THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: LEADING FROM A TO Z

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me in my usual locale — at home. On Monday, I had my normal WIG calls with our leadership teams across the world and on Tuesday I had my weekly Berkshire Hathaway Energy President’s Meeting followed by the monthly CEO Leadership Microsoft Teams Meeting. On Wednesday, I participated in Intero’s Leadership Symposium and today I presented “4DX Tune-Up” to the team at RealtySouth.

As I participated in these virtual meetings and conferences, I thought about the basics and how these past few months have created opportunities for leaders to focus on the true fundamentals of excellent leadership. In fact, you could take the entire alphabet and use it as a guide to the tenets of this “back to basics” leadership approach:

A – Accountability. This is the backbone of effective leadership. Holding people accountable is key to creating a system of execution that simply works every time.

B – Bravery. To lead, you must be brave. Leadership requires making tough decisions and the unending courage to fight for your success.

C – Celebration. When you celebrate the small wins, you place mental mile markers on your journey toward the achievement of your goals. The euphoric feeling of celebration will motivate you and your team to win yet again.

D – Diet. The third component to daily “M.E.D.S.” (Meditation, Exercise, Diet and Sleep). It’s important to keep your body strong and your diet healthy so you have the physical strength and energy required to lead.

E – Execution. Put in place a system of execution and define the battles you will execute on. Just remember the rule: The battles you choose must win the war.

F – Focus. What you focus on expands, so make sure you’re focusing on the right initiatives and plans to create the small and large wins that will lead to sustainable success.

G – Gratitude. Adding gratitude to your life can change your attitude! I currently have nine gratitude partners I check in with every day. Identifying what you’re grateful for will help you create a positive mindset.

H – Habits. Small changes compound over time; each positive habit you create or negative habit you break brings you closer to the person — and leader — you want to become. I always love the saying, “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits and your habits become your destiny.”

I – Integrity. Berkshire Hathaway’s core values — trust, integrity, stability and longevity — are the fundamentals the brand was built on and they’re essential for every leader to embrace. Integrity is critical when building a team. As Brian Tracy once said, “Integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word.”

J – Joy. As I say, I love what I do largely because of who I get to do it with. Always hold onto the joy in your job – it’s what turns it from a profession into a calling.

K – Kindness. Exercising kindness toward others, no matter how small the act, is always good business. As you go about your day, think about ways you can enhance someone else’s existence through a small act of kindness. The “helper’s high” you’ll receive by doing something nice for another person will help you build a positive mindset.

L – Loyalty. American computer programmer Grace Murray Hopper once said: “Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one’s superiors; care for one’s crew.”

M – Mindset. Maintaining a positive mindset is one of the best ways you can productively lead. Positive energy is infectious, even if it’s transmitted through a screen during a virtual meeting.

N – Nimbleness. Organizational bureaucracy exists to the detriment of individual initiative, productivity and creativity. In a survey by Harvard Business Review, nearly two-thirds of respondents said their respective companies had become more bureaucratic in the last few years. Rather than being bogged down in processes, protocols and predefined procedures, a business is at its best when it’s nimble.

0 – Over-communication. Especially during challenging times, over-communication will help your team feel connected and add clarity to a difficult situation. The missing link between uncertainty and decisiveness, between a lack of connection and unity, is leadership. Through clear and consistent communication, you can impact the ability of our team members to navigate complex situations.

P – Personal improvement. Remember, the best investment you can make is in yourself! Listen to or read new books, discover new podcasts and commit to being a perpetual student of life.

Q – Quality. The greatest competitive advantage you can offer is incredible quality service, convenience and value. It will set you apart from the competition and help you create clients for life.

R – Recharge. We cannot go full force all the time and if we do, we’ll surely wind up burning out or not being fully committed to those particular actions and initiatives (the lead measures) that help us achieve our Wildly Important Goals. We have to take time to recharge.

S – Schedule. Staying on your schedule is one of the most important things you can do. Your only job is to follow your schedule.

T – Time Management. The idea of living a balanced life is directly tied to the mastering of one important leadership aspect: time management. Control your time, don’t let time control you.

U – Uncertainty. Sometimes, uncertainty can create incredible and positive transformational changes. As we’ve experienced these past few months, the real estate industry has been masterful at transforming current challenges into opportunities to collectively learn, grow and evolve.

V – Vigilance. As Martin Luther King Jr. once eloquently said: “Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenges of change.”

W – WIGs (Wildly Important Goals). Goals are both complex and simple. Simple because they’re binary: Did you accomplish your WIG or did you not accomplish your WIG? Yet complex because there are often a multitude of key drivers and activities that go into making sure goals are brought to completion. The formula for a WIG is from X to Y by when. When creating your WIGs, ask yourself and your team: What is the one thing that if everything else remained the same would have the greatest impact? Put a system in place, set your goals, hold team members accountable to these goals and most importantly, execute. Remember, Discipline #3 in the Four Disciplines of Execution: Keep a compelling scoreboard. People and teams simply play differently when they’re keeping score. When you set up the right kind of scoreboard, you’ll motivate your players to stay engaged and win.

X – X-factor. As bestselling author Jim Collins once said: “The x-factor of great leadership is not personality, it’s humility.” Surround yourself with humble team members and leaders and practice humility yourself because smugness comes before arrogance and arrogance is the precursor to disaster; once you think you know it all, your slide to mediocrity has already begun.

Y – Young at heart. It really doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80, leadership does not discriminate by age. Instead, it’s a mindset formed from having a positive routine and following the keys to success in order to accomplish your goals. Anyone at any age can do it but not everyone has the commitment and focus to get it done.

Z – Zen. I’ve always embraced the concept of living a Zen existence. It’s why I feel connected to legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson. One of Jackson’s nicknames was “Zen Master” because his leadership was influenced by Eastern philosophy and Zen beliefs. In a sport like basketball where selfishness could run rampant, he encouraged grace, love and freedom as guiding ideals.

So, what’s the message? Leadership isn’t quite as straightforward as a list from A to Z, but it’s all about mastering these fundamentals that will bring you one step closer to accomplishing any — and every — goal.

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