Whither Wilt Thou Lead Me?

A few days ago I ran across a line from Hamlet ... "Whither wilt thou lead me?"
Shakespeare's words between Hamlet and his father's ghost are a great reminder to leaders. Namely, that there are those who, while willing to follow, are wondering where you will lead them.
The question is, do you know the answer? Have you taken the time to identify the target, name the mission, clarify the vision? However you want to say it, unless you can paint a picture of a preferred future, you will have a hard time taking anyone there.
[Tweet "Leaders must start with a definition of the destination."]
Make sure you are locked in on the destination and then show others the way.
Your people are asking, "Whither wilt thou lead me?"
Leadership Begins at Home,
Why do you think so many leaders make assumptions when it comes to vision?
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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?

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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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Is it Time for You to Pick a Fight?

Are you facing a challenge? If so, let the words of author Jon Gordon encourage you to stay the course and keep battling.
"Always remember that our greatest battle comes before our greatest victory." - Jon Gordon
Leaders, by nature, are born for a fight. Unfortunately after we've been beaten and bloodied a few times we have a tendency to shy away and avoid conflict.
As you approach your work today, identify something worth fighting for and go after it. Your team needs you to be the first one to roll up your sleeves and stand for truth.
[Tweet "If leaders back away when things get hard, it is only a matter of time until everyone else will."]
Never forget, people always watch the leader.
You were born to fight great battles. Your team needs you to keep swinging. Please don't give up. You're greatest victory might just be around the corner.
Leadership Begins at Home,
Is there a place in your leadership where you have backed away from a battle?
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Dealing with Different … 6 Ways to Embrace Change: Part 6

OK ... now that you've shown courage, checked your heart at the door, anticipated adventure, negotiated as necessary, and even grieved what you left, there is one thing left to do. 

Engage with the next stage.


Simply put, lean in. Too often leaders go kicking and screaming when it comes to change. The effects are tragic. I'm serious. What good does it do you in the long run to resist change? Resistance only slows things down, keeps you stuck, and causes you to hurt your own career. Engagement will energize your effort and propel you to greater impact.

The best leaders are on the leading edge of change. They recognize it as an ongoing reality, not only tolerating it, but learning, stretching, growing, and ultimately thriving in the midst of the chaos. 

For the past couple of weeks we have pushed on this topic of change. I wish there was some rah-rah-happy-speech I could give you to make it easier. But the truth is, different is difficult and you are going to have to deal with it until you die. Refusal will surely accelerate irrelevance.

When it comes to dealing with different, if you intend to be a great leader ...

C - hoose courage over comfort

H - ave the right heart

A - nticipate an adventure

N - egotiate as necessary

G - rieve what you leave

E - ngage in the next stage

You can too. Go ahead. Lean in and engage with the next stage. You'll be a better leader. And on the bright side, if you don't like it, I'm sure change will be just around the corner.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Which of the "6 ways of Dealing with Different" listed above is currently the most challenging for you?

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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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Are You Moving Toward Indispensible?

Leadership is enhanced when the work of the heart is given as much (or even more) attention as the work of the work.

In his book, Linchpin, Seth Godin writes, “Emotional labor is available to all of us, but is rarely exploited as a competitive advantage. We spend our time and energy trying to perfect our craft, but we don’t focus on the skills and interactions that will allow us to stand out and become indispensable to our organization.”

As you look at your current work, is your focus more on improving your craft or on improving your relationships? If the answer is your craft, you might want to rethink your approach.

If you decided to leave your position, would there be an affect? Would they miss your skills more than your interactions? I hope not.

Let me encourage you to work on the emotional side of your leadership as much as you do your skill set. 

If you truly want to move toward indispensable and create a competitive advantage in your organization, start with the heart.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Which is harder for you, emotional labor or skill development?

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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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Learning from Millennials

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to speak to a group of millennials.
Not much excites me more than being around the next generation, especially next generation leaders. The event reminded me of several keys to bridging the generation gap and even a few things that will make me a better leader.
Millennials come in all shapes and sizes. They dress differently, talk differently, and even act differently. However that doesn't make them different. It just makes them young.
My favorite millennial traits are all ones I aspire to. If you are a leader who desires to sustain impact, I suggest you remember what it was like to be young and embrace some of your old ways of thinking. Consider these three ...
1. Millennials are full of energy. They love to have fun and be around others who are having fun. The best leaders are the same way. They don't take themselves too seriously and are able to enjoy the leadership journey.
2. Millennials long for connection. They love to "hang out." Often coming from dysfunctional environments, they find support and encouragement anywhere it is available. My questions is, "What family or leadership team is not dysfunctional." We are all messed up at some level. But great leaders are able to overcome their weaknesses by surrounding themselves with great people. They find encouragement from multiple sources.
3. Millennials want to change the world. They are often connected to a cause, movement, or purpose that is bigger than themselves. They believe the goal is to change the world. The truth is, they are having amazing impact. A lack of resources, opportunity, education, or skill doesn't seem like an obstacle to millennials. They believe in the power of "one life at a time." This philosophy is the key to their influence. Likewise, big-time leaders recognize they are in the people business and focus on the person in front of them.
[Tweet "If you want to be great today, bring energy, make connections, and focus on the needs of people."]
If you want to be great today, learn from the millennials. Bring energy, make connections, and focus on the needs of people. It will make you a better leader.
Leadership Begins at Home, 
What other things can we learn from the next-generation?
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Start With a Who in Your Why

Author Simon Sinek has popularized the phrase, Start with Why.  
While it is great to start with defining what motivates you - your why - perhaps it would be even better to start with “WHO?”
Not to go all Dr. Seuss on you, but how can a who not be your why? In fact, if a who is not your why, you will never maximize your effectiveness.
Who carries with it the idea of WE, which by definition causes ME to die. Too many leaders, me included, have a tendency to think me over we. If you fall into that category, it is time to refocus.
In the end, if me is your motivation, you will end up alone. Me is a one man show. Me is lonely at the top. Me requires you to focus on how you look, how you sound to others, you're popularity, your position, your power. Me loses to we.
We on the other hand, only requires you to focus on one thing. Others.
In the end, me requires more energy, pretense, fabrication, and a lack of integrity.
We experiences the joy of together, team, and someone with whom to share a sense of accomplishment.
If you need a shot of motivation today, make sure you start with a who in your why.
Leadership Begins at Home,
WHO motivates YOUR why?
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