“You Lead People, you Manage things.”

Leadership Blog

The Real Reason Why Your Team Is Falling Short

How Much Leadership Currency Do You Have?

Trust is the currency of leadership.

It starts when your team can trust you and you can trust your team. It expands when other departments in the organization trust you as a leader and trust your team to execute on its promises and responsibilities.

It expands even further when your external customers trust you as an organization to deliver a solution to their needs and to do so in a valuable and timely manner.


Integration without trust is like a boat without a keel.


The keel is the strong backbone of a ship, made out of wood, metal, or other sturdy material. It juts down into the water beneath the boat like an upside-down shark fin and can weigh tons.

In fact, a keel can make up almost half of the overall weight of a typical sailboat. It needs to be sufficiently heavy to stabilize, while being light enough for agility and adaptation at speed.

You might think that something so heavy would immediately sink the ship. Instead, the weight works as ballast, keeping everything balanced in rough waters.

Trust works in the same way. When you have a team you can trust, through good days and bad, that you may wobble, but you won’t keel over.

Do You Have the Trust You Need?

There are two types of trust—relational and transactional.

When most people think of trust, they think of relational trust, because trust begins and ends on the strength of relationships. Every team has some sort of relationship history and these interconnected relationships either build up or erode trust.

Trust isn’t created in a vacuum. It’s built over hundreds of little moments of interaction between real, complex people with emotions, feelings, and fears. Thus, a powerful component of relational trust is positive intent—choosing to believe the best of team members first, and then doing the necessary research into a problem.

When any team struggles to believe the best of one another, communication breaks down, and growth grinds to a halt. The absence of relational trust makes everything exponentially more difficult to do.

But there’s another sort of trust that is equally necessary.

Transactional trust means you believe that a person or team can execute on your expectations, follow through, and get things done. It differs from relational trust in that you may trust someone to be a good person with the best of intentions, but whether or not they can be trusted to get the job done is another matter entirely.

Do you trust each other to deliver results? If someone promises to get something done, can you believe them?

If you can’t trust people or teams to deliver the results they promise, you’ve both got a big problem.

You may have people on your team whose integrity and ethics are top-notch, but who, unfortunately, lack the skill and competence to complete the task. That’s a breakdown in transactional trust that must be remedied.

In a business, transactional trust makes up a large part of the ballast that keeps the ship upright. If you have a person on your team that isn’t getting it done transactionally, that’s a place where you aren’t integrated and something needs to change.

Do you Choose Excuses or Results?

I always say that your team can choose excuses or results. Of course, it’s tempting to keep giving the benefit of the doubt and avoid confrontation, but that doesn’t do anybody any good. To build trust, you’ve got to address the problem and provide the training or guidance necessary to improve the situation.

Mistrust creates isolation and isolation in a team environment always leads to disaster. So, ask yourself:

  • Does my team trust me?
  • Do I trust my team?
  • Do external customers trust us?
  • Do other departments within the organization trust us?
  • Do I know what my team can and can’t do—and how to grow where we are lacking?

The best teams have this awareness in common. They know they can rely on each other to do the job well—and if there are problems, team members will speak up.

So which one will you choose for your team? Excuses or results? Isolation or trustworthy community?

If you’re just starting this leadership journey today, have grace with yourself and your team. Trust is built over time with integrity and honesty. Start by being trustworthy yourself. Next, look for ways to give other people a chance to be trustworthy with you.

Where do you see the need for more trust—relational or transactional—in your team? What conversations/steps will you take this week to begin moving back towards effective, efficient, and trusting performance?


How to Unleash the Power of a Fully Integrated Team

The One Thing Leaders Must Do to Get Results

You probably know the pain.

Investing countless hours in redundant meetings only to find out the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing the entire time.

Getting the runaround between departments trying to track down simple information.

Struggling to get leaders on the same page when communication snafus blow up what should have been a quick project.

The unintended results? Wasted time, project delays, budget overruns, and competing expectations. The list could go on and on.

How many times have you thought, It really shouldn’t be this hard to get things done?

When you do, know that you have identified a point of disintegration.

You’re not crazy. It truly isn’t supposed to be this way.

Don’t bury those thoughts. Heed the signal that your team isn’t properly aligned somewhere.

A leader with a disintegrated team is like the emperor with no clothes. Everyone knows about the problem except the leader. If team members believe stress, struggle, and production pain are just “how it’s supposed to be,” they’ll continue to suffer and unintentionally underperform—until disaster strikes.

Thankfully, you can avoid million-dollar mistakes before you lose any more time, sleep, or your most precious resource—people.

3 Levels to Release Remarkable Results

While disintegration is not sustainable, integration changes everything. I’m not talking about perfection, but rather the alignment, understanding, and adaptability of the group for the mission as it unfolds in real time in the real world.

So, what kinds of things need to be integrated? Here are a few examples:

  • Culture and values into hiring, on-boarding, and daily activities
  • Management modeling with daily habits
  • Strategy and strategic approach with marketplace wants, needs, and reality
  • Product and service offerings with customer wants or needs
  • Strategy with organizational capabilities and capacity
  • Strategy and operations with systems and processes at scale
  • People and processes
  • Change appetite with change metabolism

Complete integration requires attention at three levels:

  1. You. The first person you need to integrate is yourself. If you are scattered regarding a vision for your team or dysfunctional when it comes to your own ability to get things done, you can’t expect everyone else to have clarity.

[call out] Leaders set the tone and pace for the team.

So, ask yourself: How am I integrating with coworkers, team members, customers, mentors, other influencers? Where do I need to step up my game?

2. Your team (internal customers). Once you’ve addressed your own integration challenges, consider the integration of your own team with others in the organization. Integrated teams are drawn together holistically on a shared mission. Ask:

  • Do I know the critical people I need to integrate with?
  • Do I intentionally reach out to peers?
  • Do I know what their personality style is and how best to integrate with that style and communicate in their language?
  • Can I trust them to have the know-how and flexibility to either get the job done or to communicate their problems?
  • Do they trust me?

3.  Your external customers. How integrated are you with your external customers? Customer integration means you know your target audience well. You are on the same page with them and understand their problems, pain points, needs and wants. Ask:

  • How accurately am I working to solve real customer problems with my product or service before they even know there is a problem?
  • How easy am I to do business with?
  • How seamless would customers say our interactions are?
  • Do customers come back to us?
  • Do they tell others about us?

When you intentionally integrate fully with yourself, your team, and your customers, everything starts to run more efficiently. Zombies disappear and work gets done.

Integration Begins with YOU

You don’t have to be a military leader or the coach of an underdog sports team. When any team is integrated and functioning properly, the results are truly inspiring.  However, you are responsible for equipping your team to run at an integrated, day-to-day level.

At its core, communication begins with you. Are you talking with your team or at your team? Is communication one way or actual? Integration runs on dialogue.

The most important thing to realize is that integrated teamwork begins and ends with leadership.

Model integration for your team. Make it a priority. And you’ll enjoy plenty of first-place—even come-from-behind—finishes of your own.

The Secret to Delivering Your Best Performance Every Day

3 Steps to Turn Burnout into Passion-Filled Purpose

Do you enjoy what you do every day? Do you wake up raring to tackle the next challenge?

Everyone can relate to doing a job they don’t enjoy. In fact, most Americans say they don’t look forward to going to work each day.

According to Gallup research, “An astounding 70% of U.S. employees are not showing up to work fully committed to delivering their best performance. Adding insult to injury, 52% of those workers are basically sleepwalking through their day, and 18% of them are busy acting out their unhappiness.”

Clearly, plenty of people simply aren’t lit up by what they do every day. At best, they feel intense ambivalence toward it. At worst, they hate it.

They show up and go through the motions, droning on day after day, week after week, year after year, eventually forgetting the passion that once fueled them so long ago.

The thought of fulfilling what they’re meant to do, if it ever existed at all, has long ago been shoved aside by the tyranny of the urgent.

Should You Bail Out or Dig In?

Let me be candid: if you are in a job you aren’t passionate about, you may need to start laying out a plan to pursue another path that better aligns with your passion.

In my experience, if you can align your passion with what you do at least two-thirds of the time, there’s no need to panic and jump ship. If not, you may need to make a move.

But before you do, I suggest you get clear on your passion first, because the problem may not be your job or organization at all.

The issue may be that you don’t have clarity about what lights you up or don’t know how to align that passion with the greater purpose of your organization.

Progress Begins with Purpose

Your purpose is largely made up of three components: what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at, and the sweet spot where you can make a living bringing those two together.

  • Your Passions. Start by listing all the things you would do for free simply because they make you feel fulfilled. Remember, inspiration may influence you, but passion moves you. When you’re tapping into passion, think, I cannot not do this. What do you love doing so much that it doesn’t even feel like work? But passion alone isn’t enough. It has to align with the reality of…
  • Your Strengths. Analyze your strengths and talents and factor them into the purpose equation. For example, you can be passionate about singing, but not be able to carry a tune in a bucket. You may long to be the life of every party but be wired to make your highest contribution in strategic thinking and reflection. In addition to taking assessments designed to uncover your natural personality and wiring, consider these three things:
  1. Know what you’re good at—and what you’re not good at.
  2. Discover what energizes you—and what drains you.
  3. Identify what recharges you—and what decharges you.

For example, when I get in front of an audience and start teaching principles and helping people, something amazing happens. Even when I come into the room exhausted, I get re-energized by the experience and walk out with more energy than I had walking in. Not surprisingly, that strength zone is where you’ll deliver your best results in…

  • Your Opportunities. Where do your passions and strengths intersect? That’s where you’ll find a competitive advantage, a place where you can deliver something unique to the workplace and, for that matter, the broader marketplace. Your oppotunity sweet spot is where you have the greatest potential to make your highest contribution, doing what you love in a way that is profitable to other people and rewarding to you.

Pro Tip: Your sweet spot has to make sense in the marketplace if you’re going to make a living pursuing it. I’ve known many people who’ve launched into the speaker business by quitting everything else and simply declaring, “I’m going to be a speaker.” It never lasts long.

People ask me all the time, Chris, how do you do what you’re doing?

My counsel is this: develop your sweet spot role on the side until your audience demands your full attention. That’s when you can allow yourself to fully focus on your purpose-driven passion.

Take Your Passion With You

It’s one thing to be in a job you hate. It’s another thing to be in a job where you do well and make good money, but lack respect for the leader or passion for the work.

That’s a trap that keeps good people paralyzed every day. They choose to remain a cog in the wheel rather than find and focus on what lights them up.

InSPIRED leaders discover what they were made to do and then pursue it with abandon. So, my question is this: if you’re going to do anything in life, why not do something that lights you up?

If you’re going to do anything in life, why not do something that lights you up?

The beauty of this mindset is that the brighter you are, the brighter you make your world. I want to do something that lights up the world. I want to light it up in a way that lights others up and encourages them to live out their unique brilliance.

That’s why I walked away from a good career many years ago to build a great life.

Let me be clear: I’m not advising everyone to quit their jobs tomorrow—or ever, for that matter. Not at all.

In fact, what I am suggesting is that the disengagement so many people feel is a direct result of the disconnect between personal passion and organizational purpose.

The responsibility to close that gap lies both with the individual to get clear on his or her passion and with company leadership to create a culture that resonates with a bigger and better why.

The disengagement so many people feel is a direct result of the disconnect between personal passion and organizational purpose.

People aren’t like matches. Burnout isn’t the end.

It’s never too late to rediscover what lights you up and bring that same purpose and passion to wherever you decide to live, work, and lead.

I challenge you to invest intentional time this week to revisit these three elements—your passions, your strengths, and your opportunities—and rediscover why you started your journey in the first place.

It changes everything.   

The Service Mindset that Turns Customers into Raving Fans

Real estate deal concept, happy couple customers handshaking realtor agent or designer at meeting, satisfied property owners and bank broker shake hands, mortgage loan investment, house purchase

Would Your Customers Give You an Emmy or a Razzie?

How do you turn customers into raving fans for your business or brand?

Author and leadership expert Ken Blanchard tells a story about a particularly poor customer service experience. He and his wife had separated while shopping at the mall. At one point, Ken had found some clothes he wanted to try on, but he wanted his wife’s opinion before purchasing.

The only problem was that he had no phone to call her. Ken asked the clerk at the counter if he could use the store phone to call his wife before making the purchase. The salesperson replied, “They don’t even let us use the phone here. Why would I let you?”

Ken promptly placed the clothing back on the rack, thanked the gentleman for his time, and walked out of the store.

He never went back.

Excellence Requires Being Intentional

No doubt the store leadership had a good reason for not letting employees talk on the phone, likely so they would focus on customers right in front of them. But the way leadership enforced that policy translated into the way the clerk treated Ken the customer—the very opposite of the reason the policy was created in the first place.

Modeled behavior transfers and permeates throughout the organization. You can have the best and most intentional plans to achieve results, but if you aren’t intentional about excellent customer service, you’ll lose every time.

Everyone in business knows this, and you’re probably thinking, I would never treat a customer that way! But what about how you serve those you lead?

We serve others by enrolling, influencing, and connecting with them. How you serve the people you lead in your own team or organization is ultimately how they will serve—or not serve—your customers.

Service Is a Mindset

A service mindset is critical both inside and outside of your organization, to your internal customers as well as your external customers. For example, how you enforce rules internally can determine how you and your organization are perceived externally.

  • Are you service-oriented or transactional?
  • Do you enforce the letter of the law or the spirit of the law?
  • Is your brand known for serving others or serving the company?
  • Service or self-centeredness?

Those answers will go a long way toward creating a brand perception of you and your team or organization.

Who Would Nominate You?

In the entertainment industry, the Emmy Awards go to the best television performances and the Oscars for excellence in film. But there is another award given every year—the Razzies. While the Emmys and Oscars go to the best, the Razzies go to the worst.

As you reflect on your own customer service experiences, you can probably recall businesses worthy of a Razzie for poor service.

But what award would your customers give you? What about members of your team? What award would they give you for how well you lead them? It’s critical to put yourself in the shoes and the mind of your customer and evaluate what they experience.

It’s the only way to catch service drift and get back on track. Do you deserve an Emmy or a Razzie? If you don’t know, you’d better find out quickly. Here’s why.


It’s critical to put yourself in the shoes and the mind of your customer and evaluate what they experience. It’s the only way to catch service drift and get back on track

The Customer Is the Reason You Are in Business

At the end of the day, if you don’t serve your customers, both external and internal, you won’t be in business for long.

Kenneth B. Elliott, Vice President in Charge of Sales for the Studebaker Corporation, once defined the key place of service by defining what a customer is not:

  1. The customer is not dependent upon us—we are dependent upon him.
  2. The customer is not an interruption of our work—he is the purpose of it.
  3. The customer is not a rank outsider to our business—he is a part of it.
  4. The customer is not a statistic—he is a flesh-and-blood human being completely equipped with biases, prejudices, emotions, pulse, blood chemistry and possibly a deficiency of certain vitamins.
  5. The customer is not someone to argue with or match wits against—he is a person who brings us his wants. If we have sufficient imagination we will endeavor to handle them profitably to him and to ourselves.

The point is this: customers are not a nuisance to be managed but the very reason you lead.


Customers are not a nuisance to be managed, but the very reason you lead.

When you serve poorly, or not at all, you diminish your brand. Even worse, you put a bad taste in the mouth of the very people you rely on to succeed.

But conversely, when you serve with excellence, you reinforce or establish your brand and create momentum.

Take care of and serve your customers with respect, and they’ll reward you with loyalty, consistency, and profitability.

So what steps will you take this week to win your customers’ “nomination?

You’ll discover that when you make serving people a priority, people make it their priority to come back again and again—and to tell all their friends.

The Fatal Flaw in Business Planning

Business People Planning Strategy Analysis Office Concept

Vince Lombardi is often credited with saying, “The man on the mountaintop didn’t fall there.”

Success doesn’t favor one person over another on a whim. The longer I’ve been in the business/leadership industry, the more clearly I have seen that only by being Intentional in business planning can you achieve remarkable results as an InSPIRED leader.

You can try to skip over it. You can dash headlong towards the prize. You can hope against hope that your team can win on passion alone. But as adventurous as spontaneity sounds, when you’re planning a next-level strategy, only intentional steps will keep you off the thin ice.

A Tale of Two Leaders

Rory and Bob were two visionary leaders with a strong drive to accomplish great things.

Each wanted to be first-to-market in their shared industry. Each had identified a market objective that would put his organization on the map—but only for the one who achieved it first. The desire to achieve drove them to act. But good intentions, goals, and dreams will only get you so far.  

When Rory heard of the opportunity, his start-up organization was already strong and well-prepared. Though originally positioned to tackle a different objective, he chose to pivot and pursue this new opportunity.

Because he had been intentional about building a first-rate team and resourcing them well, he was able to retool them quickly.

When Bob learned of Rory’s new market focus, he became reactionary.

He also decided to pivot and race for the objective, but wasn’t nearly as well prepared. His team wasn’t as strong, nor was it resourced to deal with the inevitable struggles every team encounters when forging new ground.

Bob’s lack of intentional business planning meant the resources and capital they did have were often squandered. Each failed opportunity lowered the morale of the organization.

One by one, his key performers lost interest and left to chase his or her own dreams. When what was left of Bob’s team finally managed to achieve their objective—exhausted and frustrated—they had come in second place behind Rory’s team.

In that industry, second place might as well have been a total failure. Crushed after defeat, Bob had little left in his leadership tank and even less capital. His few remaining team members left him. His company never recovered and closed its doors permanently.

Making It Out Alive

Rory’s team had been prepared, strategic, and intentional. Bob’s team had attempted to wing it and engage in a fire-drill-rush to market.

Maybe you’ve worked with a leader like Bob who rushed headlong into what looked like a golden opportunity, only to see it fail and leave everyone burned out and heading for the exits.  You may even have been a leader like that and known the pain of seeing your summit dreams dashed.

You may have survived, but barely, with painful scars to prove it.

For every moment of business acclaim, there must be countless hours of preparation. For every moment at the Everest summit, there are months of pre-planning. For every minute an athlete stands on the medal podium, there are years of disciplined activity.

Success is never an accident. It always begins with being intentional in your business planning, again and again.

The Step Before You Start

If the story of Rory and Bob sounds familiar, you’ve probably heard it before.

Rory? His real name was Roald Amundsen, the first person to reach the South Pole. Bob’s real name was Robert Falcon Scott, the second person to reach the South Pole—five weeks later. By the time Scott arrived, he found a Norwegian flag and a note from “Rory.”

Unfortunately for Scott and the other four members of his team, his failure to be intentional proved fatal.

As a leader, you have a choice: be intentional on the front end—and multiply your chances of success, or fail to do so—and multiply the pain of failure for you and the people you lead.

For many leaders and organizations, un-intentionality is the norm. There may be a loose sketch of a plan or some grand vision, but little in terms of precisely how to get there.


When leaders don’t own the day, the day owns them—and their people pay the price.

I see it in organizations all the time. People act in constant fire-drill mode as management keeps them on high alert. Nerves fray, fuses get short, and relational explosions become a regular part of the workplace background noise. One person confided to me that the “always-on” environment felt like living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) all the time.

Under this level of constant stress, productivity plummets because it’s hard for anyone to go too far in any one direction when pulled in twenty other directions. Why would someone take time to build any kind of efficiency when leadership will probably react to yet another shiny object tomorrow? Not to mention the impact this un-intentionality has on the quality of life outside of work.

Intentionality Attracts the Right Talent

So what happens?

The highly-talented, high performers pack up and leave for a better place where intentional leadership, clear vision, and appreciation is the norm.


Talent always has a choice.

Organizations are left with C and D players after the A-team bolts and the B-team slowly slips out the side exits. C and D players aren’t particularly talented, but they’ve learned to survive within the chaos that un-intentionality brings. They do enough to stay out of the way, but not enough to make a positive contribution to the culture.

You may know what this feels like. Perhaps you’ve felt the pain before:

  • No prep. You were promoted to a leadership role because you performed well at your current position. But no one equipped you. When you got here, you found landmines, silos, secret handshakes, and unwritten expectations. You shoulder the burden and do your best simply trying to stay one step ahead of the next crisis!
  • No path. You have a job you enjoy at an organization you’re proud to represent, but you want to advance. You know you are talented and create success for the organization, but there’s no intentional advancement path for you. Leadership either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. You feel more like a cog in the machine than a critical part of the organization.
  • No clue. You work under a leader who is clueless. He or she may project confidence, but it’s untethered to reality. The team doesn’t respect the leader, so there’s an “every-man-for-himself / 8-in-the-gate / just-cash-the-check” mindset that permeates the team. You keep pushing forward, but your efforts fall short without buy-in from everyone else.
  • No restraint. You work for a leader or an organization whose appetite for achievement (and accompanying change) doesn’t match the organization’s metabolism or bandwidth. So everyone lives in a state of constant organizational indigestion—and all the potential ulcers that go with it.


Imagine what your workplace would be like if intentionality were the norm rather than the exception.

Take the Next Best Step

What if every employee was equipped and energized to bring their best to the table each day? What if people knew exactly where they fit and were provided the tools to contribute and thrive?

What if leaders spent more time on business planning—where to go and how to get there—and less time firefighting or looking over their shoulders at the competition?

Sound like an impossible dream? I assure you, it’s not. Organizations like this do exist. In fact, as a leader, you can help your organization become a place like this.

Here’s how to get started: Set aside a consistent amount of time each week to intentionally plan your next steps. Maybe two hours on a Monday. Maybe an entire Friday. Maybe for half an hour each morning.

Whatever fits your style and schedule, take a break from the hustle of team movement and take an intentional breath.

Make sure that each move your team makes has a purpose, and when you cross the finish line—with all members safe and sound—your team will thank you for it.


Book Chris for your next event!

Connect with us today and let start growing your Leadership Influence!