Building The Production Capacity Of Others

Great leaders know that in order to produce, they have to build the production capacity of themselves and of those that they lead and influence. This is true in sports, business, and life. The best leaders that we have researched, studied, and worked with are transformational in their approach versus just being transactional. The brilliance of their leadership style is their ability to get things done while also developing the leadership capacity of others in the process. We call this process “activating the performance of others.”

Female leader in front of group

In our “Invisible Hand of Leadership” program, we felt so strongly about the importance of this concept that we dedicated modules around both the role of being an “Activator” as well as the habit of “activating” the performance of those you lead and influence. It all centers around 2 basic philosophies of leadership:

  • Exponential Leadership – the ability to produce beyond yourself in an exponential way, impact, and return on investment
  • Generational Leadership – the focus of going beyond just collecting followers who execute tasks to developing leaders who build and transform the team, organization, and culture.

Sometimes, we find the challenge with emerging leaders is that they get so obsessed with producing that they become oblivious to the benefits of building the production capacity of others. Entrepreneurs and people in business development and sales roles that I have coached often refer to this as “working in the business versus working on the business.” This reference is somewhat analogous to the idea of developing leaders and the production capacity of your team and organization. You have to rise above the everyday tasks and transactions and make leadership development a strategic priority.

But how do you do it? Here are 3 quick tips on building the production capacity of others:

  • Time – You will never produce beyond yourself if you don’t make and take time to invest in the growth of others. John Maxwell refers to this principle as the “Law of the Lid.” At some point, you reach the “lid,” or limit, of what you can do with the time that you have. No matter how good you are and how productive you can be, you only have so much talent and time. The best leaders prioritize the growth of others not only in their annual goals and role description but also in their weekly calendar. In other words, they act on their intentions. Think about who you can invest in and then begin to schedule regular time with them to help them grow into the leader you know they can become.
  • Teach – Great leaders are always teaching and sharing insights with others in order for them to learn, grow, and take those ideas further based on their insights and talent. In leading teams myself, I always try to assign responsibility based on a person’s experience and potential and then support them in the process. I also strive to be purposeful about teaching them things I have learned and having a dialogue with them based on questions and things that they are interested in that I can help them learn and grow faster. The goal is to accelerate their learning through your journey. Teaching begins with developing a “teachable point of view,” which involves drawing clarity around the experiences you have been through and discerning principles from those experiences that can help you and others in the future. Make it a priority to teach in the midst of tasks.
  • Trust – Ultimately, growing the production capacity of others becomes a matter of trust with the key question being: Do you trust this person to take on this task? Most leaders rise through the organization based on their ability to produce, not necessarily their skills in building the production capacity of others. Yet, when you arrive at the title of leader, you have to make a shift and learn how to lead which involves producing through others. In order to be an effective, transformational leader, your whole mode of thinking has to shift from “I’ll just do it myself!” to “I need to grow our collective production capacity in order to produce exponentially.” This mindset shift is based on trust. You build trust by giving up control of things you used to control yourself and coaching, encouraging, and giving feedback in the process.

Whether you are a leader in a company or non-profit organization, a leader on your sports team, or a leader at home and in your community, learning to grow the production capacity of others is an important and essential skill. In order to make the most impact through your life, you have to learn to make an impact through others. Great leaders know and realize this, and they also recognize that their investment in others goes way beyond just getting things done. The return is revealed in the changed lives of others and helping them become who they were created to be!

We offer some great leadership, consulting, and coaching programs that are growing and developing the leadership capacity of some incredible organizations like Accenture  KPMG, Rice University, NCI Group, SpringSpirit Baseball, Kendra Scott, and Baylor University. We would love to help you, your team, and your organization grow as leaders through one of our leadership programs. Email me to discover how we might be able to help you create an “invisible hand of leadership” that transforms your leadership culture.

Embracing Your Role As A Leader – Podcast: S01E003

In this podcast, I share 5 ways that transformational leaders embrace their role as a leader to make an authentic and positive impact within their sphere of influence.

These principles and techniques can be applied in any area of life including sports, business, and life. Whatever roles you play in life, you are a leader, because you have influence. Every day, you have a choice to make a positive impact on the world around you.

Episode Outline:

How do transformational leaders embrace their role as leader:

  1. Lead The Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Create Positive Change
  4. Activate The Performance Of Others
  5. Be Resilient

Employe engagement is essential to making a difference and leading people effectively, and it is important to understand that up to 70% of the people you lead and influence may be either not engaged or actively disengaged according to Gallup Research.

Leading the way is all about making the right choices and decisions in our lives and ensuring that our actions and words are in sync.

Inspiring a shared vision involves connecting with the people you lead and influence in order to communicate a vision that is shared and also heard, received, understood, and incorporated into their lives and everyday tasks.

Creating positive change involves:

  • Challenging the process
  • Asking the right questions
  • Conquering limiting beliefs
  • Being a part of the solution vs. part of the problem

Activating the performance of others involves effectively delegating to others and creating operating principles for effective teamwork.

Being resilient involves possibility thinking when setbacks and challenges occur.

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The Key To Effective Leadership

The key to effective leadership is something we are all searching for. Some leaders think it is all about developing a brilliant strategy. Other leaders place emphasis on systems and structures.  Still other leaders argue that the golden key is found in compensation, incentive, and rewards. Finally, some leaders put all of their attention into modeling the way hoping something will catch on in the process. While all of these methods need to be in place, I have learned that none of these can bring about impact and influence in another person’s life all by themselves.

Do You Want To Be A Leader on a wall

In working with leaders, teams, and organizations, I believe that the key to effective leadership is found in your ability to inspire, impact, and influence other people to grow as leaders and achieve a goal – what we call your “leadership effectiveness.” James Macgregor Burns in his appropriately, yet simply titled book Leadership said it this way:

You can articulate a super strategy, implement seamless processes and structures, and roll out a rewards structure that creates potential financial success; but if you can’t tap into the needs, motivators, and activators of the people you lead, you will never engage the full person into affecting long-term change – in themselves and in their organization.

keys to activating performance

Where this hits closest to home for me is my actual home. I am a husband and a father of five boys and have important leadership responsibilities in both of these roles. I don’t always lead in an effective manner and in a way that is achieving the results and, more importantly, the goals of my calling as a husband and father. Sometimes, I articulate what I think is a brilliant strategy that doesn’t reach its full potential with my boys. Sometimes, I use pay to motivate them. Other times, I stress systems, procedures, and structure. And when these things fail, I dig in hard to modeling the way wondering why no one is following. The key is wrapping all of these methods into an overall approach that focuses on my ability to tap into their unique motives and needs to accomplish a shared vision for their lives. Each of them is wired differently, and I have to understand that concept as a leader in order to affect change in each of their lives.

Knowing and understanding the people you lead is the first step to engaging the talents and passions of your people. Hall of Fame baseball player Reggie Jackson said it this way: “A great manager [leader] … forces you to have a good opinion of yourself. He lets you know he believes in you. He makes you get more out of yourself. And once you learn how good you really are, you never settle for … anything less than your very best.”

That is exactly the kind of leader that I want to be at home, at work, and in my community. As you consider your leadership style, influence, and platform, here are some key questions to consider:

  • How are you tapping into the hearts and minds of the people you lead?
  • What do you do to improve your “leadership effectiveness” and inspire, impact, and influence change and growth in your people?
  • Do you truly know the people you are leading including their needs, motivators, and activators?
  • Are your collecting followers or creating leaders?

Question: What ideas and techniques have you found to be successful in leading others effectively? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Living A Life of Humility

A theme can bring energy and passion to your annual goals.  A theme also provides a summary that encapsulates everything that you are going to do and be about in a particular year or for your whole life. A few years ago, I used the theme of “Be Humble and Hungry” as my theme for the year. I also often text this to the people I coach in sports, business, and life.

As a competitor, it is often a fine line to walk between being humble versus being self-confident bordering on arrogance. Your competitiveness and drive give you your edge to succeed, but you don’t want that to tip to arrogance and pride where falls and paths to destruction often occur. As a leader, you need to command the respect of your people and that is often seen as competence and mastery, but you don’t want to come across as a “know-it-all” and someone who is not open to ideas and input from others.

Humility Sign

Humility and vulnerability are words not often associated with the best competitors; yet, they are essential components of the character of champions. Specifically, there are 3 aspects of humility that champions embrace on their leadership journey and allow them to separate from the rest of the field:

  • The Definition of Humility – C. S. Lewis defined it this way: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”  In all my endeavors, I want to engage and fully utilize my God-given strengths, talents, and passions to maximize the opportunities within my sphere of influence.  I believe that is what fulfilling your purpose is all about.  As you consider your strengths, talents, gifts, passions, opportunities, and sphere of influence, I encourage and challenge you to fully embrace them in a way that makes a positive impact on others vs solely promoting yourself.
  • The Spirit of Humility – Humility also demands a spirit and attitude of gratefulness.  It means to accept opportunities with enthusiasm and be appreciative of all that God brings your way.  There are many things that have happened in my life that can only be explained through the power and presence of God in my life.  My faith provides the main foundation for my life and is the cornerstone for everything that I do.  I thank God for this moment called my life, and I want to make it count.  Having a spirit of gratefulness allows you to enjoy the journey. When you are grateful for what you have, you are more generous to offer what people need.
  • The Product of Humility – Finally, humility promotes and produces a pursuit of excellence in all that we do.  If you are appreciative of the moments in your life, you will do all that you can to excel and do your best knowing that not everyone receives an opportunity to do what you are uniquely gifted to do. You will lead more effectively serving the needs of others in the process. You will pursue your goals more passionately knowing that the outcome is worth the journey, and you will do it in a way that leads to impact in the lives of the people you lead and influence. In essence, the more humble and appreciative you are, the better you will embrace your role and carry out your responsibilities! That’s the way that I feel about my work and my life.

Humility is not cowering low; it is charging forth with the right attitude and actions toward a mountaintop of opportunities and moments to make a positive difference and accomplish meaningful work! Living a life of humility is all about serving the needs of the people who are in your story with the unique talents and opportunities that are in your journey.

If you want to develop more as a leader who humbly serves the needs of others, connects with people, develops other leaders, and makes a positive impact within their sphere of influence, check out our Invisible Hand of Leadership© Program.

 

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Your Opportunities As A Leader

As a leader, it is easy to understand your role and responsibilities as they are often defined in terms of an org chart, job description, and company objectives and goals that are handed down to you. Your “duties” as a leader often include completing tasks, managing projects, developing and delivering presentations, meeting with customers, developing new clients and business, and maximizing the profitability of a business unit or entire company. These responsibilities are truly important for any leader to stay focused on and perform with excellence.

Leaders and teams

What are sometimes more nebulous are the “opportunities” that you have as a leader. “Opportunities” are not often measured by a metric and take time to be able to see the return on investment. Yet, “opportunities” often yield the greatest return on investment for leaders in terms of building the production capacity and margin that great teams and organizations need to thrive! Here are some specific “opportunities” that you have as a leader to make a dramatic difference in the lives of the people you lead and influence:

  • Invest in Their Growth – Your platform as a leader provides you with a unique opportunity to help the people you lead to develop and grow both personally and professionally. These opportunities include sharing and teaching principles and techniques that will accelerate their growth and advance their careers. Investing in the growth of another person also allows you to not just manage their tasks but maximize their potential, which enables you and the organization to take on new responsibilities knowing and trusting that they can be counted on to deliver.
  • Connect Mission to Tasks – In his book The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey cites research conducted by Harris Interactive which indicated “only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why and only one in five said they had a clear ‘line of sight’ between their tasks and their team’s and organization’s goals.” Great leaders connect vision and values to tasks and time. If someone you lead truly understands how what they do every day connects to the mission and vision of the organization, they will truly invest their time in making a positive difference and will fully demonstrate and represent the core values of the organization.
  • Serve Them Well – The difference between managing and leading is often found in how leaders support their people. Inefficient managers typically tell someone what to do and then measure if they completed the task on time and within the budget allowed. The middle piece of supporting them in in the process is often left unattended and uncared for. Great leaders serve as a resource to them and consistently ask: “How’s it going? How Can I help? What roadblocks have you encountered? What opportunities have you uncovered? What resources do you need? How can I help?
  • Encourage Their Soul – The best leaders that we have studied and worked with encourage the people they lead – not just on the surface but deep within their soul! The words “encourage” and “courage” are rooted in the Latin word “cor” meaning “heart.” To have courage means to have heart in the face of challenges. It’s the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain without fear. Great leaders discover new ways every week to encourage their people. They recognize what their people are doing well and reinforce their belief in each person’s potential and ability to be and do their best work now and into the future.

Your “duties” and “opportunities” are equally essential to your leadership effectiveness and impact. While your people are expecting you to follow through on your duties and responsibilities as a leader, they are also hopeful that you will recognize, discover and appreciate the opportunities that you have as a leader to invest in their future. Make time in your schedule to identify the opportunities that you have as a leader at home, at work, in sports, and in your community, and then develop an action plan to follow through. The people in your sphere of influence will be so glad you did!

Live Your Life With Excellence

“And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967, six months before he was assassinated

Martin Luther King Tombstone

There are definitely more high profile quotes and speeches that are attributed to Dr. King, but I have always loved this speech that he gave to a group of Junior High students six months before he was killed. Can you imagine the impact on these students both on October 26, 1967, as well as the days following his death? And as we think about our own lives, our sphere of influence, and the opportunities we have been given, I believe there are at least 3 lessons we can draw from his impactful words to this classroom of students:

  • You Have A Unique Calling – Dr. King was trying to dramatically impart to these students that they were created for a specific purpose at a specific moment in time and that their lives did indeed matter. Sometimes, we get into a rut and foolishly believe that calling and gifts are for the special talents, forsaking the opportunity to make an impact right where we are. Whether on a high profile stage or platform or kneeling by a desk in a schoolroom or waiting in a carpool line to offer a smiling and encouraging face to your child after a day of school, your life does matter, and you have a unique calling and mission to carry out. If you don’t do it, who will?
  • Carry Out Your Mission With Excellence – Mediocrity is often the norm in school, in business, and in life. Dr. King was trying to impress upon these students the importance of doing your best. You don’t have to have the so-called “best” job to do your best. Every person plays a role in life. We are called to perform in that role to the best of our abilities. Every day, you have the opportunity to leave your mark of excellence on everything you do. How will you sign your name on today?
  • Leave A Legacy – In the speech, Dr. King references several people of excellence in their respective professions and then challenges the students to do what they are called to in that same manner of excellence. Each of the people he speaks about left a legacy, and he exhorts them to leave their own legacy, whether they will be in the limelight or just a street light. We often falsely believe that the only people who can leave a legacy are the rich and famous who have their names indelibly inked on a building, statue, or plaque. Each day, we have the opportunity to leave a legacy in the lives of people who matter most to us. Your legacy can be an invisible hand that permeates and penetrates generations to come.

Strive to be the best wherever you are and in whatever you do. Your calling is indeed a high calling that demands your life and your commitment!

Question: What other lessons do you draw from this speech and from the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Mentoring

Mentoring is the process of pouring your life into the life of another person. Mentoring involves a true commitment to care enough about the life of another person to help them reach their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. A good mentor shares wisdom learned from successes and failures. A true mentor listens well, shares advice when necessary or prompted, and leads by example. Sometimes, just being in the presence of your mentor can provide you with the energy and enthusiasm to accomplish your goals, persevere through trials, and conquer your fears. It is not always what a mentor says but the intensity with which he or she listens that can provide the answers.

I remember the last year that I spent with my grandfather provided me with a wealth of inspiration and insight. At this point in his life, he was trying to persevere through cancer, and his faculties were not as sharp as they once had been. Just being in his presence, however, brought back the memories of every wise word he had said, every noble deed he had done, and every magnificent moment he had leveraged to listen to my hopes and dreams.

Pat and Me

I thought about the times he took me to meet his friends for coffee. This regular ritual was a mentoring group before the word was popular. I was barely old enough to know what coffee was, but he took me along like I was “one of the boys.” His friends accepted this minor intrusion on their time out of respect for my grandfather. If he said it was ok, then it must be.

I also thought about all of the values that he instilled in me like a hard work ethic, integrity, serving others, humility, authenticity, and a love for God, your family, and other people. My grandfather did not speak a lot of words during his last year on this earth, but his life and the time I spent in his presence spoke volumes.

Who has been a mentor to you? Who are you mentoring? Mentoring is the kind of thing that must be paid forward. During the Thanksgiving holidays, I encourage and challenge you to do two things. First, reach out in some way to the people who have made an impact in your life – your family, friends, co-workers – and say thanks. You could even take the time to actually write a note or letter and mail it – something that is not done as much these days given the proliferation of e-mail. Second, set a goal of serving as a mentor to someone.

The funny thing about mentoring is that the mentor many times becomes the true learner.

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Yes, You Can Inspire Others!

Some people feel like they cannot inspire others. It is not because they don’t believe that people can be inspired by others to move forward. They just believe that they do not have the perceived “magical” qualities to influence others to action. They falsely assume that only a select few have the secret sauce to inspiring others to success. They think that only Leaders with an emphasis on the capital “L” have the platform to impact others. They wrongly believe that only people who stand on a stage or platform speaking and performing for others could garner enough capital to capture someone’s attention.

Happy People

The reality is that you can inspire others to action every day. You have been blessed with unique talents that only you possess. You have been given a sphere of influence and have been created in a certain manner in order to know and discern what people in this sphere need. An encouraging word. A smile. Positive feedback. Challenging them to reach their potential. We all have these opportunities no matter how big our stage is and what platform we possess. I believe there are 3 ways that we can do this:

  • Our Words – Evaluate the words you use every day. Do they set a positive tone and outlook for you and for others? Or, are you like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh constantly predicting gloom and doom for the future with sayings like, “It’s probably going to rain today,” when there is not a cloud in the sky.
  • Our Actions – The way we live our lives communicates volumes to others about what we believe. We don’t want this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote to be said of us: “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Make sure that your talk matches your walk and that your example lines up with what you espouse.
  • Our Ability to Listen – Many times, we are so focused on what we want to say that we miss what others are communicating both verbally and non-verbally about their current situation. This is what I have learned from being a coach to athletes and business people as well as examining the best mentors in my own life. People want to be heard and understood in order to be inspired.

Inspirational people live from a foundation of a strong character versus the circumstances of the day. They base their lives on principles that are timeless, not trendy, and they inspire others through their words and their actions. Yes, you can inspire others and positively influence them in their life journey. The choice is up to you whether you will embrace this opportunity.

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The Leader as Mentor

“I don’t have time to help him. If he can’t figure out how to do it, I guess I’ll just do it myself.” Unfortunately, I have heard this kind of quote too many times from influential leaders. In this fast-paced world with too many tasks to accomplish, mentoring is often the furthest thing from a person’s mind. For some people, mentoring is a foreign concept. Other people understand it but don’t make it a priority.

business partners are posing against white background

Mentoring is the leverage point of leadership. One person can only do so much. A leader’s production is dependent upon his or her ability to produce, but it also depends upon his or her ability to lead through others. Mentoring is the craft of developing another person to become a leader, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the individual, the organization, and ultimately the mentor. Many leaders are blind to the correlation of mentoring and their own individual production. Some of them decide erroneously that they must do all of the work. Others take a more narcissistic approach and insist on receiving all of the credit. Michael Maccoby wrote about the concept of “narcissistic leaders” in a Harvard Business Review issue and a related book. In his article, Maccoby related five key weaknesses of narcissistic leaders:

  • Sensitive to Criticism
  • Poor Listeners
  • Lack of Empathy
  • Distaste for Mentoring
  • An Intense Desire to Compete

With many old-school leaders still taking the narcissistic approach to leadership, it is understandable why they don’t see the benefits to mentoring. In fact, they have a “distaste for mentoring” as Maccoby so eloquently, or unfortunately states. They abhor it and see no value in it whatsoever. In my experience of observing and teaching about leadership, most leaders who negate the value of mentoring either have never experienced the pleasure of a great mentoring relationship or they are unwilling to credit their own success to a mentoring relationship. The perplexing point for me is how a leader can avoid the promising aspects of mentoring. Even a narcissist would want to produce exponentially beyond his or her own ability or capacity!

Mentoring provides this distinct advantage to produce beyond yourself. When a leader makes it a priority to mentor other people, she can accomplish a lot more. The leader’s production capability and capacity becomes incredible! It is not just addition at that point; it’s multiplication and an exponential return on the investment in and through others. As the leader develops her people, they begin to take the initiative to produce. This kind of leader has a distinct taste for and focus on developing the production capacity of her people, team, and organization! In fact, I think there are 3 very important things that the Leader as Mentor does:

  • Teach (vs. Tell) – Great leaders who understand mentoring teach others the how and why of the tasks they are accomplishing, and they tailor their instruction based on the experience level of the person.
  • Develop (vs. Direct) – As a leader, you have to direct the tasks of others, but if you are not developing your people along the way, you will never raise the level of leadership in your organization. A key question to consider is: Are my people just completing tasks or are they growing in their careers?
  • Help (vs. Hoard) – Leaders as mentors seek to help their people pursue their potential. Instead of hoarding the knowledge, they share their experiences to help people grow faster in their careers.

As the people grow and develop into leaders, the organization is stronger and more effective, and the leader is able to exponentially exceed his or her own production capacity.

It is an awesome feeling to share knowledge and wisdom with others and watch them soar! Leaders who mentor know this feeling all too well!

Question: Who has served as a mentor for you? What is something that a mentor has done for you that has made a positive difference in your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Leader as Mentor is just one of the 7 roles of transformational leaders that we cover in our leadership development programs. Our next public leadership training workshop is in Austin, TX, on October 28th, and there is still time to sign up. We have also had the privilege of customizing this impactful training program for many top companies and would love to do the same for you, your team, and your organization. Email me to find out more about how to bring one of our leadership programs into your company or organization.