Are you knocking the process?

“Willing is not enough; we must do. Knowing is not enough; we must apply.”

                                                                                                                                                          –Bruce Lee

What is the Value in Becoming a Leader?

To understand the true value of leadership, is to understand that learning about the principles is not enough. Once they have been committed to memory, the process is not complete. Maxwell’s Law of Process informs us that leadership develops day by day not in one day. I have often heard my mentor say, “It’s not 7 apples a week or 30 a month … Therefore, you can’t wait until the end of the month, then, eat 30 apples on the last day of the month. It will not do you any good, in point of fact, it most likely will make you ill. Instead,eat an apple a day.” You have to commit to the process and do something every day toward developing.

What’s My Experience Been With the Law of Process?

Similarly, the law of process can be likened to some of the principles I learned studying Tai Chi Chuan and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  In delving into the Ancient art of Kung Fu, Kung-meaning ‘work or achievement’ and Fu-meaning ‘man’ . We find that when man dedicates himself to a focused, persistent activity over prolonged period of time, it often leads to worthwhile achievement. To illustrate, I have been a Tai Chi Chuan practitioner for more than 18 years. What I learned in that time is a lesson that was lost on me as a younger man. That being, the physical movements of Tai Chi Chuan are the minutest portion of the art form. As with most things in the universe the majority of the real work of Tai Chi Chuan is hidden and happens internally, thus, invisibly. That’s why it’s called an internal martial art. Consequently, the process of becoming a great leader can be likened to becoming a martial arts master.

Explain It To Me Like I’m Six Years Old

The Law of Process is really an internal art. Here is why. The every day ritual of becoming a leader is as important as brushing your teeth. The mechanics are important, the technique vital, and consistency critical to attainment. Correspondingly, one has to acquire the skills involved in negotiation, communication, business processes, project management skills and the like. However, there are other aspects to the internal processes involved in developing the other laws including:

  • Influencing
  • Personal Development
  • Having the Vision
  • Help Others Reach Their Goals
  • Character Development
  • Becoming a Student of Your Industry

Further, it is critical to continually have the courage to be vulnerable in developing existing relationships as well as new ones. In this way one is always covering new ground; these are but a few of the internal aspects of becoming a leader that require time to reach depth and maturity within the an individual.

What Factors Impact Process?

Maxwell asserts that to dedicate oneself to being a life long learner is crucial to not only increasing one’s leadership lid, but also, to havintai chi symbolg the capacity to continue to grow as a person-a vital component in the the Law of Process. Further, the ability to discipline oneself to commit and stay with the plan for self development was pivotal to Mr. Darnell Self, named Entrepreneur of the Year 2004, by the Black Chamber of Commerce for having the largest minority entity in the world. He credits personal development as a key component to his success and development as a leader. In addition, he states that it was through persevering during difficult and trying times that in essence served as a “preparation for the blessings that were already on their way”. Therefore, Mr. Self is now able to show up in the lives of his family, business associates and those that benefit from their work in the form of Fertile Ground, Inc. and other ministry work internationally. However, without perseverance through his process none of that would have been possible.

Where do I start?

For more information on assessing your leadership process  request a free assessment here.


Response to the “A Realist, Pro-Active Approach to irradiating Hazing for Greek Organizations”

This is in response to an article I read recently

A Realistic, Pro-Active Approach to Irradiating Hazing for Greek Organizations 

Well, while I applaud the effort I think this piece falls far short of identifying the real problem and even further from real solutions. I do not say this lightly. I applaud the desire to do something substantive. The author approached what I feel is a crucial element in his discussion around the pursuit of respect and the desire to brutalize.  First, from my perspective the real source of this issue goes back to a period of 500 years of enslavement followed by about 80 years of Jim Crow Laws and follow that up with continued disinformation, miseducation, and drug proliferation within the African American community. Dr Joyce  DeGruy has conducted extensive research on this subject and can be found here

I think possibly a more effective strategy would be one whereby representatives from Greek Letter organizations to form an initiative in conjunction with Dr. Joy and develop a comprehensive training program that starts with our relationships in the community and in the schools that then feeds into colleges throughout the country, and finally back into the working world through graduate chapters and alumni participation.

Inherent in this system would be an true initiation process that would lead our young men and women through their developmental phases supported by multiple organizations and groups. Through such as system they could acheive the high ideals to which all of our organizations strive. For Phi Beta Sigma brotherhood scholarship and service can have a true impact and culture for service and service for humanity can be more than a nice slogan. I’m just saying…

How crucial is influence to your organization?

Is it Really a Leadership Issue?

Well one could well say that many of these principles from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell have little to do with leadership and more to do with personality types or merely sound ideals.  However, that may be due to one’s view of what leadership is and what it is not. The second  Maxwell leadership principle, influence is the essence of leadership “nothing more nothing less”.

Explain It To Me Like I’m Six Years Old

The law of influence is essentially about how a leader  effects others within a family, community, organization, or company. Genuine influence is not based on charisma but comes from the ability to connect with people on a very basic level. This is not to say that leaders do not possess charisma. Yet charisma can be seen as more of a personality trait. Furthermore, reliance on charisma to affect change depends on an individual’s ability to move people based on appeals to the ego, which has nothing to do with integrity. In my estimation depending on charisma is a slippery slope that leads to manipulation and misuse of power.

What’s My Experience Been With Leadership?

To return to the topic of influence, over my lifetime I have followed many in leadership positions. Rather than appeal to mine or other followers’ reason and sensibility, they sought influence from can be viewed as questionable motives. Whether that is owing to a general lack of faith in people or the ease at which it could be done with significant effectiveness, I know not which. However, what has been clearly and consistently demonstrated is as follows. The leader that cultivates an inner circle of easily swayed people, afraid to speak their minds or have an independent opinion, without fear of retribution, disparagement or sabotage; demonstrates in himself a lack of character, inner strength and integrity. Those that hold positions of authority and exemplify this strategy are destined to fail in truly influencing their followers and thus, as a leader.

What Factors Impact Influence?

Maxwell outlines six factors that affect the ability to influence. They include: character, relationships, knowledge, intuition,  experience, and ability. I believe the most important is character. Without character the ability to trust is weakened and resistance builds in the followers. Next, the power of relationships cannot be understated. If an individual has difficulty relating to others, then, doubt may creep into the mind of the followers questioning whether the leader truly represents their best interest. When a person in a leadership position does not possess inner integrity then they often display an outer rigidity in an attempt to bully people into following them. In addition, once one has garnered a reputation for treating people poorly or without compassion; it further impairs the leader’s ability to influence. Under this type of leadership people will follow out of deference to the position rather than respect for and influence of the leader.

This is Above Your Pay Grade!

Similarly, knowledge is important only so long as it is used properly. In organizations today a premium is placed on withholding information and specific knowledge from the lower tier workers. There are terms like “need to know basis” and concepts such as “that information is above your pay grade”. In Ken Blanchard’s Gung Ho! this point is illustrated in the concept of the Way of the Beaver. The Way of the Beaver outlines how the use of  knowledge to empower team members goes a long way toward increasing productivity, creating by in, and a owner’s mentality in followers. As important, the ability to intuit underlying trends in an organization and make adjustments is a crucial skill for a leader to possess. Further, experience in the area that one is seeking to influence is pivotal toward gaining support for the leader because it gives them the confidence that she knows where she is going because she has been their before. This is an area where many leaders excel. By utilizing stories, they are able to relay complex ideas and concepts of their own experiences rather than issuing edicts. Finally, the ability of the leader to execute their vision is requisite  to being able to pull all these areas together as influence.

For more information on where your leadership influence is currently request a free assessment.

Leadership in the New Millenium

This is an excerpt from a recurring conversation that has developed within me over the last month. “I know you don’t agree but hear me out on these 21 points that I am going to lay out of the next several days and then honestly assess yourself against each of them according to  your strengths and areas of challenge. At the end of that time if you still feel the same way well then at least I will have shared my perspective with you and you can get a better idea of how I am processing.”

These principles come from the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C Maxwell

The first of Mr. Maxwell’s laws is the law of the lid. This leadership concept centers around the growth potential of the individual leader and how it directly impacts the growth potential of the organization. The example that I remember most glowingly is that of the McDonald brothers who started their first restaurant, which they called the Airdrome. There aim was to attract more business since their theater was struggling. From their humble beginnings they were able to grow the restaurant into a very successful enterprise. However, ultimately the McDonald brothers lacked vision they wanted to keep their operation small and focused primarily on retiring by the age of 50 with $1,000,000.  Now don’t get me wrong in the mid 20th century that would seem a worthy goal, yet, their goals seemed to run contrary to their desires. They wanted to grow their business as long as it stayed small.

A little aside here, when I was studying non profit fundraising I learned that an organization can actually a gift that is so large that it destroys the organization. Meaning that people are used to functioning in a “mom and pop” mentality and then want to make money but do not really understand business processes.  This is essentially the issue with the McDonald  brothers they understood efficiency and optimizing management based decisions; however, they lacked the vision to grow their business to the degree that would allow them to achieve their goals and continue to function.

It was  Mr Neil Fox  that really helped them along with their franchising efforts. With the first franchise in Phoenix, AZ, the McDonald brothers were surprised to see an exact replica of their restaurant. They did n0t understand why Mr. Fox  had made an exact replica of their restaurant. Mr. Fox said why fix something that is working so well.  Mr Fox understood that to be successful you should find someone that is successful and do what they are doing. This is the art of true duplication which is the key to sustainable growth.

A few years afterward came a milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc. He grasped the genius of the McDonald brother’s concept immediately and was able to systematize their process and earned a great deal of money. However, Mr. Kroc and the McDonald brothers frustrated one another. The McDonald brothers wanted to keep the operation small. Why? Their leadership lid did not allow them to grow beyond where they were. Their system had the potential to become much more efficient, proficient and lucrative than their capacity to grow. As a result, Mr. Kroc acquired the McDonald brother’s system for $2.7 million and today with the leadership lid of Mr Kroc, McDonald’s corporation is literally all over the globe serving billions everyday and is worth $15 billion.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not promoting McDonald’s products as a whole but the demonstration of the law of the lid is glaringly evident in the story of their origin. When an organization is limited by the potential of the leader then the leader can raise his lid or they’ll have to get a new leader.

For more information on where your leadership lid is currently request a free assessment.

New Thoughts for the “New Year”

“What we have here… is a failure to communicate.” — spoken by The Captain, the imperious prison warden from Cool Hand Look 1967

I always remembered watching that when I was a little boy.  In fact that is the only thing I remember about the whole entire film beside Paul Newman getting his *ss kicked throughout the entire film.  But that quote transmits so much of what is reflected in how we relate to one another. In this society we have a serious issue with attaching ownership to emotions and things that we profess to love. However, when we examine the way we often treat those we claim to love, I believe that we could all agree that it is anything but a reflection of our own need to feel important. Dr. Gary Chapman wrote the 5 Love Languages, which speaks about how we interpret love in 5 primary ways and how to understand your own way of understanding love so that you can broaden, as well as, get your needs met in relationships.

For example, my children are little people that come into the world to reflect a particular experience that is to be played out in the theatre of family dynamics. This process compresses and brings individuals through various experiences that may one day culminate in an Aha! moment for them.  Yet they accumulate so many of life’s complexities that seemingly take them away from their Aha! moment so that year after year, layer after layer is placed upon the mask that eventually becomes who they present to the world and who they convince themselves they really are.
Yet what many of us reflect often is an amalgamation of expectations, beliefs, wants, wishes and desires of those around us, which in many cases has very little to do what with what we originally sought to reflect in the world.

My thought for this “New Year” is to allow communication to reflect the values of what we want to see in the world.  The things that we want people to remember about us.  The impact that we want to have on the world.  If you currently do not know what impression you would like to leave upon the world, then, that should serve as a  path of discovery to this level of communication. This process won’t always be pretty, it won’t always be what you want to hear, but if it is coming from a place of love make sure that it is true, kind, necessary or better than silence (a jewel of Zen passed to me by my friend Shaila).