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Lessons from 3 role models

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I walked into our family room and caught my daughter and husband mid-conversation.

The topics: discipline and responsibility, areas my daughter, like any 13-year-old, is less than excited to pursue.

My husband issued a challenge to our daughter to find new role models — people who have succeeded, not only because of intelligence but due to hard work and good character.

At every point in our lives, strong role models can be important examples of how to live. As I seek to lead (and live) well, I’ve chosen to emulate business leaders I admire.

And though I’m not much of a name-dropper, I’m grateful to be able to work closely with many top leadership authors, including three well-known servant leaders — people whose examples are shaping the way I lead, every day.

Here are three important lessons I’ve learned about leading well from three leadership greats.

A minute is enough. When you call the Ken Blanchard Cos., you don’t hear Muzak; you hear Ken’s voice. Ken Blanchard sends daily voice messages to the people of his company. Often, he names specific people and praises their exceptional work, naming specific actions people did well. In his soon-to-be released book, “The New One Minute Manager,” co-authored with Spencer Johnson, this tactic is called the one minute praising. Even one minute is enough to add significant value to your employees through meaningful interaction and encouragement.

How can you invest, one minute at a time, in the people you lead? How will their lives be different as a result?

The best lights are the ones we shine for others. Cheryl Bachelder, the CEO of Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. chose an interesting logo for her new website —  overlapping spotlights. Her philosophy is that daring leaders step out of the spotlight and shine a light for others, to highlight their accomplishments and position people for success. When she talks about the financial turn-around she led at Popeye’s, she focuses on the work her team accomplished and not her individual actions.

Humility and service to others are daring acts that produce tremendous results.

Do you dare to step out of the spotlight in order to shine the light for others?

If your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills. Character is critical and who we are matters. Leading well is more than a set of actions we execute; it flows from our hearts and character. Mark Miller, the vice president of leadership development at Chick-Fil-A, models an example of both excellent character and decisive, focused action. Personal character development is the foundation any leader who seeks to build a high-performing organization must attend to first.

As Mark has taught me, the more we lead with our hearts, the stronger we get. As we get stronger, we can lead our organizations more effectively.

Will you choose to focus on your heart first?

Finding the right role models

As often as I can, I share stories about the great leaders with whom I work, in hopes that my daughters will by-pass the cultural default to idolize celebrities and will instead choose everyday heroes, ones whose allure may be less obvious, but people whose daily actions focus on making a difference for others.

Becky Robinson is the founder and CEO of Weaving Influence, an online influence building company. She works with authors and thought leaders to help them show up online in the same powerful and compelling ways they show up in real life.

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