Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Caring and Optimistic

This morning as I considered the landscape that leaders need to help people navigate I remembered one of my favorite stories from history. I referred to it in one of my first newsletters (see October 2008, www.alliantleadership.com/resources/resources2.html).

In 1803-1804 Lewis and Clark led the Corps of Discovery on an important and amazing journey across uncharted territory to the Pacific Ocean. They faced many life-threatening challenges and perplexing decisions along the way. One of the most amazing parts of their trip was the unswerving loyalty they received from the men of the Corps. Even at points where the whole of the Corps vehemently disagreed with Lewis and Clark they followed faithfully.

In reflecting on this Stephen Ambrose, the author of “Undaunted Courage,” points out that there were two main factors that contributed to the loyalty of the Corps.
  1. Every man in the Corps knew that Lewis and Clark cared about them and would never do anything to unnecessarily endanger them.
  2. Lewis and Clark demonstrated a consistent attitude of hopeful optimism.

I think the one that is most challenging, yet most important, for us in times like these is hopeful optimism. What type of picture of the future are you painting for those around you through the attitude that you carry each day?

I am not suggesting that we bury our heads in the sand and ignore reality. But, it is crucial that we carry ourselves with that hopeful optimism that produces positive results in those we have influence upon. Remember, as leaders we are on stage at every moment. (http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Boldness & Courage

Now is not the time for timidity. These days call for bold and courageous leadership. People are looking to you and depending on you. Here is a series of questions for you to ponder that I hope will help move you toward the kind of action that is necessary.

How are you going to help people navigate these turbulent and uncertain waters? How can you provide hope and a sense of stability?

One of the main things you and I need is to be willing to do the hard things and make the hard decisions. Are you willing? Are you ready?

A key word associated with leadership is "influence." How can you think, speak and act in ways that exert positive, forward moving influence on those who are depending on you?

Seize the day! Lead.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Yes, I Believe in Miracles

I have been a believer in the existence of miracles for at least 20 years now. But, what happened a little over a week ago has emboldened my belief.

My wife and I were out of town for a leadership conference. My parents had come to stay with our children while we were away. On Sunday at church my dad began to experience chest pain. A short eight hours later he lay on the operating table undergoing a 6+ hour open-heart surgery. Thankfully, the surgery was a smashing success.

That wasn't the miraculous part for me. Plenty of people's lives are saved everyday by skilled surgeons who have undergone rigorous training and then spent years using those skills. I deeply respect and appreciate them. The miracle was in the circumstances surrounding the surgery. The night of the surgery my mom was told that if he had gone another hour or two without the surgery he would probably be dead.

Here are just some of the miraculous pieces of the puzzle:

  • The doctors almost didn't even find the problem. The EKG and other tests didn't reveal anything. In passing conversation it came up that my parents had been traveling long-distance a few days earlier. This led the staff to do a CAT scan to see if there was a blood clot. The CAT scan revealed the tear in his aorta that was creating an aneurysm that would have killed him. So, if they hadn't traveled 9 hours to come watch our kids, it is likely the problem would never have been discovered.

  • The likelihood that they would have been able to get the kind of medical care dad needed in their area in southern Missouri is slim.

  • The fact that they were here in Wheaton put them in the vacinity of one of a few hospitals that was equipped to handle this particular problem with such speed.

  • The reason they went to that hospital is because my 16 year old son had recently been there to get stiches (see first blog post). So, when Grandma said they needed to go to the hospital that was the first place of he thought of. He remembered the route and gave them directions - saving precious time as they would find out later.

My family and I are very grateful to God for His amazing care. Dad is recovering very, very well. The picture above was taken less than ONE WEEK after the surgery. Can you tell?? I look forward to more years of loving him and learning from him.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Leaders Are Great "Conversationalists"

A very commonly held belief is that "everything rises and falls on leadership." If that is true, it begs the question, "What does leadership rise and fall on?"

My belief, along with others I work with, is that leadership rises and falls on the leader's ability to effectively communicate with their followers in the regular, mundane conversations of everyday life. You can be great at formulating vision, creating strategy, planning for execution or closing the big deals. But, if you cannot effectively communicate the vision, the strategy or the plan in the ordinary conversations with those you are leading, your overall effectiveness as a leader will fall very short. In addition, if you are not drawing them into the conversation so that it is a meaningful, two-way communication, you will encounter the same problems in achieving results.

How well do you do at making your followers feel like an active part of the conversation? Do they feel heard? Are you drawing out their best everyday? Are you getting them fully engaged in the battle? They are your key to success in the end.