Intentional Leadership—3 Timeless Narratives for 2014

Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” —Aristotle

January is littered by a multitude of good intentions! That new number at the end of the Roman calendar, blindly promising to bring us prosperity and success, does often become a distant memory by the time the groundhog raises his weary head from a winter slumber. But the start of something new—a year, a friendship, a work project—can be a great opportunity to lead yourself and others to great success through three simple narratives.

High Intensions

High Intensions

High Intentions 

The giddy hope and high expectations of a new year often outpace our ability to align old habits with those new intensions. However, high intention is the heart beat of any personal or social revolution. It is woven into the tapestry of humanity, to naturally hope for higher levels of happiness and purpose in our lives. High intensions do not mean that a person who has them need be dissatisfied with the life they are living, but rather are open to challenges and disappointment as they seek meaning and purpose at work, at home, or at play.

Sincere Effort

However, the highest intentions are but a thought in the wind without sincere effort to make those intentions a reality. An athlete or an artist does not become excellent without sincere effort. Effort is easy, sincere effort is meeting of the cruelest of tasks with the same zeal for the things we love to do. Sincere effort requires us to do more than put one foot in front of the other; it requires us to take each step, each daily task, as an opportunity to align it with our highest intensions.

Success

Success

Intelligent Execution

Our highest intentions and sincerest efforts must be driven by more than just arbitrary motion or aimless daily activity. It’s one thing to have a workout scheduled on your calendar, but it’s another task to lace up the shoes and complete that workout. If you have made resolutions, or have a set of goals for yourself this year, they will ultimately be measured by the intelligence of their execution, not the height of your intensions or the sincerity of your efforts. Forming an intelligent execution strategy promotes real goal achievement. With intelligent execution, you are moving from intensions and knowing, in to action through doing.

***

Excellence at work or in life is more than a thought or an idea, it is a purpose driven effort. Make your choices wiser and more productive this year through high intentions, sincere effort, and intelligent execution of those efforts. Live the life you intend to live!

 Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He is Co Producer and Director of Stepping Up to Leadership with Scott Blanchard, a lynda.com and Ken Blanchard Companies production.

Lifehack – Achieve Your Goals by Making Them Easy

Happy 2014! With a new year comes new resolutions. Are yours the same resolutions you’ve made last year? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Despite what psychologists tell you, behaviors are difficult to change, especially when you’ve become used to doing them. There’s a reason why self-help books sell every year and apps are released to motivate individuals to change.

calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutions-572x433

Change is difficult

So why will this year be different? Because I will share a secret that will help you to actually achieve your resolutions: Make your resolutions easy.

Now this does not mean that you reduce your weight loss goal to -5lbs or that you discard your quest to read 50 books this year and instead read 2 lines of a blog post. What I mean is, do all of the prework first so that the goal becomes easy to attain. This is especially useful for when you have difficulty starting.

Its-easy

It’s easy if you try

For instance, I had an issue with running. I would sit there figuring out what to wear and then spend another 10 minutes scrolling through my playlists and choosing the songs for my run. Then I would look through my fridge for a pre-run snack and spot the delicious leftover burger from the restaurant the night before. The next logical thing to do was to gobble down that burger on the couch!

Instead, I prepare all of this in advance. I prepare my clothing, my playlist, and my snack before I go to bed. The next morning, all of my running gear is ready to go. The preparation comes easy since I know that I won’t have to run right after I’m done.

The author of the post below, Gus Jaramillo, actually changes into his workout clothes when he is off of work. That way, he is ready for the gym before he even gets into his car. The only logical destination becomes the gym.

2011-year-resolution-400x400

Start today

So think about your goals and ask yourself, “What can I do to make them just a little more easy to start?”

Image Credit: 1 | 2 | 3

What’s a MOOC?

Haven’t heard of a MOOC before? Well, you’re probably not alone. A MOOC stands for a Massive Open Online Course and its purpose is to give free online education to learners around the world. Although we have had access to free online education for years, the MOOC has forever transformed the quality of courses that are now accessible to anyone with a computer and the desire to learn. MOOC’s really took form in the fall of 2011 after Stanford offered three online courses for free and enrollment reached 260,000 students from over 175 countries. Since, many MOOC’s have popped up from starts-ups to major universities. They all have the same goal in mind and that is to give online education for little to no cost.

Have you ever wanted to take Data Analysis for Genomics at Harvard? Well probably not, but now you can as the class starts in early 2014. If Poetry in America: Whitman is a course that more interests you, sign up now as class begins on January 15th at the edx MOOC.

Mooc

Various MOOC offerings

Corporate America is now jumping at these ideas and are giving incentives for their employees to take these course and have incorporated them into their corporate training programs. In a recent survey by Future Workplace, 70% of HR and Learning professionals said they saw opportunities to integrate MOOCs into their own company’s learning program.

There are many, but here are my favorite.

https://www.coursera.org/

http://www.udacity.com/

https://www.edx.org/

If you enroll in a course, I wouldn’t run out and by a Harvard alumni sweater, but you can still get America’s highest quality education for free. Many questions are still surrounding the MOOC. Will the MOOC transform the way we look at education? Are schools and universities ready to accept these free online courses as transferable credit? What impact will MOOC’s have on the cost of education? Although many of these questions are yet to be fully realized, we know that they are growing and aren’t going away anytime soon.

Gus is a Learning and Performance Professional at the Ken Blanchard Companies and is currently finishing his PhD in I/O Psychology. He can be reached at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

‘Tis the Season to Make a Fool of Yourself

This time of year can always be stressful.  If you celebrate Christmas, you’re probably worrying about decorating, shopping, shipping, preparing, cooking, baking, traveling, etc…  However, there’s a hidden danger this time of year you should be concerned with: the company Christmas party.  This party can be seen as a time to cut loose and forget about job stress, but it can also lead to the end of a career.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While a company party is a great time to come together with coworkers, you can’t treat these events the same way you would with a night out on the town with your closest buddies.  Before you find yourself packing your personal belongings (or at a minimum, finding your foot in your mouth), follow these basic guidelines to ensure your job is still waiting for you:

  1. You represent your employer outside of work – I’ve mentioned this before, but even if you’re partying away from your place of employment, and even if you’re “off the clock”, anything negative you do outside of work can reflect badly on your employer, along with affecting you directly.  Be sure to think ahead before you act.  You might not be “working” at a company event, but your employer will treat bad behavior the same way they would during normal working conditions.
  2. Be careful with the booze – This can be the biggest reason for a loss of employment.  Some companies don’t allow alcohol at company events, while others do.  If your company allows it, just remember that alcohol affects your judgment.  I’ve personally seen more than one employee get fired (at different places of employment, nonetheless) for doing or saying something foolish because they drank too much at a company event.  If you’re going to drink in front of coworkers, be sure you drink in moderation.
  3. Don’t be a “Don Juan” – Maybe you have a crush on a coworker.  The company party may seem like a perfect time to make a move since it may be more informal, but it can actually backfire and create a nightmare with HR.  If the target of your affection doesn’t reciprocate that affection, they might claim harassment, and you might be escorted to the exit the next day.
  4. Image courtesy of pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image courtesy of pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Watch the gossip – Again, the less informal setting can give you a false sense of security.  You might think that you are free to say more than you normally would about your coworkers or boss, but be ready to pay for each negative comment.  You might not be fired, but your comments could earn you a label you don’t want.  At a minimum, it could jeopardize future promotions and/or merit increases.

  5. No unnecessary use of the copy machine -  Ok, maybe people don’t do this as much as you see in a stereotypical 80’s movie that shows a holiday company party, but don’t use the office copy machine to take images of certain parts of your anatomy.    Just don’t.

What other traps exist at a company party?  Leave your comments!

Stepping Up to Leadership

The late autumn chill had an extra bite as I walked down the street and into the safe harbor of the Kettle Coffee & Tea café. Once inside, the heat from the fireplace and the enthusiasm of the conversations would soon warm me, both physically and intellectually.

I have often overheard some of the most amazing and engaging conversations while enjoying a piping hot vanilla tea made by the servants hearts of the best baristas in town. From the latest political controversies to the five points of Calvinism, I have often gleaned more insight into fascinating topics than I would have in an entire semester at the university or a two-day workshop in a cold dark ballroom.

This particular morning was exceptionally insightful as I listened to one of the most intriguing conversations on leadership—particularly as it related to individuals who have recently inherited the responsibility of influencing others toward a common purpose—individuals who are Stepping Up to Leadership for the first time.

There in the middle of the café, with the classic brick wall of the coffee shop as his backdrop, was internationally renown, and best selling business author, Scott Blanchard—The Son of the One Minute Manager, legendary business author, Ken Blanchard. There at the table, highlighted by two large mugs of piping Joe, David Witt, Lead Columnist at LeaderChat.org, was engaged with Blanchard in meaningful conversation about the challenges new leaders face when working with others in the ever evolving new workforce.

During the course of the conversation, Scott Blanchard highlighted three insights for anyone stepping up into a new leadership role. Insights that even the most seasoned leaders could leverage to bring out the best in their people and their organization.

Leading Others

The conversation began with one of the most timeless questions on the topic of leadership—are leaders made or born? While Blanchard admitted, some people have natural leadership instincts, everyone can learn time tested, researched based leadership skills that can help them collaborate and communicate more effectively with others. He also went on to discuss the need for unshakable ethics, and how to leverage the best in yourself as a leader—not focus on your weaknesses.

stepping-up-to-leadership

Building Relationships

Scott Blanchard passionately emphasized the critical need for leaders to build relationships. “Great leaders,” Blanchard said, “Build trust with the people they are leading.” He also went on to encourage new leaders to deal with conflict effectively, not ignore it or dismiss it as an employee problem. Being others focused, communicating well, and praising people are also key leadership traits that build solid relationships with people and increase the effectiveness of your ability to lead others.

Getting Results

As Dave Witt downed his last drop of coffee, he challenged Scott on weather good leaders should focus on results or people as a top priority in the leadership process. Blanchard had some interesting responses to the question, sighting that the need to motivate people and invest in their wellbeing is the secret key to getting more productive results from the people you are leading. Blanchard tackled the difficult part of leadership, having challenging conversations with people, and the difference between reprimanding someone verses redirecting them toward the vision and values of the team and organization.

While the sting of the approaching winter subsided in the harbor of one of the most engaging conversations I’ve listen to in a café, so to does the winter of discontent of employees and contributors who are lead by people who know who they are and what they are attempting to accomplish in their role of responsibility as a leader. While the most important advise for individuals Stepping Up to Leadership is reserved for lynda.com subscribers, the lessons learned from listening into the conversation on leadership will lasting and impactful.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He is Co Producer and Director of Stepping Up to Leadership with Scott Blanchard, a lynda.com and Ken Blanchard Companies production.

Leadership: How to Adapt and Survive

Remember the T-1000 in Terminator 2? The bad guy who was made of liquid metal and could take on the appearance of any other person he met? What made him such a formidable enemy was that he could adapt to any situation. Don’t have a weapon? He’ll just turn his entire hand into a sword. Avoiding detection? Melt and become the floor. Crying baby? Morph into the mother and gently mimic her voice to soothe the baby.

Ok, maybe that last part didn’t actually happen, but who knows what could have transpired if the T-1000’s agenda didn’t involve constant destruction. Really, he could have accomplished almost anything. And that’s the point… he was flexible (both literally and figuratively). And great leaders are that as well (in the figurative sense, of course, unless we’re talking about yoga instructors).

adaptability

But most people do not seem built for this flexibility. By the time we’re ready to lead, we have shaped a certain identity that is already filled with characteristics, beliefs, and behaviors that are not easily changed, thus giving psychologists a reason to study personality. But you are more adaptable than you think.

Imagine you are in the crowd at a sporting event with your favorite team squaring off against its greatest rival. All your like-minded friends are there with you, cheering on your team and jeering the enemy. What are your behaviors? Now imagine you are with a potential client on an important business meeting at a coffee shop. Now you’re with your family at your favorite vacation destination. Now a romantic date with your significant other. Did your behaviors change? But you are still just yourself with your singular identity. How is it possible that you can exhibit, in some cases, such jarringly different personalities?

Different Faces

The answer is simple. Think of yourself as having varying quantities of various qualities. And, depending on the situation, you adjust the dials on some of those qualities to construct different personalities. But what’s empowering is that you are manually changing your behaviors. You are in control of who you display, because you can choose to see, for instance, the romantic date as actually the sporting event. This may not go over so well with your significant other, but then again, it may go over wonderfully. You really don’t know unless you try! And all it takes is a quick change in perspective.

So essentially, you have hundreds of different personalities living inside of you and you decide who comes out. Go out and try a personality you don’t normally use in a situation. Why? For the sake of becoming adaptable! Because learning and practicing adaptability can take you from a good leader to a great leader! And being more adaptable can benefit both you and those around you. Unless, of course, you’re the T-1000.

T-1000Image Credit: 1 | 2 | 3

Hanging out with the Pilgrims

I’m a big fan of pilgrims. I mean, they are pretty cool people (so I’ve heard), they have sweet outfits, and they love to party. What’s not to love? Because of them I get every Thanksgiving off to stuff my face, watch football, and hang out with my friends and family. I will be eternally grateful for my afternoon food comas. “Pilgrims, I say thank you.”

Also, I’m not sure why, but it seems like every family in America has Thanksgiving dinner between 2-3pm. I don’t know who made that rule, but I’d say we should do it every day.

So, today I would urge you to thank a pilgrim…

PilgrimJourney

Pilgrims come from all facets of life. They are not just the pilgrims that we think about that boarded that Mayflower and landed in the Americas in 1620. The pilgrims represented the ideal of progress. They were an adventurous, tough, and fearless group of people.   As you sit around and have dinner and talk with friends and family that you may not have seen in a while, stop and think about their pilgrimage. Where have they been? What have they endured? Where are they at? Where are they going? It’s quite remarkable when I sit down and think about some of the things my friends and family have endured. I say, “How did they do it?”

Life can be tough and really get you down, so take a second to reflect on those challenges that you have had on your life. I bet if you truly thought about it for a little bit, you would surprise yourself at all of the things you have endured and accomplished in your life. Take it easy on yourself from time to time, and maybe breathe a little bit.

You deserve it!

Gus is a Learning and Performance Professional at the Ken Blanchard Companies and is currently finishing his PhD in I/O Psychology. He can be reached at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

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