Byron's Babbles

The Servant Leadership: Self-Esteem Connection

IMG_2023The Servant Leadership: Self-Esteem Connection

By Ken Blanchard

Originally Appeared on the Ken Blanchard Companies Blog 

Servant leadership is best described as an others-focused form of leadership. It’s not an easy model to follow for leaders who believe in commanding and controlling their people—but it is easy for leaders with high self-esteem. Such people have no problem giving credit to others. They have no problem listening to other people for ideas. They have no problem building other people up. They don’t see praising others as a threat to themselves in any way. People with high self-esteem buy into the ancient Chinese philosophy of Lao Tzu:

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” 

Leaders who place themselves in the center of the universe and think everything must rotate around them are really covering up not-okay feelings about themselves. This is an ego problem that manifests as either fear or false pride. When you don’t feel good about yourself, you have two choices. You can either hide and hope nobody notices you, or you can overcompensate and go out and try to control your environment. I think people who feel the need to control their environment are just scared little kids inside.

I learned from the late Norman Vincent Peale that the best leaders combine a healthy self-acceptance with humility.  Norman liked to say, “Leaders with humility don’t think less of themselves—they just think about themselves less.” To me, this approach sounds like a great way to begin for an aspiring servant leader.

Coaching and Self-Esteem

To me, servant leadership is a good way to describe the role that managers are expected to play today to help their people win. Judging and evaluating people erodes their self-esteem, but servant leadership builds self-esteem and encourages individual growth while attaining the organization’s objectives.

Servant leadership is something people need. Leaders need to support and help individuals in the organization to win. The days of the manager being judge, jury, and critic are over. Today, a manager needs to be a cheerleader, facilitator, and listener. Managers who are servant leaders are the ones most likely to achieve both lasting relationships and great results. 

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servant_leadership_in_action_3dMore about Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard is a best-selling business author with over 21 million books sold. His newest book, Servant Leadership in Action, is being released on March 6. Ken is also hosting a free Servant Leadership in Action Livecast on February 28 featuring more than 20 authors, CEOs, and thought leaders speaking on the topic.  Learn more here!

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Plus + / Delta Δ

IMG_1993One of the tools I learned from my work in the Advanced Educational Leadership Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education was how to do a Plus + / Delta Δ session at the end of a convening. I appreciated learning this from Dr. Liz City from Harvard University. She does this at the end of any convening or class I have been involved with. I have found this to be one of the greatest way to really find out what has gone well and what has not.

Here is how it works: At the end of the day or session we put up a board and put a + and a Δ on it. Then open it up to the group to give the positives from the day and the areas of improvement needed. I have found it to be a much more valuable experience if I do not start with positives or negatives and then switch to the other. The way I run the session both +s and Δs can be given together and not in any order. This way of doing it allows for pluses to be thought of when thinking about a delta and visa versa. As the discussion ensues all comments recorded in writing up on a foam board (see blog post picture).

I really believe this model does a couple of important things for the convened community. One big thing this process does is help to bring trust. Nothing can be off the table to bring up. More importantly, once a delta is on the table it is up to the leader/facilitator to make adjustments for the next convener. Or, if it is a plus, how do I, as facilitator continue to make sure this is a plus in the future. The second thing I believe happens using this way of collecting feedback is the depth of the information received and the amount of information. Let’s face it, getting surveys back is tough.

IMG_1979IMG_1971Furthermore, let me give you an example of the great information that a +/Δ session can give at the conclusion of a convening this past weekend. I always have butcher paper and crayons on the tables for participants to take notes, draw, doodle or whatever helps them learn. This convening was no different. The group of teacher leaders and school leaders I was working with were very much into graphic recording, both on the tables and when reporting out from small group work (see inset photos).

IMG_1994During the Plus / Delta session a participant said, “I have one that is both a plus and delta.” I said, “Great, lets talk about it.” She went on to say, “I really like the butcher paper and I took lots notes and made graphic. I really consider it a big plus.” She went on to say, “However, I wish we could use our doodles, notes, and graphics in a more intentional way.” I asked, “What do you mean by that and how could we do that?” The participant said, “Maybe we could do a gallery walk at different times during the day and reflect on the work of our fellow participants.” How cool was that! Participants taking ownership of making a convening designed for them better. It doesn’t get any better than that! I would argue that we would have never got to that level of discussion in a survey. Needless to say, we will build in intentional activities to learn from the butcher paper captured work of our participants. Exciting stuff!

I would encourage you to find your Pluses + and Deltas Δ.

 

The Gift of Listening Without Fixing

IMG_1941The Gift of Listening Without Fixing

An excerpt from The Courage Way

By Shelly L. Francis

A senior management leader we’ll call Bob had tension with another person on staff, which made him feel as though his value to the organization was being questioned. He went to the CEO, Mike, for advice—and to vent a bit, too. He paced around the corner office, unsettled. Rather than give Bob instructions about what to do next, Mike consciously opted to ask open, honest questions. That meant asking questions Mike couldn’t possibly know the answer to but that would help Bob listen to his own inner wisdom.

In their conversation that day, Mike posed these questions in response to Bob’s unfolding story: What does that mean to you: feeling your value is being questioned? How does that feel to you? Do you recall a time when you had a similar feeling? How did that turn out? What are some things that occur to you as a next step?

The questions helped Bob connect the current situation with some other times in his current life and in his past. He was able to look at the workplace episode differently, and he gained a new perspective on how to approach his colleague for further conversation.

Mike’s internal stance as a leader was the foundation of this curiosity-driven yet nonjudgmental conversation that led to Bob’s insights. What Bob couldn’t see was that Mike was also embodying a few other touchstones to create safe and trust- worthy space: allowing silence, turning to wonder, and no fixing, saving, advising, or correcting. This approach empowers others to make wise decisions based on their own genuine inner knowing, rather than just accepting a superior’s advice (or seeming to but without a sense of ownership). Mike said, “I’m fascinated every time in these interchanges how much more satisfying the result seems to be when I don’t jump in with the first advice that comes to mind. My conversation with Bob had so much more texture to it. My impression was that Bob appreciated the fact that I didn’t dive in and tell him what to do and that I was interested enough in the situation to help him talk through it.”

Mike knew that his approach was atypical. “Allowing silence is challenging, especially in the workplace. People are taught to fill the silence. If you engage in conversation with open, honest questions and you give people time to ponder, that means you have to be patient with the silence.”

Mike sees how this form of conversation supports a workplace culture of compassion and empathy. “It’s harder to stop and think of asking an open, honest question. But it is a form of caring for someone, and it comes across that way—as caring.” It also communicates a charged expectation that Bob will address the situation responsibly and will be accountable for maintaining professional relationships with colleagues. This is paradox in action, to hold the tension between caring and accountability.

Mike told me that learning to ask open, honest questions is both a challenge and benefit of Courage Way practice because it’s made him a much better listener. “I’ve realized there is no greater gift you can give someone than deeply listening to them.” Open, honest questions are a form of humility in leadership, too. It’s easier but can be a form of arrogance to ask questions that try to manipulate people into the answer you want them to find.

An open question leads us to what Einstein referred to as a “holy curiosity.”  ~ Dawna Markova

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courage_way_3dAbout Shelly L. Francis

Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. Her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life.

The Courage Way

The Courage Way: Leading and Living with IntegrityThe Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity by Shelly L Francis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Review: Being a leader takes tremendous courage and involves taking risks every day. That courage, if we are honest, is very hard to muster up at times. We all have core values we believe in and when the proverbial bullets begin to fly and hit our Kevlar, we find out just what we are made of. More importantly, those around us and that we serve find out what we are made of, too! In The Courage Way, we learn about five very important ingredients to being a courageous leader: understanding our true self, trust, being a part of trusting community, learning to embrace the paradox of leading and learning, and learning to reflect as a part of learning to lead more effectively and courageously. This book is a must read for anyone wanting to lead courageously at any level of community, even on the world stage.
~Dr. Byron Ernest

View all my reviews

Five Key Ingredients of the Courage Way

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Five Key Ingredients of the Courage Way

An excerpt from The Courage Way

By Shelly L. Francis

Leadership is a daily, ongoing practice, a journey toward becoming your best self and inviting others to do the same. And at the heart of this daily practice is courage.

Through more than 120 interviews, I found a pattern of five key ingredients in how leaders have learned to cultivate courage. Three powerful main concepts are true self, trust, and community; the two key practices are paradox and reflection. Here’s a brief overview.

True Self

Our basic premise is that inside of each person is the essential self who continues to grow and yet somehow, deep down, remains constant. Every person has access to this inner source of truth, named in various wisdom traditions as identity and integrity, inner teacher, heart, inner compass, spirit, or soul. Your true self is a source of guidance and strength that helps you find your way through life’s complexities and challenges. When you begin to listen to and trust the truest part of yourself, your choices and relationships flow from that trust, begetting more trust.

Trust

Courage takes trust—in ourselves and in each other. Trustworthy relationships create the conditions for people to flourish and for positive change to arise. Relational trust is based on our perceptions of personal regard, professional respect, competence, and integrity in other people. Coming to understand the attitudes, assumptions, and biases that lead to such perceptions of trust entails honest inner work. Our collection of principles and practices is a time-tested approach for facilitating inner work and cultivating relational trust.

Community

Becoming more self-aware and trustworthy requires both individual introspection and a supportive community. We offer a specialized meaning of community as “solitudes alone together” as well as a “community of inquiry.” Our practices offer models for how to reflect and interact with each other so that new clarity and courage can emerge.

Being receptive to the very idea of needing other people in community takes courage and yet, in turn, creates resilience. Leaders must know how to invite people into and hold them accountable for cocreating trustworthy space so that they can support each other in service of their work together. Achieving effective collaboration requires genuine trustworthy community.

Paradox

We can learn to practice paradox by recognizing that the polarities that come with being human (life and death, love and loss) are “both-ands” rather than “either-ors.” We can learn to let those tensions hold us in ways that stretch our hearts and minds open to new insights and possibilities. With paradox we honor both the voice of the individual and our collective intelligence. We trust both our intellects and the knowledge that comes through our bodies, intuitions, and emotions. Paradox values both speaking and listening. An appreciation of paradox enriches our lives, helping us hold greater complexity. Integrating our inner lives with our work in the world comes from daily practice in holding paradox.

Reflection

Refection cultivates more ways of knowing and learning that complement your mind and emotions, but draw from a deeper place: your intuition, imagination, and innermost being. Reflection is a practice that can be enriched by the mirroring of trust- worthy companions.

When we reflect together, such as by exploring how universal stories of human experience intersect with the personal stories of our lives, it can create relational trust. Guided conversations focused on a poem, a teaching story, a piece of music, or a work of art—drawn from diverse cultures and wisdom traditions—invite us to reflect on the big questions of our lives, allowing each person to explore them in his or her own way. Reflection helps us find the inner ground on which we stand firm, and it helps us find common ground with others.

If we are willing to embrace the challengeof becoming whole, we cannot embrace it all alone—at least, not for long: we need trustworthy relationships to sustain us, tenacious communities of support, if we are to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. Taking an inner journey toward rejoining soul and role requires a rare but real form of community that I call a “circle of trust.” ~ Parker J. Palmer

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courage_way_3dAbout Shelly L. Francis

Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. Her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life.

Leadership Lessons From Super Bowl LII

IMG_1931How about this? Last night the underdog Philadelphia Eagles upset the defending champion New England Patriots, 41-33, to win their first Super Bowl ever. As is our family tradition, we went to our good friend’s home to watch and enjoy the Super Bowl. For this game I really did not have any dog in the fight, but found three things very interesting to reflect on during the game. First, it is such a credit to the Patriots to have been in the position of going for a record 6th Super Bowl title. Think about it, we say all the time it is tougher to stay at the top than to get there. So, kudos to the New England Patriots for that – staying at the top of the game. Secondly, the Philadelphia Eagles had to work from being the underdog. In fact they were the underdog in all post-season games. Not an easy thing to do. Finally, my third area for reflection, and maybe the most important story, is the bench-building work of the Philadelphia Eagles. In other words, to lose a franchise quarterback and have one ready to take over like, Nick Foles, is amazing.

Nick Foles is quite the story when you think about the fact that he was considering walking away from professional football as recently as this past off-season. Then he won the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award after leading the Eagles past the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII. There is no doubt that Carson Wentz was in control of the quarterback room prior to his injury, but it is also clear that the backup quarterbacks Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld were paying attention and learning. Credit Carson Wentz with leading by example in the quarterback room so that when it became Foles’ responsibility to hold the clicker, run the video, dissect the plays and report his insights, Foles was ready.

Additionally, I saw it reported somewhere that John DeFilippo, the Eagles’ quarterback coach, asked Foles to study the offensive plays he liked and choose 25 he thought worked best for him. DeFilippo wanted Foles’ input on plays and the concepts, too. Think about this leadership move by DeFilippo to create an effective package of run-pass option plays that suited Foles’ strengths. Since getting the starting nod in the game at Los Angeles, the Eagles offense has continually morphed into one for Foles rather than for Wentz. I would argue you cannot do this having some intentionality about bench building as an organization. In fact, we see other NFL teams that have done this well; the Dallas Cowboys come to mind. We have also teams not do this well, our Indianapolis Colts this past season when losing Andrew Luck. I am amazed how some teams are able to lose a paramount player and just keep going without missing a beat and others really struggle.

Could it be that it starts in the team room with how the bench is being modeled to, how the bench is being interacted with, and ultimately how the game plan was tweaked, adjusted, and iterated to meet the strengths of the backup? I would argue that it does. Certainly some lessons to be learned here from some reflection on the Super Bowl. What have you been reflecting on since Super Bowl LII?

Creating Places of Innocence

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My Son, Heath, And I On a Dad and Lad Adventure

Yesterday in a meeting of North & South Carolina principals, the comment was made that we need to create places where innocence is fostered for our children. This really got me thinking about how we do this both with our own children and the students we serve in our schools. The notion of innocence refers to children’s simplicity, their lack of knowledge, and their purity not yet spoiled by mundane affairs. Such innocence is taken as the promise of a renewal of the world by the children. One of the most delightful things about children is their sense of innocence and wonder, yet helping them maintain that sense of wonder can be challenging in our sophisticated, hurried society.

This rapid and early gain of knowledge by our children is quite the paradox. We all know that knowledge is powerful, but when children learn the wrong things too early it can really be detrimental. Vast amounts of knowledge and information is readily available to our children, and we, as parents, want our children to have this knowledge because we believe it will help them grow and compete. However, this same knowledge can ruin their innocence.

Here are a few things I believe can help us in the creation of places of innocence:

Have fun. Build time into your schedule to allow for silliness, downtime, and play.

Leverage nature and the scenery around us. Children are instinctively attuned to the wonders of nature. We do not have to prompt students to enjoy playing in the mud, seeing the beauty of flowers, watching kittens play. I love the idea I heard one time of planting a family tree and then having family time at each season change to note changes in the tree. My family has a Pin Oak tree that my son brought home from school when he was in the 4th grade that we use for this. In fact, I blogged about this tree in Lesson Of A Pin Oak.

Reading together. This is so important and can even be done with high-school age students. For example, I have chosen to read the same books my son has to read for school. For example, I just read Tough As They Come by Travis Mills because my son was reading it for a class. Wow, what great conversations this spurred for he and I. All I can say is, “try it.”

Use technology wisely and discreetly. Children should not be burdened with information that is too adult in nature. They have neither the cognitive nor social-emotional skills to process this information.

Family events. Or, family events where the children bring a friend. We do a lot of family activities and my son and I do Dad and Lad events/trips. The beauty of these is that we control our own content.

This is way too complex an issue to solve with a blog post, but I believe we all need to be reflecting on creating places of innocence. Most importantly we need to be mindful of what our children are being exposed to and give them more age appropriate choices. If you have thoughts on this important and complicated issue, please comment/respond to this post.

Drumming Up Relationships

As a teacher my personal mission statement was, “I strive to use rigor, relevance and relationships to be a steward of high student achievement.” This past weekend I was reminded just how important this really is. My son, Heath, and I took a Dad & Lad trip to New Orleans to watch Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints beat the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the NFL Playoffs.

During our exploring in the French Quarter we came across some boys playing the drums (five gallon buckets) for tips. For those who know me, it won’t surprise you that I decided to ask them if I could sit down and play the drums with them and get to know them. During my reading of The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver To Congo Square by Ned Sublette I learned that drum playing is a major part of New Orleans history and culture. In fact a drum according to New Orleans culture is anything that can create sound that carries. Well, as a farm kid I have been using five gallon buckets all my life.

The boys and I negotiated an appropriate tip to let me join in for a few minutes. It was awesome! We had a great time and I learned a lot from visiting with them. Click here to watch a video of my experience: https://youtu.be/5ly3v3YvuE4

I learned each one of the boys is his own independent contractor, so I needed to tip each one individually. They came together, however to make better music together as a trio than each could make alone. Additionally, I learned that part of the money earned was used for family needs (food, et cetera) and part for a savings account. Wow, I was impressed – these boys were contributing to caring for family and learning entrepreneurial skills.

“A child’s play is not simply a reproduction of what he has experienced, but a CREATIVE REWORKING of the impressions he has acquired.”~Vygotsky

We also talked about the fact that I had been a teacher. One of the boys said, “You’re pretty cool, I’ve never had a teacher like you that would come out and sit down and drum with me.” This statement really had a huge impact on me. In reflection, I thought about just how important it is that every student deserves having someone pull up a bucket and get shoulder to shoulder with him and learn about him. In fact, I tweeted the following: “Hey @drewbrees! I understand why you love @VisitNewOrleans! I love these kids. As a former principal of an urban turnaround school I understand you have to sit shoulder to shoulder w/the kids and love them and participate with them building relationships. Go @Saints #WhoDatNation.” Bottom line: We need to be right alongside children playing and reworking with them!

As we were walking away my son commented, “Dad, that is why your students love you, because you want to get to know them and know what makes them tick.” So glad I was able to model that for him. No matter what we do, teaching or leadership – Relationships Matter!

Truly pulling up next to students and building relationships posits that teachers who have knowledge about their students will be better able to teach them. Teaching through relationships is more than that, however. Ultimately, it describes the complex social environment in which students and teachers converse, share experiences, and participate in activities that, together, make for engaged learning. Relationship building means getting to know our students’ learning styles and each students’ knowledge, abilities, and potential. Most importantly, it also means getting to know their interests, personality, and background. For me, just like sitting shoulder to shoulder with the boys playing the drums, this body of knowledge opens up the possibilities of growth and dramatic learning opportunities.

The framework for the research that led to the writing of my book, The Hand In The Back Of The Room came from Vygotski. Vygotsky’s theory promoted a learning environment consisting of contexts where the student plays an active role in the learning. Vygotsky believed there were cognitive connections between students and the sociocultural context in which they live through shared experiences. According to Vygotsky, there should be collaboration between the teacher and student, which in turn would facilitate the construction of meaning for the students. According to Vygotsky, the roles of teacher and student need to be shifted, as teacher collaborates more with his or her students, meaning construction is facilitated for the student. Learning therefore becomes a reciprocal experience for the students and teacher.

Relationships are the cornerstone for student learning.

HOW TO LEAD LIKE MADIBA

I just finished an awesome book to finish out my 2017 reading challenge. In fact I read 90 books with a goal of 87 for 2017. The great book I just finished was, Leading Like Madiba: Leadership Lessons From Nelson Mandela by Martin Kalungu Banda. Kalungu-Banda taught us in this book that great leaders create trails that we can follow to find our own greatness. This does not mean we become their clones –that would be impossible, and anyway it would mean losing the rich variety of our personalities. But these great people inspire us as role models and their example helps us see what to aim for as we nurture our own style.

At the end of the book Kalungu-Banda gave us ten guidelines for leadership growth that he called: “Madiba path to leadership.” Here they are:

  1. Cultivate a deep sense of awe for human beings. Leadership is about people, and every single person matters. Mr Mandela, like Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa, did not have a business plan to begin his mission. He just had a deep-seated respect for people.
  2. Allow yourself to be inspired by the giftedness of other people. In a practical way, show that you recognise that every person has special gifts to use for their own wellbeing as well as for their community or organization.
  3. Grow your courage. Great leaders have courage. This does not mean absence of fear but learning how to recognise your fears, face the harsh realities of your situation, and nevertheless choose to follow what you consider the right course of action. At first this is not easy to do. Repeated practice will help you build courage as one of your virtues.
  4. ‘Go and preach the Gospel. Where necessary, use words.’ Lead by example. You should not ask of others what you are not ready to do yourself. Leading by action, you will inspire people more than by simply telling them what needs doing. Your active role will leave a deep and lasting impression on those you are privileged to lead.
  5. Create your own brand of leadership. A leader’s name and image must be consistently related to a set of values. This is what makes you really effective. When people think of you as a leader, they must immediately think of your principles. These are essential to guide your organisation or community through the various ethical conundrums they will inevitably have to face.
  6. Practice humility. Great leaders acknowledge their failings. Instead of making people lose faith in you, admitting your mistakes and limitations will draw people to help and work with you. By being able to apologise for your wrongs, you send the message that the search for right thought and action is a common enterprise. It is not owned or controlled by you or any other leader.
  7. Learn to live with the Madiba paradox. Life is a mix of hope and hopelessness, joy and pain, success and failure, vision and disillusionment. You as a leader have the task of helping others to live successfully with these apparent contradictions.
  8. Surprise your opponents by believing in them. There will always be people who disagree with your leadership style and what you do. Do not seek to silence, humiliate or vanquish them. Try to understand their point of view and deliberately work at identifying the positive elements there.
  9. Celebrate life. Activity and achievement of any kind are signs of life that affect life in turn. We work in order to enhance our life. We seek to excel for the same reason, not just to look good. In this spirit, we should celebrate not only individual performance and giftedness but life itself. You as a leader must participate in practices and ceremonies that honour the life of the people you are privileged to serve.
  10. Know when and how to make yourself replaceable. Great leaders know how to move themselves from centre stage. They know also when it is time to go. They prepare for it and make sure they have a successor who will build on what they have achieved. They enable other people to emerge as potential candidates. This is what sustains the leader’s legacy while guaranteeing a smooth transition.

As you can see, this is an incredible book and should be a part of every leader’s bookshelf. As Kalungu-Banda said, “Inspirational leadership makes all of us dig deep into the innermost parts of our being to find the very best that lies there and make it available to ourselves and others. This, in my view, is what great leadership is all about.” Are you practicing inspirational leadership at the highest level?

Applying A Little Heat

This morning, I walked to the barn to do the morning feeding and the thermometer 🌡 read 4 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t mind the cold, but I always have to be cognizant that many things don’t work right, or at least need a little help to work right in this kind of weather. One of those things are frost free water hydrants.

For those who don’t know what that is, it is a water hydrant (pictured here) that is buried below the frost line and is designed so the on/off valve is at the bottom below the freezing point. Then when the water is turned off the water in the pipe drains down and out, and amazingly, no frozen water line. These are a great farm invention. They do, however, get a little moisture built up around the mechanism at the top for turning the water on and off.

Actually they are designed to withstand pulling the handle and turning them on, but I am always nervous in this kind of weather doing that. As we all know, things just have a way of going wrong in sub-freezing temperatures. Our way of mitigating this is to take a small hair dryer and running it for about 30-60 seconds on the valve. This small amount of heat makes it work perfectly – like it was 80 degrees out.

This morning, as I was doing this, I was reminded how a little heat being applied is good for all of us. I have always said that the best way to learn and grow is to be doing/trying something that causes a little fear. In fact I have blogged about it several times in: Leadership Lessons Of Mt. St. Helens, Telling Your Leadership Story, and Finding Your Leadership Voice just to mention a few.

As leaders we need to make sure we are enabling our team members to experience growth through real time projects and responsibilities that will, at times, cause a little “heat” and “pressure” to grow. The most effective leaders create unique experiences for themselves and others by taking calculated risks that put them and team members into situations that challenge their thinking, expand their perspective, make them feel vulnerable, and enable them to mature throughout the process.

Now, I am not saying throw yourself or your colleagues to the wolves. I am saying to act as the “hair dryer” I have used as the metaphor for this post and apply a little heat for growth to occur. This will allow us and those we serve to take key learnings from each of these experiences and apply them to similar circumstances we may be faced with. One of the ways I have learned to do this effectively is with task forces. Task forces gives teams of individuals a chance to form a community and create something for the organization.

The heat has been applied in my own personal life from being involved in turning schools around. Turnaround work can be one of the most thrilling and challenging adventures you can experience. Let me tell you, the “hair dryer” is pretty powerful and on high at all times. Turning around a struggling or failing situation teaches us to maximize the full potential of opportunities present in any situation and stretch the individual capabilities of ourself and other people.   We learn that there is always a way out and forward when there is an effective use of tools, resources, people, and money.

So, instead of letting a little heat, pressure, or fear intimidate us; let’s welcome and embrace it. Remember, sometimes a little heat from the “hair dryer” can be good for us all.