Friday’s Wisdom: Awareness

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Tuesday’s Wisdom: It’s Not About You

Leadership is not about You. Your special talents and gifts are not about You. Your Life is not about You nor is it for You. Your life and your purpose is to be serving other beings – sharing of all your talents – for a greater good. It’s all about service.

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Do you know “The Almighty GodManager”?

Throughout my career I’ve coached and worked with countless of senior executives who seemed to think they were working in a “perfect” organization – “perfect” or blessed, simply because they were the ones “leading” it. The Almighty GodManager if you wish. I am confident that you too have come across one or many of these managers who are self-proclaimed “leaders” wanting to be in charge of everything yet sadly ends up untitled leading – or even managing – nothing. We recognize them by the way they keep their disillusioned feeling of power close to home, not uncommonly at the organizational level where they currently are at. When working with some of the organization’s strategical questions they are the ones setting the organization’s vision and goals and it is they whom decided when the goals are fulfilled.

Needless to say these individuals find themselves working upstream a lot, often huffing and puffing about their overwhelmed sense of “important tasks to do” as they feel the urge to do “everything  by themselves” – after all, they are the ones “running the show”… The chosen one. Except they are not. Not really. No, let me rephrase that…not at all.  Their employees are most likely  working harder. In trying to figure out where the organization is heading and what their own part really is in the organizational big picture. Meanwhile they are also huffing and puffing about their huge work load, with no time to help a colleague yet not at all willing to give up any of their enormous amount of tasks to anyone else. At first sight it looks like a busy well run organization – it has to be since everyone is working so extremely hard, right? But at a deeper look you’ll see nothing but chaos with everyone being busy doing nothing remotely productive for the organization. Dollars ticking away for no reason and only because of the one at the top of the organizational chai – a very high price not only for the customers but also for all the stakeholders, including the employees, the shareholders, the community and in the end, the nation.

So what can we do about it? I’d say, many things. We know that in successful organizations leaders live and breathe the company vision. A vision that is created  by the entire organization – created from bottom up, not the other way around. These leaders undoubtedly supports the imagesCA9RY216implementation of the vision by encouraging their employees to put focus on specific and powerful goals. In doing so, they are creating an energetic value-based environment where their employees are empowered to creatively take part in the overhead strategic plans as they work towards the fulfillment of the vision. It’s natural, in order for your vision to manifest you first need to make sure your employees feel ownership of it and it’s fulfillment.

But that’s not it. Apart from involving your employees in the process of setting your organization’s vision you also need to let them participate in setting the organization’s goals – goals that are perceived by your employees as meaningful. Your goals need to be challenging enough for your employees to step up yet not so unrealistic that they feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of it, clear so that they are easy to understand for everyone, time-specified so that everyone knows when they are to be fully implemented, measurable so that you – and your employees – will know when they actually are reached and few for the purpose of maintaining focus. Secondly you need to ensure that you employees understand the connection between their actions – their de facto work – and your set goals. By dividing the main goals into smaller goals and further to individual goals for each employee, your employees will be additionally stimulated to do their very best to fulfil the organizational goals.

There’s no doubt that the greatest of leaders create an inspiring vision for themselves, their people and their organizations. For these extraordinary leaders this vision is not only words on a piece of shiny paper but it also has a deep meaning – it’s supported by the organizational values. In an ideal organizational world the organization’s vision together with its well-accepted and lived-by values create the frame within which employees act. In a perfect organization leaders do not simply point at the organization’s vision and actually expects it to be owned and followed by the employees.

Leaders who empower their entire organization to persistently workimagesCACFCKRX towards the fulfillment of the organizational vision and goals not only create a sense of personal value to the organization’s stakeholders but also intensify their feeling of being an important part of something – part of the community. These truly servant leaders know that by supporting their employees’ growth while fulfilling the organization’s goals they create a positive force of appreciation, loyalty as well as a culture of discipline. Discipline to do what needs to be done and to put short-sighted or even selfish needs aside for the greater good – the bigger picture.

Great leaders knows that if they want more they need to give more and by their own actions they inspire their organization to do the same – one step at the time and then yet another. The foolproof roadmap to Success.

Action from inside out

Leadership, business and relationships are all about trustworthiness, about being reliable. It’s about competency and character. It’s no secret that most individuals choose to follow the leader who has managed to combine these two and by that create a imagesCAFE6D2Vsense of trust and reliability. However, in order for us to become trustworthy leaders we first and foremost must really know ourselves – our own personal values – and what we want. You need to be able to lead yourself before you can lead others wisely. It’s about action from inside out.

Before you successfully can lead others through good and bad times though, you need to truly know who you are and what you want. Ask yourself questions, the right kind of questions that’ll ensure that you’ll get to the core of what you truly stand for. The ability to ask the right kind of questions are just as important as the capability of finding the right answers. When our priorities are in harmony with our personal values we not only set the foundation for a stronger sense of satisfaction with ourselves and our lives but we also achieve a sense of personal strength and inner security– the kind that people notice and feel “safe” with and to follow. The kind of leader that people get inspired by and want to follow.

Great leaders know themselves – they lead from their values and visions. Everyone needs a vision for their life – a clear image of a desirable future. The creative process during which our vision takes form imagesCAZTIOLHacts as catalyst for our future and an inspiring vision based on guiding values gives us a sense of purpose, something to work towards.

Great leaders also create a shared vision for their organization’s development. In this vision they coordinate and direct their employees focus towards the shared projects. It is when everyone is moving towards the same direction that great results are accomplished. By involving your employees in the process of creating the organization’s vision – with grounds from a solid foundation of organizational values – your employees will feel a greater sense of understanding and ownership of the vision’s purpose and implementation.

The process of creating an organizational culture based on values and visions takes time. It also requires leaders who not only lead from their heart but also have a great sense of integrity, communications skills, a desire for cooperation and the ability to keep a sense of simplicity. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to demonstrate to your employees the importance of your organization’s values and vision – “walk the talk”. It’s also you that needs to show the connection between the values, the vision, the organization’s goals and your employees’ individual goals. However, in successfully managing to do so, you ensure that the entire organization work towards the same destination – creating the future that you want.

Define your personal values in life – what’s important and less important to you? Reflect on how your personal values affect you in your life and in your leadership – are you working to get a pay-check or for a purpose? What kind of human being and leader do you want to be? How do you want your fellow human beings and employees to describe you? What are your weaknesses and strengths? What kind of development do you need in order for you to become the best you want to and can be? How do you envision your future? If you could mould the future for yourself what would it look like?

Lead with awareness

Great leaders lead with awareness. That means that they aren’t only using their knowledge, experience and intelligence as foundation for theirpersonal_growth leadership. Leading with awareness is something more. Leading with awareness is about how to use all the three mentioned qualities in an ethical and moral way – it’s about leading with your heart. Leading with a servant mindset. Awareness is what we gain as we throughout our entire life put our thoughts, ideas and values to the test, and by that get a deep insight of what we find to be right and wrong as well as good and bad. Not only for ourselves but for others – many individuals actually come to the conclusion that what provides meaning to life is really not when it’s all about “me” but about “them”.

Yet awareness isn’t what our “modern” world seem to seek, or even truly appreciate. Not in our society and not as desired qualities in our leaders. What we do seem to appreciate however is money, fame and power – all three which are considered as “signs of success”. The more money, fame or power that we can get or achieve, the more successful we “are” or consider ourselves and others. Money, fame and power are something that’s truly sought after in our society. And it seems to be a fact that once we gain either money, fame or power – or some or all of them – we can not get enough of it. We just crave more and more of it – to fill a void of something that we can not put our finger on. Like an addiction.

“Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A quest for money, fame and power isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. King Salomon said that “money are great servants but bad masters” and there’s certainly a great deal of truth in that. Money, fame or power are not goals in themselves but resources to use wisely in order to serve others! Money can absolutely create great possibilities, fame can most definitely open doors and power can be well used to create long-term values in a selfless, servant and compassionate society. But only if we as leaders are courageous enough to move beyond our ego and lead from our heart, with awareness of what’s going on around and within us. By taking advantage of our experience and combine these with our own core values, our inner wisdom can work as a compass which at all times will guide us right – not only in our leadership but also in our own life.

But how do we do this? How do we, as leaders who want to grow not only in our leadership but also as human beings, lead with awareness? How do we in the best way lead and serve others with our heart as the guiding light? These questions will be discussed further in Gusto Life Group’s Servant Leadership-article series during this year. You are very welcome to share your thoughts, ideas and insights on this subject with us – either via the comments section or by e-mail.

Put people first and the money will follow

Most organizations claim that their employees are their most important asset. Or at least that’s what it says in oneimagesCAPEOUR2 of their policies, although some might not live up to their words. Either way, there’s an increasingly raised awareness that the employees – and other stakeholders – are the ones making all the difference in an organization. This awareness has brought with it a shift of focus in many organizations, from an organizational culture previously focused on ‘money’ to instead being focused on ‘people’.

This is not to say that ‘money’ doesn’t matter for these organizations. Of course it does. But these organizations broaden their perspectives and offer more. People-centred cultures are dedicated to create good relationships with stakeholders and by that deliver a better value than any competitors. And as with any other work culture this is naturally reflected in leadership behaviours.

imagesCAYPC6VDPeople-oriented leaders share a set of beliefs and values that are about “putting people first”. Such leaders are constantly learning and adapting to “people”-requirements yet still, or maybe because of that, adapt effectively and swiftly to competitive conditions. Put simply, people-oriented – or servant, service or personal – leaders know that by putting the people first the money will follow.

I want to share two great videos with you in which the featured speakers are taking about what I call servant leadership:

– In the first video one of the most inspirational women I’ve come across, Colleen Barrett at Southwest Airlines, talks about the importance of making employee and customer satisfaction the highest priority: Servant leadership I 

– The second video features bestselling author Tom Peters, talking about what happens when you treat your employees like customers – and when you don’t: Servant leadership II

What’s your thoughts on servant leadership? Do you think it makes any difference to the bottom-line how you percieve your employees, customers or other stakeholders? And do you think it makes any difference to your employees or in your recruiting efforts?

 

Improve your life – and leadership – with gratitude

Philosophers have since ancient times taught that the key to experiencing deeper levelspower-gratitude of happiness, fulfilment and wellbeing is cultivating gratitude. One of the earliest advocates of a daily gratitude practise was well known dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza who suggested that as a way to find more meaning and joy in our lives, we should each day for a month ask ourselves the following three questions:

– Who or what inspires me today?
– What brought me happiness today?
– What brought me comfort and deep peace today?

According to Spinoza this daily practise would lead to profound inner transformation as, by focusing our attention on appreciation, we are moving our ego out of the way. So step out of your ego…and into the broader consciousness – connecting to your heart and soul – and express gratitude on a daily basis. It’ll improve your leadership and your life, on so many levels – this I can guarantee!

“If the only prayer you are saying in your life is `thank you` that would suffice” – Meister Eckhart

“Do you wish for…

...kindness? Be kind.
Do you ask for truth? Be true.
What you give of yourself you find;
Your world is a reflex of you.”
– James Allen

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Servant leadership

As we’re entering into the mid-summer in Texas I’ve been reflectingimagesCAP08KUW back on this year’s experiences and how they have shaped me – and the people I’ve worked together with-  to improve further as human beings and leaders. It’s been a year filled with fascinating events, encounters with countless inspiring individuals and lots of new priceless lessons learned. One of the major things that I’ve noticed during this year is that there’s a larger demand for leaders whom lead from their heart. Leaders who with authenticity, integrity and deep passion are ready to build long-term success from a strong value-grounded foundation. Leaders with the mindfulness to not only see through the shallow facades but also with the courage and strength to go another way against the established culture in order to truly serve others. Genuine – real – servant leaders put others first and realize it’s never ever about “me” but always about “them”.

“Don’t just serve for surface value – spend time to let the seed take root and grow in the heart.” – David Gustafson

We, as a society, need leaders whom combine their ability to create great results with a long-term development of individuals and organizations. We need, and want, leaders whom want and are eager to be part of creating a better future and a higher quality of life in all areas of ones life – the kind of leaders whom have and want to share, inspire, support and serve others in building organizations and a society that enhance our ability for compassion and cooperation. We want leaders who lead by serving others and by “making a difference” in the lives of others. I believe that this is also one of the main “trends” that we will not only see but also establish in the coming year of 2015 –a huge demand for and development of servant leaders.

“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Marianne Williamson

“Shut up and listen”

imagesI was listening to a great TED-talk the other day with the fascinating speaker Ernesto Sirolli, “You want to help someone? Shut up and listen!”.

Sirolli was talking about the habit of well-intentioned aid workers (including governments) whom, when they hear about a problem, go straight ahead to fix it. Sirolli means that this is the wrong way to go about fixing a problem as he means that instead of fixing the problem yourself, you empower the ones owning the problem to fix it themselves. Of course! Most people do not listen with the desire to understand – they listen with the intent to reply.  This goes for entrepreneurship and leadership as well!

Leadership is about creating possibilities for each employee to develop their own ability to solve problems, to learn and to grow. It’s about listening to what’s being said and to what’s not – it’s about empowering your employees! However, in order for you to be able to do this effectively there has to exist a mutual respect for each involved parts current experiences and knowledge. This means that we, as leaders, should and need to respect the ones we aim to “help”. It also means that in order for us to tap into each employees own spirit, we have to respect the current state – the ground zero – from which each their individual journey need to start. It is by meeting each person at their individual current level that we can support, inspire and motivate them to unleash the true force of power they have within – and by that grow.

What’s your thoughts on this? What does empowerment mean to you and from where do you start?