This month’s meeting of The Business Building Academy offered two outstanding presentations on developing and offering strong leadership. The presenters were Susan L. Farrell, MBA and Lt. Cmdr Chip Lutz USN (ret.). I discussed Susan’s presentation in another column.
Chip, president and founder of Unconventional Leader, LLC, offered several very useful pieces of advice, including suggestions for leading in an unconventional way.
Some of the takeaways include:
– Appreciate those who are your friend; those who stick up for you. “If I’m loyal to my people,” Chip says, “they’ll be loyal to me.”
– Humility is important. Don’t take life too seriously, and be able to laugh at your mistakes. “It’s OK to fail,” Chip says. Employees feel more comfortable when managers step out of their comfort zones.
– Get to know your people. That helps you find the perfect fit for them. Employees then are happier and more creative.
Developing effective leadership within your organization
Chip says that managers should approach the structure, routine and hierarchy of their organizations differently. Too often organizations get stuck in a pattern simply because they’ve always done it a certain way. Though change creates anxiety, “uncertainty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Chip says every manager must regularly ask 3 important questions about the business:
1. What is going right? Managers are predisposed to thinking in a negative manner. It can be hard to see what’s going right, he says, with everything going on throughout the day.
2. What is not going right? What could be going just a little bit better? Identifying those components is the first step in correcting them.
3. How can we do things differently? Managers should ask themselves, “How can I lead and engage my team differently?”
As the name of his firm suggests, Chip advises managers and other leaders to take an unconventional approach. Here are his 4 steps for achieving that.
1. Use the power of “not”. When you face a very difficult situation–when someone says, “I can’t do that”–respond with, “Why not?”
2. Be skeptical about procedures. Ask, “Why is it like that?” Often you’ll hear, “Because it’s always done that way.” Problem is, maintaining the status quo, especially when the results are not good, can hurt morale. “If we want a new atmosphere,” Chip says, “it start with us [leaders].”
As for attitude, there are two types of people, “carriers” and “converters”. Carriers carry negativity around with them. If they’re having a bad day, they want everyone else to, as well.
Converters, on the other hand, know the secret of being positive. Superficial (“happy talk”) attitude is empty; true leaders know how to maintain the proper attitude but also effect the proper change.
3. Get the help you need. Tap into the experienced help around you. Create focus groups comprised of employees. Ask, “What do we need to do around here”? Develop a clear vision and strategy of what you want to accomplish.
4. Enjoy the process. Change is difficult; we love the status quo. Change can cause stress. “Sometimes we get so focused on what we’re doing that we don’t enjoy it,” Chip says.
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