10 Courtesies Every Leader Should Remember

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Courtesy – Excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior. –Random House Dictionary

“Everything rises and falls on leadership,” says John Maxwell. He’s right. The temperament of a leader is an important ingredient that goes a long way in determining his or her success. In short; behaviors and attitudes matter.

Too often sadly, we hear the stories of workplace bullying and other behaviors that are contributing to poor morale and working conditions. As a leader it is important to be aware of your surroundings and your workplace culture. Now is a good time to be reminded of simple courtesies that make a difference. Here is a list of ten common courtesies every leader should remember. The list is not exhaustive but is a good place to start. They are in no particular order.

  1. How to say “thank you”, “please”, ‘you’re welcome”, etc.

It should go without saying but these polite yet simple forms of communication are essential words in the vocabulary of every leader. Use them often and use them with sincerity. They are still relevant and meaningful.

  1. Return your phone calls and emails.

How many times has this happened to you? You leave a voicemail or send an email and you go days or weeks without a response. How did it make you feel? Nothing screams “you don’t matter” any louder than the silence of being ignored. A courteous leader will return calls and emails. For a great resource I recommend my friend Dr. Monica Seeley (the Email Doctor) you can find her blog at http://bit.ly/1rF6FAr

  1. The timing of your words

One of the courteous things you can do as a leader is to speak words of encouragement to those around you. The timing of a kind word to a colleague can be just the thing he or she needs to make it through the day or through a difficult time. Be aware of the needs of those around you and don’t be afraid to speak a kind word.

  1. The timing of your silence

As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, there is a time to keep silent and a time to speak. As a leader, there will be times that the best thing you can do is to hold your tongue and not say a word. You can be just as courteous by what you don’t say as you can by what you do say. As a leader you have to learn the appropriateness of the moment.

  1. The value of time

A courteous leader is considerate of other people’s time and knows how to manage their own. Showing courtesy as a leader means that you value and respect other people’s time and won’t waste it. You’ll show up to meetings on time and you won’t waste it on trivial things that don’t matter.

  1. The giving of your undivided attention

On so many levels we are losing the art of being present in the moment. We are losing the art of conversation. The better connected we are through technology the more distant we’ve become relationally. Don’t believe me? Try having a 30-minute lunch with a group of friends without each person checking their mobile device repeatedly.  A courteous leader will put away the phone or any other distractions and give others their undivided attention.

  1. How to stay out of other people’s business

Gossip and office politics has been around for a long time. A courteous leader will stay out of it. If it’s not your business then don’t make it your business. If it is your business then use it as a teachable moment to show the proper way to handle it.

  1. How to let things go

Extending courtesies as a leader can be challenging. But one of the wisest things you can do is to learn how to let things go. Don’t be so hell bent on winning the battle that you lose the war. Consider the issue and measure your response.  Learn how to forgive and move on. You’ll be happier in the long run.

  1. Keep your word

Courteous leaders are reliable and keep their word. Be slow to make promises and if you do – follow through and do it. Reasonable people understand that circumstances change and things come up that you didn’t anticipate but as far as it depends on you do what you say you are going to do.

10. Be kind

It’s simply stated because it is. A courteous leader is kind, considerate, and helpful to others. It’s the little things you do as a leader that makes a big difference. It begins with common courtesy.

What do you say?

 

© 2014 Doug Dickerson

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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

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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…?

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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

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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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