“Leaders Made Here” Book Review

I believe this is the fifth book review I have done for one of Mark Miller‘s “short and sweet” leadership titles.  While the perspective and the details shift from book to book, the universe which Mark shares with us remains consistently reality-based and believable.  

This time around, a leader once again faces  significant personal challenges, at the same time as they are tasked with the responsibility for creating a leadership culture in an organization.  The premise is compelling and I was reminded once again of the role of compassion in the workplace, especially since we have started to focus more and more on the diverse personalities we find in our workplaces, each with their own stories and their own personal and professional challenges.

As in life, everyone does not use the same approach or come to the same conclusions, other than a few shining principles featured toward the end of this short book.   Actually, we notice regularly throughout that everyone does not have to and should not agree to the same approaches or tools.   We are different from each other in many ways, and each person has to decide the ways that work best for them.

As always, Mark uses narrative style to effectively describe both people, places, and processes.  I have not always been a strong fan of narrative style, but Mark is steadily making a believer out of me.  He manages to pack quite a bit of learning and thought-provoking activity into each short chapter.  A few examples of his pithy  and direct phrasing are also sprinkled around this post.

My personal favorite section was the slow uncovering of the essential principles from the primary character’s exploration of effective leadership development at several different workplaces.   Rather than jump directly into the final list, we see  the “messier” work of a group of intelligent people grappling with how best to organize their learning and convey the core of that learning to others in a clear, simple, and effective way.

This is how real teams create outcomes, but many leadership books tend to treat this part of leadership like a miracle … the finished statements just magically appear.  Not so in Mark’s book and we are the better for it.

I could say many other positive things about Leaders Made Here, but at this point, you get my message:  This is another in a hopefully never-ending series of short and easy-to-read leadership books that brings great value in an attractive and engaging fashion.

Don’t believe me?   Read the book and draw your own conclusions … I’ll wait:)


Disclaimer:  I have received a copy of this book for promotion, just like all the other times.  I have also purchased extra copies to distribute to others, just like all the other times.

ABOUT MARK MILLER (from his website)

Mark Miller began writing over decade ago when he teamed up with Ken Blanchard on The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. In 2011, he released The Secret of Teams, outlining the key principles that enable some teams to outperform the all the rest. Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life came next in 2012, followed by The Heart of Leadership in October 2013, the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Secret in September 2014, and Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game in April 2016.

This spring, his latest book, Leaders Made Here, tackles the issue of creating a leadership culture in a company. Readers will again follow Blake as he encounters some of his greatest challenges yet — making sure he is growing leaders who can take the company into the future. With more than 700,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.

TO read even more about Mark and his remarkable journey, click here …


Getting It Right …

No MistakesGoing back to my roots for this one …

At one time, I was quite enamored of all things Richard Bach … yes, even the seagull:)  It was a thing we did, if we were of a certain age at a certain time in certain places and contexts.  

However, Bach wrote more than just Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.  This quotation comes from one of his other works, as I remember.

So to business …

NO MISTAKES?  This seems a bit much to accept, doesn’t it?

I can list a number of events from my life that definitely felt like mistakes, at the time and usually long afterward.   I have hurt others with my words and actions.  I have cost myself and others money, time, and energy.  I have failed to do what I know is right on more occasions than I am comfortable thinking about.

Over the course of things, I would imagine most of us make more “mistakes” than we get it right.

This is not surprising when you take into account a reality:  


Unless you ascribe to reincarnation or some other philosophy that allows multiple changes to get it right, we only get one chance to do each thing.  Now we might get another chance tomorrow to do that same thing, but it is not the chance we have today, but a new round at the same issue or topic.

Bach’s main point seems that we learn from our mistakes, so they are not mistakes in the eternal sense of the word, but rather “life adjustments“.  You know, those conversations that usually begin with some form of “I’m sorry …” or “You know, that didn’t work out like I wanted it to …”

Those of us who have attempted to create strong and intimate relationships through marriage, alliance, parenting, or friendship should welcome the news that we get to make adjustments.   The mistakes we make with one person or situation are part of what allows us to get it right in another situation or with another person.

I know of NO perfect relationships or situations, so we are all works in progress.

A quick note to the younger folks in the audience:


I know older folks often seem like they have achieved that blissful state where all goes well every day because they know how to live without problems, but that is an act in itself.

We’re just calmer about making our mistakes now, because we recognize they are continual pop quizzes on how to do life and are essential to getting the right answers at the end.

How have you made and how are you making mistakes?

What are you learning from your mistakes?

What mistakes do you wish you had made?

You can catch up with Richard Bach HERE and you will not regret spending a few minutes with this thoughtful truth seeker.

Trying both to remember and forget all my past and current mistakes at the same time in the Heartland …


Image:  Gratisography.com – A great source of creative and unique photographs











Blab, Blab, Blab …

Language - Presenter Media

I have no trouble doing this …

Those who know me best know that I will seldom be accused of being too brief or not using enough words, unless I am coaching or counseling, where the 80/20 rule means my mouth is open no more than 20% of the time.

That said, I believe Caitlin has a very powerful point .   We tend to live our lives, especially in the business arena, by holding to the following:

Cut to the chase …

Just give me the bottom line …

Don’t worry about the details …

Our society tends to suffer from a non-medical version of Short Attention Span Syndrome, where quicker, shorter, and less is the norm and often accepted as better by most of us without any real thought.

Of course, we are probably not talking about just using more words, which values quantity.  I would imagine that the real point here is to enhance our communication by

Using more descriptive words …

Using a broader array of words …

Using words more correctly … 

The river was up” is a phrase used in the farmlands to indicate that rain has raised the level of the river, prompting a fear of flooding.  Taciturn farmers can utter this phrase and communicate quite a lot, but most of us are not taciturn farmers.

“The river was swollen with rain, overflowing it’s banks and covering the lowlands with an expanse of muddy, destructive, and uncontrolled liquid, which swept vegetation, buildings, and people from its chaotic path” is much more evocative, at least in my opinion.

… Or if you prefer a more useful example:

“Our new hire is not working out”  is clear, direct, and often heard in the workplace.  However, you are not getting much information to help avoid a similar situation in the future.

Our new hire is not working out.  They have the technical skills that the position requires, so our hiring process worked well to assure that fit.  However, the new hire exhibited relationships behaviors which conflicted with our corporate culture, such as insisting on operating from a “lone wolf” perspective, rather than the team approach we value.  Another example concerned their focus on increasing their personal earnings, which often led to issues with other employees and a “cut-throat” reputation, which further hindered their integration into the organization.  How can we assess the cultural part of fit better with future potential employees?”

Yes, it’s more wordy … but you have a much clearer picture of what went right and what did not, along with a nudge toward adjusting for a more positive future outcome.

Several summary points:

Shorter is not always better and concise is not always helpful.

Performance improvement depends on expanding the discussion, rather than shortening it.

This is not really about using more words per se, but about making your word more useful.

Feeling very thankful that shorter is not always the best choice in the Heartland  …


Image:  Presenter Media

Reflections on Old Men and McDonald’s …


Every once in a while, a woman or a slightly younger man shows up, but this is almost exclusively an old man’s world.

Men of a certain maturity sit and chat, about the weather, about goings-on in their lives, their children and grandchildren, the state of the world, sometimes about politics, but that is often restricted to the local level or a chorus of people who all see things pretty much the same. 

Every tongue is loose and words flow freely … I wonder if they are this verbose in other situations or at home.  I imagine not …

Continue reading

Run, Run, Run … Or Not

Hamster Wheel and Quote.png

But then, you already knew that, didn’t you?

We are officially past Monday now, so your workweek should be either shuffling or crashing along, depending on your work situation.   Now you can spend a few minutes considering things like speed, direction, and progress.

Yes, I am talking about considering the amount of time you are spending, the focus of your efforts, and the quality of your content.  Here are some quick diagnostic questions to ask yourself and answer honestly, thenadjust as needed based on that honest answer:


I am very busy.  You are probably very busy too.  This seems the default position for most of us these days.

Consider what comes of all your busy efforts.   In my case, if I have written an acceptable blog post, drafted a valid coaching program, designed a useful job aid or poster, made or strengthened an important connection with another human being, I feel like I am creating.

When I finish 10 quick rounds of PANDA POP, not so much. Continue reading