5 Things You Must Do to Stay Positive

13 Oct

On a daily basis, we’re not inundated with positive images, thoughts, and ideas. In fact, quite the opposite is true. In mainstream media, negativity is the norm. Just watch the nightly news and look to see how many stories have a positive theme. Negativity is an attention-grabber. Worry and fear keep people tuned in. With negativity swirling around us, it’s no wonder that so many of us gravitate toward it, filling our minds with doubt and stress. The truth is: negativity gets you nowhere.

The key to making progress in life—in your career, in your relationships, in your personal development—is to stay positive. Staying positive is difficult—and even more difficult is determining how to stay positive with the onslaught of articles and books offering advice for how to be happier. Here are five things you must do if you want to live a positive life:

1. Revise the way you look at the world around you. 

When going from a negative outlook to a positive one, I really had to spend time thinking about the way I was looking at things. The way you see the world around you is a choice. You can choose to look for the good or you can choose not to. It’s completely and entirely up to you. Once I realized this, I understood that it didn’t make much sense to focus on the bad things in life. Sure, I had to acknowledge them, but I certainly didn’t need to dwell on them. Change your point of view and your whole life will change too.

2. Believe you have the ability to change your own life.

This can be a hard one for many people. Over and over again they think or say the worst two words I used to be so familiar with and now dread: “I can’t…” The second you let yourself think that way about changing your life, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you don’t believe you can change your life, then it’s going to be pretty hard to actually do it. Believing in yourself sounds so cliché, but there’s a reason that concept has stuck around for so long. Without it, you’ll paralyze yourself and living a positive life will be pretty darn impossible.

3. Don’t seek happiness outside of yourself in things or people.

One of the things I always used to do was seek happiness outside of myself. If I was feeling unhappy or drowning myself in negativity, I would look outside myself for a solution. But, ultimately, no matter what I turned to, the negativity within me remained. It might be tempting to rely on other people for your happiness or turn to habits like shopping, eating, or drinking to quell your negative state of mind, but, believe me, those outside things never do the trick. You must seek happiness and positivity within yourself. It really is the only way to live a positive life.

It takes a lot of hard to work to live a positive life, especially if you’re struggling with negativity. But know this: even if you do one thing on this list, your life will improve. And you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try. If you want to live a positive life, do it. There may be obstacles and it may be hard to get from that negative place to a positive one, but, believe me, all of the work will be worth every ounce of effort you put into it because nothing is better than loving the life you’re living.

4. Stop doing the things that make you unhappy. 

This is number one on the list for a reason. Too often we spend time and energy doing things that make us unhappy and too often we don’t make the connection between what causes our unhappiness. Look at your life carefully. Are you doing anything that makes you unhappy? When you find yourself at your lowest points, is there anything you can pinpoint that has caused the low point to occur? Often there are patterns that we just don’t admit to. Take an extra close look at any alcohol or drug use because these are too often the cause of serious unhappiness and negativity.

5. Surround yourself with people who bring you up. 

Just like you must look at the actions your taking and choose not to do things that cause you unhappiness, you must also choose not to be around people that cause you to be unhappy. Sadly, too many people surround themselves with individuals that don’t bring them up. If you find that people in your life are bringing you down — yes, even family members or significant others — you have to find a way to separate yourself from them. If you want to live a truly positive life, you must be surrounded by positive influences.

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Top 5 Ways to Build a Wonderful Life

15 Sep

We all search for a way to live a great, wonderful life. Regardless of the fact that we do it consciously or unconsciously. And most of us look at September as the New year start. So here are some suggestions/ideas, some may even call them simple ‘wise’ thoughts. Like everything in life, the difference stays in the ability to move from ‘dreaming’ to action.

1. Live Below Your Means

There will always be temptation to forsake the future for immediate gratification. We all want to buy that new piece of technology, treat ourselves to an expensive night on the town, or take out a loan for the flashy car we can’t afford. It might feel great at the time but rash spending hurts a lot later on.

Enjoy life’s simple pleasures and save as much as you can. Expensive things don’t create lasting happiness and security. Careful spending will bring you greater leisure and enjoyment in the long run.

2. Put Your Money to Work

Saving is great, but to make the most of your money you need to put it to work. Good investments can be the difference between retiring in your 40′s or in your 60′s.

A post today at The Simple Dollar really got me thinking. According to Trent’s projections, if a person in their early 20′s invests 20% of their income in an S&P index fund, the interest they earn will equal their current salary when they reach their early 40′s. They could retire without a drop in income!

Wise investing is the surest path to financial independence and it’s something everyone can work on. It’s definitely an area I’ll be devoting more attention to in my personal life and on this blog.

3. Educate Yourself

To be happy we need continuous growth. The best way to grow is life long education. This doesn’t mean you need to pursue a doctorate or spend 2 hours reading every day. Self education can be anything that takes you out of your comfort zone. The important part is keeping an open mind and searching for fresh ideas and perspectives.

Education builds over time. It might feel like the bits of wisdom you acquire don’t mean much, but over the years they add up to form a wiser, kinder, more interesting person.

4. Develop Lasting Personal Relationships

Suppose you had everything you wanted. Would you be happy without anyone to share it with? The personal relationships we develop with friends and family members are the greatest source of happiness in our lives. Don’t forget about them.

Taking the time to cultivate and enjoy personal relationships is essential to longterm happiness. Without the people you care about you’ll probably be miserable, no matter how successful you become.

5. Work Towards a Dream You’re Passionate About

Even if your life isn’t perfect, you can always build towards a goal you’re passionate about. If you aren’t building towards something, you’re probably stagnating. When this happens to me I start to feel like a victim trapped by my own life, and a vague sense of frustration increases. The best way to reverse this is working towards a goal.

We can’t control everything about our lives, but working towards a goal gives us something positive to focus on and lays the foundation for future success. No matter what your passion is, get out there and start doing something. As Lao Tzu said, even a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.

Bonus: 6. Stay in Shape 😉

You only get one body. Once it’s been ruined there isn’t much you can do about it. Exercise to keep the rust off. Avoid excessive consumption of damaging substances and unhealthy foods. It may feel like terrible self denial at the time but enjoying good health in your later years is worth the sacrifice.

Leadership’s Link to Emotional Intelligence

7 May
More than anyone else, the boss creates the conditions that directly determine people’s ability to work well. ~ Daniel Golmane, Primal Leadership
Ever wonder why some of the most brilliant, well-educated people aren’t promoted, while those with fewer obvious skills climb the professional ladder?
IQ is the intelligence we see above the surface, but is just the tip of the intelligence iceberg. EQ resides beneath the surface and is by far the most significant determinant of leadership success.

When Emotional Intelligence first emerged in 1995, EI helped explain why people with average IQs utperform those with the highest IQs more than two-thirds of the time.
Intrinsic motivation, employee engagement and job satisfaction are part of EQ.
In the United States, experts had assumed that high IQ was key to high performance. Decades of research now point to EI as the critical factor that separates star performers from the rest of the pack.
People have been talking about EI (also called EQ) ever since psychologist Daniel Goleman published the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence in 1995. Everyone agrees that emotional savvy is vital, but we’ve generally been unable to harness its power. Many of us lack a full understanding of our emotions, let alone others’. We fail to appreciate how feelings fundamentally influence our everyday lives and careers.
Research by the TalentSmart consulting firm indicates that only 36% of people tested can accurately identify their emotions as they happen. Two-thirds of people are typically controlled by their emotions but remain unskilled at using them beneficially.
The Emotional Brain
The brain’s wiring makes us emotional creatures. Our first reaction to any event is always emotional. We have no control over this part of the process. We can, however, control the thoughts that follow an emotion, how we react, and what we say and do.
Your reactions are shaped by your personal history, which includes your experiences in similar situations and your personality style. When you develop your emotional intelligence, you’ll learn to spot emotional triggers and practice productive responses.
Defining Emotional Intelligence
EI is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. It affects how you manage behavior, navigate social complexities and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.
EI is composed of four core skills that are paired under two primary competencies: personal and social.
Emotional Intelligence
What I See
What I Do
Personal Competence
Self-awareness
Self-management
Social Competence
Social Awareness
Relationship Management
Personal competence includes self-awareness and self-management skills that focus on your interactions with other people.
  • Self-Awareness is your ability to perceive your emotions accurately and be aware of them as they happen.
  • Self-Management is your ability to use awareness of your emotions to be flexible and positively direct your behavior.

Social competence is your ability to understand other people’s moods, behavior and motives to improve the quality of your relationships.

  • Social Awareness is your ability to accurately pick up on other people’s emotions and understand what’s really going on.
  • Relationship Management is your ability to use awareness of your and others’ emotions to manage interactions successfully.
Emotional Intelligence, IQ and Personality Are Different
Emotional intelligence taps into a fundamental element of human behavior that is distinct from your intellect. There is no connection between IQ and emotional intelligence. Intelligence is your ability to learn, as well as retrieve and apply knowledge.
Emotional intelligence is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. While some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, you can develop high emotional intelligence even if you aren’t born with it.
Personality is the stable “style” that defines each of us. It’s the result of hard-wired preferences, such as the inclination toward introversion or extroversion. IQ, emotional intelligence and personality each cover unique ground and help explain what makes us tick.
Emotional Intelligence and Performance
When we feel good, we work better. Feeling good lubricates mental efficiency, facilitating comprehension and complex decision-making. Upbeat moods help us feel more optimistic about our ability to achieve a goal, enhance creativity and predispose us to being more helpful.
How does emotional intelligence contribute to our professional success?
The higher you climb the corporate ladder and the more people you supervise, the more your EI skills come into play.
TalentSmart tested EI alongside 33 other important workplace skills and found it to be the strongest predictor of performance, responsible for 58% of success across all job types.
Likewise, more than 90% of top performers in leadership positions possessed a high degree of EI. On the flip side, just 20% of poor performers demonstrated high EI.
Your emotional intelligence is the foundation for a host of critical skills, and it impacts most everything you say and do each day. It strongly drives leadership and personal excellence.
EI and Income
You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but it’s rare. People with a high degree of EI make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than those with low EI.
The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so well founded that every point increase in EI adds $1,300 to one’s annual salary. These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world.
EI and Leadership
As a leader, you set the emotional tone that others follow. Our brains are hardwired to cue in (both consciously andunconsciously) to others’ emotional states. This is particularly true for leaders. People want to know how a leader feels and will synchronize with authorities they trust.
The emotional tone that permeates your organization starts with you as a leader, and it depends entirely on your EI. When employees feel upbeat, they’ll go the extra mile to please customers. There’s a predictable business result: For every 1% improvement in the service climate, there’s a 2% increase in revenue.
The table that follows, provided by TalentSmart’s Dr. Travis Bradbury, contrasts the behaviors of high-EI vs. low-EI leaders:
  • Leaders with Low EI
  • Leaders with High EI
  • Sound off even when it won’t help
  • Only speak out when doing so helps the situation
  • Brush off people when bothered
  • Keep lines of communication open, even when frustrated
  • Deny that emotions impact their thinking
  • Recognize when other people are affecting their emotional state
  • Get defensive when challenged
  • Are open to feedback
  • Focus only on tasks and ignore the person
  • Show others they care about them
  • Are oblivious to unspoken tension
  • Accurately pick up on the room’s mood
CEOs Score Low EI
Measures of EI in half a million senior executives, managers and employees across industries, on six continents, reveal some interesting data. Scores climb with titles, from the bottom of the ladder upward toward middle management, where EI peaks. Mid-managers have the highest EI scores in the workforce. After that, EI scores plummet.
Because leaders achieve organizational goals through others, you may assume they have the best people skills. Wrong! CEOs, on average, have the lowest workplace EI scores.
Too many leaders are promoted for their technical knowledge, discrete achievements and seniority, rather than for their skills in managing and influencing others. Once they reach the top, they actually spend less time interacting with staff.
But achieving goals—and high performance—is only part of the formula for leadership success. Great leaders excel at relationship management, influencing people because they’re skilled in forming alliances and persuading others.
EI has a direct bearing on corporate reputation. Boards of directors recognize how it affects stock prices, media coverage, public opinion and a leader’s viability. Look at any corporate disaster or scandal. If leaders cannot genuinely express empathy, it’s that much harder for them to garner trust and support.
A study by Dr. Fabio Sala (www.eiconsortium.org) demonstrates that senior-level employees are more likely to have inflated views of their EI competencies and less congruence with others’ perceptions.
Sala proposes two explanations for these findings:
1.      It’s lonely at the top. Senior executives have fewer opportunities for feedback.
2.      People are less inclined to give constructive feedback to more senior colleagues.
Nonetheless, EI’s effect on business performance and senior employees’ grandiosity highlight the need for well-executed performance management systems that measure emotional competencies.
Ethical Failures
The news media have highlighted numerous cases involving failed CEOs derailed by their low EI. Press coverage has prompted boards to become more sensitive to this leadership trait.
You’re prone to ethical failures if you overestimate your intelligence and believe you’ll never get caught. Arrogance distorts your capacity to read situations accurately.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, neurosciences journalist Jonah Lehrer discusses the contradiction of power — essentially, how nice people can change when they assume positions of authority.
“People in power tend to reliably overestimate their moral virtue, which leads them to stifle oversight,” he writes. “They lobby against regulators, and fill corporate boards with their friends. The end result is sometimes power at its most dangerous.”
How to Develop EI
Research by Goleman and other experts supports the view that EI can be learned, and it seems to rise with age and maturity.
In 2005, TalentSmart measured the EI of 3,000 top executives in China. The Chinese leaders scored, on average, 15 points higher than American executives in self-management and relationship management. To compete globally, the United States must pay attention to emotional competencies.
Developing your EI skills is not something you learn in school or by reading a book. It takes training, practice and reinforcement.
Executives with little experience in receiving feedback can find this approach somewhat threatening. Try to conquer your fears, as the process brings needed attention to gaps and development opportunities. It may be best to work with an executive coachwho trained in EQ.
Remember: Your emotional state and actions affect how others feel and perform. This trickle-down effect contributes to — or sabotages — your organization’s well-being.

Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

31 Mar

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

1. Get specificWhen you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.


2. Seize the moment to act on your goals.
 Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’ll work out for 30 minutes before work.”) Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist.
 When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good.
 Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit.
 Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking …. well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.

To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don’t. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur (“If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.”) It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don’t tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don’t put yourself in harm’s way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., “Don’t think about white bears!”) has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.

If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like “If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down.” By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on.

Remember, you don’t need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It’s never what you are, but what you do.

60 Tips for a Stunningly Great Life

11 Mar

I want to shift gears from leadership to a pure focus on crafting an exceptional life for this blog post. Ultimately, life goes by in a blink. And too many people live the same year 80 times. To avoid getting to the end and feeling flooded regret over a live half-lived, read (and then apply) these tips:

1. Exercise daily.

2. Get serious about gratitude.

3. See your work as a craft.

4. Expect the best and prepare for the worst.

5. Keep a journal.

6. Read “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”.

7. Plan a schedule for your week.

8. Know the 5 highest priorities of your life.

9. Say no to distractions.

10. Drink a lot of water.

11. Improve your work every single day.

12. Get a mentor.

13. Hire a coach.

14. Get up at 5 am each day.

15. Eat less food.

16. Find more heroes.

17. Be a hero to someone.

18. Smile at strangers.

19. Be the most ethical person you know.

20. Don’t settle for anything less than excellence.

21. Savor life’s simplest pleasures.

22. Save 10% of your income each month.

23. Spend time at art galleries.

24. Walk in the woods.

25. Write thank you letters to those who’ve helped you.

26. Forgive those who’ve wronged you.

27. Remember that leadership is about influence and impact, not title and accolades.

28. Create unforgettable moments with those you love.

29. Have 5 great friends.

30. Become stunningly polite.

31. Unplug your TV.

32. Sell your TV.

33. Read daily.

34. Avoid the news.

35. Be content with what you have.

36. Pursue your dreams.

37. Be authentic.

38. Be passionate.

39. Say sorry when you know you should.

40. Never miss a moment to celebrate another.

41. Have a vision for your life.

42. Know your strengths.

43. Focus your mind on the good versus the lack.

44. Be patient.

45. Don’t give up.

46. Clean up your messes.

47. Use impeccable words.

48. Travel more.

49. Read “As You Think”.

50. Honor your parents.

51. Tip taxi drivers well.

52. Be a great teammate.

53. Give no energy to critics.

54. Spend time in the mountains.

55. Know your top 5 values.

56. Shift from being busy to achieving results.

57. Innovate and iterate.

58. Speak less. Listen more.

59. Be the best person you know.

60. Make your life matter.

5 Golden Rules of Leadership Part 2

3 Mar

All leaders who want to be effective should function well as a strategist (shape the future), an executor (get things done), a talent manager (bring out the best in people), and as a human capitol developer (prepare for the next generation). And, as a foundation for these roles, an effective leader must excel at their own personal proficiency (they must invest in their own learning and development in order to lead others well).

In a previous post I reviewed Rule 1: Shape the future and Rule 2: Make things happen. Here are rules 3, 4, and 5.

Rule 3: Engage today’s talent. As a talent manager, you’re in charge of optimizing teams’ performance. You must answer the question, “Who goes with us on our business journey?” You need to know how to identify, build and engage talent for immediate results. How can you bring out the best in people? Do you know which skills are required and where to find talent in your organization? How can you best develop and engage people, guaranteeing that they turn in their best efforts? When you excel at talent management, you generate personal, professional and organizational loyalty. Talent thrives when you provide nurturing and developmental opportunities.

Rule 4: Build the next generation. As a human-capital developer, you’ll need to plan for the next generation. You must answer the question, “Who stays and sustains the organization for the next generation?” Just as talent managers ensure shorter-term results through people, human-capital developers make sure the organization has the longer-term competencies and people required for future strategic success. This rule requires you to think in terms of building a workforce plan focused on future talent, developing that talent and helping employees envision their future careers within the company. You cannot overlook the fact that the organization will outlive any single individual.

Rule 5: Invest in yourself. Leaders must model what they want others to master. Leading others ultimately begins with yourself. You cannot expect to influence followers unless you invest time and energy on your personal proficiency, individual strengths, self-awareness, and emotional and social intelligence. If you’re not working with a mentor or executive coach, you’re missing out on one of the most effective ways to build your strengths and talents.

5 Golden Rules of Leadership

19 Feb

I have been reading The Leadership Code: 5 Rules to Lead By  (Harvard Business Press, 2011) Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman, a good synthesis of a large number of framework, tools and processes to identify the essential rules that govern what all great leaders do.

This book is worth for two reasons: it helps leaders be better leaders themselves and helps those charged with building better leadership in their organizations.

Having a framework of the five major leadership functions makes it easier to tackle the job of getting better at leading people effectively.

All leaders have to function well as a strategist (shape the future), an executor (get things done), a talent manager (bring out the best in people), and as a human capital developer (prepare for the next generation). As a foundation for these roles, an effective leader must excel at their own personal proficiency (they must invest in their own learning and development in order to lead others well). Here is a summary of the ideas, put in the form of five “golden” rules:

Rule 1: Shape the future. As a strategist, you must answer the question “Where are we going?” for the people you lead. You not only envision the future, but help create it. You need to figure out where the organization must go to succeed, while pragmatically testing ideas against current resources and capabilities. Work with others to figure out how to move from the present to the desired future.

How informed are you about future trends, both inside and outside your field? How much time and attention do you allocate to future planning? How will you inspire your people with vision, purpose, mission and strategies?

Rule 2: Make things happen. As executors, leaders focus on the question, “How can we ensure we’ll reach our goals?” You must translate strategy into action. You’ll need to transform plans for change into measurable results by assigning accountability, knowing which decisions to manage and which to delegate, and ensuring that teams work together effectively.

This means keeping promises to multiple stakeholders. It also means ensuring that systems are in place for others to perform with the support and resources they need. Discipline is required. How can you help your people create their own high-performance results? Do you know when to step in or, conversely, step back?

We’ll analyze rules 3-5 in the next post, and in the meantime ask yourself if you are  a person who focuses on the future, or who tries to become more forward-thinking. How adept are you at getting things done? Both areas are certainly important to being an effective leader and both can be improved by working with an executive coach.