Empower Your People to do Great Things

And so it begins ... political season officially kicks off today with the Iowa Caucuses as America seeks to find its next leader.
In the spirit of the season, I was reminded of the quote from former US president, Ronald Reagan ... "The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things."
[Tweet "The best teams have leaders who are focused on making those around them better."]
As you begin a new month of work you will be tempted to focus on your job. If you really want to be great, spend a bulk of your time focused on your people. Empower, resource, and encourage others to do great things and you will be well on your way to greatness.
Do you know a leader who empowers those around them? What effect do you think it has on their team?
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The World Needs More YOU!

Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak to a company's core leadership team on the subject of high performance. To set up the day we looked at several changing market dynamics.

I think we would all agree, from technology to competition, the demand to adapt to the needs of your customer base is enormous. The only thing unchanging is the pace of change, which continues to accelerate. 

[Tweet "The only thing unchanging is the pace of change, which continues to accelerate."]

With our minds wrapped around the need for change, it was the end of the day that brought us back to reality. The company brought in Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks International for a Q&A after I spoke. What an honor to share the stage with such a great leader ... and talk about a guy who is comfortable with change. Howard helped take Starbucks from 28 stores to over 23,000 during his time with the company. 

Howard Behar

But it was what Howard said about not changing that resonated most. 

"I'd rather work for an organization that was unsuccessful, yet true to their values, than one that was successful financially without being true to their values. Never change who you are. Hold to your values!" 

Howard's words challenged me on many levels. Truthfully I value my values much more than I do financial success. But if I'm dirt honest, I am conflicted at times. Too often it is easy to be lured by the bottom line or to desire approval from those I encourage. 

[Tweet "Holding to your values will lead to greater influence."]

How about you? Do you set your affection more on your success or your values? Are there times when you compromise who you are to impress others. 

Duplicity is the enemy of trust. You can increase your impact if you will be who you are ... define your values and live them out. If you want to win in today's marketplace and you're a values driven leader, be willing to change everything except the most important thing ... who you are.

The world needs more YOU!

Leadership Begins at Home,


Why do you think so many leaders compromise on their values?

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Is Your Team Bringing You Life?

One of my favorite authors is, corporate poet, David Whyte. In his work, The House of Belonging, Whyte reminds his readers of the importance of being surrounded by people who bring life.
He writes, “Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.”
As you look at your team, is there anyone who is not bringing you life? Is there anyone on your team who would say you are not bringing life to them?
Great leaders are emotionally intelligent. They pay attention to relationships, seeking to add value to the people they lead. They also are wise enough to rid themselves of draining team members.
If you want to have a great team, it starts with people who bring each other life. Anyone who fails in that department might be too small for you.  
Leadership Begins at Home,
What type of team members bring life to you as a leader?
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Are You Afraid Your People Will Leave Your Team?

When it comes to talent, do you think about leaving or launching? 

Leaders who have a scarcity mentality worry about people leaving their team. On the flip side, when a leader has an abundance mentality he consistently considers how to help others reach their dreams. Doing so, often leads to launching someone toward the next season of life.

In his book Win Forever, Pete Carroll shares his mindset about losing so many talented coaches from his staff as a result of their success. He writes ...

"We're only going to Win Forever if we can build a staff of people who are constantly competing to reach their full potential - and [art of that is the pursuit of their own career ambitions ... When a player leaves, that creates an opportunity for the next guy, and the same goes for our coaching staff. We always want to have people in reserve ready to step in as openings arise."

Do those words resonate with your mindset? The best leaders live with open hands when it comes to their talent. Your people do not belong to you. 

[Tweet "The best leaders live with open hands when it comes to their talent. "]

If you want to increase your influence make a decision to develop your bench so that when people leave (or hopefully are launched) you will be ready for someone else to have an opportunity.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Why do you think so many leaders have a scarcity mentality when it comes to their people?

Comment Below ... 

Do You Have Substance AND Style?

I am challenged by the words of Thomas Jefferson ...
[Tweet "“In matters of style, swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”"]
Many leaders do just the opposite. When it comes to relevance, it appears easier to stand pat and play it safe. They stay stuck in the same old ruts and refuse to be open to new ideas.
Principles, on the other hand, are often compromised if it means increasing profits or capturing a greater market share. Integrity slowly erodes, and over time, a leader can loose his way.
So how’s your “style?” Are you connected to the culture?
What about your “principles?” Are they for sale, or are you willing to bend?
Make it your aim this week to be relevant without being fake. But if you have to choose, choose substance (principles) over style.
It is possible to go with the flow and be rock solid at the same time. It is called influence and integrity.
I pray you will pursue both!
Leadership Begins at Home,
What do you think of Jefferson’s quote?
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Who Needs a Horseless Carriage?

I was extremely reluctant to jump into social media. Like most of you, I was and am very busy. My publisher, my team, my friends and my family all encouraged (pushed) me to take a leap of faith and enter the new millennium! 500 blog posts later, I can honestly say, joining the global conversation on leadership was one of the best decisions of my life.

Would Others Rather See You Coming or Going?

Irish author and poet, Oscar Wilde was famous for saying, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”
Which category best describes you? Would others rather see you coming or going?
[Tweet "If you want to maximize your influence, you must continually work on your people skills."]
Let me suggest two places for you to start. They are both found in the Bible.
The first is referred to as “the Golden Rule.” It was a statement given by Jesus in Luke 6:31. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
If you want to win the hearts of those around you, start leading others in the way you would want to be led.
The second principle that will elevate your people skills is found in Philippians 2:3. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
Forget about yourself and start valuing others, and I promise you others will be begging you to stick around and be on your team.
If YOU want to “Win Friends and Influence People” you need to look no further than these two commands from the greatest leadership Book ever written.
I bet even Dale Carnegie would agree.
Leadership Begins at Home,
What other principles would you suggest for improving people skills?
Comment Below ... resume for you

Thanks, Mom!

Countless people have influenced my leadership, and many more will help me grow in the future. However, the short list of key influencers would have to include my mom. She shaped many of my deeply held beliefs about life and leadership.

Leaders Set the Pace

The Chess Not Checkers approach to building a High Performance Organization is built on the four primary moves I have shared over the past few weeks. If you missed them, check out Bet on Leadership, Act as One, Win the Heart and Excel at Execution.

Each of the four moves is enabled by specific leadership practices. For the next twelve Monday's I will share with you one of these best practices. Today, best practice number one ... Leaders in High Performance Organizations always Set the Pace.


The following excerpt was first published in the
Chess Not Checkers Field Guide, co-authored with Mark Miller.

Barriers are broken and results are realized when leaders Set the Pace and show the way. In the early 1950s, no human had ever run a mile in under four minutes, and many believed it to be beyond human limits. That changed in 1954 when Great Britain’s Roger Bannister broke the barrier by less than a second. Two months later, Bannister and Australia’s John Landy both went under four minutes in the same race. Within years, the sub four-minute mile was a regular occurrence among elite runners. All they needed was someone to show them it could be done.

There is an old saying, “The speed of the leader determines the speed of the team.”tweet_bird The same can be said for organizations. Leaders must Set the Pace, understanding that others will do what they see the leader do. A leader’s walk must mirror his or her talk. Emerging high performers in business are no different than those in athletics. They need someone to show them the way to greatness.

Leaders who choose to Set the Pace for others start by being teachable themselves. They have a “white belt” mentality. Kano Jigoro, the father of modern Judo, once told his students, “When I die, bury me in my white belt.” His wish was to be remembered as a student, not as a black belt master. Great leaders see themselves as lifelong learners. They are never satisfied or found thinking they have achieved mastery. The best of the best continually pursue personal growth and skill development. They are deeply committed to modeling it for others. If you intend to build a High Performance Organization, the prerequisite is a growing leader who sets the pace.

Leadership Begins at Home,


How well are the leaders in your organization setting the pace for the rest of the team?

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How Do You Keep Your Boss From Making a Bad Decision?

Sometimes, I make bad decisions. I hate it, but I still do it. Not intentionally, of course. But for any number of reasons, my batting average is far less than perfect. Now, I feel better having stated the obvious; however, this post is about a slightly different view of this issue – how do you keep your boss from making a bad decision?


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