Leading Blog



07.28.14

8 Shifts Young Leaders Need to Make

Leading Forum
It was one of the most embarrassing things I've ever done.

I was standing in a hotel lobby waiting on my buddy to get some coffee before we were headed out for a day at a conference we were working. I was standing against the wall with my computer bag on my back. We were running a little late, so on the spur of the moment I decided I'd go get the rental car and bring it to the lobby's front door. As I stepped away from the wall, I had no idea the pandemonium that would ensue.

Apparently my bag had gotten caught on the fire alarm in the hotel lobby. In an odd case of events, when I stepped away from the wall, the fire alarm went off and people began to scatter. The hotel lobby that was rather full with folks eating breakfast and enjoying their morning coffee suddenly began to empty as people began to look around and evacuate the lobby.

You see, that's what happens when alarms go off, people move. For the next generation, an alarm of sorts is going off. An alarm that, if ignored or simply silenced, will continue to get louder and louder. An alarm that, if left unanswered, could mean serious trouble for the next generation and our world as we know it. Poverty rates have never been higher, unemployment rates are astronomically high, and people are hurting all over our world. Children are being abandoned by parents that have other priorities and people are willing to kill over heresay and gossip.

Our culture is in need of young leaders that are willing to not just silence the alarm with quick fixes, but sustain lasting change in the world we live in. We need young leaders that can rally people around them and begin bringing people together for lasting change.

How can we answer the alarm? By making some shifts in our lives and in our leadership in order to help lead lasting change in our society. Here are 8 shifts that we need to make as young people in order to set ourselves up to lead well now and in the future.

From Entitlement to Honor
The millennial generation is often referred to as "the entitled generation." Many of us have had things handed to us by our parents and the people around us and somehow believe that we deserve it all. We'll have to shift from believing that we deserve our due to seeking to honor those around us if we're going to lead lasting change. The people we seek to influence have to know that we are about them and not ourselves. That's real leadership.

From Unreliable to Consistent
Consistency is our generation's key to change. In order to change our lives, our families, our neighborhood, or our world, we have to consistently seek that change. Anyone can do something once, the real world changers are the ones that consistently excel and consistently push to a vision.

From Dissension to Cooperation
Unity and cooperation are secret ingredients into leading sustainable change. We'll have to work together on the things that really matter if we're going to see children's lives changed, cities built back up, and families restored. We can't seek to compete with those around us and cause dissension. Dissension holds us back, cooperation propels us.

From Conformity to Integrity
Integrity isn't just what you're doing when no one's around, it's doing right when you could do anything. As we gain more and more influence as young people, we'll often be left with a world of decisions to make and options to choose. The leaders we need to change our world choose what's right over what's easy or what's best for them.

From Pride to Humility
Pride puffs us, humility builds up. We need young leaders that build others up. Humility doesn't mean we're silent or shy, it must means that we value others over ourselves and believe the best about them. To lead people, we have to influence them. To influence them, they have to know we believe in and care about them. That comes through humility.

From Passive to Passionate
Passive doesn't answer the alarm. We can't be passive about the problems we as a generation have in front of us, we have to see them and be passionate about changing them. Passionate is the single most important ingredient in leading change. If we're not living and leading from a place of passion, we'll never desire the kind of change our world desperately needs.

From Selfishness to Love
Our world is extremely selfish. From selfies screaming "look at me" to young people saying "don't bother me." If we're going to step up and change our world, we have to look to love others, not avoid them. We have to look to love those around us, not lift ourselves up. People know real love when the see it. Real leaders know how to genuinely feel it and display it.

From Premature to Patient
We live in a microwave society. Everything is quick and fast. Leading people takes time. Leading change takes time. We have to be patient with the people we lead and understand the the process requires patience and sustained passion.

We can make the shifts as a generation. We can answer the alarm and change the world for our kids and their kids. The question is, "Are you willing?"

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Next Up
Jonathan Pearson is the Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Orangeburg, SC—an ethnically-reflective church with multiple campuses. He is also the Assistant Director of The Sticks, an organization that inspires small city leaders to think big, co-creator of millennialleader.com and author of Next Up: 8 Shifts Great Young Leaders Make. You can follow him on Twitter at @JonathanPearson.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:58 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Leadership Development , Leading Forum

07.24.14

What it Takes to be an Entrepreneurial Leader



Leadership
If success for entrepreneurial success is to get your enterprise to the point where it is self-sustainable, then most people fail.

But they don’t have to.

Given the proper skills and insights, most entrepreneurs can become successful or what Derek Lidow calls entrepreneurial leaders. He discusses these ideas in Startup Leadership and is based on his popular course at Princeton University.

Enterprises go through four stages of maturity—customer validation (a product or service that someone is willing to pay for), operational validation (deliver and satisfy the customers), financial validation (financial security under changing market and competitive conditions), self-sustainability (creating a process of innovation that enables the enterprises to be renewed)—and entrepreneurial leaders must grow with them. Stage four should not require the founder.

To be able to meet the needs of the enterprise, the entrepreneur must be able to demonstrate five skills, consistently in high-stress situations: self-awareness, facility with the basics of the business, relationship building, motivation, and leading change. Lidow says that an entrepreneurial leader does not need to be the best in each of these skills but shout have mastered them to the point that they are beyond simply competent.

Self-awareness is the key and probably the hardest of them all. It is crucial to get this right because personal accountability is an extension of it. In any situation, but certainly when a crisis occurs, entrepreneurial leaders “ask themselves how they need to change to make the situation better, not how to get everyone around them to act more like them.” Lidow continues, “Self-awareness is important in times of crisis, to the extent that it helps entrepreneurs understand that their traits, motivations, and skills make them vulnerable to repeatedly making certain types of mistakes. Without this level of self-awareness they are unprepared to change and do not recognize when they make crises worse.” And you see this very thing played out from time to time in organizations because some leaders are more concerned about being the leader than they are about the growth and survival of the organization. Which bring us to another point Lidow makes.

He says that all entrepreneurs are selfish. Initially it’s all about you. And it’s understandable because entrepreneurship is far more demanding and requires greater sacrifices than many imagine. But you have to be selfish enough to be selfless. That means that you need to be dispassionate enough to do what is right for the business even if it isn’t your personal preference. You serve the business—not the other way around.

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Startup Leadership has valuable ideas to help you rethink how you approach your business or even a business unit within a larger organization. The section on building relationships is especially helpful for understanding how an entrepreneurial leader ultimately makes it all work. Enlisting the help of others is critical.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:33 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business

07.14.14

Six Critical Areas Where You Need to Be Grounded

Good leaders are healthy leaders.

Leadership
We can’t separate our leadership from who we are inside. “Your well-being, success, and organization depend, first and foremost on who you are. You need to examine the internal stuff—what goes on in your mind and heart—before doing anything,” writes Bob Rosen in Grounded .

Faced with the speed of change today, staying aligned with who we are is very difficult making us feel stressed and defeated. We can deal with the winds of change in one of three ways: ignore the change, deal with it head on with uninformed short-term fixes, or get ahead of it. Those ignoring the situation often “adapt a rigid attitude toward personal change, avoiding introspection or soul-searching that might threaten long-held values or unexamined results.” Those who get ahead of it are not only flexible but are personally grounded.

Rosen says that great leaders are grounded in six areas:

Physical Health / How You Live: Not just the absence of disease but the presence of health. “Strong personal health begins with body-mind awareness, which gives you the personal insights and knowledge to develop a healthy lifestyle specially tailored for you.”

Emotional Health / How You Feel: Having good self-awareness. “Emotionally healthy leaders have a nimbleness, evident in their reactions, thinking and behavior.”

Intellectual Health / How You Think: Having a good curiosity so that you can break out of your mental comfort zone. “By expanding your mental range, you can broaden your thinking, solve complex problems, and focus on what is truly important.”

Social Health / How You Interact: The ability to build mutually rewarding relationships while being true to yourself – transparent and connected. “Leadership follows an inside-outside progression. Social health starts with authenticity, advances to mutually rewarding relationships, and culminates in nourishing teams and communities.”

Vocational Health / How You Perform: Meaningful work that reflects who you are. “A company led by an ill-equipped leader soon falls behind in the race for talent and productivity. Now more than ever, people are yearning for leaders to create the conditions that enable others to excel and to reach their full potential.”

Spiritual Health / How You View the World: The ability to recognize a higher purpose and something more meaningful than your personal needs. It’s connecting at the macro level. “On a personal level, individuals become alienated, rootless, and self-destructive. A business devoid of spiritual health promotes elfish, parochial, and narrow financial interests above humanity and social responsibility.”

Rosen says that these six areas are part of a system of health and if one of these subsystems is out of line, the entire system can come undone. “Poor leadership is a failure or breakdown of the whole or of part of the system.”

Rosen deals with each of these areas addressing the key issues of each, identifying where you need work, and how to develop and master each of them. The process requires self-awareness, disciple and the conscious choice to take the steps to achieve desired outcomes.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:56 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Personal Development

07.10.14

Relationships Matter

Leadership
“At the center of every success,” writes Brian Church in Relationship Momentum, “you will find a pivotal relationship. Conversely, you can trace the cause of most failures to a relationship vacuum or breakdown.”

Relationship Momentum is a book about how to create momentum for moving your ideas (or your career) forward. Church begins by stressing that at the foundation of any success is relationships. It explains why seemingly less skilled or talented people can blow right on by their more gifted peers. Or why an inferior idea might dominate over your “better” idea. The resulting resentment and frustration tends to our focus “more inward and non-relational” and any relationship momentum is diminished.

“The tendency is to think that personal success and personal performance is a ‘self-thing,’ when, in fact, it is a ‘relationship thing.’” We need to be very intentional about our relationships.

Whether you are stuck, stagnant or haven’t started, Church offers and explains a formula – Rm = E3Vs (Relationship Momentum equals the product of Brand, Value, and Ambassador Equities times Strategic Velocity) – for gaining traction and building momentum for your ideas throughout the book. He explains why frequent course corrections kill momentum; why we need to stop starting over; why your ideas need to be packaged in a way that is easily transferable; why your ideas need ambassadors; and why organizations that are wrapped up in creating their own reality, that is to say, convinced of their own superiority, are of little value.

Some good advice on strategy and tactics:
Your strategic objective is always a single direction. It is a vector that points to where you want to end up. A tack or tactic will often veer off temporarily into another direction in order to catch a prevailing wind. For instance, your goal is to provide advice for a fee to potential investors. Veering off to obtain a master’s degree in financial planning is your tack. Though it may be a longer distance to travel, that tack is nonetheless the most efficient course.

The problem emerges when people don’t understand the difference between strategic objectives and short-term tactical responses. For example, they tack to the northeast, and as a result increase their Velocity. They begin selling term-life insurance to pay for the added tuition costs, which picks up speed and turns into a pretty good business. But instead of tacking back toward their strategic end goal, they just continue on the same course. In other words, they interpret speed as success toward their objective when they are, in fact, only moving farther and farther off course.

One of my primary mistakes was measuring my current success simply by the speed of my project. I would get excited when things began to move quickly. However, I was like a person looking for a breeze and allowing it to take me wherever it would go.


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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:56 AM
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