A few days ago I had the great opportunity to spend five days with John C. Maxwell and my fellow leadership coaches and the John Maxwell Team faculty. A few of us who are in a mentorship program spent one day with him watching the movie Braveheart and uncovering the leadership principles in the movie. (Side note: can ya’ll believe that movie came out in 1995?? Almost twenty years goes by fast. I remember watching it with my dad as a teenager and really loving it and talking about the passion that William Wallace had for his people as a leader. My dad was an amazing leader himself who I was blessed to learn from in the first 19 years of my life. I wish he was still here.)
So fast forward to present day and I got to watch it again, this time with the #1 leadership guru in the world, John Maxwell. So many great discussions happened in that day that I cannot cover it all here, but I want to share the biggest takeaway that I took from the experience and the leadership lessons from the movie.
First, here is brief overview of what Braveheart is about - William Wallace is the main character who leads a grass roots revolution in Scotland against England in the 13th century. He begins with just a few followers that turns into a revolution and although he sacrifices his life for the cause, the momentum he started continued and the Scots continue to fight and win their freedom. There is a lot more in the plot and and the fight scenes are pretty gruesome, so beware weak stomachs, but there is some amazing dialogue and really great story telling in this film. I cried off and on throughout the whole movie because of the passion, dedication and servant leadership Wallace showed in the film. I couldn’t even talk with my table mates about my takeaways for at least five minutes because I was still crying. Now on to the lessons I learned from the experience and movie...
Leaders Evaluate Life
The thing that John did so masterfully at the end was engage us by asking our individual takeaways, what we thought was the #1 most important leadership lesson from the movie. Mine was: Leadership is about sacrifice and service to people, especially your people. This is important to note because this activity got us exercising our thinking skills to evaluate what we had just experienced in a meaningful way and how it translates into daily life. This is something that he encouraged us to do as leaders on a daily basis: at the end of each day, spend 10-15 minutes evaluating the lessons you have learned from the day. Do a daily debrief and think into what the day has taught you and how you will apply the new learning to your life. Leaders evaluate life.
Transformational Leaders Inspire Others
After we each stated our individual takeaways at our tables, we synthesized our responses to one response from our table. Then we broke for lunch and John spent his lunch break compiling 25 table’s responses into a few themes and created one sentence with the biggest lessons from the movie. Those themes were: sacrifice, cause, passion, legacy, courage = transformational leadership.
“Transformation that endures requires a leader to possess a calling that gives clarity, a cause that instills courage and a moral authority that influences others.” He then elaborated...Moral authority is when your walk and talk match, which is different than positional authority. Moral authority doesn’t require a title. Wallace didn’t have a title, he wasn’t even a noble, he just led by example. Wallace’s calling was leadership, but his cause was freedom. The cause of freedom gave him and his followers passion and courage, enough to sacrifice their lives for it. This along with his greatest asset, his mind, gave him influence. He was able to think into how to win battles and strategize, and inspire others to follow him, eventually transforming his country.
Wallace was a great leader, but he did make mistakes along the way. Some of those lapses in leadership and judgement ended up getting him killed. We discussed at length all the leaders in the film and their greatest assets and weaknesses, but I won’t cover all of it here. I will say the movie is well worth your time to watch it, maybe with your leadership team, and do a deep debrief. I took away a list of questions to ask myself in order to become a better leader. These questions might be of help to you too in your journey of leadership development.
Have you seen the movie? If so, I’d love to hear your biggest leadership lessons you learned from the film!
P.S. The movie was heavy, but John likes to have a good time....He dressed up for the occasion!
Summer is winding down and parents everywhere are looking at the upcoming school year...some with joy and excitement, others with fear and trepidation. You see, some parents have kids that do well in school, get along with others, lead themselves and their peers well. But some parents have kids that are picked on, harassed or bullied by other kids. And some parents have the bullies. To help you prepare your kids for back to school, I have put together some tips from John Maxwell's YouthMAX Leadership Program that can help you and your child deal with the new school year in a positive, empowering way.
Leadership Is Influence
Everything rises and falls on leadership, and leadership is all about influence. Kids are never too young to be taught these principles. By teaching our kids how to lead themselves well, we can give them the coping skills to handle the situations that they face every day. In order to do that, we must first teach them integrity. And you guessed it - the way to teach/influence/lead them is by modeling it ourselves! Setting up a strong moral code for them gives kids the foundational beliefs that will guide them through their entire lives. Very simply, teach them what you believe and teach them by your example. Kids watch their parents and learn by imitation, rather than by memorization. It's the old "do as I say, not as I do" thing that we need to be careful of here. Hopefully, they will begin positively influencing their peers as well by acting with integrity.
Choices Determine Character
Helping kids build character is another important part of teaching them about leadership. "Character" is the accumulation of qualities that make us dependable and trustworthy. Things like honesty and integrity are the keys to good character. It is that concept of doing the right thing even when no one is watching. They will see that, by being honest, people will learn to trust them - Mom and Dad included. Another good character behavior to model is keeping your word. When they see you follow through with plans or promises, they will know that it is an expected behavior. Teach them to do what they say they will do.
Character, and life in general, is a product of the choices we make. This applies to adults and children. Teaching kids to listen to their inner voice can be challenging if you're trying to do it out of context. Look for "teachable moments" with your kids and it can be a lot simpler. When you witness someone else making a poor choice, you can use that opportunity to discuss what they would do in the same situation and talk about possible outcomes. Maybe it was your not-so-great choice that you can discuss with them - a traffic violation, for example. Or maybe you were the bully in school and you can teach them what not to do. I tell kids the story of going back and apologizing to the kids I made fun of in junior high because as an adult I finally realized the impact of my stupid behavior, and even though it was years later, I wanted to make things right. We have to teach our kids to accept responsibility for their own actions, and teach them the self-discipline to make good choices. Everyone makes mistakes, but how we recover that mistake is important - owning up and apologizing when we have made a bad choice is a sign of good character.
Lift Up, Stand Up, Pick Up
We frequently hear news reports about kids being bullied. Some leading to terrible tragedies, like suicide and severe beatings or even death. There are three really simple principles to teach your kids that can help them deal with various interpersonal situations - and teach them how NOT to be the bully. First of all, kids need to use their words to Lift Up others. Words are very powerful and can emotionally tear another person down. They can also build a person up! Encourage them to use them to Lift Up others and celebrate their good attributes and support them! Offensive language, put downs - or insults, and threats of pay back are all typical tactics used by bullies. Remind them how bad it feels when they are spoken to in this way and help them understand other's feel just as bad when they do it to them.
Empower your kids with the knowledge that leadership is influence - and that they have influence - and you empower your child to Stand Up to bullies on behalf of themselves and others. Statistics show that, in most cases, if someone says something in the first five seconds, the bullying will stop. If kids are confident in their leadership skills, they will be confident enough to help someone who is being bullied. By teaching them all of these skills and empowering them to believe in their own leadership abilities, you can help your son or daughter Pick Up someone who is being bullied.
Here are some ideas to implement at home to help kids develop values and make decisions based on those values:
P.S. Bullies grow up and go into the workforce! All of these tips apply to us as well. We can show strong character, we can lead ourselves and our teams to do the right thing - Lift Up, Stand Up and Pick Up others at work, too!
I'd love to know how you're preparing your kids to be little leaders this school year. Do you talk with them about character, bullying and leadership? If so, share with us your recommendations in the comments!
Leadership is defined as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization”. However, I believe that good leadership means leading ourselves first! For women, the leadership roles that we take on – by choice, by chance, or by necessity – can be both rewarding and overwhelming. The rewards are pretty obvious; successful business ventures, happy relationships, growing families and close friends. These things can all be overwhelming, too. Let’s face it, they all involve real work on some level and they all need your consistent involvement.
As we move through our day-to-day responsibilities we often lose ourselves in the needs of those we lead and serve. Think about it: when was the last time you postponed something that you needed or wanted and instead invested your time and energy in your family or business? Did you skip your workout to schedule a last-minute meeting? Stay up late so you could catch up on emails? Cancel plans to meet a deadline? Put off a hair appointment for a kid's soccer game? Hey, it happens, we all do it. But when it starts to happen more often than not, you need to look at what you’re really sacrificing.
Oxygen Mask on YOU First
As women, we face a unique set of challenges in leadership, both in the business world and at home. We are expected to find a work/life balance that meets the needs of our clients and families and still allows us to have a life away from the needs of others. You remember that “life", right? Dinner with friends, that hobby you love, time to pamper yourself…whatever it is the rejuvenates you? If you forgot, it’s probably because that is the first thing to go when things get busy or stressful at work or at home. And as leaders, it can be difficult to find a way to manage stress that doesn’t create yet another time-management conflict. What if I told you that you can, and should, carve out the time you need to keep yourself mentally and physically well? In fact, your business and your personal life can benefit from your well-being. The reason they tell you on the airplane to put the oxygen mask on yourself first applies in our day to day lives as well, if we can't lead ourselves well, we are not going to be able to lead others well.
Communication is Key
Another huge factor in good leadership success is effective communication. Your verbal communication skills are obviously very important. The success of your life hinges on your ability to communicate your ideas, plans, and goals in an effective manner. However, communication is more than the conveyance of words. We communicate verbally and non-verbally and the better we are at creating shared meaning with those we lead, the more success we can have. Learning how to effectively communicate with colleagues, employees, family members and friends can help you simplify your life by cutting down on misunderstandings. It can also help you increase efficiency at work and is a very important part of successful conflict resolution.
Help is Here!
Finding that balance between the things that need to be done and the things you would like to do can be difficult - this is where I can help you. My Leadership Retreat for Women is a unique opportunity for you to learn how to lead yourself well – body, mind and business. Discover why it is so important to take care of yourself, learn new leadership skills and how your well-being can positively impact your leadership experience - and have FUN! Meet like-minded women and learn, together, new skills to improve your life and business in a relaxing environment. Forget about boring conference rooms and Power Point presentations. As we work through this two-part weekend, we will be on the beach, poolside, on a catamaran and at the spa. The first part of the retreat will focus on evaluating how you take care of yourself and implementing plans for growth and development. During the second half of the retreat, we will work on improving our communication, conflict resolution and interpersonal skills as leaders.
Click here for more information or to complete the application for the retreat. Space is extremely limited; don’t miss your chance to take part in this unique approach to self-development. Guys, don't worry, there is something for you coming up soon as well, so stay tune! In the meantime, pass this along to a women in your life who needs to reconnect with herself.
Are you one those people who never feels like you have enough hours in the day to get everything done? One of the most common things I hear people say is "I would do xyz if I had more time." Or I don't have time to workout, using a personal excuse, but the truth is not that I don't have time, reality is I don't make time.
As I listened to a good friend and mentor, Jon Harrison, discuss his leadership tips last week, one thing I noticed that he does is put in the time to lead. He gives people the gift of his time. It is way too common in our businesses for leaders to say I am too busy to make time for the front line people, or get to know Joe in the basement working on the system that keeps our facility heated and cooled. But the message that this can send to those front line people is, I am too important to care about little old you. By not spending time with these people we are saying your job is not significant enough for me to get to know you as a person, what you need to do your job well or how I can support you, until something goes wrong, you mess up or I need you. Then I can yell at you without even knowing your name. This may sound like an exaggeration, but I promise you it happens every day across industries.
What the best leaders know is that giving the gift of your time, even looking at it as an investment, will pay dividends on the back end. Taking the time to really learn what all the job functions are in your organization and listening to what people need from you to do these jobs well pays off in employee engagement and productivity. More importantly getting to know them as people, as mothers and fathers and golfers and artists outside of work, will create relationships that develop a loyalty that cannot be bought by an extra dollar an hour by the competition. It's also just the right thing to do!
On some level we all know this is true, but back to the original I don't have time excuse...my response is make time! Build it into your calendar, daily, weekly, whatever that looks like. Schedule a block of walking around time getting to know people at all levels. Build in weekly face to face, one on one time with direct reports to find out what they need from you to do their best, whether it is resources and support in doing their work or how to best lead them and communicate with them. One thing Jon did that showed his 700 employees he cared about them was take the time to write a personalized birthday card to each and every one of them. In order to make it personal, he had to know who they were to begin with. I worked for James Lee Witt for a number of years and his open door policy, was the real deal, he was transparent and available to all of us at our small firm, but also when he was director of FEMA he had a full day each week when anyone at any level could come talk to him about anything.
What about you? What do you do to give the gift of your time to people? How do you invest in the lives of those you lead? You could lead a small team, a huge organization, a family or just yourself. Please share your tips and insights in the comments. Also, if you want to learn more from Jon Harrison on this, you can download his book, The Front Line Factor, in iTunes.
P.S. I don't only read books by guys named Jon, with no 'h', just happens the last two posts mentioned the two I do! ;)
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