Think Leadership Ideas


Followers, Not Power, Define Acts of Leadership

The conventional notion of a leader refers to the person in charge, the head of an endeavor, the boss, the captain, the person who tells others what to do. In this way of thinking, an act of leadership is something the leader does - primarily, command or decide.

I don’t subscribe to the conventional notion.

I think “acts of leadership” are ultimately determined by followers not leaders.

Read the entire article to find out why....

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 11.54.54 AM

blogEntryTopper

5 Dimensions of Leadership

Consider Rodin’s iconic sculpture, The Thinker ....or any sculpture you might fancy.

A few written sentences or a photo would be informative - but not hold a candle to actually seeing the sculpture in all three dimensions, in an apposite setting, and knowing something of its place in the history of art.

In much the same way, leadership is best understood from a multi-dimensional point of view. And the perspective gained from understanding leadership in all five dimensions can help you be more intentional in the practice and development of leadership - whether for yourself or for others in your endeavor.

Indeed, it is the endless variety in which individuals can creatively apply their individual character, roles, and actions to endeavors that make leadership an art.

So what are the 5 Dimensions of Leadership....?


S’more Questions


3 Leadership Lessons we can Learn from Honey Maid

A few weeks ago Honey Maid launched a 30 second ad with the tag-line “this is wholesome” while depicting sweet scenes of family life, including making s’mores. Can you say “awwwww.”

And reflecting the diverse makeup of modern families, the viewer will see tattoos, a single dad, a same-gender couple, interracial marriage, mixed-race children….even musicians!

The backlash was predictable.

Honey Maid’s response to the backlash was simply brilliant. [see both ads below]

And in this market example I see three really, really, really important questions that leaders who aspire to excellence need to answer about their endeavors....

The Performance-Innovation Dilemma

Part III
5 Leadership Actions to Navigate
the Performance-Innovation Dilemma

Leading for performance is very different from leading for innovation. And leaders must often manage both simultaneously. Whether by structure, process, assignment, or timing, leaders who are intentional about when, where, and how they are seeking innovation vs. performance are more likely to create exceptional outcomes.

This article outlines five actions that leaders can take to balance performance with innovation....

The Performance-Innovation Dilemma

Part II
3 Errors Leaders Make About Performance vs. Innovation

Leadership is meaningless if it doesn’t add value to the ability of people to advance the goals of an endeavor. Effective leaders craft their actions accordingly. The creative tension between performance and innovation creates a leadership challenge - actions that advance performance can inhibit innovation, and vice-versa.

The Performance-Innovation Dilemma

Part I
What Leaders MUST Understand about Performance vs. Innovation

So you want to lead your organization to instill high performance? Absolutely.

And you want to promote innovation and a culture of change to keep your organization ahead of the game? Of course.

Be careful you aren’t leaving your people scratching their heads confused - or worse, that you aren’t creating disincentives for both performance and innovation. Leading for performance is very different from leading for innovation. And leaders must often manage both simultaneously.

Gratitude Leadership

Conventional thinking defines leadership as the role of being in charge.

More nuanced thinking considers leadership as a particular kind of activity i.e. actions that move an endeavor forward. But here’s the essential paradox...what defines an encounter as an act of leadership is not a specific action of the leader, but rather that someone follows.

It’s willing followers who manifest acts of leadership. No follower, no leader. No followers, no leadership.

No individual, no leader, does it alone. Great accomplishments, great organizations, and great endeavors exist due to the efforts of multiple people. Often lots of people. Savvy leaders not only feel gratitude, but communicate it effectively.

So if you are a leader “feeling the love” for those who follow you; if are you genuinely thankful for those who have helped make the endeavors that are important to you successful, here are three tips for making those expressions of gratitude count even more...

Articulating Direction

think leadership ideas - articulate direction image

As Yogi Berra artfully observed, “If you don't know where you're going you might not get there.”

Establishing the direction of your organization - and then communicating that direction to everybody who is involved in your organization - is a fundamental leadership responsibility. When leaders articulate direction effectively, they unleash the talent inherent in their endeavor.

Direction consists of three vital elements: meaning, which fosters motivation; integrity, which fosters confidence; and a game-plan, which fosters aligned action. Think of these elements by three corresponding questions….why, what, and how.

How to effectively communicate about direction….

Leadership Stuff

ThinkLeadershipIdeas-5 Leadership Priorities
Defining a leader by what they do, not what position they hold...

Who is a Leader?

The conventional answer is the person who is the head of an endeavor (i.e., a business, a project, a team, an organization, a club, a venture, something that requires more than a single person to accomplish).

Let me suggest a remarkably simple but unconventional alternative definition...a leader is someone who does leadership stuff.

As discussed in previous articles, leadership is an activity distinct from both an endeavor’s core work (the main thing an endeavor accomplishes) and its business practices (the activities needed to keep an endeavor operating). A leader, then, is someone who attends to the leadership activities of an endeavor - whether or not that person has any identified ‘leadership’ designation or position.

So what is Leadership Stuff?

For any endeavor, the “stuff” of leadership is pretty much universal. The leadership stuff of an endeavor consists of five leadership priorities

Why Leadership….?

Thought experiment: imagine asking 100 people, “is leadership important?”

I would be surprised if the response wasn’t a 100% resounding “YES - of course leadership is important!”

Okay, everyone agrees leadership is important. So how come? Why is leadership so important?

Leadership is significant not because it’s a good thing to do, or valuable in its own right. Rather, it is important because it’s an essential component of making any endeavor exceptionally effective. By endeavor I mean a business, a cause, an enterprise, an organization, a project, a club, a venture - something that requires more than one human to accomplish - no matter how formal or informal it’s structure.

Leadership is the superfuel for human endeavors.

Some things to think about…

blogEntryTopper

Edge of the Box Thinking

I hear it again and again, an executive admonishing a team to “think outside of the box.”

What is intended, of course, is inspiration to “think creatively” - the problem I have is that it’s an un-inspiring, un-creative, and un-encouraging way to say it. In fact, it can be darned right unproductive.

Think about it.

Cliché is the antithesis of creativity, and “out of the box” is as cliché as it comes. Everyone knows what it means, but it’s hardly a trigger for ideas that are fresh, creative, and original.

What’s a better metaphor for creativity and innovation? “Edge of the Box” thinking – especially if you need ideas with a high potential for useful application.

Here’s the key idea…..

blogEntryTopper

Create Your Strategy Map

Get Everyone Working on the Same Page….
think leadership ideas-hit your target

By Using This Powerful Leadership Tool
for Providing Direction
Throughout Your Organization

What can a strategy map do for you? How about…..
  • Align effort throughout your organization
  • Focus on what matters most
  • Amplify customer results
  • Enhance performance….and decision making….and communication

If you are in the Triangle NC area, here’s a great way to get started…..

Half-day executive course in beautiful Chapel Hill NC
Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Find out more > here

Can’t make the workshop?
Check out the upcoming online Strategy Map Course >

read more about strategy maps here