Leaders are not dealers in hope

Leadership

One of my Twitter followers shared a quote the other day by Napoleon Bonaparte that says,  “Leaders are dealers in hope.” It even had a nice picture with it.  I thought quite a bit on that quote and I have to respectfully disagree.  Leaders are actually not dealers in hope at all. 

Hope can be defined as wishful thinking.  A feeling or an expectation of a desired outcome.  Though the idea sounds good, it can be quite dangerous to give someone hope when there is no data to back it up.  It can also be a hinderance when you hope someone gets something done and then they don’t do it. 

Hope involves too many what ifs.  You wouldn’t lead your team with what ifs, would you?  I wouldn’t. 

Risk is similar to hope.  It’s an uncertainty, but risk can typically be measured.  Hope is not measurable. 

As I was reading The Culture Engine by S. Chris Edmonds, I came across a few quotes that I felt are powerful. 

“Hope is not a sustainable strategy.” – S. Chris Edmonds, The Culture Engine

We can’t create a strategy with hope as our driving fuel.  We don’t have the time, resources, or manpower to take chances on such outcomes.  Putting your strategy on hope is foolish and a gamble.  Leaders do not gamble outcomes nor do they gamble their team’s future.  People are too valuable for wishful thinking or planning. 

“Make the goal expectations specific, measurable and trackable.” – S. Chris Edmonds, The Culture Engine

Leaders do, however deal with goal expectations that are specific, measurable and trackable for the positive growth of their team, organization and culture.  Don’t give your team a false sense of outcomes.  We need to give them clear visions(goals).  If you gave someone hope and that hope didn’t play out like you expected, what would that do to the trust they have in you?  Give people visions(goals) that are reachable and realistic in order to help them be better, do better and know better.  At least that way, if things fail, the path is trackable to know where things went wrong. 

5 Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs

Ideas, Innovation, Leadership, Organization

Ask any person walking with a cell phone who Steve Jobs is and they’ll tell you.  They wait in line for hours to buy the next IPhone.  They hear smartphone and IPhone is the image that comes to mind.  Steve Jobs left the world with a product that is now a part of every day life.  

Most people are aware of his innovative approach to technology, business and how he made people better.  I find Steve Jobs to be one of those most influential, inspiring and innovative people in this generation.  I have listened to Steve Job’s Crazy Ones speech at least 500 times.  It gives me purpose.  It inspires me.  It opens possibilities that we are all better than we allow ourselves to be.  

As a leadership enthusiast, I want to point out some of my favorite quotes from Jobs that have inspired me to be a better leader.  We need to understand that Steve wasn’t just a brilliant innovator, but he was also a leader.  

“What leadership is is having a vision and being able to articulate that so that the people around you can understand it.” – Steve Jobs

If anyone is going to make that first step into leading, they MUST have vision.  Leaders must know where they’re taking their team.  Leading people implies we are going somewhere.  Leading implies we have a goal/objective to accomplish.  Leaders must create a vision to accomplish that goal.  Call it a plan, a path, an idea, but communicate it in such a way that your team can see what you see.  Communicate that vision clearly, concise and easy enough for their followers/team to understand. It’s one thing to know, it’s another to understand.  When we understand things, we get the full spectrum of what it is we’re about to do.  Thus, a leader must paint a vision so that their team can see it too.  

“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.” – Steve Jobs

Leaders invest in people.  That’s what they do naturally.  They make people better.  Steve Jobs nails it.  A leader’s job isn’t to be easy on people, it’s to make them better.  If we’re going to invest in people, let’s make it count for them.  A leader must be honest with their team.  If a team member needs a wake up call, hold them accountable to the values and standards that are set in place.  It’s a leader’s job to coach, mentor and guide their team members to not only be better, but do better and know better.  Don’t forget that a leader focuses on people.  They are in a way, our soul purpose for being a leader.  We don’t just want to make them better, but also want to make them leaders.  

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” – Steve Jobs

Leaders want to know that what they’re doing is working.  They want to know that their leadership is effective.  They want to know that their vision is being carried out and that progress is being made.  There is only one way to check how you and your team is doing and that’s by stopping to assess where the team is and how they have been performing.  You can’t look forward to see that, you must look behind you to see how far the team has gone.  Looking back provides an opportunity to grow from your experience, the failure, the perseverance, the challenges you’ve faced and so on. It’s important that we look back to connect the dots, but don’t forget that more dots need to be made.  Don’t focus too much on the past, but look to the future.  Leading is about where we’re going, but we must learn and progress from where we’ve been.  

“Be a yardstick of quality.  Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs

Think from the follower’s perspective.  Followers want amazing leaders leading them. Leaders must be that quality that followers are looking for.  I’ll say this in the nicest way, but followers don’t need a half-ass leader.  They need someone who is of the utmost quality.  The quality of the leaders depends on the follower’s development, progress and effectiveness.  Leaders will always have a high standards of excellence for their team and their work environment.  A leader cares about how things are done.  They expect high quality results.  They expect high quality performance.  As a follower, be selective on who you follow.  Who you follow is not only important for the objectives and goals, but also important for the followers.  A leader will raise the bar for the benefit of their followers. They see your potential and will ensure that you are growing to meet it. 

“Innovation distinguishes between and leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs 

This may be one of those most recognized quotes from Steve Jobs.  Some people have yet to understand the correlation between innovation and leadership, but it’s quite simple.  Innovation isn’t just an action, but being innovative is seeing outside the box.  Like innovators, leaders also see outside the box. Leadership and innovation are actions of a decision to not accept the normality of how people and products are grown. Leaders see around corners in ways that others don’t see.  They are strategic, they are creative, they are risk takers and they certainly don’t fear failure. It’s very important for leaders to see things in ways other people don’t.  A leader isn’t a leader because they have all the answers; a leader is a leader because if they don’t know an answer, they find or create their own solution to any challenge or issue. 

4 Leadership Lessons From A 4 Year Old Playing Angry Birds Stella

Ideas, Leadership, Organization

Millions of people have played the game. Millions of people continue to play the game. I’m not one of those people. I have nothing against games and I have nothing against people who play them. I just choose not to play them. I know there can be benefits of playing games and they are more than just entertainment. It’s up to the people to figure out what. Depending the game, they can be a very educational element.

My daughter, Holly plays it! Angry Birds! My 4 year old is savvier on how to play it than I. Is that a bad thing? Most people may think that allowing young children to play games such as this is killing the engagement they have with real books and real games. There may be some truth to that, but as a parent, I’d never let that happen. My daughter has tons of books and she loves it when we buy more. She even likes comics!! And as a geeky parent, it makes me happy.

She has the Angry Birds Stella version. It’s suited for females, but for all. This version is basically a post cursor to the Angry Birds series. Stella, the main character has a few other friends in the game and each one has a specific skill in knocking out those pesky pigs. I won’t go into too much of the game because this lesson isn’t completely about the game; it’s about what my daughter taught me while she was playing the game.

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After traveling in a car for 3 hours, followed by a 2 hour flight, a 30 minute drive back home, and a quick trip to the book store to end the day, Holly grabbed her tablet and began playing Angry Birds Stella while I sat right next to her reading a book. Every few moments Holly would ask me to watch her play and I did. At one level she asked if I wanted to play. Even though, I don’t play the game, I know what the objective is. I shot the first bird, hit a few targets and then came to the point where I had to actually think how to knock out the rest. I shot my last bird, I failed! Holly said, “Let me show you how to do it.” Holly took a turn at the level again and she got past the point I couldn’t pass…and thus she reminded me of a few great lessons.

How did Holly show up her Daddy on this game? As the game has 5 bird characters each with a unique skill, we’ll call these 5 birds Holly’s team. Holly knew their skills and understood what each bird was capable of doing. She beat me, it, because she knew how to utilize the talent of her teammates. What I failed to do was utilize the right player. This level required the use of all team members, but at a specific time. Holly taught me that a leader must know the capabilities, skills, limits and understand what team member is best to complete the play. Collectively, the team can complete the goal, mission or task. Leaders know the limitations and capabilities of their team.

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On another note, she taught me that before you play the game, you must know how to play the game. I didn’t really know how to play the game; I just knew the overall objective. In this, you had to know specifically the mission or goal at hand. As a leader, you must know what you’re about to tackle especially with a team with various skills and talents. Leaders know the mission!

Like I mentioned, I knew the idea of the game, but Holly knew strategy. I didn’t have a strategy; I just took an attempt at slingshoting birds to ‘try’ to beat it. She knew which characters to use at certain times and as a result, she didn’t run out of birds to complete the level. I used up every one of them and still failed the level. The more information you have the better chance you have at accomplishing tasks, goals and the mission. Leaders must know strategy and must have a plan in place.

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Above all, at 4 years old, she taught me that even the people you’re leading can teach you a thing or two. It’s best to use any situation as a time to learn. Leaders learn from their followers, a lesson that I learned recently when a buddy of mine sent me, “If you’re not learning from your followers, you’re not leading.” It’s true. Leaders must trust that they do not know everything and that at times you may be the one who knows the least.

These lessons aren’t completely new to me or others, but the fact that a 4 year old could teach such lessons, it makes her Daddy proud, very proud. I challenge anyone to pay more attention to the younger generation, they’re teaching us things and they don’t even know it.

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Thank you, Holly for teaching Daddy a few leadership lessons!!