relative relationships to the heart of your business astuteness.
This leadership tip has something in it for managers everywhere, but it’s particularly targeted at those of you with large company backgrounds who have made career moves to smaller businesses that you own and/or manage.
My background is primarily in large scale management of IT organizations. The companies where I’ve worked were places where changing a process or behavior took some time. I always thought I was quicker than most, and action oriented. As a small business owner, I found I had to be much quicker.
I’ll offer this leadership tip in the form of a story. It’s a story of how taking your eye of the ball can cost you money, and worse than that can cost you customers.
My First Small Business
I opened a small personal services business. It was located about an hour from my home office, and with all my other commitments I knew how important hiring the right manager would be for this shop. It took a few tries, but I found one with a good background and references, and she seemed to quickly develop loyalty to the business and to me.
For the first six months we grew slowly but steadily. We were behind plan in terms of customers and revenue, but the trend was up. There were a few staff issues, but overall turnover was okay. I decided to invest a little more in marketing to try and get more new faces in the door.
Over the next three months, customer counts were mostly flat, and average sale was actually down a little. Concerned, I visited the shop a few times more than usual. The people were not as upbeat as they had been. When asked about that, they attributed their moods to less business and less enjoyment of the job. I wondered about seasonality, the economy, and whether I needed even more marketing investment.
Want to know what was really going on? My trusted manager had some personal problems that I had not been aware of before, and was exhibiting some totally unacceptable behaviors:
- Criticizing staff in front of customers
- Intimidating staff, letting them know they were at risk of being fired, and telling them I was out to get them.
- Stealing money by voiding transactions and other means
I’m still figuring out how much money all this cost me, but the money is only today’s problem. The customers I’ve lost are a more serious longer term issue, because many of them won’t be coming back.
When I figured out what was going on, I moved quickly to fire the manager. There were only two problems:
- I was too late, and there had been several months of damage done;
- There was collateral damage. I had to fire two other employees who had adopted the attitude and behaviors of the manager.
Today, I’m working on putting together data to see if I can assemble a case for prosecuting the employees and the manager. An even higher priority, though, is the work I’m doing to recruit and orient new staff and develop a recovery plan for our customer service reputation.
This leadership tip was a painful lesson that I hope never to repeat.
Business Leaders: Secrets of Personality Profiling!
Have you ever had a discussion with a client, employee or vendor that just didn’t click? Would you like to know how to communicate with people in business and in your personal life, regardless of how different their personality is?
A few years ago, I was introduced to the subject of personality profiling. By understanding the four different personality types, you can significantly increase understanding of board members, employees, and even your family. You will
experience amazing results. The personality profiling system is called DISC testing.
The letters DISC stand for the four prominent personality types. All people fit into this scheme in one way or another, and are usually a combination of a least two of these types. These types are as follows:
High D stands for dominating.
High I stands for influencer.
High S stands for steadiness.
High C stands for compliance.
Let’s first take a look at how to use DISC testing to develop a team, and then study how to use this system to communicate more effectively with prospects and clients to really enhance your abilities in any endeavor.
Most property managers and some company or board presidents will find that they fit into the High D category. If you are a High D, you’ll be the driving force in your company. You are the leader. You are the quarterback of the team. You are innovative and organized. You want quick results. You want everything abbreviated, because you have the ability to quickly assess a situation and make a rapid decision.
Although all these are outstanding qualities, you, (High D’s) have to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just because something has been discussed, it doesn’t mean that the task is immediately accomplished by waving a magic wand. You need to learn to be more patient and to listen more often. Most importantly, you need to realize that the rest of the people in your world are trying frantically to keep up the rapid pace you have set for yourself.
If you are just a bit friendlier, and make an effort to compliment your staff on a job well done, it will go a long way in gaining their trust. They will then feel more comfortable in approaching you with new ideas, or with problems they may have
Let’s take a look at high I. The high I personality, or the influencer, is a very social person. I find that many great sales people fall into this category. They are the master net-workers. They are charming and upbeat, with loads of team spirit, and are instinctively great communicators. This is the type of person who is motivated by popularity and acceptance.
Give the high I on your team lots of interaction with clients and prospects in order to fulfill their social needs. They need to be able to interact and socialize—this is very important to them.
The High I typically lacks organizational skills, and will need help from the high D on your team in this area. They will also motivate others towards the common goal.
They are the cheerleaders on the team. They are the people who work the room at a cocktail party, and often walk out with fifteen to twenty business cards. These are the people who are at various events at CAI, MHA, Twin West, etc.
Let’s examine the high S. The high S person is noted for loyalty. These are the team players. These are the people who have an amazing ability to add a personal touch that sets the team apart from their competition.
As long as the High S has a clear understanding of the business model, they will carry it out with extreme devotion, because they crave a stable environment to work in.
They are characterized by their ability to maintain deeply loyal relationships, because they are motivated by safety, security, and recognition of that loyalty
However, if the high S has a disagreement with others on the team, watch out! They will be inclined to hold it inside, since they don’t like conflict or sudden change.
To complete our tour of the four personality types, let’s look at the high C. High C personalities are the analytical problem solvers of the world. They border on being compulsively meticulous. I’m sure you have most likely had clients along these lines.
High C’s have the ability to offer creative solutions to complex problems, because they deal well with facts and calculations. This is your classic engineer. At the same time, they are inclined to focus so much on the hard data that they omit the human factor. They can over think the situation, and quite literally make a mountain out of a molehill. When you need a solution that requires close attention to detail, the high C will strive for perfection, and will set an excellent example for the team to follow.
You may find that their attention to detail slows things down too much. This is especially true if you are a high D. The high C likes to work at a snail’s pace, while the high D is running 100 miles per hour. C’s are the folks you dread in the homeowner association; because they are nit-picking every single detail and they cause you lots of headaches.
By testing yourself and your team members, you can gain insight into why certain people click, and how to approach each other with the most favorable outcome in mind.
I have provided you with a cursory DISC test. This test will enable you to assess someone in an initial conversation. This is not a supplement to a DISC test—the full test is in excess of 100 questions. However, there is a way to be relatively sure of someone’s personality profile by just asking yourself a couple of questions:
Question #1: Is this person more assertive, or more reserved?
Question #2: Is the person more logical, or more emotional? This question may take a few more seconds of conversation for you to answer, since it is a bit more difficult to determine the answer.
Let’s imagine that a new prospect named “Tom” calls to talk with you about the possibility of hiring your property management company. During the conversation, you ask yourself the first question about Tom, “Is he assertive or reserved?”
You notice that he asks lots of questions, and is very forthcoming with information about what his wants, needs, and concerns are. You don’t have to draw information out of him because he is telling you what he wants. You notice that he’s taken control of the situation, and you are having a tough time getting a word in. This means he is assertive.
Since a D and an I are assertive, you’ve determined that Tom is either a high D or a high I, and you are now working within the top half of the quadrant only. An S or a C would be much more reserved.
You then ask yourself, “Is Tom more emotional or more logical?”
He often uses the phrase, “I think.” (instead of “I feel”) He takes time to evaluate his options and to crunch numbers. This leads you to believe that Tom is a logical thinker. The two logical thinkers are high D and high C. However, since you’ve already eliminated high C by asking the first question, we’ve identified Tom as a high D.
Once you’ve established a prospect’s personality type, you have a better understanding of how they process information. This understanding is key to communications.
Let’s continue with Tom. You’ve figured out that he is a high D. You can know put to use your knowledge of the high D personality type. You know they don’t want to take too much time out of their busy day to speak with you. They want things to happen quickly, and they are fast decision-makers. You need to be brief, to the point, and as efficient as possible.
On the contrary, if you have a high I, things are different. On the grid, we have an assertive person who is emotional. With a high I, you want to take some time to ask about their personal interests. You want to ask what they did last weekend, and about their family. Get social, because they relate to that. When you have future appointments with them, be sure to schedule extra time to accommodate their need to chitchat for an extra ten minutes. These touches aren’t to manipulate a person, but to honor them by communicating in their preferred fashion, even if they aren’t aware of what that is.
Let’s say you’ve determined that this person is a high S. Now we are looking at the bottom-right corner of the grid, which represents reserved and emotional. You need to win the trust of a high S. They are loyal team players. If you can make them feel a part of the team, they will champion your cause to the degree that they will be an additional sales rep out in the field.
Don’t be too aggressive when you speak with a high S, because they need to absorb information at their own pace. You must provide them with solutions that speak to their needs of security and stability. They are very family-oriented.
The final personality type you might run into is the high C. Quite frankly. C’s can be the most difficult people to work with. (Except my wife, who is perfect in every way.) They are very logical and very reserved. They are going to be low-key, and have a long thought process. A high C doesn’t want to listen to a fast-talking person. Deliver information at a slow pace, and deliver facts only. They don’t operate on emotion. These people do very well with spreadsheets.
When receiving a referral from someone familiar with DISC, I might hear: “This person is a high C.” I immediately know that this person will need time to determine whether to work with me, and that they will want to see the numbers in detail. They will also ask lots of specific and detailed questions that I’ll need to be prepared to answer.
In conclusion, working with members of your extended team in utilizing this process is very helpful. The best part about this is that the client wins. They are being treated in the way that works best for them.
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This article written by Steve Hoogenakker of Taylor Made Landscape. Steve has 20 years in leadership and management. He can be reached at Steve@Landscape.Pro.