Are You the Leader You Want to Be?

Aug 16, 2012

Three experts weigh in on improving leadership by changing how you view yourself.

Just Because You Are the Boss, Doesn’t Mean You’re Alone

Get input on your goals from others with experience and judgment you value. Generally those closest to you can provide a realistic assessment of both your personal and business goals. Running your goals by people you trust and respect can be really productive and make certain the goals are realistic.

Get feedback on your goals before you set them in concrete. If you set and try to tackle goals that you have zero shot of accomplishing, you will lose faith in the goal-setting process and you will shake the confidence of those around you who are depending on you to make progress against your goals.

One technique I have used and recommended to others for helping to shape and achieve goals, is to have an advisory team that you can meet with periodically to share and talk about your personal and business goals and the progress being made against them. When our son was graduating from college, I encouraged him to put together a group of career advisors who could provide input on his early-state career goals. The four members of his team (a seasoned lawyer, a CPA, an investment banker, and an insurance professional) were thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved in helping to launch a talented young person’s career.

Jack Killion is managing partner of Eagle Rock Diversified Fund and cofounder of Bluestone+Killion.

Operate Across the Seams

The most dangerous move in business is the failure to make a move at all. But change is uncomfortable; it even makes people afraid. The history of business is filled with companies that are no longer around because their leaders refused to enact change when the writing was on the wall. Fear. Apathy. Lack of personal responsibility. These simple human flaws can turn a good company into a dead company. To become a true change agent in your business, leaders need to be seam operators by working across the seams of the company. Two things seam operators don’t do:

- They don’t get involved in day-to-day processes outside of setting the operating principles.

- They don’t need to know too many details. They’ve already been through the steps before, and they don’t need it explained again.

I tell my team all the time, “I don’t want to know or hear about how sausage is made unless someone died. I get it. It’s sausage. Tell me what I need to know to get things moving.” Our job should be to find out what is breaking down within the seams of our companies. Change agents identify problems and then find ways to fix them or bring in people who can. Change is going to be difficult for any business leader to drive, so in the words of Thomas A. Edison, remember, “Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” Prepare, plan, and progress.

Jeffrey Hayzlett is an entrepreneur, global business leader, former fortune 100 C-level executive and the bestselling author of Running the Gauntlet and The Mirror Test.

Eliminate Negative Self-Talk

Before Super Bowl XLII, very few people outside New York picked the Giants to win over the New England Patriots. The Patriots, only the second undefeated regular-season NFL team, entered the contest looking unstoppable. The Giants, meanwhile, were considered huge underdogs. It would be a rout, most people said. The Giants didn’t stand a chance, they said. But the final score was New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14. Could it be that the Patriots were saying, “We don’t want to lose to the NY Giants again.”? Playing not to lose is NOT the same as playing to win.

How does this play out in your life and business? What if you could figure where and when your self-talk worked against you and you had a way to control it?

This negative self-talk can be costly. It’s bad enough if you are speaking this way to yourself, but if that mentality spills over to the sales or business development team—or worse yet, to the clients—the cost can be dramatic.

How do you change your self-talk from negative to positive? The first step is to determine how you talk to yourself. Eavesdrop on your own internal conversations. Negative self-talk is in your own voice. Act as a moderator between your positive and negative sides.

Dan Schaefer, PhD is founder of Peak Performance Strategies and author of Click!: The Competitive Edge for Sports, Entertainment, and Business. 

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