What are the key components of any good and well thought out plan? Surely there would be some components to all leadership development plans that would be universal and common regardless of the specific leader being developed. And there are. There are components that are common whether you are a CEO, a front-line supervisor, departmental manager, a military officer, or the pastor of a small church. So, let’s identify what those components would be.
I am approaching this from the perspective of someone who is a coach for individuals who are seeking to become better leaders. So, all of my thoughts and words are based on the premise that I am engaged in a coach and client relationship. It may be a formal paid engagement. Or it may be an informal or ad hoc conversation where someone is coming to me for advice. However, for purposes of this article, I am going to use terms that indicate a coach and client scenario.
So, what are the common components?
Is there a current assessment? — Is there some assessment, either a self-assessment or a 360 assessment, that can be used as a baseline for where the leader is today? If not, why not? If we don’t have a baseline, how will be able to assess progress?
What are the strengths and weaknesses? — Every leader has both strengths and weakness. Great leaders strengths more than overshadow their weaknesses. Poor leaders weaknesses overshadow their strengths. So, let’s identify what those strengths and weaknesses are. Continue reading “Leadership Development Plan”
Once again I want to remind you of my deep love for great pithy quotes. And today is no exception. In fact, it hit me right between the proverbial eyes. Are you ready? Here it is:
“Hypocrisy exists in the space between language and action.”
— Henry J. Evans
I can’t guarantee that is the right attribution for that quote. But, his name seems to be associated with it in the most contexts in which I see it. If anyone has any information to the contrary regarding the correct attribution, I want to be accountable for its accuracy and give credit to the originator.
Blaming and Finger Pointing
My fear as I write this article is that we are so far removed from a culture of accountability that we don’t even know what accountability looks like anymore. Whenever we do experience something that someone claims to be “accountability” it feels more like “blame” and “finger pointing” than anything else. So let me state emphatically that accountability does not equal a great big gotcha when something goes wrong. It is quite different and begins way upstream of whatever incident or accident has just occurred. But it should point out the space between language and action.[shareable cite=”Henry J. Evans” text=”Hypocrisy exists in the space between language and action. #accountability #hypocrisy #leadership”]“Hypocrisy exists in the space between language and action.” [/shareable]
Let’s Move Upstream
Let’s agree right now that you can’t inject accountability into a process or a project in mid-stream. At least, you can’t do it without a lot of wear and tear on all parties concerned. So, what do you do? You build it into the next project or the next process or the next planning and execution event. You go upstream. Continue reading “Accountability ≠ “Gotcha!””
What is a “CAO?” That would be a “Chief Accountability Officer.” And you probably won’t find one in the C-suite of your organization. But there probably ought to be one. In fact, accountability is one of the key functions of a leader when the leader has other leaders who report to them from an administrative perspective.
A History Lesson
For those of you who are lovers of history, you will know or remember that President Harry S Truman had a sign on his Oval Office desk that read: “The Buck Stops Here.” It meant that he accepted responsibility and that he was accountable for all the decisions of his administration. He accepted them for his entire administration. President Truman’s stand still exists in a few organizations today but, unfortunately, it is the exception rather than the rule.
More than Personal Accountability
But my point today is not about accepting personal responsibility. The point I want to make today is that if YOU are a leader, you have a responsibility to hold those around you accountable for their actions or inactions. I am fairly sure that President Truman didn’t let his Cabinet and the rest of his administration run wild and then accept the responsibility and any blame for their actions. That would not be good leadership. He realized that he was ultimately accountable. But, I am sure that he worked with his Cabinet Secretaries and the rest of his administration and that he had expectations of his administration.
The Chief Accountability Officer
What is my role as a leader when it comes to accountability of those who I lead? First of all, accountability for your team does not happen in a vacuum. There are many factors that must be present in order for accountability to be the norm rather than the exception. Continue reading “Leaders and Accountability”
How many of you are already thinking that I have made a mistake in my writing the subtitle of this article? Most of us have grown up hearing that “Practice makes perfect.” Well, for those of us who have done any coaching, we will tell you that “Practice makes permanent.” Therefore, your practice must be focused and it must direct you toward an ideal.
Recently I had the opportunity to observe the Traditions Ceremony at the school where several of my grandchildren attend. It was interesting to observe. At the Traditions Ceremony, there are special items that are presented to the students throughout their time at the school. Every other year they receive a Tradition item.
- Children in Kindergarten receive a Bible with their name and their year of graduation printed on the cover. This provides the foundation for everything else that they will learn.
- Second graders receive a Compass. This reminds them of the importance of guiding principles and the importance of being able to find our way.
- Fourth graders receive the School Crest. This contains the Knight’s Code and reinforces the duties as well as the rights and responsibilities to speak truth, right wrongs, live pure and follow Christ.
- Sixth graders receive a Journal and Pen. It is with these that they will begin to formulate and articulate their thoughts and practice the rhetorical skills that are needed to communicate clearly and with conviction.
- Eighth graders receive a Blue Blazer with the school crest on the left over their heart. The crest has those principles of the Knight’s Code.
- Sophomores receive a Gold Leadership Pin to wear on the right lapel of their blazers. This is to remind them of their ascending leadership role to the rest of the school community.
- And seniors receive a Walking Stick. Yes, that’s right. They receive a walking stick.
Why a Walking Stick?
Well, to be perfectly clear, it is not a walking stick. It is a “walking staff.” What is the difference between a stick and a staff? Continue reading “Leadership Traditions Build a Leadership Legacy”
OK, the title is a little morbid. Especially in light of the fact that I have been really sick with the flu and now I find myself in a part of the world where Malaria is all too common for those of us without a natural immunity. In fact, I had a Malaria Test Kit waiting for me and sitting on the desk in my room when I returned to the hotel several days ago. That always makes you feel good!
But have no fear. I am alive and well. So please stick with me for a minute or two. Because I want to discuss a tool that I have used many times with clients when I was more actively involved in consulting. This particular approach that I recommend that you try attempts to take a look at what exactly happened during an “event” so that all of the stakeholders can understand it clearly. Not all will see it the same way. But, with enough individual views, a collective view will emerge.
This approach can be particularly helpful when there is already an acknowledgment that there are a number of issues that need to change. This approach requires a high degree of trust among the team because it can naturally focus on the negative of what took place. It is very similar to the critiques we used to receive in the theater at the end of a performance or a rehearsal.
A Post-Mortem in a Leadership Context
The kind of review that I am referring to today is different from those that we used in the theater. The kinds of critiques that I am suggesting are a little more interactive and participatory. The best critiques included all of the components below: Continue reading “Is it Time for a Post-Mortem?”
Confession is good for the soul, right? If that is true, then here is a confessional moment. I have made many mistakes in the many leadership roles that I have had over the years. Fortunately, I didn’t make all of these at the same time! And some of them, I still make from time to time. However, leadership is as much of a journey as it is a destination. So, I continue on.
Nevertheless, here are a few mistakes that I have made, but more importantly, I have learned from. Maybe you will learn from them also.
I have often allowed poor performance from staff when I know they are capable of better performance or more output. Am I doing everything that I can do to get the most and the best out of them? So, I ask myself now – Am I doing everything that I can do to get the most and the best out of them?
I have tolerated unacceptable behavior, sometimes for a very long time. Here again is an area where it is important to resolve conflict and not merely manage through it. Depending on the situation and the person’s role in the organization, you may need “allies” or some of their peers to establish acceptable standards and to set limits. Most often, the imagined outcome is not near as bad as we imagine it will be. So, I ask myself now – What’s the worst that could happen if I take a stand with this person? Continue reading “Confessional Leadership”
Are good intentions enough? At some point, it is reasonable to be evaluated based on our performance and not just our intentions.
So much of what is mainstream thought today seems to indicate that as long as you try really, really hard, then you have accomplished something. That may or may not be accurate. You have indeed expended effort. And maybe you have expended a lot of effort. But is effort the same thing as performance? Have you actually accomplished anything of value or significance?
Is effort alone enough when it comes to leadership?
Or, in other words, are good intentions enough? Or at some point, do our followers and the community around us have a right to expect some results?
I cross multiple worlds in my own personal experience. Much of my time is dominated by a secular environment where results are pretty important. So much so that compensation and career advancement are dependent upon identified and verified performance and value generated as the result of expected accomplishments. While the rest of my time is spent in a variety of volunteer, ministry, and non-profit endeavors.
Each world views this topic very differently. But does that necessarily need to be? Is it reasonable to have some measurable performance indicators outside of the business world that are not just appreciated because of their level of effort?
Regardless of whether you are a leader in a for profit or not for profit organization, we must have some understanding of, and answers to, the following questions: Continue reading “7 Questions To Answer To Move Beyond Good Intentions”
Leadership can be a lonely endeavor. As recent as January 8th of last year I wrote an article entitled Loneliness in All Aspects of Leadership. In that article I dealt with the sense of loneliness we can experience when we lead with a strong sense of conviction that may be at odds with popular sentiments.
What Can Be Done About Loneliness in Leadership?
Leaders many times feel lonely because there are often not enough peers in their immediate circle of influence who have a common understanding and sense of what they are experiencing. That is merely a restatement of the problem. But, what can we do about it?
Recognizing a problem is always a first step in solving a problem. Leaders must recognize their loneliness and sense of isolation. They must then move on with confidence that loneliness and isolation are not signs of weakness in a leader. They just go along with the territory.
Now That We Recognize It, What is Next?
Continue reading “Who Are Your Cohorts?”
By now you may be beginning to see the value of having a leadership coach who will work with you and guide you along the journey of life. But, how do you choose a coach? What are the criteria that you should consider?
Unfortunately, selecting the right leadership coach is often a decision that is made based on a flawed set of criteria.
[ctt title=”Selecting the right leadership coach is often a decision that is made based on a flawed set of criteria.” tweet=”Selecting the right leadership coach is often a decision that is made based on a flawed set of criteria. via @leadershipis #lvllc” coverup=”9xIdD”]
Let me just say quickly, in this article, I am going to be dealing with non-technical criteria. Certifications, degrees, and experiences are all technical criteria when it comes to what may make a good coach. I want to focus today on less technical selection criteria.
So, what is the selection criteria? Continue reading “How to Choose a Coach? “
Even leaders need help. Or, maybe I should say, “Especially leaders need help.” I am not sure if that is the right way to say that grammatically, but I think you get my point.
I have been doing leadership coaching, working with non-profit boards, and doing one-on-one coaching for many years. Several years ago I founded Leadership Voices, a collaborative site for all kinds of leaders. Over the last few years, we have grown this community from nothing to more than 2500 “followers.”
Resting on current achievements has never been a part of my operating procedures. And recently I began to feel a real need to reach out to get some help and advice. But, just where does a leader go for help? That is the question facing me and probably many of you as well. Who can I turn to for help and advice on what I am doing wrong and what I am doing right?
So, here is what I did. Continue reading “Where Do Leaders Go For Help?”