Elevating your leadership | If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams

If you do the work, they will never succeed

Help people, empower them, provide resources and tools they need to be successful, but DO NOT do their work for them. Completing the work of others doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help them, it doesn’t help you nor does it help your organization. People must be empowered and positioned to succeed, yet they must be accountable for their performance and contributions.

Furthermore, everyone has a role to play and your time and effort is much better spent elsewhere. Focus on your responsibilities and have others do the same. Remember, you are a team.

Expand your circle of trust

Meeting people, getting to know them and learning what matters to them will be of great value to you in the long run. Build relationships, expand your network and invest in growing your circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

While we all know that networking has a potential to produce great value, this became even more evident to me during a conversation I had with a colleague last week. During our chat over coffee we have realized that we have a few mutual friends some of which are university presidents, provosts, vice presidents, deans, CEOs, COOs, CIOs, legal counsels…across the country, across the world.

The value of your network could potentially be invaluable and be the difference maker when you need it the most. While your knowledge, work ethic, experience and skills are extremely important, your network will at times overshadow them all. Proactively work on building and maintaining your network of folks around common ideas, values and interests. Be intentional about your career, about your life.

Visualize your goals

Vvisualize your goals and setup your work environment so that they are always visible and noticeable. By doing this, you will constantly be reminded of what matters to you and what you want to accomplish this year (month, week…).

When I say goals, I mean BIG goals, HUGE goals, goals that “scare” you in a sense. Select 5-8 of the most important large goals and then work towards accomplishing them. Finally and very importantly, for obvious reasons, don’t make them all due on December 31st. 😉

Proactive career management

All of you who know me a bit know that I like to be intentional about goals and accomplishments and that I’m not a fan of aimless drifting as a viable strategy. While I’m not always successful in this pursuit, my intent is always to look some 3-5 years ahead and plan where I want to be and what would take for those goals to be considered successful. These goals can be related to our current place of employment, your own business or elsewhere.

During this ever changing process you should be flexible in the approach, but determined and focused on your goals and outcomes. Furthermore, it is important to know that at times the goals themselves can and often will change as our experience grows and we refocus on what matters and what is important to us.

Be intentional and take control and responsibility of your future.

Experience is a lot more than the number of years alone

Experience is what we are all after when looking for a new hire (obviously in addition to personality, skill set and education to name a few). However, this elusive experience is not equivalent to the number of years candidates have, but it is much more related to how were those years spent.

When looking to hire, ask yourself, better yet, ask the candidates: how much hands on experience do they have; how current and up to date are they with current regulations, protocols, and industry standards; how have their perceptions and approaches changed over time?

Always remember that quality is a lot more important than quantity.

Don’t trade your character for the corner office

As we grow, advance and ascend to positions of greater responsibilities, it is essential to remain grounded and stay true to yourself. No matter what happens and where you end up in your career make sure you remain who you are as a person, as a human being.

While I do understand that certain positions may require adjustments to protocols and procedures, they shouldn’t change your character and your personality. If you are helpful, cordial and approachable to people now, you should remain that way even when you become a CEO. As a matter of fact, the more influence you have the more you need to be aware of how your actions and words impact people and their lives. Audit your reach and influence and use it wisely and thoughtfully.

Leaders focus on what’s important, not what’s urgent

Each of us are faced with multitude of inputs and decisions to make each day. Keeping this in mind, it is important to spend your time, resources, attention and energy wisely. As a leader, your decisions impact not only your own life, but lives of others and as such you should focus on what is important and valuable to all, not simply react to “fires” and loudest folks and spent too much time on urgent matters.

When in doubt, remember…

“A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine.”

Furthermore, here’s a great chart that could be helpful along the way.

Urgent vs. Important

Urgent vs. Important
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Set people free, make them successful

We all want to work with the best people available and we want to be part of high performing teams. In this noble quest, we think of ways to retain top talent and have them stay longer, be happier and feel valued. Unfortunately, at times, this doesn’t work.

When that time comes, where you know that there’s nothing you can offer in terms of growth, development and advancement within your own business, help them grow, develop and advance elsewhere. Don’t hold them back or hold their desire to continue being challenged against them, but rather offer your help and assistance along the way. Enable people to succeed and move on gracefully and with dignity; offer to be listed as a reference; write them a recommendation letter…be a leader, be someone they would love to work with again.

How to build your reputation

You are only as good as your last performance. We have all heard this statement or a variation of it and unfortunately, in most organizations, it is partially true. I say partially true as your overall performance and contributions are more important than any single project, service improvement or business development opportunity.

Your reputation as a whole is what matters. It is who you are in the eyes of others and it is how they speak of you. Perform at the highest attainable level and inspire others to do the same. In all you do, you need to:

  • Be honest and truthful,
  • Display integrity,
  • Deliver on your promises

Furthermore, in this process it is essential to network and build relationships, but don’t allow them to limit you. Please remember that your job is to lead, manage, improve, advance and grow, not to become everyone’s best friend. After all, leadership is not a popularity contest.

No more excuses, we’ve all had enough

No more excuses, we have all had enough of them for a lifetime. Talk is cheap, excuses plenty, but without action and execution you will never achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

Stop coming up with excuses, reconnect with your why and take actionable steps forward towards your goals. The time is now to get closer to what you truly want to accomplish in 2016. Go after it and do it today!