The Things You Didn’t Do

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”

–Mark Twain

 

Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis

Pope Francis blesses faithful

On March 13, 2013, 115 cardinals cast votes inside the Vatican to elect the next pope of the Roman Catholic Church.  At 19:06 local time, white smoke could be seen drifting upwards following the election.  The new pope, who would take the name Pope Francis, emerged from the conclave as the new leader of a global organization facing a number of serious issues.

Stepping onto the world stage, this new pope would inspire everyone with his humility and his concern for the poor.  And, in so doing, he demonstrated a new model for leadership.

 

“Leadership is the ability to articulate a vision and get others to carry it out.” -Jeffrey Krames

 

Jeffrey Krames has written a new book about the pontiff, Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope FrancisHe offers a practical guide for how any leader can take the same principles to become an authentic and humble leader.  I asked Jeff a few questions about his research.

 

Be Authentic.

What is it about Pope Francis that has made him so incredibly popular?

He is absolutely the real thing. I call him “The Authentic Leader.” How rare is that today? No political leaders seem to do anything for the betterment of anyone but themselves, and only after polling the issue. That is the opposite of Pope Francis, who is the most compassionate pope I have experienced in my lifetime. It is why I have dubbed him the “anti-Hitler.”

 

“If we can develop a truly humble attitude, we can change the world.” -Pope Francis

 

 

Advocate for the Least of These

What attracted and inspired you, as a Jewish author, to research and write a book about the new Catholic pope?

The answer above answers this question in part. Growing up in a “Holocaust household” is a very difficult thing to do.  There are ghosts of all the people who have perished (and now my kids must grow up as third generation survivor).  So I see Francis as the first person in my lifetime amazing enough to earn the moniker of the anti-Hitler.  He is the 21st century’s answer to the 20th century’s most malevolent mass-murderer.  Hitler hated and attempted to eradicate what he felt was society’s worst.  Francis works every day to lift up the people who have the least—the ones who have been relegated to “society’s dustbin.”

 

12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis

  1.  Lead with Humility.
  2. Smell Like Your Flock.
  3. Who Am I to Judge?
  4. Don’t Change-Reinvent.
  5. Make Inclusivity a Top Priority
  6. Avoid Insularity.
  7. Choose Pragmatism over Ideology.
  8. The Optics of Decision-Making.
  9. Run Your Organization Like a Field Hospital.
  10. Live on the Frontier.
  11. Overcoming vs. Sidestepping Adversity.
  12. Pay Attention to Non-Customers.

 

 

 

Pope Francis continues to gain popularity and press every month.  How will Pope Francis influence leaders in other organizations?

How to Get Through Your Writing Faster

Young funny man in glasses writing on typewriter
This is a guest post by Laura Brown, PhD, author of How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide. It is a terrific guide full of everything from writing apologies, thank you notes, and even fighting parking tickets. Dr. Brown has taught composition at Columbia University and has more than 25 years experience coaching business writing. More info.

 

Fact: we spend 28% of our time at work reading and writing email.

 

According to a 2012 study from the McKinsey Global Institute, we now spend an average of 28% of our time at work reading and writing e-mails.  That’s a total of 81 days a year spent on e-mail alone.  Another study, from the Radicati Group, found that the average corporate worker processes an average of 105 e-mails every day.  Any way you look at it, that’s an extraordinary investment of time and brainpower, and these numbers cover only e-mail, not the other kinds of writing we do at work.  What would it be like to get some of that time and energy back to devote to other projects, or just to take a deep breath once in a while?

Writing is likely to remain an important part of the average workday, but there are ways to streamline your writing process so that you can get through your writing tasks in less time. These tips can help.

 

Discover Your Process

In my consulting practice, I find many people think they’re doing writing “wrong.”  They have some notion from a high school or college writing class — or from business writing training at some point — that there is a “correct” way to approach a writing task, and they’re sure they’re doing it wrong.  The fact is that there are many different successful ways to get your writing done.  One of the keys to success in writing, and to accelerating your writing process, is to discover the process that works best for you.

Writing is typically taught as a linear process: first you consider your purpose and your reader, then you brainstorm content, then you create an outline, then you write a draft, and finally you revise that draft.  There’s nothing wrong with that process, unless it doesn’t work for you.  Many people find that a less linear approach feels more natural.  You can start to discover your own best process by simply observing how you typically start a writing project.  Do you like to have an outline before you start?  Do you jump right in and write a draft?  Do you consider your objectives before you start to write?  These are all potentially excellent ways to get started on a writing task.

Once you understand the writing process that works best for you, run with it.  Stop beating yourself up about doing it “wrong,” and find ways to work with your own approach. Becoming more conscious of your writing habits and embracing your own preferred style will accelerate your writing, no matter the task at hand.

 

To Speed Up, Slow Down

One of the best ways to speed up your writing is often to slow down a little.  Taking a minute to think before you write can save you a lot of time over the long run.  This trick can be especially useful with e-mail.  Before you compose an e-mail, ask yourself these two questions: “What am I trying to achieve with this message?” and “Who is my reader and what do they expect from me?”  This simple, time-saving matrix will force you to isolate and refine your message before you even start writing it.  Your e-mail will be more concise, and you’ll be less likely to omit important content (and less likely to have to follow up because of it).  You can use the same kind of matrix when you read and reply to e-mails: ask yourself “What is the purpose of this message?” and “What is my reader asking of me?”  Slowing down just long enough to ask and answer these questions will speed up your e-mail processing overall.

To Speak Fearlessly, Take Yourself Out of the Equation

Audience Listening To Presentation At Conference
Gary Genard, PhD, is an actor, communications professor, and speech coach, as well as author of Fearless Speaking: Beat Your Anxiety. Build Your Confidence. Change Your Life..  Gary helps people from all walks of life cope with speech anxiety and stage fright.

We all want to speak fearlessly and with impact.  Influential public speaking is as important today as it’s ever been, despite the digital age.  Personal appearances matter.  Give a great speech and you might just change the world.

So you should try to be excellent, right?

Actually, you should try to be yourself.  There’s a reason you’re the one giving the presentation, usually because of your knowledge and experience.

So how do you get off the merry-go-round of self-regard and forget yourself while embodying your vital message? Here are three ways to do so.

 

Perform an Audience Analysis

Leaders’ egos sometimes set them up for failure as speakers.  That’s especially true if they think, “I know this stuff, so I’ll just get up there and talk about it.”

That’s a speech guaranteed to be shapeless and not very engaging.  Speeches are strategic activities, after all, and need to be thought out and constructed with care.  Your best guide for doing that successfully is an audience analysis.

Ask yourself these questions: What do I need to tell my listeners that they don’t already know? How do they prefer to receive information?  Is there an emotional climate here that I should know about?  What will their objections be to my argument?  And what action do I want them to take?  Put yourself in the world of your listeners, and it will be far easier to reach and move them.

 

Speaking Tip: Put yourself in the world of your listeners.

 

Prepare Less, Practice More

Let’s face it: Most of us are content junkies when it comes to speeches and presentations.  We’re convinced that if we load enough information into the laps of our listeners, they’ll respond the way we want them to.

This type of thinking ignores reality!  If our content could live on its own, we wouldn’t even need to be present—we could just send the information along and say, “Read this. You’ll have all the data you need.”  The truth is, however, audiences need us, as speakers, to put it all into context and, most important, to tell them why it matters to them.

So instead of gathering more and more content like a dung beetle, practice how you’re going to engage your listeners and establish rapport.  You’ll be the speaker who knows how to perform a speech.  That’s the one they’ll listen to.

 

Speaking Tip: Practice how you’re going to establish rapport.

 

Try Your Best to Disappear

How to Develop Your Inner Edge

Moebius Strip

 

“If you want to be your best, you need to build on what’s brilliant about you.” -Joelle Jay

 

Leading On the Edge

Dr. Joelle K. Jay is an expert in personal leadership.  She has coached executives in numerous companies, written several books and numerous articles, and is a principle with the Leadership Research Institute, a global leadership development firm.

Reading Dr. Jay’s new book, The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, I felt like I had hired a personal leadership coach.  She shares practices and principles that are enduring.  I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions to introduce her thinking to you.

 

“Better leadership equals better results – higher profits, bigger market share and a global advantage.” -Joelle Jay

 

What does it mean to lead on the edge?

“Leading on the edge” is about challenging ourselves to take the leadership position in our own lives – pushing ourselves not to sit back and hope for things to happen but getting out in front and making them happen with our own intent and effort.

 

“Most true happiness comes from one’s inner life.” -William Shirer

 

What are some of the benefits of mastering personal leadership?

I believe that everyone is a leader – if not the leader of a team or a company, at the very least the leader of his or her own life.  Strong companies have learned that better leadership equals better results – higher profits, bigger market share and a global advantage.  Personal leadership helps us get the results we want for ourselves – a more fulfilling career, a more rewarding experience, a happier life.

TheInnerEdge_CoverYour book outlines ten practices of personal leadership.  Let’s discuss a few of them. The first is “get clarity.”  How do you help leaders understand who they are and where they want to go?

I recently heard a speaker say, “Clarity is everything. Confusion is the enemy.”  In our fractured and distracted world, leaders need to learn to cut through the noise to hear their own voice.  They do this by asking themselves powerful questions – chief among them, “What do I want?”  When leaders can get clear about what they want, they can outline the steps to get there.

 

Tap Into Your Brilliance

I love “Tap into your brilliance” because I am often amazed at people’s strengths.  How does a leader encourage an environment where everyone is operating in the strong zone?

 

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius

 

When leaders learn to leverage their strengths, they positively burst into action. Suddenly their efforts are infused with energy as they discover they can finally do things their way – the way that comes naturally to them and the way they do them best.  That has a contagious quality, so strengths-based leaders are naturally encouraged by their own successes to help the people around them – their managers, direct reports, their teams – to organize their activities around the strengths in the group.  It’s a more satisfying experience for everyone – but more than that, it’s also far more effective.

“See possibility” is another practice.  One technique you call is “Let it be easy.”  Would you elaborate on this practice for us?