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  • feedwordpress 09:00:12 on 2018/05/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , leaders, , , , ,   

    The Unexpected Quality Every Successful Leader Needs 

    It’s never hard to find a discussion—in this blog and lots of other places, online and off—of the skills that are required for good leadership. Among the most important is one that surprisingly is rarely mentioned: curiosity, the secret gift of creative people and successful leaders.

    Curious people have a beginner’s mind—empty, free, unbiased, and unoccupied with the baggage of trying to be an expert. They’re open to all possibilities and are able to view even the most familiar things from a fresh perspective.

    Curious leaders are deep thinkers, great listeners and even better questioners. Here are seven ways to foster your own curiosity:

    Embrace what you don’t know. As leaders, we often think we have to serve up all the answers. But the best leaders are comfortable with not knowing. When they don’t know something, they don’t try to fake it. They’re aware of what they don’t know and unafraid to admit it. They’re open to learning new things because they’re free from pretending they already know everything. The best leaders leverage their ignorance to open the door on new knowledge.

    Know that everything begins with “why.” Part of my job as a coach is helping people dive deeper into their thinking, and a trick I use with many of my clients is to ask the question Why?— not once or twice, but five or six times in sequence from a single question, going as far as possible into an idea. Asking yourself Why? again and again will challenge you to confront your obstacles, formulate and frame the questions, articulate the issues and go deeper.

    Be ready to reframe your thinking. It’s easy in these fast-paced times to feel that you can’t keep up, and from there to become overwhelmed. There’s a certain amount of stability to be gained by sticking to the fundamentals, but eventually the best leaders realize the limits of the lens through which they’ve been viewing the world. From there, they’re ready to construct a whole new frame of reference that will help them face the challenges and opportunities they couldn’t even imagine a few years ago.

    Learn to navigate challenges. New challenges are everywhere, and more seem to crop up daily. Navigating change and challenges is a key competency of the best leaders. One helpful mental model consists of asking three questions: Why? What if? and How? Asking Why? helps you understand the challenge. What if? helps you imagine and weigh different solutions, and How? challenges you to take concrete action and maintain accountability. This technique can give you a fresh outlook on problems, challenges and solutions.

    Understand that knowledge is becoming obsolete: In an era when information increases exponentially, it’s impossible to retain everything. Effective leaders know what to commit to memory and have the skills to find the rest. And for a curious mind, asking the questions is just as important as finding the answers.

    Avoid small-minded questions. If you ask small questions, you’re going to get small ideas that do nothing to advance your thinking. To innovate you have to ask expansive questions. It’s not always easy to do in a business culture where leaders are expected to act as if they know everything and hierarchy is the norm. But newer models emphasizing flexibility, speed and collaborative inquiry are friendlier to the kind of curiosity that asks the big questions.

    Step back to move forward. It’s easy to stay caught in a cycle where we’re so focused on our day-to-day issues that we never seem to have time to slow down and really think. Maybe more than any other factor, the pressure of short-term demands shuts out curiosity. That’s why it’s so important that leaders learn to pause and take a couple of steps back. A little distance creates perspective and expands your point of view to take in a bigger picture.

    The most important thing a business leader should do today is become the chief question asker. Curiosity leads to creativity, innovation and transformation. The more questions you ask, the more you know and the more effective you will become. And when you take the next step, from asking questions to taking action, that’s where leadership is at its best.

    Lead from within: Curiosity is the unexpected quality that makes the difference between a good leader and a great leader.

    N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R


    What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

    After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

    buy now



    Additional Reading you might enjoy:


    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    The post The Unexpected Quality Every Successful Leader Needs appeared first on Lolly Daskal.

  • feedwordpress 07:25:25 on 2018/04/24 Permalink
    Tags: , Compassion, , leaders, , , ,   

    Why Compassion Is the Key To Being A Great Leader 

    There will always be opinions and discussion about the traits that are important to strong leadership. But there’s one trait that every successful leader must have, and that’s compassion.

    Compassion isn’t something you’re born with—it grows out of considerate behavior. In the organizations where I coach, employees report that their best leaders are the ones who are empathetic, sympathetic and understanding—in other words, considerate.

    Here are some of the things great leaders do that you can emulate to build your own capacity for consideration and compassion:

    They change up the conversation. Too many of us contribute to every conversation with statements about ourselves and our accomplishments. A considerate and compassionate leader understands that “I” isn’t especially useful as a conversation starter, and that when leaders stop focusing on their own egos they’re able to develop other leaders. The entire practice of compassion is about going from self to others, from “I” to “we.” Those who already focus on the value of others have a head start.

    They work to build a collaborative culture. Compassionate leaders have concern for everyone. They excel at inviting the whole team to share in the organization’s vision and goals and to help create the action steps needed to achieve them. An environment where everyone can collaborate by sharing their ideas and offering creative solutions is an organization that thrives and—not coincidentally—where leadership excels.

    They display compassion by listening. Effective leadership finds its source in listening and understanding. The amount of time you spend talking to and listening to an employee is a sign of how important you consider them to be—to you and to the organization. That’s why the best leaders spend a lot of time walking around and chatting with their employees. They invite their comments and encourage open discussion and disagreements about work. This approach results in an environment where people feel the work belongs to them as well as to the company. Employees feel good about themselves and more fully committed to doing the job and doing it well.

    They embody positivity. It’s important for leaders to be able to empower and motivate others. The best way to accomplish that is simply to be a genuinely positive person. When you can develop a positive mental attitude and be the kind of leader who always has something good to say, you make people feel comfortable around you and secure enough to tell you anything that needs to be said.

    They invest their time. Time is among the most precious, and scarce, resources we have. Compassionate leaders know that time invested in their team will yield great dividends. When people feel they have a strong relationship with their leader because their leader is deeply invested in who they are, they’re willing to offer their best work—a win-win situation.

    They show compassion by caring. There are lots of ways for leaders to show they care through support, mentorship and guidance, and especially approval. When a leader expresses recognition, employees feel appreciated and organizations accomplish great things.

    They walk their talk. Compassionate leaders are those who lead from within, those who have the ability to inspire others through encouragement and empowerment. When you treat people with compassion they never forget. You cultivate people who want to work for you not because of what you do but because of who you are.

    Lead from within: Leadership is about compassion. It’s about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.

    N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R


    What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

    After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

    buy now


    Additional Reading you might enjoy:


    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    The post Why Compassion Is the Key To Being A Great Leader appeared first on Lolly Daskal.

  • feedwordpress 08:23:11 on 2018/03/27 Permalink
    Tags: False Beliefs, , leaders,   

    4 False Beliefs That Will Destroy Your Leadership 


    The other day I sat down with a capable and competent leader. But in spite of her abilities and accomplishments, she didn’t see herself as a leader. Her beliefs about herself were holding her back and destroying her leadership.

    I asked her to tell me about those beliefs so we could see what was limiting her. Her responses, repeated below, mirror the thoughts of every self-undermining leader I’ve ever worked with.

    How many of these beliefs do you hold?

    I wasn’t born a leader. Many people believe that to be a great leader you have to be born with certain innate qualities and abilities. The truth: great leadership can be developed and learned by anyone with the willingness and desire to lead.

    I don’t have the title or position to lead. Even in an age where hierarchy is less important, many people still believe that to make a difference and be a great leader you need an impressive title. Of course, one has nothing to do with each other—you can lead in any position and from wherever you are, whether you’re a CEO, a line worker, a volunteer, or even an involved neighbor.

    I’m waiting for the right opportunity to lead. If you’re waiting to find yourself in the circumstances of a leader, you might be waiting for a long time. Leadership isn’t something that happens to you but something you do. Leaders show up and start leading wherever and whenever they are needed.

    I need more experience to lead. I’ve met lots of people who are absolutely capable and competent to lead, but they’re wasting their gifts by waiting to mature and  have years of experience behind them instead of seizing the moment. Leaders bring value to whatever they do, wherever they are.

    After listening to what she had to say, I worked on giving her a new vision of herself, one in which the leader she could become was already within her and all she needed to do was embrace it.

    Our belief system is based on how we view the world. Many of the beliefs we cultivate about life date back to childhood, ingrained in us by our parents and other influential adults.

    Most of the time, these beliefs serve us well up to a certain point. But eventually some of them become limiting and perhaps even damaging. In adulthood, the beliefs we created as a child no longer work for us as well as they did in the past; they may even end up hurting us.

    Too often, though, we automatically accept the things we were taught to believe without questioning. We lose the ability to decipher genuine beliefs from those that are false. And our false beliefs become real when we give them power.

    If your beliefs are interfering with your leadership growth, it’s time to change your thinking.

    That means rewiring and rewriting the beliefs that are holding you back. Don’t allow your thoughts to tell you that who you are, is not enough or that what you know is deficient or wrong.

    We need to constantly be looking inward, observing our own thoughts and transforming our false beliefs about ourselves into positive affirmations.

    Lead from Within: The only way you can begin to embrace who you are meant to be  is to stop living on autopilot as a prisoner to your own mind, that is filled with false beliefs.


    N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

    Additional Reading you might enjoy:


    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    The post 4 False Beliefs That Will Destroy Your Leadership appeared first on Lolly Daskal.

  • feedwordpress 09:00:43 on 2018/03/13 Permalink
    Tags: , leaders, , ,   

    Getting Everyone on the Same Page (Does More Harm Than Good) 

    Getting everyone on the same page—that is, creating unity of thought and opinion—is a concept that’s highly valued by many leaders. It’s widely thought to make teams more productive and creative. But in my years of experience, that connection is far from reliable. If anything, just the opposite applies: getting everyone on the same page does more harm than good.

    The idea behind this “same page” fixation is that a unified team culture is superior. And that’s true to a limited degree—for example, a sense of shared purpose lends strength to any team. But when you don’t invite and accept differences you weaken creativity, you decrease innovation, and you reduce individuality.

    When you try to make everyone think alike, work alike, and believe alike, you weaken and demotivate the talented and skilled people you’ve hired. You may think you’re building a team, but in reality you’re undermining them.

    Don’t allow yourself to be lured into the “everybody on the same page” trap. Instead, commit to the kind of leadership that builds unity through diversity on your team, by doing the following:

    Appreciate each person for who they are, not who you want them to be. Recognition is motivating, and great leaders appreciate their people for who they are. Instead of trying to mold them into an image of what you want them to be, learn to appreciate their authentic selves, their individual backgrounds, and their capabilities. A solid mix of talents makes for stronger teams and more innovative organizations. Being appreciated for their true self is incredibly uplifting for any employee.

    Identify individual’s strengths and push boundaries. Get to know each individual person’s strengths, then motivate and inspire them to raise their own standards. When you believe in people they will do what they can to come through for you. Work to understand, encourage, and develop your team members’ skills and potential.

    Invite each to contribute and collaborate in notable ways: Too often leaders feel threatened by their people’s capabilities and talents and may even work to suppress them. But encouraging people to excel at what they do best is the soul of leadership—and it leads to great results. Maximizing and meshing talents is how projects get done seamlessly. It’s how you meet deadlines and develop innovative solutions. Collaboration is what teams are built to do.

    Have everyone own their leadership. Work to have everyone find ways to step up and show leadership at some point. Start by assigning them leadership over small projects involving a handful of people. When you do, you build not only a team but a team of leaders—inspiring growth and helping your people advance. Leaders aren’t born, they’re made when you allow them to own their identity and capabilities.

    Great companies, leaders and managers all focus on collaboration and on developing each person’s capacities and having them bring their individual gifts to the collective effort.

    Lead from within: People who come together create progress, and succeed together, but it takes a diverse group to make it happen.


    N A T I O N A L  B E S T S E L L E R


    What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

    After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

    buy now


    Additional Reading you might enjoy:


    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    The post Getting Everyone on the Same Page (Does More Harm Than Good) appeared first on Lolly Daskal.

  • feedwordpress 11:05:22 on 2017/06/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , Heroic Leadership, , leaders, , ,   

    Why Heroic Leadership Is Needed Now More Than Ever 


    Recently I was at an event at the Princeton Club talking about my new book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness. Someone there asked me an intriguing question: “With all the work you do with leaders around the world, who are the leaders you most admire?”

    I thought about it for a split second before answering to the room, “If you are living bravely and leading courageously, you are my hero. Those are the leaders I admire the most.”

    That kind of courage has become sadly endangered. More than ever before, we have a real gap in our leadership.

    The climate of leadership these days is laced with distrust and skepticism. We hold our leaders in doubt and their actions in mistrust. And the worst of it is knowing that what’s happening in leadership today is going to end up costing all of us in the years to come.

    In the past, the leaders we looked up to had character we could value, traits we could admire, values we wanted to emulate.

    But when so many examples of contemporary leadership are laced with ego and distrust, you have to wonder where we’re heading. The only way to salvage today’s leadership is to find the heroic leaders who are courageous enough to lead us in the right direction.

    Heroic leaders are always in high demand—and that’s more true than ever now, when they’re in such short supply. We all have what it takes if we’re willing to do the work.

    Here are some simple but profound things you can do to advance your own brand of heroic leadership:

    End passivity. To get anything done, a heroic leader must move the status quo, end mediocrity and be brave enough to do things that matter even when they’re difficult or may cause conflict. It means not only talking but backing your words up with action.

    Don’t allow the new to become the norm. Heroic leaders are brave enough to remind us not to accept what we don’t value or respect. Faced with declining standards, too many of us are willing to tolerate a “new normal.” But heroic leaders habitually step back to think about how they can work for positive change—in themselves, in their organization and in the world. They have the courage not to normalize or accept bad behavior or bad leadership.

    Break down the silos. Leadership is at its worst when it’s carried out from silos—isolated towers that make collaboration and communication impossible.  Great leadership is a “we” message, not a “me” message. A heroic leader understands that true power of leadership is unity—knowing we’re all in this together. When one person tells others what to do and how to do it and everyone else has to keep quiet and listen, you have a dictatorship, not a democracy. The way to take back leadership is not with ego or power but with humility and collaboration.

    Lead with EQ instead of IQ. Many of us put a lot of emphasis on IQ—that is, skills and thought. And those are important, but they’re not enough on their own. Heroic leaders know that it’s important to connect with others emotionally and to make sure they know you have their back. They have a high degree of emotional intelligence.

    Set the standard. Heroic leaders set high standards for themselves and others. It’s about giving people something compelling to grasp on to and work for while making sure they feel heard and seen and understood.

    Use straight talk. Heroic leaders have nothing to hide. They are brave enough and smart enough to keep the lines of communication open, even when they don’t know all the answers. They know how to use straight talk and are not afraid to say, “I don’t know.” They’re strong enough to share information instead of hoarding it.

    Encourage pushback. Many leaders feel pressure to have all the answers. But heroic leaders encourage constructive dissent and healthy debate. They reinforce the strength of others and demonstrate that in the tension of diverse opinions lies a better answer. It’s not about who is right or wrong but about what can we learn from each other.

    Don’t confuse authority and power. The key to heroic leadership is influence, not authority—because authority isn’t power. If you are a heroic leader who has the ability to change someone’s perspective, never waste that gift. It’s one of the most powerful abilities you can have—especially when you use it on behalf of those who have no influence.

    Start accountability with yourself. The role of heroic leadership is to set the expectations that everyone can commit to and be responsible for. Accountability starts with you—you must hold yourself responsible for modeling the behaviors and actions you want others to follow. People naturally emulate those who lead them, so stay aware that others are looking to you.

    Lead from within: You are here to make a difference—to either improve the world or worsen it. And, whether or not you consciously choose to, you will accomplish one or the other. Choose courage, choose bravery, choose to be a hero. We need you now more than ever.


    Learn more about The Heroic Leader in my Wall Street Journal Bestseller book:
    The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

    After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

    buy now

    Additional Reading you might enjoy:

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    The post Why Heroic Leadership Is Needed Now More Than Ever appeared first on Lolly Daskal.

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