By Guest Blogger Kerry Elam
Who do you think of as pivotal leaders from the past? Who presently stands out? What qualities do these leaders have? Who has been most influential to you as a leader in your career?
By asking these questions, you will determine what resonates with you in regards to leadership.
The other day, my seven year old daughter asked me who my favorite famous person was, I quickly answered Helen Keller. She never gave up and was an inspiration to all, given she was not able to see or hear, she still made a mark on this world. I was curious why she was asking, so I asked her, she responded with Eleanor Roosevelt because she spoke about what she believed and helped her husband.
Others that come to mind very quickly are Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Thomas Jefferson. These leaders followed their hearts, not worried about what others might think with their focus on others rights and feelings as important.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ~Martin Luther King
To lead, you must allow yourself to make decisions based on how you feel and how those decisions impact your employees. Being profitable is important –yet focusing on your employees well-being is most important.
One of the key principles is personal accountability. In the book, Leadership and Self Deception it defines being in the box as, “having self-deception – the inability to see that one has a problem and that everyone else is the problem.” By taking accountability for each situation versus blaming others, you promote everyone to work towards the collective good of the team.
As an example, Mary and Theresa had a very challenging time ramping up their team. All projects were delayed and for 2 months they were juggling resources. Mary and Theresa stayed in constant contact to ensure the other was doing okay, blaming did not feel good, so they had to practice daily to own up to their part in all the trials and tribulations.
Some other key principles are:
- Treat others as people. Taking time to remember we are all ‘people not objects’ doing the best we can. If someone snaps at you, think about being in their shoes, perhaps they had a bad morning.
- Be self-aware. In the book, The Psychology of Winning, self-awareness is the first trait mentioned. It states, “Winners are more aware. Winners are honest. Positive self-awareness is self-honesty. You are a winner when what you think, what you feel, and what you do are nearly consistent.” Mary recently had a disagreement with the father of her children, about schooling for them. Initially, Mary did not listen to what Bob had to say. After the argument, Mary became aware that she didn’t listen to his side, she went directly into I am right, you are wrong scenario. Mary resolved the situation by listening and understanding his viewpoints.
- Take time to understand by listening to others. Try this listening exercise to improve your skills: Pair up and take turns talking for five minutes. The person listening has to stay engaged without speaking. Then switch roles. It’s a great way to discover the importance of really listening.
- Have compassion for what the other person may be going through on a personal level or even dealing with stressful work deadlines.
In summary, working towards a common goal together as a team is the key to success. Remember every minute you spend blaming someone; you lose 60 seconds of productive work towards reaching your goals. To lead others, they are more likely to follow you, if you use compassion, generosity of heart and open communication.
Leadership and Self-Deception, Getting Out of the Box – The Arbinger Institute
The Power of Full Engagement – Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
Search Inside Yourself – Chade-Meng Tan (from Google)
The Psychology of Winning – Dr. Denis Waitley
About Kerry Elam:
Kerry is the founder and visionary of Zendoway, a holistic wellness firm. After years of personal exploration, Kerry has discovered that focusing on overall wellness replenishes energy, creates healthier relationships and provides excellent insight into life. Her Leadership Training program has successfully influenced a teamwork environment at a variety of companies. To learn more email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.zendoway.com