Thursday, April 30, 2009

Can We Trust You?

I have been reading a lot about leadership and what makes leaders great. And, there is a lot to read on this subject. I have written about some of these things in detail over the last few months. But, this morning I have been thinking about the bottom line - not the bottom line of the income statement (profit), but the bottom line of what makes a great leader.

As I think back through all I have read and all the leaders I have personally admired the answer becomes pretty clear. The bottom line of leadership, the place where it all starts or fails is...TRUST.

If I don't trust you I am not going to follow you no matter how good you are at any of the other stuff. I'm not the not the only one. From what I read there are a lot of others who share my perspective.

Are you trustworthy? Can people believe what you say? Do your actions confirm or contradict your words?

What is one thing you can do today to build trust with those who are following your lead? Taking active steps in this direction could be the most important thing you have to work on in your leadership. Don't wait until tomorrow.

Seize the day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Focus On Your Strengths

Earlier this week I was reading a book called Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (Gallup Press, 2008) for a continuing education course I am taking. I came across a couple of statements that struck me.

The first one said, "if you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything." A few lines later the author followed up by saying that leaders who, "strive to be competent in all areas become the least effective leaders of all." (Rath, Conchie; p. 7)

We live in a world that is obsessed with "balance" and being "well-rounded". People do not want to admit that they have weaknesses and are regularly trying to overcome or hide them. But, according to the authors that is a sure path toward mediocrity. That doesn't sound very attractive to me. I don't want to be mediocre. I want to be an effective leader, making a strong, positive impact on those around me.

We should be investing most of our time and energy into what we are naturally talented at. That is where the opportunity to become great lies. That is an investment that is bound to return attractive dividends. In many way it's common sense and the research that Gallup has done shows that it is true.

Where are you investing your time and energy? What one thing can you do today to invest in your natural talents? I encourage you to become very intentional about developing your talents into functional strengths that will boost your impact as a leader. The world needs a lot more great leaders. Will you answer the call?

Seize the day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Be Intentional

Today I finished up one of the Conversational Leadership programs that I have been teaching. It is an 8-week course focused on helping leaders become more effective by improving their day-to-day communication skills. We had a great group that consisted of folks from the Chicago area as well as a few people from Lima, Peru.

I asked the trainees to reflect on all that they had learned. As they shared how it would significantly change the way they lead, one thing struck me - the need to be very intentional as they moved forward.

As leaders we all need to continue improving in one area or another. And, whatever it is that we are working on will require us to be very intentional. I am not talking about merely having "good intentions." Change takes work. Change takes follow-through. It doesn't just magically happen. But, it has to start with an internal commitment to seeing it come about.

What are you being intentional about these days? What have you made an internal commitment to? Are you following through? If not, what would need to happen for your level of commitment to reach a point that would move you to action?

Don't sit back and wait for change to happen. Be a leader. Set the example. Seize the day!

Visit my website to sign up for the next Conversational Leadership (

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Opportunity is Knocking

The main essence of leadership is the concept of influence. Many times we think in terms of "being in charge." But, the most effective leaders are those who influence people to go a certain direction willingly instead of having to force them.

That means that you don't have to be "in charge" of anyone in order to exert effective leadership. We all have people within our spheres that we can influence for good. I would ask you to look around you today. Be intentional and identify at least one person whose life you can invest in for the future. You may be elderly, you may be may be a teenager. You can begin today to invest in others for their tomorrow.

There is a tremendous void of leadership in our country and in our world, and the problem is only going to get worse unless we take the responsibility to act. The opportunity to influence those who follow behind us is knocking at our door. Will you join me? Open the door and lead.

Seize the day!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What's Fueling Your Fire?

When people ask me what I do for a living, usually one of my first responses is, "I'm doing what I love."

What are you passionate about? What fuels your daily fire? How much of your time do you get to spend on the things that you are passionate about?

In my work as a coach one of my greatest pleasures is helping people discover what they are truly passionate about and helping them begin to find ways to live that out more and more.

What would your life look like if that happened for you? What would it do for your energy level? How would your sense of purpose be affected? What impact would it have on the quality of the relationships that you experience on a daily basis?

One of the things I have been enjoying lately is exploring this with my 17-year old daughter. It has been a lot of fun to work side-by-side with her in this process. I have learned so many new things about her and have grown in my appreciation for the wonderful gifts that she possesses. I look forward to seeing her living out her passions and dreams in the years ahead.

It's not too late. Don't wait any longer. Begin today to more fully live out what you were made to do. What is one thing you can do today to begin moving in that direction?

Seize the day!