Top-Shelf Tip No. 136:

"The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been."

Henry Kissinger

Six Powerful Leadership Realities

How you show up as a leader greatly impacts your team. Whether you're leading a team of two or 200, your people are counting on you to navigate the way forward. While you can attend leadership workshops and read all the best books, leadership is more than mastering tools and techniques. Leadership is a mindset.

Speakers, trainers and award-winning authors Karin Hurt and David Dye have defined six leadership realities that every leader would be wise to learn. We explore their thoughts in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Everyone is a volunteer. Hurt and Dye say that control is an illusion. You don't control anyone or anything except for yourself. Everyone you work with chooses what they'll do and how they'll do it. Yes, your team is paid and if they choose not to perform at a certain level, they can lose their job—but that's still their choice. When you remember everyone is a volunteer, you know that the effort you want your people to give is their choice. As a leader, you get to influence that choice. When you recognize that everyone chooses what they do, it transforms their work into a gift, and that changes everything.

2. You're in the hope business. Leadership is the belief that if we work together we can have a better tomorrow. Together we can do more, be more and add more value to the world. That's a big deal. It might be the biggest deal of all, according to Hurt and Dye. While some of the time your team will be stressed and discouraged, your job is to help them find the hope. Without hope, you're done. When your team has hope, you have a chance.

3. Change isn't a choice. There are moments of dazzling teamwork where everyone aligns and you achieve more than you ever thought possible. But next week, one of those team members moves away or technology changes or your competitor does something different that you can't ignore. Now you're working hard again to create the next future. Leadership is a journey where are no final destinations. At some point, you will leave your team—hopefully, in the capable hands of leaders whom you've invested in and developed. In the meantime, whatever you did last week opened the door for the new challenges and changes you will face this week.

4. Aim to be effective instead of right. Hurt and Dye say that many new leaders (and more than a few experienced leaders) get stuck because they cannot see past their own "rightness" and do the things that will help them achieve results and build relationships. If you want to achieve results and increase your influence, look for places where you've clung to being "right." Then let it go—and choose to be effective.

5. Harder isn't smarter. More effort isn't always the answer. Twelve-hour days filled with back-to-back meetings may feel busy, but they're not healthy, strategic or ultimately productive. When you're leading, Hurt and Dye say that time to think and gain perspective will often be far more valuable than pouring in a few more minutes of sweat equity.

6. You're not alone. Too many leaders suffer in lonely silence. You don't have to. In fact, Hurt and Dye assert that leading by yourself will limit your career and influence. Effective leaders connect with people. Connect with your colleagues and invest in one another's success. Connect with your team and they'll make you better. Connect with mentors or coaches to grow. Connect with a community of leaders for support and encouragement.

If you want to refine your leadership approach, keep the ideas above in mind.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Karin Hurt and David Dye help leaders achieve breakthrough results. They are keynote leadership speakers, trainers and the award-winning authors of Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul .

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