I was surfing Reddit today and I noticed someone had put up a very… very good blog post on “Urgent vs. Important”. I’ve provided a link below because I think it describes the things that I’ve been toying around with really well.
I’ve heard the urgent vs. important thing several times now, and most often described as a four quadrant grid. Things to keep in mind: what am I focusing on? The urgent, or the important?
Since being elected chair of Lambda Phi Epsilon, and more recently of the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, I’ve increasingly had to straddle a fine line between that of visionary leadership and pragmatic management. As the guy that’s trying to herd cats in one direction, I find it increasingly difficult to be figuring out the direction while herding the cats themselves. How does one do it?
In my mind, visionary leadership encompasses figuring out the direction of an organization, and the determination of the future state. It’s critically important that a leader has an idea of where the organization is headed. It’s not enough that operations maintain stable over the course of his/her term, things must improve in some way. Thus, the leader must be a visionary in that he has initiatives he wants to accomplish and an idea of the future-state of the organization.
Pragmatic management involves the task of actually implementing and making things happen so that the organization moves forward into the future state. Words without actions are meaningless, and I find that it is equally important knowing how to deal with coworkers, staff, and colleagues in order to execute.
The difficulty that I see is that most people are unable to do both effectively. To mitigate that weakness, is it prudent to split up those responsibilities into two separate positions? I know of several organizations, both private and public, that have done this (CEO taking care of the leading and COO in charge of the management). My initial feeling is that this is a good model to follow and to implement.
The trick here comes when you’re managing a volunteer organization. I sat through an excellent talk while I visited Duke University, Leading without Followers. I think it really hit upon the point that leading volunteers takes special skill, because those people are just doing it out of the goodness of their heart. If you can lead and manage volunteers, you can probably lead and manage anything.
Let’s see how well I’ll hold up to this task.
A couple of days ago I was invited to a NetKAL dinner by Jason Scott Park. What is NetKAL you might ask? NetKAL stands for the Network of Korean American Leaders, a program organized by the Center for Asian-Pacific Leadership at the University of Southern California. Each year (or so), NetKAL takes a group of accomplished Korean Americans to be NetKAL fellows, and develops their leadership potential through networking events, professional seminars, and summits.
This was released by the Board of Directors of Lambda Phi Epsilon, National Fraternity Inc. on June 29, 2010. It has been reposted here from its official source for reference. Continue reading
I just finished reading the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John C. Maxwell and thought I’d take some time to reflect on the book. For full disclosure purposes, I haven’t read his other works, and this book was meant to be a follow on to the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, so perhaps I’m reading it out of context.
One of the best things to be able to do is to just sit back and reflect on the work that you’re doing in life. This book gave me some time to be able to do that, especially in the context of my professional work and my community work. What I thought was useful was that in this book it gave some “Daily Takeaways” at the end of the chapter. It helps to be able to think through and get examples on what the qualities mean in the day to day life. There were definitely some qualities that I hadn’t thought of, and will keep in mind while going forward. I’m looking forward to re-reading this book in the next month to see where I am with everything.
So what makes a good leader different from a great leader? For me, I think it boils down to commitment. It’s imperative to be committed to what you believe in, committed to those who you are leading, and committed to yourself. Having commitment n those three things will enable a person to succeed in whatever they want to accomplish. Let’s look at some of the things that people think about when they think of leadership: vision, selflessness, drive, charisma, etc. If I’m committed towards something, I’d think that I’d have a vision of where I’d like to take it. Likewise, if I’m committed towards something, I’d be willing to give 110% of my time to the cause, and be driven to succeed.
The questions that I make sure to ask myself are:
- Am I doing what I care about the most?
- What am I working on that matters most to me?
- Why does it matter?
- Am I giving 110% to the work that I care about?
Next on the list: Peter Ducker’s Managing the Nonprofit Organization, courtesy of my good friend Gene Kim.