Why Don’t Leaders Already Know These Things?!

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The Good News is that there are a near-infinite ways to do leadership well. The Bad News, there are even more ways to do it poorly!!

To help simplify things, a bit, here are five of my favorite themes for helping people become more compelling, effective leaders:

1. Help Others F.O.C.U.S.

For those of you who may not be familiar with F.O.C.U.S., it’s the acronym I use to explain the ‘how to’ of inspiring others to feel increasingly motivated and engaged, which also helps them perform in more consistently effective and crisp ways:

  • F – FACE IT – Help others face their challenges, head-on, as courageously as possible
  • O – OUTSMART IT – Help others add more business rigor to their evaluative and decision-making processes.
  • C – CHOOSE IT – Help others choose particularly powerful next steps; ones that don’t just play at the edges.
  • U – UNHOOK FROM IT – Help others unhook from their self-limiting thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • S – STRIVE FOR IT – Help others strive for increasingly meaningful results, each time/every time.

(Hint: The way to do that is to intentionally F.R.A.M.E. your conversations with them.)

  • F – FOCUS – Don’t just go with the flow; actively address the topics you know need more attention and manage their tempo.
  • R – RESPOND – Don’t just react to what someone asks, says, or does; respond in ways that actively build trust, relationship, and mutual regard.
  • A – ASK – Don’t just take everything someone says at face-value; find out what they’re NOT saying, as well.
  • M – MONITOR – Don’t just assume things will get done; recognize success by holding people accountable for every commitment they make.
  • E – ENCOURAGE – Don’t just criticize; learn to inspire others to deepen their focus, as well.

2. See Blame and Frustration as a Mirror

Carl Jung said it this way,

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

-Carl Gustav Jung

Work Example: You’re mad at someone because they’re late to your meeting. If you thought about it, though, you’d realize you’re really mad at yourself for being behind on that key deliverable you owe to your boss.

Life Example: You’re frustrated by a store clerk’s slowness. If you thought about it, though, you’d realized you’re really frustrated by your own inability to get that important initiative out of the ‘hold’ it’s stuck in.

My advice: The next time someone makes you surprisingly cranky, stop – BEFORE you say or do anything you’ll regret – and consider how you may have just triggered YOURSELF! So focus on cleaning up that mess BEFORE you take it out on some unsuspecting (and undeserving) bystander.

3. Keep Improving Hardiness And Resilience

It’s great to be able to just ‘push through’ whatever challenges you face. But that’s not really a sustainable approach to the stresses and strains we all face.

Look at the following chart. In it, you’ll notice that for High Stress events, HIGH Hardiness people experience less than HALF the strain (513.33) as LOW Hardiness people (1,060.56).

Source: The Hardy Executive, Salvatore Maddi, Suzanne Kobassa

But get this: HIGH Hardiness people also experience less strain in HIGH Stress situations (513.33) than LOW Hardiness people experience in LOW Stress situations (528.88)!!

The fastest way to build hardiness? Focus on these three areas:

  1. Control » that is, learn to actively manage what you CAN control, and not make yourself crazy trying to control what you CANNOT
  2. Challenge » focus on finding a bridge across the water, if you will, rather than allowing yourself to be taken out by the raging tide
  3. Commitment » truly believe that (and be able to say why) what you’re working on is meaningful, relevant, and important

It’s something to consider, yes?

4. Work on ‘Hot Button’ and Trigger Control

Ever notice that when someone pushes your Hot Buttons you get a little weird?!

Not only that, but once that ‘fight/flight’ instinct kicks in, you’re not just losing precious time and making things unnecessarily difficult, but your torpedoing your reputation, too.

So learning more about what triggers you – and what to do to: (a) prevent it; and (b) recover more quickly when you can’t – will serve you well.

And don’t forget to look at how you trigger others, either!

5. Demonstrate Greater Personal Presence and Resolve

The ultimate measure of [people] is not where [they] stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where [they] stand in times of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Said another way, yeah, it’s easy when it’s easy – but, at work, we get paid for when it’s not.

You see, whether you like it or not, people look to – and expect – their leaders to be role models for them.

So how you act – especially during moments of challenge and controversy – trains your staff to act in a similar manner. How you think, trains them how they should think. And what you say and how you say it, informs them on what they should say and how they should say it.

The spotlight’s on you. You are a primary topic at your staff’s dinner table each night. (“How was your day, Dear?”) You are the primary reason an employee will stay, or quit. So it’s incumbent on you to demonstrate – day in and day out / whether you really want to, or not / whether you think they’re noticing, or not – the presence and resolve you’re wanting from them, day in and day out / whether they really want to, or not / whether they think you’re noticing, or not.

In Conclusion

If more leaders just did these five things: (1) Help Others F.O.C.U.S.; (2) See Blame and Frustration as a Mirror; (3) Keep Improving Hardiness and Resilience; (4) Work on ‘Hot Button’ and Trigger Control; and (5) Demonstrate Greater Personal Presence and Resolve, they could make their work – and the work of those who work with and for them – significantly easier and more impactful.

It’s a choice that others will define you by.

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