Lead with Your Eyes Wide Open…

Have you ever tried walking a reasonable distance with your eyes closed? Obviously, you end up stumbling, but for some reason, you lower your head, thinking that you can “see” your steps and ways better.

Think for a moment with me on this… instead of thinking about walking with your eyes closed, how many leaders do you know who lead with their eyes closed? Just like walking, they lead with their head lowered, thinking they can “see.” Yes, they are short-sighted and closed-minded. Do not be this way.

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When you lead with your eyes closed, it is nothing more than dead leadership walking. Leaders who lead this way think they have the only option for whatever the issue is. They are unwilling to flip the switch and see what is going on around them.

We live a unique, ever-changing world. However, we can only define our leadership by knowing what the variables are and being able to see all around us. If we continue to lead small and narrow, we will always lead cramped up.

Knowing our surroundings, knowing the people around you enables you to lead more efficiently, and once you begin to lead that way, your leadership world, for some reason, begins to breathe. No more uptight, stuffy, cramped… I need a leadership humidifier.

Those who lead with their eyes closed, lead a lie only they believe. Closed-eyed leaders hide their faces, afraid to see past their eyelids and stay mentally locked up. Their leadership always cast a shadow, “throwing shade.” Please prove to others that there is more to you.

For those leaders who do lead with their eyes open, thank you. Your “openness” allows others to thrive and shine. Reality is no longer a wanting fantasy. Others become more than they are because you lead with your eyes wide open.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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Please DO NOT Have Leadership Amnesia…

How many times do we come across those who are in leadership positions, and we ask the question, “Did they forget where they came from?”

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Well, many do, and it is unfortunate. Many leaders not only forget where they came from, but they also forget what it is like to follow.

With all of that said, how do we make sure we do not have leadership amnesia?

Leadership should be seen on both a horizontal and vertical plane. The horizontal plane represents the relationships with others, and the vertical plane represents where you are in your leadership life.

Key thoughts horizontally…

  • Horizontally is where we have the capability of wrapping our arms around others and including them.
  • When we keep our arms to our sides and hands in our pockets, others see you only vertically, not open to others.
  • Being able and wanting to include allows others to see that our leadership is more than about them.

Key thoughts vertically…

  • Wanting to move higher and being ambitious is not bad.
  • Always being vertical makes it about you. The higher you climb, the safer you feel?
  • Staying vertical for the wrong reasons allows others to believe you look down on them.
  • If we are always looking up, we forget to see where we came from. We should only look down to remember.

If we forget where we came from, or forget why we lead, I believe we will ultimately be forgotten ourselves. Each person you lead makes it possible for you to be in that leadership position. Think about your own leadership for a moment. How much time do you spend on each plane? The best way to fight amnesia is by remembering.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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Avoiding A Leadership Decline…

Why is it that many times a leader starts out providing excellent leadership and then over time, people begin to wonder what happens? Well, I have a lot of thoughts for that, but we can save that for another blog topic.

Unfortunately, it happens. I believe a leadership decline happens when leaders start thinking about themselves more than others. The focus of arrogance instead of serving corrupts not only the leader but others as well to the point that no one has any pleasure in being associated with the leadership provided.

Leaders who begin to decline harden their hearts toward others who oppose or challenge the norm. They become cold in their relationships and provide a horrible example to follow. Being “right” about something is different than “having” to be right.

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So… how do we avoid being a leader who flirts with the slippery slope of decline?

Treat your leadership seriously

Nothing taints good leadership quicker than letting the poison of weak leadership continue to manifest itself. Many leaders make the joke, “fake it until you make it.” I do not want to lead or ever be led by a leader with this mentality towards leadership. My belief in what leadership is and should be is much more serious than “faking it.” Leadership is serious; it affects the lives of others.

Maintain sound leadership

What is sound leadership? Sound leadership is doing what is right by and for others for the greater good of the organization. Sound leadership is the process of building up, not tearing down. Leaders should never compromise the true meaning of why to lead.

Walk closely to other good leaders

Now this point could make you think a while.  How do you know if you are walking with a good leader? I would say, deep down, you know. A good question to ask, “Are they for others or themselves?” Look at the decisions a leader makes when the spotlight is not on them. This will tell a lot.

Be open to having a growth mindset.

Yes, you can still hold true to your values. Yes, you can still stand-firm on issues that are blatantly right from wrong. But not being open to suggestions is different. There is a great danger in leaders who stop hearing the voice of others because they only want to listen to what they say themselves.

As leaders, we stand in a position of influence, and you must hold yourself accountable in order not to let your leadership decline. If your leadership declines, you run the risk of alienating yourself to the point that no one will care what your leadership is or stands for because they have lost all respect for you, the leader.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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A Window into Your Leadership…

The role of a window is to let the light shine through it… and the role of your leadership should be transparency.

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Two ways not to let light in; put curtains up or just keep a wall up… either way, transparency is blocked.

Why do you think this is? Why are some leaders transparent and others not?

I believe it has to do with a trust issue.  Trust and transparency exist only with the help of the other. How many times have you been a part of an organization where “shade” was consistently thrown? For the most part, people do not like surprises, especially when it comes to their work environment. As a leader, you are responsible for letting, not allowing, people to see with greater clarity.  As a leader, you are responsible for eliminating the “behind the scenes” actions and be proactive in creating an atmosphere where people want to belong.

The more I look around, I am beginning to believe more and more that people leave an organization because of leadership; the lack of. No one I know wants to be associated with weak, insecure leadership, and that precisely is what lack of, or no transparency gives. Who wants to lose good people?

Having transparency as a leader is not a weakness.  Actually, it is very powerful. It allows you to connect on a level that promotes trust, that goes both ways; for you and others. Some leaders are not transparent because they feel it will lessen their “rule,” their “status” will not be appreciated, or they do not want to have shared-leadership. Each of these limits the productivity everyone can have – relationships become fragile, trust is not developed, and the suppression of reality creates fake leadership.

The need for transparency in leadership is at an all-time high. Too many leaders “close the curtain” or “put up a wall” when it comes time to lead. The authenticity of having a window to let others into your leadership does not exist, and ultimately it is the leader who loses.

Transparency is open and honest. More importantly, it is real. It inspires hope and promotes an opportunity for all. As you continue to lead, let the window do what it is designed to do… let others see your leadership. It is the one key element you have to cultivate the culture where everyone is on the same page.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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