The Better Leader Newsletter (March 5, 2020)
The past two weeks have been difficult. It is never easy to have hard conversations or make hard decisions, but the number and frequency with which they have occurred since we last spoke has been considerable.
I feel as though I don’t have my best to give you this week, but I think that is part of what it means to lead others. You don’t have to be perfect or right, just consistent and real. You show up even when you don’t feel like it, and you grow in the process.
On to the content…
REFLECT ON THIS
Pause and consider what’s truly important.
This tweet by James Clear immediately caught my attention:
Balance is timing, not intensity.
It is not doing multiple tasks at 80%, but developing the skill of turning it on and turning it off.
Sleep fully, then work intensely. Focus deeply, then relax completely. Give each phase your full attention.
Balance is “when to”, not “how to”.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking balance is about how we devote energy to specific tasks. We build our “balanced” day around half-hearted efforts to make incremental improvements.
But what if you shifted the narrative of balance from “how to” to “when to”? How would that change the way you thought about your day and organized your time?
“How to” is easy. “When to” is hard. Discipline leads to balance, not the other way around.
What’s on my mind.
There are 4 primary reasons why people don’t perform the way they should:
- They don’t know what they are supposed to do.
- They don’t know how to do what they are supposed to do.
- They don’t know why they should do what they are supposed to do.
- There are external obstacles preventing them from doing what they are supposed to do.
And there are 4 ways in which to deal with each of them:
- What – SOP manual, processes, and a job description with clear expectations.
- How – onboarding, training and the proper tools.
- Why – mission, vision, values and alignment between them and their work.
- Obstacles – creative problem solving.
Leadership deals with all 4 of those things, but it is the ability to deal with problems (obstacles) that sets a leader apart.
Problems happen. It’s just a part of life. And from what I have observed, most people don’t like them.
They grow weary of solving them, they run away from them, they look to other people to fix them or they simply ignore them.
And in each of these scenarios, it is the responsibility of the leader to step in and use their creative problem solving capabilities to find solutions to those problems.
Leaders solve problems, and most importantly, the right problems. In fact, one of the quickest ways to move into a leadership position is to become known for how you solve problems.
If you find someone solving problems creatively for themselves, that’s one thing.
But if you find someone creatively solving problems for other people, pay attention. They have future leader written on their forehead.
What you will find over and over again is this simple truth: it’s not the size of the problem that is important, but rather the size of the person dealing with the problem.
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.
The art of persuasion fascinates me. Behavioral psychology has ramifications in all facets of life, including leadership. And in this article by David Robson, persuasion is analyzed from the lens of advertisements.
Whether you are aware or not, you are being influenced by thousands of tiny messages every day. And in many of these messages, common psychological patterns occur like the “repeat-break” phenomenon and “errors in judgment” paradigm.
It’s an incredibly interesting read, and it’s one I would recommend because you have influence as a leader. Knowing how to properly wield this influence is important, and much of that learning is done through the avenue of applied psychology.
When you consider the benefits of mentoring, most of them naturally accrue to the mentee, not the mentor.
But, as Lisa Fain writes on Smart Brief, mentoring has some key benefits for the mentor as well. One of those benefits is improving your communication skills through intentional conversations.
My favorite sentence from the article: “We know that the best conversations in mentoring happen when there is both significant learning and high trust.”
As someone who has been both a mentor and mentee, I couldn’t agree more!
Speaking of difficult conversations and the number of them I’ve had over the past 2 weeks, this article is quite prescient.
Peter Bregman writes in HBR, “How we show up in hard times and easier ones, how we listen and connect, how we give and receive support, how we care for others — those are not just commitments. They’re skills. The courage and willingness to really see other people, and be seen by them, doesn’t get in the way of our leadership, it is our leadership.”
Peter gives an excellent story of what it looks like to lack empathy, and then follows it up with the conclusion of the story where empathy is prioritized.
It’s so easy to miss the person for the problem. I make that mistake more often than I should. This article is a reminder that empathy is powerful and worth prioritizing.
MY LATEST CONTENT
What I’ve been writing about.
In the last newsletter, I introduced my new Welcome to Leadership series. In the first article, I gave an overview of what the series would be about and my motivations for writing it.
I also shared Part 1 with you, and it revolved around the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know.
Since then, I have published Part 2 of the series: 5 Character Traits of Great Leaders. This article is adapted from my ebook, Breakthrough Leadership. I encourage you to read the article, download the ebook and share it with others.
The 5 traits that I visit in the article are as follows:
- Unquestionable Character
- Real Humility
- Ferocious Resolve
- Crystal-Clear Communication
- Unwavering Accountability
It’s fun to revisit content that you have written in the past. It shows you how much you’ve grown and changed, even in a short period of time!
So whenever time comes available, make sure to read about the 5 character traits of great leaders and share it with your friends, family and colleagues.
Learn and grow by listening to others.
Honestly, I didn’t have the time or mental space to listen to many podcasts this week. That time alternated between listening to classical piano or heavy rock. I did squeeze in 2 episodes though that I believe you will enjoy.
- Patrick Lencioni is back on the Entreleadership podcast, and it is one of my favorite ones I have listened to in some time. In this show, Pat discusses the motivations behind wanting to be a leader. Specifically, Pat talks about 5 responsibilities leaders must step into in order to fulfill their role. I was both challenged and encouraged by the conversation.
- In 4 Steps to Generate Clear Vision, Michael and Megan from Lead to Win discuss what it takes to get clear about where you want to go. It’s something every leader must do, and it’s something that must be done over and over again. I loved how Michael started the episode: “Your vision for your company is not going to show up in a FedEx envelope at your front porch.” Vision takes work, but it is work that is worth doing.
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.
How are you balancing your time?
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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