We Need Leaders Who Are Realistically Unrealistic

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 2 min.

To get things done well, we need to be realistic. We need to understand and rely on concrete things such as priorities, constraints, people’s talents and motivators, and how everything fits together. We need to build the team’s capacity and repeatedly deliver on spec, on budget, and on time.

To choose what things we are going to get done, we need to be unrealistic. We have to detach from reality (the way things are now) so that we can see and tell a story about how things are going to be. And we have to inspire ourselves and others by believing so much in this vision that everyone can feel the excitement of it–as if it were already done.

It’s a bit of a balancing act, for sure. And it’s a necessary one.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: It can be hard to be both realistic and unrealistic. We each prefer being one or the other. Companies sometimes handle this by matching unrealistic leaders with realistic ones: an unrealistic CEO with a realistic COO, an unrealistic marketing VP with a realistic sales VP, etc. When this is impractical, we must balance both ourselves.

 

Today’s photo credit: Mike Licht cc

Seeing the Good

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 1 min.

Listen to conversations on the street, through the media, at work, and even at home. Much of what we hear is complaint. And too much complaint is bad for our health. Just being around it, our buzz drops and we become less vibrant, healthy, and effective.

We need a little complaint (from ourselves and others) so we can know what focus on next. But we’d do very well to limit exposure and spend more time plugged in, seeing the good, and offering people an antidote to all the complaint.

That’s what we need from you most, good leader.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Nicolas Raymond cc

How to Be Well Rewarded

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1 min.

Most people don’t know what they want. And if they do, they probably don’t know how to get it. That’s how we can help them. We, the noble leaders, sellers, and influencers are committed to win-win. We know the process. And we are good at running the process: connecting, listening, & exploring, suggesting & negotiating alternatives, and finalizing & following up.

That’s why we get rewarded very well, tangibly and intangibly.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Cat Burton cc

A Fantastic Way to Lead

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 1 min.

The sages tell us that we each create our own reality. This is challenging. For, to believe it, we would have to come to grips with things like blame and guilt, science and causation, innocence and victimhood, and the possibility of having a usually hidden though wiser part of ourselves.

But here’s the thing: even if the sages are wrong, operating as if we do create our own reality is a wonderfully productive way to live life.

Taking responsibility (not blame) for everything is quite powerful. Instead of spending time and energy reacting to and fighting  what we don’t want to deal with, we get to choose how we will respond in every situation and with every person. And it’s a fantastic way to lead.

Lead on, good leader.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: latisha (herbmother) cc

Are You the Visionary or the Builder?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 2 min.

In his book, The Hard Thing About the Hard Things, Ben Horowitz reminds us that there are two types of leaders. He calls them, appropriately, Ones and Twos. We might call them the Visionary and the Builder. Neither is better. All organizations need both types.

The Visionary focuses on the big picture, the strategy, and the key decisions. They bring broad awareness, connections amongst disparate facts, factors, and sectors, curiosity, drive, and clarity of direction. Their blind spots include micromanaging, fire fighting, and BSO (Bright Shiny Object) Syndrome. Companies with too much Visionary leadership end up unable to get traction, repeating mistakes, and struggling to make profits consistently.

The Builder focuses on people, systems, capacity, and sustainability. They bring concerted action, structure, rhythm, awareness of what’s broken or incomplete, delegation, and accountability. Their blind spots include analysis paralysis, incremental (versus wholesale) improvements,  and inflexibility. Companies with too much Builder leadership end up behind the times, outmaneuvered, and stale.

We are predominately either the Visionary or the Builder. Unless we balance our type with the qualities of the other type, we will hobble our organizations. We can strike that balance by developing ourselves and/or by hiring leaders of the other type.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Read Ben’s original blog post about Ones and Twos.

 

Today’s photo credit: Jamie McCaffrey cc

Leadership is Hard. Let’s Go!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 1 min.

If you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic,  don’t become a CEO.

-Ben Horowitz

No, we leaders (not just CEO but at all levels, with or without a title) are not gluttons for punishment. We just know that leadership done well is not what many think or hope it is.

Perhaps the dollars, glory, prestige, or the chance to be in charge originally drew us to leadership. Or we may have been tapped to lead because we are smart, liked, experienced, or connected.

But good leadership is much bigger and requires more from us.

It really has little to do with the money or prestige. It is about building something bigger than ourselves and building ourselves to be up to that challenge. And we are not chosen to be leaders, really. Despite the challenge, we put up our hands. To be a good leader, we had to choose to answer the call.

Let’s go.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Stefanos Nikologianis cc

How to Help When Team Members Struggle

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1 min.

We all struggle from time to time for all sorts of reasons. Though most leaders aren’t trained as therapists, we are all very well trained as humans. Privately, matter-of-factly remarking to a team member that they seem to be struggling then listening without trying to fix or solve is a very good start.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Brian Smithson cc

Leadership, Sales, Collaboration and Picking a Place for Dinner

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 1 min.

Leading, selling, collaborating, and choosing a place to go to dinner with your partner tonight are essentially the same. They all require understanding what the other person ultimately wants, having them understand what we want, and creatively finding a way to satisfy both sides.

When we take this particularly helpful perspective, we can easily master all four activities.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: IMG_0011-1-3 via photopin (license)

Leadership Is Not What We Think It Is

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 2 min.

Leadership is not what we usually think it is:

Leadership is not being the decider-in-chief. But the leader sometimes needs to make decisions for the group.

Leadership is not commanding and controlling. But the leader usually needs to hold people accountable and sometimes needs to tell people what to do, how to do it, and when.

Leadership is not taking on the burden of everyone’s work. But the leader assists the people and the team as they learn to deliver desired results.

Leadership is not valued for the work the leader does but for the results of others. But the leader sometimes needs to do work only she can do.

Leadership is not about setting the course. But the leader must ensure compelling goals are in place, relevant, understood, and guiding actions.

Leadership does not follow scripts; no two leadership situations are the same. But the leader will apply tested tools and models and keep learning.

Leadership is not about being popular or liked. But the leader will develop strong, enduring relationships via mutual respect and trust (and will end up well liked, usually).

Leadership is not about knowing the answers. But the leader will listen well and rely the group to know or find out the answers.

Leadership is not about building a fiefdom. But the leader will actively attract, hire, and retain the good people she wants to work with.

Leadership is the act of building and maintaining an environment where others get the right things done well together. Surely, good leader, you can excel here.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: U.S. Embassy London cc