Thursday, August 25, 2011


"I start where the last man left off" - Thomas Edison

Now isn't that what collaboration is all about? When Ron Worton (Chapter 6 Leaders: Their Stories, Their Words) was head of one of the top genetics labs in the world and, with his team, discovered the gene for Muscular Dystrophy, he spoke about the journey towards that moment of discovery. Researchers and geneticists around the world came together towards a common goal - to discover the gene so they could work on a cure.

How powerful is it when people can set aside ego and recognize they have power with people, not power over people. Great minds coming together....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jack Layton: Human-Based Leader to the End

Just a mere two days before Jack Layton passed away, he wrote this letter to share with Canadians. The full letter can be found here. For now, I share this snippet which says so much. You might not have agreed with his politics but in his letter there can be no doubt how much he loved Canada and Canadians. 

...."As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future."

Jack, your legacy lives on. You will be missed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Worrying is Way Too Over-Rated

The other day while I was working with one of my clients, something was telling me I should ask him how everything was - life, living, vacation planning - all the non-work-related things. He shared something that was going on in his personal life that was weighing on him greatly. After he shared what was happening, he ended it by saying "Don't worry about me".

My answer was "I'm not going to worry about you. Worrying won't help you. What will change if I worried? No. I am here to support you through this." 

There are people in our lives who will worry about us, give us unsolicited advice and, although they mean well, give advice which stems from emotion, not necessarily common sense. People in our lives want us to feel better so might tell us what they think we want to hear. Instead, how about just listening and asking the non-judgmental questions that will help give them clarity? And how about trusting that they know what is right for them? Even if they don't, they'll know you're there to support them throughout.

Coaches (or as Ruth Ann Harnisch says, GREAT coaches) understand that it's OK to let clients live in the questions. We're not there to give them answers. We're there to help them think differently, clarify, and simplify.

GREAT leaders understand they can lead from a sense of humanness without being pushovers. They don't hand you anything on a silver platter; they support you to grow into your level of excellence. They understand that everyone has different talents and strengths and different ways of doing things and create an environment within which you find out just what that is.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shaping a Culture

Shaping a corporate culture is something that has to be done consciously. It requires purpose, aligning with values and ethics and the active engagement and participation of everyone involved. One of the things that struck me when in conversations with some of the leaders of Lockheed Martin was how important behavioral standards were, for their staff, leaders, suppliers and consultants. For a predominantly military and engineer-based organization, this focus was (for me) unexpected and one I applaud.

Hearing J.D. McFarlan's story and the insights of the FLiTE Team (Future Leaders in Training Experience) further cemented my opinion of how this company is run. I'm proud to have their stories shared in my book (Chapter 7: The Sky's The Limit).

In it J.D speaks about their roadmap to guide all leaders to develop the skills to be the type of
leader they want everyone to be. "We normally measure leadership in terms of what the numbers were and how they performed at delivering results. This balances that with how we want leaders to exhibit strong leadership behaviors. We have a set of Full-Spectrum Leadership imperatives:

• Number one is shape the future;
• Number two is build effective relationships;
• Number three is energize the team;
• Number four is deliver results; and
• Number five is model personal excellence, integrity and accountability.

It's about building effective relationships, being socially aware of how you interact with people, and understanding how people see you."

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Power of Peers

I'm thinking about the lessons Barry Libert shares as I reread Chapter 10 of Leaders: Their Stories, Their Words. It makes me wonder,"How can I utilize the power of my networks to give me the information, insights and perspectives I need to support my clients?"

Barry says "We'd really like to talk to our peers [leaders of other companies] to learn what the best are doing and how we can do something similar.

The question that has stuck with me is, "How can I learn from my peers to improve my performance and make better decisions?" Even today, I have friends who work at large management consulting firms and they still say the same thing: that their clients want to talk to their peers. Large companies and their leaders are not unique:

  • Kids want to talk to their peers before they talk to their parents.
  • Customers want to talk to their peers before they talk to the company.
  • Sick people want to talk to their peers before they talk to doctors.
  • Employees want to talk to their peers before they talk to their bosses.
  • People want to download music from their peers before they buy a song."
Who do you talk to before making a decision?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"The American Dream Embodied in a Journalism Professor"

"Award-winning educator Saltzman embodies "the American Dream" - Alex Boekelheide

Joe Saltzman (Chapter 3 in Leaders: Their Stories, Their Words), faculty member at USC for over 44 years, accepted the Scripps Howard Foundation's award for Journalism and Mass Communication last night. Scripps Howard's National Journalism Awards are considered among the most prestigious awards in American journalism. "Saltzman is the American dream embodied in a journalism professor," the Scripps Howard judges wrote in their citation. Read on....

Once I decided to dive in and write my book, I immediately contacted Joe Saltzman and asked if he would agree to be interviewed, and he accepted. When we first met, through his wife Barbara, one of the things I noticed about Joe was how humble he is. Ironically, our first in-person meeting happened when he came to Toronto to receive one of his many awards. And here he is being honored yet again for his extraordinary work. He defines Human-Based Leadership.

There is so much learning in his piece. One comment he made that really stays with me and serves as a guide when I'm speaking is "I tell my students, “We can teach you how to do things. We can give you the techniques and the knowledge to create good journalism, but it is up to you to bring the passion, the concern, the caring to the job. We can’t teach you that.”" 

The same applies for leaders. They can give you the training, the tools, the resources to do things but it's up to you to bring the passion, drive, caring and human values to the job.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Courage To Lead from a Human-Based Perspective

This morning in John Spence's blog he says "Although I am a great fan of heroic courage and know that in many situations that is exactly what is called for, what I believe we need from our leaders right now is the ability to show an even more powerful level of courage… the courage of vulnerability."  (Click here to read on).

In Leaders: Their Stories, Their Words, Chapter 1, John and I discuss the virtues of a Human-Based Leader and how it has nothing whatsoever to do with circumstances. It's who they are and how they live by their values. 

He says "High-achieving self-actualizers are not a slave to the good or bad opinions of other people. They’ve got a deeply held set of values. They have a clear vision of the life they want to lead, the legacy they want to leave, are really clear about the kind of person they want to be. They’re open to feedback and input, but not really swayed by what other people think about them."

"Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down."

— Eleanor Roosevelt
You Learn By Living (1960)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

You Become What You Focus On

""You become what you focus on" and "You become like the people you surround yourself with." Whatever you think about, whatever you study, whatever your brain is filled with — TV, books, CDs, DVDs, audio books, networking, and those you surround yourself with — are what determines what your life will turn out like. "" John Spence.

"Driven by an insatiable curiosity to understand the fundamental aspects of what it takes to achieve and sustain excellence in business and life, John Spence has earned a reputation as a leading authority in the areas of Strategic Thinking, High-Performance Teams, Advanced Leadership Development, and Delivering Consistently Superior Customer Service, making him one of the most highly sought after executive educators and professional speakers in America." (
John Spence is an extraordinary man, leader, teacher and speaker and I am honored to have him grace the pages of my book (Chapter 1, Leaders: Their Stories, Their Words).

"Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand." — General Colin Powell. Or as John says, ...."making the complex awesomely simple."

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I Will Never...

This morning Seth Godin writes about "Delivering on Never" such as I will never miss a deadline, I will never fail to warn you about a possible pitfall.

Human-Based Leaders add a few more to the equation...

HB Leaders will never treat you as a second class citizen. They recognize they have power with people, not over them.
HB Leaders will never lead by fear. They lead by humanness.
HB Leaders will never demolish you. They'll evolve you.

Seth continues to say "There are lots of sorts of never you can deliver to a customer." I'd like to add there are all sorts of nevers you can deliver to people at home, at work, to strangers, to everyone. They can become your mantra, your way of being. That will definitely set you above the rest. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Lee Iacocca and His 9Cs of Leadership

A few years ago, Lee Iacocca wrote about the 9 C's of Leadership and asked "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?"

To that end he created a 9C's scorecard  asking us all to spread the word. We'll I'm spreading as this is a perfect illustration of a Human-Based Leader.

What are the 9 Cs? They're Common Sense, Communication, Creativity, Conviction, Competence, Courage, Character, Charisma, and Curiosity. They're a road map for people to choose leaders. Use them for all areas of your life. Share them with you friends, family, peers, bosses....and let us know what you've come up with.

Lee Iacocca had a rich life and shares it beautifully in his blog. One day I would be honored to have a conversation with him to hear more about how he evolved into his leadership. But for now, click here to read more about this amazing and powerful man.