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What is a Leader’s Most Important Job?

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From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-headshotA leaders most important job: To lead. Duh.

How do you lead? Not from behind, that’s for sure. Leaders have to get out in front with their ideas, vision, energy and presence.

As I watch movies and TV shows about the battles of old, I always see the leader, even when the leader was the King himself, sitting atop his horse and charging into battle out in front of his troops. What an inspiration that must have been to see their leader’s commitment to his beliefs, his words and to his troops by being willing to risk it all by riding ahead of them into battle. Of course, that also meant that he usually got killed first. There are consequences for being the leader. The risk is the reason they make the big bucks and why we record their names in the history books.

Few leaders today risk much. They rarely get out in front for fear of the consequences. They want the glory when it goes well but mostly they don’t want the blame when it doesn’t go well. They don’t want the responsibility for the mess because they might lose their job, or not get re-elected.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Mark Sanborn:

mark-headshotA leader’s most important job is focusing the time and expertise of her team on doing the most important work of the organization.

All results and revenue are driven by how people spend their time (effort) and expertise (knowledge and skills). Profit, innovation, efficiency, effectiveness—everything is the byproduct of time and expertise. Invested wisely, the organization achieves great success. Lacking focus, mediocrity becomes the norm.

A leader isn’t just a person who is focused, but one who creates shared focus. There is a great deal of wasted time and expertise in companies where employees are doing low-priority work, or work that shouldn’t be done at all. But lacking an effective leader, it is difficult for them to know what they should be doing instead.

Just as a conductor makes sure members of an orchestra are all playing the right music to the best of their ability, so does an effective leader do his job. That is the most important job of the leader.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

joe-calloway-headshotWhat is a leader’s most important job? Clarity.

First and foremost, clarity about culture. Everyone must be crystal clear about who we are, what we value, and how we treat people. Clarity about culture means that those who violate the culture must leave. (Your culture, by the way, may very well invite new ideas, criticism, and disagreements.)

Then, clarity about what is most important. Here I agree with Mark Sanborn wholeheartedly. An effective leader makes clear exactly where we are going and what we have to do to get there. Everyone knows what the priorities are and is focused on the execution of those priorities.

We’ve all had the experience of working for a leader who was unclear about expectations, direction, or values. It’s the worst. A leader with no clear direction can destroy an organization.

To achieve clarity, a leader must have the ability to make the complicated simple. Steve Jobs was a master of this. He once said “if you can make things simple, you can move mountains.”

Amen. Give us leaders who can enable us to move mountains. Give us clarity.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-headshotThe leader’s most important job: make great decisions for the long-term benefit of the group.

It’s important to recognize that the leader has to view both the group that he or she has been designated to lead, and the challenges and opportunities in front of them, from a strategic, “30,000 feet” level.

This means sometimes building consensus before the decision is made is the right choice – other situations call for developing support for a judgment the leader has already determined.

Note, as well, I suggest it’s for the LONG TERM benefit of the group – which is precisely why so many executives aren’t true leaders. They’re managing for this quarter’s numbers, not leading their companies to create distinction.

When the leader views the future from that “30,000 feet” level, it’s like looking out the window of an airplane – you can see much farther down the road with that perspective than someone driving to the same destination. It’s commonly referred to as the leader having “vision.”

Until women and men in positions of authority are willing to have a visionary perspective, and start making more great decisions with the long-term benefit of their group or followers in mind, we won’t see an expansion of great leadership.

To find out more about Scott McKain, go to: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-headshotLeadership is influence and the scorecard is results.

The leader’s most important – you could say only – job is to influence others to deliver positive results. Results rule! Everything else is a discussion of the best ways to do so.

Ross Perot distinguished the difference between managing and leading very clearly: “You manage data and things. You lead people.”

And when it comes to leading people, there is nothing more important than creating a culture that consistently delivers positive results for the customer and the company.

Your culture is defined by your habits. My work with leaders and organizations has taught me that the best opportunities for consistent results occur when the culture reinforces these six choices at every level every day:

  1. Value candor and honesty
  2. Pursue the best over the easiest
  3. Focus the energy to make the main thing the main thing
  4. Leverage the power of partnerships with customers and staff
  5. Continually learn, grow, and adapt
  6. Show the courage of accountability

Your organization is perfectly designed to deliver the results you are delivering today. It is your job to build and sustain a culture that can deliver results tomorrow and beyond.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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3 Reasons You Need to Know What Made You Successful

Do you know what has created the success in your business and life?

You might assume that successful people succeeded by design, but that isn’t always the case. And those who succeeded once may not be able to replicate success again.

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It is hard to replicate success if you don’t know what created it. While we can learn as much (or more) from our mistakes, reflecting on the things that work in your professional life can pay great dividends.

Here’s why you need to know what has made you successful:

First, it will prevent you from gradually moving away from those effective practices.

Second, it will give you an opportunity to focus more on those significant skills to achieve greater success.

Third, it will help you be a better coaching in developing those you lead. Truth is transferrable. What has worked for you can work for others, too.

Carve out some time for serious reflection. Think about those things that have made you successful. Will they continue to work going forward? How might you improve upon them? What have you stopped doing or are doing less?

So what has made you successful? You need to know.

 

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What is the ONE thing you would do to fix the economy?

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From Joe Calloway:

joe-calloway-headshotFix the economy by electing grown-ups.

I don’t quite know what to write about this, because with the attitudes of most people being firmly locked in an intransient “we’re right and they’re wrong” position, the idea that we might elect grown-ups may be a pipe dream.

When I say elect grown-ups I mean elect men and women who can articulate solutions, not just spew partisan, whip-the-party-faithful-into-a-frenzy crap (I chose that word carefully) that appeals to the lowest common denominator of people who are incapable of critical thinking.

There are grown-ups in Congress on both sides who can point across the aisle and say “we can work with her or him.”  They know who the other grown-ups are.

In Tennessee, where I live, there is one Democratic Congressman (Cooper) and one Republican Senator (Corker) who are grown-ups.  They know how to get to solutions.  They’re smart.  They listen.  They think. They are pragmatists who are interested in moving forward.

I only wish that they had more grown-ups to work with.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Mark Sanborn:

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If you want to fix the economy, remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch: if someone eats for free, somebody else has to pay for it. The belief that entitlements are “free” is not only erroneous but dangerous.

Resources spent on entitlements come from the productive sector, usually in the form of taxes. Individuals and companies who produce are taxed on their productive efforts. The money spent on entitlements may be humanitarian but it can’t be used to start or grow companies or invested productively. Entitlements generally may help people, but they don’t help grow an economy.

That isn’t to say we shouldn’t help those that need it; the problem is the increasing number of individual and programs that expect assistance and in recent years there have been more and more of them. Society should help those that cannot help themselves, but not those who will not help themselves.

The economy and all who contribute will improve when we improve when we offer to those who really need help, and not those who simply want it.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-headshotTeach people to be more responsible and smarter with their money, get government to run like a business, create more jobs and get more people working, fewer entitlements and no more bailouts.  All good ideas.  But all take too long to have an impact. So, here you go:  A 15% across the board cut on all government spending.  No more “let’s cut this and let’s cut that.”  When you pick and choose, it becomes partisan and political and nothing gets done.  So, cut everything by 15%.  Defense, education, wages, utilities, people, roads, even paper and staples . . . all of it.  Not one exception.  No department is spared.  And don’t say, “Larry!!!  Not education.  Not welfare.  Not feeding children!!”  That’s the problem, we want to play favorites and every one says, “Cut spending, but not MY spending.”  Bottom line: Government is too big and there is way more than 15% waste in every area. So mandate a 15% cut to every budget with the condition that services and service levels are not affected. Force efficiency since they can’t do it on their own.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-headshotFocus on improving the relationship between government and small business.

For all the tax and infrastructure benefits offered to gain 1000 jobs, my wager is that 200 small businesses each hiring five new people has greater impact on the local community – yet, those entrepreneurs receive none of the incentives a big corporation mandates.

What if there were no corporate taxes for businesses that gross under $2 million? How many new employees could those entrepreneurs now hire? The owner will be paying more in taxes, as it’s reasonable to assume that her personal income would rise. More people would be employed, moving them from unemployment benefits and food stamps into taxpayers. It is a true “win-win.”

What if we placed a higher premium on creating companies rather than moving money? We need to stimulate more Steve Jobs and Bill Gates…and fewer Bernie Madoffs. When there’s more money in manipulation of currency, stock, and markets than there is in building businesses and creating jobs…something is out of alignment.

When a big company offers to create 500 jobs, governmental leaders fawn over them. Let 50 small businesses create 10 jobs each, and our government says, “So what?”

Until that’s corrected…the economy won’t be.

To find out more about Scott McKain, go to: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-headshotThe easy answer is, “Do what we’ve done in Texas.”  The leaders here make it easy for business to do business.

Here are the results:  unemployment lower than the national average; 40% of all the jobs created between 2009 and 2011; large companies relocating here.

The employment statistics don’t mention the high percentage of minimum wage jobs, however.

Adding jobs is not fixing the economy. For that, we must completely overhaul our education system to grow the skills and work ethic needed to compete in the 21st century.

Here is the truth: Many of the jobs lost in the Great Recession are never coming back. They can be automated or performed in less expensive places. And, we have a skills shortage for the jobs that will grow our economy.

We spend more per student than any other country in the world, and we do not rank in the top 20 on math, science, and reading scores.  Our commitment to re-skilling adults is marginal at best – from both the unemployed and the government.

So yes, let’s elect grownups who will lead. But let’s not confuse putting people to work in low-paying jobs with fixing the economy. That requires a commitment to education and entrepreneurial thinking that enables jobs that add value. It is equal parts responsible leadership and individual responsibility.

That’s not easy. It is hard.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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Perspective: 5 Friends Share Insights on Success

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What you should and shouldn’t sacrifice to reach your goals.

From Joe Calloway:

joe-calloway-bookI found this definition of sacrifice: “to give up something for something else considered more important.” I’m going with that.

If you’ve set the right goal, you should sacrifice pretty much anything and everything for it, because if it’s your goal – then you’ve decided it’s most important.

If, for example, making money truly is your goal, and it’s more important to you than, for example, family or relationships, then take every job, never be home, and when you are at home stay in your office and do stuff that will make money for you.

If, however, you’ve set having a happy, fulfilled, loving family as your goal, then do whatever it takes to make that happen, including making enough money to provide what your family needs.

Sorry, but you can’t have it all. You can, however, have what’s most important to you. That’s just a matter of making the right sacrifices. For me, what’s most important is family, friends, and relationships. I’ll sacrifice some money for that.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Mark Sanborn:

mark-sanborn-bookI agree with Joe: you can’t have it all.

But I learned something important from a pastor friend who added, “….but when you know what is really important, you don’t want it all anyway.”

The unhappiest people I know are the people trying to “have it all:” the perfect home, manicured lawn, most influential social circles, the highest status car, meaningful relationships and lots of free time. They are unhappy because they don’t understand the concept of sacrifice.

When you sacrifice nothing, you get nothing. An unwillingness to sacrifice ultimately means that you don’t know or aren’t sure what is truly important.

He or she is no fool who gives up something of lesser value for greater value, and that is the essence of sacrifice. Perhaps as hard as making a sacrifice is the hard work of drilling down to what really matters to you.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-bookAt first glance, it’s an easy question. Never sacrifice your health, family, or integrity. Past that, it gets tougher. If something is really important to you (and your goal should be really important otherwise it’s just a desire or a “would like to have” and not a goal) then you must understand that there will be plenty of sacrifice ahead of you. And if you aren’t doing some sacrificing, then your goal isn’t challenging enough. You will have to sacrifice some meals, some sleep, some family time, some money, some personal time, your old way of thinking and acting and much, MUCH more. Sacrifice is a natural part of achievement. The only way to GET is to GIVE UP. You don’t get rich, you give up what is making you broke. You don’t get skinny, you give up what is making you fat. You don’t get happy, you give up what is making you unhappy. You don’t get your goal, you give up what is keeping you from reaching your goal. Pick a goal, then make a list of what you are willing to sacrifice and what you aren’t, then go to work!

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-bookYou…me…all of us…have been lied to.

We’ve been told that we can “have it all” – but, that’s nothing more than a damnable lie. As all of my friends have noted, we have to make choices. We have to sacrifice one aspect of life we want, for another that we desire even more.

My first wife (who passed from cancer after twenty-five years of marriage) loved her career as much as I love mine – and we chose not to have children. Was that decision good or bad? The answer, of course, is: yes.

I know she was extraordinarily happy and thrilled in her work – and, I in mine. I know our friendships were deep, rich, and rewarding. Yes, there are extraordinary parts of life that we relinquished. The important point is that it was the right choice for us. We sacrificed the joys of parenthood for a different type of fulfillment.

Sadly, what many people give up…is themselves. Not making a decision IS making a choice. It’s deciding to delay…to defer…to somehow die. It’s giving up what YOU want for what your family predicts, a boss presumes, or your friends presuppose.

You can’t have it all…but you can be successful at something. When you make the right choices for you…the truth is that “something” can be spectacular. www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-bookThis question begs for a finite answer in a world of infinite (and relative) choices. And that’s why my answers is sacrifice everything or sacrifice nothing – it is your choice.

What you will or won’t have to sacrifice to reach your goal depends on a number of variables that are completely personal to you: importance and difficulty of the challenge; time horizon to achieve it; your starting point; your life circumstances; your support system; your resources; and even luck.

When it comes to achieving goals, most of us never honestly assess the variables; make the conscious choice about what is and isn’t important; and embrace the discipline and sacrifice to achieve them.

Set an easy goal, and there will be very little or even no sacrifice. Set an insanely challenging goal, and you will have to give something up. And if you aren’t willing to give up something to reach that big audacious goal, there is a good chance that you will sacrifice reaching your goal.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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5 Quick Tips for Developing Others

1. Prove to others their significance.Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 10.48.39 AM

Show them how what they do each day affects coworkers, customers and the success of the company. Help them see the linkage between cause and effect; what they do and the impact their actions create.

2. Give reasons for growth.

Sell those you lead on the benefits of professional development. Make sure they see what they’ll gain both personally and professionally from increasing their skills and knowledge.

3. Tell, show and watch.

Don’t just tell others what to do: show them and then watch them as they attempt what you’ve demonstrated. Verbal feedback is one way to know if they understand, but observation is the best way to determine if they’ve learned the behavior.

4. Explain the what, why and how.

How-to is the ability to get something done. Knowing why is needs to be done provides the motivation. People are more likely to do what they’re asked when you’ve made the time to explain the significance of the task.

5. Provide practice time.

Performance likely increases with the time allotted to improving it. If nobody has time to read, think, reflect upon and apply their skills, is it reasonable to expect them to get better? Give your team 15-30 minutes each day to work at getting better, whether that is reading a relevant article or book or role-playing human interactions that apply to their work.

 

 

 

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