I don’t know about you, but I have been enamored by the Olympics and have been watching them as much as possible. What I especially love seeing are the Olympians who have fought through adversity and come back better for it.
This year the story was Jordyn Wieber of the women’s gymnastics team who missed out on making the all-around final because her score was lower than two other American gymnasts. But two days later she came back with the American team and won gold, only the second time in history that the American women’s team has done that. She led the team out with a vault where she stuck the landing and set the tone for the entire evening.
The other example is Michael Phelps not medaling in his first event, the 400 IM, and then two days later coming out and getting two medals to make Olympic history of 19 overall medals.
What is amazing about these two stories is the resilience that both of these Champions displayed. It is of course talent and hard work, but what really sets them above and beyond I think is their mindset. They were able to control their emotions of their loss, focus on the big picture of their goals, put the past behind them, recognize that they can learn and grow from this process and then hit gold.
Both of these champions were able to be resilient. They took what could have been catastrophic and turned it around to something amazing. They were able to think about the situation, let go of the pain and sorrow of it quickly by feeling the emotions associated with the process, and then get back to focusing on what they truly wanted.
As a result of their strong mind, they were able to remain confident and pull out incredible wins. That is what I call a true champion and a true leader!
How resilient are you in reaching your goals? What can you learn from these champions in working towards your vision?
As I train for my first marathon (the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon) I realize that there are so many things to learn from the training that apply to leadership. Here are my top 5 picks:
So what leadership trait out of the ones above can you put into practice to make you a stronger leader? How can you push the envelope to reach the goals you have in mind?
Abraham Zaleznik in an article from the Harvard Business Review in the early 90‘s describes the difference between a manager and a leader in many ways. He describes the characteristics of a manager as they:
-Like to maintain existing systems, relationships, and processes
-Tend to mediate, negotiate, and balance opposing viewpoints
-Like to work with others, but keep a low level of emotional involvement
-Like structure and are survival oriented when it comes to taking risk
The characteristics of a leader from Zaleznik’s point of view are:
-Adopt a personal and active attitude towards goals by evoking images, moods and expectations of the direction a business could take
-Are risk takers and idea generators
-Relate in more intuitive and empathetic ways - get involved in thinking through how things affect people
-Are described with adjectives rich in emotional content
-They develop through personal mastery, which impels an individual to struggle for psychological and social change
-Are more like artists, scientists, and other creative thinkers than like managers
These descriptors are fascinating to me as it relates that managers are great at keeping the status quo - making current systems, processes, and structures as efficient, effective, and productive as possible. Leaders on the other hand have gone through struggles, have come into their own, and are willing to take the risks and push the envelope in a way that is visionary, intuitive, and innovative. They also develop intense relationships with others that can be volatile, which in some ways allows them to be more empathetic.
In my view leaders have a lot of personal strength first because they often go through struggle to become a “twice born” as Zaleznik calls it and therefore have the internal fortitude to push the envelope as they become a leader not only in their own lives, but for others.
With these descriptions are you more of a manager or a leader? What traits most define you when dealing with others or in your work life? If you aspire to be a leader how can you integrate more of the leadership qualities into your life?
As a leader, developing a plan for the year can be a time consuming task. Setting the correct course of actions for the year, however, can pay off in dividends in achieving your true long term goals. But the real rubber meets the road when you actually put the plan into action.
How can you make sure you stay on course especially at the beginning of the year?
Create quarterly/weekly plans based off the annual plan - in order to truly meet your longer term goals create smaller action steps that you can focus on daily to achieve those goals. Break down the larger plans into actionable items to do each week and each quarter. This will make the goals less daunting and easier to follow.
Look at your quarterly/weekly goals every morning - in order to stay focused on your goals and on track review those weekly and quarterly goals daily and do the action items that are relevant. By looking at them each day they stay top of mind and reinforces actions that you need to take.
Create some discipline around the new goals - reinforcing the importance of the goals in reaching your long range vision is important to communicate to yourself and your team on a regular basis, especially in the beginning of the year. Creating disciplined messages and actions that are consistent with the goals creates new habits, which will be invaluable in keeping you on track.
Stay flexible with your actions - fire drills will be an inevitability of your role as a leader so staying flexible in your actions is key. However knowing what your plans and vision truly are and where they are taking you will keep the fire drills in perspective and allow you to come back to the long term goals when the emergencies are over.
How are you staying on track with your 2011 goals?
With the holidays now behind us this last week of the year can be spent taking stock of the year AND planning for 2011. You can reflect on the year and begin to set goals for the new year by asking yourself the following questions:
-Did I accomplish my goals for the year?
-What were my biggest accomplishments?
-What were my biggest challenges?
-What were my biggest lessons learned?
-What do I need to let go of in order to start the new year off on a the right foot?
-What are my top goals for 2011?
-How can I prioritize my goals for 2011?
-How can I measure if I reach those goals?
I hope that these questions help you in understanding what worked and didn’t work for the year as well as helps you plan for the new year!
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.