Political Chat: The Aftermath

The debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was over about 30 to 40 minutes in.trump__clinton Clearly Donald Trump was unprepared. As a leader, that is unacceptable. Period. He had no business showing up on the national stage for all the world to see, with no plan. Donald had zero response for obvious issues Hillary would use as ammunition to support her bid for the Presidency, i.e. the temperament rant.

Donald Trump, “doing Donald” doesn’t work if he wants to be President of this great nation. At least not for this voter.

In the Aftermath of this debate, I am disappointed. Hillary Clinton is a “no” vote for me. I will save that for another day. When the options are selecting the lesser of two evils, both candidates better come out swinging for the fence. Having a tantrum and whining about how your being mistreated won’t garner votes.

I take my privilege to vote very seriously. I will vote in November. The problem is neither of these presidential candidates has earned the privilege to represent me in Washington D.C. for the next 4 years. What’s a voter to do?

What If You Had a Poor Performer?

What If?What if you had a poor performer on your team? How long is too long to carry them on the team?

One of my ducklings is leading a project. He has someone who is not performing and we are 2 weeks from the go live date on the project. As a mentor coach, I have recommended he remove the person from the project. The individual is not committed to performing at a high level (based on performance to date) and their poor performance will impact the project significantly. What would you do? How much longer would you attempt to coach this person through their obvious lack of commitment? Would you remove them? If so, how?

I am looking for serious advice. I will add an aside tomorrow morning with my recommendations for novices and experienced leaders. Today I am looking for your input. Help me help my young leader. I look forward to your recommendations.

Leaders Can Burn Out

As I spent time this morning in our prayer room, this post began to formulate in me. I am working on improving my blog and I am in the midst of a 30 day writing challenge. This is the writing challenge for Day one “Free Write for 20 Minutes – Unlock Your Mind!” I am going to do my best not to edit this post and just write as it comes. Enjoy!

Unlock Your MindI began to think about why leaders get burned out. As I thought about it, these three thoughts came to me:

  • 1. Whose drinking from you well?
  • 2. How do you replenish your well?
  • 3. Athletes actually eat more calories than the average person because they burn it off.

Let’s start with the first thought:

Whose drinking from your well?

Who do you pour your life into every day? Your employees, your family, your neighbors, your students? Whose drinking from your wellspring of life? Do you find yourself on empty at the end of every day? May be you are already empty and all people are getting are the dregs of your well…You may be burned out or you are well on your way to being burned out.

How do you replenish your well?

Every leader gets tired or drained at some point. It is imperative that you take some time to replenish your well so that those that look to you for strength and sustenance can find it. Imagine being thirsty and dipping your cup in the only well that is available for miles and finding no water there to drink. That is unacceptable for leaders. When you are the captain of the ship, the lead dog, the head haunch, you have to have something to sustain your organization and the people that make up your organization. What do you do to replenish your well? Some people replenish their inner well with:

  1. Exercise
  2. Prayer
  3. Thinking
  4. Reading
  5. Getting away
  6. Reading a book
  7. Sleeping
  8. Writing

Athletes actually eat more calories than the average person because when they do what they do, they get depleted. In other words, their training depletes them. They need the extra calories for energy. So eating more calories helps them continue to grow and train for their next event. I believe this principle is similar for leaders. You may not be training your body for the next marathon or the next athletic competition but when you are the one people draw from every day, you better be increasing your “caloric” intake to ensure that your well does not run dry.

Prayer replenishes my well. I can see times in my life when I prayed consistently and there was strength in my life to show for it. I can also see times when my prayer life waned and I was easily depleted by the workload and lives of people I was leading. Prayer helps me recharge and feel strengthened. It is an inner thing. It helps me draw near to the creator of the universe. It helps me to hear and get downloads, much like this post. I was praying and these thoughts or this download came to me. I stopped praying and let the thoughts come and I captured them on paper right there in the prayer room.

What works for you? If you don’t know – you should. It is very easy for people to drain you – to drain your well. There are other people who help fill your tank. Be vigilant to know which people are which. Do what you must do to draw away on a consistent basis and get your tank filled again so that burn out does not become your portion!

On A Personal Note – Remembering 9/11

Today is a day of remembrance for me. I will never forget turning my television on a little after 9:00 AM, back on September 11, 2001 and seeing the second plane fly into Tower Two of the World Trade Center. What a horrific day in our history. I was suppose to fly that day. I never made it to the airport. I knew we were under attack…9-11 Flag

So much changed that day for me and others in our nation! I knew that we would never be the same again, as a nation. We would never walk with the same swagger as Americans believing we were untouchable. We got touched on that terrible day 13 years ago.

Today, as I remember the almost 3,000 Americans who lost their life, their families, who I’m sure still grieve for them, I am hopeful for my unborn grandchildren who will have the privilege to be born in this nation. This is still the land of liberty and freedom! Today, 13 years later, I live in Baltimore, Maryland. This city is poised to celebrate the 200th year of the Star-Spangled Banner.

We should celebrate our National Anthem! We should sing loud and proud for those across the oceans to hear! We still have a voice and we are still are a nation to be reckoned with. We are proud and hopeful for better days.

The challenge in front of us 13 years later is that we have a deficit of leadership in this nation. Where are the men and women willing to posture them self for the sake of Biblical principles this nation was birthed on?

I will never forget the impact President George W. Bush had as he stood with the first responders and he declared that we would find those responsible. That took courage! You can’t teach that! You either have it or you don’t. It was a defining moment for him. He looked like a leader and he sounded like a leader as he stood on ground zero with that megaphone in his hand.

Mayor Guiliani represented his city well in all that he did in the hours, days and even years since September 11. “Rudy” was human in the midst of this terrible day. I saw his humanity, and yet their was undeniable strength and leadership that oozed out of him as he tried to comfort his great city.

Unfortunately, we have faltered in this country in our strength of leadership. We don’t look so formidable today across the various political skirmishes. We look weak as a nation. Why, because those who lead this country are weak. Where are the true leaders who stand for the values this nation was built on? Who are you following today?

If you believe you are a leader, or you wanna be a leader, dare I suggest you go back and study the lives of leaders who have gone before us. There are many who have paid a high price for the freedoms that you and I take for granted every day. We don’t have many examples today, but I am hopeful. Today, I remember the men, women and children who died 13 years ago! There have been many thousands who have died since that day, fighting to ensure we continue to be One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for All! I am hopeful….

What If…They Don’t Like Me?

What If…They Don’t Like Me? So many would-be leaders struggle with this question of how people feel about them as leaders. “What if they don’t like you? Is that so bad?”

Before I get into the meat of what I want to say on this topic, let me give one disclaimer – I believe that the principle of liking is critical to the success of leaders. In other words, people do business with people they like (that’s the principle of liking according to Robert Cialdini). Consider this statement about the Principle of Liking I found at Influence People, “actually, it may surprise you to learn that the key to the liking principle isn’t so much about getting others to like us; it’s really about us coming to like them. Too often people are concerned with doing whatever it takes to get people to like them, failing to realize if they genuinely like the person they’re with, that person will sense it and naturally reciprocate.”

As a leader it is important that you are likeable, but getting them to like you or worrying about whether they like you is a waste of time. If you genuinely care about people, they will know it, even if they don’t like what you are doing or saying in a given moment or within the scope of a project. That being said, “What if they don’t like you?”

If as a leader you are moved or immobilized by what you think people think about you…you are dead in the water before you even get started. If your leadership is contingent upon them, and what you think they are thinking about you, they are leading – not you – and that’s not leadership.

What If…They Don’t Like Me? This question has nothing to do with leadership. It has nothing to do with results and accomplishing the tasks you may be working towards. Whether they like you or not, if you are the leader, you’re responsibility is to lead. You are not leading them to win a popularity contest. You are not leading to win their love and affection. If you are a leader, you will be leading with confidence, vision and purpose. You will inspire others and they will want to follow you. Your leadership should transform people and processes. Leadership is about influence and impact. And strong leaders have both qualities. It’s not about whether people like you…

For Novices & Seasoned Leaders: The question, “What If…They Don’t Like Me?” is birthed out of selfishness. It’s really not about the people…it’s about you looking at you. Stop and think about that for a moment. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but the fact remains, that when you ask this question, or you allow this question to swirl around your head when you should be leading people, you are being selfish. And leadership is not about you, it’s about the people who are suppose to be following you.

In The Absence of Leadership – Lead!

Leaders are defined by those that are following them. If no one is following you, you are not a leader. A man with no one following him is a man out for a walk by himself. It really is that simple.

By definition leadership means: the act or an instance of leading. A person or thing that leads. A guiding or directing head. In it’s simplicity, the bottom line is, if you think you are a leader, take a moment and look over your shoulder. What do you see? Is anyone following you? If you take a gander over your shoulder and there is someone back there I would say you are well on your way.

  • Leaders, lead. They don’t follow. They know how to follow but given the opportunity to lead, leaders lead
  • Leaders, lead. They don’t wonder about their leadership, they are clear they are a leader
  • Leaders, lead. They don’t defer to others – they lead

In the absence of leadership, lead. This is a Darleneism. It is something I say to those I am coaching to develop their leadership skills. Leaders inspire, motivate and persuade others to come with them along the journey. In whatever capacity you find yourself as a leader, you must take people with you. People are key to the success of leaders. Coercion doesn’t work. If people don’t trust you or walk in fear of you, you can’t take them anywhere.

So what am I trying to say?

For new leaders or novices – Leaders lead! You should know whether you are a leader. Typically no one has to tell you. It’s in you, even if you stumble along the way. Remember that leadership is about people, results, vision, trust and integrity. In the absence of leadership – lead! Don’t look around and see who else should step up. You step up when no one else is there. That’s how you gain the experience you will need. 

For seasoned leaders – In the absence of leadership, do what you do – lead. If you are seasoned, there is not much else I can say to you. Continue to sharpen your leadership skills. Make sure people are your priority. Ensure that you have clear vision and take people somewhere. Most importantly, groom new leaders. Novices need mentors. The best place for a novice to get a mentor is from someone who has been in the trenches. That’s you! Lead!

You Will Make Mistakes!

If you think you are exempt from mistakes, you are mistaken and you need to move away from that thought. So many times when I work with leaders, they beat themselves up for the mistakes they make. Many times young leaders struggle to move forward when they make a mistake. But you must remember that leaders make mistakes too! Whether you are a seasoned leader or a novice, you will make mistakes as you attempt to lead people and processes!

Again, you will make mistakes. Prepare for making mistakes. Have a strategy to help move yourself from focusing on the mistake to looking at moving forward. Keep in mind that you might not be able to fix all of your mistakes. The ones that are repairable, fix them. The ones that are not, learn from them and keep moving forward. Don’t get stuck in your mistakes and don’t let others hold you hostage to your mistakes.

  • Acknowledge your mistakes
  • Assess your mistakes and how you got there
  • Assess the lessons, and LEARN from the mistake(s)

Here are a few mistakes that leaders make that you can actually work through with time as you grow as a leader:

1. Failure to Clarify Expectations – I believe this is the number one mistake that leaders make. They fail to clarify expectations with people. As a result misunderstandings happen, frustration with people because of incomplete or incorrect work product, confusion about who does what by when…leaving people pointing fingers and confusion about accountability. Solution: Ensure you take the time to clarify expectations with anyone on your team or project. Clarify roles and deadlines. And then follow-up. Lastly hold people accountable to expectations that are clear.

2. Failure to Understand What Moves or Motivates People – Many times leaders misunderstand what drives the people working for or with them. Solution: It is critical for you as a leader to get to know your people. What moves them and motivates them? What are their strengths and growth opportunities? What frustrates them? What is happening in their life that might affect what is happening in your organization or with your project? You have to know the answer to these and other questions or you will frustrate your people and may be the cause of frustration and breakdowns in communication.

For Novices & Seasoned Leaders: Learn from the mistakes you make. Take responsibility for them and don’t blame others. Take ownership and be transparent about your mistakes. Look at the mistakes as teachable moments, and in the due season of your life, opportunities will come up for you to retake the test and demonstrate that you have learned from your mistakes.

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton