Leadership Truths



As we close down 2015 and move into 2016, I sat back and reflected on some of my journey and the privilege I have to help others become stronger leaders. I’ve shared below a compilation of some of my favorite Leadership Truths. Take a look and choose your top 5 where you believe that by living that truth you can raise your own bar in the new year.  Commit to a little self-reflection and resolve to make 2016 a year to focus on cultivating your own personal leadership legacy and ensuring the influence you have on your team is always positive.

1.      Maturity is a choice not an age. 2.      As a leader, be contagious, not infectious.
3.      Leading a team is a different skill set than    accomplishing great individual feats. 4.      Create an organization that makes more leaders than it breaks.
5.      Lead where you’re strong. Team where you’re weak. 6.      Business and life are marathons. We have to strategically pace ourselves in order to finish.
7.      Great leaders are concerned about their positive influence, their legacy. 8.      Strategic placement of team members produces the best results.
9.      Self-awareness helps in building the right team for you. 10.   It’s your team.  You cannot complain about what you permit.
11.   When you need a little more pull from your team, try letting them chase a team just a little faster or better than themselves. 12.   Amateurs practice until they get it right.  Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.
13.   Great leaders take time to get to know their team, really know them. 14.   Consider the strengths of the team as a component of strategy.
15.   Communicate in their language, not yours. 16.   Unleash the power of the team.
17.   You don’t have to flood your team with words to get them to action.  Be clear.  Be concise.  Be direct. 18.   Start ugly.  If you’re not willing to start ugly, you’re never going to start.  Learn.  Grow.  Make it pretty next time.
19.   Mentors know to put us in charge of teams that match our abilities. 20.   I can’t lead the team I want.  I have to lead the team I have.
21.   Frustration is a function of expectation. 22.   Lead people; manage things.
23.   If you’re a leader and not learning every day, you’re likely not a leader for long. 24.   Don’t ask for more sweat equity than you give.
25.   People join companies; people quit people. Be someone people want to stay with. 26.   Sometimes you have to drop or reassign a team member if it’s hurting the rest of the team.
27.   Experience it; don’t just witness it. 28.   Trust is the currency of leadership.
29.   Leading a team to victory is often the result of conquering or leading one’s self first. 30.   The mirror is rarely pleasant, but it’s almost always honest.
31.   Problems rarely work themselves out. 32.   As a leader, what you allow you endorse.
33.   The trail we carve as leaders profoundly affects the next generation. 34.   Nobody wants to be managed; people want to be inspired.
35.   Every leader gets the team they deserve, eventually. The team you inherited is not your fault. The team you have a year from now is. 36.   How you treat those on the inside is an indicator of how they will treat those who come from the outside.
37.   Don’t transfer emotional baggage to your team.  If you need to unload, talk to another leader 38.   For that extra motivation, learn your team individually and incentivize accordingly.
39.   Hire for values; train for skills. 40.   Find awesome, and copy it.


Your son has what it takes to be a great leader…

Today I will see my second son in less than a year graduate from a military basic training. I can tell you from experience that having a child in combat is not easy AND I can tell you the graduation ceremonies like the one I’ll attend today are incredible moments of pride. The trainings, themselves, are watershed moments where each has come face to face with themselves and succeeded. It is a forever flag planted into the ground that they will look back on with pride and an affirming sense of accomplishment.

Yesterday, I went to Family Day at MCRD. I had heard Zach talk about being Platoon Leader. Yesterday I saw his leadership and accomplishment in action. (Some of you have, already, met Zach from the times when he has traveled with me and worked the audio/video from the back of the room)

All of his leaders said similar things… “great leader”, “great example for his platoon”, “we’ve been begging for a leader like Zach the last few series”. At 17 he was named the Series Honor Man and was only a point or a few points from being named the Company Honor Man out of a group of close to 400 new Marines. They were wonderful moments and confirmations of what I already knew as a proud dad.

Having said that, today’s blog was on my mind and knowing that my question of the day was asking you what makes a great leader to you? Have you taken the time this week to start making the list and recording on paper the type of leader that you aspire to be?

Friday’s blog is about application and making sure we take the thoughts of the week and transfer them into action. Writing down the characteristic and competencies that you aspire to is mapping out your trail and ultimately defining your “Burled Arch”.

Help me inspire the rest of this community by posting some of your thoughts.

In Honor of the day, can I get an ‘Oor-rah!’?

Does your Husky ever look like a Chihuahua?

When I talk about defining yourself and defining you as a leader that can become a difficult thought to make those decisions and then live them out. What if I don’t live up to my standard? Defining sounds so… permanent.

This morning, I was thinking about leadership (and life, really) and it hit me that I was, truly, thankful for a new day today. A new day symbolizes so much – a fresh start, a chance to start over, an opportunity to shape the definition of myself and my leadership, an opportunity to live closer to my desired actions than I may have yesterday.

For years, I spoke on personal change and that life was more like a moving picture than a snap shot. Doesn’t it make you grateful that someone doesn’t step into your life or business and take a photograph of you and that one photograph forever defines you?

It’s the same with mushing, business, and life. Each day brings us a fresh opportunity to define – or re-define ourselves, our day, and our future.

Yesterday, I talked about Paul Gebhardt becoming disoriented and doubling back to the previous checkpoint. Once he regained his bearings, he turned back around and claimed his 3rd top 10 finish. To me that is great news for all of us on our leadership journey!

We set the goal – the vision of where we want to end up as a leader – that becomes our standard, our “Burled Arch”. (Burled Arch is the name of the finish line in Nome) We race toward it – but if we get turned around or WHEN something happens along our leadership trail – we have the mindset that we can get up, dust our leadership off and keep moving toward the destination.

If I told you that I was going to give you an Alaskan Husky as a present and, then, handed you a Chihuahua – you would be a bit confused because the reality wasn’t matching the definition. You would be looking for something that more closely resembled that definition, wouldn’t you? So we define our leadership goal our “Burled Arch” and the days WHEN our leadership looked more like a Chihuahua than a Husky – we just understand that there is an ongoing process, today is a new day and we have an opportunity to live something that more closely resembles our desired definition.

Continue today to work on your definition of yourself as a person and as a leader. Take time to work on the desired ‘definition’ for life and business. On the days when it doesn’t quite match up – it’s OK – we get a fresh trail today – and a brand new one tomorrow.

Happy trails!

What type of musher are you?

This morning, I woke up thinking about the blog and this week’s theme of choosing the type of leader you will become. As I was thinking more about it – there are two aspects of you as a leader. There is the part of you that you need to discover and the part of you that you, simply, need to choose.

Self-discovery and self awareness wraps around concepts such as talents, competencies, personality / temperament, perspectives (the Sun Glass principle) , etc. This arena would be where we might perform a personal SWOT analysis and a Leader Brand session.

The second area, though, is less about discovery than it is about decision. What type of a leader will you become? If you’re like me, you’ve had some great examples of leadership in your life and some tragic examples. Some leaders have even been both a different times, right?

For ‘Iditarod Leadership’, there are a number of different troubled musher types in the Race. Let’s just look at a few today:

· Lead Dog Leader: Ones who do it all themselves

· Empty Sled Leader: Disconnected and absent

· Caesar Leader: Ceremonial / Glory-based Leader

· Rope & Harness Leader: Micro-Managers

· Whip & Reigns Leader: “Beat the Dogs” Leader

My recommendation is to decide today to become an Iditarod Leader, an authentic leader.

Iditarod Leaders are concerned with results and relationships, short-term and long-term, hands-on and empowering and above all – great communicators.

Can you picture examples of the other leaders? Have you ever worked for a leader that had more than one these personalities?

Today’s decision to choose the type of leader you will become leads to the behaviors, actions, and habits of tomorrow. As we talked about yesterday – these will, ultimately, define you as a leader.

Have a great day on the trail!

Where do you start your race?

Sounds like a trick question or one of those, supposedly, deep philosophical musings, right?

Well, we start our race where we are right now. Every day is a race of its own that will add up to our sum total. I’ve heard a couple of perspectives on our lives and our actions (Our Adventure) – one is that you are the sum total of what you do – your actions ultimately make you. The opposite view that I’ve heard is that you are who you are and you are not what you do. What do you believe about this? How will this affect our Leadership Adventure?

I believe we can all rise above our actions – that we are independent from our actions – AND – that eventually – the thoughts we think, the decisions we make, and the actions we take – ultimately make us. Again, ULTIMATELY, we are a product of our thoughts, decision, our actions and our habits.

In our Leadership Adventure – as “Iditarod Leaders” – we must determine what type of Leader will we be – then on a daily basis we must act on that decision and our actions must align with the direction we want to go.

You can imagine the surprise, a few years back, when musher Dee Dee Jonrowe saw another musher (Paul Gebhardt) coming at her during the race. (Paul had gotten disoriented and was doubling back to the last checkpoint). What if he had told her that he was on his way to winning the race – and that his actions were irrelevant? She would have thought he had trail fever! Obviously, his actions would, ultimately, affect his race.

Thank Goodness we all have the power to make decisions, to own our personal direction and when necessary – make U-turns!

So there are some decisions to be made about today and this week…

Ultimately, what type of Leader will I be?

What choices am I making now that are not a reflection of what I want to be long term (personally and professionally)?

How can I align my actions today with my desired path?

Here’s to a great week of Leadership mushing!