Posts Tagged great leaders

Motivation – Where’s Your Focus?

                 I doubt this will be the only blog post I write about this topic since motivation is at the heart of what makes a true leader.  But this is the first one.  I started thinking about motivation after watching a brief news clip about Colonel (ret.) Jack Jacobs, a Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War.  His story is just as amazing as you would expect from a MOH awardee. He was wounded with shrapnel, bleeding from his head, yet he went back into the battlefield and rescued 14 of his fellow soldiers before he collapsed and had to be taken out by medevac.  When asked why he returned to the battlefield 14 times after he was bleeding profusely, he said, “I thought I was the only guy who could do anything… If the situation were reversed, [the men] would do the same for me.”

                Col. Jacob’s was in the middle of battle and thought only of his men.  His own pain was of little concern at that moment.  His source of motivation was saving the lives of others.  I believe that is the mark of a true leader.  The purpose of his action was in no way self-serving, but purely for someone else.  Many times, our decisions or our choices are made with some hint of self-preservation or self-centered thought in mind.  I admit that I am just as guilty as anyone in that regard – it is part of our human nature.  Looking back on my life, I notice that the times I’m at my best are the times I’m focused on something or someone else.

                What does this mean for leadership?  Should we all run out into the field of battle to be tested? Probably not the wisest of decisions, yet we should be grateful for all the men and women who do each day.  However, we can each do our part in our own capacity, especially in business.  I was told of a business owner who refuses to communicate with his people and has a rather dictatorial approach to his company.  Now I am not personally acquainted with this business owner and cannot speak to the truth of the accusations, but I could clearly see the impact on the employees through our conversation.  It appears to the employees as if this owner’s motivation is NOT the company and NOT the employees.  The people I spoke with do their work and like their jobs (for the most part).  The take away is this: Think about how much more powerful, energetic and ultimately more profitable this business could become if the owner’s motivation was shifted in a different direction. 

-Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team

Advertisements

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The Need For Leadership

             I attended the Chik-Fil-A Leadercast last Friday (remotely).  For those of you who did not watch via a host site or attend it live, it is worth the time for next year.  The event is a live webcast of the stage in Atlanta where roughly a dozen different people spoke on leadership.  The speakers were authors, athletes, journalists and doctors.  The very first speaker was Andy Stanley, author of The Next Generation Leader.  He grabbed my attention with this statement: “Uncertainty underscores the need for leadership.”  I wrote that one down.

             The simplicity of this statement yet the complexity of the content are amazing. The first word is “uncertainty”, which is not a word usually applied to leadership.  Yet when we look at life in general, it is full of uncertainty.  There are risks and benefits with everything we do in our professional and personal lives.  The unknown ahead in life can be both exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time! However, some people are paralyzed by the fear and responsibility of the unknown instead of driven by the adventure of choice.

             Why are there leaders?  One answer – there is a decision to be made and someone makes it, although that isn’t enough.  I can make decisions all day long and not be a leader.  To be a leader, one must have followers.  Followers are people who do the same action because of the leader’s physical or emotional influence.  Leaders are usually identified with the decisions they make, good or bad.  Think about Harry Truman or Rosa Parks, two leaders who made a large impact on our society and the world due to their decisions.  History shows us that sometimes there is a choice to make and it just takes a strong leader to make it.  

-Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Leadership Overcomes Fear

Part of what makes a strong leader is their ability to face fear. There are many levels to fear – fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, and even the fear of death for themselves or their team.  Fear manifests itself in different ways but for many people it leads to a lack of confidence or a decline in ownership of a problem. It is the fear of the consequences and the fear of the unknown that makes most people hesitate.  A leader has the same internal thoughts but instead of feeling paralyzed by the consequences or the unknown, they take the risk of moving forward.  The great leaders are those that can quickly analyze a situation and make the best decision possible at the time. 

With the economy the way it is today, making the ‘wrong’ decision is a big deal that can affect someone’s employment and in turn, their family.  Within the military, making decisions may cost someone their life.  This is a huge responsibility that is not to be taken lightly however it should also be embraced for what leadership can achieve too.  Think about where the world would be today if Harry Truman had not made the tough choices he did to end World War II?  What about the choices Bill Gates and Steve Jobs made for their teams to move technology forward?  Not all decisions are bad but there has to be ownership of the choices to move in the intended direction. 

It’s easy to say ‘let’s go left’ or ‘let’s move to the right’ but then living that decision and taking on that choice is what leaders must do.  The biggest thing for leaders though is to be able to handle the choice if it is the wrong one.  Admit mistakes, adjust to the outcomes and correct the course of action.  The important thing is leaders learn from mistakes and need to share that knowledge with others.  A leader will not always have the right answer or want to make the tough decisions but the true character of a leader is shown during those situations. 

 

          Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team

, , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Breaking Stereotypes

         We all fight against stereotypes and yet we all apply stereotypes, even subconsciously.  Through my training with FranklinCovey, I’ve come to learn a few things about how our brains work.  For example, the emotional and reactive area of our brain is buried deep near the brain stem and the more analytical and cognitive section of our brain is in the frontal lobe.  While not truly understanding how everything works, I will make the assumption that it is the emotional and reactive part of our brain that drives stereotypes.  I can imagine back in the Neanderthal days it was literally a matter of life and death to be able to size up an opponent quickly and either fight or flee.   Now we apply cultural or societal stereotypes like “she’s tall, she must play basketball” or “he is dressed really well, he must be wealthy” or how about “he’s Latino, I’ll have to watch him closer” or “she’s old, she won’t be technically savvy.” 

         How do those stereotypes make us feel?  Think about the stereotypes that are applied to you.  In a way they box you into certain expectations, either high or low.  If it is assumed that your performance will be low, how does that affect your actual performance?  Do you drive to break that stereotype or do you feel more inclined to give up or do the minimum because that is all that is expected?  I know that I can go both ways on this question.  Sometimes I am spurred on by the assumption that I am not able to accomplish a goal and work hard just to show that I can. Other times, I give in to the stereotype because I lack motivation to do otherwise.  

        The real question is why do I have to prove anything to anyone else in the first place?  Stereotypes are expectations or assumptions placed on us by others.  I know I don’t stereotype myself but I have to work hard not to stereotype others.  It is easy to guess that a big burly man with tattoos and leather is a biker guy who is tough and mean.  When I work to look past the exterior and really listen to people and their story of life, you find that big burly tough guy is a wonderful guy taking care of his elderly mother.  To find out who that underlying person truly is however takes work, time and trust;  the qualities of a good leader and a good friend. 

Lori Buresh          

CEO, The Professional Development Team

 

 

 

, , , , , ,

1 Comment

Leadership – What is it?

                When we think about leaders and leadership I know I have a hard time defining it, but I know it when I see it.  Leaders and leadership to me is portrayed through someone who inspires me and motivates me, either through their words or actions.  Leaders are usually associated with accomplishments or heroic efforts, which lends well to being inspirational or motivational for others.  That is how I perceive leaders but is that the definition?  I did what all good computer geeks do when we want to know something..  I googled ‘leadership’.  The definition from Dictionary.com was rather funny!

lead·er·ship    [lee-der-ship] noun

1. the position or function of a leader,  a person who guides or directs a group: He managed to maintain his leadership of the party despite heavy opposition. Synonyms: administration, management, directorship, control, governorship, stewardship, hegemony.

2. ability to lead: As early as sixth grade she displayed remarkable leadership potential. Synonyms: authoritativeness, influence, command, effectiveness; sway, clout.

3. an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction: They prospered under his strong leadership.

4. the leaders  of a group: The union leadership agreed to arbitrate.

                I think this definition is vague and clinical.  What is leadership?    Why does this question seem so hard? Maybe there is no real answer because it is up to each individual.  I might inspire one person but annoy another.  The true test of a leader is to find those key things to identify with a broad range of people and inspire each one on their level.  This does not mean a leader has to change who they are or what they stand for when they meet a new person (HINT HINT POLITICIANS) but if they are true to their beliefs and honest about who they are, leaders have a much better opportunity to gain the trust of others.

 

 

Lori Buresh          

CEO, The Professional Development Team

 

, , , , ,

2 Comments

Get To Know The Professional Development Team!

Welcome to The Professional Development Team Blog!  We will use this forum to write about leadership topics, as well as thoughts regarding business processes in the Four States area.  While blogs are meant to be a one-way method of communication, we hope you will take the time to comment on our posts.  Let us know what you think!

Since most people have never heard of our company, this first post should be a proper introduction.  We started The Professional Development Team to make a difference for Joplin-area businesses by providing process management and leadership training.  Companies are rebuilding after the tornado and existing organizations are looking ahead to the future.  We all have to do more with less, so the first place to look is how to drive out waste, drive down cost, and drive up productivity using the tools a business has today.  Process changes will not be effective or may not be implemented at all without also supporting the leadership and culture of an organization.  Leadership drives a business to achieve goals and effectively implement long-term changes.

Our whole focus is to help businesses grow and thrive in this area.  We are not here to tell a company how to run – they already know how.  We are here to focus on their problem areas in order to guide their team to a solution that is actionable and do it quickly.   Process management includes change which can be difficult or even scary for employees to adopt.  We want to help managers grow into leaders and leaders grow into great leaders so that a company can adapt and change with the full support of their employees.

, , , ,

2 Comments