Great Leaders Grow

I have some friends with two sons. My wife and I would sometimes drop by their house with our daughter since one of their sons was close to her age. I noticed a growth chart on their wall. Every so often they would have both of their children stand against the wall to see how much they had grown. A new mark would go on the wall to track each child's growth.

Do you grow? Do you track your growth? Not how tall you are but how you are growing as a leader. You may not be paying attention to it or the lack thereof, but others are doing it for you by watching how you lead each day. Why not recapture control over your own growth? After all, when you do so, you begin growing faster and in a healthier direction.

In the December 2015/January 2016 issue of Fast Company magazine, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg's growth chart includes personal challenges on growing as a leader:

  1. 2009 - Wear a tie every day. 
  2. 2010 - Learn Mandarin.
  3. 2011 - Only eat animals he kills himself.
  4. 2012 -Code every day.
  5. 2013 - Meet a new person every day who doesn't work at Facebook.
  6. 2014 - Write at least one thank-you note every day.
  7. 2015 - Read a new book every two weeks.

I know you're busy. Mark Zuckerberg is too. We all are. That is no longer a reason. If you don't like being so busy and would like to grow, there may be necessary endings required for some of those things you do.

Is there one thing that you could choose to grow in for the remaining months of 2016? Becoming the best version of you requires you to go deeper, and the result will be more than you thought possible.

4 Questions I Asked My Team About Being Great

Recently, I asked my team four questions about being great. The questions provoked helpful dialogue that helped us with strategic foresight. 

  1. What will it take for us to be great?
  2. Why does being great matter?
  3. What do we already have to be great?
  4. What do we need to do to be great?
Be so good they can’t ignore you.
— Steve Martin

29 Ways to Love Your Middle School Daughter

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I'm a dad learning to parent and love my middle school daughter. She is an 11-year-old learning to survive and thrive in 6th grade. 

What worked a few months ago in elementary school requires something different or maybe just done differently. I am adjusting daily.

I don't always get it right. Patience can run thin. Words can be sharp. Responses can be laced with unnecessary sarcasm. Expectations can be too high.

I must do all that I can to learn. I must do all that I can to love. After all, God is: 

  • Trusting me to father her well
  • Expecting me to be a healthy representation of him to her
  • Showing her how a future husband should honor her

Here are 29 ways I am loving my middle-school daughter:

  1. Speak less.
  2. Listen more.
  3. Give unexpected hugs without a word.
  4. Gently touch her chin, guiding it towards me where our eyes meet so I can say your daddy sees you.
  5. Don't give her the "you're crying again" look.
  6. Write more notes.
  7. Choose life-giving words with greater forethought.
  8. Explain why boundaries matter.
  9. Laugh more.
  10. Loan her belief and faith when hers runs out.
  11. Pray with and for her.
  12. Celebrate wins.
  13. Show her how to do what she loves and leave the rest alone.
  14. Sit with her and watch a tv show that she chooses and not flip it to my show during commercials.
  15. Gladly hold her hand when she reaches for mine.
  16. Remind her that this dad is crazy about her.
  17. Show her that serving people is amazing and meaningful!
  18. Live in our new normal so she doesn't feel abnormal.
  19. Give her space to figure herself out, while still being available.
  20. Cheer her on like she is the only player on the field.
  21. Develop her leadership skills for current and future opportunities.
  22. Build character that is sustainable.
  23. Say I love you a lot.
  24. Show her how to lean into pain that life brings.
  25. Be vulnerable.
  26. Live out what empathy looks like.
  27. Care about her friends.
  28. Whisper to her brother to give her space.
  29. Help her listen to God and do what he says.

Ask Your Employees 10 Questions

If you are like me, you are constantly looking around for the best next move to grow as a leader.

I frequently ask why, when, what, and how while looking to enhance who I am as a leader, how my team can improve, and ensure the why is staying at the center of what we do as a team.

I work hard to create a healthy environment with my team that gives everyone permission to provide feedback. From time to time, I will "formally" sit down and invite feedback with specific questions. I recently sat down with one of my employees and asked them 10 specific questions that invited helpful feedback. I walked away encouraged and challenged of where I can improve. In fact, I will sit down with another employee tomorrow and ask the same 10 questions.

Don’t ask for feedback. Invite it.
— Claire Lew, CEO, Know Your Company

What if the best next move for you was simply sitting down with your employee(s) and inviting feedback? Try it.

1. Have I ever said or done anything that robbed you of your passion and energy?

2. Is there anything I do that gets in the way of your ability or your willingness to do your job?

3. Do you feel like you have the latitude you need to make decisions that are important to your role?

4. Do you receive encouragement from me that inspires you?

5. Do you ever feel like your voice is not heard or your opinion is not valued?

6. What can I do to help make (insert your organization) the best place you’ve ever worked?

7. What three things do you wish I would continue to do, do more, or stop doing?

8. What’s it like to be on the other side of me:
• In work situations?
• Personally?

9. What could I do personally to help you be more successful?

10.What is my blind spot? 

Your best next move both personally and professionally could come by asking your employee(s) about you. Think of it as getting curious about being on the other side of you.

Could You Do Something For Me?

I asked a colleague, "Could you do something for me?" His reply, "What is it?" We laughed about the moment because I knew he wanted to know before saying yes. My mind quickly traveled a different direction and it hit me:

When God asks me to do something, I often ask him what it is when my immediate response should be yes.

My question back to him has a built-in contingency. You know, if I don't like or prefer it, I have a way out since I did not commit to it before hearing the ask.

What if I made a 1% shift, and decided to say yes before knowing what God would ask of me instead of first requesting details? What if I did the same in my relationships at home, at work, or at church? What would this look like in your life?

It is about coming to God with an open yes.