Posts Tagged ‘ Life ’

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.

British vs. American Culture!

5 Things People Do To Look Really, Really Busy

My Vegas Story: Seize the Day, and Night!

At close to 10PM, the pilot announced that he would be making the final descent to Vegas, the city I had been to only once before for a brief amount of time. I peered down through the plane window and saw the beautifully lit strip, magnificent and thriving. And that kicked off an unforgettable 3 days and 2 nights at the HR Tech Conference earlier this week.

Las Vegas Welcome Sign

Welcome to Las Vegas

Go see the Cirque shows. Walk around inside the Bellagio. Most importantly, don’t stay in your hotel room! These recommendations from my coworkers bounced around inside my head as I went to my first session of the conference. Being new to HR and to workforce analytics, the information presented and conversations I had with people really highlighted just how much I didn’t know. And sure, this was quite unnerving because everyone around me seemed like they had it all figured out. But in another corner of my brain, I was absolutely thrilled. Here was an opportunity to absorb as much information as I could about a topic I hadn’t really been exposed to before, but was so critical to my work. So I made up my mind to learn as much as I could about the bright minds that made up the HR world.

And then there were the networking events. Wow. Reserving an entire lounge overlooking the strip for a night is definitely not cheap. Especially when there is an open bar. But somehow there were not just one, but two separate networking events that took place both nights I was there. Of course, I took advantage of these events and chatted with very interesting people while getting some good recommendations and advice.

But there was one thing I didn’t get to do. I didn’t step foot on the dance floor. And I generally love to dance. Perhaps it was the thought that I had previously that everyone around me had it figured out. Perhaps it was the lack of liquid courage in my body. Perhaps it was the reservation that I had built up after two girls had “propositioned” me on the strip and I had quickly, but politely, mentioned my girlfriend before taking my leave against their persistence. Whatever it was, as I approached the dance floor, something made me stop.

And when I left, I was filled with regret. The next day was only a half day for the conference and I was to fly out immediately afterwards, so this was my last chance to experience Vegas. I simply couldn’t bring myself to go back to my hotel room. Sure, it was past one in the morning and I was ready for bed, but come on, I was in Vegas! And then I remembered the recommendations. It was too late for a Cirque show, but the Bellagio! And with that, I started walking.

Las Vegas Strip

A view of the strip in Las Vegas

It took me almost 40 minutes to get there from the Mandalay Bay because I took my time and enjoyed the buildings. I mean, where else can you see large replicas of the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the New York City skyline in the same area? And when I got to the Bellagio, I was amazed at the hand-crafted colored glass pieces that hung from the ceiling. I even got to see the talking tree! Well, it didn’t talk while I stood in front of it, but it did move its eyes and blinked as it smiled. It was surreal.

By the time I got back, it was almost 3 in the morning. I was tired but happy. As I laid down in my bed, my mind drifted back home to San Diego. And I thought, what if I put myself in the shoes of a tourist every day? If I went everywhere with the same sense of wonder and curiosity? If I lived everyday like it was my last chance to experience where I was and what I was doing?

Mark Mayfield, one of the speakers at the conference, declared that everyone knows about perspectives A and B. But to take a unconventional and undiscovered third perspective can exercise one’s creativity and bring more humor and entertainment into one’s life. I wholeheartedly agree.

So have fun, take chances, and don’t ever let regret materialize. And if something ever stops you from walking onto the dance floor, I have just the thing. It’s a statement that I read in a magazine on the return flight: “The No. 1 antidote to fear is experience!”

 

 

The Look of Ethical Leadership

Call me idealistic, but I want more from Gen X and Gen Y when it comes to leadership. I want to see us go beyond the standard leadership stereotypes to something more global, accepting, and inclusive. To encourage non-typical leadership types to emerge and develop.

Can you imagine what it might look like if high-potentials weren’t chosen based on how well they fit the corporate image, but instead on how well they treat others? Have we gone overboard with making sure leaders present themselves a certain way as seen in the following video?

Sure, they all have the right corporate image, but is that what the leader of the future should be? What if these guys in the following video were the most ethical leaders you would ever met…

What about those people you work with right now who might not say the right corporate buzz-words, wear the right clothes, or graduate from the right schools?

What if instead, true leaders naturally emerge because everyone whom they come into contact with experiences a solid trustworthy person. When faced with the decision between right or wrong without hesitation he or she takes the ethical high-road. They might not have the right hair, but go out of their way to give credit to the entry-level employee with the bright idea that just made the company millions.

Maybe leadership looks more like the quiet co-worker who detests public speaking and back-to-back meetings, but whose character is unmistakable. Maybe it’s the guy who knows nothing about golf and can’t stand wearing polo shirts or it’s the girl who really doesn’t want to hide her tattoo because it’s part of who she is.

The Look of Ethical LeadershipWhat if tomorrow’s leaders are more about the inside than the outside? Less about the look and more about how they make you feel. Can you imagine? What if tomorrow’s leaders make good decisions, treat people well, and have brilliant ideas, but don’t look or sound the part.

I realize that in a global context, defining what it means to be an ethical leader will differ slightly, but the idealist in me once again asks whether we can move to a broader view of what an ethical leader should look like…

…to a leader who treats others with respect at every given opportunity, someone who is inclusive in encouraging dissenting opinions and viewpoints. Someone who really hears the thoughts and ideas of others, who doesn’t hold an employee’s title over his or her head as a mark of competence, and instead encourages all people regardless of background to lead at all times in everything they do.

All regardless image. Can you imagine…something different?

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Cheryl DePonte is a Human Resources Learning and Performance Specialist at The Ken Blanchard Companies and has over 15 years experience in the fields of organizational effectiveness and human resources development.

Tips to Contain the Crazy: Increasing Productivity While Reducing Stress

I love to learn new ways to increase my own productivity while also reducing stress. I call it containing the crazy. Like many of you, I cling to my calendar, my to-do list…I shudder to think of the chaos should I ever lose my phone.

Tips to Contain the CrazyRecently, I decided to try some new ways to be more productive and less stressed:

1. Spa water – in a scientific study, those who were fully-hydrated had improved mood and were less sleepy. So, I decided to try drinking spa water (sometimes called “infused water”) and I’m hooked. You get your water in for the day and it’s flavored without all the calories and chemicals. Refill as needed and enjoy. Here is a wikihow on how to make spa water:

How to make spa water

2. Concentration Music – it is said that listening to baroque classical music has been scientifically shown to improve mood, productivity, and concentration. So, I decided to give it a whirl and wouldn’t you know, it works! I get more work done faster and more precisely while being relaxed the entire time. Gotta love classical music! Here is a sample for your listening pleasure:

3. A Timer – scientific studies also show we have a limited attention span for tasks. This time has varied in studies anywhere from 10 minutes to up to 40 minutes. So, I set a timer and only worked on a task for a specified period and then took a break. I also used a timer to go back and forth between tasks. This has worked wonders for getting many more things done in a day than I could have imagined. A link to a fabulous, easy-to-set online timer:

Online Timer

These tips for containing the crazy work well for my own personal work style and help me to be a more calm, productive, and focused leader.

Share with us your tips to contain the crazy, increase productivity, and reduce stress. No matter how unique they may be, please share! What works for you?

Leadership as an Experience in Humanness

At the beginning of my career, desperate for experience, I took whatever job I could in my field. Fortunately, my first manager treated employees and customers like gold. Luck struck twice when I was hired by yet another wonderful manager.

Regrettably, subsequent managers provided the “opportunity” to witness appalling treatment of both employees and customers. Still relatively naïve, I unconsciously swept their behavior under the rug in an attempt to gain valuable experience.

As my skill-set grew, I became disillusioned with my own attempts to lead. Emulating a combination of previous managers, who overall, seemed successful, led to followers who appeared blatantly angry, humiliated, and hostile. Advised not to take it personally, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was doing wrong and how I could change. With a warrior mentality, I read every work regarding leadership I could find and studied leaders as if by doing so I could internalize their success merely by being in their presence.

My leadership skills improved, yet something was still missing. I fervently questioned reasons why I was obsessively engaged when being led by some and so greatly disappointed when being led by others.

It took a truly unfortunate interaction with a leader long ago for me to embrace that even in the workplace I was a learning, feeling, developing, mistake-making fallible human being….and that there was nothing anyone could do to change this. The difference between those leaders who got the best and worst of me was their willingness to unconditionally accept me. Those who received my highest level of loyalty, performance, engagement, and respect were those who liked and even embraced my humanness.

Leadership as an Experience in Humanness

Downshifting emotionally, I tapped into a level of humility that allowed me to personally, yet not unprofessionally, connect with those I was leading. Forgiveness, understanding, compassion…the willingness to let go of control enveloped me. Resultantly, I felt the vulnerability and fear of those I was leading. I could see and feel the need for hand-holding and that was okay! I could connect with their lack of confidence and disbelief in their abilities.

I listened. Then, I listened some more and allowed for silence and space. Never have I experienced employees so willing and hungry to give everything they have to their work. The change was so fast and dramatic it was emotionally overwhelming. There was no need to question how those I lead felt; it was clear that through their actions they felt just as I had at the beginning of my career.

*Photo courtesy of http://i368.photobucket.com/albums/oo121/4thfrog_2008/2uel34n.jpg

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Cheryl DePonte is a Human Resources Learning and Performance Specialist at The Ken Blanchard Companies and has over 15 years experience in the fields of organizational effectiveness and human resources development.

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