Service Minded: YourSpace... Not MySpace

Expert Leaders must constantly fight the MySpace generation, the MySpace lifestyle, and the MySpace mindset. MySpace is a vivid example of how the masses think they must act and speak to get ahead today - it's all about me.

Expert Leaders think differently. They are more interested, concerned and focused on YourSpace than they are on MySpace. They think of others before, during and after they speak. They think of others before, during and after they act.

Expert Leaders get their MySpace right privately, but then their public time is spent in YourSpace. At a recent basketball camp I described it like this...

"You must be me-focused in practice and we-focused in play."

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Goal Processing: Four (or Eight) Important Leadership Questions

How does leadership fit into your world?
(i.e. - Do you see yourself as a leader?)

How does leadership fit into your goals?
(i.e. - Will they make you a better leader?)

How does leadership fit into your teams?
(i.e. - Do you hang around leaders?)

How does leadership fit into your attitude?
(i.e. - Do you think/act in a leaderly way?)

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Emotional Maturity: Hope


It is what keeps the struggling business person from giving up.

It is what allows two people in love to look past today's challenges to tomorrow's promises.

It is what motivates the young aspiring talent to keep trying, keep selling, keep singing, keep pushing, keep going - even when everyone else is telling her to stop!

It is what keeps us sane and helps us believe in the best parts of all of us.

It starts with love and is grounded in faith.

It soars in the beautiful things in life and is tragically void in the apathetic, criminal, rude, crass, and negative arrangements in many.

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General: Survey for 07-08 State CTSO Officers

If you are serving as a State CTSO Officer for the 2007-2008 term, please click here for a short 10-question survey. This information will be used privately as research for our upcoming book, The Unmade Leader. Thank you in advance for your input and for serving as a State CTSO Officer.


Unmade Leader: Born or Made?

There have been a number of recent interviews of leadership thought leaders discussing the "are leaders born or made" question. The answers are almost always "both, but mostly made." This question is at the heart of our upcoming book The Unmade Leader. In this book, we break down our answer... leaders are born and then unmade.

Why do we say leaders are born? I believe Expert Leaders demonstrate a set of “leaderly” behaviors that are mostly learned (thus providing support to those who think leaders are made.) However, I also believe that behavior is not a solitary system. In other words, we behave in a certain way because of something else. In The Unmade Leader we call this “something else” for leaderly behavior a Switch. A Switch is a leadership characteristic that someone is born with and that makes a HUGE impact on their leadership effectiveness; that literally switches their ability to make a positive influence on or off. (The Switches we discuss in The Unmade Leader are Trustworthiness, Awe, Energy, Curiosity, Authenticity, Attraction and Decisiveness.)

So, I believe that leaders are born with the big things they need to be an Expert Leader. From there we learn the behaviors necessary to allow these Switches to come to life.

Are leaders born or made? Born with the big things. We can make the little things.

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Innovative: SCAMPER for more ideas

Next time you and your team need to break out of the mold and create new, fresh and deeper ideas for an existing project, follow this formula...

S - What can you substitute?

C - What can you combine?

A - What can you adapt?

M - What can you magnify, miniaturize or multiply?

P - What can you put to other uses?

E - What else? Who else? Where else?

R - Can you rearrange or reverse?

Remember, risk always comes before value. Making these changes will require guts and a core belief that you can and should create something exceptional out of something good.

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Masterful Communication: Your Role Determines Your Effectiveness

My business partner, Jonathan Smith - Professional Speaker, Author, and interview coach for hundreds of successful communicators (including the last two Miss Americas), has identified three primary roles people choose when they open their mouth to speak in front of a group.

1. The Speaker - Their focus is the performance. Over time this focus demands perfection. This need for consistency and perfection too often kills authenticity and blocks their credibility.

2. The Educator - Their focus is the information. The information is king. This need for quantity of information creates attention fatigue and disconnects the emotional side of the exchange.

3. The Communicator - Their focus is the transfer. The goal is simply to take what is in the communicator's heart and transfer it to each audience member's mind. Seth Godin says that all communication is a transfer of emotion. Whatever it is you need to accomplish, don't let your need for perfection or a bad case of information overload prevent you from being effective!

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Integrity: The Secret of Marriage

The power of once.

Say I love you once a day.
Go on a date once a week.
Talk about your relationship once a month.
Take a vacation once a year.
Do all of these and you can do the most important once...

Get married once a lifetime.

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Masterful Communication: Answering Questions Like a Leader

Leadership is a people business. Conversation, dialogue, discussions, disagreements, and agreements are what move the business of people. Trust is what keeps that movement going in a positive and sustainable direction. There are four general methods for how people impact trust based on how they answer questions and deal with situations. Recognizing and understanding how and why each are different is a critical leadership skill (as well as knowing which to use and which not to use based on the situation!)

1. Answer honestly - Because it is the best course of action and you trust the other person to effectively take good truth, as well as not-so-good truth.

2. Answer guardly - Because you are being sensitive to the current situation's needs. There is not misinformation given here. There is just information given in a selective manner when you know giving all the information at that particular time and place will not be in the best of interest of you or the person asking the question. Trust is at risk here, but the threat level is low.

3. Answer politically - Because you are being sensitive to the current and other directly and/ indirectly connected situations' needs. This is very similar to two, except this situation is more complex with more moving parts. Clarity statements briefly and simply explaining why certain things can't be said are critical. This is because you will have to hold more information back than normally and sometimes that is on a recognizable level. You don't want to break trust, but you also want to protect relationships.

4. Answer dishonestly - Because you are not concerned with maintaining or building trust within the current and/or connected situations. Very rarely do highly effective leaders, who are trustworthy, have to resort to number four.

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Emotional Maturity: Failure Factory

Failure is a reality of life for all of us. None of us achieve what we want all the time. Expert leaders do not have less failure than entry-level leaders. Expert leaders simply have a better built Failure Factory.

This Failure Factory is not the production line; failure is a given in life and is produced just by being alive. This is a processing factory and everyone has one. Failure goes in, how we choose to respond or react to it is the processing part inside the Factory and our leadership effectiveness is strongly impacted by what comes out the other end, which is how we are fundamentally changed (for good or bad) by the failure.

Expert leaders positively influence people and situations to create value and growth. This means they are able to remain positive, still influence others positively and have the uncanny ability to bring value to the table and seek growth even when failure is fed in. How?

Expert leaders have developed the ability to...

1. Recognize and be okay with the fact that they are flawed. They are very self-aware.

2. View failure as temporary. They have their sights set on the long-term.

3. Actively seek out learning lessons by asking why did this happen, not just how did this happen. They look for meaning.

4. Laugh at themselves. They take their job seriously, but not themselves.

5. Risk, Fail, learn, adjust, risk again, fail, learn, adjust, risk again, fail, etc...

Take a good look at your Failure Factory. You can drastically improve your ability to create value and growth by improving the inner-workings of your Factory.


Goal Processing: Identifying the Cause

P1010020 Expert leaders understand the importance of correctly identifying the cause of problems. We do an activity called Balloon Toss that clearly demonstrates this principle. The object of the leadership experiment is for a team of 6-8 individuals to keep 10-15 balloons in the air and in motion at the same time. The balloons are fed to the team one at a time, the balloons can't be tied together and the team members must keep one hand behind their back the entire time.

After the first round of competition is over (most teams don't figure out the best strategy during the first round), we discuss how to improve their chances of success during the second round. We begin this by discussing possible answers to the question, "What was the main reason you were not able to accomplish your goal?"

The leaders normally begin to list conditions, instead of causes. The say things like too many balloons, we could only use one hand, we didn't have a good plan, etc. These are true, but most of the conditions they list are unchangeable within the constraints of the activity (just like most of the conditions we are faced with as leaders every day.)

Once the leaders get bogged down in discussing conditions, they handicap their ability to 1) recognize a cause and 2) make any real improvement in their strategy for round two.

The primary cause for not achieving their goal of getting all balloons in the air at once was that the balloons were out of control. Once the leaders recognized this primary cause they were better able to creatively discover the best strategy for getting all balloons in the air at once!

Your job as a leader is to step back and look at where you and your team have your focus - is it on unchangeable conditions or solvable causes?

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General: Influence Signals

Following are five direct ways to signal a positive influence to others:

1. Care-isma - People naturally like to be around people who are pleasant, joyful and smiling. It is a natural response to a natural trait of influential people who are great at attracting others. Call it charisma if you want. I prefer to call it care-isma. It demonstrates you care about your attitude, you care about the influence you have on others, and you care about others.

If you want more influence, have care-isma.

2. Encouragement - Every person at some level wants, needs or enjoys praise from others. I recently encouraged a couple of my friends and they said they weren't looking for approval from others. Well, there is a difference between approval (which occurs after the performance) and encouragement (which occurs before and after the performance).

If you want more influence, encourage more.

3. Visit C.V.S. - If clarity in communication is integral to your responsibilities, get and digest Made To Stick by Dan and Chip Heath. It is relevant, timely and has changed the way we teach communication. In the book, they discuss the Knowledge Gap, which says that people get curious when they notice a gap between what they know and what they don't know. And if that gap isn't filled quickly, they either get more curious, irritated, stressed or simply check out. This dynamic happens everyday in your communication to others. You know things that others want or need to know. The more concrete, more visual and more simple you can make these communication streams, the better. Just remember C.V.S. in your communication - Concrete, Visual, Simple.

If you want more influence, visit C.V.S.

4. Take Responsibility - This is a simple fact of process - with more influence comes more responsibility and with more responsibility comes more influence. Accept more responsibility that is in alignment with your core strength and talents.

If you want more influence, accept more responsibility.

5. H.E.R. Work - As a Christian, I do His work. I strive to be a strong, Christian role model for my wife, my daughters and others. As a business owner, speaker and teacher of leadership, I strive to do H.E.R. work. Hard work. Efficient work. Remarkable work. Six words to sum up an influential person's work ethic.

If you want more influence, do H.E.R. work.

These five signals will demonstrate to others that you have chosen to use your influence (which is a given) for positive (which is a choice)

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Emotional Maturity: Finding the "NEMO" Everyday

Our little two-year old loves Finding Nemo, which is a prequisite to being a two-year old I think. However, recently she has a perplexed look on her face everytime she watches it. My wife and I recently discovered why - she sees a new movie each time because she is just now learning the english language. She is demonstrating a principle that effective leaders know and practice everyday - The NEMO principle.

"Find New, Extraordinary Meaning in Ordinary experiences."

The NEMO principle highlights certain individual's ability to take something ordinary or common and look for new meaning, new opportunities, and new approaches. This allows leaders to overcome relationship, project and time fatigue that can set in overtime. This fatigue leads to negative attitudes, loss of productivity and loss of creativity due to stress and burnout.

So, how does this principle play out in real life? Here are five ways to know if you are living out the NEMO principle...

1. You can have a disagreement with someone, resolve it and move on quickly.

2. You can wake up in the morning after a bad yesterday and have a positive attitude about today.

3. You can have a "headache project" that continues to need your attention and you revisit it each time with as much enthusiasm and vigor as when the project started.

4. You attend a training conference, begin to hear the trainer/speaker talk about an age-old topic and you search for the deeper meaning and new ways to apply old principles.

5. You approach daily, sometimes mundane tasks with enthusiasm.

How do you start living the NEMO principle? Follow my basic motivation formula - First you do it, then you feel like doing it. Just start doing it. Soon, it will become a habit. It will reap benefits in higher productivity, a refreshed vigor for dealing with daily tasks and difficult projects and people and it is a sure-fire way to get and maintain a positive attitude.

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