Celebrating Two Years of Leader Development!

2 Year Anniversary Post_3x5 Leadership

Today, 3×5 Leadership turns two years old. Though I never really expected anyone beyond my wife and my mom to read my thoughts on this blog, I started it to share my lessons learned from my experiences and education; my experiences may be singular, but the lessons from them certainly are not. In time, I’ve learned that my blogging has become a critical means of personal reflection, which has ultimately made me a better leader. I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to contribute to our community of practice over the last two years and I look forward to doing so still in the years to come.

So, first, thank you all for your continued support. One year ago today, 3×5 Leadership had 100 subscribers. Over this past year, our subscriber community has grown to almost 1,300 and we surpassed the 100,000 views threshold. I’m certainly not motivated by, nor do I do this for the numbers, but it is humbling to know that this platform has had some sort of impact on a few other people. So, again, thank you for your support. Continue reading → Celebrating Two Years of Leader Development!

Are You Solving the Problems or Making them Worse?

Solving Soldiers Problems_3x5 Leadership

Guest post by Franklin Annis, creator of The Evolving Warfighter video blog

Former US Joint Chief of Staff and Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is credited for his famous quote about leaders handling their Soldiers’ problems:

“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

Continue reading → Are You Solving the Problems or Making them Worse?

Never Underestimate the Power of Appreciation

3x5 Leadership_Never Underestimate the Power of Appreciation

Opening note: I interchange the use of appreciation and gratitude in this post; they are synonymous.

I firmly believe that “true” leadership is based on influence, not power or authority. My favorite definition of leadership comes from John C. Maxwell, “leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Leading through influence requires leaders to earn the trust of their people; through care, compassion, and empathy; and often being someone that others like to work with (termed social cohesion). One aspect of influence-based leadership that is often ignored is the act of showing appreciation and gratitude. Never underestimate the power of appreciation!

In his book, Love Does, Bob Goff states that, “people need love and appreciation more than they need advice.” I like to pair this thought with two other quotes to best capture the impact of appreciation in our leadership: Charles Schwab is credited for saying, “the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” Finally, author Gertrude Stein stated that, “silent gratitude isn’t [worth] very much to anyone.” Continue reading → Never Underestimate the Power of Appreciation

2018 Christmas Gift Guide

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and may the odds ever be in your favor for those planning to do battle for Black Friday. I wanted to share the top items on my Christmas gift list and my favorite items from 2018. I share these for anyone that is searching for creative gifts for the tactical military leader and/or learning leader in their life, who may prove to be hard to shop for.

My 2017 Christmas Gift List is still very relevant and I encourage you to check it out if you need more ideas. Last year’s gift list was mainly sourced from my experience as a company grade officer in a brigade combat team. This year, the gifts are more based on my experience as institutional schooling faculty (i.e.not currently in the operational Army).

Continue reading → 2018 Christmas Gift Guide

I Used a Commander Social Media Profile for 90 Days; Here’s What Happened

Leader Social Media_3x5Leadership

There’s no argument that social media is now a primary domain for networking and learning connections, receiving news and updates, and staying on top of what’s going on in peoples’ lives that we value. As such, I believe leaders need to seriously consider this domain as one that contributes to their overall leader presence, despite personal opinions about social media. Good commanders go where their Soldiers are; good leaders go where their people are. This idea applies to social media. Our young Soldiers, who are Millennials and now even younger, are on their phones 150 times a day. Why would we not access that rich opportunity to communicate with our people in a domain that they value and already spend so much time in?

So, I gave a commander social media profile a try over the last 90 days. Here is what happened and what I learned. Continue reading → I Used a Commander Social Media Profile for 90 Days; Here’s What Happened

Reflection Series, Part V: Organizational Reflection

3x5 Leadership_Leader Reflection Series

Thus far, this series has analyzed reflection at the individual level and how it helps us learn as leaders to improve our leadership. We conclude the series, however, looking at reflection at the organizational level and how a team can collectively reflect. Reflecting at the organizational level becomes a driving force that leads to collective institutional learning. Just like our own individual learning through reflection makes us better leaders, reflecting as a group or team can make us more effective as an organization.

Below are a few recommended organizational reflective exercises to help your team collectively “connect the dots” and figure out what to with those new connections. Continue reading → Reflection Series, Part V: Organizational Reflection

Reflection Series, Part IV: An Approach

3x5 Leadership_Leader Reflection Series

“Preparation and reflection must be the bookends of every experience we encounter as well as ones we offer our subordinates.” – Unknown

This is one of my personal favorite leadership quotes because it stresses the value of two often overlooked aspects of experiential learning. Preparing and reflecting are critical for maximizing learning from our experiences. Reflection, especially, is so often ignored in the actual execution of leader development, which I touch on in part II of this series.

This series aims to provide my perspective and lessons on what I’ve come to learn about reflection, specifically how to engage in it. Last week, in part III of the series, I shared several popular methods for reflection. Now, I provide a personal approach to incorporate a holistic reflective system into your learning and development. This is how I reflect on a routine basis.

Remember, reflection is highly individual and you may prefer to reflect in ways that I don’t and vice versa. My goal in sharing my personal reflective approach is to show you how certain reflective activity “puzzle pieces” can be pieced together to have a big impact. If you are new to this reflection series, I encourage you to start at the beginning, in part I, which introduces this abstract reflection concept. Continue reading → Reflection Series, Part IV: An Approach

Reflection Series, Part III: How Leaders Can Reflect

3x5 Leadership_Leader Reflection Series

Thus far in this reflection series, we’ve addressed what reflection is and why it is important for leaders. If you are new to this series, I encourage you to check out part I and part II of this series first.

Next, we begin to address how to actually engage in reflection. I’ve found these activities to be most effective in the continuous process of “collecting dots and connecting those dots.” The remaining parts to this series aim to materialize this abstract theory and turn it into tangible application.

Reflection Process Framework

Before addressing common reflective activities, I believe it is important to establish a reflection process framework to follow. In order to make reflection as beneficial as possible, the following four things should be met; they can serve as your reflection checklist. Continue reading → Reflection Series, Part III: How Leaders Can Reflect

Reflection Series, Part II: Why Reflecting Is Important

3x5 Leadership_Leader Reflection Series

In part I of this reflection series, I introduced the act of reflecting and how it tends to be viewed as a magical, abstract concept, and less as a deliberate process that leaders can enact. I offered my definition of reflection and addressed the performing and learning dichotomy for leaders. If you haven’t check it out, start the series with part I here.

After defining reflection, it’s important to address why reflection is actually important. In part I, I stated that reflection is critical for effective and sustainable leader development and growth; experience and new knowledge alone is not sufficient for impactful leader growth. Yet, it is often hard to get leaders to commit to routine, deliberate reflection. I believe this is because our professional cultures are over-oriented on performance (we always need to be “doing something”), don’t understand the reflection process, and/or can’t see reflection’s return on investment (we often struggle to show others the product or value of our reflecting habits). This part of the series serves as my argument to others to commit to reflecting. Below I outline why reflection is important as to help readers understand its value and to encourage you to consider engaging reflection activities (which I introduce in part III). Continue reading → Reflection Series, Part II: Why Reflecting Is Important

Reflection Series, Part I: An Introduction to the Abstract

3x5 Leadership_Leader Reflection Series

How many of us can recall at least one instance of sitting in some lecture or professional development session where the speaker commented, “So, as you reflect on…” or “I challenge you to reflect on this matter this week and…”? Moreover, I personally have yet to find a formal leader development model that does not include some major component titled “reflection.” We cannot escape this word in any conversation relating to leadership or leader development.

So, if reflection is so important to leadership and leader development, how in the heck do we do it? When I think about reflection, I think about some abstract artistic process where a highly-creative leader comes up with a profound product or quote. I envision a leader like John Maxwell going into a room alone and emerging hours later covered in sweat and a whiteboard filled with his new “beautiful mind” revelations. I find this discouraging because I’m not known to be a creative person.

However, I’m a leader, therefore I must reflect, right? Short answer: Yes! Reflection is critical for effective and sustainable leader development and growth. Experience and new knowledge (such as from reading or formal education) alone is not sufficient for impactful leader growth. We need to deliberately take time to think about what we’ve experienced and learned, clarify and make meaning of the lesson, and be able to do something different in the future to improve our impact and performance as leaders. With that being said, reflection is much more of an art than a science. No two people reflect in the same way. Continue reading → Reflection Series, Part I: An Introduction to the Abstract