Wednesday, May 2

How Leaders Develop

Leadership is not an exclusive club reserved for those who were “born with it.” The traits comprising the raw materials of leadership can be acquired. Link them up with desire and nothing can keep you from becoming a leader.

Some people have a more intuitive grasp of how to lead than others. These “natural-born leaders” will always emerge, but their influence hinges upon their ability to supplement inborn talent with learned skills. Ultimately, leadership is developed, not discovered.

The Three E’s of Leadership Development
1) Environment
People accustom themselves to their environment and take cues from their surroundings. In the 1980s, social scientists came up with the broken-windows theory which indicated that the physical appearance of a community affects its crime rate. Run-down properties, widespread graffiti, and trash strewn about in a neighborhood invite crime by signaling that no one is watching and that no one cares what happens. Oppositely, a clean and well-kept neighborhood gives the impression that people are monitoring their community and willing to take action to ensure its safety.
Every organization is permeated by an invisible culture which communicates an unspoken message that shapes its people. As has often been said, “leadership is more caught than taught.” Be attentive to the influence of the following five elements of your organizational environment: habits of social interaction, physical design and decoration, morale / emotional tone, level of intellectual stimulation, and spiritual wellbeing.

2) Equipping
Equipping begins with expectations. Namely, that leadership is influence, that leadership can be learned, and that leaders can multiply their influence by equipping others.
Equipping succeeds with training. Telling is not teaching, and listening is not learning.
We learn to do by doing; training must be interactive.
Equipping continues with teaching. The reward of a teacher is a changed life. Success comes through achievement, but significance results from helping others to grow.
Practically speaking, the equipping process can be broken down into five steps.
• Say it: explain the task.
• Show it: demonstrate how to perform the task.
• Assign it: let the other person attempt the task.
• Study it: observe how the person performed the task.
• Assess it: offer feedback based on the person’s performance.

3) Exposure
A little exposure trumps a lot of theory. To develop leaders, expose your people to expert practitioners. These real-world educators model how to lead; they set a living example which serves as a source of inspiration. Whereas equipping delivers job-specific training, exposure provides a vision or picture of what successful leadership looks like.

Application Exercise
Grade your organization, from A-F on the Three E’s of people development. For each, list one thing you’re already doing well as well as one way in which you can improve.

By Dr. John Maxwell

Thursday, May 19

Opportunities Are Unlimited

An article by author and speaker Brian Tracy.

There have never been so many opportunities to start and build a successful business than there are today.

One Million Every Year
Ambitious individuals like you, with dreams and hopes, are starting new businesses today at a faster rate than ever before. Over one million new enterprises are being launched each year, and the rate is accelerating. The opportunities for finding or developing a new business idea are all around you, and with proper preparation, the possibilities for your success are enormous.

No Better Time Than Today
As many as 80 percent of all the products and services in common use today at home, in business and in organizations large and small, will be obsolete in five years. They'll be replaced by new and better products and services. The rapid development of new technology and the desire of people for new or better or cheaper products or services means that you can start your fortune easier today than at any other time in history.

Avoiding Failure, Assuring Success
However, we know that 80 to 90 percent of new businesses fail in the first three years due to a variety of factors. One of those factors is managerial incompetence. It is an inability to sell the product or an inability to control costs or both. Another major reason for failure is offering the wrong product at the wrong price to the wrong market at the wrong time, or a combination of these. In which case, even the best marketing efforts and cost controls won't help you.

Determine the Need
The first principle with regard to selecting any new product or service is to determine that it fills a genuine, existing need, that it solves a problem of some kind for the customer, or that it makes the life or work of the customer better in some way. You must be very clear about this.

Sell a Quality Product or Service
The second principle for success with a new product or service is that it must be of good quality at a fair price. And if it is in competition with other similar products or services, it must have what is called a unique selling proposition. It must have some beneficial feature or attraction that makes it different from and superior to its competitors.

Your Area of Uniqueness
We call this its area of uniqueness. And it is central to success in business. No product or service can succeed unless it is somehow unique and superior to any other product or service like it. There is seldom any real opportunity in what is called a "me too" product - one that is just the same as all the others. At the same time, the safest business strategy is to start off with an accepted product that you can improve. In other words, instead of trying to invent a whole new business or industry, start off with something that people are already doing, people are already buying and using, and find some way to improve it.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action:

First, determine exactly what is different and special about your product or service that will cause people to buy it in competition with similar products or services. Build your entire sales and marketing around this unique selling proposition.

Second, investigate before you invest. Be prepared to look at a variety of different business opportunities until you find one that really excites you before you make a decision to get started.

Tuesday, January 18

Becoming a Motivational Leader

An insightful article by author and speaker Brian Tracy.

Create a Big Vision
To become a motivational leader, you start with motivating yourself. You motivate yourself with a big vision, and as you move progressively toward its realization, you motivate and enthuse others to work with you to fulfill that vision.

Set High Standards
You exhibit absolute honesty and integrity with everyone in everything you do. You are the kind of person others admire and respect and want to be like. You set a standard that others aspire to. You live in truth with yourself and others so that they feel confident giving you their support and their commitment.

Face Your Fears
You demonstrate courage in everything you do by facing doubts and uncertainties and moving forward regardless. You put up a good front even when you feel anxious about the outcome. You don't burden others with your fears and misgivings. You keep them to yourself. You constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone and in the direction of your goals. And no matter how bleak the situation might appear, you keep on keeping on with a smile.

You are intensely realistic. You refuse to engage in mental games or self-delusion. You encourage others to be realistic and objective about their situations as well. You encourage them to realize and appreciate that there is a price to pay for everything they want. They have weaknesses that they will have to overcome, and they have standards that they will have to meet, if they want to survive and thrive in a competitive market.

Accept Responsibility
You accept complete responsibility for results. You refuse to make excuses or blame others or hold grudges against people who you feel may have wronged you. You say, "If it's to be, it's up to me." You repeat over and over the words, "I am responsible. I am responsible. I am responsible."

Take Vigorous Action
Finally, you take action. You know that all mental preparation and character building is merely a prelude to action. It's not what you say but what you do that counts. The mark of the true leader is that he or she leads the action. He or she is willing to go first. He or she sets the example and acts as the role model. He or she does what he or she expects others to do.

Strive For Excellence
You become a motivational leader by motivating yourself. And you motivate yourself by striving toward excellence, by committing yourself to becoming everything you are capable of becoming. You motivate yourself by throwing your whole heart into doing your job in an excellent fashion. You motivate yourself and others by continually looking for ways to help others to improve their lives and achieve their goals. You become a motivational leader by becoming the kind of person others want to get behind and support in every way.

Your main job is to take complete control of your personal evolution and become a leader in every area of your life. You could ask for nothing more, and you should settle for nothing less.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, see yourself as an outstanding person, parent, coworker and leader in everything you do. Pattern your behavior after the very best people you know. Set high standards and refuse to compromise them.

Second, be clear about your goals and priorities and then take action continually forward. Develop a sense of urgency. Keep moving forward and you'll automatically keep yourself and others motivated.

To lead is to serve,

Friday, December 31

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing you a blessed 
and prosperous New Year!

Thursday, November 25

Being Grateful

I wish all of my U.S. readers a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving Day!

I wish all of my readers a continuous attitude of gratitude.

We must not wait until special occasions or holidays to truly appreciate everyone and everything in life. The tendency to wait until it is too late must be the exception and not the norm.

I blog because I love to impart knowledge and empower people with the simplest ways to take that knowledge and make their lives better and brighter. Without you, there would be no need. I am grateful to all of you who keep me doing what I absolutely love to do.

Remember that every moment is a gift and you have the power to choose how you will use that gift. Choose wisely!

To lead is to serve,

Thursday, November 18

Entrepreneur Failure or Faith?

The only time you don't fail is the last time you try anything - and it works.” ~ William Strong

Two New York Westchester County 13-year-old boys had an idea. They would sell baked goods in a neighborhood park on the weekends and in a few years earn enough money to open a restaurant. Great idea, right? The boys, Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff, who are students at Chappaqua’s Seven Bridges Middle School, set up shop and made $120 on their first day.

Being the innovative entrepreneurs they are, the boys took half of their earnings and invested in a cart and water and Gatorade to add to their offerings. On their second day, the police arrived to shut them down. Their offense? Operating without a license. A town councilman named Michael Wolfensohn came upon the sale and called the cops on the boys for operating without a license.

What was a frightening experience for those two boys and an outrage to the parents is a lesson in failure for all of us. Did those boys fail? No, and why? Although their plan was flawed – they neglected to check about permits and licenses – they did not fail. They had faith in their plan and in their dreams.

If you are 13 years old and your dreams get the attention of a town councilman, then you know you are on to something big!

To Andrew and Kevin – never stop believing in the power of your dreams. Keep the faith and in ten years or so, I want to stop by your restaurant and say well done!

To lead is to serve,

Friday, April 30

A Leader's Inner Circle

Article Excerpt by Dr. John C. Maxwell

A leader's potential is determined by those closest to him or her.

Five questions to ask when forming your inner circle:

1. Do they display exemplary character in everything they do?

Deception eats away at a leadership team like cancer. Dishonesty on the part of one member of an inner circle can bring shame and disaster to all. Entire organizations have toppled from the misbehavior of one bad apple.

2. Do they bring complementary gifts to the table?
Imbalance within an inner circle can attune a leader's ear to only one side of an argument. When putting together an inner circle, prioritize diversity of personality and perspective. By doing so, you widen the range of your vision and the breadth of your influence.

3. Do they hold a strategic position and have influence within the organization?
Members of the inner circle must have the platform and influence to implement a leader's decisions. If they cannot be relied upon to execute a chosen strategy, then they shouldn't be entrusted with a spot on the leadership team. In addition, inviting uninfluential advisers into the inner circle disrupts the political balance of an organization. High performers suffer a motivational blow when they see a less deserving colleague granted special access to top leadership.

4. Do they add value to the organization and to the leader?
When considering someone for the inner circle, you should be able to articulate clearly the value they will bring. Ask yourself the following questions: What will they infuse into discussion? Where do they have expertise? What unique skills can they be counted on to bring to the table?

5. Do they positively impact other members of the inner circle?
If you've ever inhabited a house with a feuding husband and wife, then you can understand the need for leaders in close proximity to get along. Infighting saps energy and focus from a senior leader, forcing him or her to mediate conflicts with time that could be better spent elsewhere. Differences of opinion signal healthy debate, but personal animosities destroy a leadership team. Make sure members of your inner circle have the emotional intelligence to keep arguments from becoming too personal.

Read the entire article at Giant Impact.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn