The Leadership Attribute That No One Is Talking About But Every Leader Needs

Last week I had lunch with an executive team following my speech at their leadership conference. One of them asked, “In your opinion, what is the most important leadership attribute?” I said, “My answer will probably surprise you because it is a leadership attribute that nobody is talking about but every leader needs – I think it is meekness.” He questioned me – “Meekness?!” You see, meekness is crucial but it’s misunderstood. Robert Wells said, “We don’t usually think of successful executives as meek; nor can we accept the idea of a “meek,” successful quarterback on a winning football team. In fact, to us, success in anything seems to involve quite the opposite. In the minds of many, meek means being submissive, passive, retiring, placid. Their mental image of a meek person is that of a compliant “doormat” who is so timid and unassertive that he accomplishes nothing, seeks nothing,
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A Common Mistake That Destroys Leadership

There are many mistakes that leaders make that undermine their leadership and influence. Most of them are based in self-interest, ego and apathy, but there is one common mistake that destroys leadership on a regular basis. Too many leaders are guilty of hypocritical expectations – meaning they expect their people to behave one way and exempt themselves from the same expectations. We just a large remodel of our house, so I have had the good fortune of dealing with a lot of different contractors. The truth is some were amazing and some were horrible. One of the horrible ones was the group who built the basketball court in the backyard; it seemed like a fairly easy project. They said it would take a few days. I gave them a 50% deposit and they got to work. After a couple of days the court was about 80% done and they disappeared.
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Three Leadership Approaches – Three Different Results

I believe we choose the level of influence we have with our people based on the approach to leadership we choose to take. In my observation there are three distinct approaches to leadership and each derives a different result. 1. Pretentious Leaders create contempt. Pretentious leaders are driven by ego. Their focus is not on their people, it’s on them. When a leader is conceited, fake, disinterested or abrasive, they create a feeling of contempt with their people. The lack of respect erodes trust and causes desires to undermine the leader’s authority. It’s easy to blame problems on your people and even to fire people who seem to be a thorn in your side, but I want to be clear that bad leadership most often creates contempt. 2. Positional Leaders create compliance. When leaders rely on position or authority they are not truly leading. People don’t follow titles, they follow
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Leadership & Love

My favorite leadership quote is “You can love people without leading them but you cannot lead people without loving them.” I share this quote often with leaders because at the heart of how we treat our people, how we see our people & how we communicate with our people is how we feel about our people. Below are some thoughts on love and leadership from one of my favorite authors Bob Goff. I hope these quotes make you stop & think. The more beauty we find in someone else’s journey, the less we’ll want to compare it to our own. When loving people is a strategy, it isn’t love anymore. Give away love like you’re made of it. It won’t be our message that wows people, it will be our love. Love cares more about who’s hurting than who’s watching. The best advice I’ve been given when I’d failed –
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Do You Possess Neotony?

I was recently introduced to the word Neotony.  It was in context of the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon searching for the Fountain of Youth, said to cure the effects of aging for those lucky enough to drink of it’s waters. Business has it’s own fountain of youth, neotony. Neotony refers to childlike qualities retained in adulthood, qualities like love, creativity and curiosity. These are all qualities that are essential to influential leaders.  Leaders who love generate support from their people.  Leaders who are creative bring better ideas in better ways.  Leaders who are curious have limitless potential for growth. So how do leaders retain, or in some cases regain, these childlike qualities? – Love is built through serving your people – Creativity is built as we develop the habit of studying and constantly learning – Curiosity is built by learning to eliminate bias, question everything, and avoid routine Neotony is an amazing attribute that
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Are You Investing In People?

A few weeks ago we took the kids to Universal Studios in California. They were over the moon about Harry Potter World. They wore their house robes, carried a wand from Olivander’s Wand Shop, drank butter beer and performed spells throughout Hogsmead. It was magical. As we ventured out the rest of the park we quickly found the Minnions ride. As we waited a worker named Derek talked to us about our day. He asked where we had been and he told us about all the other rides we needed to do before we left the park. After the Minnions rode we were surprised to see Derek waiting for is with front of the line passes for all the rides we had talked about! Derek invested in us. He went above and beyond. He didn’t just do what was in his job description- he invested. He surprised us. He made
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Do You Think Inward or Outward?

It’s not about you – it’s about them! The focus of an influencer is always on the audience. If you are a speaker – it’s about the people listening to you. If you are in sales – it’s about your customer or prospect. If you are a leader – it’s about the people you are leading. If you are a teacher – it’s about your students. If you are a parent – it’s about your children Almost everyone has this backwards. They think being influential means they need to become polished or powerful. Influence, though, is all about the audience. Be it an audience of one or one thousand. When it’s about them, they get it, and we grow in their eyes. I think one of the keys to success is developing outward thinking. By thinking out instead of in, by concentrating on others instead of on us, a tremendous transformation
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Am I A Good Listener?

Steven Ash, “The Career Doctor” developed this listening test. It is a great way to see where you rate as a listener. Good luck! Give yourself 4 points if the answer to the following questions is Always; three points for Usually; two points for Rarely; and one point for Never.   __ Do I allow the speaker to finish without interrupting? __ Do I listen “between the lines”; that is for the subtext? __ When writing a message, do I listen for and set down the key facts and phrases? __ Do I repeat what the person just said to clarify the meaning? __ Do I avoid getting hostile and/or agitated when I disagree with the speaker? __ Do I tune out distractions when listening? __Do I make an effort to seem interested in what the other person is saying?   Scoring 26 or higher – You are an excellent
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Research Pays Off

A few weeks ago I was speaking in Omaha, Nebraska for Centris Federal Credit Union. When I got to my hotel room there was a gift basket waiting for me from the team at Centris. It was a very nice gesture but the reason I am writing about it was because they took an extra step that most people don’t take. They had done their research and the gift basket was full of things that I personally like. (Personal note: Dr. Pepper and Licorice are the keys to my heart) I was reminded of how much a little research pays off. Before you meet with a potential client, team member or partner – take a few minutes to research what they like, dislike, etc… It will give you insights into that person, allow you to personalize your approach and customize the conversation. I recently had a meeting with a potential
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People Support What They Help Create

One of the key lessons I teach leaders is that – People Support What They Help Create. Our world has changed, and rapidly. Fifteen years ago, if you wanted your voice to be heard, you pretty much only believed it was heard if you held a position of leadership. Social media has changed all that and I don’t mean just because people have Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn where they can go and voice their opinion. It has changed the psyche of our world. It has caused everyone to feel like his or her voice should be heard. Regardless of where people are in your organization, they mentally believe that their voice and their opinion matters. As a result, our top-down directives don’t work the same way they used to. We can’t just throw things at people and expect them to jump on it, to run with it, and go for
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