Successful Leaders Have A.D.D.

Leadership is multifaceted. There are many things that the leader needs to pay careful attention to. He has to put together many components to make up the bigger picture.

The leader is a ‘convergence point’ of sort. There is a lot of information that is often vying for his attention. And that leader’s success depends on how well he understands and interprets the implications.

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Dominating From The “T”

One of my lessons from last week was on the squash court. I played one of the best games I’ve played this year! One of the fundamental lessons my coach taught me in high school was the importance of the “T”. Let me explain. The “T” on the squash court is sort of the (technical) center of the court.

The chances of you reaching just about any shot played are increased significantly when you’re positioned there. (My high school coach will be proud of me!) The player who can return to the “T” after playing or returning a shot is generally more likely to win a rally.

Before last week I played terrible games. I got into the games a little too late and as a result  lost a couple of matches. I hate losing! In last week’s match, I was down two games and if I’d lost the third game as well  I would’ve lost the match. During the break between the second and third game I decided to consult with one of my team mates.

I asked for opinion from someone watching and not in the game per se. If you want to improve on your “delivery”, your colleagues / teammates is a good place to start for feedback and pointers. I saw some of the mistakes and loss of points I made in a new light. As my team mate explained where I’d lost most of my points I realized something.

In some instances I had given the ball back to my opponent and had played shots that didn’t force him to move from the “T”. I made it easy for my opponent to score against me! My game only started improving after I kept playing the kinds of shots that would force my opponent off the T and allow me to dominate the T.

A reminder that one of the key ingredients to winning is positioning… This could mean your location mentally and even physically. Am sure you’ve witnessed organizations changing location in order to better their results or performance.

They consider several things e.g. moving closer to resource supply or to their (potential) beneficiaries. Perhaps the physical move you may need to make is a holiday, just to clear your thinking etc… Either way, the move is always intended to be one that would move the team or organization into a position of strength.

Perhaps the position you need to change is in the “mental space”  or frame of mind. Like I did, ask those around about areas they feel you may need to make adjustments. Sometimes the change that give us the edge is in our mindset or attitude. Sometimes we do need someone looking at us “from the outside” to tell us that our attitude stinks and needs an overhaul of sort!

Sometimes those around us tell us things we don’t want to hear but that is what is necessary to move us forward. Am not condoning imbalance or unfair criticism, but sometimes what makes criticism positive or negative is how we receive it and not just how it is given to us. Are you going to listen, asses, “spit the bones” out and grow or justify and make excuses when areas of possible growth are highlighted to you?

As you push toward your goals, ensure that you always return to a position that empowers you to move forward. Don’t waste the shots that you have now, they can be a good platform, empowering the ones you take after that.

As you reflect on how far you’ve come, and look ahead, remember to always return to the position of strength and think beyond the shot you taking now, but also the one you’re going to take after it. Remember to consult with your team or colleagues and return to the “T”. Time for you to be the one dominating from the “t”.

The Speed Of Learning

Last week I was in a conversation with a couple of friends and we got to talking about how people respond differently to the same thing. Among the things we discussed, was how people not only have different personalities but learning styles as well.

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The Importance of Introductions

I recently had the pleasure to work with young people on a family camp. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it much if I’d missed an important reminder. It is important to introduce yourself to people when you meet them for the first time. This takes away the initial awkwardness and helps facilitate interaction better from this start.

As people introduce themselves to you they also give you hints about how they’d like to be interacted with. Some people immediately tell you, “I’m merely introducing myself to you out of necessity and please keep everything to business, don’t ask how many cats I have!” Other people want to get something more out of their interactions than just a task at hand.

Some people are quick to let off what is closest to their hearts. If you listen carefully to them they are also telling you, “if you want me to care about what you have to say, show that you care about me by asking about whether my cat and dog get along!” Introductions generally set the tone for subsequent interaction.

People often start deciding whether they “buy into you” from the moment you extend your hand and utter the first words. Like the saying goes, “You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Just a reminder: It is also not so much what you say but how you say it. Both are important hence the need to pay attention and be very intentional about them.

Put in a different way, introductions are the initial lens by which people view us and have a long-lasting effect that may take a while to change. I am not saying be someone you are not but be careful and intentional with your introductions.

What do you think is important when people introduce themselves?

illustration by Lara McElroy, flickr

Final Words

We all have people we look up to for diverse reasons. Some of the reasons we look up to them could be that they have strengths in areas we don’t. Or they’ve achieved in areas we want to achieve in… The reasons are many, perhaps innumerable. And, now and then we contemplate on questions we would ask them on what it takes to get where they are.

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