November 30, 2010

Are you an Invisible Leader?

Inspired by a post written by Kevin Ding, Lakers Reporter for the OC Register, "Invisible Leader" refers to Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant. 

In today's world, being an invisible leader is key to success. Let me explain...

Leadership starts with a Vision. When Phil Jackson was initially hired by the Lakers, his goal was clear: win multiple championships. He knew the talent was there, but he needed the players to buy into his philosophy (no pun intended). No matter what position you hold, your vision has to drive your actions. People cannot follow, if they don't know where to go.

Culture is the embodiment of vision. Once the vision is set, there needs to be a clear structure and set of behaviors to implement the strategy. Phil and Kobe had a rocky start to their relationship, but Phil never stopped teaching. Creating a strong culture means showing people how to do things the right way. Effective leaders model what is right, then expect others to do the same.

Empowerment is carrying out the culture. Leadership does not happen by force, but by giving responsibility and releasing control. In recent years, Phil doesn't have to do much teaching since Kobe has become an extension of his coach. Kobe trusts Phil and Phil believes in Kobe. The heart of leadership is developing others. Imagine a relay race. Leaders pass the "baton" and cheer on their prodigy. 

Being an "Invisible Leader" means putting others first. Plant a seed of hope. Focus on doing things the right way. Look for ways to help others shine. Invisible leaders choose to be in the background, but their followers definitely "see" and "hear" them.

How can YOU be an Invisible Leader to someone today? 

November 9, 2010

Is Conversation Becoming the Next Dinosaur?

What are the negative effects of technology? Poor relationships.

Social media and other forms of technological communication strip away the ability to have a decent face to face conversation. Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In broaden your network, but provides minimal depth of community.

Your brain sharpens with experience, so if your definition of friendship lies behind a computer screen, that becomes your context. Computers can't read emotion and facial recognition, so the more time you spend on your laptop and texting, the less socially aware and empathetic you become. 

My work is primarily with Gen Y/Millennials and what I notice is they are highly educated, but lack people skills. They've been taught instant gratification, but the problem is relationships don't work like that. We are getting closer to the days of eHarmony as the way to meet others because there's too much risk in real life dating.

Instead of getting depressed, here are some proactive ways to improve your interpersonal skills:
  • Practice having conversations with family members and friends
  • Attend networking events and focus on getting to know one or two people well
  • Invite a social media contact to grab coffee together  
Let's not let the "art of conversation" become extinct. Social media and technology is not the enemy (I'd be a hypocrite because I use them), but merely a means to an end. Don't substitute "contacts" for relationships.

Business is relationships. Your network is your net worth!

What will you do this week to build or strengthen a relationship?

November 1, 2010

How to Detox Your Mind

There are several products on the market to cleanse your body of harmful toxins, yet what if there was a way to do the same for your mind? Since your thoughts trigger feelings that initiate how you act, here are three ways to shift your negative thoughts into positive ones:

Shift: Away > Towards - In golf if there's water ahead and you tell yourself "Don't hit it in the water", you'll overcompensate and aim 50 yards clear of it. Usually it avoids the water, but still ends up being a terrible shot. Instead of telling ourselves to "stay away" from something, try "going towards" what you want. For example, instead of avoiding networking because you don't like large groups; meet up for coffee one-on-one. It's still accomplishes the goal of building your network, just at your style at pace.

Shift: Subjective > Objective - Your natural reaction is to take things personal, but what if you stepped back and looked at the big picture versus just your perspective? Simply looking at the situation from a different angle can change the way you react. Managing your emotions is a step towards maturity. 

Shift: Control > Choice - The faster you can grasp how much control you don't have, the less disappointed and frustrated you'll be. You can't control what happens to you, but you can choose how you respond to it. When things don't go your way don't dwell on what happened; figure out what you can do about it. In business, no one wants to hear complaining about problems, people want solutions. 

Detoxing your mind is ridding it of negative thoughts and replacing it with positive ones. Perspective is one of the most powerful tools for your mind. Just a slight shift in view can turn a pessimist into an optimist. Shifting your mind produces hope and hope is what we need to fuel positive change. 

How can you detox your mind this week?