Thoughts on Leader Self-Development: Do Better

Thoughts on Leader Self-Development-Do Better_3x5 Leadership

I did not take ownership of my professional development and deliberately commit toward self-development until almost four years into my military career. But even when I did start with habits like developmental reading, choices such as my book selection and approach were not intentional; my efforts were scattered and random. And it was still years after starting until I discovered personal book favorites that had major impacts on my life and leadership. I have spent years since then repeatedly saying, “I wish I read (or knew about) this years ago before I was a platoon leader or company commander.”

I share this to disclose something I have come to eventually realize: that our self-development efforts can be frustrating sometimes. My efforts over the years are littered with feelings of personal regret and disappointment for not knowing or doing the things I learn through self-development earlier. After I gain new knowledge or ideas on how to lead better through my self-development habits, I quickly default to thinking, “I wish I knew this years ago!” and “this would have made me a better platoon leader or commander.”

But I recently found this quote by Maya Angelou – an American poet, singer, and civil rights activist – and it immediately adjusted my perspective and personal worries on my self-development: Continue reading → Thoughts on Leader Self-Development: Do Better

The Feedback Primer Part 5: Making the Abstract Tangible – 3 Example Feedback Loops for Your Consideration

The Feedback Primer Series_3x5 Leadership_Primary Graphic

After spending much of this Feedback Primer saturated in abstract concepts about feedback, I want to offer some tangible ideas to consider moving forward. My hope is that by sharing three examples of organizational feedback loops, we can see how all the concepts introduced in this Primer so far integrate to materialize quality developmental feedback for ourselves as leaders, and for our people. More importantly, I hope sharing these examples inspires and equips leaders to create their own. Adopting these examples is certainly feasible, but I challenge you, as leaders, to think how you can adapt them to best fit your team’s specific needs, contexts, and restrictions.

As you read through the examples, pay attention to the diversity of the feedback loop dynamics (from part 4) and how leaders can practice the nuances of giving and receiving feedback well within them (offered in part 2). Continue reading → The Feedback Primer Part 5: Making the Abstract Tangible – 3 Example Feedback Loops for Your Consideration

Feedback: An Acquired Taste

Feedback is an Acquired Taste_3x5 Leadership

By Bethany Nunnery, USMA Cadet

Our expressions of ‘an acquired taste’ are usually associated with complex food and drinks. However, diving deeper into the definition of an acquired taste, we find that it can incorporate many other things. A simple online definition search reports that an acquired taste is an appreciation for something unlikely to be enjoyed by a person who has not had substantial exposure to it. Feedback, I would argue, is an example of an acquired taste. Feedback is often unappreciated by many, especially when it is constructive, but with increased exposure to high quality feedback we can eventually begin to enjoy the value feedback brings. In this post, we explore why constructive feedback is so difficult, why it’s important, and how we increase our genuine appreciation for it. Continue reading → Feedback: An Acquired Taste

The Emotional Side of Leadership: Why You Need to Care About Emotional Intelligence & What to do About It

Emotional Intelligence_3x5 Leadership

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. Continue reading → The Emotional Side of Leadership: Why You Need to Care About Emotional Intelligence & What to do About It

Keeping Our Leadership Tank Full

Keeping Our Leadership Tank Full_3x5 Leadership

I think many of us spend a lot of personal time thinking on, learning more about, and talking with others about leadership. As a personal example, in a year, I may read several dozen or so books, listen to numerous podcasts, and consume hundreds of different articles aimed at informing how I can lead, influence, and develop other people better.

But, why? What does all this give me? Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is a long list of behaviors and attitudes that I need to start, improve, refine, and stop doing. Realizing this can be very overwhelming and humbling though; identifying all of the things I need to fix to lead and develop others better is hard. But I think there is a less tangible, but more important, benefit to this continued personal commitment to self-development: it keeps my leadership tank full. Continue reading → Keeping Our Leadership Tank Full

An Organization that Reflects Together, Learns Together

Organizational Reflection_3x5 Leadership

To succeed in today’s complex, technology-saturated operating environments, organizations must become agile and adaptive. To remain so, organizations need to commit to being learning ones.

Just as reflection is an essential part of our individual leader development, learning organizations require a formal approach to “organizational reflection” to continue to learn, adapt, and succeed. I consider organizational reflection as a process that calls select groups of members to spend critical time away from their routine work to think on and capture important insights on organizational issues at many different levels in order to interpret experiences and organizational structures, clarify lessons learned, and think on the essential ways such lessons must be applied in the future.

Moreover, just as personal reflection requires us to deliberately allocate time and focused attention to thinking, so too must organizational reflection. Leaders must ensure time and space is dedicated to this collective level of learning to help make sense of our organization’s experiences and decisions, clarify what we’ve learned, and determine how and why we must apply this in the future toward improved effectiveness. Continue reading → An Organization that Reflects Together, Learns Together

Are Our Loyalties Misaligned? We Must Define Our Levels of Loyalty.

Levels of Loyalty_3x5 Leadership_from Cadet Issue

We don’t talk about loyalty very much and what it means within our teams. Thus, many leaders and our teammates are unclear about what loyalty truly means and what it should look like in our organizations. But this value is vital as it is part of the essential bedrock that mutual trust is built upon. Our teams will not get very far in results or development without loyalty to one another and to the organization. There’s an issue if we are unclear about such an important organizational dynamic and value.

The U.S. Army establishes loyalty as one of its seven core Army Values; this is how the Army defines it.

Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other Soldiers. Bearing true faith and allegiance is a matter of believing in and devoting yourself to something or someone. A loyal Soldier is one who supports the leadership and stands up for fellow Soldiers. By wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army you are expressing your loyalty. And by doing your share, you show your loyalty to your unit.

It is interesting how this definition offers several things and people that Army Soldiers must be loyal to: The Constitution, the Army as a profession and organization, the subordinate unit(s) we are members of, and our fellow Soldiers. What happens if our loyalty to one of those conflicts with our loyalty to another? I believe we can find ourselves in situations where our loyalties battle against one another, forcing us to choose loyalty to one thing/group over another or an individual versus our unit.

This is why it is important to define our levels of loyalties – being clear on what and who we are loyal to, and which loyalties take precedence over others. Continue reading → Are Our Loyalties Misaligned? We Must Define Our Levels of Loyalty.

Do You Communicate Appreciation & Admiration to the People You Lead?

Appreciation & Admiration_3x5 Leadership

By Tony Burgess

3×5 Leadership Note: Tony shared these thoughts with a local community of leaders that he has been working with last week. With his permission, we are sharing an adapted version of his reflections here. When Tony Burgess speaks or writes, I pay attention. I think we can all benefit from his reflection.

In their book How The Way We Talk Can Change The Way We Work, Bob Kegan and Lisa Lahey assess appreciation and admiration as crucial parts of communicating “ongoing regard.”

They write:

“We all do better at work if we regularly have the experience that what we do matters, that it is valuable, and that our presence makes a difference to others … hearing that our work is valued by others can confirm for us that we matter as a person. It connects us to other people. This is no small matter in organizations where the pace and intensity of work can lead a person to feel isolated. This sense that we signify may be one of our deepest hungers. One way we experience that what we are doing at work is valuable is by hearing regularly from others how they value what we do.” (p. 92)

Continue reading → Do You Communicate Appreciation & Admiration to the People You Lead?

When Our Leadership Isn’t Good Enough

When Our Leadership Isn't Enough_3x5 Leadership

By: Chad Plenge

I hope every leader out there wants to do their best and wants to help those around them become better. Developing others is so deeply ingrained in the role of a leader that it can easily become part of the leader’s identity. As any experienced leader can tell you, though, subordinates get a “vote” in the process, potentially making any sort of development impossible. Leaders may not always be able to impact everyone and the resources necessary (time, etc) to make the required impact may not be realistic or feasible. The old adage goes, “90% of your time is spent on 10% of your people.” If this is true, it can leave many around you under-developed. However, this article is not about your time allocation or even about the other 90%; it is about those 10%…the ones that presented you with a challenge and the ones that were failing. What happens if part of the problem is you?  Continue reading → When Our Leadership Isn’t Good Enough

Self-Awareness & Your Leadership Effectiveness

Self-Awareness & Your Leadership Effectiveness_3x5 Leadership

Bottom line: improved self-awareness directly leads to improved effectiveness as a leader. Research proves it. And I bet many of your own experiences prove it as well.

This concept of self-awareness is challenging, though. It’s complex, it’s hard to conceptualize, and often harder to operationalize in our own or others’ lives. But, it is essential in our growth and development as leaders.

In my experience and my learning, I’ve found that we can categorize self-awareness into three primary domains: personality, skills & abilities, values & motives. This model helps us better understand and simplify this complex concept, improve our learning and the language we use to discuss it, and ultimately more effectively operationalize it in our behaviors. Continue reading → Self-Awareness & Your Leadership Effectiveness