Book: Spark

spark“Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success” by Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch, and Sean Lynch
  • “At Lead Star, we define a leader as someone who influences outcomes and inspires others. You can be a manager without being a leader. The reverse is also true. You can be a leader without being a manager.”
  • “More importantly, you’ll be leading through influence, not through title, and that makes a big, big difference.”
  • “Cognitive flexibility is commonly described as the ability to switch your thinking in order to solve problems, which we all do really with the non-people-related challenges we experience.”
  • “The first step in solving people problems is recognizing that you don’t have to stay on the well-worn path you’re used to, getting the (unsatisfactory) results you’ve always gotten.”
  • “Cognitive discipline: the ability to inhibit an instinctual or habitual reaction and substitute a more effective, less obvious response instead”
  • 4 aspects of awareness
    • “The first aspect of self-awareness is ‘what you know and everyone knows’ about you.”
      • “The more you share facts like these, the more transparent you are — and more people are influenced by your openness and, likewise, feel more comfortable to disclose information about themselves. This type of information exchange advances your relationships.”
    • “The next aspect of self-awareness is ‘what you know and no one knows’ about you.”
      • “These are our secrets, and while we’d never advise you to share all of your secrets at work, there might be key information you haven’t shared that is holding you back from either accessing opportunities or building relationships.”
    • “The next aspect is ‘what you don’t know and no one knows’ about you”
      • “We consider this quadrant ‘untapped potential.’”
      • “But because you’ve never explored this area, neither you nor others have access to this hidden knowledge.”
    •  “’what you don’t know and everyone else knows’ about you.”
      • “Without access to your blind spots, it’s difficult for you to improve upon them—and it may be precisely these blind spots that are holding your back from becoming an influential and inspirational leaders to others.”
      • “A simple tactic to facilitate this would be to send out an email to your manager, peers, direct reports, etc., saying, ‘I’m developing my leadership skills right now. I’d love your feedback. In a couple days I’m going to stop by your office and I’d love to hear from you two things that I do well at my job and two areas where I could improve. It’d be great if you could share examples too.”
  • See also:
  • “Self-leadership requires that you give yourself direction. It’s creating a pathway where there’s no paved road. So, for instance, if you want a promotion, self-leadership is seeking to understand what stakeholders are looking for in an ideal candidate for promotion and developing yourself accordingly and in ways consistent with your leadership style. Your values can serve as an internal compass, giving you a sense of where it is you actually want to go.”
  • “The more you believe in your values, the more you will become them.”
  • “But if you’re not sure of what you value, you’re in a vulnerable place. When you’re disconnected from your priorities in life, your self-identity is up for grabs and you lose the opportunity to lead your life in a positive manner.”
  • “Acknowledging the internal disconnect between values and actions is where true growth takes place.”
  • “If you can’t do the easy things that are bright-lined in your job description, found on your employee evaluation, or communicated directly to you by either a manager or a peer, it’ll be nearly impossible for you to be credible.”
  • “I challenge you to start uncovering these unspoken standards by pay attention to your environment and inferring what your stakeholders value. Also observe your organization’s most successful employees and ascertain what standards they’re meeting that make them so influential.”
  • “The ‘say-do gap’ is the space between your words and your actions. When it’s small, you’re consistent. When it’s large, you’re at risk of frustrating others.”
  • “All you need to do when working with your colleagues is share your vision for success and help set clear expectations for deadlines, deliverables, and results.”
  • “The idea, though, is that when you develop the courage to deliver performance-based feedback to your colleagues in a way that inspires them to grow from it, you can effectively influence the trust, candor, and performance of your team.”
  • “To inspire you have to deliver feedback that doesn’t make people cringe and shrink, but motivates them to grow.”
  • “When you offer your feedback, focus on what you’ve observed and what impact it’s had on you. Doing this eliminates hearsay. Also, it’s more difficult for the other person to get defensive when you’re speaking from your point of view.”
  • “Sparks who demonstrate accountability resist the powerful human instinct to place blame elsewhere. They seek to identify how their own actions — or inactions — have contributed to the situations in which they find themselves.”
  • “When demonstrated correctly, accountability is the acknowledgment — not the admiration — of a mistake and quickly moving beyond it to get to what everyone wants: the solution and resolution.”
  • “The role of the Marine Corps was to support me as I transformed into a leader. He smiled and said, ‘This part is called ‘accountability.’ You need to be responsible for your performance — only you can do that. And only you have the power to improve your performance by gaining the support of your colleagues, your instructors, and me. We will be accountable for your success. You will fail yourself before we will fail you.”
  • “Blaming someone or something else might not hurt you in the moment, but it also doesn’t help Your challenges won’t get better until you fully accept your role in the situation that created them. Your strained relationship with your in-laws, for example, is only partially the fault of your spouse’s parents. You are partly to blame as well. That means you are also part of the problem, but the good news is that you have the power to alter that dynamic.”
  • “If you keep getting passed over for a promotion, maybe it’s not the hiring manager’s fault. There is something you can do to take ownership of your situation. It might be uncomfortable to reflecting on your weakness and the reason you’re being passed over, but it is truly the only way to identify and accept responsibility for the root cause of the problem and formulate a solution going forward. You may have to make some changes, and you might even have to consider transitioning to another company, but until you can become accountable, you can’t begin to problem-solve.”
  • “My boss shared later that when you initiate accountability, you inspire trust. It’s trying to cover up your mistakes or shirk responsibility that gets you in trouble — it can even get you kicked out of the Air Force.”
  • “By continuously examining our mistakes, discussing problems openly, and applying hard lessons learned, we ensure that we continuously grow from our mistakes. The more consistent your ability to be accountable becomes, the more consistent success becomes for you and the team you are part of.”
  • “But Sparks understand that in order to get the most out of their teams, they need to serve — and to show others how to serve as well.”
  • “To be of service to those around you, you have to be first figure out what these needs are and how you can personally help them fulfill those needs.”
  • “But there’s another important point about service: when you’re serving, do so without any expectation of return. Otherwise stated, don’t keep score. Sparks influence and inspire best when the service they offer is for the betterment of others.”
  • “Confidence is your belief in your abilities. It’s the feeling that you can rise to the occasion when the pressure is on It not only fuels your ambition but encourages you to set stretch goals. It even has a powerful influence on the results you experience. As the great Henry Ford once said, ‘If you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right.'”
  • Ways to influence our confidence:
    • “Experiencing success”
    • “Developing positive self-appraisals”
    • “Surrounding yourself with positive role models”
    • “Managing confidence-killing emotions”
  • “Consistency is your ability to always adhere to your values and intentions regardless of your circumstances.”

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