Do the One Step.

People tell me they don’t have time to work on their development as a leader (or for that matter, the development of their subordinates either).” Always chasing fires. Running at a hectic pace. Always pulled away. “If I could spend more time in my section, I could be more available to teach and discuss things with my people.”

So if you’ve been waiting for a big chunk of time, or a golden opportunity to do some of the things you say you want to do, good luck. It’s probably not to be.

But what you do have, are plenty of minor moments. Short interactions, brief encounters, small visitations, little bits of time that you can use to take a “one step forward.” A year of these singular steps offers significant progress. And when you’ve learned to harness time in this way, you’ve significantly separated yourself from the crowd.

But you first need to choreograph your moves.

That means, to use these small times for big ends, you need to first think about the growth you want to generate. Second, decide what the steps are. And third, act on your vision. As you weave this thread through your daily routine, you’ll reap the rewards of a life well led.

One step at a time works. John Maxwell wisely said, “Leaders grow daily … not in a day.”

Yes. We all have the time to learn and grow. It’s just hidden in the moment.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom.

For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published.

This article is based on the *’The Limiting Factors Leadership Study: A Critical Look at the Leadership Development Experience,’ copyright 2015, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, along with descriptions of many of our other research projects at http://www.jerrystrom.com/js_research.html . Find short insights on Twitter at #LimitingFactorsRPT

The Power of Observation.

I‘ve never developed a relationship with a mentor who took an interest in my career.”

Those words express the views of many of the participants in my most recent leadership study – lamenting they’ve never had a significant mentor at work. They feel this is a limiting factor to their development as leaders.

So what then can you do to learn leadership lessons when no one takes an active interest in your growth?

Cooperative Learning

Why not apply one of the aspects of cooperative learning – by observing others with whom you interact, and intentionally “learning from their examples.” And I would also say, from their “mistakes” – because all leaders make them.

I’m not talking about using these events to pass judgment, and smugly tell yourself you’re better. But rather, using your observations as opportunities to think about what works, and what doesn’t. Paying attention will give you some new ideas.

In this way, I’ve had many mentors over my lifetime – people who had no idea they were teaching me anything, but provided huge lessons on the right way to go about doing things. And, just as importantly, I’ve had an equal number or more, who’ve made me swear I’d never want to do what they’ve done or the way they’ve done it. Thankfully, bad examples can prove to be good examples of what not to do. You just need make sure you don’t repeat the behavior!

Having a mentor is great. But even if we don’t, we can learn something from everyone – if we just put in the effort to figure out what it is.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom.

For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published.

This article is based on the *’The Limiting Factors Leadership Study: A Critical Look at the Leadership Development Experience,’ copyright 2015, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, along with descriptions of many of our other research projects at http://www.jerrystrom.com/js_research.html . Find short insights on Twitter at #LimitingFactorsRPT

Are You A Generous Leader?

A recent experience at the coffee shop made me think about leadership in a new way … and gave me some ideas on how to introduce my newest research – ‘The Limiting Factors Leadership Study.’

Stick with me for a minute.

I have a favorite coffee shop that I frequent when I’m doing a seminar in Hawaii. At 6 a.m., when they open, I’m there. It’s just part of my routine, and I always order a large iced tea without ice.

Well this last trip, a new person was behind the counter, and when I gave her my order, she came back with a half-empty cup.

I was a little perplexed, and asked if they ran out of tea? No she said, “This is a full cup without the ice.” (Now my experience is that most people fill the cup up all the way to the top, give or take ¼ inch.) I didn’t argue, but I felt a little cheated. (I’m sure in her mind she thought I was trying to cheat her.)

I’ve enjoyed coming to this establishment for years, but that morning it took a hit on how I felt about it – all because of a lack of generosity.

Now I’ve seen similar situations elsewhere. I remember one Thanksgiving serving meals to the homeless, and watching how different volunteers put different portions on the plates (some barely offering a scoop, while others in the line just loaded the food on). I think you’ll agree, being generous is appreciated by everyone!

Our Newest Leadership Study

As a leader, when you withhold from your people, they know. And they feel it.

‘The Limiting Factors Leadership Study’ looks at what employees believe they’re missing in their development as leaders. These become leadership limitations, because companies and bosses fail to see where people get stuck, and don’t give them what they need to succeed.

(Remember, most organizations use the majority of their metrics to judge how the business is succeeding – not so much about how the individual is doing.) What happens is that many employees feel more “used” than valued. That’s not a good formula for high performance.

After a year-and-a-half surveying 472 people, we came to the conclusion that successfully developing leaders requires that the most common limitations need to be addressed and overcome.

The first priority for leaders is to be more generous in giving others the opportunity to lead. If  both sides, leader and led, pursue the same objective, it’ll probably get done.

Anyway, a short overview of the study is found at: http://www.jerrystrom.com/research/js_limiting-factors.html … I highly encourage you to take a quick look.

Being a generous leader is a basis for growing people – who grow a successful business, provide excellent service to the public, and consistently accomplish the mission. We can all work on it.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom.

For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published.

This article is based on the *’The Limiting Factors Leadership Study: A Critical Look at the Leadership Development Experience,’ copyright 2015, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, along with descriptions of many of our other research projects at http://www.jerrystrom.com/js_research.html . Find short insights on Twitter at #LimitingFactorsRPT


Gathering Light

One of the more interesting findings from my leadership research is the fact that a significantly greater number of leaders see themselves needing information on how to develop their own potential than they do in developing others. But why? Why do they struggle so much with charting their own path forward?

I believe, to a large extent, they really don’t know, or aren’t confident in, “What Works?”

Well it doesn’t have to be that difficult. I’d like to suggest a very effective, and rather simple, personal leadership development practice. It’s not the only thing to do, but it’s definitely one of the things which should be done. To grow as a leader you need to “gather more light.” Let me explain.

Look at the two pictures below. Wouldn’t you agree the second image reveals a lot more that the first? And yet, they’re pointed at virtually the same spot in the night sky. So what makes the difference? In the second image, the photographer held the lens open longer, gathered more light, and thus revealed a much more complete picture than was first imagined.

©2015 by Craig Pynn – craigshots.com

 

©2015 by Craig Pynn – craigshots.com

 

Here’s the leadership story …

As a leader, feedback is light. When you open yourself up to what other people are experiencing, you’ll get information that fills in the gaps – gives you a truer idea of what’s happening, and what exists.

What I’m suggesting is that as you improve your ability to get feedback, you get a much brighter, complete picture of your impact. Gather very little feedback – you’re in the dark.

To get more feedback, you need to ask more questions. “What are your thoughts? What do you think about this? How do you feel? What’s going right? What needs improvement? What would be a better approach?” Questions shed light on situations.

The first time you ask, you may not get much. But stick with it. Over time, people will become more forthcoming, and comfortable. And honest. And that’s when you can really learn about yourself.

If you think people want to fix you in one way or another, don’t get hung-up on that. Don’t become hostile. Or defensive. You don’t have to answer, or explain every deficit. Hear what they have to say. Understand how they feel. See things from their point of view. Find out where you’re making mistakes (there will be plenty, let me assure you). Think about their input.

You’ll begin to see how you can get better results. Then, you just have to have the courage and dedication to actually implement your insights.

Follow the light.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom.

For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published.

This article is based on the *’The High Points Survey: What Managers Most Want to Know about Leadership,’ copyright 2012, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, along with descriptions of many of our other research projects at http://www.jerrystrom.com/js_research.html .

The Leadership Diet

I know many of us often start a new year with a list of resolutions … or, at a minimum … we’ve at least considered some things we’d like to see changed, or different, or accomplished, in the coming days, months, year. And now that it’s January, we’re faced with the reality we’ve got to do something about it. Ohhh.

Which leads me to the thought of “achievement.”

You must admit our best leaders have a knack for getting things done. So what makes them able to succeed where others fail?

It seems to me their ability to achieve is the result of “three Ps” – picture, process, and people.

  • Picture” means vision – having a clear idea of where they’re headed, and why they’re going there. And then, figuring out exactly how to communicate it and explain it to others in a way that gets them interested in going along as well.
  • Secondly, they commit to a “process” – meaning they develop a routine they believe will advance them toward their goals, and they regularly follow it. They’re great at personal discipline – holding themselves, and everyone involved, accountable. Leaders who achieve have a real purpose to each and every day. Good habits = good results.
  • And finally, they engage their “people” – putting their focus squarely on relationships which result in attracting the energy and commitment of others. This I believe is where the majority of their time is spent – maintaining and expanding the human connections on which they rely, and making steady progress.

So, as we move into the new year, I’d like to recommend a steady diet which is proven effective for leaders: Picture. Process. People.

It’s a very doable formula for achievement. Happy New Year!

– Jerry Strom

Use Twitter to learn more from the Focal Points Leadership Study. Search quotes and findings by using the hashtag #FocalPointsRPT, or by following me: @JerryRStrom. For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published.

This article is based on the *’Focal Points Study: The Most Important Things a Leader Should Know,’ copyright 2014, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, along with descriptions of many of our other research projects at http://www.jerrystrom.com/js_research.html .