We Wrote a Book — And the Miles It Took to Get There!

The Character-Based Leader - Tara Alemany https://alewebsocial.comWhen the idea was first brought up early in 2011 for the Lead Change Group to write a book, we had no idea what we were getting into. There was some thought that with a large group of contributors, we could go from concept through writing, editing and publishing in three or four months.

Ultimately, twenty-one of us got on the bandwagon and committed to the project. As time drew on, some of the original participants had to drop out due to other constraints on their time. But the vision persisted and the project moved forward.

No one in their wildest imaginings could have anticipated that this project would ultimately take over 16 months to complete.

Can you imagine the consequences of a project at work that took 4 or 5 times longer than the planner had anticipated?!

Of course, none of us had the luxury of working on the project full-time. We all had other responsibilities, and progress was made much like that of a fire brigade. Each of us took as much or as little responsibility as we were able at any given time, and pitched in to the best of our abilities. When we needed to drop out of the line for a time, that was completely understood and respected by the rest of the team.

That’s the thing I love the most about my fellow Lead Change Authors. We made every effort to share one vision and use one voice, supporting a core belief that character-based leadership matters.

Individually, when we expound on what that means, you will get different responses, because each one is filtered through the lens of our own beliefs and experience. But in the end, we all believe that character-based leadership matters, and it matters significantly enough to spend countless hours dedicated to nothing more than birthing a book.

Today, this book has seen the light of day. And like the proud parents we are, we’re busy celebrating its launch, enjoying thecongratulationsof friends and family, feeling a bit tired, shaken and very relieved.

It’s been a long road to reach this point. It took more effort and heart than any of us ever imagined. Yet, now that we’re here, it all seems so very worth it.

What we’ve created is a book that’s inspiring. We’ve each made each other think in new and different ways about what it means to be a Character-Based Leader, and I hope that what we’ve shared will make you stop and think too.

What would happen in the world around you if you applied more character to your leadership? If you mentored your followers in more meaningful ways? If you reached out to help the people around you find their own way in the world?

What we’ve given you inThe Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution… One Person at a Time is a sampling of our own experiences. It tells of the strengths and weaknesses we’ve identified in ourselves as we’ve tried to become the changes we want to see in the world. We are flawed at times, but striving to improve.

It is my hope that as you read this book, you will be inspired by what we have shared to make your own difference in the world, in whatever way you are uniquely suited to do.

If you want to learn more about the book, you can purchase it on Amazon. If you’re interested in helping us promote the book, we have a Resources page filled with tweets and status updates we’d love for you to share. And if you’re interested in reading a free sample chapter, that’s available here.

Thanks for joining us on this journey!

A Leader’s Legacy

This was originally posted on the Lead Change Group’s blog on June 25, 2012. Reposted here as part of the Evangelical Seminary’s Leadership Synchroblog campaign.

Legacy - https://alewebsocial.comI have a friend who I think is pretty neat.He’s always got a smile on his face, laughs easily, and doesn’t take himself too seriously. Kids love him. He’s a committed husband and Dad, as well as a humble man of faith. He makes learning new things fun, even when they’re challenging. He’s got a servant’s heart, yet is a strong leader, and he volunteers his time to his community and neighbors.

During a recent weekend trip with this friend and some others, I realized that everyone who knows him holds him in high regard. I’ve often wondered what people will say about me when I’m gone. (Strange, I know – but it’s part of being intentional about the legacy I want to leave.) It became apparent that my friend has been building his legacy for years already, and it’s a strong and solid one!

When it comes right down to it, though, haven’t we all?

The path we follow through this world intersects with others’ along the way. We make an imprint upon everyone we meet, no matter how large or small. When we hold a door open for someone else or send a friend a card for no reason, we are touching someone else’s life. It may not be the same impact as when you rescue someone from a burning building or help a child gain confidence, but we can’t go through life without affecting those around us.

And sometimes, it’s the small actions that have the biggest effect. Just plain being there when someone needs a friend, putting yourself in their shoes for a time, sharing simple words of encouragement and understanding – it all adds up to the legacy we leave.

What legacy areyouleaving as a person and a leader? Are you being intentional about it, or just letting it develop over time based on random acts and decisions you make? Better yet, does everyone you know hold you in high regard or are there relationships that need mending?

As leaders, we need to be aware of those around us, but more than that, we need to be aware of the effect we have on them by our actions and our inaction.

To become a leader with a legacy you can be proud of, here are a few action steps to point you in the right direction.

  • Imagine listening in at your own funeral. What do you want to hear people remember most about you? And what did you inspire people to aspire to? That’s going to become your goal.
  • Assess where you stand in relation to that goal now. If you need help with this, ask a trusted friend or mentor.
  • Identify what skills, characteristics and habits you need to start establishing now to more clearly achieve that goal.
  • Begin a program of self-improvement to better incorporate those behaviors into your life.
  • Periodically reassess both the goal and where you stand in relation to it.

We are works in progress until we die.Unfortunately, for most of us, we have no idea whether today’s the last day or if we have another year, 20 years or 50 years. Yet, a legacy waits for no one. We’re making one right now, whether we’re intentional about it or not. Is it something we can be proud of, or does it still need work?

The time to begin is today. What’s your legacy going to be?

What Does It Take to be a True Hero?

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. They can be young or old, black or white, rich or poor. If you look up the word at dictionary.com, you’ll see this is the first definition:

a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

9/11 afforded many people the opportunity to look within themselves and find the hero within. We all have that quality within us. It’s that drive that enables us to put the needs of others before our own in times of trouble or sadness. That selflessness becomes a mark of maturity, demonstrating that we’ve learned a vital lesson. The world does not revolve around us.

Take a few minutes this day to watch this video, reflect upon it’s message and look within your own heart and mind.

The world needs more heroes. Where can you step up and make a difference in someone’s time of need? Whether it’s volunteering on your kid’s soccer team, mentoring a fatherless child, serving at a local soup kitchen, helping someone out financially, visiting with an elderly neighbor, or something completely different. When average people step up to fill a need, coming together and pulling together, they can accomplish amazing things.

As the narrator, Tom Hanks, shared:

The great boatlift of 9/11 became the largest sea evacuation in history, larger than the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II, where 339,000 British and French soldiers were rescued over the course of nine days. On 9/11, nearly 500,000 civilians were rescued from Manhattan by boat. It took less than nine hours…

Don’t live your life wondering “Should I have?” And don’t wait for tragedy to strike to call up that inner hero. You have the ability to make the world a better place today.

I’d love for each of my readers to share whatever they’d like in the comments below, whether it’s their memories of how 9/11 affected them, or how they are inspired by this post and video to step up and commit letting their own inner hero loose. For those of us who lived through 9/11/2001, the world was forever changed. But we have it within ourselves to continue that change, embracing the spirit of self-sacrifice that made us proud to be Americans, to make a positive difference in our communities today.

Are you going to step up to the challenge?

Can Leadership Skills Be Taught?

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a leader?  Are leaders born, bred or brewed?  Does it take a certain personality style, environment, or natural talent to lead?  What’s led to the crisis of leadership that we see today?  I woke up early this morning pondering these questions.

I’d recently finished reading an eBook called “The LeadChange Revolution,” which documents the insights and commitments of a small group of people who attended a leadership unconference earlier this year, the Leader Palooza.  I found it inspiring, encouraging, and engaging.  But I was left with a big question burning in my mind…  Why are there so few character-based leaders out there?  In my decades spent in and around corporate America, the majority of the leaders I’ve encountered are driven by the bottom line; profits matter more than people, no matter what they say.

The Lead Change Group is dedicated to applying character-based leadership to make a difference.  They are committed to supporting one another and holding one another accountable.  They seek to inspire others to be better; to raise the bar a notch higher than they’d held it before.  When I read this section of the eBook, I have to admit, I thought immediately of a passage in Exodus 17, when the Amalekites attacked Israel at Rephidim.  While Joshua fought the battle, Moses watched over it with the staff of God in his hands.

11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Moses had led his people with character and strength, despite the fact that he was not a confident or charismatic man.  He was not born a leader.  He was thrust into that position.  He had to be taught (in this case, by God himself) how to lead.  Yet, he inspired the people around him and engaged them in his efforts.  Joshua fought for him, while Aaron and Hur supported him, literally!

Now, some individuals are born with the natural talents and abilities that make it easy for them to become leaders.  People naturally gravitate to them due to their out-going personalities, dynamic people skills, etc.  But does that mean the rest of us can’t be leaders?  Not at all!

As a martial artist, I watch children who are being taught character-based leadership skills, and I love being a part of it.  I purposefully participate in the “junior classes” for two reasons.  I can serve as a role model to show what’s expected of the kids in class; but more importantly, I get to help shape the way they view the world and interact with other people.  We teach them the skills they need to be the future generation of character-based leaders.

They learn respect for others and humility for themselves.  Senior belts (individuals with a higher rank) are shown respect by bowing to them and thanking them for their instruction.  They are addressed as “sir” or “ma’am” as appropriate, and the senior belts bow and respond in kind to show their own humility.  They know that they are no better than anyone else in the room.

They learn self-discipline by pushing their minds and bodies beyond the point where they are inclined to give up.  The kids are taught to value truth and honesty by not short-changing themselves or others.  100 jumping jacks are 100 jumping jacks; not 90 or 95.  Once you learn to obey authority, then you earn the right to exert it yourself; not before.

The perseverance this requires eventually instills a confidence that wasn’t there before.  They learn that they are capable of more than they imagined, just as we all are.  But they also learn that they’re not going to get everything right all the time, and that it’s alright to make mistakes.  Failure is an important part of the learning process, and they learn to embrace it rather than being ashamed of it.

They learn proper goal-setting, as they understand what’s required of them in order to advance to the next rank.  They learn to take large goals (earning a black belt) and break them down into smaller, more manageable milestones (advance to the next belt level) with distinct and specific actions (master the next technique).

They learn to recognize and deal with bullies so that they are prepared to face conflict in their lives.  One of our teacher’s favorite saying is that “bullies are people with problems,” and you’ll encounter them at every age and in every environment.  Even grown-ups face bullies sometimes in the form of unreasonable bosses, demanding clients, and irritable colleagues.  The kids learn techniques for disarming the situation, so that they are not brought down by the hostile actions of others.

Best of all, the kids sense that they are part of a close-knit community.  It doesn’t matter where they go, whenever they meet another martial artist there is an immediate and undeniable bond that exists.  The world no longer revolves around them.  They see and learn that they are part of a much larger whole that is happy to have them there.

In “The LeadChange Revolution,” Susan Mazza communicated the desire to be a “real” leader, and that she’d gained a new appreciation of what that meant.  Real leadership is Respectful, Ethical, Accountable and Loving, and it takes someone with strength of character to be a “real” leader.  But anyone is capable of becoming a character-based leader.  They’re not a special breed, set apart.  They are brewed in the coffee grounds of life, making choices and decisions that are infused with integrity, a desire to be more than they already are, and a passion to inspire others.  Are you ready to raise the bar?