Honor and Recognition - Top 50 Leadership Blog

Honor and recognition are not always the same.  Linchpin headshot

However, from Jon Warner of the Ready To Manage blog, they are.

Jon has honored me by including me in his Top 50 Leadership Blogs listing.

I'm number number #36. Yep, I'm honored and happy for the recognition.

Thank you, Jon. Make sure you visit his blog often. He addresses important aspects of organizational leadership.

Also, check out others who are on the list. Many are people I know, follow and read often. You should too. You'll become a better leader and person for it.

Life's Transition Points

Transition through Time
It has been clear to me for a long time that the way we think about change is not helpful. It is treated as too disruptive and confusing, therefore to be resisted.  We take this attitude because our tools for managing change are inadequate.

I've learned personally and through my relationship with clients that we need to understand change as a transition from one point to another. Our lives are living in stages, some long, some short. There is a logic to this transition, that if we can see it, we can plan a path forward that takes us to a new level of fulfillment and impact.

My Own Transition Point

Circle of Impact -5 Qs Retreat Handout-Color
For almost a decade, I've been using these Circle of Impact Guides as tools for helping people see clearly where they are and what they are to do. These guides were developed in conversation with people. Even in the midst of traditional organizational development processes, there is a lot of conversation about personal aspects of professional life and work.

I recognize that some of my best work has been in those moments of discussion about transition. My purpose in these moments is to assist people who are in transition. This isn't about managing change that happens to us. Instead, I am addressing the logic of change embedded in the transitions that we experience in our life & work.

At A Transition Point

A transition point is that moment in time when we recognize that we can either advance or decline. It is a moment of change.

My coaching process focuses on the present moment of change. This is more than historical reflection for understanding. It is a strategic development process that moves a person through that point of transition towards what they understand is their mission or future potential.

It is also about any transition regardless of the context or reasons for change.

The Five Questions - Work-Life Coaching Guide
My process is based on a set of standard questions that I ask everyone. These five questions provide the basis for understanding where we are and what we need to do.

These questions are simple. The hard part is being honest with oneself. The questions bring clarity to our perspective because they lead to actions that we can take to create the impact that validates our sense of who we are and why we exist.

I've shared these questions with just about every person I've met over the past eight years. Rarely, does someone not find insight that is not beneficial.

The goal is to reach a sufficient level of clarity that we know what we must do next.  This clarity will reveal to us the impact that we can have with our lives. Impact being the change we create that is the difference that matters.

The basis of these questions is an understanding about people. I've come to see that every living person has three desires for their lives. They want to have a meaningful life with healthy relationships and a life that makes a difference that matters.

These three desires become the measure of every aspect of our lives. We want them to work together so that our lives may be full and good.

Once we've reached that clarity, then we begin to strategize what it is that needs to be done. As the questions show, we need to address the problems that we have that stand in the way of our fulfilling the opportunities that are ours.

The process takes us through the questions, and then we focus on the specific areas that need attention. What I've found is that the greatest need is for a clear understanding of who we are and what our lives are to mean.

This is an important question because we tend to measure our lives by what we do, rather than who we are and what our impact is.

I know the questions can work for anyone. I've seen it. It does take commitment and a willingness to be self critical. This is possible because of what I bring to the coaching relationship. 

I believe in my clients. I believe in them so they can believe in themselves. To my friends, colleagues and associates, I see your potential. It is so tangible to me. And I want you to see it and reach its fulfillment.

This is true for leaders and their organizations. It is possible to coach a group of people through this process. It has always been part of my organizational consulting work. Now it becomes a stand-alone program that can be done with individuals, groups, in private and retreat settings.  

One last point. An important one.

How do we know we are at a transition point? Transition Point

To begin, we are all in transition, all the time. It is the only way we can fully live.  That said, the way we gain understandng and perspective is through the recognition of the change that is taking place at 12 different Life & Work Transition points.

1. What use to be easy is now hard.

2. We find that our performance has reached a plateau, neither getting better or worse.

3. We are clearly not doing well, as your life and work are in decline.

4. We lose our job, and are forced to rethink who we are and what we have to offer an employer.

5. We are unhappy in our current life and work situation. This can come from a range of issues. Some may require professional counseling. If so, we can find that help.

6. We are tired of doing the same thing over and over.

7. We don't know how to spend your time at work. Low motivation to create good things.

8. Our relationships are not healthy.

9. We are confronted with life decisions that have no easy answer or application.

10. We are thrust into a leadership role in which we feel unprepared.

11. We are entering a new stage of life, as children leave the home, or a marriage ends.

12. We have a general uncertainty about life and work purpose.

The list could go on.

UPDATE: See more about how these 12 transition points function in our life and work.

Leading Questions - a Best of Leadership Blogs 2010 nominee

Leading Questions has been nominated as a Best of Leadership Blogs of 2010. Eikenberryleadership_blogs_2010-nom
You may vote once per email address. I'd be most grateful if you'd would vote for Leading Questions.

There are some excellent leadership blogs in the contest. After you vote for Leading Questions - remember to vote all the email addresses that you have - go check out the other leadership blogs. You'll find some great ones like last year's winner Steve Roesler and my Weekly Leader colleague Wally Bock. Also share with your friends and colleagues. Thank you for you vote.

The Stuff in Your Head

Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg wrote to several of us who are in an online community asking for feedback on a blog post.  He wanted some help to get the stuff in his head on to paper.

Here's  some of what I wrote.

1. The stuff in your head is your voice.

The more you write, the more you'll find what you really need to be saying. I started in blogging in 2004 at the same time I began writing a twice-monthly column for my local paper. The columns weren't bad, though not great. The blog posts were unexceptional until about a year and a half ago when I began to discover what I really wanted to say. What I discovered, in addition, is that I began to spend more time writing than reading. All my life I had been a consumer of other peoples' ideas, and through constant attention to writing, I am becoming a producer of ideas.  So, write, write, write and write some more.  As you do, you'll find yourself waking up at 3am, getting up, going to the computer, and spending five hours producing something that is personally meaningful, and takes you one step farther down the road of discovery and excellence.

2. Create a structure on which to hang your thoughts.

The easiest way to do this is write series of posts. Typically, in odd lots, of 3 or 5, or maybe even 31. Several years ago, when I knew I'd be traveling for most of the month of July, I wrote a series on questions that could be posted each day for the month. It became the 31 Questions ebook later. As I read through it today, I'm amazed a how much further my thinking has gone.

The basic idea is to create an ideological system for your ideas. It allows not only for people to follow your train of thought, but also for you to build an ideological system for influencing people in a sustainable way.  And if you are a very complex thinker like me, meaning your ideas tend to confuse people more than enlighten them, then you need ways to make it simple. That is why I started creating my one page conversation guides. The personal result is that I have a system for addressing a wider range of issues than I did before. I'm not suggesting you create diagrammatic charts. I am suggesting that you systematize your thinking so that people can get it easily, and you have an ideological platform for expressing the stuff in your head.

3. Write for yourself, your audience will follow.

The tyranny of the marketplace is that it is fickle and doesn't pay close attention. It does not follow but constantly finds you. The loyal audience will give you good feedback, but for the most part, if you try to build your writing around what you think other people are looking for, you'll not find joy and fulfillment in the process of writing. 

Writing begins as self-expression, and leads to connection and influence with others. We must not see it as a means to aggrandize ourselves with the public, but rather how we give to them in service and contribution.

Writing is a painful experience because it attacks us at our most vulnerable points. My suggestion for those who feel that they must get the stuff in their heads out on paper is to write. You can find support in the thoughts of writers like Seth Godin, especially his chapter called The Resistance in his latest book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensible?, and Stephen Pressfield's Writing Wednesdays posts and his essential, The War of Art.

Lastly, while you may be writing for yourself, it isn't always about you. It is about expressing yourself in a manner that provides a context for connecting with the world outside your head. Write for yourself, but write to be read, so that the influence of your ideas may make a difference that matters.

Surprise! I'm on a list!!!

Update below.Jurgen Top 150

I've been blogging since July 4, 2004. Leading Questions has always been a place for me to try to bring clarity to my complex mind. Honestly, I've not thought much about numbers or rankings or any of that stuff. I've just tried to understand my own perceptions of leadership and the world we are in. That fact that some people do read my blog is very gratifying. Thank you very much loyal readers.

I was shocked earlier this week when I received an email from Jurgen Appelo alerting me that I had made his list of the top 150 management and leadership blogs based on his research.

My first reaction in seeing the list was to begin reading up from 150, thinking surely I'm one of the last on this list. I'm going up the list, thinking, "Did I read his email correctly? Maybe he's just telling me about his list, so I can blog about it.

No, there at number 44 was Leading Questions. What a surprise! Thanks, Jurgen.

There is a lesson here. There is no way to calculate ahead of time the full impact of any particular decision or action that we may take. Our challenge is to respond and adapt to the opportunities that come our way.

My blog will always be a place for me to clarify my thought processes. If it attracts people to read, I'm really glad. Now, back to a post I've been working on for two weeks, that I've just not reached clarity on. Somethings don't change.

In Addition: Jurgen's list is a real powerhouse. You can follow all of us by following his Twitter list at http://twitter.com/jurgenappelo/management.

In Addition 2: Thanks Peter for pointing out what I had totally missed that Weekly Leader is not only #34 on Jurgen's list, but is also PostRank's #1 Leadership blog!

Quick Takes: Why you should blog

Watch this Open forum video with Seth Godin and Tom Peters talking about blogging. Seth tells why blog and Tom the impact that it has been on him. I began blogging in July 2004, at the same time I began to write my Real Life Leadership column. Here's what I've gained from the experience.

1. Practice in writing clear, coherent, compelling ideas. Writing clearly is not the same as speaking clearly. They are different ways of articulating ideas. When we speak, it is not unusual to say a series of sentence fragments. However, the over use of phrases in writing, I've discovered, is a product of writing to think out loud. 

The most important thing I have learned about this is from my column. I describe the column as "Dear Abby for Leaders."  I take a real world question and answer it. Writing to what I hear people discussing is what I am trying to do.The 500 word limit for my column has shown me how much extraneous verbiage I use in my writing.

I understand, now, how to make every sentence count. One key? Cut out all qualifying adjectives and adverbs, and make complex sentences simple. A second key? Get over the feeling of not being understood. I see this in my own writing when I begin a sentence with something like, "what I mean ...".

2. Clarity about what I think.  Forcing myself to write everyday provides me the mental exercise to work through ideas. My Impact Leadership diagrams are the product of this practice. The result is the ability to think more clearly in context.

Blog writing is a healthy mental exercise because it tends to be a conversation with other writers. If I'm commenting on something Seth or Tom has written, I'm trying to elevate the clarity and intelligence of my writing to their level.

Lastly, I take my writing cue from Tom Friedman who a decade ago on the Charlie Rose said one night that his aim with his New York Times column was two-fold. First, it was to have the reader say, "Hmm, I didn't know that." And second, "Ah, I never thought of it that way."  In both cases, the reader is brought into different perceptual and knowledge contexts that make wanting to read the column more compellng.

This is my aim as well. And I have to do this for myself before I can do it for you.

If I've not said it lately, thank you very much for reading.

Quick Takes: Steve Roesler - Best Leadership Blog 2008

There is an annual contest to determine the best leadership blog. Steve Roesler of All Things Workplace is Best_of_blogs_2008_winner this year's winner.

I highly recommend Steve's blog. Unlike so many blogs, it is very practical. There is opinion and sound theory expressed, but what I like best is that he is giving us real insight into how to lead.

For example, read Steve's post on the latest Leadership Development Carnival. Or, read his 10 Lessons on Self-Leadership.

I read Steve because he is smart, perceptive, and a really nice guy.

A Written Anniversary

Four years ago today I began blogging. A few weeks earlier I began writing my Real Life Leadership column for the Asheville Citizen-Times.

These four years have been the most productive of my professional life.

I attribute it to two benefits that have come from writing as a blogger and columnist.

1. The people I've met who have both taught me much, but also have been kind encouragers of my writing.

2. The practice of regular writing for publication.

My recommendation to anyone who feels like they have something to say is that they start a blog. Don't do it because you are going become wealthy or famous. Do it because you have something to say, and you want a practical means to develop as a person. 

To all those who have read my blog and my column over these four years, I thank you. There is nothing so sweet than for someone to tell you that they read your column that morning. It always surprises me that anyone reads it. I am grateful and on this anniversary, I am honored by your kind thoughts.