Monthly Archives: December 2015

Growth: be who we’ve become.

growth - goldfishIt’s said that a goldfish will only grow to the size of the tank it is in. It would actually be more accurate to say that the environment that exist inside of a small tank can limit the growth of a goldfish. A high concentration of naturally occurring items such as nitrates in water and certain pheromones in the fish itself are what can limit growth. Moving to a larger tank where these items are diluted removes their negative effects and allows the fish to grow to its full potential.

Growth in individuals and companies is the same. We will not grow to our full potential if our environment is growth inhibiting. Do we have challenging goals that stretch our abilities? Are we surrounded by others who encourage our growth? If we are, then we are on our way to being all we can become. If we are not, maybe it is time to change the environment or change to a different environment.

 “Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who do not.  When I see a person beginning to separate themselves from the pack, it’s almost always due to personal growth.” – John Maxwell

 Growth is not a destination; it is a direction. Growth is moving forward not backward. Growth is meant to be continuous.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have not meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

In fact, according to Henry Ford, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

When we grow we are like the fish who no longer fits into the small tank – we leave behind what we were so we can be who we’ve become.

Lead Through Stories

Story tellingThere are two ways to share knowledge; you can push information out to people, or you can pull people in with stories. Whether you are speaking to hundreds or coaching one person, if you want your message to resonate, if you want the listeners to take action, tell it with stories.

In his book, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, Jonathan Gottschall takes a scientific look at storytelling and says, “Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” This is how we learn.

Why are stories so important in leadership? Stories paint pictures. Stories connect facts. Stories bring success.

Stories paint pictures

The beginning of every successful project, team, or company is a picture of what it looks like when it is done, built, or running. Leaders paint the picture of success so their team has hope for the future. The best way to do this is through stories that describe what the future will look like when you get there.

Great stories come from great storytellers. One of the best was Walt Disney who said,

“That’s what we storytellers do…We install hope again and again and again.”

Stories connect facts

Some say we are on data overload in business today. We have enough facts to make every decision that is possible – several times over. The challenge is in connecting all those facts in a way that leads to the right answer for the right question. Stories can do that. Leaders need to weave the facts together so their team can see how it all connects.

“Storytelling is about connecting to other people and helping them see what you see.” – Michael Margolis, CEO and founder of Get Storied

Stories bring success

No matter what business you are in, your product has to sell for you to be successful. Sales happen when the customer can see themselves benefiting from what you offer. This only happens when the story you tell helps the customer see the benefit of using your product. In sales it is said that, “You sell the benefit, not the feature.”

“You can’t sell anything if you can’t tell anything.” – Beth Comstock, leads GE Business Innovations

Get on with your new job

new jobWhen you transition to a new job you have to leave the old job behind.

This doesn’t only mean if you move to a new company, this is for where you are now. It’s probably easy to think of leaving your old job behind if you change companies, but this is also for those who are promoted, transferred, or take on more responsibility within the same company. You have to leave the old job behind to succeed at the new job.

“I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.” – Albert Einstein

The key to success in this is not to just think of this when you accept a new job, it’s too late then. Plan for it to happen and it will. Your new job will need your undivided attention. There is work to do now. You have to leave your old responsibilities ready to run without you.

If you want that promotion, transfer, or more responsibility, start taking action right now in the areas of Education, Delegation, and Succession.


Provide the opportunities for your team to learn and apply what they are learning. Encourage them to take classes, and attend seminars. These are important activities for them to know what you know, and more.

There is a Japanese proverb that says, “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” While you will not be able to spend your days teaching your team personally, since you have your own job to do, you can invest your time sharing your knowledge and wisdom as you lead. Recognize that your team is watching what you do and listening to what you say and be purposeful in your actions and words so that they learn from you as well.


When a manager delegates, employees learn how to make appropriate decisions within their level of authority. John Maxwell says, “If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”

This is an 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.” Leaders have to delegate if they want their team to be able to do what they do so they can move on to their new job.


Succession planning is of equal importance to setting the vision and strategy for the company or team. I fact everything that leaders do should be about succession planning, including setting the vision and strategy. Leaders should use every opportunity to teach and grow leaders in the organization to be able to take on their job.

One of the things we often miss in succession planning is that it should be gradual and thoughtful, with lots of sharing of information and knowledge and perspective, so that it’s almost a non-event when it happens.” – Anne Mulcahy

If you aren’t teaching someone else how you do what you do, you are letting opportunity pass you by. Your main role as the leader is to prepare a successor while you lead the team. It shouldn’t be something that is part of your long term plan to get to when you are near the end of your season – that’s too late.

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