This is the Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make

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One of the most important decisions you can ever make is to become your own CEO. I’m talking about taking complete responsibility for your life and not blaming others or your circumstances for past results or where you are right now.

It’s mindboggling to me how someone can go year after year, month after month, day after day complaining about their laundry list of misfortunes but do absolutely nothing about it? I hear so many people say they want to be great, achieve more success and make more money. But they never do anything about it. The main thing that most of these individuals do is whine and complain about their sorry lot in life. They sit back and let others make their decisions.

Granted, I understand there are situations and issues in peoples’ lives that may prevent them from achieving their dreams. There can be circumstances that are beyond their control. Certain family issues, disabilities, and extreme illnesses to name a few. I’m not judging people when I see them living in undesirable situations. It’s possible life has dealt them a bad hand and they can’t navigate their way out. I get it, and I do not mean to sound preachy.

On the flip side, I see others who could do something about their lives if they just tried a little harder.

Throw away the excuses.

“I don’t have any talent.”

“I can’t ever seem to get a good job. Someone better always gets the job.”

“I can’t make enough money to pay my bills.”

“I don’t have any luck at all.”

“I feel like the world is out to get me.”

“I am worried about what others will think.”

Does this sound like anyone you know? They make you want to kick them in the butt and say, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You can change your destiny! You can change your life!”

The list of examples can go on and on, but you get the point. Making excuses has never crowned anyone a champion. The day that you decide to throw away all excuses once and for all will be the day that changes your life forever. A simple but extremely powerful transformation begins to take place.

Just do it!

Nike’s slogan “Just Do It!” is one of the best in advertising. Getting up off your butt and going out there to make things happen is the way you become the leader of your life.

Sure, I know. I agree with you. I’ve been through it, so I’m speaking from experience. One of the hardest things to do is take full charge of your life and be the leader of your destiny. But when you do, you force yourself to look at your life and say, “I am not where I want to be because of myself and the choices and decisions that I have made.” Your next comment may be, “I am going to do something about it and make a positive change.”

When you do this, you take ownership of where you are and where you are headed. That’s not an easy thing to do, trust me. One of the hardest things I ever do is force myself to look within when times are not the best. Heck, when I was 16-years old and a full blown drug addict throwing my life away I could barely look at myself in the mirror. I was so despicable. Things began to change when I finally had had enough. That is when I developed the courage to truly look within myself. Slowly but surely, I became the CEO of my life — the leader of my destiny.

Becoming my own leader redefined my philosophy of life. It will redefine yours, as well. There is absolutely nothing you can’t do or overcome when you choose to be the CEO of your life. Being the leader of your destiny is rejecting the easy road and opting for what’s worth it in the long run.

Think about it. It will be a shame if you get to the final stages of your life with nothing but your excuses for why you didn’t follow a passion or a dream. It breaks my heart to even think about this, but it happens all the time.

Maximize opportunities.

Becoming the leader of your destiny opens the floodgates of opportunity, and life seems to become a bit easier, because others will join in and help when they can.

For example, let’s say there are two young men named John and Chris. John is the leader of his destiny. When something goes wrong, he doesn’t make excuses or place the blame on someone else. John doesn’t focus on the negative. He constantly searches for ways to better himself and elevate his position in life.

Chris is a totally different story. He has a long track record of letting his failures define him. Every chance he gets, he makes excuses or blames someone else for his misfortunes and lack of success. It truly is a negative, energy-draining experience for anyone who comes in contact with him.

Out of the two men, who do you think is more likely to receive more opportunities to get back on the right track and have others want to help in any way they can? The answer to that question is obvious. People gravitate toward positive people. They’re attractive and make you feel good. On the other hand, it’s difficult to be around negative people because they’re a liability to your happiness.

Make the decision.

One of the most rewarding decisions you can ever make is to become the leader of your destiny, your own CEO, and take complete responsibility for everything that happens. Once you do, it won’t be long before your opportunities begin to expand. And others will go out of their way to help you, even if it’s something simple. Being the leader of your destiny is a trait that all champions possess.

This piece is adapted from Matt Mayberry’s book Winning Plays, published by Hachette/Center Street.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

How 1 Executive Became a Transformational Leader

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In every organization, regardless of size or industry, success rises and falls with leadership. Sure, an organization with average leadership can experience some success, but the longevity of that success and growth will be drastically shortened compared to that of an organization with a transformational leader.

So, what exactly is a transformational leader?

In my own view, a transformational leader not only builds an incredible organization that grows each and every year, but inspires his or her people to constantly innovate and reach their full potential.

Transformational leaders create an extraordinary vision for their organizations, one which employees are then eager to fully “buy into” and work incredibly hard for every day, to bring it to life. What’s more, transformational leaders are obsessed about developing their people, not just collecting a profit.

To put it simply, transformational leaders positively disrupt individual organizations and entire industries.

In an article in Psychology Today, Ronald Riggio wrote that, “Research evidence clearly shows that groups led by transformational leaders have higher levels of performance and satisfaction than groups led by other types of leaders. Why? Because transformational leaders hold positive expectations for followers, believing that they can do their best.

“As a result, they inspire, empower and stimulate followers to exceed normal levels of performance. And, transformational leaders focus on and care about followers and their personal needs and development.”

I recently had the pleasure of spending the day with Bill Darcy, CEO of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Darcy has not only transformed an organization, but an entire industry. Darcy is a transformational leader through and through. When you speak to his employees or colleagues at different companies, the impact and influence he has had is clear.

In our conversation, Darcy and I discussed three factors that have helped him rise to the top and become the transformational leader he is today.

1. Make each day count.

Spending the entire day with Darcy, I could easily see that he truly lived each and every day to the fullest. It’s not a coincidence that he listed this as number one when I asked him the three most important things that helped him get to where he is today.

Darcy said he’d learned the importance of making each day count when his son was born with a rare congenital abnormality and it was unclear whether the boy was going to make it or not. “Going through the experience of nearly losing my son changed not only my life forever, but also how I work and lead on a daily basis,” Darcy said.

Transformational leaders, in short, don’t waste their days. They make every single day count, and it shows in everything they do. They possess an incredible sense of urgency, which inspires their team members to act in the same manner. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Make each day your masterpiece.”

2. Perseverance is key.

If you dig deep into the backstory of any transformational leader to analyze this person’s path to where he or she is today, you will often notice an incredible level of perseverance. Leaders, like anyone, experience plenty of tough and challenging times. Transformational leaders, however, stay poised during these times and trust in their process to get the job done.

Darcy said, “I have been rejected in my career more times than I can count, but the one thing that I always stayed true to was to always keep fighting for what you believe in. When you keep fighting, breakthroughs eventually arise.”

3. Effort equals results.

At the young age of 25, Darcy was working for the billionaire and Penske Corporation chairman, Roger Penske. Penske instilled in his organization and all of his employees the slogan “Effort equals results,” and Darcy told me that he was able to see firsthand how vital those words were in the company’s growth and success.

“Every detail mattered and the slogan that Penske used created a huge cultural influence,” Darcy said. “No one ever had to guess what was expected of them when they showed up to work in the morning.

“As a leader, you set the tone within your organization,” Darcy added. “The one thing that we can all control when we show up to work is the effort that we put forth.”

I hope Darcy’s story of becoming a transformational leader inspires you to have the same kind of influence on not only the organization that you lead, but the entire industry that you are in.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Leadership Lessons We Can All Learn From Pat Summitt

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Pat Summitt, the leader who helped bring the University of Tennessee’s Lady Volunteers to becoming a powerful force on the basketball court — and who became the winningest coach in college basketball history — died on June 28 of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Coach Summitt was not only a phenomenal basketball coach who dominated on the basketball court, she was also an incredible human being who made a profound difference in the lives of those she coached.

Unfortunately, I never personally met with the legendary coach. However, after watching some of the interviews with former players and all of the other people who were so fortunate to personally know Coach Summitt, it’s very easy to see what a monumental impact she had on so many who crossed paths with her over the years.

You don’t have to be a basketball coach, player or even fan of the game to take away important lessons from Pat Summitt that could drastically change your impact and significance as a leader. When you dig a little deeper and find out more about the type of leader and person that Pat Summit was, it’s very easy to see why her teams dominated on the basketball court for such a long time. It’s very easy to see why all of the 161 players that she coached during her time at the University of Tennessee graduated from college. It’s very easy to see why her legacy will live on forever.

Coach Summitt exemplified what it means to be a real leader. A real leader isn’t someone who just has the head job and collects the biggest paycheck. A real leader serves those that they lead. A real leader works for their players or employees, not the other way around. A real leader invests the time, energy and effort into developing their people to not only become better at their job, but also better as people. A real leader makes an impact in the world. In her 38 total years at Tennessee, Coach Summitt won eight national titles and 1,098 games — the most by any Division 1 Basketball Coach, male or female.

Not only this, but Summitt made a profound impact on women’s college athletics. When she first took over as head coach at The University of Tennessee in 1974 when she was just 22 years old, the NCAA didn’t even really pay attention to women’s basketball. None of that mattered to Summitt. She couldn’t be ignored as the wins and championships continued to grow. She helped bring to light women’s basketball throughout the nation. And the rest is history. This is what true leadership is all about.

Pat Summitt was not just a basketball coach. She was humane, caring and empathetic. She was all “about the people.” She kept in touch with all of her former players, visited them when they were going through difficulties, and continued to help develop them as a friend even after their time on the basketball court was up.

That should be a reminder for all of us. One of the most important things that you can do as a leader right this moment is start investing in your team, which means directing every ounce of your energy into caring more, serving more and loving more. As a leader, it’s very easy to bask in the limelight or get sidetracked by all of the obligations that you have in front of you every morning as you step into the office.

When you truly start to find ways to invest back into your people and leave your office door open to provide a listening ear for someone who may be battling a disease or who has just lost a loved one, or some other personal issue, does more for your organization’s future success than actually handling work-related tasks. It’s always about the people.

Your organizations long-term success is dependent on all of the people within your organization. Sure, great systems, phenomenal products and awesome customer service are critical for success, but never underestimate what truly makes great organizations thrive and separate themselves from the rest of the pack. They have a leader who passionately cares about the people they lead. In return, these people will go above and beyond to get the job done and carry out their leader’s vision.

There are so many leadership qualities that are required in order to become a great leader, but in my opinion, caring and loving more each day is the starting point to greatness.

 

Instead of thinking that others work for you, develop the mindset and perception that you work for others. By adopting this mindset as a leader, you will revolutionize the culture of your organization and inspire your people to do whatever it takes to create something special.

Just look at, and remember Coach Pat Summitt. That’s what a real leader looks like.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Want to Be Like Apple, Disney or the New England Patriots? You Need a Stellar Company Culture.

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Creating a distinct culture within your organization is everything. Whether in sports or business, you must set a concrete foundation and an understanding as to what your culture is — and it must be identifiable in all that you do.

Have you ever stayed at a 5-star hotel chain that made you feel like you were their most important guest? Have you ever visited a store or dined at a restaurant, where the customer-service level far exceeded your expectations? Have you ever wondered how a sports franchise is in the playoffs seemingly every year?

Sure, some people are just good at what they do, and when you gather a bunch of talented people together, you’re bound for success, right? Wrong. It has everything to do with a culture that is easily identifiable, attainable and respected by everyone working within the organization. Whether your culture revolves around creating a 5-star service standard, a family environment, a winning-culture, a customer-is-always-right culture, you must have one — and it must be clear — before your employees can buy in.

Although we often hear about the importance of culture, I still find that so many overlook how vitally important it really is. A weak culture, or one that is never established, can completely diminish performance levels within an organization, even if that organization possesses the best strategies, products or talent. On the other hand, a distinct and thriving culture can certainly make up the difference for just average strategy and talent.

Please don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say don’t try to create the best strategies and recruit the best talent for your company, but understand that all of that is just a byproduct to what really matters most — the culture you create.

I have witnessed the incredible importance of culture in my own life. During my time as an athlete, I was on teams that didn’t have the most talented players in the world, but we still got the job done and won games as the underdogs. That came from the result of leadership instilling a phenomenal culture from day one.

I have also been on teams that had extreme talent, but the results on the field were mediocre at best. That same team lacked a presence of culture. Leadership wasn’t setting the tone or expectation as a whole, so it was each man for himself. In sports, of course, the main objective is to win, but if there is no set process outside of individual talent, no set standard for all to buy into and no leadership driving it, a star-studded roster means nothing.

In my world as a speaker now, I get the wonderful opportunity to travel all over and sit down with leaders from all different industries. Prior to each speaking engagement, I sit down with the leadership of the organization, and I spend time taking a closer look at the culture of the organization and where I can add the most value. During this time, I usually find one of two things. The first one is a leader who is incredibly passionate about creating a dominant, healthy and strong culture. These are the organizations that have a great employee retention and morale.

The leaders who aren’t as passionate about building and nurturing a strong and powerful culture unfortunately end up falling into the trap of directing all of their focus on outcomes and results. The major problem with all of this is that the presence of culture is what largely drives results. By completely neglecting the importance of building and nurturing a strong culture while focusing solely on outcomes and results, the process ends up backfiring somewhere down the line and being counterproductive.

I’m not telling you how to run your organization, but I do want to share with you that the results speak for themselves when it comes to organizations that focus on culture compared to the one’s who don’t. If you take a very close look at the New England Patriots, Disney, Apple or any other organization for that matter that dominate their market or craft, you will begin to see that they are crystal clear on the culture that they demand from their people.

All of the championships have great strategy and talent behind them, and the sales milestones have great products and value behind them, but the culture that leadership instills and demands throughout the whole organization is what actually drives results.

Culture is and will always be vitally important when it comes to your organization’s growth, success and longevity. It’s my hope as a leader that you make it a major priority to create a crystal clear culture that your employees are proud to show up and be a part of everyday.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

What True Leadership Is All About

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Here is a fact about leadership that no one really wants to talk about — it’s a lot bigger than just yourself. Sure, leadership can bring bigger paychecks and a whole lot more notoriety in most cases, but that’s not even remotely close to defining what true leadership is really all about.

True leadership is much more than authority and recognition from the outside world. Instead, leadership is all about developing people and helping others reach their full potential. It’s about equipping others with the right tools and strategies to not only maximize the success of an organization but also the lives of individuals. It’s about breaking down barriers and leading others through the uncertainty of the future.

The best leaders to ever live not only succeeded at helping their team win championships or organizations reach new milestones and dominate the marketplace, but they deeply cared for people and understood what a privilege it is to be a leader.

Think about it for a moment. As a leader, you have the incredible opportunity to change someone’s life every single day. It could be something as simple as saying hello and remembering people’s names when you greet them. It could mean you being passionate about helping your people achieve and pursue all of their personal dreams and ambitions just as much as their professional one’s. It could mean you forcing everyone around you to grow and develop into stronger and wiser human beings that will end up taking them to a place they never thought was possible before they met you.

There are a plethora of qualities that one must need in order to become a fantastic leader. However, I strongly believe that one of the most important traits that all leaders must possess is a passion to develop and maximize the potential of others. When you begin to transform people individually, you then begin to transform your organization or team as a whole.

Transforming people is a quality that every memorable leader has thought about every single day of their lives, because they understood if they could transform their people, they would then be able to advance their mission. The leaders that are too caught up in egotistical gratification rather than the development of their people will surely fall short in the long run. There is a major difference between true leadership and authority-driven management.

Just as athletes have to take daily reps and constantly work to elevate their game, leaders also need to have the same mentality on finding ways to become more efficient in touching the hearts of their people, inspiring others to take what their doing to the next level and unlocking the barriers that hold others back.

Your commitment to going the extra mile to care for your people, lend a helping hand and inspire them will determine the results you receive. When a leader fully understands what true leadership is all about, not only will their organization never be the same again, but they as individuals will be changed forever as well.

There is nothing easy about true leadership. It’s one of the most difficult jobs in the world, but it also has the potential to be one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. Whether you lead a team of five or 5,000, focus more on being a developer of people and helping those you lead become all that they can possibly become. That’s true leadership.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Why Every Company Needs a Dream Manager

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Increasing employee engagement, creating a healthier culture and building a world-class organization that sees exceptional growth every year is what all leaders in any industry wants for their organization. If that is the goal for most leaders, then why do so few organizations succeed at the above three?

There are a ton of reasons that may be hindering an organizations success, but one key area that majority of companies completely neglect or refuse to pay any attention to is their employees’ personal dreams and desires.

I recently spent some time with Infusionsoft at their headquarters in Chandler, Arizona. You may have heard of them already, but Infusionsoft is a complete sales and marketing automation software for small businesses. I was completely blown away by their positive and healthy culture, employees and everyone’s eagerness to build the company to even greater success.

There are plenty of people who deserve credit for the culture at Infusionsoft, especially their CEO Clate Mask. What took me by surprise though was to find out that they have someone on staff who is actually labeled as their dream manager. Dan Ralphs, who is the dream manager at Infusionsoft, has one job description — to help the employees of the company achieve their personal dreams.

One of the company’s employees a few years back had read The Dream Manager by bestselling author Matthew Kelly. He loved the book so much that he desperately wanted to get it in the hands of Clate Mask, the CEO of the company. Being an avid reader and leader who is always looking to grow himself, Clate accepted the book and read it on a flight. Once he was finished with the book, he immediately knew that Infusionsoft was going to going to have a dream manager on staff.

In the book, Kelly writes, “The future of your organization and the potential of your employees are intertwined — their destinies are linked.” At Infusionsoft, you see this clearly, as employees are actively engaged in the workplace while passionately helping the organization build towards the grander vision while in return, the organization is passionately helping employees work towards their biggest personal dreams.

When talking to some of the employees at Infusionsoft, I would hear things such as, “I ran my first marathon because of Infusionsoft” or “I am almost out of debt because of Infusionsoft.” Hearing some of the personal dreams that have been accomplished is truly astonishing. Infusionsoft isn’t making miracles happen to make dreams come true for their employees, but they do show them that they immensely care about them as people and want to provide them with the resources and tools to help them achieve some of their biggest dreams in life. In return, they have employees who are extremely passionate about the company that they work for and are actively engaged in the workplace.

“The Dream Manager concept provides a revolutionary way of reversing this crippling trend toward disengagement and demonstrates how organizations large and small can actively engage their people once again, thus creating a competitive advantage of monumental proportions,” Kelly says.

You might be asking, how exactly does the dream manager program work? At Infusionsoft, every employee has the opportunity to meet with Dan Ralphs, the company’s dream manager. He asks them to write down one hundred dreams and eventually they pick one dream together and start to develop a plan on how to accomplish it. From there they have follow up meetings and track the progress of where everyone is at in relation to achieving their dream for the year.

The absolute best way to transform a company is to transform the people within that company. Regardless of what industry you are in or how big or small your company is, one of the best ways to engage your people, create a healthy culture, and get everyone on board to work towards the organization’s grander vision is to care and help them achieve their personal dreams.

You may come up with something completely different than what Infusionsoft has adopted or what Mattew Kelly writes about in his book,The Dream Manager, but the one thing you can’t ignore is constantly looking for ways to grow and develop your people. After all, your company can only become as great as the people within it.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

When Leading Through Change, Adopt These 4 Strategies

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The two guarantees in life are taxes and death. No matter how much we hate both, they will be there. There is no way around them.

In business, the one guarantee is change. Organizations of all sizes will experience a great deal of change at some point and it’s up to the leader to create an atmosphere of effective adaptation. The best organizations that dominate the market and competition have leaders that know how to lead through change better than anyone else, as well as bring out the best in their people during times of extreme uncertainty.

Here are four important strategies to lead through change:

1. Stay purpose driven.

When your organization is experiencing turbulent times and you are in a position where you have to lead through change,you must stay purpose driven. If the leader of an organization veers away from the organization’s purpose, how in the world are the employees of that organization supposed to stay on target? It’s just not going to happen.

You might not know the exact way in the beginning, you may be more nervous than you have ever been in your career or the criticism from the outside world may be at an all-time high, but if you direct all of your focus on staying purpose driven and creating a culture high on purpose, the “how” will eventually present itself.

2. Communication must be constant.

I write about communication a lot, and a major reason for that is because I think there are too many organizations that undervalue its importance, especially during times of major change. Great communication is required to create great relationships. Great communication is required for athletic teams to perform at a high level. The same goes for organizational health and being able to lead effectively.

It’s important for leaders to constantly communicate from a technical standpoint, but also to reinforce much needed inspiration and acknowledgment of their people. The next time change hits your organization, whether big or small, make it a priority to become a world-class communicator.

3. Invest in your people.

As a leader, you have to understand that the most important people are the ones who work with you. These are the men and women that are expected to carry out your vision and head into the trenches to make sure that the transition through whatever change your organization is going through is a success.

Depending on the size of your company, look to invest in your people as much as possible. The organizations that are passionate about developing and building their people are the same organizations that win and come out on top.

Whether it’s incorporating team-building exercises, bringing in experts in a certain field or enhancing skill sets in different ways, the opportunities are endless for you to invest in your people. This will not only help you and your organization lead successfully through change, but you will also be showing your people how much you care about developing them to become better.

4. Persist until you succeed.

No one enjoys change, and that especially goes for employees. They will be tempted to give up, slow down and lose focus of the overall objective and purpose. It’s your job as a leader to instill a culture of persistence.

It’s really hard to see the end result and even move forward when it feels as if nothing is being accomplished. Throughout the course of my athletic career as well as speaking to hundreds of majorly successful companies, I have realized that the most detailed plan and course of action can only get you so far when leading through change.

Persistence isn’t just a trait of the most successful people, it’s the backbone of the organizations that completely thrive during times of extreme change. Persisting and staying the course even when progress seems to be minimal is an absolute must when leading through change.

It’s inevitable that you will experience change at some point throughout your professional career. As a leader, business owner or entrepreneur, it’s your job to set the tone when leading your organization through change. These strategies will greatly improve your chances of getting the best out of your organization.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

20 Inspiring and Valuable Quotes on Leadership

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Every day I pick out a quote that I carry around with me and really spend a lot of time thinking about it. I think about the meaning of that quote and all of the possible ways on how I can adopt that into my way of living.

Below are 20 leadership quotes that I have been paying close attention to as of late. I hope these quotes add value to your life and inspire you to become a better leader.

1. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams

2. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch

3. “Great leaders are willing to sacrifice the numbers to save the people. Poor leaders sacrifice the people to save the numbers.” — Simon Sinek

4. “Think about all the great leaders. Think about Obama. Think about Clinton. Think about all the people that we know who are very successful in business, in politics and religion. What are they? They tell purposeful stories. They move people to action by aiming at the heart.” — Peter Guber

5. “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” — Colin Powell

6. “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” — Ronald Reagan

7. “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” — Jim Rohn

8. “You manage things. You lead people.” — U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Grave Murray Hopper

9. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” — John Maxwell

10 “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” — Warren Bennis

11. “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” — Sam Walton

12. “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” — Theodore Roosevelt

13. “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” — Nelson Mandela

14. “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” — Henry Ford

15. “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army or in an office.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

16. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

17. “A leader is a dealer in hope.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

18. “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” — Andrew Carnegie

19. “I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude.” — Colin Powell

20. “ As a leader … your principal job is to create an operating environment where others can do great things.” — Richard Teerlink

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Traits All Effective Leaders Possess

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Titles don’t define leadership. A certain title may have others calling you their boss or you may be referred as one of the leaders of the organization on the company’s website, but true leadership is much more than just a title.

True leadership involves the execution of a grand vision, where leaders enroll others to get passionate about seeing that vision through and then joining on the ride to bring that vision to reality. The hard part is actually getting your team members and employees to buy in to where you want to go and then working relentlessly to move that vision forward.

The leaders that are driven by a title will have a difficult time motivating and getting their team members and employees to not only buy into the grand vision, but actually work hard and come together for a common purpose. Here are three things that all effective leaders have in common:

1. They possess a deep sense of humility.

The best coaches I ever had in football were also the coaches who had the most humility. They were always thinking about those they were leading and rarely about themselves.

In my life as a speaker I see the exact same trait in the high performing and dominant organizations that I get to spend time with. The one characteristic that all of the top executives in dominant organizations possess is humility. Top employees never want to work for or be associated with leaders who are full of themselves.

As Billy Graham once said: “The smallest package in the world is a man all wrapped up in himself.”

2. They radiate positive energy.

Just like in life, the business world is full of unexpected twists, turns and obstacles, but the most effective leaders never let the unexpected deteriorate their positive energy.

It’s your job as a leader to stay positive and strong in the face of uncertainty. Your people already go through enough with the demands of work piled on top of the hustle and bustle of life. Don’t sabotage your organization’s growth by putting energy into the wrong places.

As the leader, you set the tone. Whether that tone is positive or negative is completely up to you. If you’re not radiating positive energy, how do you expect your people to?

3. They lead by example.

This one may seem self-explanatory, but you would be shocked at the number of leaders that would never consider doing what they ask of those they lead. One of the best ways to lose the respect and trust in your people is to continually fail to lead by example.

Look at any phenomenal leader. They are self-starters. They live what they preach. They demand excellence from themselves before they ever demand excellence from anyone else.

If you’re in a leadership position and not seeing the results from your team that you had maybe hoped to see, do a quick audit and ask yourself if you are leading by example to the best of your ability. Be who you say you are, do what you say you are going to do and care like you say you care.

There are a number of different things you can do to get the results that you are looking for out of your employees and team members. I hope these three attributes help to get the ball rolling for you. Having a deep sense of humility, radiating positive energy every chance you get and leading by example doesn’t produce miraculous and instant results, but I promise over time these three characteristics bring massive results.

 

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Listening Is an Art, and Mastering it Will Make You a Great Leader

1402674864-small-talk-could-have-big-benefits-for-your-careerImage credit: shutterstock

Wise businesspeople and leaders listen carefully. They listen to their peers, they listen to their staffs and they listen to their friends and family.

Carefully listening is especially important during business meetings. Many managers and leaders act as though they’re listening to their teams when they’re not. Often, the words spoken in meetings fall on deaf ears.

Listening is an art, after all, and not everyone knows how to do it properly. But if you can master the art of listening, you’ll improve your leadership and business skills.

A wise business leader knows how to listen and actually hear what others are saying. Epictetus, the Greek philosopher wrote: “We have two ears and one mouth — for a good reason.” It’s more important to listen than it is to talk most of the time. How else can you learn about what needs to be done to improve a situation? No one ever stops growing and evolving in his or her business and one of the ways to learn is by listening to others.

Ask yourself these questions: Should I be concerned with how people listen to my messages? How can I improve my listening skills? How do I know if people are truly listening to me? Am I listening to them?

A powerful listener is someone who is able to focus on what another person is saying without getting distracted with their ego or personal agenda. Being a powerful listener is critical for a leader because listening can be a powerful tool. In addition, leaders lead through conversations and a call to action. If you’re not a good listener, then there is a greater chance this won’t happen.

What do effective, powerful listeners do? Here are some examples:

  • They refuse to be distracted by their own egos and personal agendas. They ask questions and then listen to the answers. Wise leaders focus on their teams, employees and peers.
  • When interacting one on one, they direct all their attention and focus on the other person. They put their cell phones on “mute” and stop looking at it to see if they have any messages. They’re “present,” instead of daydreaming or thinking about who is texting them. Think about your own feelings when you’re in a conversation. Have you noticed how rewarding it is when someone listens to your ideas and thoughts? Likewise, if you focus and listen to someone, that person will feel validated and know his or her input is valuable.

I have learned that most people do not listen well. In this day when everyone carries around an smartphone or tablet, people don’t focus on each other when they’re together. Unfortunately, this holds true for businesspeople and leaders. Listening requires putting our own egos aside to listen to someone else.

A powerful listener acknowledges that the person speaking will welcome the opportunity to be heard. A wise listener and leader will validate anyone who is speaking.

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie quoted a man speaking of Sigmund Freud: “It struck me so forcibly that I shall never forget him. His eyes were mild and genial. His voice was low and kind. His gestures were few. But the attention he gave me, his appreciation of what I said, even when I said it badly, was extraordinary. You’ve no idea what it meant to be listened to like that.”

This story about Freud shows how powerful it is to listen and give someone your full attention. You never know what kind of influence you have upon another person.

It may seem small and not that important, but some of the best leaders of our time have mastered the art of listening. The art of listening truly can take not only your leadership ability to the next level, but also your success and likability as well, all of which help to create a healthy culture and peak performance.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

 

 

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