Over the past four decades, I’ve spent a good part of my life working to grow and develop leaders, and the one thing I believe just as strongly today as I did forty years ago is that everything rises and falls on leadership.
Leadership is the difference maker and the deal breaker. It’s how we grow organizations. It’s how we impact lives. But, as you also know, leadership cannot be an idea we simply talk about. Leadership is the action we must live out.
For the past two years, The John Maxwell Company has been serving to help individuals and organizations live out the proven leadership principles that I teach. The purpose of The John Maxwell Company is to simply help you apply what you’ve learned through our intentional leadership development programs. Those programs include the Maximum Impact Club, public and private training events, and executive and management coaching. Now we also have Leadership Wired, the company blog.
With the move of Leadership Wired from an email newsletter to a blog, we’re excited to provide up-to-the-minute information and teaching on leadership all in one place (JohnMaxwell.com/blog). And next month, John Maxwell on Leadership will transition over to that location and become a part of Leadership Wired. I’ll still give you my current thoughts on leadership and personal growth, just at a new address.
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At Leadercast a few years ago, I fielded a very timely question.
During lunch, a young man asked,
“How does a good leader handle layoffs? Especially when they need to lay off a good and valued employee?”
Here’s what I believe:
First, I don’t think a leader should ask others to make sacrifices until he’s made some himself. So I’d examine other company expenses to see what could be sacrificed instead. So many executives, when faced with the need to cut costs, will sacrifice employees ahead of their own corporate perks. Instead of looking at the big picture, they see only their OWN picture.
But if an organization is only as strong as its weakest link, then leaders should do everything they can to avoid removing a STRONG link. A good employee is simply too valuable to let go without exhausting other options.
I do the same when hiring. I’ve always believed that if you find a good potential employee, you do whatever you can to get them on the team – even if it means creating a position or changing the budget. I once even gave up my own budgeted salary for a year in order to hire the leader I wanted to run one of my companies.
You may not be able to sacrifice your salary to keep an employee, but if they’re truly valuable, you certainly should be willing to give up the box seats at the baseball stadium, or use of the corporate jet, or your company-paid gym membership.
And after all the budget-busting, if you still need to lay good people off, then make it your goal to help them find a new position. Tell them you will be their #1 advocate. Offer to be a reference in their job hunt. Network on their behalf. Write the recommendation letter and/or make the phone call to the potential employer. Do whatever you can to ease their transition.
Finally, ask if you can remain friends even if they can no longer be on your staff. Who knows what the future may bring? Besides, as a leader, your goal should be to add value to the people you lead. When good employees leave and take a new position, it might offer them better opportunities than what you could have provided.
Originally posted May 20, 2009
I believe it is a normal human desire to be concerned about how we look on the outside. There’s nothing wrong with that. What can get us in trouble is worrying more about how we look on the outside than about how we really are on the inside. Our reputation comes from what others believe about our outside. Our character represents who we are on the inside. And the good news is that if you focus on being better on the inside than the outside, over time you will also become better on the outside. Why do I say that?
The Inside Influences the Outside
More than twenty-five hundred years ago, the Proverbs writer noted that as we think in our hearts, so we become. That ancient idea has been both echoed by other wisdom writers and confirmed by modern science. Coaches teach the importance of visualization for winning. Psychologists point out the power of self-image on people’s actions. Doctors note the impact of positive attitude and hope on healing.
What we believe really matters. We reap what we sow. What we do or neglect to do in the privacy of our daily lives impacts who we are. If you neglect your heart, mind, and soul, it changes who you are on the outside as well as the inside.
Inside Victories Precede Outside Ones
If you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, then someday you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them. In other words, before you can do, you must be.
I have often observed people who seemed to be doing all the right things on the outside, yet they were not experiencing success. When that happens, I usually conclude that something is wrong on the inside and needs to be changed. The right motions outwardly with wrong motives inwardly will not bring lasting progress. Right outward talking with wrong inward thinking will not bring lasting success. Expressions of care on the outside with a heart of hatred or contempt on the inside will not bring lasting peace. Continual growth and lasting success are the result of aligning the inside and the outside of our lives. And getting the inside right must come first—with solid character traits that provide the foundation for growth.
Our Inside Development Is Totally within Our Control
We often cannot determine what happens to us, but we can always determine what happens within us. Jim Rohn said,
Character is a quality that embodies many important traits such as integrity, courage, perseverance, confidence, and wisdom. Unlike your fingerprints that you were born with and can’t change, character is something that you create within yourself and must take responsibility for changing.
When we fail to make the right character choices within us, we give away ownership of ourselves. We belong to others—to whatever gains control of us. And that puts us in a bad place. How can you ever reach your potential and become the person you can be if others are making your choices for you?
Doug Firebaugh, author and multi-level marketing expert, says, “Winning in life is more than just money…it’s about winning on the inside…and knowing that you have played the game of life with all you had…and then some.” If you want to be successful, you must prioritize building your inside ahead of your outside.
Several years ago, teenage millionaire phenomenon Farrah Gray wrote a book called Reallionaire. He coined the term to describe “someone who has discovered that there is more to money than having money. A person who understands that success is not just about being rich in your pocket; you have to be rich on the inside, too.” At a tender age, he recognized that money without a strong character foundation can lead not to success but to ruin. If you have any doubt, just look at the number of famous child actors and young pop stars who have crashed and burned. Their stories are often sad because they focused on the externals of life instead of building internally to give themselves a strong foundation when fame and fortune came. Theirs is a fate we need to work hard to avoid by focusing on improving on the inside more than the outside.
What kind of impact do you want to make in this world? Most of us desire to do something that matters, something important. I believe that people are more important than anything else on this earth. So impacting the lives of other people is one of the most significant things any one of us can do.
How can we positively impact the life of another person? Through encouragement! I believe it is one of the greatest gifts you or I can give someone else. These are some of my favorite quotes on the topic. I hope they inspire you to make a difference in the life of someone else this week.
“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” ~Zig Ziglar
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” ~Mother Teresa
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” ~Mark Twain
“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.” ~William Arthur Ward
“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” ~Booker T. Washington
“There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else.” ~George M. Adams
“I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth a greater effort under a spirit of approval then under a spirit of criticism.” ~Charles Schwab
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to him his own.” ~Benjamin Disraeli
“Treat a man as he appears to be and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“An automobile goes nowhere efficiently unless it has a quick, hot spark to ignite things, to set the cogs of the machine in motion. So I try to make every player on my team feel he’s the spark keeping our machine in motion.” ~Coach Knute Rockne
“How do you identify someone who needs encouragement? That person is breathing.” ~Truett Cathy
“You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.” ~Dale Carnegie