May 21st, 2013
Having been around many successful leaders in the military, in business, and being one myself, I am often asked by people how they can lead successfully. This triggers a rather lively discussion with questions such as, “Is it a particular leadership style?” or “Is it a particular skill set?”
In my experience, I’ve noticed successful leaders can vary dramatically. Some were authoritative, command and control types. Others were focused on collaborating with those they lead. Some had a high level of knowledge or expertise that helped them become successful. Others didn’t have a particular skill that set them apart, but they were charismatic and their colleagues were drawn to them. So to me, it’s not about a particular style or having a particular set of knowledge or skills.
When thinking about successful leadership, I naturally also thought about unsuccessful leaders. For me, something that is universal about the traditional hierarchy is that they “lead from their title.” When I think about titles, their purpose should be to define a person’s position in an organization, their compensation, and some perks they may receive. A title should not be used as a source of power, affect how you treat people, and ultimately, how you lead. Leading from your title may get people to do things, but they will never reach their maximum potential because they’re focused on staying in line.
Understanding how you view titles and leadership is crucial. When I think about leadership, it always comes back to the question, “If they take away your title, will they follow you?” The answer I come back to is, “If you’re an authentic leader, then yes they will.”
What I mean by being authentic is remaining true to who you are. People can tell if you’re being authentic. Just as leading from their title is often a trait of unsuccessful leaders, authenticity is a common characteristic of successful leaders. As an authentic leader, people will follow you out of respect. Even if you make a decision they may not like, they’ll still follow you and do their best, because they’ll believe your decision comes from an honest place.
To me, authenticity is why coach centric leaders are successful. Coaching starts by focusing on your core, or who you are. If a person leads from their core, their values are intact. Their focus is not clouded by a selfish need for attention, praise, or the limelight. In addition, authenticity allows you to develop the individual leadership style you’re most comfortable with, because that style reflects who you are. By leading from their core, not their title, coach centric leaders use their authenticity to motivate and inspire others to maximize their potential.
So, for anyone wondering how they can lead successfully, the first question you may want to ask yourself is, “If they take away your title…will they follow you?”
Managing Partner, Corporate Engagement Services
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)
May 9th, 2013
We’re happy to have Paul Garro, Executive Director of City Year San Antonio, as our guest blogger. A featured speaker for iPEC’s “Dialogue Among Thought Leaders” series, Paul has been successfully serving the educational community for 20+ years. In addition, he’s been a national consultant for “Teaching the Hard to Reach,” and has authored the first of a series of books entitled, “Classrooms of Inspiration.”
So, what builds trust?
For starters, a strong foundation for trust develops when you expose your limitations, own your actions, and admit that you can’t get everything done all by yourself. In fact, vulnerability and humility have the effect of gathering people together to shape meaning and motivate change.
Trust is also built by a demonstration of our values. When leaders stay true to their values, and their actions are aligned with what they say, confidence begins to build in the people they lead. In essence, these leaders develop powerful vulnerability, which translates into demonstrated integrity — one of the very cornerstones for building trust.
In the Corporation for National & Community Service’s study, “Volunteering and Civic Life in America,” participants from various cities across the country were asked to rate their level of trust in their neighborhoods, public schools, corporations, and the media. While neighborhoods and public schools had the highest levels of trust, corporations and the media were shown to have much lower levels, revealing the tremendous opportunity that exists to connect with our communities and become trusted partners.
How do we break down barriers and build bridges in order to capitalize on this opportunity and formulate trust? In other words, how do we creatively form relationships on our way to successfully building trusted community networks?
Being well-versed in your beliefs, and in your craft, allows you to embody your values and develop strategic relationships with the people and organizations within your communities. From these relationships, your academic organization can build a trusted portfolio of business and community network partners.
So, spend some time with a bit of self-reflection on these seemingly simple, yet powerful, questions:
- How well versed am I in who I am?
- How well versed am I in my craft?
To be sure, listening is also key, as is finding the commonality that exists between your organization and those within your community. Be bold and persistent in finding that commonality; it’s the fuel that will spark your ability to build networks of trust.
When you combine these elements together, you’ll also portray a sense of confidence – confidence in your yourself and in your mission. With trust and confidence, and community alignment, you’ll be amazed by what you’ll be able to accomplish together.
Again, powerful vulnerability, that sense that you don’t have all the answers, that you can’t go it alone, is what paves the way for building, and sustaining, these all-important networks of trust. While they help to provide us with the strategic levers necessary to catapult the trajectory of our organization to an entirely new level (e.g., increasing its capacity for change, propelling its growth), perhaps most important of all is our shared ability to deliver a positive social return to our communities.
What do you see as possible within your organization, and across your community, by tapping into your own powerful vulnerability? And, how can you be a disciple in building communities of trust?
City Year San Antonio
*The image above is an actual painting by Paul Garro, which not only reflects his artistic talents and immense creativity; it’s also a very personal reflection of his heart-centered approach as a servant leader.
November 16th, 2012
Innovation. It’s a buzzword. But, if we dig deeper and elaborate a bit more, the term takes on a much greater significance. In this case, we’re talking about Innovative Leadership.
How important is this in education? Critical.
When you have more to do with fewer resources, innovative leadership makes people the focus. If executed properly, this matrix diminishes the limiting beliefs touted across all levels of an organization.
In his book, “The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical, Continuous Change,” Jason Jennings highlights the pitfalls of accepting the status quo. He vehemently rejects the idea of “leaving things alone,” even if an organization is doing perfectly well for themselves.
The bottom line: innovators actively seek improvement.
If there’s an environment of indifference in embracing or rejecting ideas before they’ve even been heard, you’re losing out on innovation opportunities.
“Creative activity could be described as a type of learning process where teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.” — Arthur Koestler
Recently, IBM conducted a poll of roughly 1,500 CEO’s and found that the apex of leadership over the next five years is, you guessed it, CREATIVITY. Forbes Magazine propelled this notion into the mainstream when they published their list of the world’s most innovative companies. The news-maker begged the question, “Why are some companies able to create and sustain a high innovation premium while others don’t?”
They uncovered 3 principle caveats:
PEOPLE, PROCESSES, AND PHILOSOPHIES
“You don’t understand anything unless you understand there are at least 3 ways.” — M. Minsky
Much to the avail of Minsky, innovative leaders leverage the 3 P’s based on human economics. Leaders lead through their behavior and how they “show up” each and every day.
PEOPLE will follow suit based on this culture of consistency. Leaders also understand how innovation unfolds, imprinting this knowledge-base as PROCESSES to streamline an organization. And, in the most rudimentary sense, the PHILOSOPHY behind any great leader can be construed by their actions.
As you reflect upon these leadership leverage points, consider the vast difference between being vs. doing in your organizations. How are you maximizing your leadership leverage points to increase innovation in your schools?
Susan Gonzales, MA.Ed, CPC, PCC, ELI-MP
Vice President, Coach Training Programs
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)
This is the second in a series of blogs addressing topics for today’s educational leaders. Check back for more postings.
(SOURCE: Four Rules for Innovative Leadership, Entrepreneur.com)
September 17th, 2012
When you practice detached involvement, you’re both a participant and an observer of your life at the same time. You see all experiences as part of life’s journey without judging them as being good or bad. You simply experience them and are in control of your responses to them. You’re fully involved, but detached from the allure of outcomes.
So, how do you learn to practice detached involvement?
- Take nothing personally
- Make no assumptions
- Make as few judgments as possible
- Let go of the need to be right
- Let go of the need to control
- Be passionate about all of life’s experiences, even the painful ones
- Give all you have, your true gifts, to whatever you’re doing
- Detach from future potential results
By living fully involved and yet detached, you can more quickly focus in the moment and will more quickly manifest true power using your potential.
—Bruce D Schneider, MCC, PhD
Founder, Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)
(Today’s blog is excerpted from iPEC’s self-mastery personal development program, The Law of Being.)
September 6th, 2012
As I’m writing this post, the temperature is a scorching ninety-five degrees outside. It’s been a hot summer in New Jersey. People are surely cranking their air conditioning, drinking a lot of water to keep hydrated, and partaking in the summer tradition of braving the Garden State Parkway and NJ Turnpike traffic to seek relief “down the shore.” The sand and surf, the rides for the young (and young at heart), waffles and ice cream, and the smell of sunscreen are all part of the Jersey shore. There’s really nothing like it.
But something else about the Jersey shore has been in the news recently. Rip currents appear to be worse than ever. The result can be tragic for those who don’t know how to handle being caught in one. The key is not to fight against the rip current. Stay calm and let it carry you away from shore. Try to get the attention of other swimmers or the lifeguards, in case you need help. Tread water and swim across it, parallel to the coast, until you’re out of its powerful pull. Once free from it, swim your way back to shore.
As important as that lesson is, I know you don’t come here for beach safety tips. But, the advice applies to the “rip currents” we encounter on dry land, too. How often do we feel ourselves being pulled in directions away from the safety of shore? In our daily lives, we have deadlines, sales quotas, sick pets, performance objectives, little league games, meetings, conference calls, soccer practice, roadblocks, communication breakdowns, irate customers, parent/teacher meetings, missed deliverables…and so on. (Feel free to add any other challenges I may have missed!)
These “rip currents,” just like a real one, can pull us under if we lose control and panic. To survive the daily “undertow,” we can apply the same strategies:
- Stay calm. Commitments and challenges exist; panicking isn’t going to make them go away.
- Realize the situation. If you remain calm, you’ll be able to have a clear head to assess the challenges and thoughtfully evaluate the best course of action.
- Don’t struggle against overpowering forces. Instead, find creative ways to work through and, sometimes, around them.
- Keep your eye on the goal. Knowing where you want to go will help you create the path that will lead you there.
- If needed, ask for help. Too often, we put the entire load on our own shoulders when others can assist.
As John Irving so wonderfully phrased it, “The Under Toad is strong today.” (If you don’t get the reference, Google it.) And so as the summer comes to a close in just a few weeks, let’s just remember how to keep our heads above water when we get caught in life’s rip currents — real or otherwise.
Live on Fire!
D. Luke Iorio, CPC, PCC, ELI-MP
President & CEO
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)