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4-1-2015 My Leadership - Their Lives


75% of a person's waking hours are spent on work - Getting to and from work.  Thinking about work.  Actually working in their job.

I heard this statistic last week and started thinking about what an awesome responsibility we have as leaders.

My leadership at work has huge implications for the lives of my people.  Not just their work lives, but also their home lives.

Think about it.  If a person spends 75% of their time focused on something that I have direct control over, I probably have a great deal of influence on what type of spouse, parent or friend they are the other 25% of the time.

A Call To Grow

Leaders:  It is time to grow!  If I am not investing in becoming better at leading, I am shirking my calling.  Leaders impact more than sales, profits, and project completion.  My influence extends well beyond the work place.

If I lead a team of 10 married employees, then I am probably affecting the lives of 10 more spouses and 20 children.  What if my organization is bigger?  What if I lead 100 married employees?  200 children are counting on my leadership!

The Bottom Line:

This is a short post because I shouldn't have to say too much more.  Some people will read this and move forward without thinking twice.  Some people will pause, decide to read a leadership book and then never follow through.

It is my greatest desire by writing this, or any other blog that I post, that a few leaders will commit to grow.  The desire to get better as a leader is truly admirable.

If a leader gets better - the lives of employees, spouses and children are all affected.  As leaders, we may never know the true impact we have on all the people we lead.

Knowing that spouses and especially children are also part of my sphere of influence, should drive me to become better.  I should never be satisfied with who I am as a leader. 

My job is a huge responsibility because so many people are affected by my leadership.  That makes leading a sacred call.  It is a call that we should all take seriously.

Our role is so much bigger than our job descriptions.  Just ask the people waiting at home for those we lead.


Does your work environment ever affect how you are at home?

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3-18-2015 Values-Knowing What You Stand For

Why doesn't my team act like a team? Why am I always dealing with politics, bad attitudes, and distrust among team members? Why haven't we come close to reaching our potential?

I am always putting out fires. I never seem to have time to focus on bigger issues. The day-to-day tyranny of the urgent seems to overwhelm the more important strategic initiatives I always intend to focus on.

These soul-searching questions summarize what I see a lot of leaders struggling with in their organizations. This is when I like to ask them - "What do you stand for? And does your team know what you stand for?"

Core Values = What do you stand for?

Knowing What You Stand For

What is important to me? If someone were to ask me what was truly important in my life, what would those things be? For me it's:


  • Faith: Without God's strength, the next three will never reach their potential.
  • Family: Family is the only legacy that will outlast me on Earth.
  • Integrity: My integrity is the one thing in life I have 100% control over.
  • Impact: If I am not making a positive impact on others, why am I here?

How would I answer that same question at work? What do I stand for? What do I want my team to stand for?


Knowing what values are important to me and declaring them publicly is the critical first step to insuring I have the team I want. Values define the behavioral expectations I have for my team.

Knowing what we stand for will insure we will make decisions based on our values not our circumstances. Otherwise our decisions will be reactionary and inconsistent.

When a leader of team or a family does not know what he/she stands for then that leader's decisions can be unpredictable and inconsistent. This hurts the level of trust others have in the leader.

Blog: Three Reasons People Don't Trust You

Find more blogs on Values, Trust and Culture at www.alslead.com

Communicating What You Stand For

If my family or my team does not know what I want us to stand for, should I be surprised when their behaviors stray from those standards? I must communicate those values and insure they are understood.

Values that are well thought out and well communicated are infinitely more effective than a laundry list of rules or an ever-growing policy manual. Whether at work or at home, I do not want to develop compliant rule followers. I want to develop wise decision-makers.

When I frequently and consistently communicate my values to those I lead, they begin to understand how they should think and act regardless of their situation. If this occurs, I can be confident in how my team and/or my family will process their decisions when I am not around.

The Bottom Line:

By knowing and communicating what I stand for, I give myself, my family and my team a decision-making criteria that will help us all make critical choices in the heat of the moment.

Not knowing what I stand for and not communicating that with those I lead is recipe for trouble. But the absolute worst thing I can do for my family and my team is to claim to hold certain values and not live up to them.

Most teams have a set of values published on a website or posted on walls in public areas.

Perhaps it is the leaders who do not communicate, reinforce or live up to those values who are responsible for the politics, bad attitudes and distrust within their teams?

That is a rhetorical question. Of course it is the leaders who are responsible! Leaders are always responsible for the culture of the team or the families we lead.


What would your family and your team say you stand for?


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2-18-15 Vision: Am I Enjoying the Ride?

There are times when I love to drive. Long drives on open roads are some of my favorites. I like to have my music turned up and my seat pushed back. I enjoy uninterrupted views for miles.

But, there have been those moments when the ride changes. Like when I drive into a bank of fog. Everything changes.

Vision - How far out can I see?

When the fog rolls in, my joy ride ends. A few things happen instinctively.

  • I Slow Down: I automatically begin tapping my brakes in anticipation of potential problems.
  • I Tense Up: My grip tightens on the steering wheel and my shoulders roll forward.
  • I Turn Down The Music: When I can't see, the music becomes a distraction.
  • I Change My View: I lean closer to the windshield - as if those extra few inches will keep me from hitting that armadillo (I live in Texas). My focus changes to everything happening just a few feet from the hood of my car.
  • I Feel Every Pothole: The impact of an unexpected pothole feels like a crater in the road.

To read another blog on vision and keeping perspective click on the following title: How Calm People Stay Calm.

What I Am Like Without Vision

I use this illustration with people to describe what it is like to be a person or an organization without vision. Without vision, the same things happen to our lives or our businesses as what I described on my car ride.

  • I Slow Down: Without vision, I automatically move slower and focus on what might go wrong.
  • I Am Tense: Without vision, stress and tension are an everyday occurrence for me.
  • I Push Away Passions: Without vision, my family and/or my hobbies can become annoyances.
  • I Focus On The Immediate: Without vision, I focus on only the immediate, day-to-day tasks with little attention to the future.
  • My Challenges Are Craters: Without vision, even small problems feel overwhelming and threatening to me.

What Vision Gives Me

When I am able to focus down the road, when I keep my eyes on the horizon and on my destination, everything changes.  Vision changes the ride.

  • I Speed Up: With vision, I can move forward at the maximum allowed speed.
  • I Am Relaxed: With vision, I am confident in my ability to handle what is next. My view is clear, and my confidence grows.
  • I Enjoy My Passions: With vision, the things I love (family and/or hobbies) are not distractions. They add to the journey.
  • I Focus On The Future: With vision, the immediate day-to-day tasks lose their grasp on me. I am focused on my destination and preparing for the opportunities down the road. Thus, I move from a reactive existence to a proactive life.
  • I Keep The Challenges In Perspective: With vision, the challenges I hit stay in perspective. I see them coming and either avoid them or drive through them, maintaining my speed and confidence.

Check out my radio interview with Stephan Moore - leader, keynote speaker, basketball star at University of Arkansas and father of 10 (yes TEN).

Airing on IMPACT Talk Radio beginning February 18, 2015 at 1PM CST.  We will be discussing Vision and Leadership. 

The Bottom Line:

A personal vision or an organization's vision is like the North Star. It is that guiding principle that you always keep in sight but can never quite reach. Like the ancient sailors who used the North Star to guide them, you will never be lost if you can see your North Star.

A vision for an individual or an organization is a far-reaching ideal. It is always on the horizon guiding our journey and keeping us on a path towards our ideal.

Personally I like a simple Vision Statement that adheres to three rules:

  1. It must be one sentence.
  2. A 12 year old must be able to understand it.
  3. It can be recited at gunpoint.

Without this type of simplicity and clarity, individuals and individuals in organizations will have a hard time using it as a guide.

My Personal Vision:
To lead good people to become the great people God designed them to be.

I will never be able to say I have completed my vision. It will always be there. I strive to achieve my vision both inside and outside of work.

If I keep my eye on my vision it will guide me and keep me on track. The challenges in life will seem like potholes and not craters.

With vision, my life will not be reactionary. I will enjoy the ride. I am enjoying the ride! How about you?


What is your vision? Is it a good North Star for your or your organization?


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1-28-15 Culture Is The Leader's Job

Politics. Gossip. Back stabbing. Whining. Distrust. Selfishness. Bad Attitudes. Work environments characterized by one or more of these traits are miserable places to work.

I often run into leaders that know they are leading teams that have these issues. Unfortunately some of these leaders fail to realize that the cultures of their teams are the results of their leadership. Or more accurately, their lack of leadership.

Letting Culture Happen

Every organization develops it's own unique culture. It is inevitable. A leader has a choice to let culture just happen or to intentionally influence the culture the leader wants to create.

The thermodynamic term entropy states that a system left to itself tends to breakdown. Whether establishing a new team or leading an established team, if attention is not given to the culture of that team, it will soon begin to breakdown.

Too many leaders focus on everything but culture. Problems like performance counseling, mediating issues among teammates, and solving problems way below their level can consume a leader's focus.

The ironic thing is with a strong culture a lot of the issues these leaders deal with will diminish.

3 Ways To Make Culture Happen

Leaders. Make it happen! Don't let culture happen without you controlling it. The leader can control the atmosphere and the character of the organization. But, it must be intentional and consistent.

1. The Right Values

Are your values valuable? Do they mean anything to your people or are they just words on a poster or website.

I am not a big fan of the word culture anymore. It has become watered down to include casual Fridays and other perks at work. I like the term organization character.

Organizational character describes a team's demonstrated values. How a team acts on a habitual basis - towards each other and towards it's customers. That is a team's character.

Words like integrity, courage and character are rarely defined in an organizations value statements. Therefore, personnel often act differently in similar situations.

Here is one company's description of what integrity looks like in practice:

Integrity In Practice at Acme Inc.:

  • We will keep our promises to our customers and to each other.
  • We will speak with candor and in a straightforward manner.
  • We will be responsible for our actions and the actions of others on our team.
  • We will always challenge a potential integrity issue.
  • We will determine what the right thing to do is and do it, no matter our circumstances.

2. The Right Communication

The leader must communicate what good looks like. When people are faced with a challenge to their integrity, how will they respond?

Case studies that challenge our ideas about integrity prepare us for when temptations come. Example:

"Your boss closes the door to your office and tells you to change the date on a big purchase by one day in order to get it on the previous month's budget. You know it will help last month's sales, but it will also put the team behind in the new month. What should you do?"

Leadership and values discussions can happen at the start of each meeting. One case study with some good probing questions will only take 10 minutes, but it will go a long way towards establishing and reinforcing what the leader believes is important.

Without these discussions, values tend to be theoretical not practical. Case studies and reading articles, blogs or chapters in books will allow people to prepare for the challenges to come.

As a leader, it is my responsibility to prepare my people for those challenges. If someone has never discussed or even thought about what they might do when they are challenged at work, I am gambling that they will do the right thing at the moment of truth.

Here is a link to a previous post that may help: Building Leaders With A Blog

3. The Right People

I was recently in a meeting with a client who asked me what they should do about a talented yet caustic employee. My answer: "It depends on how much you value your culture." This company has a great culture, but one poisonous apple.

Talent does not trump character. If I allow someone's talent to outweigh their character, I am giving up control of the culture of my team.

We have all been there. That one person who bullies, complains, or lacks work ethic can bring down everyone around them.

As a leader I must realize that talented people are not hard to find. People of character are.

The Bottom Line:

If I lead a team, I am responsible for its culture. Even if the larger organization is dysfunctional and does not demonstrate the values it claims, I can still influence the culture of the team I am responsible for.

Having the right values, communicating them consistently and having the right people on the team are all in my control, no matter what level leader I may be.

Leaders! Don't let culture just happen! Take control of what you can control and make culture happen. If you do, your people will thank you.

They will thank you for creating an environment where politics, gossip, back stabbing, whining, distrust, selfishness, and bad attitudes are not tolerated. It will be a place they love to come to work and a team you love to lead. It is in your control!


What was the best team you ever worked on? What did that leader do to create that culture?

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