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Viewing entries tagged
counsel

8 ways to Grow as a Leader

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1. Desire Growth

First, you have to want to get better. Are you satisfied with “pretty good” or just getting by? You may justify that you like to be comfortable in your job, but in reality are you striving for a reason to be lazy? Laziness is not a trademark of a leader. Lazy is for sheep. If you are reading this, you want to be a shepherd. You desire growth.

2.  Be Humble in the Face of Criticism

Correction is hard to take. But no one does it perfectly. Some of the best lessons I have learned as a leader have been challenging and hard. I like to think that correction from someone not only gives me the opportunity to change, but allows me to think through other perspectives. As a leader, you must have thick skin. You can’t build massive biceps unless you work hard and tear up your muscles at the gym.

3. Seek Wise Counsel

It is important to have people in your life that are readily available to give you wise and trustworthy counsel. I have 4 guys I regularly go to; each of these friends have a specific role in my life and how they counsel me in my leadership. Do you have anyone you can go to? One of George Washington’s best contributions was the invention of his carefully appointed advisors, known as the Cabinet. This wasn’t written in the Constitution, but he created this because he knew the importance of having a group of men around him to give him counsel. Who is in your cabinet? Do they know their roles?

4. Have a greater purpose

The famous quote by Eric Liddle states, “God made me fast and when I run I feel his pleasure.”

I recently had a talk with a mentor of mine who mentioned this statement. He talked about the importance of what I do and how I feel when I take part in it. Fill in the following blanks:

“God made me ________, and when I ________ I feel his pleasure.”

What would you place in those blanks? What is your greater purpose in your leadership?

5. Stop the Repeat

I have been an assistant coach for a number of head coaches who have said the same thing. “I have been doing this for 35 years. I know what I am doing.”  What I wanted to say in response was, “No, you did it once then just repeated it for 34 more years.” This should give you a healthy fear of repeating the same performance. Stop the repeat and get better. There is always something to tweak, change, or make better. Good leadership never settles for mediocrity.

6. Learn from Everyone

My dad used to tell me, “They teach you how to do it and how not to do it.”  Before I became a head coach, some of the worst coaches I coached for taught me a lot, mostly how not to do things. Are you looking to learn from the worst leaders?  They can teach you more than you may realize.

7. Read

Harry S. Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Read. Then read some more. Read with a friend. Read with a spouse. Gain new perspectives and further your understanding in order to improve on whatever you’re reading about. I try to read for about 30 minutes before I sleep every night. (Sometimes more if the book is really good). I sleep better and I learn something. Knowledge is in books, not on American Idol. 

8. Celebrate Small Victories

Do not be too important to be passionate about your role. Be enthusiastic with your leadership. Some of my favorite coaches to watch are Pete Carroll or Jim Harbaugh – their passion and excitement is contagious. Athletes want to be led by a coach that is charismatic in their beliefs. Do you believe in your own leadership? Don’t be too important to miss out on what is happening around you. Be excited about having Gatorade dumped on you after a win; tackle an athlete that just broke the school record; storm the court after a win. Show that you care.

Growth will happen when you seek it out. It will not happen because you were given a title. It is an unfortunate commentary, but a good leader is an exception not the norm. Be the exception!

 

Good Leaders Make Hard Decisions

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It will happen. Someone will challenge your vision. Something will get in the way of progress. A cancer will develop and grow unless dealt with in the proper way. As a leader you will face opposition on your road to success. It isn’t fun, it isn’t easy, and it is always necessary. I once read, “To think that you are going to lead without making mistakes results in procrastination.” This in turn makes you simply ineffective.

So what do you do when you know you need to make the Hard Decision?

1.    Weigh your Options

What will be the fallout from this decision? Will it be positive or negative? Will people be angry even though it is the right call? Can you live with that? The best leadership advice someone told me was, “Choose you battles wisely.” Is this one worth fighting for?

“What is right isn’t always popular, what is popular isn’t always right.”

2.    Seek Counsel

Do you have a group of trusted advisors? Do you have someone you can bounce ideas off of or get advice from; someone who sees the bigger picture? You will not be able to see all angles yourself. There will come a time when you need to depend on other trusted friends who understand the Big Vision and endgame. This is a very important group because your leadership will succeed or fail based on the advice you receive. 

3.  Make decisions with the information you have now

Hindsight is always 20/20.  As a leader, you will never have 100% certainty that you have all information. You must act when you need to. You may be criticized later for not knowing certain information, but this can’t deter you from making a decision with the information you had at the time. You must do what you can with what you have at the time.

4.    Focus on the Future

Recently, two of my top athletes came to me and said they were only willing to make 3 practices a week accompanied with a short list of demands. These two athletes would guarantee victories for most dual meets. I had to make the Hard Decision. Character is more important than wins. I communicated to them my expectations about coming to practice everyday and putting their team first. They made the decision to not participate on the team this year. The Future consequences outweigh the immediate needs every time. The consequences will be a program full of athletes that respect and trust their leadership. These lessons will not only affect their sport but their future as adults.

5.    Own the Fallout

You will not be able to prepare for everything. Not making a decision is deciding to do nothing. This is leadership suicide. Don’t be afraid to fail. Make a decision, learn from it and become a better leader each choice you make. Own the consequences and take personal responsibility. Those you lead cannot be thrown under the bus because you listened to them. You are the leader and the final outcome of any decision is on you. 

Think like this:

Good outcome – your advisors get the credit.

Bad outcome – you take responsibility.

Regardless of the outcome (good or bad) your advisors, audience, followers, athletes, or employees will work hard for you because they feel safe in your leadership.

Decisions are at the heart of your leadership success. There will be times when the critical moment for a decision must be made and it can be difficult, nerve-racking, and accompanied with much anxiety. Great leaders balance emotion and anxiety with reason to make the best decision they can with what they have. They think about their employees, customers, athletes, and the future success of their program or organization.

Can you make the Hard Decision? When have you had to make the difficult choice? How did it turn out?