Tag Archive leadership

Leadership Lessons A-Z: Jump to Judiciousness

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Many times, especially in tense or stressful situations, people jump to judgment. It is easy to take the information we think we know right now and reach a conclusion, make a decision, or issue a decree. Often, however, we realize after the fact that we did not have all of the information we needed, or our perception included some fallacies. In those moments, we recognize the importance of acknowledging our mistakes and may even need to apologize for hurried words or actions.

As leaders, we are unafraid of apologizing, of righting a wrong. However, we strive to be better each day, and do not want to cause a situation requiring an apology in the future because we were abrupt, unkind, or rushed to judgment. Those moments can hurt people. A leader’s intent is to build people up; however, our injudiciousness does not allow us to be our best selves, or inspire others to greatness.

Judiciousness is defined as good judgment; using wisdom and discernment in situations where we must form an opinion or make a decision. Judiciousness requires us to pause, to take a few moments to consider the information we have and where we might have information gaps. Judiciousness allows us to consider the ramifications of our response, in word and in deed.

Leaders want to be wise. We want to provide sound advice, speaking words of encouragement to others as we guide and mentor them. We hope to respond with soundness, providing actions plans in moments of crisis that create role clarity while resolving the situation at hand. Reactions are often rooted in judgment; we react to a person or situation based on a judgment we made that triggered an emotion and caused us to reply. Responding allows us a moment, however brief, to gather our thoughts, determine the appropriate level of emotion, and then provide the feedback required of us at the time.

What do we model? If we react, we often model judgment, which can be harsh and unfeeling. Judgment can stop us from listening and observing objectively, or from seeing the broader picture of how all the people and pieces fit together. If we respond, we are more likely to model judiciousness. Judiciousness provides an opportunity for us to listen, to observe, and to consider the people and pieces individually and collectively.

The leadership lesson? Jumping to judgment can create harm in our relationships. Taking a few moments to pause, to request information and listen, and to think through the consequences of our words and actions can help us to be judicious. Leaders, as we care for and lead others we must stop jumping to judgment. Instead, we must be willing to jump to judiciousness.

Leadership Lessons A-Z: Inquire to Improve

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One characteristic of leadership is the desire to improve. As leaders, we strive to better ourselves. We work to create a happier environment for others. We hope that others are enhanced in some small way because of our interactions. We want to improve, fostering growth in ourselves and others.

Sometimes, though, we are too self-reflective in the process. We self-evaluate, recognize opportunities to improve, and then work to do so. We read books on specific topics or hire a coach to help us overcome limiting beliefs. We implement new routines and practice new habits in order to become better. We make changes to processes assuming we will increase efficiency or decrease frustration, that our efforts will garner good will and create improvement for our teams.

Those are good things! However, we often neglect a crucial step in the improvement process: inquiry. We need to ask others for feedback. We should be reaching out to people at all levels in our organizations and asking about the processes, policies, and practices that guide behaviors. We ought to share information and ask for input from those who perform specific tasks. Equally as important, we should request feedback about ourselves – our management style, communication skills, and interpersonal abilities.

The inquiry may be uncomfortable for all involved. It may be hard for us to hear how others perceive us, especially in areas where we think we demonstrate high levels of skill and ability. It will be difficult for members of our team to provide feedback to us as well. As leaders, we should model giving feedback, acknowledging strengths and providing specific examples of opportunities to improve, coupled with suggestions of adjustments that can be implemented to shift behaviors and increase performance.

When we model giving feedback kindly and frequently, we are better poised to inquire of others regarding our own performance. We need to consider what feedback we request from others, and how we invite them to provide it. Sometimes anonymous feedback is more honest; however, sometimes it creates an opportunity for people to be unkind. An unbiased third-party can be helpful, but is not always necessary. The inquiry and response does not always need to be formal, either. The impromptu, casual conversation can be the most helpful in identifying a need for change.

This process requires us to reflect on our response to feedback as well. When we receive suggestions, we should respond with gratitude. Sharing an opinion regarding an opportunity to improve requires courage, and often occurs because there is a culture of trust, a sense of safety within the organization that allows for open communication. If we, as leaders, receive the feedback graciously and share our progress relative to the feedback, we will foster an environment that allows for improvement.

The leadership lesson? Improvement can be limited without external input. We must request feedback from others, soliciting opinions and ideas and encouraging honest dialogue. Leaders, we must be willing to inquire in order to improve.

Leadership Lessons A-Z: Help to Hope

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Hope is a feeling of expectation, a desire for a particular thing to happen. It is an optimistic state of mind. Most people want to feel hopeful – hopeful in their jobs, their relationships, their goals, hopeful for the future.

Sometimes, though, it is hard to hope. When the job is overwhelming, the culture toxic, or the environment unsupportive or harsh, hope seems distant. Those moments are when leaders must step in, communicating with positivity and passion. When we demonstrate continued commitment, we help others to hope. We provide a renewed sense of purpose, a feeling of significance, a camaraderie amongst the worn and weary.

How does hope help? When people have hope, they persevere. Circumstances may be challenging, but if we can cling to the hope of a brighter tomorrow we will continue to work towards our goals. The outcome may appear bleak, but as long as we have a glimmer of hope that the tide may turn in our favor, we will press onward. Hope fuels us to do more, to be better.

Sometimes, when struggles come, people need to be reminded to hope. Hope isn’t easy. Hope has to be replenished. Hope requires people to opt in, to look at the bright side, to see the opportunity. This is why leaders must help. To help is to make it easier for someone; we have to make it easier for people to have hope.

Where does hope come from? Hope stems from a belief in our mission. A sense of purpose, of rightness in what we’re doing. Hope rises when leaders are authentic, open about the challenges but optimistic about the opportunities. Hope increases when leaders celebrate successes and embrace new ideas. Hope provides a foundation for people to then be creative, communicative, and collaborative.

Is hope really that important? Absolutely yes. Without hope, people become complacent. They perform the functions of their position out of habit rather than engaging in their role in order to achieve goals or see success. Without hope, people become negative, waiting for the impending doom of loss – whether loss of revenue, loss of position, or even loss of the business altogether. Without hope, people assume the worst, and then begin preparing for it. A loss of hope instills a loss of engagement.

We rely on hope! Hope keeps us looking forward and moving onward. Hope is the key that unlocks our ambition and opens the gate to our willingness to try, to dream, to aspire. Without hope, we wither. With hope, we thrive.

The leadership lesson? Communicate with purpose and passion, inspiring others to the shared vision. When we can look to the future together, we have hope. Leaders, we must help those around us to hope.

Leadership Lessons A-Z: Give to Gain

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In our role as leaders we seek to inspire and motivate others. Our motive may not be selfish, but ultimately our goal is to gain something. When we are effective, we gain creativity, productivity, and efficiency. We gain respect, commitment, and loyalty.

But how do we get there? First we have to give. We can’t expect someone to provide us value without offering something in exchange. We give of our time and our talents. We give appreciation, accolade, and awards. As we’ve discussed in previous leadership lessons, our giving must be genuine, carefully considered and appropriate for the person and the purpose. For example, if we want to give accolade for a job well done, we should consider the recipient’s preferences for that accolade. Do they appreciate the spotlight, or would they prefer a private conversation? Would a thank-you note resonate? Or is a plaque on the wall better recognition?

How do we know the best way to give? We first give of ourselves. We give of our time, spending time to get to know our people. Who are they? What do they enjoy? What fuels them? What worries them? What are their strengths? What opportunities would they like to explore? This conversation has to be two-sided. If we ask people to open up to us, we must be willing to be open in exchange. Who are we? What do we enjoy? What fuels us? Worries us? What are our strengths? What opportunities do we want to explore? Some of the responses may be from our professional lives, some from our personal. That’s wonderful. All of the areas of our lives – personal, social, professional – blend to create who we are.

It can be intimidating to open up, to give of ourselves that much. It requires us to be vulnerable, perhaps more than we’re comfortable with. There is power in giving, though. We feel it when others give to us. We are grateful, sometimes honored, often humbled, when others give of themselves, their time, their talents, or their resources. Yet somehow, we forget that we too must open up and give generously. Our power as leaders comes not from authority, but from influence. Our influence is rooted in relationship, and relationships bloom when we give.

The leadership lesson? The gain that comes as a reciprocating effect of our giving cannot be purchased; it’s the gain of respect, of loyalty, and perhaps even friendship. When we give – generously, authentically, and without restraint – we actually gain.