Leadership Minute: Are You Adding or Subtracting?

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No matter what level of the company you’re on, you have a choice about what you will contribute to the culture. – Bill Hybels

When it comes to your participation in your organizational structure are you adding to it or subtracting from it? Each day at your place of business you are either the face of everything that is good and right about your business or you are a good bad example. Your organizational structure is only as good and right and productive as each person in it. Some days are tough. I get it. There are some days and some people that just rub you the wrong way. I understand. The boss may be a jerk and there may be days you feel you are carrying the load by yourself. It happens. But at the end of the day your presence, your attitude, and your work ethic is a contribution for the good of your company’s culture or it’s taking away from it. The choice is yours. Let your contributions be an example others will choose to follow.

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Leadership Minute: Get Up and Get Moving!

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Just remember that there’s no way for any of us to get to the place of our Big Dream without leaving our recliners! – Bruce Wilkinson

What is your big dream? It’s the dream or idea that will keep you up late at night and gets you up early in the morning. But the dream does not come true because you dream it – it comes true because you work it. Your dream is akin to a blueprint – it’s the map of your destiny. Without a blueprint the builder can’t build. Many people bemoan unfulfilled dreams but in reality, for most, it was work left undone. The reality is this: the bigger the dream the harder the work. My encouragement to you today is not just to dream big dreams but to work hard. You will know that your dream has captured your heart when it puts tools in your hand. Do you have a big dream? Get up and get moving. It’s time to go to work!

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Leadership Minute: Lead With Purpose

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The race to be a leader is crowded, but the field is wide open for those willing to be servants. – Rick Warren

One of the most important things you can do as a leader is to run your own race. Doing so requires knowing your purpose and examining your motives. Many would like to have the title of “leader” but for what purpose? Is it for the sake of what that title can afford you? Is it for personal gain? How about your motives? Be sure of this truth in leadership – your motives will be revealed. But the servant leader is just as easily identifiable but for a very different reason. A leader with a servants heart places others first, looks for ways to lift others up, and is not too proud to serve. Servant leaders have a different mindset and create a different organizational culture. When serving others becomes your mission it’s a game changer. When “what can I do for you?’ replaces “what can you do for me?” it changes everything. The road of servant leadership is less crowded and for good reason. Give it a try!

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The Power of Ordinary Leaders

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If you want a starring role, you’ll miss the miracle. If you’re willing to be an ordinary extra, God will do something extraordinary. – Mark Batterson, The Grave Robber

A story is told of a group of elderly, cultured gentlemen who met often to exchange wisdom and drink tea. Each host tried to find the finest and most costly varieties, to create exotic blends that would arouse the admiration of his guests.

When the most venerable and respected of the group entertained, he served his tea with unprecedented ceremony, measuring the leaves from a golden box. The assembled epicures praised this exquisite tea. The host smiled and said, “The tea you have found so delightful is the same tea our peasants drink. I hope it will be a reminder to all that the good things in life are not necessarily the rarest or the most costly.”

In recent years there has been an explosion of books and material on the topic of leadership. I am not only a contributor to the topic of leadership but I am also a consumer as it’s in my interest both personally and professionally to grow and develop. A recent Google search of leadership books netted more than 67,300,000 hits. Talk about your reading list!

With the availability of such quantities of leadership material out there perhaps it’s time to think through our expectations of leadership and what constitutes being a good leader in today’s world. Too often we look at those who have a large spotlight and are seen as the “superstars” in the world of leadership and think we can never measure up. We’ve read all about going from “good to great” but how do we simply become good or better- much less “great”?

I’d like to offer up some practical tips and words of encouragement for all current and aspiring “ordinary extra” leaders who daily work to make a difference. Here are four tips to help you become better.

Stay the course

My friend Dr. Greg Morris (on Twitter @LdshpDynamics) uses this phrase frequently and it has stuck with me – stay the course. I think on many levels this is part of the secret of being a good leader. There’s nothing really glamourous about it. It’s just a simple reminder that being a good leader and becoming a better leader is a matter of commitment. When times are tough – stay the course. When critics attack – stay the course. In times of success – stay the course. Leaders who last are committed and committed leaders stay the course.

Stay curious

Leaders who grow and improve their leadership skills over time have an insatiable desire to learn and grow. Curiosity is the gift that keeps on giving and good leaders ask the questions that one no else is asking, and as my friend Dan Rockwell suggests, will ask the second questions (http://bit.ly/1pWVyeG). Curious leaders want to know what his or her people are saying and thinking so that the culture of the organization remains healthy and strong. Curious leaders want to know what the customers are thinking in order to better serve them and to improve the bottom line. Curiosity will keep your thinking fresh and your skills sharp. What are you curious about?

Stay connected

It’s similar in nature to curiosity so being connected is central to your growth as a leader. Being connected is about relationships and communication. These are the basic tenants of your leadership development. Good leaders value and build relationships. Communication works best when relationships are strong. Being connected is an intentional act of your leadership. There are no shortcuts when it comes to being connected and there’s no better person to do it than you. If you want your people to connect with you then you have to take the first steps and connect with them.

Stay confident

Confidence is a key component to your success. You have achieved the measure of success that you enjoy, in part, because of confidence in your abilities and using them wisely. But this encouragement is dispensed also with a dose of warning. Be careful not to become arrogant and believe it’s all about you. It’s not. But confidence is needed in order to grow and become a better leader. In as much as low morale is devastating to the culture of your organization, so too, will low self-esteem hinder your personal growth. Stay confident in your abilities and keep your ego to yourself.

When you are willing to be an “ordinary extra” type of a leader you can make a significant difference. Your name may not be in the limelight but your contributions are just as valuable. Stay the course!

 

© 2014 Doug Dickerson

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Leadership Minute: Are You a Thankful Leader?

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Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life. – Robert Louis Stevenson

A thankful heart is an essential ingredient in the DNA of a leader. Daily you have to account for all the responsibilities that fall on your shoulders. Your leadership skills are constantly being sharpened as your challenges grow. But at the core of who you are as a leader should be a remembrance of just how far you’ve come and the blessings that you now enjoy. Don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in the pursuit of success that you don’t know how to live in the moment with a thankful heart. A leader with a thankful heart knows how to keep their eyes open to new mercies. Consider the sacredness that each day brings and with appreciation live it to its fullest. Who are you thankful for? What are you thankful for? Whatever your answer may be – don’t forget it!

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Leadership Minute: Courage to Lead

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You will never do anything is this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor. – Aristotle

When it comes to the naming of essential leadership traits, courage ranks high on the list. Courage is what it takes to stand by your values and convictions even if it means standing alone. Courage is what inspires you to act when all other indicators say it’s not a good idea. Courage is telling people what they need to hear and not just what they want to hear. Being courageous may not always be popular but it is essential. The confidence that springs from being courageous is the product of being careful. Courageous leadership comes about by being confident, considerate, and is never about being arrogant. The fuel that drives courageous leaders is not ego but humility. You need courage to lead. Courage is your secret weapon and with it you can go far. Let it be your silent partner and give you strength. The world needs courageous leaders like you.

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Leadership Minute: What’s for Breakfast?

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Expect problems and eat them for breakfast. – Alfred A. Montapert

Leaders have problems. It just comes with the territory.  The fact that you have problems is not an indicator that you’ve done something wrong – in most cases it’s the opposite. The more you remain determined to move ahead, work hard, and do the right thing, the more problems you will acquire. So the issue is not about how to live a problem-free life as a leader. The issue is how to take control of your problems and use that energy to further your goals. Every successful person faces opposition and contends with problems. Don’t know where to begin? First and foremost it begins with your attitude. How you see your problems determines whether they will get the best of you or if you will eat them for breakfast. When your attitude is positive and your resolve is strong there is no problem that can overtake you. Problems – the breakfast of leaders!

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