Do You Have a Leadership Voice Yet?

One of the best leadership books that I have read this year is a new book by Paul N. Larsen. Find Your Voice as a Leader is a no nonsense leadership guide that speaks directly to the reader, not to the academics. Paul's book offers real life leadership scenarios and offers us guides that offer up thought provoking questions and plans that you can put into place every day. Although I already read this book, I am reading it again and employing Paul's advice in setting some personal leadership goals. 

I am an avid reader and champion of leading and empowering people. I want more in a book than just ideas. I want advice and guidance on how to strengthen my own leadership and put me on the path to having an impact on others in my own way.

I encourage you to pick up Paul's book and begin your own journey to stronger leadership. Leadership should be steady and influential. Leadership is not having the loudest voice in the room but building relationships and finding other ways to flex your leadership muscle. Below is a guest post from Paul Larsen to jump start your journey to using your voice to be a stable and flexible leader.

Best Practices To Be Influential And Not Invisible

Cultivate an extensive and respected network. Networking may be a catch phrase from the 1980s, but the concept is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago. No one person has all the answers or all the ideas, no matter how intelligent they are. Sharing ideas and goals with others is key to being an effective and influential leader.

Sell ideas and enroll support. Even the best ideas will languish if you’re the only one who supports them. An influential leader needs to also be a good salesperson—to garner support from management, investors, team members, and the community. If you sell your ideas persuasively, others will get on board with your vision.

Identify and remove obstacles to the team’s success. Lead as a facilitator. Another essential part of being an influential leader is clearing away any potential obstacles to success before they can get in the way of your team’s efforts and the successful realization of your vision. These obstacles might be funding issues, personality conflicts, or logistic problems. Removing these roadblocks early means your team can sail right through the project without losing momentum over unrelated issues. Entrepreneur magazine refers to breaking down barriers between team members and leaders as being crucial to leadership success.

Be flexible in your leadership style. The best—and most successful—leaders know how to adjust their style to fit the needs of diverse individuals and teams. One of the most influential leaders I’ve ever met was an airline pilot. As captain of a modern jetliner (and father to this author), he possessed the “position and title of a leader.” But he didn’t lead using his “rank” or his ego. He would treat all his airline colleagues as one cohesive team whose purpose was to fly the passengers to their destination as safely and as comfortably as possible. He regarded all the team members with respect and trusted they would be accountable for carrying out their specific job responsibilities. He believed each individual knew best how to perform his/ her unique role, and collectively they comprised a team that was focused and committed. He would listen to their insights and feedback with a genuine spirit of collaboration before any important decision was made concerning the operation of the aircraft and the carrying of its passengers. Thus, he was viewed as a trusted and respected leader, in the air and on the ground and was missed greatly when he retired after 30 years of flying. Adjusting your leadership style to fit all situations and personalities is essential to influencing your team members to produce successful results. And then watch them fly!

As a successful leader you need to be more than just knowledgeable. You need to be able to influence team members, management, and those in the community—to accomplish your vision. Improve your influence by networking well, establishing trusting relationships, clearing obstacles, and being adaptable to your environment.
Paul N. Larsen, MA, CPPC, is a Certified Professional Performance Coach and an experienced leadership consultant and speaker. He has over 30 years’ business experience with executive and senior-level responsibilities within small and large companies, including being the Chief Human Resources Officer for a $3 billion organization. Paul partners with industry-wide leaders and teams from Fortune 100, start-up, and high-tech environments to find their unique leadership “VOICE” and create compelling and purposeful outcomes for their organizations. He has a proven track record with organizations such as SAP, Electronic Arts Twitter, and Walmart.  Read more about Paul and his latest book, Finding Your VOICE as a Leader at  www.paulnlarsen.com.

Are You A Lightning Bolt?

"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work" - Mark Twain

Picture courtesy of  MRHSfan via Compfight.com

One of my favorite things about summer is the spectacular thunderstorms that roll in off Lake Michigan where I live. There’s nothing like the slow approaching sound of thunder, the darkening thick clouds drifting in, the warm breezes picking up momentum, a smell in the air, and the lightning.  I love to watch Mother Nature’s symphony in the heat of the summer. Every element of a good storm plays their part with the lightning often being the conductor – in more ways than one.

After a strong storm passes through and all is calm, have you ever noticed how healthy and green everything looks in the garden? The air smells fresh and cool. Raindrops glisten like tiny diamonds off plant leaves. If you think that everything looks greener and fresh, it does. You can thank the lightning from the storm for leaving a gift in your garden – nitrogen.

As destructive as lightning can be, it has some magical qualities. Lightning works with rain to clear up the atmosphere of dust, pollen, and other pollutants. A lightning bolt can be 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit releasing up to a billion volts of electricity! All this power produces 100 million tons of nitrogen compounds a year worldwide. The valuable Nitrogen that lightning produces is like a power drink to your garden. Nitrogen is the key nutrient that gives plants their rich green color and leafy growth. It needs to be continually renewed for plants to use it. Nitrogen is like a giant fertilizing machine. planetseed.com.

Nitrogen is all around us in the atmosphere but it’s not in a form that plants can readily use. In order to green up and grow plants need Nitrogen at the soil surface or in the dirt in order to take up Nitrogen to grow. This is where lightning comes in.  Our atmosphere is about 79% Nitrogen. When we get a strong storm the lightning provides energy that converts the atmospheric Nitrogen into Nitrogen Oxide which just happens to be the prime ingredient in fertilizer. Once this takes place, the Nitrogen is in a form that plants can absorb and use it to green up and flourish. As with any fertilizer this isn’t an instantaneous process after a lightning storm. The plants still need to draw up the nitrogen from the soil, but the rain does immediately help perk things up.www.myproductivebackyard.wordpress

Next time the storms come rolling in be thankful for the rain but hope for some strong bright lightning bolts of thunder – your plants will love being struck by lightning!

“I seem to be some sort of lightning rod. I really irritate people, you know? I really do. “– Howard Stern

There is no question regarding the power of a single lightning bolt in a turbulent stormy sky.  It has the power to inconvenience, destroy, and yes, even kick start plant growth. As bright and powerful lightning is, it can also be very silent. We know that lightning travels through the atmosphere turning nitrogen into usable Nitrogen Oxide which our landscapes gobble up producing green growth. We don’t see the process, but it’s there and it delivers a punch of growth.

Guess what? Every team has a lightning bolt as well. Is it you?

Team dynamics can really impact productivity and success. Most of us have been catapulted into teams where there is a disconnect or lack of partnering and focus. Some of my experiences still make me cringe to this day. Often the key to changing the negativity and dysfunction of a group is a lightning bolt. The lightning bolt that I am referring to is that one person on a team that has that special “something”. This person is a catalyst for new ideas, change, building consensus, and jump starting people into action. Although we see lightning bolts as dramatic and bold, that’s not always the case with the lightning bolt on your team. Often they are the quietest, steadiest, yet energetic person in the room. Look around you today at work and ask yourself who electrifies your group and has the ability to jump start change. Is it you?

The key drivers of a lightning bolt

·         He or she is the go to person on the team. This person has the knowledge, skills, and guts to jump in and contribute.
·         Not only does a lightning bolt know what others don’t, he jumps on problems and even has a sense where they will pop up. They can smell a problem a mile away.
·         Lightning knows exactly where to strike and is drawn to particular things. Those bolts on your team are equally as decisive and easily make key decisions. Decisiveness is powerful.
·         Are you flexible and open to change? In a storm it’s critical to have the ability to change direction on a dime and go in another direction.
·         The sky is a big place. So must the view be of a kick starter on your team. The ability to see the big picture is critical to leading teams.
·         Lightning is full of electrical charge. To be a lightning bolt, you must be positive.
·         Lightning bolts know how to get people moving and challenge them. They strike to bring out the best in others.
·         They are disruptors. They bring creativity and innovation which can intimidate some people.
·         Key players have the courage to strike and learn from their mistakes.
·         Lightning bolts have strong intellectual firepower - they know when to use it.
·         They have the courage to show their passion in everything that they do.

Next time you are caught in a strong storm at work, peer through the clouds and look for the lightning bolt of energy in the room. Is it you?