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Earning the Right to Lead

Earning the Right to Lead

Becoming a leader within your organization is about more than just a title—it is about earning your right to lead. Leadership has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Leading with authority is no longer an effective way of getting results from your employees. Truly inspired results need to be earned.

Remember, you are not in charge. In order to build a sense of shared purpose among your employees—many of which come from wildly different backgrounds—you need to earn their trust. Demonstrate transparency, a willingness to listen, and be receptive to new ideas. Look at it this way: in earlier days, it was the employee who needed to earn the approval of his or her manager. Now the roles have been reversed. It is you, the manager, who needs to earn the approval of your employees.

It is not easy to put these words into action. Your leadership style is a direct reflection of who you are as an individual. You simply cannot change this with the flick of a switch. Reaching a leadership style that inspires trust among your employees requires practice and awareness. Take the time to learn more about yourself—understand your life experiences, and how they have shaped your leadership style. This simple action will go a long way in changing how you lead your employees.

Leadership is Influence

If leadership is influence, then influence is earned by respect. If you do not have the respect of people, you are not a leader.

  1. Leaders earn respect through integrity. Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. It connotes a deep commitment to do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances.
  2. Leaders earn respect through humility. Sincere humility is when a leader has an precise assessment of both his strengths and weaknesses, and he sees all this in the context of the greater whole. This leader is a part of something far vaster than he is. He understands that he is not the center of the universe. In addition, he is both grounded and unshackled by this knowledge. Identifying his abilities, he asks how he can contribute. Diagnosing his flaws, he asks how he can grow.
  3. 'The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader' by John Maxwell (ISBN 0785267964) Leaders earn respect through dependability. Dependability is a significant trait that every leader should exemplify. It is a main building block in developing and maintaining trust, something every leader should wish and pursue. Dependable leaders are reliable and consistent.
  4. Leaders earn respect by living by right priorities. A heart-based leader knows his priorities they know what is urgent and what is not and they create their leadership around it. Explore best practices shared services leaders should employ to meet the demands of a changing environment.
  5. Leaders earn respect through generosity. Generous leaders communicate information willingly, share credit frequently, and give of their time and expertise effortlessly. What come across is a strong work ethic, great communication skills, and a readiness and ability to collaborate. Leaders and managers who are generous produce trust, respect, and goodwill from their colleagues and employees.
  6. Leaders earn respect through spirituality. Spirituality notifies their leadership practices by providing meaning and determination to their leadership role. They perceive and describe themselves as living out sincerely held personal morals of respecting forces or a presence greater than self. These leaders choose to be virtuous leaders in business.

These six areas produce respect. We earn respect through integrity, humility, generosity, spirituality, dependability, and living by priority.

Leadership is influence, but you cannot lead without these issues. They are the basis to build respect. When you have the respect of people, people will follow you anywhere.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Con Artists Thrive When Opportunity Meets Predisposition

Con Artists Thrive When Opportunity Meets Predisposition

Con artists are artists. It’s all about the soft skills—there are no hard skills here. They are unlike a sleazy salesperson was trying to sell you something. As a con artist, you often don’t see them coming, you even don’t realize quickly that you have been conned because they are all about the soft touch. We’re all subject to credulity, how others exploit this, what we can do to spot would-be manipulators and guard ourselves, and how we can use the same principles of coaxing for good rather than evil.

The commerce between discourses of authenticity and the confidence games played by counterfeiters, both literal and literary, is the subject of two recent studies. Conning people is an art, conning is an artistic skill. Con artists never had to ask for anything—people give it to them—their conference, their trust, their money, their respect—to the con artists willingly. People don’t really understand, a lot of times, that they’re victims of a con because they believe it so much they want to keep believing. That is why it is often really difficult to prosecute con artists because it is often difficult to pinpoint what crimes they have committed. The psychopath and the con artist have at least two traits in common: lack of empathy and enough perception to isolate someone’s vulnerabilities or desires and take advantage of them.

New Yorker columnist and science journalist Maria Konnikova explores in The Confidence Game how con artists prey on our susceptibility for believing what we wish were true and how this explains the inner workings of confidence and duplicity in our everyday lives.

There is a con or two that people use at work—that people fall for at work. People at work often end up conning others without realizing what they’re doing or without it initially. A lot of people will start cutting corners—not only the accountants but anyone who has to deal with money—let’s say a trader who had a bad quarter or bad portfolio performance or anyone where the numbers are not quite right. It’s common not to see this only in finance, but also in academia, scientists where the data has not come out quite as expected. In an increasingly over-populated planet being depleted of its precious natural resources do we need any more objects polluting our environment even if they are traditional paintings or sculptures? To change the data just a tiny bit and fudge the numbers ever so slightly saying, “the data should have come out” or, “that trade should have gone my way.” They justified that they just need a little bit of extra wiggle room or an edge just for this quarter and then everything will be better in the future quarters. And then it’s all going to work out.

What ends up happening is that it doesn’t work out because there’s a reason it didn’t work out in the first time. Usually, what ends up happening is that you give yourself a license to deceive and now what you end up as with a slippery slope. You have to keep doing it because you have already done it once. Before you know it you are entangled in being an outright con.

'The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It' by Maria Konnikova (ISBN 0525427414) There is one man that I write about in a company and I had a chance to speak with his lawyer who had been originally very sympathetic with the fact that this finance person have had a bad quarter. It was for his family, it was for his company, and he had a good heart. A con artist who doesn’t have the skills to hack into your data can buy it cheaply on the black market. He did it in one quarter and was overlooked, but when he did it in subsequent quarters and investigation revealed that he had cheated the company of thousands of dollars on the corporate court for also something for his family, vacations, private jets. The sympathy quickly evaporated.

People who take that moral license are the same people who keep going. Con artists are made when opportunity meets predisposition. There are a small number of people in finance, science, who, if given an opportunity will have that side of their personality come out. he motivation for many of these peculiar constructions seems to be that people are gullible and easy to fool so why not do so? But this is simply not the case. People must place their trust in most societal interactions-with friends, colleagues, the media, and even strangers. If one should discover that someone or something is (intentionally) unreliable, their basic trusting nature will evolve into skeptical cynicism. Con artists aren’t just master manipulators; they are expert storytellers. Much as we are intrinsically inclined to trust, we are naturally drawn to a compelling story. Once they get away with it, the thrill and the knowledge that they got away with it will enable them to do it over and over again.

In academics, especially in social sciences, it’s easy to manipulate how you select your sample size, what statistical method you use, and do you use the statistical method to conform to you’re a priori hypothesis, the chances are slim that you are going to get caught.

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

How to Lead A Life of Integrity

How to Lead A Life of Integrity

Living a whole life means doing things in a way that is consistent with our values and vision—standing firm on tough issues and making difficult choices. Here are four ways to achieve integrity and become a Trust Me leader.

  • Gain a firm understanding of the principles that guide your life. And have confidence in those principles to instill and build integrity. Bold acts issue from an unshakable assurance. Know the values and principles that drive your behavior. Only then will you have the confidence to act boldly in spite of peer pressures or prevailing opinions.
  • Act boldly when faced with compromising decisions and actions. You will have no fear when you are founded on values and driven by a deep need to maintain a life of integrity and trust.
  • Approach all you do with a joyful, positive, uplifting mindset. The pursuit of integrity requires what is best and noble in your character. You can’t afford the polluting influence of a negative outlook. Stay focused on the positive. Be true to your vision and values. When you are one person in the mirror and another person to employees, doubt will overshadow your attitude and your performance.
  • Balance competence with character. Trustworthiness is based on both character (what you are) and competence (how well you do what you do.) You may have one quality and not the other. But when integrity is the cornerstone of your character and competence is clear, you will be a leader people can trust.

Building trust takes time. We can inspire trust through our integrity, but years of baggage associated with us or our leadership style can slow the process. Patience is necessary as we seek the trust of others.

Integrity, with the trust it creates, is a leader’s most valuable asset. It is difficult to build a company without it.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

How to Recapture Trust and Have People Follow You

How to Recapture Trust and Have People Follow You

Somewhere, in some company, a CEO does something to violate the trust of employees, stockholders, and the public daily. As a result, now seven in 10 people distrust CEOs. Eight in 10 are convinced these top executives would take “improper actions to help themselves at the expense of their companies. In recent months, the percentage of people who perceive big business as a threat to the nation’s future has doubled to 38 percent.

The lack of trust originates from leaders’ disregard for personal integrity. People want leaders they can trust. They expect honest answers to questions.

So, what must CEOs do? Become a Trust Me leader, focusing on the welfare and success of the people around them rather than on their own. Ironically, this ensures their own welfare and success more surely. They hold firm under pressure and maintain their focus. Above all, they possess integrity.

Integrity is intrinsic to a Trust Me leader and is so compelling that people naturally want to follow leaders who have it. People are most willing to follow someone they can trust. They must be sure foe person will be straight with them, follow through faithfully on their stated intentions, and remain true to their expressed values.

What is integrity? What does it look like? What can a leader do to become a Trust Me leader? The root word for “integrity” is integer—a whole, indivisible number. Leaders who focus on integrity choose to live a whole life, neither divided nor fractured through compromise, hypocrisy, instability or dishonesty. They won’t do it perfectly, but in spite of expected human frailties, a Trust Me leader strives to be whole and undivided. He or she is “the real deal.”

In “The Soul of the Firm”, William Pollard wrote, “We must be people of integrity seeking to do what is right, even when no one is looking.”

Barriers to Integrity

Becoming a whole leader of integrity is easier contemplated than achieved. Before exploring the attitudes and actions that build a life of integrity, let’s examine some stumbling blocks not easily seen or surmounted on the journey.

When leaders are paralyzed by fear, they tend to lose perspective and often make decisions or act in ways that do not support integrity. Fear also causes them to lose vision .and hope. They vacillate and lose heart. They simply give up and a life of integrity sinks below their radar. They expect, or others expect, them to deliver results, but they are bound by such fear that they lose their sense of direction and their heart.

The compromise of values is a sad and gradual corrosion of golden intentions, happening over time—a little lie or indiscretion leads to another until, almost imperceptibly, integrity and character begin to crumble. Finally, their integrity is completely ruined.

The root word for hypocrite is lzupokrisis. It was used in classical Greek as part of theatrical acting and evolved to mean acting a part. In this sense, the great actors are hypocrites-they assume a role and act out a part. Their acting roles are separate from their real lives.

In leadership, integrity is about actions matching beliefs. Do leaders “act” the part or are they genuine? Does their walk match their talk? Hypocrisy, like fear and compromise, can destroy integrity and render leaders trustless.

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Posted in Management and Leadership