What can we learn from a ‘flattish’ loaf of bread? A few weeks back, our 8-year old daughter evicted all of us from the kitchen. She was on a mission to wow us with a magnificent display of her culinary skills. Execute Mission Bread…
3, 2, 1… Blast away to the new site for the full post…
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Sometimes we become leaders by accident. It leaves us wondering what leadership means for us. To be honest, it can mean many different things. Leadership means:
You have followers: There are people who are watching what you do. They’re waiting for your next move so they can follow in your steps. You may not always see who your followers are but they’re out there [TweetMe]. They can be friends, family members, or complete strangers. Be on the lookout for who’s following after you.
Being a leader means you have responsibility: Did you ever read Spiderman growing up? Before Peter Parker’s uncle Ben dies, he says something to Peter. He uttered the words “With great power comes great responsibility.” [TweetMe] How does this relate to you? You’ve been given the power to lead others. You have influence over your followers. This gives you power. With this power comes great responsibility. Be sure to lead with this thought in mind.
Your choices no longer affect just you: That’s right. Your choices now affect others. Your followers may feel the repercussions of the choices you make [TweetMe]. The bad choices you make will reverberate through your organization. If you’re married, you know this. Every choice you make affects your spouse and children. No choice is separate from your leadership of the family.
Now you know what being a leader means. You’re attracting followers. You’re given great power but also have great responsibility. And your choices now affect more than yourself.
The choices you make affect everyone you touch and everything you do. There will be times when you believe no one is watching you. That’s a lie. Once you become a leader, someone will be watching you.
All you have to do is watch the news and you’ll see how our leaders are watched. Your steps will be scrutinized. Your decisions will be questioned. And eyes will be watching you.
This is why you, as a leader, need to be vigilant. Get a free copy of Joseph’s eBook here.
I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was worried, thoughts ravaged my mind, I pondered over many scenarios. Then fear put a cold, solid grip on my heart. What would the future be for my family and I?
Like many a man, not having a solid feeling of control can leave me in a mental vortex.
In the sleepiness that plagued me that early morning, I remembered the following passage from Jeff Goins’ book, The In-Between.
“In frustration, I’m confronted with an old lesson of letting go, of looking beyond personal ambition and replacing it with something better. The slow growth that happens when I surrender to what life — and maybe God — is trying to teach me. So it seems, despite a penchant for travel, that the antidote to my restlessness is not another trip or adventure, but a deep abiding in where I am really matters. I don’t like it, but I’m starting to see the value of the times in between the big moments in life.”
My in-between is to activate the Suspend, Understand and Nurture model [TweetMe]. I needed to step into the SUN now to take control of my fears. As I wait for the next phase of my life to kick in, I can maximize on the present. The now becomes my launch pad.
SUSPEND my fear and embrace the possibilities by focusing on the vision [TweetMe]. I don’t live just for myself but to bring forth leadership that brings meaningful change to others. Succumbing to fear of failure reduces my chances to advance and possibilities to learn. I am robbing others of an opportunity to be led. When I progressively overcome my fear, I increase my chances of growing leaders, not just gaining followers. As Seth Godin puts it, “Fear the fear, feel the fear”.
UNDERSTAND the right tools required for leadership to thrive within me [TweetMe]. I must invest in the right attitude to engage with others, leaders and followers alike. However, these tools will not be available to me at the same time. I need to capture the moment and use what is at hand to gain what I can’t reach. Joseph Lalode shares the secret sauce for testing the waters and getting something done, pulling a ready, fire, aim on life. That attitude will be guided by the knowledge that there is always space to learn. It is only a fool who doesn’t change his mind!
NURTURE is paramount for any meaningful growth as a leader [TweetMe]. A frequent detox is required to get rid of the dirt/baggage for best results to emerge and leadership to shine. I need to learn and sit at the feet of great men and women who have gone before me. This includes a desire to be more accountable to myself and significant others. Learning to be humble will nurture my leadership and ability to mend fences and build bridges, especially with those I have wronged.
For any leader, those in-between moments can be make-it-or-break-it scenarios. I now have a deeper appreciation for what Steve Jobs once said, “Believe that things will work out… Trust your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path. Trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
How can you apply the SUN model to grow your leadership?
I was walking by a boy who was munching away at a delicious doughnut topped with glossy chocolate goodness. What made me notice this five-year old were the “empty” signals that my stomach was beaming to my mind. Then I spotted him drop his paper napkin into an adjacent flowerbed.
As much as there was an urgent need to sort out my nagging hunger, I managed to suppress it and respond to a more pressing need. Right before me was an opportunity to help this youngster and guide him towards taking more responsibility in life. I stooped down to his level and gently asked him to pick up the paper napkin. But that was not all. I helped him to figure out what to do with the napkin, to find a rubbish bin.
What does this have to do with leadership? It is because leadership responds to HOPE, Honoring the Opportunity to spur People on to Excellence [TweetMe]. Hope is at the core of leadership as it provides the grounds for believing that something good may happen.
HONOR – Leaders need to fulfill an obligation or stick to an agreement [TweetMe]. This is regardless of how you feel, where you are, or whichever excuse that may creep into your mind. It may come at great personal cost, but a leader always keeps his word and sticks to a vision set. “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” Aristotle
OPPORTUNITY – Be present in time and place, as opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something [TweetMe]. If you are too busy building the big vision, when will you be able to work with your team to realize that vision? “Leadership develops daily, not in a day,” notes John C. Maxwell in ’21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’.
PEOPLE – Anyone who thinks they are a leader but has no followers is just taking a walk. For people to follow you, they must trust you and feel that you are adding value to them. They must have faith in your leadership. If they can’t feel your heart and see your intentions, you’ve lost them [TweetMe]. “The true test of a leader is whether his followers will adhere to his cause from their own volition, enduring the most arduous hardships without being forced to do so, and remaining steadfast in the moments of greatest peril.” Xenophon.
EXCELLENCE – The quality of being outstanding or extremely good is key to leadership. It means that you are in a state of constant learning and re-calibration; not only to better your leadership, but also to build other leaders around you. Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course [TweetMe]. If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. “Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” Colin Powell
If you are to succeed, you have to allow others’ skills, competence, and expertise to shine through. How are you doing this everyday?
On a recent trip, I couldn’t help but notice a well-dressed elderly lady in a wheelchair. She was sipping at what I assume was a delicious coffee at Muggs & Bean, just outside the boarding gates at Cape Town International Airport in South Africa. I gathered she must be Canadian as her bag had a tag with the red maple leaf found on the Canadian flag.
I did not think much of it until well into our flight. Incidentally, the lady and her husband sat across the isle to my left. That is after I noticed that she was urgently pecking away at an iPad. It was the bold, red, fontsize-24 Arial typeface that grabbed my attention.
“Handling the wheelchair is becoming a challenge. The pain in the shoulders and fingers is getting worse. Need constant help to get around,” she typed out and continued, “Should check out hospice [she even typed out its name]… Prepare for death.”
What? Had I read that right, or was the recycled air in the aircraft cabin playing tricks on my travel-fatigued mind? All this time, her husband would read what she had typed out and patiently respond to her in a soft, loving voice.
This got me thinking of how short the time is to make any meaningful impact in our community [TweetMe]. Should I waste my time chasing my tail or those of others? Or should I build my dream and impact lives with the goodness that was so graciously extended to me by my Maker?
As a leader, the three parts of the maple leaf remind me I need to do the following inspired by Robin Sharma:
First, I must CAST AWAY FEAR OF FAILURE and grow the opportunities I come across [TweetMe]. Robin Sharma reminds me, “Your excuses are nothing more than the lies your fears have sold you.” This lady embraced her fears and talked about them.
Second, Even as I work at it, I need to CLAIM STRENGTH AND COURAGE from significant others and God. I need to remain accountable to accomplish what I set out to do. Robin says, “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.” Her husband was right there walking her through what must be a very difficult period in her life.
Finally, I must MOVE FORWARD WITH BOLDNESS that is the leader I was destined to be! [TweetMe] “Life is short. Be of use,” says Robin. This lady was courageous enough to accept her life’s situation.
My dream shall become my mantra. From today, I will actively remind myself to serve first. For it is in service that I grow my significance [TweetMe].
How are you growing your significance? What do you need to do to grow your service-leadership?
Did you know that as a leader you could be soft on the inside [oyster] and still produce hard glistening beauty [pearl]? Pearls form in oysters when irritants such as a piece of broken shell becomes embedded in their flesh. The oyster fights back by covering the irritant with nacre, layers of hard deposit from its mantle tissue. With time, these hard layers of nacre grow to form a pearl.
I read a fascinating article the other day on how artificial mabé pearls are produced. There were some interesting parallels to how pearl farming has some similarities to leadership development.
You have to BE PRESENT to spot or identify leadership potential in others and yourself too [TweetMe]. At the onset of the pearl farming process, divers retrieve the oysters about 5 years old from wild stock areas is the first step of creating mabé pearls. Your leadership is what draws people to you and helps them to grant you the permission to develop them. You have to be available. “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt
Now that you have some great people to work with, PREPARE THEM for the their new leadership role. They have to be guided, mentored and encouraged throughout the process. In the case of the captured oysters, they were placed in perforated barrels that are taken out to sea and anchored for about two weeks.
To make the oysters feel at home, a spatula is used to remove the oval shellfish gently from the barrel and place them in a warm salty water bath. This relaxes them, makes them easier to work with. It is crucial that your leadership not only inspires others, but it also provides the RIGHT ENVIRONMENT to grow other leaders [TweetMe]. “You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” Bob Nelson
With the right environment, the hard work begins. Tough and sometimes irritating moments are bound to crop up every now and then. However, it is important to remain FOCUSED ON THE VISION. For a perfect mabé pearl to be produced, a dome-shaped plastic the size of a one-cent coin is deftly slid deep inside the shell under the mantle tissue. Not comfortable, but highly necessary. “Values are critical guides for making decisions. When in doubt, they cut through the fog like a beacon in the night.” Robert Townsend
As leaders LEARN AND GROW, they constantly have to come back to the vision and plan to ensure that their outcome and ambition are in tandem. You need a place that you can come back to grow, regroup and strategize. There is no need to mentor leaders if you can’t point them in the right direction. The paua oysters are usually returned to the barrels and allowed to grow, eating seaweed and producing coats of lustrous and hard nacre for the market.
When you are gone, it is the leaders you develop that will be YOUR LEGACY [TweetMe]. Paua give their lives as the mabé pearls have to be literally cut from the shell with a diamond saw! The dark paua meat is sold, shells polished and used as backing for the pearls. “A leader’s job is to look into the future and see the organization not as it is, but as it should be.” Jack Welch
What irritants are you experiencing as a leader? How can these irritants be used disruptively to build great leaders?
When selfishness is banished, that is, we cease to continuously place ourselves on a pedestal, then tables are turned. An “M” in me is immediately mirrored into the “W” in we. This brings people into our lives and with that the opportunity to lead and inspire hope. We begin to build a vision. “Part of our destiny is to claim the vastness of our vision.” Brendon Burchard
So, how do you grow your leadership by claiming the vastness of your vision? |TweetMe|
Presence/Persona: A leader can’t be accountable to no one. Make sure you have at lease two people you are completely open to and can question your actions at any time. Being available to critique means you are dependable. It communicates that you can be found when people are in need; when they are vulnerable and when they want to celebrate. Being accountable helps you to connect with people as you can readily step in and help.
Persistence: When you claim your vision, you live in the moment of decisive passion. You can’t hide from the truth in your heart. What happens in this state is magical, as you are filled with a determination and renewed commitment to stay on course. Persistence opens up the vaults to patience and work ethic. You then become one of those fortunate to invest in a rare commodity also known as life.
Prosperity: Investing in doing what is right is an expression of impact. Under intense pressure, you can only manifest what is in you. The quality of success in my life not only depends on the seeds I sow, but also in the quality of harvest I reap. Don’t worry, sow quality seeds and nurture them. The return will be there. Just be persistent in doing what is right, as opposed to doing the right thing that yields the bare minimum.
Position: Finally, leadership is about a legacy of hope, peace and unforgettable memories. Legacy is the ultimate yardstick of your position in life and community. Many measure prosperity on the premise of the value of the material possessions they have or own. I peg my position on the value of relationships I have cultivated. As mentioned in my previous blog post “When you are not in the room”, others determine your position, not you.
“The axe forgets but the tree remembers.” Shona Proverb |TweetMe|
A leader responds to presence, persistence, prosperity and position with three “Rs”; a Refusal to cease doing good, a Reason to remain even-keeled even in challenging times, and finally a Righteousness that transcends the deepest and widest divides of the heart.
Leaders are not judged by how much material gain they make as harshly as by the sacrifice of their choices, the seeds they cultivate, and the connectedness within their hearts to nurture more leaders. “Material possessions don’t hold bedside vigils when your end is near: they can’t cry with you in your pain or laugh at shared stories,” says Dr. Kevin Lehman.