12 Daily Habits of Great Leaders

12 Daily Habits of Great Leaders

One of the most popular Dilbert comic strips in the cartoon’s history begins with Dilbert’s boss relaying senior leadership’s explanation for the company’s low profits. In response to his boss, Dilbert asks incredulously, “So they’re saying that profits went up because of great leadership and down because of a weak economy?” To which Dilbert’s boss replies, “These meetings will go faster if you stop putting things in context.”

Great leadership is indeed a difficult thing to pin down and understand. You know a great leader when you’re working for one, but even they can have a hard time explaining the specifics of what they do that makes their leadership so effective.

Great leaders change us for the better. They see more in us than we see in ourselves, and they help us learn to see it too. They dream big and show us all the great things we can accomplish.

Great leadership is dynamic; it melds a variety of unique skills into an integrated whole. Great leadership is also founded in good habits. What follows are the essential habits that exceptional leaders rely on every day. Give them a try and see where they take your leadership skills.

Effective communication

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”—Joseph Priestley

Communication is the real work of leadership. It’s a fundamental element of how leaders accomplish their goals each and every day. You simply can’t become a great leader until you are a great communicator.

Great communicators inspire people. They create a connection with their followers that is real, emotional, and personal, regardless of any physical distance between them. Great communicators forge this connection through an understanding of people and an ability to speak directly to their needs.

Courage

“Courage is the first virtue that makes all other virtues possible.”—Aristotle

People will wait to see if a leader is courageous before they’re willing to follow his or her lead. People need courage in their leaders. They need someone who can make difficult decisions and watch over the good of the group. They need a leader who will stay the course when things get tough. People are far more likely to show courage themselves when their leaders do the same.

For the courageous leader adversity is a welcome test. Like a blacksmith’s molding of a red-hot iron, adversity is a trial by fire that refines leaders and sharpens their game. Adversity emboldens courageous leaders and leaves them more committed to their strategic direction. Leaders who lack courage simply toe the company line. They follow the safest path—the path of least resistance.

Adherence to the Golden Rule +1

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.”—Jon Wolfgang von Goethe

The Golden Rule—treat others as you want to be treated—assumes that all people are the same. It assumes that, if you treat your followers the way you would want a leader to treat you, they’ll be happy. It ignores that people are motivated by vastly different things. One person loves public recognition, while another loathes being the center of attention.

Great leaders don’t treat people how they themselves want to be treated. Instead, they take the Golden Rule a step further and treat each person as he or she would like to be treated. Great leaders learn what makes people tick, recognize their needs in the moment, and adapt their leadership style accordingly.

Self-Awareness

“It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.”—Latin Proverb

Contrary to what Dilbert might have us believe, leaders’ gaps in self-awareness are rarely due to deceitful, Machiavellian motives, or severe character deficits. In most cases, leaders—like everyone else—view themselves in a more favorable light than other people do.

Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence, a skill that 90% of top performing leaders possess in abundance. Great leaders’ high self-awareness means they have a clear and accurate image not just of their leadership style, but also of their own strengths and weaknesses. They know where they shine and where they’re weak, and they have effective strategies for leaning into their strengths and compensating for their weaknesses.

Passion

“If you just work on stuff that you like and are passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.”—Mark Zuckerberg

Passion and enthusiasm are contagious. So are boredom and apathy. No one wants to work for a boss that’s unexcited about his or her job, or even one who’s just going through the motions. Great leaders are passionate about what they do, and they strive to share that passion with everyone around them.

Humility

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”—C.S. Lewis

Great leaders are humble. They don’t allow their position of authority to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. As such, they don’t hesitate to jump in and do the dirty work when needed, and they won’t ask their followers to do anything they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.

Generosity

“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”—John Maxwell

Great leaders are generous. They share credit and offer enthusiastic praise. They’re as committed to their followers’ success as they are to their own. They want to inspire all of their employees to achieve their personal best—not just because it will make the team more successful, but because they care about each person as an individual.

Infectiousness

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”—Reverend Theodore Hesburgh

Great leaders know that having a clear vision isn’t enough. You have to make that vision come alive so that your followers can see it just as clearly as you do. Great leaders do that by telling stories and painting verbal pictures so that everyone can understand not just where they’re going, but what it will look and feel like when they get there. This inspires others to internalize the vision and make it their own.

Authenticity

“Just be who you are and speak from your guts and heart—it’s all a man has.”—Hubert Humphrey

Authenticity refers to being honest in all things—not just what you say and do, but who you are. When you’re authentic, your words and actions align with who you claim to be. Your followers shouldn’t be compelled to spend time trying to figure out if you have ulterior motives. Any time they spend doing so erodes their confidence in you and in their ability to execute.

Leaders who are authentic are transparent and forthcoming. They aren’t perfect, but they earn people’s respect by walking their talk.

Approachability

“Management is like holding a dove in your hand. Squeeze too hard and you kill it, not hard enough and it flies away.”—Tommy Lasorda

Great leaders make it clear that they welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than their own. They know that an environment where people are afraid to speak up, offer insight, and ask good questions is destined for failure. By ensuring that they are approachable, great leaders facilitate the flow of great ideas throughout the organization.

Accountability

“The ancient Romans had a tradition: Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: He stood under the arch.”—Michael Armstrong

Great leaders have their followers’ backs. They don’t try to shift blame, and they don’t avoid shame when they fail. They’re never afraid to say, “The buck stops here,” and they earn people’s trust by backing them up.

A sense of purpose

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.”—Ken Kesey

Whereas vision is a clear idea of where you’re going, a sense of purpose refers to an understanding of why you’re going there. People like to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Great leaders give people that feeling.

Becoming a great leader doesn’t mean that you have to incorporate all of these traits at once. Focus on one or two at a time; each incremental improvement will make you more effective. It’s okay if you “act” some of these qualities at first. The more you practice, the more instinctive it will become, and the more you’ll internalize your new leadership style.

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies

Well Spaces for Well Being

Well Spaces for Well Being

New concepts in interior spaces are emerging as rapidly as the technology we use to work within them. We continue to research and understand the impact of or interiors on our health and well-being. We spend roughly 90% of our time indoors, disconnected often from what should be natural to us – movement, daylight and the outdoors. Sitting at a desk is both unnatural and unhealthy. Architects, designers and some business leaders are attuned to this and are creating buildings and spaces that support our more natural, healthier state of being. 

Randy Fiser, CEO of the American Society of Interior Designers says, “We have now developed design tools that can help to bridge the gap between our indoor spaces and nature. This is accomplished by improving certain things like air and water quality, as well as acoustical, mental, visual and thermal comfort.”

In fact one of the newest trends is in lighting, organic LED’s that map to our circadian rhythms, offering a more natural response to our environment, our work and way of being. Fiser says, “Lighting can greatly influence our health and is critical to our biological functions. Light influences so many different parts of our bodies and even dictates our sleeping patterns. The introduction of circadian lighting that mimics natural lighting is really helping to ground us as human beings within our work environments.”

Basic design principles like harmony and balance when enhanced by elements of color, texture, and composition can promote calm, productivity, creativity and well-being. We all can make simple changes to our environment to create a sense of well-being. Some suggestions include:

  1. Focus on more human-centric design in lighting, color, composition and flow
  2. Consider the air quality and interior climate control
  3.  Keep it clean and free of dust
  4.  Introduce plants into the environment
  5.  Create visually calming and nurturing settings

For more ideas on how to create a space your well-being, contact us using the contact tab in the bottom right section of this post. And let me know what you think about this article.

 

Session 1: Intro to Mindful Mondays

Session 1: Intro to Mindful Mondays

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of what we are doing, thinking and feeling and not become overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.  – Mindful.org

Several months ago, I assumed responsibility for leading mindfulness sessions for a small group of co-workers in my office. Mindful leadership has always been a subject of interest to me because of the positive impact great leaders can have in an organization, in their communities and in our world. I think every company has a responsibility to develop ‘good’ leaders who can also be good followers. Positive workplace experiences depend on this juxtaposition. 

Both science and experience demonstrate how being mindful brings positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships. With some guidance and training, mindfulness can develop into a way of living that brings greater focus and effectiveness as well as kindness and caring into everything we do.

Google believes that these mindfulness programs teach emotional intelligence, which helps people better understand their colleagues’ motivations. They also boost resilience to stress and improve mental focus. Participants of the “Search Inside Yourself” program report being calmer, more patient, and better able to listen. They also say the program helped them better handle stress and defuse emotions.

What distinguishes great leaders from mediocre managers? Exceptional leaders are compassionate and lead from empathy. They are authentic, focused and genuinely as interested in the growth of individuals as they are in the growth of their organization. Great leaders excel not just through skill and smarts, but by connecting and collaborating with others.

From: “Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion” (Hardcover), by Richard Boyaztis and Annie McKee

Monday Mindfulness offers an expansive approach to mindfulness practice and leadership development. Click here to sign up for simple mindful practice sessions.

7 Inspiring Traits of Compassionate Leadership

7 Inspiring Traits of Compassionate Leadership

The driving forces of exceptional leadership are desire, self-awareness and, most importantly, compassion. Effective leadership cannot prevail under negative circumstances such as putdowns, dishonesty, demands, frustration, denigration, manipulation, fear or micro-management. These negative forces create high turnover, a lack of productivity, a lack of motivation and a negative attitude in those required to produce.

To be great, leaders must have the necessary empathy to inspire understanding and knowledge in team members. Empathy is key. Empathy begins with taking an understanding of life from the experience and perception of another. When empathy is present, defensiveness decreases and something positive replaces it. Empathy opens doors and removes confusion. It softens the minds and hearts of others. When people are open, this is exactly when the compassionate leader can be more creative in solving problems in ways that drive productivity and long-term success. To follow are seven traits of compassionate leadership.

1. Learning

Compassionate leaders understand that no matter how great they think they are, they are still surrounded by other intelligent people who are full of ideas that can enhance their skills and knowledge to lead even more effectively. When leaders operate as if they know everything, they harden themselves to new ideas by stubbornly assuming they have nothing more to learn to be effective in their role. There is no compassion in that mindset. Leadership requires learning. Leadership is the sum total of mistakes made, and the learning and growing it takes to remain patient, yet persistent, in their objectives. Compassionate leaders possess the modesty to continually seek feedback under the belief system they can only grow their team to the extend they grow themselves.

2. Removing barriers

Compassionate leaders immerse themselves in the daily grind with their team, helping them face and solve problems harming productivity or hindering reciprocal communication when closing deals. Removing barriers is twofold. Leaders have to understand the internal emotional patterns of each team member, which patterns hold them back and which promote them into success. Leaders need to help team members work through their defeatist thoughts and encourage new patterns of thinking to help them be more successful going forward. Once team members start thinking in terms of success rather than failure, leaders have the role of helping team members talk through ways to remove any external barriers with others they may face when closing deals.

When team members stop bringing leaders obstacles to overcome, their days as a leader will soon end.

3. Impact

Compassionate leaders live to help others and make no room for selfishness on the teams they lead. Greed has no place to prosper when selfishness is not part of the program. These leaders live with an attitude of abundance and prefer to look at what team members need rather than at what team members aren’t doing. Compassionate leaders make no room for pessimism. They view challenges with interest rather than dread. This attitude sets the tone for team members and keeps morale high.

For these leaders, success is less about riches or fame and more about having a deep and lasting positive impact on all who are served. The compassionate leader seeks to understand people, knowing that understanding is the doorway into having the greatest impact on guiding others.

4. Standards

Compassionate leaders hold themselves and their ethics to high standards. These leaders are ethical and expect every one of their team members to be the same. Ethics are the building blocks upon which success of any kind is based. These types of leaders strive for nothing less than excellence. Some team members may not be used to an environment where excellence is expected of them. To inspire them, compassionate leaders show high levels of integrity in their daily actions. This helps to gain the trust and confidence of team members who are new or unsure.

These types of leaders trust team members will live up or down to their expectations; therefore, they set the bar high on quality but keep it within reach. When quality is expected, team efforts naturally increase.

5. Influence

Compassionate leaders seek influence, not authority. They don’t demand, they encourage. They lead with hope. They guide, acknowledge and support team members to combine their efforts, skills, talents, insights, passion, enthusiasm and commitment to work together for the greater good.

These types of leaders find their purpose in bettering the lives of others. Compassionate leaders use the power of their role to lead others into the discovery of their own unique power. They view the growth and development of the people they lead and the communities they serve as the great makers of their success.

6. Passion

Compassionate leaders understand that people who are driven want to be part of something meaningful and influential. These leaders hold a deep concern for how their team members feel and what they’re getting out of their work experience. They do all they can to inspire team members to give nothing less than their best.

Leading requires the skill to inspire passion in others who may not know how to get in touch with it on their own. These leaders encourage team members to approach every task they do, down to the smallest details, with determination. These types of leaders are powerful because they understand that success comes to those who fully dedicate themselves to a cause. Compassionate leaders know there is nothing more powerful than a person who is driven from their heart.

7. Team

Compassionate leaders hold the wisdom that great things in life or business are never accomplished by one person. Excellence is a group effort, whether that be a team, a company, a society or an entire civilization. For teams to succeed, they need leaders who support and guide them to stay focused, especially when the stakes are high.

Compassionate leaders bring their team members together to work as a functional unit. They lay the groundwork for their team to have the best chance of success, and then take great joy in sitting back and watching team members shine individually and collectively. These leaders have no problem taking the lead when the team is in danger and no problem stepping to the side to allow their team to experience the successes they have accomplished on their own.

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

8 Steps to Mindful Being

8 Steps to Mindful Being

1.  Moderate your convictions.

Thinking in absolutes and holding to convictions without ever considering the viewpoints and perspectives of others is counterproductive to peace. While this may be convenient because it allows you to act with the confidence of absolute conviction, it blocks other realities in the world and can easily lead to conflict and divisiveness. It is hard work to remain open-minded but far more rewarding because it transforms you and promotes a lightness of being.

  • Moderate your absolute convictions by always being ready to question and to reflect. Accept that your beliefs, faith, passions, or opinions are but some among many other beliefs, faith, passions, and opinions in the world.
  • Find a variety of things to do in your life if you’re finding yourself slipping into immoderate stances about other people. It’s hard to be immoderate when you’re busy doing a range of things and seeing a wide range of people from all walks of life.
  • Cultivate your sense of humor. Humor is a peace-lover’s disarming charm; few fanatics are ever humorous because they’re too busy taking themselves and their cause too seriously. Humor allows you to release tension and to show up the repressive tendencies of extremist thinking.

2.  Be tolerant.

Tolerance in all that you think and do will make a difference in your life and in the lives of others around you. Tolerance for others is about appreciating diversity, the plurality of modern society, and being willing to live and let others live too. When we fail to tolerate others’ beliefs, ways of being, and opinions, the end result can be discrimination, repression, dehumanization, and ultimately violence. Practicing tolerance is at the heart of living peacefully.

Rather than jumping to negative conclusions about other people, change your own perspective and nourish the good in others. Seeing others as interesting, special, and caring beings underneath their bravado, anger, and torment, can bring about a great change for the better.

3.  Practice happiness.

  • Avoid violent movies and news reports of violence.
  • Surround yourself with peaceful images, music, and people.
  • Embrace healthy eating habits.
  • Spend time enjoying nature – from a window, a park bench, a walk in the woods, etc.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Look for opportunities to be in the silence.
  • Be mindful in what you do, how you do it and what you speak.
  • Practice speaking pleasant words in pleasant tones – avoid vulgarities.

4.  Reflect.

Practice reflective listening. Spoken language is imprecise, and people under stress often say things that mask the real things they’d like to say. John Powell said that “In true listening, we reach behind the words, see through them, to find the person who is being revealed. Listening is a search to find the treasure of the true person as revealed verbally and non-verbally.” The importance of reflective listening to living a peaceful life is that you stop seeing people purely from your perspective and start trying hard to dig down into what another person is really saying and meaning. This can lead to effective give-and-take rather than reacting according to what you think you hear by inferring and guessing.

5.  Be mindful and present.

Dwelling on what should have been and reliving past hurts, conflicts and annoyances will keep the mind frozen in a state of unrest.  For there is no “outcome” that satisfies. Seething about the matter does not resolve . . . it only aggravates. Take long deep breaths, breathing in the negative and breathing out the peace.

6.  Find inner peace.

  • Make conscious decisions about what improves or beautifies your life while discarding the rest.
  • When you’re angry, find a nice quiet place to stop, take a deep breath, and relax. Turn off the TV, stereo, or computer. Get out into nature if possible, or go for a good, long walk. Put on some soft music or turn down the lights. When you feel calm again, get up and get on with your life.
  • At least once a day spend ten minutes in a peaceful place, anywhere where you can just sit quietly without distractions.
  • Living in peace means more than living in the absence of violence. Try to cultivate peace in all areas of your life by reducing stress as much as possible.

7.  Be the change you wish to see in the world.

  • Change yourself.
  • Be part of the solution.
  • Talk to other people about their views of peace. Share ideas about ways to help create a more peaceful world and ways to embrace differences without falling into conflict. You might like to make videos to place online, or write stories, poems, or articles to share with everyone about the importance of peace.
  • Help others.

8.  Broaden your understanding of peace.

You’re free to choose your own path. Everything you’ve read on this list is a suggestion. It  is not seeking to impose itself on you, At the end of the day, living in peace will be your of yourself and your response to those around you.