Monday, October 10, 2011

Leadership Lessons I've Learned - Part 2.

These are more leadership lessons I’ve learned over the years.

Character is Critical.
Bob Burg says, "All things being equal, people will do business with people they know, like, and trust."  Trust is the key word in that statement.  Your character determines who you are.  Anyone can say that he has integrity, but action is the real indicator of character.  That is why you can never separate a leader’s character from his actions.  I have found that it takes a long time to earn the respect of people, but it only takes a moment to lose their respect.  G. Alan Bernard, president of Mid Park, Inc., stated, “The respect that leadership must have requires that one’s ethics be without question.  A leader not only stays above the line between right and wrong, he stays well clear of the gray areas.” 

Failure is Inevitable
No one's life is an unbroken chain of successes and victories.  We all experience setbacks, defeats, and failures.  In baseball, not even the Hall of Fame players bat 1,000%.  The same is true in leadership - we all make mistakes.  Since failure is something every one of us will, at some time, experience, one of the most important skills you can acquire is the ability to take the negative and turn it into a positive.  Thomas Edison, commenting on one of his MANY failed experiments, said, "Don't call it a failure.  Call it an education!"  Successful leaders learn how to get up after they fall; they learn how to fail forward.  Remember, things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.  The first thing to do when you're faced with any failure is to analyze why it happened. There may be a variety of reasons of failure, many out of your control.

Common Causes of Failure:

- When you don't plan ahead
As the saying goes, "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail."   Moving your organization towards greater growth and health requires a lot of planning.  Noah began building the Ark long before it started to rain!

- When you’re afraid to take risks
The fear of failure can cause failure.  We worry about what others will think of us if we fail, so we don't even try.  Fran Tarkenton says, "Fear sets you up to be a loser."  Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.  You can’t win the game if you don’t first take the field.

- When you give up too soon
Look at the life of Abraham Lincoln.  At 23 he lost his job and his first election.  At 24 he failed at his first business endeavor.  At 25 he was elected to state legislature.  At 27 he had a nervous breakdown.  At 29 he lost another election.  At 34 he was defeated for nomination for Congress.  At 37 he was elected to Congress.  At 39 he lost his re-nomination.  At 40 he was rejected for land officer.  At 45 he was defeated for US Senate.  At 47 he was defeated for nomination for Vice President.  At 49 he was defeated again for US Senate.  At 51 he was elected as President of the United States.  Lincoln never gave up.