A recent phone conversation with a mentee led me to discover the incredible impact of leaders creating moments for others. Our relationship began four years ago when he served as a new freshman in the West Point cadet company I oversaw. Now a senior, in our conversation a few weeks ago, he shared a story from his freshman year where he was struggling to collect all the items he needed for a unit inspection that was occurring, which he was already late for. He recalled being flustered and after frantically searching his entire room for the necessary items and not finding them, he hopefully looked for any support in the barracks hallway. I happen to be in the hallway at that moment, heading to observe the inspection myself, when I encountered the cadet. He was embarrassed but looked to me for what to do.More
3×5 Leadership Note: Leadership by Wandering Around was the first article we wrote and published when we created 3×5 Leadership. To date, it remains the most popular article. That tells us the idea resonates with many. So, to celebrate 3×5 Leadership turning 5-years-old this month, we want to revisit this essential idea and expand on the idea with what we have learned over these years. Enjoy!
The idea of presence remains a critical component to effective leadership. It is an essential ingredient to building trust, deepening connections, and creating shared understanding with those we work with and lead. And while physically being present is the foundation of this idea, it requires so much more like our attitudes, words, and behaviors during those times. Regardless of industry and organizational context, leader presence is necessary; it is something we can enact across physical and digital domains.More
In a recent WorkLife podcast episode I listened to, the host, Adam Grant, made a statement that resonated deeply. He said, “Let’s ban psychological solutions to organizational problems.” That sentence felt like a 100-pound brick being dropped in my lap! He went on to list common examples that may be all too familiar to many of us – organizations applying employee-based fixes like mindfulness activities, emotional intelligence training, or strategies to avoid personal burnout, when really the organization has deeper rooted issues like the need to remove an abusive boss or diagnose ineffective and inefficient systems. And while I have written on emotional intelligence and avoiding personal burnout on this platform, I think Grant’s idea is valid and warrants exploring.More
Empathy plays a critical role in leadership. It impacts how we interact with and relate to those we lead.
Personally, empathy was a leadership quality near the top of my “needs development” list just a few years ago. Following feedback that I needed to grow this capacity, I invested time and effort to learn more about the science of empathy, ways to integrate it into my leadership style, and practice it to build the muscle. Now, I’m confident that empathy has become a strength of mine, no longer a developmental need.
But experiences this past year have taught me a new dynamic to empathy and leadership that I was blind to before – the need to have empathy up our chain of command or organizational chart. More
“No one sets out to intentionally be the ‘worst boss,’ but no one becomes the ‘best boss’ unless they are intentional.”
–J. Morgan, friend of 3×5 Leadership
Being an intentional leader and consistently deliberate in our approaches have become key to the few critical bedrock principles of effective leadership through more than a decade of pursuing my passion for leadership and developing other leaders. Intentional leaders who are deliberate in their approaches take ownership for their responsibilities and their team, are thoughtful in how they act and why, are careful in their decisions, remain considerate of the impacts they have, and ultimately are incredibly caring for those placed in their charge. As our friend, J. Morgan, asserts above, we cannot be the ‘best boss’ or the outstanding leader that people deserve without a consistent commitment to being intentional.More
I recently had a conversation with an organizational leader who expressed that “empathetic leadership” is one of the biggest threats to the performance of his team. He believed that team members simply sought for their leaders to be more empathetic to their challenges and circumstance (really sympathy), and that leaders felt called to be more nurturing of their people, leading to an inability to maintain high standards of performance. As I listened to this leader speak more on his unapproving perceptions on empathy and leadership, I realized the source of the issue – I think he has an inaccurate and limited view on the role of empathy in leadership.
This issue is not unique to this leader or case. We have an enduring problem in our understanding of empathy and leadership that tends to fall into one of three issues.More
Inspired & Inspiring – 8 Ways Leaders Fulfill Their Responsibility to Inspire the Next Generation of Leaders
When I think back to when I completed my Army company command in 2016 (for non-Army readers: this is completing my 18-month command of an Army company of about 120-Soldiers), there is one conversation that still resonates with me and continues to remind me of my “why” for military service. In the closing days of my command, one of my platoon sergeants (a senior enlisted leader in the company with 12-years of experience), known as a passionate leader and tactical expert across the entire battalion, made a casual comment to me. He said, “I just want to thank you for what you’ve done. You’ve reignited my fire and have made my job and being the Army fun again. I’ve been missing that for a few years now.”
I still get emotional when recalling that moment, even years later.
But through this and numerous other experiences, I continue to maintain that sometimes, the most important thing I can bring to the team is not some particular skill or ability, but energy and inspiration. Leaders must inspire, both our people today in what our team is doing as well as tomorrow’s future generation of leaders. We do that by being inspired and inspiring others. More
The Emotional Side of Leadership: Why You Need to Care About Emotional Intelligence & What to do About It
Recently, I listened to a seasoned Command Sergeant Major, who was new to his senior enlisted leader billet, lecture a room of Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs; predominantly Sergeant First Classes with 11-17 years in the Army) on his leadership philosophy. His #1 point: emotional intelligence is paramount. While I could not agree more, I could tell the impact of his words were a bit lost on the audience because many NCOs in the room did not know what he meant by “emotional intelligence.” I think numerous formal and informal leaders can relate; this is a complex and often confusing concept. It’s important we clarify emotional intelligence for leaders. It drastically amplifies our leadership impact on our people.
What is “Emotional Intelligence” and Why Do I Need to Care About It?
Emotional intelligence (also referred to EQ – emotional quotient) has two sides to consider. First, it is our capacity to be aware of, control, and express our own emotions appropriately. Second, it our ability to handle relationships with others well; this involves those “squishy” topics like empathy.
Simply, EQ is what enables us to best leverage or control our emotions in our thinking, decision-making, and how we interact with others as leaders. We can probably look at our past experiences as leaders and recall a particular moment when we should have better regulated our emotions and, conversely, times when injecting a bit of our emotion into a situation positively contributed to the outcome or impact.More