This week L2L is bringing you a recap of the Top 10 most popular blog posts over the last year. Enjoy Top #9 and 10!
#10 | On Vision & Leadership | by Gary Cohen
“The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” ~Marcel Proust
On Vision & Leadership
As an executive coach you are parachuted into different organizations to work with leaders. One of the first questions I ask an organizational leader is what is your vision. Many have to think about that question for a minute before explaining that they do not have one or that they cannot recall it at the moment.
Some will share their vision and I will ask if I go an interview employees from around the company will they share the same vision with me.
Often the response is, “I would like to think so.”
As you dig further into the vision of the organization you arrive at some convoluted and unclear set of words that you would never now if you accomplished them or not.
The Everest Test
Is your vision statement like that. Will it pass the Everest test. You know, if you set out for an expedition to climb Everest as your vision you would know that you arrived and know that you had accomplished it looking back.
Defining Your Vision
So how does one define their vision?
- What can you be world best at?
- What are you passionate about?
- What drives your economic engine?
These are really helpful questions if you take them to the extreme. It provides a clarity that you can get no other way.
As and executive coach, I so often find CEOs, Executive Directors, or Managing Partners not being pushed far enough on becoming clear in their answer to these questions. The difficult issue for leaders is to answer the questions and care about that answer. Many leaders care more about the hierarchy than the vision and mission that they are there to serve.
They run the numbers and it is the numbers that drive them rather than looking at those numbers as a measurement of progress of achieving their vision.
Using Better Tools
I use a tool I have developed to help companies Vision statement worksheet . It asks the leader and their team to determine what is the measurement of their success (Collin’s economic engine).
What I have learned in this work is that simply saying your financial measurements as the yardstick in your vision is like pouring water on a fire. Your people do not care about that number. Your company or organization originally was founded on a purpose to change something for someone. It was set up to meet an unfulfilled need. The founder discovered this need and along the way they or some leader who followed realized it could be exploited. And it grew then somewhere along the lines the willingness to exploit exceeded the need of the market.
- Where are you taking your company and why?
- Are you simply replacing some competitive product that is equally good?
- Or are you driving real value in those you produce goods or service for?
If you are not, then perhaps you need to reach for a higher vision.
Seeing An Example
If your company produces safety products for food production perhaps the greater world needs you more than your current market. I am not suggesting leaving the market you’re in, but harvesting it for expansions into the world in which the need for what you sell is greater than the market you already serve.
Instead of putting another bell or whistle on your product in the local market think about the global market as a way to live more passionately with protecting the world’s food supply.
Now this is something that others can get behind!
Seeing Over The Horizon
“Vision,” Jonathan Swift wrote, “is the art of seeing things invisible.
Many organizations struggle with their vision because they only look to the horizon and not past it.
The idea of vision goes back to a term that says we must look past the horizon for something that can only be seen in the mind’s eye but not really seen by our senses.
It speaks to something that can been seen but not by common sight of the eye.
The greatest difference between a manager and a great leader may lay in the ability to envision a future and bring others into the state together. To carry out things bigger than ourselves we must first have to imagine that place, outcome, or success!
If you are an Olympic athlete and you believe you can be the best skier in the world, but lack the passion to seek that vision, you will not earn the gold and win. Or in business if you are determining what industry or market to serve (and many could use your services,) which one will you focus on. Which one do you want to be world best at serving.
Bringing clarity to your vision is one of the greatest gifts that you can bring to your teams. So what are you doing to clarify your vision by defining your passions, understanding what you can be world-class in, and by knowing what drives your economic engine? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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Gary Cohen is Author, Speaker (on leadership) & Executive Coach at CO2 Partners
He serves clients with executive coaching and leadership coaching services
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#9 | Leadership: The 8 Qualities Test | by Scott Crandall
No matter what you read on the subject of leadership, the question of what qualities a leader should have usually comes up.
Regardless of source, it seems there’s a consensus that makes most everyone’s cut.
8 Key Qualities
So, here are eight key qualities – in alphabetical order – that good leaders should possess (or develop), and utilize:
Attitude is always a choice. You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control your reaction and your outlook. And because you control your attitude, you can change your attitude. One of the things an old boss told me (I think he was talking about my bad attitude) was,
“You know, I can always tell when one of my managers has a bad attitude . . . I can see it in their people.”
Attitude is contagious; whatever yours is, sooner or later it’ll infect your people. What does your team’s performance and morale say about your personal attitude?
Character has been defined as the moment-by-moment choices of right and wrong; it’s who we really are when no one else is watching. When our character is trusted by others, following becomes natural.
“Character is critical also because if people buy into the messenger they’re more likely to buy into the message.
Consistency and transparency are two key elements of character that allow people to “buy in”. What does your character say about who you REALLY are?
Charisma, rather than simply being an internal magnetism that draws others, is a reflection of the leader’s interest in others.
“It is the ability to make others feel better about themselves.”
Charisma contains perspective, enjoyment, humility, and self-confidence. It is generated by demonstrating to other people that we care for them, that who they are, and what they do and say is important to us.
One of Bill Clinton’s most formidable skills was the ability to talk to someone, even in the midst of a thousand people, and make them feel as if they were the only other person in the room.
It is “other-directed”, not self-directed. What is your “Charisma Quotient”?
Competence is the leader’s demonstrated expertise in handling his/her job demands. If the leader can smoothly manage the people in their charge, the various tasks and stresses inherent to the job, and their complete 360 degree relationships, the people will see that. If the leader can convincingly say “Follow me!”, and people want to go along because of the leader’s example, that leader possesses perhaps the key quality among these eight.
People want to, they need to, and they’ll only, follow demonstrated expertise.
Humor, in this context, is not about being entertaining, or witty, or a performer. Humor means seeing the lighter side of situations, to laugh at ourselves (especially our mistakes or weaknesses), to share a joke – as either teller or hearer – and not be a wet blanket around others.
A sense of humor helps the leader cope with mistakes, tolerate unpleasant people, accept surprises of every kind, and still smile and be encouraging amidst terrible circumstances. How about you? Are you ever an object of or a participant in the fun?
Listening is perhaps the hardest and most important communications skill. The best way to do this is to focus on the person first, the message second. Therefore, listening should be done first with the eyes and emotions, and last with the ears.
“More followers are drawn by ear than by mouth, because a good listener is more treasured by most people than a great speaker.”
The key to good listening is to remember that it is about the other person first, which is why it’s hard for so many managers, and why it’s necessary for a good leader. If your people had to take a test, what would they say? Are you a good listener?
Sociability is simply good people skills: the ability to get along smoothly and comfortably with other people. Because it’s not necessary for the leader to be an extrovert, these are skills that are learned, practiced, and sometimes faked, until developed.
Answer these questions:
- How to tell whether your “sociability skills” are up to par?
- Are your people comfortable when you’re around (or is the tension like having a cobra in a basket when you’re in their presence)?
- Can you hold a conversation without talking down, or lecturing, or correcting?
- Do you have the ability to be “in charge” without that fact overwhelming all?
If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then your “sociability rating” is well above average.
Vision, the last quality, is the ability to see possibilities before they become obvious; problems before they become crises; connections before they become tangible; opportunities before they occur to others; and direction while the compass needle is still gyrating.
One aspect of Vision is focus, and recalls an old Chinese proverb,
“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”
Focus contains two elements: internal and external. Internal focus is the leader seeing what he/she must do to become better, more effective personally.
External focus is similar, but outer-directed:
- What is the market saying?
- What are the customers telling us?
- Where are we strong?
- Where does the team need to improve?
Most good managers know about external focus, and realize that to ignore what’s “really” happening out there is to proceed at their own peril. But internal focus – for the leader – is just as necessary, and much less common.
There are many qualities that would help us to be good leaders. Author and speaker John Maxwell lists 21. Other writers have different lists, but these eight, by various names and descriptions, seem to be as close to a consensus as I can find.
However, what’s more important is where you stand.
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