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Kevin Eikenberry

The truth is there is probably as much training available on project management as there is on any leadership topic or skill I could ever write about here. Of course that doesn’t guarantee that we are all getting better at it. In fact, my observation is that even with all of that training, experience and knowledge, most organizations aren’t getting much better at delivering projects on time and on budget.

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Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As I watched the speech again several times to write that piece on communication, I was struck by another, perhaps less obvious lesson.

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It’s been a few weeks since I have mowed a lawn. When you have a soon to be college senior doing his internship but living at home, the job gets delegated. I was thinking this morning that I will be mowing again in the coming weeks — and how I go about mowing my lawn. If I don’t say so myself, I am an expert at mowing lawns — I’ve been pushing and riding lawnmowers since I was about 8 years old. I’ve mowed many different yards, and my yard in Indianapolis hundreds of times.

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Leadership Learning — two words that I believe belong together. My company blog is called Leadership and Learning with KevinWe call our business a Leadership Learning Consulting company. We train, coach and consult with leaders around the world. And in my bestselling book Remarkable Leadership, the first leadership competency I talk about is a Continual Learner. In my view, you can’t be an effective leader unless you are willing to be a continual learner. The work is too complex and too important to assume we ever have it figured out completely. The best leaders know this and act accordingly.

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39 years ago today, I, along with 60 other campers at Camp Brethren Heights in central Michigan, were ushered into a room with a small black and white television to watch history — President Richard Nixon was going to announce his resignation. At 12, I knew enough to know this was a historic event, but I certainly couldn’t grasp the reasons why the president had gotten to that point.

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Achievers who are at the highest level have several things in common. Today I want to talk about one of those traits — one that when practiced as a leader has a multiplier effect. Let me start with some examples.

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Last week, I wrote about some of the challenges that keep us from delegating important work to others (and why John Wayne was part of the problem). Once you get past these challenges, there is really good news … you are freed up to do what you were really hired to do. When you aren’t trying to “do it all,” when you have empowered and delegated successfully to others, you can do the more important work of leadership — work that won’t likely get done otherwise.

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John Wayne taught (well, perhaps reinforced) the myth of the single hero. But the Duke’s world was a world of scripts and make-believe. The fact is that the only way for you to succeed as a leader is to bust that myth. You can’t do it alone, not if you want to succeed at the highest levels.

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When I ask people to list the qualities of great leaders, micromanager never makes the list. But if I ask people to list mistakes leaders make, micromanagement is always on the list. Are you a micromanager?

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Everyone reading these words has a place where they work. And most of you have a place where you work best. The goal of this article is to help you make sure those places are one and the same. If you work in a cubicle or office provided by your employer, you might think you can dismiss this article and move on to something else. Don’t …

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As leaders, we all have a lot of decisions to make, and since there are many, it can sometimes be difficult to stay on top of and feel confident about all of them. Would you like a framework, a process, a way to improve your decision-making effectiveness and your confidence in those decisions long after they are made?

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We see commitment and engagement all around us, yet, inside of our organizations we seem to ignore or forget the lessons. As a leader, our job is to encourage support and nurture the factors that lead to deeper commitment — helping people see the big picture, bringing the right people to the table, giving them a chance to make a real difference, letting them care.

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We need to talk about you and the success of your team. Part of that success comes from the level of commitment your team members have to the collective work. If you are reading these words, I know you understand that as a leader, you have a role to play in helping your team be more successful. This blog (and many others) exist, and trainers and consultants (like me) exist in part to provide you with tools, ideas and insights, but the reality is that the level of commitment that your team has to each other and the team itself starts with you.

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Ask most people what they think about when they consider creativity and innovation and most likely “structure” and “process” won’t be on the list. Would they be on yours? Most of us think about creativity as a free spirited, open-minded, capture-the-ideas-in-the-wind thing. We don’t associate it with words like discipline, structure, approach and process. If you value new ideas and innovation and you don’t include those words in your mental inventory, you are missing a (huge) opportunity.

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Last week, I did my best Jack Nicholson/Col. Jessup imitation to get you thinking about why you don’t have as much innovation in your team or organization as you wish. (You can read it here — but the short answer is that the challenge starts with you.) At the end of that article, I promised to give you some ways to support innovation in your organization this week.

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Ask my team and they will tell you I am full of (too many?) new ideas, and ask me and I will tell you that we don’t always innovate as much as I would like. Thinking about this paradox on a flight yesterday led me to look squarely at me. After all, if we aren’t innovating as much or as effectively as I’d like, the burden of changing that starts with me.

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The starting point for creating a great organizational attitude starts with what we are thinking about most of the time, because that literally starts the chain reaction. More directly, let’s talk about how we can manage what we think about—and that all starts with what we feed our minds.

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It happened again this week. I was leading a workshop with leaders across an organization and the question came up about attitude. Specifically, I was asked several questions that, paraphrased, were basically this: I have some attitude issues on my team — how can I improve the attitude of my team?

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Last week, I gave you a metaphor to consider—the idea that we romance clients or customers to get them (like a first few dates), but after they are clients we tend to focus less attention on them (like 10 years after the wedding). If you want to avoid this tendency—both personally and organizationally—here are five ideas to get you started.

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I’ve been married nearly 27 years, but I have a (vague) memory of the courtship process. You identify someone you would like to attract (we’ll call them a prospect) and begin selling. You work hard to be noticed, you let them know you are interested, you build a strategy for making a sale — and then if all goes well, you have a date.

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