Posts Tagged ‘leaders’

Self Leadership Thrives on Autonomy Not Control

Have you heard about the Self-Determination Theory (SDT)?  This theory is about an intrinsic psychological motivation need that all humans have.  When we begin to peel away this theory, we can see autonomy is inherent to self leadership.

self-leadershipThe SDT defines autonomy as being able to make a choice.  I disagree with a recent posting by Seth Godin in which he stated “Human beings thrive on the quest for total control.”  No human beings thrive on being able to make a choice which is quite different than being in control.

Self leadership is all about making choices because if you cannot make good choices for yourself, then how can you expect others to follow the choices you made?  This is like if you jumped off a bridge do you expect those behind you to follow? Control is the end result of that choice we made through our decision making process.

As leaders we can selectively choose to be independent, go our own way, to choose to be dependent, go with others.  This choice is based upon our own feelings, our own experiences, our own critical thinking skills, our own knowledge and our existing relationships with those around us. Risk taking is the opposite of being in control and is another outcome of autonomy.

Until we can appreciate this strong innate motivational drive of being autonomous, we may become easily mislead when other experts make statements such as what Godin made.  The key word here is thrive.  We thrive on choices and control is the result of a choice we make.


There is very little in life we can control.  In fact most people invest far more of their time focusing on what they cannot control than what they can control or influence.

Those with high self leadership talents understand how to use their talents to thrive by making choices to better themselves (Mastery within the SDT) and to relate to others (Purpose within the SDT).  When we boil everything down, the ability to make a choice is far more related to the clarity of our decision making process than attempting to be in control.

In life there is a lot of we cannot control.  Sometimes we allow our egos to think we are in control.  Yet, an unexpected event happens for good or for bad and we are caught off guard.  Maybe this is why some think we thrive on being in control.

Yes the ability to be autonomous, to make a choice can be very intimidating.  This intimidation may be restrict the potential self leadership that resides within all of us. We cannot allow that intimidation that may be viewed as fear from keeping our innate motivational drivers from moving us forward. S

Self leadership is behind most of today’s advances in business and in life.  By understanding each of us thrives on autonomy, making a choice, will allow us to continue the advances we have seen in the last 100 plus years.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Challenging Windmills Should We or Should We Not as Leaders?

People are strange creatures.  We are told to mind our own business and yet if embrace this attitude are we losing opportunities to challenge the status quo?  Yes sometimes challenging windmills (the status quo) is foolish and yet at other times maybe worth the involvement.

challenging-windmillsYesterday I challenged a woman who left her shopping cart in a disable parking space and she was only two parking spaces from the cart corral.  She was physically able as she brought the cart to her car.

So in returning my cart, I grabbed hers and made a comment (somewhat sarcastically yet with a smile) about how she obviously could not return the cart and apparently had no respect for disabled people. I then told her I would take her cart and return it to where it belonged.

This woman (I will not use the term lady) who was anywhere from 15 to 20 years younger than myself immediately jumped out of the car and hurried toward me screaming “no one talks to me like that and I can leave my cart any damn place I want.”  So I said “What are you going to do hit me?” She then continued on a tirade of profanities and insults with one including I was uneducated.  My reply was “Obviously better educated than you given your vocabulary and grammar.”

Then she returned to her car, pulled her car behind my car and continued with her diatribe. I smiled at her and told her to have a great day.  Did you ever notice that when you are nice to unhappy people they become even more unhappy?

I am reminded of Edmund Burke’s quote about “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Possibly challenging windmills be it leaving carts in parking spaces to other daily bad behaviors is our responsibility as leaders. 

Growing up whether it was in our local neighborhood or when I visited the family farm in Northern Wisconsin, I was always reminded about my bad behavior because people were not afraid to tell my parents or grandparents if I misbehaved.  Even in our local neighborhood, my daughter knew the neighbors would tell if she was misbehaving.

Have we become so fearful of being judgmental that we fail to take on challenging windmills we see around us?  Of course, we must still be respectful.  I did not yell at the lazy woman nor indicated any violence other than a rather sharp verbal comment.

My sense is as leaders we have an obligation to challenge the status quo, to respectfully call people out when they misbehave.  Of course our interactions may only change one person’s behavior out of 100 and maybe that one person may later change another’s.

Challenging windmills can be risky and we must balance the pros with the cons for our own safety. Yet to take no action reflects our own leadership skills and suggests we are content with the status quo.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Must Leaders Be Liked to Be Effective?

Do leaders have to be liked to be effective?  Many may probably think right away absolutely! Yet, is this a fallacy for good leadership?

leadersBeing an effective leader is very similar to being an effective salesperson.  People must know you first before they can buy from you.  From knowing you they begin to trust you.  Liking you is probably third on the leadership characteristics’ checklist.

Leaders, effective ones, are not in popularity contests for high school president.  They must make hard choices and tough decisions.  In that process, they will not be liked.

President Reagan was not liked by many including other foreign leaders, but he was trusted by his adversaries to do what was right for America.  That trust delivered to him incredible respect.

Of course leaders who accept not being like must have strong internal convictions. They must be resilient along with having a good ego. These individuals do not bend and do not sacrifice their positive core values to be liked by others.

For some who want to be liked, they believe they must like their leaders and that may be a determent to finding the correct leader. Leadership is not about how many people like you.

No, leadership is about achieving predetermined results while demonstrating positive core values.

Right now in the American culture (as I cannot write about other cultures), the “everyone must win a trophy attitude” has further ingrained this belief that leaders must be liked. This transition has weakened  leadership development within the U.S.

Today’s employers are not finding the future leaders they need to take their organizations down the succession leadership path.  Leadership is not easy.  Effective leaders realize they cannot be liked by everyone and that is one reason why they are effective.

Think about the type of leadership you want.  Usually in life we do not get everything we want.  If we are fortunate, we may get two out of three criteria.

Do you want a leader who has knowledge?

Do you want a leader who you can trust?

Do you want a leader who you like?

If you can only have two of the above three criteria, what one are you willing to give up?

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Whiners Are Scarcity Thinkers

Is it just me or is there a lot more whiners? Between elected officials to small business owners to every day people there are a lot of leaders whining about this or that.  From my perspective, whiners are scarcity thinkers.



The world is comprised of two types of leaders as thinkers:

  • Abundant thinkers
  • Scarcity thinkers

Abundance Thinkers Leaders

Abundant thinkers see opportunities instead of roadblock and barriers. These individuals look at the big picture and think first and foremost about the team, the benefit to all.

Scarcity Thinkers Leaders

Scarcity thinkers see only the barriers.  Opportunities are failure traps.  These people deal with how they can take anything and use it to their own advantage.

Whiners whine because they cannot think beyond their own noses.  Everything is about them.

Many whiners have poor self esteem, poor self worth and little to no sense of mission. They can only sympathize about their own situations and expect everyone to agree with them.

Whiners are the “Chicken Littles of Today” with the “sky is falling” attitude.  They whined about the cold and snow and then turn around and complain about the heat and rain.

With whiners the glass is always half empty.  Everything is big deal and cannot be done.

The Can’t Do Battle Cry

“I can’t do it” is the whining battle cry.  What this means is “I lack the ability to know of how to do it and the will to learn how to do it.” It is easier to just give up or expect someone else to pick up the slack.

For employees, business partners and even family members, it is hard to follow whiners as leaders.  Scarcity thinking mentality shortchanges everyone and robs future generations of innovation and creativity.

Real Leaders Do Not Whine

Real, authentic leaders do not whine.  They look at the world of opportunity for all and just for themselves.

Our educational system unfortunately does not foster an environment for abundant thinkers because such nurturing and cultivation takes too much time and challenges the status quo.  What we need here in the business world, the U.S. and the world is many more abundant thinkers and way less scarcity thinkers.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

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Lead as a Shepherd Leads

What image comes to mind if I would say to you “Lead as a shepherd leads?” Since certain words conjure specific mental images, you may be visualizing the poetic character of Little Bo Peep to the religious figure of Jesus Christ. These images are for the most part positive images and we associate the word lead with specific visual images stored in our memories.

Shepherd-leadsYet, the reality is shepherds of the past were not clean shaven nor wore clean clothes. These individuals literally and figuratively lived with their sheep 24/7.  They probably smelled not only of their own body odors, but the odors associated with living in the wild among grazing animals.

Their reality of life completely differs from our reality of memory.

However, these shepherds actually were on the front lines of their flocks. They were the first to encounter any dangers and took the necessary actions to protect their investment.  Their dogs (loyal companions) followed at the back and sides of the flock making sure any stranglers quickly re-entered the flock. Shepherds of the past were indeed forward thinking leaders.

Today there are some in leadership roles who lead as a shepherd leads.  They are the first to go in front of their followers.  They are the ones to encounter the dangers and protect those they follow them.  Their leadership style embraces courage, critical thinking, compassion, creativity and communication.

Of course, this is not the status quo understanding we have of what it means to lead as a shepherd leads. However if we embraced this image along with some of the not so pleasant characteristics, would we as leaders have better results?

How often have we heard of leaders getting down in the trenches, working along side of their followers?  Or some leaders who actually go first and courageously lead their followers?

Who knows?  Possibly the next time we as leaders hear the word “shepherd,” we may change our thoughts and think about if each of us can lead as a shepherd leads?

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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Leaders Know How to Say No

Saying yes is far easier than saying no. Leaders especially those considered to be effective and forward thinking know how to say no. Of course, the first person they say no to is usually themselves.

leadersSaying no is the simple act of self-discipline. The ability to restrain natural tendencies such as eating that second cookie to staying in bed instead of getting up and going for a daily early morning walk.

When self discipline is ingrained within each individual, this attitude becomes the foundation for saying no when placed in leadership positions. Of course, there are some leaders who take it to the extreme, but then they are not usually considered truly effective or forward thinking.

In some instances, forward thinking leaders may say no, but will then ask is there another or better way to handle this situation or idea? No becomes an impetus or springboard for creativity to innovation. This alternative brings emotional intelligence into conversation. Emotional intelligence is recognized as a strong leadership talent.

There are other talents that support how to say no including:

True leaders understand when to say No is equally if not more important than when to say Yes. They accept the fact leadership is not a popularity contest. Being an effective leader is about achieving results through clearly articulated positive core values (business ethics and personal ethics).

leaders-business-ethicsThese forward thinking leaders also appreciate the fact that saying No strengthens the core values of the organization (business ethics) and that the “anything goes behaviors” to get the order or win the voter are not acceptable and definitely not rewarded.

Yes leaders, really great leaders, know how to say no and stand their ground.  They will not waiver when they know right from wrong. And in some instances, they may leave their positions because they will not sacrifice their positive core values just to hear yes.

Saying no as stated earlier is not easy especially in a “yes” society. When forward thinking leaders say No and mean No, the organization benefits from such leadership.  Possibly if more leaders would say No, then organizations would realize sustainable business growth and success.

The Attribute Index is an exceptional assessment instrument to clarify the leadership talents in your organization or even for yourself.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to high performance sales people who require a tailored executive coaching solution and to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.



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Leaders Simply Take the Time to Listen

One observable leadership trait is forward thinking leaders take the time to listen. Listening is both an art and a skill that can be developed over time. Yet some in leadership roles fail to recognize how powerful this simple skill truly is.

leadersMaybe because I am what is called a low key salesperson listening for me is quite easy.  As I shared in my book, Be the Red Jacket in a sea of Gray Suits clear active listening has these 5 elements:

  • Clarity
  • Legitimize
  • Emotions
  • Agreement
  • Retention

Clarity is the process of separation.  By listening to separate the wants from the needs, the intangibles from the tangible, the knowns from the unknowns provides leaders with a key competitive advantage.

Legitimize is all about listening for the real problems. Many go for the obvious problems that are really symptoms in disguise and the real problem is never identified or worse yet corrected.

Emotions are internal to human beings.  We are emotional creatures.  This is where the non-verbal, the para-verbal (syntax, speed, etc) and the actual verbal words become extremely important.

Agreement is when the listener identifies and evaluates those areas where both the sender and the receiver agree.  Additionally the word agreement implies a subconscious contract.  Agreement provides a springboard for further development of the relationship especially in its earlier stages.

Retention is hearing what was actually said. This suggests the leaders have placed their agendas to the side. In many instances what has been said may have been ignored by others because they were too busy thinking of their next response or already thought they “knew the score.”

Yes listening, clear active listening takes an investment of time. Possibly more than one meeting may be required. Using the excuse “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy” are just that excuses.

To truly hear what is being said is indeed crucial especially in today’s technology driven marketplace where some believe words on a computer screen reveal the entire meaning of the conversation. So if you wish to improve your leadership skills as well as your business results, then stop and take the time to listen.

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Leaders Still Decide with Their Gut

How many times have we heard of leaders or even experienced it ourselves about going with our “gut thinking” when it comes to making decisions?  Now there appears to be some qualitative research that suggests gut thinking is still very much alive when it comes to executives and other leaders making those critical decisions.

leadersAccording to The Economist Intelligence Unit, only 10% of the leaders surveyed primarily use intuition or gut thinking when making decisions. However, 73% say they trust their own intuition when it comes to making those crucial decisions.

Additionally, 68% would trust their gut thinking (gut brain) when it came to making a decision that was not supported by the facts or data.  This data does suggest there is still a lot of trust place in the power of intuition.

Over six years ago I read a book, Get Out of Your Own Way: The 5 Keys to Surpassing the Everyone’s Expectations, this book written by Robert K. Cooper, Ph.D.,  revealed there is more to intuition, gut thinking than many people realize.

He defined the brain as a processing center and that we have more than one brain.  The gut is one of those processing centers. Cooper believes intuition is a skill that can be developed and connects intuition to the invention of machines to creating the future.

His findings are not just opinion by supported by medical doctors who know and recognize the relationship between our head brain and our gut brain.  Did you know the enteric nervous system, the gut brain or also known as our second brain, (ENS) contains more than 100 million neurons and is far faster (estimates of a million times) faster in processing data than our head brains?

Our gut thinking benefits from our experiences and hence our intuition grows stronger as we grow older, much like emotional intelligence. This is because our head brain and gut brain are directly connected and those neural pathways from the gut lead directly to the amygdala where most our emotional memories are stored.

What probably we as leaders may wish to take away from all of this information is using data to make decisions is reasonable given 42% according to the Economist lead with data in their decision making process.  However we may also wish to remember that our gut brains, our gut thinking is also necessary and is physically connected to our gray matter.  And when push comes to shove in making a decision, go with the gut is still very viable especially for experienced (think age) leaders.

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Be One of the Few Leaders; Not One of the Many

Think about the majority of organizational leadership development programs.

leaders-leadershipWhat do they have in common?


Additionally this competency commonality is supported by an internal belief that by training or developing key personal competencies those individual leaders will contribute positively to the bottom line.

If this was true, then why does execution that being the inability to achieve the goals (think operational excellence through desired results) still continues to rank in the top 10 challenges faced by executives to those in sales management? (Sources: Conference Board, Ernst & Young)

The competency based leadership development program or model is held together with these two words:

Hope & Prayer

There is an internal hope that if the organization grows the leaders through specific qualities, then praying takes over to ensure the results may be achieved.

Now does this really make sense?

If human beings are unique individuals with unique characteristics and talents, then the real question to ask yourself is:

Am I looking at leadership development from the wrong end of the horse so to speak?

What would happen if you or your business would define the desired results first and then grow both the people (leaders) and the processes to achieve those results?

  • Would there be improvement in execution?
  • Would leaders be using their own key talents in their efforts:?
  • Would there be greater alignment between the strategy, structure, processes, rewards and the people? (5 Star Model)

A results based leadership model makes more sense for several reasons.

#1 – Alignment between actions and desired results is increased.

#2 – Leaders would be using their own key talents instead of being forced to improve their weaknesses.

#3 – A competitive advantage becomes natural because the business becomes one of the few to achieved the desired results instead of one of the many who is still living with hope.

The competency leadership development model never really was effective because this model:

  • Drained the resources of time, energy money and emotions within the organization
  • Failed to leverage the natural talents of the leaders
  • Created failed communication that generated failed execution because of misalignment

If you or your organization truly want to be one of the few, then deep six the competency based leadership development program and start fresh with a results based leadership model.

Fail-Safe Leadership is a quick read (under150 pages) and provides some “straight talk,” “no fluff” in how to correct the leadership challenges in your organization.


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Leaders Must Be Present When the Going Gets Tough

When leaders be them elected or in business fail to be present to hear potentially negative remarks demonstrates they are not authentic leaders. The recent walk about by the Democrats in the US Congress hearing on Benghazi revealed why we have a leadership problem here in the US.

leadersWhen the going gets tough, leaders must remain. Leaving the scene or the moment is not an option.  They must lead by facing those difficult moments.

Exceptional eadership means you will have those moments when you must face criticism even if you have been placed in a no-win situation.

Authentic and exceptional leaders recognize there are consequences for their decisions and sometimes those consequences are not of their own choosing, They must deal with what is happening at that moment.

As a former elected school board trustee, employee, sales manager and even parent, I could not walk out when the going became tough.

If we want our young people, our employees and our citizens to be leaders, then those in higher positions must demonstrate authentic leadership. They cannot leave their posts when the going gets tough.

Our country suffered a tremendous blow when our political leaders now believe they can walk out when the going gets tough. They are sending a terrible message to all citizens and leaders.

Thanks heavens George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, Thomas Edison and Mary Kay Ash did not leave their posts when the going got tough.

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