Top 10 Action Steps for Impact Leaders

There are over 30,000 leadership books available on Amazon. Countless articles, podcasts, and keynotes are created every year that are jam-packed with principles of leadership. However, only a small number of those resources actually answer one of the most pressing questions facing any leader: what should I do next?
According to a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, eight out of ten adults believe that being honest, intelligent, and decisive are essential leadership traits. (Pew Research Center) Team members expect their leaders to be able to make a decision and take an action step to be an effective leader.
Our InteGREAT team compiled our top ten action steps for leaders looking to implement in building an integrity-driven leadership reach. Note: these are not necessarily sequential in order; some steps may need to be prioritized ahead of others depending on your unique leadership context.
Interested in a free tool that we use weekly at InteGREAT?
Check out the "Start/Stop/Continue" List Here

01 | Define a Common Purpose.
A mission statement can sometimes become nothing more than a placard greeting for office visitors. “Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence.” Those words were the motto of the scandal-sunk Enron Corporation. More companies are rewriting their mission statements as a single-purpose statement. What’s your purpose?
You as the leader need to help define your organization’s common purpose. What captures the vision of your organization in a clear and compelling way? What is the one purpose that you can align and engage your team around?
If you have a mission statement, you need to ruthlessly evaluate how well it embodies your organization’s purpose. Does every one of your team members know what they can do to help fulfill that purpose?
If you don’t have a mission or purpose statement, now is your chance to create one with your senior leadership influencers. When your team embraces a common purpose, you can make the shift from activity to accomplishment.
02 | Pursue shared goals together.
As the saying goes, “Goals are dreams with deadlines attached.” Goals give your team a rallying point to start working together in the same direction. Goals also give your team a benchmark for evaluating whether you’re on track or missing the mark.
Create monthly, quarterly, and annual goals for your team. Set goals that are S.M.A.R.T. - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. If you’re a restaurant, a S.M.A.R.T. goal would be saying that you want to sell 185 flame-broiled cheeseburgers in the month of October.
Write down your S.M.A.R.T. goals and post them around your organization. Identify specific tactics that can help you achieve your goals. Refer to your goals throughout your time frame. Make adjustments where needed and keep your team pursuing the same goals together.
03 | Track your results with an established Team Scorecard.
How is your team performing when it comes to your shared goals? What’s measured can be changed. What can be changed can be improved. It's always helpful to track your team’s results with a weekly scorecard to measure your progress along the way. This allows your team to see how well your efforts are achieving the results you want over time.
04 | Recruit and select Talent based on character and skills.  
Building a team takes time and energy. Rebuilding your team because you didn’t hire the right person in the first place takes even more time and energy and causes frustration. The team with the most talent usually wins, but sometimes it’s the right talent in the right places that make a greater impact.
Great leaders create a clear profile of who they are looking for and then go after the best. Learn to master the art of recruiting and talent selection. Build your team’s bench of leadership talent based on two questions:

  • Does this person have the character to be a good leader?
  • Do they also have the skill set to be a good leader?

Start by asking yourself these questions about your current team. It may mean you need to have a hard conversation with a long-standing team member. It’s better to make the change now than wishing you did in the future.
05 | Clarify your team’s roles.  
The initial question to ask is “Who does what?” The better question is “Who should do what?” It’s up to you as a leader to determine whose skill set is the best fit for every area of your operations. Every organization is unique so establishing clear roles, written responsibilities, and understood expectations for individuals, teams, and even yourself gives your organization the best opportunity for maximum effectiveness.
One of the best action steps a leader can take at times is to review job roles and responsibilities with individual team members. Are they happy or frustrated with their current role? What parts of their job bring them the most joy, and what brings them the most angst? Be prepared to redefine a team member’s job role and responsibility to best fit their fulfillment and your organization’s needs.
06 | Build a Cross-Functional team.
InteGREAT is built on integrity (Inte-) and greatness (GREAT). For a team to be great, they need the integrity to know what needs to change. Everything rises and falls on leadership, which is why the first part of building a cross-functional team is to examine your own capacity. Use the “Start / Stop / Continue” list from InteGREAT to evaluate your own disciplines. This list will help you know what you need to:

  • Start doing to be a better leader;
  • Stop doing that doesn’t work or creates roadblocks for your team;
  • Continue doing that’s already working well.

This only works if you’re honest with yourself. Once you’ve seen your results, ask your senior leadership influencers for their feedback on your evaluation. You need to be vulnerable with your team and let them speak into what your strengths and weaknesses are.
The best teams in the world are made up of individuals with a complimentary set of attributes. Take individual team members through the “Start / Stop / Continue” list together to gauge how their personality, background, talent, and skill set can be used to maximize their impact.
Download the InteGREAT “Start / Stop / Continue” List For Free Here
07 | Develop Individual Skills and Team Skills.
What does each individual on your team do well? And, what does your team do well as a collective unit? Individual skill gaps need to be addressed and closed. Team skills need to be realized and coached towards success. Solving problems, making decisions, achieving goals, and resolving conflict are just four of the many team skills that a team needs to master for high performance levels.
Your own skills as a leader will set the ceiling on your team’s potential. If you’re going to develop as a leader, you have to start with being honest about your own skill set. You need to evaluate where your skills are before you can start working to improve them. 
08 | Lead valuable meetings.
“I hate meetings. Meetings are pointless and boring. We never get anything done and they’re a huge waste of time.” If you’ve heard these types of sentiments, chances are they were caused by leaders who didn’t fully understand the value of a meeting. Great meetings happen when high-performance teams set goals, solve problems, hold each other accountable, celebrate ‘wins’, and monitor performance.

  • Does this meeting need to be in-person? If not, would a conference call be a better use of everyone’s time, including travel? Would an email be more effective?
  • Guard your guest list to the meeting. Too many meetings have the wrong people in them - people who aren’t in a position to contribute to the conversation. Know who needs to be in the room with you and make sure they’re on the invite list.
  • Set a start time and a stop time for your meeting.
  • If you have an hour blocked out for a recurring meeting, consider whether you can run a more efficient version of the meeting in thirty minutes.
  • Have an agenda and send it out ahead of time. If people need to contribute, share your expectations with enough heads-up time to prepare.

09 | Solve problems as a team.
How many times have you been tempted to fix a problem yourself… this week? Leadership is not one person trying to fix everything on their own. Leadership relies on team members to accomplish a vision together. Your team needs to be united in purpose and united in problems. Your team’s finest hour may be when everyone comes together and collectively uses their brains, experiences, and creativity to take on a challenge.
10 | Build an authentic community for your team.
You have the privilege of leading people from all backgrounds and interests to become a unified team. The best teams understand and pursue the power of “we” over me. Growing together as a team means intentionally building trust, honesty, and loyalty among team members. When teams share, serve, celebrate, grieve, love, learn, and grow together, they turbo-charge their performance.
The Chess Not Checkers leadership program from InteGREAT is about building a team that’s honest, vulnerable, and tight-knit through whatever challenges you may face that goes beyond your time at work together. Integrity-inspired leadership is at the heart of impact leadership. It’s the same approach to leadership that’s built world-changing organizations like Chick-fil-A, Advocare, and more.
Learn more about the InteGREAT Leadership "Start / Stop / Continue" here

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.

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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High Performance Organizations Build the Bench

The Chess Not Checkers project set out to discover the “secrets” of High Performance Organizations (HPO).

Mark Miller and his team spent years to determine what separates the best from all the rest. In the end, they identified four primary “moves” all HPOs make… They Bet on Leadership, Act as One, Win the Heart and Excel at Execution. But, this was not enough; they wanted to know HOW they do these things so well. The answers were found in their “Best Practices.”

After the book, Chess Not Checkers was completed, Mark knew leaders would want the more tactical, application ideas embedded in the best practices. So, his response was to create the Chess Not Checkers Field Guide.  Mark asked me to be the co-author on this effort. Below is an excerpt from the Field Guide section on how HPOs Build the Bench!

Build the Bench

One of the most underrated best practices you can pursue if you are attempting to Bet on Leadership is to remember to Build the Bench. Sports teams are mindful of this; recognizing at any moment, at every position, someone needs to be ready to move from the role of backup to starter. Whether through turnover or injury, a next-man-up mentality is vital for a program’s success. Business should be no different.

If an organization intends to grow, a key focus of the leadership team must be to Build the Bench. Strong leaders do not have a scarcity mindset, fearing for their jobs if they help their direct reports grow. Actually, the opposite is true. Anytime you find leaders who can replace themselves, they are the last people you want to leave.

[Tweet "The ability to develop talent is one of the most important skills a person can possess."]

Like successful coaches, High Performance Organization leaders not only recruit great talent, they also enhance it. By identifying a clear picture of what they are trying to develop, they are able to create a clear path and close skill gaps that block the way. Organizations who focus on building the bench are also locked in on finding emerging leaders. They are always looking to fill a spot with a talented backup. These teams have development plans for those on the rise, and they systematically challenge everyone in the organization to grow to the next level.

If you truly want to create a leadership culture, don’t forget to build your bench. At some point you will need it,  especially  if  you  expect  to  achieve  championship  results.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What are doing to develop your leadership bench?

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Do You Have Your Leadership Bumpers Up?

I recently read, “A person becomes the average of the five people closest to him.”

The statement caused me to stop and take inventory with regard to my friendships. Perhaps you should do the same?  Studies show that we spend like our friends spend, weigh what our friends weigh, live in houses like our friends houses, send our kids to the same schools ... the list goes on and on.

I know for me personally, the books I read, the places I hang out, where I eat, and even my level of fitness is affected by those closest to me.

When you stop and think about it, the value of friendship is a lot like bowling. Have you been bowling recently? If so, perhaps you noticed that some people choose the option of bowling with bumpers in their gutters. The bumpers are designed to keep the ball on track and make the game more enjoyable for little kids. Occasionally, adults who are bad bowlers will even volunteer to bowl with the tikes just so they too can be protected by the bumpers. I'm not naming any names.

Don’t you wish they offered bumpers on the other areas of your life? Actually, they do. They’re called friends, and they determine the direction of your life. If you are surrounded by friends who have integrity, you are much more likely to stay on track yourself. If you isolate yourself and go it alone, chances are you will find yourself continually in the gutter.

As a leader, you may be tempted to think, “It’s lonely at the top.” But let me remind you that loneliness is a choice. To quote my mom: “If you want to have a friend, be a friend.” I would take it a step further by saying, choose friends who have integrity. Stupidity is a choice too.

[Tweet "Trying the leadership thing by yourself is bordering on stupid."]

You weren’t designed to go it alone. Find yourself some friends to be your bumpers who will keep you on track. Your integrity and influence are on the line!

Leadership Begins at Home,


Why do you think so many leaders isolate themselves relationally?

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The Secret to a Perfect Day

Yesterday I encouraged you to intentionally invest in the leadership development of someone on your team. I hope you did.

Today, I challenge you to take it a step further by investing in someone who cannot repay your act of kindness. You might even consider doing something in secret.

Basketball coaching legend, John Wooden once said, "You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."

Being a coach you would think a perfect day would be defined by a comeback win, a thrilling victory in a championship game, or an upset over a rival.

Not for Wooden. The coach who won the most NCAA Championships (10) in history understood that some things matter more than whether you win or lose. In fact, if the old coach were still with us, he would say you can lose a game and still have a great day. All it takes is the humility to put someone else’s needs before your own - someone who can’t even repay you. This philosophy is what made his teams so hard to defeat.

If you want to take your team to the next level, create a culture that embraces Wooden’s philosophy.

Remember, "You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."

Leadership Begins at Home,


Do you agree with Wooden’s philosophy? Why or why not?

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Do You Have a Cohesive Leadership Team?

This week we are looking at the importance of organizational health through the eyes of Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Advantage.

According to Lencioni, healthy organizations begin by, “building a cohesive leadership team.”

Sounds easy, but if it were effortless, everyone would be great. So the question is, “How can Y-O-U build a high octane team?”

Lencioni says, “cohesive teams build trust, eliminate politics, and increase efficiency by…

◾ Knowing one another’s unique strengths and weaknesses

◾ Openly engaging in constructive ideological conflict

◾ Holding one another accountable for behaviors and actions

◾ Committing to group decisions”

As you consider your team, do those bullets describe your current culture? If not, it is time to rethink the way you do teams.

May I suggest you begin by learning everyone’s story around your circle of influence. I have heard many leaders quote the old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” but watched very few apply its truth.

If you want to create your own advantage, start by listening and learning. Without doing so, you will never build a great team.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What are some of the best practices for a leader who is attempting to build a cohesive leadership team?

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You Don't Make it to the Top by Yourself

When it comes to leadership, one of the things we underestimate is the value of friendship. If that first lines causes you to cringe with thoughts of, “Here comes the soft stuff,” perhaps you are the very one who needs to read this. Why? Because chances are you are lonely.

Yesterday while having a discussion with one of my daughters I reminded her that a person can be lonely without being alone. Some of the most isolated people I know are surrounded by people. The problem is, it’s either the wrong people, or they have chosen to detach themselves from the right ones. You know, the whole, “It’s lonely at the top,” deal ... often a mask for arrogance.

The opposite is also true. You can be alone and not be lonely. Great leaders find camaraderie with their principles, their faith, and occasionally a trusted friend who is like-minded.

Loneliness is a choice --- So is friendship.

As you begin a new week, may I encourage you to pay attention to your team, your family, your friends.

I have a friend who continually reminds me, “Your friends determine the quality and direction of your life.” He is right. We should choose our friends carefully.

This week, maybe we ought to go into it trying to improve the quality and direction of our friends' lives. It is what great leaders do ... the ones who are not lonely at the top. The ones who realize, you don’t make it to the top by yourself.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Do you think it has to be lonely

at the top?

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Who Needs Your Help Today?

There is an old Tibetan proverb which says, “When he took time to help the man up the mountain, lo, he scaled it himself.”

Who needs your help today? Someone just starting out in the organization? A curious coworker who is intrigued by something you have mastered? The guy down the hall who is struggling right now and needs an encouraging word?

Find someone and make the investment to help them climb higher. If you will, I’m guessing it will take you to the summit too.



Who has helped you climb higher in your leadership?





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