Showing Leadership When It Counts Most

hurricane Irma presents opportunities for leadershipHow we show leadership during a crisis drives how our team responds. As I write this, Hurricane Irma is heading towards the Caribbean with a strong likelihood of then turning to Florida. If it follows predictions (which can change at any moment right now) it will travel up through the “spine” of the state, which includes hitting us here in the Orlando area.

I was born and raised in Florida and have lived through MANY a hurricane. I know what to do, when to do it, and whether or not to worry (never).

Panic is Born without Leadership

What I saw Monday concerned me. I was at the grocery store. I went early because I figured no one would be there being Labor Day and all.


It was packed! People were scrambling to buy durable foods and bottled water. I saw one person actually pick up 10 flats of bottled water! That’s 240 bottles! And this was before we even had a serious threat from the storm. I mean, c’mon, this is NOT the apocalypse!

Who is Leading?

I can’t blame them too much. Many people have moved her from other states and have not experienced a lot of hurricanes. They just saw the effects of Hurricane Harvey. In addition, they have people of Facebook, television, and elsewhere churning the waters with descriptions of devastation that Irma will cause.

It IS a time to take precautions. It is a good time to get ready to secure your property as best as you can, make sure you have food, water, batteries, and board games.

Time to Shine

It is also a prime time for leadership to shine. 

[tweetthis]During the storm is when Leadership should shine. #BoldlyLead[/tweetthis]

Panic should not be the order of the day. When leaders are calm, it has a cascading effect on those around them. It is critical, then, that leaders stay even keeled and constant both before, in the midst of, and after the storm.

  • Leaders show concern without the hype. Know what to do, direct others to get things done. Convey a sense of urgency without being frantic.
  • Leaders take care of others as well as themselves. Make sure your team has opportunity (and means) to secure their property and family.
  • Good leaders reassure. Let everyone know that every step of the way you have their back.
  • Effective leaders make sure that things are in place to pick up the pieces after the storm.
  • Great leaders spread composure and peace in what they do and what they say in these moments.

If you stand to be affected by these storms, what are you doing to be the calm in the storm?

If you aren’t going to be affected, what storms are going around you where you have the opportunity to shine?

Are you experienced with weathering storms? Share some tips here on what you do or write me at

Gotta go now. Got some shopping to do!

Rich Leaders and Learners

Tim SandersTim Sanders was the third speaker at the L2:Learn-Lead event on October 10, 2014.  Tim was the “Maverick CEO” of a company called NetMinds and is a former Yahoo executive and a noted author and speaker.
Tim’s emphasis was on People-Centric Tools for Leadership.  Here are some notes from his talk at L2.
  • Talking about purpose, he remembered a book he read titled Working the Room by Nick Morgan.  Nick said that the only reason for giving a speech was to change the world.
If you don’t want to change the world, then get off the stage. -Nick Morgan
  • Success is not a destination, it is a direction: FORWARD.

The Modern Leader Needs to be Able to Lead With

A Clear Mind

To Unclutter and Clear Your Mind

  1. Reduce your sources of information.  Own the first 45 minutes of your day and avoid email and social media.  Spend the time in devotion and reflecting on someone who helped you in the past and think of someone who will help you.
  2. Create a culture in the workplace that is upbeat and hopeful and action-oriented.  Remember that culture is a conversation about how we do things around here.
  3. A Clear Mind is an educated mind.  READ DAILY books and periodicals of significance that help you grow.
  4. Remember if you let your calendar get full you will be an ineffective leader.  You need time to think; to be curious.
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it killed the competition. -Sam Walton

A Creative Tendency

  • Most issues in a company are design issues, not people issues and need creative solutions
  • He has found that highly successful salespeople have creative projects within their life.
    • Creativity = Problem Solving
  • Make NEW mistakes
  • Trust people
  • Policy is the scar tissue of an organization.
If you have to rely on policy, you need a corporate cultural change.

A Compassionate Way

  • You can only effectively lead those you love.
  • Treat everyone like family
Mentorship is a program of highly effective leaders, not HR
  • Learn to listen without power – give empathy
What I like about Tim Sanders is that I believe he “gets it”.  Tim has learned that motivating through fear, dismissal, and non-emotional focus just doesn’t work for any extended period of time.  Either people burn out or they become totally disengaged.
Work is personal.
You can’t spend 1/3 or more of your day in one place and not have it be personal.  As a result, the rest of our lives are influenced by what happens at work and what happens at work is influenced by what’s happening in the rest of our lives.
If you want to create sustainable productivity and empowering employee engagement, as a leader you must spend time learning about your people.  Their hopes, their dreams, their fears.  You don’t have to solve their problems, in fact if you do then you are doing them a disservice; but you do have to know where they are and what’s going through their minds.
That’s how a modern leader achieves success.

What do you think?  Is there a “fine line” between relational leading and task-orientation?  What would be your two-word theme for how you lead?

Ripping the Shirt Off of Fear

Brandi focused on win instead of fearIt’s July 10, 1999 and in Pasadena, California Team USA and China are battling for the Women’s World Cup Soccer Championship in the Rose Bowl.  This is the largest attended women’s sports event in history.  At the end of regulation play, the score is tied and it goes to overtime.  In overtime, Brandi Chastain intently lines up for a penalty kick.  She sets herself, runs up to the ball, and launches it into the upper right corner of the goal to score and in her now famous celebration pulls her shirt off in mid-field.  A win and championship for Team USA!

Tell me, what do you think was going through her mind?  Was Brandi thinking about how she was going to blow it?

Pointing to Success

The Babe had ignored his fearsGoing back further, in one of the greatest sports moments of all time, George Herman “Babe” Ruth of the New York Yankees steps up to home plate in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series.  The score is tied 5-5 and the Chicago Cubs players on the bench have been riding the Babe mercilessly.  As Ruth steps to the plate, he makes a gesture that many believe has him pointing to the center field wall after taking strike one from the pitcher, seemingly declaring his intention.   He did it again after strike two.  On the next pitch, the Babe mightily smacked the ball deep into center field and over the fence for a home run!  It is estimated the ball traveled 490 feet!  The Yankees went on to win the World Series in a four-game sweep.

Whether you believe the intent of the gesture or not, do you believe for one minute that Babe Ruth, who not only held the record for homeruns but also for strikeouts, focused on what would happen if he didn’t deliver?

The difference in success and failure is often a matter of how we handle our fears.  Dr. Heidi Halvorson, co-author of the book Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing The World For Success and Influencesays that handling that fear effectively is often a matter of mindset.   It’s all about where we focus our attention.  According to Dr. Halvorson, we have a choice of one of two mindsets when faced with accomplishing a goal or meeting a deadline or performing during a critical moment.  We can have a what she calls a Prevention Focus; where we concentrate on the negative aspects of the situation.  The concentration is on NOT messing up.  We do this in our daily lives and with others.  When a parent tells a child who wants to help set the table,

Okay, but this is our best dinnerware, don’t drop it!”  

With instructions like that, you might as well trip the kid yourself.  Or a manager tells an employee,

it is very important that you don’t blow this account.

Best example I can think of is the story Zig Ziglar tells of the 1982 football playoffs between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.  With Dallas ahead and less than a minute left on the clock, Dallas implemented the Prevent Defense.  Joe Montana dropped back and threw a pass deep into the end zone that appeared to be sailing for out of bounds when Dwight Clark jumped up and made a fingertip catch for San Francisco to win the game.  Later, someone asked Cowboys owner Tex Schramm about what made the difference and he said,

“The Dallas Cowboys were determined NOT TO LOSE the game.  The 49ers were determined to WIN the game and that made the difference!”

So prevention focus centers on trying not to lose the game.

The opposite then is Promotion Focus.  In this mindset, you are focused on what you have to gain when you are successful.  “If I complete this project on time, our company will collect a big bonus from our customer.”  Promotion Focus centers on the win, always opting for growth, willing to take the risk to see the reward, and quick to take action.

Promotion Focus people tend to have better and more consistent results than Prevention Focus people.  You have a tendency toward one or the other but the good news is that it’s not born in you.  It is something that has been learned, placed into your brain by the attitudes of people to whom you bonded, other people influential in your life, and combined with past experiences.  So, if your tendency is towards the cautious, risk avoiding, and tentative nature of Prevention Focus, the good news is you can change.  It is a matter of changing your mindset.

Start by imagining a change you wish to make or project you wish to start.  List all the possible positive outcomes from successfully making that change or completing the project.  Don’t downplay it, but also don’t go overboard.  In most cases, you aren’t going to be a guest on The Ellen Degeneres Show because you completed a proposal package ahead of schedule for a client.  But you will likely make a favorable impression on the client, which can lead to award of the project and potential future projects.

  • You may get referrals to other clients and generate a significant increase in business income and grow your business.
  • You may be able to hire staff and afford to take vacations.
  • You can build your reputation within the industry.
  • Your self-esteem goes up.

Imagine every possible positive outcome of making the change and WRITE IT DOWN!  Then, every time you start feeling fearful, bring out the list and read it to yourself over and over again until you feel more in control.

Determine for yourself to Play to Win instead of Playing Not to Lose.

Action Plan

  1. Take Dr. Halvorson’s FOCUS Diagnostic assessment to see whether you have a Prevention Focus or a Promotion Focus.  Warning: be prepared to list about 12 attributes you would like to possess.
  2. Think about one big thing you want to accomplish; it can be a current project or a dream, particularly if you have been feeling a lot of fear over it.  Write down all the possible positive outcomes of accomplishing it and post it prominently.  Set a start date.

Two Sides of Fear

Fear is both a positive and negative; there is good fear and bad fear.  The fear that says don’t move in for a closer look at that snake is a good one (at least for me).  The fear that says don’t chase your dream because catastrophic things will happen would be what we call a bad fear.

Appearing Real

fear - false evidence appearing realEven a bad fear can seem very real to us in the moment.  It can seem so real as to become paralyzing.  In yesterdays post, How Fear Holds You Back – The Good and Bad, we talked about the acronym of FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real.  That’s the whole point; we are either presented with a false set of facts or, more commonly, create our own false set of facts to define reality.  That protective impulse in our minds fights dirty and will use whatever means at its disposal to convince you to avoid any kind of risky situation; whether you are risking life and limb or simply risking financial ruin.  If left unchecked, our mind will take us to the extreme, defining earth-shattering, negative events born out from every positive step we take towards achievement of our goals.

How in the world do you beat that?  How do you overcome you mind’s tendency to pull you to the extreme?

Take Fear to YOUR Extreme

take fears to the extremeAccording to an article by the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center, it’s simple.  Go to the extreme on your own.  If you are able to take the fear to the extreme outcome in your conscious mind, you can get there before unconscious mind does.  The advantage of doing this means you have control.  Here’s how I get there, but it requires a little set-up first.

  1. Define the fear in specific terms.  What exactly is the fear that haunts your mind?  For example, some people have what is called a Fear of Success.  While there are several forms of it, one is a version of low self-esteem.  You could be afraid that if you achieve success and become well-known that everyone will discover what a fraud you are.  Until you can define you fear in terms like that, you can’t move on to the next step, which is
  2.  Note your self-talk.  When those fears pop up, what are you saying to yourself?  Studies have shown again and again that the most important thing is not what others say about you but rather what you say to yourself about you.  Look for trigger words and phrases that signal that decline into a negative self-talk.
  3. Take the scenarios you have been imaging to the extreme.  Go as overboard as you want to go!  Make it ridiculous!  Outlandish!  Keep pushing it until it becomes absolutely absurd!  Using our example above, what would happen if you were discovered to be a fraud, that you don’t really know what you are talking about?

    Well, of course, it would make new internationally.  Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes and Wolf Blitzer of CNN are wrestling on your front doorstep for priority rights to the expose of your downfall! Norman Vincent Peale says you have no hope!  The whole Earth’s rotation has reversed itself resulting in catastrophic events around the world all due to your error!  Martians have invaded!  The Borg are trying to assimilate everyone due to the weakness you have created through your grievous error!  The Devil himself……well, you get the picture.  

    By taking it to the absurd extremes, you not only get yourself to lighten up a bit, but you put perspective on it as well.  You can then question what the likelihood of any of the imagined circumstances actually occurring.By the way, one thing that helped me was to simply discover that others, even the very famous, typically feel the same way.  How do you think Les Brown felt when he was giving motivational speeches while living out of an empty office?  Yet, today, Les is one of the foremost motivational speakers, commanding large audiences and big fees and making a positive impact in thousands, perhaps millions, of lives.

  4. Change your self-talk.  Remind yourself that you ARE prepared to do this, that you will learn from your failures, that you are intelligent and resourceful.  Talk about how much of a difference you will make in people’s lives when you are able to share with them what you have to offer.  Write it down if necessary and repeat it every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to bed.  Don’t just read it, say it out loud and with emotion.  This helps embed it in your mind.
  5. ACT NOW!  Don’t wait for your mind to create new fears and new situations, go to work right away to do something positive towards you goal.  Nothing kills fear like positive action.

Action Plan

  • What is your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)?  What is the one big fear that is keeping you from moving on it right now?  Apply the process above to it.
  • Come back here and tell me how you did.  Or, if you want it private, call me at 321-355-2442 and let me know.