Friday, August 28, 2015

What Do You See In Great Leaders?

Recently I read a blog on Leadership Freak ( where there were comparisons of the attributes we like and dislike from our leaders. As leaders, we’re challenged to create and nurture the culture of our organizations setting the moral tone and dictating the barometer of the morale. Rather than stating the obvious of what we dislike, I thought to give you some attributes which people genuinely like and appreciate from their leaders.

  • VISION – Not only have a vision, but SHARE it and share it often. Let your members know where they are going and trust them to make wise decisions to get there.
  • EXCITEMENT - Get jazzed about something. Folks are tired of long faces on their  leaders. If you think it makes you look important; in reality, you look depressed.
  • BE HONEST - Don’t pretend it’s easy, just believe your team can find a way forward if everyone pulls together.
  • PRAISE OTHERS - Tell the team about extraordinary efforts, remarkable results, and positive energy exhibited by others.
  • SAY THANK YOU – Yes, we’re all getting paid to do our job, but gratitude is cost effective.
  • BE LOYAL - The leaders who influence the most are loyal to individuals that hang with the people they believe in when times get tough.
  • HONEST FEEDBACK - People WANT to know how they are doing. Nearly every person I ask says they would like more feedback; good and bad.
  • LOOK AT BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN - See life from other points of view, not just your own.
  • PRIORITIES - Sharing and having a life outside of work and encouraging members of your team to do the same.
  • INSPIRATION – Inspire others to want to do more, learn more and be more.

Interestingly enough, not one of these things cost a penny, but is worth everything…

Be good to yourself…

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mushing and Leadership

This summer our travels took my wife and I to our 49th state, Alaska.  Interesting state…Alaska is a geographical marvel. When a scale map is superimposed on a map of the lower 48, Alaska extends from coast to coast, yet boasts the lowest population density in the nation, perhaps due to the fact that one-third of the state lies within the Arctic Circle. You won’t see a billboard in the state, but can see 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the US, and nearly half of the world’s glaciers. 

Dog mushing happens to be the state sport and something of which I knew little.  Native Alaskans are proud of the various dog mushing teams and the grueling Iditarod, where hundreds of competitors come from all over the world each year to make the 1,150 mile journey from Anchorage to Nome with their dog sled team.

Listening to various strategies of making an ideal sled team certainly drew parallelisms to creating and nurturing great teams in any organization.


Know you team members – Get to know your team members as individuals. Each has a unique personality and skill set. Make each individual feel that they are needed and wanted and a valued member of the team.

Build relationships with the team members – If you’re going to take time to know your team, make time to build a relationship with your members. The great Alaskan mushers will tell you that time after time they will get more production from their team if there’s a relationship, a bonding to the unit. It’s much easier to ask your team to pull you out of a tough situation if you have a relationship with them.

Understand strengths and weaknesses - Know who your lead dogs are, your wheel dogs, your point dogs, etc. If you assign project tasks to your team, make the best use of your resources by using their strengths to your advantage. Pair a stronger worker with one that needs more guidance. Plugging your team into the correct roles can increase its effectiveness dramatically.

If it’s not working, don’t be afraid to change – Mix it up! If a member isn’t working well in the position you placed them, don’t be afraid to try someone new. A new lead dog may reveal hidden talents if given an opportunity.

Love what you do - As the “Musher” in your organization, your team can smell if you truly love your work or if you’re simply “doing your job.” Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm.

Respect experience - Strange as it may seem, the dogs have to be taught team manners, and the lead dogs learn to steer the team with the musher giving them voice commands. Developing the relationship between the musher and the lead dogs can take months, even years of training. But once a team is established, old leaders actually take over much of the training of younger leaders.
In my wildest imagination I never thought I’d have so much in common with a musher…who knew? I guess it boils down to great leadership qualities are indeed great leadership qualities…

Be good to yourself...

Friday, August 14, 2015

CONGRATULATIONS! You're in charge!

Congratulations! You’ve been placed in charge! It really doesn’t matter what it is you’re challenged to accomplish or the number of people you have to get the job done. What DOES matter is the way in which you approach your team. Will you be a Boss or a Leader?  What’s the difference you ask? PLENTY! The way you approach your position will be a huge factor in the success of you and your group. Here’s the good news…the decision is entirely up to you…so choose wisely.

One only needs to “Google” leader vs. boss to be faced with close to 30 million entries on the web. Here are some of my favorites for you to consider:

·        A boss drives others; a leader coaches them toward their best performance.
·        A boss instills fear; a leader inspires enthusiasm.
·        A boss blames others; a leader works to help repair the damage and understand what happened so it won't occur again.
·        A boss thinks in terms of him or herself; a leader thinks in terms of we.
·        A boss knows how it's done; a leader shows how it's done.
·        A boss depends on his or her own authority; a leader depends, along with the entire team, on mutual accountability and trust.
·        A boss uses people; a leader is interested in helping them grow and develop.
·        A boss takes the credit; a leader gives credit to others.
·        A boss is a commander; a leader is more concerned with asking and listening.
·        The boss says Go!; the leader says Let's go!

When reading between the lines, it should become obvious that a leader must let go of their ego and in doing so yield to other’s ideas, facilitate collegiality and collaboration and keep an open mind to all the possibilities generated by the group.

Who will you become? A boss or a leader?  Are you ready to choose? The ball is in YOUR court!

Be good to yourself…

Friday, August 7, 2015

Which Path Are You On?

Over the summer my wife and I have been taking long walks each morning in an effort to get in our 10,000 steps by 10:00AM.  We’re fortunate to live in an area that offers a variety of paths from which to choose. Each path has its challenges, its advantages and its disadvantages.  While walking I can’t help but to think of the comparisons of those daily walks have in common to what leaders face each day. 

Some paths are new and unexplored. We find we’re a bit slower on those paths as we navigate our way, not exactly sure what the next bend has in store.  Taking a new path can indeed slow our pace, even throws us a bit off balance, but there is something exhilarating of exploring, trying something new, something different.

Some paths taken are familiar enough that we’re able to anticipate the next difficult climb or where the trees offer shade and a brief respite from the heat of the day.  We know the spots to linger and enjoy the surroundings, and those areas to move a bit faster as better things lie ahead. The familiar paths are the safest and fastest to take, but rarely is anything new learned or explored.

Some paths are so much a matter of routine; I swear we could walk them in our sleep.  These are typically the paths taken when the job just needs to get done…just get us from point A to point B and let’s just call it a day…typically, these are the least favorite, and offer the least amount of enjoyment, but in the end, we’re compliant.

As leaders we face similar paths as we go about our daily routines. Sometimes we even have the ability to veer off one path and incorporate another to get us to the end we desire.  There are times that paths are a matter of choice, and times we’re “encouraged” to take the path less traveled.

Whichever path you find yourself on this summer’s day know there are others to explore which lie just around the bend…

Be good to yourself…