10 Ways Leaders Move Others Ahead

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The Importance of Small Actions

The smallest actions can make the biggest difference. What may seem inconsequential could be the thing that moves another person along to something that is not initially known.

Giving and showing small appreciation for others can be a small private moment that is the tipping point that leads another to something better.

Leading others is a privilege.  Encountering others in our role, lends itself to unknown opportunities.

10 Ways Leaders Move Others Ahead

  1. Make every response a strength based moment
  2. Make a positive comment even when the feeling is negative 
  3. Find and name the qualities that make others valuable
  4. Show appreciation rather than enable
  5. Point out where actions are falling short, but where there is potential to correct
  6. Understand what others’ behavior means, rather than making a quick judgment 
  7. Give others a takeaway that holds value
  8. Talk about what is expected, participate in the process 
  9. Showcase others’ accomplishments 
  10. Find ways to serve the people that work for you.

Incorporating these humble actions is good for your leadership, but even better for those you lead.  The idea that you can exercise daily actions that move others forward is an exciting prospect.


The Silent Factors Behind Organizational Success

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Sustaining organizational momentum is a result of three key attributes. This doesn’t mean that human resources and capital are not important.  

The intrinsic qualities that make an organization succeed are the things that are not readily seen, but silently there.

The silent factors to organizational success

The Skill that is imbedded in human resources is an area that separates the mediocre from the spectacular organization.  The most critical decision is how each part of your teams are assembled and implemented.  Less skilled individuals can silently weaken the best strategy and effort.  

Everyone says they have skills, but when the rubber meets the road, those with the intrinsic skill carries the organization.

Clarity in thinking or Awareness of the organization, its beliefs, and purpose is a silent driver that helps the different imperatives move or stall.  Those that drive projects, need to be very conscientious and possess great personal awareness.  

Talk is great, but those with the ability to think ahead exponentially drive progress and sustainability. 

Authenticity is making things real and being real.  There are a lot of charlatans out there trying to show something, but with little depth beyond a personal agenda.

Authenticity is present when a person’s skill, and awareness all line up

Many leaders in organizations lack the skill and awareness, and end up acting as if they have no substance. 

Sustaining is about keeping these factors present

When the leader keeps these factors lined up, and makes decisions according to these factors, sustaining the organization occurs more readily.  When the leader takes their eye off of any one of these silent factors, the organization may face weaknesses.

4 Ways to Recognize Your Mistakes

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The saying goes: “You don’t know what you don’t know…” means that people don’t have enough awareness to know how they are making mistakes.  This may be true in some instances, but many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do.  Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.

Many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do. 

Pattern Recognition – Many mistakes are repeated cycles or patterns of problem behavior. The problem behavior often happens over and over as if it is a sequence of actions made up of faulty thinking.  We can’t help ourselves, we use the same faulty logic, and repeat the same behaviors – hoping things will change.

Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.

The solution lies in recognition – Much like the patchwork of buildings in the photo above, there is a pattern.  Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.  Obviously, if we can begin to realize we’re not getting the results we want, then we begin the journey of correcting our mistakes.

Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.  

The ‘pain’ of mistakes increases your ability to recognize a different path can lie ahead.

4 Ways to recognize your mistakes

  • Self-Reflection: Write or journal about the ‘repeated’ sequences and poor outcomes you’re receiving – there is purpose and a reason behind the mistakes.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are given to us to learn from. 

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

  • Exercise Humility: Ask someone close to you if they see a problem pattern – what do they see?
  • Ask Yourself: What am I doing repeatedly to get the same result?
  • What do others do to get different results?

Repeated sequences create similar results.  What behaviors in your life may be repeated mistakes?

The Power of Exceptions

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When we look at problems – what do we see? Do we see roadblocks, opportunities, or just what is not working?

The way we think about a problem obscures our ability to see anything else.

At times of difficulty, it is hard to see anything that might remotely work. Our bias is to look for a solution, but the solution is often hard to see, or even put together.  We think that there should be a linear connection between a problem, and its solution.  In our efforts to look for a solution, we fail consider the possible “exceptions” to the problem.  In the exceptions lies the potential path to working through an impasse that we might face.

The Power of Exceptions

An exception can tell us what we were doing when the problem wasn’t happening

“What was happening, or was I doing when the problem wasn’t occurring?  What was I doing differently when the problem wasn’t happening?”

An exception can point the way toward patterns in our environment that offers clues to the solution

“When have I noticed the problem not occurring,  what is happening around me that is different?”

An exception may be hypothetical in nature, and help us arrive at novel ideas toward a solution

“If I was solving this problem right now, what would I be doing or experiencing?”

Using an exception helps you consider alternatives that don’t necessarily surface at first inspection.  By identifying the exceptions to when a problem does not occur, we unlock new possibilities for experimenting with new solutions, ones that are not readily available.  The next time, an impasse is reached, try looking at the exception to the problem.  Reflect on what you find, and enact new alternatives.

Task Fatigue

Productivity tasks can be a help and a problem.  Lists can be worthless when there is little meaning behind them other than categorizing what needs to be done.  Tasks management is a great word, providing that what we are managing has real meaning.  Over time, the idea of task management means drudgery, if it doesn’t connect with what’s important.



Making Tasks Work For You

There is a lot of ways to make tasks work for you.  Equally, there is a lot of ways that tasks can keep you from moving ahead.  Lists beyond their physical presence in front of you can just lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, not being on target and a sense that you are not making any progress.

Ways to Make Tasks Work:

  • Pick at least three of the most important tasks for the day (only three)
  • Keep the other tasks on a list, or schedule them on different days
  • Keep in mind that certain tasks are going to take more time than others, consider that when you are choosing them.
  • The task should have some material importance for you.
  • Eliminate other distractions…including new tasks for that day.  
  • Look at reassigning other tasks where possible.


A common problem is how the impact of distractions play in our ability to further our goals. Other people’s distractions (and our own) can kill momentum toward doing the important things.  Seeing our chosen tasks through is important.  Doing this consistently, will begin to impact how we see ourselves, our effectiveness, and our capacity to eliminate future distractions.


There is nothing written that says: “You must get everything done.”  If you have too much on your plate, then it’s time to reassess what you are doing, and reorganize your functions.  Saying no, is a critical element to task completion, because other things don’t suck out the energy to do the important tasks.  

Resilient Leaders

Bad things can happen, and difficulties and challenges occur…resilient people have an uncanny ability to move through the challenges, and others believe reaction is the best way to proceed.


Resilient people (and leaders):

1. Evaluate situations and manifest possibilities.

2. See the glass half full rather than half empty.

3. Look at the total picture, rather than the immediate issue.

4. Derive strength from available support systems.

Resilient leaders are not excuse makers.  They understand that there will be difficulties and use experience and clear understanding to work through challenges.  They weather the storm, but they also have thought ahead enough to know that immediate reactions are not the most expedient way to resolve problems.  They draw upon available supports, look beyond the barrier, and spend less time getting into emotional reactions, and more time working toward a solution that will move forward.

Consider: Have you ever experienced the energy of a resilient person?  What does this feel and look like?

  • The person smiles
  • They don’t minimize issues, but they don’t let themselves go to lower levels of emotions – such as reactive behavior, blaming or vendettas.
  • They allow people with negative energy to move beyond them, or they go around them.
  • They like who they are, believe in themselves and others around them – they are loyal.


If you’ve ever been around one of these people, their energy and mannerisms can be contagious – if you allow it.  Resiliency is the opposite of stress.  Many people subject themselves to stressful reaction, rather than resilient response.  The problems are still there, but the capacity to deal with issues is greater because there is a bigger reservoir of resources, ideas.  Stress kills the capacity to think and respond.  Personalizing the issue kills the ability to be response-able to generate a path forward.

One final consideration…

Examine your problem or stress areas.  How do you respond?  How well do you generate a way forward when consumed with reaction?


Does Your Personal Investment Inspire You?

“If it (whatever it may be) isn’t inspiring you, what is the purpose of your investment in it?”

This is the question that we should all ask ourselves on a regular basis. It is very easy to fall into the trap of what we think we should do compared to what we would prefer to do.

Reasons Why We Fail to Look at What Inspires Us
1. A change appears to require too much effort.
2. We are worried about what people might think
3. Avoidance
4. The gravity pull is too great.
5. We are in survival mode.

Too often, do we not settle for what we have rather than evaluating whether we are really happy? The “co-dependence distortion” can tell us that any change may not matter or we fear that a change to something more inspiring is not something we deserve or can even consider.

Evaluate Whether You are Inspired
Here’s three questions you can use to evaluate whether what you are doing is inspiring and meaningful:

– do you feel excited about it everyday, does it captivate you?

– do you feel your activity enhances your enjoyment of other critical relationships?

– Are you lagging or contributing?

You’re the one that has to live with the experience. Why not make it something that inspires you. (Photo by Brian Dick)


Don’t Stand In Your Organization’s Way

In many environments and roles, leadership or otherwise, maintaining healthy boundaries with others is an important method to manage others. Setting good boundaries, protects an organization’s resources, maintains priorities and organizational direction, and prevents the wrong decisions from being made.

There is a fine line between keeping good boundaries and becoming a barrier to others, their growth, or development toward a goal. The ways boundaries can hurt are the following:

1. Stifles thinking, and problem solving

2. Enables the wrong behaviors in an organization

3. Keeps people from stepping up to meet challenges

4. Becomes an “unspoken” no – that prevents progress

5. Keeps others from solving their own problems – maintains dependency

6. Restricts opportunity for customers and our response

Boundaries can be a barrier where it artificially creates control, where it is not needed. This is for the benefit of the leader who needs control, or there are insecurities in the organization. It can stifle creative thinking, and emotionally create obstacles for workers or even worse yet, dependence on the leader. Examples of “boundaries” that may be unproductive in an organization:

– Complex rules, routines, procedures
– Rigid hierarchy and reporting structures
– Not fostering self-sufficiency or independent ideas in the workplace
– preventing access to services by prospective customers
– disrespectful interpersonal interactions

Rules and boundaries are needed to be sure, but when it starts to stifle progress toward the vision and goal, the above problems points should be considered. So much of what we believe is good for organizations, may be getting in the way and preventing the organization from going to a new level.


Is Life Slipping By You?

Is Life Slipping By You?

At first glance, the title seems a bit over simplistic, however as you read on, the title of this article will gain more depth. For most of us, the task of living is becoming fast paced, riddled with many demands, outside expectations, and multiple commitments. In many ways, our success is prefaced on our ability to become constantly immersed in seemingly important and admirable things. Like the parable of the boiling frog, we remain unaware of the implications of our busyness. Before long, a dilemma strikes, and we realize that we have been missing out on truly important things, and life is slipping by.

As I enter my 40s I find myself constantly reflecting on many important people and activities that have become filtered out as a result of the complex professional life and busy demands of family and other crucial activities of daily living. I have also marveled over how 20 years ago, the perspective of time and opportunity appeared limitless. There was less worry about things slipping by.

How many of us actually stop and think about how the really important things, are getting filtered out by what we “think” is important. In a sense, do we look back at the previous few years with regrets that we have? In all the supposed importance, are we really letting what is truly important slip away? Are we letting other things cause the richness of our lives to slip away? Regrets are sometimes irreversible.

In many ways we delude ourselves and believe that we are where we need to be, but later regret our positions because we did not pay attention to the truly important. We haven’t done the deep reflection and inquiry needed to identify what is truly important in our hearts.

At this point, I would challenge everyone reading this to develop a working list of the things that upon reflection you are missing out on, because you have let it become filtered out of your life. Then, create another list of things that appear to consume your time. Compare the findings. What does it suggest?

Perhaps another way is to do an old fashion “time study”, just to allow you to engage in pattern recognition. This would identify important trends in how your time is spent each week. Compare those findings against the things that are most important and/or those things that you are finding “are slipping away”, and you are fearful you are missing. The results however derived could be sobering, and result in a personal call to action.

I’m not sure the author of the saying: “Time waits for no wo(man).” But it is true. For many of us, we are squandering our time with seemingly important things, that are in retrospect, keeping us from the important. What are we letting slip by?