Announcing My New Book

book

One leadership principle I have learned over the years is quite simple: leaders are readers! In my new book, It Only Takes a Minute: Daily Inspiration for Leaders on the Move, I take you on a 365 day leadership journey.

Each day begins with a quote from a current or past leadership thinker, sports figure, actor, minister, political figure, etc. followed by an inspirational leadership thought by me.

Leaders are busy people – I get it. In this daily reader you will be challenged in your leadership thinking and prodded to grow each day. As the title suggests, It Only Takes a Minute!

Click on the on the link below to order your copy today!

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Click Here To Order

 

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Don’t Let the Crabs Pull You Down

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There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether It is positive or negative. – W. Clement Stone

As a coastal resident I’ve enjoyed several opportunities over the years to go crabbing at the beach. A good place to catch crab is along the jetties since they like to hide among the rocks. The rewards of crabbing are delicious as crab can be served up many ways- crab cakes being my favorite. It reminds me of the popular crab bucket story.

One time a man was walking along the beach and saw another man fishing in the surf with a bait bucket beside him. As he drew closer, he saw that the bait bucket had no lid and had live crabs inside.

“Why don’t you cover your bait bucket so the crabs won’t escape?” he said.

“You don’t understand,” the man replied, “If there is one crab in the bucket it would surely crawl out very quickly. However, when there are many crab in the bucket, if one tries to crawl up the side, the others grab hold of it and pull it back down so that it will share the same fate as the rest of them.”

In your desire to grow as a leader, succeed in business, and thrive in your personal life, you will come across the “crabs” in life that would seek to hold you back or pull you down. It’s up to you to get out of the basket if you want to reach your full potential. You have to escape the pull of the crabs. Here are four crab types to avoid on your way up.

The crabs with an attitude

Hang around in the basket with crabs long enough and you will be exposed to unpleasant attitudes. The crabs with the bad attitudes want to share their misery with others and want you to stay down with them. You must guard your thoughts and attitude at all cost – you must get out of the basket. When they are clawing at you with their negative attitudes, talk, and toxic ways – keep climbing. Don’t let those crabs pull you down on your way up.

The jealous crabs

When crabs in your office see your success and the dividends of your hard work it’s not uncommon for some to be jealous. Instead of being happy for your success and the progress you are making they will reach up and try to pull you back down. But remember this: the higher you climb the further out of their reach you will be. Ignore the small, petty, and jealous types. Soon you will be out of their company. Keep climbing.

The crabs with limited thinking

The danger in the crab basket is being around those who are too comfortable where they are. They have no drive, ambition, or desire to move forward. They find comfort in the company of mediocrity and resent anyone who dares to leave.  Don’t be caught off guard when in your desire to move up and achieve a greater level of success that crabs will try to pull down. The best way to rise above small and limited thinking is to get away from small-minded people.

The crabs who have accepted their fate

Being a leader with big dreams and goals is noble. But never underestimate the challenges you will face.  While some crabs have not embraced your destiny; they are resigned to theirs. Crabs are those who will tell you that you are not smart enough, talented or gifted enough, or that you will never make it, etc.

Your climb up and out of the basket begins when you rid yourself of the crab basket mentality and dare to embrace your God-given talents and dreams. Dare to believe that your possibilities are unlimited. Dare to believe that you can reach your full potential regardless of what others say or think. It’s when you begin the climb that you will discover that there is no lid at the top holding you back.

What do you say?

 

© 2015 Doug Dickerson

 

 

 

 

 

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The 1/50 Effect: How Encouragement Defines Your Leadership

encouragement

A word of encouragement from a leader can inspire a person to reach her potential. –  John Maxwell

Edward Steichen, who eventually became one of the world’s most renowned photographers, almost gave up on the day he shot his first pictures. At 16, young Steichen bought a camera and took 50 photos. Only one turned out — a portrait of his sister at the piano. Edward’s father thought that was a poor showing. But his mother insisted that the photograph of his sister was so beautiful that it more than compensated for 49 failures.

Her encouragement convinced the youngster to stick with his new hobby. He stayed with it for the rest of his life, but it had been a close call. What tipped the scales? The vision to spot excellence in the midst of a lot of failure.

If you were to look back on your life when faced with great doubt or uncertainty during times of fear, career transition, sickness, or other personal struggle – one thing on a short list of game changers would no doubt be the encouragement from a friend or loved one.

In the case of Edward Steichen, the encouragement came from his mother to not give up on his dream of being a photographer. What about you? Who was the person(s) who spoke words of hope, inspiration, or encouragement into your life at that pivotal moment that help turn it around for you?

As a leader you have incredible opportunities every day to speak words of encouragement and inspiration into the lives of those around you. You may never know or understand the power of those words today, or ever, but it can be transformational nonetheless.

Being an encouraging leader will not only define your leadership style, but it will also define your leadership legacy. Encouraging leaders are cut from a different cloth. Do you desire to be an encouraging leader? If so, here are four characteristics that will set you apart.

Encouraging leaders see beyond the failures

The myth surrounding encouraging leaders is that they live with their heads in the sand and are somehow detached from any sense of reality. I submit that the opposite is true. Encouraging leaders are perhaps some of the most attuned leaders you will find not because they refuse to look at negatives, setbacks, or failures, but because although they do see it, and they refuse to let others be defined by it.

Defining trait: Encouraging leaders keep dreams alive.

Encouraging leaders care enough to confront

Just as Edward Steichen’s mother confronted him during a time of great self-doubt about his abilities, so too will encouraging leaders take the same approach. Encouraging leaders know that if negative thoughts and self-doubt linger too long then the path forward will be much harder to conquer. An encouraging leader will care enough to disturb negative thinking and help you forget about the 49 pictures that didn’t turn out and focus on the one that did. There is no time to wallow in self-pity with the encouraging leader.

Defining trait: Encouraging leaders have no tolerance for negative attitudes.

Encouraging leaders take risks on the future

Seeing beyond failures and caring enough to confront are only part of the equation for an encouraging leader. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to act in a manner that is consistent with his or her potential. But encouraging leaders are those special leaders who had rather risk growth and potential by speaking words of encouragement and faith than by encouraging conformity and mediocrity by playing it safe. By speaking words of encouragement the leader is planting seeds of faith and possibility into his or her people that they otherwise may have never thought possible.

Defining trait: Encouraging leaders inspire action.

Encouraging leaders take everyone to a higher level

Defining moments in your leadership come when you realize that when you speak words of encouragement to your people it is like pushing the “up” button on an elevator. Your words and actions as an encourager will open doors of opportunity that negativity never will. The seeds you plant in their minds and hearts will elevate them to higher places because you believed in your people and dared to encourage them.

Defining trait: Encouraging leaders elevate the potential in others.

You will define your leadership, in part, by your words and actions. Be an encouraging leader!

 

© 2015 Doug Dickerson

 

Additional Resources:

Here is a short list of leaders who are high on my list of encouragers. Visit their sites, sign up and follow their blogs and be encouraged!

Cynthia Bazin – Find her at: http://smartchic.me/

Jack Hickey – Find him at: http://www.johnpatrickhickey.com/

Paul Sohn: Find him at: http://paulsohn.org/

Elizabeth Stincelli – Find her at: https://lizstincelli.wordpress.com/

Andy Wood – Find him at: http://lifevesting.com/blog/

 

 

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Underdog Attitudes for Top Dog Leaders

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“I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of the leader is to always display a winning attitude”. – Colin Powell

A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, “Eighteen to nothing–we’re behind.”

“Boy,” said the spectator, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged.”

“Why should I be discouraged?” replied the little boy. “We haven’t even gotten up to bat yet!”

That humorous story is a reminder of the power of a positive attitude even when the odds are not in your favor. Having and maintaining a positive attitude in the workplace can be challenging even for the most optimistic person at times.

A study conducted by Root Inc., (http://bit.ly/1J2wkdq)  the strategy execution consulting company reported on the findings of a survey by Kelton titled “America’s Workforce: A Revealing Account of What U.S. Employees Really Think About Today’s Workplace.”

Among the interesting finding, one statistic stood out – employees feel discouraged. More than half (54%) of employees have felt frustrated about work.  To be sure, everyone faces times of discouragement and frustration at work. It’s normal. Adding to that frustration from the survey is the admission of only 38% who say that their manager has established an effective working relationship with them, or 40% who say that they don’t get the company’s vision or have never seen it. With findings like that, can you see how frustrations rise and attitudes can sour?

So what is a growing leader to do? Here are three tips for developing underdog attitudes that can help you become a top dog leader.

Take ownership

Your attitude – good or bad, is on you. You can play the blame game or you can, with underdog fortitude, step up and take responsibility for your attitude. That means saturating your mind with positive thoughts and surrounding yourself with positive people. It means being intentional about what you read, who you listen to, and guarding your emotions. You don’t live in a bubble and you will be exposed to the negative attitudes of others. But at the end of the day the only attitude you are responsible for is yours. Own it.

Go on offense

Top dog leaders take the offensive with underdog attitudes. No one should just idly sit by while those with bad attitudes wreak havoc and erode the culture within your organization. Going on offense is about exerting your positive influence like the little boy in the dugout at the baseball game. You might be down momentarily but you are not out. It’s not about denying reality with your head in the sand, but it is about charting your course and the mindset you will have going forward. When you are proactive with a positive attitude it can be contagious. Go on offense and set the tone.

Never give up

Keeping a positive outlook on life be it in your place of work or elsewhere can be challenging. Having a positive outlook and attitude may place you as the “odd man out” in some circles but it’s worth fighting for. You may feel overwhelmed by those circumstances but let me encourage you to never give up.

Joel Osteen said, “Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.” And that’s ultimately the bottom line. When you embrace an underdog attitude is will ultimately carve out the type of life you are going to live.

If those around you have a bad attitude, don’t join in-take ownership of your own. When others choose a negative path and tone don’t join them – go on offense and set an example for others to emulate. No matter how hard it is to keep your attitude positive, no matter how bad things are around you- don’t ever give up!

What do you say?

 

© 2015 Doug Dickerson

 

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How Delegation Raises the Bar of Leadership

delegation

The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels. – Eli Broad

In the world of leadership development there is no shortage of material on the subject of delegation. It’s been a hot-button topic for as long as I can remember. Most of what I read about it falls into a “how to” category of “best practices” and delegation is relegated to independent acts of leadership as the need arises.

But is there another approach worth considering?

In his book, It’s Not About the Coffee, Howard Behar, the former president of Starbucks International, writes about what can happen when a business harnesses the creative power of its people. He states, “When any of us, from staff to managers to the CEO, think of ourselves and our colleagues as people- not workers or assets- we discover a wealth of knowledge and talent. When we allow ourselves and others to think creatively and make independent decisions based on common goals, we become more fulfilled, and we make a more worthwhile contribution.”

The concept here is a more lateral view of leadership rather than the traditional top-down approach. When the people in your organization are looked upon as people, not assets or workers, then your approach as a leader will be different and the relationship will be more personal.

When people are allowed to think creatively and make decisions based on common goals everyone wins. It’s what Behar refers to as people using a tool book instead of a rule book. It’s the difference between empowerment and stagnation.

How this plays out in terms of delegation can be a game-changer. Instead of a leader being a dispenser of decisions, or too insecure to delegate, the leader can now- without reservation- turn loose the best and brightest within his or her organization. The results can be transformational. This approach to delegation raises the bar or leadership throughout the organization. Here’s how.

Delegation that empowers the team

When the creative powers of your team are turned loose it creates a special momentum that can’t be duplicated by just one person. An empowered team- dutifully delegated to- can create an energy that is rare. Why? It’s the power not just of a buy-in on the part of the team (employee to employer) but a philosophical shift of “I’ve bought into you” (employer to employee) that makes the difference.

When a team is empowered and trusted, and its collective talents are respected, it raises the level of leadership for everyone.

Leadership Tip: Individual talents and skills are great but make sure your team members are playing to their strengths in the right place. If not, you are wasting valuable time and energy and will have little to show for it.

Delegation that rewards the team

Nothing frustrates a creative team more than an insecure leader who won’t act. The results can be detrimental and eventually the creative ones will leave because they are not fulfilled in their work. But when a leader respects and appreciates the individual as a person and the power of independent thinking- it will dramatically raise the bar of leadership. This approach pays dividends because team members will see their work as rewarding, valued, and appreciated. When this is the system-wide attitude and belief then productivity increases, morale is stronger, and the rewards are greater.

Leadership Tip: Delegation is not an abdication of your responsibility to make sure the vision and goals are clear and the work is being done. There’s a fine line between micro-managing and delegation. But once you delegate- get out of the way and trust your people to perform.

Delegation that elevates the team

When done right delegation will elevate the team to a higher level. When individual talents, skills, knowledge, and expertise come together with a unified goal and purpose, it’s hard not to envision such success. As a result, momentum rises and soon a new attitude and energy will propel your team. A new excitement in the air can be contagious. The bar of leadership has been raised. As a leader you now see and understand that delegation is not your stumbling block to success it is your pathway.

Leadership Tip: It’s incumbent upon you as the leader to channel this new found momentum and energy in the right direction. Unbridled energy moving in the wrong direction can be just as harmful as not enough energy toward the right direction. Keep the mission and vison in front of your people.

Richard Branson invokes an “in it together” attitude within his organization. When this is the approach to delegation it changes everything. Let your delegation empower, reward, and elevate.

What do you say?

© 2015 Doug Dickerson

 

 

 

 

 

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Leadership Toolkit: When the Visionary Leader Meets the Strategic Leader

leadership-toolbox

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. – Warren Bennis

About 350 years ago, as the story is told, a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness.

In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build the road westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?

Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome hardships to get there. But in a few short years were not able to see five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision.

Visionary leaders (those who see the big picture) and strategic leaders (those who create the plan) are essential for the future growth and development of any organization. But can the two co-exist? It can be a challenging relationship but not an impossible one if you follow these basic rules of engagement.

Embrace your differences

Visionary leaders tend to be your charismatic type leaders who can cast the vision with great enthusiasm and confidence. They have a clear picture in their heart and mind of where they are going and why you should too.

But visionary leaders can at times be hard to work with. In his book, Rules of Thumb, Alan M. Webber writes, “Great idea people are rare- and also frequently hard to live with. They see things the rest of us can’t see, which is their gift. They can’t see what you and I see easily, which is their burden. Still, you need them and they need a home where they can contribute.”

Strategic leaders can be a great asset to the visionary leader by breaking down the vision into doable and measurable action steps which creates the vision. The strategic leader is the one who puts the puzzle together.

Leadership key: Your differences are your strengths. Embrace them and work together. You need each other.

Build a bridge

What strategic leaders and visionary leaders need is a way to connect. The divide between ideas and implementation must be joined. There has to be a way as Webber says to “build a bridge the great ideas can walk across from those who have to those who can make them real.”   For the vision to materialize this is a necessity. So what is a leader to do?

The vision needs a strategic plan. It has to be clearly communicated and thoroughly understood before the pieces of the puzzle can be created. From there roles can be assigned and teams put into place, and the execution can begin. The hard part will come later.

Leadership key: Before you build your vision build your relationships. The vision rises and falls on the strength of your communication and relationships.

Give each other space

The role of the visionary leader is not the same as the strategic leader, and vice versa. The relationship is one of isolation and interdependency. Boundaries must be set, observed, and protected while at the same time staying bridged with a unified goal and vision. It’s tricky.

The temptation of the visionary leader is to tinker, mettle, and tweak. Their greatest asset can now become their greatest liability. While they are excellent at creating the vision they can be terrible at designing the plan. As long as they keep interjecting themselves into the details of execution they will stifle the execution.

Strategic leaders thrive on creating the plan and seeing it come into existence. The visionary leader has to learn to give this person the space they need to work. It is a relationship of necessity, one of complexity, but most of all trust. The partnership will only survive if it’s built on mutual trust. The respective leaders have to know how to embrace a shared vision but then give each other the space needed to bring it to pass. When they do it can lead to overwhelming success.

Leadership key: Out of respect give each other space. Out of trust let each other work.

What do you say?

 

© 2015 Doug Dickerson

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The Power of Purpose-Driven Leadership

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When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment and common purpose, anything is possible. – Howard Schultz

There is a story involving Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playing in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to pep up his teammates on the one hand, and distract the Milwaukee batters on the other. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, “Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong. You’re supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark.” Aaron didn’t say anything, but when the next pitch came he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, “I didn’t come up here to read.”

The story is a great reminder of why having and knowing your purpose is important. Do you know your company’s mission or vision statement? If not, sad to say, you are not alone. According to a survey conducted by TINYPulse (http://bit.ly/1puoP3z) of over 300 hundred companies and 40,000 anonymous responses, the survey revealed that only 42 percent of employees know their organization’s vision, mission, and values.

If your employees do not know your company’s vision, mission, or values then they will be poor representatives of your company. If you, as the leader, have not clearly communicated those core values then you have fallen down on the job. How can your employees represent what they do not know? Purpose-drive leadership is essential to your success. Here are three reasons why.

It gives context to your past

In order to understand where you are and where you are going it is important to understand your past. Knowing the back-story of your organization – all the successes and failures and how it emerged in the formative years is foundational information worth understanding.

Marcus Garvey said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without its roots.” Seek to understand where you have come from in order to make sense of where you are going. From that knowledge you can have a greater understanding and appreciation for where you are today.

It keeps you focused on the present

When your purpose and vision is clear it gives your employees the focus they need to succeed. If your team is in the dark about its mission and vision they are without the most basic of tools needed for success. Your employees cannot lead your organization to its intended destination if they do not understand why they are going there or the values that will guide them.

A clear understanding of your purpose gives them the ability to focus like a laser on accomplishing their goals and objectives. Just as Hank Aaron was able to tune out the distraction at home plate and hit a home run, so too, will your team succeed when they focus on their mission.

It gives you direction for the future

When you can put your past in context and focus on the present then you can build for the future. When you have a purpose that is known, with employees who are engaged, then you have a future that is promising.

“Even though the future seems far away,” said Mattie Stepanek, “it is actually beginning right now.” Purpose-driven leadership is about empowering and equipping your team. Purpose-driven leadership is the rudder of your ship and will keep you on course. Your future is only as promising as your ability to empower. The time is now to lay claim to your purpose, make known your mission and vision, and discover the possibilities before you.

What do you say?

 

© 2015 Doug Dickerson

I’d like to invite you to visit my new podcast page at: http://dougdickerson.buzzsprout.com/

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