Episode 050 – Lessons in Leadership From My Facebook Friends

Do you lead people at work?  In a volunteer organization?  Or are you looking to lead others online?  Be acknowledged as an expert in a field and have others follow you?  Or maybe you’re just trying to persuade people to agree with your point of view.  In order to succeed, you have to be technically competent, or no one will listen to you in the first place.  But then what makes people want to follow you?  Or conversely, what makes them NOT want to follow you?  We explore this and more in my 50th podcast episode.

Oh, and by the way, I’m hosting a virtual party on my Facebook page from September 20-30.  Join me there.

(c) AdobeStock Photo

(c) AdobeStock Photo

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On This Episode

Rhythm of Life – Body Surfing Through Time
Random Riffs – Pencil Shavings
Feature Segment – “It’s the People, Stupid!”

Rhythm of Life – Body Surfing Through Time

At the end of August, I was in Newport, Rhode Island with my family.  We went to our favorite beach to body surf.  As I was standing waiting for a good wave, I had flashes of images of me in this same water at this same beach over the years.

Some were with my husband, Jerry, who loved body surfing as much as I did.  I miss having a partner to ride the waves with.  For that minute I felt the absence of Jerry as I hadn’t for a long time.  It was a metaphor for what I miss most – someone to ride the waves of all the ups and downs of life.

I had another flashback to times when my father and mother taught me to body surf.  How to judge the wave and pick the right one.  At that time, I innocently thought the world was my playground and I could conquer anything.  Even the waves.

I saw in a flash how many waves had conquered me over the years – circumstances of death, illness, organization changes, personal hurts.  I felt small and insignificant against the ocean.

At the same time, I saw that I had gotten up each time a wave knocked me down.  I had gotten stronger and could take the blows and keep getting back up, even stronger than before.

I saw that in trying to protect myself from harm I had put such a crust over my tender heart that I could no longer see or feel it.  I saw that I had eventually learned how to crack that crust open and let my heart shine.

All that happened in about 2 minutes. While I waited for the perfect wave, I realized that I could wait forever and miss all the good waves.  I could mourn for what was lost or celebrate what was gained.

If you’ve ever felt overcome with waves knocking you down, you can get back up too.  You can choose to enjoy the ride.

Random Riffs – Pencil Shavings

When I went to Seth Godin’s Ruckusmakers workshop, he gave us notebooks these special pencils called Blackwing for taking notes.  I have yet to ascertain a significant difference between other pencils, except that is erases really well.  The best part is the sharpener.  It has two holes.  One for the rough sharpening, and the other to make a fine point, sharper than any other sharpeners. And the point is longer too, so you can sharpen less often.

The only problem is that there are significantly more sharpening bits left in the sharpener.  Pencil shavings aren’t only messy.  They also grind into the carpet as you try and pick them up.  So my lovely pencil and sharpener has a decidedly dark side – it makes a huge mess

At any rate, I still like the pencil.  And I bought more.  I just have to be careful with the sharpener.  Now wouldn’t it be great if it would write my book for me?

Feature Segment – “It’s the People, Stupid!”

What makes a great leader?  That’s what a new college graduate who recently joined my team asked me a few weeks ago.  He wanted to know what Leadership qualities he should develop. Even now as he is just starting his career he is already thinking about how he can learn and grow and improve.

In order to share great insights, and stimulate his thinking, I began listing out some leadership qualities I thought were important. I decided to ask him his opinion first so that I could better understand what his experience had been and if he had ever experienced great leadership.

And then I asked my Facebook friends for their input.  I asked, “What leadership trait is most important to you and why?”

What a fantastic conversation we had!  People from all walks of my life shared their insights and their good and bad experiences with leaders.  An eclectic mix of viewpoints and experiences was shared, both good and bad.

As I read, it helped to crystalize my own thinking too, and helped my list.  I ended up with a dynamic conversation with this young man.

So I thought I’d share some of our conversation with you, including some of the insightful comments I received from my team of leadership experts on Facebook.

In a manner of speaking, one line from our former company president says it all.  “It’s the people, stupid!”  Peter Bland, used to say every time the leadership team had to make a difficult decision or considered a new policy.  His point was that it isn’t about us as leaders.  It’s about the people we lead.  Why?  Because when leaders focus on those they lead instead of themselves, the people flourish, the team performs better.  How leaders lead those working for them matters.  A lot.

With Peter’s words ringing in my ears, I asked my young co-worker if he had an example of a great leader in his life, and what qualities they had.  It was a friend of his father, who owns his own business.  This man has integrity, responsibility, persistence, humility, a vision, and plan to carry it out.  This resulted in happy clients and a business that continued to grow.

What a great place to start!  He already had a decent idea of what great leadership looks like and had seen the results a great leader gets.  So we dug into what characteristics he could develop to grow as a leader.  I told him that leadership is a verb – it requires action in order to get results.  And, although a leader has the power to influence, but should not view his/her position as one of control or dictatorship. People should not follow out of coercion, but rather follow voluntarily.

Think about your own life, or those around you.  Are there people who are so expert at something that others want to follow?  Or always seem to know where they are going, and have a plan to get there.  Perhaps you’re like that.

Here’s what I told my young colleague.

  1. People do their best work when they believe they are an important part of making it happen.
  2. The essence of leadership is love.
  3. When you love, you are more likely to demonstrate integrity and empathy; you listen and communicate effectively, and more.
  4. A relationship like this creates trust.  Trust allows people to work together without fear.
  5. The best investment an organization can make toward their success is in their people.
  6. The best way to be recognized as a leader is to lead yourself first.  Motivate yourself.  Hold yourself accountable.
  7. You will never be 100% ready and you will never be perfect.

 

Think about yourself, and those who lead you.  Notice where trust is being built, and where it is not.

Tune in next week as we explore how bad leadership impacts us all and how we can improve it.

Resources:

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey

What do you think is the most important leadership trait?  Share in the comments.  If you have a story of a great leader, we'd love to hear it too. 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.