February Leadership Development Carnival …

Leadership - Julius Caesar via WikipediaToday, I share another excellent compiliation of leadership thinking from a trusted source.

Leadership Development Carnival is a monthly collection of very talented folks who work in leadership development by coaching, speaking, researching, writing, and leading. 

Each month brings a different host on a different blog.  Paul LaRue, this month’s host, is thoughtful, decisive, approachable, and an all-around cool guy:).

Click the link for more high-quality leadership thinking and practice strategies than you could use in a lifetime … ENJOY:):


Feeling blessed in the area of leadership development this week in the Heartland ….


It’s All Relative …

Yin and Yang metalAll definitions of words, like everything else, are relative.  Definition is to a major degree dependent upon your partisan position.  Your leader is always flexible, he has pride in the dignity of his cause, he is unflinching, sincere, an ingenious tactician fighting the good fight.  To the opposition he is unprincipled and will go whichever way the wind blows, his arrogance is masked by a fake humility, he is dogmatically stubborn, a hypocrite, unscrupulous and unethical, and he will do anything to win; he is leading the forces of evil.  To one side he is a demigod, to the other a demagogue.

Saul Alinsky,  Rules For Radicals:  A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

This is a most erudite statement about our human tendency to see the same traits and interpret the same words or thoughts differently, dependent on who is exhibiting said behavior or words.

An idea from someone we admire sounds more palatable than when an enemy or someone from a group we dislike or fear voices that same idea. 


Too bad … this very human trait gets squarely in the way of our thinking critically and effectively about the message, because we focus our attention on our relationship to the messenger, and not on the value or merits of the message.

This is deadly at any time and doubly so now …. We need to step up our game at discerning valid and effective stances, and not allow our perception of the person who delivers the message to distract us. 


All this, of course, assumes basic trust in the messenger.  If we do not trust the messenger, we will not listen to them, but if we do, we might take all they say as true.   Trust can be our powerful way to decide who we listen to and a powerful block to hearing what we need to hear.   

Trust, by itself, is simply a feeling about someone or something else, and trust conveys no objective truth one way or the other.   Sometimes though, it’s all we have to go on …


Halo and Horns - Dreamstime.comI have no easy resolution to offer here.   The tendency to rate things based on our relationship with the messenger is as old as humanity and does not break easily.

It’s called the “Halo and Horns” effect.

One thing I do know:  Awareness is the beginning of positive change here, as it is in almost all change.  

If we first honestly and deeply consider our perception of a person and how that perception might influence us to hear them more negatively or more positively, we are on the way to more effective critical thinking.

Being free to simply agree with our heroes and ignore or rail against our enemies is no longer as easy as it once was …

Trying to sift through all the hoopla, platitudes, and innuendos swirling around important issues in the Heartland …


REFERENCE:  Halo and Horns Effect (Wikipedia)

INSPIRATION:  Quote originally shared by Steve Layman, who toils prolifically at Anderson Layman’s Blog.  Not only has Steve introduced me to a range of other worthy bloggers, his daily stream of fascinating and eclectic thoughts, images, and links brings continual mental exercise to my brain and joy to my heart. 



Image:  Morguefile.com

5 Things You Should Do For Everyone You Lead …

MarkMiller_About_179x240_050813Guest Post by Mark Miller, author, leader, and all around Good Guy – Originally Posted on greatleadersserve.org on April 10, 2013


I believe the best leaders consider one of their primary roles to be the development of others. This is a strategy of multiplication. Not only is it scalable, it is one of the keys to sustainability for an organization. It’s also a beautiful picture of a leader constantly increasing his or her capacity.

So how do you do it? How does a leader develop others? Countless ways. Here are five to jumpstart your thinking.

Create high expectations  It is the Pygmalion effect in action. People have a strong tendency to rise to the level of expectations placed on them. Some research indicates this as one of the primary factors in the success of firstborn children. Parents unknowingly place higher expectations on them than their siblings. High expectations can be a catalyst for those we lead to excel.

Provide challenging assignments – “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions,” Oliver Wendell Holmes. We learn most of what we know about leadership from leading. We learn most of what we know in life from failure. When we give appropriate challenge to those we wish to develop, we turbo-charge their opportunity for growth.

Ask challenging questions – I never cease to be amazed by the power of the right question asked at the right time. As leaders, we need to ask more questions. When we give someone an answer, we’ve given them a fish; when we ask them a question, we’re teaching them to bait their own hook. Ask great questions and teach others to do the same – they’ll thank you for it… later.

Give candid feedback  I hate half-hearted, half-truth feedback. I always have. Truth is a leader’s best friend. It’s also a great ally for emerging leaders. If something is holding you back as a leader, don’t you want to know? Of course you do! So do your people. When you and I fail to give candid feedback, we are self-serving leaders not serving leaders. We’re too concerned with what someone will think in the moment rather than being concerned with their long-term well being. The best leaders are truth tellers.

Share your contacts  This is not a new idea for me, but someone put it in a new light for me recently. The comment was made that to share your friends is the most valuable thing we can give someone. I’d never thought about it like that. I’ve re-doubled my efforts to share my contacts with those I’m trying to help develop. It may be a coach, a friend, a colleague at another organization or just someone I know who may be able to add value in a person’s life.

Doer, Delegator or Developer – what type of leader will you be? This single decision will change the way you lead.

Mark Miller, well known business leader, best-selling author, and communicator, is excited about sharing The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow with those who are ready to take the next step. You can find it on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.

John’s Disclaimer:  Got a free copy of this book for review prior to launch this week.  Free does not influence me.  Valuable, readable, and accurate influence me.

I’ll Volunteer For That …

“We rent people’s hands and their backs, yet they can only volunteer their hearts, their minds, and their imaginations.”

via Ray Attiyah

Volunteer HandsChick was the first supervisor (other than my father) who I ever worked for beyond a day’s work.  

Prior to that first summer job working in a plant in Keokuk, Iowa, I had only worked on the family farm and on other farms in the area. 

All I had learned so far was the basics:  

Do what the person paying tells you to do.

Keep doing it until they say to stop.

Do not complain, no matter what you are asked to do.

Do it as well as you can and meet their expectations.

Chick was a city guy, probably mid-thirties, although the factory grind made him appear much older.   He was a minor functionary, the lowest level of supervision in the organizational structure, but he had probably worked very hard to get to that level.  He was not a particularly educated or literate person and he was probably jealous of my callow, but college-bound self, doing my little summer stint before moving on to larger stages.

He was also the first manager, although far from the last, to share this thinking with me:

“I pay you to work hard and do what I say.  You should be happy to have a job and you should be grateful to the company for giving it to you.”

Frankly, the thought of being happy to have a job had never entered my mind, at least in that particular perspective.  I was happy to be getting money regularly, but the job was just a mandatory annoyance on the way to the paycheck.

I wonder what Chick would have said to the idea that he was just renting my physical manifestation and had no control over how I felt.

Hmmm … it probably would have ended poorly for me …

My emotions are my own and you cannot buy or rent an emotion … can you?

In this enlightened and progressive modern world of work, we are continually talking about and spending energy to engage people, on the assumption that the more engaged employee is a more productive employee.

The emphasis is on the organizational efforts through their leadership and management to change the attitudes of employees.  

I volunteer when I want to do something or believe that an effort will be of value to me and others.  I do not volunteer because an organization tries to influence me to do so … at least as far as I know.

How does using the term “Volunteer” change your thinking about what we do as leaders to increase involvement with organizational goals?

Thinking about the “why” as much as the “how” in the Heartland ….