Many years ago, I was given the book “Heart of a Leader.” It’s a very small book, the kind of thing you can read quickly. I have used that book for the past 17 years, and as small as it is, I learn something every time I open it. It’s a very good book for business owners and I wanted to share some things I’ve learned from the book. Each of the following quotes was taken from it.
“When you stop learning you stop growing”
This was a good one to start with. Every day I learn something, and I love it. Whether it is something on the computer, Facebook, Twitter, or from the many books that I read, I love to learn something new. In today’s business climate, you have to keep learning because things are changing so rapidly. If you’re not staying current with technology and the methods of communication, you are quickly losing your competitive edge.
When you stop learning you’re done. Norman Vincent Peale once said, “When I stop learning, I might as well lie down and die.” When I retired from Wal-Mart in 2010 I had all these visions of not doing anything. I soon realized my inactivity, and not using my brain to the extent I did in business, was affecting me mentally. So I went back to work. I’m not saying you shouldn’t retire but when/if you do you should never stop learning.
“Leadership is a high calling”
As leaders we sometimes focus too hard on results at the detriment of the people involved. If that is your leadership style, things like morale and job satisfaction will fall by the wayside. This type of leadership becomes about getting as much as you can for as little effort as possible.
Leading at a higher level is the process of achieving worthwhile results while acting with respect, care, and fairness for the well-being of all involved. It’s only when you realize it’s not about you that you began to lead at a higher level.
“What we give our attention to grows”
Finally, the more attention you pay to a behavior, the more it will be repeated. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. If you dwell in negativity that is what you will reap because focusing on the negative often creates situations that demoralize people. When people feel demoralized, they live up to your low vision of them.
Accentuating the positive and redirecting the negative are the best tools for increasing productivity. When good performance is followed by a positive response, people naturally want to continue that behavior.
What was the best leadership advice you’ve ever received? The quotes and lessons that stick make us who we are as leaders. Try to adopt more of the positive and less of the negative traits and your employees will work harder and spend more time delighting your customers.
Ron Orris is the Executive Director of the Bradford Chamber of Commerce, where he has led the chamber in its adoption of social media and is a strong proponent for blogging as a way to reach your audience. Under his leadership membership has increased 40% over the past two years. He has also served as the city controller for the City of Bradford and as a store manager for Walmart, a position he values as teaching him a lot about customer service.