Leadership vs Position

Many people assume leadership comes from the position a person holds. The reality is, great leaders are able to lead regardless of whether they are in a position of leadership or not.

An example of this incorrect assumption would be on a high school sports team. Players want to be named “captain” so they can be in a position of leadership. Whether the captain’s are chosen by team vote (at which point it’s typically a popularity contest), or the coach assigns the captain (at which point it’s usually the best player assigned to be captain), this does not make the person (or people) named captain a leader.

Looking back in history, there are numerous examples of great leaders who led without being in a position of leadership. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was a tremendous leader long before he was in a position of leadership. While he was the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he didn’t receive his ability to lead from that position, if anything, his ability to lead gave that position power. Dr King didn’t wait for someone to bestow him a position, he went out and led based on his individual qualities, beliefs and abilities.

Mother Teresa led through willpower, example, belief and dedication NOT through the power given to her by someone else.

George Washington didn’t become a leader when he became the first President, he became the first President BECAUSE of his ability to lead.

Are you waiting to be put in a position of leadership or are you being a leader on your own?

Have a great day!


No Experience Necessary

One of the biggest complaints young people have when they are applying for a job is the job description says “experience necessary” but how can they get experience if no one will give them their first chance.

The real question shouldn’t be whether the employer should be willing to change their rules to give someone a first chance but rather, whether experience is a good thing all the time.

If I need a doctor to operate on me, there is no doubt I want one with good experience. However, if I’m hiring a front desk clerk for a hotel, or a server at a restaurant, I’m thinking there are many other qualities that are much more important than experience.

Do they have a good personality? Do they have the intellect to do the job?

There are various types of assessments that can be done (emotional assessments etc) but my preference is to meet the person and see whether they seem like a good fit. You can still check references and job histories but keep in mind, companies are quite reluctant to say anything other than to confirm someone worked there and the time period.

Rather than trying to find a person with the experience from a similar job, wouldn’t it make more sense to find someone with the ability to do the job and then provide them with the proper training.

It’s important to remember that if a person has experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good experience. Experience usually simply means they already have habits so while you wont have to help them develop these habits, you might have to break them of their bad habits and help them develop good ones.

Successful organizations provide training for their employees. For some people that would be retraining and for others it would be initial training. Given a preference, I would rather have an employee with a great upside yet limited experience who could be trained properly as opposed to someone whose sole qualifications is that they have experience with no guarantee the experience is good experience.

Providing proper training can be much more valuable than finding someone with experience. However, it does require being able to provide training for your employees. The obvious question is, if you can’t provide proper training for your employees, should you be hiring in the first place?

Have a great day!


Not everyone wants to be a leader

One of the mistakes many managers make is to try to force people into a leadership position when it’s not something they want.

Leaders frequently assume everyone wants to be leaders but the reality is, some people are perfectly content being a follower and doing their job as well as they can.

Even people with excellent leadership qualities might not want to be leaders and forcing them to do so will only result in losing excellent followers (and without followers, who would leaders lead?).

Never force leadership on others but rather, help those who want to be leaders and have the qualities to be leaders achieve their goals.

Forcing people to do things they don’t want to do will make them unhappy as well as making those around them unhappy.

Have a great day!


Learn, then Do, then Teach

Sharing is a great way to help others as well as helping yourself.

The progression to follow is actually quite simple, learn then do, then teach.

First a person would learn how to do something (sometimes by trial and error and other times through more formal education) and then, once they learn how to do it, they proceed to do it. This could be a case of a soccer player having been taught by a coach to how to shoot or it could be an HR employee learning how to process applications.

The next step is for them to apply what they have learned. Examples would be the soccer player shooting when the opportunity arises in a game or the HR person processing applications.

Unfortunately, this is as far as many organizations ever go.

The next step is to share this knowledge with others. In this case, sharing would be teaching someone else how to shoot or what to do as applications arrive.

Not only does this type of sharing/teaching help others but it’s also is a great way for the new teacher to get a better understanding of the process. A month ago, I was representing a company in a meeting where an organization was making a presentation regarding the services they offered. Rather than having the VP make the whole presentation, they had part of the presentation done by a relatively new employee who was making his first presentation. While he did an excellent job with his presentation, a more experienced person might have been more polished. However, this was part of his education process and will help make him a better employee. For a soccer player who has learned how to shoot and is able to shoot in a game, the next step might be to help coach younger players on shooting. Not only does this help the younger players (the sharing) but it also will make the older player think more about the technique which will eventually make them a better player.

Create opportunities to learn, then do, then teach and you are others will continue to grow

Have a great day!


Plan then Act then Evaluate

One of the things people are regularly being encouraged to do is “take action”.

While there is no doubt that some people have to step and up and, as NIKE would say ‘Just Do It!’, to be successful, it takes much more than this.

Before ‘taking action’, you would want to plan. Those who plan before taking action (without over planning which can result in analysis paralysis) are most likely going to be more successful than those who simply take action.

The next step after planning and then taking action is to evaluate. The evaluation stage allows you to learn from what you have done, whether it’s how to repeat and build upon what you have done well or to correct what didn’t work. If you do not incorporate the evaluation stage, you will not grow since you will not be learning from previous experiences.

The people who use all three phases frequently do it in a linear way:

Plan then Act then Evaluate.

However, it’s important to think of this as more of a circular process where you:

Plan then Act then Evaluate then Plan then Act then Evaluate etc

Your planning should be based on previous evaluation so this is a constantly evolving process rather than simply a linear one.

Learn from previous actions, plan to improve on future actions and continue to grow as a person!

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Have a great day!