Are you a VIP?

Are you an important person? Are you perhaps even a Very Important Person? Are you so important that you’re more important than someone else?

 

If the answer to those first two questions was a resounding yes then good for you. Understanding that you have value in this world and to those around you is healthy and in fact necessary for success.

 

If however, your answer to that third question was also a yes, even a hesitant yes, well then not so good for you.

 

It’s great to know that no one in this world is more important than you. But…. it’s only useful to know if you also know that you’re no more important than anyone else. As you’re sitting in the back seat of a limousine watching someone board the city bus for their commute to work you may start feeling pretty good about your station in life. That’s fine, you have likely earned what you have. But it’s vital that you understand that “what you have” doesn’t make you a better or more important human being than someone who may have less “stuff” or a lower position in their organization.

 

Leaders are people, just people. They begin to fail as a leader the moment they begin to think they are something more. They begin to lose touch with the world and the people who make them a leader. Their view of reality begins to cloud over and they begin to believe that they “deserve” more than the people they lead.

 

Leaders who think they are better people than those they lead build walls between themselves and their people. They kill the morale of the people that both the leader and their people will need to succeed. Leaders who think they are better people than anyone else are very limited leaders.

 

They miss the most vital part of leadership: an understanding that leadership is about people, people and only people. Anything in business, or life, not related to people is just management or process. When people are involved, it’s leadership.

 

Anything that someone in a leadership position does that separates them from their people makes them a less effective leader. ANYTHING!

 

No one is more important than you and you’re no more important than anyone else. When you live your life with that simple balance people will be drawn to you. Your leadership experience will be one that makes a difference for everyone it touches. 


Now that’s pretty darn important! 

Why Good Communication Matters

I’m really hard pressed to think of a situation where a leader could over communicate. I suppose it’s those situations similar to when a follower might ask what time it is and the answer includes the history of watch making. I don’t think there are actually many leaders who do that.

 

In my experience it’s far more likely that a leader will under-communicate than over-communicate.

 

It really isn’t necessary to provide more information to a member of your organization than they need to be successful. It is however vital that they have every last drop of information available when it’s relevant to whatever it is they have been tasked with doing. 

 

There are many reasons a leader might under-communicate but a big one is that too many leaders believe that information is power. That’s not actually how it works. The fact is, applied information is power and that information cannot be applied until it is shared. 

 

Leaders who withhold information from their people, for whatever reason, are not helping anyone, least of all themselves. A leader’s success is dependent upon the success of their people and without information their people are less likely to be successful.

 

Information is the enemy of rumor. People have this spot inside them that must be filled with information, if their leaders don’t fill it they will fill it themselves. Rumors are great filler! The trouble with rumors is that they are far too often wrong, filled with productivity killing miss-information. 

 

That’s why well thought out, meaningful and consistent communication matters so much.

 

If you’re a leader who doesn’t like rumors then stop them with information, correct, useful, and needed information.

 

Sometimes people at the top of an organization forget how invested their people are in the business. Your people want to know how the organization is doing, they want to know where they “fit.” They NEED to know they matter and that what they do is importance to the overall health of the organization. 

 

If you’re a leader then you have information that has the potential to super-charge your people. Don’t keep it a secret, don’t think being the only person who knows it makes you more important. Share the information and trust your people to use it to the benefit of the team. 


If you’re truly a leader that’s exactly what they will do. 

Perfect Leaders

Every leader I’ve ever met and every leader I’ll ever meet in the future all suffer from the identical weakness. They are human.

 

I actually believe “humanness” is the most vital strength a leader can have but there is no doubt being human comes with certain limitations. 

 

Humans aren’t perfect. That means they make mistakes, it means they have faults. It means they have, at least sometimes, less than desirable characteristics. 

 

Yet because they are leaders many people expect them to be perfect. 

 

In the understatement of understatements let me just say that’s not realistic. 

 

Very very few people do what I do in the environment that I do it in. I speak about, train on, and try to model leadership in a corporate environment, day after day. I say things like “this is how a leader should behave and this is how a leader should speak” and then I behave and speak differently. Not often but often enough that people notice. 

 

It’s one of the major reasons why people who do what I do almost always, nearly 100% of the time, do it as an independent consultant. Their message is judged on their words and not their actions. It’s not that people wouldn’t judge their actions, they are just not around long enough for that to happen.

 

Every time I say one thing and do another my message is diluted. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining in the least. That’s exactly how it should be, a leaders, and certainly someone who claims to be able to help build other leaders, words and actions should always match. But again, that human thing comes into play so….

 

Because I’m human I’ve accepted the fact that my words and actions won’t always match. Principles are after all much easier to talk about than they are to live. I’ve also accepted the fact that when my words and actions don’t match I’m not helping other people grow to the extent that I could if I was better at aligning what I say with what I do. I endeavor daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to improve in that area. If you ask those who I interact with everyday however they will tell you I have a long ways to go. So be it.

 

What everyone needs to understand is that there are no perfect leaders. Your leader’s actions will not always align with their words. It doesn’t mean that they don’t believe what they are saying, it doesn’t mean that what they are asking you to do is wrong. It does not mean that they are phony, and it does not mean that they are not an Authentic Leader, it simply means that they are human. As a leader they model leadership behavior but as a human they are a flawed model. 

 

Yes, it is far easier to find the faults of a leader but successful people rarely take the easy way. They most often take the most productive way and one of the most productive things you can do is to discover the strengths of the people around you, including your leader. 

 

Yes, it can be exceptionally challenging when the person above you isn’t exactly the humble type but that’s actually their problem, not yours. So don’t make it yours.

 

Instead of pointing out their gaps work to fill their gaps, if they are truly a leader they are trying to help you be more successful. Lead Up in your organization by trying to help your leaders be more successful too.


Leaders aren’t perfect and Authentic Leaders don’t claim to be so stop expecting perfection and allow your leader to lead. 

Where Future Success Comes From

Many otherwise successful companies have failed because they made one fatal mistake. They believed that their future was merely an extension of their past. 

 

They assumed that because they had always been successful they would continue to be successful. They convinced themselves that whatever they had done to achieve their success today would be the same thing they needed to do to maintain their success tomorrow. 

 

That may have almost been true decades and decades ago but it gets less true every year. Everything changes and one of the changes is that those changes are happening faster than ever before.

 

To assume that what got you to where you are will also keep you there is the kiss of death in business today. As most people who read this blog consistently know, I’m not always the biggest fan of change but I am a realist.

 

That’s why I am a huge fan of leaders who are visionaries. 

 

In 1968 the Swiss controlled virtually all of the wristwatch market around the world. They had an enormous percentage of the market share. They were as the saying goes, “on top of the world” when it came to making and selling watches. 

 

Then quartz watches were invented…by a couple of Swiss engineers. They showed it to company after company all across Switzerland and couldn’t find one interested buyer. No Swiss watch maker was interested, they didn’t need to be, they already “owned” the market. 

 

I guess you could say the leaders who ran those Swiss watch companies back then were not exactly visionary. I’d just say they made the fatal mistake of believing that their future was just an extension of their past. 

 

Funny thing is, these engineers were kind of persistent and they took their invention to some sort of watch convention to show it off. (I guess nobody told the engineers about that whole patent thing) Well a couple of Japanese watch makers came by and the rest is history… as was the Swiss dominance of the watch market. 

 

Today the Swiss have just a sliver of the world’s watch market, they still make perhaps the best watches but they make far far fewer of them. 

 

Visionary Leaders never, never stop looking for what’s next, they are relentless innovators. They have an almost insatiable need to constantly improve. A Visionary Leader doesn’t just say good enough is not good enough, they live it…and they lead it. 

 

Visionary Leaders reimagine what is until it becomes what’s next. While other people are enjoying the fruits of their labor Visionary Leaders are planting the seeds of tomorrow’s success. 

 

Your future doesn’t come from past accomplishments. What you’ve accomplished to date is just a starting point for what you need to accomplish to remain successful. 


Your future success will come from what you do today and tomorrow. The moment you think you’re where you need to be, you’re not there anymore. Never stop looking ahead because when you do you’re almost certain to fall behind. 

Leaders Don’t Complain

I’ll never really understand why some people continually complain about the people and circumstances they allow to be part of their lives. 

 

Some people would rather complain than actually do something about their situation. Doing something may require leaving their comfort zones and that’s well, that’s just too uncomfortable. Other people just want to fool themselves into thinking they have no power of decision, often because they have no idea what to do. 

 

Some people are just too lazy to take control over their lives. 

 

I wouldn’t care about any of that if they would just stop complaining about the things they allow to be part of their lives. If by chance there are things, people or circumstances in your life that you don’t like and you have no control over, well that’s a different story. 

 

If that’s the case then you need to change your attitude about it. Either learn to accept it or make a substantial enough change in your life to gain some control over the situation. Understand that complaining alone never solves anything. Change requires action and refusing to take action is acceptance of the situation. Don’t complain about what you accept. 

 

I know there are some circumstances that people can’t change, some situations there may not be a way out of, and those can cause bitterness which often results in complaining. In those cases complaining may be the only relief or outlet a person has. I get that.

 

What I’ll never understand however is someone in a leadership position, especially a senior leadership position, who has complete control, or nearly complete control over their circumstances and yet they complain about those circumstances while doing nothing to change them.

 

That is not leading. 

 

You’re in that position to lead. You’re in the position to build people, to build people who will help you build an organization. You’re not in a leadership position to condemn, criticize or complain. You’re especially not in that position to complain about a member of your team, someone that you likely hired. To complain about the people you’re responsible to build is sheer nonsense.

 

Here’s the deal. If you have someone who reports to you and they are not performing to your standards there are really only two possibilities. The first is that you hired the wrong person. You either were fooled in the interview (hey, it happens) or you missed something, or you “settled” for someone who didn’t meet the requirements. That’s on you, that’s your responsibility.

 

The second possibility is that you’re simply not providing them with the tools and training that they need to succeed. That’s on you too, that also is your responsibility. 

 

You might not like to admit it but that’s what leading is all about. Being responsible for the success of other people. With that in mind, why in the world would an Authentic Leader complain about a circumstance that they created? 

 

Authentic leaders don’t complain, they adjust their thinking, the adjust the plan, they modify their actions until such time as the circumstances change enough to remove the temptation to complain. 


You can complain or you can lead but you can’t do both. If you’re in a leadership position I’d highly recommend actually leading. 

If it Ain’t Broke, Break It?

You know, try as I might I’m just not a big fan of change. Unless of course I’m driving the change. But I’m also fully aware that perhaps the most dangerous words in business are, “because we’ve always done it that way.”

 

So the first part of this post is written for me and those of you who share similar sentiments about change. We need to get the heck over it and realize that the pace of change is only going to continue to accelerate. We can either get on board that bus or that bus is going to run us over. 

 

Imagine the world if everyone lived with that “we’ve always done it that way” philosophy. No cars, no airplanes, no TV, no internet, and oh my gosh, no cell phones. (I guess no phones for that matter)

 

Obviously we only need to think for a few seconds to realize that change can be very good. The challenge for many people is stopping to think for those few seconds. The reality is that almost everything we use in our daily lives will one day be replaced by something even better.

 

If you can’t embrace change you can’t grow and if you can’t grow you can’t get better. The first thing you may want to consider changing is your instinct to resist change. Replace it with an open mind and at least a “we’ll see” attitude, you never know, you may just be pleasantly surprised.

 

Now for the second part of this post. It is written for those of you just itching to change stuff because you can. You should take a quick lesson from Winston Churchill who said, “there is nothing wrong with change, if it’s in the right direction.”

 

Change for the sake of change is seldom good change. Before you change what’s worked for a long time you may want to consider exactly why it’s worked for a long time. While I’d agree, there very possibly is a better way, make certain you’re not also discarding the part of a process that works and replacing it with an untested process that may not. 

 

“We’ve always done it that way” is a proven method of failure. “Let’s blow up what works and start over” often is as well.


Moving forward with little or no knowledge of your starting point is a quick path to nowhere. Go ahead and change, just be certain that your “better” direction indeed has a solid, realistic chance to be better.


What Great Leaders Understand

There are tangible reasons some leaders are better than others. Some people may believe it’s luck, others may think it’s karma, still others insist it’s just a timing thing.

 

But the fact is some leaders are better than others because they understand stuff that average leaders just don’t get. Chief among that stuff is that decisions matter and they matter because every decision changes something once it’s acted upon.

 

The best leaders are always at least a few steps ahead of weaker leaders. It’s like when you watch a good pool player. They are thinking where they want to leave the cue ball for their next two or three shots. Great Chess players are always several moves ahead of average Chess players.

 

So it is with the best leaders. They know that every decision has consequences, some could be good and some could be not so good. But they understand that every single decision comes with consequences and they not only consider the consequences they also consider the consequences of the consequences and the consequences of those consequences. They are generally way ahead in their thinking than average leaders.

 

Average leaders make too many decisions without thinking of even the first layer of consequences. They are more reactive decision makers than proactive and that puts them behind the curve pretty much every step of the way.

 

That’s why average leaders always seem to be scrambling to “fix” what wasn’t broken until they broke it. They often receive recognition for being a great “fire-fighter” when the fact is they are a Pyromaniac of a leader. Their poorly considered decisions cause many of the fires they are later applauded for extinguishing. 

 

People don’t follow Pyro Leaders because the heat they generate makes it too hard to succeed.

 

If you want to become a more effective leader then you simply must understand that your actions and decisions have consequences. Not only must you understand that but you must also accept responsibility for those consequences, especially if those consequences turn out to be less than desirable. It’s only by accepting responsibility for your decisions that you’ll learn to make better ones.

 

It’s pretty tough to get ahead when you’re perpetually two steps behind. Consider the consequences BEFORE you act on your decisions and your decisions will likely change considerably. 


Then you’ll have the chance to truly lead.