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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Tag: leadership

Are There Only Two Steps To Being A Great Leader?

Two Steps To Being The Leader You Want To Be

If I asked you to picture a good leader, who would you think of? An old boss, a church pastor, a captain of one of your teams.

Or maybe you think of a celebrity leader. Like Patton or maybe a President.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think of much when someone tells me a person is a great leader. Why? Because I’ve never had direct experience with the leader they are pointing out.

I always think “that’s nice” and then I watch them to see if they prove it.

Prove to me you are a great leader. That you have what it takes to lead me.

I was thinking about this the other day while I was contemplating on my own ability to be a better leader.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s just two steps. Two steps are all you need to be a great leader.

Step 1 – Define what leadership means to you.

Now you may have all sorts of different characteristics that define leadership.

You have your list, I have mine. When you Google leadership qualities, there are going to be lots of articles and books on the subject. Here is the top ten traits – here are the top 25 qualities. Everyone’s got an opinion.

And so do you. So why not define leadership your way. I’m sure the leadership qualities you believe in aren’t far from mine.

So write them down. This is what I put down and in the order I liked.

Inspiration with Confidence – How hard is it to inspire? Damn hard. So when someone inspires me, I go all out for them. Tie that with confidence (true confidence in that they know what they are doing) and you’ve got a leader to be reckoned with.

Decisive while Accountable – To me, a good leader knows he or she is there to make the tough decisions. Committee meeting after collaboration meeting after email thread with a wish-washy decision drives me crazy.

Make the decision and let’s run. But once the decision has been made, leadership is held accountable.

Why is it so unforgivable for leaders to make mistakes? Because they rarely take the hit.

If they take the hit, then I have more respect for them. Blame others and I’ll shake my head and walk away vowing never to follow you again.

Creative with Focus – Leadership sees stuff others don’t and then focuses on it. With this focus, they can then break it down into the simpliest components so others can see their creative plan. C

reativity without focus is chaos – which leads to changes in plans, careers, and organizations. Not for me.

Optimism in the face of Commitment – A good leader doesn’t have to be an eternal optimist spewing rainbows and unicorns when actually the sh!t’s hitting the fan.

Leadership means you can rally people and get them to dig in and fight through it which leads straight to commitment. If the leader is in the trenches with me and still has his or her head up – I’m right by their side.

Honesty with a Sense of Humor – Leaders are honest about everything. They might not be able to tell you everything but they aren’t going to lie about it to cover it up.

Combine that with a good sense of humor (and humor is sometimes the easiest way to get the truth across) and you got somebody I will listen to. Not just take orders from.

Awareness that leads to Intuition – This is a tough one for leaders because sometimes they are far removed from the day to day. But that’s their fault and they need to be more aware of what’s going on with the company, the people and the situation.

This awareness will help so much when it comes to intuition – when you are hyper aware, your gut will let you know whether or not you are making a good decision. Without the awareness, you might as well flip a coin.

You probably have more or maybe you’ll cut some of these out and that’s fine. I’m not here to say you have to have these qualities to be a good leader. I just want them if you are going to be my leader.

Step 2 – Own Your Leadership Qualities

Pretty simple, huh? You listed out what you wanted and now you can become a great leader – just follow what you want others to see in you.

How do you know if you have these qualities?

You can always ask someone you trust but I would bet hands down you are smart enough to know if you’ve got these characteristics.

That internal voice that judges your current leaders about their skill set – just turn it on yourself and see what it says. If it says you need to work on something, then listen.

You can only get better and be the leader you’ve always wanted to follow.

What are your favorite leadership qualities?

How do you run a great meeting? 9 simple steps to successful meeting management

meeting clock

Starting on time is most important

For many of us, meetings are both the burden and badge of honor.  I hear it all the time that I can’t get any “real” work done because I’m back to back to back.

Running from one meeting to the next, I can barely keep up with email (another burden/bragging point – I’ve got over 1,000,000 emails in my inbox).

I think the reason that we are in so many meetings is that there are a few false assumptions about meetings.  Also, before I start, a lot of the advice I’ve gotten on meetings is from Manager Tools (ran by Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne).  One of my favorite podcasts that I recommend you listen to. I’ve been a faithful listener for at least four years now.

Meeting Cost Calculator

Simple Meeting Cost Calculator on App Store – FREE!

First, I believe that people see meetings as “free”.  They are not – they are actually one of the most expensive things that can happen on a project.  If you do the ROI of a meeting and think about the cost of the people in the meeting tied to their salaries – a meeting can rack up an amazing amount of cost quickly.  Here’s an app that can help you calculate it.

Second, people see meetings as where decisions get made.  But I rarely see this happen because many meetings don’t have well-defined agendas and many are used for discussions not decisions.  They get sidetracked and people run out of time before a decision can be made.

So how to do you make your meetings more efficient and effective?

Before you agree to go to a meeting – make sure you absolutely without a doubt have to be in the meeting.  If the decision can be made without you then don’t go.  You have too much work (digging out of email hell – I’ll have a post on that as well) to do and another meeting isn’t going to help it get done.

Schedule work in your calendar before people can grab it for meetings.  I used to schedule work blocks (half hour blocks of time to focus on real work, email, etc…).  I would recommend less than three meetings a day if you can do that. I know, haha.

If you’ve decided that you need a decision on something and the project can’t move forward without it, then schedule the meeting.  But before you do schedule it, there are several characteristics of a really good effective meetings to consider.

Best Run Meetings Characteristics:

  • Set Meetings to 45 minutes or shorter
      • Any meeting that can get done in an hour, can be done in 45 minutes. We tend to take the time we have to talk things through.  15 minutes is going to get filled with useless banter.
      • This also allows people to get to another meeting if they have to. (I don’t know how many times decision makers have left the room to get to another meeting – highly frustrating).
  • Put together a solid agenda
    • Here’s an example

Welcome and Meeting Purpose
Item One
Decision To Be Made
Item Two
Decision To Be Made
Follow-Up and Next Steps

    • Without an agenda and an idea of the decision that needs to be made, a meeting is just a meaningless discussion.  There’s no execution and you’ve just spent a lot of company resources to decide nothing.
  • Prioritize agenda items starting with the most important
    • Don’t lead with small items because you think those will be the easiest to discuss and solve.  In fact, if it’s small maybe it shouldn’t make the agenda.
  • Set a time limit to every agenda item
    • So if we look at our agenda again

Welcome and Purpose – 10:00
Item One – 10:05
Decision To Be Made – 10:25
Item Two – 10:30
Decision To Be Made – 10:35
Follow-Up and Next Steps – 10:40
Adjourn – 10:45

    • Then you need to be diligent about following the clock and stopping anything that looks to deride the schedule.  It’s not that you need to be crazy but many meetings without clock watching wander around and fall into disarray.
  • Must end with solution per item (next step)
    • There is always a solution to every item.  If there wasn’t then why did we subject ourselves to another meeting? 🙂  If people can’t agree on the solution, then maybe it was too early to be having a meeting about the subject.  Meetings are there for solutions not discussions.  Brainstorming and discussions are not meetings and should be tried differently.
  • Parking lot anything that goes off agenda
    • If you have a time limit on your items then you will quickly realize when things are going off-track.  The meeting facilitator needs to be weary of anything that can take away from the meeting and should parking lot those discussions for a future time.
  • Start on time ALWAYS
    • When meetings are back to back to back, people sometimes give a grace period.  This sets a horrible precedent and shows the people in the room that have made the effort to be there, that their time is not as important.  BTW, leaving a meeting early does the same time.
    • If you start on time, people will start showing up on time.
  • Always have a scribe
    • I am a proponent of everyone taking good notes – I, myself, do my own notes in Evernote (love that software)
    • But for people that can’t do notes and be engaged in the conversation, you should have a scribe that will share the notes with everyone after.  With as many meetings as we have every day and week, it’s wonder anyone can remember anything.
  • Give your full attention
    • If you are distracted by your technology, then turn it off or put it away.
    • If you use it to take notes, that’s great but just make sure you are taking notes.  Shut off your notifications.  I believe that we get distracted by our technology because we are back to back to back.
  • Sit upright and face the speaker
    • Posture means everything in a meeting and if you are slouching, or looking around aimlessly or disengaged, the rest of the room notices and causes them to disengage.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for running effective meetings?  I would love to add them.

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