Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle. -- Napoleon Hill
If you are like me, you have heard this statement a thousand times over. And like me, you may have struggled with it. The statement has always been presented with good motives coupled with a strong dose of motivation. The message is a tried and true standby cliché that managers and leaders readily deploy to fire up the troops. You might even be one of the well-meaning persons who have used it. The statement is simply this: “Think outside the box.”
The idea has always made sense to me from a theoretical standpoint. After all, what’s wrong with thinking differently and approaching a problem in a new way? What could possibly be wrong with a fresh approac, especially if you happen to be stagnant in your thinking? Change is good. My concern centered around the disconnect that exists at times between good theory and good practice. I didn’t need the theory so much as I needed the “how-to.”
"Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners." -- Laurence Sterne
Surveys conducted by the global public relations firm, Weber Shandwick, in 2011, reported what many already know or experience: Incivility in the workplace is on the rise, and many place the blame at the feet of workplace leadership.
The online survey was conducted among 1,000 American adults to assess attitudes toward civility online, in the workplace, in the classroom and in politics. Some notable highlights include:
Over one-half of Americans, or 55 percent, believe that civility in America will get worse in the next few years.
Over four in 10 Americans, or 43 percent, have experienced incivility at work. A nearly equal number --38 percent -- believe that the workplace is becoming increasingly uncivil and disrespectful.
Workplace leadership is blamed for this decline by approximately 65 percent of those who perceive greater incivility in the workplace.
Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better. -- Bill Bradley
In a column for the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, Jack Zenger unveiled a startling and troubling fact: We wait too long to train leaders. Citing research from his consulting agency, he revealed that in their database of some 17,000 worldwide leaders participating in their training programs, the average age for first-time leadership training was 42. More than half were between 36 and 49. Less than 10 percent were under 30, and less than 5 percent were under 27.
The results also pointed to another disturbing fact: the average age of supervisors in those firms was 33. The typical individual in those companies became a supervisor around age 30 and remained in the role for nine years. The result? Most of these individuals are not getting any leadership training at all as supervisors. They are operating the company untrained, on average, for over a decade.
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Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile – Albert Einstein
In a column for Success magazine, John Maxwell shared a story about a picture of his son taken with Mother Teresa. Maxwell had sent him to India for a month so he could see the world as it was, not how he thought it was. His son worked in food lines in Kolkata for several weeks and then traveled the country by train in coach class. At the conclusion of the trip he had a brief audience with Mother Teresa.
Maxwell said the photo serves as a reminder to see the world from multiple perspectives, make decisions with empathy, appreciate what you have and work to better the lives of people who don’t have as much. As a leader you have a worldview that merits consideration. It reflects the beliefs you have and influences the decisions you make. In the run up to 2013 here are three ways to look at life and leading through the lens of leadership.