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 the duty assignment that I recently changed out of, there were five echelons of leaders between the most junior members of the organization and me, which is the greatest disconnect I have experienced in my career to this point. Over the year of that job, I unfortunately found how easy it was for me hardly see or interact with those junior members on a routine basis. Days of not interacting with them easily turned to weeks and sometimes months. Through this experience, I learned that as we move higher in the organizational chart or chain of command, the higher the power and relational distance becomes between the most junior members of our organization and us. Leaders can easily become disconnected from our junior members.
This is an issue because we can be seen as losing touch by those echelons down the organizational chart, which leads to lost trust in “senior leadership.” I relate this to John Maxwell’s idea where he states that, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” Increased disconnection and decreased trust lead to severe negative impacts on organizational effectiveness. Leaders must deliberately find and practice routine ways to remain engaged with and connected to the most junior members in our organizations.
As former Secretary Mattis wrote in his book, Call Sign Chaos,
“If you can’t talk freely with the most junior members of your organization, then you’ve lost touch.”
“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
Outside of three weeks of paternity leave with my family, I have not taken any vacation or leave time since before the COVID pandemic began in March. And though paternity leave was an amazing time for my family and I, it certainly wasn’t a restful time. Bottom line is…I’m tired. Yes, I’m passionate about and love what I do, but it’s been a long year with little to no respite. I believe many are in a similar boat as me – we are at or near professional burnout.
It takes a lot to bring engaged leadership, optimism and energy, and deliberate development to our people and organizations. Burnt-out leaders can’t do that effectively. And while it is important to take necessary time for vacation and rest as leaders, we may not always be able to do that on our own timelines. As much as possible, we need to be resilient leaders able to keep showing up every day and bring the purpose, direction, and motivation that our people are entitled to.
So, we need to talk about ways to avoid burning-out and being resilient leaders able to sustain our personal and collective organizational responsibilities. It’s easy to talk about the idea of being resilient leaders, but hard to enact it day in and day out.
To help contribute this is important conversation of leadership, resiliency, and burnout – I offer nine practical things that help me show up every day and to maintain a full “leadership cup”…because we can’t pour into others from an empty cup. I expect that by sprinkling these small habits or actions over our schedule each week and month, we are able to remain being the leaders we desire to be and that our people deserve for the long haul.More
Are You Thoughtful & Deliberate in Everything You Do as a Leader? Because Some Small, Careless Behaviors Can be Sending “Anti-Belonging Cues” to Others.
Last week, I had the great fortune to listen to a lecture by author, Dan Coyle. Both his lecture and his book, The Culture Code (which I highly recommend), emphasize a concept of belonging cues. These refer to small, consistent behaviors that leaders enact to show others that they belong. It communicates that “I value you and your contributions to the team, and that what we are doing is important.” These cues build psychological safety.
Additionally, I listened to a wonderful Intentional Leader podcast episode with guest, Ryan Hawk, over the weekend (Ryan is the host of The Learning Leader Show, one of my favorite podcasts). In the episode, the host, Cal, and Ryan discussed how leaders sustain excellence. Ryan’s answer boiled down to the need for leaders to be thoughtful and intentional in how they lead. I couldn’t agree more.
So, why do I share about these personal and seemingly random, insignificant anecdotes? Well, in pairing the ideas from these sources, I began thinking on particular ways that leaders unintentionally violate those messages every day in small ways that we don’t often think or talk about.More
The key to success in today’s technology-saturated, complex, and adapt-or-die environment is cohesive and disciplined teams. Standard chain of command, pyramid-shaped organizational structures are no longer sufficient. We need people and teams to adapt, act on disciplined initiative, and solve and prevent problems at their own level. And today’s cohesive teams are inclusive teams.
Today’s leaders need to be inclusive ones. So, regardless of rank, position, or industry / field, we need to talk about inclusive leadership.More
By Joshua Trimble
Bringing new members into formal leadership roles on your team is always exciting, but also comes with leader challenges for you. Let’s consider a few situations: It’s time to sit down with your new team leader and counsel them on what you expect of them now that they are in a leadership position. Or think about newly appointed junior officers who may have read several leadership books; what information can you give them in a counseling session that they can easily remember or is relevant? Or, maybe you just hired a new leader to the team and you want to give them a “quick reference guide” on how you expect leaders act on your team.
There is a plethora of literature available about leadership and characteristics of good leaders. But, when you are working on improving your own leadership skills, have you ever thought about how you might mentor young, emerging leaders within your team? People will reference things that are easy to remember and if you can explain something in three quick and easy points, your chances of making a lasting and effective impression increase. The US Army tried this very approach with Be-Know-Do, but you may want to provide your new leaders with more than a bumper sticker.
The culture of your team must resonate with your first level of leaders, and you want to provide them a foundation for success for them, their team, and the organization at large. What three priority leadership characteristics should you offer in that initial counseling that will set them up for success as an emerging leader and give them a path toward becoming their own great leader?More
This is part 10, the conclusion, of the 3×5 Leader Development Handbook. I encourage you to start with the series introduction here if you have not yet.
Imagine so valuing the importance of developing people’s capabilities that you design a culture…[which] sweeps every member of the organization into an ongoing developmental journey in the course of working every day.
—An Everyone Culture, by Fobert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey
I like to imagine our organizational leader development processes like building a garden. We can envision what we want our garden to look like and what we want to get out of it – certain vegetables, plants, and/or flowers. We then build the actual garden in the selected location with high-quality resources. Finally, we plant our desired plants. However, we know that gardening does not stop once the plants are planted; that is only the beginning. Gardens require consistent attention – watering, pruning, re-fertilizing, etc. – all done and re-done season after season. Moreover, different plants have different needs like varied levels of water, sunlight, pruning, and types of fertilizer.
Our leader development approach is very similar. We can create the most robust, highest quality development process with impactful activities, but much like a garden, our developmental approach must receive consistent attention and “pruning.” Leaders must routinely and continuously reinforce a culture of development after we have initiated our processes and activities.More