It has been a while since I’ve reviewed a book in these pages and, as it so happens, I just finished a great book that also applies to this month’s leadership message. Because there are so many leadership fads out there, it is refreshing to read a book that uses what we know through science to support ways to improve our leadership performance. Marc Effron’s book, “8 Steps to High Performance, Focus on What You Can Change (Ignore the Rest)” is one you should give a read! My favorite chapter deals with Step 5, Maximize Your Fit, in the 8 Step Process the author outlines. Maximizing Fit is a crucial element to staying adaptable and relevant as the world around us changes, as the author explains, faster than people change. Therefore, people need to be aware of the continuous changes going on around them and adapt accordingly. This is true whether you are a student still in school or a leader in any type of business, for-profit or non-profit! Enjoy the Book!
…but I can't comprehend it for you.” As we continue to explore the value of soft skills critical to being effective 21st Century Leaders, our discussion turns to one of the most sought after, yet least available soft skills: Critical Thinking. While many definitions exist for critical thinking, they all rally around the concept of objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment. In this world of short attention spans and social media driven opinions and assumptions, a leader’s ability to objectively analyze and evaluate the myriad of situations and decisions they face daily makes the title quote by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch all the more relevant! When we dig deeper into the construct of critical thinking, we find several key attitudes and skills necessary for 21st Century Leaders to make the right decisions for the sustainable success of their organizations. From my own experience in a variety of industries and organizations, the three questions to ask to ensure as much objectivity as possible are:
Effective leadership counts on the leader’s ability to repeatedly make the best decisions for the organizations they lead. The ability to think critically is the foundation for those decisions being effective or not. There are plenty of people in business willing to tell you what to do in any given situation. What they can't tell you is how to do it well because your situation is unique to the variables surrounding it. Therefore, followers count on their leader to be well-read, logical and discerning with the decisions that support the organization’s sustainable success! How are you objectively addressing your next key business decision? Lead Well!
…You can only Create a Game Worth Playing” Motivation seems to be a recurring topic in many of the coaching conversations I have so it seems fitting to discuss in some detail as it is clearly still misunderstood by so many leaders and followers. And given the timing of March Madness and the upcoming Opening Day for baseball, it seemed only appropriate to use the quote from Michael Gerber to open the discussion of how leaders can create a “Game Worth Playing”! One of the biggest misconceptions around motivation is that it can be externally applied. What is externally applied are the conditions in which a person is motivated to apply the three elements of motivation: Direction, Intensity and Persistence. As these three elements are applied to one’s behavior, that person’s motivation can be inferred by how much they apply to each of the three. From my own experience, creating a game worth playing involves three key leadership concepts aligned to create the environment, as Michael Gerber continues to say, “Which will then give some the reason and the will to try.” These three leadership concepts are:
Organizational motivation comes from the energy given to direction, intensity and persistence of the collective behavior of that organization. A reality many leaders forget is they cannot want success any more than the team they lead wants that success or expect results greater than the team is willing to achieve! How are you creating a game worth playing for your team? Lead Well!
…is still a Secret!”
At the end of last month’s edition, I mentioned how we would explore the widening gap in our soft skills relative to what 21st Century Business requires. However, when I began to write my thoughts on the topic, I realized I had skipped a step in the process of enhancing and improving our soft skills. Being effective in any skill requires practice until the skill becomes a habit. It occurred to me I would be remiss by not addressing the biggest obstacle to changing habits first before continuing our thought process on soft skills. In this edition, we will discuss the obstacle most anyone looking to change to more productive habits encounters ~ self-discipline!
As the title suggests, there is no secret to success without hard work. Because this journey involves work that does not come easy, it is fair to say our desire to achieve a new habit will be challenging. The discipline applied to developing any new habit must be strong enough to overcome any mental and physical obstacles old habits hold against achieving success. By way of illustration, I will use my own personal experience of teaching myself to write left-handed six years ago. It is a simple example and yet it highlights the three key elements of self-discipline necessary to create new habits of thought and behavior.
Jim Rohn once said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Effective leaders constantly assess their current habits of thought and behavior against what is necessary to achieve sustainable success. New goals are created with a healthy dose of discipline to achieve them amid all the distractions and diversions. Many of these goals will center on developing their soft skills that will ultimately determine their ability to stay 21st Century relevant!
How are you disciplined to do the hard work for your sustainable success?