Shep21's Blog….Leadership, marketing & customer service through the printed words of many

5 Leadership Tips for 2012 December 24, 2011

Filed under: Leadership,Success — shep21 @ 5:43 am

5 Leadership Tips for 2012

Very thought provoking tips for leadership by Mike Myatt a contributor to Forbes Magazine.  Mike is also the author of Leadership Matters . . . The CEO Survival Manual and is the managing director and chief strategy officer at N2growth. His blog can be found here He has fast become one of my favorite “reads” 
 With only a few days left until we usher in the New Year, you’re going to be bombarded with lists of things to do and not to do. Most of them will contain the same tired rhetoric from years past. These lists du jour will simply rehash and spin items from prior years while offering little new in the way of helpful thought. I wanted to give readers 5 key items to focus on if they’re serious about becoming better leaders in 2012 – my holiday gift to you.

There are lots of things I could have included on my list, so many will probably wonder how I chose the following 5 items. The following list contains the 5 items (6 including my bonus selection), which I’ve personally chosen to focus on (pursue) in the upcoming year:

  1. Family: I’m going to approach this topic a bit differently than many – If you’re struggling with the family balance thing my advice is simple: don’t attempt to balance your family – make them your priority. I’ve simply lived too long to buy into the myth that success in the workplace will create happiness at home. While it makes for a nice sound bite to console those with a guilty conscience, IT IS A LIE. If your business is growing, but your spouse is crying and your children are neglected, it’s time to do a reality check on your priorities. If your assistant respects you, but your spouse doesn’t you have serious issues that need your immediate attention. If you would rather spend time with your online “friends” than with your children, it’s time to pull the ripcord on your internet connection. Here’s the cold hard truth…if you cheat your family to invest into your career, you and your loved ones will pay a very heavy price. It is simply wrong to value your workplace commitments over your family commitments – moreover it’s not necessary. If your focus is on your family, your career won’t suffer, it will flourish. Get this wrong and not only will your family suffer, but so will you as you someday mourn the loss of what could have been, but cannot be recovered.
  2. White Space: While the mind of a leader may be most comfortable being oriented toward the future, he/she can only act in the here and now. The knowledge and skills required to master any endeavor only happens when we focus on what we’re currently doing. This is the definition of presence, and it is only when we operate in the present that real creativity, growth and innovation occur. The problem with being present is that many leaders confuse this with having to do everything themselves. Have you ever interacted with somone who deals with silence by jumping in and filling the conversational void? This same thing occurs with executives who attempt to fill every open slot on the calendar with activity – this is a huge mistake. Smart leaders don’t fill their calenders with useless activities, they strategically plan for white space allowing them to focus on highest and best use endeavors. Leading doesn’t always mean doing. In fact, most often times it means pulling back and creating white space so that others can do. This is true leadership that scales.
  3. Listening: Want to become a better leader? Stop talking and start listening. Being a leader should not be viewed as a license to increase the volume of rhetoric. Rather astute leaders know there is far more to be gained by surrendering the floor than by dominating it. In this age of instant communication everyone seems to be in such a rush to communicate what’s on their mind, they fail to realize the value of everything that can be gleaned from the minds of others. Show me a leader who doesn’t recognize the value of listening to others and I’ll show you a train-wreck in the making.
  4. Unlearning: I’ve believed for quite sometime the most profound and commonly overlooked aspect of learning is recognizing the necessity of unlearning. We’ve all acquired knowledge, beliefs or positions that but for the protection of our ego, would easily admit are outdated. I can think of no better definition for a closed mind than someone unwilling to change their opinions. Smart leaders recognize it’s much more valuable to step across mental lines in the sand than to draw them. Here’s the thing: No one has all the answers, so why even attempt to pretend that you do? Show me a person that never changes their mind, and I’ll show you a static thinker who has sentenced his mind to a prison of mediocrity and wasted potential. If the world is constantly changing, if the marketplace is always evolving, if the minds of others are continuously developing, how can you attempt to be unchanging and still be relevant? The smartest people I know are the most willing to change their minds. They don’t want to be right, they want the right outcome — they want to learn, grow, develop, and mature. Subjecting yourself to dissenting opinion allows you to refine your good ideas, weed out the bad ideas and acquire new ideas. Moreover, it’s the ability to evolve and to nuance thinking that leads to the change and innovation your organization needs to survive. Leaders and their ability to change their mind demonstrates humility, confidence and maturity. It makes them approachable, and it makes them human. People are looking for authentic, transparent leaders willing to sacrifice their ego in favor of right thinking.
  5. Engagement: Leadership isn’t about you – it’s about those whom you lead and serve. There are few things as limiting and frustrating as disconnected leaders. Smart leaders spend their time starting or advancing conversations, not avoiding or ending them. The more you engage others, the better leader you’ll become. It’s nearly impossible to engender the type of confidence, trust, and loyalty a leader must possess without being fully engaged. In person, over the phone, via email, through the social web, or even by sending a good old fashion thank you note – ENGAGE.
  6. * Bonus item – Read: There are few things which impact your thought life more than what you read. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I plan to continue this pursuit in 2012. I read more than 70 books in 2011, and plan to read more than 100 books in 2012. To the person, the best leaders I know are prolific readers. My message today is a simple one – if you want to improve your station in life, as well as the lives around you – read more. The greatest leaders throughout history have been nothing short of relentless in their pursuit of knowledge. I believe Michelangelo said it best when he uttered the words “Ancora Imparo” which when translated from the Italian means “I am still learning.” By the way, his first public use of this phrase was noted to have been on his 87th Birthday. I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning (and unlearning). Moreover, the day I stop reading, the day I stop learning – that’s the day I stop leading, and likely the day I stop breathing.

Leader or Manager? October 5, 2011

Filed under: Christian,Leadership,Success — shep21 @ 9:13 pm

I am a firm believer that applicable, practical knowledge is all around us. I love to find nuggets of gold that I can apply to wherever I am, doing whatever I do whether it is running a minor league baseball team or an enrollment department at a college. That is why I started this blog. The following article is a church newsletter. Don’t let that deter you from reading on. You’ll find cross industry application.

Leader or Manager?
Ron Walters

On the surface they’re alike; cold, delicious and fattening. The price is the same; the containers identical, their purpose is one. Yet, no self-respecting ice cream gourmet would be neutral on the subject. Chocolate or vanilla?

Leadership or management? It’s the same dilemma.

On the surface there’s a striking resemblance. Like a person’s two hands: the color is the same, number of fingers match, but the thumbs are on opposite sides. It’s the difference of a thermometer and a thermostat; a compass and a road map. It’s the same gene pool, but “cousin” is as close as it gets.

Every institution exists because of leadership and management. Your church couldn’t survive without them. Every pastor, whether mandated or not, is expected to provide both. Each is a full time job. Neither is done without a sizable investment of time and effort. They are the measuring sticks by which your ministry is evaluated. Dull sermons we can forgive. Even long prayers finally come to an end. But confused leadership or mismanagement is the nuevo unforgivable sin.

LEADERSHIP without management is all breadth and no depth; style without substance. While MANAGEMENT without leadership is, as someone has put it, “Like straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Peter Drucker says,?”Management is doing things right, while leadership is doing the right things.”? Steven Covey says, “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; while leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

Leadership generates the vision, values, and purpose that creates action. Management, on the other hand, channels the action leadership creates. Leadership is mostly personal. Management is typically impersonal. Leadership appeals to the level of intuition and emotion; it’s pointing the way. While management speaks to the raw intellect with facts and figures; it’s keeping us on track.

Certainly there are those extraordinarily gifted individuals who double-up in both fields; who pitch and catch at the same time. But by-and-large, each of us is equipped for one or the other:

Abraham was a leader, Jacob was a manager

Moses was a leader, Joshua was a manager

Isaiah was a leader, Hezekiah was a manager

Paul was a leader, Barnabas was a manager

General Patton was a leader, General Eisenhower was a manager

President Reagan was a leader, President Carter was a manager

The Roman Empire was a leader. For hundreds of years their top priority was expansion; to march and conquer. Then it began to shift to a defensive posture as they built walls to keep out the dreaded barbarians. The walls were a physical sign of the empire’s change of policy; a move towards decline.

If you were to take a self-evaluation test today, what would you find? Do you see your role as leader or manager; visionary or administrator, telescope or microscope? Was it any different in your first year at the church? What would your congregation say YOUR ROLE is right now, leader or manager? What would they say THEIR NEED is right now?


Seven Ways to Make Sure Your Boss Thinks You’re Doing a Great Job October 4, 2011

Filed under: Leadership,Success — shep21 @ 1:34 pm

compliments of the Ohio State University Leadership Center

  1. Know your boss’s priorities.  If you boss is a numbers person, quantify all your results.  If your boss is a customer-is-first kind of guy, frame all your results in terms of benefits to the customer.
  2. Say no.  Say yes to things that matter most to your boss.  Say no to most everything else, and your boss will appreciate that you are focused on her needs. 
  3. Communicate the way your boss does.  If your boss likes e-mail, use it.  If your boss prefers voice mail, phone in your updates.  Convey information to your boss in the way she likes so that she’s more likely to retain it.
  4. Toot your own horn.  Each time you do something that impacts the company let your boss know.  Whatever the mechanism, you need to let your boss know each time you achieve something that matters to her.
  5. Lunch with your boss.  If all things are equal, your boss will promote the person she likes the best.  So go out to lunch and talk  about what interests her.
  6. Seek new responsibilities.  Find important holes in your department before your boss notices them.  Take responsibility for filling those holes and your boss will appreciate your foresight, but also your ability to do more than your job.
  7. Be curious.  Remember to take time to read and listen.  Then ask questions when they are not expected; you will make yourself more interesting to be around, and you will elicit fresh ideas from everyone around you.  Your boss will feel like having you on the team improves everyone’s work – even his own – and after all, is your primary job in managing up.

Hire an architect November 12, 2010

Filed under: Success — shep21 @ 11:52 am

By Seth Godin via Feedblitz

Architects don’t manufacture nails, assemble windows or chop down trees.  Instead, they take existing components and assemble them in interesting and important ways.

It used to be that if you wanted to build an organization, you had to be prepared to do a lot of manufacturing and assembly–of something. My first internet company had 60 or 70 people at its peak… and today, you could run the same organization with six people. The rest? They were busy building an infrastructure that now exists. Restaurants used to be built by chefs. Now, more than ever, they’re built by impresarios who know how to tie together real estate, promotion, service and chefs into a package that consumers want to buy. The difficult part isn’t installing the stove, the difficult (and scarce) part is telling a story.

I’m talking about intentionally building a structure and a strategy and a position, not focusing your energy on the mechanics, because mechanics alone are insufficient. Just as you can’t build a class A office building with nothing but a skilled carpenter, you can’t build a business for the ages that merely puts widgets into boxes.

My friend Jerry calls these people corporate chiropractors. They don’t do surgery, they realign and recognize what’s out of place.

Organizational architects know how to find suppliers, use the cloud (of people, of data, of resources), identify freelancers, tie together disparate resources and weave them into a business that scales. You either need to become one or hire one.

The organizations that matter are busy being run by people who figure out what to do next.


The Necessity of Humility in Leadership January 27, 2010

Filed under: Leadership,Success — shep21 @ 6:30 am

You can find author Michael Hyatt’s entire blog post  at

Overconfidence is “the disease of experts.” They think they know more than they actually do know. In fact, they make mistakes precisely because they have knowledge. This is what happened on Wall Street.

The lesson is this: In times of crisis, we think we need leaders who are bold and confident. This is completely wrong-headed. What we really need are leaders who are humble and willing to listen.

As leaders ourselves, how can we avoid becoming overly confident? Three ways:

  1. Listen to those around us. We cannot afford to create a culture that is not safe for dissent. Our people need to feel the freedom to disagree with us and tell us the truth.
  2. Plan for contingencies. We might be right. We might be wrong. We need to accept this and create a plan A and a plan B. We can’t afford to assume that our plans are infallible.
  3. Enlist the help of our team. When organizations are small, they can be run by a single, entrepreneurial leader. But when the organization gets bigger than about 150 people our leadership has to change. It must become a more collective, collaborative effort. (Shep21’s note: No matter how big your organization is…enlist the team and make it a collaborative effort)

The good news is that, as leaders, we can learn. We can grow. But above all, we must remain humble. If we don’t, we risk large-scale, public failures that will have a catastrophic, negative impact on the people we are trying to lead.


Failure = Success…if you let it! January 1, 2010

Filed under: Success — shep21 @ 6:16 pm

A friend of mine (thanks Tim) that shares a passion for life, blessed me by recommending some vacation reading. I went home and 60 seconds later I entrenched myself  in my Kindle reading his recommendation, a book by Harry Beckwith “Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing”. I really felt compelled to share his words in my blog today. You can read more about Harry’s book here:

I am a “the glass is half full” kind of person. I like to go a step further and say that it is not only half full but let’s accept the challenge as a team to take the exciting journey of figuring out how to not just fill the rest of the glass, but overflow it.  As a side note I credit my relationship with God for filling me with my passion for adventure.

How often have we shied away from failure? I know I have. It’s easier to just sit back and say “the glass is half full, that’s good enough”, than to say “let’s fail a few times (or many times) in order to fill that glass up”. What if we viewed failure as a stepping stone to success? Sure would make the experience of failure more palatable wouldn’t it? In Mr. Beckwith’s words..

“Few phobias are more widespread than the fear of failure. But what is failure? Robert Townsend, who helped mastermind Avis’s dramatic turnaround in the 1960’s, said two of every three decisions he made were wrong.

America’s best pro basketball teams lose the basketball every three minutes without even getting up a shot. Fred Smith got a C on his graduate business school paper in which he described the concept for Federal Express. The world champion in baseball has to win only 57 percent of its championship games.

There’s little point in killing an idea by saying it might fail. Any idea might fail. If you’re doing anything worthwhile at all, you’ll suffer a dozen failures.

Start failing so you can start succeeding.”

At the core of “failing = success” is change. Without change, without getting outside of our comfort zone do we ever experience the liberating release of failure? To overcome failure we need to know that it’s OK, that others have failed before us and survived, that success or least experiential learning, is the result of that failure.

Make it a personal resolution this year to embrace failure. See it for what is, the first mile marker on the road to YOUR success. Along the way enjoy the scenery, take someone along with you and thank God for the blessing.