Exchanging the baton in a relay race — the front cover image on each of the three books in The Leadership Mints Series— celebrates the collaborative focus of leaders and followers.
Leaders and followers need — and heed—each other. On and off the track.
Leaders realize their success is dependent on their participating WITH their followers (a.k.a audiences). They learn from one other. They factor their mutual needs and interests with each other. And they speak WITH – not AT –each other. With civility. Time and again.
Their collaborative performance is an on-going pursuit.
Leaders realize there is no finish line. Just another starting line. And still another well-marked exchange zone on a track where they and their followers must perform collaboratively. On time (and under budget). One hand reaching out to the other’s hand. In full stride. With precision.
That’s why their on-going pursuit of interdependence between— leaders and followers, speakers and audiences, managers and their employees (and relay track team members) — is featured throughout The Leadership MintsSeries in THINKING Like a Leader with clarity, in LOVING Like a Leader with empathy and in SPEAKING Like a Leader with civility.
Here’s a reminder that your span of control is limited. Reading time: 1:24
Try this says one leader to the other: “Lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles with it. Now, draw the number 6 in the air with your right hand.”
The second executive tries to comply but to no avail. As soon as she tries to draw the number 6 and twirl her foot clockwise, her foot changes direction. She tries again. Same result.
Doctors say this is a pre-programmed response in your brain. No matter what you do you cannot override it.
You can’t outsmart your right foot when you are trying to write the number 6 in the air. You’ve been preprogrammed. Your response is always dialed in. You have no choice.
Doctors also have studied a related exercise: try to simultaneously rotate the index fingers of both hands in the same direction (clockwise or anticlockwise). Do it slowly at first, then faster, and faster. Pretty soon, they’re going in opposite directions.
The twirling legs and fingers exercises illustrates a leadership thinking tenent: that some things are so hard-wired, it makes no sense to try to change it.
The most effective leaders focus only on what they can change, what they can influence. Naturally. The leadership lesson is clear: Pick your fights– strategically —with a credible vision and an achievable mission.
That’s what leaders do. Then they will more readily get a leg up on the competition. Then they will more readily circle the competition — clockwise or counter-clockwise. And then they will more readily achieve their objective: Twirling a Deep Six weapon of choice in any direction.
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Here’s an idea to strengthen your conviction Reading time: 2:46
Call me Ishmael. Leaders echo that famous first line of Moby Dick.
After all, leaders are wanderers. Ishmael in old Hebrew means “wanderer.”
Like Ishmael, the most effect leaders wander into the choppy seas of change in quest of their supreme challenges that look like so many white whales, often as elusive as that great white whale —Moby Dick himself.
Indeed all leaders —all wanderers like Ishmael— are curious and “tormented with an everlasting itch to things remote” as author Herman Melville observes.
Ishmael’s wanderings –focused on Moby Dick –give us an insight into Seven Leadership Lessons that we can apply in our businesses:
Here’s an idea on appreciating more than simply praising your employees.
“Oh, Mrs. Cleaver you look so very nice today,” gushed Eddie Haskell in the old television program Leave It To Beaver.
The teenager‘s sugar-coated voice oozed with a specious sap of insincerity.
Eddie Haskell sprayed praise as if it were some kind of perfume that choked the air with manipulation. Casting his gratuitous smile and unctuous politeness on anyone and anything, Eddie Haskell killed his victims with faux kindness.
Do you know any Eddie Haskells in your organization?
Worse yet, are you falling into the Eddie Haskell trap of sugar-coating your relationship with your boss?
After all, gratuitous praise (a.k.a. brown-nosing) can become a weapon to stun and stunt others who hold a more powerful position than you do. As Sigmund Freud noted “When someone abused me I can defend myself. Against praise I am defenseless.”