If No One is Following You Aren’t Leading

images (8)Whether you are in a management position or play a leadership role in your organization, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and the next decade. Not everyone chooses to lead – but everyone gets to choose who they want to follow. What do you look for in the leaders you follow?

Worth Remembering … “One of the most important things about being a good leader is to lead with a heart. You have to know the business, but you also have to know what’s at the heart of business and that’s people.” – Oprah Winfrey

Daniel Goleman, in his groundbreaking book Working with Emotional Intelligence, might have said it best: “We are being judged by a new yardstick: not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other.” Soft-skills, your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization. You stand little chance of winning the hearts, minds and hands of those you lead without the ability to connect with them.

Worth Remembering … “Communication is the breakfast of Champions.” – Ken Blanchard

All the great leaders: Churchill, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Thatcher, Trudeau and Clinton, they all had one thing in common – they had the ability to communicate. They had the ability to communicate in such a way that you could see a future that you wanted to be part of.  The power of the spoken and unspoken word can’t be overlooked. The words you choose and how you go about saying them can be a catalyst for action or in-action. You can build people up or tear them down simply by the tone of your voice and the non-verbal message your body language sends. Regardless of your political beliefs, President Barack Obama’s ability to communicate and connect with others inspired a Nation – and changed our World forever. Agreed, leaders also need to be patient, understanding, flexible and great listeners. But, if you can’t communicate in a way that others will want to follow – then you aren’t leading.

I believe you aren’t born a great communicator but, I believe you can learn to become one. Here are a few suggestions on ways to communicate and interact more effectively with others.

  • Provide regular opportunities for informal, casual discussions. This is a great exercise for building collaborative teams.
  • Check for points of disagreement or misunderstanding by being more intuitive to the non-verbal signals being sent. Ask closed questions for clarity. Ask open-ended questions to promote dialogue.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • When giving instructions use direct, to-the-point communication without a lot of social chatter. Too much information muddies the water and tends to confuse rather than inform.
  • Use two-way dialogue, responding to a person’s feelings is just as important as what is being said.

Give them a try. After all – the worse thing that could happen is you’ll draw a crowd. And for today’s leaders, that’s not such a bad thing.

Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Brian is available for speaking engagements and seminars on a variety of topics including: communication, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations and leadership development. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

Positive Self-Talk is More Than a Sound Bite

self-confidenceThink it, Act it, Become it. Perception is reality – your reality. It is what ever you think it is which is why positive self-talk (what you say to yourself), is more than a sound bite. Your self-talk has the power to move you to action – or in action.  We all feel insecure and unsure of ourselves at times. We all lack self-confidence, especially if we are attempting to do something we’ve never done before. But, you must not let your self-doubt get in the way of you stepping out of your comfort zone and expanding your growth zone.  We must not let fear of failing get in the way of the attempt.

Worth Remembering … “Lack of confidence is not the result of difficulty. The difficulty comes from the lack of confidence.” – Seneca

World class athletes, just like world-class actors visualize a gold medal, Oscar-winning performance. They set themselves up for a positive experience by visualizing in their mind’s eye what their performance will look like. They see themselves in the winners circle. And then they go out and replay that winning performance in real-time. You need to see yourself as the hero in your own movie.  Think it, Act it, Become it. The more you do it – the more you will become it. Being successful in any endeavor is a learned behavior. When you change the behavior you change the result.

Worth Remembering … “Confidence is that feeling by which the mind embarks on a great and honorable course with a sure hope and trust in self.” – Cicero

Here are some helpful tips on how to boost your self-confidence. Pick one or two and give them a go. You just may end up surprising yourself.  Failing in your first attempt is never the issue. Not giving it another try is.

  • Focus on your achievements rather than your failures: Nobody is perfect but everyone has the capacity to grow and get better. Focus on what you did well and what you are going to do better on your next attempt. Progress happens in baby steps not gigantic leaps. 
  • Focus on your good qualities: Stick with what you do well and reach out to others when you get stuck. There is no sham in admitting that you need help. Have a short list of mentors and coaches that you can call on for words of encouragement or advice when needed. 
  • Be prepared for the task at hand: Nothing beats thinking and planning it out. You can’t be prepared for everything but you should be able to anticipate what could go wrong and decide ahead of time what you are going to do to overcome them. 
  • Set reachable goals for yourself: Don’t set yourself up for failure – set SMART targets. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) Anyone can eat an elephant one bite at a time. 
  • Reward yourself when you succeed: No victory is too small. You have every right to be proud of yourself and what you’ve accomplished. Do something nice for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it. 

Remember – We are not born knowing what we need to know to do all that we want to do. Success and being successful is a learned behavior. Successful people have learned to get out of their own way. You can do the same thing. You just need to believe in yourself. Now get out there and give it a go. 🙂

Copyright (c) Brian Smith. Not to be reproduced without permission. Looking for a keynote speaker, planning a lunch-n-learn or workshop on a variety of soft-skills topics or leadership development? Give Brian a call. http://briansmithpld.com

Who Said Your Life Would Be Perfect?

PerfectRepeat after me – “There is no such thing as perfect – there is no such thing as perfect – there is no such thing as perfect”. Besides, perfect is over rated anyhow. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be good enough. The most important person in your life is you. Don’t worry about trying to please anyone else. If it’s good enough for you – it’s good enough. If it’s good enough for you – then you don’t need to change a thing. However, if you aren’t living the life you envisioned for yourself, then you need to stop talking, quit complaining and do something about it. You either have to change it – or change the way you are thinking about it. You are responsible for you. You are responsible for your own happiness. In the words of Larry Winget, “The Pit-bull of Personal Development” , your life is your own damn fault.

Worth Remembering … The only limits to the possibilities in your life tomorrow is the `Buts`you use today.

Take out a blank piece of paper and write a description of what a perfect life would look like to you. After you have done that – what things would have to happen for you to be able to live that life? Don’t generalize, be specific. To live the prefect life I would have to: Earn X amount of money per year, move to a  warmer climate, get married and have two children. What ever would have to happen for you to live your perfect life, take a moment and write it down. Now I know the list looks daunting, and you might be thinking that there is no way you can accomplish all of that. But trust me, you would be wrong. You would be selling yourself way to  short. If it’s worth dreaming about it – then it’s worth doing something about it. Wishing and hoping won`t make it so. Life – your life – is a planned event. So get busy! Put a plan together and start working that plan.

Worth Remembering … Once the what has been decided – the how will surely follow.  

I know I’m making it sound pretty simple. But, it really is about writing down your goals and then accomplishing them, one goal at a time. Remember.  a journey of a 1000 miles starts with the first step. You took the first step when you wrote down what your perfect life would look like. You took the first step when you listed all the things that would have to happen for you to live your perfect life. You took the first step when you wrote out your plan. Now it’s time for you to take the next step and start to work your plan. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be good enough. 🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Brian is available for speaking engagements, lunch-n-learns and seminars. Contact Brian today. He will work with you to insure your event is an overwhelming success. Email: briansmithpld@gmail.com. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com