Fostering Relationships: Parent = Leader



Parents are some of the most influential leaders on the planet. Following are four key behaviors of parents who make the most of this influence and are creating children ready for the best of times and the worst of times.

1. Secretly pay the debt for your children.

My wife is in the middle of a bible study that contains a key lesson of Christian leaders: we must pay the debt for others who are either not strong enough to handle it on their own or who can't pay it. We must unselfishly act with resolve, integrity and responsibility. Effective parents do this for their children. The key here is to do it "secretly" without ever expecting your children to earn it. They deserve it because they are in your care. You must be strong for them and never use these acts as a reward for good behavior. This creates a home environment filled with unconditional love and support.

2. Be filled with a genuine desire to learn and love their ways.

The generational difference can create barriers. It can block understanding, compassion and a sense of community in the home. Effective parents tear down these barriers each time they seek to see life through their children's eyes. A simple example is cell phones. Young people use their phones (via text messages, social media, photos, etc.) to create real community and connections with their friends. Embrace this. Set rules and help them understand the dangers, but be a team player in this area (and many others) with your children.

3. Create a home where mistakes are cherished, celebrated and communicated.

My PLI co-leader Ryan Underwood and his wife have a painting in their home that says something similar to this. It serves as a visual reminder every day that life is full of twists and turns and they will talk, learn and grow together as a family through them. Effective parents help their children understand that the best life does not mean a mistake-free life. The best life is created by responding positively in the face of mistakes. Help your children feel safe to risk big, try new things, and be comfortable with sharing their good days and bad days with you.

4. Time is where families grow.

Effective parents create moments in their day regularly where the focus is just on being together as a family. Do things that involve conversation, being present with one another and just enjoying each other's company. This creates a stack of moments that lead to understanding, connections and memories children can lean on for strength when the lonely times come that every young person experiences.

Parenting is tough for many reasons; stress, commitments, work, troubles, etc. However, it is primarily tough because it is the textbook definition of leadership. And leadership is difficult. Because it matters. Work hard to be a leader for your children. One that is inspiring, motivating and worthy of their unwavering trust and devotion.


Fostering Relationships: Leadership Principles for Difficult Conversations

Difficult conversations are just about as fun as a root canal, but they are way easier than the pain of not getting the needed root canal. Effective leaders make difficult conversations happen because they are necessary for growth, excellence and the long-term health of an organization or team. Here is a short list of difficult conversations that happen in the workplace:

  • Explaining why someone is not getting a promotion.
  • Confronting repeating unacceptable behavior.
  • Providing honest feedback on poor performance.
  • Respectfully challenging a colleague or customer.
  • Holding someone accountable for their output.
  • Sharing tough decision outcomes.
  • Delegating responsibility.
  • Discussing a taboo issue like hygiene or dress.
  • Thoughtfully saying no.
  • Addressing opportunities for improvement.
  • Explaining options in the face of adversity.
So, why don't these conversations happen? A big reason is because, not only are the conversations challenging, but the skills needed to make them happen successfully are also inherently challenging. The really important skills here fall in the leadership category. The following five leadership principles (which can be applied to many more areas than just difficult conversations) will help you shape your thinking, your approach and your execution of the next difficult conversation you need to have with someone.

Leadership Principle One: Others First. Self Second.

  • Be committed to seeing the other person succeed.
  • Focus on the behavior or necessary changes, not the person.
  • Be entirely focused on the conversation and the other person. Remove distractions.
  • Arrange for a private setting.
  • Speak only for yourself, not on behalf of people not in the room.

Leadership Principle Two: Difficult is Not an Excuse to Delay.

  • We do more damage to others by not saying what needs to be said.
  • The process of the conversation might not be pleasant or positive, but the end result can be.

Leadership Principle Three: An Adaptive Approach is the Only Approach.

  • Honesty must be tempered with compassion and tact.
  • Make decisions on what to say intellectually, not emotionally.
Ask yourself these questions beforehand to prepare:

  • How will I be helping this person?
  • Will telling them this make them better in the long run?
  • Why am I delaying telling them this?
  • If I was in their position, would I prefer to know?
  • How will they react? How do I know?
  • Will they accept advice from me?

Leadership Principle Four: Find the Common Ground Quickly and Build From There.

  • Find something early on that you both can agree on.
  • Get them saying yes.
  • Be preemptive by fostering relationships with people.

Leadership Principle Five: Goals and Values Guide Action.

  • Be clear on the best possible outcome.
  • Be specific with discussion items, needed changes, etc.
  • Be clear on what company or organization value or belief is driving the need for the conversation.


Goal Processing: Create Change by Asking the Right Questions

"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers."- Voltaire

Successful people know the right questions to ask to spur development and improvement. Many of these questions do not have pleasant answers. They reveal weaknesses, blind spots and mistakes. They also create answers that require making difficult changes. This is why average and mediocre are rampant. Real success needs honesty, humility, a growth mindset and hard work to flourish.

An example of this is the question I am constantly asking as a small business owner. "Why did he/she say no?" I fight hard to learn why "lost clients" say no to us. I've been in the speaking/training business for twenty years. I don't need to ask why people hire me. A client saying yes today can almost always be sourced back to a specific and successful presentation I gave in the past. The great unknown is why people decide to say no; which in my mind is actually a "not right now". Some business owners choose not to get this information, but I see it as the other side of the excellence coin for any business.

Side One - Have an intimate knowledge of what the client needs and over-deliver it.

Side Two - Have an intimate knowledge of why potential clients choose other service providers and, if it fits our core mission, work hard to sharpen those skills, services and products.

This coin metaphor also applies to personal success and drives the need to learn what questions should be asked to create real positive change in our personal and professional lives. I have a good friend who has been struggling with personal challenges. One the biggest lessons he has learned can be summed up with four words, "Walk toward the pain". This means getting closer to the source of the problem, not running from it or making excuses for it. The first step in walking toward the pain is knowing what question(s) should be asked. Spend some time thinking hard on this. Journal your thoughts. Discover new answers to gain the necessary insight for meaningful growth and improvement. If you are looking for a place to start, consider this quality of life equation:

Quality of Life = The alignment of expectations/desires and the reality of life.

No matter what area of improvement you are interested in, if there is misalignment in these two key elements, you won't have the natural energy and momentum needed to take action and produce tangible change. Therefore, look closely first for anything that might be creating an imbalance between your expectations/desires and the reality of your life. The possible sources could be:
  • Health challenges (injuries, lack of sleep, etc.)
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Unfinished conversations
  • Unrealized goals
  • Incomplete projects
  • Unnecessary expenses
  • Misaligned perspectives
  • Incomplete information
  • Lack of preparation
  • Lack of resources
  • Unresolved mistakes
  • Unforeseen events
  • Overtaxed (time, duties, projects, etc.)
  • Giving up too early or too easily
In your quiet time, go through this list and examine honestly which ones are true to your life. Begin your questioning journey here; these are the sources that make the biggest difference to your quality of life. When quality of life goes up, your Performance Capacity increases accordingly.

Performance Capacity = Your available resources to accomplish a task.

Creating meaningful change in your life requires a large amount of Performance Capacity. Any increase in your resources will provide the fuel you need to take action. Be honest with yourself, seek out what questions you need to be asking and be bold and confident in turning the answers into real change.

A little morsel you can tweet to your peeps:

@pli_leadership Success is based more on what questions you ask than on what answers you know. http://tinyurl.com/thepliblog

Follow us:  @pli_leadership


Masterful Communication: The Authenticity Rules E-Book

The new Authenticity Rules E-Book is here.  Following are just a few of the questions answered in this 120-page speaking and facilitation handbook.
  • What is the best way to control nerves?
  • What are your three biggest enemies?
  • Why is authenticity so important?
  • What is the CVS Formula?
  • What makes a great keynote?
  • How do you keep an audience engaged?
  • Why does it matter how you give driving directions?
  • What can you learn from a kangaroo?
  • What is the Can’t Ignore Club?
  • How do you make boring content engaging?
  • What is the 7-Minute Rule?
  • What are energy gaps?
  • What is the difference between effective and non-effective coaching?
  • How do you establish credibility?
  • What are the steps to effective workshop planning?
  • How do you handle difficult audience members?
  • How do you know what the audience wants to hear?
  • Why does your personality determine how you should build a speech?
  • How is a surfer like a great presenter?
  • What is the MOVE Formula?
  • What do you do when a herd of water buffaloes attack your presentation?
Click here to purchase your copy today ($5).  Enjoy.


PS - Learn more at www.AuthenticityRules.com.


Skill Assessment: The "Ready to Serve" Elected Student Leader

Hundreds of our clients are student organizations.  Places where young leaders learn the joys and discomforts of "being in charge". If you are a student leader, think deeply about how your actions and thoughts align with the follow two keys to success and my specific tips for each.  If you have direct influence over a student leader, please share these.

1. There is a difference between the skills it takes to get elected and the skills it takes to serve.  Go into your year of service with a growth mindset.  Be open to coaching and sharpening of your skills.  You will receive instruction you will need this year and that you can use for a lifetime.  Don't miss it.

Take notes, ask for specific feedback, don't make excuses, work to improve, mirror success you see around you, take responsibility, be honest with your weaknesses, be humble with your strengths.

2. A team of talented leaders does not make a talented team; that takes a team of talented team-focused leaders.  Serve each other just as passionately and purposefully as you serve the members.  Leaders leading leaders is difficult because of big personalities, people not afraid to speak their mind, people used to getting their way, etc.  This can lead to disagreements, arguments and hurt feelings.  Just know those are growing pains to success.  Work through them, not around them.  If you contribute positively to your team mates, your "team" will last much longer than one year. 

Don't try to earn the approval or attention of your team - give yours generously to them first, celebrate each other's success, encourage publicly, say thank you, listen actively, spend time together even when you don't have to, be nice, give constructive comments in private, sacrifice for each other, build your team mates up with your words when they aren't around, randomly call to say hi, say I'm sorry, invest time really getting to know them.

Good luck and let us know how we can help!