Learned Leadership

 

 

I’ve heard it said that leaders are born and I’ve heard it said that leadership is learned. It’s probably a little of both.

But whether it comes from your genetic make up or your environment, I owe whatever leadership qualities I have to my Dad.

Great leaders lead by example and here are a few things he’s showed me.

Listen and Learn

Leadership starts with conversations.  If you listen to the other person, and really hear what they are telling you – you can learn something about them and about yourself.  The more you know about each other – the more you can accomplish together. I’ve listened as he talks with people many times.  And he really talks WITH them.  Never at them. He listens to what they have to say and shares his ideas.

Embrace Challenges Calmly

Challenge your thinking and challenge yourself.  Be open to new ideas while staying true to your principles.  No life is always easy.  And I’m sure raising five kids who were six years apart in age was not always a piece of cake.  (I can not imagine a house with FIVE teenagers.  I have all I can handle with two.) But what ever challenges he faced, my Dad kept his cool and did what had to be done. And he still does to this day.

Live their principles

Talking about something is easy.  Doing something about it can be an entirely different story.  True leaders don’t just talk about something.  They get involved and take action.

My Dad does not stay on the sidelines.  Even though he is retired, he’s busier than ever.  Whether it is creating a neighborhood park, getting a road repaired, volunteering at church, or helping a neighbor, he walks his talk.

Sing Out

Dad’s not afraid to raise his voice and say what needs to be said,  He shares with his children and grandchildren the stories of the past and talks with them about the events of our day.  By his example he has taught us to be aware, be informed, and express our opinions… even when we don’t agree with him.  🙂

Don’t have to be famous to be effective.

My Dad didn’t have to be the President of the United States, the Chairman of the Board (OK, GM might have done better of he was) or a celebrity to make a lasting impact as a leader. He just needed to be who he is, do what he believes is right, and set a great example for his children.

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Thanks for stopping by…Stay Tuned.

Joan Koerber-Walker

 

STEM Education: Delicious Results

Young Mason Partak, with help from his Mom, Kathy, are using technology in the form of GoFundMe to outfit the kitchen of his elementary school so that kids can learn to cook and students can have hot meals  to  fuel their brains and bodies.  What a great example of STEM education in action. Continue reading

A Few Key Maxims

Marie Gleason CarmichaelMarie G. Carmichael was a pretty wise lady. She lived to see 100 Christmases and 17 Presidents. She loved politics too. I wonder what she would say if she heard the news today?

It’s hard to find a space in the media today that is not filled with incumbents, candidates and presumptive candidates sharing their message with “the people.”

Perhaps, like many of us, you are tired of it all; the repetition, the name calling, the bickering and worse. I know I am.

There are a couple of things you can do.

Option #1 – Turn it off.

Turn off the TV and the radio, advise the newspaper you are on vacation so please suspend delivery until election day, and avoid opening email, accessing Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other form of social media.

Option #2 – If you think Option #1 is a bit too extreme.

Each time you hear a politician, newscaster, or other pundit continue to behave in a way that creates dissension instead of creating solutions, send them the gift of these words that my Grandma shared with me:

“Have your facts in your head before opening your mouth. ”

“Don’t complain about a problem, without offering its solution.”

“Pointing fingers does not solve anything, you have a brain and two good hands, use them to fix it.”

“Always remember, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Perhaps if our current and hopeful politicians hear this a few million times, they will get the message.

We can only hope.

Otherwise we may just have to go back to seriously considering Option #1.

Honor Our Innovators and Nominate Them for Our Nation’s Highest Honor

Innovation is a key characteristic of our nation and critical to our current and future global leadership.  These days it is rare to attend a speech or symposium where innovation does not figure prominently in the conversation.   It’s so easy to talk about innovation.  It’s not so easy to actually develop a new product or service, commercialize it and gain the acceptance that defines the transition from invention to innovation.

Recognizing these leaders and honoring their efforts and achievements is the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.Continue reading

Responsibility, Leadership and Noblesse Oblige

iStock Photo via Microsoft.com

Leadership is a popular word these days. Consultants preach it, journalists either praise it or bemoan it, companies, boards investors and customers demand it.

The days when leaders were anointed at birth, except in a very few cases, are long gone. Today’s leaders may have great power… or none depending on the authority they wield.  But whatever level that may be, with leadership comes a corresponding measure of responsibility.

“For of those to whom much is given, much is required”

Bible (Luke 12:48)

Through the ages it has been written that leadership and responsibility go hand in hand.  Today, leadership takes many forms. We lead people in organizations. We lead with thoughts, ideas, and experience.  We lead in the development of processes and products.  As leaders, however and where ever we may lead, it is important to remember, leadership is not something that is merely handed to us, it is a privilege that must be continually earned.  For when our leadership falters, others cease to follow. If others choose not to follow, we are not leading, we are simply walking alone.Continue reading

When change matters, step up, step out and speak up.

We’ve all been there.  Sitting with a group in the break room, the boardroom or over lunch when the conversation shifts to what’s wrong with our team, our business, our community or our lives.

It’s so easy to point out what is wrong.  Words fly.  The passion is inspiring.  Each idea builds on another .  Then, oops, you look at the clock.  Time’s up and you go back to work and keep on doing things the same way you have always done them before.Continue reading

Success Tip: Check out the BIG Game

Today is the big day, Super Bowl XLV.  Folks will be donning green and gold or gold and black.  Friends will gather around TV sets across the country gobbling up things they know that should not eat and for this one day of the year the DVR is set not to skip the commercials, but to catch them for instant replay.

Teams have sweated and toiled.  Investing  millions for their time in the global spotlight.

Closed door meetings, strategy sessions, the big chase, and surprising twists… all come together on Super Bowl Sunday.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCaCNz0Vml8&w=448&h=252&hd=1]
Chevy provides a behind the scenes look at the drama and strategy of creating a 2011 Super Bowl commercial.

Oh yeah, there is a football game too.

In business, every day is Game Day.

Most of us will never field a team in the world’s most  famous grid iron match up or take the leap to bet around $3 million for a 30 second spot in its commercials although GoDaddy’s Bob Parsons will gleefully tell you what they have done for his team’s business.

It’s not a bet if you know the outcome ~ Bob Parsons

As entrepreneurs, investors, leaders or teammates, success in the BIG game means that every day is game day.  Here are a few things to keep in mind as you watch from the stands or from the couch…

It starts with a coin toss – it does not end there.

Success always has en element of luck to it. Good luck may move you forward faster just as bad luck might slow you down.  But being lucky early does not ensure success. Here is a bit of Super Bowl Trivia:

The team that has won the coin toss is 19-22 all time in the Super Bowl and has lost the past 4 straight and 9 of the last 11. (source)

To win in the big game you need a great team

Don’t kid yourself.  The team with strong players, that plays well together has a definite advantage.  Great teams are balanced.  In football you can have a great quarterback, but if you have no offensive line it is unlikely that you will spend a lot of time in the end  zone and if your defense is weak, the other team will.  Successful teams have the right mix to do the whole job, not just one or two super stars intent on carrying the day.

Give the fans something to talk about.

Winning the big game is about the experience.  In football it is the thrill of the win, the roar of the  crowd and the play that fans will talk about for years to come.  In business it is the achievement of goals inside your company, the praise of customers when you deliver on your promises, and the great results  you deliver to your employees, customers, investors, and partners that keep you ahead in the game.

Innovation = Improvement

Don’t confuse flash and showmanship with innovation.  The victory dance in the end zone is not nearly as important as the fact that you got there and need to get there again to win.  Commercials are entertaining at the break, but the real win will be measured when customers walk through your door or visit your website to buy your products and services.  A bit of flash may bring them in once, but products and services that are new, different, and create value for the  customer are what will bring them back again and again.

Success is not built on just one game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers are playing in Super Bowl XLV because they won a series of games and more importantly they won when it counted.  Winning at the right time matters, just ask the Jets and the Bears. 

Football is more that a game, it’s a big business. And winning in the world of business is a game where the points are measured in value created.  Take a look at this ranking by Forbes of the most valuable NFL Teams.  You’ll need to keep searching all the way down to #14 for Green Bay and #17 to find  the stats for the Steelers.   Sustained value is a combination of smart investments, the right resources plus  a strong team in the front office, on the bench and on the field that creates long-term, sustainable value together.  Interestingly, the Redskins have one of the best track records for value creation in recent years yet they have LOST 55% of the games they played on the field. It’s not just about winning under the lights, everything matters.

So sit back and enjoy the game…

The Super Bowl is an American tradition.  You may watch it for the game, for the commercials,  or simply as a way to spend time  with family and friends.  But as you dig into that pile of chicken wings, tray of nachos or bowl of chili, keep a look out for the big game changers.  You might have something new to talk about at the office come Monday morning when all the “quarterbacks” come out.

So place your bets, rally your team, and enjoy the game.  It’s almost time for the coin toss whether the Big Game starts at 6:30pm ET on FOX or come Monday morning when you and your team take the field once again.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker