You are on page 1of 10

Inspiring Insights

Leading from the Front for Success:


By Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

About the Authors


Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch are the Founders of Lead Star, a company dedicated to providing leadership development opportunities to those in leading corporations, law firms and nonprofits. They are the authors of the best-selling business book, Leading from the Front, which is based on their experiences as Marines and private sector professionals. Successful entrepreneurs, the women have been featured guests on FOX, CNBC, CNN and their efforts to spark a national dialogue on the topic of leadership have been noted in publications ranging from Inc. Magazine to The New York Times. Visit Lead Star online at www.leadstar.us.

Inspiring Insights

Leading from the Front for Success


by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

Introduction
At Lead Star, we know the secret to success at work and in life. We understand exactly what skills will set you apart from your peers and allow you to maximize your impact in any organization. We know what it takes to take control of your career instead of allowing your daily to-do list to dictate the course of your life. We know how to get better results even when you are being constantly asked to do more with fewer resources. To achieve your goals and win at work, you must lead from the front, living every day of your life as a leader. Leaders are the people who influence outcomes and inspire others successfully. Leaders are the ones who have found a way to enjoy their jobs, love their lives and live the reality they desire. Whats more, leaders are highly sought-after individuals. Companies seek to retain leaders, organizations want to recruit them, and individuals look to follow them because they understand that leaders are the people who make a difference. If youve been seeking the missing link to gratification, success and financial security - look no further. By developing your leadership skills, youll put yourself in a position to accomplish any goal you set and achieve any milestone you envision. You will transform yourself from an average individual contributor to an invaluable employee who experiences the security and job satisfaction that you crave. As best-selling authors and leadership development consultants, we know that leadership isnt a mystery skill set: its about behavior and action. And through our experiences of reaching more than 75,000 professionals with our leadership training, we have seen the positive impact leadership skills can bring to the lives of anyone at any level of employment.

Understanding Leadership
We learned to lead as Marines. Serving in our countrys most demanding military branch helped us differentiate between true leaders and wanna-bes. As Marines, we saw the leadership best practices that worked in life or death situations. Then we took what we learned and applied it to our lives in corporate America, where we achieved success rather quickly. During this phase of our career, we also realized that many in the private sector dont focus on leadership skills development, or when they do refer to a leader, they actually mean a manager - a common misconception in our society. A manager is a job title; a leader is

Inspiring Insights

Leading from the Front for Success


by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

something completely different. First and foremost you must understand that leadership is not about power, prestige, position or perks. Its about responsibility. A leader is someone who influences outcomes and inspires others. To gain followers you must exhibit six key leadership behaviors:
Model high performance Demonstrate service to others Make decisions Practice accountability Control your emotions Have the courage to be authentic

These six, simple, yet fundamental leadership behaviors make the difference between success and failure. Even if you apply only one or two of the practices we discuss in this e-Book, youll be amazed by the positive results youll begin to see. Being a leader will change your life. Lets get to work.

Model High Performance


Leaders lead from the front they set the tone for their followers, demonstrating in thought, word and deed how others are expected to behave. Its easy to spot people who arent leaders. They expect others to treat them with respect, but dont behave in a manner that warrants it. They say they want to be a part of strong, trustworthy teams, but gossip about teammates behind their backs. They want positive affirmation and encouragement, but provide only insults and criticism to their colleagues. To build the level of influence you need to lead effectively, you must act like a role model and rise above any negative, unprofessional behavior that exists in your environment. In order to achieve this result, you have to focus on meeting these three essential components of top performance: Narrow your say-do gap. Leaders are the ones who say what theyll do and do what they say. Never put yourself in a position where you overcommit and under-deliver. Your word is your credibility. When you make commitments, no matter how minor, you have to follow through. This allows you to be influential because your colleagues will trust you and recognize

Inspiring Insights

Leading from the Front for Success


by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

that you are someone who gets the job done. Let others know your intent and expectations. Your colleagues, your family members and even your friends will never be able to live up to unknown expectations. People cant read your mind. Dont keep others guessing what you need done - constantly convey expectations. Your professional co-workers will appreciate your ability to consistently reinforce the bigger picture and connect their actions to a greater mission, which leads to feelings of empowerment and fulfillment. Hold others accountable when performance standards are not met. The fastest way to kill morale in an organization is to treat poor performers the same as top performers. Have the courage to hold people accountable when they fail to meet standards. Even if you are an individual contributor, you can let others know when they fail to meet expectations. Role models are the ones who are able to engage in these tough conversations because they know that confrontation brings about resolution and effects positive change.

Rank and title dont make someone a leader; behavior and attitude do. Leaders strive to be the best they can be at every task, every day. Doing your best, at every activity you pursue, not only raises your own performance level, but inspires those around you to do the same. So, if you are seeking increased management responsibility in your company, dont wait for someone else to decide youre ready for the challenge - show those around you that youre already capable of it. You can do that in little ways. Taking the initiative to ask for new assignments, offering your assistance when you see it might be needed, anticipating the needs of your boss (leaders dont wait to be told what to do because they are already doing it) and volunteering to train and mentor new employees are all ways to demonstrate your leadership abilities. When you follow through on every commitment you make, when you clearly and continually convey your expectations to others and when you hold others accountable when performance standards are not met, you provide an inspiring leadership example. You set the standard and achieve the success that you seek when you lead from the front.

Demonstrate Service to Others


Leading from the front is not about being the star of the show. In fact, it is not

Inspiring Insights

Leading from the Front for Success


by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

about you at all, its about those you lead. Leaders who place a priority on the trappings of their position or are impressed with status frequently arent effective at influencing outcomes and inspiring others. Weve seen plenty of senior executives get so caught up in flaunting their power that they lose focus - they forget that their number one priority should be helping their team succeed. Being too focused on whats in it for me will make you less desirable as a boss, supervisor or colleague. Selfish people are plentiful and expendable. Unselfish leaders are rare and extremely valuable. Through their service efforts they transform a group of individuals into a team focused on goal accomplishment and success. Leadership is about caretaking - taking care of those around you. Surprisingly, being a caretaker isnt that difficult. It starts with learning about those around you and getting to know them. Initiate conversations with your co-workers and supervisors; ask them how they are doing, how their family is, and whats important to them on any given day. Once you get into a routine of inquiring about others, you learn to recognize when something might be wrong, which is your opportunity to step in as a leader and offer support. Leaders empower others through unselfish service by removing obstacles that are preventing their success. Simple acts such as providing someone assistance on a project or picking up office supplies for a co-worker to save them time are simple, empowering gestures. Even delivering constructive criticism when handled with tact to help someone improve their professional performance can be a servicebased leadership gesture. Leaders constantly seek the opportunity to lighten the load of others. While leaders look for opportunities to take care of their teammates, they also are careful not to confuse caretaking with coddling. Coddling is about pampering and indulging; caretaking is about determining what your team needs and helping them get it for themselves so they can perform at their best. Recognizing and appreciating the hard work of those around you, rather than claiming credit for yourself, is the sign of a true leader. Sincere, routine and selfless acts of service produce gratitude, loyalty, and respect, which can make you tremendously effective as a leader.

Make Decisions: Taking Action to Progress


Leaders have a vision for where they want to go. They make that vision a reality by making the choices needed to make progress towards their goals. The more

Inspiring Insights

Leading from the Front for Success


by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

decisions a leader makes, the greater resolution of issues. The greater number of issues resolved, the more success for the leader and for the leaders team. Yet many people weve encountered in our consulting work express uncertainty about decision making - they dont trust their instincts when their choices affect their lives or the lives of others. We have heard from managers who like to avoid conflict and confrontation so they put off making tough decisions. Weve seen people who are virtually paralyzed by the choices they have to make. Ultimately, people lose respect for those who cant be decisive. The ideal way to make even the most challenging of choices is to become familiar with making decisions with limited information. As Marines we were taught to seek the 80% Solution as our information target, acknowledging that youre never going to have all of the information you need to make a perfect decision. You have to strive to achieve a threshold level of information, 80%, and then take action. Certainly, achieving 80% requires that you do research, seek insight from experts, examine precedence and work to build consensus. But at some point you have to be willing to stop the process of deciding with an actual choice - thats the secret to making progress. To improve your ability to be decisive, learn to recognize and overcome the four common enemies of sound decision making: Perfectionist goals. No human will ever be perfect. Since we cant predict the future, we can never make the perfect choice. Instead, we have to strive to make the best choice at the right time. 100% consensus. Leaders have the courage to make the tough calls. They recognize that its impossible to get everyone to agree on the most significant choices. Procrastination. Delaying action when you know what you need to do is a choice all of its own - it just comes without the benefits of progress. Leaders resist the urge to procrastinate, instead they seek to understand and overcome the underlying issues contributing to their urge to delay something that must be done. Fear of responsibility. If you know what needs to be done, but then do nothing because you feel its not your job to make the decision for

Inspiring Insights

Leading from the Front for Success


by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

the team, or you fear change, or are risk-adverse, what you are really demonstrating is a fear of responsibility. Be bold. Make the choices that influence outcomes and inspire others. Thats the mark of a true leader. In order to lead the life you want, you need to make decisions. When you avoid making decisions, you essentially hand off decision-making power to others. That means others are controlling your future. Leaders shape circumstances instead of living life at the mercy of them. Companies need employees who lead from the front - who avoid complacency and status quo and strive to make the bold decisions that will make progress for the organization. No matter how junior you are on a team, everyone appreciates the leader who can make solid, well-reasoned decisions in a timely manner.

Practice Accountability
The fastest way to determine if someone is leading from the front is to observe what they do when they are close enough to a problem to know about it. Whats that persons knee jerk reaction when something goes wrong? Do they seek first to blame someone or something else, or, do they realize that if they are close enough to a problem to know about it, they likely had something to do with it? If you want to be a leader others respect, youll need to develop a strong ability to be accountable, to admit when something is your fault and to own your mistakes. When faced with a problem, a true leaders first reaction is to attempt to understand how his/her own actions (or inactions) might be contributing to the issue. Only after having practiced this critical form of personal accountability does he/she look for contributing external factors. Being accountable in this manner is rare, but it sure is inspiring. However, instead of practicing this type of accountability and looking at our own actions first, many of us just work harder and harder in an attempt to gain control of the situation. And when that doesnt produce the desired results, we assume that something or someone else must be interfering. Its their fault, not mine, we may think, because Im doing all that I can. Unfortunately, this approach to problem solving doesnt help us make progress. Motion doesnt always equal action. The Marines taught us that simply trying harder isnt enough. We had to achieve success because lives were on the line. We learned we were responsible for the

Inspiring Insights

Leading from the Front for Success


by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

missions success or failure. Excuses dont save lives. This no excuses mindset taught us to look internally (not externally) first when we werent successful. When we faced an obstacle, we learned to identify the problem, examine our actions, implement a new course and get on with it. Excuses got us nowhere. Many people have yet to figure out this key aspect of being a leader, and its holding them back from living more satisfying lives. Playing the blame game gets you no closer to success and wastes a ton of time. The key to achieving your goals and living a life that is in balance begins with taking responsibility for your actions and your decisions, rather than making excuses for your shortcomings. When you lead from the front and own your life, you will be much more fulfilled. Youll have more time for family, accomplish more at work with less effort, experience greater satisfaction in relationships, get promoted, lose weight, save money or whatever you strive for. Leaders resist the urge to get on the blame bandwagon. It goes nowhere.

Control Your Emotions: Be the One Who Brings Calm to Chaos


Stress exempts no one. Leaders cope best. Leaders approach situations rationally and respond to new information unemotionally. This makes them more effective because of the confidence that develops within their team. Those around them trust them to remain calm, cool, and collected, even when faced with a crisis. Your ability to harness your emotions in times of stress, chaos, frustration or uncertainty will earn you credibility and enhance your ability to influence outcomes and inspire others. A leaders reaction to tough times sets the standard for everyone elses reaction, which is good news when a true leader is in charge and bad news when someone who is more easily flustered is at the helm. Leaders avoid drama because they know it kills productivity. Emotions are not bad, there is just a time and place for our most sensitive, heightened ones. As Marines we were told to save the drama for your mama whenever our drill instructors sensed that we were getting too worked up about our intense field training. This mandate was not designed to harass us, instead, it was to remind us that being able to remain calm in the face of chaos is what brings about results. We learned to put our emotions aside to deal with the challenge at hand. This ability to maintain emotional resolve allowed us to have the fortitude to juggle high-priority work assignments, difficult colleagues or the all-out professional emergency.

Inspiring Insights

Leading from the Front for Success


by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

When you feel stress or fear in an environment, know that its likely others do too. As a leader, learn to focus on solutions, not on your instinctive reaction of fear, anxiety or anger. When you lead from the front, others look to you for inspiration and guidanceparticularly during times of challenge and change. Extreme emotional responses to chaos, stress or uncertainty (such as screaming, crying or other emotional outbursts) will interfere with your ability to build confidence and to lead. The ability to control your emotions, even when they are raging internally, keeps those around you calmer, maintains professional relationships, and positions you as the go-to person when there is a crisis.

Ultimately, It All Comes Down to You


How well do you know yourself? Believe it or not, knowing yourself well and projecting your authentic personality are important aspects of being a leader. Others are more likely to respect you if you are comfortable with who you are. Being an effective leader does not require you to change some aspect of your personality or pretend to be someone youre not. Sure, you might need to modify a few self-defeating behaviors, but the best leaders lead as they are. Like success, leadership skills development is a journey, not a destination. Each day you have an opportunity to develop your character and improve your skills. When you lead from the front, you continuously assess where you are, where youre headed and what opportunities for improvement you have. You recognize and are proud of your strengths and you acknowledge your weaknesses, which you are regularly working to improve. Work to make the behavior changes necessary to improve your leadership ability. Yet, do so in ways that are consistent with your true personality. What makes you different does not make you wrong; in fact it can be the very thing that makes you right. Differences make teams strong and, when combined with solid leadership and an ability to work well together, they make us successful.

Leading from the Front for Success


This e-Book highlighted six core leadership behaviors that will make you increasingly successful in any endeavor you choose to pursue:
Performance Service

Inspiring Insights

Leading from the Front for Success


by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

Decisiveness Accountability Emotional Resolve Authenticity

After reviewing the six leadership practices we presented here, you likely found several that are strengths for you as well as several areas in need of improvement. You might have realized that certain aspects of your behavior have been holding you back or preventing you from building influence with others. Now that you are aware of the areas in which you need to work, you can make daily efforts to make the changes necessary to improve your leadership ability. As soon as you start living the leadership practices youve learned by reading this e-Book, youll be amazed at how your life will change. Others will look to you for guidance and inspiration. When you lead from the front, you will have the ability to influence outcomes and inspire others in ways that will ensure your ultimate success. If you found this e-Book valuable, share it with someone else who will find it helpful to their leadership development journey. We at Lead Star welcome the opportunity to partner with you as you continue to grow as a leader. We offer executive coaching, webinars, audio CDs, e-Books and much more. Visit us on the web at www.leadstar.us to find additional ways to improve your leadership skills and ensure your success. Reprints of this e-Book are permitted with proper attribution and inclusion of Lead Stars web site address, www.leadstar.us.

10