Once in a while you meet a someone who stands out as a leader. They are more than just charismatic or likeable. You can quickly tell, they think and act and lead differently than most people.
However, people don’t become outstanding leaders overnight. Truly outstanding leaders are made. Through training, experience, self-examination and practice, they learn to nurture, motivate, and inspire.
They learn to truly lead.
Over time, those skills become automatic and reflexive. While great leaders do a tremendous amount of thinking, that thinking happens behind the scenes. In the moment, in the trenches, when people look to them and need them most, they act: swiftly, decisively, and confidently.
Want to become a truly outstanding leader? Work hard to do these seven things well:
1) Build a great team
Leaders must be rigorous in the selection process for getting new people “on the bus”, as Jim Collins puts it, in “Good to Great”. Invest time in evaluating each candidate and make systematic use of at least three evaluation tools (e.g., interviews, references, background, testing, etc.).
When in doubt, do not bring that person on the team. Keep the position vacant—taking on extra work as needed—until you have found the right person. Ensure your company does an exceptional job of retaining the right people to perpetuate good hiring decisions.
2) Offer recognition and praise
Offering praise to your employees is all about recognition. Most workers thrive on feeling appreciated. For an employee, knowing that what they are doing means something to their boss and the business, gives a feeling of worth that can motivate them to improve their work.
The happier your employees, the more engaged and productive they will be. Receiving praise is empowering. It doesn’t cost anything to recognize and praise your staff. However, not giving them credit when and where credit is deserved can cost you big time.
3) Improve constantly
Whatever you’re working toward, it’s important to constantly assess, evaluate and appraise where you are and where you want to be. It’s something you do because you want to be a better leader, not only for your own sake but also for the sake of those who are part of your team and work hard to achieve the vision and goals you set. Great leaders make self-improvement a daily practice.
Great leaders know the benefits of working in a variety of departments in the organization. This cross-pollination is a productive development tool, giving organizations a competitive edge. When leaders better understand organizational processes, they can make better decisions. The same applies to staff.
Rather than compartmentalize employees in rigid departments, great leaders mix people from a variety of fields and allow them regular contact. As a result, the employees have a better understanding of the overall operations of the organization. This allows them to apply ideas from as many fields as possible to the problems at hand, just in case something unexpected applies.
Delegation in leadership not only helps get things done, but it also empowers employees by giving them greater autonomy. No leader can do all things at all times, and delegation is a key tool for boosting team and organizational performance and efficiency. A Gallup study found that companies led by CEOs who were strong at delegating achieved a higher overall growth rate compared to companies whose CEOs delegated less.
Great leadership has many components, and delegation is an important factor for maximizing employee contributions and increasing productivity among all members of a team.
6) Share Information
Communication is a core leadership function. Effective communication and effective leadership are closely intertwined. Leaders need to be skilled communicators in countless relationships at the organizational level, in communities and groups, and sometimes on a global scale.
You need to think with clarity, express ideas, and share information with your team. You must learn to handle the rapid flows of information within the organization, and among customers, partners, and other stakeholders and influencers.
7) Create a Vision
“In order to take the organization to the highest possible level, leaders must engage their people with a compelling and tangible vision.” ~Warren Bennis
Leadership vision is essential for focusing attention on what matters most; on becoming the kind of leader you wish to be. An effective vision has to be rooted in your past, address the future, and deal with today’s realities. It represents who you are and what you stand for. It inspires you, and the people whose commitment you need, to act to make constructive change towards a future you all want to see.
A visionary leader who clearly and passionately communicates his or her vision can motivate employees to act with passion and purpose, thereby ensuring that everyone is working toward a common goal. The end result is that everyone contributes to the organization’s forward momentum.
A successful life doesn’t happen by accident. A successful life is the result of deliberate focus of your time, energy and thoughts towards what you want to accomplish. Rather than accepting what comes along as unavoidable use these seven keys to create a successful life today.
Simplify your life. Having “too much” takes energy from productive actions. Whether it’s too many commitments, too many possessions, or too many calories, you need to trim these things back to a manageable level. The you will have more energy and time for the goals you are trying to accomplish. In order to create a successful life, you will have to make room for it first.
Always give your best your best effort. Don’t settle for second best in your endeavours. You may have to evaluate how you spend your time or money. You might have to redirect the extra energy freed up by simplifying life.
You can spend your days responding to the next crisis that grabs your attention or you can set priorities to using your time effectively. You need to know what is important in moving your towards your goals. Then, eliminate those things that prevent you from meeting your priorities.
A lack of energy will hold you back. Once you have simplified, build on that. For example, once you have eliminated any unnecessary tasks, see which of the remaining tasks can be delegated to someone else. Look from the most efficient ways to process all that must be completed.
Get rid of distractions. Up to 75% of your mental energy can be tied up in things that are draining and distracting you. Reading through e-mail may seem productive, but it’s not going to help if your goal is to three chapters of a book. If need be, turn off the phone, shut down the computer and throw the television in the garbage. Free up your mental energy for the things that are important to you.
Eliminate negative thinking. Control your thoughts to accept the possibility that what you are working toward will happen to you. Your belief in the outcome dictates how successful you are. Highly motivated people have goals and work to achieve them. Whatever you think, you accomplish. Listen to your self-talk and, if necessary, change what is being said.
Just do it. The old adage says, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” You have to start. You can dream, think and plan, but if you don’t get moving, it will never happen. There’s no better time to start than today. Don’t wait for circumstances to improve or become “just right” start your journey to success today.
I was planning to write this post last week, but I put it off.
Okay, now that the obligatory bad joke is out of the way, we can look at another internal time waster, procrastination.
We all put things off. We hope to avoid tasks that are boring, difficult, unpleasant, etc. When faced with something we don’t want to do, we can find a dozen tasks of no consequence to fill our time.
We secretly hope that, by procrastinating, the unpleasant task will shrink and go away. Unfortunately, the reverse is often true; the deferred job just gets bigger and more difficult.
Overcoming procrastination requires strategy. The next time you’re tempted to put off something you don’t want to do, try some of these tips:
- Set a deadline – a task without a deadline can be put off indefinitely. Set a date and stick to it.
- Set up a reward system – make it commensurate with the task. An afternoon cleaning out the garage is worth dinner out, while a 14 month software roll-out might warrant a tropical vacation.
- Arrange for a follow-up – assign someone to be a “nag-buddy”. Give them permission to check in periodically to make sure you’re staying on track.
- Do it first – tackle difficult jobs early in the day, when you have the most energy.
- Break the task into small pieces – if the whole seems too big to tackle, break it into manageable sub-tasks.
- Avoid over-thinking – Doubts will arise for even the most confident of people and doubt can lead to procrastination. Try doubting your doubts.
- Do it now – don’t put if off any longer. Sometimes you just have to jump in and get it done.
- Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James
- Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday. ~Don Marquis
- There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back. ~Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
- You may delay, but time will not. ~Benjamin Franklin
- Someday is not a day of the week. ~Author Unknown
- Don’t fool yourself that important things can be put off till tomorrow; they can be put off forever, or not at all. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
- Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. ~Victor Kiam
- The best way to get something done is to begin. ~Author Unknown
- Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. ~Spanish Proverb
- Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible. ~George Claude Lorimer
- Tomorrow is the only day in the year that appeals to a lazy man. ~Jimmy Lyons
- A year from now you may wish you had started today. ~Karen Lamb
- Procrastination is the thief of time. ~Edward Young
Non-profit organizations face the same challenges and costs, when it comes to operating their facilities. Rent, taxes, insurance, utilities are all part of the cost of doing business.
Some of these costs are out of the control of the organization. For example, taxes are set by the municipality, and not many of them have exemptions for non-profits. On the other hand, utility costs can be managed.
Here are seven tips to help you manage your energy costs in the summer.
- Consider installing an automated thermostat that turns off your air conditioner at night.
- Open windows in the summer. It costs nothing, but it saves energy and money. Keep your windows open in the evening and overnight to allow cooler air into your home, and turn off your air conditioner. Close the windows during the day to keep the cool air in and the warm air out.
- Ceiling fans use less electricity than air conditioners or furnaces. For example, a ceiling fan costs about five cents an hour to operate, which is much less than an air conditioner.
- Did you know that you use three to five percent more energy for each degree that your air conditioner is set below 24 degrees Celsius or 75 degrees Fahrenheit? So, set your thermostat to 25 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit to provide the most comfort at the least cost.
- Use awnings and overhangs to keep the sun out of south-facing windows in the summers. Take them down the awnings to let the sun shine in during the winter.
- Installing high efficiency windows with low-e coatings, argon gas fill and insulated spacers have made a difference to the amount of heat in the house.
- A reflective roof can reduce the roof surface temperature by up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your climate. A reflective roof prevents the sun’s heat from transferring into the building.
What is a leader?
A leader is a person who guides others toward a common goal, showing the way by example, creating an environment in which other team members feel actively involved in the entire process. A leader is not the boss of the team, but the person that is committed to carrying out the mission of the venture.
Leaders exist to get things done. Leadership is needed beyond the bounds of politics and business. Leadership is needed in families; schools and universities need leadership; charitable organizations need leadership. In fact, whenever there is an opportunity for two or more people to collaborate to get something done, leadership is a key ingredient.
Here are 7 tips on the subject of leadership from those who have demonstrated themselves to be leaders:
1. “Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future.” Edwin H. Friedman – Leaders have vision. They share a dream and direction that other people want to share and follow. The leadership vision goes beyond your mission and vision statements. A leader’s vision permeates the workplace and is manifested in their actions, beliefs, values and goals.
2. “Most important, leaders can conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts.” John Gardner – Leadership is proactive rather than reactive. Leaders are good in crises – but they don’t sit around letting crises develop. Leaders identify potential problems and solve them before they reach crisis proportions. Leaders have an ability to identify and reap potential windfalls. Good leaders analyze and plan, then adapt their plans to changing circumstances and opportunities.
3. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” John Quincy Adams – Actions still speak louder than words, particularly when your philosophies and behavior motivate people to do their best work. Nothing builds and sustains credibility like someone who leads by example.
4. “The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.” Walter Lipmann – John Maxwell calls it The Law of Legacy – A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession. Leaders develop and grow people, people who will help to build and lead the future of the enterprise.
5. “The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I’. And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I’. They don’t think ‘I’. They think ‘we’; they think ‘team’. They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit…. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.” Peter F. Drucker – Developing the confidence and capability of your people will raise their self-belief. Show them you believe in their potential. Encourage them to take risks. Help them to learn when things go wrong . A leader who boosts the self-esteem of people will always be more successful in retaining people.
6. “Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach.” Rosabeth Moss Kantor – Great leaders have the ability to gain knowledge, acquire skills and adapt behaviours to achieve their goals. They always improve their skills and learn. They study people and learn how to effectively interact with them. They understand the importance of continuous learning. Leaders have the ability to ‘unlearn’ old behaviours and develop new ones.
7. “Whatever happens, take responsibility.” Anthony Robbins – It’s easy take credit when things go right, and shift the blame when things go wrong. It’s particularly tempting for a leader. A leader is positioned to blame just about anyone and anything when things go wrong. However, as a leader, you must take responsibility. When things go wrong, if your first instinct is to look for someone to blame, stop. Ask instead, “what can I do to help fix this?” You’ll only get better at what’s under your control.
In summary, a leader:
- Has a vision
- Has a plan
- Leads by example
- Develops people
- Builds confidence in people
- Keeps learning
- Takes responsibility
Look at this list above and ask, how well do I stack up against these seven points? What ONE thing could I start doing that will enhance my skills as a leader?