I hate the topic of leadership. I really do. There are a thousand books written about it, a million blog posts. There are courses one can take at college (I know I took some at the Masters level) and professional courses you can take through your employer.
Because of the focus on the tactics and application of leadership, we assume that leaders come from a certain stock of people, and the rest of us just have to learn how to become leaders. But leadership really isnt that much of a mystery.
Work based leadership is task based. The goal is to achieve something, and the chain of command is clearly delineated. The goal of the leader, is to keep everyone working in the same direction, towards the same goal, with an eye to completion at a set date.
For example, at Graphic.ly, we release an update to our Adobe AIR App Alpha every Friday. That means by Thursday morning, we need to have a working internal version for QA, and we need to have it through QA by Thursday afternoon. Its a simple process, and with solid task based leadership, we seem to complete it more often than not.
But what about in our personal lives?
Our personal lives are not task based. There is no clear hierarchy. Our friends, our family, our loved ones all expect a certain amount of time and attention. And for most of the people I know, life is something that is fit around and integrated into career. Career is what trumps life.
If in our careers, leadership, goals and hierarchy are so clearly defined, how do we easily transition that construct to our daily lives?
Its not quite as simple nor as straight forward as it is in our day jobs. The key, the real key to building leadership within our personal lives is to put ourselves in front of all others.
Leadership in our personal lives, unlike in the professional world, is something fluid. Time becomes something to hoard. Personal time because something we value.
Yet, we are taught to be nice. To be giving. To provide. These are all the hallmarks of a life lived well. We are taught that its better to give than receive, to provide is divine, etc.
All those lessons cause nothing but consternation and difficulty. In practice, we give up the leadership of our lives to others. Even others that we want to be part of our lives.
Its important to note that I am not advocating taking instead of giving, just that by putting ourselves first, we actually provide a clear set of engagement rules that allow us to define the interactions and allow for a bit of control and direction.
To provide leadership to friends, family and loved ones, it can only be achieved through action. We must be able to interact in ways that provide a positive outcome for all involved.
For everyone the actual steps and rules are different, but these are the ones that I currently employ:
- There is this 750words project;
- I try to take the first hour when I get home from the office to myself. I never go straight from work to an event, dinner, etc. without at least a bit of a break (even if its in my office);
- I never stay anywhere too long;
- I keep my close friend list short. Mostly because that group of people get (relatively) unfettered access, and I cant provide that to too many people;
- I try and be clear about what I want from people, and ask that they respond in kind. Its not always pleasant, but its (almost) always clear.
- I put myself before everyone. If I am being nice to someone, its because I want to be nice, not because I feel an obligation. My only obligation is to myself.
As the internet and other forms of communication and information accelerants enter our lives, its getting harder to create clear delineation between our personal and professional lives. The tactics and strategies that work in one, dont really work in the other. Leadership, needs to exist in all aspects of our lives, we just need to employ it in different ways. In the professional world, we are looking to achieve goals and complete tasks. In our private lives we are looking to obtain happiness and balance.
For those of us that are considered leaders in our professional lives (due primarily to position) have a difficult time transferring that leadership into our personal lives because of the clear shift in effective personal leadership. We need to determine our own personal tactics, or, eventually, we arent leading our lives. They are being led for us.
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- How to Be a Leader (ismckenzie.com)
- Jan Birchfield, Ph.D: A Dialogue on Leadership in Uncertain Times: Session 8 (huffingtonpost.com)
- Great Leaders Ask Great Questions (drivenleaders.com)
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Today, I experienced three different aspects of Twitter, each one that I absolutely enjoy. Lets call it Shout Outs, Props and the Dozens.
The Shout Outs:
Our community is highly intelligent and giving.
Darren Rowse, who I met at SXSW, and runs a pretty popular blog called ProBlogger, tweeted that he was under the weather, and asked for submissions. In about 20 minutes he had 73. They are all posted here:
@CleverUserName - A tale of resurrection
@jdevalk – PageRank sculpting – Siloing and more
@ajvchuk - Yep these are my Twitter friends….
@frankmartin – Focus Groups – Part 4
@mjkeliher – The Shankman FTW: Facebook failing as favorite Web hub
@ninjapoodles - Life In The Slow Lane–WITH CHICKENS
@travelrants – Tips for a healthy and Safe holiday
@johnhood – Cats, Jelly Babies, FeedBurner and an iPhone wallpaper!
@spyjournal – Windows Home Server and SBS2003
@eMom - Facing the Empty Nest of My Blog and My Brand
@jdrohn74 – Ways To Knock Your Competitors Cold
@joetech – How to Replace a Broken Screen on a Casio Exilim Z60 Camera
@ColinWalker - Social media – when real life gets in the way
@Vultoor – Gata, Blogovat s-a incheiat (Romanian)
@45n5 – Affiliate Rapping
@markcoruk - We are on Reuters
@myrnaweinreich – Breath With Eckhark & Oprah On ‘A New Earth’ Chapter 4
@cmiddlebrook - 6 Months in Business – How Am I Doing?
@theunguru – What Tool Do You Use For Reading Newsgroups?
@ianternet – I dont do any sort of video blogging
@MartyJ – Query Types – Figuring out Keyword Intent
@sduffyphotos – How To: Multi-Shot Panoramic HDR Photos
@Wingnut – SEO helps everyone
@splitbrain – My Photography Equipment
@mrscrumley - Highlight Number 2: Atlanta Children’s Museum
@radix33 - Being Reciprocal
@deege – 15 beer factoids that will make you look smart
@shaicoggins – Sigma EX 30mm f1.4 DC HSM
@cdhinton – Mac vs PC
@PSPrint_Trish – Let Sleeping Husbands and Cats Lie
@CaseStevens – How To Write Great Email Follow Up Series
@micah – #1 Rule of Running From Zombies…Dont Look Back
@moneycoach – Good Friday: economics and cruxifixions
@deborahcarraro - The Everything Outside Nature Challenge
@megfowler – nine things
@DebNg - 35 Accessories Made from Recycled Materials
@remarkablogger – What Twitter Does for Me
@chris24 – Why Turning Off Comments Would Suck
@TwisterMc – Ubuntu is one Geeky OS
@MWGblog – Podcasting – It’s a Community Not an Industry
@sorenj – Even at the risk of being heroes….
@ikaronet - How To Replace Cable Television With Internet TV For Free: A Real Evidence
@trib - Real commitment or lipstick on a pig?
@amypalko – 4×4 Sources of Writing Inspiration: Unpopulated Places
@TomRoyce – Why Banks Need To Work Hard Communicating With Potential Foreclosures to Avoid Serious Damage To Homes
@uberaffiliate – The Mindset Of A Millionaire
@theotherdrummer – How to manage less by reducing more
@blantonious – Successful Social Media Marketing Requires Personal Involvement
@jenniferchait - 60 Eco-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Spring
@EverywhereTrip - The Great Ocean Road
@digitalfilipino – Creating Valuable Free Prizes to Boost Success Chances
@andrea_r – 25 New and different ways to use WordPressMU
@idesignstudios – 6 Phases of the Web Design & Development Process
@GrantGriffiths – The Pros and Cons of Working from Home — Revisited
@soultravelers3 – Kid’s View of Florence!
@waltw - Pairing Coffee and Cigars: Science or Serendipity?
@cashflowco – Are You Ready, World Math Day is Coming?
@GorillaSushi – New Media Attention Whore
@queenofkaos – Are You a Perpetual Student? WHAM Podcast #6
@sijt – Be the Jerry Springer of Blogging!
@aroberts – Best broadband deals in the UK Market
@fsechzer - How To Buy A Home Without A Real Estate Agent
@AGoodHusband – When a Husband Gets Praise and Compliments
@MenwithPens – 13.2 Easy Ways to Build a Thriving Blog Community
@mrinal_desai – Who is Your Chauffeur?
@Rachelskirts - Best Egg Hunt Ever
@tomjohnson1492 - 10 Alternate Tests for Evaluating Technical Writing Job Candidates — A List for Hiring Managers
@daveatkins – Marketing and Politics
@rachelpulido01 – Talk about Tuesday – Goals
@ScrapNancy – Why did you loan me money if you think I’m that dumb?
@RoadHog - Earthlings — A Discourse on Compassion
@palinode – five years and two months
@carterfsmith – Dear John, Where’s the Beef?
Our community is teaching, learning, sharing and respecting.
Two people that I respect greatly, Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuk, both had inspiring posts today. Each blew me away in different ways. The coolest thing? At the end of the day, Chris gave Gary props on his blog, and Gary returned the favor via Twitter.
Our community is funny, witty, biting and silly.
Growing up, we played the Dozens. Basically a put down game, the idea was to “one up” the put down you received, by dropping a smarter, funnier, wittier put down. Its been called many things: Capping, Snaps, Getting Clowned, etc. but its the Dozens, dammit.
After another tweet from Jason Calacanis about his attempt to have the most followers on twitter, I finally was annoyed enough to tweet that I would donate $1 for each follower Jason lost to his favorite charity. Man, did I hit a hot button! There was a flurry of tweets, and retweets flying around. Some were really funny. Some were kinda silly.
What was the end result? Jason added about 75 new followers. Makes it even more funny.
(I do have a lot of respect for Jason and what he has accomplished. I just wish he understood the importance of community a bit more. Of course, if you tell him that I said something nice, I promise to send you links to the Tummyblr over and over.)
Twitter is an amazing reflection on people and human nature. You get what you give, and the biggest lesson that I have learned is this:
“Give And You Will Get; Take and You will Get Blogged and Tweeted about.”
Last night I was speaking with a friend about a couple of issues he was experiencing both professionally and personally. We talked through several options, and near the end of it, I decided that the best thing to do was to talk in person.
So, this morning, I put Billie and Taylor into the car, packed a backpack full of water and poop bags, and headed up to Boulder. Three of us met at a trailhead, and we started the hike.
Initially, the thought was to hike for about an hour, we would all be able to vent to each other, offer support and suggestions, and at the conclusion, we would separate, one to go work, me to a hot yoga class, and the third went wee wee wee, all the way home. (Im making one of those up).
As we started hiking, dogs and all, we decided to take a path that we hadnt before. That path continued away from the trail head, and after about two hours ended at a sign that said, “Attention hikers! The trail dead ends here. The rest is private property. Proceed and die.” (I made one of those sentences up.)
Instead of turning around, already having decided to forgo our subsequent plans, we began to forge our own trail. We climbed over and down rocks, through cactus and brier, and after about another hour, finally reconnected with a lower trail. Each one of us sore, beat up, cut up, tired and thirsty, we began the trek back to the car, not realizing it was probably around a mile away (I am not making that up.)
We got back to the car, grabbed some food, and separated after four hours. What was originally planned to be a quick 1 hour hike (maybe a mile in total), became a 4 hour, 4.5 mile scurry and climb.
But, at the end, we all agreed it was a great day. And the conversation I have heard after the hike didnt include any of the lousy parts. In terms of transparency, we really werent transparent at all publicly. As far as most people know, the hike was great from beginning to end. There was little communication (and interest) about the entire trip.
Toronto, based on Andrew Hyde’s comments and Brill’s comments, was not the most fun. During the weekend itself, there was little to no communication to the outside world. Other than a few blog posts at the end of the weekend, the only thing I could think about it, was that it generally sucked, and that it was not a positive experience for anyone.
Transparent, it was not.
NYC, on the other hand, seems to be going much more smoothly. Currently, there are 25 blog posts about the weekend activities. Toronto had 15 posts. Currently, there are 29 tweets from NYC, and there were 8 from SWTO.
There are multiple blogs following NYC, and the general feeling is one of abject postivitity. Andrew even posted a bunch of photos he took to his own Andrew Hyde blog.
But, where are the mistakes? Where are the errors? Where is the process?
NYC, Transparent you are not.
I understand that StartupWeekend is a work in progress, and I am a huge supporter of the concept and of Andrew himself. So much so, that I am going to travel to DC, on my dime, just to be around (I feel like its their weekend, and I can be called on for advice, but I really shouldnt have a material role in the weekend).
But, part of the beauty of this concept is transparency. The biggest disappointment for myself ,and many others at SW Boulder, was that while everything seemed to be great, we didnt launch. There was little indication–internally or externally–that was going to be the case. Sure, we made a major error, and to Andrew’s credit, he blogged about it. But the mix of disappointment and anger in the follow up posts is clearly there because the failure was a surprise.
At the end of the day, if StartupWeekend is going to be a success, and if its going to continue to be the global phenomenon it has become (There are cities in Europe signing up!) it has to bet its future on transparency. There has to be clear vision into the process itself, because the companies created during StartupWeekend dont matter–only the process does. Until everyone can see the process clearly and transparently, StartupWeekend will continue to be a nice experiment that a small number of people enjoy on select weekends, and like every other buzz-filled event, it will die.