Category Archives: 20 Lessons Leader

Principles for Leading Change

20 Lessons That Build A Leader a book by Vince Miller

Principles for Leading Change

“Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.” —Victor Hugo

“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” —Proverbs 18:1

Leading change is the test of your leadership

The ability to drive needed changes in a team or organization is a skill that all leaders must nurture. Understanding the strategic need for change is very different from the art of leading change. Many leaders are adept at the former but stumble at the latter. It’s not unusual for teams to become cynical regarding change because it’s often handled poorly. Change is a necessary part of leadership, so what are the principles for leading a healthy change process?

7 Principles for Leading Change

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One | Understand with clarity everything that will change

Before entering a change process, a leader must understand precisely what needs to change, why it needs to change, and what things will look like on the other side of the change. It’s tempting to enter change processes prematurely, knowing that change is needed without knowing what changes need to happen. The method of leading change is complicated, so don’t complicate it further by operating without a clear vision of what will change and what will be unchanged.

Two | Prepare people emotionally for the change

Most people are naturally resistant to change. Thus it is critical to prepare your team for the change and secondary changes that will follow. They need to understand why change is necessary, and you need to build a case for how that change will help the organization better accomplish its mission. In his book Leading Change, John Kotter suggests that if you can create a need that enables you to build a case for change, do so. Unless there is a cause compelling enough to change, people will naturally resist it for ease, comfort, and status quo.

Three | Always connect change to your mission and vision

Change for change’s sake does not market well. We enter a change process so that we can meet the new challenges in a new environment to accomplish our mission and deliver on our brand promise. In many cases, a change is long overdue. The world has changed, but you have not. Your rationale for change must always be anchored in the mission and vision of the organization. After all, your mission is the reason for your existence. Always remind people of why your organization is changing: to ensure that together you accomplish your mission and vision in today's market.

This is one of the areas where a leader can create a crisis by explaining the implications of failure to change. What’s at stake? The jobs of staff, the viability of the enterprise, and the future health of the company. In the end, you want to have convinced a majority of your team that this must happen and that the status quo is not an option.

Four | Recruit a team to guide the process

Before you enter the change process, ensure that you have the right people who will support the proposed changes. This is your support network that will guide the transition. There will inevitably be resistance to change along the way, and you need the right people with you to not only support the change but to be proponents for that change. That coalition needs to be strong enough to overcome the resistance that you will encounter in the process. Don't move forward without it.

Five | Provide ways for input

As you make a case over time for the coming changes, give your team the opportunity to weigh in and make additional suggestions. One of the best ways to do this is to dialogue over time with as many staff as you can. Explain when necessary, listen to issues they are encountering, invite dialogue on opportunities for adjustments, and listen to input regardless of how it’s delivered.

Remember that although you understand the need for change and what it will look like, many others will not. Even if you’ve spoken about it or written about it in a memo, this does not mean that constituents understand the change or the impact of the change. The more significant the change, the longer it takes for people to make the paradigm shift in their minds; many will not make the change until they see what life looks like on the other side of change. Be patient. Above all, listen and explain.

Six | In the process, overcommunicate

One cannot communicate enough in the process of change. Often change is not just a different way of doing things but a significant paradigm shift. Communicate your case in as many different ways, settings, and communication modes as you can. Never assume that you have communicated enough. In your communications, find ways to keep the inevitable anxiety over change as low as possible. Your confidence in the process will give others confidence as well. Your communications, comments, and presence with staff will bring a needed level of stability to the process.

Seven | Persevere in resistance

You will encounter resistance to change. This may be active or passive resistance. You may have cynics on the staff. Some might even suggest that you are fixing something that isn’t broken, giving you all kinds of grief and reasoning as to why this change is a bad idea. When such resistance comes, what your staff needs to hear you say is “We’re resolved,” and they also need to know you’re not closing the debate out of stubbornness. You’re acting out of a thoughtful resolve, fully aware that change is hard but is going to happen. You’ve committed to a direction you all need to go in together. And you are committed to completing the transition alongside your team, no one left behind. All too often, change stalls when resistance comes because leaders are intimidated and therefore question themselves. But if you have addressed the previous six points above, you don’t need to harbor doubt. The resistance you’re encountering is normal, and if you are clear on the what and the why, you will move forward, and hopefully others will too.

Vince Speaking 9

Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.

The Discipline of Continuous Improvement And Growth

Improvement a blog by Vince Miller

The Discipline of Continuous Improvement And Growth

"You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over." Richard Branson

"Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance." Proverbs 1:5

There is a need for leaders in our fast-paced world.
Leaders must have a disposition for disciplined growth in today's business world or suffer the fate of professional suicide. Many jobs and job levels that we once considered to be permanent occupations in the business world are now changing faster due to technological innovation and globalization and driving organizations toward flatter and leaner models. Soft skills in the areas of cultural intelligence and emotional intelligence, unheard of not too long ago, are now considered critical leadership skills. The pace of networking and marketing in a web-driven social media environment are driving the speed up and offering connections to people worldwide. And with this challenge comes change to how leadership is being accomplished - at lightning speed nonetheless. As John Kotter has said, "As the pace of change accelerates, there is naturally a greater need for effective leadership.” And the way we address it is through our improvement and growth.

Three principles of continuous improvement for the leader.

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Principle One | Aim for there.
Think about this: What got you to here, only got you to here - it won't get you there. Every new level of leadership has its own set of challenges that require a new mindset and thus a new set of skills. As we face these challenges, we should welcome the opportunity to develop new paradigms that will accelerate our leadership. It used to be that a leader would gain certification in a single field, and leverage that degree or certification for a lifetime. But in today's world, a person with a broad set of work experiences, many certifications, and numerous cultural experiences has the upper hand. It's a queue for developing organizations that you have a drive for continuous learning and advancement. Companies and their leaders today know that the way business is being done is changing and with this comes needed knowledge in new areas, some roles might have unique and new titles. Being committed to continuous learning has the power to take you there - that new place others are looking to go.

Principle Two | Find mentors.
Mentors, not a single mentor, is another way to drive for continuous improvement. No one person can mentor us in all areas. I have mentors I lean on for financial advice, spiritual advice, fitness advice, sales advice, personal advice, family advice, strategic advice, and kid advice. You name it, and you can find a mentor. But you may have to draw it out of them; they will not think of themselves as a mentor. They will be people who do things you want to do when you don't know how and may accomplish great feats effortlessly. Multiple mentor relationships with people who are a step or two ahead of you can help you learn things that you want and need to learn faster than any book you will ever read. They can also help us understand how one's work values need to change when one goes from one level of responsibility to another. These are things we would not naturally know as we had not been there before. So when initiating a relationship with a mentor be very specific as to what you desire to gain from the time together and be willing to read or participate in learning experiences that they recommend.

Principle Three | Read and ask questions.
Ask your mentors or those you respect what books, articles or journals they would recommend to you. Well-chosen books are far more critical than the number of books you read, although attempting to read at least one book per month is a good one. It is said that Bill Gates reads about 50 books each year, and many great leaders have followed his lead on this. Also, strike up conversations with as many people as you can. And not just senior level leaders or those you want to mentor you, but those who have hands-on and meaningful work in specific areas. Peter Drucker would spend up to an hour every morning talking to line managers in various industries to find out what was happening. He had a range of knowledge that was phenomenal from a conversation he had with people "down the line."

The bottom line is that leaders are learners - continuously and aggressively. The best leaders focus on growing holistically including in their spiritual, emotional, relational, cultural and work-related skills. The more we develop, the more we have to offer and the more valuable we are to the organizations we serve.

Vince Speaking 9

Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.

Leadership Focus

Leadership Focus a blog by Vince Miller

Leadership Focus

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” Bruce Lee

"Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you." Proverbs 4:25

Why some leaders accomplish more than others.
It is always intriguing to me what some people accomplish in a lifetime. Some people achieve a great deal more than others - significantly more. We all are given the same amount of time every day. And we each have intermittent issues and thus have levels of busyness. But what factors separate those who consistently accomplish more than others? Is it that they are of higher giftedness, greater intelligence, or more in tune with themselves - or are there other factors?

The answer is quite simple. These leaders are far more focused than the average person. They have an intense clarity, concentrate on concise objectives, and evaluate them to free themselves to accomplish more than the average person.

Three factors to leadership focus.

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Factor One | Clarity.
Clarity is a discipline. It knows what we want to go after in our life and work. If you lead a family, team, or organization, you can stay very busy doing all kinds of irrelevant activities, and most know what this is like and how it feels. Or you can identify those things that only you can or should do to help others meet their objectives. The reason many leaders don’t leverage this early enough is that it requires some deep reflection, honesty, self-realization, and feedback to hone in this discipline. It is far easier to be attracted to immediate and urgent concerns than it is to clarify what is essential for you to – and for your team members. A disposition for personal clarity is of primary importance to the leader, and you will find that your people crave it in a time of uncertainty.

Factor Two | Less is more.
A leadership mindset that is focused on less, but on the right priorities, will by nature address other minor interruptions. The "less is more" precept is something always stirring around in the back of a leader's mind. With a bit of strategic thinking, they understand that focusing on doing first things first will address bigger issues, and keep them, and others, running from one small issue to another. If two leaders of equal talent, enthusiasm, and experience work the same business market in the same manner but one focuses 100% of their time on activities that lead to results, who do you think is going to win out? Getting things done is not the focus of a great leader, it accomplishing the right objectives. Zig Ziglar said years ago, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.” There are far too many distractions day to day. Those I know who focus on these few essential things always achieve far more than others.

Factor Three | Evaluate.
The best leaders continually evaluate their time and work priorities. This is in order to keep the main thing the main thing and not allowing their time to be absorbed up by less important things. They evaluate their time commitments carefully to ensure that what they say "yes" to is consistent with their key objectives. They will say "no" often - but with good reason. They may use the word "no" a lot more than others to increase give time or effort in another area. Steve Jobs said, “Focusing is about saying no.” Weekly, monthly and annually a leader should take time to evaluate their objectives and alignment with what is most important. They are willing to stop doing those things that do not contribute to their goals.

If you practice these simple principles you will be amazed at how much more productive you are and by extension, your team.

Vince Speaking 9

Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.

Leaders and Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Leadership a blog by Vince Miller

Leaders and Cultural Intelligence

"Strength lies in our differences, not our similarities." Stephen Covey

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." Proverbs 11:2

It's more than classroom education; it's your real-world education.
Classroom education and business acumen will attribute to our leadership development, but in today's world, we need more than just these two elements. Leadership today has many more high-touch experiences with stakeholders and leaders at every level, than in preceding decades. Add to this that leaders need to be able to maneuver ever-changing cultural settings. We cannot miss the fact that as our world "gets smaller" business is becoming more globally founded and leaders must be able to understand, appreciate, and support these differences to lead effectively.

Cultural intelligence is the ability to negotiate cultural practices, leadership nuances, team distinctions, and communication diversity. These are skills learned while interacting with culture and abilities that are intricate to bridge and yet critical to understand and can strengthen or weaken alliances. Leaders who actively grow their cultural intelligence are in stronger positions to lead through changing circumstances. Here are three postures of the culturally intelligent leader.

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Posture One | Humility
Leaders who are overconfident of themselves are destined to fall. The question is usually how far and how hard. Hubris keeps a leader self-focused prohibits them from listening carefully to cultural nuances, but humility works hard to be others-focused taking the position of a learner. Cultural intelligence requires the humility to understand that we hold some level of expertise in our role and position but recognizes that we don't know all things about all cultures. It assumes that while a solution, system, sequence, or segmentation works well in one culture, the implementation of this may not work well in another.

Posture Two | Curious
Humility gives way to a leader being curious. The best thing we can do in a cross-cultural situation is to ask a lot of questions and draw people out rather than to talk about ourselves, our methods, and our ideas. In our questions, we seek to understand not merely be understood. We may even need to yield our cultural ignorance or inexperienced to build a meaningful connection with others. The more time you spend with someone of another culture the more, you will become sensitive to other cultures and recognize how much you may not know. This leader is willing to invite questions and discussion knowing they may create the best exchange and being able to encourage others to share their viewpoints is an art in every culture. Keep in mind some cultures employees are not allowed to challenge a process, and others make decisions by consensus. We don't know what we don't know so be inquisitive.

Posture Three | Sensitive
In conversations and dialogue with those from another culture than you whether in a group setting or one on one it is essential to be sensitive to matters that could be risky. For example criticizes a government, while fine in American culture, may be taboo in another. Remember that each cultural group has a unique worldview and the fact that it is different from ours does not mean that it is wrong, just that it is different. And, just because another country speaks the same language – Canada, the United Kingdom, and Kenya for instance – does not mean that their worldview is the same.

Remember this when interacting with those from a different culture.

  • Our worldview is different
  • Our collective experiences are different
  • Our leadership practices are often different
  • Our practice family is often different
  • Our view of authority is different
  • Our social strata are different
  • Our politics are different

All this is enough to suggest that humility, inquisitiveness, and sensitivity are critical components in developing cultural intelligence.

Vince Speaking 9

Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.