What Will You Value in 2020!

As we roll into 2020, the American lifestyle defies classification as we mix and match all the disparate choices offered to us daily.

On TV, we’re presented with reality shows that have no boundaries in terms of topic and are focused only on shock value. Social Media offers a platform from which anyone can spew anything with no consequence and there are no boundaries in terms of topic or target. People and families are destroyed every day in the name of whatever theology or reality one wants to embrace, especially relative to politics and religion.

These days, people seem to migrate between different ways of living with a focus on only one thing: I want what I want regardless of how it affects or influences anyone. Nothing is sacred anymore and no one is safe from either being ostracized, marginalized or otherwise neutralized, especially if they’re deemed a threat or obstacle to what one wants, despite the cost.

In such an environment, the way we monitor social change (demographics, attitudes, behaviors) is no longer enough to chart social progress because no one can define what progress really looks like. The only real measure that seems to matter is Did I get what I wanted? 

This is why I continue to focus on core values as the best approach to leadership, not only professionally but personally. While attitudes and opinions change quickly, core values are enduring and often last a lifetime. There are some values that change over time based upon environmental influences, but there are a core few that last a lifetime. They represent the guiding principles in our lives, such as achievement, helping others or individualism. Our value system strongly influences our views of how we should live and the decisions we should make. They affect the jobs we do, the people we spend our time with, and how we spend our money.

Our value system is the sum total of all the choices we make.

Two thirds of Americans say that having close relationships is always on their minds. More than half say the same about security and stability. The responses are the same regardless of age, sex, race, income or region. Overall, the respondents are less concerned about me oriented values. Only one third are thinking about having the power and influence to get what they want in life or about developing themselves as individuals. I bring this survey data to attention because it flies in the face of what we know about the fastest growing demographic in the US.

Today, with the majority of the workforce and the consumer base are populated by those we now identify as Millennial’sThey represent a values group called self-navigators based upon their rejection of tradition and conformity and their belief that there is no safety net. However, it’s important to understand that they’re forming their value set around the same four influences all of us before them have, do now and will in the future.

  1. Events: There’s no denying that 9/ll (just to name one) influenced all of our lives and our values. 
  2. The Economy: There’s no denying that the US financial collapse in 2008 (just to name one) influenced all of our lives and our values. 
  3. Technological Advances: There’s no denying that the continued evolution of the Internet (just to name one) and the technology it spawns, influences all of our lives and our values. 
  4. Parenting (or the lack thereof): There’s no denying this for anyone on the planet.  

As a result, Millennial’s are forming their own reliance network with others, who prove themselves worthy allies. These self-navigators have concluded that the traditional formula for happiness doesn’t happen for very many people. You’re seeing this belief take hold also with other demo-graphical generations as evidenced by the desperate search online to find a group to relate to, align with and belong to. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, anyone? Think about it. As long as you can sit behind a computer or pick up a cell phone, you’re never alone!

The one common characteristic Millennial’s share with the rest of us right now is that none of us trust corporations, government leaders or anyone else simply because they’re in a position of authority.

In today’s environment of corporate downsizing, lack of affordable education, and ineffective governance, where a diploma doesn’t guarantee a job, getting a job is no guarantee of keeping one and retirement may never come, it’s kind of hard to argue with them, isn’t it?

Truth be told, better to try and understand them, thereby becoming a worthy ally! Who knows? We might learn something and in turn, become an influencing partner in the relationship. 

How Do You Recognize A Leader?

I’ve written and talked in the past about the lack of Succession Planning in most organizations. I use the term most very literally. For Profit, Nonprofit, Academia, Faith-Based; the sector matters not. The data supports this perspective and has for some time, reflecting significant gaps even beyond the leadership levels of an organization.

For example, even at top-performing companies in the For-Profit sector, the percentage of employees with succession plans in place drops from 94% for management and executives to 75% for middle management, and then a precipitous drop to only 8% for operational and office staff. In the Nonprofit sector, 70% of those organizations have no Strategic or Adaptability Plan at all in place, much less a Succession Plan.

The process of Succession Planning isn’t just a matter of generating a list of names to replace someone in a given role. It’s a critical component of talent management that includes training and development for those who will eventually take important leadership roles at every level in the organization. I’ve seen more than my share of organizational failures because of poor succession practices motivated by crisis, ego, nepotism, or my least favorite, extreme diversity, just to name a few. It doesn’t take long for these kinds of motivators to embed themselves in the culture, thereby guaranteeing a culture of failure, as well.

I could take the rest of this post and focus on providing a litany of addresses and resolutions for Succession Planning. I could provide clichéd terminology about leadership. For example, an organization needs to demonstrate a commitment to innovation and high-quality products and services by developing leaders with the authority and credibility to push the workforce to meet desired objectives. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of hearing the same-old word speak from so-called subject matter experts on development that clearly haven’t enough innovation or creativeness than to use such scripted language. It really wears me out.

Yes, it’s a given that organizations need to identify those with the necessary technical and process skills. But let’s face it! The root of every successful organization is timely decision-making. If leaders aren’t in place and equipped to know what’s next, why it’s important and how to allocate resources appropriately, then the rest of it really doesn’t matter.

Yes, organizations need to put a structured plan in place for leadership continuity. However, for that to happen, they need to zero in on identifying individuals who have leadership potential.

So, why am I focusing on identification? Because, even with organizations that do have Succession Plans in place; have all of the training and development resources required in place; have a deep talent pool to pull from in place; have external stakeholders raving about great performance and leadership in place; they still rely on successful performance as the best indicator of leadership. The fact of the matter is successful performance does not guarantee successful leadership. I was taught many years ago that good numbers can mask a lot of problems, especially if you’re not paying attention to details beyond the numbers.

In the first chapter of my first book I Didn’t Ask You to Dance, I Asked You to Talk!, I write about my first encounter with Sam Walton, how he became my mentor and some of the most important lessons in leadership I learned over the course of our relationship. I didn’t realize then that the first lesson he taught me was at our very first meeting when I was 16 years old. That lesson was how to see something in someone else that they can’t see in themselves. It took me a few years to understand and then to replicate how he did that. He was a master at surrounding himself with talent and I learned to become one by focusing on the following five (5) factors.

1. Focus on Potential, not Performance.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

How Do You Recognize A Leader?


As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

1. Focus on Potential, not Performance.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

In the first chapter of my first book I Didn’t Ask You to Dance, I Asked You to Talk!, I write about my first encounter with Sam Walton, how he became my mentor and some of the most important lessons in leadership I learned over the course of our relationship. I didn’t realize then that the first lesson he taught me was at our very first meeting when I was 16 years old. That lesson was how to see something in someone else that they can’t see in themselves. It took me a few years to understand and then to replicate how he did that. He was a master at surrounding himself with talent and I learned to become one by focusing on the following five (5) factors.

1. Focus on Potential, not Performance.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

So, why am I focusing on identification? Because, even with organizations that do have Succession Plans in place; have all of the training and development resources required in place; have a deep talent pool to pull from in place; have external stakeholders raving about great performance and leadership in place; they still rely on successful performance as the best indicator of leadership. The fact of the matter is successful performance does not guarantee successful leadership. I was taught many years ago that good numbers can mask a lot of problems, especially if you’re not paying attention to details beyond the numbers.

In the first chapter of my first book I Didn’t Ask You to Dance, I Asked You to Talk!, I write about my first encounter with Sam Walton, how he became my mentor and some of the most important lessons in leadership I learned over the course of our relationship. I didn’t realize then that the first lesson he taught me was at our very first meeting when I was 16 years old. That lesson was how to see something in someone else that they can’t see in themselves. It took me a few years to understand and then to replicate how he did that. He was a master at surrounding himself with talent and I learned to become one by focusing on the following five (5) factors.

1. Focus on Potential, not Performance.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

Yes, organizations need to put a structured plan in place for leadership continuity. However, for that to happen, they need to zero in on identifying individuals who have leadership potential.

So, why am I focusing on identification? Because, even with organizations that do have Succession Plans in place; have all of the training and development resources required in place; have a deep talent pool to pull from in place; have external stakeholders raving about great performance and leadership in place; they still rely on successful performance as the best indicator of leadership. The fact of the matter is successful performance does not guarantee successful leadership. I was taught many years ago that good numbers can mask a lot of problems, especially if you’re not paying attention to details beyond the numbers.

In the first chapter of my first book I Didn’t Ask You to Dance, I Asked You to Talk!, I write about my first encounter with Sam Walton, how he became my mentor and some of the most important lessons in leadership I learned over the course of our relationship. I didn’t realize then that the first lesson he taught me was at our very first meeting when I was 16 years old. That lesson was how to see something in someone else that they can’t see in themselves. It took me a few years to understand and then to replicate how he did that. He was a master at surrounding himself with talent and I learned to become one by focusing on the following five (5) factors.

1. Focus on Potential, not Performance.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

Yes, it’s a given that organizations need to identify those with the necessary technical and process skills. But let’s face it! The root of every successful organization is timely decision-making. If leaders aren’t in place and equipped to know what’s next, why it’s important and how to allocate resources appropriately, then the rest of it really doesn’t matter.

Yes, organizations need to put a structured plan in place for leadership continuity. However, for that to happen, they need to zero in on identifying individuals who have leadership potential.

So, why am I focusing on identification? Because, even with organizations that do have Succession Plans in place; have all of the training and development resources required in place; have a deep talent pool to pull from in place; have external stakeholders raving about great performance and leadership in place; they still rely on successful performance as the best indicator of leadership. The fact of the matter is successful performance does not guarantee successful leadership. I was taught many years ago that good numbers can mask a lot of problems, especially if you’re not paying attention to details beyond the numbers.

In the first chapter of my first book I Didn’t Ask You to Dance, I Asked You to Talk!, I write about my first encounter with Sam Walton, how he became my mentor and some of the most important lessons in leadership I learned over the course of our relationship. I didn’t realize then that the first lesson he taught me was at our very first meeting when I was 16 years old. That lesson was how to see something in someone else that they can’t see in themselves. It took me a few years to understand and then to replicate how he did that. He was a master at surrounding himself with talent and I learned to become one by focusing on the following five (5) factors.

1. Focus on Potential, not Performance.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

I could take the rest of this post and focus on providing a litany of addresses and resolutions for Succession Planning. I could provide clichéd terminology about leadership. For example, an organization needs to demonstrate a commitment to innovation and high-quality products and services by developing leaders with the authority and credibility to push the workforce to meet desired objectives. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of hearing the same-old word speak from so-called subject matter experts on development that clearly haven’t enough innovation or creativeness than to use such scripted language. It really wears me out.

Yes, it’s a given that organizations need to identify those with the necessary technical and process skills. But let’s face it! The root of every successful organization is timely decision-making. If leaders aren’t in place and equipped to know what’s next, why it’s important and how to allocate resources appropriately, then the rest of it really doesn’t matter.

Yes, organizations need to put a structured plan in place for leadership continuity. However, for that to happen, they need to zero in on identifying individuals who have leadership potential.

So, why am I focusing on identification? Because, even with organizations that do have Succession Plans in place; have all of the training and development resources required in place; have a deep talent pool to pull from in place; have external stakeholders raving about great performance and leadership in place; they still rely on successful performance as the best indicator of leadership. The fact of the matter is successful performance does not guarantee successful leadership. I was taught many years ago that good numbers can mask a lot of problems, especially if you’re not paying attention to details beyond the numbers.

In the first chapter of my first book I Didn’t Ask You to Dance, I Asked You to Talk!, I write about my first encounter with Sam Walton, how he became my mentor and some of the most important lessons in leadership I learned over the course of our relationship. I didn’t realize then that the first lesson he taught me was at our very first meeting when I was 16 years old. That lesson was how to see something in someone else that they can’t see in themselves. It took me a few years to understand and then to replicate how he did that. He was a master at surrounding himself with talent and I learned to become one by focusing on the following five (5) factors.

1. Focus on Potential, not Performance.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

The process of Succession Planning isn’t just a matter of generating a list of names to replace someone in a given role. It’s a critical component of talent management that includes training and development for those who will eventually take important leadership roles at every level in the organization. I’ve seen more than my share of organizational failures because of poor succession practices motivated by crisis, ego, nepotism, or my least favorite, extreme diversity, just to name a few. It doesn’t take long for these kinds of motivators to embed themselves in the culture, thereby guaranteeing a culture of failure, as well.

I could take the rest of this post and focus on providing a litany of addresses and resolutions for Succession Planning. I could provide clichéd terminology about leadership. For example, an organization needs to demonstrate a commitment to innovation and high-quality products and services by developing leaders with the authority and credibility to push the workforce to meet desired objectives. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of hearing the same-old word speak from so-called subject matter experts on development that clearly haven’t enough innovation or creativeness than to use such scripted language. It really wears me out.

Yes, it’s a given that organizations need to identify those with the necessary technical and process skills. But let’s face it! The root of every successful organization is timely decision-making. If leaders aren’t in place and equipped to know what’s next, why it’s important and how to allocate resources appropriately, then the rest of it really doesn’t matter.

Yes, organizations need to put a structured plan in place for leadership continuity. However, for that to happen, they need to zero in on identifying individuals who have leadership potential.

So, why am I focusing on identification? Because, even with organizations that do have Succession Plans in place; have all of the training and development resources required in place; have a deep talent pool to pull from in place; have external stakeholders raving about great performance and leadership in place; they still rely on successful performance as the best indicator of leadership. The fact of the matter is successful performance does not guarantee successful leadership. I was taught many years ago that good numbers can mask a lot of problems, especially if you’re not paying attention to details beyond the numbers.

In the first chapter of my first book I Didn’t Ask You to Dance, I Asked You to Talk!, I write about my first encounter with Sam Walton, how he became my mentor and some of the most important lessons in leadership I learned over the course of our relationship. I didn’t realize then that the first lesson he taught me was at our very first meeting when I was 16 years old. That lesson was how to see something in someone else that they can’t see in themselves. It took me a few years to understand and then to replicate how he did that. He was a master at surrounding himself with talent and I learned to become one by focusing on the following five (5) factors.

1. Focus on Potential, not Performance.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

For example, even at top-performing companies in the For-Profit sector, the percentage of employees with succession plans in place drops from 94% for management and executives to 75% for middle management, and then a precipitous drop to only 8% for operational and office staff. In the Nonprofit sector, 70% of those organizations have no Strategic or Adaptability Plan at all in place, much less a Succession Plan.

The process of Succession Planning isn’t just a matter of generating a list of names to replace someone in a given role. It’s a critical component of talent management that includes training and development for those who will eventually take important leadership roles at every level in the organization. I’ve seen more than my share of organizational failures because of poor succession practices motivated by crisis, ego, nepotism, or my least favorite, extreme diversity, just to name a few. It doesn’t take long for these kinds of motivators to embed themselves in the culture, thereby guaranteeing a culture of failure, as well.

I could take the rest of this post and focus on providing a litany of addresses and resolutions for Succession Planning. I could provide clichéd terminology about leadership. For example, an organization needs to demonstrate a commitment to innovation and high-quality products and services by developing leaders with the authority and credibility to push the workforce to meet desired objectives. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of hearing the same-old word speak from so-called subject matter experts on development that clearly haven’t enough innovation or creativeness than to use such scripted language. It really wears me out.

Yes, it’s a given that organizations need to identify those with the necessary technical and process skills. But let’s face it! The root of every successful organization is timely decision-making. If leaders aren’t in place and equipped to know what’s next, why it’s important and how to allocate resources appropriately, then the rest of it really doesn’t matter.

Yes, organizations need to put a structured plan in place for leadership continuity. However, for that to happen, they need to zero in on identifying individuals who have leadership potential.

So, why am I focusing on identification? Because, even with organizations that do have Succession Plans in place; have all of the training and development resources required in place; have a deep talent pool to pull from in place; have external stakeholders raving about great performance and leadership in place; they still rely on successful performance as the best indicator of leadership. The fact of the matter is successful performance does not guarantee successful leadership. I was taught many years ago that good numbers can mask a lot of problems, especially if you’re not paying attention to details beyond the numbers.

In the first chapter of my first book I Didn’t Ask You to Dance, I Asked You to Talk!, I write about my first encounter with Sam Walton, how he became my mentor and some of the most important lessons in leadership I learned over the course of our relationship. I didn’t realize then that the first lesson he taught me was at our very first meeting when I was 16 years old. That lesson was how to see something in someone else that they can’t see in themselves. It took me a few years to understand and then to replicate how he did that. He was a master at surrounding himself with talent and I learned to become one by focusing on the following five (5) factors.

1. Focus on Potential, not Performance.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.
I’ve written and talked in the past about the lack of Succession Planning in most organizations. I use the term most very literally. For Profit, Nonprofit, Academia, Faith-Based; the sector matters not. The data supports this perspective and has for some time, reflecting significant gaps even beyond the leadership levels of an organization.

For example, even at top-performing companies in the For-Profit sector, the percentage of employees with succession plans in place drops from 94% for management and executives to 75% for middle management, and then a precipitous drop to only 8% for operational and office staff. In the Nonprofit sector, 70% of those organizations have no Strategic or Adaptability Plan at all in place, much less a Succession Plan.

The process of Succession Planning isn’t just a matter of generating a list of names to replace someone in a given role. It’s a critical component of talent management that includes training and development for those who will eventually take important leadership roles at every level in the organization. I’ve seen more than my share of organizational failures because of poor succession practices motivated by crisis, ego, nepotism, or my least favorite, extreme diversity, just to name a few. It doesn’t take long for these kinds of motivators to embed themselves in the culture, thereby guaranteeing a culture of failure, as well.

I could take the rest of this post and focus on providing a litany of addresses and resolutions for Succession Planning. I could provide clichéd terminology about leadership. For example, an organization needs to demonstrate a commitment to innovation and high-quality products and services by developing leaders with the authority and credibility to push the workforce to meet desired objectives. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of hearing the same-old word speak from so-called subject matter experts on development that clearly haven’t enough innovation or creativeness than to use such scripted language. It really wears me out.

Yes, it’s a given that organizations need to identify those with the necessary technical and process skills. But let’s face it! The root of every successful organization is timely decision-making. If leaders aren’t in place and equipped to know what’s next, why it’s important and how to allocate resources appropriately, then the rest of it really doesn’t matter.

Yes, organizations need to put a structured plan in place for leadership continuity. However, for that to happen, they need to zero in on identifying individuals who have leadership potential.

So, why am I focusing on identification? Because, even with organizations that do have Succession Plans in place; have all of the training and development resources required in place; have a deep talent pool to pull from in place; have external stakeholders raving about great performance and leadership in place; they still rely on successful performance as the best indicator of leadership. The fact of the matter is successful performance does not guarantee successful leadership. I was taught many years ago that good numbers can mask a lot of problems, especially if you’re not paying attention to details beyond the numbers.

In the first chapter of my first book I Didn’t Ask You to Dance, I Asked You to Talk!, I write about my first encounter with Sam Walton, how he became my mentor and some of the most important lessons in leadership I learned over the course of our relationship. I didn’t realize then that the first lesson he taught me was at our very first meeting when I was 16 years old. That lesson was how to see something in someone else that they can’t see in themselves. It took me a few years to understand and then to replicate how he did that. He was a master at surrounding himself with talent and I learned to become one by focusing on the following five (5) factors.

1. Focus on Potential, not Performance.

Performance defines ability and expertise. It’s a metric to keep in mind but not the sole metric. Some individuals aren’t cut out to be leaders, even though their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity, or the desire and are often content to be followers. I’ve seen many set up to fail because they were promoted for performance or as the result of one of the other motivations I mentioned previously.

2. Note the level of Engagement. Are they a Catalyst or a Watcher?

There are those in every organization who make things happen by making the decisions necessary to take challenges and opportunities to their logical conclusion. There are also those that prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they take the necessary risks. Look for potential leaders in the ranks of the former, not the latter.

An individual must feel invested in an organization’s objectives and should see their professional achievements through the prism of organizational growth. Ask Does this individual proactively make suggestions for process improvement and show interest in going beyond their personal perspective to seek out new learnings and opportunities for personal growth?

3. Are they Accountable or are they just ‘running for office’?

Individuals who are accountable do not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them. They’re not afraid to be accountable for failure because they understand it’s the best way to learn. You’ll also find that they’re very good at holding accountability with others, as well.

4. Look for evidence of Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Individuals with these traits are great team players, put others before themselves, take time to interact with everyone, focuses on building personal relationships and is a master listener. This kind of individual can constructively use an understanding of people for the benefit of the organization.

5. Look for remarkable Communication Skills.

As an Adjunct Professor, my focus in the classroom wasn’t with how well graduate students could test. I was more interested in their cognitive skills. In short, I wanted to know how well they thought things through, and could they articulate and write their thought process at a level I knew the marketplace required.

Elite Leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to make a particular point, they’re able to do so effortlessly. They’re able to do the same in written form, as well. This ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner with specifics that are simple, relevant and compelling is very rare.

Truth be told, the best way I’ve learned to spot the best, brightest and most passionate is by asking a lot of questions. It’s in the listening and watching for the answers that you’ll see the potential for leadership reveal itself.

So, You Want to Be A Leader?

What makes an effective and inspirational leader? Ask ten different people and you’ll get that many different answers. Also, there are as many theories and methodologies as there are books that have been written about Leadership, although there always seem to be a few consistent themes.

I’ve worked in the past and continue to do today, with a number of organizational Leaders; assessing, profiling (yes, profiling), developing, guiding and coaching them in the area of Leadership Character & Behavior.

Over the years and even now, I keep coming back to 10 tips that I continue to recommend to anyone aspiring or currently desiring to improve on their journey to being an Elite Leader.

  1. Explore, understand and be able to articulate Why? Because leadership usually involves some level of sacrifice, I’m always curious about mid-level individuals who aspire to become high level leaders. Anyone who’s been effective in a leadership position over time understands the pressures, expectations and pitfalls involved with being a leader. Listen to my most recent Podcast on The 5 Perils of Leadership and you’ll get my implication. The buck generally stops with them and they hold accountability for their teams, themselves and often, their entire organizations. Who would want that kind of pressure? As with any initiative in life, understanding the Why? is not only critical in the context of Leadership, but in all things. One of the first questions to anyone I work with is What drives and motivates you to wake up every day and be excited about your current environment? These motivations can be incredibly varied and unlimited, but a central theme with most elite leaders is the desire to effect change, help others, or both. An individual’s Why? should be simple, relevant and compelling, An example would be creating a high-level soundbite that implies the theme behind the entire movie.
  2. Be Passionate! Some people welcome responsibility, while others avoid it. The willingness and capacity to assume and accept responsibility is a key indicator of Elite Leadership. Often, this requires some level of development and anyone aspiring to this level of Leadership, must have the passion and drive to develop. They must be able to answer the following questions: (a) Are you ready to discover and strengthen your leadership competencies? (b)) Are you able to take and apply constructive feedback in an effort to improve? (c)) Are you willing to abandon unproductive and ineffective habits and behaviors and embed new ones? If the answer is Yes then we have the foundation to develop the required Leadership Competencies.
  3. Assess strengths and be honest about potential blind spots. Any developmental approach needs starting point. (I always begin with an assessment of character and behavior that provides not only a profile of your current leadership style, but an identification of your default style when in crisis.) What are you really good at? What needs work? What characteristics would you like to change? What characteristics would you like to acquire? What behaviors are holding you back? What behaviors are necessary to move you forward? It’s also desirable to seek feedback from peers, direct reports, subordinates; anyone that you think can provide valuable insight. While this can be difficult at times, if you’re being honest with yourself, much of what you hear shouldn’t surprise you.
  4. Improve Cognitive & Social Skills. Effective leaders are smart. That doesn’t mean you have to have an Einstein IQ, but it does mean that you need to be confident in what you’e doing, assess situations and events judiciously and make sound decisions. Learn more about your business and your people. Learn how to collect and analyze data to inform and support your decisions. Be socially astute by learning to be tactful and measured in communications and seeing things from others’ perspectives. Solicit information from your team, your peers and your superiors. Even highly effective leaders work with a coach or mentor to help them reveal blind spots and reinforce their strengths and talents.
  5. Improve Emotional Skills. While being smart is a major asset, it isn’t everything. An effective leader also needs to be emotionally intelligent, which is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions and handle interpersonal relationships thoughtfully with empathy. The ability to read and sense others’ emotions and monitor your own in response is critical. In short, this how Elite Leaders show up!
  6. Strengthen Character! Albert Einstein once said Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. Character and Behavior are inexorably linked. Leaders can be smart and technically competent, but can and will fail spectacularly if the they lack the ability do the right thing. The Leadership Graveyard is full leaders who inspired and motivated masses, but for absence of character and integrity, became infamous villains. Character is critically important for keeping a leader on the right path.
  7. Set Realistic Goals. If you’ll read a Blog Post I wrote entitled Leaders, Are Your Goals Overrated?, you’ll understand this recommendation. Whatever qualities you’re trying to develop or strengthen, it’s important to set meaningful developmental goals. They need to be specific, tangible, measurable and achievable.
  8. Get Feedback. It’s vital to receive feedback throughout the development process. Having an experienced mentor or coach who provides honest and constructive feedback is invaluable. In lieu of that, collaborating with a partner-peer, who’s also working on leadership development will allow you to give each other feedback. Another strategy is to ask your direct reports or employees how they perceive you and if they have noticed improvement. Don’t be discouraged by slow progress or the occasional misstep, as those can be used as learning learning opportunities to further develop your competencies.
  9. Reward Progress. Leadership development is hard work. You’ll be pushing boundaries, stepping out of comfort zones and exploring new territory. When you find yourself breaking through a barrier, it’s important to recognize it, not only to yourself but to others.
  10. Strive for Continuous Improvement. I’ve noted in many of my postings, video broadcasts and podcasts, my penchant for continually seeking out data, information and feedback that will improve my ability to help others. My primary objective is simple. I want to stay as simple, relevant and compelling to others as long as I possibly can. Benjamin Franklin once said Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning. Developing leadership competencies is an evolution, not a revolution. It’s a continuous path to becoming the best version of you.

Truth be told, if more Leaders would invest in their development with the degree of importance they place on achieving productivity and profitability objectives, they’d achieve those objectives many times over any expectations they may have had.

So, You Want to Be A Leader?

What makes an effective and inspirational leader? Ask ten different people and you’ll get that many different answers. Also, there are as many theories and methodologies as there are books that have been written about Leadership, although there always seem to be a few consistent themes.

I’ve worked in the past and continue to do today, with a number of organizational Leaders; assessing, profiling (yes, profiling), developing, guiding and coaching them in the area of Leadership Character & Behavior.

Over the years and even now, I keep coming back to 10 tips that I continue to recommend to anyone aspiring or currently desiring to improve on their journey to being an Elite Leader.
  1. Explore, understand and be able to articulate Why? Because leadership usually involves some level of sacrifice, I’m always curious about mid-level individuals who aspire to become high level leaders. Anyone who’s been effective in a leadership position over time understands the pressures, expectations and pitfalls involved with being a leader. Listen to my most recent Podcast on The 5 Perils of Leadership and you’ll get my implication. The buck generally stops with them and they hold accountability for their teams, themselves and often, their entire organizations. Who would want that kind of pressure? As with any initiative in life, understanding the Why? is not only critical in the context of Leadership, but in all things. One of the first questions to anyone I work with is What drives and motivates you to wake up every day and be excited about your current environment? These motivations can be incredibly varied and unlimited, but a central theme with most elite leaders is the desire to effect change, help others, or both. An individual’s Why? should be simple, relevant and compelling, An example would be creating a high-level soundbite that implies the theme behind the entire movie.
  2. Be Passionate! Some people welcome responsibility, while others avoid it. The willingness and capacity to assume and accept responsibility is a key indicator of Elite Leadership. Often, this requires some level of development and anyone aspiring to this level of Leadership, must have the passion and drive to develop. They must be able to answer the following questions: (a) Are you ready to discover and strengthen your leadership competencies? (b)) Are you able to take and apply constructive feedback in an effort to improve? (c)) Are you willing to abandon unproductive and ineffective habits and behaviors and embed new ones? If the answer is Yes then we have the foundation to develop the required Leadership Competencies.
  3. Assess strengths and be honest about potential blind spots. Any developmental approach needs starting point. (I always begin with an assessment of character and behavior that provides not only a profile of your current leadership style, but an identification of your default style when in crisis.) What are you really good at? What needs work? What characteristics would you like to change? What characteristics would you like to acquire? What behaviors are holding you back? What behaviors are necessary to move you forward? It’s also desirable to seek feedback from peers, direct reports, subordinates; anyone that you think can provide valuable insight. While this can be difficult at times, if you’re being honest with yourself, much of what you hear shouldn’t surprise you.
  4. Improve Cognitive & Social Skills. Effective leaders are smart. That doesn’t mean you have to have an Einstein IQ, but it does mean that you need to be confident in what you’e doing, assess situations and events judiciously and make sound decisions. Learn more about your business and your people. Learn how to collect and analyze data to inform and support your decisions. Be socially astute by learning to be tactful and measured in communications and seeing things from others’ perspectives. Solicit information from your team, your peers and your superiors. Even highly effective leaders work with a coach or mentor to help them reveal blind spots and reinforce their strengths and talents.
  5. Improve Emotional Skills. While being smart is a major asset, it isn’t everything. An effective leader also needs to be emotionally intelligent, which is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions and handle interpersonal relationships thoughtfully with empathy. The ability to read and sense others’ emotions and monitor your own in response is critical. In short, this how Elite Leaders show up!
  6. Strengthen Character! Albert Einstein once said Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. Character and Behavior are inexorably linked. Leaders can be smart and technically competent, but can and will fail spectacularly if the they lack the ability do the right thing. The Leadership Graveyard is full leaders who inspired and motivated masses, but for absence of character and integrity, became infamous villains. Character is critically important for keeping a leader on the right path.
  7. Set Realistic Goals. If you’ll read a Blog Post I wrote entitled Leaders, Are Your Goals Overrated?, you’ll understand this recommendation. Whatever qualities you’re trying to develop or strengthen, it’s important to set meaningful developmental goals. They need to be specific, tangible, measurable and achievable.
  8. Get Feedback. It’s vital to receive feedback throughout the development process. Having an experienced mentor or coach who provides honest and constructive feedback is invaluable. In lieu of that, collaborating with a partner-peer, who’s also working on leadership development will allow you to give each other feedback. Another strategy is to ask your direct reports or employees how they perceive you and if they have noticed improvement. Don’t be discouraged by slow progress or the occasional misstep, as those can be used as learning learning opportunities to further develop your competencies.
  9. Reward Progress. Leadership development is hard work. You’ll be pushing boundaries, stepping out of comfort zones and exploring new territory. When you find yourself breaking through a barrier, it’s important to recognize it, not only to yourself but to others.
  10. Strive for Continuous Improvement. I’ve noted in many of my postings, video broadcasts and podcasts, my penchant for continually seeking out data, information and feedback that will improve my ability to help others. My primary objective is simple. I want to stay as simple, relevant and compelling to others as long as I possibly can. Benjamin Franklin once said Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning. Developing leadership competencies is an evolution, not a revolution. It’s a continuous path to becoming the best version of you.
Truth be told, if more Leaders would invest in their development with the degree of importance they place on achieving productivity and profitability objectives, they’d achieve those objectives many times over any expectations they may have had.

You Need 3 Things to Accomplish What Seems Impossible!

Image result for dilbert and the org chart

One of the fundamental principles of Organizational Structure & Function is that function follows form. In other words, the way the org chart is configured is the way information and process will flow. This principle pretty much applies to anything that’s put together.

When beginning an interaction with organizational clients, I’ll always first ask for a copy of the org chart. I want to see not only how people and processes interact with each other in the hierarchical environment, but also where the gaps are. The other thing I want to get a feel for is the cultural context of the organization, specifically as it relates to capacity and resources.

I’ve been asked many times how looking at an org chart will give me that kind of feedback. I’ve noted in previous posts, podcasts and video broadcasts, about the two lens through which I view the world. One is the lens of Leadership and the other is Organizational Structure & Function.

One of the easiest flags to spot in an organization that isn’t performing to the expectations of stakeholders (both internal and external, especially in terms of objectives and outcomes) is an org chart with too many layers and too many horizontal or vertical influences. When I see that level of dysfunction, I can consistently attach various indicators that prevent such an organization from accomplishing their objectives. More importantly, I can identify a culture that even sees some objectives as impossible because the org chart has never been configured with consideration given to capacity and resources.

So, what do I mean by Capacity and Resources?

The definition of capacity is very straightforward. It means the maximum amount something or someone can hold or produce. I’m even more focused on people when I look at the model than I am on process because if the right people aren’t in the right place with the right amount of authority and empowerment to do their jobs, the process part won’t really matter.

The definition of resources is also very straightforward. It means having a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.

When this happens and unless it’s addressed, a culture of mediocrity develops over time that prevents three things from existing in the culture that are non-negotiable in order to accomplish really big, innovative and what seem to be impossible objectives. Pay attention to the definition of these three things, because the real meaning of important but oft quoted words too often gets lost in the translation. I’m going to add to that translation now.

The first is belief, which means acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone or some thing. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of acceptance in place.

The second is desire, which means a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of emotion in place.

The third is purpose, which means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Think of how much less effort is required to cast a vision with that kind of conviction in place.

Truth be told, without these three cultural components, the Org Chart will be the least of your worries. You’d better start thinking about your life cycle.

You Need 3 Things to Accomplish What Seems Impossible!


The second is desire, which means a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of emotion in place.

The third is purpose, which means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Think of how much less effort is required to cast a vision with that kind of conviction in place.

Truth be told, without these three cultural components, the Org Chart will be the least of your worries. You’d better start thinking about your life cycle.

The first is belief, which means acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone or some thing. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of acceptance in place.

The second is desire, which means a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of emotion in place.

The third is purpose, which means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Think of how much less effort is required to cast a vision with that kind of conviction in place.

Truth be told, without these three cultural components, the Org Chart will be the least of your worries. You’d better start thinking about your life cycle.

When this happens and unless it’s addressed, a culture of mediocrity develops over time that prevents three things from existing in the culture that are non-negotiable in order to accomplish really big, innovative and what seem to be impossible objectives. Pay attention to the definition of these three things, because the real meaning of important but oft quoted words too often gets lost in the translation. I’m going to add to that translation now.

The first is belief, which means acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone or some thing. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of acceptance in place.

The second is desire, which means a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of emotion in place.

The third is purpose, which means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Think of how much less effort is required to cast a vision with that kind of conviction in place.

Truth be told, without these three cultural components, the Org Chart will be the least of your worries. You’d better start thinking about your life cycle.

The definition of resources is also very straightforward. It means having a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.

When this happens and unless it’s addressed, a culture of mediocrity develops over time that prevents three things from existing in the culture that are non-negotiable in order to accomplish really big, innovative and what seem to be impossible objectives. Pay attention to the definition of these three things, because the real meaning of important but oft quoted words too often gets lost in the translation. I’m going to add to that translation now.

The first is belief, which means acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone or some thing. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of acceptance in place.

The second is desire, which means a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of emotion in place.

The third is purpose, which means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Think of how much less effort is required to cast a vision with that kind of conviction in place.

Truth be told, without these three cultural components, the Org Chart will be the least of your worries. You’d better start thinking about your life cycle.

The definition of capacity is very straightforward. It means the maximum amount something or someone can hold or produce. I’m even more focused on people when I look at the model than I am on process because if the right people aren’t in the right place with the right amount of authority and empowerment to do their jobs, the process part won’t really matter.

The definition of resources is also very straightforward. It means having a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.

When this happens and unless it’s addressed, a culture of mediocrity develops over time that prevents three things from existing in the culture that are non-negotiable in order to accomplish really big, innovative and what seem to be impossible objectives. Pay attention to the definition of these three things, because the real meaning of important but oft quoted words too often gets lost in the translation. I’m going to add to that translation now.

The first is belief, which means acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone or some thing. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of acceptance in place.

The second is desire, which means a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of emotion in place.

The third is purpose, which means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Think of how much less effort is required to cast a vision with that kind of conviction in place.

Truth be told, without these three cultural components, the Org Chart will be the least of your worries. You’d better start thinking about your life cycle.

So, what do I mean by Capacity and Resources?

The definition of capacity is very straightforward. It means the maximum amount something or someone can hold or produce. I’m even more focused on people when I look at the model than I am on process because if the right people aren’t in the right place with the right amount of authority and empowerment to do their jobs, the process part won’t really matter.

The definition of resources is also very straightforward. It means having a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.

When this happens and unless it’s addressed, a culture of mediocrity develops over time that prevents three things from existing in the culture that are non-negotiable in order to accomplish really big, innovative and what seem to be impossible objectives. Pay attention to the definition of these three things, because the real meaning of important but oft quoted words too often gets lost in the translation. I’m going to add to that translation now.

The first is belief, which means acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone or some thing. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of acceptance in place.

The second is desire, which means a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of emotion in place.

The third is purpose, which means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Think of how much less effort is required to cast a vision with that kind of conviction in place.

Truth be told, without these three cultural components, the Org Chart will be the least of your worries. You’d better start thinking about your life cycle.

I’ve been asked many times how looking at an org chart will give me that kind of feedback. I’ve noted in previous posts, podcasts and video broadcasts, about the two lens through which I view the world. One is the lens of Leadership and the other is Organizational Structure & Function.

One of the easiest flags to spot in an organization that isn’t performing to the expectations of stakeholders (both internal and external, especially in terms of objectives and outcomes) is an org chart with too many layers and too many horizontal or vertical influences. When I see that level of dysfunction, I can consistently attach various indicators that prevent such an organization from accomplishing their objectives. More importantly, I can identify a culture that even sees some objectives as impossible because the org chart has never been configured with consideration given to capacity and resources.

So, what do I mean by Capacity and Resources?

The definition of capacity is very straightforward. It means the maximum amount something or someone can hold or produce. I’m even more focused on people when I look at the model than I am on process because if the right people aren’t in the right place with the right amount of authority and empowerment to do their jobs, the process part won’t really matter.

The definition of resources is also very straightforward. It means having a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.

When this happens and unless it’s addressed, a culture of mediocrity develops over time that prevents three things from existing in the culture that are non-negotiable in order to accomplish really big, innovative and what seem to be impossible objectives. Pay attention to the definition of these three things, because the real meaning of important but oft quoted words too often gets lost in the translation. I’m going to add to that translation now.

The first is belief, which means acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone or some thing. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of acceptance in place.

The second is desire, which means a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of emotion in place.

The third is purpose, which means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Think of how much less effort is required to cast a vision with that kind of conviction in place.

Truth be told, without these three cultural components, the Org Chart will be the least of your worries. You’d better start thinking about your life cycle.
Image result for dilbert and the org chart

One of the fundamental principles of Organizational Structure & Function is that function follows form. In other words, the way the org chart is configured is the way information and process will flow. This principle pretty much applies to anything that’s put together.

When beginning an interaction with organizational clients, I’ll always first ask for a copy of the org chart. I want to see not only how people and processes interact with each other in the hierarchical environment, but also where the gaps are. The other thing I want to get a feel for is the cultural context of the organization, specifically as it relates to capacity and resources.

I’ve been asked many times how looking at an org chart will give me that kind of feedback. I’ve noted in previous posts, podcasts and video broadcasts, about the two lens through which I view the world. One is the lens of Leadership and the other is Organizational Structure & Function.

One of the easiest flags to spot in an organization that isn’t performing to the expectations of stakeholders (both internal and external, especially in terms of objectives and outcomes) is an org chart with too many layers and too many horizontal or vertical influences. When I see that level of dysfunction, I can consistently attach various indicators that prevent such an organization from accomplishing their objectives. More importantly, I can identify a culture that even sees some objectives as impossible because the org chart has never been configured with consideration given to capacity and resources.

So, what do I mean by Capacity and Resources?

The definition of capacity is very straightforward. It means the maximum amount something or someone can hold or produce. I’m even more focused on people when I look at the model than I am on process because if the right people aren’t in the right place with the right amount of authority and empowerment to do their jobs, the process part won’t really matter.

The definition of resources is also very straightforward. It means having a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.

When this happens and unless it’s addressed, a culture of mediocrity develops over time that prevents three things from existing in the culture that are non-negotiable in order to accomplish really big, innovative and what seem to be impossible objectives. Pay attention to the definition of these three things, because the real meaning of important but oft quoted words too often gets lost in the translation. I’m going to add to that translation now.

The first is belief, which means acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone or some thing. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of acceptance in place.

The second is desire, which means a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of emotion in place.

The third is purpose, which means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Think of how much less effort is required to cast a vision with that kind of conviction in place.

Truth be told, without these three cultural components, the Org Chart will be the least of your worries. You’d better start thinking about your life cycle.

There’s no such thing as Burnout! You’re either sick or unmotivated.

At the beginning of this year, Buzzfeed published an article declaring Millennial’s the Burnout Generation. I thought this was very typical of a publication that (for want of a better description) chooses to paint Millennial’s as victims of every generation that came before them. Since Buzzfeed is led by Millennial’s, I guess that makes sense.

They describe themselves as seemingly running out of energy or motivation to do even basic tasks like washing their clothes, cleaning their safe spaces or even running the most mundane errands. They’re always feeling overwhelmed, stressed and have a perpetual sense of constant disappointment in the world at large. Like most of Buzzfeed’s articles, it lacked any research or data, was almost entirely anecdotal and blamed capitalism, Facebook, and everyone’s parents. I for one, get tired of my generation being so critical of the Millennial’s because there’s a lot we can learn from them and I really enjoy interacting with them, especially since I have two of my own. However, in this case, they do a pretty good job of indicting themselves without too much help.

I’ve always taken issue with this idea of Burnout and have always felt it was just made up. After all, we live in a culture that has evolved from one of practical, logical, fact-based evidence to one of cliche’s and narratives that take on lives of their own. Depending upon what group you belong to (especially if you’ve chosen to adopt the values of that group), and it becomes the only lens through which you choose to see the rest of the world, those cliche’s morph into ideological afflictions that supposedly infect us all.

Examples that come to mind are overworked, underpaid, marginalized, disenfranchised, and I could keep going for a while. The problem with all of these cliche’s and attending narratives is that they’re all subject to choice. Taken collectively, it’s easier to be a victim of any one of these afflictions and buy into the group think that created them than it is take ownership of the fact that whoever belongs to the group is choosing to do so.

Take the overworked narrative. There’s simply no evidence in the data. Previous generations dealt with just as much work (if not more), not to mention the anxiety of sky-high crime rates, worse health, and the nuclear threat. On average, people work fewer hours today than at any time in modern history. We have more leisure time and choices, are more traveled and are more educated than any other generation.

Take the Millennials narrative. They may have more debt, but they’re also more financially responsible, saving earlier and more for retirement than any other generation. What about all those chores and mundane errands? There’s literally an app for every single one!

Take the Burnout narrative, which by the way isn’t exclusive to Millennials. I think they’re a couple of factors that contribute to this cliché and it’s narrative.

The first is something known as Direct Attention Fatigue (DAF), which is exposure to too much stimulation, causing mental and emotional fatigue to the point that we shut down, feeling lethargic and irritable. I’m an Author, Blogger, Video Broadcaster, Podcaster, Speaker, Facilitator and I do my own website development and Social Media. I’m a living testimonial to the effects of DAF. (By the way, Buzzfeed puts forth that DAF is a product of late-stage capitalism and its evil corporate overlords. I can scarce take it in! 😊)

The second factor can best be described as follows: Perceived Reality – Expectations = True Reality. By any standard, we live in the best economic era in history. I can present all the data in the world to support it, but it’s never going to be enough for anyone with over-sized and unrealistic expectations.

Being stressed and anxious isn’t a new phenomenon. We’ve been dealing with it since the beginning of time. For whatever reason, there are more people than ever before that seemingly never expected to have it and it’s become so terrible that they had to have a name for it. Ergo, Burnout! I just don’t buy it and never have.

Finally, there’s one question I keep asking myself more and more often. Is the News really worth it anymore? I’ve always loved the news and have pretty much been very diligent about staying up to speed on what’s happening and also doing so from as many viable sources as possible. However, it’s become increasingly evident to me that as more and more of it keeps being put out there, it becomes increasingly difficult to digest it all, much less arrive at any concrete conclusion.

I have some friends and family that have a compulsion for news that borders on obsessive. With some of these friends, a conversation about anything substantive is impossible without the bombshell of the day taking over the discussion. With some family, I can’t stay in the room for more than an hour because of the endless barrage of one narrative that keeps coming out of the TV and into the discussion. If I even dare to engage with a different opinion, narrative or (God forbid) factual data, I become the anti-Christ. It just wears me out. What’s even more distressing is that I’ve seen these compulsions break up friendships and create breaches that may never close. Yet, if they were asked what benefit they derived from this obsessive consumption, I’m not certain anyone could tell you. Truth be told, I just think that most of the news keeps removing us further from reality.

So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.

There’s no such thing as Burnout! You’re either sick or unmotivated.


So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.

I have some friends and family that have a compulsion for news that borders on obsessive. With some of these friends, a conversation about anything substantive is impossible without the bombshell of the day taking over the discussion. With some family, I can’t stay in the room for more than an hour because of the endless barrage of one narrative that keeps coming out of the TV and into the discussion. If I even dare to engage with a different opinion, narrative or (God forbid) factual data, I become the anti-Christ. It just wears me out. What’s even more distressing is that I’ve seen these compulsions break up friendships and create breaches that may never close. Yet, if they were asked what benefit they derived from this obsessive consumption, I’m not certain anyone could tell you. Truth be told, I just think that most of the news keeps removing us further from reality.

So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.

Finally, there’s one question I keep asking myself more and more often. Is the News really worth it anymore? I’ve always loved the news and have pretty much been very diligent about staying up to speed on what’s happening and also doing so from as many viable sources as possible. However, it’s become increasingly evident to me that as more and more of it keeps being put out there, it becomes increasingly difficult to digest it all, much less arrive at any concrete conclusion.

I have some friends and family that have a compulsion for news that borders on obsessive. With some of these friends, a conversation about anything substantive is impossible without the bombshell of the day taking over the discussion. With some family, I can’t stay in the room for more than an hour because of the endless barrage of one narrative that keeps coming out of the TV and into the discussion. If I even dare to engage with a different opinion, narrative or (God forbid) factual data, I become the anti-Christ. It just wears me out. What’s even more distressing is that I’ve seen these compulsions break up friendships and create breaches that may never close. Yet, if they were asked what benefit they derived from this obsessive consumption, I’m not certain anyone could tell you. Truth be told, I just think that most of the news keeps removing us further from reality.

So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.

Being stressed and anxious isn’t a new phenomenon. We’ve been dealing with it since the beginning of time. For whatever reason, there are more people than ever before that seemingly never expected to have it and it’s become so terrible that they had to have a name for it. Ergo, Burnout! I just don’t buy it and never have.

Finally, there’s one question I keep asking myself more and more often. Is the News really worth it anymore? I’ve always loved the news and have pretty much been very diligent about staying up to speed on what’s happening and also doing so from as many viable sources as possible. However, it’s become increasingly evident to me that as more and more of it keeps being put out there, it becomes increasingly difficult to digest it all, much less arrive at any concrete conclusion.

I have some friends and family that have a compulsion for news that borders on obsessive. With some of these friends, a conversation about anything substantive is impossible without the bombshell of the day taking over the discussion. With some family, I can’t stay in the room for more than an hour because of the endless barrage of one narrative that keeps coming out of the TV and into the discussion. If I even dare to engage with a different opinion, narrative or (God forbid) factual data, I become the anti-Christ. It just wears me out. What’s even more distressing is that I’ve seen these compulsions break up friendships and create breaches that may never close. Yet, if they were asked what benefit they derived from this obsessive consumption, I’m not certain anyone could tell you. Truth be told, I just think that most of the news keeps removing us further from reality.

So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.

The second factor can best be described as follows: Perceived Reality – Expectations = True Reality. By any standard, we live in the best economic era in history. I can present all the data in the world to support it, but it’s never going to be enough for anyone with over-sized and unrealistic expectations.

Being stressed and anxious isn’t a new phenomenon. We’ve been dealing with it since the beginning of time. For whatever reason, there are more people than ever before that seemingly never expected to have it and it’s become so terrible that they had to have a name for it. Ergo, Burnout! I just don’t buy it and never have.

Finally, there’s one question I keep asking myself more and more often. Is the News really worth it anymore? I’ve always loved the news and have pretty much been very diligent about staying up to speed on what’s happening and also doing so from as many viable sources as possible. However, it’s become increasingly evident to me that as more and more of it keeps being put out there, it becomes increasingly difficult to digest it all, much less arrive at any concrete conclusion.

I have some friends and family that have a compulsion for news that borders on obsessive. With some of these friends, a conversation about anything substantive is impossible without the bombshell of the day taking over the discussion. With some family, I can’t stay in the room for more than an hour because of the endless barrage of one narrative that keeps coming out of the TV and into the discussion. If I even dare to engage with a different opinion, narrative or (God forbid) factual data, I become the anti-Christ. It just wears me out. What’s even more distressing is that I’ve seen these compulsions break up friendships and create breaches that may never close. Yet, if they were asked what benefit they derived from this obsessive consumption, I’m not certain anyone could tell you. Truth be told, I just think that most of the news keeps removing us further from reality.

So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.

The first is something known as Direct Attention Fatigue (DAF), which is exposure to too much stimulation, causing mental and emotional fatigue to the point that we shut down, feeling lethargic and irritable. I’m an Author, Blogger, Video Broadcaster, Podcaster, Speaker, Facilitator and I do my own website development and Social Media. I’m a living testimonial to the effects of DAF. (By the way, Buzzfeed puts forth that DAF is a product of late-stage capitalism and its evil corporate overlords. I can scarce take it in! 😊)

The second factor can best be described as follows: Perceived Reality – Expectations = True Reality. By any standard, we live in the best economic era in history. I can present all the data in the world to support it, but it’s never going to be enough for anyone with over-sized and unrealistic expectations.

Being stressed and anxious isn’t a new phenomenon. We’ve been dealing with it since the beginning of time. For whatever reason, there are more people than ever before that seemingly never expected to have it and it’s become so terrible that they had to have a name for it. Ergo, Burnout! I just don’t buy it and never have.

Finally, there’s one question I keep asking myself more and more often. Is the News really worth it anymore? I’ve always loved the news and have pretty much been very diligent about staying up to speed on what’s happening and also doing so from as many viable sources as possible. However, it’s become increasingly evident to me that as more and more of it keeps being put out there, it becomes increasingly difficult to digest it all, much less arrive at any concrete conclusion.

I have some friends and family that have a compulsion for news that borders on obsessive. With some of these friends, a conversation about anything substantive is impossible without the bombshell of the day taking over the discussion. With some family, I can’t stay in the room for more than an hour because of the endless barrage of one narrative that keeps coming out of the TV and into the discussion. If I even dare to engage with a different opinion, narrative or (God forbid) factual data, I become the anti-Christ. It just wears me out. What’s even more distressing is that I’ve seen these compulsions break up friendships and create breaches that may never close. Yet, if they were asked what benefit they derived from this obsessive consumption, I’m not certain anyone could tell you. Truth be told, I just think that most of the news keeps removing us further from reality.

So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.

Take the Millennial’s narrative. They may have more debt, but they’re also more financially responsible, saving earlier and more for retirement than any other generation. What about all those chores and mundane errands? There’s literally an app for every single one!

Take the Burnout narrative, which by the way isn’t exclusive to Millennial’s. I think they’re a couple of factors that contribute to this cliche and it’s narrative.

The first is something known as Direct Attention Fatigue (DAF), which is exposure to too much stimulation, causing mental and emotional fatigue to the point that we shut down, feeling lethargic and irritable. I’m an Author, Blogger, Video Broadcaster, Podcaster, Speaker, Facilitator and I do my own website development and Social Media. I’m a living testimonial to the effects of DAF. (By the way, Buzzfeed puts forth that DAF is a product of late-stage capitalism and its evil corporate overlords. I can scarce take it in! 😊)

The second factor can best be described as follows: Perceived Reality – Expectations = True Reality. By any standard, we live in the best economic era in history. I can present all the data in the world to support it, but it’s never going to be enough for anyone with over-sized and unrealistic expectations.

Being stressed and anxious isn’t a new phenomenon. We’ve been dealing with it since the beginning of time. For whatever reason, there are more people than ever before that seemingly never expected to have it and it’s become so terrible that they had to have a name for it. Ergo, Burnout! I just don’t buy it and never have.

Finally, there’s one question I keep asking myself more and more often. Is the News really worth it anymore? I’ve always loved the news and have pretty much been very diligent about staying up to speed on what’s happening and also doing so from as many viable sources as possible. However, it’s become increasingly evident to me that as more and more of it keeps being put out there, it becomes increasingly difficult to digest it all, much less arrive at any concrete conclusion.

I have some friends and family that have a compulsion for news that borders on obsessive. With some of these friends, a conversation about anything substantive is impossible without the bombshell of the day taking over the discussion. With some family, I can’t stay in the room for more than an hour because of the endless barrage of one narrative that keeps coming out of the TV and into the discussion. If I even dare to engage with a different opinion, narrative or (God forbid) factual data, I become the anti-Christ. It just wears me out. What’s even more distressing is that I’ve seen these compulsions break up friendships and create breaches that may never close. Yet, if they were asked what benefit they derived from this obsessive consumption, I’m not certain anyone could tell you. Truth be told, I just think that most of the news keeps removing us further from reality.

So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.

Examples that come to mind are overworked, underpaid, marginalized, disenfranchised, and I could keep going for a while. The problem with all of these cliche’s and attending narratives is that they’re all subject to choice. Taken collectively, it’s easier to be a victim of any one of these afflictions and buy into the group think that created them than it is take ownership of the fact that whoever belongs to the group is choosing to do so.

Take the overworked narrative. There’s simply no evidence in the data. Previous generations dealt with just as much work (if not more), not to mention the anxiety of sky-high crime rates, worse health, and the nuclear threat. On average, people work fewer hours today than at any time in modern history. We have more leisure time and choices, are more traveled and are more educated than any other generation.

Take the Millennial’s narrative. They may have more debt, but they’re also more financially responsible, saving earlier and more for retirement than any other generation. What about all those chores and mundane errands? There’s literally an app for every single one!

Take the Burnout narrative, which by the way isn’t exclusive to Millennial’s. I think they’re a couple of factors that contribute to this cliche and it’s narrative.

The first is something known as Direct Attention Fatigue (DAF), which is exposure to too much stimulation, causing mental and emotional fatigue to the point that we shut down, feeling lethargic and irritable. I’m an Author, Blogger, Video Broadcaster, Podcaster, Speaker, Facilitator and I do my own website development and Social Media. I’m a living testimonial to the effects of DAF. (By the way, Buzzfeed puts forth that DAF is a product of late-stage capitalism and its evil corporate overlords. I can scarce take it in! 😊)

The second factor can best be described as follows: Perceived Reality – Expectations = True Reality. By any standard, we live in the best economic era in history. I can present all the data in the world to support it, but it’s never going to be enough for anyone with over-sized and unrealistic expectations.

Being stressed and anxious isn’t a new phenomenon. We’ve been dealing with it since the beginning of time. For whatever reason, there are more people than ever before that seemingly never expected to have it and it’s become so terrible that they had to have a name for it. Ergo, Burnout! I just don’t buy it and never have.

Finally, there’s one question I keep asking myself more and more often. Is the News really worth it anymore? I’ve always loved the news and have pretty much been very diligent about staying up to speed on what’s happening and also doing so from as many viable sources as possible. However, it’s become increasingly evident to me that as more and more of it keeps being put out there, it becomes increasingly difficult to digest it all, much less arrive at any concrete conclusion.

I have some friends and family that have a compulsion for news that borders on obsessive. With some of these friends, a conversation about anything substantive is impossible without the bombshell of the day taking over the discussion. With some family, I can’t stay in the room for more than an hour because of the endless barrage of one narrative that keeps coming out of the TV and into the discussion. If I even dare to engage with a different opinion, narrative or (God forbid) factual data, I become the anti-Christ. It just wears me out. What’s even more distressing is that I’ve seen these compulsions break up friendships and create breaches that may never close. Yet, if they were asked what benefit they derived from this obsessive consumption, I’m not certain anyone could tell you. Truth be told, I just think that most of the news keeps removing us further from reality.

So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.

They describe themselves as seemingly running out of energy or motivation to do even basic tasks like washing their clothes, cleaning their safe spaces or even running the most mundane errands. They’re always feeling overwhelmed, stressed and have a perpetual sense of constant disappointment in the world at large. Like most of Buzzfeed’s articles, it lacked any research or data, was almost entirely anecdotal and blamed capitalism, Facebook, and everyone’s parents. I for one, get tired of my generation being so critical of the Millennial’s because there’s a lot we can learn from them and I really enjoy interacting with them, especially since I have two of my own. However, in this case, they do a pretty good job of indicting themselves without too much help.

I’ve always taken issue with this idea of Burnout and have always felt it was just made up. After all, we live in a culture that has evolved from one of practical, logical, fact-based evidence to one of cliche’s and narratives that take on lives of their own. Depending upon what group you belong to (especially if you’ve chosen to adopt the values of that group), and it becomes the only lens through which you choose to see the rest of the world, those cliche’s morph into ideological afflictions that supposedly infect us all.

Examples that come to mind are overworked, underpaid, marginalized, disenfranchised, and I could keep going for a while. The problem with all of these cliche’s and attending narratives is that they’re all subject to choice. Taken collectively, it’s easier to be a victim of any one of these afflictions and buy into the group think that created them than it is take ownership of the fact that whoever belongs to the group is choosing to do so.

Take the overworked narrative. There’s simply no evidence in the data. Previous generations dealt with just as much work (if not more), not to mention the anxiety of sky-high crime rates, worse health, and the nuclear threat. On average, people work fewer hours today than at any time in modern history. We have more leisure time and choices, are more traveled and are more educated than any other generation.

Take the Millennial’s narrative. They may have more debt, but they’re also more financially responsible, saving earlier and more for retirement than any other generation. What about all those chores and mundane errands? There’s literally an app for every single one!

Take the Burnout narrative, which by the way isn’t exclusive to Millennial’s. I think they’re a couple of factors that contribute to this cliche and it’s narrative.

The first is something known as Direct Attention Fatigue (DAF), which is exposure to too much stimulation, causing mental and emotional fatigue to the point that we shut down, feeling lethargic and irritable. I’m an Author, Blogger, Video Broadcaster, Podcaster, Speaker, Facilitator and I do my own website development and Social Media. I’m a living testimonial to the effects of DAF. (By the way, Buzzfeed puts forth that DAF is a product of late-stage capitalism and its evil corporate overlords. I can scarce take it in! 😊)

The second factor can best be described as follows: Perceived Reality – Expectations = True Reality. By any standard, we live in the best economic era in history. I can present all the data in the world to support it, but it’s never going to be enough for anyone with over-sized and unrealistic expectations.

Being stressed and anxious isn’t a new phenomenon. We’ve been dealing with it since the beginning of time. For whatever reason, there are more people than ever before that seemingly never expected to have it and it’s become so terrible that they had to have a name for it. Ergo, Burnout! I just don’t buy it and never have.

Finally, there’s one question I keep asking myself more and more often. Is the News really worth it anymore? I’ve always loved the news and have pretty much been very diligent about staying up to speed on what’s happening and also doing so from as many viable sources as possible. However, it’s become increasingly evident to me that as more and more of it keeps being put out there, it becomes increasingly difficult to digest it all, much less arrive at any concrete conclusion.

I have some friends and family that have a compulsion for news that borders on obsessive. With some of these friends, a conversation about anything substantive is impossible without the bombshell of the day taking over the discussion. With some family, I can’t stay in the room for more than an hour because of the endless barrage of one narrative that keeps coming out of the TV and into the discussion. If I even dare to engage with a different opinion, narrative or (God forbid) factual data, I become the anti-Christ. It just wears me out. What’s even more distressing is that I’ve seen these compulsions break up friendships and create breaches that may never close. Yet, if they were asked what benefit they derived from this obsessive consumption, I’m not certain anyone could tell you. Truth be told, I just think that most of the news keeps removing us further from reality.

So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.
At the beginning of this year, Buzzfeed published an article declaring Millennial’s the Burnout Generation. I thought this was very typical of a publication that (for want of a better description) chooses to paint Millennial’s as victims of every generation that came before them. Since Buzzfeed is led by Millennial’s, I guess that makes sense.

They describe themselves as seemingly running out of energy or motivation to do even basic tasks like washing their clothes, cleaning their safe spaces or even running the most mundane errands. They’re always feeling overwhelmed, stressed and have a perpetual sense of constant disappointment in the world at large. Like most of Buzzfeed’s articles, it lacked any research or data, was almost entirely anecdotal and blamed capitalism, Facebook, and everyone’s parents. I for one, get tired of my generation being so critical of the Millennial’s because there’s a lot we can learn from them and I really enjoy interacting with them, especially since I have two of my own. However, in this case, they do a pretty good job of indicting themselves without too much help.

I’ve always taken issue with this idea of Burnout and have always felt it was just made up. After all, we live in a culture that has evolved from one of practical, logical, fact-based evidence to one of cliche’s and narratives that take on lives of their own. Depending upon what group you belong to (especially if you’ve chosen to adopt the values of that group), and it becomes the only lens through which you choose to see the rest of the world, those cliche’s morph into ideological afflictions that supposedly infect us all.

Examples that come to mind are overworked, underpaid, marginalized, disenfranchised, and I could keep going for a while. The problem with all of these cliche’s and attending narratives is that they’re all subject to choice. Taken collectively, it’s easier to be a victim of any one of these afflictions and buy into the group think that created them than it is take ownership of the fact that whoever belongs to the group is choosing to do so.

Take the overworked narrative. There’s simply no evidence in the data. Previous generations dealt with just as much work (if not more), not to mention the anxiety of sky-high crime rates, worse health, and the nuclear threat. On average, people work fewer hours today than at any time in modern history. We have more leisure time and choices, are more traveled and are more educated than any other generation.

Take the Millennial’s narrative. They may have more debt, but they’re also more financially responsible, saving earlier and more for retirement than any other generation. What about all those chores and mundane errands? There’s literally an app for every single one!

Take the Burnout narrative, which by the way isn’t exclusive to Millennial’s. I think they’re a couple of factors that contribute to this cliche and it’s narrative.

The first is something known as Direct Attention Fatigue (DAF), which is exposure to too much stimulation, causing mental and emotional fatigue to the point that we shut down, feeling lethargic and irritable. I’m an Author, Blogger, Video Broadcaster, Podcaster, Speaker, Facilitator and I do my own website development and Social Media. I’m a living testimonial to the effects of DAF. (By the way, Buzzfeed puts forth that DAF is a product of late-stage capitalism and its evil corporate overlords. I can scarce take it in! 😊)

The second factor can best be described as follows: Perceived Reality – Expectations = True Reality. By any standard, we live in the best economic era in history. I can present all the data in the world to support it, but it’s never going to be enough for anyone with over-sized and unrealistic expectations.

Being stressed and anxious isn’t a new phenomenon. We’ve been dealing with it since the beginning of time. For whatever reason, there are more people than ever before that seemingly never expected to have it and it’s become so terrible that they had to have a name for it. Ergo, Burnout! I just don’t buy it and never have.

Finally, there’s one question I keep asking myself more and more often. Is the News really worth it anymore? I’ve always loved the news and have pretty much been very diligent about staying up to speed on what’s happening and also doing so from as many viable sources as possible. However, it’s become increasingly evident to me that as more and more of it keeps being put out there, it becomes increasingly difficult to digest it all, much less arrive at any concrete conclusion.

I have some friends and family that have a compulsion for news that borders on obsessive. With some of these friends, a conversation about anything substantive is impossible without the bombshell of the day taking over the discussion. With some family, I can’t stay in the room for more than an hour because of the endless barrage of one narrative that keeps coming out of the TV and into the discussion. If I even dare to engage with a different opinion, narrative or (God forbid) factual data, I become the anti-Christ. It just wears me out. What’s even more distressing is that I’ve seen these compulsions break up friendships and create breaches that may never close. Yet, if they were asked what benefit they derived from this obsessive consumption, I’m not certain anyone could tell you. Truth be told, I just think that most of the news keeps removing us further from reality.

So, what does all of this have to do with Leadership?

The biggest obstacle to any organization is when it’s best, brightest and most passionate (regardless of demographic, race, religion, sex, gender, etc.) become silent. They’re not sick, I can assure you. They’ve become unmotivated.

When that starts happening, the issue is and will always be leadership that stopped listening to reality and started buying into the narrative.

Simplicity + Proactivity = Elite Leadership

In a busy world filled with constant distractions, it’s rare to find elite leaders, who are actively being intentional about their lives and businesses versus just reacting to the endless demands of incoming emails, text messages, voice messages and social media updates.

These kinds of leaders are bombarded with just as many distractions and requests for their time as everybody else; yet they seem to be able to get it done and still have time left over to focus on whatever’s required, professionally or personally.

So, how is this possible? We can all recognize this kind of individual when working with one, but even then, it may be difficult to explain what makes them not only efficient, but effective, as well.

I’ve been studying these kinds of elite leaders for some time and I’ve noticed one consistent characteristic with all of them (Steve Jobs, Simon Sinek, Warren Buffett, Sam Walton, who was my mentor for most of my career with Walmart, to name a few). They all prefer(red) to wear the same kinds of clothes every day. Most of you reading this post right now are probably asking yourself why that’s so significant.

Sidebar: I’m a confessed, obsessive profiler. At the risk of sounding gender insensitive, I was raised with 5 sisters, a strong-willed Mother and Grandmother, and a Father that travelled a lot. As a result, I spent a lot more time listening and observing than I did talking. (Hey, the data is irrefutable. Women are a lot more socially constructed than men. 😊) I also became certified in body language translation and non-verbal communication some years ago in order to take my communication skills to the next level. It’s been an invaluable advantage in understanding the unspoken context or backstory with anyone or any environment.

So, back to why this common characteristic is so consistent with elite leaders.

Because wearing the same thing or type of thing every day is a physical manifestation indicating a core focus and value placed upon simplicity, which is freedom from complexity. It also represents a core focus and value placed upon a character trait I don’t see articulated or written about much at all, which is proactivity; causing something to happen rather than responding after something’s already happened.

Think about how simply profound this is as it relates to leadership in general. In other words, it’s not nuclear physics.

I’ve shared before that my three (3) favorite words in the English language are also my three (3) core values.

  1. Simple, because I want everyone involved to understand what’s necessary.
  2. Relevant, because if I’m going to participate, it must matter.
  3. Compelling, because I want to influence those following me in the same way.

This is the filter through which I pass all decisions having to do with who and how I spend my time.

What I want to share in this post are five (5) steps that I think elite leaders take on a daily basis that are game changers.

  1. They know where they’re going. 

Stephen Covey once wrote: To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.

One of the hardest things to do for any leader is to keep the team focused on achieving the goal. It truly is a balancing act between adjusting to the daily demands and the obvious pivots that every leader has to navigate in a constantly evolving landscape.

  1. They prioritize what’s important.

Discerning between what must be done and what could be done is a skill that all proactive leaders have developed. Team members will constantly present new opportunities and ideas. The leader must be able to prioritize what’s important and what needs to be done first instead of just chasing the next new idea.

  1. They say no often.

A proactive leader must learn to say no to most ideas and opportunities. The mental and physical bandwidth required to execute realistic short-term and mid-term plans that are already mapped out is hard enough.

Steve Jobs once said, People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

Jobs was constantly being pitched new ideas and concepts from employees, customers, friends and family; yet he realized that he couldn’t build a reputation based upon what he intended to do. As a result, he was known for saying no to most opportunities and ideas so that he could have the bandwidth to actually finish the tasks at hand.

  1. They limit the number of decisions they have to make every day.

We live in a time and place where the sheer volume of data points and interactions with our professional and personal environments has exceeded our ability to properly, mentally and emotionally deal with all of them.

While reading this post, you’ve probably already received either an email, a text, a social media update or a missed call. In order to stay proactive, the most effective leaders attempt to automate everything they possibly can that makes sense, especially when they’re feeling overwhelmed by the daily decisions they have to make.

This one is probably of most importance to me personally. It’s why I spend a lot of time front loading anyone under my influence that I feel has the potential and talent to do more than they think they can if I’ll just let them. Elite leaders don’t limit the capacity and abilities of subordinates out of fear, insecurity or (the most toxic) pure meanness.

  1. They’re intentional about who they spend time with.

Proactive leaders surround themselves with proactive and positive people. This doesn’t mean investing your time into the lives of every single person under your influence, which is a recipe for disaster. I can assure you personally from experience, there will never be enough bandwidth for that. There are times when making no new friends is a wise decision. 😊

Truth be told, the choice to be proactive or reactive is just that; a choice. Proactive leaders do not become this way by accident. They make a choice to do so and embed the necessary daily habits to ensure they stay that way.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it is this.

Are you also willing to take those same steps?