site-name

Out of Your Mind Leadership

Out of Your Mind Leadership exists simply to provide practical, usable, real-world, information on how to become a better leader and build teams that operate in a culture of responsible collaboration. Our mission is to reach Leaders at all types of organizations and to create a forum for sharing thought leadership.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Pivot: How to become a better leader by adapting to changing circumstances

When is a punch more than a punch?

 

I spent a good part of my early life studying and teaching martial arts (Kenpo). For me this is was a time of great development and learning. In fact, some of the lessons I learned during this time have helped to inform my development as a leader when I moved into various roles as a corporate manager, executive, and ultimately the owner of my own company.

One of the most important lessons that I learned from martial arts is the necessity to adapt to changing circumstances.

 

When I received my Brown Belt I thought I had attained a high level of achievement. Shortly after that I had the opportunity to spar (a training fight) with my instructor who was a 4th Degree Black Belt. During the match, I landed a solid counter punch to his ribs. Apparently, I was proud of myself for a second too long. He quickly pivoted and swept my legs. Before I knew it I was on my back staring up at his fist which he stopped about an inch from my face, which was not only a display of his self-control, but also an indication that he could have finished me.

After the match, he asked me “What did you do wrong?” Sheepishly I replied, “Clearly I got my butt kicked.” He smiled and said, “No. You landed a good hit and then you stopped.

Understand that the difference between a Black Belt and White Belt isn’t that the Black Belt doesn’t get hit. It’s what happens when you get hit that distinguishes the expert from the beginner.”

Those words and the memory of being on my back with his fist in front of my face have served as an embodied lesson about the power of pivoting.

 

What are the leadership lessons here?

 

1. "If the plan changes, change the plan, not the goal." 

A plan is just a collection of assumptions and anticipated tasks to achieve a desired outcome. Most leaders assume that the work is the execution of the plan. However, the real work comes from navigating through changing circumstances and adapting the actions you coordinate for the sake of achieving that same outcome. This is the ability to pivot and it is a critical leadership skill. In my experience with my Black Belt instructor, he was able to pivot when I landed a good punch. He adapted to what I did and used my own actions against me to his benefit. 

 

2. Because you’re a Black Belt doesn't mean you don't get hit. It's what you do when you get hit that makes a difference.

Quite often the leaders that I coach ask me to help them keep from making "leadership mistakes." It's a natural desire. Unfortunately, it's also unrealistic. You will make mistakes. You will do things one day that you will question the next. You will get "hit." It's what you do when you get hit that matters. How quickly do you accept the fact that you just got "hit"? As a leader, things will go wrong. Things will happen that you didn't anticipate. Circumstances will change. (Did anyone see the magnitude of the financial crisis of 2008 coming?) How do you respond to what is happening around you?

 

3. "Denial" is more than a river in Egypt.

It's been said that all of human suffering comes from resistance. Primarily, it comes from people resisting reality. Reality is simply what is happening. From the perspective of leadership, I've seen this manifest itself in various ways. For example, often senior leaders convince themselves that the culture in their organization is healthy when turnover is holding steady at 60% and employee engagement is minimal at best, and half of the managers are taking vacation days so they can interview for jobs somewhere else.   

 

How well do you pivot?

 

  • What do you do when things don’t go as planned?
  • How are you actively working to accept what is happening around you?
  • Are you allowing yourself the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them?
Hits: 10498
0

From the Mouths of Leaders

b2ap3_thumbnail_Student-and-book-Copy.jpg 

Spend enough time in leadership roles or around leaders in organizations and you will hear people say things that will make you turn your head. Sometimes it's because you have heard a strong leader give exactly the right message to the right person at the right time. Those moments can be transformational.

Then there are times when you hear leaders say things so ridiculous that you have to turn your head to see if they were joking. Not long ago, I heard a senior executive make a comment that fell in the category of the latter. One of her staff members was leading an initiative that was transforming how a business unit would function. She said, "You're the leader. You stick to the strategic level. You don't worry about how it gets done."

I couldn't believe my ears. Then it occurred to me, this is the kind of leadership that many organizations practice (and has led to their destruction). In fact, some very popular leadership books clearly state that the main job of a leader is to "inspire a vision" or that "the domain of leaders is the future," thus implying that real leaders don't function in the here and now. This is absolute HOGWASH.

Understanding Real Leadership

Real leadership doesn't happen in the future. Real leadership happens here and now. In reality, probably 80% of real leadership happens in the interaction between two or more people. It happens face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder with those people you hope to lead. Don't get me wrong, vision is good and is an important factor to leadership. But it is not the end by itself, and alone it is not enough

Leadership is about effectively influence others to a common goal. It's about getting the right people to do the right things at the right time for the right reasons. Dwight Eisenhower said it best,

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it".

If you can master influencing through effective relationships, you can learn to be a good leader. And, make no mistake, leadership can be learned. And the first thing that leaders learn is that trying to go it alone leads to failure. There is a futility in trying to be leader without considering those you are trying to lead.

You Can't Lead If You Aren't With Those You Are Leading

One of the most disappointing things I've seen that perpetuates this image is the successory quote about leadership. You know the one. It has the bald eagle sitting alone in a tree and ends with, "...In the end, leaders are much like eagles...they don't flock, you find them one at a time."

This is one of the most ridiculous images for leadership I can imagine. Whenever I'm coaching a leader and I see this in their office, I immediately know that I have my work cut out for me. It's stupid because it gives the impression that a leader is one person doing things by themselves, at their own will. It's like the idea that a leader just sets the strategy and vision and then disappears. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Successful leaders are found in the middle of those they are leading. They don't swoop in, do their business, and fly off to their lone perch. Perhaps a more appropriate image for a leader might be a wolf as it is leading its pack.

Leading The Pack

Leading the pack requires:

  1. Courage to know where to go. Sure this requires vision.
  2. Leading by example (walk the walk). You can't do this unless the team can see you. You have to be among those you are leading.
  3. The ability to influence the individuals in the way most effective to them. Build effective teams.
  4. Recognition that it isn't about you, it's about the pack.

Leadership, at its core, is about influencing people where they are and getting them to go where they need to go.

So, if you are a leader how are you influencing those around you?

Are you building effective teams? Are you making sure that your followers are also building effective teams?

What are you doing to build your own influencing skills? Do something today to make yourself a better leader. Read a leadership article (good start right here). Enroll in a workshop that will build those skills.

Find a coach or mentor to talk you through your areas of your own that need improvement.

The key is, never stop working on yourself. Your team deserves it.

Hits: 3609
0

News

Customized Solutions Newsletter

Sign Up

Blog Archive

February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
October
November
December
January
February
March
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
January
February
March
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
January
February
March
April
May
July
August
October