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Five Common Ways Leaders Undermine Themselves (via Eric Geiger)

Eric Geiger notes five ways leaders undermine themselves.

1. Changing directions continually
2. Not learning
3. Indecision
4. Overpromising
and, lastly,
5. Not living the values
The biggest way leaders undermine themselves is by not living the vision and values they champion. A leader’s lack of commitment to the values that hang on a wall empty those values of any real culture-shaping authority.

Read the explanations of the first four at the original post.

To these I’d add: Trying to spare people the pains and discomforts that always accompany growth and change.


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Leader Or Manager? (via Ron Edmondson)

Short post by Ron Edmondson on the differences between leaders and managers, the need for both, and the strain when someone naturally inclined toward one area ends up functioning in the other.

His thoughts are prompted by a book “Reviewing Leadership”, particularly this quote:

“Leadership and management are two distinct yet related systems of action. They are similar in that each involves influence as a way to move ideas forward, and both involve working with people. Both are also concerned with end results. Yet the overriding functions of leadership and management are distinct. Management is about coping with complexity – it is responsive. Leadership is about coping with change – it too is responsive, but mostly it is proactive. More chaos demands more management, and more change always demands more leadership. In general, the purpose of management is to provide order and consistency to organizations, while the primary function of leadership is to produce change and movement.”

Edmondson:

Too many times we ask good managers to be great leaders or good leaders to be great managers. The problem with being in the wrong fit is we tend to burn out more quickly when we are not able to live out our giftedness. In addition, we frustrate the people we are supposed to be leading or managing and ultimately we keep the organization from being the best it can be.

Read his whole post here.


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Choosing To Address Negative Issues With A Positive Attitude (via Dan Rockwell)

As someone who is not naturally positive a brief post in which Dan Rockwell gave his take-aways from someone called Jon Gordon was very constructive.
One of the points I need to model better and cultivate among our leadership is:

Choose to address negative issues with a positive attitude. Adopt the no complaining rule. Point out problems with forward-facing curiosity and unwavering commitment to make things better.
“Being positive won’t guarantee you’ll succeed but being negative will guarantee you won’t.” Jon Gordon

Read the rest at Leadership Freak.


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Don’t Surprise More Than Necessary (via Gavin Ortlund)

In a post containing five leadership lessons by Gavin Ortlund, I found this one about communicating when change is going happen sums up a lot of principles I use.
It’s about showing respect, building consensus, and avoiding misunderstanding.

Don’t surprise more than necessary.
People don’t like unpleasant surprises. We know this in principle — but how easy it is to forget in practice! We rarely over-communicate, but frequently under-communicate. It is almost instinctive, when we are up in the cockpit flying the plane, to forget to give regular updates to the passengers. But a well-timed “heads up” can do wonders for maintaining harmony and trust throughout the group.

A good leader learns the value of sentences that begin like this:

  • “So you are not surprised when it happens, I want to let you know in advance . . .”
  • “Just as a reminder, to make sure we are all on the same page . . .”
  • “I want to give you an update on the progress since our last meeting so you’re not in the dark . . .”

Here are some practical ways to make sure communication doesn’t slip through the cracks:

  • At the end of every meeting, or every major policy decision, ask the question: “Who would benefit from being informed of our conversation?” And then appoint someone to do the communication.
  • Before announcing a big change or decision publicly, do the hard work of communicating privately as much as is appropriate. Meet with people one-on-one to win them over and build consensus.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


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How To Stop Defending What Isn’t Working (via Leadership Freak)

New people bring all sorts of observations and questions about things that don’t work and we’ve gotten used to.
Dan Rockwell counters the waste of energy in defending what isn’t working.

Stop defending what isn’t working:
#1. New eyes see and state the obvious.

  1. Gradual development is less effective when you’re stuck.
  2. Bluntness creates tipping points.
  3. A new voice turns the lights on by saying the same things in new ways.

#2. New voices intensify the gravity of the moment.
Business as usual goes out the door when a new person enters the conversation. A little discomfort is a good thing, especially when you’re stuck.

#3. New perspectives reveal what’s important to you.
We lose sight of our values after grinding away for a long time. Reconnect with what you really want by noticing how you judge new perspectives.

#4. New people bring new feedback. What’s working? What’s not serving you well?

#5. New participants often lead to aha-moments. You end up saying, “I never thought of that.”

“A new person at the table is one way to address the issue of defending what isn’t working.”

Read the whole post at Leadership Freak.

I wonder when a new voice will come along?


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On Not Being A Painful Leader (via Dan Rockwell)

From Dan Rockwell at Leadership Freak.
(There are expanded observations about the second five points at the original post.)

The 5 most painful leaders to be around:
1. Nit-pickers. You’re a bad case of heartburn when you belittle the 80% that’s good with the 20% that’s bad. (Enjoy the 80%. Improve the 20%.)
2. Ball-droppers. You’re a toothache when you don’t follow-through and follow-up.
Drama-makers. You’re an empty glass in the desert when everything’s a crisis.
3. Down-in-the-mouthers. You’re a stone in a shoe when you always need a pick-me-up from your team.
4. Hand-wringers. You’re an energy suck when all you see is what could go wrong.
5. Don’t expect success if you’re a constant pain.

5 surprising ways to advance your success with others:
1. Care deeply about relationships. (It’s not just results.)
2. Invite and act on feedback.
3. Advance the agenda of others, without sacrificing your own.
4. Understand the difference between advising and advocating.
5. Say what others fear saying.

Read the whole post here.


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Learn The Unwritten Rules First (via Ron Edmondson)

Ron Edmondson writes about the need for leaders entering a new situation to have the skill set to learn the unwritten rules; the unstated (and generally unconscious) culture that a leader seeking to cultivate growth will encounter.
Leaders who don’t develop the skill of learning these unwritten rules will constantly feel blind-sided as their attempts to nurture change are hindered.
From the post:

When we entered an established church I realized quickly there were some things I didn’t need to attempt to change the first couple years – or if we did these unwritten rules would alter how we approached, introduced or implemented change. There were ingrained cultural understandings I needed to know.
How do you know the unwritten rules? First, be aware they exist in every organization. Second, ask good questions of people who have been there longer than you. Third, you’ll discover them mostly as you approach any kind of change which goes against one of them – by experience. (Which is why you don’t build change in a vacuum. You collaborate with others.)
Trust me in this. You may be a genuius with creating new and exciting ideas, but first you must understand this principle. Learn the unwritten rules first.

Read the whole article here.