Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Leading & Leadership

Leading & Leadership

Goals

Lost in the Leadership MazeYour thinking skills can be considered directional skills because they set the direction for your organization. They provide vision, purpose, and goal definition. These are your eyes and ears to the future, allowing you to recognize the need for change, when to make it, how to implement it, and how to manage it. You find vision by reaching for any available reason to change, grow, and improve. Just as you perform preventive maintenance on your car, you must perform preventive maintenance on your organization. Do NOT believe in the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," for the people who do, go broke! Treat every project as a change effort. Treat every job as a new learning experience.

End of Leadership GoalGood organizations convey a strong vision of where they will be in the future. As a leader, you have to get your people to trust you and be sold on your vision. Using the leadership tools described in this guide and being honest and fair in all you do will provide you with the ammo you need to gain their trust. To sell them on your vision, you need to possess energy and display a positive attitude that is contagious. People want a strong vision of where they are going. No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end company going nowhere...or a company headed in the wrong direction. They want to be involved with a winner! And your people are the ones who will get you to that goal. You cannot do it alone!

When setting goals, keep these points in mind:

  • They should be realistic and attainable.
  • They should improve the organization (morale, monetary, etc.).
  • All the people should be involved in the goal-setting process.
  • A program should be developed to achieve each goal.

There are four characteristics of goal setting (U.S. Army Handbook, 1973)

  • Goal Difficulty: Increasing your employees' goal difficulty increases their challenges and enhances the amount of effort expended to achieve them. The more difficult goals lead to increased performance if they seem feasible. If they seem too high, employees will give up when they fail to achieve them.
  • Goal Specificity: When given specific goals, employees tend to perform higher. Telling them to do their best or giving no guidance increases ambiguity about what is expected. Employees need a set goal or model in order to display the correct behavior.
  • Feedback: Providing feedback enhances the effects of goal setting. Performance feedback keeps their behavior directed on the right target and encourages them to work harder to achieve the goal.
  • Participation in Goal Setting: Employees who participate in the process, generally set higher goals than if the goals were set for them. It also affects their belief that the goals are obtainable and increases their motivation to achieve them.

The Six Steps of Goal Setting

Although finding a vision can be quite a creative challenge, the process of getting that vision implemented can be fairly easy if you follow the six steps of:


Vision — Goals — Objectives — Tasks — Timelines — Followup


Step 1 - Vision

The first step in setting goals and priorities is to personally develop what the organization should look like at some point in the future a vision. A junior leader, such as a supervisor or line manager, will mainly be concerned with a department, section, or small group of people. While senior leaders set the vision for the entire organization. However, both types of visions need to support the organization's goals.

The mission of the organization is crucial in determining your vision. Your vision needs to coincide with the big picture. The term “vision” suggests a mental picture of what the future organization will look like. The concept also implies a later time horizon. This time horizon tends to be mid to long term in nature, focusing normally on 2 to 7 years in the future for visions affecting the entire organization. However, leaders such as supervisors or line managers tend to have shorter time horizon visions, normally 6 months to a year.

The concept of a vision has become a popular term within academic, government, defense, and corporate circles. This has spawned many different definitions of vision. But, the vision you want should be a picture of where you want your department to be at a future date. For example, try to picture what your department would look like if it was perfect, or what the most efficient way to produce your product would look like, or perhaps if your budget was reduced by 10 percent, how you could still achieve the same quality product.

Vilfredo Pareto, a 19th century economist, theorized that most effects come from relatively few causes; that is, 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the possible causes (Juran, 1988). For example, 20 percent of the inventory items in the supply chain of an organization accounts for 80 percent of the inventory value. This is known as the Pareto principle or the 80-20 rule.

Some leaders fall into the time wasting trap of going after the 80 percent of items that only have a value of 20 percent of the total net worth. Your visions need to picture the 20 percent that will have the greatest impact on your organization. Although it is nice to have small victories every now and then by going after that easy 80 percent, spend the majority of your time focusing on the few things that will have the greatest impact. That is what a good leader does.

Once you have your vision, it needs to be framed in general, unmeasurable terms and communicated to your team. Your team then develops the ends (objectives), ways (concepts), and means (resources) to achieve the vision.

Step 2 - Goals

The second step involves establishing goals, with the active participation of the team. Goals are also stated in unmeasurable terms, but they are more focused. For example, "The organization must reduce transportation costs." This establishes the framework of the your vision.

Step 3 - Objectives

Definable objectives provide a way of measuring the movement towards vision achievement. This is the real strategy of turning visions into reality. It is the crossover mechanism between your forecast of the future and the envisioned, desired future. Objectives are stated in precise, measurable terms such as "By the end of the next quarter, the shipping department will use one parcel service for shipping items under 100 pounds and one motor carrier for shipping items over a hundred pounds." The aim is to get general ownership by the entire team.

Step 4 - Tasks

The fourth step is to determine tasks. Tasks are the means for accomplishing objectives. Tasks are concrete, measurable events that must occur. An example might be, "The transportation coordinator will obtain detailed shipping rates from at least 10 motor carriers."

Step 5 - Timelines

This step establishes a priority for the tasks. Since time is precious and many tasks must be accomplished before another can begin, establishing priorities helps your team to determine the order in which the tasks must be accomplished and by what date. For example, "The shipping rates will be obtained by May 9."

Step 6 - Followup

The final step is to followup, measure, and check to see if the team is doing what is required. This kind of leader involvement validates that the stated priorities are worthy of action. For the leader it demonstrates her commitment to see the matter through to a successful conclusion. Also, note that validating does not mean to micro-manage. Micro-management places no trust in others, where as followingup determines if the things that need to get done are in fact getting done.

Supervision for Leaders

SupervisionSupervision is keeping a grasp on the situation and ensuring that plans and policies are implemented properly (U.S. Army Handbook,1973). It includes giving instructions and inspecting the accomplishment of a task.

There is a narrow band of adequate supervision. On one side of the band is over-supervision (micro-management); and on the other side is under-supervision. Over-supervision stifles initiative, breeds resentment, and lowers morale and motivation. Under-supervision leads to miscommunication, lack of coordination, and the perception by subordinates that the leader does not care. However, all employees can benefit from appropriate supervision by seniors with more knowledge and experience who tend to see the situation more objectively.

Correct Level of Supervision

Evaluating is part of supervising. It is defined as judging the worth, quality, or significance of people, ideas, or things (U.S. Army Handbook,1973, p304). It includes looking at the ways people are accomplishing a task. It means getting feedback on how well something is being done and interpreting that feedback. People need feedback so that they can judge their performance. Without it, they will keep performing tasks wrong, or stop performing the steps that makes their work great.

Use checklists to list tasks that need to be accomplished. Almost all of us have poor memories when it comes to remembering a list of details. List tasks by priorities. For example, "A" priorities must be done today, "B" priorities must be done by tomorrow, and "C" priorities need to be followed up within a few days.

Double check on important things by following through. Strange things can happen if you are not aware of them. Paperwork gets lost, plans get changed, and people forget. If you have a system of checks and double checks, you will discover mistakes, have time to correct them, and minimize any disruptions. Following through may seem to be a waste of your time and energy, but in the long run, it pays off. You will spend less time and energy correcting mistakes and omissions made long ago.

Inspiring Your Followers

Getting people to accomplish something is much easier if they have the inspiration to do so. Inspire means "to breathe life into." And in order to perform that, we have to have some life ourselves. Three main actions will aid you in accomplishing this:

1. Be passionate: In organizations where the is a leader with great enthusiasm about a project, a trickle-down effect will occur. You must be committed to the work you are doing. If you do not communicate excitement, how can you expect your people to get worked up about it?

2. Get your followers involved in the decision making process: People who are involved in the decision making process participate much more enthusiastically than those who just carry out their leader's order. Help them contribute and tell them you value their opinions. Listen to them and incorporate their ideas when it makes sense to so.

3. Know what your organization is about!: The fundamental truth, as General Creighton W. Abrams used to say in the mid-1970s, is that “the Army is not made up of people. The Army is people. Every decision we make is a people issue.” Your organization is the same. It may make a product or sell a service, but it is still people! A leader's primary responsibility is to develop people and enable them to reach their full potential. Your people may come from diverse backgrounds, but they all have goals they want to accomplish. Create a "people environment" where they truly can be all they can be.

Training and Coaching

As a leader you must view coaching from two different viewpoints: 1) coaching to lead others and 2) being coached to achieve self-improvement.

Training and coaching are two different things, although some people use them interchangeably. Training is a structured lesson designed to provide the employee with the knowledge and skills to perform a task. Coaching, on the other hand, is a process designed to help the employee gain greater competence and to overcome barriers so as to improve job performance.

You might picture it as when you were in school. During physical education, the gym teacher (trainer) taught you how to play basketball. Next you went out for the school team. You had a basic understanding of the game and its rules, but the coach personally taught you (coaching) the finer points of the game.

Training and coaching go hand-in-hand. First you train people with lots of technical support, and then you coach them with motivational pointers.

Both training and coaching help to create the conditions that cause someone to learn and develop. People learn by the examples of others, by forming a picture in their minds of what they are trying to learn, by gaining and understanding necessary information, by applying it to their job, or practice.

Both coaching and training have a few points in common:

  • Evaluate to determine knowledge, skill, and confidence levels.
  • Define objectives that can be measured periodically. It helps to break them down into step-by-step actions.
  • Clarify direction, goals, and accountability. To foster accountability, involve the person or team in the decision making.
  • Encourage peer coaching by reminding them that everyone has a stake in each other's success.
  • Coaching is more than telling people how to do something, It involves giving advice, skill-building, creating challenges, removing performance barriers, building better processes, learning through discovery (the aha method), etc.
  • Deal with emotional obstacles by helping them through change, reviewing and pointing out ways that they hold themselves back, comforting them when they become confused, etc.
  • Give feedback by pointing and hinting towards solutions; try to stay away from critiquing errors.
  • Lead by example! demonstrate the desired behaviors.

Learning

The first condition of learning is that the person must be motivated to learn. You cannot teach knowledge or skills to people who are not motivated to learn. They must feel the need to learn what you are teaching. Most employees are motivated to do a good job. They want to be able to perform their tasks correctly. Their motivation is being able to perform their job to standards in return for a paycheck, benefits, challenges, job satisfaction, etc.

The next condition of learning is to involve them in the process. Keep their attention by actively involving their minds and emotions in the learning process. Have them participate through active practice of the skill or through discussion. You cannot keep their attention with a long lecture. Normally, people pay attention for a short time - less than 30 minutes. They need to use what is being taught or their minds will wander. If you lecture for an hour, very little will be remembered. Instead, give a brief lecture (less than 10 minutes), demonstrate, and then have them practice. Provide feedback throughout the practice period until they can do it on their own. If it is a large complicated task, then break it down into short learning steps.

The Five Points of Leadership Power

Al Capone once said that “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” However, while almost anyone can use power, it takes skill to use leadership. Leadership power is much more than the use of force. Leadership is influencing others to truly WANT to achieve a goal, while power forces others to achieve a goal.

Power refers to a capacity that a person (boss) has to influence the behavior of another so that he or she acts in accordance with the boss' wishes. This power is a capacity or potential as it implies a potential that need not be actualized to be effective. That is, a power may exist, but does not have to be used to be effective. For example, an officer in the Army has certain powers over enlisted personal, but that power does not have to used to be effective. The mere knowledge of an officer's power by an enlisted person has some influence over him or her.

A person has the potential for influencing five points of power over another (French & Raven, 1959):

Five Points of Leadership Power

  • Coercive Power — Power that is based on fear. A person with coercive power can make things difficult for people. These are the persons that you want to avoid getting angry. Employees working under coercive managers are unlikely to be committed, and more likely to resist the manager.
  • Reward Power — Compliance achieved based on the ability to distribute rewards that others view as valuable. Able to give special benefits or rewards to people. You might find it advantageous to trade favors with him or her.
  • Legitimate Power — The power a person receives as a result of his or her position in the formal hierarchy of an organization. The person has the right, considering his or her position and your job responsibilities, to expect you to comply with legitimate requests.
  • Expert Power — Influence based on special skills or knowledge. This person earns respect by experience and knowledge. Expert power is the most strongly and consistently related to effective employee performance.
  • Referent Power — Influence based on possession by an individual or desirable resources or personal traits. You like the person and enjoy doing things for him or her.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Concepts of Leadership

Concepts of Leadership
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I used to think that running an organization was equivalent to conducting a symphony orchestra. But I don't think that's quite it; it's more like jazz. There is more improvisation. — Warren Bennis

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Good leaders are made not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience (Jago, 1982). This guide will help you through that process.

To inspire your workers into higher levels of teamwork, there are certain things you must be, know, and, do. These do not come naturally, but are acquired through continual work and study. Good leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills; they are NOT resting on their laurels.

Definition of Leadership

The meaning of a message is the change which it produces in the image. — Kenneth Boulding in The Image: Knowledge in Life and Society

Before we get started, lets define leadership. Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. This definition is similar to Northouse's (2007, p3) definition — Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.

Leaders carry out this process by applying their leadership knowledge and skills. This is called Process Leadership(Jago, 1982). However, we know that we have traits that can influence our actions. This is called Trait Leadership(Jago, 1982), in that it was once common to believe that leaders were born rather than made. These two leadership types are shown in the chart below (Northouse, 2007, p5):


Trait and Process Leadership Models

While leadership is learned, the skills and knowledge processed by the leader can be influenced by his or hers attributes or traits, such as beliefs, values, ethics, and character. Knowledge and skills contribute directly to theprocess of leadership, while the other attributes give the leader certain characteristics that make him or her unique.

Skills, knowledge, and attributes make the Leader, which is one of the:

Four Factors of Leadership

There are four major factors in leadership (U.S. Army, 1983):

Leadership Factors

Leader

You must have an honest understanding of who you are, what you know, and what you can do. Also, note that it is the followers, not the leader or someone else who determines if the leader is successful. If they do not trust or lack confidence in their leader, then they will be uninspired. To be successful you have to convince your followers, not yourself or your superiors, that you are worthy of being followed.

Followers

Different people require different styles of leadership. For example, a new hire requires more supervision than an experienced employee. A person who lacks motivation requires a different approach than one with a high degree of motivation. You must know your people! The fundamental starting point is having a good understanding of human nature, such as needs, emotions, and motivation. You must come to know your employees' be, know, and doattributes.

Communication

You lead through two-way communication. Much of it is nonverbal. For instance, when you “set the example,” that communicates to your people that you would not ask them to perform anything that you would not be willing to do. What and how you communicate either builds or harms the relationship between you and your employees.

Situation

All situations are different. What you do in one situation will not always work in another. You must use your judgment to decide the best course of action and the leadership style needed for each situation. For example, you may need to confront an employee for inappropriate behavior, but if the confrontation is too late or too early, too harsh or too weak, then the results may prove ineffective.

Also note that the situation normally has a greater effect on a leader's action than his or her traits. This is because while traits may have an impressive stability over a period of time, they have little consistency across situations (Mischel, 1968). This is why a number of leadership scholars think the Process Theory of Leadership is a more accurate than the Trait Theory of Leadership.

Various forces will affect these four factors. Examples of forces are your relationship with your seniors, the skill of your followers, the informal leaders within your organization, and how your organization is organized.


Boss or Leader?

Although your position as a manager, supervisor, lead, etc. gives you the authority to accomplish certain tasks and objectives in the organization (called Assigned Leadership), this power does not make you a leader, it simply makes you the boss (Rowe, 2007). Leadership differs in that it makes the followers want to achieve high goals (calledEmergent Leadership), rather than simply bossing people around (Rowe, 2007). Thus you get Assigned Leadershipby your position and you display Emergent Leadership by influencing people to do great things.

Emergent Leadership vs. Assigned Leadership

Bass' Theory of Leadership

Bass' theory of leadership states that there are three basic ways to explain how people become leaders (Stogdill, 1989; Bass, 1990). The first two explain the leadership development for a small number of people. These theories are:

  • Some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles. This is the Trait Theory.
  • A crisis or important event may cause a person to rise to the occasion, which brings out extraordinary leadership qualities in an ordinary person. This is the Great Events Theory.
  • People can choose to become leaders. People can learn leadership skills. This is the Transformational or Process Leadership Theory. It is the most widely accepted theory today and the premise on which this guide is based.

Total Leadership

What makes a person want to follow a leader? People want to be guided by those they respect and who have a clear sense of direction. To gain respect, they must be ethical. A sense of direction is achieved by conveying a strong vision of the future.

When a person is deciding if she respects you as a leader, she does not think about your attributes, rather, she observes what you do so that she can know who you really are. She uses this observation to tell if you are an honorable and trusted leader or a self-serving person who misuses authority to look good and get promoted. Self-serving leaders are not as effective because their employees only obey them, not follow them. They succeed in many areas because they present a good image to their seniors at the expense of their workers.

Be Know Do

The basis of good leadership is honorable character and selfless service to your organization. In your employees' eyes, your leadership is everything you do that effects the organization's objectives and their well-being. Respected leaders concentrate on (U.S. Army, 1983):

  • what they are [be] (such as beliefs and character)
  • what they know (such as job, tasks, and human nature)
  • what they do (such as implementing, motivating, and providing direction).

What makes a person want to follow a leader? People want to be guided by those they respect and who have a clear sense of direction. To gain respect, they must be ethical. A sense of direction is achieved by conveying a strong vision of the future.


The Two Most Important Keys to Effective Leadership

According to a study by the Hay Group, a global management consultancy, there are 75 key components of employee satisfaction (Lamb, McKee, 2004). They found that:

  • Trust and confidence in top leadership was the single most reliable predictor of employee satisfaction in an organization.
  • Effective communication by leadership in three critical areas was the key to winning organizational trust and confidence:
    1. Helping employees understand the company's overall business strategy.
    2. Helping employees understand how they contribute to achieving key business objectives.
    3. Sharing information with employees on both how the company is doing and how an employee's own division is doing — relative to strategic business objectives.

So in a nutshell — you must be trustworthy and you have to be able to communicate with a vision of where the organization needs to go. The next section, Principles of Leadership, ties in closely with this key concept.


Principles of Leadership

To help you be, know, and do, follow these eleven principles of leadership (U.S. Army, 1983). The later chapters in this Leadership Guide expand on these principles and provide tools for implementing them:

  1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement - In order to know yourself, you have to understand your be, know, and do, attributes. Seeking self-improvement means continually strengthening your attributes. This can be accomplished through self-study, formal classes, reflection, and interacting with others.
  2. Be technically proficient - As a leader, you must know your job and have a solid familiarity with your employees' tasks.
  3. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions - Search for ways to guide your organization to new heights. And when things go wrong, they always do sooner or later — do not blame others. Analyze the situation, take corrective action, and move on to the next challenge.
  4. Make sound and timely decisions - Use good problem solving, decision making, and planning tools.
  5. Set the example - Be a good role model for your employees. They must not only hear what they are expected to do, but also see. We must become the change we want to see - Mahatma Gandhi
  6. Know your people and look out for their well-being - Know human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for your workers.
  7. Keep your workers informed - Know how to communicate with not only them, but also seniors and other key people.
  8. Develop a sense of responsibility in your workers - Help to develop good character traits that will help them carry out their professional responsibilities.
  9. Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished - Communication is the key to this responsibility.
  10. Train as a team - Although many so called leaders call their organization, department, section, etc. a team; they are not really teams...they are just a group of people doing their jobs.
  11. Use the full capabilities of your organization - By developing a team spirit, you will be able to employ your organization, department, section, etc. to its fullest capabilities.

Attributes of Leadership

If you are a leader who can be trusted, then those around you will grow to respect you. To be such a leader, there is a Leadership Framework to guide you:

BE KNOW DO

BE a professional. Examples: Be loyal to the organization, perform selfless service, take personal responsibility.

BE a professional who possess good character traits. Examples: Honesty, competence, candor, commitment, integrity, courage, straightforwardness, imagination.

KNOW the four factors of leadership — follower, leader, communication, situation.

KNOW yourself. Examples: strengths and weakness of your character, knowledge, and skills.

KNOW human nature. Examples: Human needs, emotions, and how people respond to stress.

KNOW your job. Examples: be proficient and be able to train others in their tasks.

KNOW your organization. Examples: where to go for help, its climate and culture, who the unofficial leaders are.

DO provide direction. Examples: goal setting, problem solving, decision making, planning.

DO implement. Examples: communicating, coordinating, supervising, evaluating.

DO motivate. Examples: develop morale and esprit de corps in the organization, train, coach, counsel.


Environment

Every organization has a particular work environment, which dictates to a considerable degree how its leaders respond to problems and opportunities. This is brought about by its heritage of past leaders and its present leaders.

Goals, Values, and Concepts

Leaders exert influence on the environment via three types of actions:

  1. The goals and performance standards they establish.
  2. The values they establish for the organization.
  3. The business and people concepts they establish.

Successful organizations have leaders who set high standards and goals across the entire spectrum, such as strategies, market leadership, plans, meetings and presentations, productivity, quality, and reliability.

Values reflect the concern the organization has for its employees, customers, investors, vendors, and surrounding community. These values define the manner in how business will be conducted.

Concepts define what products or services the organization will offer and the methods and processes for conducting business.

These goals, values, and concepts make up the organization's personality or how the organization is observed by both outsiders and insiders. This personality defines the roles, relationships, rewards, and rites that take place.

Roles ad Relationships

Roles are the positions that are defined by a set of expectations about behavior of any job incumbent. Each role has a set of tasks and responsibilities that may or may not be spelled out. Roles have a powerful effect on behavior for several reasons, to include money being paid for the performance of the role, there is prestige attached to a role, and a sense of accomplishment or challenge.

Relationships are determined by a role's tasks. While some tasks are performed alone, most are carried out in relationship with others. The tasks will determine who the role-holder is required to interact with, how often, and towards what end. Also, normally the greater the interaction, the greater the liking. This in turn leads to more frequent interaction. In human behavior, its hard to like someone whom we have no contact with, and we tend to seek out those we like. People tend to do what they are rewarded for, and friendship is a powerful reward. Many tasks and behaviors that are associated with a role are brought about by these relationships. That is, new task and behaviors are expected of the present role-holder because a strong relationship was developed in the past, either by that role-holder or a prior role-holder.

Culture and Climate

There are two distinct forces that dictate how to act within an organization: culture and climate.

Each organization has its own distinctive culture. It is a combination of the founders, past leadership, current leadership, crises, events, history, and size (Newstrom, Davis, 1993). This results in rites: the routines, rituals, and the “way we do things.” These rites impact individual behavior on what it takes to be in good standing (the norm) and directs the appropriate behavior for each circumstance.

The climate is the feel of the organization, the individual and shared perceptions and attitudes of the organization's members (Ivancevich, Konopaske, Matteson, 2007). While the culture is the deeply rooted nature of the organization that is a result of long-held formal and informal systems, rules, traditions, and customs; climate is a short-term phenomenon created by the current leadership. Climate represents the beliefs about the “feel of the organization” by its members. This individual perception of the “feel of the organization” comes from what the people believe about the activities that occur in the organization. These activities influence both individual and team motivation and satisfaction, such as:

  • How well does the leader clarify the priorities and goals of the organization? What is expected of us?
  • What is the system of recognition, rewards, and punishments in the organization?
  • How competent are the leaders?
  • Are leaders free to make decisions?
  • What will happen if I make a mistake?

Organizational climate is directly related to the leadership and management style of the leader, based on the values, attributes, skills, and actions, as well as the priorities of the leader. Compare this to “ethical climate” — the feel of the organization about the activities that have ethical content or those aspects of the work environment that constitute ethical behavior. The ethical climate is the feel about whether we do things right; or the feel of whether we behave the way we ought to behave. The behavior (character) of the leader is the most important factor that impacts the climate.

On the other hand, culture is a long-term, complex phenomenon. Culture represents the shared expectations and self-image of the organization. The mature values that create tradition or the “way we do things here.” Things are done differently in every organization. The collective vision and common folklore that define the institution are a reflection of culture. Individual leaders, cannot easily create or change culture because culture is a part of the organization. Culture influences the characteristics of the climate by its effect on the actions and thought processes of the leader. But, everything you do as a leader will affect the climate of the organization.

The Process of Great Leadership

The road to great leadership (Kouzes & Posner, 1987) that is common to successful leaders:

  • Challenge the process - First, find a process that you believe needs to be improved the most.
  • Inspire a shared vision - Next, share your vision in words that can be understood by your followers.
  • Enable others to act - Give them the tools and methods to solve the problem.
  • Model the way - When the process gets tough, get your hands dirty. A boss tells others what to do, a leader shows that it can be done.
  • Encourage the heart - Share the glory with your followers' hearts, while keeping the pains within your own.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Are You Humble?

Today, I’d like to talk about the old-fashioned virtue of humility.

God’s big message for you today?

Stay empty.

Let me start with a story.

One day, a bus driver was driving a bunch of seniors—people in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. They called themselves Club 20. Because they got 20% discounts in restaurants and drugstores.

Soon, the little old lady in the front row tapped his shoulder and gave him a big bag of peanuts. And the driver ate them.

Ten minutes later, she handed him another big bag of peanuts. And munched all of them again.

Ten minutes later, the old lady gave him another bag of peanuts.

The driver said, “Thank you! They’re delicious. But I’ve had enough. I finished two big bags of peanuts.”

The old lady said, “Oh, I didn’t want you eat them, I just wanted you to throw them away for us.”

“Throw them away?” the driver asked, “Why don’t you eat them?”

“All of us don’t have teeth anymore.”

“So why do you buy them?” he asked.

She said, “Oh, we like the chocolate around them, and after sucking them, we throw away the peanuts.”

Removing The Confusion From Humility

Humility confuses a lot of people because it’s just like the chocolate covered peanut. We’ve mixed humility with other stuff that doesn’t belong to humility.

We need to remove the chocolate.

I remember a classmate who was a very shy person.

We called her Isabel the Invisible.

She was so shy and so quiet, we sometimes forgot she existed. The only reason we knew she was still alive was at the start of the class—when the teacher called her name during roll call. “Isabel” the teacher would say, and we’d see her raise her hand just slightly so. After that, she’d blend into the grey walls of the classroom and vanish.

And when we did see her, her hair covered half of her face, so we really didn’t know how she looked like.

But if you read our Yearbook, you’d see a description beneath her Photo: “Isabel is a very humble person.”

Why? People confuse humility with timidity.

But they’re worlds apart.

Timidity is matter of personality, or insecurity, or cowardice, or selfishness. But it isn’t humility.

In fact, you can be humble and confident at the same time.

Yes, you can be humble and aggressive at the same time!

How do I know?

The Bible calls Moses the most humble man on earth (See Numbers 12:1). And yet this “most humble” man challenged Pharaoh and told the guy, “Let my people go!” If that’s not aggressiveness, I don’t know what is!

So What Is Humility?

Humility is a multi-faceted jewel.

But all these facets point to one thing: Being empty.

I believe this emptiness has three distinct expressions…

o A Humble Person is a Seeker

o A Humble Person is a Student

o A Humble Person is a Servant

1. A Humble Person Is A Seeker

I love sharing this story.

One day, a young monk visited an older monk and asked, “Master, what is the secret of humility?”

The older monk said, “Let’s take a walk…”

The two men walked down to the river.

The older monk led the younger monk in the water. When the river reached their chests, without warning, the older monk held the head of the younger monk, and dunked him into the water!

The younger monk struggled, his arms splashing wildly, but the older monk held his head under the water.

When the younger man was almost blacking out, an inch away from death, the older monk pulled him up—and the young monk sucked in air like he was an industrial vacuum cleaner.

In between breaths, he asked in a frantic voice, “Why the heck did you do that for?”

The older man smiled and said, “The secret of humility is to seek for God the way you’re seeking for oxygen now.”

I repeat: Humility is being empty.

Humility is being desperate that God fill you up.

When You Don’t Know The Solution

I know a young guy who doesn’t like Math.

So everytime he takes a Math exam, he prays a lot.

During the exam, when he knows the solution to the Math problem, he says, “Lord, this is mine. I’ll take care of this…”

But when he doesn’t know the answer, he says, “Lord, it’s your turn to solve this problem…”

I believe Life is a giant exam.

Some problems you face are easy because you know the solutions.

But sometimes, life throws you a problem you don’t know how to solve. And that’s when you pray, “Lord, it’s your turn to solve this problem…”

When you have a problem you can’t solve, you become humble. You’re forced to be empty. And empty is good.

Because you have more space for blessings.

And then the second expression of humility is being teachable…

2. A Humble Person Is A Student

Have you ever wondered?

Why is it that the biggest athletes of the world still follow coaches? Golfing wonder Tiger Woods is coached by a “swing” coach named Sean Foley. Best Boxer in the world Manny Pacquiao has a coach named Freddie Roach and a fitness coach named Alex Ariza. Tennis Champ Rafael Nadal is coached by his uncle Toni Nadal.

Think about it.

These guys are already the greatest in their sport.

You’d think that after receiving a warehouse of trophies, they already knew everything there is to know about their sport.

Right?

Wrong.

And who are those that don’t have coaches?

Those who aren’t very good.

Why?

The more you know, the more you know that you don’t know. And the more you succeed, the more humble you should be.

The day a successful person stops being humble is the day he prepares for his downfall.

Success Can Only Come From Humility

Humility is being empty.

The moment you think you’re full, there’ll be no space for anything new.

I’m reading a business book now.

The title is Seduced By Success.

It talks about how many giant companies that have tasted phenomenal success become utter failures in the next decade.

Reason? Complacency.

They get seduced by their success.

In other words?

They lost their humility.

Get A Mentor

Perhaps you can achieve some success without a mentor. But I believe you can’t achieve high-level, enduring, fantastic success without a mentor.

Look in the Bible and you’ll see mentoring.

Samuel mentored David.

Naomi mentored Ruth.

Paul mentored Timothy.

Moses mentored Joshua.

And at one point in his life, Moses was mentored by Jethro, his father-in-law.

I found this amazing.

If you’re Moses, why listen to anybody?

Especially a non-Israelite, a priest of Midian at that?

Jethro didn’t even belong to the same religion.

But that’s why the Bible calls Moses the most humble man on earth.

Moses could have said, “Jethro, how dare you give advice to me? I’m the guy who met God face-to-face in the Burning Bush. I’m the guy who carried the tablets of the Ten Commandments in his arms. I’m the guy who led the slaves out of Egypt. I’m the guy who divided the Red Sea and drowned the chariots of Pharaoh. I’m The Guy!”

But Moses said no such thing.

He was humble.

He was a student.

He was willing to learn from anyone God would send to him.

Take Your Shortcut To Success

One day, two women came up to me and asked me, “Bo, why are you so successful in different areas of your life? You’ve got a great family, your finances are doing well, and you’re so handsome and good-looking…”

I told those two women, “Thanks Mom. Thanks Sweetheart.”

Just kidding.

All my success comes from God’s Mercy.

No other reason.

And God’s Mercy sometimes comes in a form of Mentors.

I have a Mentor for every area of my life!

I have mentors for my family life. These are people with beautiful marriages. People who are fantastic parents to their kids.

I have mentors for my spiritual life. These are people who are the most loving human beings on the planet.

I have mentors for my businesses and investments. These are billionaires and multimillionaires who love God with their wealth.

I have mentors for my health. These are holistic healers who have the gift of healing.

I have mentors for my ministry work. These are bishops, priests, and pastors who lead their flock with deep love and great effectiveness.

Believe me, I can’t imagine myself going through life without mentors.

If You Don’t Have Mentors,

You Miss A Lot!

Don’t miss on a truckload of blessings.

Your marriage could be so much better if you had a Family Mentor. Your finances could be so much better if you had a Financial Mentor. Your health could be so much better if you had a Health Mentor. Your soul could be so much better if you had a Spiritual Mentor.

A humble person sees God in every person.

A humble person is slow to judge.

A humble person focuses on the strengths of each person (not on his weaknesses) and learns from those strengths.

Open Your Eyes

I believe God has already sent you Mentors.

God has pre-arranged special people in your life to inspire you, challenge you, teach you, and train you.

Some of these Mentors are right beside you. You can call them. You can have lunch with them.

Some of these Mentors aren’t beside you, but their words are available to you through books, talks, and seminars.

But many times, you don’t recognize a Mentor God has sent into our life. Perhaps because like Jethro, Mentors can come wearing a different uniform.

Goodness, some Mentors don’t even look like a Mentor.

If you’ll be empty enough and humble enough, you’ll be surprised at the Mentors God will send to you.

Here’s my point: My life is so much richer because I’ve stayed empty. And I’m willing to learn from anyone whom God sends towards my direction.

In fact, in the Bible, God used a donkey to speak His word (See Numbers 22). That’s why preachers like me should never be proud. His standards are very low!

Get A Mentor

Getting a mentor is the shortcut to success!

Come to the Feast every week and listen to God’s Word.

Read books.

Attend seminars.

Pursue friendships with wise people.

Listen to the stories of ordinary people around you.

Finally, humility has a third expression…

3. A Humble Person Is A Servant

Some people also confuse humility with low self-worth.

Hey, I’m a world-renowned expert in low self-worth.

I was afflicted with it for 20 years.

I hated myself.

I felt I was ugly, ungifted, and unlovable.

Believe me when I say this: Low self-worth has nothing to do with humility.

Low self-worth is a virus.

Humility is a virtue.

Low self-worth is thinking of yourself in a small way.

Humility is not thinking of yourself at all, period.

Why? Because you’re thinking of others more.

The Bible says, be humble towards one another, always considering others better than yourselves.(Philippians 2:3)

In other words, a humble person sees every human being as a child of God and is worthy of his service.

Humility is not only being empty.

Humility is emptying oneself by pouring ourselves to others.

I won’t elaborate this third expression of humility because this is selflessness and kindness—and we talked about this already.

Let me end with one last story.

Will You Trust?

One day, a mountaineer was going up a very high mountain.

He was so proud, he was climbing all by himself.

It was very dangerous to climb up a snowy mountain all alone, but he was so proud, he believed he didn’t need anyone.

By nightfall, common sense dictated that he set up camp. But he kept climbing because he wanted to reach the summit quickly.

But in his exhaustion, his foot slipped.

And he found himself free falling through the air. He closed his eyes and saw flashbacks of his life.

All of a sudden, he felt a jolt—and violent pull around his waist. The rope tied around his belt saved him!

In total darkness, he was now hanging onto his rope.

And he shouted, “God, if you’re up there, save me!”

Suddenly, he heard a voice say, “If you believe that I can save you, do what I tell you to do…”

He answered, “What should I do?”

The voice said, “Cut your rope.”
“Wha…what?” he said.

“Cut the rope and let go,” the voice said.

After a few moments, he shouted again, “Is there anyone else up there?”

The next day, mountain climbers saw his limp body, hanging by the rope, frozen to death. The curious thing about what they saw? He was hanging only 2 feet from the ground.

He was a proud person, even until his death.

Many people are like that: They trust in their rope more than in their God. They trust in their money, in their abilities, in their connections, in their intelligence more than in their God.

Will you trust God today for the problems that you don’t know how to solve?

The rope symbolizes your pride.

Cut the rope and let go.

Trust in God.

Stay empty. Stay humble.

And receive all that God has promised for you.

One Last Story: The Last Humiliation

A few days ago, my neighbor died.

He was 80 years old.

Two days ago, I visited his wake.

As I viewed the coffin, I was struck by one fact I never realized before: The old man had a large mole at the side of his chin.

Exactly like my mole.

In exactly the same place!

And in an eerie sort of way, I felt was looking at myself in a coffin.

It sent shivers down my spine.

I felt God was telling me, “One day, it’ll be your turn to be in that box.”

I realized that death is the last humiliation.

No matter how much money, or achievements, or successes we gain on earth—we’ll be humbled by death—and we’ll be empty again.

Pride is useless.

I’m choosing to be humble.

Everyday.

May your dreams come true,

Bo Sanchez