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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    10 Key Questions for Leaders – Part 1

    Leaders are faced with a myriad of issues each day, but one of their most critical responsibilities is to step back from the urgent and focus on the important. They must achieve a balance between the reactionary crisis mode and the proactive planning mode. This means pausing and reflecting on how they’re influencing behaviors to ensure the right outcomes. To accomplish that, there are 10 key important questions that, properly addressed, will strengthen both their leadership and their organizational effectiveness.


    1. google imageDisruption. What is the disruptive threat to your business model? Leaders should be constantly aware of ongoing threats to their business model and its products or services, and take action to address it. Jim Kennedy, Chairman and former CEO of Cox Enterprises provided a great example when he diversified his business away from classified ads to leverage the growing role of the internet, by successfully launching So make a list of all the products and services provided by your organization, your team, and even you, based on your skillsets. Now for each one, think about two or three ways that your product, service or skillset can be provided faster, cheaper or differently. What technological advances might make your current products or services obsolete? How might consumer preferences shift away from your current model? Believe in the possibility and probability of those ideas, then focus on how you’ll anticipate the future and address that threat. Shift your business model to where the customers are going, instead of where they are now.
    2. Purpose. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Many organizations and teams shift into automatic mode as their activities become routinized. They assume that demand will continue for their products and services, and evolve into placing more focus on what they’re doing, or how they’re doing it, instead of WHY they’re doing it. But asking the question WHY, connects you to the purpose of your activities. It’s the motivator and driving force that inspires the team to the appropriate behaviors that will support it. Once they understand your WHY, an emotional link can form as they pinpoint their contribution to accomplishing it. The underlying WHY or purpose of an individual, team or organization typically does not change, because it’s a fundamental belief and value. According to Simon Sinek, the how and what changes as necessary to continue to support the WHY. When you know your purpose or your WHY and communicate it effectively, this clarity attracts others to you who recognize a benefit from it.
    3. Failure. Where have you failed, and what insights have you learned from it? If you’ve never failed, you’ve never attempted something of impact and significance, relative to your abilities. Failure can add value when we learn something from it, and build upon it. Thomas Edison failed many times in trying to develop a light bulb. The Wright brothers failed initially before leveraging their underdog status to become the first in flight. J. C. Penney was sick and bankrupt before he built his namesake store into a retailing giant. But they learned from their failures, kept trying and eventually succeeded. The only bad failure is if you fall into shame and shut down afterwards. Instead, find a stepping stone to move forward. Failure is a requirement for growth. It’s accompanied by exploration, curiosity, pursuit, action, and flexibility. And most importantly, reflecting on and learning lessons that can be constructively shared with others.
    4. Curiosity. What are you curious about? Curiosity is a precursor to learning. Though it’s easy to be consumed with the daily challenges of leadership roles, it’s important to take time to explore insights in related areas to stimulate thought processes, and spur new ideas. Research shows that successful CEOs are curious, and this curiosity leads to growth. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook started his Year of Books online reading club to encourage discovery about different beliefs, cultures and technologies. And Richard Kinder, Chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan reads about 50 books a year. He learns from how other leaders have confronted challenges, particularly overwhelming ones for which they had few ready answers. His curiosity in reading is linked to his interests, and fuels his passion for learning. So dig into those areas that you’re curious about, and your learning will form the basis for future growth.
    5. Service. What does my team need from me in order for them to be successful? As a leader, your responsibility is to serve your employees, enabling them in turn to provide value to customers, investors, and the community. You serve your team by creating a compelling vision, and providing the processes, tools and structure to support innovation, recognition, teamwork, and success. Service requires a continual focus on others to understand their needs, motivations, and aspirations, and to provide them with opportunities for growth. This includes a measure of humility to steer the focus from your own, to the teams’ accomplishments, and to ensure that your decisions serve them and not yourself. Service also provides a greater connection to the team as you partner together in the organization’s success. Leaders who focus on service take responsibility when things go wrong. Leaders who focus on service empower their team. Leaders who focus on service attract, retain and develop talented people.

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    Creative Self-Confidence


    David Kelley’s goal is to build world class designers. He’s the founder of IDEO, a Silicon Valley global design firm whose objective is to create impact through design; and the Stanford “D” school which trains students from various disciplines to incorporate design thinking into their work. Kelley’s firm is known for designing some of the most intriguing ideas, such as the first computer mouse for Apple, the defibrillator that talks to you during an emergency, and the stand-up toothpaste tube. They have expertise and capabilities in brand building, health and wellness, medical products, digital experiences, and business design, to name just a few.

    His underlying premise is that everyone is creative. We simply stop displaying our creativity as we grow up and are encouraged to conform to established norms around us, and therefore it ebbs away. Kelley works with his students to develop and release this creative confidence again; to help them learn to try new things. According to an interview with Charlie Rose in a January 6, 2013, 60 Minutes feature story on IDEO, one of the ways he gains new design ideas is by watching people. Kelley is empathetic to understand what they really value and how they operate in their environment, and his team interviews people to see what they think and feel.  Kelley builds world-class designers who in turn design break-through inventions.  He builds teams of individuals from vastly different backgrounds and leverages their differences to create new solutions, even in areas where they have no natural expertise.


    Creative Steps

    David Kelley’s work is fascinating, but everyone won’t have the benefit of working with someone of his caliber.  So how can you develop a team with a greater creative self-confidence? Consider these tips.

    ·        Thinking environment – Most of us operate in a “doing” environment. We establish processes and routines around what we do and how we handle situations. This creates efficient systems but robs us of the possibilities of improvement and creativity, because we fail to stop and “think” about how we could operate differently. In a “thinking” environment, people are encouraged to reflect on what’s happening, why it’s happening, and alternatives to the current state that will help us reach the desired outcomes. When one person in the team does this, he or she may be considered difficult to work with.  But when an entire team or organization takes time to think through certain situations, they can stimulate break through ideas. Collective ideas make progress.

    ·        Spirit of curiosity – Accepting the status quo limits our thinking. What if the Wright brothers had simply accepted that no one had been successful in building a flying machine, and therefore stopped trying? There’s always pressure to keep doing things the way they’ve always been done, thus conformity becomes the enemy of creativity. All of the inventions we depend on today (like my iPhone, iPad, laptop, etc.) are the result of someone having a spirit of curiosity about how things might work if we just kept trying different alternatives.

    ·        Emphasis on quality, not quantity – Ultimately, one is always sacrificed for the other.  It’s impossible to have an equal balance of both. But at some point, in the development of every new idea or plan, a decision must be made on which one is more important. The appropriate emphasis on quality has the potential to yield a more creative outcome when you consider broader alternatives.

    ·        Nurturing new ideas – Some companies pay lip service to programs soliciting suggestions from employees. They fail however to commit sufficient resources to evaluating these ideas, and to fully engage the organization in valuing different perspectives and approaches. Though only a small percentage of ideas may be workable, the process of getting creative juices flowing and nurturing ideas, creates a stimulating environment where employees are more likely to explore alternatives.  In the 60 Minutes piece, Kelley described growing up in an environment where when something broke, he was expected to take it apart and find a way to fix it. This environment nurtured the creative genius in him. Similarly, Hackathons, first popular in Silicon Valley, provide a nurturing environment when groups of people come together to solve a problem, or develop new solutions or technology.

    ·        Interact with different people – You’ve heard that Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. So it stands to reason that if you hang around with the same people, or people just like you, then you’ll probably keep thinking the same thoughts.  This is natural for most of us because we’re attracted to people who share similar interests. But if you want to stimulate creativity, find people to talk with who have different perspectives. Find people who have different expertise, interests and ways of doing things. Throw a problem into the discussion and open your mind to learn from their different approaches to solving it.  You can bring together a cross disciplinary team at work to solve a problem (yes, ask a finance person to help you solve an engineering problem), or give you new ideas on how to approach it.

    Most of all, to build creative self-confidence in their teams, leaders must look for opportunities to identify and reward creativity in the behaviors of those around them. Even when the results aren’t as practical or useful, recognize the effort and encourage others to replicate it.

    Think again about the computer mouse.  Nothing like it existed before. Consumers weren’t used to this type of device. The design had to be simple and intuitive, and they had to consider eye-hand coordination with the visual screen, along with the look and feel of it. That’s creating something out of nothing.

    So how have you exercised your creativity lately? What are you inspired to do differently? Have you placed yourself in a different environment so that you can see things from a different perspective? Developing creative self-confidence begins with you, and then you can spread it to others. So hurry up and start now so that you can nurture others around you.

    Watch the 60 Minutes video here.

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