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”
You can lead a horse to water . . .
How many times have you heard that statement? It is an old bit of country wisdom. You can bring your horse to the water trough. But, if he ain’t thirsty, then he ain’t drinkin’.
Now, consider an update to that piece of rural wisdom.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. However, you can salt his oats!
In days gone by, our forefathers knew that if a horse has been sick and is weak and in danger of going down, you can put a little salt in his oats and that salt will draw it to the watering trough and make it want to drink. This is a great analogy of one of the skills that we need as leaders from time to time.
From time to time we will have reluctant followers. Their reluctance may be the result of factors beyond our control. Nevertheless, we have to lead them even when they are not exactly in the mood to be led.
What is the leadership lesson here?
Continue reading “You can lead a horse . . .”
There are many things that we take for granted in life. “Google” is probably high on that list. At least it is for me. That is until I took my first business trip to China. I am back in China this week and I didn’t realize until this week how important social networking sites like Facebook and Google’s search engine were to me.
Most of the people that I spoke with about this do not really feel a sense of loss. There is an alternative that provides most of the features and functions of the suite of tools and portals that Google provides. China’s equivalent to Google is “Baidu”. Baidu exists because China has blocked Google’s access to the 1.2 billion people in the country through its state sponsored filtering software.
The name was inspired by a poem written more than 800 years ago during the Song Dynasty. The poem compares the search for a retreating beauty amid chaotic glamour with the search for one’s dream while confronted by life’s many obstacles. Consider this line from that poem.
“…hundreds and thousands of times, for her I searched in chaos,
suddenly, I turned by chance, to where the lights were waning, and there she stood.”
What is the leadership lesson here? Continue reading “Baidu and the Persistent Pursuit of Leadership”
The education of a minister should not end with the theological school, but should be prolonged, like that of a teacher or physician, to the latest day of his (or her) life.
– Charles Eliot, longest tenured president of Harvard University and brother of TS Eliot
You know, I wish I could confine that quote only to the clerical profession. But, I can’t. That is a quote that is tailor made for leadership development if ever there was one. And it hits me square between the eyes. Continue reading “The Education of a Leader”
In February of 2012, Harvard Business Review featured a story acknowledging that it is lonely being the CEO. The article noted that it’s isolating at the top. Now, if you are at all like me it is a little hard to feel sorry for CEOs on a regular basis. What with their power, prestige, influence, and wealth — the common man’s perception is that they have it all. They must be the happiest people on the planet.
All those trappings of success notwithstanding, business leaders face some genuine troubles, not least of which is loneliness.
The author of that article cited survey findings from the CEO Snapshot Survey that “half of CEOs report experiencing feelings of loneliness in their role. And 61 percent believe that it hinders their performance. This was particularly acute with first-time CEOs and young leaders.
Maybe you are also like me in that you don’t really care if billionaires like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos aren’t reaching the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy!
So why am I writing about this?
I would suggest that any leader’s isolation and feelings of loneliness have negative implications on their personal performance, and perhaps more importantly, on how they interact with others. Because it is not just big corporate CEOs who experience this kind of loneliness. It is team leaders, entrepreneurs, pastors, and community leaders also. And this impacts the bottom-line for organizations.
This loneliness springs from a feeling that they have no one “at their level” to talk to. They have no “peers” in their view. They have no one to confide in. They have no one to bounce ideas off of and no one to turn to for advice. They also have no one holding them accountable for their actions and deeds. This isn’t good for decision-making, culture, performance, or the long-term health of the organization. Continue reading “Loneliness in Leadership”
That is a strange question. Isn’t it?
Here is what I mean. Is real leadership something that you can undertake without ever raising your voice?
My son’s kindergarten teacher was Mrs. McGrath. She was a very soft-spoken woman. In fact, whenever she needed to get the children’s attention she would whisper. No matter what was going on in the classroom and no matter how rowdy the children were, she would stop what she was doing and speak in a voice that was nearly a whisper. And one by one the children would quiet down and come over to where she was standing or sitting and would get as close to her as they could. Why? Because they wanted to know what great secret she was about to share with them.
Now contrast that with the drill sergeant that assisted my dad through basic training during the Korean War. There was probably not a lot of whispering going on there. In fact that drill sergeant probably got up close and personal and spoke in such a way as there was no way my dad misunderstood what he was saying.
Two very distinctive communication styles. Both individuals were demonstrating great leadership. But it would be hard to find two more opposite styles.
So, is leadership a quiet or loud activity?