Tuesday, December 10, 2013

'Tell Me Something I Don't Know'

How many times have we heard someone say that, or said it ourselves? It’s an expression we use when someone overstates the obvious—a way of agreeing with what they just said.

But think about it: How often do we actually say that, and mean it?

Over my years as a business advisor and consultant, I’ve been struck by a simple truth: We don’t know what we don’t know. We look for solutions, but we don’t know where to look—or, in some cases, what we should be looking for.

Usually, that comes from not asking the right questions. It’s important in business, as in life, to look at ourselves and our circumstances honestly. Too often, we see managers make the mistake of surrounding themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear and what would be valuable for them to hear.

How about you? Do you have one or more trusted advisors who will tell you the truth? They might be internal, such as key managers or associates, or external, such as a business coach or a collection of peers in an executive networking group. Wherever you can find them, it’s important to have your “go-to” people who can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and do something about them.

Too often I’ve observed executives and managers who appear concerned about bringing in strong people to work with them. It’s as if they are intimidated by people who have skills they don’t have. They want to appear in control, and behave as if it would be a sign of weakness to surround themselves with accomplished and experienced professionals. Unfortunately, those are the people who end up spiraling out of control.

Don’t make that mistake. What can you do now, today, to start down a different path? Where can you turn to learn from others and gain honest, valuable insights that will make a difference for your business, and for you as a leader?

Ask the right questions. Find the person, or group of persons, who will give you a no-holds-barred assessment of where you stand. See your world through their eyes, and see for yourself how what you don't know has been holding you back. It’s a critical way to improve your circumstances and truly move forward.

Jim Ondrus pioneered the management concept of Leadership Transitioning. He is president of JA Ondrus, LLC, a Canton, Ohio executive coaching firm.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Common Characteristics of Dynamic Leaders

With more than 30 years of Executive Coaching Experience and conducting Leadership Development Seminars, I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to observe a lot of outstanding leaders at work. Even though clients engage me as a consultant, they haven’t been the only ones doing the learning; I’ve also learned from them. So I thought that I would use this blog from time to time to discuss a few key characteristics that, from my experience and observation, are key traits that successful and dynamic leaders share.

1. Dynamic Leaders are passionate, focused and disciplined workers

On the one hand, effective leaders see the potential in their people and focus on what will make them successful, and readily give credit where credit is due. On the other hand, they also know that it’s “all about them” — about how hard they personally work, the example they set, and the shadow of influence they cast. That shadow of influence of the leader means setting high standards and then leading by example. It recognizes that people watch leaders, to see what they do and how they live the principles that they espouse.

2. Dynamic Leaders lead from the front and love what they do

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, many managers and supervisors don’t engage their team members or communicate clearly their goals and objectives. Employees don’t function well in a vacuum. Effective leaders aren’t afraid to get down in the trenches with their colleagues to learn what their strengths and challenges are, learn about their goals and dreams, and discover how to best support them so they can aspire to being the best that they can be.

3. Dynamic Leaders focus on growth—their own and others’

In fact, dynamic and effective leaders are passionate about such growth. They don’t just hire the best and the brightest and then sit back and expect them to perform at the highest possible levels automatically. They recognize that life is a learning process, and that it’s important to invest in their people and in themselves, so that everyone can be at the top of their game. A true leader knows that everyone has leadership potential and that the measure of a leaders skill is to enable others to unlock that potential.

There are many more important characteristics that effective leaders share, and we’ll continue to explore those in future blog posts.

Jim Ondrus pioneered the management concept of Leadership Transitioning. He is president of JA Ondrus, LLC, a Canton, Ohio executive coaching firm.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stay At the Top of Your Game

Are you at the top of your game? More important, have you taken the time to consider what that means?

We’ve all heard the conventional wisdom about listening to our “inner voice.” It’s that gut instinct that reminds us of what we already know, deep down inside.

So what is your inner voice saying to you about being successful, in business and in life?

Think about when you’ve performed at the highest level—in other words, when you’ve been at the top of your game.

What was working for you? Who were you working with? What were the contributing factors to your success?

When we take the time to stop and think about those occasions, we usually find that there was clarity to our thinking and actions. We understood the task or assignment, and no doubt felt passionate about what we were doing.

Contrast that with those times when you weren’t as successful—when you felt like you’d failed or were not at the top of your game.

Chances are you lacked clarity about the project or assignment. What were the distractions that got in your way?

You may have tried to do too much by yourself, perhaps to try to prove yourself and your abilities rather than to achieve a desired result. Or you simply might have had a wrong mindset—been in a low mood, in other words—and felt overwhelmed by challenging circumstances or a faulty relationship.

That’s understandable, because it happens to us all. We’re human. We have bad days, we struggle with relationships, and we make mistakes. The important thing is to not let those things dominate and control our lives.

The late Zig Ziglar was famous for saying, “See you at the top!”

Can you see yourself there?

Identify those things that have made you successful in the past, and make them a regular part of your life. It takes honesty, and it takes discipline. But it will also put you where you want to be—at the top of your game.

Jim Ondrus pioneered the management concept of Leadership Transitioning. He is president of JA Ondrus, LLC, a Canton, Ohio executive coaching firm.