Always Two Opportunities

In all aspects of our lives there are always two sets of opportunities in front of us—one set governs where we are, a current job, a current relationship, a current volunteer activity, a current hobby and then there are those things only available if we actively seek them.

Whatever those new things are that we seek, if we find them and develop them we become more versatile. It could be that what we have currently (a job, relationship, volunteerism, hobby) provides us with the tools to become more versatile. Sometimes we need to actively find new things to learn, new skills to develop, new networks to tap into.

If we only remain qualified to maintain our current job, relationship, volunteer activity or hobby we are vulnerable to or unprepared for change.

Every day we should set out two lists of tasks for ourselves: one to maintain that which we already have and one that will allow us to expand the boundaries of our experience and knowledge.

It doesn’t matter who you are—an entrepreneur who created your own job, an employee, a community organization leader or member, a high school or college student, a retiree, or a stay at home parent—you have the capability, this very moment, to prepare for what comes next.

Turn Your Organization Into a Team

We often refer to groups, organizations etc as our “team”, but are they really a team? Teams need dedication and training. Here are some ideas to focus on when turning your group of peers into a functioning team.

Train, study and train, prepare, and train thoroughly, endlessly.

Strive to maintain individual stability and unit integrity; keep the same leader as long as possible if they’re getting the job done. Needless changes disrupt teamwork.

Emphasize use of the “buddy” system.

Never publicly blame an individual for the team’s failure nor praise one individual for the team’s success.

Provide the best available facilities for training and make maximum use of teamwork.

Ensure that all training is meaningful, and that its purpose is clear to all members of the staff.

Acquaint each individual of your staff with the capabilities and limitations of others, thereby developing mutual trust and understanding.

Base team training on realistic, current, and probable conditions.

Insist that everyone understands the functions of the other members of the team and how the team functions as a part of the whole.

12 Habits to Incorporate into Your Leadership Practice

1. Courage
People like to know the one they are following is courageous.

2. Effective Communication
You need to be a great communicator to effectively manage and inspire people who work for you.

3. Generosity
Great leaders share credit and praise where it is due. They are committed to their followers’ success.

4. Humility
Leaders who show humbleness will jump in and do the dirty work.

5. Self-Awareness
This is the foundation of emotional intelligence. They have a clear and accurate image of their own strengths and weaknesses.

6. Adherence to the Golden Rule
The Golden Rule says to treat others the way you want to be treated.

7. Passion
Passion is contagious. If a leader is enthusiastic, others will be as well.

8. Infectiousness
Not only have a clear vision but a plan to make that vision become a reality.

9. Authenticity
Be honest in everything. Make sure your words and actions align with who you claim to be.

10. Approachability
Welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than your own.

11. Accountability
Back up your followers. Don’t shift blame when facing failure.

12. Sense of Purpose
Understand your purpose and why you’re going there.

 

Unusual Leadership Traits an How to Use Them

These traits are not the typical ones we see listed over and over when speaking about the traits of leaders–but perhaps these means they are all the more important.

Calmness. Be calm when making hard decisions. It may be easy to make a decision but not always easy to make a good decision. If a decision is tough and emotion-filled, try to wait a while or sleep on it. Let the emotion melt away before coming to a final decision.

Grace under pressure. This is related to calmness. The still mind can more easily analyze a situation, a person or a plan. Try not to get agitated too quickly or unnecessarily. Handle stress effectively.

Consistency. Be consistent in your behavior. Employees want leadership they can count on and trust. Clients like to know they are getting the same person every time they come to you. No one likes a wildcard in business.

Persistence. Not everything is accomplished easily on the first try. Perseverance after disappointment may be hard to come by but will help. A leader who gives up is no leader at all.

Judgment. This may seem the most unusual trait and is not meant in the negative way one might first assume. Other synonyms for this may be experience, seasoning, or business savvy. These all add up to judgment. This is used by leaders to make decisions to yield positive outcomes not to punish or admonish.

Daily Practice for Leaders

Here are 8 daily practices for leaders, future leaders and people looking to better themselves.

1. Walk away from gossip.
2. Spend five minutes in another person’s shoes.
3. Give one person unexpected praise.
4. Do one thing no one else is willing to do.
5. Shine the spotlight on one person.
6. “Sell” one thing.
7. Give one person and unexpected hand.
8. Admit one failing.

These need not be “big” things that we do each do. Completing the list on the micro scale each day will add up to more than trying and failing to complete the list on the macro scale.

Leaders Should Not Limit Themselves to a Single Style

Many people have qualified different styles of leadership; even more have debated which is the best style. Instead, consider carrying these with you like a multi-tool or swiss army knife. They will always be there; you just need to choose the right tool for the situation. During the normal operation of one’s organization they will probably become comfortable with one or two styles that come together with their personality to create the kind of leadership they will be known for. But all good leaders need to adapt to whatever is in front of them.

The pacesetting leader is one who says, do as I do now. This is also known as leading by example and often what people consider leadership to be. However, if your team are only ever doing as you do, there is no room for innovation or growth.
The authoritative leader demands come with me. This style is great for when a new vision or direction is needed. Often when an organization needs immediate change this is a great style to get your team motivated and moving in one direction.

The affiliative leader tells us that people come first. This style is often needed if there are tough times in the company and team members are hurting. It is nurturing, but too much nurturing leadership can weaken performance if team members come to rely on the leader too much.

The coaching leader encourage us to try things. This is a successful style when trying to establish a chain of leadership and responsibility in an organization. This kind of leader identifies his team members’ personal strengths and helps develop them, but it won’t work with a team that doesn’t want to learn or develop.

The coercive leader demands do what I tell you. This style of leadership is widely considered to only be a good choice in emergencies when decisions need to be made and executed swiftly. In long term use it will alienate team members.

The democratic leader asks what do you think? This is a great style for generating new ideas, team building or leadership building. It may not always be productive in everyday use as it slows things down.