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November 2009

Thanksgiving in Every Season

Tomorrow, people in the United States will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, a time of feasting and celebration of love, life and family in the tradition of our country's founding. However, no matter where you reside in this world, I welcome you to join us in the tradition of being thankful for all that you have.

We can all set aside this day as a day for an attitude of gratitude.

To my of my friends and readers around the globe, I wish you all a wonderful day of Thanksgiving. I am thankful for each one of you and I appreciate your allowing me to speak into your lives. Thank you for speaking into mine.

I will close with the following quote. Read through it thoughtfully and take time to reflect on how you can be thankful even through some of the tough stuff.  All of life, the good and the bad, shapes us into the people and leaders we are today and will be tomorrow. We can be thankful for it all with the right perspective.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted:
A time to kill, and a time to heal;

Time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing:
A time to gain, and a time to lose;

A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

Source: Ecclesiastes 3, The Bible: New American Standard Version

What can you be thankful for? Share below as a comment if you so desire!

Lead Change: Become a Status Quo Buster

...the opportunity to "change the business-as-usual environment" is the fertile soil for leadership. - Kouzes & Posner, The Leadership Challenge, p. 47

Leaders challenge the status quo. Leaders forge ahead, taking their followers through uncharted waters, encouraging them along the way with a vision of success...and less "pain". Opportunities to bust the status quo are definitely fertile soil for leadership. I've personally found this to be true throughout my career.

I am no stranger to initiating change. With the exception of my first job, I've consistently been called upon to make things better because the organization's growth had outgrown their processes. How many times have you heard the phrase "But we've always done it this way?"  I've heard it too many times to count.

Newsflash: What got you here will get you more of the same. How is the "same" working for you?

Consider the following questions to identify ripe leadership opportunities:

  • What makes you angry where you are?
  • What repetitive complaints come to mind?
  • What processes can be automated to save time?

Address these issues with strategic action plans and you will make lots of people happy! Keep the end in mind and embrace the learning process.

Leaders are comfortable making people uncomfortable while striving to making things better. Leaders lead change when appropriate, not for the sake of it. Great leaders bust the status quo for the greater good and are sensitive to their people through the process. What has been your experience with change? Share it below.

What change will you make today?

As a professional coach I help people every day to make changes in their personal and professional lives. If you need help making some changes, coaching may be the status quo buster for you. Contact me for a complimentary consultation.

Coaching: How the Best Leaders Teach

Its not easy to teach people how to think, yet this skill is a must for effective leadership. It requires patience and foresight...and time. Yet if we don't teach others how to think on their own, we waste time in the long run because our subordinates will be forever dependent upon our knowledge base for answers. 

A leader who doesn't teach stunts his own personal growth and destines himself to the "same old, same old". This type of leader "teaches" people how to be forever followers.

I believe that the best leaders teach people to think by following a coaching model, whether they realize it or not. Coaching and leadership go hand in hand. Interestingly enough, coaching is a learning model.

The primary competencies of professional coaching, grouped into the four main categories of listening, creating awareness, planning and managing progress mirror the skills necessary for leaders to get things done through people.  Let's take a look at how each core area enhances a leader's ability to teach.

  1. Listening  - Through the gift of listening, leaders demonstrate humility and respect.  Additionally, new ideas often emerge when people process out loud.
  2. Creating Awareness - Great questions create learning because they encourage thinking. The process of answering a question creates more learning than a "lecture".
  3. Planning and Goal Setting - A good action plan teaches us to stretch beyond what we might ordinarily think possible.
  4. Managing progress and accountability - Done well, accountability teaches us to celebrate our success and to reflect and course correct if necessary.

When we teach others to think through a coaching model, we free ourselves up to blaze new trails and we build trust in those we lead in the process. As leaders, teaching the way a coach teaches is a win-win for everyone concerned!

What are your experiences as either a leader or learner? What developmental techniques have worked for you as you've mentored others? Leave your comment below to share your expertise.

If you would like to experience coaching for yourself, please contact me for a complimentary consultation by clicking here.

The Leader's Role As Teacher

Leaders and managers have always coexisted. Leadership is an art, blending skills of both leadership and management in a delicate dance to get things done through people or for people in the most effective way possible. Leaders must manage. Managers must lead.

While leadership and management skill sets coexist in various circumstances, and while both "positions" are equally important, distinctions also exist between the two. The first distinction I'd like to discuss today is the leader's role of teacher.

Leaders teach people how to think. Managers tell people what to do.

Long gone is the industrial society of old where skilled and not-so-skilled laborers comprised the majority of the workforce. Teaching was different back then when managers were just called managers and the term "leadership" wasn't the hot topic of the day. Change moved at a slower pace.

Technology and automation changed the pace of our world forever in the middle of the 20th century.  Because everyone is caught in the race of playing catch-up with too much to do and to little time to get it done, skilled minds are worth more than skilled hands. Leaders must teach people how to think to save time in the long run.

Leaders who can't teach people how to think will be forever challenged with how long to "hand hold" their staffs. How effective of a teacher are you and what could you do to improve? Do you teach or tell? What one area under your influence could benefit by your becoming a teaching leader?

Finally, as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Share your success or questions and join in the discussion by adding your thoughts to the comments below.