Leaders: Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

20130613-194535.jpgLet’s be clear, this isn’t a lecture on honesty; of course we must always tell the truth, that is a given. I am talking about leaders being open with real issues and real choices that need to be made. Your teams have a right to know what they are up against. They have a need to be part of the decision making process. They also have the best ideas about how to approach the issues.

Tell them what has happened. Tell them what is happening. Tell them what is going to happen.

But, before you jump right in and tell the truth, follow these three steps:

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Success requires us to start; it also demands that we persevere to the end and finish strong

persevereWhen I coach people who are beginning a new endeavor, new job, or new project I start with this quote from Lao Tzu on starting strong, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” I add to that thought a thought that we must persevere and finish strong.

“You’ll never get there if you don’t start; you’ll also never get there if you don’t finish.”– Denis McLaughlin

Starting something new is difficult and we may need encouragement to step out.  Equally important though is the determination to persevere to a successful end. Zig Ziglar put it this way, “Where you start is not as important as where you finish.”

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The leader is but one part of the team

The real power of a leader comes in conductorthe joining of individual strengths of a team into a common purpose.

The leader is the organizer, the arranger, the conductor. Like a world class symphony orchestra, it takes a group of individuals playing their part of the same song with their particular instrument to create beautiful music. The musicians have the violins, oboes, trumpets, and tympani – the conductor has the baton.

Leadership is achieving succsss through the actions of others. The musicians face the audience while the conductor faces the musicians.

A conductor without an orchestra is simply waving his hands in the air, and a leader without followers is just taking a walk.

The great leaders are like the best conductors – they reach beyond the notes to reach the magic in the players.” – Blaine Lee

The leader is but one part of the team.


Are you a die-hard leader or a fair-weather leader? Part 2

Earlier in the week we discussed bob feller quotethe four things that die-hard baseball fans value more than winning: Pure Entertainment, Authenticity, Fan Bonding, and History and Tradition.

What can we learn about being a die-hard leader from loyal baseball fans?

Pure Entertainment – The die-hard leader is excited about the process it takes to win, not just winning.

Authenticity – The die-hard leader is committed to what is best for the team.

Fan Bonding – The die-hard leader has earned the respect and admiration of their team through demonstrations of character.

History and Tradition – The die-hard leader always makes decisions based on a foundation of core values.

Hall of fame pitcher Bob Feller said, “Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day…”

“The team with a die-hard leader will not only know how to be successful, but to stay successful.” – Denis McLaughlin


Are you a die-hard leader or a fair-weather leader?

Aint over till its overForbes Magazine just published its list of the Most Loyal Fans in Baseball.  You may find it surprising that four things ranked higher than the win/loss record in keeping loyal fans.

Pure Entertainment – How exciting is it to watch the team play?

Authenticity – How well does the team play as a team?

Fan Bonding – Are players respected and admired?

History and Tradition – Is the team part of the fans’ institutions and beliefs?

These four items are important for the die-hard fan as well as the fair-weather fan.  The difference is that when their team is losing, the die-hard fan stays to cheer them back to success, while the fair-weather fan looks for another team that is winning.

Any leader can be engaged and excited and passionate to lead in the good times. What happens to that same leader when success turns to failure, when the environment changes, when investors leave, when the economy slows, when your products don’t sell – What happens when your team stops winning? 

Are you a die-hard leader or a fair-weather leader?

“The real leader, the die-hard leader, is still there when build turns to re-build.” – Denis McLaughlin

Purpose, plan, people, and priorities – there can be no leadership without them

DenispostWhether you are leading a team of thousands, hundreds, tens, or just yourself, these four P’s of leadership are essential for success. Without them you and your team are like a boat without a rudder, drifting on the sea in an unknown direction. Leadership is about choosing the destination and navigating the ship on the right course.

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Imitate or Innovate, that is the question.

fork-in-the-road2Leaders have a choice to make. Should they imitate what has already been successfully done, or innovate away from the past and chart their own course?

Can a career be summed up in three words: Imitate or Innovate?

In my career I have found that the answer to the question on whether to imitate or innovate is – it depends.

Imitation is preferred when you are following success. Innovation is preferred when you are defining success.

Sometimes your job is to do it the right way; sometimes it’s to invent the right way.

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Exit row seating – are you ready, willing, and able to assist in the event of an emergency?

safety_emergency_exit_boratEarlier this week we talked about being prepared in times of crisis.  Like the oxygen mask in an airline, a well-designed plan can assist you in taking what could be a catastrophe and keep it from rising above a minor inconvenience.  I heard back from several readers who are frequent flyers and have experienced the loss of cabin pressure. Their summary of the situation was in a few words – no big deal.

Like I said on my previous post, I fly a lot.  I am not bothered in the least by any sudden unexpected changes.  However, I have witnessed panic in first time flyers when there is turbulence.  Utter terror sets in if the oxygen masks drop down due to a loss of pressure.

This is where today’s post picks up.  When you are a leader, it’s not about you and your comfort.  It doesn’t matter if the current crisis is no big deal for you; it’s about your team and what you can do to help them through their response to the emergencies.

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What would you do if the airline cabin suddenly lost pressure?

airplane air maskI frequently travel on a commercial airline for work and vacation.  Sometimes a month or two goes by and I realize that I have barely listened to the airline attendants as they recite their prepared safety speech before take-off. You know the speech I mean, the one that tells you what to do in the unlikely event that something bad happens.

Each airline has basically the same message: how to operate the seat belt so you remain safely in your seat in the event of turbulence; how to inflate the life jacket so you don’t sink in the event of a crash landing in the water; how to find the exits in the event that the cabin fills with smoke; and of course how to use the oxygen mask so you can breathe in the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure.

According to the FAA, from 2002 – 2007 there were only .01 fatal airline accidents per 100,000 flight hours or .018 fatal accidents per 100,000 departures. So, why do they repeat this same message on every flight if the rate of fatal accidents is so low?

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The importance of communication in leadership – Part 2

integrityThere are four steps that leaders take in successful communication of expectations:

Write them out – Clearly define your expectations

Hand them out – Overtly explain your expectations

Point them out – Verbally reinforce your expectations

Live them out – Openly demonstrate your expectations

In part one of the importance of communication in leadership, we talked about the first three steps – how to broadcast your expectations.  Now let’s examine the top step, the one where the best leaders spend most of their time – how to demonstrate your expectations.

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