Medium 9781605093451

Bootstrap Leadership

Views: 3392
Ratings: (0)

Arneson was named one of America’s top leadership consultants by Leadership Excellence magazine in 2008
Enables leaders at all levels to design a complete self-directed leadership development program
Concise, accessible, practical and flexible

Leadership training can be inconsistent in the best of times. In tough economic times it’s often one of the first things that even the most progressive companies cut back on. And you can’t necessarily depend on finding that mentor you’ve been looking for either. Now more than ever, if you’re going to advance your career you need to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps. But not entirely: Steve Arneson is here to give you a boost.
In Bootstrap Leadership Arneson, one of America’s top leadership coaches, offers a complete blueprint for designing your own personal leadership development program. In fifty brief, to-the-point chapters he provides practical ideas and techniques that have been proven successful in his work with executives at Fortune 500 companies like AOL, PepsiCo and Capital One. Surprisingly, most of these ideas cost nothing to implement, nor do they require any elaborate equipment or infrastructure—they’re open to anyone with sufficient initiative, drive and ambition.
The chapters are entirely self-contained and can be read in any order and at any pace. You can read one a week and you’ll have a comprehensive year-long self-improvement program (with two weeks off for vacation). Or you can choose a chapter that speaks to a particular challenge you’re facing at work or one that just seems intriguing. There’s a self-assessment at the beginning of the book to suggest specific chapters that fit your developmental needs.
No one is going to just hand that next promotion. You have to earn it by developing and demonstrating your leadership skills. And ultimately it’s not just about you—true leaders make everyone around them better. Bootstrap Leadership shows you how.

List price: $20.95

Your Price: $15.71

You Save: 25%

Remix
Remove
 

49 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

Contents

ePub

 

1 Where Have You Been?

ePub

Document Your Leadership Journey

“IF YOU DON’T KNOW where you’re going, any road will take you there.” I love this quote, not only because it’s supposed to get you moving if you’re stuck, but also because it screams, “Get organized, and have a plan!” This is great advice whether you’re planning a trip or your own leadership development. Any significant journey worth taking is worth planning. Let’s pretend you’re taking a six-month sabbatical to climb Mount Everest. You wouldn’t dream of tackling this adventure without a lot of planning, right? You also wouldn’t plan this trip without looking back at what you’ve learned from other high-peak ascents, both successful and unsuccessful. You’re going to need every bit of that experience to make this climb, so you better take stock of your lessons learned. The fact is that looking back can help you see the next adventure more clearly.

The same is true when it comes to planning the next step in your journey of leadership self-discovery. One of the first things you should do is reflect on where you’ve been as a leader. Are you doing this on a regular basis? Are you reflecting on your lessons learned? You should be; the leader who doesn’t learn from his or her mistakes is doomed to repeat them. What were the critical moments that shaped you as a manager? How did you react? What did you do well, and what could you have done better? How did others respond to you? When did you start to feel like a true leader? Most important, what did you learn from these moments?

 

2 Build a Spider Web

ePub

Evaluate Your Working Relationships

WORK IS BASICALLY A SERIES of relationships. Everyone you work with represents a distinct connection, and collectively your connections represent your working network. Because networks are fluid, every time you interact with someone you have a chance to build a stronger relationship, and when you meet someone new, you have the opportunity to add to your network. A strong network can help advance your career. So are you doing everything you can to build your network? What’s that? You’re too busy to work on your professional network? I used to say that too. I was focused on getting work done, not meeting or reconnecting with colleagues and peers. I didn’t have time for people that weren’t in my immediate line of sight. But that’s a mistake that can have major consequences. We all need to pay attention to our networks, because we never know when we’re going to need them.

Every day you have dozens of chances to turn acquaintances into colleagues, colleagues into friends, and friends into true business partners that will help you succeed. There’s no question about it—relationships matter, especially for leaders who have to get things done. The more high-quality relationships you have, the more effective you’ll be as a leader. You need these people to be successful, because you can’t wave a magic wand and invent an entirely new network (unless of course you leave your job and start fresh elsewhere—but that’s a subject for a future chapter).

 

3 Spin Around in a Circle

ePub

Make 360° Feedback Work for You

HAVING CAPTURED YOUR LEADERSHIP lessons and analyzed your working relationships, you’re ready to take the next step: gathering feedback from others on how they’re experiencing your leadership. Do you know what others think of your leadership style? What are your strengths and opportunities as a leader? How do others really feel about working for you? Do you know the answers to these questions? You may think you do. But there’s only one way to find out for sure. There’s an old leadership adage that says “If you want to know how well you’re leading, turn around and see if anyone’s following you.” You’ll never get the full picture of your leadership if you’re always looking forward. From time to time, you need to turn around and make sure your people are still behind you. And while you’re at it, try to get a sense of their feelings about your leadership.

This is the idea behind the greatest leadership assessment tool ever invented: 360° feedback. The 360° process involves a formal collection of input from your direct reports, peers, and managers on your leadership style and behaviors. The feedback is generally gathered using a quantitative survey, and most 360° tools involve the solicitation of written comments, which are usually presented anonymously. The data and the written comments are compiled into a comprehensive, personalized report (generally by a professional consulting firm), which is then given to you and debriefed, typically by a human resources or leadership development professional. Whether it’s conducted formally or informally, the 360° process is a great way to confirm what you’re doing right, discover possible blind spots, and get suggestions for improving your leadership skills. It’s hard to think of a more efficient and effective assessment process.

 

4 Your Own Private Detective

ePub

Ask a Peer to Track Your Development

LET’S SAY YOU’VE IDENTIFIED a particularly difficult development challenge for yourself. It might have surfaced from the 360° process, or maybe your boss has really started to insist that you shore up a particular weakness (those darn bosses—they do that sometimes, don’t they?). OK, because you’re incredibly perceptive, you’ve figured out that he’s serious this time; you need to work on this behavior, or else. You’re not sure what the “or else” is, but you’re not willing to find out. You’re ready to turn this around—right now. You’re going to plot your own self-development and make this weakness disappear for good.

So, you’re committed . . . but there’s one little problem. You know this is going to be a tough assignment. Especially under stress, you are worried that you’ll slip back into your old ways of doing things. Basically, you don’t trust yourself; you know this skill is going to be hard to master. Sound familiar? Well, if this behavior change is that important, you need a safety net—a method for ensuring that you stay on track.

 

6 Just Like the CEO

ePub

Create a Personal Board of Directors

THERE’S A ROLE out there for you, a big one. You can do it in addition to your current job, too. It doesn’t pay anything, but you will learn a lot. You get to work with people who care about you, and best of all, the subject matter is going to be something you’re very interested in—you! What could be better than that?

Here’s what you’re going to do. First, think of yourself as the CEO of a company or the executive director of a nonprofit organization. There’s no doubt that such top leaders have a tough job. But they do get a lot of help—and some of that comes from their built-in advisory group, the board of directors. The board is a fascinating concept; a group of experienced executives who come together a few times a year to advise and support the leader as he or she works to move the company forward. Although board members come in different shapes and sizes, they do have one thing in common: They all have a vested interest in seeing the top leader succeed. They contribute by offering honest feedback on strategy, advocating ethics and governance, and approving well-planned risk-taking and innovation.

 

7 Get in the Weight Room

ePub

Identify and Leverage Your Strengths

YOU KNOW THE ADVICE pretty well by now. If you want to get in phenomenal physical shape, you have to cross-train and work on all aspects of your fitness. It’s not enough to log five miles a day if you’re a runner; you also should be lifting weights and stretching to keep your body at peak performance levels. The same is true of your leadership development “work out.” If all you do is work on your developmental challenges, you’ll ignore the biggest asset you have as a leader: your strengths. If you want to take your game to a new level, you have to identify and leverage what you do best. Think of your strengths as your core—you need to keep it strong because it enables everything else you do. Call it cross-training in reverse; while working on your weaknesses, don’t forget to maximize your strengths.

Why is it so important to know and leverage your strengths? That’s an easy question, according to Peter Drucker, the godfather of modern management study. In his 1999 Harvard Business Review article entitled “Managing Oneself,” Drucker writes: “Most people think they know what they are good at; they are usually wrong. More often, people know what they are not good at—and even then more people are wrong than right. And yet, a person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weaknesses, let alone on something one cannot do at all.”2 Drucker states the obvious in such eloquent terms: A person can perform only from strength. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If all you had were weaknesses, you wouldn’t be in a position to break out, move up, and take full advantage of your leadership skills.

 

8 Go Back in Time

ePub

Ask Past Colleagues about Your Leadership

MAKING YOURSELF INTO a more effective leader is hard work. You’re not going to make all the right moves, all the time. Wait, we have established that you’re not perfect, right? There is something you need to be working on, yes? Well guess what, that “something” has probably been there for a long time. Sorry to break it to you, but just as your leadership strengths are enduring, so too are your development opportunities. C’mon—you’ve always known about this weakness, right? Look back at the leadership journey you created in Chapter 1. If you’re like most leaders, there are some persistent areas you still need to work on. Although you can learn new things and improve yourself as a leader, you’re also remarkably consistent in your behavior patterns; change doesn’t happen that easily. What is an opportunity for you today has probably never been the strongest part of your leadership game. It’s OK to confront it. The first step in developing yourself is admitting that you have to break out and take charge of this, now.

 

9 Is There Another Way?

ePub

Confront Your Hardest-Held Positions

WHEN IT COMES to getting input on how you’re showing up as a leader, you have two primary sources. The best source, of course, is other people who have experienced your leadership. This section of the book has included several techniques for collecting and internalizing that feedback, and you would do well to use them all to get a full picture of your strengths and opportunities. It may not be easy, but hey, it’s only your career that’s at stake, right? You need to do this—understanding how others see you is one of the best ways to take charge of your own development.

The second source of input might prove even more challenging because that source is you. Why is this so difficult? Because it’s hard to be brutally honest about your own leadership skills. Just as most of us believe we’re better drivers than we really are, most of us think we’re better leaders than we actually are. However, if you’ve read the chapters in this section, you’re well on your way to carrying out some serious self-reflection. Thus far, you’ve taken a hard look at your relationships and examined where you have an opportunity to improve your network (Chapter 2). Ideally, you were honest with yourself about where (and why) you need to work on certain relationships. You’ve also assessed your strengths to see what you can truly leverage to be a better leader (Chapter 7). Again, taking stock of your strengths involves being candid about what you do really well—reserve this category for those behaviors that truly stand out.

 

10 How Am I Driving?

ePub

Develop a Vision, Mission, and Strategy

IF YOU’VE TRIED THE IDEAS from the first nine chapters of the book, you’ve already started collecting feedback about your leadership behaviors and style. Good. Now you know how you’re showing up as a leader. You’ve convened a Personal Board of Directors, found a mentor, and taken stock of your strengths. Check. You’ve been honest with yourself about your hardened opinions and even have a peer lined up to help monitor a specific development challenge. Excellent. You’re doing everything you can to evaluate your leadership. There’s just one more component to consider.

How are you at setting the vision, mission, and strategy for your group? Without question, setting compelling targets and stretch goals for your team is one of the most important of all leadership tasks. In fact, the higher up you go, the more critical it becomes. The leader must be able to motivate and focus people on these three elements; vision and mission provide purpose and direction, and strategy provides the roadmap for accomplishing your goals.

 

11 Break Out the Dictionary

ePub

Craft Your Own Definition of Leadership

EVERY LEADER needs to be grounded in what leadership actually means. If you don’t know how to define the very thing you’re trying to do, how can you be successful at it? Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of leaders who don’t know how to adequately explain leadership. When asked, “What does leadership mean to you?” many leaders are stumped; they’re unable to offer a concise definition of the practice and art of leading others. Do you want to work for someone who can’t define his or her role or purpose?

Being able to define leadership is a must if you’re going to demonstrate great leadership. You need to be able to articulate what leadership means to you. When a junior team member asks you what leadership means, you need to be able to easily call up your answer—your elevator speech on leadership. Trust me, this is important. Down through the years, I’ve conducted about a thousand interviews with executives in all types of organizations, and I begin every conversation with this question: “What does leadership mean to you?” By my unofficial count, about two-thirds of the leaders I’ve interviewed have handled this question with ease and quickly shared their definitions of leadership. Many of them have been quite good, too. However, the other one-third of executives have struggled with this question, fumbling for words to describe what they spend their entire day doing. This might not be so alarming were it not for the rest of the story. In my work, I also talk to the people who report to these leaders. These conversations generally go one of two ways: either they describe their leaders as “the real deal—I love working for them” or they offer (with much frustration) the following observation, “they’re clueless; they don’t get it.” Again, this is unscientific, but there appears to be a significant correlation between the leaders who can’t articulate what leadership means and the “clueless” set. Ouch! Being able to share your definition of leadership seems to be one of the signs of a successful leader. This makes sense to me; if you’re doing something all day, shouldn’t you be able to describe it?

 

12 Put It in Writing

ePub

Prepare a Leadership Development Plan

THE FAMILIAR PHRASE, “What gets measured gets done” is an old business mantra that means that when you set goals and hold people accountable, work stands a better chance of getting accomplished. It also happens to represent the best way to add new leadership skills. If you’re really committed to development, you should document your goals and objectives in a Leadership Development Plan (LDP). The LDP is just what it sounds like: a formal, written plan of the steps to take to develop yourself as a leader. Typically, this one-page document lists your specific development objectives as well as the behaviors you’re committed to adding, enhancing, or stopping. If you want to hold yourself accountable for development, put your learning objectives in writing and share the LDP with your boss, your peers, and your team. Tell them what you’re working on; give them copies of the LDP and ask them to hold you accountable for the behavior change. Once you put yourself out there, you’re committed—and that’s a good thing when you’re developing yourself as a leader.

 

13 One Year at a Time

ePub

Develop One Leadership Skill a Year

WHEN IT COMES TO LEADERSHIP development, how big are you willing to dream? Can you handle something on a grand scale—what might be the ultimate leadership development plan? Are you up for an extended affair with a particular leadership skill? Let’s face it: When it comes to formal classroom development, it’s hard to keep your skills polished after the course is over. Even if you attend a weeklong university program, there’s a good chance the knowledge gained will fade over time. It can also be a challenge to apply what you’re learning back on the job. So how about a development journey so comprehensive and relevant that it will permanently change your skill level? Would that get your attention? If so, welcome to the one-skill-a-year learning experience. That’s right—a significant focus on one skill for an entire year.

Think about this concept: Develop one skill or behavior per year. It’s not as radical as you might imagine. Let’s say you’re the average leader who begins managing people sometime in your late twenties. Let’s also say you’re likely to have a thirty-year career. Even if you worked on just one skill a year, with this plan you’d master at least a dozen top leadership behaviors before your fortieth birthday, just when you’re hitting your stride as a leader. Would you be interested in having world-class skills in that many facets of leadership? Now you might be thinking: “I can’t wait that long to develop my leadership skills—I need to get better at a whole lot of this stuff right now.” OK, I like your attitude, but you need to be realistic. You can’t even try out all the ideas in this book at once, let alone create formal learning plans for a dozen or more skills at the same time. But if you focus your efforts and set a goal of learning everything you can about one leadership skill, just think of what you could accomplish with twelve months of focus! Here’s how to do it.

 

14 What Is It That Only You Can Do?

ePub

Learn to Delegate

HAVE YOU BEEN PROMOTED recently? Maybe into a new supervisory position or a step up the ladder into senior management? If so, congratulations and good luck; you’re probably busy learning the ropes at the next level. Just don’t forget the secret of moving on up. You know—the secret to maintaining your sanity and actually having a life; the key to being wildly productive and successful; the one management technique that you really have to master as you move higher in the organization.

What, they didn’t tell you this when they promoted you? That’s OK; I’m going to share it with you right now. The secret to being effective at the next level of leadership is delegation. Now, I know what you may be thinking: That’s it? Delegation? You bet it is. When you move to a higher level, you have to lead differently; you can’t do all the work anymore. That may have worked in your last position. But up here, you’ll get buried in a heartbeat if you don’t learn how to leverage your team effectively. You have more resources now—learning to use them is the secret to making your mark in this new role.

 

15 The Whistle and the Clipboard

ePub

Practice Your Coaching Skills

THERE’S ONE LEADERSHIP SKILL that will set you apart from other leaders—and the good news is that you can master it if you’re willing to apply some discipline and patience. While some leadership skills are must-haves that serve as antes into the game, other skills are icing on the cake that put you in a completely different category. Examples of must-have skills include strategic thinking, communications, delegation, and drive for results. If you lack these skills, you won’t ever get to the top of the organization. But even the most senior leaders are sometimes lacking the one skill that can take you to a whole new level: coaching.

It’s often said that “great leaders are known for the questions they ask, not the answers they give.” Asking questions has to do with seeing the future and pushing the organization forward, but it also applies to coaching. Coaching is all about asking questions; it’s about facilitating reflection and the search for answers. It’s not about giving the answers; in fact, too many managers build an empire where every decision has to go through them. This is the antithesis of coaching. Coaching is about helping others solve their own problems and find their own answers. Great leaders know how and when to coach, and you can learn too, no matter your level in the organization. But it takes diligence and practice. You can be taught the basics, but you’ll have to make yourself into a good coach through repetition and attentiveness. No one can do it for you; you must be committed to this approach to leadership if you want to be known for your coaching style.

 

16 Hit the Books

ePub

Read Three Business Titles a Year

“PSSSST! HEY FELLA , over here—on your bookshelf. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Mr. or Ms. Leader. You bought me a year ago and stuck me next to this stupid binder that hasn’t seen the light of day in ten years. Is that my fate? Are you ever going to read me? What’d you buy me for, anyway? You know, I could have gone home with that hard-charging manager down the hall who would have put me to good use. Maybe I would have been loaned out to other people, so my knowledge and ideas would flow around the company. But noooo, you’re too busy to read me. Did you buy me just to fill up this bookcase and make yourself look smart?”

If your books could talk, would any of them say this to you? Are you buying the latest business and leadership books and actually reading them, or are you just doing the buying part? It’s OK to admit that you’re behind in your book reading; at least you’re buying the books with the best intentions. Some leaders don’t invest in business books. They don’t have the time, and they don’t see the value, which is a shame, because there are several benefits to staying current with a regular reading strategy. Because you’re reading this right now, you’ve already demonstrated the willingness to pickup and read a book (by the way, thank you for picking this particular book). Here are three reasons to keep on reading.

 

17 The Best Thinking Tools Ever Invented

ePub

Keep a Journal

HAVE YOU WRITTEN the great American novel yet? Well, maybe that’s too ambitious; let’s bring it down a level. How about an article for a magazine or trade journal? Not enough time, got it. What about a blog on the company Web site? No? Hmm . . . how about a letter to your parents? What? OK, I get it; you don’t write anymore—at least not in the traditional sense. I know you type on a computer keyboard; you probably write 100 emails a day in addition to PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, and so forth. Maybe you crank out proposals, spreadsheets and production charts too—tools of the modern trade. But chances are you’re not doing a whole lot of writing with pen and paper. That’s too bad, because a lot of self development can flow out of your pen. To capture this value, I encourage you to add another skill to your leadership toolkit: the act of journaling.

When’s the last time you sat down and did a little reflecting using the two greatest thinking tools ever invented? That’s right, a little “pen and paper time” focused on your own thoughts can go a long way to recharging your batteries and helping you see things more clearly. Journaling is becoming a lost art. Not even thirty years ago, it was fairly common for children to keep diaries and for managers to keep journals—both filled with hopes, dreams, ideas, reflections, etc. Today, it seems we’re too busy to pause and write down our thoughts and feelings. That’s unfortunate, because writing can be therapeutic; there’s something about it that slows the mind and causes a person to think. Keeping a journal is one of the last best personal reflection tools left in our world; it’s something that only you do and only you see. It’s a way to give your inner voice some time and attention. By committing your thoughts to paper, you give them credibility and validation.

 

18 I Have a Theory

ePub

Study Great Leadership Thinking

WHETHER YOU’VE BEEN A LEADER for two years or twenty, you’ve probably learned a lot of what you know through experience. The lessons of experience are the best kind; you learn by doing, by making a few mistakes and adjusting your behavior accordingly. The more times you encounter a certain leadership situation, the better chance you have of responding to it with patience, skill, and confidence.

Although there’s no substitute for on-the-job learning, there is something that can enhance your leadership capability, something that will add color and meaning to your experiences: a working knowledge of the classic models, frameworks, and theories of leadership. If you want to excel at setting strategy, managing people, and getting things done, you need to know something about the origins of human behavior and the best leadership practices. In fact, there are certain models and theories that every leader should know. Here are four theories to get you started (you can research others on the Internet; see Chapter 24). These four models substantially explain employee behavior, and a thorough understanding of them will make you a better leader. Indeed, if you manage people, you need to be familiar with these classics (and how to apply them) as you work to understand and relate to your employees.

 

Load more


Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000023441
Isbn
9781605098289
File size
2.55 MB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata