Friday Fast Tip: Be passionate

As I mentioned in a previous post, “just because you have a great vision, doesn’t mean everyone else is excited to be a part of it.” So how do you build up enthusiasm in your vision? You can do that through conveying your passion. Passion is based in emotion and people relate to to emotion, they believe in emotion, they can feel emotion – they can’t feel a Power Point presentation. So be passionate and encourage your employees to be passionate too.

What I’m reading now: Overcoming fear

Photo via Forbes

Open communication or an “open-door” policy is critical to putting these three steps into effect. One of the first things an organization loses in a fearful environment is vital and open feedback and communication at every level.

In preparation for my next tweetchat on “facing challenges,” I thought an article on fear in the workplace would be worth reading. Read the article and then join the discussion using #challengeschat on 12/12/12 at 12PM ET or go directly to this site for easiest viewing: tweetchat.com. 

“Micro” Management Stories

I have often been sorry that I didn’t speak up, I have never been sorry that I did, even when I was wrong. – Alice Rivlin, quoting Warren Buffet

If you have a few minutes between meetings, check out this great leadership video series by the Washington Post. I particularly enjoyed this video with Alice Rivlin on the importance of speaking up.

On Leadership: Alice Rivlin on speaking up

What I’m Reading Now: Leadership Generosity

Being generous can mean sharing your feedback, your knowledge, and your credit with people–but most importantly, it can mean the difference between a good leader and a great one.

  • Author: Erika Andersen
  • Title: Don’t Be a Power Hog: How Sharing Information, Time & Authority Makes You a Better Leader
  • Source: Fast Company

What I’m reading now: Be genuine about feedback

On the one hand, we’ve been taught that feedback is a good thing — we want to hear others’ perspectives since they might help us enrich our thinking. In addition, asking for input is a way of engaging other people and getting them involved. On the other hand, asking for input means that we might have to change plans or do something differently. Change can be difficult and takes time, so we often resist it.

I thought this was a timely read as we recently asked representatives from our organization to come to a senior leadership team meeting and discuss their vision of leadership and how we, the leaders, are doing against their expectations. Our goal is to genuinely incorporate their feedback – good or bad, and as leaders, we have to be prepared to accept both.

What is leadership?

During this day when we reflect upon and are thankful for our military’s contributions to our country, it is fitting to think about the qualities of leadership that make organizations such as the military great. Last week I hosted a tweetchat on the aspects of leadership – what qualities do great leaders possess, are they different than managers, can leadership be learned? All of these questions help us to define what leadership is and who can become a leader.

Leadership ≠ Management

As Beth Braccio Hering said in her article, “A manager accomplishes tasks, but a leader inspires.” Leadership and management are sort of like the chicken and the egg; you’re not entirely certain which comes first, you know that they are related and intertwined, and yet they are clearly something different from each other. Just look up “Manager vs. Leader” on the web and you will find many charts and diagrams aimed at breaking down the subtle differences between managers and leaders (all the way down to their essence – Eau du leadership!). So while it is clear that leadership is not management, what are the key qualities of a great leader?

Leadership =?

  • Great communication: A great leader doesn’t just talk, doesn’t just tell you the plan; they inspire you to want to achieve that plan. But how do they do that? What makes a message more than a message? It is all in how a message is communicated, which takes a careful understanding of the audience and the issue at hand. Be open and honest (more on that to come) and know how your audience prefers to receive information. For example, consultant, Hugh Livengood, pointed out that “effective leadership means using effective communication channels, including social media.”
  • Vision & Charisma:  Of course, a good vision and some charisma certainly don’t hurt the communication process. These are essential to motivating your employees to be part of a change. If you don’t have a vision that you believe in, that you are driving your organization towards, you may need to ask yourself what your role is. But just because you have a great vision, doesn’t mean everyone else is excited to be a part of it, and that’s where charisma really counts. “Displaying charismatic leadership is one of the most effective ways to boost everything from motivation and creativity to productivity and plain old satisfaction,” wrote Nick Tasler in his article on Bloomberg. Charisma takes emotion, a presence, confidence and ultimately an understanding of your audience (sound familiar?). However, it is important to remember that charisma should not come at the cost of authenticity.
  • Authenticity: Transparency and authenticity are a tenet of my own leadership style. That is because people can tell when you’re not being honest. They will recognize and respect a leader who is real, who admits when things aren’t great and explains the whole picture. When employees understand the impact of their actions and the underlying drivers, they are more likely to perform better.
  • Courage: As Founder of the BTM Institute, Faisal Hoque said, “authentic leadership requires courage.” And that’s not all that takes courage as a leader. It takes courage to be passionate about your vision. It takes courage to face critics and to keep going. It takes courage to realize you are wrong and to make changes. Leadership is about having the courage to take many calculated risks and not be afraid of the results.

That brings me to our final topic from the tweetchat; can leadership be learned or is it an innate quality? Rather than tell you my personal opinion. I’d like to hear what you think. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Friday Fast Tip: Just ask

This week on Twitter, Vala Afshar, tweeted: “Dear CIO, 8 words to use daily: “how can I help?” and “what do you think?” My response is these questions should be asked of any leader. If you haven’t asked your boss lately what you can do for them, you aren’t providing an added value and if you don’t know what’s on their mind you are operating without direction. So reach out to your boss and beyond and just ask.