Unleashing Potential: Better Leadership is Needed

The common questions surrounding the concept of leadership development are often:
1) What is leadership?
2) How are leaders developed?

While these are certainly the basis of understanding what it means to become an effective leader, there are 2 other questions which I believe are just as important but often take a back seat to the questions above. They are:

1)Why does better leadership make a difference?
2)How does better leadership achieve those differences?

These are the questions I want to focus on in this article. Effective leadership is a highly unique form of human behavior that requires the integration of a strong personal foundation, knowledge, soft skills and actions aligning with words. Despite the fact that many people in leadership roles have a wide-ranging influence, very few of them actually reach their full potential in regards to maximizing the abilities of themselves and their followers. So what can one do do if they step up and unleash their leadership potential? Create a legacy that can continue on for generations to come.

One’s journey to unleashing their leadership potential begins with a great understanding of self. Discover and develop the personality traits and understand how they relate to effective leadership. When one becomes aware of what effective leadership truly entails, he/she can maximize their positive traits, and become aware of the weaker areas. This is a key step to one to achieving their leadership potential. Once one understands themselves along with their strengths and weaknesses, the next step is to hone their communication skills. These are not limited to public speaking skills either. This includes writing style, body language and most importantly, methods of communication depending on the individual personalities within their following. Taking a personal approach to leadership and understanding what makes each individual tick can lead to the most important aspect effective leaders need to possess. RESPECT. When one earns respect, they are well on the way to reaching their full potential in said leadership role. One’s ability to communicate effectively with varying personalities enhances the ability to improve interpersonal relationships therefore leading to a genuine respect for one another. Another important skill is to learn how to learn. One would be wise to examine different teaching methods and learning styles in order to identify how the people in one’s following learn best. Effective leaders must first and foremost humble themselves and check their ego at the door. This is a major step in reaching one’s potential that is often not easy to do. Effective leaders have to be willing to admit that they know that they don’t know it all.

In conclusion, remember that being a leader is not simply a title or something one is born into. Effective Leadership is a never ending process of development and humbling oneself.
Dr. Ken Blanchard, in his book “The Heart of A Leader”said; “If you want to know why your people are not performing well, step up to the mirror and take a peek.” Effective leaders have to take-on and own the responsibility. This is what makes a difference and this is what society needs more of.

Leader’s Honor: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Who would forget the ever-famous line of Peter Parker’s grandfather, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Spiderman never let us down. With the power he possessed, he made sure to be responsible in using it for the good of the people around him. Leadership is not at all different from being superheroes in this sense. Yes, we may not have super powers like Spiderman, but we have the same authority and the responsibility of protecting our followers and leading them towards success. Effective leaders must embrace responsibility and make it their mission – not just before one accepts to take it, but also after the task at hand has been accomplished or considered a failure. As much as one is responsible for his/her team’s success, they should also be willingly responsible for any and all failures. This is truly the ultimate responsibility of those who hold leadership roles. One must be ready and willing to take the blame when things go wrong. Making excuses and blaming something or someone else for failed jobs is simply a quality that effective leaders cannot possess. As effective leaders, we must ensure that the team members learn and most importantly, IMPROVE from mistakes. Despite the fact that we cannot control our follower’s actions, we do have the full control of our own reactions. All one can do is try to put their followers in the best place to achieve moral success. This is the power and responsibility that we possess. “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Leadership Exposed: 4 Realities of Leadership that Shouldn’t be Overlooked

Much has been written about leadership: rules, pointers, styles, and biographies of inspiring leaders throughout world history. But there are certain leadership ideas that we ourselves fail to recognize and realize in the course of reading books. Here is a short list of things you thought you knew about leadership.

  1. Leaders come in different flavors.

There are surly different types of leaders and you will probably encounter more than one type in your lifetime. Formal leaders are those we elect into positions or offices such as the senators, congressmen, and presidents. Informal leaders are those we look up to by virtue of their wisdom and experience such as in the case of our elders; or by virtue of their expertise and contribution on a given field such as Albert Einstein in the field of Theoretical Physics and Leonardo da Vinci in the field of the Arts. Both formal and informal leaders practice a combination of leadership styles. Take for example the following varying leadership strategies presented by three different experts:

1. Lewin’s three basic leadership styles: authoritative, participative, and delegative

   2. Likert’s four leadership styles: exploitive authoritative, benevolent authoritative, consultative, and participative

    3. Goleman’s six emotional leadership styles – visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pace-setting, and commanding.   

  1. Leadership is a process of becoming.

There is a common phase that a lot of leadership developers use: “Leaders are made not born.” While I tend to agree with this statement, the term “made” refers to a finished product. However, the process of becoming an effective leader is a process that is never-ending. That being said, leaders are never truly “made” because development and growth should never be a finished product. Keeping this idea in mind, without the right environment and exposure, leaders may fail to develop their full potential. One does not become a leader in one day and just stop, the moment one is “made” is the moment they begin to wither away. Life-long learning is important in becoming a good leader for each day brings new experiences that put your knowledge, skills, and attitude to the test.

  1. Leadership starts with you.

The best way to develop leadership qualities is to apply it to your own life. When one is incapable of leading themselves, how can they expect to lead others in an effective manner? Leaders are always in the limelight. Keep in mind that your credibility as a leader depends much on your actions: your interaction with your family, friends, and co-workers; your way of managing your personal and organizational responsibilities; and essentially your daily handling/treatment of others. Repeated actions become habits. Habits in turn form a person’s character.

  1. Leadership styles depend on the situation.

How come dictatorship is accepted in countries like North Korea but not in the United States of America? Aside from culture, beliefs, value system, and form of government, the current situation of a nation also affects the leadership styles used by its formal leaders. There is no rule that only one style can be used. Effective leaders have the ability to recognize various situations and then employ a combination of leadership styles depending on said situation. In emergency situations such as periods of war and calamity, decision-making is a matter of life and death. Thus, a nation’s leader cannot afford to consult with all departments to arrive at crucial decisions. The case is of course different in times of peace and order where different branches of government can freely interact and collaborate. Another case in point is in leading organizations. When the staffs are highly motivated and competent, a combination of high delegative and moderate participative styles of leadership is most appropriate. But if the staffs have low competence and low commitment, a combination of high coaching, high supporting, and high directing behavior from organizational leaders is required.

As aspiring leaders who have had past success, it is easy to get into the mindset that we are experts and that our beliefs and actions are always the most effective. However, it is crucial to keep these 4 realities in mind. Also, never forget that we are never truly “made”. We are in reality in a constant process of becoming.

Unlock Your Potential: Better Leadership Makes a Difference

Our world is run by leadership. Everywhere you look there is surely to be traces of it. Whether you look at the manager of a grocery store, a wolf in the wilderness, a CEO at the office, or the president of a nation, leaders are at the head of it all. Since our world is based on leadership, shouldn’t it be our focus to become the best, most effective leaders we possibly can? Wouldn’t that lead to a better, overall functioning planet? That being said, I want us all to ponder two main questions today:

1) Why does better leadership make a difference?

2) How does better leadership achieve those differences?

Leadership lacks a specific definition however, I feel one of the better ones is the following:

“a highly unique form of human behavior that requires the integration of character, knowledge, experience and people skills.”

One’s journey to unleashing their leadership potential begins with a great understanding of his/her self. Take the time to discover your own personality traits and how they relate to effective leadership. When we know ourselves, we can maximize our positive traits, and become aware of our weaker ones that we need to improve upon, which in turn helps us to achieve our leadership potential. In simpler terms, we need to enhance our already positive traits and continue to work to turn our negative traits into positive ones.

Once one understands and knows their strengths and weaknesses, next they must hone in on their communication skills. These are not limited to simply public speaking skills either. Communication skills also include writing style, body language and most importantly, your communication with each individual in your organization/team. This process involves taking time to get to know each person and the varying personality types within your following. This is often a long, time consuming process that few people in leadership roles are willing to take. However, if you want to truly lead effectively, it is important to take time to show the people that you care about them on a personal level and not just from a production standpoint. Your ability to communicate effectively with each individual enhances your ability to improve interpersonal relationships.

Another crucial skill is to learn how to learn. Examine different teaching methods and learning styles out there in order to identify how you and those you are leading learn best. This skill will greatly enhance your ability to make decisions and give clear instructions. Learning how to learn also involves yourself. Understand that just because you are in a leadership position, that doesn’t mean that it is your way or the highway. Be humble enough to open your mind to potential methods outside if your own.

I believe an Effective Leader is one that recognizes the abilities within others and uses their skills in order to help those people become the best versions of themselves, which in turn, helps the group as a whole become the best version of itself. Everyone has the ability to lead, but not everyone has the will to lead effectively. This is very important to remember. We all have the ability to develop as leaders however, not all have the true willpower and selflessness in order to lead effectively and genuinely for the best interest of others.

So, why does better leadership make a difference? It makes a difference because better leadership means more genuine leadership based on personal relationships and trust. How does better leadership achieve those differences? When you can develop a personal relationship with each one of your followers, you subconsciously gain their trust and their willingness to go the extra mile for you and the rest of the team. When this type of culture is created, the opportunities for success are endless.

True Leadership = True to Yourself

Leadership is all about being yourself and demonstrating personal authenticity rather than learning some formula from a text book. Aspiring leaders therefore need to be true to themselves. Real leaders are also open and willing to reveal their weaknesses. There is often a misconception that those in leadership roles need to be stronger and/or more superior than those under them. Obviously they do have to be well educated and competent in their field in order to lead the organization in the right direction in regards to its production. However, as far as human nature is concerned, those holding leadership roles are affected just as much as anybody else. When one is able to admit his/her vulnerabilities/ weaknesses as a human being, this resonates with others confirming that the leader is a person first and foremost and not merely a “role-holder”.

As leaders, when we reveal our true selves, it can allow others to feel more comfortable and makes us more likable. This can result in increased organizational motivation to help each other out and not want to let each other down. This what true teamwork is a about. True leadership is therefore much more than a demonstration of strengths. Real leaders acknowledge their shortcomings and use them in ways to create a healthy, comfortable working environment with team driven objectives.

Good leaders always rely on their ability to read situations. They develop a feel for an environment, and interpret soft data without having to be told. They know when team morale is patchy or when complacency needs shaking up. There are three levels of situational sensitivity, each of which has its own specific skills:

Effective leaders are continually learning about the motives, attributes and skills of their important subordinates. They get to know their people through formal and, often better, informal contact such as when traveling together and/or team events.

Effective leaders read their teams as a whole. They analyze the compound balance between team members, the tension between the tasks and processes, and how the team builds its competencies.

Finally, they are concerned with defining the cultural characteristics of their organizations and keep their finger on the pulse of the organization’s climate.

It sounds cliché to say that leaders need to care for their people. Ever noticed the skepticism in the workforce upon seeing a manager return from a people-skills training course with new, sudden concern for others? This can create a negative feeling amongst one’s following because they sense that the concern isn’t really and will likely be short lived. The bottom line is, genuine concern is difficult to display because it always involves some personal risk. Genuine care means putting others interest before your own and doing whatever it takes for the benefit of your followers. This is a rare commodity that is much easier said than done. The bottom line is, no leader really knows how they will react to these types of situations unless then experience them for themselves. Until those times come, just remember to be genuine and true to yourself. You are in this leadership role for a reason. Trust what got your there and never forget that your weaknesses are not a detriment, but rather an opportunity to connect to your followers and increase organizational moral. Being true to yourself is the same as being true to your followers. The result is true leadership.

Mentoring: A Job of Impact

If you are considering mentoring someone younger and/or with less experience, here are some things to ponder before taking action:

1. Is mentoring for you?

Most effective mentors truly, deeply enjoy helping other people grow and develop. Make sure you’re likely to enjoy the process before you take it on. Make sure you have the time and flexibility. If your schedule is already overloaded or you’re under stress, you might want to consider holding off on a mentoring commitment until things are a little less hectic.

2. Make sure you know what you bring to the table.

A jack of all trades is a master of none. Do not feel pressured to mentor people in all aspects of life. It is important to know and understand what you are good at and where your experience lies. In his book, Winning, Jack Welch says that “There is no one right mentor. There are many right mentors.” From your perspective, that means you don’t have to do everything. You aren’t the only place that your protégé should get help.

3. Know which individuals you can relate to and impact the most.

The bottom line is, mentoring should be a pleasant relationship for both parties. Try to find the younger you in others. Search for signs of your former, inexperienced self. When you find and recognize these signs, it is likely that these are the people who you can most effectively impact. Use your past as the lesson plan. Both your successes and failures are valuable to one’s you are mentoring.

Mentoring can be one of the most rewarding/impactful jobs one can take on. However, make sure you are able and willing to make the time commitment, along with giving 100 percent of your effort. The worst thing one can do is to just have one foot in the door. This gives off a vibe that you don’t consider it a priority and it could have negative implications on the ones you are mentoring. Understand that this process is about having a genuine, positive impact on others which they in turn, can pay forward to the next generation. Also, keep in mind that mentoring others doesn’t only mean that you give your knowledge to others. There is a common misconception that mentoring is one-sided. In reality, the amount you receive is just as much if not greater. Mentoring can open your mind and introduce you to so many amazing and inspiring stories and people. You should both grow and develop. And you should both make a friend for life. Mentoring isn’t just a job. It is a job of fulfillment and true, lasting impact.

Leadership Training: The Difference Between Growth and Stagnation

Most business owners and people in power positions would like to consider themselves as strong, competent and effective leaders. The ones who get it right, understand the importance of developing their skills even after they have been awarded a leadership position. However, unfortunately there are those who choose to halt their growth after reaching the top of the hierarchy.

In my opinion, leadership training and education is something that needs to be practiced on a consistent basis. It helps one unlock his or her full potential and creates an overall atmosphere of equality amongst an organization. If the same methods are being learned and implemented from the top down, it helps create unity and respect amongst all hierarchical levels. The bottom line is, effective leadership is firmly at the core of sustained success.

Two main arguments against leadership training may be: 1) it takes up to much time, and/or 2) it cost too much financial resources. The second part is a very silly argument in my mind, but one that a number of organizations may present. With that being said, aspiring leaders always have the option of open learning. This process allows one to gain leadership training outside of standard business hours. Open learning requires one to study during their own time and at their own pace, moving through a training course and/or other form of education at whatever pace suits best. This means that one can structure their learning around their current life commitments. However, in order for this method to be effective, one must be fully committed and convinced that consistent leadership training is vital to the organization’s success. This often involves submitting to the fact that we don’t know it all; along with setting aside one’s ego ( which isn’t an easy task for many people in higher-up positions).

Most people in the leadership realm are familiar with John Maxwell. He has build a career for himself as one of (if not the most) successful and followed leadership developers. On his podcast, he referenced leadership as being a journey, not a destination. And according to Maxwell, “Consistent growth is key to great leadership. Your family, your organization, and your team depend on it. Most people just look at growth as a season or a means to an end, but good leaders don’t stop growing.” This statement further proves the importance for constant growth and development while striving for and/or holding a leadership position. The bottom line is, growth is a necessary process for consistent success, competence and credibility. When one chooses to stop growing, their days are numbered whether they realize it or not.

‘Road Work Ahead’: The Difference Between Leading and Managing

It is a common belief that management and leadership are the same role. While it is true that often a manager also plays the part of the leader, these two roles are truly separate in function and in the way they add to the success of a team or organization. By understanding the difference between management and leadership you will become more effective in helping others see what lies ahead along the path towards success.

To understand the difference between management and leadership, consider the construction of a new road. To build that road there are workers, machinery and tools which are all essential in the roads construction. Managers help ensure those workers, machinery and tools work together in the most efficient way possible. A manager makes sure those workers are properly trained, competent, motivated, rested and have a clear understanding of the tasks needing to get done. The manager has the same mindset in regards to the tools and the machinery. He or she has to make sure that they are working correctly and that the workers are able to use them efficiently and safely. This is the role of management in a nutshell. On the other hand, a leader makes sure that the road is going in the right direction before the construction begins. That leader also monitors conditions to ensure that the road under construction is still the correct one and that the organization isn’t putting efforts into the wrong place while wasting time and resources.

How does this affect you as a leader? Are you spending your time managing people when you should be making sure that the road ahead is the correct one? As an effective leader, one must present a clear vision and a trail you are willing to walk on first and foremost. While there are times when it is appropriate for a leader to fill a management role, it is crucial to understand the difference between leadership and management so you can be effective no matter which role you happen to be acting in. If you are a leader overseeing other branch managers, it is important that you provide them with the correct perspective so they may be effective in their management role. Don’t manage the managers. Lead them.

If you are not in a formal leadership role, it is also important that you understand that when a leadership opportunity arises there is a difference between being a leader and managing the effort. Even if you end up filling both sets of shoes it is key to understand the difference in roles in order to fill them effectively. If, on the other hand, you learn how to lead by showing people that you are walking down the right road, you will become a natural leader and will be able to help your team find their correct road to success.

True Leadership: Impact Without Attention

It is human nature to want to be recognized and admired by others for our good deeds and accomplishments. Attention is often a driving force of motivation for a vast majority people. Not to say that there is anything wrong with this mindset because many use it to their advantage as far as accomplishing great things. However, who would have ever thought that we would come to a point in history where the level of your impact and status would be measured by the number of random people who click a virtual “thumbs-up” symbol in confirmation of what you do or have done? It is truly an amazing time to be alive. While social media certainly has its benefits and pros, we as a society have become obsessed with attention and are confusing it with what true impact actually is.

In today’s day in age, we have developed the mindset that likes and followers are the same as making a positive impact on society. The leadership development niche is no different in this ideology. Due to social media, there is an overflux of information and competition in regards to people trying to build a brand and/or get their message across. This means that there is very few new information out there. Basically, every piece of content we see has been portrayed by someone else at some point in time and in some way shape or form. We as a society just choose who we listen to based off of who is more successful in terms of finances and recognition. That being said, this has created a mindset in people believing that they have to do whatever it takes to stand out in order for consumers to listen to them and consume their content rather than that of the rest of the competition. Here is where the issue lies. This lusting to stand out has contaminated our morals in regards to what true leadership is all about. Impact without recognition.

Now of course, I understand that if people want to make a living as an influencer/leadership developer, then yes they need some sort of recognition. That being said, we can’t fall into the trap of letting attention be our driving force of motivation. We have to learn to be content with impacting the lives of our followers without expecting recognition and praise in return. The well-respected leadership expert, John C. Maxwell says, “In the beginning (of his career) it was all about me, my goals, and my success. Slowly I realized that I was not on earth to see how important I could become but to see how much of a difference I could make in the lives of others.” Now, I’m not ignoring the fact that Mr. Maxwell has made a famous and lucrative career as an author and leadership developer. It is clear he has been recognized for his impact. That being said, we need to use his experience as our model. The bottom line is, when your main motivation is to make others lives better, the attention will come naturally whether you like it or not. If that’s the case, then why go searching for it? Unfortunately, that has been the mentality that many of us have developed in today’s day in age.

If we want to be true leaders, we have to put impact first. We have to be okay with not getting attention and not being recognized for every good deed we do. However, this is surly easier said than done. In a world where everyone is trying to get ahead and leave their mark, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. But, I challenge leaders to say “Who cares” about getting lost in the shuffle. Make impact your number one priority and be at peace with whatever comes afterwards. Deep down each and everyone of us knows our true motives. So, what is yours? Are you willing to impact without attention?

Less is More: The Fine Line Between Self-Development and Self-Destruction

We live in a day and age of social media entrepreneurship, personal branding, mastermind courses and financial gurus. Thanks to the power of social media, Everyone has the power and the opportunity to have their voice heard. That being said there are some who are more heard than others. I’m talking about those we like to call experts or, in today’s terms, “Influencers”. The term “Influencer” is so new to the English language that not even spell-check has recognized it yet. Naturally, these influencers are the ones who others want to manipulate or follow due to their social media popularity and financial success. They have mastered the social media algorithms and found a way to make a living from their product, service or strategy. These people have proven that with the right mindset, planning and resources, one can create so-called financial freedom eliminating the grueling 9 to 5 lifestyle.

These influencers take advantage of their success and rightfully so. Most offer their content in forms of courses, podcasts, webinars or videos, where they claim to teach others how to grow their presence and impact in order to gain financial freedom just like they have done. While that seems like (and often is) a very honorable and helpful for service to provide, the problem is that the system is overloaded. We are now at the point where we are constantly being bombarded by ads on the various social media platforms while influencers try to convince us to purchase and consume their content. Let us not forget that while their intentions may be in the right place, the number one priority for most of them is to make a profit from these services. That being the case, it is important not to simply jump at every offer we see just because someone is displaying a lavish lifestyle and financial freedom. The solution here is to be specific in the type of influence you are looking for. Decide exactly what you want do and who you want to learn from. Then commit by focusing 100 percent of your effort on said person’s teachings/content. Do not let yourself become overwhelmed with various content from a number of individuals. While you may think that you are doing the right thing by consuming a wide range of success stories, perspectives and recipes for success, this is often a recipe for self-destruction, misdirection, confusion and insecurity.

The key, like I said before, is to know what you want for yourself and make a decision about who you want to follow based on those wants. With the amount of influencers that we have on today’s social media platforms there is likely someone who fits what you’re looking for. The main problem in my opinion is that most people simply don’t know what they want. They just know that they want a lavish lifestyle with freedom to work on their own terms without a strategy to get there. Most people just want the result and don’t consider the work leading to the result. It’s important to take the time to do your research and avoid being seduced by ads that flash in front of our computer screens and smart-phones simply because they contain a person standing next to a mansion or a Lamborghini. Don’t let yourself get caught up lusting for others success. Focus your attention on your success and a specific, high-value skill that you want to develop. After that, find one maybe two individuals that you feel like can help lead you in the right direction. Then focus solely on those individuals and what they have to offer in terms of their content.

It is important to remember that everyone has an agenda at the end of the day. Money, like it or not, will always be the number one priority that motivates most individuals. Don’t simply take on the mindset of a consumer. Understand that these influencers are who they are because the general public consumes their content in high numbers. That being said, it is essential that we have people to learn from and model throughout our journey. It is even more important that we do our research and focus our attention before clicking “Buy Now” or consuming content based simply on the end result. Don’t let yourself get overrun with information and don’t let yourself self-destruct. There is a fine line between self-development and self-destruction. Focus your attention on what you want to do and adapt a less is more mindset in regards to who you choose to learn from.