Boundarylessness – What Is It?


Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE, had a term he liked to share with his executive team. The word was “Boundarylessness”. What he meant was each leader should explore the boundaries they have set for themselves; the artificial limits placed in the heart of man. These limiting thoughts need to be eliminated. He wanted no boundaries to hold back the leader’s effort. He implored people to operate with this mindset of “boundarylessness”.


Boundarylessness is a literal concept. The word means what it says: eliminate boundaries within an organization or a team to create universal ownership of the organization’s overall mission. The concept is to create an open, sharing climate that seeks to harness the combined strength of the business. (See August 20, 2008, posting “Accessing Collective Intelligence.”)

Boundarylessness has proved notably effective in bringing individuals together, cutting across business functions and organizational hierarchies to spark innovation and initiative.

Boundarylessness, speed, and stretch are three “soft” philosophical concepts that Welch used to create mental paradigm shifts at the individual level, leading to behavioral changes that delivered hard business results to GE’s bottom line.

Welch encountered TREMENDOUS resistance to his attempt to streamline G.E. so it could compete in a 21st-century global economy. Over and over Welch was told: we have no more to give, there is no better way, we have done all we can do. Time after time Welch insisted there was a better way: go back, try again. Try differently, not just harder. Drop the “it can’t be done” mindset, know that there is a better way somewhere.

Boundaryless behavior has led to an obsession for finding a better way——a better idea——be its source a colleague, another GE business, or another company across the street or on the other side of the globe that will share its ideas and practices…. Zero-sum-thinking did not foresee the immense reservoir of creativity and energy that flows from an engaged work force. – Jack Welch

What Are Some Boundaries?

Anyone who takes on a management and leadership role must know the boundaries they carry. Too often as I open a coaching assignment, I find the person I am helping has a deep collection of very limiting thoughts. You know, the ideas planted in your head by a parent, a sibling, a teacher, or your first boss. Thoughts include statements like:

  • You can’t do that
  • You’re too small
  • You’re too slow
  • You don’t know enough about that
  • You have no experience
  • You have no education
  • Someone else can do that better
  • You failed before
  • We’ve always done it this way.

As some of these very damaging and negative thoughts take root in your consciousness, the natural reaction is to follow the path. Go down the rabbit hole and land at the absolute bottom.

Paint a Different Picture

The remedy is to take the path Welch chose. As a leader we must paint a different picture, challenging the limiting thought with a better belief system. You could think of it as reprogramming. If a thought pattern has emerged in your life, one that sets a boundary on what you can do, you must terminate it.

At GE they proved you can re-imagine the way forward. By intentionally killing off each negative idea, one by one, people can be convinced to begin thinking a new way.

So What?

What are the limiting thoughts, those pesky boundaries, that need to be stamped out in your life? Whether at work or at home, what are the ideas that reverberate in your mind, day after day, causing you to question your effectiveness? Or question the idea you just had? Too many great ideas get killed on the edge of greatness by a limiting belief about what could or should be.

If you are prone to hear some video replay cycling in your head, turn off the program. Unsubscribe to its bad belief. Turn off the recorder. Unfriend the bad idea and open up to new and better possibilities.

Surround yourself with people who have more positive outlooks. It’s way too easy to find problems in the world. Real leaders create solutions. They explore all the possibilities before ever being stopped by a boundary that has no good merit.

[reminder]Can you live with a new mindset of boundarylessness?[/reminder]


Open Letter to First Time Entrepreneurs

This message is a slight departure from my usual advice on Leadership development. I want to tackle the elephant in the room. This message is for those of you, the true entrepreneurs, who are trying to start a new business or who have been floundering for a few months or years in a business you started.

Face it, there is a big move in our culture and economy for people wanting to own their own business. Your bright idea just may be the next Apple or Uber or Amazon. I hope it is. However….

The Ugly Truth

The practical truth is that too few start-ups make it past their third year. Even fewer make it past 5 years. The usual reasons are told time and time again; too few customers, not enough cash, poor product quality, or too confused by the Internet marketing requirements. The list of reasons can go on and on.

Every business owner I know believes they can make it to the elusive $1 million annual figure. Yet so few do.

Did you know that less than 3% of small business owners make more than $150 annually and some only make about $63,000 a year on average?  And less than 1/2 of 1% of business owners ever reach $1 million in total revenue! Do NOT be one of them! Learn More

The Answer

What if you had a system that gave you tools, resources, and support that allowed you to accomplish these goals? What if you got help targeting your ideal prospects and you learned how to understand what they want when they make their decision to purchase your products or services?  What if you learned how to create million dollar marketing messages that let you easily out-market your competition?

This is what has been missing.  Up until now, no one has been giving away “done-for-you” marketing and advertising examples that have already been proven and that are tested to actually give you results.  Up until now, no one has helped you establish a successful way of doing sales in integrity and with the authenticity that is fun and lucrative and adds value to prospects.

One of my mentors was an expert at woodworking. He built beautiful custom furniture and gorgeous cabinets. As his young apprentice, I worked in his shop, learning his secrets. Probably the most critical secret he shared was about using the right tools for the right job. When you need a chisel, don’t use a screw driver. When you need a hammer, don’t use a wrench. His logic said you will ruin the materials, damage the tool, or worse, hurt yourself.

As an entrepreneur, do you have the right tools to market your business and expand your lead generation?

I want to give you some professional help and guidance beyond what you have been receiving.  I actually know how to generate fast sales for your business and to deliver some fun; using these proven marketing tools with compelling offers that bring qualified leads right to you.

I created an entire program so you can learn about the way to get more leads, have more conversions without increasing your traffic, increase transactions, and I even share the closely guarded secret when it comes to setting your prices, and soon you will have more profits.

I care and you matter and I don’t want you to be one of these statistics.  Do NOT be one of them!

Dealing With Pressure

Dealing with pressure

Leaders must know how to handle pressure. Pressure is one of those “not if, but when” factors in life. You will face pressure. The key question is how do you deal with pressure? Is your leadership style changed when pressure comes?

When you face the outward forces crashing in on you, the heat rising, or the magnitude of consequences growing, you sense the pressure. Will the force of pressure draw you closer to your core or drive you away from it? What do I mean by “core”?

The Foundation

Your core is your foundation for leadership. You must routinely seek to build your foundation. Values, principles, and disciplines make up your foundation or core. Without a strong foundation, no structure can endure. So it is with your ability to lead.

Your foundation gives you the under-girding that is necessary to be an effective leader. You cannot give what you don’t have. So your foundation is also the source of strength to guide and direct your leadership efforts.

When pressure comes around, does it send you back to your core or drive you away from it? The best response is to revert to your core or foundation based principles, practices and beliefs. Be true to yourself.

Ask yourself whether the forces of pressure are testing your core. Respond with core-centered action. Do not take the alternative approach and run to some other system of belief or set of principles. Get back to your basics. Likely you were placed in leadership for a reason. The reputation and character that got you into your position is a function of the foundation you used.

When pressure rises, get back in touch with that foundation. Use the solid experience you know about to guide you through the current challenge.

It Truly Is Inward

If you analyze the situation or circumstance that you view as pressure, you will find that factors or elements that make up the sense of pressure are usually identifiable. The big difference is how you inwardly react to those factors.

Your reaction might be radically different form another leader’s reaction, yet the circumstances are exactly the same. What makes the difference?

The answer is your inward process. The way you choose to react or respond to the pressure is the key. Here are some important questions to consider.

Do you react the same way to pressure or does it matter what the details include?

Do you respond or react?

Think about when the doctor gives you medicine. If you respond to it, you are healing. If you react to it, you have more problems.

The way you handle pressure is much the same. By simply reacting, you may be increasing the consequences of your pressure. An inappropriate reaction may draw others into the battle or the circumstances may get worse before they get better. You may create your own compounding effect.

Instead, think in terms of responding to the pressure. Use your experience, your values, your leadership principles. Craft an emotionally intelligent response, not a reaction.

Unmask the Lone Ranger

There was once a story character called The Lone Ranger. It was set in the wild west. As the name suggests, he did most everything by himself. Yet not really. He had a trusted Indian sidekick named Tonto. The whole story is no longer PC, but that’s not my point right now. Pressure may make you feel like trying to find answers by yourself. That should be the last thing you need to do.

Instead you need to rally your support network. Gather the trusted advisers you have recruited. Oh wait, you don’t have any of those? Well, when you’re between high pressure situations, you should work on finding a few individuals who can serve as this personal Mastermind group for you. Let them come along side to provide encouragement and guidance.

Then, when you face pressure, make your assessment of the situation and turn to your network of advisers to assist with ideas for weathering the storm.

[reminder]When was the last time you faced pressure? How did you respond?[/reminder]


Dealing with the Pain of Uncertainty

Dealing with Uncertainty

Uncertainty grips us all at some point in our lives. Perhaps it happens multiple times. It comes in many ways. When circumstances become unclear about “where this is going”, you suffer from doubt, fear, and a whole host of other emotions.

Dealing with Uncertainty
Dealing with Uncertainty

I am writing this firsthand as I and my community are experiencing the unfolding uncertainty of Hurricane Harvey. The Houston area has been impacted by what some are calling rain fall of Biblical proportions. The last reading was 52 inches in five days. For most parts of the world, that amount is a couple of years of rainfall. Houston got it in a few days.

The widespread flooding has forced thousands out of cars, homes and apartments. This event has not been partial to age, race, creed, or financial status. Anyone in the path of the flooding has been impacted. Volunteer effort has also been epic in its response. The efforts of local, state and government officials has been amazing. Thankfully the death toll has been very low, relatively speaking. With an area that is home to 6.5 million, the loss of life can be counted on both hands. This could have been much worse.

In my own neighborhood, we have not been impacted as much as the central Houston area flood water. Yet we have had our own uncertainty. My community is inside a levee district. We have the levee because of the Brazos River. The Brazos is a main artery and the largest river that slices across Texas, running from high central Texas all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Its watershed collects a lot of rain when virtually any part of Texas gets downfall. Last year this river flooded at all-time highs. This year, we are forecast to exceed those levels by 3 feet. That’s a record you don’t want to beat.

The uncertainty of what the outcomes of these events may look like is easy to understand, but hard to comprehend. More importantly it is hard to rationalize your decisions about what to do, who to listen to, and how to go forward.

Uncertainty is by no means limited to catastrophic weather events. It can happen in all other aspects of life too. I’ve had coaching clients who are facing great uncertainty at work. The company is getting bought, sold, or reorganized. Pre and post-merger scenarios often create great uncertainty, even for the chief executives driving those changes.

Uncertainty is difficult because you suffer a wide range of possible human emotion and reaction. The list includes these:

  • Fear
  • Doubt
  • Mistrust
  • Faulty information/assumptions
  • Bad conclusions
  • Compounding effects


Fear may be the greatest of all reactions to uncertainty. The fear of the unknown. You may have your own reaction to circumstances. Yet the person right next to, perhaps your spouse, may have a totally different response.

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]FEAR means False Expectations that Appear Real[/shareable]

When we take in the information that is surrounding us, we try to process it against the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. Will this thing effect my safety, my security, my well-being, my livelihood, or my sense of self? If you decide YES, it does effect one or all of those things, then fear kicks in.

Fear is often associated with the fight or flight mechanisms we have. If the threat, whether real or perceived, exists, then we ultimately choose to fight to defend ourselves (literally or figuratively) or we flee from danger, running away.

If you are experiencing uncertainty, the first emotion to get in check is your fear. Though it is a natural response, the energy and emotion it consumes is detrimental to successful outcomes in the face of uncertainty.


Uncertainty creates doubt. What you may have believed to be true is now called into question when uncertainty arises. You can doubt the circumstance, the source of information, or the people around you. Worst of all is starting to doubt yourself.

If you are in management and leadership, self-doubt is a killer. You must avoid doubting yourself. When any question about you comes up because of an uncertain situation, dig deep into your soul. Pull on your character. Stay strong in your beliefs about who and what you are.

If you are not yet certain about those elements of your being, then you have an opportunity to do some work to improve. If grabbing onto core values and key principles is hard for you, then perhaps you have not yet accurately identified them. A coach can help build that base.


Uncertainty can cause a great deal of mistrust between otherwise civil partners. Friends, neighbors, or co-workers can become adversaries when uncertainty raises its ugly head. As people make decisions about the uncertainty they are facing, their conclusions may run contrary to others.

This is especially problematic between partners and co-workers. When the uncertainty causes a rift between parties, the damage in the relationship may become permanent.

There is no good reason to mistrust someone you formerly trusted during a momentary condition. Wait for the actual, final outcomes to pass judgment on the other person. Hopefully, you will find the temporary interruption in the relationship was not about trust at all. Instead it was a difference of opinions and outlooks that can be repaired with some basic collaboration and communication after the fact. Clear the air as it were.


The panic that might happen inside of uncertainty can be hungry for good information. But you have to be careful. The appetite cannot be satisfied with bad information. Check your facts.

As Reagan once said, “Trust but verify”. Check that data.

Within a team setting, information can take strange shapes. There will be those who insist they have the inside track, getting juicy info to explain the situation or even cast further fear and doubt. In my case lately, there have been those who want to yell “the levee has been breached” when in fact it has not.

It is hard to understand the desire some people may have for spreading such bad information, but they do it anyway. As a leader, you must quiet those storms and share as much good information as you can.

Nothing can confuse a situation more than bad information. Prudent people perform best with solid, reliable information and assumptions. Get the facts, then craft your ideas for desirable outcomes.


Combining all of the pieces above will usually lead to bad conclusions. Fear, doubt, lack of trust, and bad data create the perfect storm for making bad decisions. Whether these decisions are personal or professional, avoid making a bad decision by fixing the other things first.

During uncertainty, you may still make a bad decision, but you can minimize its risk and significance by eliminating the other things we talked about above.


Lastly, be cautious of compounding effects. If you period of uncertainty is prolonged, one bad decisions can compound and create more bad decisions. Stay vigilant when you are facing uncertainty. You will know when you are.

Avoid making rash choices based on fear and doubt. Dig for the truth and as much actual information as you can so that your choices are smarter, more effective ones.


As I write this piece, I sit in the midst of uncertainty. A nearby river is rising to an all-time flood level. There are real people already in jeopardy. Some are homeless, some are displaced, most are just very wet. Property damages are yet to be totalled. It may be days if not weeks before we can get accurate information about what has happened.

This is no time to make decisions based on fear and doubt. We must find trusted relationships to lean on. Anyone introducing new, inflammatory information must be questioned or ignored.

Solid leadership is required.


You can eliminate the uncertainty from your job as a manager by hiring a coach to lead you through to the next level of certainty.


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Where Do the Other Guys Go?

Where do the Other Guys go?

Have you ever been to a leadership conference where everyone in the room tries to give you the impression they already know the answers? You spend the day or two making small talk, perhaps exploring some “new ideas”, yet there is an overwhelming sense that all the people there have already climbed the mountain.

Where do the Other Guys go?
Where do the Other Guys go?

If that’s true, where did all the other guys go? Surely there are some colleagues in your industry who don’t have all the answers. You know it’s true because you deal with some of them on a regular basis.

I never seem to meet the executives who are the “bad guys”; the ones who are bad bosses. Where do they go? Is there a bad boss conference that is secretly held at some discreet location halfway around the globe?

Or is it possible the bad bosses are just simply so bad they aren’t even aware they need help?

Enter the 80/20

The practical reality is The Pareto Principle. You may know it as the 80/20 rule. Yes, I firmly believe only about 20% of our business executives can be rated as good leaders. The other 80% might be rated as OK managers, but they fail to achieve effective leadership.

The good ones are the ones that keep looking for ways to improve. They are hungry to participate in industry groups, networking, TED Talks, round-tables, or workshops attended by other like-minded leaders. They keep growing. They even help facilitate and organize events to attract great leaders.

Sadly, the other 80% keep going to work making life relatively miserable for employees or volunteers.

When I try to broach this topic at a leadership mastermind, I get mixed responses. On one hand, I get reactions like the preachers see every Sunday at church. When a touchy subject is mentioned, people squirm in their seats, but look around as if to say, “certainly that is not me, it must be the other person over there”. On the other hand, I have people say “yes, I want to work on this”.

Executives who have been thrown into management roles are seldom fully prepared to be in the position. They were identified as a high potential or a leading single performer. For that effort, they are rewarded with a promotion into management. Yet they lack the preparation to lead, so there is a need to grow. The other option is the fake-it-until-you-make-it mindset. Maybe they will be successful, likely not.

Lastly, there is a small percentage of talent in the leadership pool who move around between companies and industries because they have achieved proven results. Then there are those “up-and-comers” who are demonstrating leadership talent and who will one day be the next wave of key leaders.

Where Are You?

Where do you fit in this spectrum? Have you recognized the need to do more or be more to be a better leader? There may be forces working against you.

When your company asks you to take on a management role, are you ready to accept it and admit you need help? Probably not. You dive in, using the same energy and zeal that got you recognized as a key contributor. You work harder. Maybe you spend more hours at the office or take work home.

The pressure will mount. Various things you try to do are received with mixed results. Some things work. Other things do not. Your team is getting restless. You know there is a gap in what the job requires versus what you can deliver. What can you do?


Hiring an Executive Coach might be the best investment you can make.
You might want to talk to someone on our team today
to discuss ways to achieve measurable results from executive coaching.

Three Things to Master

Maintain your confidence –  stay true to yourself. You were selected because the company needed you in that job. They had a reason to give it a try. Be confident in knowing that. Come back to that truth as often as you need to. Use trusted advisors to prop up your confidence. Share what you can with close associates (not work colleagues).

Core competencies –  there will be key elements of the job you should master. Whether it is technical knowledge or subject matter expertise, become the guru on those topics. Read more, search more; get the most information you can to show the team you have a mastery of the work.

Stay centered –  don’t let the demands of the job take you off your game. Re-establish your core beliefs about who and what you are, how you can contribute, and the ways you can make a difference. Be true to those beliefs. Maintain an identity as the person you want to be at work. I’m not talking about arrogance. I’m talking about reliability and trust.

Highly effective and well-respected leaders didn’t get there by chance. They work an intentional plan. They grow, they seek counsel, and they are constantly learning.

[reminder]Where are you in the leadership growth process?[/reminder]


If you own or operate a mid-stage company, you may want to explore ways to strengthen your leadership team. I am here to help make that transition.
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Leaders: Sometimes There Aren’t Enough Rocks

Being a child of the 60’s I love the movie “Forrest Gump”. It was on cable recently, cycling through the home spun wisdom of the south and reflecting on the troubling times of the age.

FORREST GUMP, Robin Wright, Tom Hanks, 1994

There are many classic scenes throughout the movie. There is one that touches me every time I see it. Forrest and Jenny are walking through the countryside and come upon her childhood home. At first she gazes, then stares. She steps slowly toward the old, ramshackle house that once was a home. Paint is dried an peeling. Windows are broken. The roof sags. It’s obviously not lived in for quite some time.

Slowly Jenny’s stare turns to anger. She bends over, picks up some rocks, and begins hurling them at the house. Her frenzy intensifies.

Forrest is stunned, not knowing what to do. Jenny finally connects with a fast ball through one of the windows. Glass shatters. She tumbles to the ground sobbing. For sure this house was NOT a home to her. There had been too many disturbing memories. By her own admission her life was a mess. Now we seem to know why.

As she sobs, Forrest quietly and slowly bends over, first a crouch, then he takes a seat in the mud beside Jenny. In the narrative voice you hear him say “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.”

Let’s talk about rocks and leadership.

Anger can be like that.

A burning hurt or disappointment can fester over the years. Unresolved issues boil into contempt and rage. Have you ever worked for someone who seems to be right on the edge with such emotion? It’s not a pretty picture.

As managers and leaders, we run out of rocks before we start. I contend you cannot be willing to throw even the first rock.

He who throws the first rock usually loses.

No, leaders must refrain from letting emotional turmoil boil over. Any issues you might be handling must be dealt with in more subtle, but hopefully, effective ways.

Your team doesn’t deserve the outburst. To be an effective leader, you must be seen as more even tempered. Though things may be swirling around you, the heat of battle cannot trigger other, unrelated matters that might cause some rock throwing.

Oh, it’s easy

Wanting to throw a few rocks seems easy. A rock is small but hard. It makes a great projectile when launched with the right velocity. Here’s the problem. Most of us don’t throw that well. I mean that figuratively.

Even when launching a tirade intended for one someone or some thing, the message might be misguided. If it lands off the mark, you certainly may cause collateral damage.

You might be furious at Steve, but spew something that hits Sally. Steve feels fortunate to have been missed, but Sally is now upset. Steve knows it was intended for him, so he starts running scared. It’s a mess that can only spiral further downward.

Managers and leaders have to do much better. There just cannot be any ‘rock throwing’.

Effective Leadership needs a throttle

To be a good leader you have to have a throttle mechanism. Let’s face it, the heat of battle can fray your nerves. Pressures mount and you have to vent somehow. A well disciplined leader knows NOT to vent in the direction of the troops. Your people never deserve that.

While you might have occasion to sit everyone down and have a stern talk about performance, direction, or momentum, the message should never feel like you are throwing rocks.

I started this piece by saying ‘sometimes there aren’t enough rocks’. In leadership, there shouldn’t be ANY rocks.

Can I develop leadership qualities and skills through books and practice?

Growing Leadership

Being an executive coach puts me in front of audiences and the frequent inquiries from followers. This post is in reference to a simple question I received not long ago.

Can I develop leadership qualities and skills through books and practice?

Growing Leadership

My answer, absolutely! Books are a great place to start. Books can help increase the leadership growth process. It can also “lift your leadership lid”. Growing from manager to leader requires input. You cannot give what you don’t have. That requires learning and absorption.

One of the greatest writers of our time for leadership thought is John Maxwell*. He has published dozens of books and sold over 25 million copies worldwide. He is hands down, the most prolific writer on the subject of leadership. And his books exude his genuine passion for the topic and his heart for helping each one of us grow.

As I said in my own book. “The Uncommon Commodity: The Common Sense Guide for New Managers”, there have been hundreds, if not thousands of books written about management and leadership. The more of these books you read, the more you will find some core competencies and traits that define effective leadership. Yes, different authors will describe the principles in different ways, but the facts remain. There are clearly specific areas from which you can grow.

Here’s the amazing thing about leadership development and growth. With so many attributes making up the patchwork quilt of good leadership, no one, absolutely no one starts exactly the same.

We each possess certain unique views and mindsets from which our ability to lead emerges. The challenge is learning to understand which leadership skills you might have been born with and which ones you need to develop.

All leadership skills can be improved upon over time. Regardless of the innate ability you might have, or the “calling to be a leader” you sense, there is always room to grow. Maxwell describes it as a simple scale. If leadership is scored 1 through 9, the 1’s can learn from everyone above them. The 5’s need to look up to the 6, 7, and 8 people. The 9’s are few and far between. You get the picture.

Maxwell also says:

You cannot give what you don’t have.

This means that as a leader, you must desire to grow. You will never increase beyond where you are without growth. You cannot give what you don’t have.

Practicing Leadership

As to practicing leadership, again, my answer – absolutely. But you should engage a coach to guide your development. The sports analogies fit. I can go to the gym by myself and do some things I read in a book, but my body may not be ready for certain exercises and complexities.

Leadership is that way too. A coach can shape your progress, guiding you carefully up the development curve.

Practicing the principles, applying the teaching you receive to real life situations will give you the experience to grow further. It is very much like mountain climbing. You have to keep moving upward and onward. Each successful step up the climb gives you a little more confidence to take the next step.

Without practicing your leadership, you never prove to yourself what works well and what doesn’t. Without life application, the things you read are only mental exercises. You need live fire drills to enforce the principles and strengthen your understanding of the use of each one.

Experience is a great teacher. That sounds cliché, but applies perfectly here.

Growth is Required

Back to the original question –  Can I develop leadership qualities and skills through books and practice? I argue the question is not optional, but required. The best leaders keep growing. They use experience to fine tune their skill sets, but they look for better and deeper insights from those who have focused attention on writing and coaching.

Every few years, thought leaders emerge that the masses follow. In no particular order, I like Stephen R. Covey “[easyazon_link keywords=”7 Habits” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]7 Habits[/easyazon_link]”, John Maxwell, Brian Tracy, Jim Collins “[easyazon_link keywords=”Good to Great” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]Good to Great[/easyazon_link]”, Simon Sinek, and most recently Seth Godin “[easyazon_link keywords=”Tribes” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]Tribes[/easyazon_link]”.

Disruptive thought is the mindset du jour these days. Anything that is seen as being disruptive to traditional thinking is cool. Don’t get me wrong, I am big fan of this disruptive mindset too. That is why looking for voices that have meaningful messages is important.

Here’s My Bottom Line

You can get immersed in very academic debate about management and leadership theory. You can get lost in vocabulary and terminology that adds no good value and serves no good purpose.

I suggest to you that the best leaders I have ever served with or known, operate with a high degree of common sense. Sadly, common sense is truly an uncommon commodity. That is why I named my own book just that.

If you are an aspiring manager who wants to become a better leader at work, at home, or in your community, find mentors who have demonstrated their leadership in bigger ways, far beyond making money for some organization. Instead look to the following they have.

Decide whether the following represents the values and principles you want to stand for. What has the flowing accomplished.

I close with this example. John Maxwell has grown an organization of over 20,000 coaches worldwide. They serve in 70+ countries around the world. These Maxwell coaches influence people in all walks of life; educators, business people, care givers, etc.

That, my friend is leadership.

[reminder]Share your experience with finding a meaningful book or mentor to follow.[/reminder]

*Note: John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 12 million books. His organizations have trained more than one million leaders worldwide. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of Injoy Stewardship Services and EQUIP. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and organizations as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point and the National Football League. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell was one of 25 authors named to’s 10th Anniversary Hall of Fame. Two of his books, “[easyazon_link keywords=”The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership[/easyazon_link]” and “[easyazon_link keywords=”Developing the Leader Within You” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]Developing the Leader Within You[/easyazon_link]”, have each sold over a million copies.

Leadership: Shining Light v Casting Darkness

“The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Heard that before? How often have you worked for a boss who operated that way? It’s not fun. Actually, it’s a horrible environment to suffer. Yet, work we must, and sometimes it comes out this way.

Shining Light v Casting Darkness
Shining Light v Casting Darkness

Despite all of the great teachings about leadership, the effective demonstration of it comes down to two simple realities. As a leader, we can either shine light on our world or we cast darkness.

[shareable cite=”Parker J. Palmer, PhD.”]A leader is someone with the power to project either shadow [darkness] or light onto some part of the world and onto the lives of the people who dwell there.[/shareable]

Think about the simplicity of this idea. Darkness or light. Which do you choose? This is an age old question, yet it is one that is renewed and reenacted daily by managers and leaders everywhere.

You can be having the proverbial ‘bad day’ and inflict great darkness on those around you. Whether your bad day started as an argument with the spouse or significant other, or perhaps the clerk at the coffee shop, it doesn’t matter. Your team doesn’t deserve the darkness your misfortune might cause.

As leaders we have to be ever-mindful of the significance of our duty. Rather than letting a darkness creep into out world, we have to fight that urge and produce light.

Light helps things grow (unless you are working with a bunch of mushrooms planted in you-know-what). We use the phrase “well that sheds a new light doesn’t it” to describe taking a new view. Vision works in light. It doesn’t take that much. After all a simple small candle can light a whole room of pitch darkness.

Deep Within

A critical consideration is whether you have a propensity to generate darkness due to some deep inner matter left unresolved. Is your look at the world skewed? Do you even have the ability to generate light? Is there an inner darkness that can be triggered at will?

You have to combat the urge to spew darkness when light is preferred. Please refer back to my missive on “bitter or better” for further insight.

Shine Only Happens with Light

The sparkle and glimmer we see coming from nice, pretty objects is only a function of light being reflected. Does your team sparkle because of light you give them? Yes, a leader has that ability, to help others shine.

You an offer “light” for your team by giving praise where praise is due. Give grace to those who need it (mistakes do happen). Encourage the team member who needs encouraging. Teach the person who needs to know a little more.

None of those actions include belittling, condescending thoughts, or criticism. Reverse psychology is a cruel tool for a leader to rely upon. It’s just too easy for it to be taken the wrong way.

Communicate freely and keep others connected. Build trust to amplify the light you are spreading.

Its Your Choice

It is your choice. Think about the quip you feel the need to say. Filter it. If it doesn’t produce light, it probably is dark. Leave it alone.

Find the ways you can harness the power of light in your world.

So you want to be a difference maker? Check yourself for the levels of light coming from your leadership efforts these days.

Light makes might! Go for it!

Gut-Checking Goals for Mid-Year Course Correction

How’s it going for 2017 so far? Have you met your goals? Are you tracking to positive results?

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Or have you stumbled out of the gate and never quite recovered? If so, what is holding you back? I am going to offer some simple two sided attributes for you to consider; a whole new alphabet to follow. There will be a coaching tip with each one.

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Leaders: Get Out of Your Own Box

Nowadays ‘thinking outside the box’ is cliché. We’ve heard it so much we have either forgotten what the idea was really about or written it off.

The problem is that psychologists tell us we all have these personal paradigms that drive our reaction and interaction with culture and society. The older we get, the more “Set in our ways” we become. This is the perfect example of operating from within a very narrow box.

In front of a large audience one day, I asked two volunteers to step on stage. I had arranged two large shipping boxes, something as large as the crates that refrigerators come in. The two volunteers were to step inside each box (doors had been cut to ease the access). Then I asked them to proceed with talking to one another as though they had just met, introducing themselves to one another and talking like this was a networking event.

They couldn’t do it very well. They were talking over each other, interrupting, missing words and phrases from the other person. Clearly their communication was suffering. With little to no connection, their meeting was turning out to be a disaster.

They were then told to exit the box; step outside and face each other. Now resume the effort. Well, of course, things improved quickly.

This was a graphic display of the problems with operating from inside our personal paradigms. Whatever bias, value structure, prejudice, or judgment you have against the world, staying inside your box will prohibit you from adequately connecting with others.

By staying inside those boxes we filter everything being heard and received. Often that filtering corrupts the message or the intent of the sender.

As you meet a new person, strive to understand their “box” first. Forget your bad ideas and limited scope. Hear them genuinely and seek first to understand (a la Steven Covey). You just cannot build a high trust relationship without it. This fits for hiring managers, sales leads, new friends, and other personal relationships.

Give yourself a test. Try this for just one full week. Make a concerted effort to unfilter everything you receive from those around you. Don’t jump to any assumptions or conclusions. If you’ve already ‘tagged’ a person, give them the grace to erase that tag. See and hear them for what they might really be saying.

See the amazing things that can happen. Post back here and let me know what you find.

If you would like to explore more ideas for growing your own leadership influence, click the link below to schedule a short, but free call.

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