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8 Principles of Dynamic Leadership

8 Principles of Dynamic Leadership

Together, we are on a leadership journey. A journey to become more competent individuals, efficient managers and dynamic leaders.

This quest involves sharing our unique experiences, learned principles and fundamental leadership lessons. This deliberate personal development is the reason I am writing this article and the reason you are sharing your time with me. This is what will make us more dynamic leaders and increase our chances of success in new roles and challenges. Here are my eight principles of dynamic leadership:

1. Focus on positive change.

Simple change is not positive and is the reason phrases like ‘continuous improvement’ become both white-collar buzzwords and blue-collar jokes. For a change to be positive, it must decrease the time required, increase efficiency, improve structure or increase simplicity. That’s it, simply put. No belt colors, no change coaches, no consulting fees. Every desired or required improvement must meet at least one of these criteria. If it doesn’t, don’t do it.

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2. Question everything: yesterday is interesting but irrelevant.

The military has an aspect most businesses do not: frequent 100% manpower turnover. Although many see this as a negative, a dynamic leader capitalizes on it. The welcome-aboard meeting with each new member of your organization should include this simple task: question everything. These two words must be a condition of employment. Empower them to always question the way business is done to find a better way to function. The newness of a job will wear off in six to nine months. Before this happens, ask why the organization does each task the current way.

Determine if their fresh, unvarnished opinion can yield positive change. The problem with this tactic is new employees are afraid of rocking the boat in the eyes of current ‘experts.’ For this strategy to be successful, leaders must instill in the culture of the organization a mentality that positive change is vital to the improvement of the team and continued success. Always remember yesterday may have brought you to today, but it most likely will not carry you through tomorrow. Embrace new ideas, new methods, and always question the assumptions that define your business model.

3. Don’t be a ninth letter leader.

Caution must be used with ‘I, me, mine’ terminology by leaders. These words are the natural selection of many individuals and can unintentionally offend others. When building a culture of teamwork, these three singular personal pronouns interject individualism and possessiveness. Instead, dynamic leaders maximize the use of ‘we, us, our’ phrases. They allow the development of a mutual solution where all parties believe in shared success.

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To fully understand the power of this concept, count the times people use I, me and my in their daily exchanges. Now, think how the topic might be received differently if every one of those individually possessive words were replaced with the team building terms we, us and our. This simple pronoun change creates a side-by-side stance, drawing attention to common interests and shared effort. This subtle point, a simple strategy, will greatly influence team building and help build your case as a win-win instead of win-lose. Don’t be overly possessive; if ‘I’ take credit for a success, it does not build ‘Us’ as a team. Do you overuse the ninth letter of our alphabet…the letter ‘I’?

4. Know the true measure of leadership is not found in an individual, but the individuals developed.

Never value your success as a leader over that of the individuals you lead. Your primary job as a leader is to develop your replacement, to put yourself out of a job.

5. Be efficient effectively.

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurajo/4568372067

    Notice the choice of words of the goal – efficiently effective. Priority One of leadership and the goal of any organization is to be effective. This means the focus of development, of all efforts, must first be on meeting the predefined goal. Once that is guaranteed, then, and only then, we must turn our attention to efficiently accomplishing the task.

    6. Time is of the essence.

    Time is the most critical resource of every organization, each individual and all leaders. Next time a meeting starts 15 minutes late, look around the room and count your team members. Think of what could have been done in that wasted time. Think of the average hourly wage for the room. Do the math of how much your tardiness cost the company in real dollars, then add the frustration endured by your team (which is priceless).

    Personally, I am writing this post in my notebook. It looks like I am taking incredible notes as I frequently look up to give my best, active-listening, head-nod acknowledgment and make direct eye contact with the speaker. We are entering hour four of a two-hour meeting with 29 of my peers and supervisors. Fortunately, I am capitalizing on this time by putting my thoughts and frustrations on paper. Unfortunately, this has crippled our staff and made today a total loss. It will take us at least three days to get our head back above water and take a breath because 26 onlookers were forced to watch a conversation by four individuals. By my rough calculation, this meeting cost us $9072 without even factoring in the opportunity cost! A dynamic leader always weighs risk/reward or cost/benefit for every action/inaction. A dynamic leader values everyone’s time the way they want theirs treated.

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    7. Indecision is still a decision.

    A leader is continually asked to make decisions with incomplete and variable data sets. The choices many times are not right or wrong, but differing degrees of good enough with conflicting second and third order effects. This draws many leaders into analysis paralysis where a decision is delayed into nonexistence because of the continual search for a perfect solution. A dynamic leader knows their worth is determined by their ability to properly analyze situations and take deliberate, calculated risks to move the team forward.

    8. Leadership is a process not a position.

    A dynamic leader yearns for knowledge, for experience, to improve their leadership skill set. They realize leadership is not defined by the title on the door, but daily actions. A dynamic leader grows daily and learns as much as possible from every conversation, meeting, interaction and experience.

    A dynamic leader knows anything is possible. Please help me add to this list in the comments below.

    Featured photo credit: Olivier Carré-Delisle via flickr.com

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    Chris Stricklin

    Leadership Consultant

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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