MVP Seminars Blogs

The man at the hardware store told me all I needed to install the window well covers were the proper size screws, proper size bit and a drill.  So, I bought the covers, a couple of dozen screws and a bit.  When I arrived at home I retrieved my electric hand drill and went to work.  I drilled and drilled with no success.  I called my friend Roger who knows about such things and upon his arrival he determined that what I needed was a hammer drill.  My problem was that I did not have the proper tool to do the job. Like many tasks, having the proper tool or tools is said to be half the job; leadership is no different!  The effective leader must have the proper tools in his or her box.  Every so often, some of those tools need to be sharpened or replaced.  And, depending on the job, there may need to be a new tool or two added. Some of the basic tools in the leader’s toolbox include: vision, people skills, many leadership books, a priority list, persistence, an accountability partner and a reservation for an upcoming leadership workshop or seminar.  Which of these tools is missing from your toolbox?  Which ones need updated or replaced?  One who hunts elephants does not arm him or herself with a fly swatter.  And one who installs window well covers needs to purchase or rent a hammer drill.  Don’t limit the value and power of your leadership by not having the proper tools in your box!
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Many people are open to learning, but not all are interested in developing.

You might ask, “Isn’t learning the same thing as development?” Not quite.

There are really two levels to learning.

  1. The first level occurs when you hear, see, and/or experience something interesting or novel. It is often followed by the comment, “Wow, I didn’t know that.” or “That’s cool.”
  2. The second level of learning takes the new knowledge and applies it. Personal development is all about translating insight into action. It is the process of doing something with the information, transforming and integrating it into new or different behaviors, habits, and mindsets.

Not everyone readily jumps into the second level of learning and undertakes true personal development. It takes time, practice, and a lot of potential discomfort.

The metaphor of a lobster shedding its shell is a powerful way of depicting this choice for real development.

As the young lobster grows, it becomes too large for the shell that protects it. The lobster must search for an area within the rocks on the floor of the ocean where it can feel relatively secure from any predators. Slowly, it begins to shed the shell, that which is stunting its growth.

When the shell is gone, just consider its plight. Its new shell, which began growing before the old one was shed, is still soft and provides little protection. During this time, the lobster is extremely vulnerable and at great risk from predators. It is completely exposed to its dangerous world. Yet, the alternative would be worse. Without the periodic shedding of its shell, the lobster would not be able to grow and ultimately perish.

As leaders, we are faced with a daily choice to grow. We are continually learning new information, and deciding if and how we do something with it.How can development be structured to create a safe environment for a leader to grow and shed their shell?

To help leaders make this important choice and feel that being vulnerable is worth it, here are 6 secrets for achieving lasting personal development. These principles can foster the right environment, attitude, and actions to achieve level 2 learning. These also become the foundation for lasting individual and company-wide training and development solutions..

6 Secrets to Personal Growth:

1. Every Day: Development is far more than a single event or training class, it is an everyday effort to practice, practice, practice. Spending time on a consistent basis is key to growing a skill or a new way of thinking. For example, learning to ask open-ended questions to foster more open dialogue on one’s team is not merely a single event. It is a new habit that can take weeks to achieve proficiency.

2. Aligned: Get in sync with your team, your boss, and your organization so your development can be supported and sustained. How many of us come back from a conference with a long list of great ideas and the next day they all go out the window? It is critical to gain the feedback and insight from others in the organization and what they value. They can advocate for you instead of against you. And aligning with the current power structure will best position you to appropriately push back, developing yourself and others simultaneously.

3. Motivated: Development should happen because you want it, not because someone told you to do it. If there is not an internal desire for personal develop, you may go through the motions but not receive much benefit. The notion for mandatory development rarely works. People need to want it for development to be effective. Reach deep inside, and find or create the motivation to learn and apply good ideas to help you be a better leader.

4. Positive: Spending time on development is in investment in the future. Engaging in development can and should be seen as a positive experience that will lead to a better way of working. Having the right attitude about development helps one reap the greatest value from it.

5. Tailored: Each person brings a myriad of unique experiences, successes, and concerns. Crafting development experiences to fit the needs of each person, effectively builds on their strengths and addresses their specifics areas for opportunities. The more tailored the development, the greater level of respect and value the leader will feel.

6. Discomfort: When speaking with groups, I sometimes tell them that I hope they feel uncomfortable today because that is a strong sign that development is occurring! Lasting personal development pushes one beyond their comfort zone. It stretches and expands one’s capabilities and is strong evidence that learning has transitioned into behavior-changing development.

How have you or your organization used these principles to build training programs or foster personal leadership development?

I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!

Click here to download a FREE resource we created for you!

Get the summary of the above 6 Secrets to Your Leadership Growth for you to download and even print for future reference, here.

*Note this article was originally posted on LinkedIn

About Daniel

Daniel Stewart a Leadership, Talent, and Change Consultant at Stewart Leadership.

He thrives in supporting top performing companies manage and retain exceptional talent, and coach the leaders of tomorrow.

About Stewart Leadership

Stewart Leadership is a talent management and leadership development consulting, coaching, and training company building leaders in start-ups to the Fortune 500. Click here to contact us and discover how we could partner with you.

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How to Hit Your Leadership Recharge Button

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”?—?Teddy Roosevelt

An insightful experiment in learning retention was conducted at Wipro’s tech-support call center.

As reported in the Nov 2015 Harvard Business Review, Why Organizations Don’t Learn, Wipro invited new hires during their sixth through their sixteenth days in training to do something a little different.

This global IT consulting firm had each trainee spend the last 15 minutes of their day reflecting and writing about what they had learned that day. The company also created a control group, who just kept on working for the last 15 minutes with any journaling.

Guess what happened?

Trainees who reflected each day performed more than 20% better, on average, than those in the control group on their final training exam.

Is this a coincidence?

Not at all! Learning through self-reflection is one of the most important skills of being an effective leader.

As you hit the ground running to tackle all of your leadership challenges in 2016, my invitation is to pause and reflect?—?now and on a regular basis throughout the year. Regular reflection positions us to minimize the trouble or lack of learning we cause ourselves. Make sure that you are not the one standing in your own way.

But what should you focus on while you pause and think about the day? How can you best hit your leadership recharge button? What can you do on a regular basis to help you show up as the kind of leader you know you can be? For starters, focus on the positive!

Martin Seligman, who is the father of positive psychology, in his book,Flourish, suggests a key exercise to maximize the power of reflection called Practicing What Went Right.

The exercise has three simple steps:

Step 1: Start by writing 3 things that went right last week.

You can focus on all aspects of your life or just what happened at work.

For example you could say:

  • I had a successful crucial conversation with a colleague
  • I completed our budget on time
  • I included data in my presentation that really connected with my audience

Step 2: Identify what habit or behavior you did to cause those things to go right?

For example:

  • I created a written plan for my crucial conversation and minimized the drama
  • I scheduled a meeting where all decision makers were present to expedite the budgeting process
  • I blocked the first 30 min of each day to prepare and research for my presentation.

Step 3: Answer the following questions:

  • How can I make something like that happen again?
  • What habit do I need to put in place or cultivate more of?

Some examples could include:

  • I chose to check the story I was telling myself and focus just on the facts
  • I decided to not wait for permission but to be proactive
  • I allowed myself to not respond to email or texts for 30 minutes

Next, do the same exercise but on what has gone right thus far today.

Identify what habit or behavior helped those things go right and what you can do to help those things happen again.

“Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”?—?Charles Dickens

We are often very good at focusing on what is going wrong or what is missing in our life. Flip the perspective and catch yourself (and others!) doing something right!

Your level of happiness will increase, your leadership strengths will shine, and your higher level of gratitude will be contagious.

As you strengthen your leadership this year, choose to reflect, choose to learn, and choose to lead better!

Recharge your leadership with gratitude and you will bring more joy to yourself and to those you lead. Happy 2016!

To assist you with your leadership success and reflection in 2016, we have created a complimentary set of self reflection worksheets for you.

It’s easy to print and will help you easily complete the 3 step exercise described above! Click here to download the FREE worksheet.

Note: This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

About Daniel

Daniel Stewart a Leadership, Talent, and Change Consultant at Stewart Leadership.

He thrives in supporting top performing companies manage and retain exceptional talent, and coach the leaders of tomorrow.

About Stewart Leadership

Stewart Leadership is a talent management and leadership development consulting, coaching, and training company building leaders in start-ups to the Fortune 500. Click here to contact us and discover how we could partner with you.

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© 2015 Mark T. Sorrels Having been raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky, though not a consumer, I do know a little about the process of making bourbon. Though it must be made of at least 51% corn mash and must be stored in charred oak barrels, the process that leads to the end product can take anywhere from three years to twenty! Depending on the distiller’s desire for taste, the influence of the mash and the charred oak barrels is a process that may take a long time. The first two installments of The Basics of a Leader’s Influence focused on a leader’s presence and power. This final installment seeks to help us understand the leader’s influence on others is a process. In order for you to see the result(s) of your influence as a leader, be prepared to wait. Why? Influencing people is a process. Few things in life come immediately or quickly and a leader’s influence is no exception. It may be weeks, months or even years before you celebrate the fruit of your labor. Thought patterns and lifestyles of people do not change quickly. So, in order to see the result(s) of your influence as a leader, be like a master distiller; be aware of the process; be willing and prepared to wait.
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New Directions Leader As Beginner: Part Ten

“Every minute I’m a different man.”

Pablo Picasso

How do we maintain “beginner’s mind” and sustain a constantly fresh outlook, one that will give us clear insights instead of dull, routine or unimaginative perceptions so as leaders we may inspire those who follow us? 

Arthur Rubinstein, the great classical pianist, had a response to the above question, and it came as a result of a lesson from Pablo Picasso. This is what he said: “You know Picasso and I are good friends, and we used to see each other a great deal. I used visit him while he was painting at his studio in Paris...Well, for some months I saw Picasso stand in front of his easel and paint a bottle of sherry, a table, a guitar that was lying around, and some banal ironwork on the balcony. I saw about fifty canvases of those same objects. I became a little impatient and also a little bored. I wanted to see a new Picasso! So, one day I said, ‘Look, here, Pablo, what is the matter with you? Aren’t you getting tired painting day after day always the same thing?’ Well, I saw a furious glance at me. He became really angry. ‘What rot are you talking to me? What stupid things are you telling me? Every minute I’m a different man, every hour there is a new light, every day I see that bottle with a completely different personality. It is another bottle, another table, another life in another world and everything is different!’ After a moment to catch my breath, I told him: ‘Pablo, you are completely right. I catch myself thinking the next morning in a completely different way about something I was proclaiming as true the day before.’ And it still is so....”

As in the arts, the real secret to becoming a New Directions Leader is always be a beginner. This is not so easy to accomplish because of the connotation the word beginner carries in our culture: someone without much experience, an amateur, an individual who can’t be fully trusted in her job or position, someone of low competency. I mean would you want to fly in a jet that was piloted by a beginner? Of course, you wouldn’t. It wouldn’t be safe. What Picasso was pointing out, though, is that one can be very experienced, a master, and still be able to see things afresh at every moment. 

Personally, I would be more than happy to fly with a pilot who navigated the airways from this perspective...or follow a leader – a New Directions Leader – who possessed this capacity of beginner’s mind. 

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© 2015 Mark T. Sorrels It takes less than one minute and thirty seconds. Since the 1930s thousands of people have seen it take place. Senators, movie stars and sports celebrities have witnessed it. I have never seen it, though I would like to. I have heard about it for years. It is the “March of the Ducks” at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Everyday at 11a.m. the five Mallard ducks march from their top-floor suite to the elevator, then from the elevator to the lobby fountain where they spend the day swimming in the fountain waters. Then at 5p.m. the reverse is done as the ducks march their way back to the elevator. In the beautiful Bluegrass state where I was born and raised, it was common to hear the phrase, “You better get your ducks in a row.” The meaning of course is to get organized; make a plan; get in line; set priorities; get serious and quit goofing off. Getting your ducks in a row is a priority for great leadership. Great leaders have a plan, are organized and set priorities. If you do these three in partnership with a clear vision, you are on your way to being an effective leader. If you ever have the chance to see the “March of the Ducks,” call or write and tell me about it!
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