Motivation Monday – Invictus

“What is your philosophy on leadership?”  Wow, what a question!  What a call to action!  How we answer this question sets the tone for how we will lead ourselves and our team.  How would you like to be sitting with the President and he ask you this question.  Would you be able to answer it?




This Monday’s Motivation comes from the film Invictus. In this scene Nelson Mandela is speaking to Francois Pienaar,  the captain of the Sprinboks Rugby Team.  The two are discussing leadership and the act of inspiring others.  The film is named after the poem that inspired Nelson Mandela during his stay in prison.  You can read the poem Invictus here.

I was watching this movie not too long ago when this scene came on.  I was having a hard time understanding all the words in the movie and after this scene I tuned out and began imagining myself sitting with the President of the United States of America.  What if he asked me this question?  How would I answer it?  How would you?

Unfortunately, you’ll have to watch the clip on YouTube.  Clicking below will open a new window for you.

Morgan Freeman, playing the part of Nelson Mandela, asks several other questions we should ask ourselves today before we start leading those around us this week.

  1. What is your philosophy on Leadership?
  2. How do you inspire your team to do their best?
  3. How do you get them (your team) to think they can be better than they believe they are?

From this scene we can gain some insight into how we might answer these questions.  If you watch and listen closely the dialog between Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman is chocked full of ways to inspire those around us.

Using the works of others – Use inspirational quotes, poems, YouTube videos.  Part of your responsibility as a leaders is to find inspiration and install it around those you lead.  Don’t put the burden on yourself all the time, use the works of other too.

Lead by example – To truly learn something, you need to teach it.  To become the best leader you can, you need to teach leadership.  First lead yourself and others will learn to follow your lead.

Inspire others with an inspirational song – Think Eye of the Tiger. Find music that is uplifting and inspirational.  Our bodies inherently respond to rhythm.  A great song can actually increase our heart rate and release adrenalin in our bodies giving us a surge of energy to power through the day.


A lasting quote from this scene that we should all remember this week is this. “In order to build our country (or business), we must all exceed our own expectations.”


What is your Philosophy on Leadership?  Are you leding by example today?


6 Traits of Good Leadership

Many people claim to be leaders, but truly good ones are few. Everyone who aspires to lead — whether as pastor, as a chief executive officer of a Fortune 500 company, or as a classroom teacher — should not only ask himself, “What is leadership“, but also he must ask himself, “What is good leadership?” What does it look like?  What makes up a good leader?

Good Leadership

As the Vice President of a growing company I find myself often having to ask my secretary to email the notes from the last board meeting or to screen my calls so I can get some work done.  Everything from my body language  to my tone of voice is going to influence my working relationship with her.  This serves as a perfect example of why I must ask myself “what is good leadership” as I continue in my role as Vice President .  For definitely, there are certain traits I must possess in my leadership role in order to be exhibiting Good Leadership.

People Skills – A good leader knows how to treat people. He must treat his team members with respect, regardless of their position on the team. He must remember that just because some team members are lower in rank than he is, that does not mean that they are beneath him. The team leader just functions at a higher level of responsibility than the given team member. Thus there is a place for humility — and that humility must show in his mode of interaction with all his team members.

Integrity – A good leader possesses integrity. He must always deal with his team members honestly. He must say what he means and mean what he says. For instance, if this leader happens to be a manager or supervisor, if he promises an employee a raise from the beginning May 4 of this year, when the employee looks at his check, that raise will be evident. As Rachel Farrell of points out, employees feel more secure knowing their true standing with the company at all times.

Vision/Focus – Another mark of a good leader is that he has vision. He has a strong idea of what how he wants his organization to look in five years. Additionally, he has a definite plan in place for steering his group in that direction. 

Confidence -a good leader exudes confidence regarding his ability to lead. If he is insecure or has a self-esteem problem, his team will be able to perceive that. When they do pick up on his lack of confidence, they will cease to trust or respect him which will discredit his efforts toward good leadership.  Are you committing any of these 12 Killers of Good Leadership?

Firmness – An effective leader knows when to demonstrate gentleness, but he also realizes that at times he must show firmness. This particularly rings true as he makes — and seeks to enforce — the policies of the organization. Firmness does not mean meanness, threats, or always raising your voice. Instead, it is a willingness to enforce the rules consistently, whether it is in dealing with employees or clients. For instance, if you as a leader of a non-profit board sets a rule that the board must remove anyone who is absent or late more than three times during a fiscal year, he must be consistent in enforcing that policy without discrimination.

Calmness in the Face of Crisis – A good leader remains calm in the presence of adversity. As Barbara White, President of Beyond Better Development, points out, a good leader is able to stay focused with the main purpose in view, in the face of whatever storms of life may come.

These 6 traits of Good Leadership are very different from that of a manager.  Compare these with my post on What is Management?  You’ll see that leadership and specifically good leadership is a very difficult thing to attain.  You must work at it every day and lead your group with intention!  I highly recommend The Maxwell Daily Reader: 365 Days of Insight to Develop the Leader Within You and Influence Those Around You.  I use this book every single day to help me sharpen the leadership blade.

 Can you think of any other traits of  Good Leadership?

My Leadership Definition

As recently as a week ago, I was at a John C. Maxwell leadership event when somebody recognized me during a break and asked me a few questions about leadership.  One of their questions was “What is your leadership definition?”  I always answer this question the same.

What is Leader

My leadership definition is “getting people to do what you want, because they want to.”  This is the leadership definition.  It may sound crude but keep in mind that while leaders are servants to those who have chosen to lead them, the followers are also servants to their leader and they choose to do what is asked of them for one reason or another.  See John Maxwell’s The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential for more information on why people respond in the way that they do.

This leadership definition is open to interpretation.  Having people want to do what you want them to do is where the complexity lies.  To really answer the question posed to me would have taken much longer, so I felt compelled to address the leadership definition on my blog.  Below I have compiled a list of “ingredients” to make up what we call leadership.

Action – leadership calls its servants (known as leaders) to action.  There is a beckoning felt by all those who love to lead.  We can’t deny it.  It itches us something crazy until we finally stand up and address the elephant in the room essentially saying “I will choose to lead us out of this mess!”

Involvement – Within the realm of leading, one is forced to be involved.  If you’re not in the trenches, how in the world do you expect to know what’s going on?  We must get down and dirty and those who lead usually are people who are willing to get down in the mud and work their tail ends off to achieve the desired outcome.

Intuition – there is a gut check feeling that drives us as leaders to succeed.  It is a yearning to reach our goal and prove to ourselves that we can succeed at whatever we choose.  Moreover, there is an instinctual confidence that we can lead any group to success.  In the time of need, we tend to quickly come up with a plan to solve the problem, this is our intuition kicking in.  It is a must have ingredient.

Present – Leaders are always chosen by their peers.  No one ever just says they want to be a leader and people automatically begin to follow them.  The followers must choose who they’ll follow.  God places leaders in the situations where others are lost.  The leader is always chosen in the presence of the problem.  Where there is adversity in a group, there will soon be a leader who will emerge.

When you combine these forces into an individual, there is an almost magical draw to them.  The other people in the room are sucked in and choose to follow this person.  This is where leadership is born.  This is where the leadership definition begins to form.  When these four forces are combined, leadership begins to take place.

So sure, “getting people to do what you want because they want to” will suffice, but the real leadership definition is really more of a recipe than a definition.

What is your leadership definition?  Can you think of any other ingredients?

Motivational Monday with Lance Armstrong

It’s Monday morning and that means only one thing on… Motivation! It’s time to get excited about the week ahead of us and find the energy to excel.  Today’s video is about what it takes to be the best.  Everyone cheers when we win but noone is cheering when we’re putting in the hard work and dedication it takes to become a winner.  The man in the video below knows all about winning.  But he also knows all about overcoming hurdles and putting in the hard work to become a winner.

Lance Armstrong has won the Tour De France 7 times, winning 22 stages total through these events.  In 1996 he dropped out of the Tour De France due to illness and would weeks later be  diagnosed with Cancer.  What is more impressive than his victories is perhaps his comeback.  Armstrong was capable of not only overcoming his cancer, but winning the world’s most premiere cycling competition less than 3 years later.

Armstrong has been accused of using performance enhancing drugs but has yet to fail a drug test.  This motivational video is about “what he’s on.”  I hope you enjoy it.

What are you on?  Do you treat your business like Lance treats his cycling?  He’s not just on his bike 6 hours a day, he also has to take care of his body.  Are you taking care of yours?  Read my Fit To Lead series for more insight.

I challenge you today to ask yourself, “what am I on?” Ask this several times today.  What am I on right now?  As I type this I am on my computer putting forth a blog post and checking off something on my to do list for the day.  As soon as I finish I’ll be on to something else.  My goal is to answer the question “What am I on” with a positive answer all day.


What are you on?

What is Management?

Not long ago I found myself reviewing resumes and pouring over past experiences, education history, and skills.  I was in full detective mode, reading between the lines, marking notes, highlighting, and searching for clues.  What was I looking for? I was in search of management potential.

what is management

Before I could identify my future manager I had to know what I was looking for.  I sat back in my chair, a stack of resumes before me on my desk, and asked myself one very important question.  What is Management?  What makes a good manager?  What does management do, really?

We’ve all seen signs saying something similar to “please use other door, thank you.  Management.”  I highly doubt the use of a door was a decision made by the executives of the company, however, this decision does represent the company as a whole.  Thus selecting a good manager is critical.  However, before a manger can be selected, executives must be able to define management.

This is my list of criteria to answer the question “what is management?”

Are they rung material – Management isn’t one person.  Management is a collective ladder of authority with the top rungs being the executive leaders.  Without good sturdy rungs on the bottom, the top rungs will never be reached.  Big problems in the company will never reach the executives and will thus ruin a company.

Are they problem solvers – One of the main duties of a good Leader is problem solving.  Managers are your first line of defense against problems.  They provide much needed oversight on a micro scale.

Are they a good traffic director – As problems arise, good deeds are done, top performance is achieved, and trouble happens, management is responsible for deciding how this information is handled.  Is this big enough to push up the ladder?  Can this be handled now or do we need to appeal to a higher level of authority? The ability to relay the correct information, while pigeon holing the rest, is key to being a great member of the leadership team.

Are they a good risk consultant – Can they find risk and mitigate it? Manager must be able to identify the circumstances that might cause trouble in the workplace and mitigate the chances of trouble occurring.  They must identify areas of weakness and help employees avoid falling into them.

Are they a planner – Can they plan ahead?  Can they foresee trouble and plan around it?  For instance, are they able to identify a coming paper shortage and order more? Leaders must be able to keep the boat afloat by providing the tools and materials necessary for work to continue.  Planning ahead is a critical ability for a manger.

What is management?  Before you can identify a manger you must be able to define what management is.  My 5 key characteristics are just a jumping point.  For me, these 5 MUST be met for me to even begin considering a candidate for a management position.


What is management to you?  How would you define it?

What Is Leadership

Jesus of Nazereth had it. George Washington had it.  Steve Jobs had it. Mark Zuckerberg has it.  What is it? It is leadership.  We can all agree on what it is and who has it, but how do we define it?  What is Leadership?

What is Leadership?

There we all were, standing in a line, looking down at our feet.  The room was draped in silence.  Aside from the occasional shifting of weight from one foot to the other, no oone moved, no one budged at the request before us.  “That’s enough” I thought to myself and I stepped forward.  “I will be a leader” I blurted out.

This was a common occurrence for me during my life.  Many times as in a group that was called to lead, and many times, I was one of only a very few who had the courage to step out and become a leader.  At the time I didn’t really know what leadership was or what it took to become a good leader.  I had to ask myself, “what is leadership?”  This is my answer.

Leadership is:

Confidence – A leader must be confident that he can create change.  The very need for a leader suggests that something is not right, and the leader, by accepting the role, is accepting the challenge to fix things.

Bravery – Think of George Washington leading his men across the Potomac River, or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marching in the face of adversity.  A leader must be outspoken, creating a voice for those he leads.  Often times he will face certain opposition.

Clarity – He must be able to see the forest through the trees.  A leader can’t get tied up on each tree.  He must be able to see the whole picture at once yet have the focus to see the individual trees as well.  You must be able to see and aim for the ideal.

Intelligence – The ability to outthink the problems that lie in the way of achieving the team’s goals and desires is and essential skill needed by anyone who will try to answer the question “what is leadership?”

Responsibility – People’s lives hang in the balance and they have chosen to entrust the leader with them.  Whether it be an army or a business, the livelihood of your followers hinges on your ability to succeed.  A leader must know this and be willing to shoulder the burden.

Respect – Fear and Love.  A leader will be feared when they are crossed and loved when they are successful.  People will follow you solely to unload the responsibility for their fate on you because they are too weak to carry it themselves.  They’ll be quick to congratulate and even quicker to berate.

Track Record – a leader must have some background credentials that prove they can succeed.  Great leadership is not something achieved over night but a lifetime of winning larger and larger battles.  See my post Leadership is Like Golf for more on developing a great track record.

Trust – finally, leadership is trust.  A leader must be a person whom others can follow and know that they won’t be misled or mistreated.

So, what is leadership?  Leadership is a culmination of these things; confidence, bravery, clarity, intelligence, responsibility, respect, track record, and trust.  When all these are combined in one person, that person is destined to be a leader.


Do you have it?  Can your actions answer the question “What Is Leadership?”


Fit To Lead – Accountability

This is the 10th and final post in my Fit To Lead Series.  By now I hope you’ve enjoyed the other 9 posts and hopefully have put a few, if not all of them, into practice.  Perhaps you’ve begun shedding some extra pounds by as well.

A few years ago when I realized that the office and my stressful position were causing my demise, I began my journey to stay in healthy enough a shape to lead my company to success.  I poured over articles and fad diets.  I read books and interviewed fit people.  I soaked up as much knowledge as I could.  To this day I still read new information and study the effects of different approaches.

It wasn’t until I began to hold myself accountable that I began to see results.  The important thing about holding yourself accountable is to make sure you’re measuring the correct statistics.  I’ve compiled a list of what you need to focus on.  If you keep track of the information below, you’ll be on your way to being Fit To Lead.

Your body is your business – Since most of my readers are business executives, you’ll understand this.  In order for your business to be healthy, you must bring in quality work with high margins.  The same is true for your body.  You have to bring in quality foods with high nutritional value.  To grow you must bring in more.  To lose fat you must bring in less, but it must remain high quality and nutrient dense.

Paint by number – Paint your perfect body by following the numbers.  I’ve taught you about your macro and micro nutrient needs, daily caloric intake per different results, and daily caloric burn.  You must track those numbers as well as the scale.  Soon you’ll be shedding the old you.

The numbers don’t lie, always – The numbers don’t lie, but they can be hidden by other factors such as sodium and water retention.  You must keep track of all your numbers but remember to use a mirror to really judge and watch yourself change.

Seinfeld – Jerry Seinfeld used to have a large calendar hanging on his wall.  He knew if he was going to become a great comedian he’d have to write jokes every single day.  So he purchased a calendar that had the entire year on one big sheet and hung it on his wall.  Every day after writing, he’d “x” out the day.  After a while it became less about writing and more about keeping the chain going. Do this for your new lifestyle and you’ll find that chain to be pretty important.  After all, it represents your success, or lack thereof.


For a list of all the Fit To Lead Posts, Click Here