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Is Your Castle Full of Friends?

There are many things I love about my life. Near the top of the list are the people in my inner circle. I cannot imagine how hard leadership would be without a few trusted partners.
Sadly, everywhere I go I meet leaders who feel lonely. They remind me of a line from the the 1941 film Citizen Kane describing Charles Foster Kane.
"In his castle surrounded by riches without allies, isolated."

I'm guessing, like me, you never want to feel that way. What good is a castle without someone to share it with?
As a leader the most important thing you have is your people. Please don't neglect their worth. Listen to their stories, value their opinions, and foster their dreams.
[Tweet "People don't leave organizations, they leave leaders."]
If you will remember what is really important, and refuse to isolate yourself, your will castle can be full friends, and you will love your life.
Why do you think so many leaders end up isolated?
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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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Valuing Relationships and Results

A while back I was speaking at an event and was asked the following question from one of the attenders.

“As a supervisor, how do I gain more authority when many us are the same age and have relationships outside of work.”

What a great question!

We can all relate to times when the lines between work and play become blurred, especially if we work with people we consider friends. 

Note: Maybe it's just me, but why would you want to work with people you don't consider friends? 

Assuming we can all get along, then how do we keep the boundaries clear between leader and follower? 

Here are four things to consider:

  1. Don't be afraid to lead. If you hope to accomplish something great, it is going to require courage. If the leader is afraid of stepping on toes, the team is doomed from the start. 
  2. Think others first. Many times when we are concerned about establishing authority, it is an indicator we are thinking about what others can do for us. The best leaders think other's first, seeking to add value to those they lead. In the end, servant leaders create a culture where team members gladly submit to authority. High performance teams are ones where followers recognize their leader cares for them as much as he does himself.
  3. Communicate with clarity. Many times people don't live inside the boundaries because the boundaries haven’t been made clear. Don't be afraid to talk about what is expected. When a person agrees on the expectations up front it is much easier to hold them accountable when standards are not met.
  4. Value relationships and results. Teams achieve more than individuals do. If you really want to maximize your potential, don't underestimate the power of working together with people you love. While there is a mountain to climb, who you climb it with is of equal importance. Many leaders have made it to the top only to find themselves miserable because they failed to bring others along to share in the celebration. 

Accept the reality that lines of authority will always challenge teams. Your team can win the battle if you will lead with courage, humility, clarity, and love.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Do you find it challenging to balance relationships and results?

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Show Me Your Friends and I Will Show You Your Future

Recently I heard a speaker say, "Show me your friends and I will show you your future. Show me the five people who are closest to you and I will show you who you will be in five years."
Studies show that you are an average of the five people who are closest to you. Not happy with your life? Perhaps its time to surround yourself with some different people.
The next five years are going to pass. What will you become? That's up to you.
But rest assured your destination will depend on your relationships.
Leadership Begins at Home,
What is the most important quality you look for in a friendship?
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Advice for High Potential Leaders

This week I am attending the i4cp (Institute for Corporate Productivity) conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Thus far, we’ve heard from practitioners, academics and authors. My notes are full of ideas and questions to consider in the weeks and months to come. Today, I’ll share an assignment given to us by Kevin Wilde, Chief Learning Officer for General Mills.

Five Things All Great Leaders Do

This post originally appeared on December 3, 2011. Since we recently released our 10th Anniversary Edition, it seemed like a good idea to share it again.
Great leaders serve. It's the name of my website, but it's also something I've learned over the years.  Great leaders serve others and they do so in five very strategic ways. Ken Blanchard and I wrote about these practices in our book The Secret - What Great Leaders Know and Do. We recently celebrated the 10th anniversary edition of The Secret but the lessons are as true today as they were when it was first published.

Are You a Thankful Leader?

I've been thinking about my heart a lot lately. In part, due to the launch of my latest book, The Heart of Leadership. Also, because, as I shared in Monday's post, I want to continue to grow in the year ahead. But I think it was the approaching holiday season that prompted me to reflect on another facet of my  heart  - gratitude.


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