15 Words of Wisdom

We know it’s been a while since we posted some “Words of Wisdom” on the      Inta-Great blog, so we decided to give you 15 of our favorites at once!

(If you follow Inta-Great on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen some of these before, and if you are not already following us on Facebook or Twitter—you should!)

  1. “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” -Theodore Roosevelt
  2. “Chance favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur
  3. “Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.” – Rick Warren
  4. “About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age.” – Gloria Pitzer
  5. “Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” – Mary Anne Radmacher
  6. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
  7. “Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
    Watch your words, for they become actions.
    Watch your actions, for they become habits.
    Watch your habits, for they become character.
    Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
  8. “When you find yourself in a hole, the best thing you can do is stop digging.” – Warren Buffett
  9. “We’ve been put on this earth to invest in other people. That’s when you get the greatest joy and satisfaction in life–when you invest in other people.” – Kathy Coder, President of Inta-Great
  10. “Research shows convincingly that EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is more important than IQ in almost every role and many times more important in leadership roles.”      – Stephen R. Covey
  11. “With practice & patience you can do anything you set your mind to.”
  12. “Most leaders spend time trying to get others to think highly of them, when instead they should try to get their people to think more highly of themselves. It’s wonderful when the people believe in their leader. It’s more wonderful when the leader believes in their people! You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.” – Booker T. Washington
  13. “You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.”
    – Dwight D. Eisenhower
  14. “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” -Thomas Jefferson
  15. “Make something of yourself. Try your best to get to the top, if that’s where you want to go, but know that the more people you try to take with you, the faster you’ll get there, and the longer you’ll stay there.” – James A. Autry

Courage, Failure, & Leadership

cour·age
noun \ˈkər-ij, ˈkə-rij\
Definition of COURAGE
: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
–  Definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

When it comes to defining courage, the key phrase is: “and withstand.”  Courage is not about fearlessness.  It is about being afraid and moving forward anyway.  It is about pursuing a passion—a purpose—that is greater than one’s fear.

In his book, Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley identifies courage as one of the “five essentials for those who will shape the future.”  I’ve struggled with this emphasis on courage because courage seemed to be more of a personality trait than a skill.  And, requiring a leader to have a certain personality trait reminded me of the outdated “Great Man” leadership theories.  These theories essentially said that leaders are born, not made, and all great leaders share a certain set of personality traits.  Contrastingly, at Inta-Great, we subscribe to the transformational and serving leadership theories—theories that focus on skills and competencies leaders can learn and develop.

However, after moving along in my leadership journey, and watching others on theirs, I have come to realize that Andy Stanley is right.  Courage is essential to leadership.  But what I have also come to realize is that courage is less of a personality trait you are born with and more of an attitude that is cultivated.  [Look for another post about how to cultivate courage in the near future.]

So, why is courage so important to leadership?  As it was defined earlier, courage involves persevering in the face of “danger, fear, or difficulty.”  Danger, fear, and difficulty tend to result from ambiguity and uncertainness about the future.  And, if there is one area leaders specialize in, it is ambiguity and uncertainty.  At Inta-Great we define leadership as, “A service-oriented relationship by which change occurs as a leader influences a group of individuals toward a common purpose.”  One of the key words in this definition is “change.”

Leaders influence change toward a common purpose.  Change is inherently difficult, and sometimes frightening.  It involves leaving the realm of “what is” for “what could be.”  Leaders are not content to relax, put their feet up, and pat themselves on the back.  Instead, they are leaning forward, looking toward the future, and thinking about how things could be even better—and yet, thinking about it is not enough.

How many people at your workplace have opinions about what should change in the organization?  Probably a lot.  Most people have ideas about how communication could be improved, what new products should be developed, what management should be doing, etc.  But, they are not doing anything about it.  Contrastingly, leaders at all levels are those who not only see the opportunities, but seize the opportunities—taking steps toward making change happen despite the inherent risk and uncertainty.  This requires courage.

Sometimes taking the risk pays off.  The leader is successful and achieves what he or she sets out to achieve.  And, in some ways this is what one is taught when studying leadership.  If you follow this approach—if you utilize these essentials of leadership, or these four factors of transformational leadership, etc.—you will be successful.  But sometimes this doesn’t happen.  Sometimes a leader will do everything right—cast a great vision for the future, empower those around him or her, etc.—and he or she will fail.  What happens then?

Recently, my mentor, a successful and engaging woman, set out on a new path.  She felt led to pursue what many called an impossible goal.  She knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but her vision of what could be and her passion to serve others gave her the courage to try anyway.  And try she did.  She gave 110%, made some great progress, inspired many along her way, but in the end, she failed.  She did not achieve her goal.

So once again, she, and other leaders who have failed or will fail, must tap into the power of courage.  This time, courage will be needed to pick oneself up, identify one’s next goal, and begin working toward it.  As Mary Anne Radmacher has said, “Courage doesn’t always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

While everyone needs time to “lick their wounds” so to speak, leaders refuse to let failure define them.  Instead, they use it to strengthen them.  Leaders know that failures are great learning opportunities.  They know that failure experiences are hard, but they help the leader cultivate wisdom for next time.  Sometimes failure is a necessary perquisite for success.  This is the risk the leader is willing to take.

Why is the leader willing to take such a risk?  As we’ve already discussed, the passion and purpose the leader is pursuing is a strong motivator.  But, there is something else.  The best leaders understand that failure, while it hurts in the moment, is a passing thing.  Regret is not.  The regret that comes from not trying—from missed opportunities—can last a lifetime.  So, even more than failure, leaders fear regret.  They understand the adage, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

So, while my mentor may not have achieved her goal, she can rest in knowing that tomorrow, or next month, or next year, or twenty years from now, she will never have to look back at her life and wonder “What if…”  “What if I would have taken that risk?”  “What if I would have left my comfort zone?”  Instead, she will know that she worked hard, made a lot of progress, inspired many individuals, and paved the way for those who will come after her.

And now, in some ways she has an even bigger opportunity than those who achieve their goals—for it is during times of trial and darkness that one’s true character really shines.  By refusing to let this experience define her, she will go on to impact even more.  I know for me, she remains a source of inspiration and a great lesson in courage and leadership.  Finally, it is my hope, that others will be inspired by her story to act courageously.  For as we have seen, courage is essential to leadership. 

-Written by Valerie Faust, Director of Blossom & Flourish and Training & Development Consultant

Leadership and Government

Inta-Great’s Founder and President, Kathy Coder, discusses the importance of leadership in government and why she decided to run for State Representative in Pennsylvania’s 16th District. 

What is your primary reason for running?:  I want to use my background and experience to make a difference in our State’s future.  I desire to help create a sustainable flourishing state and region for the next generation.  I am not looking for a “job” or to be a career politician.  I think we need people in Harrisburg who know how to lead from a foundation of integrity and principle-centered decision-making.  I would like to use my leadership, local government, and business experience to help be part of a team who can create positive change.

What will be your top priority?:  Strong leaders understand their role is to serve the people they are leading; they also understand the importance of a compelling vision.  For those reasons, I will serve the people by putting their needs ahead of politics, party, and self-serving agendas.  I will also cast a vision of Pennsylvania as one of the most thriving states in the nation with reduced government size, spending, and taxes and increased job creation and economic development opportunities.

What’s the biggest problem facing the state?:  The lack of leadership.  A common definition of insanity is to keep doing what you’re doing and think you’re going to get different results.   Year after year, we keep hearing about the same issues and nothing changes.  Obviously, we need new thinking and people who have the courage, character, competence, and commitment to make change happen. We need to get the right people on the bus in the right seats and come together for the common good of our State—I think if we do that many of the problems will start being resolved.  Also as leaders, we elected officials need to role model what we want others to do, and we need to open to more accountability.  (For example: I am not taking the State pension and will report my expenses and receipts for the per diem allowances.)

Any final remarks?:  The compelling lack of leadership is why I got involved with politics to begin with.  Never in a million years would I have envisioned that I would be running for office.  Four years ago, my business was thriving, and my life was comfortable.  Then, I attended my first council meeting, and my life was turned upside down.  I saw a lack of leadership and competence. It violated every good leadership practice I was ever taught!  I was convicted that I had no right to complain, unless I was willing to get my hands dirty and get involved.  Since then, I have been passionate about getting others educated and involved as well.  I believe government can be better.  I have spent over 20 years in the private sector learning from wise mentors and business leaders.  I have translated these learnings into my public service.  I understand the importance of applying principle-centered, servant-leadership practices in government.  I realize that elected office is a stewardship and an honor.

If you wish to find out more information about Kathy Coder’s campaign, please visit:  http://www.kathycoder.com/

Importance of Leading Oneself

Leadership is about influence, service, and transformation.  First, leadership does not come from positional authority; rather it is based on influence.  Second, it is the leader’s job to serve the people.  For as leadership-expert Larry Spears states, “True leadership emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others and see them grow” (1998, p. 3).  Finally, successful leadership is about transformation—the transformation of individuals, organizations, and even broader culture.  It is in this transformation piece where professional development plays a key role.

Transforming culture requires transforming organizations and institutions, and transforming organizations and institutions requires transforming individuals.  Therefore, culture cannot be transformed without individuals being transformed.  As Peter Drucker (1999, p. 11) writes, “The need to manage oneself is therefore creating a revolution in human affairs.”  Essentially, one must effectively lead oneself before attempting to lead others.

Once one has taken the time to understand oneself: personality, learning styles, strengths, weaknesses, etc., one has the responsibility to understand that others are just as unique.  Then, instead of rejecting those differences, one is able to see them as complements.  It allows one to create and lead a team where others’ strengths balance one’s own weaknesses.  Or, in the words of strengths-expert Marcus Buckingham (2008), “A great team player volunteers his strengths to the team most of the time and deliberately partners with people who have different strengths.”

The important question then becomes, how does one lead oneself?  One important way one can learn to lead oneself is through professional development.  Some professional development tools we use at Inta-Great include: the DiSC Profile, The 360 DiSC, StrengthsFinder 2.0 and Strengths Based Leadership, The Truth About You, and a listening profile—among other things.  All of these assessments are meant to help individuals understand more about themselves and the way they think, feel, and act.  On top of these tools, identifying personal values, writing personal mission and/or vision statements, setting SMART goals for one’s life, and developing a relationship with a mentor are all great professional development exercises.  And more formally, professional courses/seminars and advanced education also constitute professional development.  And yet, professional development is not only confined to resources outside of oneself, for as Donald Schon (1983) is quick to point out, the reflective practitioner is a resource onto himself.

The reflective practitioner is one who engages in reflection-in-action as a means of professional development.  Reflection-in-action takes place when one thinks about what he or she is doing while he or she is doing it.  This allows one to conduct mini-experiments, apply theory to a situation, and, in real-time, evolve the theory until the desired results are achieved.  This reflection-in-action allows one to recognize the tacit understandings which have been guiding one’s actions, perhaps even hindering one’s effectiveness (Schon, 1983).  Schon (1983, p. 68) sums it up when he says, “When someone reflects-in-action, he becomes a researcher in the practice of context….[he] constructs a new theory of the unique case.”

Overall, professional development, through both external resources and internal reflection-in-action, is the foundation of self-leadership.  Then, self-leadership is the basis for personal transformation.  And finally, personal transformation is “the breath that sustains our ability to lead others” thereby transforming organizations and institutions, and ultimately culture (Manz, 2001, p. 16).

Resources:

  • Buckingham, M. (2008). The truth about you: Your secret to success. [Video]. (Available from Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN)
  • Drucker, P. (1999). Managing oneself. Harvard Business Review, 77(2), 64-74.
  • Manz, C. (2001). The leadership wisdom of Jesus. San Francisco: Brett-Koehler.
  • Schon, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. NY: Basic Books.
  • Spears, L.C. (Ed.) (1998) Insight in leadership. New York: Wiley.

President’s Day

Quote

In honor of President’s Day, we’ve put together our top ten favorite presidential quotes about leadership:

  1. “A man who has never lost himself in a cause bigger than himself has missed one of life’s mountaintop experiences.  Only in losing himself does he find himself.”               – Richard Nixon
  2. “You ain’t learnin’ nothin’ when you’re talkin’.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
  3. “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” – Theodore Roosevelt
  4. “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln
  5. “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your reputation, for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.” – George Washington
  6. “Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly.”    – Thomas Jefferson
  7. “I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.” – Woodrow Wilson
  8. “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln
  9. “Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.”        – Andrew Jackson
  10. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

And because we just couldn’t keep it to ten, here’s a Bonus:

11.  “The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the
greatness is already there.” – James Buchanan