Archives for posts with tag: leadership

Much had been written about leadership. Not so much has been written about followership.  (Case in point, the word followership comes up on my screen underlined in red!)

As much as the word hasn’t made it into the online dictionary nor the everyday lexicon, it is a concept that is slowly coming to the fore. As a testament to its legitimacy,  it is mentioned in Wikipedia and is defined as: “a  role held by certain individuals in an organization, team, or group. Specifically, it is the capacity of an individual to actively follow a leader. Followership is the reciprocal social process of leadership.”

So inextricably linked are they that logically, you can’t be a leader if no one is following you. And since being a leader and being a follower is not a mutually exclusive proposition I would say that the best leaders also know when, and more importantly how, to be great followers.

I seem to be on a ‘simplicity kick’ of late and this clever You Tube video satisfies my need for learning something new in less than three minutes!  And on a side note, it makes me smile every single time I watch it. 🙂  Take a look for yourself.

Have you ever been  inspired, moved or excited by someone with a great idea? Did you put your hand up. jump up and actively follow this “lone nut” and give credence and credibility to the individual and the notion? If so, congratulations on being willing to put yourself out there! If not, what’s stopping you?


With thanks to @VinceMolinaro of Knightsbridge for causing me to laugh uproariously when I read this an hour or so ago!

Although some might say this is a crude expression, I think it is a great brass tacks, where the rubber meets the road type of question that should provoke a hell of a lot of thought in any leader.  In my experience, I would venture to say that anyone who bothers to give more than a passing thought to this is already a good leader.  Typically, they are the ones who subscribe to the mantra “the more one knows, the more one doesn’t know”.  (Sadly, it is often those who most need to ask themselves such a question who don’t!)   It goes without saying that a certain degree of confidence and self assured-ness is necessary in order to willingly seek out and recognize developmental gaps and subsequent areas of focus.

No matter on what rung of the management ladder you find yourself, you can only grow as a leader if you are open to doing so.  After all, it was a rather iconic spokesman in the form of J.F. Kennedy who said “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”.

I can see Molinaro’s question forming the basis of an insightful exercise in self reflection and leading to many more sub questions providing valuable intel to those willing to “accept this mission”.

What  is a good leader?   Who says I am one?  Who would say I’m not?  When am I a better leader?  Why is it important to me to be a better leader? What will it cost me if I’m not?  What will it cost my organization?  Where can I get help to be a better leader?  What do I need to start doing? Stop doing? Do more of?  What do I admire about your predecessor?  What do I resent?


Although this is by no means an exhaustive list, I suspect it could  get you going on a path of reflective reckoning.  Except for one small problem.

How many leaders take the time (and take we must since there is no making time) to give themselves the gift of pause?  To actually begin a process that definitely involves thinking first  and talking second.  Talking to our direct reports. peers, bosses and clients via a 360 instrument, to our mentors, coaches and other trusted advisors and maybe even our self!

Although there are few leaders I have worked with who would argue taking time to think about their own leadership practices is a bad thing, most would admit they don’t even do it on an ad hoc basis much less systematically.   For those who do, this habit pays dividends.

Since we know that a habit takes 21 days to become embedded, what specific steps have my successful clients taken?

  • They block off time in their weekly schedule to think and treat it as they would a meeting with their CEO or DG.  They don’t short change themselves by cancelling ‘them self’.
  • Some leave their office and even their building and walk while they think.  This is scientifically proven to double the benefits!
  • Many journal.  Imagine having written documentation to look back on and learn from time and time again…priceless.
  • They schedule dedicated conversations with trusted advisors.
  • They set aside three hours a month to participate as a member of an action learning set (more on that next week).

So tell me, as a leader, what do you do take the time to continually ‘sharpen your saw’?

Of all the levels of management I have worked with over the years, I most enjoy working with emerging/aspiring leaders.  Their willingness to learn and their enthusiasm is contagious and fuels my own spirit and passion.

Aspiring leaders have many questions of course and the single most often asked question I hear is “how do I get to be a leader from my job as a (fill in the blank with any job title that is non-management)?

Leadership and being a positional leader are not necessarily the same.  As much as we hope that all leaders display leadership qualities and behaviours, we know that is sadly not true. And by the same token, many employees (a.k.a. individual contributors) display sound and proven leadership skills.  Sometimes these abilities seem inate, other times they are displayed by design.

Some have said that leaders are born and not made.  I am of the belief that with the willingness to reflect on and assess one’s presence, practice and performance, anyone who wants to can mindfully learn to lead.

Following are 10 tips from Suzanne Lucas of Inc. that aspiring leaders (and current leaders for that matter!) could learn from.

(1) Communicate clearly

Leaders don’t grumble behind closed doors when things don’t go their way. They don’t say yes when they really want to say no. They say what they mean and do so in a way that people understand. This is not advocating rudeness, but it is advocating dropping passive-aggressive behavior.

(2)Learn Flexibility

There’s rarely just one “right” way to do something.  If you are going to insist that things be done a certain way, you’re headed down the micromanager path, and that’s not what leadership is about. Ask yourself, “Is this the wrong way to do it, or is it just different from the way I would do it”?

(3) Don’t be a doormat

Leaders stand up for themselves, politely. Jerks stand up for themselves rudely. If somebody interrupts you in a meeting, simply say, “I’m sorry, can I finish?” If your slimy co-worker tries to dump her work on you say, “That won’t be possible.” Does this mean you never do a favor? Absolutely not. You do do favors, but you do so because you are nice or because it benefits you and the company, not because you can’t say no.

(4) Help Other

Leaders bring others along with them and share credit for work well done. Leaders don’t look for opportunities to step on others, but rather look for opportunities to help others succeed. Remember, a leader is someone who demonstrates desirable characteristics

(5) Take Responsibility for Your Mistake

We all make mistakes. Own your mistakes. When someone points out an error, don’t start throwing blame, simply say, “Thanks for letting me know. Let me fix that.” Additionally, when things start going south, ask for help rather than panicking and trying to fix everything on your own. That usually makes it worse

(6) Listen to Others’ Ideas

You may be bursting with ideas and can’t wait until it’s your turn on the stage, but take time to listen to others. Other people have great ideas as well, and a true leader acknowledges that good things can come from many sources. Don’t cut people off. Do solicit ideas. You may be surprised at what you learn

(7) Take Risks

Lots of times, people think leaders have led charmed lives where everything went well. This is rarely, if ever, the case. Failure is an integral part of success. When you can acknowledge that the risks are real but the potential payoff is enough to counteract that, you’re demonstrating leadership. If you jump blindly, that’s stupid. But if you evaluate the situation and take a calculated risk anyway, that’s leadership

(8) Remember to Network

Networking isn’t just about finding jobs, it’s about connecting with people. As you learn how to interact with people, you’ll learn which interactions are effective and which are ineffective. As you help others with their career, you’re demonstrating your ability to lead and guide. And when you show up as someone willing to help others, amazingly enough, others will show up to help you! 

(9) Develop a Thick Skin

Illegal and immoral discrimination happens.  Accept that it does happen and just determine not to let terrible people get you down.  If someone treats you poorly, don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that it was based on some immutable characteristic.  Instead, evaluate if what they said or did was justified.  If it was, change your behavior. If it wasn’t, don’t let it bother you. Now, in an egregious situation, absolutely report it, but let most things roll off your back

(10) Don’t Ask for Special Treatment

All that stuff you learned about being inherently special? False . You’re not.  I’m not.  No one is.  So stop asking for special treatment and exceptions to rules.  Now, can you become special by working harder and smarter than everyone else?  You’ll get special treatment when you deserve it.  That isn’t to say you can’t ask for what you want especially when you display  extra behavior. That’s not special treatment—that’s something you earn by being awesome.




We hear a lot these days about employee engagement.  Although it is important and good to talk about such a critically important topic, it is even more important to act on everything we are learning about what motivates people to bring the best of themselves to work every day.
Although many definitions of engagement exist, it really does boil down to an engaged employee being one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about their work and therefore acting in a way that furthers their organization’s interests. According to Scarlett Surveys, “Employee engagement is a measurable degree of an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues and organization that profoundly influences their willingness to learn and perform at work”. 
The terms employee satisfaction and engagement are often used synonymously. Although they are in fact two sides of the same coin, most simply put, the former is what you get and the latter is what you give.

Given the current climate where a myriad of Canadian studies  show that approximately two thirds of the workforce (and that is both private and public sector) are disengaged, what can a leader do not only to keep currently engaged employees excited but to re-engage those who have become ‘zombies’; those who stumble around the office, lower morale and cost the organization money.

Practically, managers can make sure they address the four “ates”: Communicate, Create, Delegate, Celebrate.
There can never be enough communication in any organization. Begin by clearly communicating your goals and expectations to your team. Without this, how can employees even begin to be fully involved and enthusiastic?  Share information and numbers when you can, as soon as you can and as often as you can.  Everyone understands that not all information can be revealed all the time.  Most employees will respect a manager who says: ” I can’t talk about that right now but as soon as I can, I will” or simply ” I don’t know that but I will try to find out”.  Feedback of the positive and constructive varieties will help foster a positive attachment to their job and ultimately their organization.

Create what? The milieu. At the end of the day, managers can’t make anybody ‘be motivated’ but they most assuredly can influence the environment where employees can self motivate. A strong team environment will contribute to each individual contributor’s sense of belonging.

When and where you can, delegate both for the purpose of development as well as to demonstrate your trust in them to do the job correctly thus increasing their ownership of the task.

Celebrate when and how you can. This doesn’t mean it has to cost a lot of money-be creative and have fun!  Most importantly, be genuine.  Sincere appreciation and recognition will send the intended message: thank you for contributing to our success.