Posts Tagged ‘think outside the box’

Quintessential leaders have established, unchanging, unwavering – absolute – principles of integrity, honesty, fairness, accountability, and responsibility that they consistently adhere to and consistently expect the members of their teams to adhere to. This is the foundation of what builds trust in quintessential leaders and what makes them be trustworthy.

But there are many more attributes and characteristics – the “who you are” aspect of each of us – that distinguish quintessential leaders from everyone else. Today’s post will look at the attribute of courage. (more…)

The articles that Quintessential Leader is recommending in this week’s reading are very interrelated. One of the things that quintessential leaders do that makes them stand out from people who just have leadership titles but are not leaders is to think outside the box.

Thinking outside the box means the status quo – “that’s the way we’ve always done things” – is constantly being evaluated, challenged, and changed to better, smarter, more effective, and more efficient ways of growing and succeeding.

Overwhelmingly, the lack of leadership and the stagnation that seems to be epidemic in organizations today is because of the limitations people in leadership positions impose on the organizations. There is very little original thinking, very little innovation, and very little forward motion.

A lot of organizations are stuck in mindsets and methodologies of the past (theirs or others) and they operate from that outdated and unproductive viewpoint, all the while bemoaning the lackluster and tepid, at best, results of their efforts.

The fear of change and what change means to our comfort zones is part of the problem. The other part is that a lot of people in leadership positions are afraid of not being in control, which inviting and encouraging change will inevitably threaten.

But quintessential leaders are not egocentric. We understand that we are not the sole source of value in our organizations and teams and that when we involve – and grow – everyone on the team and in the organization in a meaningful way that uses each person’s gifts and talents to their fullest potentials, everybody wins and our organizations succeed. 

Quintessential leaders will surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are, know more than they know, and who will, in the collective effort of the team, ensure successful outcomes. This is the heart of leadership. And it is why there are so few quintessential leaders in most organizations.

In the article “Leader or Hero? Learning to Delegate,” Gordon Tredgold discusses a key component of quintessential leadership, which is delegation. Heroes insist on doing everything themselves. They are the ultimate examples of needing to be in complete control of everything. Heroes also get overwhelmed, stressed out, develop martyr complexes, and end up either doing many things poorly or, worse, not doing things that should be done at all.

Quintessential leaders are not heroes. They assemble competent teams, identify or develop (recognizing potential is one of the most common thinking-outside-the-box areas missing in recruiting and hiring in most organizations today) the strengths and abilities of those team members and then delegate accordingly.

I’ll give you an example of what this looks like. In one organization I worked for part of my teams’ responsibilities included detailed numbers work and reporting. While I can do that if push comes to shove, it’s not my forte and I don’t enjoy it and I usually end up making mistakes because, although I know it’s necessary, I dislike it so much that I rush through it to get it over with.

One of my team members, on the other hand, was excellent with this kind of work and really enjoyed it. So, guess who got to run with all the reporting and numbers work for the teams…and who also got all the credit?

And because it was appropriate and responsible delegation, we developed a high-trust relationship. I didn’t tell her how to do it – she knew better ways than I did of how it could best be accomplished – only what the final results needed to include. We teamed up and communicated well and often.

She knew she could count on me anytime she needed resources she didn’t have or needed me to pull some weight or run interference so she could get her job done. I knew her work was accurate and high-quality and it was one area I didn’t have to worry about.

I believe one of the reasons that so many people in leadership positions are heroes is because they don’t hire well (or are too insecure to hire someone who is better at doing something than they are). So they have no one to appropriately delegate too.

If you’re a leader who finds him or herself in a “hero” role, look at the team you’ve assembled and see if you’re overlooking talent or potential that you could delegate areas of responsibility to.

If you look at your team and don’t find anyone that you could delegate appropriately and responsibly to, then you’ve done a poor job of assembling your team and fixing that is the immediate priority on your to-do list.

Aad Boot’s “Mindset and Attitude Affect How We Lead Change (And How We Make Think outside the boxChanges in Ourselves) is very insightful about the difference in mindsets and attitudes in quintessential leaders and unquintessential leaders. Change is inevitable. How we, as quintessential leaders, approach, handle, and lead change is critical. As you’re reading this article, think about which of the two mindsets/attitudes that are presented in each of the bullet points describes your attitude and mindset toward change in every area of life. None of us handle change as well as we could, but the key to improving is to fix how we see and respond to change.

In the article, “6 Reasons Leaders Make Bad Decisions,” Glenn Lopis highlights six unquintessential leadership traits that we, as quintessential leaders, must always be on guard against. Our teams depend on us to lead. When we show that something other than leading our teams (which, again, means thinking outside the box all the time) is more important to us than that, then we become unquintessential leaders.

One of Lopis’s reasons for leaders making bad decisions is not seeing the opportunity. This goes back to mindset and reminds me of the twelve spies from Israel that were sent into Canaan to scout out the land. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, saw the opportunity. The other ten saw the problems. You can read the rest of the story for yourself to see why unquintessential leadership prevailing brings disastrous results.

Mike Myatt’s article, “The Most Common Leadership Model – And Why It’s Broken,” reiterates a topic I’ve discussed here before and also which represents not thinking outside the box. I’ve often described the extensive experience I bring to the table for any organization contemplating hiring me is comprised mostly of “soft skills” that are embedded in the competency areas of that same experience. One of the key areas I look for in team members is “soft skills.”

I’ve always said and will continue to say, because I believe it, that I can teach anyone the technical competencies a job requires, but I can’t teach them the “soft skills.” They either have them or they don’t. If they have them, all other things being equal, they’ll be on my team. I’m usually willing to take chances on people who possess “soft skills” and no technical competency because I know the value of “soft skills” and how they can be difficult to find, especially in highly-technical fields.

I’ll let Mike analyze the value of “soft skills” compared to “competency” from here because he gives a credible voice to what I’ve experienced most organizations never take into consideration: “Any organization that over weights the importance of technical competency fails to recognize the considerable, and often-untapped value contained in the whole of the person. It’s the cumulative power of a person’s soft skills, the sum of the parts if you will, that creates real value. It not what a person knows so much as it is how they’re able to use said knowledge to inspire and create brilliance in others that really matters.”

Once again, this is thinking outside the box. That is a vital requirement for us as quintessential leaders. Without it, we will fail our organizations, our teams, and ourselves.

I hope you’ve all had a good week and that your journey toward quintessential leadership has been fruitful and productive!

As is the case with all quintessential leaders, I read a lot and I read widely. I read very little fiction, but when I do, I’m very selective, looking for substance and relevant rather than fluff and popularity. 

As an aside, I am one of those rare, it seems, people who eschews the idea of escapism and “feel good” when I am investing my time, energy, and effort into something.

If I don’t learn something or there are not some deep and meaningful principles I can come away with to think about and apply, then I’m simply not going to spend my time with it.

Because I am human, there’s a limit on time for me. I certainly don’t want to come to the end of my quota to discover that I wasted the majority of it.  

In pursuit of my commitment to quintessential leadership and my desire to be, at all times, in all ways, a quintessential leader, I am constantly reading articles on leadership and thinking about how and if they fit the quintessential leadership criteria.

Here is a summary of some articles I’ve read recently that certainly point to the quintessential leadership model in some way. I’d like to share those with you and encourage you to read them.

This article on 8 ways leaders undermine themselves from Forbe’s is a good overview of the subject I discuss in-depth in Building Trust and Being Trustworthy.

In conjunction, part of building trust and being trustworthy includes the ability to admit we are wrong when we are and taking responsibility for fixing what we’ve broken quickly, without blame, without excuses. This article by Amy Rees Anderson on this quintessential leader trait is excellent.

Mike Myatt’s article on why organizations suffer from leadership dysfunction offers a very good tie-in to the subject of organizational dysfunction, which I elaborate on in the Quintessential Leader blog post, “Organization Dysfunction – A Total Absence of Quintessential Leadership at the Top.” I encourage everyone to read both articles because, as Myatt correctly observes, we’re seeing leadership dysfunction become the organizational norm, instead of the exception.

Another must-read article from Mike Myatt demands that each of us examine our commitment to be quintessential leaders. Why? Because he discusses the 10 things every leader should challenge. These 10 things must be on our minds continually and the challenges to them must be continual.

This separates quintessential leaders from everyone else. As I ask myself constantly, I urge you to ask yourself: am I a quintessential leader or am I everyone else?

As I discuss in “Quintessential Leaders and Investment, Action, and Authenticity,” what you and I do and are reveals how great our investment in quintessential leadership is and how authentically we are living and being quintessential leaders.

A thought-provoking article by Manie Bosman on how unquintessential leadership traits – bullying and micromanaging among others, which I cover comprehensively in “Unquintessential Leadership” – affect us neurologically and lead to measurable negative outcomes, and if not changed or eliminated, will eventually lead to catastrophic and total failure.

An atmosphere of fear, intimidation, threats, and power plays is not something a quintessential leader will either create or tolerate. This is all around us in every part of our lives to one degree or another. What do you and I, as quintessential leaders, do about it?

The last article, by Dan McCarthy, is entitled “Is it Time to Create Your Own Succession Plan?” As quintessential leaders, this must be an integral part of our team-building process. For a framework of what this looks like in practice, I recommend “Building Teams for Performance.”

Each time I acquire a new team to build and lead, this is one of the first things on my to-do list: to identify the person or people who have the qualities that, combined with my coaching and leadership, will enable them to replace me.

No one is irreplaceable. And nothing is certain in life but death and taxes.

Therefore, a quintessential leader who wants to ensure that the legacy and foundation he or she is laying continues after he or she is out of the picture, must identify, coach, and grow his or her potential successor(s). To do anything else is unquintessential leadership. 

This post gives some good resources for quintessential leaders. I hope they will provide benefits, insights, and growth as we continue on the path of quintessential leadership.