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Tag: Leaders

Warrior Leaders Reveal Great Character


“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” — Abraham Lincoln

Stephen Covey taught us that our character is our foundation for success.

Leaders reveal their character through the choices they make and the actions they take.

Great Warrior Leaders focus on the bigger picture, the greater good, and the people they serve.

Warrior Leaders treat leadership as a privilege, not something they are entitled to.  And, they continuously refine who they are while taking on the tough stuff.

In the book, Warriors At The Helm: A Leader’s Guide to Success in Business, author Juan Carlos Marcos reminds us that great Warrior Leaders forge their character each day while working on the things that matter.

Character Distinguishes an Individual

What separates one person from another?  Their character.  Character reveals who they are.  Great leadership starts with character.

Marcos writes:

“Leadership begins with character.  Webster’s dictionary defines character as ‘one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.’  According to that definition, character can be either good or bad.  For the purpose of this book, I refer to good character, which includes attributes like moral courage, honesty, being humble, caring and appreciative and having integrity and empathy.”

Warrior Leaders Focus on the Greater Good

Great leaders put people first and they keep the mission front and center.

Marcos writes:

“In the context of the corporate world, it also includes the ability to make the tough decisions.  It includes putting the enterprise, and its people and shareholders, above one’s own personal priorities.  Finally, it includes ensuring that employees and customers are treated fairly and with the utmost respect.  In a leadership role anyone lacking any of these attributes is out of place.”

Warrior Leaders Work on the Tough Stuff

Great leaders don’t shy away from the big rocks.  They dive in.  They ask for help where they need it.

Marcos writes:

“As with the attributes and behaviors of Warriors, to be a Warrior Leader requires honest introspection about opportunities, help from trusted colleagues and a commitment to work on the things that need refinement.”

Warrior Leaders Stay in Touch with Reality

Great leaders beat the streets and stay in touch with what’s happening.  They get feedback.  They know how others are feeling.  They have empathy.

Marcos writes:

“For Warrior Leaders, regular doses of brutal honesty and calibration are important.  Some people do all the right things to get to senior leadership levels and then forget where they came from or what gets them there.  Worse yet, some begin to suffer from a bad case of omnipotence and quickly lose touch with reality.”

Warrior Leaders Know Leadership is a Privilege

Great leaders don’t act as if they are entitled to their position.  They earn it through their actions and their service.  It’s a privilege.

Marcos writes:

“Warrior Leaders seek perspective on how they are doing.  Specifically, they want to know how customers and employees perceive them.  Warrior Leaders believe that leadership is a privilege and act on the adage that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’”

Well put, Marcos.

Your character is yours to make.

Let me leave you with some words of wisdom from Henry Ford:
“The greatest thing we can produce is character. Everything else can be taken from us, but not our character.”

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Sources of Insight

The Best Leaders Ask for More Feedback

It’s not enough to just ask for feedback once. Research shows that the most effective leaders also follow one rule: Get lots of feedback.

The value of feedback has been written about time and again. But new data from leadership consultancy Zenger/Folkman really drives home the value not just of receiving feedback– but of asking for it.

Zenger/Folkman partners Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman wrote about their survey on the HBR Blog Network earlier this week. The finding showed a clear correlation between leadership ability and willingness to ask their employees for feedback.

The Better You Are, the More You Want to Get Better

Leaders who ranked in the bottom 10th percentile of asking for feedback were rated at the 15th percentile in leadership effectiveness. While those in the top 10 percent of asking for feedback from their employees were ranked in the 86th percentile in overall leadership ability. And this trend held for all brackets in between the top and bottom performers; that is, the more a leader asked for feedback, the higher their leadership effectiveness.

And it’s not just that asking for feedback makes a strong leader; it’s that the type of person who asks for feedback tends to make a good leader.

Why You Might Be a Problem

There’s just one little problem. As a leader, you wield a lot of power. So while you might be earnest in your quest for feedback, your employees might be a little intimidated about taking the gloves off and dishing it out. To that end, check out management and communications expert Scott Berkun’s five keys for eliciting feedback from your team.

1. Who you ask. Start with an employee you trust and know well, and ask them for feedback on something small. Push them to be honest, Berkun writes. Use this as something of a momentum builder, and eventually you’ll find yourself asking for more feedback on more topics from more people.

2. How you ask. Don’t ask big, vague questions like, “What do you think?” Ask about specifics about the topic at hand, and ask that the employee be specific in their answers.

3. When you ask. Give them a chance to give a thoughtful answer. That means, ask them the question or questions ahead of time, let them mull it over, and then meet with them to really talk it through.

4. Where you ask. You might receive more honest feedback in a more informal setting, Berkun says. Think about getting coffee or a beer, rather than sitting opposite the employee in your office behind your desk with your big, scary nameplate that says CEO.

5. How you respond. This might be the hardest part, but, Berkun writes, “If you really want feedback you have to be prepared to shut up and listen.” Qualifying or clarifying questions are okay, but don’t act offended. And at the end, be sure to offer sincere thanks.

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