Dare To Be Positive: How To Be A Leader In The 21st Century
It was the first time that Bill and I had ever golfed together. He had no idea how bad I was, and I had no idea how good he was.
But it didn’t matter.
We were just playing golf.
Or were we?
Standing on the first tee off, ball perched precariously on the tee, shoes loosely gripping the wet morning grass, swatting at mosquitoes with my practice swings, my back aching from a bad night of sleep and 55 years of punishment, I prepared myself for the kill. Slowly my club raised, gaining momentum, winding the spring ready for the release… pause, head down, focus on the ball and nothing else, I pulled the trigger.
Expecting to hear the crisp “Ping” of steel and ball.
There is nothing as embarrassing as that sound on the first tee off, as you watch your ball rolling through the grass 40 feet in front of you. It’s deflating and a little bit frustrating… no, a LOT frustrating.
Standing straight up after the shot, I complained about my back and the club I was using and finally the fact that it was so early in the morning. I could have gone on and on, but it was Bills turn, so I shut up and let him shoot.
His shot was a repeat of mine, but his response wasn’t.
He stood there, calmly bent over to retrieve his unbroken tee, eyed where his ball had stopped and silently walked to the cart to replace his club.
We drove the 40 feet, dug out our clubs again and repeated the process of me shooting and flubbing the shot and complaining and making excuses and Bill flubbing his shot as well, but smiling and making conversation.
It took me that long to realize that this game wasn’t going to be like many of the others and Bill wasn’t going to be like many of the others either.
Today was only going to get better, but first, I needed to get out of my egoverse, stop over analyzing things and come back down to earth.
Be Open to Other Points of View
“So what books are you reading?” He asked me, and when I told him, he asked how I was applying what I was learning. He also asked how what I was reading could apply to him and his work.
Not only was he asking me about me and making me feel important, he wanted to learn as well, so he made the whole time we spent together about me… and I loved it.
I have such a history of complicating things like trying to figure out just why the round peg won’t fit in the square hole, and vice versa, that I often miss the message. Bill, on the other hand, wasn’t trying to figure things out; he was just being in the moment and absorbing what was being presented, and making me feel important along the way.
Seek Wisdom Before Knowledge
As I see it, after 30 years in the leadership business, there are mainly two camps that leaders come from: Knowledge Leadership and Wisdom Leadership. Knowledge pertains to being all about how something is done, and wisdom is about asking “why are things connected in the way they are?”
You don’t think so? All right then, Let me explain.
Knowledge leaders are often seen as micro managers because they want to take everything apart and examine the workings under their microscope so they can “know” what to do with it in any given circumstance. If anyone dares to step out side the boundaries of what is known, the manager quickly reels them in and re-educates them on the details. They are good at finding excuses when something doesn’t work, and they are even quicker to find fault when someone deviates from the known course, and they find themselves all over the map instead, focusing on tasks rather than outcomes.
It’s too easy, when we focus on how, to get bogged down in the details and miss the breakthroughs that are staring us in the face, demanding to be discovered.
Knowledge leaders are focused on laws. They use their voice to build themselves up and they give feedback to prove how good they are.
It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t connect with people.
Just ask Sheldon.
Wisdom leaders, on the other hand, are not overly concerned with how something works as they are with why they are focused on it in the first place. They think about why does something belong to the process, and what can be done to improve on it, and how can we apply the process in other areas to support people in another way?
A wisdom leader doesn’t work in “how” they focus on “why”. In fact, wisdom leaders don’t even need to know how, they have people in place that already know it. What makes a wisdom leader great is that they know how to access the hearts and minds of the people they need to move the project along. Most wisdom leaders that I know are inspired people who ask questions to transform peoples thinking, not to prove how much they know.
They use their voice to change their world.
Wisdom Leaders give feedback to prove how good their people are. And they are ridiculously good at creating legions of believers because they excel in 3 key areas:
1. They create conditions where people believe in the direction they are going.
2. They develop an environment where people feel they belong and have common purpose.
3. They feed a hunger in people to become the best that they can be by praise and encouragement.
Leadership is about you, not me.
After playing just two holes with Bill, I had discovered clarity, and I stopped complaining. I didn’t need to apologize or whine about why I messed up my shots; they just happened. In fact, it wasn’t even important. I wasn’t there to impress or compete with anyone; I was there to be in the moment and believe in myself, and when I released my ego and my desire to be perfect, I was able to relax and enjoy the company and the game, and strange as it may seem, my game radically improved.
Please remember that If you want to radically improve as a leader, The same is true with you and your people: Learn to listen and be open to other people’s ideas, lead with your heart, seek wisdom from everyone and find ways to create successes for your team (without taking the credit).
So, to sum up, If we stop trying to be perfect and accept that we am not, we move closer to it.
A Bit about me...
My vision is quite simple: to make an impact on the lives of the people who have been entrusted to me: You (for reading this article), my family and my clients.
I coach people. Direct, practical, innovative, meaningful.
I coach for excellence.
I love what I do... and so do my clients.
Over the years I've noticed that business coaching that was supposed to make us stronger actually took away our confidence and made us doubt ourselves. Confidence and people skills aren't developed just by measuring and planning everything, they grow through doing and learning from experience and by taking risks. People want to make a difference. Build teams. Be better understood. Live more confidently.
I founded IBC Impact Business Communication Inc. to create a world where business people communicate and act with confidence to create better worlds for themselves. Worlds where they feel powerful and free to express themselves. Worlds where something as simple as conversation creates energy, understanding and impact. Worlds so exquisite, I couldn't imagine doing anything else.
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