10 Acts of Humanity Standout Leaders Perform Daily

Standout leadership doesn’t have to be complicated; it doesn’t have to conform to doctrine advocated by leadership gurus and HR pundits who advocate a more theoretical model.

In my experience, leadership that sets you apart from the crowd boils down to how well you practice a few basic human acts, not on how well you comply with text book principles.

  1. Help others. It’s a basic human instinct to come to the aid of someone in need. When refugees from another country needs help, many in the world respond in a caring way. In an organization, it doesn’t happen as much. When someone suffers a setback we seem to pounce on the opportunity to use their misfortune as a personal opportunity.
  1. Walk in their footsteps. It’s not all about the business; it’s more about the people IN the business. Decisions get implemented only if people are on board with them. Consider how individuals will be impacted before moving forward.
  1. Practice what you preach. ALWAYS show that you only ask others to do what you are prepared to do yourself. Loyal followers are created when they see you act on your own words.
  1. Keep your promises. If you say you will do something make sure you DO it. When you open your mouth others watch your follow up to see if your intent was honest.
  1. Leave the glory to others. Your glory comes only through the success of your employees. Lavish them with praise. Your ego will understand.
  1. Show your emotional side. Real people express their feelings; plastic people hide them. “Expose” yourself to others and watch the magic you create.
  1. Look in their eyes and take notes. Paying attention to and showing interest in what people have to say will ignite their passion. A simple act; an amazing impact.
  1. Say “thank you” a lot. It makes their hard work and pain endured worth it. And it provides fuel for them to do it again.
  1. Share your status in the hierarchy. Everyone understands the organizational pecking order. But if you share some of your special privileges, THEY get to feel important and will engage on a higher level.
  1. Call someone… everyday. It’s important to connect and engage with people in your organization. Make a point of reaching out to a different person daily and have a conversation about what’s going on with them. You will gain incredible insights into what is going on in your organization, and THEY will transformed into a loyal follower.

Common leaders have a good foundation of leadership theory. Standout leaders practice their art from their heart.

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Standout Leaders Covet These 12 Competencies in People

Leaders don’t hire.

Yes, you hire to fill a job but you recruit to bring in the right “human essence” to your organization to ensure its long-term success.

Discover these competencies in people and gather them around you:

Lifelong learner: If you’re not learning, you bring little future value to an organization. Look for evidence that prospects are active learners. What areas are they interested in? Who have they learned from? What have they done to apply what they’ve learned and how can they be put to use in your organization?

Infection agent: The ability to infect others with the interest and excitement necessary to execute your strategic game plan is a priceless art. Some people have the innate passion and tenacity to get others on the bandwagon. Get ’em on board.

Apologizer: Loyalty building after you have screwed a customer over begins with “I’m sorry”. Find people who do this naturally and are believable. Some can’t. Some don’t want to. If there is no apology, there is zero service recovery.

Human being “lover”: Creating a “wow” factor for customers is about serving them in exemplary ways. Look for people with a natural desire to serve. Memorable customer moments are created by these people. Find them. Nurture them. Protect them. Reward them.

High pain tolerant: Greatness doesn’t come without disappointment and pain along the way. Resilience pays off. Look for the hard skin. Look for people who like to “get dirty”.

Successful failure: Success requires doing lots of imperfect stuff fast, which generally involves people failing along the way. Look for a track record of “tries” – shortfalls but forward motion nevertheless.

Raconteur: Stories bring everything to life, painting a picture of what it looks like when success happens. Bring people in who can skillfully light up someone’s eyes with a story about some aspect of your strategy. Talk the event. Talk the person. Talk the magic.

Descrambler: Execution is complex. An indispensable team member is one who can see through complexity and simplify it so everyone understands what has to be done. Elegance that can’t be implemented is worthless. Get the “dumb down artist”.

Connector: Deliverables to customers are produced through processes working across the organization, not in silos. Broken customer promises occur when a link in the internal supply chain breaks. Identify people who can connect with others and build effective relationships with them.

First responder: A huge aspect of surviving an unexpected tsunami is responding thoughtfully and quickly. Individuals who bring their “A” game when the unexpected happens add a ton of value and are critical to the organization’s continued success.

“Chillax-er”: You need people who react well under extreme pressure – stop, pause, think and respond thoughtfully. This is tough to teach. Covet the mellow ones.

Nano-inch seeker: There’s no such thing as a silver bullet. Progress is made by having executing a strategy flawlessly, inch by inch. Covet those who have the tenacity and perseverance to get an inch fast.

Do you have a “competencies to covet” plan?

Delegation of this critical task is not an option.

Do it yourself.

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Do You Flit or Do You Lead?

Many leaders don’t lead at all, they flit from this to that, from one crisis to another, from one priority to another.

They don’t land on anything.

They don’t spend too long on any one issue because they want to avoid being pinned down for an opinion or having to make a decision. As long as they are on the move, they can “be forgiven” for not clearly understanding an issue enough to have an informed view on it.

They are thinkers who are more comfortable with the rarefied air up high than the details where the devil lives. They tend to be more comfortable with the theory of something rather than practical application; how something sounds trumps whether it actually works.

Those who flit, chase. They are enthralled with busyness. They define the value they contribute by the hours they put in, by the number of calories they burn.

They run toward whatever their boss or executives say is important; they run away from critical issues that prevent front-line people from doing their jobs better. They like the comfort of elegant living rather than the messiness of what goes on in the trenches.

They give multiple-choice directions to others; a range of potential alternatives rather than a clear path to follow. Ever intent on avoiding personal risk, these leaders never want to make the call.

They live somewhere between the extremes of commanding and controlling people and serving them. They lack the conviction to both command the troops to go in a specific direction and the “How can I help?” desire to search for and solve the problems employees face every day.

They go missing in action regularly. Business lunches with colleagues, attending conferences and breakfast meetings account for a significant amount of their away time.

When a crisis happens, you can count on them to be “in their quiet place,” not wanting to get involved.

They hate conflict and will do almost anything to avoid it.

A vice-president of marketing I once reported to had really mastered how to flit. He was a nice enough person, but contributed little in terms of my development as a leader. He provided minimal direction, and always passed my proposals to the president for his opinion before approving me to take action. I liked operating with considerable freedom, but never in a vacuum.

Do you identify with any of these?

  1. You don’t feel comfortable making decisions on your own; you find ways to share the risk.
  1. You insist on more analysis to support most business proposals brought to you.
  1. You are a “consensus addict” and will insist upon support by the many before moving forward.
  1. You don’t directly answer a question from your boss; you always call in the subject matter expert.
  1. You love to network with people outside your company. You find it easier to honor an external obligation than an internal one.
  1. You avoid doing personal performance evaluations with your employees; you don’t set specific objectives for them either.
  1. You avoid contact with employees in other areas of the company. You are more comfortable on your own turf.
  1. You rarely engage in face-to-face employee communications events unless your boss insists you be there; you send lots of e-mails.
  1. You have a To-Do list with at least 10 items on it.
  1. You are generally not asked for your views on key strategic issues of the organization but people who report to you are.

If you answered yes to more than a couple of these questions, you may be flitting not leading.


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