John F. Kennedy

Why do people follow certain leaders?

Some leaders are more successful than others at attracting people to their team. They seem to have few people leaving, unless they are promoted, and can easily fill any opening they have. What do these leaders do that sets them apart? These great leaders accelerate the dreams of their followers.

Are dreams important? William Shakespeare wrote, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.” The dreams we have for our lives are who we are, who we want to be, where we want to go, there our hope for the future.

So yes, people’s dreams are very important to them. And if you want to be a great leader, they should be important to you. Master motivator, Les Brown laid out the plan for success and dreams when he said, “Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.”

Here are the steps to accelerating the dreams of those who you lead:

Know their dreams. Leading people is nothing more than unlocking the full potential of everyone who follows you. If you want the best team, then you need to know their dreams to bring out their passion in life and work.

“The dreams and passions stored within hearts are powerful keys which can unlock a wealth of potential.”– John Maxwell

Connect their dreams with the team. Each person has unique dreams that are theirs alone. There are many rolls on each team, many activities, many projects, much that needs to be done. Once you discover each person’s dreams, you should find a way to incorporate them into the plans of the team to bring the best thinking to everything you do.

“We need men who can dream of things that never were.”– John F. Kennedy

Lead the dream and the team to succeed. Great leaders can, and must, bring success to their team and to the members of their team. One without the other is not sustainable. The best possible work environment is for everyone to live their dreams while accomplishing the work.

“I don’t dream at night, I dream all day; I dream for a living.”– Steven Spielberg


Why comes before How

Understanding how to accomplish something is an important part of being successful. You won’t go far if you don’t know what you are doing. So first we learn how, then we can succeed, right? Wrong. If you really want to win, you first understand why – the purpose of the something you are doing or learning how to do. Because very little that we do is always easy and you will need to hold on to your why when the how is hard.

“Winners are people with definite purpose in life.”– Denis Waitley

Clarity of purpose is especially important when it’s not just you alone working for success, and this is almost always. For some the identification of the team you are on is obvious, for others it is more nuanced. But for almost everyone, you are relying on others to accomplish their individual parts in order to win. The only way this works if there is alignment on purpose.

When you’re surrounded be people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”– Howard Schultz

A few examples of Why

Music – “Bob Marley is a huge influence…I love the purpose of the songs he writes…It takes your worries away and makes you feel good.” – Cobbie Caillat

Research – “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”– Zora Neale Hurston

Political Leadership – “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”– John F. Kennedy

Art – “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”– Pablo Picasso

We are more likely to win when we keep our focus on why – the purpose – of what we are doing.

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


Time Travel Leadership

Dr who and time travel picture of TartusWe are fascinated with the idea of time travel. We read about it in the 1895 book The Time Machine by H.G. Wells; we learned about the space-time continuum in Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in 1915; we watched the movie Back to the Future in 1985; and in 2014 an average of about 7 million people watched each episode of the BBC television classic Doctor Who.

Each of the stories, movies and television shows explores the possibilities of what could be accomplished if time travel was possible. I believe this is because ordinary people think of how to spend time, great people think of how to invest time.

“It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” – Steve Jobs

Doctor Who is the long running series on time travel that started in 1963 and ran until 1989. It returned to television and DVD in 2005 and has had a successful revival. The show is about a “Time Lord” known only as “The Doctor” who travels across time and space, in a vintage British Police Box, to protect innocent people and prevent evil forces from changing history.

The Doctor is serious about his mission, but to him time travel is as easy as going to work every day. “I can’t tell the future I just work there.” – Doctor Who

Whether or not you watch Doctor Who, or believe in the ability to cross the space-time continuum, you will read below that leaders have the power to use time travel to drive success for their teams.


Sometimes your team isn’t ready right now for the success they desire today; they need to work and prepare for it.

Don’t just say, “Not now.” Encourage development. It’s difficult to hear you aren’t ready for your dreams. Leaders must encourage their team to dedicate themselves to get ready for their dreams not just wait.

“We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.” – John F. Kennedy

Don’t just say, “Not now.” Describe the vision. Sometimes people mistake where they are with the finish line. Remind your teams how big their dreams really are.

“Big flashy things have my name written all over them. Well…not yet, give me time and a crayon.” – Doctor Who

Don’t just say, “Not now.” Deliver the plan. Leaders see the dream clearer than anyone. Layout the steps it will take to reach it, so your team knows where to do.

“If you want to encourage individual growth, try to never say “No” but instead answer with “Yes if…” – Denis G. McLaughlin


Sometimes your team is ready right now for the success they desire in the future; they need to move and achieve it.

Don’t let them wait. Encourage action. There are always reasons why someone might think they can’t achieve their dreams today. If you get those reasons out in the open you can remove them as obstacles one by one.

I once heard of a conversation between two employees that went like this:

“When are you going to finish that project?”

“When I get around to it,”

“I will get you one if it will help you finish this project.”

“Get me one what?”

“A roundtoit.”

Don’t let them wait. Enable the vision. Some people think they aren’t up for the challenge of achieving their dreams; they need more time. Remind them of all they have accomplished already and enable them to accomplish even more.

“Some people live more in twenty year than others do in eighty. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.” – Doctor Who

Don’t let them wait. Adjust the plan. Roadblocks come in every situation, some even pop up right after you start the journey to your dreams. Help your team achieve success by showing them how to go around, over, or through their challenges to keep moving forward.

 “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”– Napoleon Hill


How to lead a multi-generation workplace

405_GenerationalWorkforceEach generation wants to change the world. The world they live in and the specific issues they are faced with may be different, but in general they revolve around three areas: economic, social, and international. There are three larger generational age groups that are most frequently talked about today. The Great Generation, The Boomer Generation, and The Millennial Generation.

The great generation and the boomers grew up changing the world from the top down – political and civic leaders were the driving force. The Millennials have only known a world with instant communication and movements that can start online. For them change comes from within the individual, and across communities.

The Great Generation was born between 1901 and 1924. Their world saw The Great Depression, the formation of social safety nets, and World War II. For this generation the National Government intervened. The military protected the nation from aggression and government programs like Social Security, The GI Bill, and The Federal Housing Administration were formed.

There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Boomer Generation was born between 1946 and 1964. They experienced economic growth, a focus on equal rights, The Cold War, and the Vietnam War. Charismatic leaders of the day encouraged this generation to make their voices heard so that change would come.

“We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last.” – John F. Kennedy

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”­ – Martin Luther King Jr.

The Millennial Generation was born between 1982 and 2003. We live in this world today. The Great Recession, the explosion of Social Media, and The War on Terror are in the forefront of every national discussion. The individual’s voice can be heard around the world in an instant. Not confined to turning the large ship around slowly, the Millennial seeks to be the change themselves.

“A few generations ago, people didn’t have a way to share information and express their opinion efficiently to a lot of people. Bu now they do. Right now, with social networks on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voices be heard.” – Mark Zuckerberg

The workplace today is largely made up of Boomers in leadership positions and some nearing retirement age, and Millennials entering the workplace and looking to begin their career.

The key to leading in this multi-generational workplace is to recognize that each generation wants to make a difference in their own way. Don’t sacrifice one method for another, but allow both to thrive together.

If you are a Boomer, talk about the past but listen to the present. You know where the company has been and how it got where it is today. You know the markets, the products, the regulations. Don’t just teach the Millennials what you know, give them the opportunity to learn and ask questions and dig deeper. This knowledge adds great value to the conversation. Equally important is to listen to the Millennial’s view on what is happening today. How to market to the new generation, how to reach a global economy. Invite the Millenials to be part of the solution.

If you are a Millennial, listen to the past, but talk about the present. Invest time learning the history of the company and the industry. Ground yourself in the experiences that brought your coworkers to this place. Equally important is to share your views. Ask to be on projects and teams where you can talk about the needs and desires of your generation.

A final thought to guide these and future generations:

Each generation, like each person, has a unique set of strengths that can be leveraged for success. Seek to understand and develop these strengths.

Set Your Leadership Vision In Motion

Dont shout vision, live itWhether you are starting a new team, or just became the leader of an existing one, things will be different for this particular set of people on the team.   They might all buy into the goals you set, but your vision for how to achieve those goals will be unique and new.  It will take time to establish their trust in your vision.

The best way to establish the trust you need to lead the team, is through success.  And the best type of success is that which consistently delivers many small successes for each team member.

Don’t just shout your vision from the top floor; live it on the office floor. – Denis G. McLaughlin

For your vision to be effective you have to set it in motion. These early successes are called Quick Wins.

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