All Posts in Category: Leadership

Leadership Insights

workshop-groupWhen conducting workshops on various leadership topics I tend to list several points for being effective in the area being discussed. Inevitably someone will ask, “Of all the points you listed, which is the most important?” Listed below are several leadership topics followed by my typical response.

TIME MANAGEMENT:   What gets scheduled gets done. Schedule your action items in specific time slots. If you get blocked on an item re-schedule it.

COMMUNICATION:   Stay in the moment. Wherever you are, be there. Give the other person your undivided attention. Make appropriate eye contact. Eliminate distractions. Ask questions.

MOTIVATION:   Help people feel “special.” Pay attention to them; spend time with them; get to know them; take a sincere interest in things they are interested in; listen to them; and encourage them.

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“Flatter me, and I may not believe you.

Criticize me, and I may not like you.

Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.

Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”

William Arthur Ward


Flattering, criticizing, or ignoring people will not bring out their best. Encouraging them will. There are hundreds of ways to encourage people. Listed below are some of the key ways you can encourage others:

  • Believe in them even before they believe in themselves.
  • Take a genuine interest in them.
  • Listen to them.
  • Care about them and their successes.
  • Ask questions that will clarify their thinking and goals.
  • Help them think big and deal with reality at the same time.
  • Celebrate improvements with them.
  • Identify the habits they need to develop to be successful.

These motivating actions are not easy to do, but they are worth it when you see people grow, develop more of their potential, and succeed.

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Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy. The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us is not. It is our most precious resource. Excerpts from “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.

As a leader, you are the steward of your team members’ energy. Here are ten things you can do to keep energy at a high level on your team:

  1. Say what you will do and do what you say. When people know you are a person of integrity and they can count on you, their trust level goes up and they can use their energy in productive pursuits.
  1. Help people remember their past successes. People have a tendency to vividly remember their past mistakes and failures and forget or diminish their past successes. By helping them remember their past successes, you help them boost their energy.
  1. Help people set short-term goals and break more complex goals into “bite-sized,” chunks. When people enjoy frequent successes, they become energized. The saying that “success breeds success” is absolutely true. Small successes lead to big successes.
  1. Look for opportunities to recognize and praise people. Praise is a great elixir. It builds self-esteem, bolsters self-image, and creates an adrenalin rush that generates an abundance of energy. Praise is the catalyst for energy.
  1. Help people focus on the next step. When people realize the power of progressive realization and develop an “I can do that (next step)” attitude, improved performance and success are inevitable which, in turn, helps create more energy.
  1. Help people identify their passion. Passion creates energy. When people know what their passion is and take steps to pursue and fulfill it, they are going to be energized.
  1. Inspect what you expect. People respect you more when you inspect what you expect. This helps people become more accountable, and being accountable produces energy.
  1. Keep score. Keeping score helps people know whether they are winning or losing and stamps out uncertainty. Certainty creates energy. Uncertainty drains energy. As a leader, one of your most important jobs is to help stamp out uncertainty.
  1. Encourage people. When people feel encouraged, they can overcome incredible adversity. Overcoming adversity builds self-esteem and generates more energy.
  2. Help people bring out their enthusiasm. Enthusiasm gives people energy. It creates a positive aura and helps people relax and feel confident.

Being fully engaged in work you enjoy generates energy. A high energy level will help you feel invigorated, confident, challenged, joyful, and connected. All of these characteristics will help you be the “generator” for the members of your team.

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Members of your team will not necessarily follow your lead just because you’ve been given the title manager or supervisor. Unless you earn their respect, you might get insincere agreement, passive resistance, or a minimum effort. With their respect, you can have motivated team members who go the extra mile, initiate work, follow through, and contribute creative ideas for improvement.

Listed below are actions you can take to earn the respect of your team members, co-workers, and bosses:

  • Be Credible – say what you will do and do what you say.
  • Be Trustworthy – tell the truth, even if it is painful (to you).
  • Be Respectful – treat others the way you would like to be treated; or, better yet, treat others the way they want to be treated.
  • Be Consistent – most people have a strong fear of the unknown. When team members aren’t sure how you will respond in a given situation, it causes a degree of fear and they do not do their best work in an aura of fear. Conversely, when you are consistent and team members can predict your reaction, they will feel safe and be more likely to perform at an optimum level.
  • Be Supportive – you are a resource for your team members. Your job is to help them perform at a high level and being productive so they will be successful for the organization. Being supportive by providing resources and removing obstacles is a big part of your responsibility.
  • Be Appreciative – your team members trade their performance for your appreciation, approval, and applause. It doesn’t take much time or effort to say “thank you” or to comment on someone’s work. This attentiveness will pay big dividends in team member loyalty, motivation, and performance.
  • Be Humble – encourage team members to feel that you can identify with them by using some form of self-disclosure. For example, “I felt the same way when that happened to me;” or “A similar thing happened to me;” or “I ran into a similar problem on one of my projects.”

Managers tend to overestimate the control they have by position authority and underestimate the influence they have by treating people with dignity and respect, being supportive, showing appreciation, and by being credible, trustworthy, consistent, and humble.

Rate yourself in the areas listed above and set goals to improve in those areas that you wish you could have rated higher. Then, enjoy the benefits of having people follow your lead because they want to, not because they think they have to.

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What Makes A Leader Different?

All of us know leaders who stand out in a crowd, who have risen to the top and who accomplish significantly more than their peers. Let’s examine some of the characteristics that make these leaders different:

  •  VISION – Leaders have a clear picture of what they see their group becoming or doing in the future. There’s a difference between eyesight and vision. Vision is the ability to get MEANING from eyesight. Effective leaders have vision.
  •  GOAL-DIRECTED – Leaders know where they stand, where they’re going and how they’re going to get there. They realize that no one ever accomplishes anything of consequence without a goal. Leaders also realize that in order to fulfill their vision, they need a series of goals that will help them do so. Effective leaders are goal-directed.
  •  CLEAR PURPOSE – Leaders know why they exist, what they believe and what their values are. Having a clear purpose gives them the energy and focus they need to accomplish their goals and fulfill their vision. Effective leaders have a clear purpose.
  •  SELF-CONTROL/SELF-DISCIPLINE – Leaders are many times required to do things that ordinary people don’t like to do. The truth of the matter is, leaders probably don’t like to do them either. The difference between a leader and an ordinary person is that a leader does whatever it takes to accomplish the goal, and many times this requires self-control and self-discipline. Effective leaders have self-control and self-discipline.
  •  ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE – To achieve their goals and fulfill their vision, leaders need to persuade others to take action on their ideas. This requires that they think clearly, speak clearly and listen carefully. Effective leaders have the ability to communicate.
  •  ENERGY – Leaders need the physical vitality and mental alertness that comes from a high level of energy. Hard work, clear thinking, commitment and persistence require a high level of energy. Leaders boost their energy through proper diet, nutrition, exercise, positive thinking, rest, relaxation and an outside hobby or interest. Effective leaders have a high level of energy.
  •  PERSISTENCE – There are only two reasons why most projects fail: not starting and not finishing. Leaders finish what they start because they remember their vision, focus on their goals and visualize their goals as already accomplished. They have the staying power and persistence to follow through on their goals regardless of circumstances or what other people say, think, or do. Effective leaders have persistence.
  •  POSITIVE ATTITUDE – Leaders look at how things can be done, not why they can’t be done. They look for ways over, around, or through obstacles. They have an “I will not be denied” attitude. To paraphrase W. Clement Stone, “There is little difference between ordinary people and leaders. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether the attitude is positive or negative.” Effective leaders have a positive attitude.

To be a more effective leader, clarify your vision and purpose. Develop a written and specific goals program. Develop your self-control, self-discipline and ability to communicate. Maintain a high energy level by taking care of your mind and body. Persist in all you do, and approach every challenge and opportunity with a positive attitude. Do these things and you’ll not only be different, but you’ll also MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

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