Part I. Leadership Research: # 1 skill for Becoming Extraordinary Leader

High-Resolution Leadership a research study conducted by DDI identifies that “the single most important skill of a good leader may not be what you think. Although it is important to be visionary and a strategic thinker, a new study suggests that it’s more rooted in their daily conversations and interactions with people”.

According to DDI research on leadership, the leader who’s most effective in having successful conversations is most likely to do the best in developing their team and creating a successful business. “By the end of each day, leaders likely have had multiple conversations with a range of their constituents,” DDI’s researchers write. “Each of these interactions will collectively determine their ultimate success as a leader.”

This conclusion comes from a report called High-Resolution Leadership, which is the result of synthesizing assessments taken by 15,000 participants being considered for leadership from the front lines to executive levels at 300 companies in 18 countries. DDI evaluated the data from personality and intelligence tests as well as from “day-in-the-life” simulations that allowed participants to demonstrate their skills.

 

STOP the War Talk– Republican Presidential Candidates must Remember the words of IKE and JFK.

” Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind”.

John F. Kennedy

Pay Any price for control is the mantra of the power elite in the Republican party. Since 9-11 we have spent 4 trillion dollars on endless wars to keep America safe. Really. My perspective is that having an “endless war ” strategy  has led to enormous power and wealth for the “Military Industrial Complex”. The “Military and Industrial Complex” according to warnings by IKE back in 1961, will become the greatest threat for undermining  two cornerstones of Democracy:

President Eisenhower said in his farewell speech of 1961 some the following which holds true  today than ever before:

” A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. Since 9/11 we recognize the imperative and need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very success of the experiment of our democracy.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and resources will persist until we realize that we can’t be the policemen for the world. We must stop being involved in other countries civil wars.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together”.

Daily Quote and Reflections: Just Thinking and Musing about Self–Renewal and Meaning in Life…John Gardner

Extended excerpt from a speech presented to the respected and renown consulting firm of McKinsey in 1990. Don’t miss the closing remarks on living a meaningful life because this is a great example of how to  use story telling to connect with an audience in a memorable way.

“Personal Renewal”
Delivered to McKinsey & Company, Phoenix, AZ
November 10, 1990 

” Nothing is ever finally safe. Every important battle is fought and re-fought. We need to develop a resilient, indomitable morale that enables us to face those realities and still strive with every ounce of energy to prevail. You may wonder if such a struggle — endless and of uncertain outcome — isn’t more than humans can bear. But all of history suggests that the human spirit is well fitted to cope with just that kind of world.

Remember I mentioned earlier the myth that learning is for young people. I want to give you some examples, In a piece I wrote for Reader’s Digest not long ago, I gave what seemed to me a particularly interesting true example of renewal. The man in question was 53 years old. Most of his adult life had been a losing struggle against debt and misfortune. In military service he received a battlefield injury that denied him the use of his left arm. And he was seized and held in captivity for five years. Later he held two government jobs, succeeding at neither. At 53 he was in prison — and not for the first time. There in prison, he decided to write a book, driven by Heaven knows what motive — boredom, the hope of gain, emotional release, creative impulse, who can say? And the book turned out to be one of the greatest ever written, a book that has enthralled the world for ever 350 years. The prisoner was Cervantes; the book: Don Quixote.

Another example was Pope John XXIII, a serious man who found a lot to laugh about. The son of peasant farmers, he once said “In Italy there are three roads to poverty — drinking, gambling and fanning. My family chose the slowest of the three.” When someone asked him how many people worked in the Vatican he said “Oh, about half.” He was 76 years old when he was elected Pope. Through a lifetime in the bureaucracy, the spark of spirit and imagination had remained undimmed, and when he reached the top he launched the most vigorous renewal that the Church has known in this century.

Still another example is Winston Churchill. At age 25, as a correspondent in the Boer War he became a prisoner of war and his dramatic escape made him a national hero. Elected to Parliament at 26, he performed brilliantly, held high cabinet posts with distinction and at 37 became First Lord of the Admiralty. Then he was discredited, unjustly, I believe, by the Dardanelles expedition — the defeat at Gallipoli– and lost his admiralty post. There followed 24 years of ups and downs. All too often the verdict on him was “Brilliant but erratic…not steady, not dependable.” He had only himself to blame. A friend described him as a man who jaywalked through life. He was 66 before his moment of flowering came. Someone said “It’s all right to be a late bloomer if you don’t miss the flower show.” Churchill didn’t miss it.

Well, I won’t give you any more examples. From those I’ve given I hope it’s clear to you that the door of opportunity doesn’t really close as long as you’re reasonably healthy. And I don’t just mean opportunity for high status, but opportunity to grow and enrich your life in every dimension. You just don’t know what’s ahead for you. And remember the words on the bronze plaque “Some men and women make the world better just by being the kind of people they are.” To be that kind of person would be worth all the years of living and learning. 

Many years ago I concluded a speech with a paragraph on the meaning in life. The speech was reprinted over the years, and 15 years later that final paragraph came back to me in a rather dramatic way, really a heartbreaking way. ”

A man wrote to me from Colorado saying that his 20 year-old daughter had been killed in an auto accident some weeks before and that she was carrying in her billfold a paragraph from a speech of mine. He said he was grateful because the paragraph — and the fact that she kept it close to her — told him something he might not otherwise have known about her values and concerns. I can’t imagine where or how she came across the paragraph, but here it is:

“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.” 

Self-Doubt –Learn to Use the Challenge Response of Self-Efficacy

” Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the sources of action required to manage prospective situations…remember self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure…People who regard themselves as highly efficacious act, think, and feel differently from those who perceive themselves as in-efficacious. They produce their own future, rather than simply foretell it…People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided.” Dr. Albert Bandura 
From Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory., 1986.

A concise summary by psychology.about.com describes why the theory of self-efficacy is so important in the psychology of self is because  self-efficacy can have an impact on everything from psychological states to behavior to motivation. Most people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change in their behavior, and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. Bandura and others have found that an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.

” People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered
  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments

People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:

  • Avoid challenging tasks
  • Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities
  • Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
  • Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities”
Self-Doubt is a difficult burden to carry around everyday. The next time you have self-doubt challenge this negative thought or opinion about you. To survive and thrive in this life means that you need to find your own inner compass of strength and build unshakable confidence and BELIEF about who you are and what your strengths are for building a fulfilling and meaningful life. Don’t let other people define who you are and how you need to live your life.

MISTAKE #1: Accepting Other People’s  “Wrong Opinion” of You

In our desire to please people and get along, most people early in life decide it is more to their benefit to accept a bad opinion of themselves from a  parent, peer or teacher. – even if it’s not true, so as to be accepted and stay out of trouble.

“You’re terrible at sports because your feet are too big.”
“You don’t have the creativity to be an artist.”
“Your too weak to get stay the course and make a living as an actor.”
“Just give up the this dream of being a musician you don’t have a good ear and are tone-deaf. Find something more practical to do.”

I’ve noticed that many people accept these statements even when they don’t agree with them.

Then they go out and do something they don’t believe in and try to live the life set-out for them or encouraged by others. They do this even if they are not interested or passionate about the suggestions. Living a life chosen by others is a terrible choice because it makes you feel dependent and reduces your ability to live an autonomous and responsible life. You always have the excuse “I am just doing what you recommended for me to do.” I am sure these advice givers had good intentions but they robbed you of learning first hand what was best for you to do given your strengths and self-desires. This backdoor excuse reduces your ability to make decisions and reduces your ability to take ownership for your life.

This approach can will crush your confidence instantly.Why? Because to be confident, you need to trust yourself to make decisions and be able to tell yourself the truth. This dependency approach thus limits self-awareness and self efficacy. This approach of dismissing responsibility for choices is the root cause of self-doubt. This decision to believe others can do major damage to your confidence and emotion health and the ability to life an independent and reality based life.

Case in point: An employee I worked with was disappointed and upset about her lack of promotion to Supervisor on an important audit for the firm. She just wasn’t getting the best assignments because the Manager’s had decided she didn’t have the experience and ability to hand supervision of others. (yet).

What’s the message you think the Manager on the Furr’s audit is sending?” I asked her.

That I’m not good enough or smart enough to supervise others,” she said.

And how ARE you perceiving your skills and abilities to handle this assignment?” I asked her.

I’m not myself at all. I’m always nervous when interacting with others I am not trusting my training or instincts and I’m messing up even the simplest work papers and discussions with other colleagues or the client.” she said.

So what is the issue self-doubt, lack of communication or lack of training to learn the way to do these things – guess what?

This employee came from one of the best accounting schools in the country where she obtained B grades. She didn’t lose confidence because her manager didn’t allow her to supervise others or get good assignments. She lost it because she KNOWS she is a smart and competent auditor, but decided to believe and buy-in to a different view of herself by managers in her firm. When you lose self-belief or buy-in do other viewpoints about your abilities its ‘game over’ for your motivation and confidence.

Your self-belief or self-efficacy is your basic tool for success and overcoming barriers in your life.Question what you KNOW to be true, and you’ll do terrible damage to your career and your self belief. Now I know what you’re thinking.

“Mark, if I have a boss who thinks I’m not smart or experienced enough to be included as the supervisor on a project, then how dare I second-guess him or convince him I am ready. “

Easy. Ask him what he needs to see from her to show him she is ready to supervise this audit assignment. After he responds, set-up a mutual agreed to performance and training plan to get the experiences and training needed for your success. Be more assertive about your skills and abilities. That’s what your manager is hoping for, and anything less is a disservice to both of you. Your boss may be the smartest person alive, but even he doesn’t have a crystal ball and cannot predict the future. Heck, even Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team.

Remember, human beings are not built to persist and their belief in themselves and be crushed very easily by people they respect and look-up to. Unfortunately, many of us give up at the first sign of struggle, and the biggest struggle of all is believing in yourself even when no one else does.

You can change and in changing prove to others your competence and confidence to succeed where they thought you couldn’t. You can persevere and believe and with belief comes confidence and a positive self-fulfilling prophecy can be set in motion to change other people’s view and opinion of your abilities.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Are “SOFT SKILLS” and Emotional Intelligence the Missing Link for Your Life and Job Success in 2014?

Daily Quote:  “In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships.” —Dr. John Gottman–From the book:  Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

“Let’s say you work at a place that’s saturated with smarts. If all of your colleagues were always the brightest person in the room growing up, then what makes you stand out? One of the key factors for differentiating yourself from others in the workplace is the concept of emotional intelligence and self-awareness”. Drake Baer,  from Fast Company 

Reflection: Many studies are now pointing to emotional intelligence as a strong predictor of  productivity, effectiveness and success for people and the companies they work for.

To be emotionally intelligent, Goleman and other researchers say, you need to have confidence. To have confidence, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses. Yet what does it mean to have confidence? It means to understand and believe you have the ability and belief that you can do the things that produce positive results. When faced with a decision or choice of what to do to be successful at a task or activity you believe you have the wherewithal to use your focused concentration, experiences and talents to complete the job successfully. This underlining insight is based on what Arthur Bandura calls self-efficacy. Working from a basis of belief in yourself provides a behavioral framework or platform of “I can do this”.

Self-Coaching Challenge: So your challenge for the New Year is to assess where you are on the Emotional Intelligence scale and then put together a plan for personal and emotional intelligence. Remember you can change your level of emotional intelligence because unlike IQ and other fixed variables our EQ is malleable but it will take more self-awareness and deliberative practice to improve you EQ level.

Want to learn more about EQ read this powerful article in Fast Company called: Emotional Intelligence predicts Job Success Do You Have It?  by Drake Baer.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3023335/leadership-now/emotional-intelligence-predicts-job-success-do-you-have-it#

 

Daily Quote and Reflection: Tribute to Nelson Mandela

 

Daily Quote :

“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

 Nelson Mandela

Reflection:

As President Obama said on Thursday on the passing of Nelson Mandela ” As a leader he achieved more than could be expected of any man… we’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with,” Obama said. “He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages … His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to.”

“I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life,” Obama continued, citing his own protests against apartheid as one of his first political actions. “I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example set by Nelson Mandela.”

Obama continued, “We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.” See more at

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/obama-nelson-mandela_n_4393950.html

 

Self-Coaching Challenge: Listen carefully to all the lessons Nelson Mandela taught us by living his life as an honorable and peaceful man. After listening to the lessons choose one to incorporate into your daily life.  

Glasser’s Reality Leadership Model for Assessing 3 Styles of Leadership

How to use Dr. Glasser’s Realty Therapy for Self Coaching–Three critical questions to get started.

  1. What do you want?
  2. What are you doing to get what you want?
  3. Is what you are doing working and helping you get what you want ?

Let’s look at Glasser’s theory along a continuum from Authoritarian, Command and Control Leader to Laissez-Faire to  Empowering Leader

Empowering Leaders continually work to create an open environment which encourages participation by employees to solve work place problems and self-discover opportunities to do their best and reach their full potential. In addition, it is essential that the empowering leader is able to include and motivate their team to continually upgrade their skills, experience and systems of equality and two-communication that builds competence and trust.

The following grid is one example of how people in any organization can self-evaluate the “quality of their work place environment.  The diagnostic chart below lists many characteristics that describe leadership styles. In using this chart employees are encouraged to discuss their perception of various leadership characteristics and their impact on growth, development and excellence in the organizational system.

Characteristics of  Leadership Styles Command-Control “The Boss” Empowered Leader Laissez-faire
Relationship – coercive
– need-to-know basis
– externally motivated

– supportive and open                                         – builds trust through transparency

– internally motivated
– input involves others

– uncertain
– distant and hands off
– inconsistent and unstructured
Wants – dualistic thinking

-control and power over others
– my way is the only way
– narrow point of views profit motivation is king 

employees to do what they are told to do 

– group consensus
– participation and input for group problem solving 
– broad, many options

-focus on employee health and well-being 

– to delegate not tell people what to do
– agreement and support
– everyone to do their best.

-avoidance of too much supervision or structure

Present Behaviors

– uses harsh words and inflexible rules 
– set strict rules and regulations
-judgmental and management by exception 

Tell and sell approach 

severe-reprisals and punishment

– uses empowering and caring behaviors
– focus on group participation
– uses criteria,improves human relation systems
– combines both
– says okay
– unclear, does both/none
Evaluation – system of punishment
– criteria set by C/C leader

– develops system of self-development

– collaborative on evaluation and feedback 
– criteria by leaders/workers

– never the same
– inconsistent hands off “sink or swim” approach  
Planning – sets deadlines
– sets new rules goes by the book
– involvement based on strengths
– workers’ input appreciated
– what is deemed necessary “now”
– depends on the circumstances
 
 
Self-Coaching Challenge–Gather your leadership team together and assess where your team falls on this “quality of worklife ” and leadership style inventory.Then develop a plan for improvement with the team. Execute changes with a specific time table.