Be A Leader, Not A Manager!

A leader doesn’t tell people what to do! Does that strike you as a contradiction? Read on.

In these letters, we’ve often examined aspects of what constitutes genuine leadership. Recently I listened to one of the best in-depth looks at this issue I’ve come across.

We’ll learn that the leader’s job is to provide the vision and why that vision is powerful, and what success looks like. Then he or she must get out of the way and let people do their jobs.

People may come back with questions. Of course, those questions must be answered. If they need support, emotionally or functionally, it’s the leader’s job is to provide that. The point though is that the leader doesn’t manage. The leader empowers people to do their work in a supportive environment.

Here’s Ben Hardy, one of my favorite sources for inspiration and great unique ideas, discussing truly great leadership. The idea of leading without managing is one of the cornerstones of modern leadership theory. Sadly, it gets more lip service than true adherence.

Useful background for what I’m about to offer can be found in my several-weeks-ago issue. There we discussed Ben Hardy/Dan Sullivan’s book, Who Not How. Ben refers to it often in today’s video.

Benjamin Hardy holds a Ph.D. in organizational psychology. He’s also the author of Personality Isn’t Permanent and several other books exploring personality change. He knows what he’s talking about!

The three things people need to do their jobs are:

  • Competence to do the work, and confidence in their competence.
  • Autonomy – the authority to apply their skills. They must be in control of how they do their jobs.
  • Connectedness – Being connected with team members is highly empowering.

One who takes any of this away is disempowering the worker and stripping them of the important elements they need to carry on effectively. The person guilty of this is trying to be a manager, and is not a leader. “Managing” people is an inefficient way of trying to get anything done. It usually results in the loss of the best talent, and the remaining people are unmotivated.

Ben discusses three stages of human development, a Robert Keegan model. I’ll briefly describe them here. He does a much better job of imparting a full understanding of them than I can do here in a few words,

  • Dependence – The socializing self – taking all sense of identity and direction from others.
  • Independence – Self-authorship – having one’s own goals and pursuing them without relationship with others. The only relationships an independent person engages in are those he or she believes will further his or her goals.
  • Self-transforming stage – two or more people share goals and solutions, neither imposing views on the other, but sharing views to result in the best solution they can see together – the team is better than the sum of the members.

In that third stage, mutual respect and trust are vital. If one party tries to dominate the goals, visions, and outcomes, the effort breaks down.

Be a leader! Don’t be a manager! Learn the psychology behind this here.

Gain More By Doing Less!

Many people believe they can be more productive by striving to do more.

Most people will gain more by doing less rather than by doing more. The key is to do more of what’s important by doing fewer things.

Most of the many things on a typical day’s to-do list mean very little in the day’s results. They may be enjoyable interludes but not very productive. They can be done in leisure time or not at all with no effect on results.

Such things as checking social media posts or messages, texts, emails, etc. are all unproductive, unless you need information from one of those messages to do something important. Many people get consumed by these tasks during what should be the most productive part of their day. Other pressures can also draw us away from what’s most important. In today’s world, early-morning message-checking is probably the most prevalent.

You can scan your list of messages in a few seconds to see if there’s anything important and urgent in them. Do not open any other messages during your productive day.

Max Phillips posted this article on Medium.com several months ago. It discusses 7 time-wasters low-productivity people engage in. Avoid them!

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Prioritize ruthlessly. Determine what two or three (no more than three) items will “move the needle” each day. Do those few things first every day. When they’re done, you can work on second-, then third-priority items with whatever time is left.

Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog! and a quote from Jim Collins emphasize these concepts elegantly.


Brian’s book focuses on the idea of doing the most difficult, least enjoyable task (such as eating a live frog!) first. When you have that done, you can be pretty sure the rest of the day will go easier.

Jim’s quote, “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any” needs no explanation.

If you so choose, continue working after the first two to four hours working on high-priority items – just recognize you’ll probably get less done per hour.

Eric Lofholm (see below) promotes the idea of measuring time in results per hour rather than minutes per hour. What you accomplish is much more important than the time you devote to it.

Another of Eric’s important concepts is an idea called “last productive day”. Decide what is the last date you commit to being productive. For him, it’s the day before his 75th birthday. He has an app on his phone that counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until that date. Having already passed that time in my life, I’ve settled on the day before my 90th birthday.

The idea behind this concept is that we always have certain knowledge of how long we have to accomplish our life goals. Of course, we can continue working after that date if we so choose. It’s not a prediction of retirement or death. We’re just committing to be optimally productive at least to that date.

A Positive Mindset Makes all the Difference!

My friend, mentor and sales coach, Eric Lofholm, hosts a 15-minute motivational call every business day, and sometimes even on holidays. The call is at 7:45 AM Pacific time. Register for the call here. You’ll find instructions on how to join the call on Facebook, by phone or soon, Eric says, on LinkedIn.

Eric is unique in that his free programs offer solid value rather than just sales hype. This short conversation is serious training, and serious motivation, and it’s completely free of charge. Though there’s sometimes an offer to sign onto a paid program, that’s separate from the training and inspiration.

This call is a great way to get yourself started with a positive mindset every day.

Sleep Well = Perform Well

In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about sleep as an important factor in our performance. Until I saw the article I refer to here, everything I’ve seen related to quantity and quality of sleep.

Several years ago, as Chief Pilot for a small air freight company. I was often called upon to substitute for a pilot who was unavailable for his or her scheduled flight. This could mean anything from an all-night run to a mid-morning flight. Naturally, my sleep schedule varied greatly.

Comparing that time to now, I’m quite sure my mood is more settled now when I sleep on a very consistent schedule.

Here’s Inc. magazine’s Bill Murphy Jr. discussing a study which indicates that consistency of sleep schedule is important to effective rest. To the surprise of many, this study says you can’t “make up” for missing sleep with more sleep hours! I guess you could say, “Lost sleep is never found!”

For anyone who works “Swing shifts” – a different shift every week – it may be impossible to avoid this. That’s not as common now in the information age as it was a few years ago. If you’re one of the few so affected, you might want to encourage your employer to reconsider that policy.

I haven’t done a lot of research on this thought. It seems to me this issue is likely a root cause of the phenomenon known as “jet lag”. If you’ve traveled across multiple time zones you’re no doubt familiar with that. For many, it results in serious disorientation for up to a week after arriving in a new time zone.

So if you’re used to sleeping at different hours on different days, you may want to consider sleeping more regularly.

Success And The Impostor Syndrome

Recently I’ve been employing the services of a virtual assistant named Jeff Lucas. He’s employed by Smart VA’s, a service founded by Kristy Yoder. Kristy regularly publishes a video presentation on YouTube about some business idea.

The one I just received discussed the “Impostor Syndrome”, the sense that you’ve achieved more than you somehow deserve. This feeling is more common than you might think!

Drawing from the work of Dr.Valerie Young, Kristy identifies five types of people who entertain feelings of being unqualified for the position they hold or the success they enjoy.

If you feel that you’ve “lucked into” your success or accomplishments, see if you match one of these types of people.

The encouraging news is that you can overcome these feelings if you have them. Each of these types of “impostors” can utilize a specific mindset change to make this happen.

Do you or someone you know have thoughts of having achieved more than you deserve? Check out this 11-minute exploration of the Impostor Syndrome and its antidotes.

Surf Dude And Life Lessons That Go With It

My good friend and fellow Estanciero David Galland recently published Surf DudeLike everything David writes, it’s a riveting story. As with much good writing, there’s a lot more here than an entertaining narrative.

The story is of a group of airliner crash survivors on a small island, struggling for survival. Two examples of extreme antisocial behavior emerge. What follows is the rest of the fascinating story.

This book brings to light the value of respect for others and their opinions and beliefs. And of course, the folly of prejudice and a closed mind.

If someone has different ideas than you have, what of it? If you both are open to discussing your differences, it can make an interesting conversation. If either of you doesn’t want to do that, it’s better left alone.

“Convince a man against his will, He’s of the same opinion still.”

– Dale Carnegie

Suppose they believe differently from you in some area, say religion or politics. They aren’t harming you with their different views. They could, of course, become a nuisance if they insist on proselytizing. You may, or may not, choose to include them in your circle of friends. I have several friends who are of opinions quite different from mine.

Naturally, if they believe in stealing, or harming other people, you want nothing to do with them. You may even need to take action to protect yourself and your assets from them.

The libertarian (notice that’s with a small “l” – it’s not a political party) view is:

  • Live and let live.
  • I’ll respect you and your opinions as long as you respect me and mine.
  • I’ll treat you fairly as long as you treat me fairly.

Solid sustainable businesses add wealth to the economy. They flourish by producing something of value to their customers. When a customer buys from them:

  • The customer sees more value in the product or service than the price he/she pays for it.
  • The company sees more value in the money paid to them than the product or service they delivered.

This is a win-win transaction. It’s how wealth is built in a healthy economy. People who do business this way are usually open to all comers without prejudice. It’s just the way they think. Rarely are they prejudiced in anything. David discusses the concept of trading at will in some of the interactions among the survivor group.

So… with this discussion, I’ve drifted a bit from the original topic, that of David’s book. If you look carefully at my flow of ruminations, you may (I hope) find a thread of related ideas.

Perhaps it will encourage you to pick up David’s book and let it stimulate your thinking. It’s a pretty quick read, and I think you’ll find it entertaining. (You might not if you believe in physical and psychological domination and/or religious fanaticism. These two, domination and forcing religious beliefs on others are really two forms of the same thing.)

New Year, New Habits!

Which of your habits (we all have many!) are serving you well? Which are detrimental for you? What new habits would you like to establish?

Want to :

  • Quit smoking?
  • Lose weight?
  • Make your bed every morning?
  • Eat a small amount of healthy chocolate each day?

Last week I got a recommendation for a book which I’m pretty sure will change my life.

What causes habits to form, or disappear? This book, by B.J. Fogg, can probably help you make some worthwhile adjustments as well. Fogg analyzes habits. What causes them to form, disappear, or change.

He analyzes what makes it possible to adopt habits without difficulty. His core principle is B=M+A+P.

Behavior results from

  • Motivation to do something – what makes you want to do it. You want to lose weight.
  • Ability – how easy it is to do. Often that’s one ridiculously easy step. You put half a teaspoon less sugar in your coffee. A new behavior is easier if you reduce the practice to a tiny fraction of your full intent.
  • Prompt – a natural, easy key to remind yourself to do it. Tie a ribbon on the handle of the sugar spoon, or on the handle of your coffee cup. It’s actually better if the reminder is something already in your routine. E. g. you sit down at the breakfast table, or you pour your coffee.

At times when motivation is low (happens for all of us!) doing the easy minimum meets your obligation. You can still congratulate yourself on accomplishing your new habit.

Fogg has many more nuances to refine the process of establishing new habits.

Do you aspire to building new habits or eliminating others, to change your life? I recommend you explore BJ Fogg’s recommendations.

They provide a great alternative to “resolutions” which are often forgotten after a few weeks or months.

Challenges On Your Team’s Performance!

2020 has been a challenging year. No disputing that! Likely, it’s been more challenging for many of your team members than for you personally. Or maybe you’ve had your own major challenges. In any case, what’s important is limiting the impact of those challenges on your company’s performance.

Gary Vaynerchuk, Chairman of VaynerX, and CEO of VaynerMedia, has some thoughts on how to accomplish that. Marcel Schwantes discusses those thoughts here.

As in all things in life and business, taking responsibility for what happens is key. As a business owner, you’re probably well aware of the importance of that fact. Your employees may or may not be.

If you have team members underperforming, there’s a pretty good chance they’re distracted by personal challenges. Here are some thoughts on how that’s best handled.

One possibility, of course, is to replace the low performer. There are at least three good reasons to find other options:

  • It’s expensive! That could well add to the challenges to the company.
  • Who knows what challenges will be facing the new hire? You could be “jumping out of the frying pan into the fire!”
  • It will surely add to whatever difficulties the employee might be facing. I hope the employees’ welfare is important to you!

Assuming that last comment is true – that you care about your employees’ well-being – what’s important is finding ways to help your team member through whatever he or she is facing. That’s part of your responsibility! And it’s where Gary’s suggestions may help.

There’s one way you can help them that requires only coaching. You can help them see the value of taking individual responsibility. That will, under any circumstances, lay the groundwork for whatever their specific situation requires. I recently wrote an article that may assist with that effort.

Within every diversity is the seed of equal or greater opportunity.

– Napoleon Hill quote

This is a concept doubly important in the current times.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

“Emotional intelligence”, or EQ, has become a popular buzzword in business recently.

What does emotional intelligence mean? I guess you could call it a fancy term for what we used to know as “soft skills”.

Buzzwords seem to turn up in every pursuit employing a unique skill set. People love to throw them around, because it makes them sound smart or hip. Business leadership qualifies as one of those pursuits, for sure.

As a great believer in clarity in communication, I recently found this article by David Finkel. He adds some meaning to “emotional intelligence” by describing important aspects of it possessed by effective leaders.

David lists these traits as consideration for inviting someone to your executive team:

  • Team-building skills
  • Ability to motivate and inspire
  • Self-awareness and self-management
  • Social intelligence
  • Communication skills
  • Skill in navigating differences

A few comments of mine here, to add to David’s more thorough descriptions of these traits:

These skills are all important and they are all linked.

Teamwork happens only in an environment of communication and motivation/inspiration. Is your organization is of a size such that you’re considering an executive team? If so, great teamwork is vital to your success. (It is in every organization, and even more so as you scale up.)

Communication is vital to everything else. Here’s an extreme example of the importance of communication:

Think of a left-brained expert with many technical skills. That person must be able to communicate the value of his/her skills. Otherwise, those skills aren’t very valuable.

In order to have social intelligence (why people behave as they do), you must be self-aware. Why do you behave as you do?

Self-management is about controlling your own tendencies which may be inappropriate in certain situations. This too is an important skill.

Navigating differences (gender, culture, opinions, etc) is vital to the health of any organization. David suggests that exhibition of these traits should be prerequisite to inviting anyone to your executive team. Alternatively, more coaching may get someone qualified and I agree.

If you’re building an executive team, or coaching someone who is, Finkel’s list is a great guide. Of course, there probably are other things to consider in your particular situation. However, this list provides a great basis for any executive group. Add to it to meet your unique needs.

Keep The Positive Energy!

Here I focus on a fascinating audio interview with Donnie Tuttle and Keziah Robinson. Donnie styles his interviews as “The Purpose Driven Executive”. Keeping positive energy is key to satisfaction with your results, and a happy life. I truly hope that’s why you do what you do! Keziah Robinson was Donnie’s recent interviewee, She talks about keeping positive energy.

Of course, I recommend you listen to the entire interview to enjoy the thread of her ideas. Once you’ve done that, you may want to go back and review some highlights. Below I’ve pointed some of those out at specific time-stamps. The first short description of each is the specific point Keziah makes. The added notes are my additions to the topic.

3:45 – Business is serving others.. Zig Ziglar said, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

5:30 – Avoid “playing small”. Take “massive action”.

10:30 – Scarcity mindset. Choose abundance instead. There’s plenty for everyone!

13:00 – Seeking perfection: Get it done! The last 10% of perfection usually adds very little value. It also delays your moving on to the next important thing.

14:45 – We get what we expect. Earl Nightingale: “We Become What We Think About”.

16:00 – Reluctance to change. Life is a process of evolution. Stay with it! On second thought, stay ahead of it! You can follow change…or you can create change!

18:00 – Purpose is productivity. You can be productive only if you know, with intention, what you want to produce.

21:00 – Avoid “Energy Suckers”.e.g.

  • Pointless messaging by phone, email, social media, etc.
  • Drop-in visitors, in your office or where you work remotely.
  • Your own thoughts – stay focused on doing the next right thing. Ignore the “chatter” around you, and in the news.

30:00 – Delegate. Each team member adds value by what he provides – and by what she takes off your plate.

31:00 – Make people feel important. One of the most valuable concepts in business. This goes right along with the 3:45 comment above.
36:00 – Recognize your own value. Be your own best cheerleader. You’re worth it! Recognize, and celebrate, your wins, even the seemingly small ones! Each one moves the needle for you, and usually for someone else as well.

40:30 – At the end, whoever has the most friends wins! Your relationships define your life:

31:00 – Make people feel important. One of the most valuable concepts in business. This goes right along with the 3:45 comment above.
36:00 – Recognize your own value. Be your own best cheerleader. You’re worth it! Recognize, and celebrate, your wins, even the seemingly small ones! Each one moves the needle for you, and usually for someone else as well.

41:15 – What do you want to have accomplished in your life? A very valuable reflection!

Have you found this interview valuable and interesting? Donnie interviews new guests every week on a wide variety of topics. Check it out!

What Is Your Core Talent?

Jack Canfield, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, followed that blockbuster with other bestsellers. Among those is The Success Principles, a book which Eric Lofholm discussed during October in his free 15-minute daily motivational call.

Teamwork In Action

Last Thursday Eric focused on Canfield’s principle #39, where he reminds us that we each have a core talent. We are so good at that one thing that it’s like “falling off a log” for us. Because it comes so naturally to us, we tend to think it’s not very valuable. Fact is, that thing that comes so easily to you is very difficult for most other people. They’ll pay you, often very well, to do it for them so they can focus on what they do well.

Discovering your core talent takes some introspection, maybe even some help from a coach. Quite possibly it seems so natural that it’s invisible to you. It is in you somewhere, whether or not you’re aware of it! You’re one of few who find it so easy and can do it so well.

Having found what you can uniquely offer the world, your job becomes:

  • Find the people who need and/or want what you do so easily.
  • Craft an attractive offer to provide it as a service or product to them, so they can focus their time and energy on their core talent.
  • Hire other people to do what comes harder for you, so you can focus your time and energy on your core talent.

(For example, I love writing about these subjects. It’s easy and fun for me. I can analyze SEO and edit to improve it, but it’s hard work for me and I don’t like it. So I hire an assistant to do that. He also takes care of some other things I’d rather not spend time, energy and attention on.)

  • Collect the benefits of selling your unique value while you feel like you’re not really “working”. And be satisfied that you’re making a positive contribution to the world.

Keep in mind, others may do the finding and offering I mentioned in the first two steps better than you do. Hire them!Do you like doing that, and do it well? Great – do it yourself!

Stories abound about people who have done something they didn’t really enjoy for years. They leave or retire from that work and do something they’re passionate about. They’re more successful doing what they love than they ever were in their “safe” job!

Assemble a team of collaborators (some may be employees) to do the things you’d rather not be bothered with or that you can both benefit from (e.g. marketing to each other’s networks). With collaborators it often works well to trade services. No monetary cost for either of you, and you both get more effective! How’s that for win-win?

Focus on what you easily do better than most, and that you enjoy.

What you do well and easily, you will enjoy. And usually, what you truly enjoy, you will do easily and well. Let your team do the rest and reward them well when they do their bit well!