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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Would You Rather Learn From Mentors or Mistakes?

Recently I ran across a tweet from a pastor named Rick Warren. His reminder to leaders?
“You either learn from mentors or you learn from mistakes. Your choice.”
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather learn from a mentor.
[Tweet "The best leaders hunger for wisdom and often find it through a mentor."]
When choosing mentors I look for four things.

  • Integrity ... If you want to be an authentic leader who leads with character, then follow someone who values and exhibits character.
  • Experience ... The best mentors have accomplished something in their field. Successful experience comes from discipline and focus. Those who have a proven track record usually have something to say that I need to hear.
  • Diversity ... Often times I learn the most from people who are in an entirely different field from the one I am in. Different causes me to think differently. Every great leader is able to think in ways that are fresh and relevant. If you need some help here, go find someone different.
  • Excellence ... You might be surprised at who would be available to you if you would simply ask. Through the years, I have learned from some amazing people. If you want to be the best then seek out the best.

If you are a leader, you have a choice. You can either learn from mentors or learn from mistakes. It will be a lot less painful if you will choose the mentors.
When you do, just make sure you look for integrity, experience, diversity, and excellence.
Leadership Begins at Home,
What do you look for in a mentor?
Who do you look to as a mentor in your own life and leadership?
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Improve to Impress

I'm amazed at how many leaders I meet who are focused on trying to impress their followers.

Do you fall into that category?

If you want to impress I have one word for you… Improve.

[Tweet "The best leaders are focused on improving more than impressing."]

Leadership Begins at Home,


What habits do you have built into your life to improve your leadership skills?

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Remember, Your Business is Your Stage

One of my favorite things about my work is the interesting people I am able to meet.

Yesterday, my friend Billy Boughey and I were spending time brainstorming business models when we happened to run into James Gilmore, the author of The Experience Economy. Being an idea expert himself, Billy who leads Elevate, was like a kid on Christmas morning when he met the guru.

Jim Gilmore

(Commercial ... If you ever need to take an event to a world class level, Billy and his Elevate Team are the ticket)

The subtitle of Gilmore’s book, Work is Theater and Every Business a Stage, is a great challenge to anyone who leads an organization.

Hopefully, like the best thespians, you understand that theater is about the audience, not the actors.

As you think about your business, do you see the audience as the hero? If not, you are missing the point ... people are looking for an experience, not a commodity.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Gilmore and Joe Pine wrote the following words:

“Ensuring the integrity of the customer experience requires more than the layering on of positive cues. Experience stagers also must eliminate anything that diminishes, contradicts, or distracts from the theme, Most constructed spaces - malls, offices, buildings, or airplanes - are littered with meaningless or trivial messages.”

If you want to elevate your game, I encourage you to evaluate your messages. Are they meaningless? Trivial? More about you than the audience? If so, it’s time to clear the clutter and create an experience.

Remember, your business is your stage. If you hope to get your message across, focus on what matters most ... Your customers.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What is the best customer experience you have had during the past month?

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Choose Substance over Shiny

I have a friend who is a professional baseball scout. Although his organization is stocked full of great players, his search for talent is never ending.

But my friend is not looking for just any talent. During our conversations he often reminds me he is searching for the right guy ... one who will be a great organizational fit.

He often passes on what appears to be great talent on paper. Why? Because, baseball games aren’t played on paper.

The best scouts would rather have the right, high-character, guy with good talent, than a highly sought-after star with below-average character.

High performance organizations consistently staff with the right kind of talent. Unless you have a clear profile of what you are looking for, you will likely settle for someone who is shiny.

If you want to gain a true competitive advantage, I encourage you to choose substance over shiny. Remember, the team with the BEST talent has the best chance of winning.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What character traits do you look for in a potential team member?

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Don’t Settle for Good Today, Be Great!

I am challenged by the words of Jon Gordon who describes the difference between good and great leaders as follows:

“Good leaders get people to believe in them. Great leaders inspire people to believe in themselves.”

“Good leaders say, ‘Watch what I can do.’ Great leaders say, ‘Let me show you what you can do.’”

As you lead today, let me challenge you to be great by applying these two simple steps.

First, identify someone and tell them how grateful you are to have them on your team. Remind them that you believe in them.

Second, raise the bar for someone in an area where you know they can succeed and then simply watch and encourage.

Your team needs great leadership today. Don’t settle for good!

Leadership Begins at Home,


What do you think makes a great leader?

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How Bout Them Cowboys?

Can America's team really be worth 3.4 Billion dollars? According to a recent Forbes article they can.

I can hear owner Jerry Jones now, "How bout them Cowboys?"

Somehow the team from big D has smoke-and-mirrored its way to being the nation's most valuable sports franchise. The second most valuable N.F.L. team would be the New England Patriots, coming in at a distant 2.6 billion in net worth. Not too shabby, but not close to Jerry's world.

I can understand the Patriots being near the top. After all, they have played in 6 Super Bowls since 1996. The Cowboys on the other hand, have played in exactly ... ZERO! They have been a case study in mediocrity.

So what’s the deal? How can a mediocre team be so highly valued and referred to as America’s Team? Can you say branding?

Love them or hate them, I am guessing you have an opinion on the Cowboys. Why is that? Again, branding.

When it comes to your organization, how is your brand these days? Do outsiders have an opinion of you and your team? Do you have a following? Are there lovers and haters? I hope so. If no one has an opinion, you are officially, irrelevant.

[Tweet "Today might be a good time to evaluate your brand. Your brand is your reputation. Literally, your influence."]

For today’s comments, take a moment and share your opinion on what makes a great brand?

I look forward to learning from your insights. Tomorrow I will share with you a reason the Cowboys might possibly be headed back in the right direction on the field.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What makes a great brand?

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Truett Cathy ... The Power of a Good Name

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Proverbs 22:1

Those words were the North Star for the founder of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy, who died yesterday at the age of 93.


It goes without saying, the inventor of the chicken sandwich was an impressive leader. He grew Chick-fil-A from a single small diner in Hapeville, Georgia to one of the greatest organizations in the world. Currently, there are over 1800 Chick-fil-A's with an annual combined sales totaling more than 5 billion dollars. Talk about results.

But for those who knew Truett, he was not driven by the results alone. Truthfully, he focused more on relationships, and he created an unrivaled organizational culture. The results were simply the byproduct.

I had the opportunity to meet Truett once, and I was captivated by his focus on my visit to his office. I walked away feeling like he was my grandfather, rather than a billionaire.

Truett gave me a copy of a book he had written. The title, It's Easier to Succeed Than to Fail, was a reminder that doing things the right way, coupled with a strong work ethic, always leads to success.

When he handed me the book, he told me if I ever had trouble sleeping to be sure and read the first few pages. “It’ll help send you to dreamland,” he quipped with a warm smile. His humility was enviable.

Inside the front cover of the book, right below Truett’s autograph, was the inscription, Proverbs 22:1. It seems the thing he desired most was to bring honor to God by living a life of integrity.

I’d say you hit the target, Mr. Cathy. Thank you for your amazing example of what a leader is supposed to look like.

Well done good and faithful servant ... You will be missed, but not forgotten.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What is the legacy you desire to leave behind with your life and leadership?

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