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Articles tagged with: Learner

A Leadership Call to Action

There is a shortage of great leaders. I recently read an article that reported the shortage of leaders as the most pressing human resource challenge that businesses are facing. This is a crisis. The gap between the challenges we face is increasing faster than the ability, or the will, to produce the leadership necessary to shorten the deficit.

It’s graduation time! I’ve been thinking about the challenges these young people will face as they enter the workforce, and thought they could use a bit of advice. As you read the letter, ask yourself if you have become the kind of leader that our world is demanding our graduates to strive to be.  If the answer is no, use it as a call to action.  Take an inventory of your training, skills, capabilities, and effectiveness and do the right thing. Now is the time and as mentioned in the letter, we are all counting on you too! And be sure to share this with the new grads in your life!

A Letter to Graduates

Congratulations! You’ve done it! You are now officially graduates! Find the time to celebrate. You definitely deserve it. Be very proud of yourselves as this is one of the greatest accomplishments that you will experience.  You have learned many things about both your limitations and your capabilities and now it is time to go out and make a difference in a world hungry for your many talents. As you navigate through life in search of new knowledge and experiences to build on your foundation, I offer this advice to take with you on your leadership journey:

  • Ask questions. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ~Steven R. Covey         Everyone has a journey, knowledge and their own worldview. As you embark on your path of understanding, be receptive to and question all other people no matter how different they are from you, in either appearance or thought. In fact, the more different they are, the more your own worldview will expand.
  • Think before you act. Take the time to give yourself a chance to process your words and actions before you proceed. Create in your mind’s eye a story, complete with a beginning and end, of the path you are about to take. Evaluate the imagined results to increase your chances of a successful outcome.
  • Never stop learning. You can put away your books, but you must always be a student. The world is dynamic. We will never know all that there is to know. The best we can do is to keep our minds and hearts open to this wonderfully vibrant creation.
  • Listen. A colleague once told me, that the greatest gift you can give someone is to listen. Spend less time talking and more time listening. Hearing is not the same as listening. Hearing just happens; listening is intentional. Effective listening is an art that must be learned and constantly practiced.
  • Constantly evaluate your surroundings. Be present and aware. Put down your cell phone and interact with the people around you. Don’t be a bystander. You must anticipate and prepare for anything and everything you may encounter.
  • Be empathetic. In my opinion, empathy is the greatest trait a leader can have. Walk a mile in your own shoes and you will get to the next town. Walk a mile in everyone else’s shoes and you will get around the world. I can’t say it better than the author, Daniel H. Pink: “Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”
  • Find something to believe in.  Find a cause, religion, a community organization, politics, or all of the above. If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. Leaders always find a way to give of themselves to aid in the betterment of the world. Perform small acts of kindness: lend a hand, cause a smile, wipe a tear, warm a heart – give of yourself in these ways, and I promise, you will be rewarded.*

As graduates and future leaders, we are all counting on you. Find your place in the world and use all that you have and will learn, to, as Michael Jackson said, “Make it a better place for you and me.” *This life insurance commercial from Thailand captures it best.


We Have Heard This All Before….

I was teaching at a conference with a group of colleagues on leadership. As I perused through the surveys I saw one comment that caught my eye (I am not sure why the negative comments always “catch our eye” but they do). This comment for some reason really got me thinking. The comment was, “This was OK but it was nothing new”.

My first reaction was to think, holy cow, should we have been presenting in a different manner, was our material not relevant, what can we do different? I let that settle in my mind for a while and did not share it with anyone else.

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered; does everything have to be “new”? I think most of our challenges are not from what we do not know, but rather, what we do not do with what we know.

After many years of leadership, training and coaching I realized being accountable and following through with the knowledge we have is the greatest challenge. If we are not careful we are always looking for the newest, latest and greatest trend in leadership and not even applying what we have already learned. The wisest man on earth once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” If we believe that to be true then the challenge is not finding a new way to lead, but to apply what we have already learned. I think we have to guard against the desire to be stimulated with something new (or at least what we perceive as new) and practice executing what we already know. How many of us go to a conference, get several great ideas, maybe try one or two when we get back to the real world, put the conference binder on the shelf and go back to our routine?

I would love to hear what you think. Is taking on new information or a new way of saying/doing something more exciting than actually doing it? If so, how does a leader bring the two closer together?


Character vs Ability

This blog in no way is intended to be political in nature or reflect on any one person in leadership.  I am just putting some thoughts out there in the world I have been pondering regarding the importance of character/integrity vs. ability.

If asked which is more important I would have always said… character and integrity any day.  However, recently I found myself pondering this.  I have been reading “The 8th Habit” by Stephen Covey and he addresses this issue.  In one of the chapters he posed the question “who would you rather have working on you…. a mediocre surgeon who has character and is honest or the best surgeon who has poor character and is dishonest.”  Wow I had to think about this… which led me to think about a lot of things….

We like to think things are black and white and there definitely things that are.  Unfortunately the more you mull over a thought, the older you get and the more people you meet - you realize there is so much gray.  This frustrates me… I like the black and white.  It seems to make decisions easier.

Last night when our former President Bush gave his welcome speech in TX he said, “Popularity is fleeting, but character and integrity are our oaks….”  So I started thinking about this regarding our country.  Would I rather have a leader who can make me successful or one that has integrity… why can’t we have both?  I think we can and I think this what we are finally hungry for in America…. enough with the empty promises.  I think when it is all said and done I would still rather have character, honor and truthfulness.  What about you, I would love to hear your thoughts on my quandary….