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The Benevolent Dictator – Leadership Qualities – Part Three

Clear and Open - Leadership Qualities

To fight for beliefs
Is to reveal how afraid
You are of their untruth

What are the most important positive leadership qualities? Keep reading. Up to this point, we have talked about the importance of being a benevolent dictator and how becoming overwhelmed at work is a symptom of our choices. Now, we are going to take this a step further by remembering again that a business is not a democracy.

Not only do we Americans live in a democracy, but in a leading world power that asserts the idea absolutely that democracy is the greatest form of government and literally justifies acts of war with the notion. Of course, this isn’t unique to the states. More people have been killed in the name of someone’s supposed absolute truth than anything else in the history of our world.

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The Benevolent Dictator – Overwhelmed at Work – Part Two

Clear and Open - Overwhelmed at Work

Is the comfort you seek
A reward for your hard work
Or a flight from it?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, at home, and in your position as a leader, it is time to dig a little deeper into the topic of being a benevolent dictator. Last week we talked about how a business is not a democracy and that being a benevolent dictator in a position of power takes great responsibility. We also discussed how real independence includes the ability to surrender (in one’s own self-interest) to an authority who is smarter and more conscious than you are. Real independence means that you can lean into another whom you recognize aims to serve your highest good.

As long as people are more concerned with their comfort, security, and happiness rather than their personal growth and highest good as human beings, their choices will be based in self-stagnation rather than the pursuit and embodiment of human thrival. It takes a “philosopher king” to compassionately hold an individual’s feet to the fire and lovingly urge them to do what is uncomfortable in the short-term but will in the long term serve their highest good.

Happiness and comfort are sought so avidly not because they are the ultimate heights for human beings to achieve, but because the vast majority on our planet are struggling in some form of survival mode and so seek respite from their difficulty. This is, of course, understandable and to deeply feel the pain every moment of every day in our world takes a strong heart indeed.

But it is also tragic.

The tragedy is that individuals in survival mode are too often trapped in a negative feedback loop. A struggling survivalist has no space to step back and look at how they make decisions and express behaviors that are causing them to stay struggling. So, their overwhelm and difficulty justifies their inability to work ON their lives contextually, keeps them blended with the content that they swim in, and keeps them infinitely spinning in the painful life they do not realize they recreate for themselves every day. This is why they are overwhelmed at work and beyond.

This applies to the many people on our planet who spend most of their time each day taking care of basic needs like food, shelter, and water, obviously. What is not appreciated is how this loop also traps very successful looking, first world, business owners.

Owners who struggle to make payroll, to complete their to-do lists, to put out fires, to meet deadlines…this is the survival mode of the business world and it is called overwhelm. However, in the same way, a poverty-stricken person might likely assess their situation, business owners too often hold this as “just the way it is”—as if they have no choice in the matter.

You are not a victim of being overwhelmed at work, home, or anywhere else. You create it through your choices every day, probably without realizing it.

Being overwhelmed at work is a symptom, not a root cause.

Got it? Good. Next week, we’ll talk about being a leader—whether it is in your business, at home, or elsewhere in the world.

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and the end of business problems in the coaching industry, and the end of needless business trouble.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more, and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com.

The Benevolent Dictator – A Lesson in Management – Part One

Clear and Open - Lesson in Management

Power corrupts
The same way an unlocked door
Creates a thief

Looking for a lesson in management? Here’s one takeaway to consider—a business is not a democracy.

It is a dictatorship, though this is seldom appreciated.

Dictatorships have a very bad reputation in our world’s history. As Lord Acton is so often quoted, “Power tends to corrupt. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

But look at this idea again. Power corrupts?

How exactly does that work? Power is somehow an inherently evil force, like a demon? So, no one should have power? Is it like a virus?

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The Path to Solving Problems is Right in Front of You

Clear and Open - Solving Problems

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

You think you have an idea of your problem, but can’t ever seem to find a clear solution that gets down to the root of the issue.

You feel as though your relationships and interactions with staff, co-workers, and loved ones are missing something, but you can’t figure out what that is.

Your problems have been around for so long that you’ve resigned to thinking that this is just the way things are and there is never going to be a change.

You believe there is no way to make an impactful and lasting change in your business and personal life without some sort of catastrophic event.

It doesn’t have to be that way! 

INTRODUCING CLEAR THE ISSUE… AN ELEVEN WEEK COURSE DESIGNED TO HELP YOU MAKE LASTING CHANGE

CLEAR the Issue is a problem-solving methodology I’ve developed and honed for over fifteen years. Most people live and work with problems that have simple (but not necessarily easy) solutions only because no one ever taught them skills like critical thinking, root cause analysis, specificity in language and other relatively basic tools. We’re conditioned to think many of our problems can’t change, and this is the basic assumption that holds everything that doesn’t work firmly in place.

What would it be like to look at almost any problem and instantly see the solution path? It’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Most of us are taught ways of thinking that counteract critical thinking and root cause analysis. It’s easier than you think to learn, and most of it is about letting go of perspectives that no longer serve you. This is a practical, hands-on course where you will use the problems you bring to learn problem-solving. You will solve some of your long-standing, stubborn problems by the end of this course.

What you are about to learn will very likely help you solve problems you’ve had for so long you’ve come to accept them as “just the way it is.” Your first step is to open your mind. Assume any problem can be solved. Imagine anything can change. Believe it’s possible to solve problems you’ve had for years in a matter of months–not with magical thinking, but with a powerful tool you will use to develop your skill and awareness as a problem solver.

We call this tool, CLEAR, and it’s the basis of everything we do at Clear and Open. In this tool, CLEAR stands for the following:

Clearly state the problem
List the total impact
Explore root causes
Assess personal accountability
Realize small next steps

This introduction to the CLEAR problem-solving method is self-paced. There are short assignments at the end of each lesson to help you retain and apply what you’re learning.

EACH WEEK FOR ELEVEN WEEKS YOU WILL RECEIVE:

Weekly live webcasts (Thursdays at  11:15 AM PT) and supporting lessons associated with the week’s topic.

Pretests help prep your mind for learning. (They work!)

Quizzes help you retain what you learn.

Assignments help you apply what you’re learning.

Plus, you will have access to to the Slack channel and join the Clear and Open Community. This is the ideal place to ask questions, get inspired, and discuss the program (and any other topic) together with others committed to making lasting changes in their lives.

What if any and every problem could be solved? Would you like to find out?

Check out the course sign-up page here for more details.

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and the end of business problems in the coaching industry, and the end of needless business trouble.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more, and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com.

Accountability and Personal Growth – Are You Hungry? – Part Three

Clear and Open - Personal Growth

Accountability
Is only uncomfortable
For your resistance

We’ve already discussed how personal growth and facing your shadow takes energy and causes productive, real pain that gets to the source of the frustrations in your life. It’s all hard, it’s all work, and it’s always your choice.

In the context of hunger for self-learning, let’s look at the subject of accountability. For a hungry person, being held accountable is the greatest of gifts. A person hungry for self-knowledge and authenticity uses every stimulus available to further their search for their truest self, their deepest meaningfulness, and realest experience of Reality. A hungry person wants to get to the bottom of things, including themselves, because they know that their own self-deceit, their own off-ness, their own inner conflicts are the source of all their suffering.

So, when a hungry person is held accountable, at least part of their reaction is, “Wow, I didn’t know that about myself! It doesn’t feel good, but it’s real to feel, and now I can do something about it.”

A not-hungry person makes excuses, shifts blame, minimizes, performs lip-service, etc. A not-hungry person is more interested in staying comfortable than learning about themselves and is usually in denial about how their inner issues are creating the outer problems in their life each day.

It can take years to cultivate this kind of hunger, largely because our parents generally did not do a good enough job making the path of self-learning comfortable enough. They did the best they could, certainly, but as adults we must pick up the slack and face into the fear that if people really knew how screwed up we were that we’d be abandoned and unloved, when this is the strategy everyone is operating with all the time.

Please trust that anyone who abandons or harshly judges you for vulnerably displaying your faults in a self-responsible way is not someone you want to associate with anyway.

We all have shadows. We’re all wounded. We’re all screwed up. We’re all looking for personal growth in one capacity or another. What’s the problem? The problem is that the energy we need dearly to address our shadows is largely put in service of keeping the shadows hidden. This is a stagnative gerbil wheel and the state of our world.

For all of these reasons, the ideal context for a business is that each and every person involved is hungry to learn about themselves and is actively engaged in using their job for self-knowledge. This is the foundation for healthy accountability and dissolves the “us vs. them” dynamic too common in management.

This is what Michael Gerber meant in The E-Myth Revisited when he talked about relating to the business as a dojo where the combat is within ourselves. When this is in place, a healthy manager can actually serve the consciousness of their employees by heartfully confronting them when necessary with things that were previously off their radar. In a healthy business with self-interested, personal growth oriented individuals, accountability is part of the pay-structure not something to operate in dread of!

It is the job of the manager to confront with as much compassion as possible. It is the job of the employee to receive the reflection in the context of their own hunger for self-knowledge.

Without that hunger, the reflection can only ever occur as criticism, judgment and control, even when the motive behind it is otherwise. A real leader wants to create more leaders, and through compassionate confrontation develops others to move more and more of their shadow into the light where it can be addressed courageously and incorporated.

Said another way, unless someone is truly hungry for self-learning, personal growth, and authentication, their relationship to accountability will always be other-based. They will relate to the Other as controlling, criticizing and judging them, regardless of how the reflection is presented. This is of course exacerbated by an other-based manager who to whatever degree is controlling, criticizing and judging rather than offering information to help their employee to become all they can be.

Another artifact of other-based accountability is that because it’s resisted by the employee who cannot experience that it is in their highest good, it feeds a resistive cycle in the employee preventing the employee from learning to hold themselves accountable. In other words, a hungry person held accountable automatically asks themselves, “How did I miss that?” and “How can I make sure I never do that again?” without the Other needing to impress upon them the gravity of the situation.

They ask this not to serve the Other, but primarily to serve their own standards of excellence. This is function of self-responsibility, of course. A manager holds others accountable so that one day the employee can hold themselves accountable. This is the fundamental agreement in a healthy manager-employee relationship.

Don’t think you can find people willing to engage in this kind of personal growth game? Don’t think you can teach your people to be hungry?

Are you?

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and the end of business problems in the coaching industry, and the end of needless business trouble.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more, and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com.

Leadership Requires Personal Growth – Are You Hungry? – Part Two

Clear and Open - Leadership and Personal Growth

Growing pains hurt
Just like stagnation
But you get somewhere

In last week’s post, we talked about how the excitement of change and growth is not bigger than the desire to avoid the pain that is so often the price associated with it. Now, we will discuss how to get clear and move forward.

Ready? Let’s go.

Simply put, if you’re not vividly clear about what issues are in you that are creating undesirable circumstances in your life and/or business, and not assiduously pursuing the truth of your own shadow to discover it, you leave possibilities on the table. You are either resigned to “that’s just how things are” (in the world or yourself) or you are looking at what is at the end of your index finger and ignoring the other three. You may be able to create change that way for a while, but one day that sponge will dry up and the change will grind to a halt.

This is why leadership requires personal growth. The challenges that leaders face are immense and so require the most powerful change efforts.

This is not about making anyone wrong. It is a call for hunger. Do you want to know yourself? Are you curious about what makes you tick? Do you want to be knee deep in your own gunk so you can experience directly why taking new steps is so hard for you? Do you want to face the pain of being the creator of your life content and taking responsibility for everything in it, good and bad, so you can finally do something about it from the inside out? That’s personal growth.

Or would you rather use your energy to defend what you think you know, deny the incoherence of your values and the contradictions in your behaviors, allow your fears to run your life, pretend that you have your act together in every domain of your life, and complain about elements outside of you as being the cause of your suffering?

Every moment of every day you have the choice. Cowardice and courage are not attainments, they are choices available to you in each moment. Courage is not just about doing what is right, it comes from the Latin word for heart and so suggests that it comes from being with our innermost emotions.

Courage is commonly understood as fearlessness and this is part of the problem. No human being is without fear. Fearlessness is only sought by those unable and/or unwilling to be with their fear. Authentic courage is about not being stopped by fear and proactively embracing it as a way to get to know oneself. Only someone deeply hungry for self-knowledge and realization is brave enough to choose and accept pain as the price for their journey.

We live in a cowardly world where fear is used as a reason to avoid things. Courage means you actively choose to do something because you are afraid, out of your own self-love, because you are hungry to know yourself, and know the fear has something to teach you.

Personal growth hurts. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s the governing dynamic of creating fundamental, long-lasting change in yourself and so in the world. What else is worth doing?

The amount of work is the same and both vectors produce pain. Repression takes energy that is impossible to consciously track, but takes a serious toll and creates suffering in yourself and others as it inevitably draws to you symmetrical negative life content as a reflection of your unconscious. Facing your shadow takes energy and causes productive, real pain that gets to the source of the frustrations in your life. It’s all hard, it’s all work, and it’s always your choice. Which one will you make today? You’ve heard a thousand times that your business is a reflection of you. Now, who are you going to be about that? How hungry are you?

Come back next week when we discuss self-based accountability and how it affects your hunger for self-change and personal growth.

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and the end of business problems in the coaching industry, and the end of needless business trouble.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more, and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com.

Personal Growth and Change – Are You Hungry? – Part One

Clear and Open - Personal Growth

If your outsides elude
The change you long for
Find the you that likes it

The business is a reflection of you. Your life is the sum of your choices. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Change and personal growth begins within. Be the change you want to see in the world. When you point a finger, there are three others pointing back at you.

Yadda yadda yadda.

You’ve heard this all before. If you’ve read more than fifty pages about leadership or management written in the last thirty years, you’ve come across the idea that if you want your outsides to change, then your insides must change first to some degree.

Many people know they need to change–they say they want personal growth. At the same time, most put more energy into defending what they think they already know rather than courageously face what they don’t. Unfortunately for many most, the excitement of change and growth is not bigger than the desire to avoid the pain that is so often the price associated with it.

It’s hard, I know.

It can be downright humiliating. But it’s real. It is a simple fact that the most significant limitations in your life are always in you.

The only question is: What do you want to do about it? How much complaining about your outer life will you indulge in yourself, before you look at the other three fingers and ask yourself some hard questions about what needs to change in you?

This is not a call for beating yourself up. It’s the opposite.

Do you love yourself enough to face the painful issues inside you that cause you to needlessly suffer?

Whatever is not working in your life or business is a direct reflection of what is not working in you. This means that while you look outside of you more than inside, you are not only distracting yourself, but you are in victimhood, denial, and actively choosing for nothing to change. (Which is the exact opposite of personal growth.) Intentionally or not, consciously or not. This is what’s happening.

The heartbreaking reality in our world is that 99% of our population is blaming everyone except for themselves for significant problems in their life as if they’re powerless to do something about it. The vast majority of people have already made up their mind that things cannot be different. If you are reading this you are probably not in that group.

Congratulations and thank you!

A small portion will attempt to change what’s on the outside. An even smaller portion will be willing to superficially look at their own issues as they attempt to create outer change. One in ten thousand will deeply look into their own psyche to see how and why they have created the frustrations in their life and business in the first place. This is the ultimate in self-responsibility.

This is why success is so rare, because in many cases, it’s this kind of introspection and transformation that is required for true personal growth. This is not to say that change cannot be affected via finger pointing. It can, and this is part of the problem. That change happens on the outside without having to change yourself is seductive for the defensive aspects of us committed to staying the same. However, too many have used up their outer-change capacity and are now trying to extract more change-liquid from a dry sponge.

Next week, we will take a look at where to go from here once you’ve decided to make that personal growth change. Stay tuned!

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and the end of business problems in the coaching industry, and the end of needless business trouble.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more, and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com.

The Easiest Way To Screw Up Managing Your Employees Part 3

Managing Your Employees

Sometimes people tell
The most about themselves
With what they do not say

Last week I asked you to ponder, “If crossing organizational lines is so destructive, why are they so common?”

Besides the lack of awareness of the negative impact, which we thoroughly explored in the first two parts, there is an epidemic deficient skill: the ability to manage your employees and managers.

Managing your employees is difficult. Managing someone with people reporting to them is even more so. You want to know what’s going on with their people without directly talking to those people. If you don’t have that information, the tendency is to unconsciously chat with them directly, crossing organizational lines causing the mayhem discussed in parts one and two.

So how do you do this? With powerful question asking and listening skills. I teach these every week to Clear and Open Members, but here’s a simple question you can use. Ask the manager who reports to you this question about each person who reports to them:

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The Easiest Way To Screw Up Managing Part 2

And accountable
You are even for the bad
That comes from good intentions

Last week, I scolded you for crossing organizational lines, without even knowing if you did such a thing! How’s that for fairness, eh? Well, you may not have deserved it, but many people do it without realizing, so I took some “accountability license” if you will.

It happens innocently enough. You’re in the break room and overhear two employees talking, and you just jump in and start brainstorming with them. It’s fun, and they seem to get a ton of energy out of it. And maybe that’s true.

What also could be true is that the CEO talked to them on their break and they summoned all the energy they could in order to impress you because they’re afraid of losing their job.

“But I helped them!” you protest.

You actually have no idea. All you know is that they didn’t say, “I really appreciate your input, but it’s probably better if you bring that to my manager first, even though you’re the VP/CEO/owner.”

Do you know how many employees will say this?

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The Easiest Way To Screw Up Managing Part 1

Sometimes the more you do,
The more you get in the way,
Of what it is you want.

 

Sometimes doing nothing is doing something.

I get it. You care. You know better than anyone else in the business. And so when you see something going awry, or even if you’re just curious, you offer your wisdom. You help. People seem to get a lot out of what you bring.

Except when you talk to people who don’t report to you.

In which case you totally just screwed up, and made the most common managerial mistake.

On the surface, you brought guidance and good ideas. Under the surface, you perpetuated what is probably already a deep cultural issue that creates disengagement.

But how could your helpful, well-meaning guidance create disengagement? Unfortunately, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It sucks, but it’s true.

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