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How to Give a Compliment


Ever wondered if a compliment you received was sincere? Others wonder that about the compliments you give sometimes too. 

Every compliment you’ve ever given may have been sincere and heartfelt but sadly some people do use compliments to manipulate others. That can make even your sincere compliments suspect too.

If you want to make certain that your compliments are received with the same sincerity as they are given then prove that they are sincere.

Just like with anything else you hope to prove you’ll need evidence to offer as proof.

An unquestionably sincere compliment really has two parts, the actual compliment and then the evidence that supports it as true and sincere.

For instance, I could merely tell someone that they did a nice job. They can then begin to wonder what I meant, they can wonder if I really meant it and they can wonder if I’m expecting “something” in return. In short, they can wonder about my motives. 

If you’ll just put a little more effort into the compliments you give you can take all the wonder out of them.

As an example… I tell someone that they did a nice job. Then I add…”the reason I say that is because I used to do that job. I can tell by your results that you paid great attention to the details required to achieve that excellent result. Not everyone cares enough to do that, I appreciate that about you, your results say a lot about who you are. You truly did a great job!”

There is not a whole lot to wonder about there. In almost every case a compliment, when backed up by evidence showing why you paid the compliment in the first place, will be accepted at face value. The more specific your evidence is the less wonder there will be.

It’s not a lot of effort to make the compliments you give truly matter but there is one more thing you can do to make them truly last.

Put them in writing! Investing 5 minutes to write out your compliment, with the supporting evidence, will make an even bigger difference than just saying it. Investing a few minutes to write out your compliment can increase it’s significance ten-fold. 

It takes so little yet it means so much. If you’re going to give a compliment then really, really give a compliment. 

Try it, I can almost guarantee that you’ll like it and I can absolutely guarantee that the person you compliment will love it! 

The Awesome Responsibility of Leading


Lots of people occupy leadership positions without really leading. Many people identify themselves as leaders even though they actually lead no one. 

To those people leadership is apparently just a word. 

To a truly Authentic Servant Leader however “Leadership” is much more than just a word; it is an awesome responsibility. 

Leadership, true leadership, comes with the responsibility to help your people grow and succeed. Every time you move up within an organization the weight of your responsibility increases. If you’re not prepared for that or you are unwilling to accept additional responsibility then don’t accept the move either.

It’s not unusual as you move up the ladder that your responsibility will grow faster than your authority. That’s a challenge for lesser leaders but Authentic Servant Leaders use their influence in place of authority to get things done. Authority is important if your trying to rely on compliance to motivate your people, when you have the commitment of your people influence is more than sufficient.

The responsibility of leading means making certain sacrifices. Leaders have obligations to many constituencies and that limits their freedom. It is however a limitation they freely choose in order to have an impact on the lives of those they lead. 

Here’s the thing, saying you’re a leader is easy. Leading, really leading, is anything but easy. Leading isn’t for everyone and that’s perfectly fine but if you occupy a leadership position or have the audacity to label yourself a leader then you must accept the responsibility that goes with it.

If you don’t then you’re denying your people the leadership they need and deserve. 


How to Feed Your Ego


Do you have an ego? If you’re reading this then it’s likely you have a pulse and if you have a pulse then you most certainly have an ego. 

That’s not a problem, the problem comes from not understanding that having an ego is as normal as breathing. 

As a leader you must remember that your people have egos and their ego needs to be fed with recognition and feedback. Hungry egos lead to unproductive, disengaged followers and no leader can afford that. Consider feeding your people’s egos to be an investment in them and your organization.

While feeding your people’s ego you must also remember that you have an ego too. Just like everyone else’s it must be fed. You may be working for a limited leader who doesn’t offer recognition or feedback. Maybe you’re leading from the middle of the organization where your efforts are largely hidden. 

In either case, it may be necessary for you to feed your own ego. Having a hungry ego does not make you weak, it doesn’t make you selfish and it doesn’t make you an egomaniac. It simply makes you human.

Here are a few ideas on how you may feed your own ego.

Discover satisfaction wherever and whenever you can. Be satisfied knowing the real reason for the success of your team or the success of a project. If you know the reason it’s a safe bet others do as well, whether they acknowledge it or not. 

Accept the compliments, wherever they come from. You may not be receiving compliments from your boss or leader but hey, a compliment is a compliment. Accept them graciously because if you’re hungry enough it doesn’t really matter where the food is coming from.

Understand the value of what you do. Oftentimes people aren’t appreciated until they are gone. That happens when their value isn’t understood. Whether others understand the value that you bring to the organization or not you always have the ability to understand it yourself.

Now… a couple of caveats. 

A healthy ego is a lean ego. Your ego needs to be fed but it doesn’t need to be stuffed. Never eat more ego food than you need to be healthy. While having an ego is not a problem having a great big fat ego certainly is!

Make sure what you’re ego is eating is actually ego food and not waste from a bull. If you lie to yourself about the value you bring to the organization or your accomplishments then your ego begins to smell like the bull. That’s no way to lead!

Keep your ego well fed and your career and relationships will be healthy too.

People Don’t Follow Positions


People follow people. They don’t follow positions and they certainly don’t follow titles. If you believe that your position or title makes you a leader then you’re making one of the most common leadership mistakes you can make.

Your title or position does not give you the right to lead. You can be promoted to a position of leadership but you can’t be promoted to “leader.” You must earn the right to lead and that right can only be given by those who would follow you.

Your title or position may buy you some additional time to earn that right but that’s about all it does. To earn the right to lead you must walk your talk and that is easier said than done. As someone in a leadership position you will be watched. 

People will watch to see if what you say matches what you do. If it doesn’t then your leadership is pretty much dead on arrival. You may be given the occasional pass for a minor lapse here and there but overall if you hope to truly lead then your words and actions must match.

When your words and actions match your potential followers will see you as an honest person who is credible. When people see you as credible they will allow you the opportunity to lead them. It’s only when people actually follow you that you are truly a leader. 

That’s why it is a good idea to turn around once in a while to see if anyone is behind you. If no one is there then you may be going for a walk but you aren’t really leading anyone.

Clearly there is more to leading than just walking your talk but matching your words and actions is a critical first step in earning the right to lead. Skip it and you miss the opportunity to make your leadership matter.

If you’re in a leadership position and no one is following don’t think for a minute that your position has failed you. In order to grow into a true leader you must understand that you have failed the position and the people who needed you to lead. 

Learn from that and you’ll be learning to lead.


Price Without Quality


My grandfather owned a small grocery store back in the day when all grocery stores were small. His business survived long after the much bigger supermarkets came on the scene.

His successful business was built on one simply philosophy: price without quality is waste.

I’ve always kept that philosophy in mind whenever I was considering a major purchase. It was in mind a few weeks ago as my wife and I were looking for a new bed for our guest room. My always bargain hunting bride spotted a “going out of business” sale at a furniture store near our house.

We found a bed that suited our needs and began talking with the friendly salesperson. One of the first things he told us about was the 10 year warranty on the frame and springs. My hard to fool wife asked who would honor the warranty if the store was out of business. 

The salesperson assured us we didn’t really need a warranty anyway because the beds were so well made. He then told us to decide about the purchase soon because “when they are gone they are gone for good.” We told him we would let him know and he almost immediately said that if they ran out they could make more after all. 

We left. A salesperson who tells one lie will almost certainly tell another.

Price without quality is waste. 

It’s entirely possible that the bed was the best bed ever made but “quality” isn’t only about the product you buy, it’s about the person you buy it from and the company they represent. 

The product itself is at most a third to maybe half of what is known as the “value proposition.” Good salespeople have the ability to explain the full value proposition to their customers. The challenge is that there are not enough good salespeople to go around. So when we’re a buyer we usually have to figure out the real value proposition ourselves. 

When considering the real value of your next big purchase remember that there is more to value than meets the eye. Real value comes from the expertise of the person selling you the product and the company that supports your purchase decision in the event that something goes wrong. 

If the salesperson sells you a product that doesn’t meet your needs and there is no support after the sale then even the best price can quickly turn into a really bad deal.

Remember no price is a good price if the product doesn’t do want you need it to for as long as you expect it to do it. 

Said another way… price without quality is waste.

It’s Never Too Late


“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

One of my favorite stories is the one about the wise old man in a small village. Two young boys once approached this wise old man and asked about a bird that one of them had in their hand. They asked if the bird was alive or was dead. The wise old man knew that if he said it was alive they would simply crush the bird and kill it thus proving him wrong. If he said it was dead they would simply open their hand and release it, again proving him wrong. So his answer was this; he told the boys that the answer to their question was in their hands. Their actions would determine the answer to the question.

Will 2016 be a “better” year for you than 2015 has been? 

That’s a big question and the answer to it is in your hands. A “better” 2016 depends almost entirely on the decisions you make and the actions you take. You see, your future is in your hands.

One way to ensure a better 2016 is to finish 2015 strong. Perhaps 2015 was an awesome year for you, you’ve made your goals and are basking in the glow of success. If so you may be tempted to coast through the reminder of the year. Don’t do it… the most successful people finish well, they don’t stop simply because they are ahead.

Maybe 2015 has not met your expectations, if so you may be thinking about just taking your foot off the gas and gliding into 2016. Don’t do it… successful people don’t give up just because it’s late in the game. Successful people make the most of the best and the best of the worst. Finishing 2015 strong is the surest way to make the most of a bad year and ensure a strong start to 2016.

Another way to ensure a better 2016 is to plan for it. The best time to plan for next year was several years ago, the second best time is now. The more you plan the less you’ll find yourself counting on luck.

Successful people don’t rely on luck, they make luck. They don’t respond to circumstances, they make their circumstances. The don’t complain about the unexpected, they expect it and their expectations are reflected in their plan. 

I can’t tell you how many thousands, yes literally thousands of times I’ve been told by someone that they couldn’t plan because their life or job had too unexpected things happen nearly every day. 

If that’s your case too then I have a question for you. Why the heck aren’t you planning for those unexpected things? Seriously, why isn’t there an hour or two on your calendar every day to handle those unexpected things that pop up…. every day?

Lack of planning is a major cause of stress in people’s lives. You can actually plan a good bit of stress right out of your life. Even if you’ve never made a plan it’s not too late to start. Here’s a couple of posts from my archives to show you how.  

If you’re planning on a successful 2016 and you don’t have a plan to make it happen then the odds are against you. Play the odds…make a plan.

Leading With Care


One of the most absolute truths of leadership I know is this: you can care about someone without leading them but you cannot truly lead someone without caring for them. 

That being the case, the first step in learning to lead is learning that it is not a weakness to show that you care. It is in fact a tremendous strength that all truly Authentic Servant Leaders possess. 

The second step is to care. Really, really care. Really caring about the person or people you would lead. Truly caring about them means caring more about what you can do for them than what they can do for you or your organization.

If you’re expecting your people to care more about your organization or it’s customers than you care about them then you’re expecting too much. People won’t care for your customers because you pay them to, they will however care about your customers when they feel cared about themselves.

At it’s core leadership is about people. You must understand that you don’t really lead an organization, you lead the people who put the “organize” in organization. If you forget that, even for a moment, then you are likely to start treating your people like the machines that do your copying and computing. 

When your people are just another piece of your organization’s capital then you’re likely trying to manage your people and not lead them. But your people are not capital, they are human beings. They have the same kinds of struggles, challenges, hopes and dreams going on in their lives as you do. The reason I so dislike the term “human capital” is that it causes leaders to forget that they are leading real live human beings.

Caring for your people must be more then a thought, it must be an action. You know (and so do your people) that you truly care about your people when their success means as much to you as your own. 

When you’re willing to sacrifice some of your own freedoms, some of your own recognition and maybe even some of your own success to help others succeed then you’re not just occupying a leadership position, you’re truly an Authentic Servant Leader. 

Every single person that you have the opportunity to lead is unique and special. They matter and they can make a difference for your organization. It’s up to you as a leader to find their strengths and help them to develop and use them.

When they see you doing that that will also see you caring about them as people. They will know that they not only matter but that they matter to you.

The question is do you have the courage to actually show that you care? If you do then you likely will earn that lofty level of leadership. 

To get there you must always remember, don’t just lead, lead with care!


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