A Call to Action

bullhornspeaker-firefightersdaughter-CalltoActio

I recently listened to a short piece on my local public radio station from the TED Hour (http://www.npr.org/2015/02/06/379184277/what-s-the-antidote-to-political-apathy). The speaker talked about getting people to the polls and ways to overcome apathetic voters. As I listened, a light bulb appeared over my head about a way to improve training. If trainers expect students to change behaviors based on their training, they need to issue a call to action to participants. A call to action ensures students leave knowing how to change their behavior, possess excitement to change, and where to find help when they run into road blocks.

In this TED talk, the speaker noted in an unscientific study he conducted that in local publications, the editors would include information about how to contact a local charity, the hours of a new eatery, or the phone number to the box office of a show they reviewed. The reader knows how to learn more. When the local periodicals ran political pieces they often present information in a fair and balance way. They explained the issues about the topic. They did not include information about websites, phone numbers for involved organizations, or other information to make the reader take action on that subject.

Often trainers and leaders behave the same way. They call for changes. They show people one way to do something that works in the classroom. They may even provide some sort of high energy event that fires up the students and employees so they feel motivated. When they return to their cubical, they stumble on road blocks and because the trainer or leader provided no information about where seek help, the change they and their proteges hope for starves on the vine.

The fix is easy. After providing students their call to action, provide resources to use for follow up. When students return to their offices and run into a roadblock, they know where to find more information to help overcome the road block and successfully implement the desired change.

Provision of follow up resources requires more than a short bibliography at the end of your note-taking guide or a sheet tucked into the back of a participant folder. The trainer should call attention to the resources. He should provide screen shoots of the websites. He should point out email addresses and phone numbers of people who are willing to help. He should also provide a short sales pitch for each of the follow up resources provLearningSailing-John-ModsOK-croppedided so the student understands help really is there.

Many trainers already provide such information and calls to action for their students. Adapt a page from Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone by sending out a group email reminding students to look up a website, read an attached file, or how to find a book.  They are more likely to click on a link and incorporate what you taught them after leaving your class.

At they end of your next training, issue a call to action for change. Motivate students to implement what they have learned. Sell them on the resources available to help them over hurdles. When you issue a call to action, change will happen.

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Photo credits:  Both photos downloaded from flickr.com under a Creative Commons license and modified to fit the space here.

Speaker photo by firefightersdaughter.  Sail boat photo by John, yes, just John.

Respect & Forgiving Misteaks

Leaders in learning organizations demonstrate two critical qualities: respect and forgiveness. Most people learning new skills make mistakes. People stop creating in organizations lacking tolerance for honest mistakes. Respect instills confidence for people to try new things. They their first attempts result in failure, yet respect acts as a safety net encouraging more attempts. As workers gain courage and skill, eventually succeed. Respect allows forgiveness; forgiveness spins the safety net of success.

spilled.milk-elycefellzForgiveness is often seen as a weak, outward display directed at those who offend us. Unlike respect, viewed as strong, outward behaviors directed towards others, forgiveness is a strong, inward action directed towards ourselves. Holding grudges does little to change someone’s behavior. Instead, grudges harm the holder, preventing him from developing better relationships.

Years ago two people worked together in difficult circumstances. The leader treated him well and thought he earned the other’s respect. One day the leader became aware his previous employee blamed him for many things that occurred on the job. The employee held that hatred for years. The employee’s hatred of the leaders offenses did nothing to harm the leader who was unaware of his offenses. The hate attacked the employee everyday, preventing him from achieving greater successes in life. The leader moved on in life, building new and better relationships and increasing his successes. The leader was was hurt after learning of the grudge because he believed he did the best I could do at that time with his skills, knowledge, and abilities. He reached out seeking forgiveness from his former employee bur received no response. I suspect the employee still blames his former boss for many of the bad things that occurred during the time they worked together. The boss offended and was offended by others during that time. He carried grudges against some people for a while. He forgave some people and some people forgave him. One day the boss met one of those who offended him and realized they were clueless he was angry with them. He noticed the person moved on and felt no pain from his lack of forgiveness. In a period of reflection the leader realized forgiveness was not about the other person, but rather about him. Once he learned to forgive, life improved.

No matter how hard we try, offending others is inevitable. Often we do not realize our faux-pas and therefore see no reason to say, “I’m sorry.” For those who do not understand forgiveness carry their hate while the offender remains blissfully ignorant of their mistake. Forgiveness is a vital part of respect because acting respectfully to those we hate is hard. Forgiving requires releasing hatred.

Without respect, others lose confidence, fail to grown, or learn new skills. It is equally difficult to hold a grudge against someone we respect. Leadership is about influence. There are plenty of examples of leaders applying influence motivated by hate. History views those leaders as failures. People who learn to lead from a positive influence motivated by respect gain more power permitting even greater influence and success.

Many of the problems facing our nation and the world revolve around forgiveness and respect. Examples of extreme grudges include mass police murders in Baton Rouge, people protesting police violence coming under fire in Dallas as officers protect the crowd, terrorism in France, a military coup-d’etat in Turkey, Islamic extremism in the Middle East, Muslim against Muslim, Christian verses Christian, Jew fighting Jew, and each against the other because of hate and disrespect.

Violence is not an answer for past slights, insults, past violence, or perceived disrespects. Jim Collins talks about the fly-wheel effect in his book Good to Great. Acts of violence begin a downward spin of of the violence fly-wheel; every additional act increasing the fly-wheel’s momentum. Forgiveness acts as a break on the violence fly-wheel.

Treating followers respectfully creates a positive position for the leader to gain increased influence. Good leaders recognizes everyone makes mistakes. Instead of being offended by a follower’s error, a good leader forgives, respectfully corrects, and allows the person to try again. This cycle allows growth and improves the organization. Grudges hold back offended parties. Offended parties may seek to retaliate through acts of violence. Recognizing most people do not intend to offend us with their actions allow us to forgive. Forgiveness stops grudges and restores peace. Respect is the greatest gift we offer others; forgiveness is the greatest give we give ourselves.


Photo from elycefellz on flickr.com  Creative Commons License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Everyone Needs a Mentor

“Every Soldier needs a Sergeant.” is an old Army adage based on the traditional role of Noncommissioned Officer taking care of their men. More senior sergeants use the phrase to encourage new platoon sergeants to look out for their young lieutenants with the understanding that the lieutenant is in charge, but the sergeants know what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and the correct way to do it. Smart lieutenants understand the wisdom of their sergeant’s advise and follow his lead.

TelemachusMentor

Career progression outside the military is less clear. What works in one company or organization does not work in the next. Even if you are the boss, like that young lieutenant, you need a trusted, wise guide to show you the path to success no matter how you define success. Like the old Army saying above, everyone needs a mentor.

It can be difficult to find a good mentor. Mentors are trusted guides. Typically mentoring relationship occur voluntarily between a person with less experience and another who has accomplished similar goals as the protege. The relationship is characterized by mutual trust and respect. Frequently these relationship occur outside supervisory channels.

Good mentors are interested in the success of others. They help their protege gain confidence and encourage growth. Mentors serve as role models. Mentors help their protege develop achievable goals, identify steps required to accomplish those goals, and as a result increase the likelihood of success.

Next time you take on a new task, think about finding a mentor to guide you along the way. You may find their experience leads you down paths you never would have found and methods to overcome obstacles. Every journey is an adventure, but with a mentor to guide you along the way, you improve your chances of reaching the end of the road and achieving the success you envisioned at the beginning of the trip.

Overcoming Hurdles to Change

I recently listed to a short piece on my local public radio station from the TED Hour (http://www.npr.org/2015/02/06/379184277/what-s-the-antidote-to-political-apathy). The speaker talked about getting people to the polls and ways to overcome apathetic voters. As I listened, a light bulb appeared over my head about a way to improve training. If you want to changed behaviors based on what you train, you need to issue a call to action to the participants. When students leave, they need to know what to do, the excitement to change, and ways to find help when they run into road blocks.

hurdle.melinda.huntlyIn this TED talk, the speaker noted in an unscientific study he conducted that in local publications, the editors would include information about how to contact a local charity, the hours of a new eatery, or the the phone number to the box office of a show they reviewed. The reader know how they could learn more.

When the local periodicals ran political pieces they often present information in a fair and balance way. They explained the issues about the topic. They did not include information about websites, phone numbers for involved organizations, or other information to make the reader take action on that subject.

Often trainers and leaders behave the same way. They call for changes. They show people one way to do something that works in the classroom. They may even provide some sort of high energy event that fires up the students and employees so they feel motivated. When they return to their cubical, they hit road blocks and because the trainer or leader provided no information about where seek help, the change they and their proteges hope for starves on the vine.

The fix is easy. After providing students their call to action, provide resources to use for follow up. When students return to their offices and run into a roadblock, they know where to find more information to help overcome the road block and successfully implement the desired change.

Provision of follow up resources requires more than a short bibliography at the end of your note-taking guide or a sheet tucked into the back of a participant folder. The trainer should call attention to the resources. He should provide screen shoots of the websites. He should point out email addresses and phone numbers of people who are willing to help. He should also provide a short sales pitch for each of the follow up resources provided so the student understands help really is there.

At they end of your next training, issue a call to action for change. Motivate students to implement what they have learned. Sell them on the resources available to help them over hurdles after the training ends. When you do, change will happen.

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Photo credit: Melinda Huntley, flikr.com  https://www.flickr.com/photos/piratepix2/4540203839/in/photolist-7VcJqx-GY8o3-8hDo4J-z3Akfw-7Laq5N-7VfYnb-84VQLx-eonsYx-bER96W-rkfoWv-9HcTG2-fEQaXu-4gXG8H-aoi8Ah-fdTQxU-82taWc-dgMHan-bmHArb-bzCtcn-6SH1c9-dAxF2t-9MMqtH-dAxEk4-bTKTPZ-rhcUEV-m5EDBX-xmhWs9-84VWcY-8hDfW9-H9y4B-8hDpi3-dAxExk-8hA7mV-8dTP4e-dAxEqM-r3PBRy-r3NJrC-rkfqt8-rkfpsF-8hA6ZV-82LnjE-my6DVw-eefeA1-6EPXjR-2AwKvD-rtAXvb-7Aw3ZS-ie4JrZ-7Aw4sU-pyEHWJ

Positive Peers

OldWatch.C.Guthier   In the last year I have had the honor of attending several retirement ceremonies for people I consider to be friends and great leaders. As I listened to my friends’ remarks during their retirement speeches, I realized how important peer leaders are to those who strive for continuous improvement and change. With the proper spirit of competition, support and cooperation, quality peers encourage you to become better than you are. It is easy to point to a current or former boss who provided a few words of wisdom, spent some time mentoring you or introducing you to some powerful people as sources of inspiration. Often we overlook the inspiration provided by those we work with and against every day. John Maxwell has long endorsed the 360 degree leader. Many have written about competition improving results. In many ways peer leaders may be more important in our personal growth as leaders than our bosses.

One common area peers are recognized as improving other organizational leaders is through competition. The peer may be your equal in another organization in the same industry courting the same customers, or within your organization leading a similar group. Their accomplishments provide inspiration to improve your own performance. Keeping up with or staying ahead of the competition, especially a friendly competition, encourages people to evaluate what the competition does well, which practices we can adapt and adopt, and identify improvements for performance ahead of them. Such continuous improvements start the momentum Gary Collins talks about in his book, Good to Great.Peers

Another area peers help fellow leaders improve is by providing support. Support may come in a variety of ways and reasons. You may find a former competitor now works for your organization and understands the importance of your success because it translates into success for everyone. Your peer may have moved on to another organization working in a completely different field; however provides support because of your past relationship. Other members of your network maybe able to point you to an expert or service that meets your needs. Sometime their support results in a mutual benefit, many times there is no directly benefit.

Your peers may find they need your cooperation to accomplish their mission or you need theirs. Cooperation requires trust and confidence in the skills of the other. Completing a project together improves relationships and greases the wheels for future ventures. When two or more people or groups of people work to develop something new, and all the players do their part, the completed product often exceeds the quality for the same product produced by an individual. You have a good idea to make something work. Your peer adds to the idea and makes it better. Through cooperation both win and the organization completes its mission.

Developing a network of peer leaders helps you improve in many ways. Associating with other successful leaders improves your attitude, expands your sphere of influence, increases available resources and inspires you to accomplish more than you could on your own. Developing positive relationships with others allows each to provide support and cooperation today, yet compete against each other tomorrow. Developing positive relationships with peer leaders is its own reward. Acrimonious relationships make for a lonely retirement. Positive relationships fill your life with good friends and good times. The next time the guy running the shop across the hall knocks on the door looking for help, or stops to brag about his latest accomplishment, take the opportunity to improve yourself and become a better leader.

Thanks to those of you who have helped make me a better leader and a better person.


 

Photo Credits:

Watch photo:  Christian Guthier from flickr.com Creative Commons License

Soccer photo: author

Suggested Reading:

The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell,

Good to Great by John Collins

Oh No! Mandatory Training!

Mandatory refresher training…the bane of every instructor. Frequently the trainer is provided a lesson plan and a slide deck, a period of time to fill and appropriate training facilities (maybe). The instructor is expected to stand before the group of experienced students and present the material determined by management as essential. The result one to four hours of heavy eyelids, sore bottoms and the sending and receiving of text messages on mobile devices by distracted employees who fail to pay attention. They learn nothing. You can improve the situation by recognizing that the occupants of the room possess hundreds of collective hours of experience; many more qualified to teach than you. Developing methods to engage, entertain and focus students during mandatory training separates the run-of-the mill instructor from the master trainer. Nothing that follows is new, but I challenge you to adopt one or two of these ideas for your next refresher training and take your first step down the road to become a master trainer.M.CoghlanGpDisc

Facilitation is a training process that focuses on the student rather than the instructor. Generally facilitate means to make easier, to promote or to serve as a catalyst (Google 2014). An instructor who engages in facilitation recognizes the expertise of the students and develops a learning environment that permits those with various experiences on a given topic to share what they know allowing the rest of the students to assimilate those experiences into new ideas on their own. This process allows the students to come to conclusions on their own.

Instructors are reluctant to conduct facilitated discussions for fearing accusations they did not follow the program of instruction required by management. A well thought out training event covers all the points required by management. The difference between an interesting, facilitated training event and being buried by slides is how the material is presented. The traditional, well-known, boring method of lecturing while showing a slide deck echoing everything the presenter says only ensures the required material has been presented. It does nothing to demonstrate knowledge transfer, but does provide coverage for the tushy if ever called to task for providing training on a given topic. A facilitated training however requires student participation during a guided discussion about the same points made in a lecture. In order to participate effectively, instructors must possess complete understand the topic, and students should have some knowledge.

Preparation for and conduct of a facilitated training event requires greater preparation and execution time. To prepare for a facilitated discussion,

  • Review and understand key learning points of the lesson,
  • Convert learning points into discussion points,
  • Prepare questions to requiring discussions to answer, and
  • Prepare to guide student discussion by infusing information and making corrections,
  • During the conduct of class,
  • Ask students questions that require thought and development of opinions,
  • Ask students what they think of points made by others during the discussion,
  • Require students to justify opinions based on facts or prior learning,
  • Ask students if they agree or disagree with other students points and explain why or not.

As the class demonstrates understanding of each point, the instructor segues into the next discussion point by either asking a pre-planned question, or taking advantage of a point raised by a student. Ensuring many students participate. Use the following formula to include all students:

  • ask the question,
  • pause to wait for students to think about the answer,
  • call on a student to answer.

When attempting to pull in the quieter students, it is important to ensure to ask them something there is no wrong answer. By doing so, you allow them to participate without loosing face. As the discussion moves along, show the required slides and let them speak for them selves allowing students to integrate the information from the slides into what they learned in the discussion.

A quality facilitated discussion during mandatory training improves student participation. Increased participation improves information retention. Increased participation permits the same idea to be expressed more than one way improving understanding by less experienced students. Engaged students are less likely to allow their minds to drift and learn more. Students pay attention when they know anyone can be called upon to answer questions. The slide deck re-enforces points made by the students.

Using a facilitated discussion during mandatory in-service training allows for management and instructors to cover important learning points. A good guided discussion covers all required points by allowing students to express their knowledge of the topic and identifies areas requiring more discussion or information. With more discussion the same idea is expressed in different words increases understanding of the concept. Students become responsible for their learning, more engaged in the process and focused on the class. For your next training event, implement some of these ideas to generate a guided discussion on one or more points. You may be surprised at what YOU learn in the class you are teaching.

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References

Google Search Results “define facilitate” https://www.google.com/search?q=define+facilitate&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb retrieved 4/26/14

U.S. Army. 157-ABIC-3.0 / Army Basic Instructor Course (ABIC) (2011) Army Training Support Center, Ft Eustis, Va

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Photo Credit:  Michael Coghlan.  flickr.com CC license

Leaders Training Future Leaders

ImageAll trainers are leaders because they influence people in their organizations to accomplish the mission. The flip side to that thought is that all leaders are trainers. In too many organizations however leaders are selected based upon their ability to accomplish tasks more than their ability to influence others and too many organizations fail to train their highest performers to become leaders. Possession of influence is more important to a leader than possessing an ability to complete a task skillfully. Learning how to engage others to influence them to perform is more important skill for leaders than the task to be performed. Teaching the leaders to teach becomes that challenge for the middle and senior leaders of organizations, one that is poorly executed. Consistent leader training and development is critical to any organization’s long term success. Four simple, repeatable steps separate are the foundation of an enduring leadership training program. Those steps are telling, demonstrating, practicing and correcting.

Telling. The quickest way to transfer information is to tell the other person. When sending a message you want the receiver to remember ensure the receiver has a method of recording the information, whether it is a notebook, a voice recorder or a note on their device. Unrecorded information is sure to be forgotten. When someone writes, they remember better in the future and create a record for future reference when the teacher is absent. During the review of the lesson, the teach can have the student read back the notes ensuring all important details were discussed.

Demonstrating. You demonstrate the task. In this blog, demonstration is listed as the second step, but in practice, it is the first. When others work for you, you demonstrate leadership for them daily. When you take time to counsel the new leader, you demonstrate the importance of counseling. Your methods become the lesson as the techniques and practices you expect them to employ in their leadership role. Counseling is just one area, but the example crosses many such topical areas.

Practicing. At first you may be inclined to linger. This may not always work well. For the same reasons it may not be practical for your trainee to sit in on a counseling session with a fellow employee with a family problem, it probably is just as likely you should not sit in on similar situations unless you are invited. The senior leader has other duties. If she spends all her time overseeing one new supervisor, she ignores other areas of responsibility. It is not unreasonable to follow up by asking to see documentation of a process or to check progress of employees. This lets both the employee and their supervisor know you are paying attention to important aspects of their work and lives.

Correcting. Do this as close as possible to the performance of the activity. Often in performance oriented training we ofter students feedback in the form of an after action review within a few minutes of completing the activity. There is no reason to not apply the same practice. If you are invited to observe a process improvement meeting, plan on five or ten minutes after the meeting to review the supervisor’s performance.

When you have completed all the steps, repeat them until the leader performs them nearly perfectly. As they improve, you allow them to tell you how they can improve their performance instead of providing feed back from you. As you do so, you prepare them for increasing levels of leadership and improve the organization.

Good leaders are also trainers. They set the standard by telling, They live the standard through demonstration. They allow others to try to practice and correct mistakes so success is achieved. These steps train and develop leaders follows the same model. Tell them what the expectations are, demonstrate the way you expect them to behave, allow them to perform, make corrections and repeat. Leaders who practice these steps increase their sphere of influence, allow others to see he uses power to make the organization better, has concern for the future of the group and its people and is willing to e what he knows. Observers recognize the spark and passion of the leader doing the training and the overall success of the organization. Take the first step today with your young leaders.

Photo Credit:  tanakawho from flickr.com creative commons license

Why Run Alone?

Seems about this time of the year dues for many of the organizations I belong to are due. Each year I use the opportunity to decide what associations are important to me and my future by deciding which dues bills I pay. A couple decades ago I remember thinking it was a waste of time for one of the fraternal organizations I belonged to to send representatives to either the state or international conferences believing they were little more than a fun-filled weekend away at the organization’s expense. As I’ve grown I have learned the importance of associating with others. Leaders interested in continued improvements benefit from rubbing elbows with leaders from other communities and fields. These associations keep their perspectives fresh by infusing their network with people who possess different skills, learning about industry trends and expanding their sphere of influence.

If leadership is about influencing others to accomplish things while continually improving, it makes sense to consisteImagently meet new people. When one meets people with different backgrounds, skills and experiences one no longer needs to develop that particular skill; at least not alone. At some point you will find a situation where the skill of the person you met at one of these meetings, conferences or conventions is necessary to solve a problem your, your organization or someone you know needs. By contacting them, you solve the problem, expand your influence and allow others to expand their influence.

Breaks and social events during conferences provide opportunities to meet with the movers and shakers on the cutting edge. Conversations often revolve around trends that may not have hit popular industry media. Having such information provides you and your organization an opportunity to react before bad things happen, or develop strategies for positive outcomes.

Developing and using your network creates opportunities you never have running alone. Many Americans imagine success as something obtained by an individual struggling on his own to meet daunting challenges. In reality, most successful people are surrounded by smart people offering a helping hand here and a leg up there. Occasionally they slip and fall, but because of they are working with a net, bouncing back is easier.

As you connect people, expand your skills and network and develop the reputation as all-around helper, more people inside and outside your organization turn to you when seeking information, skills and services. Each contact may not result in a direct benefit for your organization. Working with others cooperatively helps them successful. They in turn find ways to help your organization succeed. Your greater sphere of influence puts more people indirectly to work for your organization improving the likelihood of mission accomplishment. The choice is yours; you can strike out alone and figure things our for yourself or you can run with the pack using the energy, skills and wisdom of the group to push you to succeed.

Photo by author.

Creative Commons License
Why Run Alone by Christopher St. Cyr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Leadership Vision; A Requirement for All Leaders

vision

Leadership vision helps leaders look ahead to prepare and avoid obstacles allowing their organization to achieve its mission.

Several years ago I attended a leadership seminar taught by Richard Ayres retired FBI leadership trainer coaching leaders from all walks of life. He was not the first to discuss the importance of leadership vision, but he was the first who caused me to reflect upon the importance of leadership vision at every level within an organization whether they are the CEO, or a brand new front line supervisor with only one direct report. Often leaders on the line or somewhere in the middle think their slice of the organization is so small they have no affect on the course of the organization. Without vision the small groups these middle and front line supervisors lead will drift in the wind and dragging on the success of the larger organization. There are ways non-executive leaders can develop a small group vision for their sections that complement the larger organization and inspire employees.

Lower level leaders are the people that get things done in organizations. An organization can survive without a CEO or miss several VPs. Run an overnight shift with poor leadership and before long everyone know who the important leaders are; the local leaders who interact with employees daily.

Developing a vision is not difficult. Focusing on what is important and communicating your vision to your leaders, peers and followers is another story. When you announce, “Go west young man!” others may not understand why. New leaders who learn to succussfully identify key tasks and direction have the edge developling their vision. Many issues, problems and people compete for their attention they do not know what is important and what is window dressing. Experienced leaders develop skills to help them focus on the real issues quickly. New front line leaders lack this background but a good mentoring program helps them by providing tools and strategies to focus their attention quickly.

Assessments are one tool. Start by assessing yourself. Identify your core values. Ask how these align with the principals of the organization. What strengths and weaknesses do you bring to your new position? Take time to write these down. Assess your people, not only your direct reports but as deep as you can reasonably dig. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, skills and passions. Learn by talking to each of them one-on-one. Document what your learn.

Examine the environment. Determine how your section supports the organizational mission. Identify the guiding principals of the organization. Learn about your leaders’ vision for the people they lead. Identify opportunities and threats to your small group and the organization, both internal and external. This may be the most difficult portion of the assessment because obtaining accurate information about the intentions and actions of competitors, collaborators and regulators is difficult for many reason.

Use this information like a jigsaw puzzled. As you work on analyzing the information you will notice that the pieces come together revealing a map that shows where you and the organization has been and where it is now. You also see the goal or destination desired by those who lead you. Like early explorers learned maps are only an image of what the cartographer thought the world looked like at the point in time it was created and may not reflect reality. The process provides ideas of where your slice of this organization should be headed to support the larger group.

This becomes your vision, tell your employees where they are going, show them what your group will become. Schedule resources, plan for training, develop a plan and mark your route. Your map also serves as ammunition to argue for resources. Your vision is not only a rosy only picture, but illustrates the rough roads and alternative paths. With this information in hand, prepare your followers and leaders for the curves, potholes and slippery spots on the road ahead.

Vision is critical for leaders at all levels. Front line supervisors’ vision while limited by their location on the organization’s ladder is pivotal to their success. Leaders must create the time to map out the territory allowing them to see where they have been, where they are and where they are going. Their map provides primary routes and detours to arrive at the end point. Traveling along the path, they recognize sign posts and mile markers to measure progress. Whether you are a newly assigned rookie leader or a grizzled leadership veteran, having a vision for your organization improves organizational performance. Dig out you binoculars and climb on the roof. Find out where you have been and most importantly, where you go from here!

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Photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis some rights reserved Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

http://www.flickr.com/photos/klearchos/4541701032/sizes/l/in/photolist-7Vkpud-7Zz91R-9Uwxxs-bQGaiB-9XpiD3-5xhA3q-hAsUt7-ehvoLf-HtFik-9p5PM2-bXfqDC-dvWd8u-NgUKM-7B7xCj-58ayC9-khcgo-hJnvz-8pcL3G-XY2DB-dT5Yfm-dZMiF9-ctk3m5-6mNWbw-7ekpic-9DdSAN-7A3dvw-7LFrio-9nRYzW-4CYTmR-5KGg5B-buvfKc-5Cpqwz-asyX89-9vQUT3-6kYiBz-aSKrMn-4gX3v-e3d3jE-aCMtE3-7FbnVz-onMv1-52hjw8-5dPFT2-bn6iPb-7u6hjK-5xKhH6-8WR3XM-8rhBvX-cpfj3-fr4gn7-6Kg4w/

Two Things Leaders Care About

Funny thing about leaders…even when they lack a title, they still influence others to become better people and improve their organizations. Former followers seek out the leader months and years after their formal leader-led relationship ends. The best leaders often find themselves providing purpose, direction and motivation to former followers who have exceeded the leaders success. Identifying everything that goes into long-term leader-follower relationship can and has filled many pages. This blog will hardly scratch the surface and instead of providing proven, empirical data about the qualities of great leaders, it seeks to encourage readers to evaluate their own leader-follower relationships to identify ways you each can become better, non-titled leaders.

There are two areas that great leaders concern themselves; caring for people and achieving results. They know that in order to make the organization successful, they need quality people who are dedicated, knowledgeable, skilled and motivated. The leader communicates the organizational goals and his or her vision for the future and turns the followers loose to use their skills and abilities to accomplish great things that move the organization in the direction of success. Once success is achieved however, the leader sets a new course, but only after acknowledging the work and sacrifices of those who followed. Along the way, the leader creates opportunities to become familiar with employees, their families, their dreams and hopes, their needs. The leader develops ways for his followers to align their personal aspirations for growth with the growth of the organization. As the organization achieves success, so does the employee encouraging greater dedication.

Each great leader develops her personal style to learn about their followers and to communicate how their desires and abilities intertwine with those of the organization. Some leaders throw parties for their employees on their birthdays. Others use group training activities. Some dedicate a few moments each day to speak to their people and ask about important personal and professional issues. In every case, the interaction between the leader and follower is personalized in some way. The follower comes to believe the leader personally cares for them and their situation. If faked the facade quickly tumbles causing major problems for the organization.Image

After the American Civil War, Robert E Lee returned to the south to live a quite life. He was one of the best loved military commanders in the Nation’s history. Throughout the war he showed concern for his soldiers at all levels. For years after the war his followers sought him out for letters of reference, financial assistance and inspiration. It is said that he never refused a request of a veteran of his Army if he could fulfill it. Lee’s obligation to his men ceased the day he surrendered and dismissed the troops. His caring continued until he died.

Great leaders have two important concerns. Success of their organization and success of their people. They understand that unless the aspirations of employees are tied to the vision of the organization, neither will be truly successful. Leaders inspire their employees to succeed by learning their dreams, concerns and desires and find ways to align them with those of the vision and mission of the organization. When employees achieve success in their positions within the organization, the organization become more successful. Great leaders extend their influence long after formal relationships end because they genuinely care for the people they lead.

Photo Credit:  National Archives.  Retrieved from:  http: // www. flickr. com/photos/usnationalarchives/4176668765/sizes/o/in/photostream/ 10/29/13