To inspire: to breathe life into something. We know that being inspiring is an important aspect of leading others for results. (And we know when our teams or organizations are in danger because of lack of inspiration.) But we don’t always know how to do this. There is a simple way to bring life to your team. Even you could do this! This is the practice of acknowledgement – something that can be done by anyone, with any personality (even yours!).
My son, Michael Meacham, is a mechanical engineer and team leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, where they built Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory robotic rover, which landed on Mars in August 2012. This project, which took more than ten years of design and fabrication, had an enormous number of interlocking designs that needed to be developed and delivered on a schedule that would get the Rover to a predetermined launch date, set years in advance.
Shared learning works best among people who are skilled in dialogue, which includes both the art of listening deeply to other people and the art of clearly explaining one’s own thinking. To participate well in dialogue, we need to be open to sharing our ideas, our assumptions, and even our uncertainties. A colleague once told me he was hesitant to share his ideas in the group because they were “half-baked”. I encouraged him to share his ideas with the group; in dialogue we would bake them together!
In my previous blog, I talked about stakeholders – knowing who they are and what they want. This week, we’ll discuss the four conversations to have to enroll a stakeholder:
In previous blogs, we talked about knowing your purpose, envisioning the future, and clarifying your challenges. To lead effectively, you need to engage others around the results that will move you closer to this vision. Only in this way can you get the buy-in you need to achieve results.
Only by aligning stakeholders will you get the resources – the interest, time, money, material goods and approvals – you will need to accomplish your results.
In prior blogs, we've discussed discovering your purpose and envisioning your future. This blog is about putting your purpose and vision into action by clarifying the results you want to achieve. Leading is engaging ourselves and others to face challenges and achieve results. The word “challenge” is often misunderstood. When people talk about their problems, they mistakenly call them “challenges” in an attempt to sound optimistic.
In the second chapter of my book, Leading for Results: Five Practices to Use in Your Personal and Professional Life, I consider a commonly asked question: What is the difference between vision and mission? Simply put:
- Your mission is your purpose; it is what you are here to do.
- Your vision is an image of the future when you are accomplishing your purpose.
As I mentioned in my first blog, “Why Do I Teach Leadership?”, the idea that I should teach leadership came to me during a period of deep reflection about my life’s purpose. I have since discovered that one of the greatest rewards of teaching and consulting around leadership is the opportunity to work with others who are themselves in the midst of discovering their purpose in life. “Knowing your Purpose” is the first practice in my book, Leading for Results.
6 Questions to reflect on at the beginning of a new year… For those of us who have had eventful years, the new year is a good time to pause and make sense of what we have been through, and how we can apply the lessons to the future. “Learning and adapting” is one of the five practices in my book Leading for Results.