Posts Tagged ‘building teams for performance’

These value-priced quintessential leadership eBooks are available for download on The Quintessential Leader blog’s business website:

Building Trust and Being TrustworthyBuilding Trust and Being Trustworthy is also available from Amazon in print and Kindle versions.

If you don’t read another book this year, I highly recommend that you read Building Trust and Being Trustworthy. These are not just leadership or quintessential leadership principles. These are essential life principles that each of us should be incorporating into who we are and who we are becoming. Each of us. You. Me. Our children. Our grandchildren. Because we are all current quintessential leaders and we are responsible for cultivating, mentoring, and growing future quintessential leaders.

A mother shared these words with me after reading Building Trust and Being Trustworthy: “Just finished reading this book….EXCELLENT! In fact I’m going to make it a required read for my girls this year! Mine’s all marked in and highlighted…so I may have to get a new copy for them! Thank you, Sandra, for all the time and effort you put into this book or manual for life!”

Building Trust and Being Trustworthy is written for all of us in quintessential leadership positions: leaders of organizations, leaders of business units, leaders of teams, leaders of education, leaders of congregations, leaders of social organizations, leaders of civic organizations, leaders of families, leaders of ourselves, and those we lead.

Listed below are The Quintessential Leader’s recommendations for articles that all of us quintessential leaders should read and think about this week.

A note about these article recommendations. I am very careful in selecting these and their inclusion here means that I agree with the premise and gist of the article, not necessarily with every single thing that the writer says. 

That’s the purpose of reading and critically thinking. Reading should ignite our thinking and it should cause us to process, weigh, question, answer, accept and reject. I believe that the reasons why groupthink is so prevalent everywhere in society today are because:

(a) most people don’t read substantively

(b) most people have stopped – if they ever knew how – critically thinking about everything

(c) most people have been subtly conditioned to not question anything and everything for its truthfulness and accuracy

(d) most people have not developed an internal database of truth to find answers in (they depend on others to tell them what truth is)

(e) most people don’t have a clue how to accept or reject information coming at them, so everything comes in and stays (and creates confusion). 

Quintessential Leadership is About Breaking ThingsThis quote from “Leadership is About Breaking Things” by Michael Myatt sums up one of the hallmark differences between quintessential leadership and unquintessential leadership: “If you’re more interested in protecting what is than you are finding the answer to what if  you might be in a leadership role, but you’re likely not leading well. Order isn’t all it’s cracked-up to be. In fact, I’d go so far as to say routine is the great enemy of leaders. Conformity to the norm does little more than pour the foundation of obsolescence by creating an environment that shuns change rather than embraces it. Disruption is never found by maintaining the status quo, but it’s most commonly revealed in the chaos that occurs by shattering the status quo. Smart leaders don’t think ‘best’ practices – they focus their attention on discovering ‘next’ practices. The simple fact of the matter is too many leaders are concerned with fixing things, when what they should be doing is breaking things.” 

Note that it is things quintessential leaders break, not people. Unquintessential leaders desperately maintain the status quo and spend all their time and energy on breaking people into yielding and submitting to ways of doing things that often are archaic, inefficient, ineffective, inexplicable, and weren’t even good or right to begin with. 

As quintessential leaders, we must never fall into the trap of “that’s the way we’ve always done it, so that’s the way we’ll continue to do it.” Quintessential leaders know why they’re doing everything and are able to, in their own words, explain, quantify, and show the tangible results – honestly and authentically (no dog-and-pony shows and no smoke and mirrors)- to anyone and everyone.

Quintessential leaders are forward-looking and forward-moving. They never rest on their laurels and they never stop asking “why” and “how.” Quintessential leadership is never static, but instead it is always dynamically improving.

In “Why Leaders Must ‘Get Real’ – 5 Ways to Unlock Authentic Leadership,” by Margie Warrell, the link between authenticity and quintessential leadership is summed up in five key areas where we must be “real.” 

While Guari Sharma’s article, “How to Grow a Small Team: Nine Best Hiring Practices,” focuses on building small teams in a start-up environment, these nine best hiring practices should be part of the way we as quintessential leaders hire.

I am always surprised at how little effort can sometimes be expended in the hiring process as well as how little potential employers think outside of the box with regard to hiring and then the moaning and groaning that comes when the new hires are, at best, mediocre, in key areas of their responsibilities, or, at worst, abysmally poor in all areas of their responsibilities, initiating the 90-day “let’s find a way to get rid of them while we can” probational period that most jobs now have attached to them.

Quintessential leaders are high-level and performance-oriented teambuilders. We understand that investing well and at a high time (and perhaps monetary) cost up front will pay off for everyone involved. Too many people in leadership positions have no long-term and big-picture vision for themselves, their teams, and their organizations, so they hire randomly and sloppily and everyone suffers in terms of progress, success, and profits.

In Dan Rockwell’s, “The Surprising Path to the Top,” the quintessential leadership trait of growing others is discussed. Quintessential leaders are always growing other people in their lives, not just their team members. That is an intrinsic part of who quintessential leaders are. Because quintessential leaders are big-picture thinkers, we realize that helping everyone we have the opportunity to help grow in whatever forms that takes is part of our responsibilities and legacies. 

The reality is that the only thing we take out of this temporary, physical life is our character and the net results of our relationships with God and others. Quintessential leaders take this knowledge to heart and that is where the focus of every aspect of our lives is. And that is why we are always growing others where we are able. We understand it’s never all about “me.”

We understand that our lives and the gifts we’ve been given didn’t originate with us and are not ours to use selfishly. Power and pride and money are never part of the equation. We want financial security, but we will not sell our souls or throw others under the bus time and again to get and keep it. We value integrity, truth, and honesty more highly than anything else in the world. And sometimes that means we take – and they can be big – physical losses and hits. Sometimes we recover and sometimes we don’t on a physical level. But a character loss and hit, while theoretically recoverable, is something we’re not willing to take, because that destroys everything in terms of trust and trustworthiness

This quote from “The Single Greatest Secret of Leadership – Fail Up” by Daniel K. Williams illustrates how quintessential leaders approach failures (their own and those of others): “As leaders, we serve our employees best by not focusing attention on their weaknesses and mistakes. Instead we should encourage them to navigate through challenges on their journey. We can help by asking questions like ‘How do you learn best?’ ‘What could you do better?’ or ‘How can the team better support you in the future?’

The most important thing is to strive to move forward continually. Some days we make great progress in some areas; other days we seem to slide a bit. If we were to chart our progress on a board, it has ups and downs, but overall it should move upward as we live and learn from our mistakes and failures.

Peaks and Valleys of LifeQuintessential leaders understand that this thing called life, which includes our work, is never a straight line, but a series of mountains and valleys that represent our successes and our failures. However, it should be through our failures that we find the greatest opportunities to grow, to change, to move forward, or as Williams puts it “to fail up.”

Quintessential leaders seize those opportunities and do that, not just with themselves, but with everyone on all the teams they lead in life.

May we continue along the quintessential leader path, navigating the mountains and valleys with equanimity and courage, growing ourselves and growing others along the way.

We are in the middle of an incredible process that begins with who we are internally on a foundational level, proceeds with wisdom, knowledge, and application (growth), and results in not only our quintessential leadership being perfected, but also planted and cultivated in everyone with whom our lives intersects.

Listed below is a selection of quintessential leadership articles that caught my attention this week. As I said in my last post of recommended articles, quintessential leaders read widely, but they also read selectively through the criteria that makes them quintessential leaders. Not the least of that criteria is unimpeachable character – who they are.

The difference between quintessential leaders and everyone else is internal authenticity and commitment to what is true and right. Quintessential leaders stand up under the test of time and circumstances, unwavering, undaunted, unwilling to compromise with truth or the right things.

As I’ve read extensively about Benghazi, the IRS, Bloomberg, and the Department of Justice, as well as the continuing “too-big-to-fail-banks” stories this week, it is overwhelmingly evident that there is no shortage of unquintessential leadership everywhere we look.

Being in a leadership position does not make a person a leader, nor does it make a person a quintessential leader. At the core of quintessential leadership – and what makes a person, whether he or she has an official leadership title, a quintessential leader – is unassailable integrity. That is one of the fundamental components of building trust and being trustworthy.

We, as quintessential leaders, make huge mistakes sometimes. We have colossal failures at times. We have serious Integrity Must Be Our Compasslapses in judgment sometimes. We’re very wrong about things at times. That is part of being human. However, the difference between quintessential leaders and everyone else is that quintessential leaders:

  1. Admit mistakes, failures, lapses in judgments, and being wrong quickly
  2. Take full responsibility quickly
  3. Take aggressive action to correct quickly
  4. Apologize to everyone affected quickly
  5. Make amends everywhere they need to be made quickly
  6. Simultaneously, conduct a deep and fearless internal review to see what happened to lead to the outcomes
  7. Commit to and undertake diligently better self-governance and change

That’s what is missing is all the news stories I mentioned above and that is why all the people involved on all sides of the stories are unquintessential leaders. Blaming, justification, excuses, twisting, spinning, angling, and lying are unquintessential leadership traits.

I urge each of us to always look at everything through the quintessential leader lens. Get all the superficial and extraneous stuff out of the picture – emotions are one extraneous  thing – and use the quintessential leader criteria outlined in building trust and being trustworthy to test everything.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how we feel. What matters is what is right. What is true. What is honest. Emotions, as I discussed in “The Quintessential Leadership Balance Between Facts and Feelings,” can obscure right, truth, and honesty.

A sampling of what else I’ve been reading this week:

In Mike Hyatt’s article, “Why You’re Not a Leader,” some of the characteristics of unquintessential leadership are highlighted, including the one of getting results, but doing it through dishonesty and deception, which no matter how “big” the win in the short term, erodes and destroys trust and trustworthiness in the long term. If we are dishonest in how we do things, we cannot be trusted in the what, the why, the when, and the where of any part of our lives either.

6 Categories of Bosses” by Dan McCarthy is an interesting – and one I agree with – graphic breakdown and short description of the six types of people who end up in leadership positions. It’s important, from a quintessential leadership perspective, to remember that the words “boss” (which implies a heavy-handed “do-as-I-say-or-else” role) and “manager” (we manage things and we lead people) are not leadership words, titles, or roles. They are dysfunctional functions created by dysfunctional organizations (all organizations have developed dysfunctionally, because as humans, we’re all dysfunctional to one extent or another, and humans create organizations). As quintessential leaders, we must be vigilant to ensure that we are not bosses or managers, but instead leaders.

In David Peck’s article, “10 Essentials of Great Leadership, many of the facets of quintessential leadership are covered. Two areas that stand out to me – and are integral to the way I lead – are knowing the difference between being “informed” and being “involved” and delegating the “what” and not the “how” to team members.

This second point is one I follow faithfully. Team members cannot grow, nor can they reach their full potential as quintessential leaders – that is the point, after all, of our leadership legacies – if they are forced to operate in somebody else’s box of “how” to do things. Each person on this planet, while having many traits in common, is also unique in approach, perspective, temperament, personality, and gifts.

When people in a leadership positions force their teams to work in their box of “how,” creativity, innovation, progress, change, and success are stifled and, eventually, extinguished. Look at morale problems in organizations and you’ll find that this is one of the root causes.

Glenn Llopis provides a quintessential leadership integral and automatic – this is who we are – to-do list in “Great Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically Every Day.”

TrustIn Tristan Wenmer’s “5 Qualities of a Successful Leader,” a big-picture view of quintessential leadership traits is summarized. As this blog continually reiterates, the first trait on the list is trust.

The final article, “When Leadership Fails,” by Jeremy Statton discusses some of the things that quintessential leaders need to do when they fall short – as discussed earlier – of being quintessential leaders.

I hope our weeks have been productive and I hope that we’ve moved forward in becoming more quintessential leaders than we were last week. As I’ve said before, this is a marathon and not a sprint, and it requires constant, diligent, and courageous work and effort. But never forget, no matter what the ups and downs we encounter along the way – because we do and we will – the final result is absolutely worth it. 

Please take some some time to read the Quintessential Leadership article recommendations for the week of May 10, 2013 that are listed below.

In Josh Bersin’s article, he asks the valid and relevant question of whether the traditional – and unproductive and archaic – annual performance appraisal system that most organizations still use should be replaced with a different system. The traditional performance appraisal system is tied to monetary raises and is a once-a-year-event where team members hear – or read – what their supervisor liked and didn’t like about their past year’s job performances. Usually, the only outcome of this system is frustration because this is the first time team members are hearing about things they did that didn’t work, needed to change, or needed to improve. 

Lack of communication, which I believe is an intrinsic problem in all organizations, is inherent in this “hammer-over-the-head” method of evaluating team members. It does not produce positive results and often leads to attrition among the most gifted and talented team members an organization has. In my eBook, Building Teams for Performance, I give a detailed “what-it-looks-like-in-practice” guide to using performance evaluation systems the way that Josh Bersin correctly concludes they should be used.

Quintessential Leader Articles Review 5-10-13Todd Smith gives a quintessential leadership trait in “Making Your Weaknesses Relevant,” by challenging all of us, as quintessential leaders, not to make excuses for our weaknesses – which we all have – but to face them and change them.

Does it ever seem like you’re in over your head? As quintessential leaders, we will have times that we are in over our heads, but Mike Myatt gives some very practical advice about how to be in over our heads without drowning.

In my post, “Quintessential Leadership News for Week Ending 3-15-13,” I challenged each of us, as quintessential leaders, to look into mirrors, not through windows as we examine ourselves and our path as quintessential leaders to make sure there’s a total match-up between what we say and what we do and are. John Baldoni offers an excellent followup to that post with this article.

In Michael McKinney’s article, Better Decision Making, he discusses the quintessential leadership balance between facts and feelings as being a key determinant in the quality of our decision-making. Feelings and emotions have their place, but they should never be the engine that drives us because they are transient and unreliable. Decisions made using feelings and emotions as the primary driving force often leave us in a worse position than if we had done nothing at all.

The Quintessential Leader blog routinely looks at why unquintessential leadership makes organizations dysfunctional. John Bossong rejoins this discussion with his article that looks at how we can identify unquintessential leadership through the signs of an unhealthy organizational culture.

The last article recommendation this week, written by Kristina Lacida, highlights, as “The Mysteries of Quintessential Leadership Revealed” discusses in detail, the differences between being a “boss” and being a “leader.” 

I hope all of us have had productive, forward-looking and forward-moving quintessential leadership weeks. I’m sure we’ve had our challenges, our missteps, and our failures. But each of those give us an opportunity to learn and to grow.

And, when it’s all said and done, we get back up and we recommit to our goal, our purpose, one step, one choice, one decision at a time. This, my friends, is a marathon, not a sprint.

May the distance we cover between now and the next time we get together be better in every way than the distance we’ve covered already.