Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Neuroleadership Checklist

Do you think of yourself as a neuroleader? Perhaps you are one and don't know it. If you acknowledge, respect and leverage people's uniqueness, and believe "changing your thinking changes your world," you are already using high road practices, which are soundly based in neuroscience.
Neuroleadership yields better and more sustainable results than traditional leadership models, which are often characterized by such destructive behaviors as creating stress-filled workplaces, demanding that people work harder and faster, treating people like they are stupid and lazy, gaining objectives at the expense of others, and believing competition is essential for survival. This faulty and defective thinking eventually deteriorates any organization, causing it to implode.
How to Use the Checklist
  • Benchmark your level of positive "high road behaviors"
  • Measure improvement toward being a Master Level Neuroleader
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest level, rate your thinking and behaviors
  • Receive feedback from peers and direct reports as a "reality check"
Checklist for Neuroleadership
  1. I consciously try to be the best I can be without causing harm to others.
  2. I consciously help others to be the best they can be.
  3. I respect people's differences, gifts and interests.
  4. I know my people's sensory and cognitive strengths.
  5. I align work activities with the strengths and interests of my people.
  6. I make big decisions using diverse points of view.
  7. I use positive and affirming language that elevates people's mood state.
  8. I show empathy for people's problems; they know I care.
  9. I seek to understand before being understood.
  10. I suspend judgment until I understand differing points of view.
  11. I don't always have to be "right."
  12. I practice "high road" behaviors that bring out the best in others.
  13. I feel inspired about my personal and/or organization's vision, goals and values.
  14. I create safe and stimulating work environments.
  15. I support cooperation and collaboration instead of competition.
  16. I treat everyone consistently; people know what to expect from me.

Organizations Need Effective Leadership And Management

In order for an organization to perform optimally, it needs to have both effective leadership, as well as effective management. This can be combined into one function, or under the guise of one individual, or split up into two or more positions. While a leader is the creator, agenda setter, visionary and motivator, a manager assures that these lofty goals and ideals become reality and come into fruition. Steven Covey puts it this way, "Effective leadership is putting things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out." How often I have witnessed, in my over three decades of working closely on all aspects of leadership, that either an organization has a leader but no manager, or a manager but no leader. Neither model will provide the desired results, because unless there is an effective combination, progress is rare.

1. The optimum condition is when a leader comes first, and creates the vision, excitement, motivate and direction that an organization must go in, if it wishes to remain relevant and be sustainable. Without true leadership, organizations will flounder, because they will not offer others a reason to follow, get more involved and commit. It is the leader that carries the flag that others will stand under, yet unless there is true progress towards achieving the worthwhile goals, the rhetoric and foresight will only inspire others for so long.

2. Think of an effective manager as a combination workhorse, time manager, and efficiency expert. Managers don't set the tone, but they assure that the music played correctly, and with precision. Managers are the ones that make sure that what needs to get done, gets done. They understand how to handle other people effectively (HR or human relations), and they map out an action plan and a follow up that makes the leader look like a genius. In some rare cases, one individual is both the leader and the manager, but in the most effective organizations, the leader sets the tone, while the manager implements and oversees the work. The optimum situation is when an organization has both a motivating and inspirational leader, and either an Executive Director or Administrator who is talented, with exceptional managerial skills.

The key to getting things that need to be done implemented is indeed the combination of leadership and management. While a manager generally needs to rely on the leader for the overall direction and goals, an effective manager invariably makes the leader much better. Management without leadership is often aimless, but leadership without true management is generally ineffective.

Three Lessons Leaders Should Learn From Einstein

Imagine if our leaders were even nearly as good in their leadership as Einstein was in his fields of endeavor. While it may not be necessary, or even important for a leader to possess Einstein's genius, there are many important lessons that can be learned from the way Einstein went about his work and thought processes. Albert Einstein often spoke and referred to his rules of work. "Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Since without a doubt, Albert Einstein was truly one of the great minds, inventors and producers of all time, wouldn't it make sense if we got our leaders to gain insight and become better by paying attention to at least these three rules.

1. We have all heard the adage "KISS," which simply means keep it short and simple (or as I was taught, keep it short, stupid!). While there are often many issues cluttering a leader's horizon, true leaders must be able to set priorities and focus his attention according to them, making sure that he does not get overly absorbed/ involved in minutia, or bogged down in it. How often have you attended a meeting, for example, when major issues were glanced over, and the bulk of the time was spent on tangential, or at least, far less urgent matters? Great leaders do not explain needs by using techno - jargon or fancy rhetoric, but explain it simply, concisely and in an easily understood manner. Cut through to the chase, as is often said, and you simplify and enhance performance, in most cases.

2. The reality of leadership is that there will always be those that disagree, some who even disagree vehemently. Great leaders don't try to run away from, or ignore that discord, but seek to find common ground, or at least common goals, in order to create a far more harmonious situation.

3. While it is always nice when something goes exactly as planned, and is somewhat easy to get done, true leaders understand that it is often not the case. How someone handles the difficulty often determines how successful he might be. Does he look at these challenges as problems, or merely obstacles that create challenges that he will overcome? We all face adversity, but our greatest leaders have always used the lessons learned from these grant them an opportunity to better address needs, and to reformulate in a better, more effective and sustainable manner.