Choosing to Lead

Choosing to Lead

Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you. There’s a difference between managers and leaders

Ask them what that difference is, and they may have a bit more difficulty providing a clear answer. Suddenly the words become amorphous and undefined. Somehow leadership is an intangible – a charismatic component that some people have and others simply don’t. That’s why, according to the ubiquitous “they,” it is such a rarity.

I disagree with this perspective.

Job Versus Calling 

A job is a task, something you have to do, something that you must accomplish to get something else ( like a pay check).  But a Calling is unique, it is driven by passion, it isn’t something you can stop doing , or retire from, or simply not do either at home or at work.  A Calling is ‘who you are” it’s part of you.

The difference between being a manager and being a leader is simple Management isa career. Leadership is a calling.

You don’t have to be tall, well-spoken and good looking to be a successful leader. You don’t have to have that “special something” to fulfill the leadership role.

What you have to have are clearly defined convictions – and, more importantly, the courage of your convictions to see them manifest into reality. Only when you understand your role as guide and steward based on your own most deeply held truths can you move from manager to leader.

The Power of Trust 

Whether the group you oversee is called employees, associates, co-workers, teammates or anything else, what they are looking for is someone in whom they can place their trust.  Someone they know is working for the greater good – for them and the organization. They’re looking for someone not only that they can – but that they want to – follow.

Because it is only when you have followers -people who have placed their trust in you – that you know you have moved into that leadership role. And the way you see it is that your organization is transcending all previous quality, productivity, innovation, and revenue achievements. You’re operating at such a high level of efficiency that you’re giving budget back to the corporation – and you’re still beating your goals.

You’re achieving what you always dreamed could be achieved. And not only that, but it’s easier than you thought.

Because you’re a leader. Because the classic command and control management model – which, contrary to popular belief still applies even in our most progressive 21st-century companies – is no longer in play. Sure, controls are in place. Sure, you’re solving problems that arise.

But it’s not just you alone. You have the people in whom you’ve put your trust – and who have happily and safely reciprocated – to help you create organizational success.

First Steps:

Where to start? Begin by discovering exactly what your convictions are. Clarify and codify for yourself what you believe in. Then, take a nice step back and see how those beliefs are playing out in the organization as it stands today.

Don’t start with an organizational assessment based on the numbers or your opinions about others. It is not about “them.” It is all about you.

Ask yourself:

  • What is important to me? What are my values, beliefs, ethics?
  • How am I demonstrating those values, beliefs, and ethics every day?
  • Is the larger organization designed to support my values, beliefs, and ethics?
  • Where are the disconnects within my immediate organization and for myself with the larger enterprise?
  • What can I do to change how I behave with my immediate organization to demonstrate my belief in them?
  • What additional assistance do my employees need to succeed ¡V and how can I ensure that they get everything they need and more to create personal and organizational success?

Realistically, you’ll go through this process not once, but many, many times. It is a periodic reality and cross-check to see how you’re doing in your own context and, as you begin making changes, in the larger context.

Because, while you can and should expect yourself and your immediate organization to make changes, you cannot – and should not – expect the larger organization to respond or follow suit immediately. It is a personal journey designed to assist you in being more – and helping those whose lives you touch to be more. Give the organization time. It’ll get there. It’s just a little bit slow.

What’s Next? 

As you identify your convictions and begin aligning your behaviors with those convictions, you are going to need to take steps to build a collaborative culture based on where you’re going.

To do that, seek input from your employees about what they need and what their dreams are for their jobs and the larger organization. (They have them, you know). Talk to internal and external customers and suppliers about their needs. Find out what more and what else you can be and do to create success.

Take some time with your assessments over the holidays and focus on these questions as you begin to prepare yourself for the new year.

Questions for reflection :

  1. What Is Leadership?
  2. What is the Leadership Challenge you are currently Facing? (What Keeps you Awake)
  3. What is my vision for the future?
  4. How can I foster an environment that engages people fully?
  5. How do I need to “re-invent” personally to make progress toward my vision?
  6. Am I   Results or Relationship Oriented?
  7. What are my next steps to compensate for my bias?
  8. What are my terminal values I need to know and Live?
  9. Am I a serving leader or a self-serving leader?

Enroll and engage in conversation and communication. Sit back. Listen. Take in as much as you can. Look for trends and themes. Find out where the possibilities are – the connects and disconnects that you can effect.

Be more. Be all those things you always believed about yourself – and usually bring to the rest of your life.

Leaders aren’t made or born. Leadership is a choice – a belief in and commitment to everything that is good and noble within you.

Choose to Lead….this world needs more like you!

Suggestions for Dealing with Change

Suggestions for Dealing with Change

Suggestions for Dealing with Change

With the current downsizing, rightsizing etc. that is happening in American business today, there are a few things that should be remembered by people affected by the changes. I predict that we will look back on this time as one of the stupidest times in the history of management. Much change being implemented simply isn’t needed and many organizations are and will find that they have cut too deep into their organizations leaving them vulnerable to poor quality products, poor service, and poor morale. Overworked employees make mistakes from fatigue and put the organization at risk from a safety and quality perspective. Tension continues to rise as we expect our workers to do more with less. By the time the realization hits us the damage is done to the business and the reputation of the business. What amends are made are too little for the remaining workers and too late to ward of a fierce competitor waiting in the wings. Many organizations have offered Early Retirement Options or “packages” to senior employees to get the older more expensive employees off the payroll. The problem with that is that it leaves the newer, more educated but less experienced employee to take up the slack without the vital experience of the senior worker. While the depth of the balance sheet expenses narrows making stockholders and executive cost cutter’s happy, the depth of the knowledge base gets wider frustrating and stressing out the very people who make the product and deliver the service. Without this knowledge base critical decisions take longer and simple operating problems are now monumental for the novice to solve alone. Sometimes the change is necessary. When this happens a new awareness is called for if you are to handle the change positively. In those cases, here are some suggestions for dealing with change.

Understand that you are critical to the reorganization process. You are responsible for you own adjustment to change! In order to adjust, ask yourself several questions:


  1. What do I want to have happen in my job, my life, my career?
  2. What am I willing to do to get that?
  3. Is what I am currently doing helping me get what I want or hurting me in the process?
  4. What makes the most sense for me to do today to help me get what I want?

Things to Remember…

You control your attitude.

While you cannot stop the progress and outcomes of change, you can control your attitude about change. You can choose to brood, be angry, feel helpless and bitter but is unlikely that will help you physically or mentally. However, you can choose to seize opportunities to grow and take steps in new directions every day if you wish. Living in the past is not much help when you are facing the future.

Recognize that management will make mistakes.

Don’t expect management decisions to always be right or even to make sense from your point of view. There are no standard treatments or pat solutions to managing the change process. Your organization is unique, some decisions that look like mistakes may be the best of the only bad alternatives from which a choice must be made. Generally, your best interests are in the heart of members of management even though decisions many not look like that sometimes.

Swim with the current rather than against it.

The most important life saving rule in dealing with change is that you will not stop it. You must find your way with it. Perhaps you’ve been to the beach and are aware of the “undertow” which periodically affects swimming conditions along the beach. Many travelers are caught in the undertow and find themselves being pulled out away from the beach. A few panic and fight the powerful currents that carry them. The survivors however, know that to swim along with the current will bring you to shore only a few hundred yards down the beach if you relax, don’t panic and swim with the current.

Recognize that restructuring isn’t the “cause” of everything.

Remember the “good ole days”? Well even in the good ole days there were issues and concerns too. Change brings with it a desire to return to times of our memories when things weren’t moving so fast. However, if you really think about it, times are less stressful when you remember them as times when things were really going the way you wanted them to. Times were moving fast then too, you were just on a different side of change at that time. Downsizing, restructuring, merging, relocating, etc. are all organizational behaviors of our times they happen for reasons much larger that just those that effect a single company or event.

You may experience feelings about work that concern you. Like getting frustrated, temperamental, disgusted, angry and even afraid. If your feelings are managing you to the extent that you are not able to continue with your personal and work goals today, then perhaps you need to rethink whether you are reacting to change or acting with change. If you react to change too long, you can become negative, sad, depressed, and be a “corporate whiner” But if you are acting with change, you can be more accepting and though sometimes frustrated and even afraid, you still have the emotional energy to stay in control. Ask yourself, How am I feeling? Is this feeling helping me? What might I do that would help me feel differently?Then, take action. That makes the biggest difference.

Worrying doesn’t change things, actions do!

Worrying is a kind of voodoo activity that humans engage in falsely thinking that worrying will change events in life. Actually, there is no connection between worrying and constructive outcomes in life. There is however, a connection between positive actions and positive outcomes. So when you find yourself worrying, Ask, Is this helping me? If it is keep worrying. My bet is that your answer will mostly be no. If so, then ask “What can I do that might move me a little closer to my goal ( what I want) than worrying? Then, haul off and do it! Stay busy at work and focused on your personal plans and goals.


In spite of the fact that you have been doing your job for a long time. You are not your job. You are more than that! We live in a society that defines us by what we do. Yet, who we are is far more important than what we do. It is important during these times of change that you pace yourself and that you take time for yourself. Make sure you are eating right, getting plenty of rest, (I know I sound like your Mother!) and intentionally increase your exercise regimen during these times. These behaviors are known to impact a healthy mind and body during the trauma of corporate change.