Potential from the Inside Out


This photo is my Sister in law.  She isn’t pretty by the worlds standards, however she has the biggest heart for those hurting in this world.

How many times as leaders have we made a snap judgement because someone looks different.  Maybe they are overweight or their teeth aren’t prefect… and we look at them and think they can’t do this job how can they lead?

What if instead of looking at what was on the outside we took a moment and reviewed the inside?  How would this look at our jobs and in our day to day lives?

As leaders we often have to make quick decisions, our teams expect us to know what’s going on and how we are to accomplish our goals, however these decisions don’t have to be made based on what we see on the outside.  We can take a moment and talk to our teams, find out what motivates them, what their goals are.

I love this quote from Brennan Manning
“To affirm a person is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary. Please, this is not some Pollyanna optimism that is blind to the reality of evil, but rather like a fine radar system that is tuned in to the true, the good, and the beautiful.” – Brennan Manning

As leaders our main job is to raise up those around us, sure it’s important to make the company money and reach goals, however we can’t do any of those things if we don’t have a good team and that doesn’t mean pretty! It means people who have the potential to lead and get the job done!

This week when you go into work, I challenge you to look at the people around you, the ones you don’t always see and think about what good they bring to your organization.  For example the person who cleans your office,  they may seem unimportant, but think about it your office was always dirty and you couldn’t sit down?  You couldn’t do your job!  Or the person who makes the coffee, I can’t imagine any of us think that person isn’t important!

Next get to know these folks ask they how they are, what are they doing?  Maybe she’s a student working towards a degree, or a single dad who works at night to be with his kids during the day.  Our next post will take this a step further! But for now… see the people, not what they look like but who they are!







Be a Beginner!

beginner tuskey dressage

(Photo cred to Tuskey Dressage)

Why is it we always want to jump to the end of everything!  We don’t allow ourselves OR our teams to learn.  This is something that has been causing quite a bit of conversation in our family lately.  We are meeting with alot of young people who are struggling because they don’t know what they want to be an so many companies are requiring them to be an expert before they start!

Most of us who are in our 40’s and older started at companies and were taught the skills we needed to do the jobs.  We didn’t ‘know’ everything when we started, fewer and fewer organizations are allowing people to grow into jobs.  This can be both good and bad as it often means that you are missing out on someone who might be really good at the job if you gave them a few months to learn!

As leaders we often follow this mentality as well with our teams, we expect people to be instantly good leaders and forget that we didn’t start off knowing what we know.  We had to learn and grow into our positions!

What IF (stay with me here), what if we found someone who seemed to have some skills and we invested in them?  Taught them how to be a good leader, how to lead a team, how to handle conflicts?  Taught them the skills they needed to be good leaders and then allowed them to expand their leadership skills in small but impact-full ways? Mentoring another member of the team or leading a small project?  Not only could we guide but they would have the chance to learn!

Today your exercise is to find someone on your team who you think might make a good leader.  Setup a meeting with them and then help them find small ways they can lead within your organization.  Allow them to fail, allow them to succeed and guide them along the way!  I promise you, you won’t be disappointed!

Be Consistent

The 1 main rule in horse training is to be consistent.  Horses are notorious for give an inch take a mile!  If you let them get away with it once they are going to do it again and again until you teach them where the boundaries are!

Leadership is very much the same.  You must provide consistent boundaries for your teams and offer praise for the consistent items.  This doesn’t mean you praise and reward each person on your team equally however it does mean that if you hold someone accountable for being on time but let someone else be late every day your team is going to notice.

For example, if your company does not allow consistent working from home but you allow 1 employee to work from home every week simply because you like them, this is going to cause issues with your team.  If that person is working from home because they have a child who is chronically ill make sure your team knows that this is a special circumstance.

Being consistent with the rules allows everyone to know what the boundaries on and how to live within them.  If your team expresses concern over a rule it’s your job to take that to leadership and fight for your team.

Today, take a look at the rules you have with your team, are they consistent across the team?  Do you favor someone simply because you like them better?  It’s OK to have team members that you relate better with, it’s NOT OK to treat them differently.

Happy Leading!!

What’s it Worth??

I read an article today about the cost of boarding horses.  We pay $625 a month plus the cost of training for Lil Duke (yes that is officially his name – Don’t ask).  The article indicated that just an average barn the cost is about $500 per horse per month!  This doesn’t include things like maintenance, etc.

This article got me thinking about the true cost of leadership and if we are willing to put in the time to make the most of it!  When we decided to buy a horse, we did so without a real understanding of the cost, I think alot of us get into leadership without fulling understanding the cost.

Of course the cost isn’t so much monetary but time and energy.  We think wow, I just promoted I am going to be a great leader without really knowing what that means! We can prepare ourselves by finding mentors, reading books and looking at examples around us!  However, we can’t expect that this is going to come naturally, even for those we are natural leaders.

When we first got Duke, I thought we’ll get on him and ride him and life will be great.  Then we figured out that he is afraid of his own tail and he couldn’t understand why he would need to do simple things like stop.  As leaders we think this is all going to be so easy. We are going to go to work on day 1 and be this amazing leader!  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but probably not going to happen.

You are going to have days where you feel like you are the best there is, and then you will have days where you are sure your mouth and your brain are seriously disconnected!  The way to get better is to seek mentorship – don’t expect it to come to you!  And ask for feedback from your team and those around you!

Think about how you handle situations and see if you could of done it better and or changed it!  Then don’t get frustrated when you do 2 steps forward and 1 back!  There will be days where you get on the horse and the ride is amazing and there will be days where you get on and end up on the ground!

Don’t under estimate what you can do!  However, don’t over estimate it either!  Then start learning and never stop!

Vision Casting

Most of us middle to low level managers feel that vision casting is something that those higher on the food chain should be managing.  We don’t feel like we have a vision to cast and we couldn’t be more wrong!

Often those of us in this role actually get the vision being cast from our upper level managers AND we understand how it impacts our teams. It is our job to make sure our teams get it.  Most of the time our teams don’t understand how what they do has any effect on the bottom line of the organization. They may feel that their contributions can’t have any real impact, however they have a huge impact on the bottom line!

Yesterday at volleyball a parent came up to me to say how thankful she was that I was coaching.  My energy really impacted her daughter and she wanted to say thank you for what I was doing.  I am an assistant on a 5th/6th team.  I am not a coach, I am not directly impacting the program but my leadership is making a difference on that 1 child whose parent will share that impact with other parents.  My actions impact the bottom line.

It is our job as leaders to make sure our teams know how their actions impact everyone.  It doesn’t matter if their job is to bring the team lunch or interact with the customers directly what they do matters and as leaders it is our job to make sure they know that!

You maybe wondering how bringing the team lunch impacts the client, well anyone whose seen an angry, hungry co-worker knows that feeding them helps!  However what if you thought of it this way, the lunch that you are providing to that team allows them to spend more time working out a serious customer facing issue.  Because they had lunch together they were able to solve a problem that is costing the company money. The lunch you brought solved that problem!

Leaders, we need to be able to cast that vision for our team and continue to cast it.  There is an old saying that vision leaks. It’s like carrying our a heavy bucket of water.  Every step we take some water falls out.  If we won’t refill the bucket eventually it’s going to be empty.  When our teams run out of vision they may start to lack focus and wonder why do they have to bring people lunch!

Sometimes others bump the bucket and cause water to fall out.  People say things in the heat of the moment that causes the water to spill out. It is our job to refill that bucket!  Reminding our team that what they are doing not only matters but has a positive impact on the organizations bottom line ensures that they see the importance in their jobs!

Today, think about the impact your team as on the organization! You may have to be creative in thinking about it.  Write down 3 or 4 ways what your team does makes the organization better and then share those ways with your team!

The Easy Button

Don’t you just wish that everything is solved in 60 minutes? I am sitting here binge watching Netflix and everything is solved in 60 minutes. Got a murder, Solved; missing child? Found! Strange disease, found out AND cured!

Unfortunetly life doesn’t work this way, it often takes alot more time than 60 minutes to solve our issues.  In leadership this couldn’t be any more true!  We want our issues to go away at the end of the day, be solved like on TV. But I am pretty sure this doesn’t happen!

I can however give you 1 tip that might actually help you solve some leadership lessons! Here it is!  LISTEN. No seriously listen, don’t listen to solve listen to hear.  Listen to your team mate, boss or team member.  Hear what they are saying, and then ask questions and then guess what LISTEN again!  AND if you can’t listen in that moment be honest.  Tell them, you are worried about something or have something on your mind and you can’t give them the attention needed. THEN schedule something right then!  It can be for later in the day, or the next but put it on the calendar and then be prepared when the meeting occurs.

Listen to what is being said, ask yourself how is the person feeling, what are they telling me. Don’t try to solve the problem just listen!! When they are done ask how you can help, don’t offer advice just ask how you can help. Be honest about what you can and can’t do.  Do they want a raise? Can you do that? Do you have to talk to someone else?  BE HONEST!

When the meeting is over recap and lay out concrete next steps.  The steps don’t have to be a resolution but they will show that you are listening.

This upcoming week, listen really listen to what your team is saying!  Then ask how you can help them!! Ask what they need to be successful and then try to accomplish what you can!  It doesn’t have to be a big thing but you’ll be surprised by the outcome simply by offering to listen

Trust the process

I am the last person who can really handle that phrase! Trust the process?  Screw that I am trusting myself!  However in my many years on this planet I have learned to do exactly that, trust the process!  For me as a Christ follower this often means trusting in God and that HE has the plan.

As leaders, we often want to skip steps to get to the end, we forget that trusting the process is probably what got us there in the first place! I had my first ‘official’ riding lesson with Duke yesterday.  He did great, me, not so much!  Learning to ride is alot like learning to read braille after you lost your sight or picking up a new language.  The process is slow and methodical and sometimes boring.

Yesterday I walked, then I stopped, literally every 5 steps she had me walk and then stop! Why well because if I can’t stop this amazing 700lb animal (he’s little for a horse) then I am in big trouble! Oh and he’s afraid of everything!  Our trainer says he’s reactive!  Yea to the planet! (but that’s another story)

So after walking and then stopping, and walking and then stopping and then walking and then stopping ( you get the idea) she had me trot.  This is like a slow job on a horse, and then what did I have to do, well stop.  And guess what he did stop!  Why because we learned to walk first and then stop!

You see as leaders we want to skip steps to get to the end, but we can’t we have to trust the process.  We have to learn to walk and then stop!  We can’t rush things because when we do we get hurt or our careers get stalled or our team fails!  When I rush the process in riding, I get hurt (very very very hurt lol)

If you are struggling find someone you trust to talk it through with!  Sometimes having a fresh perspective can help, however you have to find someone who will tell you the truth not what you want to hear.  In this case your best friend or spouse is probably NOT the best option.  They are going to tell you what you want to hear, and that’s OK! But you need someone who is going to be honest and tell you, you need more time before you ride the bigger 1200lb horse!

Today your challenge is to trust the process.  Trust that things are going in the right direction and if you aren’t sure find someone to talk it over with!  There might be things you can be doing or (here’s a novel thought) you might have to be patient! (Of which I am not!) Good luck! And remember walk, then stop, walk then stop, walk then stop!