Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Field Manual to Becoming a Better Leader

Field Manual to Becoming a Better Leader
Hey everyone, I have a brief favor to ask of you.  I wrote this Guide on Leadership today, and I believe that I am going to offer it as a free report and build an email list with it.  I would love some feedback if anyone has a minute.  

  1.  Is it enough content to receive as a gift? Lord knows I have received drastically less on countless occasions.

  1. Did it contain enough good information for you?

  1. If that was your first contact with an individual business, would you be inclined to feel any way about that business after this first contact?

  1. Any other feedback is very welcome. and I am very grateful.

 How to Become a Better Leader

A leader is not born.

A leader is created, and the whole process starts inside our mostly unnaccessible minds.
How can you become a strong leader who inspires others, drives people toward excellence, holds people accountable, and instills in them a sense of trust? Learning the personal components required to be a great leader is a terrific first step.
Here are some things you can do to become the leader you aspire to be:

Control yourself. Every great leader in history has had to first gain dominion over both self-discipline and willpower.  Among many other things this helps encourage an unwavering focus that they hold on seeing the big picture.   You must first set a goal and then you must methodically reverse engineer that goal in order to determine your path to accomplishing your desire.  If you do not possess a goal, or if you are unable to maintain the drive to achieve it, it will be impossible for you to lead others to attain theirs.
Be consistent.  Always maintain personal reliability as one of your core goals and something that you pride yourself on.  Follow through in everything you do.  This can present great challenges.  Keeping your word is mandatory.  You must also possess great discipline.  As a leader it is mandatory that you arrive wherever you need to be, at whatever given time is required of you.  Whether you want to be there or not.  You will not be permitted the ability to occasionally just mail it in and head back to the office the following day.  By maintaining a strong resolve, and resisting the temptation to give up, you will be setting an example that others will want to live up to.
Choose your emotional response to a situation carefully. Sometimes you'll need to practice the art of silencing your inner thoughts when they are not appropriate in order to set a positive example.  I still struggle with this one almost daily.  I'm not going to offer any advice on this subject until I develop more personal mastery of it.  I am 100% certain that it does continually play a significant role in your pursuit of success and successful leadership.
Project your goals. If the people you're leading don't completely understand the bigger picture that is the reasoning for their work, then they won't share your vision or work ethic. Every step of the way, communicate with your team to make sure they're on the same wavelength with you, and to ensure that they understand what is expected of them.
Get your team involved in both the planning process, and the implementation of your ideas. This gives everyone a greater sense of ownership toward the end result.

Praise team members highly, and offer criticism in a constructive manner. The way that you offer both praise and criticism can often can play a significant role in your ability to lead effectively.   Make sure you publicly praise people when it is deserved. You'll give that person a sense of accomplishment and an enhanced drive to achieve more even more outstanding results. The adulation bestowed upon the individual  will stand out to the other members of the team, and they in turn will crave the same recognition.  

Every human possesses a wide array of deeply instilled desires that are essentially universal.  A few of these major emotional desires include the need to feel acceptance, to feel needed, and the core need to feel appreciated.  This is to me a foundational concept of leadership that I understood early on but for a long time I was unable to express what the understanding meant.  The manipulation of these principles is just a brief look at the application of the many emotional persuasion techniques you will be required to use in order to lead effectively during your lifetime. First, you must recognize, assess, and then make an effective appeal to people’s emotional triggers in order to help guide them to the best solution or rationale.  Guiding people to feel strong emotions is likely the most effective motivational technique one can utilize.
There will always be mistakes.  If a team member drops the ball, first console them if it is appropriate, and then offer them constructive criticism.  It is occasionally beneficial to offer a private moment of individual encouragement.  Far more often, by using constructive criticism you will enable the whole team to learn from a single mistake To break it down, you reinforce the confidence of the employee who committed the error to help establish renewed confidence.  That done, you demonstrate the nature of the error and the proper execution of the solution to the whole team to ensure a higher level of individual efficiency.  

We all know about drama.  I despise drama, I can't stand people who exist to cause drama, it is an extremely unnecessary fact of life.  One problem with drama is it exists under the surface everywhere we go.  All it takes to sow the seeds of dissent amongst your team is for someone to feel slighted or disrespected in any way.  Encourage a proactive, solutions based environment where they feel free to express their views and opinions.  Always take the time to answer any questions that they may arise. People under your direction will remain tolerant of your leadership more consistently and reliably if they feel comfortable dealing with you.  Whatever individual relationship strategies you choose to implement strive to treat everyone respectfully and equally.  As a leader it is helpful to possess relationships based on mutual trust and respect.  This is not always feasible, but it is a bonus when it is accomplished.  The nature of a relationship is that it is an ongoing process that requires consistent maintenance. Be aware that as the leader it is your perrogative to set the emotional tone and to set the standard.  So learn, develop, respect and then trust your people if you are aiming for a positive result.

Learning to be a better leaderKnow your people. You can't truly lead a group of people unless you truly understand their hopes, dreams, struggles, fears, and goals. It is absolutely imperative that you get in the trenches to an extent with your team.  Like any relationship in life, the more you miss over time, the farther you distance yourself from that relationship.  You need to listen to, and empathize with your HR lead when she tells the team that she had to put her dog down over the weekend.  It is equally as important to be quick to offer congratulations to your top salesman after he recounts a heroic story of his son's football game on Saturday.  If you do not demonstrate to your people that you are, and will remain there for them through thick and thin; then you might as well just quit before you go down in flames. 
During the past ten years I have had a lot of experience leading groups of people. Regardless of what my current project was, I have always remained a constant observer of other people and their methods, reactions, and interactions with one another and relative to different situations.  I have developed on some basic level an understanding of how people are likely to react to a given situation in a certain environment.  

In response to an uncomfortable situation, or any other type of occurrence that provokes a stressful response from everyone; the greater majority of people will react by initially studying the reaction of their peers, and then after hopefully being provided an intelligent response they will follow suit.  This seems to often be the case when people are in a social environment in which their actions can be viewed by others.  I suppose one driving force behind this 'move as a herd mentality" might be a primal need to feel supported during stressful or uncomfortable times.  A person will always turn towards something comforting to them in response to experiencing an undesirable condition or effect.  
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As a child in elementary school, children begin to be conditioned to blend in with others, they become discouraged to ever stand apart.  In today’s society, with a significant percentage of parent’s remaining indifferent in their efforts to raise well adjusted children, our whole labor force is conditioned from the start not to excel, but rather to stay within the group.  A large percentage of the time, in my personal observations, many people carry on through life with their head down; steadily placing one foot in front of the other along their daily routine.  I believe a partial reason for this is that when people always do the same things that they have always done they never have to take any risks.  They never have to deliberately make themselves uncomfortable or step outside of their comfort zone.
At the same time that they are trying to just keep their head down until they can complete their day and leave work; they are also upholding a sustained effort to not rock the boat.  For in many people’s individual paradigm, standing out from the herd has always only resulted in pain.  It is likely that standing out may not have ever significantly delivered to them any pleasure.  When this is truly the case, those unfortunate people have effectively been brainwashed to never make any waves.  They will follow that pattern until hopefully they one day will recognize it and be able to break free.   

So do what you can to stand apart from the crowd, rock the boat, give yourself permission to be silly, and be the center of attention if you don't already do these things. You deserve it.  Who knows? You might really enjoy it.  I promise you that it has a positive effect on everyone.  I rarely feel much free than when I am the center of attention in a social setting.  I enjoy helping to make the people around me laugh, it helps all of us to feed off of each others positive energy.  

I got off on a tangent for a minute, but a good point to remember is that it is vital that you always understand as much as possible about your team members and the way their minds work.  What is it that drives them? Do they have aspirations and dreams?  Are they primarily motivated by seeking pleasure? Or do they function in order to avoid pain?  It is important to be able to differentiate between these two factors.  Once you are certain of what drives them, you can essentially develop a pattern or rubric that will lead you in your future interactions.  In the making of this rubric, you are intelligently planning the methods and emotional strategies you will use in dealing with each different employee.  Hire Me For Your Open PositionAlways remember too, that it is your job as the leader to effectively manipulate the team's emotions in order to inspire and to keep them driven.  By actively working with them and learning whether they are guided by pain or pleasure you will understand your employees and their specific actions on a much deeper level.  You will also be able to relate to them much more efficiently. Hopefully that also translates to them being able to relate to you more efficiently as well.  This is a key ingredient that you must maintain in order to consistently produce the highest rate of efficiency and quality that your team can offer. 
This point is redundant, but it offers a slightly different perspective on the delivery of the message.  Talk to your team members, get to know them.  To be truly effective and gain maximum results from your team, you need to be a part of their circle to an extent.  At the same time, your team needs to understand on an emotional level that you are the leader.

Essentially, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, you are the only one whose ass is on the line.  The buck needs to stop with you.  You need to make your team understand this in whatever way it takes.  And then you must possess the intestinal fortitude to make the tough call when everything rides on your decisions.  Imagine an emergency situation, someone is dying on the floor and needs someone to assist them or they will perish.  In instances such as these there is only one person who takes charge and sets the tasks or performs the tasks themselves.  That person is a natural leader.  Not everyone can perform under that kind of pressure. I have witnessed many people stand in the corner, screaming hysterically, while I alone did what was necessary to bring someone back to life.  For any team, or social grouping of people to function efficiently, and remain successful, there can only be one leader.  If you are that person, I recommend reminding your team of this fact subtly and consistently.  You must ensure that that fact is most definitely understood by every team member.

You need to develop the ability to be approachable, supportive and instructive at all times.  Your team needs to feel comfortable with any thought, solution, or problem that they come across and needs to bring to you.  A good leader listens to any ideas her team members generate in order to gather different view-points and help develop the most efficient solution. 

In your team members estimation, you must always remain their leader first; and their friend second. The basis for this concept stems from the fact that often in your day to day interactions you may be presented with instances in which you are required to make tough decisions concerning your team. Obviously your personal morals must always guide you in every decision that you make.  Your allegiance will always be expected to remain to your job or career and the welfare of your business entity as a whole.  This is often where the tire hits the road.  You have been placed in the leadership role because your leaders possess confidence in you that you will make the correct decisions.  Thus there may perhaps arrive many instances in which you will be prompted to decide between the welfare of the company or the welfare of your friend/employee.  Often in life situations present you with no good option for a solution.  Those days it can be hard being a leader.

There are many hats to wear when you are in a leadership position.  I think that is one of the things that drives my passion for business and entrepreneurship.  I need the constant action, the demand for nimble thinking, and I work best when I am  consistently working on 5 problems at once.  My mind tends to operate in this manner all the time anyway, no matter what I am doing.  The responsibility of leadership is not necessarily for everyone though.  Remember, your team members will always be looking to you for guidance, support and approval.

Gaining mentoring or experience you will continue to naturally develop your leadership skills. I view everything that we do during our lifetimes essentially as individual games.
  Leading people can be equated to playing a game.  The universe will always deal you your hand.  From there on out it is up to you to execute the correct strategy and win the hand. I compare it to a similar game that we play to achieve success and security in our lives. Every day we are all allotted 24 hours during which time we can work to improve our lives, we can stay the same, or we can progress towards the negative.  

Confidence is key always maintain self confidenceOf course this game is not equal or fair.  Not everyone is permitted the same head-start. Some people are blessed indeed to begin with a stacked deck, lots of money and the ability to experience life on their own terms.  But everyone has the chance to arrive on that level by seizing every opportunity that the universe may place in front of them.  Success in anything we do will always require foresight and planning.  It will always require sharp skills and well developed fundamental abilities.  To experience repeatable success in life or business you must remain confident always.  You must be without doubt fear.  We could conduct a long conversation in order to outline fundamental principles of success.    The point is, everyone that becomes successful does so by becoming skilled and efficient at all of the fundamental components that accomplishing success is based upon.
Make the tough call. There are times when you have to bite the bullet and make some unpleasant decisions. Firing, demoting, and holding people accountable for their actions can be very hard at times. As a leader, it's your responsibility to handle these matters.  The buck must stop with you.  If you display any desire or tendency to waver, be swayed or not remain 100% confident during times of drama and tough personal decisions with your team members, your team will witness this, and it will then have the potential to be latched onto and forever seen as a weakness that you possess.  You must always remain iron  in your resolve concerning your important choices.  Your team must have the conscious understanding that from their perspective; the world is black and white, right or wrong, and only you set the rules, and possess the answers.  As before, consistently encourage any and all feedback as well.  Many minds tend to make light work. 
Reality-Will-Options-Goals-Lead-To-GrowthIn order to perform as a successful leader, you must have a well developed plan and have established goals that you accomplish in your progression to your overall goal.  You must always keep your team on track, and you must always be leading your team members to a specific eventuality, or long term mission, or goal.

Regardless of where your leadership role takes you, believe that you are a strong leader. Remember that in order to lead others, you must be disciplined in your life, and at all times focus on remaining comfortable with yourself. After all, your actions are a requisite component of establishing credibility.  Strive to always honor your word.  Do everything in your power to never break a promise.  If you develop a well earned reputation as the one person that will never let others down once you give your word.. Imagine briefly what possessing that sort of professional and or personal reputation would be worth individually all by itself.

To gain respect from other people, it is important that you always strive to lead by example in every area of your life.  If there is one lesson I have learned that I wish I knew 15 years ago, it would be to have devoted myself, from the earliest possible time, to becoming absolutely sensational at one specific thing.  Kevin Trudeau explains in his wonderful book and cd series, entitled; “Your Wish is Your Command”, that it requires 4,000 hours devoted to the repeated practice of one ability or skill to attain the level of unconscious mastery.  This is the highest level of human function you can obtain.  In essence, it means that you have mastered the skill to such a degree that you can accomplish the same results repeatedly, at the same exceedingly high level, every single time without your mind having to think one conscious thought.  “He can park the truck in his sleep”.  Would be someone pointing out another person’s presumed unconscious competence. 

So, very early on, take time to explore what you like to do, find something that provides a good deal of value to other people, this activity will in return prompt people to exchange their energy, or “money” to you in exchange for one of your solid performances.  Hopefully you can find something that you love to do, and then proceed to do everything you can to be the very highest skilled person in accomplishing that task on the planet.  If you are even somewhat successful at this, then your fortunes are already awaiting you. And it has been said that you will never work a day in your life.

When you follow these simple guidelines, you will be on your way to becoming a true leader!

Here are a couple of Positive Affirmations for you:
"The light is increasing in my life every day."
"I always feel healthy and happy."
"My life is improving daily."

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