SPARK : How to Lead Yourself And Others To Greater SuccessAngie Morgan , Courtney Lynch , Sean Lynch
LIKE NEW, HARDCOVER
A Comprehensive How-To Guide On How To Quickly Transform Yourself Becoming Your Organization’s Most Valuable Asset
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★★ NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ★★
Leadership isn’t about a job title – it’s about action and behavior.
If I tell you to picture a leader, you probably envision a high-ranking person and has a high-paying salary. Great leaders are often only thought of as a rare breed who possesses a natural talent for leadership and is great at wielding power.
But the truth is, a good leader isn’t defined by what job they hold. A good leader is a good leader because of the way they act. A leader doesn’t need to be at the executive level; they can create a spark no matter what level they are at by their innovation and commitment that inspires others.
Pinpointing leaders is not an easy task. All managers know that within their organization there are certain key employees who are “sparks”-those rare individuals who have a natural drive not only to get the job done, but to go far beyond what is called for. These special employees truly get more accomplished in a day than others can in a week or more.
These “sparks” are the unique and essential people in your workplace who can help transform your company in all sorts of magical ways. And it’s your job to find them, empower them, and enable them to become the true leaders they are destined to be. Based on hard-earned insights and case studies gleaned from their military experience as well as corporate leadership training, Angie Morgan (U.S.Marine Corps), Courtney Lynch (U.S. Marine Corps), and Sean Lynch (U.S. Air Force) reveal how you can pinpoint the sparks within your ranks, and how you can unleash them to take your company to the next level.
Therefore , Spark is a how-to guide on transforming yourself into the most valuable asset in your organization. It shows how anyone, from administrative assistants to executive officers, can inspire others to greatness and ignite the spark that will take their team to amazing heights.
In SPARK, entrepreneurs, business consultants and military Veterans Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch, and Sean Lynch show how anyone can become an extraordinary leader by embracing seven key behaviors. It doesn’t matter if you’re an administrative assistant or an executive officer— you have the power to inspire those around you and create a so-called spark within your organization that will make those around you to the next level.
Spark teaches you how to become an influential, un-fireable asset to your team at work by taking on the role of a leader regardless of your position, utilizing the power of creative thinking to make better decisions, and learning how to be more self-aware and humble.
Many people believe that leaders are the rare few at the upper echelons of a business or other enterprise. But the truth is leaders can be found at any level of an organization. These are the Sparks – the doers, thinkers, innovators, and key influencers who are catalysts for personal and organizational change. Sparks aren’t defined by the place they hold on an organizational chart. They are defined by their actions, commitment, and will.
To be a Spark, you have to recognize yourself as a leader. Know the pathway to leadership development and commit yourself to it. You’re not chosen to be a leader. You choose to lead. BECOMING A SPARK REQUIRES first recognizing that you, like anyone else, have the potential to be a leader. Unfortunately, however, many would-be leaders are held back by myths about who and what a leader is. You’re limiting your leadership potential if you buy into one or all of these three commonly held—but erroneous—notions of leadership:
◆ Leaders are born.
◆ Leaders trust their instincts.
◆ A title makes you a leader.
The best way to challenge the myths around leadership is to follow the science and see where it leads us. You’ll realize quickly that leadership isn’t an exclusive designation reserved for the exceptional and privileged few. Being a Spark is an act of free will, and when you start to make the behavioral choices consistent with being a Spark, you will see what you can do (versus what you can’t do) in your environment.
When Sparks are ignited, their actions can shape their future. They make things better. They’re the individuals who have the courage to challenge the status quo and take action. Frederick W. Smith, Chairman & CEO of FedEx Corporation, adds: The concept of leadership is not a difficult one to understand. It’s that straight-forward, but it’s by no means intuitive. It must be learned and practiced. SPARK will help you do just that.
A Spark is someone who doesn’t just accept what is given to them. Sparks realize that they can do things differently to create the change they’d like to see. Sparks understand that they have both the ability to influence and inspire, and they look to influence and inspire those around them. Sparks create their own opportunities and are identified by their actions, commitment, and will, not by a job title. Sparks choose to lead.
SPARK’s insights were hard-earned by its authors, Angie Morgan (Marine Corps), Courtney Lynch (Marine Corps), and Sean Lynch (Air Force), who today are sought-after consultants and keynote speakers, through their firm Lead Star, due to the relevant, engaging way they help individuals reimagine themselves as leaders so they can reach their true potential.
KEY TAKEAWAY INSIGHT :
1. LEADERS AREN’T BORN—THEY’RE MADE :
The “made” leadership behaviors are attainable by any committed person, in any environment. Spark qualities include being credible to others so that they trust you, holding yourself accountable to your challenges, making good decisions when you’re feeling pressure to act, expressing your confidence in clutch moments, and bringing a group of individuals together to form a full and cohesive team. When you think about any of these Spark qualities, you start to realize that they represent ways in which you can consciously choose to behave. However, these choices are easier to understand than to carry out, because they require that you defy human nature.
2 . LEADERS CHALLENGE THEIR INSTINCTS :
Too often in business we hear the phrase “trust your instincts.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the best advice, because our instincts aren’t always consistent with Spark behavior. When we avoid conflict, overreact to bad news, or procrastinate on decisions, we’re acting on our instincts and not influencing our environment. We’re simply reacting, which puts us at a disadvantage.
The way to stop reacting and start responding like a Spark is to invoke higher-order cognitive processes to control your actions. What does this mean when it comes to leadership development? Get inside your head and start paying attention to your reactions to challenging situations. The two most important processes to take notice of are cognitive flexibility and cognitive discipline, which help you get off autopilot—where your basic instincts reside—and consciously respond to challenging situations in an inspiring, influential, and well-thought-out way.
3. IT’S YOUR CHOICE TO BE A LEADER :
Many people think the only way to become a leader is to be a boss. But simply having a title has never, ever made anyone a leader. No one else can make or anoint you a leader. The only way to become a Spark is to make yourself into one. When you decide to become a Spark, you need to spend serious time reflecting on where you are on the leadership development continuum. What are your real strengths? What are your true weaknesses? This knowledge helps you recognize opportunities for your development.
One of the Marine Corps’ top leadership principles is: “Know yourself and seek self-improvement.” The Corps recognizes that its leaders are successful when they have real awareness of their talents and can put themselves in a position to leverage them. Leaders also need to be open to feedback that will allow them to shore up their weaknesses. A high level of candor between ourselves and others generates self-awareness. The more self-aware we are as Sparks, the greater our ability to own our shortcomings and correct them before they affect others.
4. YOUR CHARACTER – The Congruence Between Values and Actions :
Leading with your own values is the gateway to leading others. If you know who you are and what you stand for, you’re able to sit up straighter and be more self-assured. You begin to develop self-trust because you know how you’ll behave when challenged and know that you’ll be able to count on yourself when the chips are down. And if you can count on yourself, there’s no doubt that others can count on you too.
People who live their values exude a quiet confidence—they worry less about what others think and instead focus on being true to themselves. That shows up as an authenticity that’s refreshing to others. We grant followership to those people in our organizations we perceive as authentic—that is, the people who aren’t playing politics, who aren’t always trying to say the “right things” to whomever they’re talking to, who aren’t seeking popularity in exchange for their integrity.
And if you’re able to convey to others that it’s okay to be real, you can have a definite impact in your organization. Follow these steps to begin understanding and expressing your values:
☞ Find a quiet place and dedicate time to reflecting on the values that are most important to you. Identify a list of your top five most important values.
☞ Assess your support network—the people you can rely on as you develop your Spark behaviors. Work to ensure that these people stay present in your life.
☞ Understand the circumstances in which you have tended to compromise your values. Work to manage your schedule so as to avoid these situations.
5. THE 4 KEYS TO BEING CREDIBLE :
Credibility is the foundation of your leadership style. It allows people to view you as dependable, trustworthy, and committed. Sparks who demonstrate the four keys to credibility can quickly generate trust among others. To be a credible Spark, you have to commit yourself to the following four keys to credibility:
☞ Understand the expectations others have for you—other people often have unspoken standards they’re measuring your performance against.
☞ Mind your say-do gap—often we undermine our influence by not following through on the commitments we make.
☞ Let others know what’s expected of them—by giving others a clear picture of what success looks like, you’re helping them contribute to the credibility of their team.
☞ Have the courage to deliver performance-related feedback to others—when delivered effectively, feedback can be the most valuable thing you do for your colleagues.
6. BECOMING AN ACCOUNTABLE LEADER :
Sparks who demonstrate accountability resist the powerful human instinct to place blame elsewhere. They seek to identify how their own actions—or inactions—have contributed to the situations in which they find themselves. To be an accountable Spark:
☞ Lead with accountability so that you’re modeling the behavior you expect from others.
☞ Seek to recognize and embrace problems. Don’t deny them, ignore them, or wait for them to come to you. The sooner you address problems, the sooner you achieve the results you’re looking for.
☞ Work to ensure that the teams you work on allow for mistakes. The best teams discuss problems openly and apply their learnings going forward.
7. ACT WITH INTENT : MAKE DECISIONS THAT MATTER :
By having a clear vision and making choices consistent with it, Sparks achieve the success they seek. They recognize that seemingly small choices today will have a big impact on the fulfillment they desire for their future. To honor your future self by making decisions that are aligned with your values:
☞ Reconcile the disconnect between where you are now and where you want to be.
☞ Commit yourself to growth and seek out challenges that help you evolve as a Spark.
☞ Create a plan for the changes you seek so you can commit fully to your goals.
☞ Recognize that there are limits to your capacity—to prevent burnout you have to say no many times to leave room for a few valuable yeses.
8. BE OF SERVICE: RECOGNIZE AND MEET OTHER’S NEEDS :
Sparks are always aware of others’ needs and take action to meet them. This outward focus strengthens relationships and creates camaraderie and connection. To demonstrate service-based leadership:
☞ Consistently be focused on understanding the needs of others and working hard to meet them. Service-based leadership isn’t a onetime event.
☞ Seek to serve first. Don’t make people have to ask you for support and assistance.
☞ Sometimes the simplest actions are all it takes to be of service to others.
☞ Don’t just think about serving others—do it. We often have good intentions that fall to the wayside because we can’t find time to serve others. Even five minutes a day is enough to have a positive impact on others.
9. BUILD YOUR CONFIDENCE :
Your confidence level will determine the level of results you experience. Sparks don’t leave their confidence to chance. They consciously manage their internal thought process to achieve a level of steadiness as their sense of confidence rises. Confidence is an emotion that Sparks can manage. To achieve a steady level of confidence:
☞ Recognize that insecurity can often accompany success. It’s critical to acknowledge how your talents directly connect to the successes you experience. No one is immune to fear, worry, and insecurity. Pay attention to your emotions; don’t ignore them. When you experience confidence-killing emotions, ask yourself, “What can I do about this right now?” Determine whether your concerns are real or manufactured. Move yourself to action on things you can influence, and maintain perspective on things you can’t change
☞ Develop positive self-appraisals. Pay attention to what you tell yourself during moments when you feel pressure. Often, When you start doubting yourself, stop and rewrite your script. Refresh your memory about your accomplishments, and build yourself up to face challenges.
☞ Surround yourself with positive role models. Only those who care about us and have our best interests at heart should influence our confidence. We cannot give everyone access to our precious beliefs about ourselves. Positive role models may tell us things we do not want to hear, but they always have our best interests at heart.
☞ Manage confidence-killing emotions. No one is immune to fear, worry, and insecurity. Pay attention to your emotions; don’t ignore them. When you experience confidence-killing emotions, ask yourself, “What can I do about this right now?” Determine whether your concerns are real or manufactured. Move yourself to action on things you can influence, and maintain perspective on things you can’t change
10. DEMONSTRATE CONSISTENCY :
Developing consistency is a discipline that requires constant commitment. To build the habit of consistency:
Assess your current state of readiness. Do you have the space to respond to whatever happens rather than merely react?
Recognize your limits before your credibility and reputation suffer. You can do any thing, but you can’t do every thing and be successful. Having “less to do” makes you more available for what matters most—at work and in life.
The best way to cultivate Sparks in an organization is to democratize leadership. Leadership isn’t just for senior managers. It’s for everyone. Leadership development should happen at every employment level, from front-line workers to the C-suite, beginning at onboarding. When every employee feels empowered to lead – whether that’s lead themselves, lead their team, or lead the enterprise – Sparks emerge and results happen faster.
Not only does SPARK provide you with the encouragement and motivation to be a leader, it also offers online resources that will further support your leadership development. With SPARK as a blueprint, anyone can become a catalyst for change, and any organization can identify and develop Sparks.
About the Authors :
Courtney Lynch and Angie Morgan are the co-founders of Lead Star and co-authors of the best-selling business book Leading from the Front. Both women advise executives on strategy, organizational development, and talent management initiatives. Courtney and Angie are also Directors of the Center for Creative Leadership’s Partner Network, a premier organization for thought leading consultants, executive coaches and trainers.
Courtney holds a BA from North Carolina State University and a JD from William & Mary Law School. She served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. She resides in Richmond, VA, with her husband and three children. Angie holds a BA and MBA from the University of Michigan. She served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. She resides in Traverse City, MI, with her husband and two children.
Sean Lynch is a senior consultant at Lead Star and specializes in designing and delivering leadership programming. He holds a BA from Yale University and served as a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force. Sean resides in Bradenton, FL, with his wife and two children.
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