Inspired & Inspiring – 8 Ways Leaders Fulfill Their Responsibility to Inspire the Next Generation of Leaders

When I think back to when I relinquished company command in 2016 (for non-Army readers: completing my 18-month formal 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 (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, “Sir, I just want to thank you for what you’ve done. You’ve reignited my fire and have made this job and 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. Continue reading → Inspired & Inspiring – 8 Ways Leaders Fulfill Their Responsibility to Inspire the Next Generation of Leaders

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, your contributions to the team, and that what we are doing is important;” these build psychological safety.

Additionally, I listened to a wonderful Intentional Living & Leadership 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 their leadership. I couldn’t agree more.

So, why do I share about these seemingly random and insignificant anecdotes? Well, in pairing the ideas from these two sources, I began thinking on some particular ways that leaders unintentionally violate those messages daily in ways that we don’t often think or talk about. Continue reading → Are You Thoughtful & Deliberate in Everything You Do as a Leader? Because Some Small, Careless Behaviors Can be Sending “Anti-Belonging Cues” to Others.

In Whom Do We Trust – Part 3: Trust as Leader Behavior

This is the final part in the 3-part series looking at leadership and trust. You can start the series HERE with part 1.

The heart of what we do in life and leadership should always be “why” – clarifying purpose and passion for what we do. We started off this series in looking at why trust matters for leaders and within teams.

Expanding from that, leaders address the “what” – the things we do to achieve our core purpose. In part 2, we looked at what trust is, defining it by three essential components.

Finally, we must focus on “how” – the tangible ways we are achieving trust and building our cohesive team. For me, there is an important leap from simply understanding trust (why and what) to actively building it in our leader behavior (how). We culminate this series on leadership and trust in looking at how leaders can seek to earn, build, and maintain the trust of our people and teams. Continue reading → In Whom Do We Trust – Part 3: Trust as Leader Behavior

In Whom Do We Trust – Part 2: Defining the Components of Trust

This is the 2nd part in the 3-part series looking at leadership and trust. You can start the series HERE with part 1.

If I asked every reader to write down their definition of trust and to list its critical components in less than 30-seconds, I imagine many of us would start with a blank stare at a blank piece of paper.

That is the case because trust is a complex, “soft-skill” topic that involves so many emotionally driven and intangible qualities. I often consider so many leaders’ view of trust to boil down to something to the effect of “I don’t know much about this thing called trust, but I do know I want more of it.” That mentality does not give me great confidence that such a leader is deliberate in earning, maintaining, and cultivating a culture of trust within their team.

So, after addressing why trust is important in part 1, it’s important to look at what trust is. While there is a high level of art required in the application and earning of trust, there are concrete foundations that establish the science of it, which leaders need to understand. But like in almost all things relating to leadership, there is no objectively right answer, but models available to help us structure our thinking and behavior around it. I would like to offer a simple model to help us define the basic components of trust, ultimately better equipping us to earn and maintain our peoples’ trust in us as leaders. This model is “the three Cs of trust: competence, character, and care.” Continue reading → In Whom Do We Trust – Part 2: Defining the Components of Trust

In Whom Do We Trust – Part 1: On Leadership & Trust

 

Years ago, a mentor of mine offered a leadership perspective that has resonated with me since, stating:

“Soldiers will inherently ask three questions of you when you assume role as their leader:

  1. Can I trust you?
  2. Do you care about me?
  3. Are you committed to excellence?”

While these questions may never be outright asked at some leader “sensing session,” I truly believe these are the issues on peoples’ minds when they are new to joining our team or when we assume a formal leadership role over them. And leaders need to think on how we are deliberately attending to these matters for our people – especially how we are earning their trust. Continue reading → In Whom Do We Trust – Part 1: On Leadership & Trust

Leaders Seek and Surface the Truth

Leaders Seek and Surface the Truth_3x5 Leadership

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant…” –Max DePree

When considering one of my favorite leadership-defining quotes, many (to include myself) focus on the aspects of gratitude and servant leadership. But what about the leader’s first responsibility to define reality? What does that mean and what does that look like?

Leaders defining reality means seeking and surfacing the truth for the team. Improving team performance requires change. To prove the need for change, the team must face their honest reality. This can require addressing brutal facts that have been hidden or ignored. It can be just like any process to recovery – the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Leaders must create a climate within the team where the truth is spoken and heard. This applies up, down, and across the team where no one is above the truth or not responsible to share and address it. Within our high-performing team, we need to have people willing to speak the truth and, more importantly, leaders willing to hear the truth. To enable this team climate of open feedback loops and where people feel safe to speak “truth to power,” I believe there are a few behaviors that leaders should initiate: Continue reading → Leaders Seek and Surface the Truth

Activating the Levers of Organizational Change

Activating the Levers of Organizational Change_3x5 Leadership

Leading change is extremely hard. It challenges the organization’s status quo, interrupts peoples’ assumptions and comfort zones, and creates an often uneasy unknown or unconfirmed future for the organization. Thus, obstacles and resistance to change are often consistent and come from many sources up, down, across, and even external to the organization. Leading change can easily feel overwhelming and unsuccessful at so many points through the process.

But leading change is inherent and essential to leadership. I think back to Jim Mattis’s comments in his book, Call Sign Chaos, claiming that a “leader must be willing to change and make change.” Leaders must get results for their organization and stakeholders absolutely, but I truly believe that alone is insufficient. Leaders must also make the organization and others better; organizational change is critical to effective leadership. Continue reading → Activating the Levers of Organizational Change

Leadership on the Outside – A Story of Transition & Re-Introduction to Standards

Leadership on the Outside - A Story of Transition & A Re-introduction to Standards_3x5 Leadership

By Joe Callejas

About 9 months ago, I wore my Army uniform for the last time and set foot inside the business sector as a civilian. After 16 years of Soldiering, I am head first into the business world as an operations manager. I have heard so much (specifically from my civilian leadership) about the differences in leadership styles that I must now adhere to because, “this isn’t the Army anymore, and you cannot treat team members like Soldiers.”

Here is the thing, though: it isn’t different. Not really…not at all, actually. And here’s why.

People are people, and leadership is about people. And whether you are dealing with Soldiers or Civilians, people want to know that you care about them. People follow leaders who show that they care for them as humans first, employees second. That is how I tried to lead in the Army and how I continue to try and lead in the civilian sector – by putting people first. Continue reading → Leadership on the Outside – A Story of Transition & Re-Introduction to Standards

The Feedback Primer Part 4: Innovating Feedback Across Your Team

The Feedback Primer Series_3x5 Leadership_Primary Graphic

Through our openness to and desire for feedback from others as a leader (addressed in part 3), we have hopefully begun to inspire others to do the same. Following this, it is time we expand these efforts to a collective level. We, the leaders, must create feedback loops for our people and team. We must own and innovate mechanisms to allow feedback to permeate throughout the team; we are not merely victims of our organizational circumstances and should not wait for “them at corporate” or “higher” to create these systems for us. Such feedback loops within the team do require some creativity, leader time investment, and commitment – but it is possible with resources that are universally available. We can start this now. Continue reading → The Feedback Primer Part 4: Innovating Feedback Across Your Team

Do Your People Feel Safe? How Leaders Create Psychological Safety.

Leaders Create Psychological Safety_3x5 Leadership

A few years ago, Google studied to determine the keys to successful teams. Through their research, they found that the #1 key to the highest-performing teams was psychological safety within the team. This means that team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other, without feeling insecure or embarrassed.

High psychological safety across the team provides a number of key benefits such as:

  • It encourages members to speak up with ideas, professional dissent, and necessary questions.
  • It enables a culture of feedback and accountability within the team – up, down, and across.
  • Fosters higher levels of innovation, especially from more junior members.

But leaders can’t just create this safety out of thin air, nor can they demand it from their team. We can’t merely tell our teammates, “I want you to feel safe here” if our actions communicate otherwise.

Leaders must build a sense of psychological safety for their team. This is done through deliberate, consistent behavior over time. Here are a few ways that we can start practicing it more now: by using inclusive language, making vulnerability OK for them and for us, trusting first, and enacting our leader love languages. Continue reading → Do Your People Feel Safe? How Leaders Create Psychological Safety.