I am not your average leader. My leadership decisions don’t affect the boardroom, but they do the future of the world because I am raising two future leaders. I am a domestic engineer, a home economist, a housewife, a mom. I have found that my leadership at home has taught me lessons that any leader, whether in the board room or the laundry room, can use.
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- If it stinks, change it. This philosophy applies to diapers and to decisions. As leaders, sometimes we may “own” an idea so tightly, that even when shown data that the idea is failing, we keep holding on to it. A leader should be able to change. As Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive of Consumer Electronics Association and co-author of a book on innovation puts it, “Mistakes are OK—hiding them is not.”
Sometimes, success is simply a matter of making one small adjustment. For example, at 211 degrees, water is hot. But at 212 degrees it boils. This makes all the difference.
Sam Parker and Mac Anderson expanded on this simple metaphor in their short book, 212°: the Extra Degree. They wrote,
A few weeks ago, I sat down with an old friend to catch up. He lost his job about nine months ago in a recession-induced layoff and has been unable to find another job. He’s had plenty of interviews just no offers.
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“What’s wrong with me?” he asked. “Why won’t someone offer me a job?” He was clearly discouraged.
No one is perfect. No one can be right 100 percent of the time (even if you are Jack Welch or Steve Jobs), including an organization’s leaders. But there are mistakes, and then there are MISTAKES.
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I have found 10 basic essentials that all leaders should have on their list entitled “things to avoid at all costs,” lest they end up on the wrong end of a no-confidence Board vote, a Shareholder lawsuit, or worst of all, an SEC subpoena.
I am a high-energy person. But I haven’t always been that way. There have been times in my life when I was utterly exhausted. Times when getting through the day was a big chore. Times when I had nothing left to give by the end of the day. Times when I just wanted to collapse into bed and pull the covers over my head.
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But in recent years, I am been very deliberate about managing my energy level. I did a lot of reading on this and took the time to educate myself. I experimented. I tried some new things. I broke some old habits. Now, my energy level remains pretty constant through the day.
I hear it all the time. “My husband [or wife] doesn’t understand me. We are so different. We don’t really have anything in common.”
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When I first met Gail, I was attracted to her precisely because she was different. Sadly, after a few years, these same differences started to annoy me. In fact, I began to think that my approach to live was right and hers wrong.
A clearly written goal is not enough. A carefully thought out action plan isn’t either. You need more than this if you are going to accomplish really big goals. Let me explain.
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Last year, I set a goal to write a new book, called Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. As someone who has spent his career in the book publishing industry, I had witnessed hundreds (if not thousands) of people get turned away by publishers, simply because they didn’t have a platform.
Leadership begins with knowing who you are and what you believe. Authenticity is the need for leaders to be themselves regardless of the situation. For this reason, it is more than self-awareness. It is the ability to share the deepest and truest part of ourselves with others.
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My undergraduate degree was in Business Management. The first thing we did was to identify successful leaders and write papers on how to mimic their behaviors. Textbooks were full of tips on how to do this and tests made certain we ingested the critical points that led to their success.
One of the most important questions you can ever ask yourself is this, “What are my strengths?” Knowing the answer is the key to job satisfaction.
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It will determine how fast you advance in your career and, more importantly, how happy you are in your job—and perhaps your life.
Today is the official publication date for my friend Andy Andrews’ new book, How Do You Kill 11 Million People?: Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think.
Last February, Gail and I met with Andy and his manager, Robert Smith, here in Nashville. I was the CEO at Thomas Nelson at the time, and Andy wanted to pitch the book concept to me personally because it was so different from anything he had written previously.
Recently, I made an early morning phone call to one of my direct reports to own a blunder on my part. Not a great way to start the day. If you’ve ever blown it as a leader you know that these conversations are never fun. It’s humbling.
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Great leaders hold those they lead accountable. But those we lead must see us as holding ourselves accountable as well. If we expect them to “own it” when they make mistakes, we need to first model this for them.