Contagious Leadership; 13 Principles to Spreading a Winning Culture

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  1. Donte ' Hill |
  2. Donte ' Hill
  3. 12 Principles of Leadership
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Donte ' Hill |

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Hill shoots from the hip and speaks from the heart. Hill's compassion and activism can be traced back to his roots in a small northern Michigan community called Baldwin. Growing up playing community and high school basketball, Hill caught the attention of Ferris State University scouts.

Hill was recruited in and played basketball at Ferris State University for three years. Venturing into the business world, Hill leveraged his skills and talents to rise to the number one sales representative in Alltel Communications. He also was a popular and insightful color analyst on Miller On Sports television and radio broadcast.

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In any organization, goals must always be in alignment. No senior executive team would knowingly choose a course of action or issue an order that would purposely result in failure. But a subordinate may not understand a certain strategy and thus not believe in it. Junior leaders must ask questions and also provide feedback up the chain so that senior leaders can fully understand the ramifications of how strategic plans affect execution on the ground.

The leader must explain not just what to do, but why. It is the responsibility of the subordinate leader to reach out and ask if they do not understand. Only when leaders at all levels understand and believe in the mission can they pass that understanding and belief to their teams so that they can persevere through challenges, execute and win.

Ego clouds and disrupts everything: Often, the most difficult ego to deal with is your own. Everyone has an ego. Ego drives most successful people in life. They want to win, to be the best. But when ego clouds our judgement and prevents us from seeing the world as it is, then ego becomes destructive. Many of the disruptive issues that arise within any team can be attributed directly to a problem with ego. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.

Ego can prevent a leader from conducting an honest, realistic assessment of his or her own performance and the performance of the team. All elements within the greater team are crucial and must work together to accomplish the mission, mutually supporting one another for that singular purpose.

Departments and groups within the team must break down silos, depend on each other and understand who depends on them. Within any team, there are divisions that arise. Often, when smaller teams within the team get so focused on their immediate tasks, they forget about what others are doing or how they depend on their teams. They may start to compete with one another and when there are obstacles, animosity and blame develops.

It falls on leaders to continually keep perspective on the strategic mission and remind the team that they are part of the greater team and the strategic mission is paramount.

Each member of the team is critical to success, though the main effort and supporting efforts must be clearly identified. If the overall team fails, everyone fails, even if a specific member or an element within the team did their job successfully. Pointing fingers and placing blame on others contributes to further dissension between teams and individuals. These individuals and teams must instead find a way to work together, communicate with each other, and mutually support one another. The focus must always be on how to best accomplish the mission. Alternatively, when the team succeeds, everyone within and supporting that team succeeds.

Every individual and every team within the larger team gets to share in the success. Accomplishing the strategic mission is the highest priority. Team members, departments, and supporting assets must always help each other, work together, and support each other to win. This principle is integral for any team to achieve victory.

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Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success. When plans and orders are too complicated, people may not understand them. And when things go wrong, and they inevitably do go wrong, complexity compounds issues that can spiral out of control into total disaster. Plans and orders must be communicated in a matter that is simple, clear, and concise.

Everyone that is part of the mission must know and understand his or her role in the mission and what to do in the event of likely contingencies. You must brief to ensure the lowest common denominator on the team understands. It is critical, as well, that the operating relationship facilitate the ability of front-line troops to ask questions that clarify when they do not understand the mission or key tasks to be performed. Leaders must encourage this communication and take the time to explain so that every member of the team understands.

In the business world, and in life, there are inherent complexities. It is critical to keep plans and communication simple. Following this rule is crucial to the success of any team. Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously. The team will likely fail at each of those tasks. Instead leaders must determine the highest priority task and execute. When overwhelmed, fall back upon this principle: Multiple problems and high-pressure, high-stakes environments occur in many facets of life and particularly in business.

The success or failure of the team, the department, the company, the financial capital of investors, careers, and livelihoods are at stake. These pressures produce stress and demand decisions that often require rapid execution. Such decision making for leaders can be overwhelming.

Donte ' Hill

Priorities can rapidly shift and change. When this happens, communication of that shift to the rest of the team, both up and down the chain of command, is critical. Teams must be careful to avoid target fixation on a single issue. They cannot fail to recognize when the highest priority task shifts to something else. The team must maintain the ability to quickly re-prioritize efforts and rapidly adapt to a constantly changing landscape.

To implement prioritize and execute in any business, team, or organization, a leader must:. Human beings are generally not capable of managing more than six to ten people, particularly when things go sideways and inevitable contingencies arise. No one senior leader can be expected to manage dozens of individuals, much less hundreds.

Teams must be broken down into manageable elements of four to five operators, with a clearly designated leader. Junior leaders must be empowered to make decisions on key tasks necessary to accomplish that mission in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

12 Principles of Leadership

Teams within teams are organized for maximum effectiveness for a particular mission, with leaders who have clearly delineated responsibilities. Every tactical level team leader must understand not just what to do but why they are doing it. If front-line leaders do not understand why, they must ask their boss to clarify the why. Decentralized Command does not mean junior leaders or team members operate on their own program; that results in chaos. Instead, junior leaders must fully understand what is within their decision-making authority. Additionally, they must communicate with senior leaders to recommend decisions outside their authority and pass critical information up the chain so that senior leadership can make informed strategic decisions.

To be effectively empowered to make decisions, it is imperative that front-line leaders execute with confidence. They must have implicit trust that their senior leaders will back their decisions. Without this trust, junior leaders cannot confidently execute, which means they cannot exercise effective decentralized command. To ensure this is the case, senior leaders must constantly communicate and push information to their subordinate leaders. Likewise, junior leaders must push situational awareness up the chain to their senior leaders to keep them informed, particularly of crucial information that affects strategic decision making.

Determining how much leaders should be involved and where leaders can best position themselves to command and control the team is key. Leaders must be free to move to where they are most needed, which changes throughout the course of an operation. Understanding proper positioning as a leader is a key component of effective decentralized command. The effectiveness of decentralized command is critical to the success of any team in any industry.

In chaotic, dynamic, and rapidly changing environments, leaders at all levels must be empowered to make decisions. Decentralized command is a key component to victory. Planning begins with mission analysis.

Leaders must identify clear directives for the team. Once they themselves understand the mission, they can impart this knowledge to their key leaders and front-line troops tasked with executing the mission. A broad and ambiguous mission results in lack of focus, ineffective execution, and mission creep. To prevent this, the mission must be carefully refined and simplified so that it is explicitly clear and specifically focused to achieve the greater strategic vision. The front-line troops tasked with executing the mission must understand the deeper purpose behind the mission.

When understood by everyone involved in the execution of the plan, it guides each decision and action. Leaders must delegate the planning process down the chain as much as possible to key subordinate leaders. Giving the front-line team members ownership of even a small piece of the plan gives them buy-in, helps them understand the reasons behind the plan, and better enables them to believe in the mission, which translates to far more effective implementation and execution. Once the detailed plan has been developed, it must then be briefed to the entire team and all participants and supporting elements.

The planning process and briefing must be a forum that encourages discussion, questions, and clarifications from even the most junior personnel.

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Thus, leaders must ask questions of their teams, encourage interaction, and ensure their teams understand the plan. The best teams employ constant analysis of their tactics and measure their effectiveness so that they can adapt their methods and implement lessons learned for future missions.

It addresses the following: How can we adapt to make us even more effective? Leaders must routinely communicate with their team members to help them understand their role in the overall mission. This understanding helps the team members prioritize their efforts in a rapidly changing, dynamic environment. Examine what you can do to better convey the critical information for decisions to be made and support allocated. Leading up the chain takes much more savvy and skill than leading down the chain. Leading up, the leader cannot fall back on his or her positional authority.

Instead, the subordinate leader must use influence, experience, knowledge, communication, and maintain the highest professionalism.

While pushing to make your superior understand what you need, you must also realize that your boss must allocate limited assets and make decisions with the bigger picture in mind. You and your team may not represent the priority effort at that particular time. Or perhaps the senior leadership has chosen a different direction. Have the humility to understand and accept this.

In any chain of command the leadership must always present a united front to the troops. A public display of discontent or disagreement with the chain of command undermines the authority of leaders at all levels. This is catastrophic to the performance of any organization. Then, once understood, you can pass that understanding down to your team.