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Tuning in to the Leadership Channel

Steve Conine

You might not think TV is a great place to learn about leadership but it is all in your interpretation. Tune in to five of my favorite channels:

1. If you want respect, give respect

Leadership means a lot of different things for sure. The longer you do it, the more there is to it. Some people think that being a leader is all about cracking the whip, dispatching orders, and power lunching with your pals on the company’s dime. There is slightly perverse sense of satisfaction to think that there’s someone out there acting on your every word, doing the things that need done for their own survival while you reap the rewards. It has never worked that way for me, but that’s what I got from watching “The Sopranos.” (Thanks, HBO).

Remember that showing respect does not mean being a doormat; it means being assertive and attentive to the needs of the organization. Stand up for what you believe in when you have to, but leave room for other’s opinions. It’s OK to be passionate about issues, but not to the point that it costs you the respect of your peers because you lose your mind every time things don’t go your way. It doesn’t matter how you got to the top, if you started in the copy room or bought in with cash, grew it from the dirt or inherited it from a great uncle, success is only sustainable with the respect of your team. Leaders need the support of senior staffers and the respect of everyone to ensure longevity for the company and themselves.

2. A wrong decision is better than indecision.

I learned recently that a shark never stops moving (thanks Discovery Channel), and that is in part why they have survived for millions of years. There is something to be learned from that fact. In some cases, our decisions bring recognition and success. On the other hand, they can delivery devastating setbacks and even defeat our spirit.

Standing still makes you an easier target in this very competitive time. When you are struggling with decisions as a leader, you must keep some momentum so that you can react, move, and regroup before the train hits you. Forward progress is great, but not always possible. Making lateral moves can be just as strategic, and they can also be a function of keeping people moving and engaged in your business. Stagnation is a very dangerous place for any business to visit much less take up residence. I don’t advocate doing things blindly be as smart as you can but doing nothing will surely lead you nowhere.

3. Maximum Drink-ability

It just implies you’re going to get the absolute most out of this product. The Budweiser analogy is about taste but mine is about the delivery system (thanks, CBS Sports). Bottlenecks can stop the flow of progress, ideas, and solutions. Your path as a business owner may be littered with condescending opinions and competitive egos trying to get in your way. Nothing slows progress like grudges and attitude. A lot of our systems today in business and government are broken for those very reasons. An effective leader weeds out the progress-chokers. So if you’re stuck in the bottleneck, try gently jiggling first. If that doesn’t work try direct pressure on the blockage. If that doesn’t work, break the bottle before you die of thirst.

4. Take chances and call the shots

There are moments when an individual takes a chance on a great idea or becomes a footnote to someone else’s history. You can struggle for years to find your success like the Wright brothers or be an overnight success like an American idol (thanks Biography Channel). Leadership is a lot about living with risk: going against the grain and taking bold steps into a bloody red ocean of competition or swimming out alone to the open blue sea. One commonality of those who have achieved a lasting legacy is that they have done the things that most people are afraid to do. This type of courage sometimes comes from desperation, sometimes necessity, sometimes pure determination, but it always reveals a person of bold character at their core.

History is a rolling record of those who made the right choice and those who made the wrong choice. You have to take some chances, and be prepared for regrets. Start calling the shots, and soon, because our history passes us by every day.

5. Work harder than anybody else

My favorite show is “The West Wing” and in particular the 1999 season. I’ve watched it probably a dozen times in re-runs (thanks Bravo). I get a lot of enjoyment from Toby’s cynicism, Josh’s wit and Sam’s intelligence. All the characters share one theme: They work passionately at their jobs all the time. Without passion for what you do and a lot of hard work, leadership and or ownership will never come easy. If you are always willing to do more, always working toward a goal, then the hours you’ve invested will create opportunities for you. Then seize them, exploit them for good and keep working, because respect disappears quickly.

Steve Conine is owner of Talent Framework and the Reno office of AccuStaff. Contact him at 322-5004 or conine@accustaff-reno.com.


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