Blueprint for Life and Leadership

Successful people, model themselves after successful people. You want to be a good leader? Find a leader that exemplifies what you believe are key characteristics, qualities, skills and abilities that you need and write them down. That is only the beginning. Watch them, the way they handle situations, people, projects and as much as you can see, their very life. “Take the meat and spit out the bones.” Take from them what will help you, and include in your developing blueprint for your life… as a leader.

What in the world is a blueprint? And why is it so important for you to have one? A blueprint is a design plan, or a model. Builders use them to ensure that what they are building is exactly what the “economic buyer”, that’s you – wants as a finished project. That’s a simple definition. No rocket science needed. Do you have one for yourself? For your team? For your organization? A blueprint for life and leadership is what each one of us needs if we plan to be successful. I know you remember the old adage, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It applies here too, for your life and leadership!

Imagine you want to build your dream oceanfront home in San Diego, California. You own two acres of a lot free and clear right on the ocean. Money is no object. You have it in the bank. You’ve selected an excellent architect and excellent contractor. And they are ready to meet with you and discuss the project. At your first development team meeting, you get asked the critical questions: “What do you want? What would make this oceanfront home perfect for you and your family?” You don’t have an answer for these questions.

MADE-MEN-Blueprint

You can’t see the finished house at this early stage. You figure you’ll get started and see where the project goes. Wrong answer! Without some input from you, the architect can’t put pen to paper and see what you see and the contractor shouldn’t begin building. Much like my scenario we need to have a blueprint for our life as a leader and we should ensure that every person on our team has a blueprint, at least as it pertains to what they do in the organization and where they are trying to go. Especially high-performance people. It is critical that you are clear about what they need to continue to develop and they should understand that they can’t make it to the next level without a clear plan.

Let me say it differently. You need a map. You need a destination that you can compare with your starting point. What is it that you must develop in order to be a strong, respected and credible leader in your organization? What does that person look like? What are your strengths? What do you need to continue to do? What do you need to stop doing? What are your gaps? Areas of growth opportunity? All of this can be included in your blueprint.

Last week, I introduced a series I will be writing called “Under Construction”. For some reason, that phrase has provoked much thought on why we don’t accomplish what we think we should accomplish. Why aren’t we always successful as leaders? What gets in the way of success? Sometimes we fall short of the finished line and we beat ourselves up for not getting the promotion. We beat ourselves up for getting a demotion or we lose a good opportunity – we get fired. How does that happen to someone that came in with guns blazing? No plan for success. No plan to grow. No plan for succession. No plan for our people. No plan… you finish the sentence.

Ultimately our blueprint for life and leadership comes down to us making a commitment “to write the vision and make it plain that men might run with it.” I will write more on this topic as I continue to develop this series on “Under Construction“. Remember to “Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are like children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” – Napolean Hill

 

Leadership – The Strength of a Man

This man is larger than life. His expectations of those around him supersedes any lofty expectations we could ever have for ourselves and for our life. He is a father, a fisherman, a husband, a prophet, a teacher, a preacher, a friend, a workaholic, a mentor, a businessman, a builder, a bishop and a leader of leaders. I know I am missing some of the other things that describe him. To me, he is my spiritual father. I have attempted to make him my mentor, but that thought has been left behind and I embrace the father that he is to me.

Strength of a Man

Our paths intersected back in June of 2004, though I have been around since, January of that same year. Our paths, our first meeting was in June of 2004. I met with him and I knew I could learn from him after that first meeting. He is tough and has huge vision and expectations and I knew then I needed to be around him. I still need to be around him. Through a series of nudges from the Lord, in 2006 to be precise, I accepted that he was the father I needed in my life. I didn’t think I needed a father. My earthly father, the man that raised me was amazing in his own right and when he died in 1995, I was devastated. I have recovered and lived on with wonderful memories but I wasn’t looking for a replacement. So when God suggested this new father, a spiritual father, I was not readily open to the idea.

Back to him, this man embodies the qualities of a strong leader. Something we seem to have misplaced as a nation – strong leaders. We require very little from those we choose as leaders today. This man, this leader, my father, requires much from himself and those he leads. That’s the strength of this man. His accomplishments over the years are vast and include building a great church, maintaining his marriage of more than 40 years, building a women’s shelter, a men’s shelter, a food ministry that feeds thousands upon thousands of people. Building multiple buildings, rebuilding cars, 3 children that are successful in their own right, and multitudes of spiritual children that look to this man for guidance, and leadership – some on a daily basis.

One lesson of leadership I have learned from him over the years is that we should be a reflection of those that we are connected to. In other words, if he as my spiritual father is successful, then I should be successful too. One of my favorite sayings says, “successful people, model themselves after successful people.” I know that my spiritual father had great men around him and he was willing to submit himself and learn from those men. He is wise, he is a learner, a reader, a tinkerer, a teacher, a listener, a lover of God, a man of prayer, a man of worship, a man of God, and my spiritual father. These are the things – the strength of this man!

I am forever grateful that our life journey, in the economy of God, intersected now 10 years ago. I still have much to learn, but I know this, I can’t help but to be successful. By continuing to observe his life, learn the lessons he so freely teaches, and apply myself by working hard every day, I will be a builder too. Maybe not buildings or cars, but I will build the things, that God allows me to build – people. That is the strength of this man, this leader. He builds people. He calls himself a people mechanic. What a great moniker! He is still tinkering in my life. Yea!

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.

Write The Vision And Make It Plain

As I begin my new journey here at Leaders in Training, I want to begin by clarifying my vision for this blog site. My purpose is to learn as much about leadership as I can. I want to share my journey, what I have learned as a leader, in hopes that some new leader or novice may learn from my mistakes, and my successes. I want to coach potential leaders, novices and seasoned leaders. That’s what I get to do everyday and I want to share what I do, what works, and what doesn’t work. I want to learn from my audience and I want to challenge potential leaders or “wanna be” leaders to step up and step out and begin to lead.

Leadership is a missing ingredient in this country today. We have people in positions of leadership, but where are they really taking us? I am not confident in our current leaders and we have another generation of people coming up that will one day lead this country. What will they use as a model for leadership? Who will they use as a mentor?

Vision by definition is the act or power of seeing. Unusual discernment or foresight. Seeing something before it is manifested in the natural realm. Great leaders have great vision. They see what they want to accomplish or where they want to go before they ever get there. Great leaders have vision and they can tell you about it. They can write it down and you will be able to begin to see life form out of the vision of a person.

As I sat in a meeting yesterday afternoon, I realized that our leader, our visionary declares his vision to us on a regular basis. He rehearses the vision with us, he gives us examples, he lives it and breathes it every day. Our responsibility as leaders in the organization is to grab the vision and run with it. Our responsibility is to rehearse the vision, live and breath the vision and share the vision with those who are following us.

As a leader if you have no vision, no one will follow you. Why? Because you can’t take them any where. It is as simple as that. With vision, you can run, knowing you have a destination, without it, you are stalled and the people are stalled and eventually they will find someone else to follow.

For new leaders or novices – check your vision. Can you see clearly where you need to take your team or organization? If it is not clear to you, how will they run? If you are not clear on the destination, stop and reassess. Take some time, a season, to be alone and get clear about where you need to lead people. Notice I didn’t say where you want to lead people. Your leadership, your vision must be connected to purpose and destiny.

For seasoned leaders – check to see if the troops are running with the vision. Is there a blueprint that they are following? Are they off track or on point? Has the vision been diluted by the cares of the day or the challenges you are facing? Write the vision and make it plain that your team may run with it. Go back and rehearse the vision, declare the vision, rewrite the vision, and live the vision!