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Leadership as a Lifestyle

Go to any Instagram account, Facebook or social media and you will see a host of lifestyle brands – fashion, makeup, fitness, food, sunglasses, restaurants, coffee shops, shoes – from GQ to the next up and coming photographer or fitness expert. We are attracted to these brands for the messages they portray – fun, motivational, luxury – whatever you have an appetite for.

These brands send a clear message and have a strong theme in common – they are these lifestyles all the time.

Fitness at my gym, to “abs are made in the kitchen”, and wearing workout clothes to the grocery store. These brands say, “I am a 24/7” brand. A few weeks ago, I saw guy on the I-15 south curling a dumbbell while driving – I’m not making that up.

In the same way, your outlook as a leader needs to be just like these lifestyle brands. You need to be a lifestyle leader or what I call a five to eight leader. What many people don’t understand is that true leadership is not just a skill, but a lifestyle. It’s not just something you do “in between the lines” of your 8-5 but how you interact from 5 to 8 as well. A leader in the community, a leader at home, a leader at work….a leader. Leadership as a lifestyle.

Great leaders do not create artificial barriers between time, people, work, community or based on the positions they hold and what they can get in return from the relationship. They are real, honest, authentic, and trustworthy. Here’s one that made me chuckle a little bit. There’s a 2+million viewed  TED Talk about how one develops the necessary skills to sound like a leader. Fifteen minutes of discussing how to best develop a persona that exudes leadership from your stance to vocal intonations. I’m not sure what that means or even how you go about “exuding” a leadership persona.

What we should be doing is spending that time developing a leadership lifestyle full of skills such as listening, sympathy, decision making, and trust. If you are a good leader, you’ll sound like one too.

Be a lifestyle leader.

You Should Bloom Where You are Planted

One of the greatest attributes of successful people and leaders is to understand their passions and strengths. Sometimes we get distracted or side-tracked by other things that are perceived as adding value but in reality they are time wasters and productivity drainers. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of what our strengths are and focus on those. Jake Weidmann reminds us all about pursuing our strengths and crafting our passions.

3 Things to do when you are Failing

We’ve all been there. You have a plan worked out and tried to execute the plan to the best of your ability, but then external factors seriously derailed those plans. Some of those factors are outside of your control and others are within your control, but either way it doesn’t feel very good. You are probably swamped with pressure, demands, and you just want it fixed, resolved, or gone and out of your life. All of those feelings are quite natural, but the way we handle them will determine the outcome. If you are faced with the situation, you should be doing these three things to ensure A. your success on the current project B. the problem doesn’t happen again:

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Self Diagnosis

This is your best friend. It may feel difficult to do, uncomfortable, and awkward at times, but it is necessary to see where the issues are coming from.  What you need to do is ask the tough questions. I’ve recently consulted with a business that was having a hard time retaining customers. Through asking the tough questions, I found that they didn’t have a measure of cost of customer acquisition, nor did they have a process for keeping/following up with their current customers. It is really imperative that you ask yourself the tough questions in order to really get to solving the real issues. There was a lot of finger pointing and “I don’t know” for process oriented questions that could have been resolved with  a little self-diagnosis and tough questions.

Self-Leadership

This is single-handedly the most underutilized tool in leadership development. At its core, it is understanding yourself and knowing what to ask for from your leader. There should be “self-leadership” seminars all over the world about how to lead yourself and manage up. Often, we spend time analyzing and discussing others’ leadership success and failures, and we fail to discuss the self-leadership failures on both sides.

Attack the problem

Ultimately, the last thing you want to do when you are failing or have a problem is to deal with it. Instead, you just want it to go away and leave you alone. What you should be doing is taking steps to attack it. It doesn’t matter what the task is; choose to attack it and embrace the challenge. By understanding and leading yourself and taking on the problem head on, you most effectively tackle the failure and move on to a more productive state. It’s hard to do, sure, but you will thank yourself for it in the end.

Are Organizations driving out talented Millennial Leaders?

As I stepped up to the podium to give my Keynote at a recent leadership conference, I begin to second guess my whole topic of conversation. My topic, How Millennials may be the Catalyst for Change, was a very provocative approach to letting the majority of the audience know that Sam Cooke said it best when he said “Change is gonna come”. Millennials have a different take on work and truthfully, they have a big crush on work life balance. They talk about it, they breathe it, they live it, and they just want it really bad. Truthfully, they are just too big to ignore anymore. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce and as of first quarter this year, make up the largest segment of general workers.

Newly minted Millennials leaderbigstock_Portrait_of_young_business_peo_12587012s are also in a really precarious situation — they have to be more flexible, agile, and willing to adjust to change than ever before. They have to lead their peers, lead older generations and even deal with this current climate of pushing for more work life balance. Currently, there is a dichotomy in researching human interactions: the research on the workplace is studied separately from an individual’s personal life or home life. As a result, research has yet to focus on the individual as a whole but often view him/her separately as if he/she is somehow neatly segmented into two different worlds. What Millennials are calling for is a fusion of the two. Life isn’t arbitrarily and artificially segmented, so they believe their work life and personal life shouldn’t be either. When asked in a recent focus group, 90% of Ken Blanchard Millennial employees desired a working life that was more in tune with the realities of life.  Recently, General Electric (GE) announced it will forego PTO and vacation hours and make the vacations unlimited to the majority of its employees. Roughly, 2% of all employers have this option but GE is the largest. This number will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years, as the shift is currently being made to a flexible workplace.

And that’s not even the scary part. The scary part is that, currently, 51% of Millennials are in formal leadership positions and the majority hasn’t received the proper training to become a leader. Organizations are setting up their new up-and-coming millennial leaders for failure! I spoke with a friend of mine in San Diego who mentioned that her VP of Sales left the company and they were replacing him with the top sales rep in the company. When the change was announced, they threw a huge party on Friday and everyone congratulated him for the promotion. On Monday, he submitted his resignation. He realized over the weekend that he didn’t want to do it. In fact, he said he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t trained to become a leader, didn’t know the skill set needed to transition from a high performing individual contributor to now a leader of his peers, and frankly had no desire to do it. He said, “I’m good at selling, that’s what I do; that’s my strength. Why would you think just because I’m good at selling I can become a high performing leader?”  It makes no sense, and employers do it all the time. If you want to keep your young, millennial talent you need to set them up for success by equipping and training them for their next role.

So, I’ve begun to really analyze this question around aspiring leaders to determine the best way to capture how Millennials are transitioning into become leaders in their organization. How do they feel? Do they feel equipped? Are they excited or nervous? If you’d like to contribute to this area of research, you may take this short survey linked here. I will share my findings in a follow up post after the data is analyzed.

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