This is a list of findings confirmed by my several tens of leaders I coached during the last years. It is not prescriptive, nor is it exhaustive. It’s just another list meant to make you ponder your motivations (A.), ideals (B.) and means from A. to B. in your career.
George Bragadireanu is a leadership coach certified as PCC by the ICF, helping leaders get results through widening their awareness.
1.FOCUS ON OUTCOMES & SOLUTIONS, NOT PROBLEMS AND DETAILS
I received maybe my most important coaching lesson from a client. He kept asking „and what’s the solution?”. That surprised me a bit, as I knew I was one of those extremely result-oriented coaches; and still, he felt like asking for solutions and I was finding myself more and more on the analysis and problems side of coaching.
„Don’t come to me with problems, come with a solution!” It might sound harsh, but reality showed me that this mindset difference creates a whole new world of opportunities for those around such a leader. Even for a leader in the risk, audit or credit department.
2. AVOID BEING THE HERO
The space and time around heroes are devoid of accountability.
Leaders ego so many times try to lure them into that kind of Avengers, Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter realm of fantasies and into that save-the-world attitude. Hero’s role ends up being to create and show mediocrity where should be individual accountability and courage.
Plus, each heroic-leader overpasses his role and works despite of his subordinates: they become more efficient (in terms of labor given for their salary) and complacent (as they see him as their jack-of-all-trades savior).
3. SHORTEN YOUR MEETINGS TO A MINIMUM TIME
The best meeting takes only 15 minutes and is a standing one. Any time above this margin is „ego-time”: rationalization and rumination for the sake of power display, show off and linguistic contortions, not less.
Structure creates performance: any sportsman and woman know this. If you set space and time for a meeting, it should be one of concentration, focus, and decision-making. The documentation, preparation, reasoning, and analysis should be done before, not during. Meetings to spread information – useless (use email, WhatsApp or other means). Meetings for ideation, exploration or decision-taking – 15′.
4. GET ONE OUT OF EACH MEETING
Get one participant out of each meeting. There’s always someone (or many) who does not belong there, has something more important on the agenda and/ or does not want to be there. Or is a quick learner and get’s easily bored by the meeting’s rhythm. Find him and kick him out gently – for his, your and everybody’s benefit. And the company’s profit. In a one hour daily meeting, each participant subtracts from the annual company’s profit a sum equal to his annualized hourly wage. Do the math here: https://hbr.org/2016/01/estimate-the-cost-of-a-meeting-with-this-calculator
5. ASK QUESTIONS LIKE STEVEN SEGAL
Be a coach, an inspector, a policeman, a priest, and a medical doctor altogether: ask questions. „How”, „where”, „when”, „what” and especially „why” questions. „Assumption is the mother of all f…k-ups,” says a terrorist in a b-rated Steven Segal movie.
When a leader makes assumptions, he decapitates his subordinates, as he does not use this ones’ head, mind, experience, ideas, and opinions. When a leader asks for all these, he taps into the collective intelligence of his team.
6. DISCOVER YOUR WHY, NEEDS, AND VALUES
There’s only one sure way to find your „why”: take a long rest. Specifically, at least a month away from anything you are doing – to find what why you are being. ANd there’s no certainty that it will happen for you. The more distant what you do now is from how you used to be in your youth (as was my case: banking and being an artist ), the more time you will probably need to find the actual why.
We lose it. We are unconscious about having it at our young ages and then life happens and become even more unconscious and so on. Layers of unconscious dreaming covering our direct awareness of truth.
When you act from unconsciousness, the Planet ends up being a pile of garbage as it is today: garbage of plastic, ideas, hopes, and truths. Same with your team or organization. When you find your „why”, you become a compass for anyone.
The unconscious need for the approval of others, control over tasks or power over others solidifies our ego. A fossilized and calcified ego structure is immovable. But nothing in nature is. And so we have just become an artificial artifact.
Living your life by default makes you an artifact. Living it by design makes you alive.
Here is your values discovery starting point: https://www.valuescentre.com/tools-assessments/lva/.
Take a trip to find your compass (pun intended).
7. KNOW THEIR WHY’S, NEEDS, AND VALUES
Any Everest climber reaches the top only when everybody in his team (sherpas, supporters, staff) wants the same destination.nThere’s no trace of team success when there’s only one aiming in a different direction.
A great leader knows always where the inner whys of his teammates are pointing. And reassures constantly that they are also aware of this, by themselves.
A bad leader either does not know the above, is not interested in their needs or wants or keeps them unaware of their whys. It is easier to control or manipulate four active senses than 5 (yours or others’).
Not knowing their whys, will make you use a lot of energy to pull or push them ahead on the road.
8. LEARN A BOOK A WEEK BELLOW FAHRENHEIT 451 DEGREES
Education is the real power. And it is not a power instead or over things and people; it is the power within you. Freedom is not innocence: freedom comes after imprisonment. Innocence is before.
A trusted leader is one who freed himself from ego’s straitjacket, not one not knowing what this is. And education frees our socialized mind from the unconscious enculturation and we become self-authors and bearers of our souls.
Books are the easiest form of freeing our minds. Do not be a fireman of your thirst for knowledge (pun intended).
9. HAVE YOUR MBA IN 1 YEAR ONLY
You are an aspiring leader. Best books are the autobiographies of great men and women of our past and present. And study promising leaders and see how their future unfolds. And study yourself.
This is the greatest MBA ever for any leader. Start on Google.
10. ALWAYS EAT WITH THEM
The real personality reveals itself by the fire. When people eat and dance together, share their stories. Stories (not arid lists like this one) glue people together.
Knowing their stories empowers a leader. His shared story empowers even better. Vulnerability showed in a leader’s story opens the hearts and minds of his fellow mates.
Once you buy a pizza, they become your friends. Any nerd knows this in highschool.
11. GIVE FEEDFORWARD, NOT FEEDBACK
Looking at the past or into the future?
When you give feedback is like making an inventory of your pieces of luggage when heading for a trip in the mountains. When you provide feedforward is like anxiously making hooves of vagabonding. Remember how you used to be, eager to get going, to explore the world, to know everything? Keep that as feedforward with your mates and look back only when you here a flump or a plump.
12. TREAT FAILS AS LEARNING
Flumps and plumps. You experienced this yourself as a kid when learned to laugh, walk, write, run, speak, love, make babies and educate them. Why would you judge others by their flumps or plumps at an adult age? It is like considering education finished for them and absolute saints. Fails are just the 999 wrong steps before walking. And you do not know when walking will happen. And your walking is not like other’s walking.
When they see you do that, treat fails as learning, they will be encouraged to try new moves and this is progress, 120% KPI’s, well-kept budgets and overpassed objectives.
When you see others do that, you become courageous, not remain fearful of mistakes.
Encourage courage by keeping learning alive in your team.
13. LOOK PEOPLE IN THEIR EYES, MARINA ABRAMOVIC STYLE (736 HOURS AND A HALF)
What do you hide? Find out.
14. LOOK IN THE MIRROR DAILY (FOR 1 MINUTE – THE MOST AWKWARD LEADERSHIP TIP EVER OFFERED IN A LIST
I discovered the power of self-gazing myself. It is mysterious and eye-opening (pun intended). And finally, you will need a third eye to be able to beat the two eyes in the mirror.
It’s self-knowledge, self-enlightenment 1-0-1.
Self-reliance attracts. Self-reliant leaders are followed everywhere by fanatics. Take Steve or Elon for example.
15. TAKE ONE IMPORTANT DECISION A DAY, POSTPONE NONE
A flower decides each second. A dog decides each second. A tennis player decides each second. And they all actualize their decisions. Why don’t you? Fear of looking bad in your Armani suit?
Yes. There’s an unhealthy mismatch between your image and your decisions. It is like the image forces you to take only the most weighted decisions in history.
A flower is naked, a dog is naked and a tennis player increasingly so in the last years.
Maybe any leader should undress to feel the air passing through his decisions.
16. NOT BAD TO MAKE YOUR BED (WHEN JORDAN PETERSON HYPOTHETICALLYMARRIES MARIE KONDO)
Clean your space, desktop, bins, history, relationships, skin, plate, bed, kitchen sink, nails, moves, career, goals, language, mind.
Who are you to lead the world if not leading your trash?
17. POSTPONE ANY INSTANT GRATIFICATION, AIM HIGHER
The marshmallow test shows that half of our success in life comes from delaying our instant gratification in the hope of an increased one in the future.
Celebrate each small accomplishment ar aim constantly higher and delay celebrations? Think again.
Leaders follow ever bigger aims and do not settle for finite, small ones. When looking up to this kind of people we motivate ourselves to see beyond what immediate.
There’s reality and there’s a negative way of looking at it and a positive one. You simply can control only your eyes, not the objects you are looking at.
Smiles attract positive people. Negativism attract stuck people. If you plan to become a leader, you will need followers and allies, an army of change-makers to conquer exactly the naysayers and skeptics, cynical and sarcastic people of the world.
19. IMPROV, IMPROV, IMPROV
There are several meta-skills leaders need in the future like perspective taking, systemic view, pattern recognition and connecting the dots, empathy, and listening.
Guess what? There is one activity which will teach you all of that. It is called „theatrical improvisation”.
In a VUCA world (as nature ever was), beings need to be agile. Look at a tree, an animal and water pouring through the cracks of soil: they are all responding to the first law of nature: the constructal law.
Learning improv is learning to become natural again. It teaches you all the meta-skills mentioned above.
20. GO HOME IN TIME, EVEN IF YOUR HOME IS BROKEN
I regularly sense a confusion of roles in the lives of leaders I coach: the roles of parent, child, spouse and leader are all mixed in one general, undifferentiated burrito. Your confusion will trigger their confusion. I have caught myself doing this for almost 15 years. Fifteen – not one, not five!
Who are they?
Your family where you should play the spouse and parent role.
Your family of origin where you should play the child role.
Your colleagues, followers, and bosses where you should play the aspiring leader role.
Certainly, there is a bias toward playing the aspiring leader role everywhere. Otherwise, we would not invent things like burnout syndrome or work-life balance (by the way, it is work-life not life-work).
The kind of confusion I just mentioned teaches everyone around the same bias. And we end up playing leaders when what this world needs right now is parents and spouses at home, mostly.
21. HIRE A COACH
This is self-promotion, evidently.
Yet, a coach makes you aware of your more than 100 biases or so infusing your leadership style.
22. HIRE A PSYCHOTHERAPIST
The education system worldwide, with few exceptions, is dilapidated. It seems we lost the fine art of really teaching and learning.
Therefore, we transition from childhood to youth and adulthood with a heavy burden of shadows attached to the sun in our eyes.
There’s no other way, but to try some professional cleansing.
Otherwise, we might fulfill the Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment or Milgram’s Authority/ Obedience Experiment at a grand, planetary-scale without even knowing it, through terrorism or melting the polar icecaps.
23. PRIORITY #1: CREATE A GREAT TEAM, NO MATTER WHAT
The time of individual heroes has passed. Even they are gathered in the Avengers team.
Replacing „I” with „we” in our language and minds is one of the most severe experiments you can do to yourself.
In my industry, there’s a constant increase in team coaching versus individual coaching during the last decade. There’s also a constant preoccupation with „self-management” related topics like holacracy/ sociocracy in terms of business and social organization.
Anyhow, your promoters will measure you by the cohesive team you build, not by your inflated ego dimension.
24. CREATE SOMETHING BIGGER THAN BEFORE (IN TERMS OF COURAGE)
There’s this constant pull-push movement inside each of us, towards actualization, away from former cocoons. Let yourself flow with it, in your rhythm.
Let aspirations become bigger and bigger in terms of courage, not in terms of realizations. Instantly and fanatically implement any courageous idea related to „we”.
25. BREATH, PAUSE, MEDITATE
… (this is your space) …
26 (BONUS). DO YOUR HOMEWORK
There’s a certain lack of managerial and leadership knowledge (best practice). And there are certain certified sources of this kind of knowledge, like Harvard Business Review. They have one of the greatest collection of articles and case studies on business issues.