Archive for January, 2012

No doubt many of you have heard of napoleon hill and his book “think and grow rich” – it was the spark that ignited “the secret” phenomenon of last year

No doubt many of you have heard of Napoleon Hill and his book “Think and Grow Rich” – it was the spark that ignited “The Secret” phenomenon of last year. As a Project Manager, what you may not realise is that during his 20 years of interviewing the most successful men and women in America, Hill determined the attributes that he believed most contributed to the success or failure of a leader.

It makes for fascinating reading, and many of his insights hold as true today as they did in the early 1930’s when this book was written.

In his book, Hill lists 11 attributes that make for a successful leader:

The first attribute Hill refers to as unwavering courage, however it could more easily be described as self confidence and knowledge. According to Hill “unwavering courage (is) based upon knowledge of (one’s) self and of one’s occupation. No follower wishes to be dominated by a leader who lacks self-confidence and courage”.  Think of any great leaders you may have worked with or witnessed, and they all demonstrate a marked degree of confidence in their own ability, a confidence that is not misplaced.

The second attribute is self control. In Hill’s words “the man who cannot control himself can never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s followers “. This is especially true when projects hit a hurdle or when some major calamity befalls the project or team. If the leader shows lack of control, the project is doomed. Great leaders stand out in times of crisis as being level headed and able to steer their project calmly through stormy seas.

The third attribute is “a keen sense of justice” or fairness. Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his followers”. No one can respect a leader who has attained their position through taking advantage of others or using them as stepping stones in their career, yet this is an attribute seen in many senior managers today! Real leaders have the respect of their peers and their teams, and they treat everyone as equals in terms of the amount of respect they are due, from the lowliest assistant to the General Manager.

The fourth attribute Hill refers to as “definiteness of decision”. Hill states that “the man who wavers in his decisions shows that he is not sure of himself. He cannot lead others successfully”. Strong leaders make decisions quickly and fairly, and then stick to those decisions. Any equivocation implies the poorness of the decision making process in the first instance, and is never contemplated by a great leader. However, should a decision be shown to be flawed (due to, say, new information coming to light which was not available at the time the original decision was made) a great leader is strong enough to admit that a better decision can now be made.

The fifth attribute Hill calls “definiteness of plans”. By this, Hill explains “the successful leader must plan his work, and work his plan. A leader who moves by guesswork, without practical, definite plans, is comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later he will land on the rocks”. And as Project Managers we know that a solid, workable plan is essential to the success of any project!

The sixth attribute is “the habit of doing more than paid for” although this attribute might better be called fairness and work ethic. Hill explains that “one of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness, upon the part of the leader, to do more than he requires of his followers”.  This can be interpreted as the concept of never expecting anyone to do a task you would not willingly do yourself, whether that be excessive overtime or dealing with difficult people. No leader can command respect who regularly delegates the more odious tasks to others.

The seventh attribute Hill calls “a pleasing personality” and goes on to state that “no slovenly, careless person can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for respect. Followers will not respect a leader who does not grade high on all of the factors of a Pleasing Personality”. Hill makes a great deal in this book about the importance of neatness of attire and of personal habits. Whilst this may seem quaint in today’s world, if you have ever worked with someone with less that perfect personal hygiene, you’ll understand where this is coming from!

The eighth attribute is sympathy and understanding. According to Hill “the successful leader must be in sympathy with his followers. Moreover, he must understand them and their problems”. Today we refer to this as empathy rather than sympathy, however the meaning is the same. A great leader takes time to get to know the team members and their goals and aspirations.

The ninth attribute Hill refers to as “mastery of detail”. Following one from the first attribute “knowledge of (one’s) self and of one’s occupation”, Hill advises us that a great leader is able to master the details required in any situation. That is not to say that the leader is the subject matter expert, only that they are capable of understanding the details presented to them, and being able to challenge, dissect and act upon those.

The tenth attribute is the willingness to assume full responsibility. Hill notes that “the successful leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and the shortcomings of his followers. If he tries to shift this responsibility, he will not remain the leader. If one of his followers makes a mistake, and shows himself incompetent, the leader must consider that it is he who failed”. Leadership, as in project management, requires that the leader or person in charge be accountable for the success or failure of the project. Whilst many Project Managers and leaders nod to this accountability, when things go wrong it is distressing to see how many of these so-called leaders quickly find someone else to blame. True accountability, heartfelt accountability, is the mark of a great leader.

The eleventh and final attribute is cooperation. According to Hill “the successful leader must understand and apply the principle of cooperative effort, and be able to induce his followers to do the same. Leadership calls for POWER, and power calls for COOPERATION”. Here Hill refers to the ability to achieve through others, which is the hallmark of a successful leader or project manager. Great leaders and project managers have great teams with great teamwork.

Whilst I, personally, would have included a few more attributes, such as coaching and mentoring of staff, leading by example and able to grasp new ideas and concepts quickly, and perhaps left some out, such as neatness and hygiene, Hill’s list is a very useful summary of the key attributes required to be a successful leader today. In summary, to be a successful leader you must have:

  1. Self confidence, be knowledgeable about your work
  2. Self control, remain calm under pressure
  3. Sense of justice, fairness & respect for others
  4. Decisive and stand by decisions
  5. Organization & planning skills
  6. Strong work ethic
  7. Neatness & hygiene
  8. Empathy
  9. Mastery of details
  10. True accountability in deed as well as word
  11. The ability to achieve through others

In my next article, I will look at Hill’s views of the 10 most common reasons why leaders fail.

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So what is it about your boss, the people you are taking advice from, or your mentors that you may not know. This is a very interesting topic regarding success because we all view success through our own set of goggles but there are some commonalities between the people that succeed and the ones that fail. You may not know this but the people you are listening to may have no clue what they really are doing, or if they do they may not be teaching it correctly because what they are doing and what they are teaching may be two completely different things. In this article I will outline how to identify the winners from the losers with one basic technique.

So lets first identify a few reasons why we listen to some people. First they may be our supervisor or boss. Second, they may have written a book, or third they may have more money than you and seem like an authority on the subject.

The first one is probably the easiest to identify and perhaps the hardest to overcome because our bosses opinion of us keeps us employed. Your boss like any one of us at a point in their lives got to his position for standing out from among the crowd. But if that’s the case is he progressing in his career, someone that’s been in their position for a period of years and has been passed over for advancement may not be the best source of information or subject to emulate because it is obvious he has stopped his advancement. In other words he doesn’t know what it takes to get ahead and because he did it once does not mean he will do it again.  This is a key when deciding to listen to your boss, it may cost you your job but do you think hes going to help you get ahead of him, unlikely if hes in the position hes in, unless hes the nicest schmuck in the world.

Authors are another big category that we all fall into, how would we learn other than through apprenticeship or direct observation if it weren’t for books. We all seem to respect authors whether we agree with what they are putting on paper or not.  But have you ever considered that what your reading may by complete rubbish?  Just because someone has the ability to put ink to paper or type to text that they many have absolutely have no idea what their talking about. Or perhaps your favorite author may not have even written your favorite book. They may not even know what’s in the book because a ghost writer wrote it. Do you want to listen to an author that has to use some other persons name to get their ink across to readers?  Consider this carefully, is your source correct, are you getting the real deal or just some inferior copy with information that only sounds good?

The last one is about money. Now if your already listening to someone who has more money than you should consider yourself lucky if he’s so rich that he can buy his own country, he may just tell you how to do the same. If your goal is money you have to know if the person you are giving your attention came by it by chance, or actually earned it. Some people know how to earn money, some people have money but they earned it through means of singing, preforming, or inheritance and may have no business sense, and perhaps later may develop one. But if you can’t sing, or dance, or have any wealthy family members it’s likely you need to find the right mentor.  You need to know who to emulate, and you know who to emulate if that person has what you want. Know how much money you want to make and the way you want to make it and find a person that is doing it, then do what they are doing.

Now just because you find yourself a good teacher, who has what you want, and is willing to teach you or has material that you can use does not guarantee your success, you still have to do the action steps.  You should emulate your boss only if you want to be like him. You should consider that the author you are taking advice from may not have written the book or may not have any real applicable knowledge. And if the person who has money whom you are listening to is giving you advice make sure they earned it the way you want to earn money.  The technique outlined here is very simple. Find mentors that have what you want and do what they do, if you are chasing something that you want and are not getting git your obviously doing something wrong and need to rethink your strategy and perhaps even your dreams.

Leadership responsibilities concerning drugs and alcohol there are issues concerning drugs and alcohol so frequently that it is in the best interest of any organization to provide frequent training to everyone in a leadership position on how to recognize abuse

Leadership Responsibilities Concerning Drugs and Alcohol

There are issues concerning drugs and alcohol so frequently that it is in the best interest of any organization to provide frequent training to everyone in a leadership position on how to recognize abuse.

Leaders have to be trained to recognize drug and alcohol abuse to protect the organization, team morale and welfare of everyone to include customers. It’s not as easy as smelling alcohol or observing someone acting abnormal, there are definite symptoms but they can only be recognized through proper training.

I am not going to pretend to be an expert in this subject but I assure you that the training I received saved me a lot of time and effort putting up with lies and BS. The abusers are excellent liars and have mastered how to fool anyone that doesn’t understand their symptoms.

I had an individual I was mentoring that was respected by everyone, I was shocked along with everyone else when it was discovered this individual was a drug dealer. This person’s knowledge, professionalism and leadership skills were superior to anyone with their experience level. I refused to believe it at first but was shown a video of a drug sale.

I used this experience to train my leadership team that drugs and alcohol are so powerful that it can control people of exceptional abilities and talent. Unfortunately these diseases can take control of people of all levels to include the highest level of leadership.

If through training you can detect them early enough there are programs that can help your team members and allow them to have a productive and successful career. It requires a great amount of understanding and empathy to help them.

I have had thousands that received help and were successful and hundred that went to treatment and never bought into the program and we had to release them. It is a leader’s responsibility with proper training to recognize these diseases and to take appropriate action.

This is an excerpt from chapter one of my new book being published in august of 2009 entitled, “g

This is an excerpt from Chapter One of my new book being published in August of 2009 entitled, “G.U.T.S. – Gearing Up To Succeed”.

Most people (and dictionaries) would define self-discipline as self-mastery or self control, to which I heartily disagree. I’ve also heard it said  self-discipline is the regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.  Here, I will take issue with these definitions because they define the subject from the perspective which the idea of self-discipline is inextricably tied to that of improvement.  It is my contention that self-discipline is better defined by saying it is the inherent power within a person to speak or to act out of habituation with no regard to improvement or to detriment.

Seneca rightly said, “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  It follows then, by polarizing the meaning of self-discipline toward improvement only the idea of an antithesis to self-discipline; namely indiscipline is thus created.  I contend there is no such quality as indiscipline existent in mankind or in all the earth.  Being alone, there is only discipline, for all mankind employs it in their daily habits.  Is it not true that even those who society or culture label as ‘undisciplined’ are rather very disciplined in those things considered by themselves and others to be to their detriment?  For discipline is neither good or bad.  Discipline is an inherent power each of us possesses and one that no man nor even God Himself can take away except through the finality of death itself.  Discipline is God’s gift to each of us so that through its power working inherently within us we might explore the boundaries of our own personal potential.  The focus then of our development of self is not first discipline and then all other virtues, but re-focusing that inherent power (that is, discipline) to the reshaping of our habits in the pursuit of these virtues.   It is with habit that we will begin our investigation of this much sought after quality of discipline and reveal that the power which you have been seeking is already employed in every area of your life, though probably misemployed.  What follows naturally then is it is not self-discipline one should seek after, but rather one should seek after habituation that is in line with stated or intended purposes.

Dig deep; the water – goodness – is down there.  And as long as you keep digging, it will keep bubbling up.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

There are no good or bad habits.  There are only habits.  Contrary to popular belief, what causes people to label habits as good or bad is not determined by the action (habit) itself but by the stated purpose of the individual in relation to the action (habit).  For example, if I have stated my desire or intended purpose to retire by the age of 65 with a net worth of $1,000,000 yet I habitually spend what I earn and save nothing or very little, conventional thinking labels me as undisciplined with regard to financial matters, yet the reality is that I have become very disciplined in spending what I earn and saving nothing.  The distinction here is made because my habits are at odds with my stated purpose.  It is not the action of spending that is good or bad, for all mankind spends what they earn, albeit in different amounts.  It is the root habit, misaligned with my purpose, that drives me to employ my self-discipline in a wrong direction.  The reality is, I am very disciplined in spending what I earn but my discipline is misemployed and thus works against my stated or intended purpose.  It follows then that I am not undisciplined, but I am rather misdirected through unaligned habits.  It is the faculty of habit that we must seek after, not this elusive idea of gaining more self-discipline which has beguiled mankind for ages.  There is no such thing – it is a myth.  What one may label as an increase in self-discipline is really a realignment of our actions by changing a certain habit or combination of habits.  As such, self-discipline is again revealed to be inherent with no effort to attain more.

Once I made the distinction in my mind that I was not undisciplined  at all, but in fact very disciplined, but in the wrong habits in relation to where I wanted to be, my life’s results and environment began to change.  I had only to change my habits and it followed that my life would soon change as well.

For more information on organizational alignment and personal leadership please contact my office at 251-233-7671 or via email at chris@christophergergen.com. Also, visit us on the web at www.christophergergen.com.

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