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Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR

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Respected Leaders

Consistently Strong Work Ethic; Set the Standard

Actions are stronger than words, and this is personified by the respected leader. Great leaders despise false promises and people who create lots of unnecessary noise to get attention. There are many leaders that play the part on the outside but have very little substance on the inside. Respected leaders are those who consistently prove through their work ethic that they are reliable and trustworthy on the inside and out.

These leaders set the tone and are great role models. The tangible and measurable results of their consistent work ethic influence new best practices and cultivate innovation. Ultimately, their leadership defines the performance culture for the organization. They set the standard and leave behind an indelible impact.

Not Afraid to Take Risks; Admit Wrong Doing

Respected leaders are those who are not afraid to take risks. They are bold enough to change the conversation and seamlessly challenge the status quo for the betterment of the organization and their competitive advantage. They can anticipate when a paradigm shift is in order and are courageous enough to act on it.

The other side of this admirable quality is the ability to admit wrong doing. Respected leaders do not hesitate to make the most difficult decisions and will put themselves out on the frontline to lead by example. They gravitate towards what many view as a “leap of faith” and willingly accept the challenge – knowing very well that the odds may not be in their favor given the personalities and inherent obstacles that surround them.

Sponsor High-Potential Employees; Serve Others Rightly

Respected leaders think about making others better. They don’t leach, they lead. They are mindful of those that give a 100% effort to their responsibilities. Respected leaders find ways to discover the best in people and enable their full potential. When they detect high-potential talent they impart upon them their wisdom and provide a path for long-term success.

Leaders that “sponsor” their employees put their own reputation at risk for the betterment of the individuals they are serving. This is an admirable quality and one that is highly respected amongst a leader’s peers. For example, my career was shaped and defined by one of my bosses in the early stages of my professional development. She witnessed my raw talent and saw that it needed refinement. Sh took an interest and exposed me to complex problems far beyond my skills at the time.

This challenged me to make decisions and tested my ability to think and use my instincts. She lifted me up and guided me rightly each time I failed along the way. My boss taught me all his tricks and trusted me to use them in ways that represented my personality, natural style and approach. Others noticed and didn’t always think that I was worthy of her sponsorship – but in the end I proved my abilities.

My boss earned a lot of respect from the organization and other leaders began to model her sponsorship approach.

Powerful Executive Presence; Long-Lasting Impact

The most respected leaders are the most authentic people. Their executive presence is genuine and true. They make those around them feel that they matter, and they welcome constructive dialogue regardless of hierarchy or rank. Respected leaders trust themselves enough to live their personal brand and serve as powerful role models to others. Their presence creates long-lasting impact that leaves a positive mark on the organization and the people they serve.

Respected leaders are passionate, impact-driven people. Their presence is felt when they walk into the room; their reputation and their track-record precede them.

Have Their Employees’ Backs; Deflect Their Own Recognition

Too many leaders are recognition addicts and want all of the credit. They spend too much time breaking-down rather than building-up their teams. They don’t take the time to genuinely learn about other’s needs. Leadership is ultimately about knowing the people you serve and giving them the guidance, inspiration and navigational tools to make their lives better and enable more opportunities.

Leaders earn respect when they reward and recognize their employees and colleagues. They take the time to appreciate and understand the unique ways they each think, act and innovate – and are always on the lookout to enable their talent. They are trusted, admired and respected because they make it more about the advancement of others, rather than themselves. They share the harvest of the momentum they build with others.

Earning respect is a journey and requires leaders to focus on how they can “deliver beyond what is expected” of their role and responsibilities. It’s about always being on the look-out for ways to step up your game and being mindful of ways to make the workplace better and the organization and its people more competitive and relevant.

What will you do as a leader today that you haven’t done in the past to be more respected?


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Acquiring Wisdom

Acquiring Wisdom from the Lessons of Life: The following post was written by Steve Weitzenkorn, Ph.D.  Steve is a learning innovator, organizational advisor, experienced facilitator, and lead author of Find-Fulfill-Flourish: Discover Your Purpose with LifePath GPS. 

 After reading Steve’s message I am reminded of how our experiences (bad and good) can grow us in our lives and in our careers.  And although we can sometimes try to guide others by sharing our experiences, it is really only through their own experiences that they really grow.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. 

Three weeks before she died and knew she did not have long to live, Lily Winner, my grandmother, wrote a very touching letter to my father who was attending college in a different city. This was in October, 1940. In passing along her parting thoughts to him, she wrote, “The most difficult thing for parents to learn is that they cannot pass along their wisdom, if they have acquired any, to their children. Experience has little reality unless it is your own.” I have learned the truth of these words though my own experiences as a parent.

So how do we acquire wisdom? Some writers and philosophers believe that study, reflection, and education are the keys. Others suggest having a great mentor or coach. Certainly these can help.

However, I know some well-educated and very smart people who also have very poor judgment and do not seem very wise to me. On the other hand, some of the wisest people I’ve met have ordinary jobs and relatively little education. What they have is a wealth of experience. They have learned from some of the hard lessons of life. Their wisdom evolved from their personal struggles, trial and error, setbacks and incremental successes. By taking action, solving problems, making mistakes, experimenting, and experiencing the consequences of their actions they learned many life lessons. They learned what works and what doesn’t, and how to avoid self-induced misfortune. Through the accumulation of these experiences, they grew, improved, and changed, developing wisdom in the process. I believe that is how all of us do, no matter how much formal education we may have. The key is to learn from experience and to apply those lessons to similar challenges.

If you have children I imagine you feel very blessed. You probably also feel their pain as they have their ups and downs, successes and setbacks, and make mistakes you know are easily avoidable. And if your experience is anything like mine, you know that much of the advice you offer seems to goes in one ear and out the other. Our children must learn though the realty of their own life experiences – both good and bad.

The good news is that most of them do learn. And most interestingly and thankfully, far more of what parents advise is actually absorbed than seems apparent at the time it’s offered. The internalization occurs when our children or students connect it with their own experiences and the real-life consequences of their actions — often well after guidance has been provided and they have tried things their own way. That’s when they recognize it as wisdom, even if they do not use that term.

How much they actually learn and internalize from the combination of personal experience and wise advice can be seen in how they handle new challenges and situations. That is the true test of whether they are developing their own wisdom. It’s is a life-long process for all of us.

Take a few moments to ponder the life lessons you have learned and how they made you wiser. How can that wisdom be exercised in valuable ways?