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Some people appear as such natural leaders one wonders if they were born with the quality of leadership

Some people appear as such natural leaders one wonders if they were born with the quality of leadership. It’s possible that this may be true. However, even for these “so-called” born leaders, the right environment is crucial to help them develop to their fullest potential.

Observing and learning

Leadership requires learning. Anyone can learn to become a leader. There are enough leadership training courses and seminars on offer. Leadership books are a great place to start your learning. The best way to learn, however, is to observe leaders in your home, work and social environments and try to learn from them. The best time to observe a leader in action is when there is a crisis. Crisis-handling is where most leadership skills come into play and the person is required to respond quickly and decisively and set things right.

Try to observe both kinds of leaders – formal leaders like elected representatives of local and world bodies as well as informal leaders like your own parents, grandparents or community elders. All these people can offer great insights on leadership and help you garner knowledge on the skills that go into leadership.

You must keep in mind that leadership is not something you can learn in a day. You must find ways and means to learn from your daily experiences, and put your learned skills and knowledge to use in day-to-day situations whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Remember, though, that leadership styles are not learnt in a day. It needs daily use to learn from daily experiences and to put your learnt knowledge and skills to the test.
Practicing Leadership

It is so true that ‘practice makes perfect’. It is not enough to have read books on leadership and acquire theoretical knowledge. In order to develop your own leadership style, you must find a way to apply what you have learnt whenever an opportunity comes your way. With practice, you will find yourself getting better at it. And people around you will also start recognizing your ability to take charge and naturally turn to you for direction. This is the way a leader emerges.

Leadership is not just about how to handle situations. It is a quality that you carry around with you when you deal with colleagues, friends, family or even the grocer. It shows in every bit of your demeanor. The way you carry yourself or interact with people shows a lot about your leadership quality. If you manage your organizational and personal responsibilities well, your leadership will be seen.

The trick is to keep using what you have learned till leadership becomes a habit for you.

Building Trust between you and your Team

A leader is only as good as his team. The leader alone cannot achieve the objectives and must share the responsibility with his team members.

The formally appointed leader is not necessarily someone who can get the team inspired to work together and complete the required tasks. In fact, each member of the team will have his or her own expertise making them the ‘informal’ leaders in their area of expertise.

The job of the formal leader is to make the team work together and build trust so that it becomes a cohesive group. Mere lip service will not achieve this. To build confidence and trust, your actions must match your words.

To sum up, leadership is something that comes out of an ongoing learning process through observation, training and study. But the best way to learn is to keep practicing what you have read or observed at every given opportunity.

We all know someone whom people naturally tend to follow

We all know someone whom people naturally tend to follow. Called natural born leaders, these individuals, through some innate intangible character traits have the magic ability to get people to follow their vision and direction. Can leadership be learned? What is leadership exactly?

Define Leadership

While there are numerous definitions of leadership what it boils down to is a leader effects directed change through a group of people that have given that person their complete trust. The leader earns the trust of his followers based on several character traits that foster the trust. So to answer the question, what is leadership is a bit more complicated than a simple single sentence definition.  

Leadership vs. Management

Are a leader and a manager synonymous?  Not necessarily. While a manager can be a leader, not all leaders are managers. And the definition of a manager is quite different from our working definition of a leader. A manager tends to work to preserve the status quo. Think of your manager at work. She usually is there to make sure the assigned work gets done. She does not foster change and can sometimes work to prevent change so as not to upset routine. A leader promotes change and moves his followers in a distinct direction. A true leader listens to the ideas and opinions of his followers and happily embraces them. Managers are rarely pleased to listen to underlings’ ideas. Instead a manger is focused on production and not imagination.

Can You Learn Leadership

Sure there are people out there with natural leadership abilities. But now that you have an idea of what is leadership you also know that leadership can be learned.  You can be a top-notch leader by gaining both knowledge and experience in the field you wish to lead. And by maintaining your integrity and working to be open and fair minded to your followers you will find leadership is not such a difficult trait to acquire after all.

The Followers

Do not fail to forget that leadership is a group effort. A leader cannot lead without followers. So followers must be included in your definition of leadership.  Becoming a good leader is not a personal effort. You cannot become an effective leader on your own. Remember an effective leader garners the trust of his followers and to earn that trust you must behave with openness, fairness and be an inspiration to those around you. A great way to answer that question, what is leadership is to look at one of the world’s greatest leaders. Martin Luther King Jr. using examples of non-violence and inspiring words of equality changed the segregation laws of the United States and changed the future of black people in America. He was not a manager or anyone’s boss.  He was a simple man with a vision who possesses integrity, honesty and the ability to inspire people.

Leadership is the ability to inspire and move a group of people towards a unified goal. Leadership is the ability to garner trust and faith from a group of people through acts of integrity, honesty and fair-mindedness. Leadership can be innate or learned. Anyone can become an effective leader with a little hard work.

Why

Why?

We hear it all the time (especially from kids) and ask it often (more on that later).

“Why?” is a question used in all sorts of situations, and its prevalence should hint to its usefulness.

And yet, for all of its value, “Why?” can cause a lot of problems, miscommunications, misunderstandings and more because the “Why?” question is so like a double-edged sword.

Therefore, we must examine and learn the uses and misuses of this powerful word/question in order to use it most effectively.

Why So Powerful?
“Why?” is a powerful question because it . . .

. . . stimulates learning. “Why?” is the quintessential open-ended question. The answer to “Why?” provides new information for the asker.

. . . allows discovery. Asking “Why?” helps us find the root cause of a problem by diving into the details. Similarly, this question can lead to discoveries in situations other than problem solving as well.

. . . creates understanding – for both parties. Have you ever explained something to someone else and after you explained it you understood it better? The “Why?” question creates deeper individual understanding and allows for mutual understanding as well.

. . . quenches curiosity. Kids ask “Why?” because they intuitively know that the answers will help them learn, discover and understand. In other words, “Why?” is the perfect question to ask when we are curious, and the perfect question to stimulate our curiosity as well.

Why So Dangerous?
The “Why?” question is powerful . . . and . . . it`s rife with challenge.

Do this quick mental exercise. Think about all the different ways you have heard (or you could ask) “Why?”

With just a bit of imagination you probably will be able to hear your parents or other people with positional power asking the question in a way that wasn`t about curiosity or learning, but in a more “questioning” or accusatory manner.

While the problems certainly don`t always come from a place of positional power, because we have all experienced this, it highlights the challenge this question faces.

“Why?” is dangerous because it can . . .

. . . insinuate power. The power piece can come when words are added to the question, like “Why did you to that?” The problem – and danger – is that as a receiver we can add those additional words in our mind even if they aren`t said; creating meaning that may or may not have been intended by the asker. Either way, once the receiver assumes it, that power is implied. Often – because of this – the receiver may be reticent to answer, may answer in a limited way or in the way we think we “should.”

. . . suggest judgment. Again, this judgment could be coming from someone in power, but not necessarily. The reality is most of us want to be liked and accepted. When we hear judgment in the “Why?” question, we can be stymied by caution or answer in the way in which we assume others want.

. . . impede progress. Any question that leads us to be cautious, incomplete or inauthentic in our answers is a dangerous question because almost by definition it will keep us from moving forward, hide problems or actually move us in the wrong direction. Improper use of the “Why?” question can do all of these things – and more.

Herein lies the danger, for none of these outcomes allows the question to reach its full power and may actually have a damaging effect in a conversation or meeting.

How to Best Use Why
The key to using the “Why?” question first comes in understanding the powers and dangers, then in balancing them correctly. Once we know the risks, we can . . .

. . . preface our questions to minimize the power and judgment concerns of the receiver.

. . . watch the tone of our voice, realizing that tone could – intentionally or not – imply judgment.

. . . monitor our intent, because if we really are passing judgment perhaps we want to modify our approach, or at least not expect the fullness of answers we might get if our intention was different.

. . . ask the “Why?” question differently, to avoid some of the risks (ask, “Can you tell me more?”, or “How do you mean?” as just two examples).

Using any or all of these approaches can help you get the very most from this most powerful question.

Remarkable Leaders know that asking better questions helps them in many of their leadership roles which is why questions are related to several 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.

Recent work with several healthcare clients has taught me a lesson

Recent work with several healthcare clients has taught me a lesson. My encouragement that leaders and managers help employees maintain focus on organizational goals and objectives may be premature.

If the organization doesn’t have a clearly defined vision, what are employees to focus on?

Please note I am not referring to a “vision statement.” That is typically no more than an advertising slogan. If there is no vision behind the words, the statement has little meaning and less impact.

I offer three quick, simple steps you can use to build a true and clear vision for your organization, your department or your team.

Articulate. Build your own picture of where you want the organization to go, what you want it to become. Without describing your picture to the extreme detail, share it with your team in clear, everyday language.

Allow. Hold several discussion sessions. Invite people to express their perceptions of the vision fulfilled. Ask them for specific examples of what they “see.” Encourage them to be more and more specific. (Prepare to ask repeatedly, “What does that look like?)

Actualize. Using images suggested by team members, construct a true and clear organization vision. You may translate it to a verbal vision statement. However, a visual vision statement will have true value in its visibility. Consider a poster filled with scenes and situations representing the vision achieved. (Bonus: use pictures of your team members in that poster!)

The cost: probably less than $200 for a “visual vision statement.” Otherwise, just a bit of your and your people’s time.

The reward: increased engagement by the employees who know their foresight contributes to their organization’s vision of the future.

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