Learning to Be an Exceptional Leader

Learning to Be an Exceptional Leader

 

Jim Kerr has just written his fifth book. You may recognize the name from his weekly column in Inc. or any of his previous books. Jim has been an executive coach and consultant for nearly 30 years. Currently, he is the global chair of Culture Transformation at the management consulting and search firm N2Growth. His latest bookIt’s Good To Be King: A Leadership Fable for Everyday Leaders, is written in a fun and easy-to-access parable form that enables the reader to quickly embrace his leadership takeaways.

This lighthearted story presents sound leadership fundamentals and reinforces the notion that, regardless of the circumstances, we can all learn to become even more exceptional at leading others.

I spoke with Jim recently about his new book.

 

“Leaders make things possible. Exceptional leaders make them inevitable.” -Lance Morrow

 

This book is much different from the others that you have written.  In fact, some may even consider it a bedtime story.  Why did you choose a fable format to house the leadership advice that you offer throughout the book?

There are two reasons that underpin this choice of format.  First, I want the book to be consumed quickly and easily.  There are far too many leadership titles available that offer dry and uninspired content, which make them difficult to get through and enjoy.  Second, I want this book to be read and appreciated by all kinds of people, not just those who manage others in a business setting.

Sure, business professionals of all types – from the harried C-suite executive, who is looking for a quick “leadership read” to the Gen Y new hire who is eager to gain useful insight for career advancement – will find great value in the book.  But I would like people who simply aspire to become better leaders in their everyday lives to want to read this book.

People like you and me who lead others in their communities, places of worship or volunteer organizations should pick up this book and find valuable insights that can help them become better leaders.

 

Exceptional Leaders Shift Styles for Results

Leadership Vertigo: How the Best Leaders Go Off Course

What To Do When You Are Off Course

Do you know a leader who insists everything is fine when everyone else knows trouble is ahead?

Have you watched someone so oblivious to signs and signals that employees are not engaged?

How do leaders accurately assess and view how they are perceived in an organization?

 

My friend Tanveer Naseer recently co-authored Leadership Vertigo: Why Even the Best Leaders Go Off Course and How They Can Get Back On Track.  It’s a thoughtful read designed to help leaders accurately diagnose and solve problems with culture and leadership.  I recently spoke with Tanveer about his book. Tanveer leads his own leadership consulting company and is an award-winning leadership blogger.

 

False Signals and Leadership Danger Ahead

What is leadership vertigo?

Let me first start off by explaining what vertigo is. For most of us, the word vertigo brings to mind the famous scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film where we see the lead character looking down a staircase and seeing the floor below suddenly pushing off into the distance.

In reality, vertigo refers to a perceptual phenomenon where our brain sends us false signals about our motion, which we believe to be true. The best known example of this is the crash of John F. Kennedy’s Jr.’s plane in the Atlantic Ocean, where his brain was convincing him that he was flying his plane level, even though the gauges on his instrument panel were telling him that he was in fact heading on a downward angle towards the ocean surface.

 

“Leadership vertigo is the gap between how we view our leadership and how others experience it.” –Tanveer Naseer

 

So with this understanding of what vertigo is, leadership vertigo basically refers to the gap between how we view our leadership and how those we lead experience it. It refers to those moments where we’re convinced our actions and words are creating the right conditions for our employees to succeed, and yet that’s not what our employees are getting from us.

This is exactly what we see in all the studies of the past few years that show that despite the growing knowledge base on how to engage and empower our employees, most leaders are still not connecting their message with their employees. It’s because they’re convinced that they are being the kind of leader their organization needs, despite all the evidence around them pointing out the contrary.

 

4 Key Leadership Principles

Briefly walk us through the 4 Leadership Principles of Leadership Vertigo.

1. Build community.

The first Leadership Principle, “Build Community,” refers to recognizing that in order for us to better understand the realities our employees face, we have to consistently demonstrate our respect for them as individuals; that they’re not simply there to do a job, but they’re there to help us collectively succeed because they see and understand the value of our shared purpose. And we can engender this feeling by recognizing the value of their contributions to that shared purpose, as well as promoting a culture of shared accountability to encourage equal and fair participation.

 

Leadership tip: Respect employees as individuals who contribute to a shared purpose.

 

2. Develop competence.

Leadership Vertigo Book CoverThe second Leadership Principle, “Develop Competence” refers to how we show up for those daily interactions with those we lead. Are we going into those meetings and those conversations with a genuine interest to learn and understand what our employees have to say? Research has shown that emotions are very contagious and that our brains are hard-wired to pick up the non-verbal cues we give off before we even say a word.

So the minute you walk into that meeting room, your team members have already read those non-verbal cues you’re giving off, and everything you say and do is going to be filtered through that initial perception they got about your emotional state.

3. Earn credibility.

The third Leadership Principle, “Earn Credibility,” looks at something that we’re seeing more and more in discussions about leadership today. Specifically, how do we go about increasing our awareness, both of our own mental state as well as the realities of those around us? What’s critical to this principle is being open with our employees that we don’t have all the answers because only then can we free ourselves to be genuine about what it is we’re after, what it is we need, and what we can give them to be successful in their efforts.

4. Cultivate compassion. 

3 Leadership Development Tips to Help Bring Out the Leader in You

This is a guest post by Dale Carnegie Training, a company founded on the principles of the famous speaker and author of one of my classic favorites “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Today, the company offers leadership training to help businesses and individuals achieve their goals.

As the year comes to an end, now is the perfect time for business professionals to reflect on the past year, review what they did well, and determine what skill set areas need improvement. One skill that every businessperson should possess is leadership. Great leadership qualities are a key to success and allow people to be able to take charge of situations to ultimately get the job done. No matter what field you are in, having good leadership skills is critical to your success. Use the following tips and insights from Dale Carnegie Training, one of the leaders in leadership training, to help bring out your inner leader.

 

Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic. –Dale Carnegie

 

Work on Your People Skills

One skill that is often overlooked in the business world is people skills. More than just being social and likeable, people skills allow you to understand how to deal with other people in an efficient and positive manner. This skill can ultimately help leaders win business simply by creating positive experiences for people with whom they interact. People skills are also extremely important in resolving conflict and can help leaders keep team members motivated and engaged at all times. By learning how to interact with others in an effective way, you will be able to better collaborate with your team to ultimately reach company goals.

 

Our thoughts make us what we are. –Dale Carnegie

 

Communication is Key

In order to effectively lead, one must become an expert in communication. The way people communicate can instantly cause a positive or negative reaction, which can greatly affect the outcome of any situation. Leaders should be able to inspire others while also remaining confident and professional.

Good listening skills are also a big part of effective leadership and communication. By listening to those around you, and keeping the lines of communication open, you will have a better understanding of the wants, needs and ideals that are critical to fostering a successful environment.

 

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain-and most do. –Dale Carnegie

 

Invest in Leadership Training

For some, being a leader comes naturally. However, most leaders could greatly benefit from management training programs to help them develop and fine-tune these skills. Look for leadership development learning opportunities. Whether you find a seminar offered through your company, or opt to take an online course on your own, these seminars can be extremely beneficial and can help improve communication and interpersonal skills. Leadership training can provide useful tips, insights and valuable hands-on experience. Even if your company doesn’t offer training opportunities, make it a point to find training opportunities for yourself and be proactive about your leadership.