Building Bridges and Tearing Down Walls

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Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. – Tom Peters

The Great Wall of China was built over hundreds of years to keep China’s northern enemies from invading. The Great Wall is so wide that chariots could ride across the top. It is one of the few manmade objects that astronauts can see from space as they look back on the earth.

But the Great Wall did not keep the enemy out. Do you know why? All the enemy had to do was bribe a gatekeeper. Despite the massive wall, there was an enemy on the inside that let the enemy on the outside in.

One of your most important responsibilities you have as a leader is to grow your corporate culture in a way that benefits everyone. But what happens when office gossip, professional jealousy, and turf wars build walls that place your company at risk? What is the fallout when walls go up and camaraderie is a faint memory of the past? Here are four critical areas that are impacted in your organization if walls are built or allowed to remain.

Loss of trust

The first line of defense for you as a leader as it relates to your corporate culture is the establishment of trust. When walls go up among your people trust is one of the first casualties along with it. Trust among your team is essential to your operation. If it doesn’t exist internally it’s going to be hard to nurture and develop it externally.

Trust is the foundation of your corporate culture. If there is no trust among the members of your team then your team is simply going through the motions. Trust is built when the walls come down and your people learn to work in harmony with one another. When they see each other as allies and advocates rather than adversaries then you trust can be established.

Lack of communication

When there is no trust then communication is going to suffer. If information is being withheld and secrets are kept, then good corporate culture is lacking. Walls keep people apart and when this occurs then the life blood of your company is missing. Everything rises and falls on trust and communication.

Consider for a moment how different things in your organization would be if there were not impediments to communication. Good communication can be a challenge in the best of times when there are no walls much less when they do exist. Communication in your organization will exist and thrive when you bring people together and make it a priority.

Lack of collaboration

Whatever the cause for the walls that exist – clicks, territorial disputes, petty office politics, etc. one thing is certain – relationships suffer. A strong work environment and the collaborative process are dependent upon good relationships – the very thing the walls have destroyed.

A healthy collaborative process can be very beneficial. When team members come together and check their baggage and their egos at the door, it can make a huge difference in the productivity of the organization. But this can’t happen within the confines of walls that are far too often supported by pride. When team members see their differences as strengths and their diversity as an advantage then collaboration can thrive.

Lack of credibility

Walls can be detrimental to any organization and every leader faces the challenge of how to deal with the underlying issues that lend itself to their creation. It’s a frustrating process and I understand the challenge it presents.

But the credibility of your organizational structure is on the line when walls of division that lead to a lack of trust, communication, and collaboration are allowed to linger. Chances are it’s only one or two disgruntled people who are the chief antagonists giving you this headache. But nonetheless, walls are being built because well-meaning team members may know of no other way to deal with it.

As a leader you must be proactive in the implementation and development of your corporate culture. It’s not an auto-pilot feature that you can turn on and then ignore as you move on to other issues. As a leader the best things you can do is learn how to build more bridges and tear down a lot of more walls.

What do you say?

 

© 2014 Doug Dickerson

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Leadership Minute: Never Give Up!

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Never, never, never give up – Winston Churchill

Leaders – have you ever felt: like throwing in the towel, overcome by discouragement, all alone and wore out, like a babysitter, frustrated, stressed, angry, confused, looking for answers, tired, burned out, weary, delirious, doubtful, skeptical, hurt, battered, bruised, betrayed, overworked, underappreciated, and asking the proverbial question of ‘why me?’. Welcome to the world of leadership. So before you throw in the towel and call it quits (we’ve all been there), let me take a moment to encourage you. You are more than the sum of your fears and frustrations. Your life, your purpose, and your destiny have you today where you are meant to be and doing what you were meant to do. It may not be the final stop on your leadership journey but it’s your place to shine today. Don’t allow your emotions to sidetrack you from fulfilling your purpose or keep you from your ultimate destiny. Take a deep breath and remember you are not alone. Never, never, never give up!

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Leadership Minute: Make Your Discovery

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Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. – Albert Szent Gyorgui, Nobel Prize Winner

One of the most beneficial things in the development of your leadership skills is the ability to think different. We all see the same things. In large part we have fairly similar reactions. We see something that needs to be done and we do it. We look and see the needs in our communities and we get involved. Why? Because everyone thinks it’s a good idea and we take on that responsibility. As leaders we all have similar challenges and our skills are constantly being tested. Part of the learning process is identifying long held belief systems and being brave enough to challenge it. Why do you think the way that you do? Is it because everyone else thinks that way? What would it take for you to think different? What’s holding you back? As a leader let me encourage you to shake up the way that you look at things and the way that you think. Your discovery may be long overdue.

 

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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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