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Reliability

14 Mar

The students in this spring’s Housley Principled Leadership Program are an amazing group. Spending four hours with them each Friday is invigorating and it renews my sense of purpose heading into the weekend. We are off for a couple of weeks for spring break (Remember those? Maybe not.)

We covered a lot of ground in our recent “Back to Basics” session of the program. (See pics from the session here.) My favorite topic is always the trust equation from Maister and Green’s The Trusted Advisor. The simple and not perfectly mathematical formula postulates that your ability to engender trust is equal to your credibility plus reliability plus intimacy divided by your self-orientation. Thus, we are more likely to trust someone that knows their stuff, does what they say they are going to do, is genuinely interested in knowing us as a person, and behaves in a selfless fashion. We are also much more likely to enjoy their company.

Stereotyping individuals that have a single weak variable is enlightening. The person with low credibility is a blowhard. The unreliable individual is a flake. Score low on the intimacy scale and you will come across as cold as a robot. Score high on all these things, but make it apparent that it is all about you and you may be a politician. We all know people that fall into one of these buckets and we probably don’t trust them much. This formula works in both commercial and personal contexts.

Of all the factors that affect trust the one that is the easiest to master is reliability. It doesn’t take years of education or a personality transplant to start following through on your commitments. In my experience, it is also the easiest way to differentiate yourself from the generally unreliable masses. All of us would benefit from periodically checking ourselves against the trust equation and identifying our weak variable. There is no excuse for letting poor reliability get in the way of building trust.

You, Inc.

9 Feb

The title of this week’s Housley Principled Leadership Program session is “You, Inc.”

We are identifying and sharing the qualities or attributes that we respect in others. These characteristics are most likely the building blocks of the person that we each aspire to be. Using the metaphor of a brand, we will explore the need to ensure consistency between our behaviors and the promise our personal brand represents.

In an effort to gain a better awareness of myself, I have been contemplating the list of characteristics I respect in others. This has been tremendously helpful in understanding my own reactions toward the people in my life. My short list of most admired qualities includes a tremendous work ethic, reliability, competency, fearlessness, and social engagement. I also like people that are funny, humble, adventurous, positive, curious, and respect themselves.

Each of these attributes has its own story and I can’t yet claim that they represent my personal brand promise, but I am proactively attempting to live up to these descriptions. My hope is that one day my colleagues will describe me using all of these words…even humble (but then, hey, almost nobody’s perfect.)

Abundance

2 Feb

Abundance is a great word and an even better mindset. Preparing for Session Two of the Stelos Alliance’s Housley Principled Leadership Program is providing me with the opportunity to relearn some timeless lessons and reassess my approach to leadership.

This session is titled, “The Attributes of Effective Leadership” and covers a lot of ground including proactivity, integrity, empathy, prioritization, interdependence, and understanding your personal mission. These are all important characteristics of a good leader; however, I believe that the most important is the attitude of abundance.

Those that believe that life is a zero-sum game are limiting not only their leadership effectiveness, but also their success. An abundance mentality creates a framework for human interaction. Seeking alternative solutions that create a “win” for all parties is hard work that requires both empathy and creativity.

This is not about being “nice” or compromising your principles. It is not about settling or giving in. It is about balancing courage and toughness with consideration and understanding. You can’t do that if you think that someone else has to lose in order for you to win. There is enough pie for everybody and by working together we can find a way to make it bigger…and it will probably taste better.

Know Thyself

27 Jan

Today we launched the second edition of the Stelos Alliance’s principled leadership program delivered in memory of our good friend Kevin Housley. The program is designed to give talented young people the opportunity to learn more about themselves and what it takes to influence others to action through principled leadership practices. The curriculum launches twenty-four super star students on a journey toward a life of consequence. Their goal is not just to lead, but to matter.

Session One is all about self-awareness. How many of us find ourselves well into adulthood without a true understanding of what motivates us, our attitude toward life, or how we are perceived by others? Human beings are terrible judges of what will make us happy and mild to moderate delusions help most of us get through our days of chasing elusive goals that are not really that important. The gift of honest introspection must be cultivated by the principled leader. If you have been to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, then you know that this is ancient wisdom (you also know that it is one hell of a hike up). One of the inscriptions on the temple wall says simply, “Know Thyself.” Wise old Greeks.

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