Are you leading with message or miracle?

A young upstart rabbi was causing a ruckus. Oddly enough, it was because he was helping people — so much so that they started flocking to him in droves This totally pissed off the religious leaders. These so-called leaders were determined to undermine the young rabbi, if not catch him in a lie or worse. To test him they asked him for a sign, something miraculous. His tone changed from the compassion he had for the hurting people to one of disdain: “You self-proclaimed smart people see changes in the sky and know what’s coming in terms of weather, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” In other words, they could see only earthly, sensory things, but missed connecting the dots in the bigger, more important picture. Unfortunately many of us have that problem — even when we are just talking about earthly things (such as what’s going on in the world that is affecting our organizations and businesses and churches). In just a relatively few short years there has been an exponential explosion of both content (e.g., news, learning material, grumpy cat pictures, etc.) and access to it (e.g., ubiquitous connectivity, mobility, and a zillion channels, apps, and sites through which to get it). We’re experiencing change that has little or no historical precedent. And we’re slow to respond. The question isn’t if the changes will affect every part of how we reach customers or constituents, demonstrate our expertise, and lead our teams. The question is “when?” The “miracle” many people look for is that magic something that goes viral, generates likes, and creates sweeping change or...

3 principles, 4 practices to ‘build someone up’ at a distance

Often a business associate or team member is distant enough so that “grabbing coffee” is impractical. Here are a few principles and practices to bridge the distance to their heart. Principles to live by Time is still the most precious commodity you can give Why do we still value handwritten notes sent through the mail? They demonstrate a time investment that may not otherwise be demonstrated digitally. Nothing replaces time spent, and our finite supply of it is why giving or investing some of it is so powerful. Don’t underestimate the power of the spoken word Whether it’s the telephone or Skype, your voice carries additional meaning. Perhaps more importantly, they can hear what you don’t say when you pause and listen. Trust the power of “showing up” You don’t always need a “plan.” Serendipity happens when you are present of mind (even if you’re not present in body). Practices to give you wings Connect them to something transcendent Whether it’s God or a mission or a deep personal calling, nothing gets us through hard times or keeps us focused in good times like being part of something bigger than ourselves. Connect them to value Your perspective is, by definition, unique. Your reminder to them about how what they’re doing is valuable is valuable is likely a life-accelerator, even if it’s not new information. Connect them to another awesome someone Not all meetings and introductions have to be networking for a business purpose. Cool people who meet cool people generate cool connections on their own. Connect them to the world in a new way There are so many apps...

Are you an innovator? Beware these four blindspots

Meet Shannon. She’s been with her organization a decade and absolutely loves her role in the learning and development division. Well, except for that one thing. Shannon’s an innovator, a problem solver, a get-off-her-butt-and-figure-out-better-ways-to-do-it leader. And she’s frustrated with being underutilized. Innovation is a hot topic, but there’s a difference between an organization attempting to systematically be innovative and people who are simply wired that way. The key word here is wired. You might be a lonely innovator if you… …usually have the answer before the rest of people do …can’t sleep when a problem is buzzing through your head …find solving a problem feels “done” and the implementation is just detail …believe others have less tolerance for risk …see problems with the status quo and wonder why everybody “just deals with it” …connect the dots easily and wonder why others don’t see things the way you do The challenge, for those who take on the great work of leading themselves first, is that your very gift can also be your weakness. I’m a big fan of the Strengthsfinder philosophy that we’ll be better off pursuing our strengths than trying to work on our weaknesses, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be cognizant of our not-strengths. In fact, it’s imperative when it comes to living in community — something we can neither avoid nor, if we’re going to master connectorship, afford to ignore. Impatience You’re wired to see the connections, which is exactly why it’s easy to be frustrated with those who don’t. They may not see your vision, solutions, implications in possible decisions or paths, and on and on....

Another way for leaders to view The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle, popularized by Simon Sinek in his book Start With Why and this TED talk, has become a simple-but-awesome framework for evaluating the relationship between why, how, and what. In my favorite example of his, he points out that Apple’s use of The Golden Circle is “In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently. We do this by making our products beautifully designed and simple to use. We just happen to make great computers. Do you want to buy one?” As we accelerate into the Connectorship Age, leaders intent on successfully connecting with others should use The Golden Circle to challenge how they view the relationship between people, ideas, and technology. Relationship is the why As we market and use social media and evaluate blended learning and consider our product roadmaps and on and on it’s easy to lose sight of relationship. Relationship is about people. Duh. Ideas only have whys when shared in the context of people (even if it’s just you figuring out life, philosophy, or…). Technology is only useful considered in the context of people. Ideas are the what Ideas are the currency of professional relationships (we’re not talking about pheromones and your future mate here). Relationships may start by talking about wine or football, they may evolve into talks of partnerships, they may even devolve into philosophical rants. But conversation doesn’t happen absent of ideas. Why are people attracted to your interestingness? Why do they buy into your platform or system or products or services? To be sure, many people buy products transactionally versus relationally. But we’re talking leadership...