Monthly Archives: October 2015

You are not in this alone

wright brothers dreamsWhat do you want to do in school, work, or your life? What is your dream? I hope it is so big that you have no idea at this moment how you can ever accomplish it. The good news is you are not in this alone.

Orville and Wilbur Wright dreamed of human flight from the time they were boys. They didn’t know exactly how it could be achieved, but they were determined that they could do it – but not alone.

In 1899, Wilbur Wright wrote a letter to the Smithsonian Institute. He explained how he had studied the work of early aeronautical scientists and asked for all papers that the Smithsonian had published on human flight, and a list of all other works in print. Wilbur and Orville studied all the scientific books that they received, as well as one book titled Empire of the Air, by Louis Pierre Moullard which discussed the possibility of achieving human flight by studying the birds in flight.

Wilbur then began communicating with and questioning the most well-known aeronautical engineers of the time including Octave Chanute, who gave the brothers the idea to perform their experiments on the coasts of the Carolinas (where their famous Kitty Hawk flight took place).

Using the knowledge they received, their ingenuity and talents, along with the help of mechanics, carpenters and land owners, the Wright Brothers decided that human flight would come only from the combination of the right machinery (as observed from the scientists) and skill in operating the machinery (as observed from bird watching). The rest is history.

What do you want to do in school, work, or your life? I hope it is so big that you have no idea at this moment how you can ever accomplish it just like the Wright Brothers dreamed of human flight. Remember, you are not in this alone.

Recruit others into your dreams.

Wilbur Wright had Orville Wright as they built the first manned airplane. Steve Wozniak had Steve Jobs as they built the first Apple computer. Ben had Jerry as they founded the ice-cream empire. Each of these partners had the same dream but different strengths and roles in the ultimate success. Surround yourself with others who can help keep the passion for the dream alive.

“It takes teamwork to make the dream work.”

Research the existing facts of success and failure.

Learn from what others have done that is the same or similar to what you are trying to do. Their success or failure will help you determine what to do or not to do. Just like Wilbur Wright read all he could about human flight and saw the limitations of current airplane designs, Steve Wozniak read all the research he could find on the growing field of personal computers as he built the first Apple Computer. Remember your goal is to deliver on your dream, one that is bigger than you know how to deliver on your own.

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” – Albert Einstein

Reach out to those that have been on the same path before.

Reading all the research that has been compiled and studying all the success and failures is very important and an integral step in the process of achieving your dreams. But nothing compares with talking with and working side by side those who have been on the same path that you are now on. The Wright Brothers, especially Wilbur, spent significant time with others who had and were pursuing the dream of human flight across several countries.

Find mentors who are willing to invest time to help you accomplish your dream just as they did. You will find that those who have a passion for their dreams, usually have the same passion to help others achieve their dreams.

“A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years of mere study of books.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The proof is in the results

ResultsEverything has a bottom line that shows the results. In accounting this is where the sum of all the debits and credits are called the net profit. It is the difference between what you achieved and what it cost you to achieve it.

You may be in a business selling computers, or a nonprofit providing assistance to the homeless, or coaching a college football team. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to accomplish, leaders are in it to win it and there are measurable results. As you win it, leaders provide the opportunity for their team members to learn, develop their strengths, and grow into greater roles. These too have measurable results.

I have a philosophy that if you accomplish both of these results leaders will be more successful, I like to say, “Don’t use people to complete projects, use projects to complete people.” You can get both of these right.

Peter Drucker, the founder of modern management, said, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” This doesn’t mean you don’t make speeches or worked to be liked, it means you make speeches to encourage and celebrate results, and are liked because of the results your leadership brings.

Here are the three ways to set yourself up to achieve positive results:

Set big goals

“Big results require big ambitions.” – Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher circa 500 BC

If you want to make a difference in the world and in the lives of as many people as you can, then go big. Don’t settle for what is easy, challenge yourself and your team to be the best at whatever you do over the long-term.

Set short steps

“You don’t get results by focusing on results. You get results by focusing on the actions that produce results.” – Mike Hawkins, author, speaker and consultant on coaching leaders to lead as coaches.

Now that you have set big long-term goals, you will only get there by taking definite short-term steps. Everything you plan to do must lead you and your team closer to the end. Never get discouraged, just keep moving forward, adjusting your plan as needed.

Set clear expectations

“Don’t tell me how busy you are. Show me what you’ve gotten done. Words don’t matter. Results do.” – Larry Winget, Author of six NYT bestselling books on personal development.

Even short-term steps require the measuring of results. Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment. Make even the smallest step worth something. Give it your all.


I am speaking at the Project Management Institute in Chicago later this week.  I will be discussing Leadership in Project Management using the strategies outlined in my best selling book The Leadership GPS – Your Turn by Turn Guide to Becoming a Successful Leader and Changing Lives Long the Way.

In honor of my appearance at the PMI, I am offering copies of my book at reduced prices for a limited time. Regularly priced at $19.99, the print version is selling for only $7.00.  And regularly priced at $9.99 the Kindle version is selling for only $3.50.

Please click on the links below to be taken to Amazon to purchase copies of The Leadership GPS.

The Leadership GPS Book on AmazonThe Leadership GPS – Print

The Leadership GPS – Kindle

The Delegator

Team with his leaderMalcolm Forbes, the former publisher of Forbes magazine, had a saying that might sound like he was joking, but there was much truth in it, “When in doubt, route.” Here is how he described what he meant, “If you don’t know what to do with many of the papers piled on your desk, stick a dozen colleagues’ names on them and pass them along.”

This is a real life example of what Stephen Covey said about the importance of delegation, Organizations don’t grow much without delegation…because they are confined to the capacities of the boss.” You see, successful leaders have to be Delegators – you don’t know how to do everything, and even if you did you don’t have the time.

But, there is a misperception of how successful delegation works. Some people think that if you are a delegator you are giving away the responsibility to achieve success. This is not the way it works. A Delegator does not give away and go away, they are here to stay, but in a different way. Here are the three steps of a Delegator.

The three steps of a Delegator:

Establish the vision

Even though you are delegating much of what you do, one thing that you can’t delegate is establishing the vision for the team – this one is 100 percent yours. You decide and describe where the team is going and what success looks like.

Eli Broad founded two Fortune 500 companies in different industries (KB Homes and SunAmerica). When running KB homes, Broad signed off on every decision about the land they would build homes on, “I made sure always to know where we were buying, what the market was like there, and what the lot would do for us.”

Broad didn’t exert that type of control on everything, “Once you’ve identified your crucial tasks and sorted out your priorities, try to find a way to delegate everything else.” He went on to say, “The trick to delegating is to make sure your employees share your priorities.” This is the key to establishing the vision.

Agree to the strategy

Now you should be ready to share control. This is the big picture of how the vision will be accomplished. Here the delegator works with the team to develop the strategy, ensuring it aligns with the vision. This step is 50/50 between the delegator and the team. Open dialogue, and differing opinions are heard to come to the right answer.

Leaders don’t need to have every answer, but they do need to find every answer. That is the shared part.

John Maxwell is an international bestselling author on Leadership and he also founded and leads several companies (Equip, Maximum Impact, and The John Maxwell Team).

John says that delegating the big picture strategy is important because it allows him to do what is important to him. He recognizes the other end to this delegation, “Assignments are not always done ‘my way’. But I have discovered that most things can be accomplished effectively in many ways.”

Activate the plan

Now you are ready for the strategy to be accomplished using the strengths and talents of each person on the team. These are the short term actions that if successful will lead to accomplishing the vision.

Here is where some Delegators incorrectly give up all control and hope that success will come. The real success comes when you understand that you will accomplish what you inspect, not what you expect. While you should let your team make 100 percent of the day to day decisions, you have to stay connected to see that everything is heading in the right direction.

Wayne Huizenga, the founder of AutoNation, Waste Management, and Blockbuster described his role as a delegator like this, “I give authority, but I stay in touch. Otherwise it doesn’t work.”

Manage through stability, lead through change

Change leadershipWhen nothing is changing, you manage. When change comes along, you lead. Here’s the punch line: Things are always changing.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different…”– C.S. Lewis

Borders Booksellers overinvested in managing their store locations but underinvested in online capability and ended in bankruptcy.

PayPal saw the future and led the company from its beginnings in cryptography, then transmitting money via PDAs, and after a few more years became the successful online payment system we know today.

How do you lead through change?

Envision the future

When I travel in new cities I always use my GPS to drive. Not just for the obvious reason of not knowing where I am going, but also to plan ahead for the changes. The GPS lists the next few turns so I know which lane to switch to and how much time I have to get there.

I use this same method to prepare my team for the future. We all talk about our destination and the next few changes that are coming up so that we are always prepared for what’s next.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy

Engage those that are ready

Change only happens when people are ready for change to happen. Don’t give up if everyone is not ready for the change. Start with those that are ready and show the results of change, then others will follow.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw

Energize the process

The process of change is not one and done but a series of next steps. You need to build a process where the outcome is change. Don’t let change surprise you. Be a team whose core competency is change leadership. Have a plan that you execute every time.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” ­– Winston Churchill


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