leadership

My (internal) Confrontation Waiting to Happen – Again

I’ve had ‘confrontations’ with myself for years now, simply because I know I should be doing things that continuously make myself better.

And by better, I mean refocusing my efforts to live life to the fullest – being a better friend, brother, son, uncle, employee; working out a little more; drinking a little less; traveling more, etc. I’m happy about the experiences I’ve had to date but there’s still this innate desire to do more.

Yet, I am my own worst critic. I always wonder, “Could I be doing something bigger and better to truly make a difference?”  (Some of you know this, but I served in the armed forces and worked in a hospital for quite a while. Defending freedom and saving lives are two professions that set the bar of achieving “something more” pretty high.)

I could argue that I don’t have the discipline to – day after day – make the proper decisions. That would be an excuse because discipline is a learned quality, a function of habit. I could say, simply, that change is hard. Everyone knows this. But, again, an excuse.

  • What would you do to make a difference in the lives of others?
  • How do you achieve your level of discipline?

One time I was told, “Don’t judge your insides by somebody else’s outsides.” This held two meanings for me. Everyone has their own set of problems. As hard as you try, you will never be able to read another person’s mind and the demons they deal with on a daily basis. You should look at your own ‘insides’ and realize that change comes from within.

Maybe it’s time to have another deep confrontation with myself.

Oh, and here’s the inspiration for this post: Seth’s Blog: The confrontation waiting to happen.

Social Media – A Valuable Opportunity? Pt. 2: Saving time / Become a leader

I find myself discussing my Navy experience a lot lately.  Perhaps it’s because I went to Chicago’s Air and Water Show for the very first time.  Or, it could be because I’m on the job hunt and I list my military experience on my resume. (Potential employers always ask about it, even though it was 10+ years ago.)  Whatever the case may be, my maritime adventures have been popping up left and right.

I remembered living on a street called Rickover Circle (don’t ask me how I remember this).  The street was in honor of the late Admiral Hyman Rickover, the “father” of the nuclear Navy (and apparently one tough cookie).  According to Wikipedia, the admiral was, “Hyperactive, political, blunt, confrontational, insulting, flamboyant, and an unexcelled workaholic who was always demanding of others – without regard for rank or position – as well as himself.” It also states he had “little tolerance for mediocrity, none for stupidity.” And a Chicago friend of the Admiral’s quipped, “If a man is dumb, Rickover thinks he ought to be dead.”

Maybe a bit over the top, but I would have liked the chance to bounce ideas and see how he felt about certain current events.  Economic downturns – yes; Octomom or Michael Jackson – probably not.

Speaking of great conversations, I recently attended a new discussion group called “Social Media Breakfast” where leaders in social media conduct round table discussions in regards to practice.  I was lucky enough to take part in the social media utilization and business development, basically asking, “How can my company generate new business utilizing social media?”

We discussed how to utilize Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter for lead generation, talked about how to divulge the appropriate balance of personal and business information with the masses, and which mediums worked best for achieving those goals.  The discussion proved mostly fruitful and I learned a few things.

Point of interest #1:  “Where do you get your information that you share with your contacts?”  More specifically – where does one get the information they re-tweet, link back, or share on Facebook?

Answers were all over the board (news sites, blogs, journals, AdAge, etc.) and were all great responses but one thing dawned on me afterward – THESE PEOPLE ARE MOST LIKELY WASTING TIME AND WORKING TOO HARD AT COLLECTING THE INFORMATION. Wouldn’t this be an ideal situation to implement multiple RSS feeds to your reader?  These practitioners should take the time to have all their frequently visited sites brought to one location (say Google Reader, for instance).  It would save them incredible amounts of time and energy, allowing them to scan all of their resources in one location.  Then, as they scan multiple articles or posts of interest, they can take the interesting ones and share across multiple venues.  It just makes things easier and saves much needed time.  If you don’t understand aggregators or readers, read more about them here.

Point of interest #2: “How do you want to be known in the virtual world?”  I took this to mean how does a person not only want to be seen but understood. To me, it means:

Be a leader.  Be a contributor.  Be a networker.

A successful person can utilize a variety of mechanisms and gain notoriety in the social media world.  Find an interesting topic and start a new group on Facebook or LinkedIn.  After you market it like crazy, you instantly gain a larger network and create a platform for sharing ideas.  You can moderate members, allowing people you want in and blocking spammers.  Utilize these newly discovered resources by picking their brains – investigate what people find successful in business and find out what methods didn’t work.

Contribute to message boards you find interesting.  (I’ve found the response rate from LinkedIn to have an extremely high rate of return, compared to Facebook and twitter).  Send out tweets on topics you find interesting in your group, thereby generating interest and new members.  Use hashtags to track and follow your posts on Tweetdeck, keeping up with anyone retweeting your stuff, and invite them to join other interesting groups.  Make posts interesting and fun.  Growing your network is like a big pond full of fish…all you need to bait your hook accordingly.  By the way, feel free to follow me, friend me or link me by hitting up the links to the right.

Networking, in my opinion, remains the number one medium for lead generation, peer evaluation, job hunting success and a great way to improve your business. Imagine you have an Admiral Rickover in your office and impress the hell out of them (if you ask me, this sounds like a bullet point for your annual review). If you’re willing to invest in the needs of others with social media, it can provide new ways to expand your networks in ways you never thought possible.

My take on Leadership – part 1

I’ve always been interested in the idea of leadership. When you walk into a bookstore, shelves are lined with hundreds of examples, each with its own various method of success. I’ve also read several books on the subject, simply because I feel it essential to my personal growth and professional education.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination. But I can’t help but put in my “two cents” since the issue of leadership has come up time and time again, and virtually unavoidable in business today.

I was also inspired by a friend who was having some leadership issues. A president of a student volunteer organization was faced with other board members’ laziness and tasked with an administrative assistant who, from the way it sounded, stepped out of bounds. The group was praised time and time again by the school’s administration and continues to be extremely successful. Yet, she still feels she fails as a leader. She wanted her and her team to accomplish more. She tries to lead, but avoids confrontation, letting things go a “little too far.” After further discussion, what she said shocked me, “I feel like I’ve gone downhill and I’m bringing everyone down with me.”

To me, this wasn’t a matter of going up or pulling down, but more about reigning people in. It was about being strong as a leader, influencing those around her. The board members were “scattered”, each with their own strengths and weaknesses – and doing very little work, if any at all. By being a good leader, and having strong discussions with the team, she could bring people together and allow everyone draw on each other’s strengths.  She could allow the group to succeed.

If a project were to fail, the team examines why it failed, and corrects the issues preventing those failures from happening again, then she’s learning to become a better leader. If things fail, and you don’t do anything about it, then she’s in for a rough ride.

It dawned on me that no one has written the all-powerful, definitive leadership book. Leading is a learning experience.
I’m sure you’ve heard about some of them: the 7 habits, the 21 Laws, the officer “fixing” his ship, the psychotherapist method, and many others. But what is leadership? The idea has been debated too many times to count, and the answer doesn’t come easy.

I read in an academic text that there are over 3,500 definitions of leadership. Through those, we see a variety of things: leadership may or may not be directly related to management; leadership is and isn’t something we can be good at. People are or are not predisposed to have certain leadership traits.

In my opinion, leadership involves four major characteristics:

1.  Leaders must have followers
2.  Leadership involves influence those followers
3.  Leadership involves the attainment of goals
4.  Leadership involves tasks on the conscious and unconscious level

I feel leadership is within us all. There’s some small part of us that at one historic moment, during some event, something inside us felt inherently passionate. We may or may not have done anything with the feeling but the passion was there nonetheless. To create a great leader, the passion behind that thought needs developed. The combination of that development with the ability to instill initiative and synergize others, creates a great leader. A delicate, challenging task, but one that works well.

(to be continued…)

Comments welcome.