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

A Sobering Thought for Leaders

Yesterday I spoke to 100 Power Plant Managers in Minnesota. We had an engaging conversation around leadership and influence and how to gain the commitment of our people. After my speech one of the leaders shared a lesson he always tries to keep top of mind. Years ago when he was first promoted to manager, his boss pulled him aside and said, “Now that you are someone’s boss, I want you to always remember that the children of your people will know who you are and what kind of leader you are.” He said he automatically remembered that his Dad’s boss was Greg Anderson and although he never met him he knew he was a terrible leader because his dad complained about him every night at the dinner table. He determined that he would be known to his team’s children as a great leader. He would be known as a
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

Authenticity Gives You Power

My friend, Sandra Joseph, is a big time Broadway star.  She played the part of Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway for nearly a decade.  She is an incredible actress with an even more incredible voice, but what I think I love most is her story. Sandra was a struggling actress in New York City when she was given the opportunity to try out for the part of Christine.  She went into the audition so nervous that her mouth became dry and her lips stuck to her teeth.  Not exactly the best way to make a good impression.  She was offered a part in the chorus but not the lead. A few years later, she was given the opportunity to audition again.  This time she wasn’t going to let her nerves get to her, but she overcompensated and really over did it.  She was not offered any
Continue Reading

Leadership & Love

My favorite leadership quote is “You can love people without leading them but you cannot lead people without loving them.” I share this quote often with leaders because at the heart of how we treat our people, how we see our people & how we communicate with our people is how we feel about our people. Below are some thoughts on love and leadership from one of my favorite authors Bob Goff. I hope these quotes make you stop & think. The more beauty we find in someone else’s journey, the less we’ll want to compare it to our own. When loving people is a strategy, it isn’t love anymore. Give away love like you’re made of it. It won’t be our message that wows people, it will be our love. Love cares more about who’s hurting than who’s watching. The best advice I’ve been given when I’d failed –
Continue Reading

101 Words and Phrases to Praise Your Kids

  Everyone, especially children benefit from a boost in self-confidence. Kids need words of praise. Children face situations regularly with which they have no experience dealing and words of praise go a long way.  Everyone needs to overcome self-doubt and build confidence in their own abilities, appearances and personalities and words of praise are a fantastic way to add reassurance.  Add some of these to your daily conversations. Wow Way to go Super You’re special Outstanding Excellent Great Good Neat Well done Remarkable I knew you could do it I’m proud of you Fantastic Super star Nice work Looking good You’re on top of it Beautiful Now you’re flying You’re catching on Now you’ve got it You’re incredible Bravo You’re fantastic Hooray for you You’re on target You are on your way How nice How smart Good job That’s incredible You rock Dynamite You’re beautiful You’re unique Nothing can stop you now Good for
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

Plus, Minus and Equal

The four-time undefeated MMA champion now MMA trainer, Frank Shamrock, has developed a system for training would-be fighters. I’m not a huge MMA fan – but I think there is a lot of merit to his system. The system is called “+, -, =”. Shamrock’s theory is that in order to be the best, you need to work with someone better than you, someone equal to you and someone whom you can teach.  Shamrock believes this builds the best fighters.   We certainly don’t have to be an MMA fighter to benefit from this system. The same can be applied to us in any scenario. Training with someone better than us pushes us past our limits and helps us see greater possibilities. Training with our equal tests our skills and in the process they become a peer, allow us to create cooperation, shared learning and has a mastermind effect. Teaching allows
Continue Reading