Appreciate Your Adversaries, VII

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Inspirational Leaders Don't Care Who Gets The Credit This series has focused on the importance for inspirational leaders - and for those who aspire to make their brand of leadership more inspirational - to appreciate their adversaries.
We started with appreciation of adversaries as a "light" version of the scriptural admonition to "love your enemies" - and as a version that's much more approachable and practical for the everyday work of organizational leadership.
Today, on his 101st birthday, it makes sense to reflect on one of President Ronald Reagan's favorite thoughts: the notion of "who gets the credit.
" Inspirational leaders learn to recognize the difference between the small percentage of opponents they encounter who can't be won-over, and the vast majority of adversaries - the ones who might be ameliorated or even converted to willing participants in collaborative relationships.
Strong leaders learn to see the good in others, and to focus more on being appreciative and less on showing they can give an incisive critiques.
With the majority of adversaries - the folks who just end up opposing you for a variety of everyday reasons ranging from professional jealousy to stark differences in frames-of-reference - the skilled inspirational leader can get at least some traction.
Great leaders (even the ones who aren't officially designated as leaders, but simply end up as leaders among peers) learn to give and receive effective feedback, and to establish feedback relationships with even their most seemingly-intractable opponents.
They learn to be excellent coaches, and they coach everyone from subordinates to superiors in the interest of building stronger relationships and better organizations.
And they're optimists; even when you've acted like an ass, they treat you as though they believe the relationship (and you) can and will get better.
It's been my privilege to be a coach to many inspirational leaders over the years, and I've found they share some defining characterstics.
Leaders who inspire the best in those around them tend to be curious and appreciative, not cautious and critical.
They are courageous, not complacent.
They're collaborative, not competitive.
If you set yourself up as an iron-clad enemy, sure, they will defeat you...
but they give you lots of chances, first, to meet them half-way.
Whether or not they own a business, inspirational leaders act like entrepreneurs.
They take risks, work hard, and create.
Reagan would've appreciated those characterstics.
Agree or not with his politics, you'd be hard-pressed to say Ronald Reagan wasn't an inspirational leader (and an effective one).
And one of his favorite sayings, emblazoned on a small plaque on his Oval Office desk, said (paraphrasing) "There's no limit to what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit.
" On the "Great Communicator's" birthday, you might do well to reflect on that.
How are you leading? Would people say you're quite keen to get the credit for the great things achieved by your team, and by your organization? Or would they say you don't care about that? Are you seen as a person who's looking to take credit, or help create it for the express purpose of giving it away? Obviously, if you want to be a more inspirational leader, you'll want to think about how you can make those around you do things that're worthy of praise, and then you'll want to make sure they get that praise.
Want to be a truly inspirational leader? Be the kind of person people can't wait to work for, because of what they'll learn, and (most importantly) because of what THEY will accomplish.
And you can start by learning to truly appreciate your adversaries.
You might be the first leader ever to show any appreciation to some of those folks...
and that's the sort of thing that can help turn a struggling person around.
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