Best of 2012: Top 10 Posts From Let’s Grow Leaders

As the year draws to a close, one reader suggested I share my thoughts on “best of 2012,” particularly for those readers who may have joined recently.

And so, with deep gratitude for all of your support, I share a few of my favorites in case you missed them.

Best of 2012: 3 Most Popular

Most Viewed, Recognition Power Words: The Phases That Mean the Most

This one was also a lot of fun, because it sparked such an interesting conversation (and debate) on LinkedIn as well. I began with a question to the online community, “What words make the biggest impact when providing recognition?” Recognition is so important to us all, and there are so many important viewpoints on how to approach it.

Runners Up, Humility Matters: 9 Ways Confident Leaders Remain Humble and A Strategic Story About Strategic Storytelling.

Early Favorites

These posts were not official contenders for the best of 2012 because they were written early in the game, mostly to a very small audience. A little rough, but heartfelt.

Felons, Leopards, Spots and Feedback: A Short Story of Missed Opportunity

Stupid Feedback, When Stupid Smarts and What to Do About It

5 Ways Leaders Bust Confidence

I’m Going to Sit Write Down and Write Myself a Letter

Guest Posts and Interviews

Grateful for the Connection and Support from Dan Rockwell, The Most Powerful Thing Experienced Leaders Do (interview with Dan Rockwell on his site, Leadership Freak)

Favorite Guest Post on another site, Leader Athletes: Training Long for the Long Run (Guest Post on Lead Change Group)

Youngest Guest Post on Let’s Grow Leaders, Leadership from a Kid’s Point of View: Lucky or Skillful (Sebastian Hurt, Age 7)

What was your favorite post of 2012?

Best of 2012: Top 10 Posts From Let's Grow Leaders

As the year draws to a close, one reader suggested I share my thoughts on “best of 2012,” particularly for those readers who may have joined recently.

And so, with deep gratitude for all of your support, I share a few of my favorites in case you missed them.

Best of 2012: 3 Most Popular

Most Viewed, Recognition Power Words: The Phases That Mean the Most

This one was also a lot of fun, because it sparked such an interesting conversation (and debate) on LinkedIn as well. I began with a question to the online community, “What words make the biggest impact when providing recognition?” Recognition is so important to us all, and there are so many important viewpoints on how to approach it.

Runners Up, Humility Matters: 9 Ways Confident Leaders Remain Humble and A Strategic Story About Strategic Storytelling.

Early Favorites

These posts were not official contenders for the best of 2012 because they were written early in the game, mostly to a very small audience. A little rough, but heartfelt.

Felons, Leopards, Spots and Feedback: A Short Story of Missed Opportunity

Stupid Feedback, When Stupid Smarts and What to Do About It

5 Ways Leaders Bust Confidence

I’m Going to Sit Write Down and Write Myself a Letter

Guest Posts and Interviews

Grateful for the Connection and Support from Dan Rockwell, The Most Powerful Thing Experienced Leaders Do (interview with Dan Rockwell on his site, Leadership Freak)

Favorite Guest Post on another site, Leader Athletes: Training Long for the Long Run (Guest Post on Lead Change Group)

Youngest Guest Post on Let’s Grow Leaders, Leadership from a Kid’s Point of View: Lucky or Skillful (Sebastian Hurt, Age 7)

What was your favorite post of 2012?

Time to Grow: What’s Next for Let’s Grow Leaders

When I began writing Let’s Grow Leaders this Summer, I had no idea of the remarkable adventure that had begun.

It has been a journey of introspection, challenge, connection, friendships, support and collaboration.

I am deeply grateful for the growing international community of followers and subscribers who share their insights and add to the conversation. I am delighted by the growing network of thought leaders with whom I learn every day. I am humbled by those who so frequently comment and enrich the dialogue, particularly for Steve Borek, who began commenting early and often, and always enhances the post.

I’ve been working to digest the traffic and trends to interpret which posts and topics have been most helpful as I work to plan for 2013.

What would be even more useful would be your candid feedback. What would you like to see as we continue to grow on our leadership journeys?

Let’s Grow Together

  • What topics would be most useful?
  • Do you prefer conceptual conversation or practical advice?
  • Are the stories helpful?
  • What about guest posts, would you like more or less?
  • I have tried running a few special series on Saturdays, how do those feel?
  • If you are not a subscriber, what would encourage you to subscribe?
  • What types of posts are you most likely to share with others?
  • How can I better encourage your comments?
  • What ideas do you have for enhancing the Let’s Grow Leaders Facebook page?
  • What other ideas do you have?

I would appreciate any ideas and insights as I work to grow Let’s Grow Leaders in 2013. Please share any ideas you have in the comments, or send me an email at letsgrowleaders@gmail.com.

Time to Grow: What's Next for Let's Grow Leaders

When I began writing Let’s Grow Leaders this Summer, I had no idea of the remarkable adventure that had begun.

It has been a journey of introspection, challenge, connection, friendships, support and collaboration.

I am deeply grateful for the growing international community of followers and subscribers who share their insights and add to the conversation. I am delighted by the growing network of thought leaders with whom I learn every day. I am humbled by those who so frequently comment and enrich the dialogue, particularly for Steve Borek, who began commenting early and often, and always enhances the post.

I’ve been working to digest the traffic and trends to interpret which posts and topics have been most helpful as I work to plan for 2013.

What would be even more useful would be your candid feedback. What would you like to see as we continue to grow on our leadership journeys?

Let’s Grow Together

  • What topics would be most useful?
  • Do you prefer conceptual conversation or practical advice?
  • Are the stories helpful?
  • What about guest posts, would you like more or less?
  • I have tried running a few special series on Saturdays, how do those feel?
  • If you are not a subscriber, what would encourage you to subscribe?
  • What types of posts are you most likely to share with others?
  • How can I better encourage your comments?
  • What ideas do you have for enhancing the Let’s Grow Leaders Facebook page?
  • What other ideas do you have?

I would appreciate any ideas and insights as I work to grow Let’s Grow Leaders in 2013. Please share any ideas you have in the comments, or send me an email at letsgrowleaders@gmail.com.

Discard and Replenish: What Will You Stop Doing in 2013?

You had a great year, you worked hard, you achieved results, and learned along the way. Great, now what can you discard?

2013 will bring new challenges, exciting initiatives and inspiring ideas. With that will come more work, new project plans, and of course new metrics and reporting. The new initiatives will come on fast and furious, likely with sizzle and inspiration.

Your days were already full no matter how refreshed you feel, you cannot add more stuff, without discarding what has become clutter. Your team can’t either.

How can you empower them to discard?

What Can You Discard?

Before the new year excitement.

Make some room.

Ask some good questions.

Push back to others as needed.

Be sure your team is doing what matters.

What Goals No Longer Serve?

  • What was important in 2012 that no longer aligns with the evolving vision?
  • What are you pursuing because you always have?
  • What are you doing because it feels good and comfortable?

What Must Stop?

  • Revisit your team’s daily routine. Are all tasks still vital? How do they align with your 2013 goals?
  • What tasks have become less important?
  • What agendas are others still pushing which no longer align with your vision and goals?
  • What can you stop doing?
  • What???

What Metrics No Longer Serve Your Vision?

  • What reports haven’t been used in months?
  • What metrics have become less vital?
  • If you were only able to measure 3 things, what would they be? Why?
  • What other questions should you be asking????

How Must You Evolve?

  • How has your team matured?
  • Which leadership behaviors are no longer needed?
  • What do they need most from you this year?
  • What?

A new year provide opportunities for fresh starts and new challenges. Consider having a deliberate discard conversation with your team. This can also be done as a team building exercise, where each team member asks for feedback on what they should start, stop and continue doing to achieve the teams vision.

Simple Gifts: The Best You Can Do is Enough

My favorite Christmas stories are the ones where a humble hero offers the best gifts he can muster.  It never looks like much on the outside.

In Why The Chimes Rang, a small child accomplishes what all the rich and famous could not with their extravagant gifts.  He did what he could, with what he had.

The Little Drummer Boy, “had no gift to bring” but we keep singing about him.  I could go on, but the point is not about Christmas stories it’s about you and me.

Why Our Gifts Remain Ungiven

Where do we stop because we think our gifts are too simple.

We sooth our conscience with stopping thoughts:
“I’m really not the best qualified.”

“There’s not much I can do”

“This problem is too big”

“I don’t know what to say”

“I’m not really that good around sick people”

“They probably are being bombarded with support.”

We think ourselves out of doing.
We think ourselves out of helping.
We think ourselves out of leading.
And our gifts remain ungiven.

Encouraging Reluctant Gifts

As leaders, do we look for the humble gifts available in others?

It’s easy to pre-judge potential contributions. We look for the most talented.

We go to our “go-to” guy again. We want this project to be perfect, so we don’t give it to the woman who would grow most from the experience.

A few months ago, Ben, my high-school senior son came home and told me he was going to conduct a middle school brass quintet.

I was surprised and skeptical. Ben loves music and is a competent musician.

But he will not major in music. He does not aspire to be drum major. He has never had a private lesson.

On paper, there are more kids in his school qualified for this gig. If he had asked me, I might have offered my hesitation.  But he didn’t ask me.  And, they asked HIM.  And he said yes. 

He selected the music, he conducted the rehearsals, he found venues and scheduled performances. He put on a ridiculous Christmas sweater.  His gift was a gift.

Each middle school musician also trumpeted their gifts.   A Blast of Brass makes beautiful music and a joyful noise.

Begin the offering, more gifts will emerge

Don’t let yourself or others talk you out of giving what is enough.

 

What’s In Your Christmas Stopping?

To me the most remarkable part of Christmas is how everything goes from ridiculously busy to a remarkable stop.

The end-of-year reviews, the 2013 planning, the rehearsals, the concerts, the shopping, the cooking, the visits, and then the pause.

When I walk into a candle lit church, all the chaos seems to melt away. We stop, we remember, we give thanks, we hope.

On Christmas, my running also becomes an ironic form of stopping. After the presents and before the cooking, I take a brisk trek through our small town with all the closed stores and restaurants. Everyone there is stopping too.

I wonder what others are doing and thinking in their stopping. What do those closed doors offer? What inspirations are brewing? What hopes are catching spark?

What Starts from Stopping?

What’s about to start after the stopping?

I recognize that for many there is pain in the stopping. Quiet time does not always equate to peace. My thoughts and prayers are with you. In our family we also have concerns that weigh heavy. Stopping can sometimes be too quiet.

I am also so grateful to all who cannot stop this holiday. Police, firefighters, military, call centers, convenience stores. There are many people “going” to empower our stopping. Thank you.

May this holiday season give you the peace of stopping, today or in the year to come. Enjoy the quiet along with the joy.

What will you become in your Christmas stopping?

In Peace and Joy,

Karin

What's In Your Christmas Stopping?

To me the most remarkable part of Christmas is how everything goes from ridiculously busy to a remarkable stop.

The end-of-year reviews, the 2013 planning, the rehearsals, the concerts, the shopping, the cooking, the visits, and then the pause.

When I walk into a candle lit church, all the chaos seems to melt away. We stop, we remember, we give thanks, we hope.

On Christmas, my running also becomes an ironic form of stopping. After the presents and before the cooking, I take a brisk trek through our small town with all the closed stores and restaurants. Everyone there is stopping too.

I wonder what others are doing and thinking in their stopping. What do those closed doors offer? What inspirations are brewing? What hopes are catching spark?

What Starts from Stopping?

What’s about to start after the stopping?

I recognize that for many there is pain in the stopping. Quiet time does not always equate to peace. My thoughts and prayers are with you. In our family we also have concerns that weigh heavy. Stopping can sometimes be too quiet.

I am also so grateful to all who cannot stop this holiday. Police, firefighters, military, call centers, convenience stores. There are many people “going” to empower our stopping. Thank you.

May this holiday season give you the peace of stopping, today or in the year to come. Enjoy the quiet along with the joy.

What will you become in your Christmas stopping?

In Peace and Joy,

Karin

Jesus on Leadership: Leading By Example

One of my favorite leadership classics is Jesus CEO by Laurie Beth Jones. It’s an intriguing read on servant leadership. And so, as a Christmas Eve offering, I share some thoughts on Jesus as leader.

Laurie Beth reminds us that in addition to everything else, Jesus inspired sustained results through very human leadership techniques.

1. One person trained twelve human beings who end on to so influence the world that time itself is not recorded as being before (B.C.) or after (A.D) his existence.
2. This person worked with a staff that was totally human and not divine, a staff that in spite of illiteracy, questionable backgrounds, fractious feelings, and momentary cowardice went on to accomplish the tasks he trained them to do. They did this for one main reason– to be with him again.
3. His leadership style was intended to be put to use by any of us.

So what did Jesus do as a leader?

Here’s a start, what would you add?

  • He had a strong internal compass
  • He had a strong vision
  • He challenged the status quo
  • He looked out for the underdog
  • He attracted a diverse team
  • He trained his successors
  • He had a plan
  • He spent time in his leadership “wilderness” 
  • He served others 
  • He recognized hidden talents
  • He took accountability
  • He held others accountable
  • He said thank you
  • He reminded others to say thank you
  • He took risks
  • He celebrated
  • ??
  • ?

As leaders we learn by example, from watching other leaders in their journey. Jesus gave us a powerful example.

Merry Christmas.

 

What’s So Great About Shopping at Walmart?

It was Sunday afternoon, I needed to find a picture frame fast to complete the gift I was about to give. The closest solution was Walmart.I am usually not brave enough to go there this time of year.

The stories can be scary.

I reluctantly made my way through the hectic parking lot and the crowded aisles. When I got to the checkout, I made small talk with the smiling gray-haired woman behind the counter.

“How are you,” I asked?

FANTASTIC. It’s Sunday afternoon during the holiday season and I’m working at Walmart.

I checked for sarcasm. There was none. Not in her voice. Not in her eyes.

Now if you are like me, you probably can get through a long list of ideas of what to do with your Sunday afternoon before you get to “gee it would be fun to work the cash register at Walmart.”

I had to ask. “Why do you like working here?”

More surprises.

All of my customers are so nice.

Okay, this time I let my inside voice come out. “Seriously?”

Oh yes. That’s what makes this job so fun. I talk with them. I make them laugh. I get them smiling and happy. There is nice in everyone you just have to find it.

She was skipping to work. She seemed to be following her calling. She was changing the climate. 

I left smiling. She was right, she made it easy to feel nice.

I stood watching for a while, and each customer she served left smiling.

I left, forgetting my picture frame.

Of course she gladly ran out to the parking lot to ensure I left with what I came for.

Indeed I did.

What's So Great About Shopping at Walmart?

It was Sunday afternoon, I needed to find a picture frame fast to complete the gift I was about to give. The closest solution was Walmart.I am usually not brave enough to go there this time of year.

The stories can be scary.

I reluctantly made my way through the hectic parking lot and the crowded aisles. When I got to the checkout, I made small talk with the smiling gray-haired woman behind the counter.

“How are you,” I asked?

FANTASTIC. It’s Sunday afternoon during the holiday season and I’m working at Walmart.

I checked for sarcasm. There was none. Not in her voice. Not in her eyes.

Now if you are like me, you probably can get through a long list of ideas of what to do with your Sunday afternoon before you get to “gee it would be fun to work the cash register at Walmart.”

I had to ask. “Why do you like working here?”

More surprises.

All of my customers are so nice.

Okay, this time I let my inside voice come out. “Seriously?”

Oh yes. That’s what makes this job so fun. I talk with them. I make them laugh. I get them smiling and happy. There is nice in everyone you just have to find it.

She was skipping to work. She seemed to be following her calling. She was changing the climate. 

I left smiling. She was right, she made it easy to feel nice.

I stood watching for a while, and each customer she served left smiling.

I left, forgetting my picture frame.

Of course she gladly ran out to the parking lot to ensure I left with what I came for.

Indeed I did.

How To Melt A Grinch’s Heart

This time of year we may call them “the grinch,” but you know the type. “Disgruntled,” “negative,” the ones of you label in the “quit and stay” category.

I’ve been to many a meeting and several change workshops where the sentiment goes something like this.

“It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small”
~Dr. Seuss

“Don’t waste your energy on that segment.”

“They will suck you dry, just move on”

“You can’t change them anyway.”

“Give your attention and energy to the rest of the team.”

Perhaps.

Sometimes that is true. I have “wasted” lots of “energy” on such “grinches” over the years.

On the other hand, I also know it’s possible to melt a “grinch’s heart.” The rewards are remarkable. WIth your heart-melting powers you may change a life, enhance the business, and feel the deep satisfaction that comes from doing your best as a leader.

Isn’t it worth a try?

Melting the Outer Grinch

We all have our grinch-turnaround stories. These classic Christmas stories come from real life.

Here’s my view, please share yours…

  • Don’t label them as a “grinch” or any such word to yourself, to them, or to others
  • Take the time to get to know them as a person (there’s likely more to this picture that may require some empathy)
  • Listen to their concerns (chances are there’s some really important points underneath all that ice)
  • Share a bit about what worries you and your concerns
  • Find out what they love to do and tap into those gifts
  • Recognize the small wins
  • Ask them to help someone else
  • What would you add (please share in your comments)
“And what happened then…
Well in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight;
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light…”