5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of August 14, 2017

We’re halfway through August – and one week closer to a major announcement that we are so excited to share with you. Here’s another small taste… More soon.

In the meantime, know that we’ve been thrilled to see the results companies are achieving as they implement Winning Well. We’ve also been listening to your requests for program enhancements, new ways to make Winning Well available, and can’t wait to share these with you. If we can help your company or you have an idea you’d like to share, hit reply or click here and let me know.

Each week I read a number of leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.

Agility is Today’s Most Critical Leadership Competency by Julie Winkle Giulioni

A friend who coaches a girls soccer team recently shared, that after a tough loss, one of her 13-year-old players said, “Well, you know coach, you either win or you learn.” Yeah! We really are coming to appreciate the value of failure and experiments that don’t go exactly as expected.

But it’s not just mistakes that have value; there’s tremendous instructive power in successes as well. In fact, what distinguishes today’s most effective leaders is that they learn from everything and everyone they encounter. They demonstrate learning agility.

My Comment: This is an important read for every leader. Your ability to learn (and your organization’s ability to learn) are critical to your success. The good news, as Giulioni points out, is that you can learn how to learn.

One of my favorite learning opportunities is to consistently ask: “What went well that we weren’t expecting?” This will help you find what she calls the “tremendous instructive power in successes.” Another tool we often share with leaders is Own the U.G.L.Y. The “Y” stands for: Where are we missing the Yes? There are often untapped successes hiding in plain sight, when you take a moment to look for them, and learn from them.

Who is Leading Who? By Steve Keating

One of the main responsibilities of a leader is to fire their people! Not actually fire them but fire them up.

Fire them up as in motivate them, challenge them, coach them, help them grow and help them succeed, again and again. If you’re in a leadership position and you’re not doing those things on a daily basis then you are simply not leading.

If you’re in a leadership position and you’re not actually leading then you’re hurting the people you’re supposed to be helping. You’re also not helping the organization that has placed you into that leadership position and provided you with the opportunity to lead.

My Comment: Keating covers a lot of ground in this article – your role, what to do if your leaders are unhealthy, and the need to take personal responsibility for your leadership. I want to address the idea that your job is to fire up your people. Yes, challenging, coaching, helping them grow, and succeed – these all come with your role.

However, don’t make the mistake I made early in my leadership career: that you have to “fire up” your people like a charismatic football coach before a big game. This may not fit your personality, it may not fit the nature of your work, and it may not be effective with your people. Moreover, you cannot motivate anyone else. Your job is to cultivate the environment that allows them to release their strengths, talents, and motivations toward the work. That’s when you challenge, coach, help them grow, and encourage. Remember: don’t motivate, cultivate.

3 Mental Barriers to Learning by Marlene Chism

Whether you are an executive, a tradesman or a highly accomplished professional, the biggest barrier to learning is not your lack of time or resources. Your biggest barrier to learning is your own ego. We live in a sea of opportunity for learning through other people, yet we fail to see the opportunity due to three mental barriers:

The belief that you already know

The assumption that you are the smartest

The need to be right…

My Comment: What a great follow-up to Giulioni’s learning agility article that started our Top 5 leadership articles this week! Chism gets right to the point and ouch, is she ever right! Where Giulioni shared ways to improve your learning, Chism addresses the biggest barriers. This is a great article with specific ways to move past the ego-driven beliefs, assumptions, and needs that keep us from learning more. It takes healthy humility to learn, to Channel Challengers, and, as Chism says, to lighten your load and increase your speed.

Why People Leave Their Manager and What You Can Do About It by John Eades

At the end of the meeting, my soon to be ex-colleague sat across the table from me and said something I will never forget “I didn’t know what my job was, why I was doing it and how I was doing.” It was those words that summarized almost exactly why the cliche “People leave managers, not companies” is true. Reality had set in, she was leaving me, not the business.

As hard as that was to deal with, the only way I knew how to handle it was to never let it happen again and start doing things differently from a leadership perspective. Fast forward 5 years and its become my purpose to not only improve my own leadership skills, but help others as well.

My Comment: What a succinct and memorable lesson for all of us. Eades builds on this experience with three things that every employee needs from their manager. These aren’t hard concepts, but they do require you to be intentional and ensure that you’re consistently Putting People Before Projects, Minding the M.I.T. (Most Important Thing), and Ditching the Diaper Drama so people know what is actually happening (both good and bad). What an excellent reminder of the need to, as we say in Winning Well, focus on both Results and Relationships in everything you do.

Is Your Team Built to Last? by Jon Wortmann

Let’s imagine that you are in a unique position. Your team has the talent it needs. Your organization has a strategy that continues to work with a plan that will adapt to your competitor’s actions. You have enough cash to handle the changes in your markets. Your team is ready to work hard and the energy in your offices has never been better. There’s only one question left to answer: is your team built to last?

The problem with our global economy, political uncertainty, and reactive media is that too many of us are living at our edges. We work hard. Our kids’ schedules make us look like our schedules are calm. We play a lot. We travel constantly. We are on our phones frenetically. This means that our brains are always paying attention to something—until they can’t.

My Comment: I really appreciate Wortmann’s message here: if you want your team to last, you’ve got to build in the systems and schedules that allow people to do their best work over time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. This means understanding how the brain works and giving it the ability to gear down at times. Along with Wortmann’s suggestions for team resiliency, I would add: clearly defining the M.I.T. (most important thing) and modeling brain-healthy performance will help your team sustain its performance for the long run.

We’re booking corporate leadership development and association events for 2017 fall and 2018 spring. Email or call to bring Winning Well to your leaders. Invite David to help your leaders transform their results without losing their soul (or mind).


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