The higher you go up the ladder, the greater risks you take of falling. To reach the rungs of CEO means you are willing to take the highest of risks.
Does this surprise you? I mean, why wouldn’t a leader who has been making the climb up the ladder, rung by rung, all of a sudden become fearful at the top?
While not everyone is a fit to be CEO, every leader must be fit to take risks.
The reality is, regardless of where a leader is on the ladder, they have to take risks and face the potential of failure. Huntsman says, “Never having failed is never having led.”
Leaders do their teams, their organizations and company an injustice by not being willing to take risks.
Bestselling author Seth Godin once said, “Playing it safe and not taking a risk is probably the most dangerous thing you could do in today’s rapidly changing and highly competitive business environment.”
Treading water is not an option. If leaders are going to find better ways to do something, they have to take risks. If leaders want to take their teams and organizations to the next level, they have to take risks. If leaders want to be respected, they have to take risks.
Playing it safe only results in mediocrity.
How can leaders stay away from playing it safe and feel more comfortable in taking risks?
Think positive. All of us engage in negative talk from time to time, or maybe all of the time. But instead of thinking about what could go wrong, focus on what can go right. That doesn’t mean you aren’t blind to the risks and dangers, but you aren’t obsessed with them either.
Focus on the vision and goals. Leaders who have a vision are not easily paralyzed by fear. Vision leads to greater conviction and greater conviction will lead to greater focus, more courage and better results.
Learn from mistakes. Nothing in life is learned or gained without some type of failure—both small and large. Fail forward—meaning, when a mistake is made don’t see it as a step backward, see it as an opportunity to move one step closer to success. But also realize that it is important to stop and calculate any risks as well. Failing to prepare for something that could have easily been avoided just doesn’t make sense. Always take measured risks, not stupid risks.
It is inevitable that leaders who take risks aren’t always going to be successful. But fear should never hold you back from making you, your team and organization better!
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Here are some videos you can share with your team(s). I love sharing videos that demonstrate teamwork and these three are a lot of fun!
Teamwork Video #1
There are time when teamwork is lacking something. Try to figure out what that something is in these hilarious team efforts.
The most awkward stretchers in history. STRETCHER FAILS!! - YouTube
Teamwork Video #2
Once in a while you just need a little help, a little boost… This cute video demonstrates that there are some things we can’t do alone. And when we face those challenges, it’s nice to know someone is there.
Little Boy and Basset Hound Tag Team to Get Food || ViralHog - YouTube
Teamwork Video #3
It may not always be the best way to do it, but teamwork does make a difference
Screw Loose: Amazing Teamwork Around the World - YouTube
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All through the history of time we have been affected by charismatic leaders. They have impacted the world and they have impacted you—whether directly or indirectly. People are drawn to and want to follow charismatic leaders.
Many believed for a long time that charisma was this mysterious charm that either you had or didn’t have. But that is changing.
If there is one thing that all leaders can start doing today to channel some charisma power, it is the energy of being positive. It not only creates a more charismatic leader, but it is also contagious.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Michigan State Universities conducted four separate research studies and found that individuals who are rated high on charisma tended to express more positive emotions than those who didn’t. Positive emotions in their studies included passion, enthusiasm, excitement and optimism. They also discovered that positive emotions are contagious and boosted the mood of those around them. Leaders who were more positive were perceived as more effective as well and garnered a greater loyalty from those they lead.
Did you also know that being a positive leader results in living longer, making better and quicker decisions, having less fear in leading and creating more success? I wrote about this several years ago in a blog post titled “Positive Leaders Live Longer and 4 Other Benefits.”
So there you have it. Be more charismatic by being more positive and you will gain greater loyalty from those you lead and reap other big benefits as well.
Here are a few more posts on being more positive as a leader that I thought you might really like:
Several weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal there was an interesting article titled “She’s One Step Ahead.”
It told the story of a factory leader, Elizabeth Kaplan, and how she decided to join her employees on a strenuous set of Los Angeles stairs during lunch. She believed that sharing a workout with her team would create a stronger connection with them.
I love leaders like her! She was only one of three women on her team of 60, and as a boss, she was finding it difficult to connect.
When she found out that many of the men on her large team were exercising during lunch, she decided to join them. And because of her lead she motivated a number of others on her team to join as well. Every lunch hour they climb the “Culver City Stairs,” 282 steps that form a steep climb.
Her team that is joining her is not only building personal connections, but also enjoying greater health and more energy. One worker said, “Now that I started doing the stairs, I feel healthier and have a lot more energy. And when Elizabeth joins us we all seem to laugh a lot more.”
What are you doing to create opportunities for you and your team to spend time together?
When teammates get to know each other (including the leader), they start caring more about each other. As they start caring more about each other, they start becoming more vulnerable. As a result of greater vulnerability, trust increases which leads to stronger communication and better teamwork.
If you want a greater connection with your team, I would suggest finding a trail and taking your team for a walk or jog. Or at the very least find something you can all do together that is away from work.
Teams that spend time together, stay together.
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I watched an interesting video the other day (see below). Spanx CEO Sara Blakely tells of how her father used to ask her and her brother at the dinner table when she was growing up what they had failed at that week.
When they shared a failure, he would congratulate them and give them a high-five! I love that!
I have come to believe and recognize in my own leadership that failure is only bad if it is more than a temporary set-back. It is only bad if we aren’t learning, making adjustments and trying again. If we punish ourselves and others for their mistakes, then we do indeed fail—both in the present and in the future.
After all, as I have heard it said, the quickest way to success is to fail as fast as you can.
What would that look like on your team? Can you high-five someone on your team this year for taking a risk that didn’t work out? Can you high-five someone else for missing a deadline? Can you high-five a member of your team for stretching themselves on an assignment that didn’t go as well as you wished?
I believe you can. As long as you follow it up with the questions, “What did you learn?” and “What will you do differently next time?”
Creating an environment where people feel safe to fail will result in greater creativity and better results in 2018. Leaders have the power to create a celebrated mistake zone (not mistake-free zone) culture with their teams. As long as members of their team are growing, learning and improving, what’s the harm?
Start with you this year. Start admitting your failures in front of your team. Vulnerability creates incredible trust on teams. But also follow up your failures by talking about what you learned from them.
I would love to hear what you think. Is it okay to high-five a member of your team in 2018 for failing?
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Spanx CEO Sara Blakely offers advice to redefine failure - YouTube
Many of the members of teams I have worked with in my career have done a really good job of pointing fingers at leaders and other teammates, but have failed to ever point them at themselves when it comes to team issues.
Have you found the same thing?
A number of years ago I was working with a team as a consultant, where every finger on the team was pointing at the leader and blaming her for every issue the team was having. This was expressed to me multiple times, both in private and in our team development sessions. I had never seen anything like it at that level before or since.
One thing that became really clear as I met with members of this team and the leader, was that no one was looking at themselves and asking how they might be contributing to the problem. The real issues on this team had as much to do with this leader as it had to do with each member of that team.
The transformation of a team starts with the transformation of every member of the team. Whether you are the leader of a team or a teammate, it always starts with you. Every member of every team has to ask themselves what they can do to make the team better.
Each member of the team needs to take careful introspective inventory on a regular basis.
When is the last time you and your team took a careful look in the mirror? When is the last time you and your team asked questions like: What am I contributing to the team today? What do I have the potential to contribute that I am not? How committed am I to the team? What have I done to demonstrate my commitment? What will I do differently moving forward?
Ask your team at your next meeting or event to start thinking about these questions. Maybe even discuss their reaction to these questions and share as they feel they are comfortable in sharing.
As you and members of your team begin to make a personal transformation, your team will also begin to transform in magical ways. It has to start from the inside out though.
You Are the Team!
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There is an old Welsh fable told of a dog that belonged to Llywelyn the Great, a Prince of Gwynedd in the 13th century. Prince Llywelyn’s wife had passed away, and his faithful dog was charged with watching the cradle of the Prince’s baby while the Prince was gone hunting.
After one particular hunting trip, Prince Llywelyn returned home to find his baby’s cradle overturned. With his baby missing and his dog’s mouth covered with blood, the Prince plunged his sword into the dog with the idea that it had killed his baby.
The dog’s dying yelp was answered by a child’s cry. Prince Llywelyn searched and found the baby, unharmed and laying near the dead body of a mighty wolf. The Prince’s dog had actually protected the baby as his owner had desired.
It is said that the Prince was filled with such remorse that he never smiled again.
This story makes a good point, though a fairly dramatic one: making quick judgments and jumping to conclusions can lead to regrets—sometimes very large regrets. Unfortunately, it is all too common to tell ourselves stories without all of the facts. Instead of seeking to understand, we often seek first to condemn.
On a team, the ugly consequences of such quick judgments can result in the creation of team clicks and less team unity—which, like the dog in the story, can quickly lead to a team’s demise.
With those teams you belong to or those you lead, have you found jumping to conclusions to be a barrier to your effectiveness? What can you do to prevent such quick judgments? Would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.
The story above can be found in my new Amazon bestselling book You Are the Team—6 Simple Ways Teammates Can Go from Good to Great. You can get it on Amazon here.
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