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Serving and Leadership
" We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. " - Winston Churchill
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Succeeding in Emotionally Charged Situations

Succeeding in Emotionally Charged Situations | Serving and Leadership |
The only progress you can make in emotionally charged situations is dealing with emotions.



Emotionally charged people may want you to fix things. If you’re able to change frustrating processes or procedures, do it. But, fixing may reinforce negative behaviors.


The person who gets what they want
after throwing a fit learns to throw more fits.

Enable people to address their own concerns. Avoid solving “for.”


Defusing strong emotions:

A Leadership Freak reader asked, “How can I defuse emotions?”...

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How to Develop 5 Critical Thinking Types

How to Develop 5 Critical Thinking Types | Serving and Leadership |

Great leaders think strategically.


They can understand and appreciate the current state as well as see possibilities. When dealing with today’s issues, they operate from a broad, long-term perspective rather than focusing only on short-term implications. And they can gather information and make decisions in a timely manner.


Most of all, strategic leaders know how to strike a balance between visualizing what might or could be and an effective day-to-day approach to implementation. They can look into the future to see where the company needs to go and what it will look like once they get there. And they can do this while making sure the right things get done on a daily basis.


This type of strategic leadership requires five different types of thinking. Knowing when and how much to utilize each one is the hallmark of great leaders.

Via Kenneth Mikkelsen
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How to Speak More Strategically

How to Speak More Strategically | Serving and Leadership |
It had been three weeks since my throat started to feel sore, and it wasn't getting better. The pain was most acute when I spoke. So I decided to spend a few days speaking as little as possible.


Every time I had the urge to say something, I paused for a moment to question whether it was worth irritating my throat.


This made me acutely aware of when and how I use my voice. Which led me to a surprising discovery: I spend considerable energy working against my own best interests. And if my experience listening to others is any indication, so do you.


In my observations, we speak for three main reasons:


1. To help ourselves
2. To help others
3. To connect with each other

That's not surprising. All three of those objectives are legitimate and worthwhile.


What is surprising though is how frequently we fool ourselves into thinking we're achieving those objectives when, in reality, we're thwarting them.


The more I listened, the more I noticed how we undermine our own interests.

Via Abdul Abdirahman
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The Secret To Meaningful, Fulfilling Social Relationships (How To Remove Social Anxiety From Your Life)

The Secret To Meaningful, Fulfilling Social Relationships (How To Remove Social Anxiety From Your Life) | Serving and Leadership |

Do you have social anxiety?


Do you feel anxious when you are around other people, especially people you are meeting for the first time?


Are you worried about how people may perceive you? Do you fear interacting with other people, because you are afraid you would slip up, make a fool of yourself, and create a bad impression in others’ minds? Do you sometimes go to great lengths just to avoid facing or interacting with other people?


Social anxiety is a common problem many face – perhaps more than one may realize. For every run of Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program and Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program, I often read about participants who have social anxiety problems, as early as when they were young.


Some of them face mild anxiety problems in the form of sweaty palms and mind blocks when they meet new people. Some face more severe problems, where they experience intense fear of being around people – even going to great lengths just to avoid such situations.

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The Surprising Power of Stopping to Begin Again

The Surprising Power of Stopping to Begin Again | Serving and Leadership |
The longer you work at something
the fewer improvements you make.


Gold Medal swimmers work unending hours shaving hundredths of seconds off their time. Not so, when they began swimming.


Improvement – at the beginning – is quick and easy; excellence – over the long haul – is slow and hard.


Large organizations may have time and resources to grind for that last hundredth of second but medium and small businesses don’t.


Begin frequently:

Spend time beginning – move on – then begin again.


For example, you’re working on streamlining customer service. Make a few obvious improvements, stabilize those improvements and move on. Go to another challenge with the idea you’ll go back to improve customer service in a few weeks or months.


Excellence is a process not a destination.

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How to See and Cure Sick Organizational Cultures

How to See and Cure Sick Organizational Cultures | Serving and Leadership |
Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of business is to create a customer.” Sick organizational cultures focus on themselves rather than customers.


"Everything that distracts, dilutes, or diverts
from creating customers suggests sickness."


Sick organizations:


1. Sink inward rather than reach outward.

2. Stop learning.

3. Struggle to keep things the same.

4. Live in fear.

5. Control rather than release.

6. Dream of the good ole days.

7. Backstab, Bite, and devour each other.

8. Don’t share information.

9. Grow heavier at the top.

10. Don’t trust


The problem:


Organizational culture is like air, you don’t notice it. Even polluted air becomes invisible as time passes. 


Sick organizations don’t know they’re sick till things start going bad.

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A creative life is a healthy life

A creative life is a healthy life | Serving and Leadership |
The link between creativity and better mental and physical health is well established by research.


There are many conversations taking place right now about creativity -- how our future depends on it, how our kids are losing it, how most schools are killing it, and how parents ought to be nurturing and encouraging it.


I recently attended a lecture on the topic by Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow at Harvard's Technology & Entrepreneurship Center and author of "Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World." The lecture took place in an auditorium that was packed with parents, well-motivated on behalf of their kids.


As the mother of two small children, I, too, am very interested in what enables young innovators to flourish and perhaps even go on to change the world.


But I am equally interested in what reignites "old" innovators. That is, how can people well past what our culture defines as their prime awaken to mobilize dormant creativity?


"I loved your book for young innovators," I told Wagner a few days after his lecture.


"But what about the rest of us? Where's our path to innovating, to changing the world?"


"The path is still there," Wagner said with a chuckle, "but it can become more difficult to find later in life."-


Why is that?

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Sacrifice and Teamwork

Sacrifice and Teamwork | Serving and Leadership |

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan


Teamwork presents itself in many flavors and forms. Teamwork is the art of joining others in pursuit of a common goal. But it’s not just joining. We don’t join a team. We become a team. Becoming a team requires sacrifice.


Michael Jordan’s whole quote shows the connection:


“There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren’t willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” -  Michael Jordan


Great players don’t win titles. Individual accomplishment shrinks when delivered by itself but it grows when sacrificed to a team. When any player clings to accolades and achievements for personal benefit above team benefit, both suffer.


No person is an island.

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Information Overload Is Not a New Problem

Information Overload Is Not a New Problem | Serving and Leadership |

There is a wonderful essay in The Hedgehog Review about the promise and perils of information overload. Titled Why Google Isn’t Making Us Stupid…or Smart, this essay written by Chad Ellmon explores the history of information overload and explores its implications.


But Ellmon also spends some time demonstrating that information overload is far from a new problem:


"These complaints have their biblical antecedents: Ecclesiastes 12:12, “Of making books there is no end”; their classical ones: Seneca, “the abundance of books is a distraction”; and their early modern ones: Leibniz, the “horrible mass of books keeps growing.” After the invention of the printing press around 1450 and the attendant drop in book prices, according to some estimates by as much as 80 percent, these complaints took on new meaning. As the German philosopher and critic Johann Gottfried Herder put it in the late eighteenth century, the printing press “gave wings” to paper."...

Via Juan Carlos Hernandez
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Five Keys to Conflict Resolution

Five Keys to Conflict Resolution | Serving and Leadership |

Ignoring  conflict or hoping it will go away is rarely the best course of action for you as a manager or employer.


Left unresolved, serious conflicts can undermine morale, cause excessive turnover, lead to legal claims and, in extreme cases, even result in violence.


What exactly is “conflict”? A simple but useful definition is: a disagreement which causes in each of the affected persons, organizations or groups a perception that their physical or emotional needs, interests or concerns are threatened. It is this threat element that makes a conflict more significant than a simple “I like chocolate, you like vanilla” difference of opinion.


As with a threat of physical harm, conflicts trigger in humans a so-called “fight or flight” emotional response. Some people respond to conflicts by fighting - becoming angry and defensive - while others “flee”, removing themselves emotionally or even physically from the situation.


Conflict in the Workplace

Some level of conflict between team members and between managers and employees is an unavoidable part of almost every workplace. Fortunately, many disagreements are minor and soon forgotten, and an effective manager recognizes when he or she can afford to simply overlook a conflict or rely on the parties to resolve it on their own....

Via AlGonzalezinfo
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It’s Easier to Give Than to Receive, But Not Necessarily Better

It’s Easier to Give Than to Receive, But Not Necessarily Better | Serving and Leadership |
9 reasons why it's better to receive than to give. If you are a leader, you probably believe you should always be competent and strong. Allowing others to help you is a sign of strength, not weakness.


How many times have you heard, “It’s better to give than receive?” It’s so ingrained in our culture, we don’t even question it.


If you are in a leadership role, chances are you believe this wholeheartedly. Which means you also probably believe you should


always be competent,


never make mistakes,


and always be strong.


 And likely you believe you should only receive when you have something to give in exchange.


One problem with this attitude is that when you are in a situation where you don’t have a choice and must receive, you are likely to feel








because it challenges your self-image.


It is easier to give than to receive, but not necessarily better. Allowing others to help you is a sign of strength, not weakness...

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How to Be Happier at Work

How to Be Happier at Work | Serving and Leadership |
It would be nice to think that you're going to be just as excited about going to work tomorrow as you were on your first day on the job.


But between increased workloads caused by your company's reluctance to hire more people, or a change in management that has put less than stellar people in charge of your little corner of the universe, or maybe the fact that you have done the same job for a while now, you may be feeling....well, not exactly burned out, but fatigued.


What to do?


• Telling yourself to get more excited about the same old thing isn't going to work. (It never does.)


• Retiring in place and simply going through the motions is not an option. (You'd be replaced a week from Thursday by someone who might not be better, but by a person who certainly has more enthusiasm.)


• And while looking for another job is clearly a choice, terrific jobs are hard to come by in this limp-along economy and you may not be ready to undergo that kind of disruption.


Let us suggest another alternative: Start something.


More specifically, start something outside of work.

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Leadership and Emotions

Leadership and Emotions | Serving and Leadership |
Like it or not, emotions are a big part of leadership. Here's how to deal with them--without becoming your team's therapist.


I once had a coaching client express her frustration with the inability of a senior team to get behind a plan and get moving. The client was a good leader with a good team.


But the organization’s growth, its pace of change, and uncertainty about its future had led to a series of false starts. The CEO was exasperated and asked, essentially, “What is it that the team does not get?”


While the team may have intellectually “got it” about the new plan, their collective emotions did not. Eventually, the CEO had a powerful insight: It takes a large heart to be a good leader.


If leadership is mainly engaged in human relations, then leadership, at its core, is largely about emotions.  Leaders would do well to reflect on the emotionality of leadership, especially during challenging situations and periods of self-doubt. 


Here are three factors to consider...

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7 Ways to Get Super Focused When You Need It

7 Ways to Get Super Focused When You Need It | Serving and Leadership |
Every now and then, I have a need to get super-focused in order to accomplish important tasks. Here are seven practices that help me.


Unfortunately, I live in the same distracting world you do, where multiple voices compete for my attention. I’ve gone through days when I didn’t accomplish a single thing on my to-do list. Yet, somehow I was busy the entire time!


Recently, I found myself in this exact situation. My new book, Platform, launched and my daughter, Madeline, got married—both in the same week. (I know, I know, what was I thinking?) I had the need to focus on the task at hand and be super-productive.

This got me thinking. Is it possible to turn focus on and off like a switch?


I am not sure I can say yes one hundred percent of the time.


But, over the years, I have found seven practices that enable me to be better focused, especially when I need to get important work done.

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Jim Collins: Be Great Now

Jim Collins: Be Great Now | Serving and Leadership |
The leadership expert sits down with Inc. editor-at-large Bo Burlingham to talk about what makes great companies tick.


Question: As much as you have written about what makes great companies tick, I don't think I have ever actually heard your definition of a great company. You must have one.


Jim Collins: Yes, I do. In defining greatness, I think it's important to differentiate between inputs and outputs. People sometimes confuse the two. There are a lot of important inputs, but greatness is in the outputs. For example, I don't think a company is necessarily great because it has a great culture. Culture is an input. Or what about a company with great systems? Also an input.


So what are the outputs? I would say there are three.


The first is truly superior performance in the arena in which you operate. In sports, your team has to win championships, or it really can't be called a great team. In business, the measure is financial—return on invested capital. I think that, to be considered great, a company must have sustained returns on invested capital substantially in excess of other companies in its industry. But that's not enough, in my view. To be great, a company also has to make a distinctive impact. I define that by a test: If your company disappeared, would it leave a gaping hole that could not easily be filled by any other enterprise on the planet?


Now, that doesn't mean the company has to be big. A restaurant could have such great relationships with customers—such a great community presence and such great food—that, if it went away, people would feel a gaping hole, and no one could easily come in and fill it.

Via Roger Francis, AlGonzalezinfo
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Daniel Goleman on Leadership and The Power of Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman on Leadership and The Power of Emotional Intelligence | Serving and Leadership |

Star leaders are stars at leading themselves, first...


I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Daniel Goleman, who is an internationally known psychologist that lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years.


His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half; with more than 5 million copies in print worldwide in 30 languages, and has been a best seller in many countries. His latest book is called Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence (Selected Writings). In this interview, he talks about emotional intelligence versus IQ, his competency framework, and more.


A recent study came out by CareerBuilder that states that 71% of employers value emotional Intelligence over IQ. What are your thoughts about this?


"It’s not “IQ versus emotional intelligence” – both have great value.


IQ tells you what level of cognitive complexity a person can manage in their job: you need high levels for top management, the professions, the sciences, while lower levels work fine in lower echelons.


Emotional intelligence (or EI) sets apart which leaders, professionals, or scientists will be the best leaders."


Can you explain your competency framework? What can professionals do to become more self-aware?...

Via Wendy Briggs Morin, Sabrina Murphy
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Overcoming the Reason People Don’t Listen

Overcoming the Reason People Don’t Listen | Serving and Leadership |
Tune into others if you expect them to tune into you. Discouraged or defeated people need strength before they’ll listen to ideas or solutions.


Give strength before giving answers or solutions.


Six Ways to Strengthen others:


1. Agree with frustrations; don’t explain why. If they feelfrustrated they are frustrated. It’s frustrating when you’re told why you’re frustrated.


2. Diffuse negative emotions by validation. Emotional people don’t listen. Emotions cloud judgment, especially discouragement, anger, or bitterness. Always deal with emotion before providing solutions.


3. Strengthen others by seeing their strengths....

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Jacqueline Novogratz’s Advice to Graduates at Gettysburg College

Jacqueline Novogratz’s Advice to Graduates at Gettysburg College | Serving and Leadership |

This month, Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz, addressed departing Gettysburg College seniors and imparted upon them, through anecdotes from her own remarkable story, a handful of beautiful aspirations to live by, summarized below.




"We’ve become a society seeking instant gratification. We want simple answers, clear pathways to success. Life does not work that way. And instead of looking for answers all the time, my wish for you is that you get comfortable living the questions."


Novogratz’s four pieces of advice, synthesized:


1. Focus on being interested, not on being interesting — don’t fall for status, seek opportunities that help you grow. (Cue in Paul Graham on prestige -


Focus more on listening and learning — the rest will come.


2. Don’t worry about what other people think of you. (Cue in Hugh MacLeod on ignoring everybody -


Take risks. Ask the “dumb” questions. Fail if you have to, and then get up and do it again.


3. Avoid cynicism. Pessimists can tell you what’s wrong with the world, but it’s the optimists who set out to change it. (Cue in E. B. White on the duty to elevate rather than lower down -


Inspiring hope in a cynical world might be the most radical thing you can possibly do. Hope may not feed us, but it is hope that sustains us.


4. Build on what came before. (Because we know creativity is combinatorial -


Before you finished getting out of bed, brushing your teeth with clean tap water, putting on clothes, making breakfast, turning off the light, walking out the door, you are benefiting from the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals from all around the world. They all deserve your spirit of generosity. So walk with humility and reverence for the human endeavor, and know it’s your job to help take that endeavor forward.

Via Kenneth Mikkelsen
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How Being Wrong Can Sometimes Be Right

How Being Wrong Can Sometimes Be Right | Serving and Leadership |
Sometimes being wrong WITH others can be the right thing to do FOR others. Guest poster Kelly Combs explains how it can create harmony, improving relationships and building trust.


The song ended on a sour note. It wasn’t the note that was actually wrong; it was the fact that everyone held the note for a different length of time. We didn’t follow the conductor. This resulted in the droning sound of a hissing snake as everyone stopped on different beats.


Exasperated, our leader said, “You have to look at me. End when I end. If I’m wrong be wrong with me!” While his last sentence caused me to pause, it made sense.


Even if he ended a beat early or late, if we all ended at the same time no one would notice. If we didn’t follow his cues we wouldn’t make beautiful music, but instead be a cacophony of voices. We had to stay together, even if it meant being wrong together.


This standard can create harmony in life, as well as in music, improving relationships and building trust.


For example:...

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Ten Truths about Leadership

Ten Truths about Leadership | Serving and Leadership |
Kouzes and Posner's ten truths about leadership.


Kouzes and Posner have compiled more than one million responses to their leadership assessment survey.  Their book “The Truth about Leadership” explores the fundamental, enduring truths of leadership that hold constant regardless of context or circumstance.


The ten truths they espouse are:


1. You Make a Difference. When you believe you can make a difference, you position yourself to hear the call to lead.


2. Credibility Is the Foundation of Leadership. You must do what you say you are going to do and you must clear about your beliefs and live them every day.



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On Leadership, Skepticism and Cynicism

On Leadership, Skepticism and Cynicism | Serving and Leadership |

While facilitating a session earlier this year, I was greeting the staff members as they arrived, and there he was: The group’s cynic.

He proudly announced when I greeted him, “Hi, I am the cynic…”

Oh My…

As he was ignoring my request to fill out a name tag, his body language and demeanor warned me that he would not be engaging during the session. His colleagues, looking a bit embarrassed, quickly greeted me, thanked me for coming and asked me about the medicine wheel activity we were about to start in the next few minutes.

Fortunately, the cynic kept to himself through the session and was not abusive or openly critical. While he didn’t engage in the activities and mostly fell asleep on his chair, he didn’t disrupt others, as is often the case with cynics.

"As you may know, there is usually a skeptic or cynic in every group."

Sometimes, in large groups, there are a few. One thing that I appreciated in this case was the cynic’s honesty. He accepted being a cynic. Many times, I encounter cynics who disguise themselves as skeptics and I find that the difference is very important.

Via AlGonzalezinfo
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Leadership’s Greatest Value

Leadership’s Greatest Value | Serving and Leadership |
Problems are giant black holes that capture focus, drain vitality, and divert resources. Solving problems seduces leaders away from future opportunities to focus on past inadequacies.


Problems that threaten organizations must be addressed, admittedly.  Sadly, many leaders are simply problem solving machines; they jump from one fire to the next.


You never build the future by solving the past.


The problem with solving problems is we think we’ve created results when we haven’t. Solving problems doesn’t create value.


“Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.” - Peter Drucker


Most calls I receive are problem centered calls. The pain of past deficiencies or failures drives us to seek solutions.


We’re looking for an “ahhh” moment to make the pain go away. We falsely believe if the pain goes away we’re heading in the right direction.

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A Room With a View

A Room With a View | Serving and Leadership |
Life is a mix of the good and the bad. Optimism isn't about happy talk or denial--it is about what you choose to focus on.


It was my first trip to Rome. I had finally made the time to visit one of the cities of my dreams, and I was excited. The cab let me out in front of the Hotel Eliseo, near the Via Veneto, and the reception desk manager told me I had a room on the first floor.


“Do you have a room with a view?” I asked.


He paused, deliberated purposefully, and let me know in no uncertain terms that he was doing me a great favor by giving me a room on the fifth floor. “A panoramic view!” he exclaimed.


The bellhop helped me get my bags to the room. I walked to the balcony and took in a breathtaking view of the city. It couldn’t have been lovelier.


Suddenly I heard a noise I can liken only to a violent earthquake. It was coming from the wall behind the headboard of my bed—a great shaking and gnashing of steel. After a little investigation, I discovered it was the elevator equipment. Every time somebody pushed the elevator button, I was treated to that monstrous rumbling.


Then it hit me: what a metaphor for life! The perfect view accompanied by the elevator shaft. The good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, side by side.

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5 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence is Critical for Leaders

5 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence is Critical for Leaders | Serving and Leadership |

When asked to identify the necessary traits for leaders, most would propose answers that fall within a wide range of topics.Charisma, purpose, determination – these are just a few of the traits that are typically used to define a leader.


However, many leaders have a single quality in common. In short, what distinguishes the best leaders from the majority is their level of emotional intelligence.


Emotional intelligence is defined by the ability to understand and manage our emotions and those around us.


This quality gives individuals a variety of skills, such as the ability to manage relationships, navigate social networks, influence and inspire others. Every individual possesses different levels, but in order for individuals to become effective leaders, they’ll need a high level of emotional intelligence. 


In today’s workplace, it has become a highly important factor for success, influencing productivity, efficiency and team collaboration. The following are important reasons why leaders should cultivate their emotional intelligence:

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6 Leadership Styles, And When You Should Use Them

6 Leadership Styles, And When You Should Use Them | Serving and Leadership |
Great leaders choose their leadership style like a golfer chooses his or her club, with a calculated analysis of the matter at hand, the end goal, and the best tool for the job.


Taking a team from ordinary to extraordinary means understanding and embracing the difference between management and leadership. According to writer and consultant Peter Drucker, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." 


Manager and leader are two completely different roles, although we often use the terms interchangeably. Managers are facilitators of their team members’ success. They ensure that their people have everything they need to be productive and successful; that they’re well trained, happy and have minimal roadblocks in their path; that they’re being groomed for the next level; that they are recognized for great performance and coached through their challenges.


Conversely, a leader can be anyone on the team who has a particular talent, who is creatively thinking out of the box and has a great idea, who has experience in a certain aspect of the business or project that can prove useful to the manager and the team. A leader leads based on strengths not titles.


The best managers consistently allow different leaders to emerge and inspire their teammates (and themselves!) to the next level.

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