912 -Leaders Learn from Other Leaders

Every Saturday morning at 7:30, I get up to participate leadership in a great Twitter discussion surrounding education, learning, technology and how to be a more effective leader (shoutout to #satchat).  Throughout the week there are various discussions that continue to help “sharpen the saw” as they say (Hello #sunchat and #COLchat).

I love reading books and articles from “famous” leaders…those who have gone before and those who are in the “Leadership Hall of Fame.”  But I think I am also appreciating more the relevance I am learning from the “real” leaders out there.  The ones I hear from each week sharing their victories and their struggles.

We each have experiences to share.  We each have stories we have lived through.  Part of leadership is the ability to relate to others and provide guidance and counsel to those who are looking for it.

No GO Lead!

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#913 – Leaders Ask “What Have I Learned Today?

I can remember vividly a regular question when I got home from school.  “What did you learn today”? lessonswas the oft quoted phrase from my mother.  Thankfully, she believed I had learned something although I’m not sure I took advantage of the opportunity.  As a leader who works in education, I see the lessons that students have the ability to learn everyday, from academic curriculum to social interactions.  As growth occurs, they will find themselves looking back and seeing the opportunities they chose to learn from or maybe ones they decided to wait on.

Asking the “what have you learned” question is not one that should be limited to school-age children.  Everyday we learn lessons.  Everyday we learn from mistakes and victories.  Everyday we learn about people and we learn about ourselves.  The question becomes, are we willing to actually learn?

Now GO Lead!

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“The leaders ro…

“The leaders role is to define reality, and then give hope” – Napoleon Bonaparte

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#914 – Leaders Celebrate Victories

“Celebrate good times, C’mon!!…..It’s a celebration! 🙂 – Kool and the GaImageng.

Throughout the year, offices and organizations all over will take some time during a day, havesome cake and sing happy birthday to one of their co-workers.  It’s a great opportunity to celebrate a milestone in someone’s life and to show them deserved appreciation.

As a leader, having the awareness to know when to show recognition to your organization is an important characteristic.  With economic downturns an inevitable part of life and quarterly earnings and sales projections an almost daily “in your face” reminder of how tough any type of business is, finding time to celebrate is HUGE!!

People need to have the chance to take a quick break, catch their breath and for the moment hear the words “Well Done!”  It doesn’t need to be big and it doesn’t have to be a production but it should happen.  The victory may not be a large one, but having a profitable month after ten losing ones, is one to celebrate.  String it together with a second month, a third month…six straight months of positive growth and the momentum train can start to roll.  Celebrations communicate victories to people who are working hard to make it happen.

Leaders, take some time and say “Way to Go!, we did it and we’re going to keep doing it!”  Maybe even play some Kool and the Gang 🙂

Now GO Lead!

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Top Leadership Posts for 2013


It’s that time of year!!  End of the year lists for best movies, music, top plays,
worst plays, best entertainer and worst entertainer.  End of the year lists give us a chance to look back on the year that was and provide some reflection.  Over the past couple of years, I have posted some leadership concepts that have a certain importance and relevance to me.  Below are my top 25 Leadership 1K posts… I hope you like them…

No GO Lead!

25.  Don’t Be Fake…People Can See Through It and It’s Really Annoying

24.  Leaders Can Admit to Being Wrong

23.  Six Pack Abs and Leadership…Neither Come Easy

22.  Leadership Isn’t a Cliche

21.  Leaders Are Lifelong Learners

20.  Leaders Find the Right People…for Right Field

19.  Leadership and Attitude…You Have to Have One!

18.  Leaders Care About Reconciliation

17.  Leaders Know How to Ride Momentum

16.  Leaders Make Decisions “Fearfully”, Not Fearful

15.  Failing in Leadership Doesn’t Feel Like Going Forward

14.  Leaders Plan for the Majority, but Prepare for the Minority

13.  Leaders Can’t Stand Mediocrity

12.  Leaders Create and Innovate

11.  Leaders Use the Short Term to Plan for the Long Term

10.  Leadership and Timing…It’s Everything

9.   Leaders Know How to Be Compassionate

8.  Authenticity…It’s a Real Leadership Characteristic Trait

7.  Leaders Need to Dream

6.  Leaders Understand the Power of Connection

5.  Leadership Can Be Ugly

4.  Leaders Know It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

3.  Leaders Look and Listen to Different Perspectives

2.  Leaders Share Success With Others

1.  Leaders Color Outside of the Lines

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#915 – Leaders Realize They Are Responsible

There is that moment in a leader’s tenure that he or she goes “Oh my…”  I think it’s the moment Responsiblitywhere the “realization of responsibility” comes in and hits them in the face like a 2X4!

That realization would most likely be prevalent for any leader, but especially for those who ascend for the first time to the top spot.  When the word came out that Mary Barra had been chosen to be the new CEO for General Motors, I thought about when that moment will occur for her.  Probably not during all of the press conferences and holiday parties and receptions…probably not during the North American International Auto Show that takes place in January.  Those calendar moments keep things busy and the honeymoon adrenaline flowing.  But there will be a moment when the cameras move away and she has that quiet time when she realizes the responsibility she has.

For the genuine leader, we go into leadership opportunities because there is knowledge that through leadership, there can be influence.  With a positive influence, there can be impact.  With an impact, there can be the ability to attract resources, to expand the influence and deeper the level of impact…which serves to grow the resources.  The responsibility to grow in leadership is a big one and it has to be taken seriously.  Those who constantly gripe about leadership have rarely been in the position to make organizational changing, life altering decisions.  That’s a responsibility many may say is easy to do, yet few will ever have that opportunity. (Monday morning quarterbacking usually happens from people who have never been a quarterback..the same applies to criticism about most leaders.  Those offering their service as critics have usually never had the leadership experience ).

This is why leadership is SO important…it carries a mountain size of responsibility regardless if you are the CEO of General Motors or the Principal of a 150 student school.  The journey into leadership is full of lessons to be learned from mistakes that are made.  Those lessons are intended for leaders to be better and to lead higher.  In fact, we must go higher because we have that responsibility.

Now GO Lead!

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#916 – Fear of Change Keeps Leaders Inside the Lines

The other day I was watching my six year old daughter color a picture of one of the Disney Princesses.  She was working girl coloringdiligently to get different colors on the page, trying to create…or re-create an image that she could then present, with pride to me.  As I watched, I couldn’t help myself.  A couple of times, I leaned over and whispered that maybe she should stay inside the lines.  In fact, I even darkened the lines so she would have a better chance to “see” the lines.  She finally leaned back over and said (without a whisper), “Dad, I’m just trying to make something for YOU!”

As a dad, I wanted her to stay inside the lines because that is what we think “coloring” should be about.  The perfect shades…the perfect texture all going in the same pattern with the appropriate colors depicting what we believe should be interpreted.  But am I allowing her to change things?  Do the shades and patterns and textures have to be what I would want or think should be right?  What if she has her own interpretation?  What if her interpretation is better?

Leaders face the same issue all of the time, but it’s not about coloring a picture.  Fear of change keeps leader inside the lines way too often.  Maybe not at first.  Sometimes changed is forced and required for survival.  But after that period of time, leaders can sink into a mode in which “coloring within the lines” is safe and expected.  For corporate leaders that have to constantly worry about quarterly profits and forecasts, change may involve a change in jobs..namely the leaders, so playing it safe and inside the lines is the normal course of action.  But those who have been coloring outside the lines, like Apple and IDEO, have seen growth, creativity, innovation and disruption and we are better for it.

Leaders have to lead…they must facilitate and push for strategic change, change that pushes the envelope of what their industry is about and how they conduct business.  There is no reason to stay inside the lines…not for my daughter and certainly not for leaders.

Now GO Lead!




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#917 – The Unknown Keeps Leaders in the Lines

Coloring…always fun and somewhat peaceful from time to time.  I like when my family goes to a fear of the unknownrestaurant and the tablecloth becomes a big canvas where we can draw, play tic-tac-toe and color all over the place.  There are no lines…there are no rules (other than keep the crayons out of the pasta) and there is no right or wrong.  It’s just a free time to create with no boundaries.

In most organizations, there is a structure made up of processes that direct the ongoing operations.  Those processes have been thought through and  re-written until they suit the environment of that organization.  I would believe that in many cases, those processes allow for good productivity and encourage growth.  For the whole of the organization, that structure can be good.  But should the leader stay inside those structural lines.

I will forever believe that the growth and health of an organization will be limited by the imagination of the leader.  If his creative side is colored in black and white, the box will be too small to ever see any real growth.  Certainly, leaders should have others around them that can be more left brain than they may be.  I’m not suggesting that all things creative come from the leader, but I am suggesting that not fearing the unknown is a leadership characteristic that may unleash additional imaginative ideas throughout the organization.

Leaders work hard to get where they are.  It may be a lifetime of climbing the ladder that gets them there.  In fact, some of the reasons the leader may now be the leader is because of risks they took to get there.  Fearing the unknown will draw thick “coloring” lines around the leader and will squelch an environment of good risk taking.

So when the lines start to be drawn, take a step back.  Go out to eat and find a big table with a big paper table cloth and start to draw and color.  Even if the crayons get in the pasta, you’ll start to feel “leadership free” again.

No GO Lead!

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#918 – Leaders Color Outside of the Lines

Do you remember as a kid learning to color?  A coloring book would be given to you and some fantastic Crayola crayons coloringand off you go.  You would work diligently to try and match the right shade of green to go with the right shade of brown so the grass and the trunks of the trees would look believable.  Painstakingly and slowly you take time gently moving the crayon along the edges of the lines so as to not cross over.  The right shades of color are one thing, but staying inside the line is a must.

Logically, I understand that teaching structure and  order is a good thing.  Organizations must have a flow to them that provides a precise mechanism for decision making, along with accountability.  But I wonder if, as leaders, we have too often stayed inside the lines to make it easier, especially for us.

When I refer to “coloring inside the lines” or staying within the organizational structure, I’m not implying anything wrong.  I am however, stating that when leaders continuously go along with a template (coloring page), it is too easy to stick with the pattern versus branching out into the white space that exists.  Is there anything wrong with playing it safe, with being within the framework of the lines?  Of course not.  But a leader’s job is to set the course and provide a vision. So the question one should ask is, “Does the vision always have to stay within the lines?”

Having the leadership courage to venture outside of the lines certainly has risks associated with it.  It can become comfortable to reach a leadership position and stay there (that’s being inside the lines).  Over the next three posts, we will take a look at three reasons why leaders play it safe and color inside the lines:

  1. Fear of the Unknown
  2. Fear of Change
  3. Fear of Failure

Coloring is always fun, but leading with creativity and inspiration…always better!

Now GO Lead!

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#919 – Leaders Notice the Little Things

It doesn’t have to be much, but have you ever noticed that a small compliment can go a long way.  Someone makeslittle things a change in their appearance and you notice..there is better organization and you notice…a new introduction is made and you remember their name and something special about them or their family.  If you are listing “important” leadership attributes, one of the biggest areas to focus on begins with things that are small.

People are busy and are getting busier every day.  It may even feel like it is a chore just to say hello to people when you first walk into the office.  But leaders know they set the tone.  Leaders know that recognizing the little things isn’t little at all…it’s HUGE.  Human beings have an innate desire to be appreciated and complimented.  Not everyone enjoys the spotlight or aspires to be out in front, however a small note, a little encouragement and a tiny bit of recognition may lead to a deeper commitment.

So take time out of each and every day to notice something new and different about someone.  Offer that awareness to them as a small gift and encourage those to pay it forward to others.  Who knows, a little bit of encouragement may produce a BIG result.

Now GO Lead!

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