“This is why, I think, so many companies fail. Not because of challenges in the marketplace, but because of challenges on the inside.”
– Howard Schultz, Onward
There are many times that I have heard leaders point to things outside of their organizations as obstacles to growth and/or reasons for why efforts for success are failing.
The truth is, if it is solid and healthy on the inside, your organization can weather most storms that come from the outside. Easy? No. Survivable? Yes.
Flip that scenario around, and it’s a different story. If your organization is not healthy on the inside, it is doomed to be an obstacle to its own success. I’m sure you know of at least one example that proves this point.
As a leader, what are you doing to make your organization stronger?…
If you’ve been following the PLG Blog, you probably understand to some extent that Leadership is Influencing People. There are different levels of influence that you can have on others, and they have the ability to influence you as well. Influence, or leadership, happens best through relationships. If you look at the life of Jesus and the people he influenced most, you will see that they were his closest apostles. He was a leader to multitudes of people, but it is those few He invested in who went on to change the world, building His church. Jesus influenced the sick and broken through healing and teaching.
As I was listening to the news earlier today, I heard that Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates at a juvenile detention center in Italy where Holy Thursday Mass was held (read about it here). This act of servanthood is likely to be the catalyst for change in at least one of those twelve inmates, and it is likely to influence many people who hear the story. When I heard the story on the news, they made a point to mention that many of the inmates in that prison are Muslims. Can you see what a difference that serving can have on influence compared to debating and arguing?…
Much is written about the need to “persevere” in just about any kind of pursuit, but I believe this is especially true when it comes to leadership.
When you are in a place of influence of others and obstacles continue to block your path for a long period of time, people begin to wonder if anything is going to happen, if someone’s going to break the stalemate, if the obstacles will ever be overcome. That’s what leaders are known to do. They make things happen when it appears that it’s not going to be so.
Last evening, 3-12-13, the Pittsburgh Penguins played 53 minutes of scoreless hockey and were being written off by the national sports casters as not having their game in gear that night as they were about to be shut-out by the Boston Bruins. With less than seven minutes left, winger Chris Kunitz made a goal which cut the lead to 2-1. Remember, the Penguins had not scored in the first 53 minutes and were still 1 goal behind. All Boston had to do was continue to keep the puck in the Penguins end of the ice for the remaining 6+ minutes and the game would be over….
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that people approach the responsibility of leadership in many different ways. It’s not unlike the way some of us head into the crashing waves of the ocean.
I know that for me, if the water’s warm enough, I head right into the waters and as soon as I know I’m deep enough into the breakers I go head first and just get soaked. My wife Carol, on the other hand, prefers to simply let the water touch her toes, and after a while her ankles, and then eventually her knees and then perhaps 20 minutes later she may go fully under! (From where I see things, hers is the most painful way to experience it and yet, she hasn’t changed in the four decades that I’ve known her!)
I have found people embrace leadership in the same way. There are some that look carefully at the circumstances and then with little prodding make a dramatic leap head first into the opportunity or challenge that’s before them. They don’t care about the initial shock of pain or perceived responsibility, they just want to get on with it and get the job done….
When you look at the math for calculating a vector, you either understand it or it looks like a secret code that’s impossible to decipher. What you may not recognize is that the vector is a great way to describe what leadership is. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines a vector as this:
Vector: a quantity having direction as well as magnitude.
New Oxford American Dictionary 3rd edition © 2010 by Oxford University Press, Inc.
When I was learning about vectors in middle and high school, it boiled down to direction and velocity. Without direction and velocity, a vector is nothing more than a point. This same idea applies to leaders. Without movement and direction, a leader is nothing more than a person standing still.
Leadership Requires Vision
Every person has their own unique blend of natural talents and learned skills. Some people are very organized people and thrive in structured environments where they can lead within an established structure. This is often referred to as management, but there are some necessary leadership qualities for a person to go beyond accomplishing tasks. Others may be more skilled in coming up with new ideas and methods for improving upon whatever it is that they are involved in. These people are often mislabeled as visionary leaders. Just because someone is great at coming up with new ideas does not mean that they can cast vision and influence people towards that vision….