10 Responsibilites of a Highly Successful Leader

By Susan Ford Collins

As leaders, what is expected of us at work, at home and in our communities? What do those who follow us need so they can become successful... effective, efficient and ultimately creative? So they can bring forth the next generation of ideas, systems, inventions and innovations?

Here is a deep and sensitive look at what others really want from us. Isn't this exactly what you want from your leaders now... or you wish they had given you in the past?

A Declaration of Leadership... 10 Responsibilities of a Highly Successful Leader

1- We are responsible for being trustworthy leaders, for allowing those who follow us to have confidence in us until we can help them build confidence in themselves... self-confidence. We are responsible for protecting and educating them until they can effectively take over these responsibilities themselves.

2- We need to recognize when those we lead are ready for independence when they need more freedom, less control and supervision. We must sense when to shift from acknowledging compliance to our rules and regulations, to acknowledging their productivity and competition, their creativity and innovation.

3- We need to support them as they begin dreaming their own dreams—pre-experiencing desired outcomes along with them or suggesting others who can assist them in discovering appropriate first steps.

4-We need to communicate patiently and skillfully, making it safe for our followers to share their evolving ideas, likes and dislikes, choices and preferences—handling their “newborn dreams like tiny precious butterflies.” By respecting their choices now, we encourage them to respect others’ choices when they will lead later.

5- We need to provide expertise until we can find other experts to assist them, or they learn how to select and vet experts on their own.

6- We are responsible for updating their fears and disappointments, or finding experts who can. We need to regularly update old rules and limits that we set for them, helping expand their Safe Zone and contract their Danger Zone. And opening the door to The Potential Zone, the zone where they will create our future as well.

7- We need to hold their outcomes with them, especially when they don't have the foggiest idea what to do next, when they get discouraged or fall into the depths of impossibility. We need to cheer them all the way to completion and greater creativity.

8- We are responsible for shielding their dreams from the cold drafts and scorching heat of others’ disagreement and overpowering statements of impossibility. We need to say things to them that they will need to say to themselves. Yes, you can. (Yes, I can.) You need to think of another way. )I need to think of another way.) Let's hold this outcome together until we can find other *Co-dreamers... people who will keep the details of your dream alive in their hearts and minds with you, people you can talk to when upsets and setbacks make you temporarily forget where you are headed. People who can help re-install the details of your dream destination and re-energize you as you set out again.

9- We are responsible for turning negative thoughts into positives ones by asking switching questions. If you don't want this, what do you want? If this doesn't work, what might work instead? If you don't know this, who might know it? Even when we disagree with their outcome in the moment, we need to encourage them to keep asking for what they want, from us and from others. And we need to celebrate their success with them when they finally get there... to attend their product launches, award ceremonies, weddings and baby showers.

10- As leaders, we are responsible for maintaining our health and balance—monitoring our food and exercise, feeling the effect it is having on our health, on our moods and emotions, so those around us will learn how to maintain their health and balance too. We need to remember that we are leading by example 24/7. We need to be powerful inspiring, happy, healthy models.

And, we need to extend the same care and sensitivity to other leaders and followers with whom we work and live.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

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Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Success Quiz: Are You Using All 10 Success Skills… At the Right Time?

By Susan Ford Collins

Most people complain about not having enough time, but the truth is most of us spend time doing things that don’t really matter to our success. What does?

Take a few minutes to complete this Success Quiz. Then I will share with you how Highly Successful People (HSPs) answered these questions…

1. How often do you acknowledge yourself for what you accomplish?
Circle one:   daily          weekly              monthly            annually            

2. How often do you fall asleep thinking about what you didn’t get done or you’re afraid might happen?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

3. Are you able to maintain your confidence when obstacles and failures confront you?
Circle one:   rarely   sometimes        frequently

4. Do you pride yourself on doing “more-better-faster”?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

5. Do you make time to learn the basics of new skills before you start using them?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

6. Can you stand up in a meeting and say you don’t agree?
Circle one:   yes           no

7. How often do you push so hard that you can’t slow down to rest?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

8. Do you share your dreams with others or keep them to yourself?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

9. Do you spell out the details of outcomes you delegate?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

10. Would you rather ask an expert for input or figure it out yourself?
Circle one:   ask expert                   figure out

11. Do you need to know how you’ll reach your goal before you take action?
Circle one:   yes           no

12. Can you comfortably move into the unknown when you have a clear outcome in mind?
Circle one:   yes           no 

13. Do methods and solutions come to you out of the blue?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

14. When you are stressed, do you spend time away from the task?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

So now let’s compare your answers with theirs…

1. HSPs make time each day to acknowledge themselves for the successes they’re having. But the successes they have in mind aren’t just the usual ones. For them, success goes beyond finishing “business to dos.” It includes things that keep their lives in balance… eating a good breakfast, exercising, spending time with family and friends, buying gas, dropping off dry cleaning and remembering to pick it up. Most people don’t acknowledge themselves for completing things like these, but what happens to your productivity when you leave them undone? For HSPs, success also means saying NO to actions that violate their values and dreams. Deletion Successes can be the most important ones of all! And how about acknowledging yourself for your creative ideas... even if no one agrees they're possible yet!

2. People who “succeed big” know that the last few minutes of their day are most important. Your brain is in the Alpha State so it’s the perfect time to think about what you want tomorrow and long term. And the worst time to beat yourself up for oversights and failures. As you fall asleep, plan how you’ll make corrections instead. Remember: What you think is what you get, like it or not… so focus on what you do want instead of what you don’t want. That tiny change in focus will enhance your ability to move your life and career ahead!

3. If you are Success Filing—that is, acknowledging your successes each day—you will have the confidence to continue to move ahead when everything goes wrong, when obstacles besiege you and everyone disappoints you. Remember: When your Success File is full, you feel Success-Full. When it is low, you feel dependent and needy… at the mercy of others’ opinions and in need of their agreement. HSPs are willing to put off low priority items, but making time to Success File each day is a number one item for them.

4. Constantly priding yourself on doing more-better-faster lands you in The Success Trap, constantly having to work longer and harder to raise the quantity-quality bar higher and higher. It can also land you in the hospital. For staying power, you need to acknowledge yourself for slowing down to learn new skills and technologies, for allowing your mind to wander into future possibilities and solutions. In today's business environment, creativity and innovation are becoming more important than productivity.

5. It is essential to slow down to a stop from time to time. Why? Because unless you do, you won’t be able to gear your mind back to learn new skills and technologies and so you'll slip behind. HSPs schedule time to learn the most efficient tools and approaches available, rather than slogging along with equipment, programs and procedures that weren’t designed to do what you need to do now. Make time to master the basics before you attempt to gear up into 2nd Gear production. Otherwise the mistakes you make will trip up you and your teammates and take more time in the end.

6. To stay ahead, you have to be able to disagree with the pack. For some people, getting others’ agreement is more important than getting their result. Not so for HSPs. They can stand up, disagree and then so powerfully communicate the details of the scenario they see, hear and feel, that other people take on their vision and team up with them. They lead the way by inspiration, not perspiration.

7. When you push so long and hard that you can’t slow down to rest, you’ve gone over the edge. HSPs use this over-the-edge feeling to signal when they’re overusing the 2nd Gear of Success. Yes, success has three gear-like phases and unless you know when to shift, unless you can use all three gears as circumstances require, you’ll burn out your transmission… and that means your body. And the time lost will set your business way back. Read The Joy of Success and Success Has Gears for specifics on the Three Gears of Success and Leadership.

8. Highly successful business people share their dreams with Codreamers, people who hold onto the details of their dream with them. People who contribute additional perspectives and information. People they can call when they come out of a meeting so devastated that their dream seems to have literally been erased from their minds. One phone call to a Codreamer can get you back on track. Who are your Codreamers? And who are your Codreaders (the ones who always tell you reasons why not?) Make sure you know the difference!

9. Going so fast that you can’t gear down to spell out the details of a task you’re delegating may seem expedient at the time. But in the long run it could ruin your business. To get the support you need from coworkers, customers and vendors, you need to share precisely what you have in mind. When you provide a sketch, others will automatically fill in the details they have in mind instead of the ones you have in mind. Beware of Sensory Fill-in! Who is responsible for the errors that result? You are of course.

10. Would you rather ask an expert or figure it out yourself? Well, that all depends. If you're climbing up the learning curve, then asking experts and following their directions is what works best… with one exception. When you know next to nothing about something, using a salesperson as your expert may set you up to buy what’s best for him or her, but not for you. Consult an independent expert before you make a major purchase. On the other hand, depending on tried-and-true experts when you are creating something new, may take you back to how it’s already been done. Listen to their input but, as its creator, know that you are the ultimate expert when it comes to your dream!

11. When we were kids, we were rewarded for doing things by the book. But as the head of your own business or life, that simply won’t work. These days, having-to-know-how upfront will hold you back. What you need is a thoroughly detailed outcome… then the appropriate method will find you. Powerful life changes, inventions and new businesses frequently start out as hunches or middle of the night Ahas! Most leaders I interview tell me they rarely know how, but they always know what.

12. The ability to venture into the unknown is essential today. The marketplace is changing so rapidly that top CEOs say they don’t have a ten-year plan or a five-minute plan either. Flexibility is key. Can you think on your feet? Can you seize an opportunity that others fail to notice? Can you abandon your ten-year-ago or five-minute-ago action plan and take the next step to your dream when it presents itself?

13. For years I interviewed inventors and creators and over and over I heard the same comments. I woke up in the night with a clear image in my head or a voice telling me what to do. Or I was taking a shower when my idea hit me. Jeff Bezos, creator of Amazon.com, was so sure about his hunch that he packed up everything he owned and moved across the country in pursuit of his dream. And we all know he found it!

14. When you’re stuck, instead of sitting and staring at your computer screen, get up and do something else. Go for a walk or switch to a project that requires another mindset altogether. HSPs constantly tell me their most creative solutions come when they walk away from their desk and WHAM! The solution comes out of the blue… or out of the right brain. They say they strategically use the Alpha State to “program in” their problem at night and they trust their mind to deliver a solution when they first wake up. And it does.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 10 Success and Leadership Skills, read The Joy of Success, Success Has Gears or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

The Rite of a Leader

The Manager Was Tied Up... Literally... Till He Learned To Lead

By Susan Ford Collins

It was time for a promotion and Jim was called to his manager's office for a chat. Bob smiled warmly as he congratulated Jim. "You've been successful doing your work so now I am going to promote you to leadership." But what followed next was unexpected. 

Bob pulled a sturdy rope from his top desk drawer and tied Jim’s arms together securely in front of him saying, "Every morning for the next week, I will tie your arms in front of you to remind you that your responsibilities have changed. To get ahead till now, you've relied on your doing. But from now on, you must learn how to rely on others' doing. You must rely on your team. You are becoming a leader.

If your team members don't know what to do, you are responsible for explaining it to them or finding others who can. If they don't have the skills they need, you are responsible for helping them develop those skills or find others who already have them. Whatever your people need, it is your job to provide it. From now on, you will be evaluated on your leadership results and how well you facilitate your team.

As a leader... your team's failures will be your failures;

your team's successes will be your successes;

your team's results will be your results;

your team's creativity will be your creativity. 

That first day was tough! It was busy and the rope clearly held Jim back. Oh how he wished Bob would untie it for an hour or two so he could do the job right and more quickly. But no such luck!

The Rite of a Leader was working! Now Jim could clearly see what Bob had already seen... he had "great doer skills" but "underdeveloped leadership skills." It was frustrating to have to explain in detail what he wanted his people to do. He knew how to do it himself, but he didn't know how to effectively teach it or coach it.

Jim started making changes in his thinking and communication. Day by day Jim's team successes were piling up. By Friday he realized that his successes were being multiplied, not just by hisdoing but by the doing of his whole team. Excited, Jim enthusiastically stepped into into his expandedpower as a leader.

We must each choose to "tie" ourselves to leadership, understanding that it no longer matters that we can do it all by ourselves." The challenge now is... can we do it all together? And how?

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 10 Success and Leadership Skills as well as how and when to use them, read The Joy of Success, Our Children Are Watching or Success Has Gears.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Why Couples Argue… Relationship Gears are Clashing!

By Susan Ford Collins

Happiness and satisfaction, as well as upset and disappointment, are sourced in something very few people understand… the Three Gears of Relationship!

Like cars, romances start in 1st Gear. Connecting with someone new is scary. You don’t know that person’s rules yet… his or her rights and wrongs, goods and bads, have tos and musts, preferences and dreams. You slowly get to know each other, spending hours together learning what each of you likes and dislikes, wants and doesn’t want so hopefully you will be liked or even loved. And your relationship will last.

Years later happy couples look back to 1st Gear nostalgically…“Honey, do you remember when we first met, when we talked half the night and spent all our free time together.” They keep pictures of their precious 1st Gear startup memories in scrapbooks or on their computer screens.

When the relationship shifts into 2nd Gear, things speed up. You’ve been obsessed with each other for months. Your friends have been asking whether you’ve fallen off the earth or moved out of town. But all that initial time and conversation was well worth it! You are happy together, compatible and in sync. Now it’s time to de-focus on each other and re-focus on the rest of your lives. Time to straighten up your homes, reconnect with friends, catch up on your workload, finish your now-dusty sales proposal or mid-year review. (Thank heavens relationships don’t stay in 1st Gear forever. We’d never get anything else done!) In 2nd Gear it's more-better-faster and more-better-faster still. Productive, efficient, competitive, you work longer and harder to afford your upcoming wedding or trip, to establish your home, to afford children, fund IRAs or 401Ks, buy stocks and put aside money for college or retirement. Wow, you’re accomplishing so much together!

Well, not really together. Now you're spending more and more time apart… living in different worlds, roommates passing in the night, picking up kids from school, babysitting so one or the other can attend a meeting or take a client to dinner. You continue moving farther and farther apart, spending less and less time in the same place at the same time.

Until Boom! You hit a shifting point. That 1st Gear feeling is gone! Do you love each other anymore? Do you even like each other? (Ironic, isn’t it, since all relationships shift up and down through these three gears? So, even if you start over with someone new, sooner and later you’ll be accelerating ahead in 2nd Gear in that relationship, too.)

What do you do now? Do you stay in the relationship the way it is and sink into anger or depression? Do you separate and start again with someone else? Or do you shift into 3rd Gear and get creative together? Honey, I do love you. What can we do to re-new our relationship? To make time to talk again, to get to know each other again, to plan and dream again? Maybe we need counseling?

Oversimplified but nevertheless true. Let’s look at an overview:

1st Gear is for starting anything new.

2nd Gear is for doing more-better-faster, for accelerating into efficiency and productivity.

3rd Gear is for dreaming, innovating and renewing, for becoming creative.

In every relationship, understanding the gears matters! Sometimes you’ll be in the same gear at the same time… learning together, producing together. or creating together. But sometimes you won't, and there'll be Mis-Gear-Matches... or upsets. Like when you’ve slowed your energy down to a quiet purr and finally gotten your baby off to sleep and your husband or wife rushes in (still in high 2nd Gear from his or her work or workout) and wakes up your sleeping child. Arggg!

Special note... upsets between you and your spouse frequently occur when you’re in 2nd Gear and your kids are in 1st Gear. When six-year-old Sally needs you to slow down and listen to the upset she had with a friend who didn't speak to her on the playground. Or three-year-old Tom’s frustration over not being able to fit his puzzle together. Or thirteen-year-old Harry who has just come up with a new way to run your business. Keep in mind, his creativity might even work!

Here's an important heads up... don’t expect your kids to shift gears. The responsibility for gearing up, or down, is always on you! That's what makes parenting even more gear-challenging than romance and work.

Slowing down and gearing down is challenging in today's more-better-faster 2nd Gear world. It takes high intention and tremendous caring to manage the 2nd Gear pressures Corporate America exerts on us, to constantly push longer and harder, to produce more quantity and quality and profits, to stay revved up day after day, quarter after quarter... not just 9 to 5 but 24/7!

Remember, to avoid arguments and disappointments, it’s important to truthfully and sensitively acknowledge what you can’t do, or haven't done, and arrange a time when you can do it. “Honey, I know you want me to slow down and talk right now. I know you asked me yesterday and I was busy then too. But I promise I’ll make time this weekend." Yes, that's a great start! But be sure you keep your word… or the upset will get worse. Much worse! And you won't be believed next time you promise anything else!

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on Success Skill 2, Shifting Gears, read The Joy of Success, Our Children Are Watching or Success Has Gears.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins



Don't Play with Matches... a Life-Threatening Instruction!

By Susan Ford Collins

A sales manager at Kimberly-Clark told me a story that tragically reinforces the danger of giving not instructions, especially to kids. Three months before my seminar, Kevin and his wife Barbara had left their son Bobby with a babysitter. As they pulled on their coats, Kevin heard Barbara say, “Don’t play with matches while we’re out. Promise me that you won't.” Kevin thought it was strange because Bobby was afraid of striking matches but they were late so he didn't say anything then.

In the car, Barbara told Kevin she'd seen a show on TV that afternoon about children setting fires while they were staying with sitters. Those scenes of badly-burned, heavily-bandaged kids kept playing over and over in her mind so she felt she had to say something to protect their son. Kevin said he understood.

They enjoyed dinner and headed home. When they turned into their street, they saw fire trucks on their lawn. Their son had followed her not instruction. He had played with matches and set fire to the drapes! The sitter called 911 and Bobby had been rushed to the hospital where he was being treated for life-threatening burns.

Why did this tragedy occur? Let's take a closer look!

Understanding not instructions or negative commands requires two essential steps.

First, our brain automatically and unconsciously disregards the not and experiences what the message looks, sounds, feels, smells and tastes like. This is because we have a Positive Command Brain. Yes, bottom line... in our brains ALL instructions are positive. Think about the power of that information for a minute! Think about the laws, rules and corrections we're given. So understanding that immediately leads us to the second crucial step.

Second, we must quickly think... and say... what you do want instead? We must create a Positive Command that we want to go into action!

So for example, if this mother did not want her son to play with matches, what did she want him to do instead? She could have created a specific action plan… choosing games, TV shows or movies, or invited over a friend… and thoroughly discussed that plan with her sitter, son and his friend. Plus... remembering to put the matches out of reach, of course! But when we speak to kids or there's imminent danger, we frequently fail to take that life-changing, life-saving second step!

Years ago I was a consultant to a government agency that was struggling to create a now-familiar sign. They considered two possibilities: In case of fire do not take the elevator, leaving people frightened and undirected.  Or taking the switching step and providing a specific life-saving action plan? In case of fire, use the stairs… and post clear directions to all nearby stairwells. After numerous tests, it was clear which choice worked to calmly and safely move people out of the building and away from danger. Which one do you think worked better?

When you give negative instructions, what is the real message you are sending to your brain, and others' brains? Take the not out of the instruction and you’ll immediately know. Whether we realize it or not, don't play with matches = play with matches... to the brain. Don't use the elevator = use the elevator... to the brain. Unfortunately not statements create stress and uncertainty at the very times when ease and certainty are needed.

Fortunately, not instructions also signal opportunity… the opportunity to deliver a more thoroughly considered plan. The opportunity to make a healthier, more loving choice.

Starting today, let’s resolve to think, and communicate, what we do want. And whenever we catch ourselves saying or hearing not, let’s commit to take that life-saving, love-saving extra step by asking ourselves, What do I want instead? Or, by asking others, what do you want instead? And taking a few seconds to answer those questions clearly... before it automatically goes into action.

Don't play with matches. Play these games or watch these shows or movies with your friend.

In case of fire, don't use the elevator. Use the stairs and here's a map for exactly how to get there.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on The Positive Command Brain, read Skill 3: The Science of Dreaming in The Joy of Success. And Skill 3: Hologramming in Our Children Are Watching. And Skill 9, Switching in both books.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful… the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins




Time to Create a New Tradition… Parenting Vows

By Susan Ford Collins

Infants’ capabilities are limited. They can move, fuss, cry or smile. But they can’t feed themselves, change their diapers or safely get in and out of their cribs. In this stage of life, they’re totally dependent on us to figure out what they need, to make time to meet their needs completely, and to replace ourselves appropriately when we have other responsibilities.

The choice to have children is one that impacts the rest of our lives. It requires five years of being totallyresponsible and sixteen more years of being heavily responsible, an even harder job since we’re not always there with them at that stage. And it’s demanding financially too. It takes $100,000 to $500,000 plus to pay for a child’s health and education.

Have you seen the Nyquil commercial where a man wakes up feeling awful and seems to be asking his boss for a sick day? As the view widens, we realize he’s asking for the day off... from his son who is standing up in his crib! Fun but true. In good times and bad, in sickness and health, there are no days off from parenting! With all this responsibility in mind, something seems to be missing.

It’s time to create a new tradition—Parenting Vows

We promise to love, honor and cherish when we marry. But there are no vows when we create a new life!

It’s time to initiate a new tradition—Parenting Vows—sacred vows that affirm our mutual willingness to be responsible for our children's lives. Let us vow to support their growth and future contributions forever. Then, if one of us dies or we decide to live apart, our children will truly know that the form of our relationship has changed. But our love for them hasn't.

Before that precious moment of choosing to parent, let us make a solemn promise to each other…

Repeat after me...

No matter what—no matter how much money we have or we don't have, no matter how much time we have or we don't have, no matter what happens in our lives or what doesn't happen—we will make certain that our child is supervised, safe and secure. That he or she will have the support and independence needed to develop skills and gain experience. And that—no matter what—we will parent so he or she will be able to lead our families and our society in new directions in the years to come.

We promise to manage our lives and relationships so we can meet the parenting needs of our child—whether we are living together or apart— until death do us part.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. Contact me for permission to use it.

* For more on Parenting Vows, read The Gate to Fulfillment: Beyond Personal Success, the final chapter in Our Children Are Watching: 10 Skills for Leading the Next Generation to Success.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins