Leadership In a Word: Doubts

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The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Word study

Verb

  1. To be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe
  2. To distrust
  3. Archaic. To fear; be apprehensive about

Source: Dictionary.com

A word about doubts

Doubts. It’s a confession that many leaders are not willing to own up to. But if you hang around in leadership for any length of time you will have your fill of doubts. I know I have.

I am reminded of a story from Bits & Pieces some years ago about Lord Halifax, a former foreign secretary of Great Britain, once shared a railway compartment with two prim-looking spinsters. A few moments before reaching his destination the train passed through a tunnel. In the utter darkness, Halifax kissed the back of his hand noisily several times. When the train drew into the station, he rose, lifted his hat, and in a gentlemanly way said:

“May I thank whichever one of you two ladies I am indebted to for the charming incident in the tunnel.” He then beat a hasty retreat, leaving the two ladies glaring at each other.

That amusing little story subtly reminds us that our own self-doubts have a way of glaring back at us from time to time. But what tends to be the source of our doubts? There are perhaps numerous reasons why we tend to have our doubts as it pertains to our personal leadership and confidences we should have. But here are three common ones.

We have doubts when we listen to our critics

If we spend too much time entertaining the voices of our critics we can unwittingly position ourselves for disappointment. This happens not because the critic is right but because we allow those opposing voices to linger.

Mindset author Carole S. Dweck said, “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?”.  It’s when you change your mindset that you erase the doubts of your critics and most important – yourself.

We have doubts when we have the wrong attitude

The day you own our attitude is the day you begin to tear down the destructive force of your doubts. Zig Ziglar was right when he said. “Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude.” You can’t expect to grow as a leader and reach your full potential so long as negative attitudes fill your mind.

Take a moment, right now, for some intentional reflection. If your current attitude/mindset was set like a thermostat for the rest of the year, do you think you could confidently look back a year from now and believe in your heart that you would be better off at that time? How do you think your attitude impacts those around you? What needs to change?

We have doubts that serve a greater purpose

We have to be ever-mindful and vigilant about the messages and voices we entertain and the mindset we develop. It’s an intuition skill that we develop over time.

But not every doubt serves a negative purpose and not every critic is wrong. This is where, as leaders, we must listen with a discerning ear.

As a leader, don’t mistake constructive criticism from a friend or peer as a critic out to harm you. Trusted confidants who are able to speak truth into your life are essential to your leadership growth. How you receive the truth along with how you apply it, will make all the difference to you going forward.

Not every doubt is your enemy; not every praise your friend. As a leader, you must know   the difference.

Doubt quotes

“Your goals, minus your doubts, equal your reality”. – Ralph Marston

“Face your fears and doubts, and new worlds open to you”. – Robert Kiyosaki

“I think you’re not a human being unless you have doubts and fears.” – Mike Krzyzewski

“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.” – Amelia Earhart

A final word

If you have doubts as a leader from time to time welcome to the club. We all do. Never allow your doubts to get in the way of your destiny. You are stronger than you think. You are not the sum of your fears. Turn your doubts into stepping stones on your way to achieving your dreams and fulfilling your destiny.

 

 

©2018 Doug Dickerson

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Leadership In a Word: Resolve

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Wise to resolve, and patient to perform. – Homer

Word study

1 obsolete : dissolve, melt

4a : to deal with successfully : clear up

  • resolve doubts
  • resolve a dispute

b : to find an answer to

c : to make clear or understandable

d : to find a mathematical solution of

e : to split up into two or more components especially in assigned directions

  • resolve a vector

5: to reach a firm decision about

  • resolve to get more sleep
  • resolve disputed points in a text

Source: Merriam-Webster

A word about resolve

As in many words that come to mind when one thinks of leadership, resolve is one that continuously makes the list. It’s in our resolve that we made as leaders.

I was reminded of a story I heard about President Abraham Lincoln. The final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was taken to Lincoln at noon on January 1, 1863. Twice the president picked up his pen to sign it, and twice he laid it down. Turning to Secretary of State William Seward, he said, “I have been shaking hands since 9:00 this morning, and my right arm is almost paralyzed. If my name ever goes into history, it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it. If my hand trembles when I sign the proclamation, all who examine the document hereafter will say, ‘He hesitated.'”

The president then took up the pen again and slowly but firmly wrote, “Abraham Lincoln.” That historic act endeared Lincoln to the world as the Great Emancipator.

While the things you do may not rise to the level of the Emancipation Proclamation,  resolve, nonetheless, is crucial to your success as a leader. Many things will compete for your time and attention. Distraction will come your way. Tough and unpopular decisions will be yours to make. Your resolve in these times is what will see you through. So here are a few points of clarity to help you define your resolve with yourself and with the people you lead.

Resolve to listen to your people

What makes you a leader of significance is found not so much in your ability to talk but in how well you listen. Listening is a lost art in communication. Resolve to listen more.

Resolve to believe the best in your people

The people you lead not only need your ear but they also need your heart. When you resolve to believe the best in your people and see them as “10’s” they will rise to the challenge.

Resolve to challenge your people

Bringing out the best in your people means raising the bar for your people. Let them know that their goals, dreams, and aspirations and yours are one in the same. Resolve to lift your team to new levels.

Resolve to never stop growing

Simply put, the growth of the leader determines the growth of the people. As a leader, you set the example. You can’t lead people to new levels of growth and development if are not growing yourself.

Resolve to live in your ‘why’

“The two most important days in your life,” said Mark Twain, “are the day you were born and the day you find out why”. Resolve to know your ‘why’ and live it. This is your purpose, this is your destiny, and this must be your resolve as a leader.

Resolve quotes

“Resolve never to quit, never to give up, no matter what the situation”. – Jack Nicklaus

“Resolve to learn something new everyday. Because every 24 hours, you have the opportunity to have the best day of your company’s life”. – Harvey Mackay

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” – Helen Keller

“Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of roadblocks that lay before you”. – Denis Waitley

A final word

A leader’s resolve, I believe, is one of the noblest of characteristics he or she possesses. With it, you can lead with integrity and authority. In many areas of your leadership, you will be required to summons resolve. Courageously embrace it.

 

©2018 Doug Dickerson

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Leadership In a Word: Mentors

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Seek out counsel and be a mentor to people, because they learn how to be mentors. – Cathy Engelbert

Word study

: a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus’ son Telemachus

2a : a trusted counselor or guide

  • a mentor who, because he is detached and disinterested, can hold up a mirror to us
  • —P. W. Keve

b : tutor, coach

  • The student sought a mentor in chemistry.
  • Source: Merriam-Webster

A word about mentors

Long before John Maxwell, Jim Collins, Andy Stanley, Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni and many others who have inspired me on my leadership journey; there was Dr. Tom Wilson.

It was in Dr. Wilson’s organizational behavior and leadership class at Southeastern University more than thirty years where the flame and passion for leadership was ignited in me.

We bonded quick and shared a passion for reading. We’d exchange books and talk about them. He was a challenging professor but caring. He inspired and prodded us to become our best and did it in a way that if he said we were going to charge hell with squirt guns we’d all sign up and do it.

But most of all, he was a mentor. And for that, I will forever be grateful. With great sadness, I’ve learned of his recent passing. He will be remembered fondly and missed greatly.

As I reflect on what Dr. Wilson meant to me personally, I can’t help but think of the impact and importance each of us has for mentors in our lives.After more than thirty years removed from his classes and more than a few gray hairs now, I am more intentional about the impact I can have in the lives of others.

Writing the Harvard Business Review, Jack Zenger addresses the critical need for leadership training at an earlier age. HIs research shows that the average age of supervisors entering leadership training is 42. However, the average age of supervisors is 33. Simply put, we are waiting much too long to equip them with the leadership skills needed to succeed.

The simple truth is this – we need mentors who can impart their wisdom and knowledge on to us. As leaders, we never stop learning and we must never stop growing. Mentors can speak truth into our lives and help us keep a healthy perspective.

My purpose – my why is about developing, inspiring, and mentoring as many leaders as I can. That passion, in large part, was because one professor cared enough to pour into the lives of his students in ways he probably never realized.

Thank you, Dr. Wilson and Godspeed.

Mentoring quotes

“ The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people”. – John Maxwell

“Colleagues are a wonderful thing, but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done”. – Junot Diaz

“The delicate act of mentoring is someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”. – Steven Spielberg

“My best mentor is a mechanic- and he never left the sixth grade. By any competency measure, he doesn’t have it. But the perspective he brings to me and my life is, bar none, the most helpful.” – Brendon Burchard

A final word

Being a mentor is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Be it in your house of worship, community, company, or otherwise enriching the life of a child – mentoring is one of the greatest acts of leadership and service.

 

©2018 Doug Dickerson

*Note: Leadership In A Word is my writing theme for 2018. Each week the focus will be on a word that impacts you as a leader. My style is new but my message and commitment to delivering fresh leadership insight to you are the same. It’s my sincere desire to help you grow as a leader and to partner with you in reaching your full potential.

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Leadership In a Word: Humility

Have the humility to learn from those around you. – John Maxwell

Word Study

  • Humility means “the state of being humble.” Both it and humble have their origin in the Latin word humilis, meaning “low.”
  • Humble can be used to describe what is ranked low by others, as in “persons of humble origins.” People also use the word of themselves and things associated with themselves; if you describe yourself as “but a humble editor” or refer to your home as your “humble abode,” you are saying that neither you nor your home is very impressive.
  • Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

A word about humility

In the sometimes rough and tumble world of leadership humility is not necessarily word that would describe the temperament needed in the face of adversity and tough decision making.

But I’d like to submit that humility is exactly what’s needed and in fact is the missing secret sauce in leadership.

In his book, My Years With Winston Churchill, Norman McGowan writes:

Winston Churchill was once asked, “Doesn’t it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech, the hall is packed to overflowing?” “It’s quite flattering,” replied Sir Winston. “But whenever I feel that way, I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.”

Churchill, the powerful Prime Minister of Great Britain during a most turbulent time in world history, kept a proper perspective of himself and didn’t allow an over inflated ego cloud his judgment as a leader.

As a leader, there’s nothing wrong with being confident and sure of your abilities. The people you lead need solid, sound, and secure leaders at the helm.

But what is the tipping point when your leadership resembles arrogance, pride, egotism, self-importance, and pretentiousness more than humility?

Perhaps it’s time for some honest self-assessment and reflection. Better yet, why not put your cards on the table with your inner circle and allow them to speak truthfully to you about what they observe?

Humility in leadership is the understanding that it’s not about you or me, that the pathway to greatness is found through serving, and that the old adage is as true as it’s ever been – pride goes before the fall.

Humility quotes

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less”- Rick Warren

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” – Jesus, Mark 10:43

“What humility does for one is it reminds us that there are people before me.” – Maya Angelou

“With pride, there are many curses. With humility there come many blessings.” – Ezra Taft Benson

“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know who you are.” – Mother Teresa

A final word

The world is looking for strong leaders. But the often overlooked characteristic of strong leaders are those who are comfortable enough in their own skin to lead with humility.

©2018 Doug Dickerson

*Note: Leadership In A Word is my writing theme for 2018. Each week the focus will be on a word that impacts you as a leader. My style is new but my message and commitment to delivering fresh leadership insight to you are the same. It’s my sincere desire to help you grow as a leader and to partner with you in reaching your full potential.

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Leadership In a Word: Balance

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Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein

Word Study

a : stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis

  • when the two sides of the scale are in balance
  • tipped the statue off balance

b : equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements

  • … the balance we strike between security and freedom.
  • —Earl Warren
  • Both parties were interviewed to provide balance in the report.
  • the right balance of diet and exercise
  • Source: Merriam-Webster

A word about balance

The use of the word balance in leadership is hardly a new word. A simple Google search of “work-life balance” generated over 107 million hits. It’s showing up for a reason.

Maintaining a proper balance in your leadership is essential to your success. Dozens of studies have confirmed what most of us already know- when our lives- leadership included, are out of balance those areas in our lives begin to suffer. Or does it?

One approach to the whole work-life balance issue I’ve learned comes from Gary Keller in his book, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. In it he writes:

To achieve an extraordinary result you must choose what matters most and give it all the time it demands. This requires getting extremely out of balance in relation to all other work issues, with only infrequent counterbalancing to address them. In your personal world, awareness is the essential ingredient. Awareness of your spirit and body, awareness of your family and friends, awareness of your personal needs–none of these things can be sacrificed if you intend to “have a life”, so you can never forsake them for work or one for the other. You can move back and forth quickly between these and often combine activities around them, but you can’t neglect any of them for long. Your personal life requires tight counterbalancing.

Perhaps, according to Keller, the answer is not sacrificing one for the other, but in finding that sweet spot of counterbalancing. As it relates to balance, maybe we need to be asking a different set of questions like:

What matters most?

Are you willing to “get out of balance” in order to achieve your goals?

Are you self-aware enough to not neglect other important areas in your life such as family, faith etc.?

The answers to these questions will dictate the trajectory of your leadership and help you establish your priorities. Think through your answers carefully.

Balance quotes

“Man maintains his balance, poise, and sense of security only as he is moving forward”. – Maxwell Maltz

“A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.” – William Arthur Ward

“There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” – Jack Welch

“The trick to balance is to not make sacrificing important things become the norm.” Simon Sinek

A final word

The pursuit of finding balance in our lives-juggling between work, family, raising children, etc. is a challenge for even the most experienced leader. One of the first steps to success in this area of leadership is found in simply acknowledging the challenge. Approaches to maintaining that work-life balance will differ person to person, but always be conscientious, proactive, and set your boundaries. Too much is riding on the outcome.

 

©2018 Doug Dickerson

*Note: Leadership In A Word is my writing theme for 2018. Each week the focus will be on a word that impacts you as a leader. My style is new but my message and commitment to delivering fresh leadership insight to you are the same. It’s my sincere desire to help you grow as a leader and to partner with you in reaching your full potential.

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Leadership In a Word: Empathy

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Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself. – Mohsin Hamind

Word Study

1: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this

: the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it. Source: Merriam–Webster

A word about empathy

Many characteristics belong in the mix for being a good leader. Empathy is crucial to that mix. That you have an awareness and intuition concerning the people you lead is essential to your success as a leader.

Too often however, many leaders are not engaged with the people they lead much less sensitive to their needs or receptive to their concerns.

Writing in usnews.com, Tom Risen cited a survey that showed “51 percent of U.S. managers are not engaged in their work, and another 14 percent are actively disengaged”.  With this type of disengagement taking place in the workplace, is it any wonder that empathy is a leadership skill that needs to be addressed?

While some may be dismissive of the importance of empathy in leadership-that it’s just a “soft skill” that’s beneath them, I respectfully disagree.

What would the landscape of your organization look like if more leaders in it took the time to be invested and empathetic? How would morale be different? What if you, as a leader, were more intentional about the concerns of the people you lead? What would those characteristics look like? Here is a sampling.

The empathetic leader is connected to his people

The key to understanding your people is being with your people. The basis for effective leadership is found in building relationships. The disconnect many leaders struggle with is predicated on and is the consequence of poor relationships. If as a leader you are not working on the relationship the divide and disconnect will only widen.

The empathetic leader cares about his people

The most appreciable asset any leader has is his or her people. As you develop empathy as a leader you will come to discover that the success of your people is your success. Their concerns are your concerns. Their frustrations are your frustrations. And at the end of the day, their wins are your wins. With empathy, you put yourself in their shoes and commit yourself to doing everything within your power to ensure their success.

The empathetic leader listens to his people

Simply put, there’s  no magic wand that a leader can wave to make them more empathetic. It’s a skill that is developed over time. It’s a two-fold process in which being intentional about it is paramount. Unless you commit yourself to the development of this skill it’s not going to just happen.

But just as important is art of listening. Empathetic leaders are careful and intentional about listening to their  people. It’s when your people have your ear, you will have their heart.  It’s as you listen to your people that trust is established, morale rebounds, loyalty is secured, and your leadership is proven. Listening is for your benefit just as much as it is theirs. Listening is not about appeasement, it’s about action.

Empathy quotes

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” – Stephen Covey

“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.” – Maya Angelou

“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.” H. Jackson Brown

“Empathy is the greatest virtue. From it, all virtues flow. Without it, all virtues are an act.” Eric Zorn

A final word

Empathy will elevate your leadership and it will help you build positive relationships with your people. It’s when you empathize with your people that you can more effective in leading them.

 

©2018 Doug Dickerson

*Note: Leadership In A Word is my writing theme for 2018. Each week the focus will be on a word that impacts you as a leader. My style is new but my message and commitment to delivering fresh leadership insight to you are the same. It’s my sincere desire to help you grow as a leader and to partner with you in reaching your full potential.

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Leadership In A Word: Courage

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It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. – E. E. Cummings

Word Study

  1. 1300, from Old French corage (12c., Modern French courage) “heart, innermost feelings; temper,” from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor “heart” (from PIE root *kerd-heart”). Words for “heart” also commonly are metaphors for inner strength. In Middle English, used broadly for “what is in one’s mind or thoughts,” hence “bravery,” but also “wrath, pride, confidence, lustiness,” or any sort of inclination. Replaced Old English ellen, which also meant “zeal, strength.” Source: etymonline.com

A word about courage

Author Leo Buscaglia tells a story about his mother and their “misery dinner.” It was the night after his father came home and said it looked as if he would have to go into bankruptcy because his partner had absconded with their firm’s funds. His mother went out and sold some jewelry to buy food for a sumptuous feast. Other members of the family scolded her for it. But she told them that “the time for joy is now when we need it most, not next week.” Her courageous act rallied the family.

Courageous leadership is not a hard thing to summon when times are good. But it can be more challenging in the face of adversity. For you, as a leader, it can be a game changer. It can make the difference between success and failure.

Think for a moment about where you are in your leadership journey. In what areas do you need to be more courageous? What fear or attitude is holding you back? As you go into 2018, let me encourage you to find courage in three specific areas.

Courage to run your own race

Your leadership journey is just that – yours. Let 2018 be the year to once and for all stop measuring your value and worth up against someone else’s. Stop with the comparisons. Embrace your own worth, value, and God-given abilities and stop worrying about what other people say or think.

Courage to break new barriers

Barriers to your leadership and how far you can go are not always defined by other people. Sometimes we are the ones holding ourselves back with our own limited thinking and attitudes. I’d like to challenge you this year to summon the courage to break new barriers and pursue your dreams. New opportunities are achieved and barriers are overcome by developing a courageous mindset and belief system.

Courage to embrace change

One of the keys to your success as a leader is to embrace the changes that will ultimately come your way. Find the courage to think to think differently when required, to change your perspective, and be open to new ideas. Values and principles are largely settled matters of leadership. Practices tend to be fluid and evolving. Your learning and application are constant. Summon the courage to embrace change.

Courage quotes

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction” – John F. Kennedy

“Jump and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall” – Ray Bradbury

“Courage is grace under fire” – Ernest Hemingway

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 ESV

A final word

As a leader in today’s world, you need courage. The courage you need to lead is gained with the confidence you have in yourself, with the people you surround yourself with, and your faith.

Let 2018 be your year for courageous leadership.

©2018 Doug Dickerson

*Note: Leadership In A Word is my writing theme for 2018. Each week the focus will be on a word that impacts you as a leader. My style is new but my message and commitment to delivering fresh leadership insight to you are the same. It’s my sincere desire to help you grow as a leader and to partner with you in reaching your full potential.

 

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