What an amazing honor to be recognized as Ebony Man of the Month.
Every great idea, and those who will implement them, will be faced with cynics, skeptics, doubters and critics. We have all heard those famous words, “That will never work” or “I don’t know why they are trying that?” This comes with the territory of change management, promoting a different way of thinking, challenging the norm and just being excellent in your field or craft.
So shoulders back, head up and charge forward into greatness! Haters have been around since the beginning of time. I know, it feels like they have recruited, organized and gained momentum over the years. However, as true leaders, we must see these things for what they are and never let their negative energies pull us into fear, self-doubt and/or negativity.
Here’s five quick things to consider when dealing with dream-crushers:
- Keep your dreams close to the vest until it’s time to spring it on them! Be careful how much you share about your intentions. This will add another layer of protection to those who will steal your idea, share your idea or begin the secret discrediting of your future plans.
- Let them fuel your focus! Discipline and focus will ensure that you don’t get off-course. You must believe in yourself and your work more than your haters disbelieve. If not, they win, and you lose 100% of the time! If you get weary, refuel by visualizing that your goal has already been achieved. The euphoric sense of winning will keep you going in the tough times!
- Distance yourself from negativity and find a tribe that will encourage you! Always remember that every negative and discouraging comment does not require a come back. Safeguard your sanity! Brush your shoulders off and align yourself with those who share positive thoughts and vibes. A tribe that will encourage you in good times and in bad times are worth their weight in gold.
- Let them be a ridiculous source of motivation for you! Always show your grit, not your sweat or discomfort! You are keenly aware of what you can do and what needs to be done. So go for it! Make it happen! Stay hydrated and motivated until you reach your final destination!
- Outsmart the naysayers and prove them wrong over and over again! They may talk louder than you or more than you, but that means nothing! A winner’s move is practiced, tested and calculated. When they go low, use what you know. There is a reason why you are on the cutting edge of something amazing. And here’s a little secret, your naysayers know it as well. That’s why they hate your idea, your passion, your purpose, your vision, your future opportunities and your potential!
Stay the course! Your haters are here to stay. Use them as a source of inspiration to take yourself, your teams and your organizations to the next level. You got this! I’ll be watching!
Kevin D. Jackson
The Positivity Guru – http://thepositivityguru.com/
Too often in our lives we jump right to the glossy brochure pictures of the finished deck, the degree hanging on the wall or the millionaire business owner who seems to have it all. In this, we miss the very fundamental actions that have transpired to ensure this success.
What about grit, the determination, the resilience and the building of a strong foundation? Here’s my two cents. The preparation is not fun, it’s not easy, it hardly ever goes exactly as planned and quite frankly the journey is not exciting at all. A deck builder who transforms a blank slate into a beautiful outdoor living space must first plan, permit, dig and pour the foundation to support the structure for many years. Sustainable leadership is no different. Let me prove it to you!
Plan – Show me an effective leader who doesn’t operate based on plans. This could be a sales or expense budget, a business plan, succession plan, key performance indicators, etc. A true leader not only develops plans, but also plans to develop other leaders.
Permit – Above all else, give yourself permission to succeed! Regardless of how you define success, controlling your own “automatic negative thoughts” will prove to be vital to your “go-live strategy”. For it is often within our own minds that we limit our own potential.
Dig – If you don’t think you’ll have to dig, you are sadly mistaken. Let me get this very important point out of the way! Digging feels like you are heading in the wrong direction. When you are supposed to be going up, you find yourself having to go down. Also, if you want to go higher, you must often in this stage go much deeper. The majority of people are okay with planning and even getting the permit, but when it comes time to dig, potential leaders fall out – never to be seen again. If you are in the digging stage, please remember that you are digging for a reason. Stick with it, this phase is difficult but essential.
Pour – After the digging is over, you must fill up the holes with perseverance, drive, passion and purpose. If not, life happens, and the holes that you spent countless hours, months and years digging, will soon be filled again with the same dirt you put to the side. As we all know, time does not stand still. It rains, it pours and if we are not systematic with the steps we take, we will find ourselves needing to repeat previous steps.
Have a plan and work the plan. The foundation of your success as a leader is just as important as the deck builder’s foundation to their cover-photo masterpiece. One glossy life-style picture of success appears nice, but what happens years later when the strong winds come. Be patient, slow down, do it right, get better each day, perfect your craft and respect the journey.
Friends, we’ve all been there! Remember the piece of furniture or kid’s toy that had these dreaded words printed on the side of the box – Some Assembly Required? How could we forget!!
As we opened the box, we crossed our fingers and our toes and hoped that the majority of the work was already done for us. However, that was never the case! There were always 45 packets of screws and nails, 3 packs of wooden dowels, a bottle of Elmer’s glue, one allen wrench and a set of instructions that were clearly written by someone who never put anything like this together in their lifetime.
At this point, every one of us clearly recognized that our success was based on the tools and the instructions given to us. The same applies when it comes to leadership. It’s all about the tools!
Here’s 10 things that I think contribute to great leadership. Ready? Let’s do this!
#1 – Empathy – You alone are not the expert on what’s best for your customers, your employees and your teams. Investing in other people’s perspectives and experiences, and taking appropriate action as a result of this understanding, will only help you to become a better leader. Empathy doesn’t require you to actually walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, but it does require you to recognize that their shoes are different than yours. So try them on. Walk around a little bit.
#2 – Authenticity – Just keep it real! Everyone knows if you are being authentic or not. Yes, leadership does require gravitas, professionalism, executive presence or what some people call the “it factor”. However, most leaders were not born with this trait, but they are so authentic that they clearly make decisions based on what they would want for themselves and their own families.
#3 – Care – True leaders care. They care about their people, their communities, their industries, their partners and yes, they do care about their profits. The leaders that show they care are admired by many. Not because of their stature or job title, but because they change the world with their approaches.
#4 – Knowledge – Knowledge is power and is necessary to be effective. But, never stop learning! If you do, you have already fallen behind.
#5 – Optimism – Every day we have a choice and so do our customers, employees, investors and friends. Let’s start our days with positivity. I promise, if you do this on a consistent basis your perspective will change and so will your reality!
#6 – Openness – If you lead with a closed mind and closed palms you might as well close your office door and prepare to close your business. True leaders are open to ideas, suggestions, new approaches, innovation and diversity. Being a leader does not always mean that your answers are the best. Keep an open mind to ensure your business has a chance to remain open for the long term.
#7 – Passion – Let people see it, feel it, experience it and live it with you. There is something about passion that drives people to action!
#8 – Influence – I didn’t say authority, I said influence. There is a big difference my friends and if you don’t know the difference, google it! Work on numbers 1-7 and I can guarantee you that you will become or remain an influential leader.
#9 – Commitment – Commit to carrying out your personal, professional and company core values. If they don’t align, you’re in the wrong place. Your commitment will always shine through to your final product (whatever that may be). Don’t tell me that you are committed, show me!
#10 – Accountability – All leaders, regardless of level, are accountable to someone. Stay on top of your game by recognizing that your output is someone else’s input. Be on-purpose, on-point and on-time!!
There is always “Some Assembly Required” when it comes to leadership. These ten tools represent the screwdriver, hammer, allen-wrench and glue to get the job done. When it’s time to lead, never forget your toolbox! #letsgo
According to Forbes, approximately 543,000 new businesses get started each month, but more employer businesses shut down than start up each month.
This statistic may either surprise you or confirm what you already know. Yes, TWCT is something that I just made up, but its overall concept is not uncommon to top performers. Are you a top performer? If so, then you probably live these principles daily.
However, to the mediocre performer, these concepts are great on paper, far from reach and down right impractical to the real world. News flash! Whatever you think is what you will believe and what you intentionally subscribe to is what you will become.
Here are 4 basic tips that will consistently take you to the winning circle:
1. Sacrifice what’s comfortable, be disciplined and execute properly.
2. Train and stay relevant to ensure you get a ticket to the big dance.
3. Be aware of your surroundings, your competition and the ever-changing marketplace.
4. When you win, enjoy a limited celebration and get right back to training again with the same intensity that you had when you first started.
This, my friends, is what I call TWCT (Train, Win, Celebrate, Train). My theory is that the downfall of businesses, athletes, employees and teams reside within both “T’s” of this equation.
Whether you win, lose or draw, you must always train! For within the training there is growth to help sustain you through turbulent times. Be intentional about winning! There’s nothing easy and quick about it! #letsgo
In my late twenties, I was the Audit Director for a billion dollar company traveling the world and using the phrase “Tone at the Top” every chance that I could. I even trained my auditors that the organization, its culture and their potential audit findings would most likely be a result of how those at the top of the organization dealt with risk, process and communicating vision.
While this all still remains true, I’ve altered my thinking to also include every single person and touch-point throughout the organization. While vision, goal-setting and direction are key factors to success, I truly believe that each individual, and their authentic self, has a dramatic impact on the company they work for, the teams they work with and ultimately how their customers will perceive them in the marketplace.
If this is true, why don’t many leaders (regardless of position or title) focus on personal development? Here’s my two cents! Many leaders have blindspots and think they don’t need to improve. This is an extremely dangerous place for a leader and here is why! Any individual who is not progressing is regressing. Which by definition means that many of our teams are building silos, pointing blame for process failures and investing more in proving why a concept will not work versus pulling together to bring new things to life. Our companies are made up of these teams, which also by my definition means that a company who is not progressing is losing. Losing badly. Losing hundreds of customers each month without noticing! All because of the “I am”.
On the contrary, when I am investing in myself, I learn, I challenge, I apply and I get better. When I get better, my team gets better. Why? Because we learn, we challenge, we apply and we get better. When we get better, our customer’s experience with us gets better. When our customer’s experience gets better, we win!
Without a high-dollar, high-powered marketing campaign, customers recognize that there is something different about us. To me, this directly ties back to the investments we make in ourselves and our people. One could even argue that there is no better way to invest long term.
So the question of today is, what follows your “I am” and what are you doing about it on a daily basis as a result of this awareness? Are you trying to win in the marketplace without a key spoke in your wheel? Experience has taught me that the “Tone at the Top” is vital, but the “I am” permeating throughout your entire organization is the true game-changer. Check your personal and organizational blindspots! There is definitely intentional impact in your “I am”!
Kevin D. Jackson
Have you ever wondered why some leaders go down in history as one of the greats? Better yet, wouldn’t it be amazing to be added to the list? As life-learners, we all yearn to be better than we were yesterday. We recognize that the world around us is rapidly transforming, so it’s a no-brainer that vigilance, flexibility and relevance is paramount.
While thinking about this subject, my mind wondered to the topic of sailing. Don’t ask me why! I’m not very fond of boats, nor do I swim! However, there is something intriguing to me about how these fine vessels work. If you are a sailor, please forgive me now! Everything that I have learned in the last few days about sailing was from Wikipedia and YouTube – Ha! So here it goes!
Check out these 10 things as it relates to leadership:
1. You must first be trained on the parts of the boat and their purpose.
2. You must be given standard training on how to operate the boat.
3. You must understand the responsibility of each person on the boat.
4. You must prepare the boat, with a detailed checklist of items,before it is sailed.
5. You must determine the wind direction.
6. You must hoist your sails and point the boat into the wind.
7. You must realize that along the way you will be faced with changing winds.
8. You must make key decisions and adjust accordingly.
9. You must accept that you are responsible for everyone on the boat.
10. You must ensure that everyone is doing their job effectively. If not, the boat will not sail properly and you will find yourself off-course.
Well, I could probably stop here and let you draw your own conclusion about the connection I have made to sailing and leadership. But, I won’t do that to you. I’ll leave you with this!
Leadership takes initial and ongoing training to be truly successful. Although, there are textbook-standards to leading a team, transforming a company and keeping the boat afloat (pun intended), it is the leader’s charge to get everyone rowing in the same direction. Checklists and processes are key to ensure the organization is prepared, safe and set up for success. A leader must be forward-thinking and always checking the wind (sometimes affectionately known as understanding the customers’ needs and staying abreast of market dynamics).
Once a direction is charted, it is the leader’s responsibility to take a head count, ensure everyone is on the boat and make the call to leave the dock. As the team sets sail, the leader must prepare the team for changing wind patterns (as this will occur). Changing winds may come in the form of new legislation, competitive pressures, customer preference changes and economic swings. Great leaders anticipate and adjust! Why? Because pivotal moments can either happen to you or through you!
When the time is right, leaders adjust the mast rate to regulate the direction and speed. They stay connected throughout the journey with their key personnel. Why? Because leaders understand that each person on the boat has a responsibility. If they don’t do their job effectively, the boat will never sail properly.
Leaders take calculated risks and intently set the sails to seize pivotal moments. Will you be this type of leader? #letsgo