What's your favorite disguise? [/meta]

posted by letter shredder @ 11:59 a.m. on 1/20/2006

"Great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex and sex disguised as love..."
                                          -- Lester Bangs, Almost Famous

Friday, May 19, 2006

Picking Potential Leaders by Dr. John C. Maxwell

posted by letter shredder at 11:56 AM

I promised to post about the trip I just had. Through this blog, I would want to share the experience and relive every single detail that made it complete. But I thought that this one is something more important that I must share with everyone.

This was e-mailed to me by one of my business mentors. I hope you get a lot from it and be able to apply them as well (emphasis mine).


by Dr. John C. Maxwell

The Law of the Inner Circle: Those who are closest to me will determine the level of my success.

The year was 1864. The battle for America's future had been raging for over two and a half years. Brother fought brother and neighbor fought neighbor to determine the destiny of a nation.

Despite having a superior economy, an enormous edge in resources, and a far greater population, the North had been unable to gain the upper hand in the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln was frustrated at the North's inability to achieve victory.

Lincoln was forced to confront the reality of the Law of the Inner Circle. Although a brilliant leader, Lincoln was not a military man. As such, his success overseeing the Civil War depended upon finding a skillful field general to translate material advantages into actual victories.

Lincoln's two prior military commanders, George McClellan and Henry Halleck, had failed miserably. Each had repeatedly squandered opportunities to crush the Southern Army. With the war's outcome hanging in the balance, Lincoln's next selection would be one of the biggest decisions of his Presidency.

Noting the indecisiveness of previous army generals, Lincoln chose tough-minded Ulysses S. Grant to lead the army. Grant's willingness to pay the price of a total war depleted the South's scant resources, and led to the North's eventual victory.

Identifying Potential Leaders

Good leaders realize the significance of surrounding themselves with talented people. That's why leaders repeatedly ask me, "How can I be sure to hire the right person?"

I have never discovered a foolproof hiring practice, but I do know finding a great hire goes hand in hand with identifying potential leaders.

Over the course of the next two editions of Leadership Wired, I'll explore eleven questions I use to spot a potential leader. Before I begin, I'd like to give credit to my mentor and friend Fred Smith. Several of these questions were developed from my conversations with him.

1. When looking for a leader, do I see a constructive spirit of discontent?

Constructive discontent is a leader's unscratchable itch. It's the trait making a leader averse to average and opposed to the status quo.

Potential leaders possessing constructive discontent will question existing systems and push for improvements. They perceive problems and come up with solutions.

As Kouzes and Posner say, leaders have a pioneering instinct. They are not afraid to step out into the unknown. They are willing to take risks, innovate, and experiment in order to find new and better ways to operate.

2. Do they offer practical ideas?

Highly original thinkers can have problems leading when they are unable to judge their ideas realistically. Brainstorming is not a helpful practice in leadership unless useful ideas are generated.

In the words of John Galsworthy, "Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem." Potential leaders have the rare ability to translate idealistic goals into realistic and workable actions. Leaders are not frozen when obstacles disrupt the perfect plan. They have the flexibility and fortitude to account for resistance to the ideal.

3. When they speak, who listens?

Potential leaders have a "holding court" quality about them. Their words carry weight. What they say is valuable and inspires action.

When watching groups of people interact, in a matter of five minutes, I can pick the leader every time. When it comes time for the group to make a decision, all eyes focus upon the person with the greatest influence.

The extent of a person's influence speaks volumes about their potential in leadership. Here are seven key areas to evaluate the level of influence in a possible hire:

Character - who they are.

Relationships - who they know.

Knowledge - what they know.

Passion - how strongly they feel.

Experience - where they've been.

Past successes - what they've done.

Ability - what they can do.

4. Do others respect them?

Respect is vital for leadership, yet it can be difficult to discern in young leaders who have not fully developed. Peer respect doesn't reveal ability, but it shows character. I'll conclude this edition with the following acronym on respect. I have found it to be a helpful device to evaluate the respectability of emerging leaders.

R - Respects their coworkers and exhibits self-respect. Instead of asking for respect, they give it and earn it.

E - Exceeds the expectations of others. Naturally sets the bar higher than anybody else sets it for them.

S - Stands firm on convictions and values.

P - Possesses maturity well beyond their years and shows self-confidence.

E - Experiences a healthy family life.

C - Contributes to the success of others.

T - Thinks ahead of others. Potential leaders are marked by their ability to outpace the thinking of those around them.


This seems incomplete, but as soon as I get the other questions and their respective answers, I'll post them.

Comments are always welcome.

2 revealed their disguise

2 Masks: Blogger Chas Ravndal whispered...

a good leader is also a good follower.

7:08 PM   Anonymous Naomi whispered...

I am a H-U-G-E fan of Maxwell. Great post. Cool site.

11:02 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home