How has your leadership changed? My wife brought the topic up yesterday. I turned the topic back to her. “How do you think I’ve changed?”
She said, “You’re more of a leader and less of a controller.” I didn’t take offense at the suggestion that I’m a control freak. I was and still feel the inclination. Perhaps it’s necessary as long as it’s managed.
Successful leaders release rather than control.
Leaders understand where others want to go and find alignment between personal and organizational vision. I used to believe leadership was about me. Now I believe it’s about them and their values. Shared values enable people to find alignment with each other.
Releasing is more joyful and less stressful.
Conversations are more about others and less about me. Ego plays a part in making this shift. Needing the spotlight prevents leaders from focusing on others.
Managing emotion matters:
Releasing others requires emotional control. Tempering your emotions gives room for others. Strong emotion causes others to pull back or feel the need to conform. But calm leaders provide space for others.
Small doses of strong emotion are effective but calm optimism works better over the long haul. I enjoy heated discussion but it intimidates some. They close down. Lowering my tone, intensity, and volume lets others speak up.
If you’re not emotionally expressive, you may need an opposite approach. People want to know how you feel but they don’t want to be bowled over.
I’m more committed to simplicity than ever. Complexity makes leaders feel important, but success requires a series of simple, small wins achieved at regular intervals. Momentum is a series of small wins.
Simplicity releases. Complexity paralyzes.
How has your leadership changed over the years?
So much of this applies to parenting too! (Ah,ha! Another area of leadership development?)
Thanks Betty. I”m always delighted to see leadership ideas to family context.
Nice blog! Would be great to have a piece with leadership lessons from the life of Nelson Mandela. In my opinion one of the greatest leaders… May he rest in peace.
Good suggestion Eddie. Who knows.
I agree with Eddie that it would be great to read a commentary on Mandela from Dan. I identified 14 leadership lessons from Mandela’s life, but I’ll bet Dan can simplify – http://www.engagingleader.com/mandela
Simplicity over complexity is preferred for effective leadership. This statement is really powerful. I believe in this philosophy. My leadership journey has changed over the years and I have enjoyed all the period. When I recall those phase, I always feel proud and sometimes I laugh at my ignorance. I was not much aware as I feel now. I also feel that my vision was not as big as it is now. I repent sometimes if I had vision long before. But I also understand that whatever I am today, it is because of those ignorance. More than that, my curiosity and passion to break that ignorance propelled me to surpass odds and achieve what I wanted.
In fact, If I introspect, I find myself, much more passionate and curious to learn new things and in-fact, I have become more focused than ever. At times, I divert because of plenty options. But, I enjoy because I do not feel not having anything what I wanted that others could not achieve.
I enjoy my success and still believe to achieve more in days to come. Over and above, I have clearly understood what do I mean by leadership.
Thanks Ajay. You make me think about the importance of our weaknesses in the process of our growth. Weakness and/or failure comes on the heals of growth.
I read your posts from the perspective of a high school math teacher. Just this past week I had a frank conversation with a class about a new teacher they were complaining about. (But they had to first share 2 good qualities about said teacher!) Reflecting upon my first years, I shared with them that I started out teaching by taking the reins in my classroom and pulling back as tightly as I could. In our education courses, we learned that the key to a good year is through classroom management. As a new teacher, like many others, control was what I thought classroom management meant.
I was that over emotional, yelling, finger pointing, control freak teacher my first few years.
Little by little I started relaxing the tension I created in my classroom. Experience allowed me to let go of micro managing the small things, which in turn brought back the fun teacher that was trapped inside.
Establishing a level of respect is more about relationship building and trust than control and authority.
In short, thank you for this post (and for allowing me to share my story), I will pass the ideas along to coworkers as a good suggested read.
Thanks Teresa. Its a joy to read your story and learn from your experience.
Respect is more about relationship building than control and authority. KaChing!
My One Word for 2013 has been “You”. The focus of my year has been others. It has been a year of constantly reminding myself that serving is the ultimate form of leadership. Thank you Dan for a brilliant reminder of what the true essence of leadership is all about!
Thanks Dan. “You” is clear, challenging, actionable, and simple. It’s perfect.
Your statement about strong emotion/conviction causing others to shut down or pull back, even when it’s not specifically directed at them, really resonates. I was often left baffled when I would get animated about something I was happily passionate about and most anyone that was around just seemed to get that deer in headlights look. When I would reflect on it later I incorrectly assume half the time that they just didn’t “get” what I was talking about or couldn’t step into being a big-picture thinker.
But over time I started to admit it was probably more my delivery style than my content. People usuaully respond more openly to a ‘cool’ presentation than a ‘hot’ one, especially in smaller groups. I’ve actually had to mentally practice conversations where I ask more questions, cut my own conjecture as short as possible, and keep my delivery gently passionate at most (sounds a little naughty). I’m still a work in progress but it’s comforting to hear I’m not the only kinda smart/passionate person with this challenge to face.
Thanks for sharing and being open to your own change as well as inspiring others.
Thanks James. It sounds like we’re walking the same path. The “cool” / “hot” description really helps. It’s hard to believe that a “cool” presentation leaves room for others to get “hot.” But, our experience seems to say it does. Cheers
Well, as time has gone along talk means less actions more.
If I am controlling emotions and telling myself I have released something…..oops, just means I just told myself I let go but did not let go of anything.
If I truly let go there is nothing to manage.
For me Leaders bring grub back to the pack, not directs and moves the pack like chess pieces to get me something.
To get the grub I got to spend my time DOING for them. Not enjoying what they do brings to me.
Talk means not much. Lips lie, feet don’t. Action, sacrificing ones time for others is what makes one a Leader.
Selflessness frees, selfishness paralyzes.
Thanks Scott. The thing that rings true in your comment is feet don’t lie. Wisdom is best seen in action.
“Do Not Make Simple Things Complicated!”…my quote that I have used all year…Worked really well!
Thanks Marilyn. Sometimes success is in what we DON’T do or stop doing. Simplicity is often harder to get to but worth the effort.
I’m not as controlling but as I changed leadership styles I’ve noticed I can’t lead the group of people I’m with now the way I lead a different group a several years ago. I wonder how I got away with being so controlling then. I agree, a measure of control is necessary but I find myself now laying down what I want for what others want more often these days and its not easy for me to do.
Thanks Calvin. I find that more gets done this way. Hope you find the same thing. Best wishes on the journey.
Our IT Department has a Vision Statement of “Creating Simplicity on the opposite site of Complexity”. Bringing this thought process into my own leadership has driven me to listen more and understand before I even think about being understood. Approach is the starting place that can change a meeting, affect an answer, and give direction that may have fell off the train under the controlling way. – Great Post Dan!
Thanks Scott. Powerful… when we pursue simplicity we have to listen more and talk less. Great application. I hadn’t thought of it until you mentioned it… my experience, after thinking about, is the same as yours.
I love this post. I have done a similar journey from control freak to… well let us say leadership freak 🙂 (pun intended) but I have surely not come as far as you have.
I do like you observation about how emotions matters. As an engineer it is very easy to understand that facts are important but the soft values play a role as well.
One thing I will have to look closer on is simplicity and what that would mean for me in my situation. I see a lot of people talking and writing about it but it tends to be on a very abstract level. The practical application is of course different for each one of us but the concept is important. Have you written anything on simplicity specifically?
Thanks Simon. Welcome to the journey.
I have written on simplicity a few times:
Ken Segall’s book, “Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success,” is an awesome resource.
Thank you Dan, I will make sure to check them out. The book suggestion will go to my amazon wish list.
This pretty much sums up my theme for this year. Pull back. Be passionate about greatness and helping people but be calm in delivering in that passion. I’m like jamesmckey, my delivery style has needed work over the years. I’d yammer on about a topic, hammering away at an issue and then walk away thinking I was the only one who cared; that I was way out in front on an issue. Boy, was I wrong. I was the only one alright. The only one caught up in my own world. Everyone else was actually waiting for me to catch up to them.
I have changed and I have more change to come. I’m not there yet. But I’m going to be. Passion about topics. Calmness with people.
Thanks Alf. Your insights are greatly appreciated. The tension between passion and calmness is important for leaders to master. For me it’s often as simple as telling myself to relax and take a breath.
I find people open up when I settle down.
Fantastic post Dan. When I coach leaders I always tell them…leadership starts with you! Yet, so many leaders get caught in a place of ego and control. I just love this perspective you have shared. If leaders can move from a place of ego and control to a focused on releasing, managing their emotions and simplicity…their effectiveness will soar…as will the results of the team. LOVE IT. Many thanks!
I’ve become a much more understanding leader. I no longer want it my way or the highway, though this struggle still comes back from time to time.
When I was young, I was all about complexity. Now, I prefer it to be simple. I had complicated proposals, presentations etc. They obfuscate the matter.
Similarly, I have come around to simpler principles when dealing with people. Treat people with respect, add value to them, expect the best from them, be fair, be authentic. Show them commitment to the vision, and a credible path. The rest follows…
Nice, real nice, the truthful matter is a truthful matter… of principle toward action.
Always a thank you for the reminders.
One of the toughest things for me to learn has been to feel what I feel, to notice what others are feeling and to manage my emotions. Yet another life and leadership paradox. They are always the toughest aren’t they?
Over time I have gotten better and better as I have worked on this judiciously. This is necessary for me as a role model since I coach a lot of abrasive leaders who get themselves in trouble at work all the time by behaving inappropriately.
This is a tough battle that you learn to get better at over time but always need to struggle with to overcome. There are always others who will push our buttons. This past Saturday I was stuck in horrific traffic and it took forever to get to the garage. I read the price, entered and confirmed the price; the guy told me I needed to go to the other door. I did and met the manager who told me the price was double what I had been quoted. I told him I was staying at the hotel across the street so he said the original price was ok but he needed proof. He sneered. I showed him the slip the bellman had just given me for my bags. He then told me I needed real proof like a receipt and that I had to go get it before I could park. Well, I lost it. He was directly lying to me and making it twice as hard to park at the price I was promised. I then had to spend 30 minutes finding another place to park. He told me I could not park there.
And this is the guy, me, who prides himself on setting the example for appropriate leadership behavior under all circumstances. The challenge of leading well is always with us and there is always the next test of difficulty waiting to find us.
Fear of _____, Control of _____, = Disaster
Faith in ______, Release of ______, = Peace