The Leadership Attribute That No One Is Talking About But Every Leader Needs

Last week I had lunch with an executive team following my speech at their leadership conference. One of them asked, “In your opinion, what is the most important leadership attribute?” I said, “My answer will probably surprise you because it is a leadership attribute that nobody is talking about but every leader needs – I think it is meekness.” He questioned me – “Meekness?!” You see, meekness is crucial but it’s misunderstood. Robert Wells said, “We don’t usually think of successful executives as meek; nor can we accept the idea of a “meek,” successful quarterback on a winning football team. In fact, to us, success in anything seems to involve quite the opposite. In the minds of many, meek means being submissive, passive, retiring, placid. Their mental image of a meek person is that of a compliant “doormat” who is so timid and unassertive that he accomplishes nothing, seeks nothing,
Continue Reading

Leadership Is Spelled E.X.A.M.P.L.E.

Over 200 years ago, a man in civilian clothes rode past a small group of tired and battled weary soldiers. They were digging what appeared to be an important defensive position. The leader of the group wasn’t making any effort to help. He just shouted orders and threatened to punish the group if the work wasn’t completed within the hour. “Why aren’t you helping?” the stranger asked on horseback. “I’m in charge! The men do as I tell them,” said the leader. He added “Help them yourself if you feel so strongly about it.” To the mean leader’s surprise the stranger got off his horse and helped the men until the job was finished. Before he left the stranger congratulated the men for their work, and approached the confused leader. “You should notify top command next time your rank prevents you from supporting your men – and I will provide
Continue Reading

A Common Mistake That Destroys Leadership

There are many mistakes that leaders make that undermine their leadership and influence. Most of them are based in self-interest, ego and apathy, but there is one common mistake that destroys leadership on a regular basis. Too many leaders are guilty of hypocritical expectations – meaning they expect their people to behave one way and exempt themselves from the same expectations. We just a large remodel of our house, so I have had the good fortune of dealing with a lot of different contractors. The truth is some were amazing and some were horrible. One of the horrible ones was the group who built the basketball court in the backyard; it seemed like a fairly easy project. They said it would take a few days. I gave them a 50% deposit and they got to work. After a couple of days the court was about 80% done and they disappeared.
Continue Reading

Three Leadership Approaches – Three Different Results

I believe we choose the level of influence we have with our people based on the approach to leadership we choose to take. In my observation there are three distinct approaches to leadership and each derives a different result. 1. Pretentious Leaders create contempt. Pretentious leaders are driven by ego. Their focus is not on their people, it’s on them. When a leader is conceited, fake, disinterested or abrasive, they create a feeling of contempt with their people. The lack of respect erodes trust and causes desires to undermine the leader’s authority. It’s easy to blame problems on your people and even to fire people who seem to be a thorn in your side, but I want to be clear that bad leadership most often creates contempt. 2. Positional Leaders create compliance. When leaders rely on position or authority they are not truly leading. People don’t follow titles, they follow
Continue Reading

One of The Pitfalls of Success

After hours, weeks and years of hard work, it is amazing when that hard work starts to pay off and you start to see success and your goals coming to fruition.  But so many fall into a similar trap as they begin to experience some success: a lack of humility.  These words from Wynton Marsalis, the Pulitzer-prize winning musician and composer, serve as a necessary reminder when you begin to experience success: “You can tell when someone is truly humble, because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, ‘I know the way.’ Humility engenders learning because it beats back the arrogance that puts blinders on. It leaves you open for truths to reveal themselves.”   You can be at the top of your field, the most successful person in the room, the all star, but arrogance never looks good on anyone.  There is a great danger
Continue Reading

Golden Rule x 12

  The Golden Rule is the foundation for moral decency in every culture. The way we treat each other matters. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Judeo-Christian – Leviticus 19:18   “Don’t go around hurting people, and try to understand things.” Native American – in Hopi Culture, the Spider Grandmother gave two rules.   “One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.” African – Yoruba Proverb   In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” Jainism – Lord Mahavir 24th Tirthankara   “The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form.” Shinto   “What would you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose upon others.” Greek Philosopher – Epictetus   “One should seek for others the happiness
Continue Reading

Do You Possess Neotony?

I was recently introduced to the word Neotony.  It was in context of the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon searching for the Fountain of Youth, said to cure the effects of aging for those lucky enough to drink of it’s waters. Business has it’s own fountain of youth, neotony. Neotony refers to childlike qualities retained in adulthood, qualities like love, creativity and curiosity. These are all qualities that are essential to influential leaders.  Leaders who love generate support from their people.  Leaders who are creative bring better ideas in better ways.  Leaders who are curious have limitless potential for growth. So how do leaders retain, or in some cases regain, these childlike qualities? – Love is built through serving your people – Creativity is built as we develop the habit of studying and constantly learning – Curiosity is built by learning to eliminate bias, question everything, and avoid routine Neotony is an amazing attribute that
Continue Reading

Give 100%, 100% Of The Time

Do you give 100% at work, at school, and at home? Some people probably think of giving 100% this way: 12% for Monday, 23% for Tuesday, 40% for Wednesday, 20% for Thursday, 5% for Friday = 100%. Too many people coast through life, only doing what is required to get by. Giving 100%, 100% of the time is the effort required to stop getting by and start getting ahead. It is the difference between playing not to lose and playing to win.   Living by design and not default. Giving 100% will separate you from the rest. It will build your integrity and your results.   John Wooden was one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. His ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period while at UCLA are unmatched by any other college basketball coach. John used to tell his players, “Give 100% today, because you can’t
Continue Reading

Are You Investing In People?

A few weeks ago we took the kids to Universal Studios in California. They were over the moon about Harry Potter World. They wore their house robes, carried a wand from Olivander’s Wand Shop, drank butter beer and performed spells throughout Hogsmead. It was magical. As we ventured out the rest of the park we quickly found the Minnions ride. As we waited a worker named Derek talked to us about our day. He asked where we had been and he told us about all the other rides we needed to do before we left the park. After the Minnions rode we were surprised to see Derek waiting for is with front of the line passes for all the rides we had talked about! Derek invested in us. He went above and beyond. He didn’t just do what was in his job description- he invested. He surprised us. He made
Continue Reading

Do You Think Inward or Outward?

It’s not about you – it’s about them! The focus of an influencer is always on the audience. If you are a speaker – it’s about the people listening to you. If you are in sales – it’s about your customer or prospect. If you are a leader – it’s about the people you are leading. If you are a teacher – it’s about your students. If you are a parent – it’s about your children Almost everyone has this backwards. They think being influential means they need to become polished or powerful. Influence, though, is all about the audience. Be it an audience of one or one thousand. When it’s about them, they get it, and we grow in their eyes. I think one of the keys to success is developing outward thinking. By thinking out instead of in, by concentrating on others instead of on us, a tremendous transformation
Continue Reading