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    Entries in Pride (2)

    Tuesday
    Nov192013

    Lost and Leading

    It’s easy to get lost.  Let me rephrase…I get lost a lot.  Now if you were to ask my beautiful wife, she would probably tell you that I’m not “that bad” but see…she has tricked herself into believing that even when I look “lost,” I most likely know where I’m going.

    I find the tendency as leaders is to do just that, even when we’re lost, try to at least look like we know where we’re going because, hey…competent leaders don’t get lost..

    I’m sure Columbus made a direct line to North America without a wrong turn, and that the many esteemed Generals and military leaders plan of attack worked flawlessly and expelled the perfect amount of effort for the task at hand.

    Likely not.

    The fact is, getting lost is a part of learning, growing and especially leading.  It’s tough to admit when you’re lost.  I know I don’t look forward to the long stroll into a 7-11, casually trying to glean information from the cashier about where exactly “here” is…

    In business we set plans, cast vision and lead staff and customers to where we are headed…but sometimes, things don’t pan out.  Casting vision is the first step in executing, but flawless execution is not a necessity.  I’m sure you’ve heard the cliché stories of Michael Jordan getting cut from his High School Basketball team and Thomas Edison striking out on countless ideas before he stumbled upon the light bulb, but it’s much simpler than even those examples illustrate.

    Along the process of being lost, you go through a couple stages:

    • Panic – Where am I…What’s going on?
    • Doubt – What did I do…Why did this happen?
    • Pride – I can get out of this…I don’t need help
    • Humility – I can’t get out of this…I need help

    These four stages generally apply to most situations and while the timelines are different (each stage could be minutes, hours, days) most people will experience each one.

    The key differentiator that I find with successful leaders is their ability to embrace these four stages and learn from them.

    I struggle with each of these stages myself within various contexts and must continue to be reminded of;
    (a) my role as a leader
    (b) my responsibility as a leader
    (c) my commitment to the plan/organization/people 

    Navigating through difficult situations is a reality. Viewing them as anything but an opportunity to learn and grow is a failure.

    Thursday
    Jul192012

    The Pride of Humility

    Recently, Harvard Business Review posted an article entitled "Why Less Confident People Are More Successful."  Other than being a terrible title...I had some issues with what the article claimed.  Confidence is not a negative trait.  Example: A surgeon...working on your heart:

    less confidence = makes a mistake
    too much confidence = makes a mistake
    just enough confidence = performs well

    Yes, this is strikingly similar to Goldie Locks & the 3 bears...but it's true!  Confidence itself is not negative...it's over-confidence or misplaced confidence that is very problematic.  What the author should have stated was that the attribute of humility is critical to success.  But that's not new...Jim Collins' "Level 5 Leader" is bathed in humility.  The fact is, it's critical for leaders to demonstrate humility by listening, engaging and being committed to life-long learning in order for them to achieve and maintain professional (and personal) success.

    One of the issues I see with those that pump humility to extreme ends is the foundational pride that exists within the fabric of the conversation itself.  Many times, what is really being said is, "Be more humble...like me!" Unfortunately, humility on its own isn't enough...to do anything, but rather it's putting on humility as an attitude and characteristic while doing what you hope to accomplish.  In the case of the above named article, it's relating to employees and leading an organization.  Under the "it's all about humility" mindset...why get someone with skills, aptitude and drive...let's just find the most humble person we can...and put him as President of the United States...or CEO of General Motors...?

    Not a great idea.


    Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. it means you think of yourself less
    - Ken Blanchard

    When set to the right context, and applied with care, confidence is crucial to success.  I can't think of one person I know in any industry that has attained success at any significant level that did not maintain some form of confidence and self-assurance.  Goal-setting and delivering value are the fuel that fires confident and successful leaders, and if harnessed properly, an organization and thrive under their leadership.  Ambition and drive set to the right beat make music...but when out of sync create pure chaos.