Emulate great leaders ‘and’ learn from bad bosses

“Never step on enthusiasm.”

(Colin Powell)

thumbnail_Leader

(Image by Jackie Zamora)

I love the image above for the simple message it sends.  True leaders are not afraid to engage to ensure team success.  Leaders display a level of humility when they show direct reports they are a part of the overall team, not just the person demanding results.

Contrast the two examples in the image.  Who would you want to work for?  The leader or the boss?  Why?

I have been lucky to work for some truly great leaders in multiple work environments.  They all shared a vision of what success looks like and made sure everyone was working toward the same goals.  These great leaders always led by example and made professional development/learning a priority in the workplace.  This enhanced direct report engagement and made everyone want to get more accomplished.  Regardless of style (authentic, transformational, democratic, etc.), great leaders provide positive interactions and examples we can emulate and utilize within our own leadership practice.

Luckily, I have not experienced too many of the boss examples in the image above, but I have made a point to learn from these people as well.  Don’t be so quick to write off the lessons you gained from a boss:

  • How did your boss make you feel daily?
  • How easy was it to bring them problems?
  • Did they explain tasks or just say go get things done?
  • How competent were they getting the job done?
  • How invested were they in your professional development?
  • How much fun were they to be around?
  • How much staff turnover did your office have?

I could add more things to this boss check list but believe you see my pattern now.  So, what lessons can you learn from a boss?  I’ve learned to never repeat a boss trait I viewed as a negative.

Getting up from behind a desk or closed door to engage with people daily is an easy task for everyone.  Never get so comfortable with a position you forget your responsibility to the people you serve.  Servant leadership is centered on the idea the leader serves their people.  Take the time to explain the WHY of a task not just the WHAT needs to be done.  Leverage the strengths of everyone on the team.  This requires the leader to know the strengths and weaknesses of each team member.

It’s okay to have fun at work!  No, really, fun and work can go together.  Look at some of the most successful organizations and the culture they build in the work environment.  Work still gets done but fun happens daily—may be a coincidence but these type organizations are able to retain their staff members.

Consider implementing a stay interview process.  Stay interviews allow great leaders to engage staff to see what they need in the work environment.  The stay interview builds a dialogue to enable both sides to enhance relationships and create a productive culture.  The leader does not have to promise anything they can’t back up and allows them to explain these things directly to staff members.

Note:  Had a great conversation during a virtual networking event last week in Orlando about the term stay interview.  Some organizations/leaders do not like this term.  That’s fine, call it ‘professional development interview, career development orientation, etc.’ but look for ways to engage staff on their professional needs.

So, continue to emulate the great leaders you have had in your work life but don’t miss the valuable lessons the bosses have provided.

What leadership traits do you emulate daily?  What have you learned from a boss (no names needed)?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

(Maya Angelou)

war chess

Photo by Gladson Xavier on Pexels.com

“Play chess, not checkers.”

(Dr. Calvin Williams)

Get up, Stand up!

beach ocean sand sea
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

‘Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.’

(Winston S. Churchill)

Most people who talk to me or read the Walk into the Future blog know I have a love for reggae music.  Growing up I favored other music genres but never could get into reggae.  Really, I never took the time to truly ‘listen’ to the artists because I spent more time trying to hear something familiar as oppose to what was really being said.

Long story shorten, Reggae is what I listen to about 85% of the time when I have headphones on.  Hearing Reggae live in Negril, Jamaica was my turning point and I continue to gravitate to the beats and stories daily.

  • Reggae: a style of Jamaican music blending blues, calypso, and rock and roll, characterized by a strong syncopated rhythm and lyrics of social protest.   (Dictionary.com)

Bob Marley released his classic song ‘Get up, Stand up’ in 1973.  The intent for Bob Marley and Peter Tosh was to make a statement and speaks to a level of persistence in life.

Decided to revisit this classic song today from an angle to provide an ‘irie’ slant to my current Walk into the Future.  I was in negotiations with an organization to provide professional development training for their staff later in the year.  I was excited for the opportunity to make a positive difference for the staff and organization.

The organization ‘smartly’ surveyed staff members to get their input into the direction of the professional development training and discovered staff wanted/needed something else.  They let me know they were going in another direction based on staff needs.  FYI—I fully support the new direction they decided to go because staff identified what they needed—the goal is to build the organization based on their needs.

Most blog posts I describe my Walk into the Future with all the positive things it has brought me.  I share this story to remind readers that even though I’m enjoying every day of my current walk, I too experience things that don’t always go my way.  No worries!

Bob Marley reminds me to, “Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight”.  I view this small setback as an opportunity to sharpen my skills to ensure I can deliver additional speaking platforms to maximize organizations’ growth potential.  This is just one step of many on my Walk into the Future—I’m still moving forward.  Also, I have already started on my next proposal for the same organization because I haven’t given up the fight!  😊

My persistence remains and I will continue to find ways to make a difference! Everything Irie!

How do you handle setbacks?  What tools do you utilize to bounce back?  Curious, thanks!

‘The most interesting thing about a postage stamp is the persistence with which it sticks to its job.’

(Napoleon Hill)

adventure challenge climb climber
Photo by Johan Bos on Pexels.com

Planting trees–Who gave you a chance?

‘I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.’

(Oprah Winfrey)

I continue to express the benefits of building effective partnerships and how networking can enhance this process.

My current Walk into the Future provides multiple opportunities for partnering and networking to continue to make a difference in the world.  Current relationships (mentors, tree branches, etc.) can be instrumental for the development of new opportunities.

I was virtually introduced to Isabella Johnston from Intern Pursuit through a mutual friend.  We connected via LinkedIn and then followed up with a phone call to learn more about how we could partner (if possible) in the future.  Happy to say Isabella’s role with Intern Pursuit and other projects she has in the Central Florida area are making a difference daily.  Enjoyed learning about the exciting things she is working on and will roll out later this year.

We discussed the possibility of me coming down to participate as a guest speaker for her Intern Whisperer Podcast.  Participating on the podcast seemed like a perfect partnership so I was happy to accept the offer to continue to work with Isabella and her staff.

What a great experience to meet Isabella, her staff and recording the podcast!  Very engaging format with questions designed to allow me to provide professional and leadership advice to listeners of the podcast.  Had a blast with the entire process and looking forward to continuing this newly formed partnership.

An interesting aspect to my trip down to Orlando was I had lunch with a ‘tree branch’ prior to recording the podcast.  I had breakfast the next morning with another ‘tree branch’—tried to get a lot accomplished in minimal time.  The interesting part of my connecting with my Orlando tree branches is they both know (know of) Isabella and her work and she is familiar with their work.  They are all master networkers, so I’m not surprised these folks all know each other—looks like I was the last one to the party! 😊

Who gave you a chance?

One question that was presented to me during the podcast was ‘Who gave you a chance’?

You can hear my full answer by listening to the podcast.  I’ve had a lot of great people mentor me over the years but my answer to this question is Ann Loyd.  Ann allowed me to transition from the Air Force into a role within the Macon State College Career Center.  Nothing in my professional background directly translated to career services but Ann took the chance my dedication and passion to help others would translate.  Happy to say it did—I’m still making a difference because Ann saw something in me and helped me shape my world view on helping students succeed.  My Walk into the Future started with the chance she gave me.

 ‘It is the responsibility of leadership to provide opportunity, and the responsibility of individuals to contribute.’

(William Pollard)

So, I pose the same question to you–Who gave you a chance?  Who will you give a chance to?  Interested in your thoughts—thanks!

Intern Pursuit May 2019

 

 

Nashville & the Wildhorse Saloon

Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Made my way back to Nashville, TN for the 2019 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in April.  This race has become a favorite of mine because it allows me to run Nashville neighborhoods and catch amazing musicians at multiple music venues.

My training approach for this half marathon and all others moving forward has improved tremendously.  The Walk into the Future approach has allowed me to increase my training efforts and logging ‘true’ long runs.  Long runs for me now routinely cover 10 miles or longer.  The longest training run I put in for this race was 15 miles—didn’t run this distance for speed but used it to build mental and physical toughness.  Turns out I needed all the mental and physical toughness I could display because somewhere in my love for Nashville I forgot about the HILLS there! 😊

The first 6 miles seemed to go uphill with multiple degrees of incline.  My training runs incorporated hills, so I was better prepared than I initially thought.  Decided to just put trust in my training and have fun as I made my way up each incline.  Slowly found myself enjoying each step with a smile on my face—guess I finally got that runner’s high people always talk about.

Fast forward a bit and I was able to finish in 2:08:21 (two hours, eight minutes and 21 seconds) which is my personal best.  Improved on my time from the 2019 New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.  I’m still a bit off from my goal of running under 2 hours but I’m making incremental progress towards the goal.  I will continue to take small bites from the elephant.  Next scheduled half marathon will be in Philly in September.

Nashville after race

Wildhorse Saloon

The Wildhorse Saloon is a place I visit every time I’m in Nashville.  It’s a great place to hear live music, dance and get some of the best food in Nashville.  Made two visits to the Wild Horse on this trip and heard some great new musicians.

Line dancing lessons take place when the musicians take a break and the dance floor was crowded with folks having a great time learning the steps.  The line dance instructor breaks each dance down with step counts and practice for the dancers before turning them loose.  It’s great watching people learn the dance and then actually perform what they learned—yes, I include myself since I first tried line dancing at the Wildhorse.  Believe this place is a must visit if you decide to head to Nashville.

 

 

NFL Draft

The 2019 NFL Draft was also in Nashville for race weekend.  This was an extra event to experience while in town.  There were over 600,000 NFL fans in attendance for the 3-day draft event.  Made my way down to draft central two days to soak in the excitement of the draft and enjoy the crowds.   Didn’t realize how many professional football fans were this invested in their team’s draft process.  The passion, excitement and team pride displayed was impressive and Nashville put on an excellent show for everyone in attendance.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were the most represented team at the draft.  Their fans travel all over the country to show their support.

 

 

My current Walk into the Future seems to keep bringing me back to Nashville and I love that fact!

I plan to return to Nashville next April to enjoy the race weekend and live music again—great place to visit if you’ve never been!

What’s your favorite place to visit?  How often do you get a chance to visit?  Thanks!

Making a Difference (Daily)

Make a Difference May 2019

I start each day with the purpose of making a difference.  Changing the entire world continues to prove to be beyond my ‘super powers’ so I focus on the small victories in life.

The picture above hangs next to my front door, so I must pass it on my way out into the world.  It is a simple reminder to ensure my focus remains on the small victories in life that can make a difference to someone.

My psychology educational background was selected because of a desire to understand others better.  My thought process has always been to understand what makes people do or think what they do.  Psychology provided me with the foundation to understand the importance of helping others.  Please note, helping someone can be as simple as asking them how their day is going.  Doesn’t have to get super deep to impact someone you cross paths with regularly.

I’ve written about the benefits of volunteering in the local community.  This small step can be a huge difference maker for your local community and especially someone who benefits from the organization you volunteer with.  Volunteer multiple times with an organization and you will begin to put smiles on the faces of people within the organization.

Mentoring others has always been a huge part of my daily routine.  My current Walk into the Future allows me additional time to reach out to my tree branches and put focus on topics they want to explore.  We always did this but now my availability enhances how often we get to check in.  I enjoy catching up with my tree branches and hearing the great things ‘they’ are doing in the world.  Following their progress and seeing how they make a difference is a highlight for me.

I’m able to expand my reach beyond my current tree branches because of my availability.  Students and organizations I was not engaged with prior are reaching out for me to help them move forward.  Some of the students knew me at FSU in passing or had a friend work with me and recommended they reach out.   I find this ‘underground referral’ process a bit flattering and it shows I’ve made enough of a difference for someone to put their friend in touch with me.  I never turn down these requests—the students have shown a tremendous amount of ambition by reaching out and requesting assistance.  Selfishly, I view this whole process as growing my tree—these new branches know they must help someone else move forward.

Working with organizations is an area I would like to expand in 2019.  I currently do some professional development/leadership consulting with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.  We have several workshops planned and looking to add more to help them grow as a group.  Coordinating with a few local groups to highlight the Authentic Leadership principles for them to incorporate within their leadership development programs.  This process would expand my reach and provide a larger group to ensure I’m making a difference.

So, until I gain additional ‘super powers’, making a difference daily is how I plan to conquer the world! 😊

What can you do to make a difference today?  Who would benefit from hearing from you?  Don’t make them wait—reach out and make a difference!

Make a Difference 2 May 2019

Walk into the Future—What it means to me

 “I walk slowly, but I never walk backwards.”

(Abraham Lincoln)

Wanted to dive deeper into the title of my blog, Walk into the Future.  Last year I decided to change my mindset and physical space to embark on a journey.  This journey was designed to allow me to experience a level of freedom that wasn’t present, but I knew existed—just had to open my eyes a bit and walk forward.

Merriam Webster defines future in multiple ways, “time regarded as still to come AND what is going to happen”.  Both versions provide a flexible view and allows individuals to determine what the future means to them.

I selected Walk into the Future as my title to embrace the future and identify the courage to move forward.  This forward approach covers personal and professional adventures as well as insight I want to share with readers.  I created this project to share my ‘walk’ and provide insight into important concepts for me.  There are days I sit down to write, and the words just come to me.  There are other days where I will reach out to my tree branches to see what they want/need to read and then develop content around their inputs.  I am keenly aware of my surroundings, so inspiration comes to me from multiple outlets, I just capture an idea and then work to develop into something readable.

My Walk into the Future (so far) has allowed me to:

  • Post blog articles weekly
  • Get back down to Jamaica
  • Visit Paisley Park
  • Improve my half-marathon time (3 times)
  • Mentor others (in-person and virtual)
  • Serve as a professional development vendor with the Seminole Tribe of Florida
  • Gain followers for my blog
  • Inspire people
  • Live life

I could add more things here but believe you can see the positives I’ve experienced from posting blog articles on my current walk.

Walk into the Future has become a life style for me and I’m excited to see how it develops moving forward.

Remember, enjoy the process—walk, don’t run!

What does Walk into the Future mean to you?  How can you leverage this concept in your daily walk?  Interested to hear from you—thanks!

 “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

(Abraham Lincoln)

Future May 2019

Please Feed the Unicorns

Unicorns: something unusual, rare or unique. (Merriam-Webster)

The term or concept of the mythical unicorn comes up in my conversations from time to time.  The unicorn can symbolize different things for people; from the image of a horse like creature with a single horn, to a magical being or someone who is unique.

I’ve been called a unicorn in multiple settings.  I wear this designation as a badge of pride because being a unicorn means I have a uniqueness about me.

My life and career pivots have taken me from a computer analyst, classroom instructor, conference planner (US Air Force), career specialist (Macon State College), guidance counselor (Government contractor), adjunct psychology professor (multiple schools), employee development consultant (Goodwill), employer relations (UCF & FSU) and now a blogger/consultant/speaker.  The ability to adapt and believe I can pivot into different settings/outcomes generates the unicorn concept some associate with me.

I have a lot of great mentors and friends who provide advice and support to ensure I’m prepared for the next pivot.  The efforts from my mentors/friends/tree branches provide me with a platform to stretch my professional boundaries to ensure I’m continually growing.

How do they do that?  They feed the unicorn:

  • Display a desire to partner
  • Willing to share knowledge
  • Expert listeners
  • Words and actions match (Consistency)
  • Regular check-ins
  • Positive affirmations
  • Tough love when needed

The list above can be used by YOU to feed the unicorns you meet in your daily lives.  You can add more ‘feeding’ variables based on the unique situations encountered but my list is a starting point to engage others daily.  I’m sure there’s someone you work with who would benefit from being treated as a unicorn.  They may not realize their uniqueness or potential until you start to feed the unicorn.  You may be surprised by the number of unicorns around you once you start the feeding process.

FYI—I consider everyone who follows and/or reads the Walk Into the Future blog, unicorns.  My words, thoughts, and adventures are designed to help you forge your own unique path on your personal walk.

Thanks for inspiring and feeding me as well!

Unicorn

Relational Transparency – Take your leadership to the next level

flat view photography of four persons sitting facing laptop on desk
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

“The lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity”.

(Dalai Lama)

The concept of transparency within the work environment continues to grow.  Leaders who display relational transparency show they are willing to share information and understand direct reports, peers and supervisors want to be involved.

The quote above provides outcomes when transparency is absent from the relational process.

Relational transparency is an authentic leadership variable that highlights leaders should understand the impact their daily interactions can have (positive or negative) within the work environment.  Relational transparency involves the leader presenting their authentic self, which helps develop trust by sharing true thoughts and feelings and displaying appropriate emotions.  Trust develops as the leader shares information openly with all levels within the organization.  Consistency with words, thoughts and actions are staples of relational transparency.

How can Relational Transparency improve work outcomes?

  • Creates a nurturing environment
  • Shows direct reports they are valued and appreciated
  • Helps build meaningful and transparent relationships
  • Enhances overall organizational functions
  • Should be applied to both sides of a work relationship

Relational transparency can be leveraged to improve working relationships on multiple levels of an organization.  This process can be used when working with staff members from other departments or organizations.  Building trust when working on committees across the organization will only enhance the ability of the team to meet stated goals.  A transparent leader’s authenticity can be viewed easily throughout the organization because nothing is being hidden in daily interactions with others.

Leaders must be willing and able to balance multiple relationship levels:  direct reports, peer to peer and supervisors.  Relational transparency provides leaders with an impactful way to build productive working relationships and enhance the overall functioning of the work environment.

How do you display relational transparency in your work environment?  How would this authentic leadership variable enhance daily interactions?

 

 

Leading from the Front

We are all leaders!  The actual title you have is not as important as understanding your impact on others you interact with.  There are people in this world with the ‘title’ that implies they are the leader, but they don’t ‘move the crowd’.

Leading from the front can be done by everyone.

I continue to highlight the key to effective leadership is self-awareness.  Self-awareness is needed in order to lead from the front in your daily activities.   The self-aware leader understands strengths and weaknesses, have a fully developed self-view and demonstrate they understand how their interactions impact others (direct reports, clients, colleagues, etc.).

Things a leader can/should do:

  • Inspire people
  • Empower people
  • Lead change
  • Share a vision

So, if you can inspire people, empower people, lead change and share a vision, you are a leader.  Again, you don’t need a specific title to be viewed as a leader.  Don’t give away your influence because a specific title is not attached to you.

encouragement_leadership blog

We can all lead!  Look around your current work environment. Who do you inspire daily?  How do you inspire these people?  Your level of self-awareness within the work environment creates empowerment.

Do you need anyone’s permission to inspire your students, clients, colleagues or direct reports?  I don’t think so.  Now you need to identify/understand how you inspire others.  Are your actions positive and consistent?  Do you create an environment conducive for communicating new ideas?

I believe empowered leaders initiate, act, and adjust within the work environment.  These things are available to all of us.  I promote to direct reports, ‘Mistakes happen, just don’t make the same mistake twice’.  Use situations like this to create an environment where your people can learn and grow.

Leveraging your ‘Why’ can also impact how you lead from the front.  Identify why you show up every day and then ensure your leadership decisions are made to positively impact your ‘Why’.  Simple enough, huh?  It can be!

How do you lead from the front daily?  What adjustment are needed to ensure you lead from the front in your work environment?  Thanks!

Success

“I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

(Thomas Jefferson)

Success2

What does success look like?  How would you define success?  How did you gain success in your life?

These were a few questions a branch on my tree asked me a few weeks back.  To be fair, I asked several branches on my tree for topics they have interest in to see if I can develop into a blog article that would benefit them in their Walk into The Future.

It took be awhile to wrap my mind around the concept of success—I view myself as enjoying my Walk into the Future, but success must be on display in some format for me to be able to control this walk.  So, I thought back to some advice I received as a young Air Force instructor that was gifted to me:

‘Be where you’re supposed to be;

Doing what you’re supposed to be doing;

When you’re supposed to be doing it.’ (U.S. Air Force Mentor, 1997)

Thinking about the topic of success allowed me to reflect on this advice and it follows me into every activity I pursue.

This advice on face valuable is simple.  But reflecting on the concept of success allowed me to see how the advice I received years ago has allowed me to find successful outcomes in most endeavors I tackle.  I’ve used this advice over the years but now realize it has been the foundation of my daily interactions—every day and every project!

This foundation has allowed me to form outstanding working relationships with direct reports and peers because I’m always focused on “where, what, when”.  This provides my interactions with a level of consistency to ensure successful outcomes.  Some may say they give 110% percent effort when facing a task or challenge.  I’ve never attributed the phase ‘110% effort’ to myself when taking on a task.  I view each task or challenge with a focus to get things done with maximum effort within a minimum amount of time.  The advice I was gifted years ago provided me with a formula to get things down with an eye towards the integrity of the process.

I talk with students I work with on how they can become visible and viable when seeking employment.  The concept of “where, what, when” is used in my conversations to give them a simple formula to work with when engaging with recruiters in their search for employment.  This concept is relatable for students and provides them with guidance towards a successful outcome when engaged in the recruitment process.

So, to come back to the questions I was asked on success:

What does success look like?  How would you define success?  How did you gain success in your life?

Success varies from person to person.  My view on success is having the ability to navigate a situation or task where the outcome exceeds the level of expectations.  Success is defined as having the mental capacity to adapt, think and build on past experiences to navigate the situation or task.

I gained success by using the “where, what, when” concept daily in all interactions.

  • Examples: supervision, mentoring, speaking engagements, volunteering.

In each of these examples, being where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing, when I’m supposed to be doing it has led to successful outcomes.

My last view on ‘my’ success is tied to the people (branches) I work with.  I feel successful when I watch and hear how well others are doing in their professional and personal lives.  My success is a direct reflection of their success—the more successful they are the more successful I will become.  Kind of a large circle of success!

So, what does success look like for you the reader?  Curious for your thoughts—thanks!

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”.

(Maya Angelou)

Success3