Naked Leadership: Stripped Down To Its Purest Form

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When’s the last time you got naked?

I’m not talking about the shower, but as a leader.

Leadership stripped down to its purest form is: relationships.

As a former Youth Pastor employed at a church (Non-Profit Organization) naked leadership is void of power and money. Most workers are volunteers which means leverage boils down to what they think of their leaders.

For example, leaders can only ask from their people what they are willing to do themselves. It’s leadership by showing. Do as I say, but not as I do never works.

Today’s managers use coercion to get things done a certain way, but that “carrot and stick” method only works for so long.

In order to truly unlock the potential of those under your care you have to help them realize their strengths then put them in a position to succeed. That means trusting them by offering autonomy with clear objectives. Allowing people to make mistakes and learning from them.

Leading and develop people can be two different things. Naked leadership is about showing people you care before telling them what you know.

Think about your favorite leader. It may be someone you are close to or admire from afar. What they share is their genuine care for the wellbeing of people over results. In order to accomplish that as a leader you have to be secure enough to allow people to fail in order to succeed.

Naked leadership goes back to recess on the playground as a kid. No one appoints the leader, he or she just asserts themselves. That’s just the opposite of positional leadership which focused on titles, not earning the respect of others.

The difference between naked and positional leadership is longevity. Retention is about loyalty as much as it is about pay or perks. How employees act when their leader isn’t around is a true test of their allegiance.

Naked leadership means there is nothing to hide. It can be scary, but ultimately revealing at the same time.

Are you a naked leader?

The Future Of Leadership

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You may think this is about a new type of leadership, but it’s not.

The future of leadership has more to do with “where” than “how.”

It’s remote.

Flex-time or working from home is here to stay for many reasons: less distractions, no commute and becoming new parents. But the heart of remote leadership lies in trust.

Think about it. What people hate is being micromanaged. That usually happens when your boss is “looking over your shoulder” expecting you to do the work a certain way.

Working remotely completely diminishes that. Responsibility and self-discipline becomes a two-way street. Bosses need to be clear about what needs to be done. Workers need to make sure tasks are accomplished.

Being stuck to a location limits your talent community and allows for two extremes: micromanaging and hands-off leadership. Neither are beneficial for the company.

Not being in the same physical space forces both sides to focus on what matters: finishing the work while leaving out what doesn’t: how it’s being done.

A great way to test out remote leadership is at your office before you make the transition. Working remotely saves time and money, but most of all it provides what we all want more of: autonomy.

Are you a part of the future?

Why Seniority Is A Terrible Qualifier

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Work your way up the corporate ladder is what you were told. Hard work does pay off, but it’s not enough. When you get promoted into a leadership or executive role, it may not be the best move for you. Here’s why:

Think of 3 different levels in an organization.

The foundation is the technical worker(s) a.k.a. the widget maker.

The middle layer is leadership, also known as management.

On the top is the executive team, otherwise known as the C-Suite.  

Historically managers are promoted because of tenure on the job, but the skill set needed to lead is much different than dealing with customers. I’ve witnessed older managers get promoted because of their loyalty to the company, but once elevated the proverbial wheels fell off. Just because you were great as sales, production, service, etc. doesn’t mean it will translate well at the next level (it has little to do with age, much more to do with mindset).

The same happens for middle management. Leaders are focused on managing people, but with an upgrade to the executive team, now you have to forecast growth. Thinking strategically is not the same as relationally. As a CEO, CTO or CFO you’ll spend most of your time in meetings and researching data. The additional money is nice, but you’ll soon find out if it’s the right fit for you.

This comes back to self-awareness. Knowing what you can and can’t do. Higher pay is always nice, but nowadays people quit their jobs much quicker if they don’t love and thrive in their position. Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t what it used to be. And although entrepreneurship may be sexier it’s also not for everyone. When it comes to your career path, figure out your direction before you start traveling. Pursue a role where you can make the biggest impact, learn the most and utilize your God-given abilities. Otherwise you’re just driving without a destination in mind.

3 Ways Leaders Are Willing, Not Ready

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Are leaders born or made? That’s a debate this article can’t cover (in under a 1000 words) so I won’t go there. Everybody wants to be a leader, but if you knew what it really entails you might change your mind. In previous positions I’ve held, I learned over time that leadership isn’t as glamorous as advertised. In order to be an effective leader you have to be willing to absorb the following 3 things:

1) Willing to Take The Blame – If you want to lead, you have to accept being the goat. Not the “greatest of all time,” but pointing the finger at yourself when your team fails. It may not be your fault, but when something goes wrong people usually point “up.” I remember a time one of my staff members said something insensitive during a presentation and one of the audience members expressed their displeasure to me immediately. It wasn’t my mouth that this inappropriate comment came from, but after discussing it with my colleague, I decided to publicly apologize to the crowd. I wasn’t thrilled about it, because it wasn’t my “fault,” but it was under my watch so I took the fall for my team.

2) Willing To Deflect Praise – If you love getting credit for success, get out of leadership. Books, media and social networks paint a different picture, but rarely do leaders get praised when things go well. In fact, the better you get at leading and the longer you do it, it becomes an expectation (not appreciation). It’s like the obedient, older brother who gets overlooked by the prodigal son by his father. “Hey, I’ve been doing great all this time, but now this delinquent boy comes home and you give him a party?” Thanks for noticing. Not only do you have to take responsibility for your team’s blunders, but you also don’t get rewarded for achievements. Leadership isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be.

3) Willing To Follow – Maybe the hardest lesson to learn as a leader is managing your ego, not the egos of others. I learned this as a coach. Sometimes you’re right and they’re wrong, but you still go with their decision even when it turns our bad. Why? Because leadership is about developing people. If you make all the decisions, followers become dependent on the leader and never learn to soar on their own. When you delegate responsibility/let your team make decisions and live with the outcomes, they become leaders during the process. It’s not about telling people what to do and enforcing it. That’s called dictatorship. It’s why we hate micromanagers. The best way to illustrate this concept is an inverted triangle. The leader is at the bottom and his/her job is to support the people “above” them. Serve up and you’ll never fall down.

The better question to ask when it comes to leadership is: are you willing? Leadership is not for everyone and that’s okay. There can only be so many chefs in the kitchen, then it becomes too chaotic. Leaders are thrown into situations where they aren’t prepared all the time. It’s about knowing yourself, knowing your values and knowing your role. You don’t need an official position to lead, you just have to be willing to do the tough things and not get applauded for it.