Leadership Minute: Learning Curves


The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

The impact and longevity of your leadership will in large part hinge on this principle. Leaders by nature are learners. But can you go the extra mile with your learning? Can you unlearn and relearn? As we grow and mature as leaders we accumulate a lot of information and knowledge by which our leadership style is shaped. It’s not so much your learning capacity that is at issue here as it is your relevance going forward. Being able to unlearn and relearn is smart leadership and demonstrates your capacity to grow and stay current. Never are we talking about compromising your values or principles that keep you connected and grounded. But as you strive to be the best leader possible you show that sometimes it’s not what you know that matters but what you can unlearn and relearn that makes the difference.

Leadership Minute: Defining What’s Possible


The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination. – Tommy Lasorda

The secret formula for the success that one achieves over the impossible is found in determination. Great skills and talents are wonderful assets but are of little value to the person who has no motivation or determination. A keen mind combined with a unique business savvy is enough to make anyone envious but is of no value if you quit at the first sign of difficulty. Possessing a charismatic personality that people want to follow puts you at a considerable advantage but not if you don’t possess a long-term commitment to succeed. Determined leaders are a special breed of leaders who are not fazed by external circumstances but rather have their eyes on the goal and a steady hand at the wheel. These are the leaders who are used to hearing “impossible” but forge ahead anyway. The secret ingredient of this leader and their success is not really a mystery. It can be summed up in that one powerful word: determination.


Leadership Minute: Be Grateful


Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining- it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems. – Zig Ziglar

What are you grateful for? It’s really all about your perspective. You can spend your time and energy finding things to complain about. You can be one of “those” people who aren’t happy unless you’re unhappy and in the process make everyone around you miserable. But life is too short for that. We all have our share of troubles, but more importantly we all have many things to be thankful for. The thoughts that dominate your mind tend to set the tone for your outlook and life and the happiness you experience. If you are living the life of a complainer then your focus is wrong. The expressions of a grateful heart are realized when you choose to see the good, find ways to serve others, and life your life with a greater purpose. You are blessed more than you realize. Be grateful.

Leadership Minute: What Motivates You?


I’ve never believed that titles motivate. Seeing possibilities motivates. Results motivate. Making a difference motivates. – Howard Behar

It is important to know and understand what motivates you as a leader. Forget about titles for a moment and try to identify what is it that keeps you up at night and gets you up early in the morning? When you know what that is you have found the source of your motivation. When you can see past the insufficiency of a title and see the possibilities before you then you will be motivated. When you see positive results that are the by-product of your hard work then you are motivated. When you see the lives you impact and the difference you make then your motivation has a purpose. What should motivate you as a leader is not another title or position, but a life that is lived for something that will outlast it. What is the source of your motivation?

5 Ways You May Be Killing Employee Morale


Everything rises and falls on leadership. – John Maxwell

Addressing the topic of work many years ago, Indira Gandhi said, “My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there.” While there may not be a shortage of people trying to take the credit for work, many a leader faces the challenge of a strong workplace culture and its accompanying morale.

In my research on the topic of employee morale much of the focus I’ve seen is employee driven. By that I mean the attention leans toward what can be done to make the employee happy (perks driven), motivated, etc. I see little on what I consider to be the root of the problem which is leadership driven.

In Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace Study, as reported on in RYOT (http://bit.ly/1poqwxQ) 70 percent of those who participated described themselves as “disengaged” from their work. Only 30 percent admitted they honestly enjoy their job and bosses. Interestingly, the study revealed that workplace perks which have been popular approaches to boosting workplace morale, “do not compare to the employee enjoying and feeling engaged in their work.” Here’s the takeaway – employees and employers desire the same results, but often have two distinctly different means of getting there.

Strong morale is essential to your success as an organization. Leaders need employees who are engaged on all fronts. Employees need strong leaders to show the way.  The last thing you want to do is kill employee morale with ineffective leadership. Here are six ways it could be happening.

You kill employee morale when you ignore input

A leader who won’t listen to his or her people is a leader who is out of touch. If you are out of touch with the people that make your business work then employee morale will suffer. If your people attempt to be engaged and offer their input only to be ignored then you are killing employee morale. A smart leader will make it a priority to listen and to invite feedback from team members. Buy-in begins when you invite them in.

You kill employee morale when you hoard decisions

Killing morale happens when leaders hoard the decision making process and by-pass those directly affected by the decision. The most successful teams are those whose people are engaged and invested in the well-being of the organization. They are the ones who have bought in and go all out to be successful. A smart leader won’t hoard decisions but will bring others in to help make them. Employees don’t want a dictator; they want a facilitator. Here’s a simple rule to consider: if a decision affects your people then talk to your people.

You kill employee morale when you keep people in the dark

Communication is the life-blood of any organization, but if you keep your people in the dark; especially with things that directly affect their performance, then you are killing employee morale. This weak leadership style not only builds walls but it tears down trust. If you want your people engaged and enjoying what they do then make open communication a practice and a priority.

You kill employee morale when you play favorites

While responsibilities may differ among departments and personnel, it is important not to play favorites with your people. While not everyone’s role is the same, the way you treat them should be. As a leader it is important to understand the basics of good social skills. The amount of time you spend with the people in your organization will vary depending on assignments, responsibilities, skills, etc., it’s a variable. But not the way you treat your people. If you are perceived as playing favorites you will kill employee morale. Be nice to everyone.

You kill employee morale when you lead from behind

Successful organizations have strong leaders who are not afraid to lead. Employees respeect a leader who will confidently lead his or her team. A leader who is perceived to be weak, indecisive, reactionary, or uncertain of their role will kill morale. How can an employee confidently follow a leader who is unsure of himself? Leaders who lead from behind can’t possibly know what direction they are going, the pitfalls in front of them, and how to stay relevant. Leaders; be out front, lead with confidence and with clarity, and you will have employees who will go the distance with you.

What do you say?


© 2014 Doug Dickerson


Let’s Talk:

1. The list is not comprehensive. What would you add?

2. As a leader; what other ways can you engage your team to avoid negative morale issues?

3. Do you agree or disagree with my premise that employee morale issues are at the root leadership issues? (I am not discouraging perks, bonuses, rewards, etc. they are all good things, but as the study showed, most employees place a higher value in being engaged and enjoying their work.) What are some other measurable steps leaders can take to bridge that gap?

Leadership Minute: Not My Circus


Not my circus, not my monkeys. – Polish Proverb

Ever feel like your office is like a 3-ring circus? If you’ve been around a while you have. It’s important to know what is, and is not, your circus. To be sure, office politics and gossip is universal. There will always be those who tend to thrive on drama – real or otherwise. Just because it exists does not mean you have to join in. It’s not just a matter of staying above the fray with regard to such nonsense, but as the leader, setting the right example. It’s been said that what you tolerate you promote. While your organization may not be drama-free, your success as an organization hinges on the standards you set. Knowing what is of concern to you and knowing what to avoid is smart leadership. Don’t allow petty things in your office to derail the priorities of your office. While the circus may not be of your making, you can be the ring leader and fold the tent.

Leadership Minute: Great Opportunities


Great opportunities often disguise themselves in small tasks. The little things in life determine the big things. – Rick Warren

Do you want to make a difference as a leader? Good. The path to greatness as a leader is sometimes found in the mundane. That’s right; no headline, no photo-op, no ‘Atta boy’, or pats on the back. Great opportunities and consequently great impacts are simply the by-products of ordinary people doing ordinary things in an extra-ordinary way. Expressions of servant leadership are found when you concede being in the spotlight by putting someone else in it. Expressions of servant leadership are important to you when you don’t care about being important. The more you serve others the more you discover this fundamental truth: it’s not about you. When you are big enough to be little, humble enough to serve and proud to do it, you can find your purpose and meaning in the small things. Great opportunities are before you if you are willing to be little.