Late last year, I had the honour and privilege to hear Jim Collins speak at a conference. If you’re a recent MBA graduate, I’m sure you’re very well versed in his work, and if you’re like me, you worship the man. No person has had more of an impact and influence on the evolution of business and leadership since Peter Drucker. And I’m not just saying that because I work for GE.
Hearing Jim Collins speak, I gained that much more respect for him because of his passion. It seeped out every pore of his body as he delivered his keynote. So I paid particular attention when he addressed the young aspiring leaders, like me, in the audience. And I’m pretty sure the subsequent 10 minutes changed my life.
He asked that we, as young and aspiring leaders, consider 10 things as they relate to our lives and careers. I have been considering, and continue to consider them, and on the heals of the best performance review I have ever received, I can tell you that they have had a profound impact on my life. Whether you’re running your own business, considering a new career path, or climbing the corporate ladder in an organization, I am certain, that if you consider these 10 things, you will set yourself apart as a GREAT leader.
10 Things for Aspiring Leaders to Consider
1. Build a Personal Board of Directors – Select 6 or 7 people from different walks of life, in different industries and professional careers to act as your advisors. But don’t choose them for their accomplishment or their ability to influence your career trajectory first hand. Choose them for their character. You don’t have to tell them that they’re on your Personal Board of Directors. You don’t even have to know them personally. In his speech, Jim Collins talked about how Peter Drucker was on his Board of Directors just through reading his books and teachings. He would always ask himself, “What would Peter Drucker do?”
2. Turn Off Your Electronic Devices – We are sooo consumed by devices and gadgets and social media. I checked my Facebook five times, Twitter three times and my e-mail twice while writing to this point in my blog. For many years, every hour and minute of my life was accounted for. But effective people take the time to THINK! Undistracted by anything. I’m now in the habit of protecting a pocket of free time in my daily calendar. I use this time to read, to reflect on the day or upcoming initiatives or to simply just BE and enjoy some quiet time in my otherwise noisy day and mind. I come out of this time with new perspective on things, innovative ideas and sometimes just renewed energy and passion to surge forward.
3. Work on Your “Three Circles” – Engage in non-judgemental, empirical observation of what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about and what makes you useful. Study yourself like scientists would study a bug. Get input from those who know and love you and use that information as “empirical data”. It’s where what you are good at, what you are passionate about and what people will pay you to do (three circles) intersect, that you will find the sweet spot which will propel your career forward.
4. Double Your Questions-to-Statements Ratio – During this part of his speech, Jim Collins recalled a time when one of his mentors told him that he spends a lot of his time trying to BE interesting when he should channel that energy towards being interestED. I’m sure you have all instantly thought of at least one person who does exactly this. The bottom line is, ask questions and learn from EVERYBODY you meet. One of my favourite Jim Collin’s quotes, is “The best students are those who never fully believe their teachers”.
5. What’s On Your “Stop Doing” List? – If you woke up tomorrow morning to the news that you have inherited $20 million, but also had a terminal disease with 10 years to live, what would you stop doing?
6. Action Your “Stop Doing” List – Life is just too short. And think about the amount of time this will free up for the things you WANT to do.
7. Unplug The Opportunities That Distract You – Take only the opportunities that fit with your value system and your plan. Just because something is a once in a lifetime opportunity doesn’t mean it’s the right opportunity for you. Make sure it aligns with your three circles.
8. Find Your Passion – Find something for which you have SO MUCH passion, that you’re willing to endure the pain.
9. Articulate the Values That You WILL NOT Compromise – Make this the guiding compass for all your decisions.
10. Re-frame Your Timing Expectations – Prepare to live a life where at the age of 65, you’re one third of the way through your work.
What’s your passion?