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.


Creating Intentional Organizational Culture

In the last Blog, I talked more about discovering your present culture and although there are a number of formal ways (Organizational Surveys, Discovery Initiatives, hiring great consultants like me) we talked about the informal (survey of eyes and ears).  

Today, I would like to take a few minutes and discuss next steps..  How do you tweak, shift, shape, remake, or even re-engineer the present culture into a desired culture.


As with most things in business (or life) we need to define our Burled Arch.  Without consideration to our present location – our first step is to dream – to envision where we want to go and what we want the team to feel like – again, broken into the three components of – Language, Beliefs, and Behaviors.

From a blank canvas, start to get a picture of desired daily life in your organization… 

What mindset do you want your organization approaching their day with?  What about HOW they approach their interactions with each other?  Or our clients?  Their mindset toward problems or adversity? 

What if you think (or feel) that you are not fully ready to carve a brand new, fresh trail of desired Culture?

 – Get others in the organization involved

 – Search for companies with great cultures and find one that feels right for you

 – Use others as a template

I am a firm believer that there is very little ‘new under the sun.’  Modeling your desired culture after another is a great way to start, while adding your unique perspective to it.

Finally, on the creation of vision, make sure that the new vision is a good fit for the organization or that it is a vision that can be (somewhat) easily adopted and implemented.  If the vision is too much of a radical shift – there may need to be some smaller vision shifts created to work the organization up to it.


R.A.C.E. is my powerful and effective model  for Change Management.  The implementation phase of Culture shift must be broken into the components of making sure everyone is:

R – Ready to change (Line out with great clarity what the shift means in people and process, in Language, Beliefs and Behaviors)

A – Action is developing the internal marketing campaign FIRST!  We must take the action steps necessary to get our team on board! Use a phased-in approach while leveraging the Lead  and Swing Dogs for Team adoption.

C – Use Checkpoints to monitor progress and make mid-course corrections.

E – Evolve the Vision AND the process.

Cultural awareness is critical to having an Organization that operates with intentionality.  Cultural change, like most change, is not an easy undertaking.  However, with some strategy and a great process, you CAN shift your culture to something fantastic!

The Roles of a Leader

The commitment to blog daily (weekdays) gets a little challenging when traveling (lol). I try to sleep and reset the body clock as fast as possible but it does not always work. For the next couple of weeks I will be in Indonesia training leaders for Giant Impact. Just over 2 days on the ground and it feels like we have been here for a week. We landed and spent the rest of Saturday in Jakarta and then Sunday afternoon and part of Monday in Bandung and then back to Jakarta. Beautiful places and great conversations with the partners of Imperium – watch for pics on facebook or twitpics…

My heart from last week (talking about team health), the 25+ hours of flying, and the conversations so far here is dwelling on the roles that we play as leaders. When talking about team health – there are many times that we are a team member (responsible for our own results) and then for the team we are coach, therapists, career counselor, strategist, visionary, motivator, teacher, mentor… and the list goes on. Balancing these roles can prove to be challenging and, at the same time, rewarding. At the base of it all, the foundation of our leadership is our character or integrity. I am convinced, now more than ever, that what our teams need is leaders that are inspirations to follow – leaders worthy of the people following.

On the trail to Nome and our ‘Burled Arch’, somewhere along the trail of 1100+ miles of our ‘adventure’ we are bound to meet ourselves. When that occurs, will we like what we find? We come face to face with who we are – not who we wish we were; who we ARE – not whom we tell others we are or our ‘front’.

The dogs don’t care much about pretense – they want to know that you are the real thing. The trail? It only allows those to pass after they have looked inside and come face to face with ‘the man (or woman) in the mirror’. Today, can we stop and look in the mirror? Can we own the desire and make the tough choices that qualify our leadership as integrous?

Closing my thoughts today with a few poignant Fuller-isms and some I’ve picked up along the way:

“The character of a person is not made during tough times, it’s revealed.”

“We are all like sponges – what is truly in us when we are squeezed WILL come out.”

“Respect is earned on difficult ground” (John C Maxwell)

“Character is easier kept than reclaimed”

And from a movie on the plane ride to Indonesia: “Sometimes a man can meet his own Destiny on a road he took to avoid it.”