leadership

What We Can Learn From Quiet Leaders

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When you think of J.K. Rowling, I’m sure you think of incredible talent. She is a global leader regarding her celebrity status, financial fortune, and philanthropy. But, J.K. Rowling herself has said she is an introvert. So, she is a quiet leader by all accounts.

When she thought of the idea of her most famous character, Harry Potter, she said, “I had been writing almost continuously since the age of 6 but I had never been so excited about an idea before. To my immense frustration, I didn’t have a pen that worked, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one.”

Imagine being inspired by a terrific idea and then being too timid to ask anyone for a pen so you can get it down on paper before the idea escaped?

J.K. Rowling is not the only one who is a quiet leader. History has many examples for us:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Bill Gates
  • Elon Musk
  • Tim Cook
  • Isaac Newton
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

I think we tend to have an understanding that “leadership” is brash and bold. It’s extroverted. It may even be loud. There’s a flurry of activity around a leader.

However, that’s not always the case, and we have to do more in business and life to realize we have outstanding leaders who are quiet. And leaders can come to the forefront at any given moment. Sometimes, in the most trying circumstances we see the greatest leadership. But in that chaos, there may be an imposing force within someone that others follow.

From a business perspective, lets take the leadership of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. It’s an excellent case study of two leaders within Apple.

Steve Jobs

We all know that Steve Jobs is an iconic innovator. Jobs’ powerful character is now legendary. He was someone who was fierce in his vision. He was loud and demanded perfection. No detail was too large or too small for him not to notice. He was relentless with his team to keep pushing further.

Although it was probably not easy to work for Jobs, he was exceptional in his vision, and that is what propelled his team and Apple forward. Team members wanted to be part of the creating the world he saw initially in his mind, and because of his innovative vision, we have the products that fundamentally changed the way we communicate, listen to music and work.

Tim Cook

Tim Cook is the counterpoint to Steve Jobs, and many say he’s the right person to be CEO following Steve Jobs. I think that because of Cook’s quiet and introverted style, the media and perhaps even the world is less fascinated with him––with all due respect to Mr. Cook. However, he is no less a leader.

While Jobs was one for talking, Cook is a listener. Quiet leaders have a great ability for listening and being tuned into their surroundings, and this brings harmony into an organization. Team members feel that their ideas and thoughts are relevant and meaningful, and for Cook, personally connecting with customers is important as well.

In an article that Cook gave to Businessweek, he said, “You can learn a tremendous amount in a store. I get a lot of e-mails and so forth, but it’s a different dimension when you’re in a store and talking to customers face to face. You get the vibe of the place…Not allowing yourself to become insular is very important—maybe the most important thing, I think, as a CEO.”

In other words, Cook has the humbleness to understand that he does not have all of the answers. He is willing and open to listening to others.

Lassana Bathily

Leadership can be anywhere. In the case of Jobs and Cook, these individuals have been the CEO of one of the largest companies in the world. However, if you think you have to be the “boss” to be the leader, you’re missing the point. We tend to think of the person in charge as the leader, but look around you. It can be anyone and practically any circumstance.

One of the most impressive examples of leadership that I recall came under the most trying of situations. Lassana Bathily was a clerk in a store in Paris in January of 2015. As many of us remember, that month terrorists attacked the City of Lights beginning with the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

A few days later one of the terrorists entered a grocery store where Bathily worked. When Bathily understood what was happening, he took matters into his own hands and became a hero and leader in a hostage situation.

He quickly ushered frightened customers downstairs into the freezer of the store. He then turned off the lights, asked everyone to please remain as calm and quiet as possible and closed the door.

His quick thinking helped save the lives of six people who could have easily died in the hostage situation. He took a lift after safely placing the customers in the freezer and escaped quietly onto the street. Once he got on the street, he provided valuable information to the police about what was happening inside of the store.

Desmond Doss

Through history, there are countless stories of leadership in even the most challenging circumstances. Not too long ago I watched an excellent movie called “Hacksaw Ridge.” The true story is about a conscientious objector during World War II. His name was Desmond Doss.

Like many of the men in his community during that time, he felt compelled to serve and joined the Army––despite the fact he refused to kill or hold a firearm. He wanted to serve only as a medic helping the soldiers, but even medics carried guns into battle. Doss was tested severely for his quiet principles by his fellow soldiers and even the Army when he was court-martialed. When he went into battle in the South Pacific, he was surrounded by extreme violence. But, this quiet person did the incredible. He rose to the occasion as a leader, and he saved 75 men during heated battles, never once holding a firearm, much less firing a single shot. He earned the respect of his fellow soldiers and officers.

So next time you think about leadership, reflect on the quiet leaders. One of the most prominent in history was Mahatma Gandhi. He is yet another example of quiet leadership that changed, in his case, a nation and the world.

We can all aspire to be leaders, but we don’t have to do it all in the same way. It can be quiet and thoughtful and still make an incredible difference.

 

Please don’t forget to follow my blog at Living on Your Terms and like my Facebook Page.

Posted: April 13, 2017

© 2017 Savas Vikos all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Savas Vikos with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Your Brain on Greed

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Greed over the years has had different and, at times, controversial connotations. Some claim greed is good. This has been depicted, for example, in movies when it comes to young aggressive stockbrokers, car salesmen, etc.

The truth of the matter is, at times greed helps sell items and services. There are mainly two forces that will make an individual buy what you want them to buy. One is greed; greed for getting something that will help them get more benefit than others. In other words, if someone doesn’t act on the purchase, he or she stands to lose something.

The second force is fear of loss, or what someone might not get if they do not act on a particular opportunity that appeared to them.

This principle has been used in sales for many years.

What is Greed?

But, what is greed and how has it transformed our collective way of thinking over the years? According to the dictionary, greed is the self-serving desire to further the pursuit of money, wealth, power or other possessions. This especially happens when it denies the same to others.

Whether greed is considered good or not, it is for you to decide and apply it or not to your life according to your values.

Effects of Greed

But, realize this, greed has brought many people problems in this world. The problems are too many to list, but wars have been started because of greed. Corporations have acted against people’s interests because of greed. Often, politics does not serve the many, but the few, because of greed. Income inequality can be traced back to greed. For example, in the United States, the top 1 percent owns more wealth then the bottom 90 percent. Obviously we have an issue of inequality.

Anywhere you look, whatever the country, it’s probably safe to say that many people feel things are not getting any easier for them. And, the fact of the matter is that greed and the affects of greed will not get any better with time. On the contrary, it seems as if the differences are getting more pronounced.

How Can We Prosper?

The only way that I see it is to be a self-starter. Each one of us has to be innovative and creative. More and more of us will be forced to go out and start our own businesses. If you haven’t seen the trends yet, please do some research. Full-time jobs are on the decline. If you think you’re going to have your job for five, seven or ten years, think again. You’re on your own.

Your best bet is to create your own business, small company or organization and offer a solution to others in some form of product or service. Only then, can you feel that you have some control over the forces that are in action in today’s world. Only then, can you feel that you can call some of the shots.

Social Good

But while you’re out there on your own, being your own headhunting firm with a client roster of one–you, remember a few other things. Most of us are in the lifeboat with you. Be empathetic to other people’s needs. There’s no need to be all about greed. Try to help wherever you can and if you can dedicate a percentage of your profits to a good cause, I’m sure it can use the help.

As tough as things are in the world, we are moving toward shared social responsibility. People notice companies and businesses that are dedicated to social good, as well as profits.

We might not be able to change the world, but we can each demonstrate what we can do in the midst of chaos, confusion and uncertainty. Make people aware of what is going on. Help people understand that you’re going to lend your voice to social good by creating a business environment that will be respectful of people’s needs. Business decisions can be profitable and not adverse to others. There’s no need to work with greed as your primary or only motivation. It’s a fine line, but a happy medium does exist.

The world would be a better place if all of us were more giving. And although you might be thinking what difference you can make being only one person, the fact is that you can make a difference. In Margaret Mead’s words, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Just think what all of us can achieve one person at a time. If we could set aside our egocentric desires and think in terms of what good can come of our lives, we can change someone else’s life and prosper.

Please don’t forget to follow my blog at Life on Your Terms and like my Facebook Page.

Posted: July 24, 2015

© 2015 Savas Vikos all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Savas Vikos with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

15 Traits of a Good Leader

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In my life I had the privilege to work for a few good people with great leadership skills and I also realized that in the midst of it all, I came across some managers with practically no skills, who happen to be in their positions for reasons unbeknownst to me (eg. right connections at the right time, etc). The problem for them was they either failed to realize or were in denial about their lack of skills. This resulted in the team(s) they led failing to produce the expected results since the leadership vision and the right goals were not there from the beginning. It never stops amazing me how some organizations operate with so many basic principles not in place.

But, let us talk about some of the main traits of effective leaders and what organizations should aspire to when they are looking to fill a position, whether promoting from within or looking outside the organization for talent.

1) Confidence – A leader should exude an air of confidence. They should come across as being experienced and knowing how to handle the position as well as the people entrusted to them.

2) Vision – They should be able to show their teams where they’re going, why they need to get there and how they’re going to achieve it through goal setting and the right strategy.

3) Effective Communication – They should be able to get their message through clearly and in a timely manner to both the people they manage as well as to their higher-ups.

4) Honesty – They should come across as genuine and honest in their communication and how they relate to everyone. People can understand easily if leaders mean what they say or are going through the motions as part of the job requirements.

5) Inspiration – Great leaders should be able to motivate employees through inspiration. A leader should get the team(s) interested toward the common goal. People always need that extra push to reach their potential especially when life and other tasks interfere.

6) Fearlessness – A leader should be fearless. Most times in life things do not go as planned. Life happens, unexpected scenarios occur and the right person should be able to handle pressure and stress well and not let distractions or interruptions get in their way.

7) Focus – A leader should always have the eye on the task at hand. No matter what happens, he or she must be able to be organized and handle anything head-on and leading by example.

8) Effective Delegation – A leader should be able to conceive the idea at a high level and delegate accordingly to the respective team members the ways to contribute towards its completion.

9) Creativity – A leader should be creative coming up with ideas and alternatives, thinking outside the box and having the innate intuition to act on something at the right time.

10) Fairness – Not coming across as a know-it-all individual. A leader should be able to give credit to the members of the team for a job well done.

11) Respect – By being respectful of employees, a leader will earn their respect.

12) Flexibility – A good leader will be open minded and adaptable to changes. In the business world as well in life everything is in constant flux. Everything changes. In addition be able to tweak existing strategy, recalibrating and adjusting accordingly is a necessary, without missing a beat.

13) Responsibility – Learn from mistakes and accept responsibility without passing the blame to others. The team realizes that the person in charge is human and this individual should have the humility to declare that something was wrong and is reevaluating by redesigning and building better alternative options and efficiencies.

14) Positiveness – An effective leader should be positive and enthusiastic. Always starting a meeting with something positive to say and not constantly warning and reprimanding people.

15) Empathy – Last but not least, a good leader should show that the person cares for the team genuinely. Setting time for employee suggestions and issues. In addition, when things are going according to plan, a good leader should acknowledge that and offer some measure of reward.

Please don’t forget to follow my blog at Life on Your Terms and like my Facebook Page.

Posted: April 28, 2014

© 2014 Savas Vikos all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Savas Vikos with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.