5 Leadership Thoughts from Mark Sanborn

5 Leadership Thoughts from Mark Sanborn

Sanborn is an author, keynote speaker, and leadership expert, trusted by Fortune 500 companies to advise them on their team building and customer service. He is best known for his book The Fred Factor: How Passion In Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, which sold over 2 million copies worldwide. As we dug deeper into Sanborn’s views on leadership, we found an extreme emphasis on character. Here are our favorite quotes from Sanborn:

  1. “One of the greatest compliments you can be paid as a leader is to have someone say that you helped them be better than they thought they could be.” Leaders are coaches in the sense that they pull out the gold in their team and push them to new heights. The actual term for this is the Pygmalion (or Expectancy) Effect. Psychologist Robert Rosenthal demonstrated that by holding positive expectations about another’s behavior, we can subtly influence their behavior in a good way. (You could also call it the "I-know-you-can-do-it” effect.) Take a few minutes this week to think about the gold in your team and try the Pygmalion Effect with them. Provide support and guidance to them on a stretch project they didn’t know they could do.

  2. “Don't confuse activity with action.” Talking innovation, ideas, and starting tons of projects sure sounds great in meetings, but if those ideas don’t turn into actual action and outputs, you’re not doing your job. Think about activities as starting various pots of water on the stove. If you don’t add the pasta, set a timer, drain, and mix in sauce - you’ll never actually sit down for dinner. As you lead yourself and lead your team, be sure to explain what the outputs look like, so everyone knows if they are winning or not.

  3. “It takes just about the same amount of time to be a nice guy as it does to be a jerk.” Sanborn is completely right. However, although it takes about the same amount of time, it doesn’t take the same amount of effort. Leaders need to build up their “pause muscle” so they can get into the habit of being self-aware of their emotions and pause when they need to, to make a conscious decision to be nice vs being a jerk.

  4. “Don't wait for the perfect opportunity. Just take an opportunity and make it as perfect as you can.” The leaders with the most influence honor up, down, and all around. They carefully allocate their limited resources to make the most of the opportunities they are given. This might also mean choosing to respect and see through a decision regardless of if you agree with it or not. If you lead by example in maximizing opportunities, your team will follow suit.

  5. “When people feel that their contributions are unappreciated, they will stop trying. And when that happens, innovation dies.” A lack of innovation is like a dagger to the heart of your organization. Innovation doesn’t just mean a brand-new-never-before-seen product: it can be as simple as a new idea for a team building exercise, witty email subjects on your marketing campaigns, new concepts for building community in your brand, or efficient solutions to time consuming problems. When you recognize the value your teams bring, and encourage them to use their strengths, you’ll find that you are no longer the only one looking to the future, and your team will be eager to step into new responsibilities. So, show your appreciation to your team; so much depends on it.

Until next time, lead on.

The Leadr Team