Friday, March 20, 2009

Perception Versus Rejection

In our professional careers, we come across many different types of individuals with a wide ranging number of personalities. Most of us will find that we gravitate towards some and away from others. It is only natural and human that you will ultimately want to spend more time with certain individuals. Unfortunately this is not always the best mix for success in business. Even the individuals with whom you may not get along (at any level) have the opportunity to contribute value in the form of good ideas if you keep an open mind. Make sure you do not automatically discount the ideas of individuals for whom you may not be fond just because of your own personal perception of that individual. Even though they are not someone that you would enjoy spending time with away from the office does not mean that their ideas and ability to contribute are any less. In fact, this interaction can sometimes provide good balance for you when making key decisions.

I am not saying that there is great value in always being a contrarian or to seek out those who always tend to disagree with you. There does after all need to be some form of "team fit" for an individual to be a successful part of the team. Just be careful not to discount a good idea because of the individual who came up with it in the first place.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Smoke, Spark or Fire

What is it that distinguishes a great leader from an ordinary one or a visionary leader from one that struggles to gain followship? While sound business skills, proper planning and execution will take a leader far, it is the level of passion a leader possesses that is the ultimate identifier.

One of my earliest professional mentors liked to talk about "the fire in the belly." How would you define your level of passion? Is there smoke, a spark or fire in your "belly?" If your answer is "smoke" or "a spark," it might be time to stoke the embers by placing additional focus on your strengths as to add a higher level of satisfaction to what it is you are doing professionally. Where can you contribute the most to add value to your organization? Find it, embrace it and invite others to contribute to it while allowing these same individuals to add value to the cause based on their strengths. This will ensure that your key folks do not lose their passion. People feel productive and part of a greater cause by being able to see the vision of a leader they will follow. What is a leader without followers? Ironically, followship can feed a leader's passion, but it is a leader's passion that will allow for followship.

In his book The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, John C. Maxwell identifies passion as a leaders first step to achievement, a way to increase willpower and ultimately a way to make the impossible possible.

Understand and follow your passion. Use your "fire quest" as a way to guide your vision and construct your strategy. This will allow for the smoke to spark into a fire of passion that will create energy to lead your organization to new, higher levels of success.

Time for a gut check: Smoke, Spark or Fire? Go ahead, make the "impossible possible!"