“Well-rounded leaders have Compassion and make significant use of it in their mission to grow and develop others”

My “Meme” (grandmother) passed away on Saturday and over the last couple of days our family has been together.   During that time there were not too many sad moments other than the visitation and the actual funeral.  Instead, much of the time was spent by everyone sharing stories about Meme.   My cousin told a story about me and meme;  When I was about 4 years old, we were all at the beach, and back then our entire family (13 people) would stay at our family beach house on St. George Island, FL just about every weekend.  One day I brought a toy dump truck into the house, which was of course full of sand.  My grandmother was always very strict about taking your shoes off and not brining any sand in with you.   I forgot on this day.   She got on to me pretty good and I put my head down, walked out, and did not drop one grit of sand while removing the dump truck from the house.  An hour later she asked my brother and cousins where I was.  They said, “Meme, Donny is still under the house crying because you yelled at him”.  Evidently that broke her heart and she thought of me as the “sensitive one” from then on.  She also treated me differently after that event, and it was a special bond between us – just as she had unique connections with the other grandchildren.  

No one is perfect, and the majority of people pick out the imperfections in others first and use them as pivotal points to feel better about themselves, rather than focusing on the great things that can boost others’ self-confidence, motivate them, and make them an even better person. Leaders choose to do the latter.  

Because of how my grandmother cared for me, and how she treated me differently, I was surely impacted in a positive way.  Had she not been compassionate, chances are that I would not understand the need to be so myself.   In many ways, grandmothers and grandfathers are natural leaders in that they focus on making their grandchildren better.   My meme succeeded and she will be missed greatly.

“We must take time to convey our appreciation for those who are/have been our mentors”

Recognize that they have done so because they care about you.   Being a mentor is a choice, and they made the choice because they wanted to help you.   Who are they? Those who have impacted your growth and development;  those who have had an effect on the way you think;  those that inspire you personally or professionally; and especially those that have motivated you to be a leader in your own right.  Take the time to thank these folks and let them know how much you appreciate them.  Let them know that you are different because of them – that they have made a difference.  Since there is rarely instant gratification in mentoring others, there is nothing more satisfying to a mentor than knowing that they actually made a difference.  They will be proud.  Let’s let them know!

Oh, and do it today so it is not lost in the pile of all your other leadership duties.

“Leaders own the process/plan and any bad results. The team owns the good results”

In regards to owning the process/plan, nothing starts and nothing changes without someone leading.   A vision has to be present, then a plan/process, and then the team must be sold on why it makes sense.  Smart teams do not buy-in to bad plans/processes.  In fact, when a leader feels that the team is not behind the plan there is one of two things wrong.  Either the plan stinks, or the team has been too mired down in what they are doing to be receptive to change.    Regardless, pessimistic reactions should be paid attention to, and the best thing to do when this happens is to get 2nd and 3rd opinions from other leaders that have been faced with similar issues.  Then it is time to adjust and move forward.

As a rule about results, the team always owns the good and we own the bad.   We always own the bad because we have the authority to change anything about the process/plan along the way, and if the results are poor it is because we did not do our job in changing the necessary inputs (people/process/plan).   If the results are good, it is a result of buy-in, and awesome execution by our teams.   Without the team executing, any plan/process is dead on arrival.  They deserve all the credit for winning.   Leaders are also part of the team of course, and do need to take some credit because teams like to see their leaders excited as well. We just cannot get too caught up in it because there is always another plan waiting to be formulated/executed, and it is our job to continuously drive the growth and development process.

One thing we must remember is that there are no excuses at the Leadership level.  For example, one cannot say they have a bad team if they are the ones in control of who is on the team, and one cannot say they had a bad plan to work with, if the plan was their creative and unrestricted work.   These are excuses that are not really allowed in Leadership.  We of course make mistakes, and when we do, we admit them as soon as possible so that we can change directions and turn the momentum in a positive direction.

“Just showing up means nothing”

Titles and rank do not make us the highest performers, the best leaders, or the most respected people in our organization.  Therefore, to “just show up” actually means less than nothing – it actually has a negative impact on the organization, and on the growth of ourselves and everyone around us.  Here are two examples of just showing up: 

Example 1:  A person starts a new business and at the end of the first year they realize they have lost money.   Their passion starts to fade because they thought being their own boss would be easier and that it would most definitely lead to more flexibility and more success.  In their career before, they were successful because they planned, they went the extra mile, and they had complete focus.   In their new business, they showed up for work everyday but did not do any of the extra things that a successful entrepreneur would do, such as networking, planning, seeking out mentors, and working harder than they ever had before.  Instead, they just showed up.

Example 2:  One of our top sales people inspired me to use this as an example because he did the same in a weekly sales note he sends out – Two sales people from different companies are attending the same conference, where they will be managing a booth space and meeting new prospects.   Salesperson A shows up early, secures the best booth space, networks with the people managing the association (positioning for a speaking engagement the following year), scoping out the competition, etc.   During the conference they make sure to be where the attendees are, so if the attendees are on break it is time to work the booth, and if they are in class that is where salesperson A will be.  At night, salesperson A goes to the networking events and the hospitality event – heck they may even ride a mechanical bull or do karaoke in the right setting.   Now switch to Salesperson B.  They show up late to set up for the conference.   Their booth is not there because coordination was bad with the home office.  They get the worst booth space, and miss the entire first day of exhibiting.  They do not show up for any of the networking events in the evening, and once their booth is set up on the second day, it is typical to find them there reading a book when the attendees are in class, rather than being where the attendees are, or making follow-up calls to other prospects.  Salesperson B did not “just show up”, they barely showed up.

We know that success requires much more than just showing up.    We also know that there are many “small things” (which really are not small in importance) that we must do to be great leaders.   So besides being successful as an individual, to be a good leader means we have to care about others.  We have to genuinely care and more importantly, we have to show it.   This does not mean we have to go around hugging everyone and telling them how much we love them.   There are very simple things that we should pay attention to, such as smiling, being pleasant, making it a point to know and care more about others than what they do at work, keeping our door open as much as possible, understanding what motivates others, and doing things that make our organization respectable and an enjoyable place to work.

Leadership requires two things.   Prior and consistent success (being a good and respectable example for others), and genuinely caring about others, their success, and doing all the “small things” to create and maintain an atmosphere all are proud to be a part of.