The Better Leader Newsletter (January 23, 2020)
The response to the 1st edition of The Better Leader Newsletter has been incredible.
I truly appreciate your kind and candid feedback. You have made this possible, so from the bottom of my heart – thank you. I’m both encouraged and excited about the leaders you are becoming.
I have many good resources and finds to share this week, so make sure you read all the way through. And if you find any of them helpful, share this email someone you know. By doing so, you become a small but important part of their leadership journey.
On to the content…
REFLECT ON THIS
Pause and consider what’s truly important.
It happened again. In an instant, you had broken a promise you made to yourself.
Without hesitation, you fired back at the person in front of you. Your emotions got the best of you, and you instantly remembered your vow from yesterday: I will listen before I speak.
In anticipation of the “perfect” response, the one “that’ll show’em”, we fail to listen. We forego the art of seeking to understand and forget about the real human receiving our reply.
When that happens, things never end the way we expect.
Leading others is just as much, if not more, about the soft skills of human interaction. Empathy. Compassion. Kindness. Speaking the truth clearly in love and respect.
And the one that is most difficult in our fast-paced culture: listening.
Where do you need to listen?
Someone important is saying something to you that you are not hearing. When the next meaningful conversation arrives, listen closely.
You might be surprised at what you hear.
What’s on my mind.
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Where am I wrong?”
How about this question, “What am I not seeing?”
Those are difficult questions to ask because we know the answers on the other side.
Or do we?
C.S. Lewis, the late great thinker of the 21st century, wrote about our ignorance to what others see so clearly:
And you see, looking back, how all the plans you have ever made always have shipwrecked on that fatal flaw–on X’s incurable jealousy, or laziness, or touchiness, or muddle-headedness, or bossiness, or ill temper, or changeableness… That is the next great step in wisdom–to realize that you also are just that sort of person. You also have a fatal flaw in your character. All the hopes and plans of others have again and again shipwrecked on your character just as your hopes and plans have shipwrecked on theirs.
It is no good passing this over with some vague, general admission such as “Of course, I know I have my faults.” It is important to realize that there is some really fatal flaw in you: something which gives others the same feeling of despair which their flaws give you. And it is almost certainly something you don’t know about–like what the advertisements call “halitosis”, which everyone notices except the person who has it. But why, you ask, don’t the others tell me? Believe me, they have tried to tell you over and over and over again. And you just couldn’t “take it”. Perhaps a good deal of what you call their “nagging” or “bad temper”… are just their attempts to make you see the truth.
Much of a leader’s ability to set vision, guide others and make great decisions is rooted in experiencing reality as it actually is. Ignorance is costly.
How can you gaze into your ignorance beyond listening to what others have to say? Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Where am I wrong?
- What am I not seeing?
- How am I communicating in unhelpful ways?
- What poor habit is eroding my influence with others?
- What preferences are clouding my judgment?
- Where am I not listening?
There is great power in honest, personal reflection. As you gain a proper view of yourself in light of reality, you become better equipped to lead those around you.
Ask the hard questions. The answers unlock insight, potential and most importantly, reality as it actually is.
FOR THE CURIOUS MIND
Broaden your horizons.
Curiosity is vital for growth. In each newsletter, I share a few resources tangentially related to leadership. I’ve found them interesting, and they’ve in turned expanded my capacity as a well-rounded leader.
Single women are one of the fastest growing segments of home buyers. An estimated 17-20% of that group purchased a home in 2019.
According to a 2018 Bank of America study, 73% of single women valued home ownership over marriage compared with 65% of single men.
The article in House Beautiful is intriguing on two different levels:
- It signifies the continuing trend of marriage being pushed back until people believe they are ready to settle down.
- It highlights to growing trend of independent women at home and in the workplace. Many of these women are ages 25-40.
As these trends persist, I anticipate more prominent female leaders emerging in the workplace.
Leaders communicate constantly, both verbally and non-verbally. And, based on scientific research, first impressions really matter.
In fact, according to a leading study, 60% of hiring decisions are made within the first 15 minutes of an interview.
The article in Psychology Today breaks down different avenues of communication, including verbal vs. non-verbal cues, speaking with empathy and the science of body language (kinesics).
Because the tried-and-true playbooks from yesterday expire more rapidly than ever, today’s leaders function more like coaches than central command.
It’s simply impossible to have all the answers in the information age, so new leaders and managers are part of a new wave of “learning cultures” that become part of the fabric of an organization. Learning and growth is passed down in a coaching style, but as most of us know, coaching is tedious, hard work.
I really like this essay in HBR. It breaks down some explanation of why coaching is important, and it offers a helpful GROW model for understanding how to become better at the skill of coaching.
MY LATEST CONTENT
What I’ve been writing about.
Leaders and managers are concerned with maximizing productivity, effectiveness and impact.
A useful method to maximize each of those things is the disciple of time blocking.
In my latest article, I address some key ideas around daily time blocking:
- The problem time blocking helps solve
- What time blocking actually is
- Why you should consider implementing time blocking
- Strategies to implement time blocking for yourself (and stick to it)
- A bonus free daily time blocking template to get started
I believe you will find the content helpful and actionable.
In addition, I am continuing to work on my decade in review article. I can’t wait to share with you all that has happened in 10 years – it’s a lot!
Finally, I have a new series in the planning phase called “Welcome to Leadership”. It’s the knowledge, tools and resources I wish I had when I began (and still desire today). Think of it as a cohesive collection of content to empower you to put your best foot forward every day as you lead others.
Learn and grow by listening to others.
Here are 4 podcast episodes I enjoyed in the last couple of weeks, and you may too!
- How I Built This is a compelling podcast. I recently listened to an episode with Daymond John, the founder of FUBU and a Shark on ABC’s Shark Tank. Daymond is down to earth and knows how to hustle to get things done. His story is both interesting and inspiring.
- Leaders have influence. Known as the “Father of Influence”, Robert Cialdini has written two best-selling books: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasionand Pre-Suasion. His podcast with Jordan Harbinger from the Art of Charm is filled with nuggets of insight and “Aha!” moments. Robert’s books are great, but his manner of speech may be even better.
- I’m back with more from Andy Stanley’s podcast. There are two episodes you need to listen to right now. In a 2-part series called “The Four Disciplines of Execution”, Andy talks with Chris McChesney from FranklinCovey about how to create a culture of discipline and execution in your organization. The conversation is engaging and brimming with actionable takeaways. I encourage you to listen to Part 1 and Part 2.
A QUESTION FOR YOU
Until we meet again…
At the end of each newsletter, I conclude our time with a thoughtful question designed to bring the best out of you.
What habit can you cultivate to become a better listener?
Until next time,
P.S. Did you know that you can help shape this content? Reply back with your favorite leadership insights and finds, or share them in the Better Leader Community on Facebook. I’ll handpick the best ones to include in future updates.
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