Things You Can Do, Part 8 – A Positive Leader’s Vision and Relentlessness

A positive leader’s ever-expanding vision for the future of his or her organization is an energizing force. In this, as in so many things, positive leaders are relentless.

If you are a leader and your vision has grown stale, your organization is in trouble and you need to do whatever it takes to recharge and revitalize yourself. The very future of your organization depends on it – your organization depends on you!

Put this quote on the wall of your office and at other high visibility locations throughout your facilities:

“The point at which an idea, process, product, service, or organization can no longer be improved is the precise moment in time that it becomes obsolete.”

There are no leaders who can afford to become complacent and there are no organizations, whether for-profit or not-for-profit; whether manufacturers, assemblers, or service providers that can afford to become stagnant.

The pressure to survive, let alone prosper, in the economy of the Twenty-first Century decade will be extraordinary and whatever one’s venue, entities that cannot compete will surely disappear. This places an exceptional premium on positive leadership.

Many leaders feel over-whelmed by the challenges of leading their people through incessant change and relentless improvement – continuous improvement does not cut it anymore.

Listen carefully – positive leaders neither live nor work in isolation. Positive leadership recognize that every member of their organization is a partner and bears a share of the responsibility for the “relentless improvement” process. Positive leaders enlist the full participation of the people and they establish incentives for creative thinking.

Any leader that guards the creative and decision-making process and restricts participation to a select few is doomed to fail. Make relentless improvement an expectation of everyone in your organization and include it in your performance management system. If your organization does not have a performance management system, create one. Create ad hoc brainstorming teams, pulling people from all departments and levels of the organization. Celebrate excellence and creativity at every opportunity. Share information about performance and work to create an ownership mentality throughout your organization. These are characteristics of winning organizations.

As a leader, take the time to talk to as many of your people as possible. Thank them for their effort, share your vision and elevate both your expectation and theirs. Teach your people to feel like winners and you will discover that there are few things in the work world more exciting than being a part of a winning organization.

Being part of a winning organization creates a self-perpetuating cycle in which a leader’s vision seems to expand magically. Just like an answer to a question will lead to multiple new questions, the introduction of a new idea spawns creation of a chain of new ideas.

Things Positive Leaders Can Do, Part 3 – Spend Time with your Children

This is the third in our series of action strategies for positive leaders. Being a positive leader is a 360 degree responsibility. Every aspect of our lives affects our ability to be a powerful positive leader and if we wish to fully develop our leadership skills we must focus on both our personal and professional lives. This means devoting significant attention to our families and children. Today we are concerned with our relationship with our children. Positive Leaders teach their children how to be positive individuals and how to become Positive Leaders.

Give of yourself to your family. There are very few things in life that can bring as much joy as a happy family. Devote yourself to your family. There are many people in the world who have a limited number of personal possessions but yet experience joy in life because of their family. Put your family at the top of your priority list and make a commitment to family.

Families mean children and our children deserve the absolute best that we have to offer. What our children want and need are not nice things that we can buy for them. There are few possessions that add real meaning to their lives. What our children require are loving, giving, caring, sharing, supportive parents who spend time with them. Parents who pay attention to them, teach them, listen to them, hold out expectations for them, protect them, set boundaries for them, and demand discipline of them. These things are your responsibility. Your children need you to be there for them, to be strong for them. They need the best that you have to offer. Here are just a few things you can do.

Read to your children. Parents who begin reading to their children when they are infants not only establish a pattern of literacy but also create strong emotional bonds. Think about the process of reading to children. It involves spending time with your children in an activity that is emotionally, physically, and intellectually intimate. We hold them on our lap, cuddle up next to them in an easy chair or in bed; we engage their imaginations; the sound of our voice becomes imprinted in their hearts and minds and memories; we share laughter, adventure, and an entire range of emotions.

Play with your children. Get down on the floor and play with them; enter their world. Encourage their imaginations and let them explore new adventures while teaching them that they are safe and secure in your arms. Teach them not to be afraid.

Find time each day. Spend time with your children to make them feel special even if it is only a few moments. Hold them in your lap, have a snack with them, sit down to a meal with them, talk to them. Ask about their day and then truly listen to what they have to say. Take the time to understand the things that are going on in their lives. Teach them that they can share victories and losses, sadness and joy, fears and aspirations with you. Listen empathically. Empathic listening is striving to understand.

Do family things. Go on outings, play games, help with their homework, do house or yard work together, take vacations together. Tell them how special they are and tell them how much you love them. Tell them stories about when they were little. Tell them stories about you when you were a child. Kid around with them and laugh with them, especially when they tease you. Teach them how to laugh at themselves by laughing at yourself.

Give your children the structure of discipline. Set clear guidelines and expectations. Talk about values and about right and wrong. Don’t be afraid to say no and don’t be talked into something you know in your heart isn’t right. If your children throw a tantrum or keep begging for things, be strong for them and stand your ground. Such tantrums truly are a test; they are an attempt on the part of the child to gain control over the situation, inappropriately. Many parents give in to their child during such tantrums because they feel embarrassed that people are watching and passing judgment on them. What young parents do not yet know is that when the rest of us are watching them deal with a child’s acting out, we are not thinking badly of them rather we are thinking, “Been there! Done that!” There is security in clear and definitive boundaries. Your children need you to teach them that they cannot win those types of battles. Teach them how to handle disappointment.

Teach them responsibility. Hold them accountable for their actions. Do not shield your children from the natural consequences of their behavior. Do not bail them out or protect them when they make mistakes, but don’t abandon them either. Teach them how to admit their mistakes and to learn from them. Teach them by example, by honestly admitting your own mistakes. Teach them that mistakes are a natural part of learning, growing, and reaching for ever-higher goals and expectations. Be there for your children. Help them learn that even when they must stand alone that they are never truly alone; that we are with them always, even in their moments of despair.

Set a good example for your children. Lead the kind of life you want them to have. Do not use the “Do as I say, not as I do!” approach. Live your values and explain them along the way. Helping your children observe you living your life provides a far more powerful model than anything you can do or say. If your life is centered around things, if you look for ways to avoid hard work, if your behavior is illegal or immoral, if your values are shallow and superficial; these are the traits your children will emulate. If, however, you embrace life with a positive attitude and spirit, you are providing a model that will sustain them throughout their entire life, long after you are gone.

Get involved with your children. Visit them at school, volunteer to accompany their class on field trips. Participate in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, 4-H, Little League, youth soccer, dance or music classes, etc. Support their teachers and coaches and recognize that these and the other professionals who come into their lives are your partners. The one thing that can most assure a quality education for your child is a full and active partnership between their teachers and parents. Avoid creating scenarios in which your children find themselves in the middle of opposing forces.

Hug your children at every opportunity, both physically and emotionally and don’t stop just because they get to be a certain age. Kiss them and smile at them. Remember that the children who are hardest to love are the ones that need it the most. Remember that hugs, kisses and smiles are life-affirming to both the giver and the receiver. Best of all they cost absolutely nothing. They are free of charge and they are available in infinite quantity.

Avoid the pitfalls of affluence. One of the most difficult things in all of parenthood is to raise your children in affluence. Parents who shower their children with material gifts and possessions, things that have not been earned by their hard work and accomplishment, create an entitlement mentality. Such personalities lead to selfish, empty, and unhappy lives. Teach them that people are more important than things.

Teach your children to give of themselves. It truly is better to give than to receive and there are few things in life that create as much joy as a generous heart. Teach them also that giving of one’s self sometimes requires that we allow others to give to us. Help them learn the art of gracious acceptance of the gifts of others. Help them develop an abundance mentality in which there is always enough to go around. Help them learn that being able to delight in the joys and successes of other people is a precious gift.

Mitigate peer pressure. As your children get older, peer pressure will become a powerful force in their lives and unless you have done your job of preparing your children well, that peer pressure can literally alter the direction of your child’s life. The answer is not transferring your son or daughter to a private school where they can be protected from the world. The answer is to share with them the values they need so that they can live successfully in the real world. Teach them how to socialize with their peers but give them the strength of character they will need to extricate themselves when the group goes too far. Kids in possession of a healthy self-esteem and a clear value system are capable of making good decisions in even the most challenging of circumstances.

Let them do it. Don’t do it for your children if they can do it for themselves. We learn by doing and parents that insist on doing everything for their children only create dependencies. Teach your children to be strong and independent rather than weak and dependent. Remember that spilled milk is easier to clean up than the mess we create when we raise children who cannot stand alone. Also remember that being able to stand alone is not being alone. Once your children learn how to be independent, begin shifting their focus to inter-dependence.

Remember what it was like when you were a child. Do not expect perfection from your children and don’t expect it from yourself. It is inevitable that you will make mistakes with your children, all parents do. But children are remarkably resilient creatures and they will survive your mistakes as long as you do your best to love and cherish them. Remember that, like you, they are a child of Creation, however you choose to view Creation.

Things You as a Positive Leader Can Do, Part 2 – Be a Better Spouse or Lover!

This is the second in our series of things positive leaders can do to make a difference in world around them and in the lives of the people with whom they interact.

If you desire a better marriage or a better relationship with your spouse or lover be a positive leader and commit to becoming a better spouse or lover; be a better partner in life. Whether you are a man or a woman, your job is to give of yourself; to wish happiness for your partner and then to do whatever you can to make it happen. This is your mission in life, to be a giver rather than a taker. If you give of yourself fully, it is inevitable that your partner will give to you as well.

Be your partner’s best friend. Be his or her cheerleader, moral support, and advocate as well as lover and companion. Take joy in his or her success in life because they are your successes as well. Pull for them to be fulfilled in life and to be self-actualized. Do all these things and your partner will return them in full measure. It may not seem so at first, but by giving of yourself you are enriching your partner’s self-esteem. The healthier your spouse or lover’s ego the more he or she is able to give. Remember that “what goes around, comes around.”

Make your partner feel that they are important and that what they do and say is also important. Listen to them and communicate honestly. Let them know that they can count on you for honest feedback and that they need not be embarrassed because of their imperfections. The more you give and the more you share, the more you shall receive in return.

Give fully of yourself sexually and learn what makes your partner happy. Strive to give them pleasure and you will learn the magical secret of sexual fulfillment. The more you give of yourself the more you receive in return. When both partners strive equally to give the other pleasure, both will joyfully experience one of our Creator’s greatest gifts. The secret of life is, once again, giving. The more we give, the more we receive. It is truly a prescription for life.

When barriers are erected between you and your partner, break them down. Talk to one another no matter how difficult it seems. If you are unable to say it out loud, write a letter. If the barriers loom too large, seek help from a trained professional. Remember that the relationship is more important than anything you possess. It is more important than the house, the cars; it is more important than anything but your self-esteem. Your children are an inherent part of the relationship and not something separate and apart.

The relationship must always enhance the self to be healthy. If, at any time, the relationship seems to require that one partner give up his or her identity then the relationship is unhealthy. Healthy relationships demand the absolute commitment to the well-being of one’s partner. Each must be devoted to the other in this respect. Anything short of this is selfishness and selfishness is the destructive force at the root of much of the trouble in not only our relationships but also in our society.

Yes, there will be inevitable conflicts and differences of opinion. Both partners will have strengths and weaknesses and the sharing will, at times, be unequal. Neither has a right to expect perfection but both have the right to expect the best of one another. When problems arise, do not keep score of who did what to whom or who owes what.

Help each other. Share responsibilities. Talk about the personal goals and expectations of each and divvy up responsibilities according to those goals and expectations. Now that more and more women have careers, it is vital that the partners understand that a team effort is required at home. Both partners must share equally with the responsibilities of childcare and home. Remember that the best marriages and the healthiest children come from marriages that are distinguished by full partnership.

Sharing a life together can be the single greatest joy in life. It is greater than anything money can buy and it is worth any sacrifice. It is the source of strength that can sustain each partner through all of the ups and downs of life and that will allow you to delight in your life, no matter what challenges life brings to bear. When we see what is happening throughout our society, with the divorce rate and the breakup of families, it is a sad thing. It is a symptom of our systemic selfishness. Many men and women make poor decisions when selecting their mate, relying on superficial criteria. Then, we fail to give fully of ourselves in the effort to make the relationship work.

We place our value in things that are, at their core, meaningless. We want nice things: a beautiful house in a prestigious neighborhood, expensive furniture, nice cars, flashy toys, and nice vacations. Some of us consider it imperative that they belong to the most exclusive country clubs. We want all we can get, yet none of these things lead to joy and happiness. They are not inherently bad things but it is the quest for their acquisition that can lead to disillusionment and unhappiness. The only joy in life comes through our relationships with our Creator, however we individually may choose to view the Creation, and our relationships with the people whom we love and cherish. Things have no meaning and a life that has been dominated by the desire for material things is destined for heartbreak.

Rethink your values. Examine the focus of your time and energy. If that focus is on materialism rather than on the people in your life then it is time for a radical realignment. If you refocus that attention on your spouse, your children, your family and friends you will rediscover absolute joy in your life.