Leadership

NIV, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd Edition: A Brief Review

The Maxwell Leadership Bible

Courtesy of Thomas Nelson

John Maxwell’s NIV, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd Edition, is a wonderful bible with an excellent, reader-friendly print. With the New International Version being a popular translation of holy Scripture, many will appreciate how John Maxwell helps readers to gain critical insights about it through illuminating leadership principles throughout the text. Maxwell does a brilliant job of evincing how the bible is truly a book that has much to teach about effective leadership. A well-established authority on leadership, Maxwell brings his years of leadership experience and expertise to profile biblical leaders and what can be learned from their leadership.

This bible contains an introduction to each book and many short articles related to leadership. The hardback edition is a soft, comfort hardback, which makes it pleasant to hold and carry. Maxwell does a thorough job of ensuring that the reader understands the bible through a leadership lens and that he or she is able to engage constantly with Scripture’s powerful revelations about leadership.

Without question, leaders (and not just spiritual leaders) should purchase a copy of this this bible. Also, all individuals serious about the study of the Word of God need a copy of this bible. When one reads this bible, he or she comes away from the text a more empowered person ready to address challenges and problems with biblical courage and wisdom.

To aid the drafting of this honest review, the publisher, Thomas Nelson, provided a copy of The Maxwell Leadership Bible through BookLook Bloggers.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Great Leaders Don’t Micromanage

Micromanager

(Photo Credit: The Self Employed)

One of the most deflating and unproductive environments to work in is one led by a micro-manager. How do you when you’re being led by a micro-manager? He or she always has to control everything in the organization.  His or her fingerprints has to be on everything.  The micro-manager is inflexible and does not give you latitude to employ your talents in ways that empower you to achieve maximum success. Organizational leaders must understand that being effective leaders does not mean controlling everything.  In fact, leaders who are micro-managers are often highly ineffective.

Micromanagement inevitably leads to an organization’s tragic downfall.

Great leaders trust their subordinates to use their talents to execute their assigned tasks.  Although there’s nothing wrong with monitoring what one’s subordinates are doing, as long as the monitoring doesn’t become constant and oppressive surveillance, people need to have enough freedom to make choices that enable them to work without fear.  If your subordinates feel they’re going to receive reprimands for the least thing, then you have engendered an environment where fear trumps productivity.

If you’re a leader who can do everything in your organization better than everyone else, then you don’t have much of an organization in the first place.  It’s important for organizational leaders to maintain a democratic system of governance.  A democratic system of governance allows for everyone to feel a part of the organization. Everyone needs to have his or her voice heard and valued in an organization. A great leader encourages critical thinking and discourse; a micro-manager discourages them.

If your leader is a micro-manager, then he or she is allowing his or her ego to drive the way in which he or she leads.

Great leaders don’t offer suggestions about how you could have done a task differently or “better” each time you perform it.  In fact, great leaders frequently sit back and learn from their subordinates and appreciate the value they bring to the organization.  The effective leader is more concerned about getting the right people in the appropriate positions, and then he or she just lets those individuals thrive using their gifts.

No matter how “great” you contend that your leader is, he or she is not a truly great leader if the person is a micro-manager.  An authentically great leader makes everyone around him or her better—not make everyone around him or her miserable and/or timid.

Keep these aforementioned thoughts in mind the next time you begin to contemplate who is a great leader.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Leaders Aren’t Afraid to Standout in a Crowd

Effective Leaders

(Photo Credit: The Grio)

Effective leaders aren’t afraid to standout in a crowd and say something that many, most, or all people will oppose.  Being a true leader isn’t about winning a popularity contest or winning Miss Congeniality; it’s about doing and saying what you feel is truly right.  Unfortunately, too many of those we call “leaders” in the postmodern epoch aren’t authentic leaders.  This has led to numerous milquetoast individuals being considered leaders by many Americans.  We have to stop considering people leaders simply because they have a special title and/or they’re always on television.  A simple public presence doesn’t make a person a leader.

Before you consider someone a leader, be sure he or she is leading.  When a person is leading, he or she is making a real difference in the lives of people.  Don’t cheapen what it means to be an effective leader by calling those who are attention-seekers leaders.  A clear difference exists between attention-seekers and leaders who aren’t afraid to stand out in a crowd.  An effective leader isn’t going to have fear of receiving backlash about saying and doing things that will cause people to be unsettled and unnerved.  Many people need to be unsettled and unnerved about the things they believe, say, and do.

People will respect you when you’re willing to say and do the right things, even when saying and doing the right things are difficult to accept.  This doesn’t mean that people will like you or that you will become popular, however.

To be an effective leader, one has to have a commitment to saying and doing substantive things.  An authentic leader has a record of accomplishment, which includes getting things done for others.  If you’re a vain person, you’re certainly not a leader.

Effective organizational leaders don’t worry about who gets the credit for accomplishments. They highlight how it was the team responsible for the accomplishments—not themselves.  People will be able to tell when you don’t have the ability to lead an organization; therefore, you cannot fake genuine leadership.  An effective leader understands that he or she needs to employ the talents of those around him or her.  Being a leader doesn’t mean you know everything.  In fact, a leader acknowledges that he or she doesn’t know everything.

Let’s make a commitment to stop crowning people as leaders who aren’t leaders.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Winning Habits for Success: Be a Better Leader

Success

As a leader, you have the opportunity and control to set the tone and direction for your whole organization, so you want to create a productive working environment and have happy employees.  To become an influential executive leader, such as Mark Weinberger, CEO of Ernst & Young, take note of the tips offered in this piece.

Shared Standards & Responsibility

The days of Mr. Scrooge counting his gold in the corner and doling out horrendous tasks to overworked paupers shouldn’t be real life.  Successful business leaders hold themselves to the same standards they hold everyone else.  When their team suffers from a mishap, a good leader takes the fall.  When the team achieves a triumph, a good leader makes certain his team receives credit for the positive outcome, which can be motivational as well.  Forbes calls this an inverted “blame-to-credit ratio.”  A supervisor who takes credit for the good and then points fingers during the bad is “simply being a weenie.”  A true leader stands tall during success and failure; it’s part of the job to take responsibility says Forbes.com contributor Josh Linkner.

Positive Attitude & Environment

Complaining or barking to employees lowers morale and leads to defensiveness.  To achieve goals and accomplish tasks, managers need to positively cultivate talent and support employees. Good energies and attitudes in a workplace can make the difference.  Also, developing a personal, yet professional, relationship with your team can foster mutual respect.  With mutual respect, a manager and employee can work effectively in tandem and continue to develop a relationship free of negative emotions and toxicity that can alter productivity, efficiency and creativity.  Working well together and learning something new from one another is the true definition of a team.  “The team is always stronger than the individual,” argues Executive Mark Weinberger on WashingtonPost.com.

Power of Accountability

As a leader, your behavior should set the standard for the behavior of those around you.  Think of your actions and attitude like swimming in a fishbowl—they’re transparent for all to see and mimic, as described by YoungEntrepreneur.com.  When a problem arises, take accountability for it.  If something stressful overwhelms you, your response will determine the standard for how the rest of the team also responds and cooperates.  People who don’t act accountable for the weight of their actions can set the stage for performers never living up to their potential.

Empathy & Consistency

Being able to finesse the waters of the work world includes empathy.  As a leader, one of your most important tasks is to deliver results.  Expressing empathy with your team helps ameliorate productivity and produce results because your employees feel valued.  Along with empathy, stay consistent with how you approach and respond to your team.  Managers who unexpectedly and hastily attack employees verbally or through email, for example, can cause employees to feel emotionally jarred.  Just like a positive attitude, empathy and understanding engender a productive environment where employees don’t feel restricted because they work in fear or anxiety.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Women and Business Challenges

Women in Leadership

You can launch 1,000 clichés about women in business, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re hardwired to be caretakers. Does that mean they cannot be great leaders? Of course not! Women have to properly navigate the fine line between mothering and smothering. There’s mothering: teaching skills, setting up the company for success, being tough when it’s necessary. Then, there’s smothering: doing it all yourself, wrapping everyone else in proverbial bubble-wrap and taking all the stress and all the consequences upon yourself.

You don’t want to devolve into a caveman, using brute force and intimidation, but you also cannot be soft as a marshmallow. If you’re a successful and benevolent leader, when you do exercise tough love, it will be all the more powerful and effective.

Contractors

It’s probably in your nature to hear problems or excuses and respond with soothing encouragement. If you’re working with a contractor, don’t fall prey to this instinct. Enter into projects with clear expectations and deadlines. Hold service providers responsible for their end of the bargain. Never (okay, almost never) pay in full up front. If you have an issue with the work, document it in writing. If construction or contractor services go wrong, even just off-schedule, it can cost your business time, energy, stress and money. Unless you’ve thoroughly documented everything, it will be hard to seek damages or any other sort of reparation. When it comes to contractors assume the worst — that if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile — so you can achieve the best possible outcome.

Business Partners

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with service providers and business partners, especially if you have a significant amount of purchasing power. Keeping good records, making concise requests and paying your bills on time (or early) will keep you in their good graces. By being a good customer, you’ll earn the credibility to ask for a rush shipment or special favors from time to time. If something isn’t as promised, give them the chance to correct it. If it’s a one-shot deal, like a rush printing job for a major meeting, tell your provider that it’s a high-stakes job. Give the provider an opportunity to wow you. If you’re using a Plum Card from American Express to pay vendors, you’ll have the added benefit of purchase protection, just like a personal card, which can take a big load off your plate.

Customers

It’s a catchy saying: “The customer is always right.” It’s less catchy to say, “Most customers are right, but some customers are users and not worth having at all.” The latter, however, is closer to the truth. In every industry there will be customers who take you for granted. They’ll want to take advantage of a tiny misprint in an ad or return an item that’s been used until it’s nearly unrecognizable. Customers that are leeches are generally not worth having, but it’ll be up to you (the leader) to identify and deal with them. Asking your entry or lower level associates to do so could end in disaster.  

Employees

No great leader I can think of wakes up saying, “Wow, if I can scream at someone it would really make today fantastic.” Likewise, no employee walks into work thinking, “Gee, getting a verbal lashing today would really improve my morale.” Identify what is non-negotiable in your office and have clear job descriptions. Find areas where there’s a little room for interpretation or flexibility. Be clear with employees on firm and soft rules. When someone transgresses on a hard and fast rule, correct it immediately. If it isn’t addressed quickly, the employee might think it’s not such a big deal and escalate the behavior.

Women should never feel they are any less prepared and suited to be business leaders than men.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia October 2011 Person of the Month: Tony La Russa

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia recognizes one person who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this site.  Tony La Russa, the Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, has been selected as the Revolutionary Paideia October 2011 Person of the Month.  Under the great leadership of Tony La Russa, the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series.  At no point in the season was this team considered to be the favorites to win the World Series.  For many baseball fans, they found it would be difficult for the St. Louis Cardinals to even make the playoffs.  Indeed, it was a challenge for the Cardinals to make the playoffs but they did.  Although much of the credit will go to the players, and the players are well-deserving of much of the credit for winning the World Series, of course, the significant role Tony La Russa played in helping the team to achieve victory in the World Series should not be overlooked.  Without the excellent managing of the pitching staff and the batting lineups throughout the regular season and World Series, the Cardinals would not have even had an opportunity to win the World Series.

Tony La Russa is the only Major League Baseball (MLB) Manager to retire after winning a World Series.  More people, however, need to learn how to stop doing the great things they do while they are still great at doing them.  One of the best times to stop doing what you have been doing for so long is when you’re at your greatest at what you are doing.  Don’t wait until you become horrible at what you do before you stop doing it.

Tony La Russa has been a MLB Manager for well over 30 seasons.  He has won three World Series as a MLB Manager.  He revolutionized the use of the closing pitcher (“the closer”).  La Russa should be applauded for his tremendous accomplishments and commitment to excellence for well over 30 seasons in MLB.

For those of us who love MLB, we can appreciate watching Tony La Russa manage his teams like no other Manager has been able to do.  What has really been amazing about his success with the St. Louis Cardinals is his team has never been considered the best team in MLB.  However, he has led the St. Louis Cardinals to two World Championships.

The St. Louis Cardinals will have a difficult time replacing Tony La Russa.  True baseball fans will miss him.  Without question, Tony La Russa provided us with a positive example of how to be a successful MLB Manager and how to do it with class.

It is with great pleasure to name Tony La Russa the Revolutionary Paideia October 2011 Person of the Month.

Best wishes!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

You Cannot Lead Anyone When You Need to Be Led

While there is a need for more non-profit organizations, everyone is not qualified to start and lead a non-profit organization.  Too many people are talking about starting a non-profit organization for the wrong reasons.  The people who are talking about forming non-profit organizations for the wrong reasons need to be led.  They don’t need to be presiding over anyone.  Some of the erroneous reasons people are talking about developing non-profit organizations are as follows: (1) simply because they are unemployed; (2) they are using discourse about starting a non-profit organization for self-aggrandizement; (3) starting a non-profit organization is the only thing they can think of to do; and (4) they need something to boost their self-esteem and this augmenting of their self-esteem has nothing to do with helping the people the organization is supposed to be founded to serve.

You have to have some qualifications, experience, skills, and accomplishments to lead people.  Traditional qualifications, experience, skills, and accomplishments are not always requisite to being able to lead people effectively, but your qualifications, experience, skills, and accomplishments must be genuine.  You cannot be an effective leader of an organization by just randomly thinking you are qualified to be a leader of an organization.  Leading, starting, and managing an effective non-profit organization is not easy.  In fact, it’s quite challenging.  If you don’t have a true love for helping people, then don’t talk about starting a non-profit organization.  Starting an effective non-profit organization is not something you can just jump up and do.  It’s also deeply offensive to the strenuous and thorough work that leaders of effective non-profit organizations do to pretend like you are serious about starting a non-profit organization when you know that you are going to do it.

For those Black men who don’t have a true commitment to launching non-profit ventures that focus on mentoring young Black males, don’t play with the serious need of mentoring young Black males simply for the vain purposes you are toying with starting a non-profit undertaking supposedly for them.  The need to ameliorate the lives of disadvantaged Black males is far too important for people to be playing around with.  For those who are attention hungry and simply see talking about starting a non-profit organization for Black males or youth in general, you need to understand that our children are too precious and important for you to attempt to use them for your own selfish gains.

We all need good people in our lives to provide us with support.  Many authentic leaders are among us.  It is vital, however, for those who are not leaders to understand that they are not leaders.  You know when you are not a leader and you know when you’re not willing to lead or don’t have what it takes to lead.  Everyone was not created to be a leader—face it!  Just as we need leaders to be great leaders, we need followers to be great followers.  The work of great leaders is significantly buttressed when they are able to benefit from great followers.

When you find yourself experiencing daily bouts with self-doubt and self-pity, the harsh reality is you are not ready and fit to lead.  There’s nothing wrong with knowing when you need to be led and when you are not ready and/or capable of leading.  It’s always critical for human beings to seek and embrace the truth, for this is the essence of what “being real” is.  Sorry to break the much needed news to you, but you don’t become a leader just by calling yourself one and pretending like you are one.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison