Your self-talk should be about the kind of person—the kind of leader—you want to be. It is important to get away to a quiet place. It can be anywhere you can find some solitude. Pressing Pause. You have to plan for a time-out. Taking a fast from social media is a good way to slow down and create some space in your life. But not just social media.
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It helps you to re-center your life and realign with your why. You can step back from all of the noise and see the bigger picture. One of his most important and insightful chapters is the last chapter, Master Control. Growing as a leader means taking control—mastering control.
And specifically, what is going on inside of us. To begin, there are two questions we should think about:. What are you going to allow to control you? Who are you going to allow to control you? Positive emotions release dopamine and serotonin, and we keep coming back for more, and they can take control. So far, so good. But negative emotions will produce the same effect, and so we keep them around as well, returning to them again and again. In their own way, they also make us feel better.
And as with an addictive substance, the more you take the bait on them, the more your tolerance of them grows. And the more your tolerance grows, the more you create the patterns that keep you coming back for more. The busier my life gets, the louder the nose. The louder the noise, the cloudier my future feels. W HO IS looking out for you? In Learning to Lead , Williams shows how anyone can grow and succeed as leaders.
He grew up in a working-class family in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago in the s. The book is exceptional. He weaves the experiences of his career with the lessons we can all learn from them.
Well told and insightful. He begins by asserting that the single most important asset you have is you.
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As a result, you need to focus on getting better. To do that you need to really think about what you are going to do differently. If you want to be extraordinary, you need to stretch yourself above the average person. Exceed your job description. Do it for you and build a reputation. For him, his underprivileged background represented an opportunity. It is our mindset that often makes it impossible to escape the box we find ourselves in. Mentorship must arise naturally out of the situation rather than being forced.
As you work on learning to lead yourself, you should also seek out others whose examples, experiences, and insights can be of value to you. When people do or seem to get in your way, rather than finding blame, assume positive intent. You can choose how you respond to negative events. Blowing up in the face of provocation is a way of losing power, not of claiming it. By contrast, the more oblique wordings I used directed attention away from the blame game and exactly where I wanted it—toward uncovering the root causes behind their objections. We hurt ourselves and our organizations when we act on our untruths.
Learning to correctly grasp what I call strategic intent of those in important positions above you and below you in the organizational hierarchy is a vital leadership practice, one that you should try to make into a daily habit. Williams provides lessons in communication, creating a positive culture, defining reality, and many more.
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Putting in practice what he presents here does not require extraordinary gifts. There is a lot of emotional intelligence contained in this book. Reading it is a good way to develop your own EQ and check your self-awareness. Use Learning to Lead to prepare yourself answer the call to lead when it comes. I never expected that he would become my first true mentor.
But, throughout our relationship, our conversations have given me volumes of knowledge about leadership and a host of other topics. I saw in him a leadership style similar to my own, just more seasoned. I wanted to learn as much as I could from him and use similar techniques as my own leadership responsibilities grew. He helped me get certain jobs and I worked directly for him once. We remain great friends to this day.
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Receiving mentorship is a vital element in learning about leadership… and being a mentor is a responsibility of all great leaders. The first three are rather self-evident in terms of what they mean. Virtual mentorship is something you do on your own. You simply pay attention to all of the people around you and learn from them. This can apply to both your professional and personal life.
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Pay attention to what others do or say that is particularly smart or good, then adopt it as your own habit. Notice also when a leader does something incredibly dumb or harmful to others, then put that in your leadership reservoir as well, so that you will never do the same. Think of your life as a journey carrying a backpack, and observed behaviors are rocks you find along the path.
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Pick up both the good and bad—the good for future use and the bad to remind you not to repeat what those rocks represent. All great leaders learn something from those they encounter along their journey. I regularly cite those who taught me something that I now use myself. Perhaps one of the greatest periods during which I learned from others was my time in the Pentagon in the late s.
My 23 years of service to that point had been exclusively within Army ranks, with no duty served in another military branch. But in , when I became a new brigadier general, I was assigned to the Joint Staff in the Pentagon. I served during this time with a number of great military leaders who influenced me. I had to brief him each morning. That was a particularly interesting relationship, as he was a lieutenant colonel when I was a brigadier general in Seventeen years later, I reported to him.
I remember our first discussion in his office in , where I made clear that while we had a different relationship in the Pentagon, I was perfectly fine working for him. I remember him saying he was, as well. He was very comfortable in his own skin. We got along great in the two years of his command tenure and remain good friends to this day. I freely pass on mine. Feedback is not always well-intentioned and is used to punish, demean, or manipulate. As a result, you will find people avoiding it altogether—whether on the giving or receiving end of it. Or you will find people trying to take it to a higher lever and state that what we need and really want is attention.
Positive attention is the way to go. Build on strengths. But sometimes we need to tame our strengths for our own good, and sometimes we need to manage our weaknesses. And frequently we have no idea unless we are told. We need feedback. Done right, feedback is not only a good thing, it is essential to growth and performance. They say we need to do more than tweak our feedback practices, we need to completely rethink the what, how, and why. Focus is about making the feedback specific, targeted, and brief. Frequency is the accelerator.
To revolutionize feedback, the best thing you can do right now—especially as a leader—is to become a Seeker of feedback. That is, become a person who proactively requests feedback from others with the intention of self-development or growth.