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Today, I’d like to discuss the final chapter of Pat Williams’ book, Leadership Excellence: the Seven Sides of Leadership for the 21st Century, covering the seventh side of leadership:

A Serving Heart: “To be a true servant-leader requires that you be a servant first, by serving the people who report to you, and a leader second with the respect that you gained by serving first. Servant-leadership comes from the heart and requires that the leader sincerely cares about people.” – Michael Bergdahl, leadership author and speaker

The first six sides described so far have been nouns – Vision, Communication, People Skills, Character, Competence and Boldness. The last side is a verb, an action word. Serving takes effort and an innate sense of compassion for other people.  Leadership is serving, and serving is sacrifice. There are many five- and six-sided leaders in the world.  But it is those who possess all seven sides who reach the greatest heights. Pat Williams offers these Servant Leadership Tips to guide you to being a better serving leader:

  1. Relinquish the Right to Control. A servant, by definition, is someone who has no control.  Servants serve; they don’t control anything.
  2. Learn to See Servanthood as an End, Not a Means to an End. It’s never about: “I served you; now you owe me.” Don’t serve people in order to get something in return.
  3. Let People See You Serve. Servant leaders will roll up their sleeves and dig in when needed, and not just bark orders from the sidelines.
  4. Get Your Shoulders Dirty. Why dirty shoulders? Because servants get their shoulders dirty when they lift others up and let them stand tall on their shoulders. A genuine servant doesn’t care who gets the credit and glory.
  5. Focus on Influence. Servant leaders are fully aware that they are influencers with people watching them at all times. The people who look up to you notice when we cut ethics corners, fudge our expense accounts, and take liberties with traffic laws.
  6. When People Fail You, Dispense Forgiveness and Grace. The act of forgiving another human being is an expression of servantlike humility. Forgiveness is the key to getting the best performance from the people in your organization.

I hope you have enjoyed this series of MP Messages about Leadership Excellence.  Great leaders shape the future.  Build these seven principles of leadership excellence into your life and there are no limits to the exciting life you can lead to the amazing feats you can accomplish.

Have a great week.

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Welcome back from the holiday everyone.  I trust your time with your families was enjoyable.

Those WS+B professionals who attended the a recent Tax CPE were in for a treat that day, with Pat Williams, leadership author and SVP of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, providing an overview of his book, Leadership Excellence: the Seven Sides of Leadership for the 21st Century, the very book we have been discussing the past few months.  It was an inspiriting and energy-filled session.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Today, I will cover the fifth side of leadership described in the book:

Boldness.  “I sometimes endure excruciating periods of doubt and soul-searching, and I always try to play out the results of each alternative. However, once I make the decision, I move forward. Something clicks, and all my energies are applied to ensuring the decision works rather than fretting over whether it was the right one.” – Rudy Giuliani

I am a big believer in going with your gut, trusting your intuition.  There is definitely such a thing as ‘paralysis by analysis’ when you are taking into consideration too many opinions or wanting to make the decision that will make the majority happy, thus making you a popular, well-liked person… for the moment, anyway.

However, when you go with a decision that wasn’t truly your own, it will only hurt you in the long run. Your leadership is not authentic and those you lead will catch on.  As described in the book:

“Bold leaders make bold decisions. The role of the leader is to gather as much information as practicable, consult with key people, reflect on all the options, upsides, downsides, risks, and rewards…  Then decide.”

Pat Williams shares some practical ways that we as leaders can demonstrate boldness:

  • Take on audacious challenges, bold visions and extreme dreams – when we set out do to the impossible.
  • Dare to put our own careers and reputations on the line for a vision we believe in.
  • Take a stand for our beliefs and values even when the world is against us.
  • Accept responsibility for our failures, courageously taking our lumps instead of shifting blame.
  • Stand and fight when others run away.
  • Accept criticism without defending ourselves.
  • Step far outside our comfort zone in order to try something completely new.

In what ways have you been a bold leader?  Did you stand up for the values we as a firm (or you personally) believe in, facing a client or acquaintance who asked you to do something that was questionable?  Did you take the lead on an initiative that failed or that was not popular with your team, but you knew it was the right thing to do at that time?  Being a leader is sometimes a lonely proposition.  As long as you maintain your integrity and trust in the vision of the end goal, then you can feel good in having made the bold decision you made. And win or lose, you will be respected for it.

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Today, I’d like to continue discussing Pat Williams’ book, Leadership Excellence: the Seven Sides of Leadership for the 21st Century, covering the fifth side of leadership:

  1. Competence. “A leader of competence displays the attitudes, skills, abilities, and behaviors needed to function at a very high level and to take the organization to increasingly higher levels of success. Competence is not a static condition.  It’s a state of one’s continual dynamic growth, both as a person and a leader.” – Pat Williams

The book outlines fifteen leadership competencies:

  1. The competency of problem solving – “If you want to be a leader, then you need to show that you are a problem solver.  Problems just come with the job.”
  2. The competency of selling – Leadership is selling.  And the first thing you must sell is yourself.
  3. The competency of continuous learning – John F. Kenney reminded us, “Learning and leadership are indispensable to each other.  If we stop learning today, we will stop leading tomorrow.”  Invest time in reading an hour a day about great lives, great events and great ideas.
  4. The competency of teaching – Our job is to take the complex and make it simple… if they don’t ‘get it,’ it’s because we failed to teach them properly.
  5. The competency of team-building – “Industrialist entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie said, ‘Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision – the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.’”
  6. The competency of organizing and planning – “A leader of excellence starts with a vision and creates a plan to achieve that vision.”  That plan is the roadmap for teams to follow, while also pinpointing potential obstacles and strategizing around them.
  7. The competency of managing change – “A leader proves his or her mettle not in calm, stable circumstances, but in times of uncertainty and rapid change when the ground is shifting underfoot.”
  8. The competency of balance – Balance is “keeping all things in perspective, maintaining self-control, and avoiding excessive highs or lows that occur because of luck or misfortune.”
  9. The competency of charisma – “Charismatic leaders are personable and outgoing, carry themselves with an air of confidence, and are positive and optimistic in the face of adversity.”
  10. The competency of poise – “Poise is the ability to remain cool, calm and collected in emotional or stressful situations. A poised leader keeps such emotions as anger, frustration, impatience, and panic under control.”
  11. The competency of historical awareness – “History is filled with patterns that have a way of repeating themselves. The better we understand the cycles of past history, the more quickly we recognize the events that come our way.”
  12. The competency of authority – “Followers grant authority to leaders by agreeing to follow – and they can withdraw that authority by simply refusing to follow.”
  13. The competency of good judgment – “…the capacity for making wise, moral, effective decisions.”
  14. The competency of authenticity – “What does it mean to be authentic? Very simply, it means be yourself.” You are who you are. Embrace it.
  15. The competency of patience – “Pay your dues. Learn the ropes. You can’t come into a new situation and jump right to the top.”

I know there’s a lot to digest here, but these fifteen points certainly underscore the importance of being a competent leader. As it relates to our profession, I’d have to add a 16th competency – the competency of technical skills, which we as a firm strive to help you through our CPE programs, training programs, and technology and software tools. Those who are really great at what they do not only enjoy their careers the most, but also gain the respect of their clients and colleagues as experts, as well.  Continuing to grow in your competencies both personally and professionally will inevitably bring you to your pinnacle of leadership.

Have a great week.

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Today, I’d like to continue discussing Pat Williams’ book, Leadership Excellence: the Seven Sides of Leadership for the 21st Century, covering the fourth side of leadership:

  1. “Some define character as simply aspiring to high ideals and standards. I disagree.  Many people have lofty aspirations. Unfortunately, aspiring isn’t enough. You must also have the strength of commitment and sacrifice to adhere to those standards and ideals in good times AND bad.” – the late Bill Walsh, 49ers coach

The wonderful thing about character is that it is one of the few things in life that no one will ever be able to forcefully take away from you. Your choices are your own. And what is even more interesting is that your TRUE character is revealed mostly when you are in times of being tested.  Pressure or temptation can reveal sides of us we may not want to admit we have, or conversely, allow us to rise to the occasion and be the leader we are meant to be.  Here are a few traits to describe “character,” as outlined in the book:

  • Integrity: “Honesty with a Little Oomph” – ‘As John Wooden once wrote: “You can be as honest as the day is long and still be short on character. How? You can be honest and selfish, honest and undisciplined, honest and inconsistent, honest and disrespectful, honest and lazy….There’s more to character than just being honest.”’
  • Diligence: “If You’re Lazy, Stay Away” – “Leaders of character work hard. They have a strong work ethic.”
  • Self-Control: “The Hardest Person to Lead is Yourself” – “If you want to achieve great things, if you want to turn your leadership vision into reality, you must be a person of self-control… also known as self-discipline…” Your goal as a leader is to motivate yourself and your team to be disciplined from within.
  • Perseverance: “It’s a League Rule” – “When the shepherd falls, the sheep scatter. As the shepherd of your organization, you’ve got to keep going, no matter what.  You’ve got to outlast any trial of adversity that comes your way.”
  • Responsibility: “The Rule of the River” – “Each raft holds six or eight people…. If someone got thrown from the raft, all attention must be directed toward rescuing that person… but that person must be active in his own rescue…” Every person on at team must know and execute their assignment, and it is the leader who is responsible for make their roles clear and executable.
  • Humility: “Absence of Arrogance” – “The arrogance that so often comes with promotion and success inevitably begins their downfall.  The antidote to this syndrome is a commitment to humility, to maintaining a humble spirit.”
  • Leaders who possess character as defined in the above are the great leaders with longevity and a loyal following.  Strive to be that leader of character… for your staff, your clients, your family and your community.  But most importantly… for yourself.

Leaders who possess character as defined in the above are the great leaders with longevity and a loyal following.  Strive to be that leader of character… for your staff, your clients, your family and your community.  But most importantly… for yourself.

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