Raising the level of your leadership


As you start 2011, I’m sure you have a lot of goals for your organization. There are opportunities to seize and problems to fix; good things you want to make great and mediocre things you want to make good (or get rid of). But a big question for you is: do your associates have the same goals? Are they really plugged in—engaged—ready to give their all to make it happen? Or are they sitting on the sidelines watching, and waiting for you to tell them what to do?

Getting your employees to plug in to organizational aspirations is essential if you want to actually achieve your goals. Engaged employees perform at a much higher level. (There are mounds of supporting data, plus in your heart you know it’s true because you know how your own performance excels when you are plugged in.)

How to get your associates actively and positively engaged is a multi-faceted subject—too broad for a one page blog posting. But start with this:

  • Engagement is not drawing employees into your world; it only happens when you enter their world.
  • It is not them engaging with you; it is you engaging with them.

“People today demand personal relationships with their leaders
before they will give themselves fully to their jobs.”
Bill George
True North

Your employees will engage with you when you engage with them—not before. Why don’t you get started today?

Listen To The Day Crickets

The Blue Ridge mountains are at the beginning of their annual glory. God has his pallet and brushes out and is splashing red, yellow and gold all over the mountain sides. I am just returned from a week of watching this annual transformation (hoping that he would transform me as well).

But one morning, sitting on the deck reading with one eye and looking at the trees with the other, I was rudely interrupted and irritated by a day cricket. When it should have been hidden under a leaf somewhere sleeping and waiting for nightfall, it was chirping away repeatedly — chhiiirrrrppppp…chhiiirrrrppppp…chhiiirrrrppppp. One stupid cricket that should have been asleep like all the other crickets was ruining my solitude because it seemed to be chirping just at me. If I could have found it, I would have stomped on it and put me out of my misery.

Most leaders have to deal with day crickets. Too often, we deal with them by stomping on them. We would be better off if we listened to them. It is true that day crickets are often chirping about things that aren’t relevant or sound more like science fiction than reality. But day crickets are often the source of breakthrough ideas that change the future. If Hewlett-Packard had listened to day crickets (the two Steve’s), HP would be Apple instead of Apple being Apple. There are about ten thousand examples of day crickets being stomped on in one organization, but changing the future in another organization because someone would listen to them.

There is another type of day cricket that is stomped on even more. It is the day cricket that tells us the truth about ourselves. How irritating when a day cricket dares to suggest that we are arrogant, or controlling, or lazy, or full of anger and rage, or are acting like a bully, or __________ (you fill in the blank). In True North, Bill George says leaders lose touch with reality when “they reject the honest critic who holds a mirror to their face and speaks the truth. Instead, they surround themselves with supporters telling them what they want to hear.”

Next time you are irritated by a day cricket, take a deep breath, steel yourself, pray for patience, then listen. You’ll be a better leader for it.

  • On Leading Well…

    "The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."

    Kouzes & Posner


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