Why Remarkable Leadership Matters

September 15, 2008

I was fortunate to be a guest on Nan Russell’s Work Matters radio show recently. That show is now available online to listen or download as a podcast.

My interview begins about half way through the show, and I believe, is one of the best I have given to date on leadership, learning what it means to be a Remarkable Leader.

I hope you will listen, and share it with others.

Everyone’s a Leader!

September 5, 2008

That was the message of the short keynote I gave last week to Rainmakers, a fast growing, difference making business networking organization in Indianapolis last week. My goal was convince them that everyone is a leader, and that we can all become Remarkable leaders too.

They’ve posted the full video of that keynote here.

I hope you will take a look and share it with your colleagues and fellow leaders.

(If you’d like me speak to your organization or have us deliver customized training for you – contact us here.)

What Qualifies Someone to Be President?

September 1, 2008

This is a question that politicians and the news media have been talking about for some time. With the announcement of Gov. Sarah Palin as Senator McCain’s running mate last Friday, the conversation has grown louder.

This post isn’t about politics, and will leave you to draw your own conclusions. It isn’t written from the right, left or center, but from the perspective of leadership. While I hope it helps you answer the question posed in the title, I also hope it gets you thinking much closer to home, about the leaders you observe and possibly even hire.

While we can, I hope draw connections between the position of President and that of other leaders let me start with a belief that no previous job can completely prepare you for the U.S. Presidency, because I don’t believe there is any job like it. Since no one running has been President before, everything being said about experience should be considered carefully.

Both candidates (and their VP picks) have relevant experience – some in Washington, some with foreign affairs, some with more national media experience, some with more “Executive” experience, some as a father, and one as a mother – and all of these experiences vary across all four candidates. So – all have some relevant experience and none have all of the pertinent experience. Regardless of what they will say or imply, none will be ready on January 20 (or later if become President later due to a tragedy).

Beyond Experience

Since it is not possible for anyone to be prepared completely for this job, and because it is unfathomably complex, a leader must take great care in surrounding themselves with others who can help them succeed as a team. When considering this, think about these questions:

– Who are they surrounding themselves with?
– Do these other people have skills, talents and experiences that build on the weaknesses of the leader?
– Are they willing to put together a team of people with a variety of perspectives, knowing that in the dialogue that comes from these differences, better directions will be set and more effective decisions made?

If expertise of the candiate alone can’t be the deciding factor, then consider the questions above, and the ones you think of as well, to help you make your own determination.

What About Change?

Both parties and candidates want to create change. Unless a candidate is following a very popular two-term President, candidates are ALWAYS wanting to create change – whether it is a campaign talking point or not. So what can we learn so far about each candidates’ willingness and ability to change?

Let’s look at any leader’s skill at creating change. Leaders who are skilled at change can:

– distance themselves from the status quo.
– build a clear and focused picture of the desired future, after the change has occurred.
– persuade those who must change too to come on board – and sooner than later.
– create a dialogue so that the change doesn’t belong just to them, but is a vision owned and shared by many.

One of the decisions each voter must make when choosing a candidate to vote for, is to consider their policy positions, of course. This post has focused on what I believe to be a factor at least as important – who will be most successful at leading.

There are many other factors beyond experience and change. I write about these two today because they are two of the most widely discussed points today.

I hope these ideas help you think about Presidential leadership, leadership of any other public office, and in leadership closer to home as well. I also hope you will share your thoughts in the comments below – in a non-partisan, leadership focused way.

Remarkable Leaders Take Action

August 25, 2008

Re-found a favorite Buckminster Fuller quotation in my journal this morning.

I seem to be a verb.

This is a very powerful thought to me.

A verb is an action word. While all of us “take action” (breathing after all is an action), some will spend their day replying to email or just “attending” meetings. Others will “be a verb”.

I want to create something new each day.

I want to lead in a proactive way.

I want to think powerful thoughts.

I want to make a difference in the world.

These are just four things – the first four things that flew from my mind to my fingers – that it means to me to be a verb.

Here is a thought for you:

As a leader are you a verb today?

I challenge you to be a verb today and everyday.

Drop a comment and let me know what being a verb means to you – or tell us what actions you will take today.

Are You a Positician?

August 19, 2008

Recently I was introduced to Nancy Fursetzer, owner of Silver Linings Unlimited in Minneapolis, and Founder and CEO of The Positician Training Institute. After a phone call that ended with me feeling I’d know Nancy for a long time, I wanted to share some of her message with you.

Here is a portion of an interview I did (via email) with her.

Kevin: What does the word “Positician” mean?

Nancy: A Positician is a person trained to listen for the positive in every situation; one who strives to uncover the hidden good. As a verb, it is the art of repositioning thoughts and ideas, to create new perspectives and shed positive light on situations.

Kevin: How does the Positician philosophy differ from positive thinking?

Nancy: Positive thinking is a wonderful attitude, a great filter through which to view life. But sometimes life deals us some discouraging circumstances. At the point where pain has already set in, “positive thinking” can become an outward veil of denial, which inadvertently shames the sufferer for their inability to “keep their chin up.” The predominant side effect is that authentic pain, frustration and fear are not honored, acknowledged, or vented, leading to deeper isolation.

On the contrary, the Positician philosophy gives everyone the opportunity to tell their whole story. In a Positician coaching session, you are encouraged to discuss the reality, intensity, and discomfort of your feelings. This uninterrupted flow of thoughts frees you to express yourself without judgment, often seeing the full scope of the issue – and its possible resolutions – for the first time. The Positician’s role is to listen with compassion (what we call “Hospitality of the Heart”) and look for a seed of goodness within your story that may be hidden from view.

Kevin: You mention Positician coaching. How does it differ from traditional therapy or counseling?

Nancy: Traditional therapy is based on applying a set of scientifically proven theories and solutions to circumstances being discussed by a patient. I wholeheartedly support this process. However, this is not the role of a Positician.

A Positician simply encourages you to broaden your perspectives and look for a light in the tunnel. Insight is based on the listener’s personal experience as they put themselves in the speaker’s shoes. This makes the Positician opportunity available to all people, anytime, anywhere.

Kevin: What results can people expect?

Nancy: You can expect to feel your burden lifting. You’ll see things from new perspectives, and appreciate your own. If you decide to become a trained Positician and engage in the Positician lifestyle, you become part of a large network committed to confidentiality, trust, and unconditional acceptance.

Kevin: Are you so positive – what choices and experiences led to that?

Nancy: I wasn’t born this way. It took years of heartache to realize I created my own pain, and I can un-create it. Like many of us, I have lived through various forms of disappointment, disability, loss, and grief. I challenged myself to turn every negative into a positive, and consequently, I’ve witnessed the miracles of recovery and new growth.

I accept I can’t change what happened, but I’ve learned to change how I think about what happened. In this light – with time – a whole new world emerges. The good that I strive to uncover often rises to the surface in grand style!

Kevin: How did you come up with the idea, and phrase Positician?

Nancy: I’ve worked with hospice patients for 12 years, and as a hospice volunteer, I cannot offer any advice or solutions because there are none. I simply listen to stories, acknowledge emotions, and witness the validation of being heard.Positician® Training Institute was born: Teaching people to listen with unconditional acceptance. Instead of listening for what I can fix, I listen for the silver lining.
Kevin: Thanks Nancy for sharing these important ideas with us.

One day it occurred to me that people shouldn’t have to be terminal to be heard . . . and the intention for the

The word “Positician” combines posit (to position) with -cian, meaning “one who is trained.” Beauticians, statisticians, electricians – even magicians – all have a skill and practice their trade. My skill is shining a positive light on any story, and I just keep on practicing!

Why did I choose to share these ideas with you?

Because when you have her frame of reference you will be a more effective in all facets of your life – personally, professionally, relationally and more.

I strongly urge you to take a look at Nancy’s site, take a look at her training options and thik about the following questions:

 – how could this positician view influence my leadership style?

 – how might it change my results?

 – what is the most valuable contribution this approach would have for me?