Leadership Minute: Bridge the Gap

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Your problem is to bridge the gap which exists between where you are now and the goal you intend to reach. – Earl Nightingale

Your growth as a leader will be characterized by a lot of bridge building. You will build bridges in relationships first and foremost. But many of the bridges you will construct will center on your goals – taking you from where you are now to your place of destiny. Goals are a continuous works in progress. You are always moving from one to the next. But don’t allow the gaps in time or distance to distract you. Keep focused on the goals before you and always remain vigilant with an eye to the future. It’s all too easy to get sidetracked and the temptation is to take a shortcut. But the path to progress and towards the realization of your goal is not one to rush. Invest your time wisely and get it right.

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Leadership Minute: Serve Your Purpose

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Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye. – HAL computer, 2001: A Space Odyssey

What is your purpose as a leader? You’d be hard pressed to find anything more important to you as a leader than serving your purpose. It’s what gives your leadership meaning. Unfortunately for many, the purpose of leadership gets lost to secondary matters. For some it’s about attaining an element of power. Others might think it’s about a title or position. When these things become the focal point or belief as to what leadership is about then the purpose of leadership has been lost. The higher you climb as a leader and the more responsibilities you take on as a leader the greater this knowledge becomes. In short; it’s not about you. It is however about taking and using the influence you have to serve causes greater than yourself. Once you understand that this is your purpose as a leader you can then see it really has little to do with you. It’s about what happens through you.

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The Rhythm of Your Leadership

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I am still learning that my schedule is far less about what I want to get done and far more important about who I want to become. – Bill Hybels

A story is told about the great 19th-century naturalist and Harvard professor Louis Agassiz who was once approached by the emissary of a learned society and invited to address its members. Agassiz declined the invitation, saying that lectures of this kind took up too much time that should be devoted to research and writing. The man persisted, saying that the society was prepared to pay handsomely for the lecture. “That’s no inducement to me,” Agassiz replied, “I can’t afford to waste my time making money.”

Finding the rhythm of your leadership is an important part of your development as a leader. Your leadership rhythm sets the tone and gives priority to every other aspect of your life both personally and professionally.

With so many demands placed upon you as a leader it’s worth taking into consideration your leadership rhythms and why they matter. I have identified four that are worth a closer look.

The rhythm of your time

Time is the most precious commodity you have as a leader. The decisions you make regarding your time are the most important ones you make. You are in charge of your time and schedule. It’s a given that you are busy and have many demands placed upon you for things over and above your already hectic schedule. But, when was the last time, if ever, you gave thought to the opening quote?

Many of us for far too long have looked at what we need to get done verses who we want to become. Growing into the person we want to become begins when we reclaim our schedules and put our priorities in order. As a leader everything will rise and fall on the rhythm of your time.

The rhythm of your work

The rhythm of your work is essential to your effectiveness as a leader. By now you know the rhythm that works best for you. For some people maximum productivity is early in the morning. For others it’s later in the day or in the evening. Regardless of when that time is, make the most of it. When you capitalize on your work rhythm you will be at the top of your game.

Here’s the rub – rhythms vary from person to person so in a collaborative environment where teamwork is essential it can be a juggling act. As a leader try not interrupt the rhythms of your people and their best times of productivity with rhythm-killing meetings and interruptions. The key here is to know your work rhythms and that of your people. It will help you to establish your priorities and maximizes team performance.

The rhythm of personal growth

Your growth and development as a leader is essential to your effectiveness today and will improve the quality of your leadership tomorrow. Are you setting aside time for your personal growth and development? Without a rhythm of learning and a commitment to personal growth you will begin to lose your edge as a leader. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other,” said John F. Kennedy. He was right.

Now more than ever there are a variety of personal growth avenues to choose from. In addition to inspiring leadership books- you can also take advantage of mastermind groups, webinars, and support groups such as found on LinkedIn. There is no shortage of available resources but you must find the rhythm that works for you.

The rhythm of your health

Your longevity as a leader is tied to the habits and rhythms of your health – physically, mentally, and spiritually. If your rhythm here is out of whack it will have an impact on the other areas already covered.

Your life in leadership is hectic. I get it. But when you develop proper rhythms in your diet you will feel better and have more energy and will be more productive. When you develop rhythms for rest and relaxation you will reduce your stress and be a much more pleasant person to be around. When you are connected spiritually you will be at peace.

Rhythms are your anchors as a leader. Develop your rhythms- nurture them, and most of all protect them. No one else can do it for you.

 

© 2014 Doug Dickerson

 

 

 

 

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Leadership Minute: Don’t Be Afraid

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I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship. – Louisa May Alcott

One of the certainties of leadership is the existence of storms. Storms come to every leader. Some are self-inflicted while others come from outside forces. Nonetheless, storms come. But storms, like other life events, are times not just of testing but are times for learning. A storm is not a waste of time if you learn from it. What storm are you facing? What conflict are you going through? What employee is giving you fits? What problem is giving you stress? Just remember as you are going through the storm you are learning to sail. You are earning your leadership stripes. No storm is pleasant to go through and at times you may question your ability to lead. But don’t despair. There is a reason for the storm and a greater purpose for you to understand. Be assured of this – when you cast aside your fears and face the storms that come your way, you will be a stronger leader in the end. Don’t be afraid.

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Leadership Minute: Raise Your Expectations

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Act like you expect to get into the end zone. – Christopher Morley

One of the greatest battles you will face in leadership is the one that is waged between your ears. Mental toughness and endurance is a necessity for any leader who desires to succeed. But until you raise your expectations of what success looks like you will be hard pressed to achieve it. Call it an act of faith- and perhaps it is, but you have to picture successes in your mind before they become a reality. If the mental pictures you have are negative and filled with frustrations and disappointments they will be hard to overcome. But what leader doesn’t battle negative thoughts from time to time? Do you now understand why mental toughness is so important? Don’t allow negative thoughts or attitudes to fill your mind or thought processes. Raise your expectations to new levels not based upon what you see at the moment but on the great things you envision for the future. Once you raise your expectations you can take steps to achieve those goals.

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Leadership Minute: Prune the Weeds

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A good garden may have some weeds. – Thomas Fuller

One of your roles as a leader in your organization can be likened to that of a gardener. You tend the garden and invest in good seed and in good soil with the belief that you will have good returns. Like any garden, your organization may have a few bad weeds. You can have people in your organization, who by their actions and attitudes, that can cause damage to the rest of the garden. If you don’t prune them back or pluck them out, they can spread their negative influence and cause harm. It is incumbent upon you as the leader to recognize the potential destruction a weed may impose and deal with it. The earlier you deal with the weeds the better. You can’t allow one bad weed to ruin things for everyone else. As a good leader you need to watch out for weeds, tend to them, and promote an environment in which everyone can thrive.

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Leadership Minute: Speak Clearly

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I meant what I said and I said what I meant. – Dr. Seuss

Nothing will frustrate the people in your organization any quicker than communication that’s unclear, vague, or otherwise unnecessary. Talking just to talk is not communication. It’s noise. And it’s irritating. The effectiveness of your leadership hinges on good communication skills. Knowing what to communicate, how to communicate it, and why it’s necessary are essential to your people. Answering a few simple question can help cut through the clutter of what’s necessary and what’s not. Try these on for size:  What do your people need to know? Who needs to know it? For what purpose do they need to know? When do they need to know? And what is the most efficient and effective way to do communicate this information? Clear communication is essential to a smooth operation so don’t mess it up. Be clear. Be direct. Be succinct.

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