The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership
by JOHN BALDONI
John is the chair of the leadership development practice at N2Growth, a global leadership consultancy. John is an internationally recognized leadership consultant, coach, and authorof more than dozen books that have been translated into 10 languages.
In 2014, Trust Across America named John to its list of top 100 most trusted business experts. Inc.com named John to its list of top 50 experts for leadership and management. And Global Gurus named John number 11 on its list of top thirty global leadership experts. John was first named to this prestigious list in 2007.
As highly sought after executive coach and leadership educator, John has had the privilege of working with senior leaders in virtually every industry from pharmaceutical to real estate, packaged goods to automobiles, and finance to health care.
John’s newest book is MOXIE: The Secret of Bold and Gusty Leadership, which explores the grit and determination leaders need to exert to overcome challenges. Blending real-life stories with research and interviews, John provides a roadmap for how leaders can lead with greater awareness, more determined purpose and focused engagement in order to achieve inspired results.
Recording: John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at NT Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator, and executive coach. In 2014 Trust Across America named him on its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. Also in 2014 ink.com named John to its list of top 100 leadership experts, and Global Gurus named John number 11 on its list of global leadership experts. John is the author of more than a dozen books, including his newest "MOXIE: The Secret To Bold And Gutsy Leadership," and now please welcome to Elevate 2015 John Baldoni.
John: I'm a big fan of old movies. I especially like dramas that focus on men and women who beat the odds. We say those characters have moxie. Moxie sums up the guts and gumption a leader needs to succeed when times are tough, and circumstances are daunting. Leaders with moxie are doers, enablers, achievers. In my new book MOXIE: The Secret To Bold And Gutsy Leadership, I focus on what it takes to succeed. I also turn the word into an acronym that describes what leaders need to do to succeed. Leaders need to be mindful, act opportunistically, lead with their X factors, innovate to succeed, engage their people for results.
Let me explain a bit more. Specifically leaders with Moxie need to be mindful of their circumstances, as well as mindful of their own strengths, and shortcomings. Leaders need to be opportunistic in the sense of wanting to make positive things happen. Leaders also need to have the disposition to succeed, as well as the inner resourcefulness to persevere. We call this the right stuff to lead, or X factors. Leaders know that risk is involved with most ventures. So they must be willing to take a chance, do things differently. They must be innovators, to discover new ways of doing things in order to produce results that meet changing circumstances.
And all leaders know they accomplish very little by themselves. They must engage with others in order to achieve sustainable goals for themselves, their teams, and their organization. In my coaching I've had the privilege of working with men and women at many different levels of an organization. These good folks have taught me what moxie means. These folks have guts, determination, and courage to pursue goals for themselves and their teams. Moxie is an attribute that successful leaders utilize to make a positive difference in the world in which they live.
Mindfulness. Persons with moxie are aware of their situation, and most importantly aware of their ability to effect positive change. Savvy leaders develop self-knowledge through mindful practice. This often begins with patience. Many leaders have an internal motor that powers them to act, act, act. So the concept of pay can sometimes seem a little foreign. Too often we perceive patience as a passive act. In actuality patience is an active process. While we can't control the situation, we do control how we react to it.
Another form of mindfulness is situation awareness. Knowing where you are and what you need to do next. People who play sports excel at this situational awareness. They know where their opponent is, and what they must do to make that play. They also know where their teammates are, so they can work collectively and collaboratively to make plays. That's a good lesson for every leader to keep in mind. Mindfulness is an approach to leadership in which the leader is not only focused just on the moment, but on the people in that moment who will affect the future of the organization. Mindful leaders are engaged and their engagement sets the example for others to follow.
While mindfulness originates inside of us, inside the individual, its practice puts the leader front and center of what's happening in the here and now, as well as what that leader must do to prepare for the future. Mindfulness, to be aware of the world around you. Take stock of your situation every day. Ask yourself what's happening as well as what's not happening. Look for ways to teach others to be mindful of the way they interact with colleagues, and you set the right example, that's the best way to teach. Find ways to exercise patience.
Remember patience is an act of self control. You don't control the situation. You control your reaction to it. Make time to enjoy something simple every day. Your morning coffee, daily exercise, or walk to a favorite spot. Savor the moment. Opportunity, individuals with moxie don't wait for things to come to them. They seek new opportunities. They're seekers of the new and the different. Opportunities as the adage goes come to those who seek them.
And that's critical for a leader. Few if any of us are content to sit back and wait for things to happen. They look for the window of opportunity, and where they can apply themselves to make things happen. They look for things that need doing. We call them opportunists, they're opportunistic in their mindset, and they're driven by that need to succeed, to take advantage of what happens next. Opportunity also requires perseverance. That's tenacity as well as the mindset that's focused on achieving one's goals. Inherent in facing adversity, is the willingness to look beyond immediate problems.
To see new possibilities over the horizon. Successful leaders capitalize on opportunities, but they do something more. They create opportunities for others. We say opportunities come to those who seek them, but it requires hard work to make them real, even when the odds are pretty much stacked against you. But leaders are mindful of opportunities, but their approach is holistic because they want others to join in this quest, to make good things happen, and so they're looking out for their people as they seek new opportunities.
Opportunity. I like to define it as the ability to see potential, where others see only problems. So look for challenges facing your team, ask yourself what it will take to address them. Examine the obstacles, are they real or imaginary? That is, can you overcome them if you have the right resources? Ask yourself what initiatives are worth pursuing, and why? If you stretch too far you can over extend your resources as well as the people on your team. Consider the talent on your team. Do you have the right people in the right places to do their jobs well?
If not you might need to provide further training, or development. Be realistic, every obstacle does not need to be overcome. Sometimes it's okay just to walk away. Save your resources for future challenges. X factor. Each of us has a unique set of talents and skills. We also possess attributes that make us who we are, our character, our convictions, our personal beliefs. Call them your X factors. X factors form the right stuff of leadership. Your X factor is integral to leadership because it provides the backbone you need to stand up, and be counted, as well as the willingness to do so with grace and dignity so you can bring people together for common cause.
Don't forget, leaders are always on. The higher your profile, the bigger the stage, and the words and your actions are magnified by the roles that you hold. X factors are those attributes that work individually, and collectively to help you the leader do your job. These include ambition, creativity, humor, compassion, as well as three more words that began with c, character, courage and confidence. X factors strengthen the leader's commitment to doing what's best for the team and the organization. Some of your X factor attributes give you the foundation to do what you do better than anything else.
It also creates a foundation of trust, and trust is the bedrock upon which you build followership, that is bringing people together to follow you. Your X factor attributes are what people will come to know you for, and rely upon you for. For example if you're the kind of person that can get people focused and on task, that can make your reputation. Or maybe you're a creative type. One who's always thinking of new ideas to make things better. Some of a leader's accomplishments is how he or she has positively affected the organization. That's your legacy and it rests on your foundation of your character, your ambition, your resilience, or what we call your X factors.
X factor. I like to define it as the right stuff of leadership. Character is fundamental to leadership. So ask yourself, are you setting an example that's rooted in integrity? How are you channeling your ambition for yourself, or for your team? Creativity is essential to thinking differently. Are you providing yourself the right stimuli to keep your creativity flowing? How are you demonstrating resilience? Resourceful leaders don't give up right away, they persevere and while they don't succeed all the time, the way they battle adversity radiates their character.
What about integrity? Are you insisting on that? Strong organizations practice their values in such a way they can make it almost hard for employees to make wrong ethical choices. That doesn't mean everybody's perfect, or the organization is perfect. It means that when you put your values first, people are motivated to do what's right, rather than what's expedient.
Innovation. Individuals with moxie aren't content with the status quo. They're always seeking to acquire new skills, and apply them in new and different ways. Good leaders are those who by their nature or by training learn to look over the horizon. Like scouts, they're attentive to any form of change. For example, a shift in consumer preferences. The rise of a new competitor, or the altered landscape of an economy. These type of innovators are forever comparing what's happening now to what happened before, and what could happen next.
Innovators are tuned to the future. Their forward outlook is not merely one of observation, it's also one of application. That means the assess what's happening, and they're thinking, "What's next?" That stimulates more and more innovation. Inherent innovation is the recognition that failure is an option, that's right, is an option. While line managers often don't have access to the spigot that controls the flow of capital, they can encourage people to think for themselves, to undertake new projects with the understanding that mistakes, yep they will occur.
And if they do, we can learn from those mistakes, and we can do it better the next time. These are learning lessons. So whether finding new applications for new technologies, or using old ideas that offer new solutions, innovation is essential to the health of the enterprise. It falls to the leader to continue to push the organization, to embrace creative ideas as a means of thinking, and doing differently. Innovation. I like to think of it as the application of creative ideas. The application of them. Teams that innovate must do so in an environment where ideas are wanted here.
Toward that end consider the obstacles that are holding back your team from innovating. Now those obstacles could be lack of resources, lack of time, even management. So what are you going to do about those obstacles? Are you enabling people to apply lessons learned from past mistakes, or past successes so that you can solve problems that are vexing your team right now? What are you doing about building a culture of innovation? That is are you making it safe for people to fail? As long as they fail the right way, and thereby help the organization succeed.
Engagement. Persons with moxie seek to engage with the wider community around them. They're focused on making that positive difference for themselves, their teams and the whole organization. As we say leaders don't work in isolation, they work with others to bring their ideas, their dreams, their aspirations to fruition. To do this, they work with other people, they engage with them. Engagement can sometimes be as simple as a one on one conversation that leads to a working relationship, or it can be that engagement with a team, or a group, or a whole organization.
Engagement is an essential part of extending the leadership self, so you can bring people together. It's also that ability to keep those who follow your lead focused on what's really important. Fundamental to engagement is that sense of purpose. Leaders have to teach that sense of purpose to others, so they understand what it means for them, as well as for the team. Leaders instill purpose by linking what a company does, its mission, to what it wants to become, its vision. They do this through their communications, and their actions.
They leverage purpose, as the why of work. That is, why do we do what we do? A leader is more than a sum of what he or she has accomplished. A leader is judged by how well he or she has enabled others to achieve their aims in ways that benefit the entire organization. That's the essence of engagement, bringing people together for common purpose.
Engagement. I like to think of it as the ability to view others as contributors, and collaborators. No leader can accomplish much of anything by him or herself. You need the talents and skills of others. So consider how you treat your people, and your teammates. Are they people you want to work with, or people with whom you have to work? How do you change that dynamic if it's not working? How do you let your people know that you regard them as contributors? Do you recognize their work, or do you ignore it until something goes wrong?
Consider what collaboration means. To be successful, collaborators often combine their ideas to create something that's greater than the sum of its parts. Collaboration also involves sacrifice. Giving up something personally, to help the whole team succeed. So what kind of a collaborator are you?