Is Your Leadership Creating Negativity?

Perhaps the better question would be is your lack of leadership creating negativity? Or is there a characteristic missing from your leadership that causes negativity in your organization? 

 

I like that last question best because you can be an effective leader in some ways but if you’re missing the key ingredients of sincere recognition and consistent feedback then you’re missing the point of leadership. 

 

The point of leadership is people. Authentic Leaders, and Authentic Servant Leaders in particular, focus on helping their people. They help them succeed. They help them discover their purpose and potential and then they help them achieve them. 

 

Those leaders understand the importance of recognition and feedback. They seldom miss an opportunity to provide both. 

 

As a leader I’ve always been consistent in providing feedback but I’ve struggled with giving recognition. I’m not a touchy feely kind of guy. Early in my career I assumed a paycheck was all the recognition someone needed. 

 

As I’ve grown (that’s code for gotten older) I’ve come to realize that recognition is vital for a person’s mental health. It’s vital for a person to know, without a doubt that another human being sees the value that they bring into the world. 

 

We all need to know we matter. Some people need that affirmation more than others but everyone needs it to some degree. As a leader one of your prime responsibilities is providing that affirmation. Your people need to hear it. They need to feel it. They need to see it. 

 

Here is a crucial thing for leaders to understand. Most people, research shows that as much as 85% of the world’s population, suffer from some level of self esteem deficiency. They lack the confidence to know that they matter, that they make a difference, that they would be missed. 

 

They need rather consistent re-enforcement of that fact. 

 

If they don’t get it, if it’s not a periodic part of their emotional diet, then they start to doubt their value. Maybe it’s a nagging thought or little concern at first but over time without recognition it grows. It grows to the point where they become convinced that they are NOT of value. 

 

That doesn’t make them wacky or weak; it makes them human. It happens to all of us at one time or another. 

 

When that “unvalued” feeling persists long enough a person disengages from the leader or organization that doesn’t value them. Some will then leave the organization and the leader behind. They use what confidence they have left to put themselves into a situation where they might be valued. 

 

But many won’t leave, they stay and simply go through the motions with their organization. They become disengaged and offer little in return for their paycheck. They can even seek to pull others down to their level. They are labeled as “negative” employees or described as having a negative attitude. 

 

They may be negative but they were not born that way. They likely didn’t have that attitude the day they started with the organization. That attitude developed over time and it likely started with a feeling that they, and their work, didn’t matter. 

 

That’s how easy it is for a well-meaning but sometimes thoughtless leader to foster an atmosphere of negativity in their organization. 

 

No organization, not a single one, can afford that type of atmosphere today. As a leader you must be intentional with your feedback and recognition. I literally recommend to leaders that they put a reminder in their phones to recognize someone each day. 


“Busy” is no excuse for letting your people wonder if they matter. Tell them often because there are few, if any, activities you have to do that could be more important than that.

Don’t Confuse Excellence With Perfection

I’m a perfectionist who consistently does things in an imperfect manner. I’m a person who hates settling for good enough yet I frequently accept something that is as good as I can get. 

 

I make those compromises in the interest of getting things done. 

 

There are many people who would criticize me for making those compromises. But I believe a job, project or assignment completed, even if a little less than perfect, is better than one never completed. 

 

One of the five great weaknesses of ineffective leaders is hesitancy. They may be brilliant, they may have great ideas and they may have passion. They are also in need of the perfect circumstance or the perfect timing in which to pursue their passion or idea. Sometimes if they are not certain of a perfect outcome they hesitate to the point of never actually getting started at all. 

 

For these leaders the hunt for perfection is a slippery slope that most often turns into the bondage of procrastination. 

 

I would never encourage anyone to halt their pursuit of perfection. That’s not what I’m recommending here. What I’m recommending is to continue moving towards your goal or objective while you’re in pursuit of perfection. You are unlikely to find perfection but the pursuit itself will likely lead you to excellence. 

 

Some people believe that excellence and perfection are identical twins. They are not. Perfection does not guarantee excellence and excellence does not require perfection. There are few things that waste more time than doing something perfectly that doesn’t need to be done at all. 

 

Excellence does require patience. You will also need an understanding that patience is the acceptance that things can happen in a different order than you had in mind. Knowing how perfection will be achieved is not a prerequisite to starting. Even knowing what perfect looks like is not required to begin. 

 

Get moving and whatever knowledge gaps you have will be filled in along the way. 

 

You’ll rarely find a perfect time to begin anything. If you’re not sure where to start then start with what you’re sure is one right thing to do. Your first step does not need to be a giant leap. Baby steps are okay and though they may be small they are considerably better than no step at all.

 

No matter how long your journey, how lofty your goal or how big your dream, your success will begin with a single step. Never forget that simple fact.


The pursuit of perfection is an honorable pursuit. It is the attainment of excellence however which will lead to your ultimate and undeniable success. Chase perfection today and you’ll be very likely to discover that excellence tomorrow. 

Why You’ll Never Lead a Thing

If you’re reading this then I have news for you…. you will never lead a thing. Never!

 

Leadership requires an emotional connection between a leader and a follower. “Things” have no emotions and therefore they cannot be led. Only people can be led. In fact they must be led because as emotional beings we humans refuse to be managed. We fight back against being managed even if only subconsciously.

 

If you struggle with constant “problems” with your people it’s very likely that you are trying to manage them instead of leading them.

 

Many people in leadership positions say that the difference between leading and managing is mere semantics. They believe that they are one in the same. Authentic Leaders know better.

 

Authentic Leaders know that there is a huge difference between the mindset of a leader and the mindset of a manager. A manager’s mindset is about control. It is about being reactive. It is about maintaining the status quo, and it’s about policies and procedures. 

 

An Authentic Leader’s mindset is about vision and strategy. It is about influence and inspiration. It is about appealing to the heart and raising expectations. A leadership mindset is proactive and it is people focused. 

 

Now before you go and get all cranky on me I am not saying managing isn’t important. It is every bit as vital as leading. Asking which is more important is like asking if having air or the ability to breath is more important. It doesn’t matter because without one you don’t need the other. 

 

When you understand that there are real differences between leading and managing then you have the opportunity to actually lead. Leading requires a deep understanding of people and if you don’t understand people you’ll find it impossible to lead them. 


Adopt one of Dale Carnegie’s principles from How to Win Friends and Influence People…the one that’s says to be genuinely interested in other people. The key words there is genuinely; when you are truly interested in learning about people they will show you exactly how to lead. 

The Benefit of Living an Uncomfortable Life

A while back I was managing a program and someone asked me about a decision I had made. I responded that I was comfortable with what I had decided. I also said I was comfortable with the thousands of other decisions I had made for the program too. 

 

I’d say less than a minute later I realized how arrogant that sounded. It also wasn’t exactly true since I work hard at being intentionally uncomfortable. 

 

One of the biggest obstacles on many people’s journey to success is comfort. The split second you are comfortable with where you’re at you’re not there anymore. The moment you’re comfortable with all of your decisions is the same moment your decisions become less effective. In the instant you become comfortable doing something your pursuit of doing it better stops.

 

If I could give anyone advice to help them be consistently successful I’d tell them to live as uncomfortably as they can stand. Actually it would be to live a little more uncomfortably than they can stand. 

 

The world is ever changing. The marketplace for every business is morphing in ways unthinkable a couple of years ago. Being comfortable, for even a day or two means risking being left so far behind that you may never catch up.  

 

Comfort is an expense that no organization can afford. If your goals include growing or even if your goals are merely to survive the next five years then you must embrace discomfort now. Virtually nothing works the way it did even a few years ago and it’s likely that what works this year won’t work next year.

 

As a leader you must push yourself to uncomfortable places. You must help your people get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You must ensure that they are uncomfortable with the mere thought of comfort. 

 

Uncomfortable people grow, uncomfortable organizations succeed and their success is lasting. Comfortable people are vulnerable and so are comfortable organizations. They are vulnerable to extinction.

 

If you’re comfortable saying things like “we’ve always done it that way” then I hope you’re really comfortable because those may be the final words ever spoken on behalf of your once successful organization. 

 

The benefit of living an uncomfortable life is surviving and even thriving in a world that uses old ideas only as a measuring stick against new ones. 


It’s fine to relax so go ahead and uncomfortably relax because uncomfortable is the new comfortable. At least it is for those people and organizations that hope to still be successful in the months and years ahead.

Are You Wearing the Cloak of Entitlement?

Experience and research tells me that a significant number of people reading this post are next in line. They are next in line for a promotion or their bosses spot in the organization. It’s like it’s owed to them. 

 

They did everything asked of them so they are entitled to it. 

 

Well not exactly. 

 

First of all, doing everything you’re asked to do qualifies you for a paycheck and nothing more. Promotions come to those who do more than they are asked and even then nothing is guaranteed. 

 

I have always advised against setting “next” goals. A “next” goal sounds like “My goal is to be the next Sales Manager, or next Product Manager.” In my experience there are too many uncontrollable factors in “next” goals. To be the next anything there is timing involved, there may be some luck and like it or not there is often a bit of favoritism in promotions. 

 

If you have uncontrollable factors in your goal setting then it’s likely not a very good goal. I’d much rather see someone with a goal of “I will prepare myself to be the most qualified candidate for the position of Product Manager.” 

 

There are far fewer uncontrollable factors in that goal. 

 

Even with a solid goal of self-development you are still not owed a promotion and acting as if you are will only decrease your chances of earning one. 


Entitlement is not a good look. If there is going to be real success in your future then you need to be sure that the cloak of entitlement is never seen on you. 

Your Most Important Day Ever

What was or what will be the most important day of your life? 

 

Maybe it was your 18th birthday, you know, the day you could begin repaying your parents or caregivers for all that they have done for you. Perhaps it was or will be your wedding day, the day your life journey with the person of your dreams truly begins. It could be the day that you were fortunate enough to realize your true purpose in life. 

 

All of those days no doubt had or will have tremendous impact on your life. They are very special days indeed. But the reality is that today is the most important day of your life. 

 

Most people don’t think of it that way but here’s why it’s true. Today is the singular day you can control. Maybe not all of it but more of it than any other day. Today is the day that has the potential to make tomorrow and all of your tomorrows after that your best day yet. 

 

You cannot change yesterday. The best thing yesterday can do for you is inform the decisions that you make today. Learn from yesterday’s mistakes and keep the good memories close but in terms of overall importance to your future, yesterday is a has been. Never never never allow a bad yesterday to make your today a bad day too.

 

I like forward thinking people but never focus so much on tomorrow that you lose control of today. Whatever else you don’t do waste one precious minute of this day worrying about what might happen tomorrow. 

 

Instead carve out a part of today that will ensure tomorrow is exactly what you want it to be. 

 

Early, very early each morning I invest 30 minutes planning my day. I block time to accomplish the important things I must do that day. It makes no difference what time zone or part of the world I’m in. Those 30 minutes are often the most important, and productive, minutes of my day. 

 

My day doesn’t always go according to my plan, in fact it often doesn’t. But it does give me a measure of control over my day that few other people have over theirs. 

 

I want that control because today is too important to waste. 

 

I may chose to do nothing but rest. I may chose to not do anything at all but whatever I do it happens by choice and not by chance. Unless of course my plan is to have no plan that day and see where the wind takes me. That too is a choice that I make for MY life. 

 

I make that choice because today is too important to waste. 

 

Circumstances and “stuff” can knock me off my plan but only MY choice can keep me from returning to it. When I regain control of my circumstances I go straight back to my plan for the day. It’s those 30 minutes early in the day that make that possible. 


I invest those 30 minutes each morning because today is my most important day ever. It’s way too important to waste. It’s your most important day ever too!


The Only Mission Statement Your Business Needs

I’m perfectly fine with mission statements filled with flowery words and important sounding messages. I’ve even helped write some and I’ve used them to great effect in sales presentations. They make people feel like their business, and the role they play in it is important… and it probably is. 

 

But if your organization’s mission statement does not include the words “we exist to serve our customers” then it’s missing the true purpose of your business.

 

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, your purpose must be to serve your customers. That’s all that matters. That’s ALL that matters. 

 

You can sugarcoat coat it and pussyfoot around your purpose forever but your purpose in business is to serve a customer. Everything else you might say in your mission statement is a distraction. 

 

If you want to add how you’ll serve your customer or how you’ll determine that your customer has indeed been served that’s terrific as well. But SERVING your customer must be at the center of your mission statement. 

 

No only must it be at the center of your mission statement it MUST be at the center of every customer interaction. When you or anyone in your organization forgets, even for a moment, that the purpose of your business is to serve a customer bad things happen. It’s very likely that your customer will also forget something. It could be your phone number, your address or why they ever did business with you in the first place. 

 

If you’re in business to make money then you must know that the best way to do that is to serve your customers. You can’t buy customer loyalty with a low price. Customer loyalty can only be acquired through highly valued service. Yes, it is possible to make a profit, for a while, without serving your customers. The only way however to make a sustainable profit, over the long haul, is to serve your customers. 

 

Do not spiff up your mission statement with so much “stuff” that your actual mission is hidden from your customers or your employees. The only mission statement your business needs will sound a lot like this: “We exist to serve our customers in the manner that they desire.” 

 

There are plenty of others ways to explain everything else you’re tempted to dump into your mission statement… don’t do it. 


Keep your focus on your customer and your customer will keep their focus on you.