Leadership Minute: Embrace Your Gift

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You have something to offer this world that nobody else has. –Joel Osteen

Just as no two snowflakes are alike; neither are two people the same. You have been created with a special purpose and mission to fulfill in life. Your DNA has divine fingerprints. What I have to offer the world will differ from what you offer. We each run our own race. But regardless of what your gift or talent may be; it is important that you embrace it. Fulfilling your mission and purpose is your duty. You are not here just to occupy space. The world is waiting for what you have to offer. Let me encourage you today to step up to the plate. Don’t worry about how it compares to what someone else has or if it will make a difference. It will. The world needs your leadership and what you have to offer. Are you ready to embrace your gift and engage your world?

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Leadership Minute: Learn From Your Trials

adversity

Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of. – Charles Spurgeon

No one likes to go through trails. I don’t; do you? But as leaders we are not immune from them. The truth is- bad things happen to good people and if you hang around in leadership long enough you will go through trails and testing. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s during trails and testing that the soil of your leadership is being dug up. It’s during these times that you learn what you are made of. Times of testing are not always pleasant but what you can learn from them can be invaluable. Granted, we’d prefer to learn about who we are in more pleasant circumstances than trials or difficulties, but if we did, our learning would be incomplete. Your trials will teach you what you are made of but most importantly they will help you put down deeper roots.  When you come through your trials you will be a stronger leader. Are you ready to learn?

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Leadership Minute: What If…?

what if

Trust that little voice in your head that says, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if…’ And then do it. – Duane Michals

One of the fun things about people who live life without limits is their willingness to take risks. Playing ‘not to lose’ is no way to live. It’s when you dare to listen to the voice in your head (or your heart, if you will) and live the life you’ve imagined –  that life that changes for the better. Think how different your life would be if you embraced a ‘wouldn’t it be interesting if…’ mentality? Wouldn’t it be interesting of you stopped listening to dream robbers in your life? Wouldn’t it be interesting if you started writing that book, or opened that business, or took that trip? It’s not too late to turn a ‘one of these days’ mentality into a ‘wish I had done it sooner’ reality! Wouldn’t it be interesting if you started today? Trust that voice in your head and go for it. What are you waiting for?

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Leadership Minute: Taking the Journey

journey

Leadership is all about taking people on a journey. The challenge is that most of the time, we are asking people to follow us to places we ourselves have never been. – Andy Stanley

Intuitively we know that leadership is a journey. So much of where we go as leaders is a journey of the heart as much as it is the head. But when you invite other people to take the journey with you it changes things. If as a leader you have no idea as to where you are going then convincing others to follow will be a more difficult proposition. Knowing where you are going and why you are going there are two critical fundamentals for any follower. People will follow a leader who can confidently articulate a vision, but it’s incomplete information. The follower must know why taking the journey matters to them and what their involvement will be. As a leader you have to make the case for the journey, lead with authority, and communicate with clarity.

 

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3 Things You Can Learn From Constructive Critics

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To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing – Elbert Hubbard

A story is told of Winston Churchill who exemplified integrity and respect in the face of opposition. During his last year in office, he attended an official ceremony. Several rows behind him two gentlemen began whispering. “That’s Winston Churchill.” “They say he is getting senile.” “They say he should step aside and leave the running of the nation to more dynamic and capable men.” When the ceremony was over, Churchill turned to the men and said, “Gentlemen, they also say he is deaf!”

As a leader you will have your critics. It comes with the territory. While many are quick to tell you to not to listen to your critics and to disregard them, I will tell you – not so fast. Not all criticism is fatal just as all praise is not flattering. You must look at the motive.

To be sure, there will be critics who for no other reason than jealousy will oppose you and try to stand in your way while you are achieving your goals and dreams. If their motives are to harm you and not to help you, then yes, you need to ignore them. They are not running your race and they will not be a part of your destiny. Don’t worry about them.

But once in a while a constructive critic comes along whose motives are right and if you are receptive you can benefit from them. Leaders are not above correction and there is always room for improvement. What can you learn from your constructive critics? Plenty. Here are three specific things that might be helpful.

How to develop a thick skin

The sooner you develop a thick skin the better. As a leader you are exposed to a higher than normal amount of criticism from all sides. The decision you make today may anger one group in your office, while a decision tomorrow will have the opposite effect.

It’s easy for people to criticize decision makers when they don’t have to live with the responsibility of the decision. But the criticisms can still sting nonetheless. Developing a thick skin as a leader is a necessity for your longevity. It’s a way of life for you as a leader so get used to it.

Why perceptions matter

Most people’s opinion of you as a leader is based in part on perceptions. Some people’s perceptions may be positive while for others it’s negative. Many factors can contribute to this viewpoint. A person with frequent interaction with you will see your leadership style one way, while a person with limited exposure will see it another. The question is: are you aware of the perceptions others have of you?

You want to give the perception that you are approachable, likable, competent, and that you have your people’s best interest at heart. And if you will allow them, your critics will let you know how you are doing. Though they may be few in number; keep your constructive critics close. In the end they will be more valuable to you than a room full of “yes people” ever will.

How you can improve

Leaders need constructive critics. They will give perspective that you may be lacking, insights you need to know, and will stand with you when times are tough. As a leader there is always room for improvement. You never stop learning. But how can you improve when you have blind spots that are not being brought to your attention?

Your growth and development as a leader is proportional to your desire and ability to learn. It’s a process that involves many components that are traditional in nature but also those that are very personal. It’s one thing to shrug off and dismiss a critic who has no interest in your success. But your best learning will occur when you ask for constructive critics who share in your success and will give you honest feedback.

Final thoughts

As a leader it’s important to differentiate between the critics who oppose you out of their own insecurity, jealousy, or ulterior motives and those who are your constructive critics. It’s not too hard to figure out. One group will stab you in the back while the other group will have your back and support you. One group will stand with you through thick and thin, the other group will cut and run – you get the picture.

Your responsibility as a leader is to discern between the two and align yourself with the right people. Your success as a leader will occur when you are not too proud to listen to your constructive critics and smart enough to ignore the others.

What do you say?

 

© 2014 Doug Dickerson

 

 

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Leadership Minute: Reign in Your Ego

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You need enough ego to believe you matter but not so much that you ignore others. –Dan Rockwell

One of the dangers of your leadership is that of an over-inflated ego. If not careful, leaders who achieve a certain level of success can make the mistake of believing that everything revolves around them. The danger worsens when you believe you matter more than you do and by ignoring others in the process.  While it’s good to believe in yourself you should not be writing your own biased headlines. Strive to make a difference and be grateful for your success. Your accomplishments matter but not nearly as much as the people around you. Don’t let your ego be the stumbling block as it relates to your growth as a leader. Remember, it’s not about you. You will keep your ego in check when you seek to elevate those around you and serve with humility.

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Leadership Minute: Learn All You Can

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I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him. – Galileo Galilei

Leadership is a life-long learning process. Class is always in session; it never ends. As leaders we have the ability to tap into many streams of learning opportunities. Be it a book, a workshop or seminar, or webcast. The point here is simple and direct –learn all that you can from as many sources as possible. Working around you are many people from whom you can learn. Some may be more beneficial to you than others, but from everyone you can learn something. A little humility is in order as it relates to what you can learn from your peers or others in your circle of influence. If you come across as a “know it all” then it might be a challenge to think you can learn from those around you. The question is – are you willing to learn? Don’t try be so above everyone around you that you can’t learn something new. You can. A smart leader realizes he doesn’t know it all and is humble enough to learn.

 

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