Posts Tagged ‘law’

In his book cowboy ethics: what wall street can learn from the code of the west, james owen writes that ” real courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway

In his book Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West, James Owen writes that ” real courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” I know how true that statement is because I have been struggling with that particular fear for the best part of this past year.

In addition to our eighteen school horses we also own two young horses, Bob and Swish. While both have been professionally trained they are still very “green” and inexperienced as well as being large and athletic. Bob is a confident horse who is always trying to take charge, while Swish lacks self-confidence and tends to bolt and spook frequently.

I did not realize to what extent my other more experienced horses filled in for my leadership flaws until I started riding the babies. Certainly it is important that you have the physical skill to keep your butt balanced in the saddle and that you deliver the correct signals to your horse. But what really matters to the horse is your ability to be a confident leader. In the riding world we call this quality ‘clear intent’ and it is a definite, confident statement of intention transmitted through your body language to your horse.

I have worked with and ridden my older horses for a long time. They trust me and they know they can depend on me most of the time. If I slip up or lose focus they are forgiving enough to fill in for me. What I didn’t realize however was that this comfortable relationship was not a true test of my leadership abilities My leadership gaps became quickly and obviously apparent on the back of a quivering 1200 pound baby horse. After a particularly nerve-wracking ride on Bob last fall I quit riding for six months. I came up with every excuse why I couldn’t or shouldn’t get on the babies.. I occasionally rode one of my other horses so that I could tell myself I was still a competent rider but I knew that I was avoiding an important issue.

I came to the realization that what I feared was not the horse’s potential actions and behaviours but my own inability to take a leadership role when I was taken out of my comfort zone. I had the physical skills to stay in the saddle but I lacked the commitment and clear intent to convince my horse that listening to me was his best option, especially during a crisis.

I doubt that there is a corporate leader or business owner who hasn’t struggled at one time with self-doubt and fear. Hostile employees, dysfunctional teams, difficult clients, rigid and impossible deadlines and financial crises force leaders to step outside their comfort zones on a daily basis. It is exhausting and stressful and requires courage, commitment and belief in ones-self.

My experience this past year with Swish and Bob has been a powerful real- life learning experience for me. I decided that unless I wanted to own two very expensive lawn ornaments for the next twenty years I would have to stiffen my spine, sit up straight (literally) and convince all three of us that I had what it took. I began riding them again two months ago. While it is a constant challenge for me to assert my leadership I know that I have to step outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself in order to grow and develop as a leader. I have learned to take it one step at a time and to celebrate each small victory. Every time I stand on the mounting block I still have to take a deep breath before I mount up but I know now that true leadership begins when, despite your fear, you make the commitment to throw your leg over the saddle.

Many years ago, two psychologists yerkes and dodson created an insightful law relating how people perform under pressure

Many years ago, two psychologists Yerkes and Dodson created an insightful law relating how people perform under pressure. If a person is under no pressure at all they can be demotivated and run the risk of ‘rust-out’. If the person experiences too much pressure and becomes stressed they run the risk of burnout. Somewhere in the middle is the optimum level of pressure which creates peak performance and generates what Czikszentmihalyi called the ‘flow state’ where the individual performs her or his tasks effortlessly to a very high level of quality. Sports psychologists and drama coaches have used this principle for decades and it is now time to apply it to the business world.

So how can we place ourselves in this peak performance state where we are in a state of motivated well-being?

Firstly, our beliefs are very important. We need to believe that we can develop our ability to perform and that whatever the result of our attempts to do something, we will always learn something and develop our ability for the future. Identify your negative beliefs and think what it would be more useful to believe. Pretend that the new positive beliefs are true and imagine how your life would be different. Beliefs trigger action and also emotional state.

Secondly, before attempting a performance in sport, or a presentation or some other activity, go back in your mind to the time when you were really successful at performing that activity. Relive it in terms of what you saw, heard and how you felt. Luxuriate in the sights, sounds and vision and give the experience a name to enable you to recall it easily. Finally use what the NLP practitioners call ‘anchoring’. Squeeze for example the first knuckle joint of the index finger of your left hand whilst you silently say the word you have chosen to recall the experience and then create a picture in your mind of that experience. Make the colors brighter, the sounds clearer and double the positive feelings. In this way you can anchor the optimum experience and put your mind and body in the same state that you were in when you performed well so that you can carry out the new performance effectively.

Thirdly, use Nature’s anxiety mechanisms, particularly breathing and tension reduction. When we get stressed we experience a sympathetic reaction or stress response. The opposite to this is the parasympathetic swing or relaxation response. The easiest way to trigger the parasympathetic response is through controlled breathing. Simply breathe in for a count of 3, hold your breath for a count of 1 and then breathe out for a count of 9. This will slow down your breathing and increase the flow of oxygen to your brain.

We often tense parts of our body without realising that we are doing so. Practice tensing the muscles in your left hand, holding that tension for a couple of seconds and then relaxing the muscles. Your left hand will feel different because you will have removed some of the residual tension of which you were almost certainly not aware before you tensed your hand deliberately.

Our Fourth technique is mental rehearsal. Imagine you are about to run the meeting, make the sales call, give the presentation etc and visualize the person who you think would be most effective in the world at carrying out that activity. Picture them in your mind off and up to the right of your view and see them carry out the activity. Then imagine you can float into their body and that you can then experience what it would be like to be in their shoes giving the performance. The third stage is to imagine their body melting away leaving you delivering the performance in the most effective way. It really works!

Number five is to use the three ways of deflecting your personal energy from the risk of rust out or burn out towards the peak performance zone. These three ways are goal setting, gaining control over your work by developing personal effectiveness and time management skills and identifying and developing the core competencies you need to be a peak performer. If you develop your capability in all three areas you will be able to manage your personal energy more effectively and be less stressed.

Number six is to build your self esteem. Keep reminding yourself of your successes to date in your present and other activities. High self esteem tends to create positive attitudes and behavior and is a great support to developing peak performance.

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.

What would you do if you saw your best friend stealing company property

What would you do if you saw your best friend stealing company property? Unfortunately this is a big problem that cost companies millions of dollars every year.

Why would a person with a great job, benefits and job security steal? There are countless excuses and none of them are acceptable. I felt I wasn’t being paid what I am worth, bills are overwhelming, need money for tires on my car and to feed my family to name a few.

We all at one time or another face financial issues and stealing will never resolve the problem. The sad thing frequently is that associates are observing this and make the wrong decision. It’s my friend and I know they need the job, I will talk with them and have them put it back. That isn’t the right decision; you are now as guilty as the person stealing.

 When someone steals they are stealing from the company, stockholders and the associates of the company. This means that they are stealing from you and friends don’t steal from one another.

The only correct decision is to immediately report someone that is stealing to a person of authority. I sincerely believe in recognizing associates that have the moral courage to make the right decision. They have exhibited outstanding moral character and the type of leader I am looking for to put in positions of increased responsibility.

Prosecution should be mandatory and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that you will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. It is the greatest deterrent you have to keep honest people honest and thieves will have no desire to be a part of your company. 

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