The Sweet Spot of Encouragement

Photo Credit: Google Images

Photo Credit: Google Images

If you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it- young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous- is changed by it. – John Maxwell

A story is told of American painter, John Sargent, who once painted a panel of roses that was highly praised by his critics. It was a small picture, but it approached perfection.

Although offered a high price for it on many occasions, Sargent refused to sell it. He considered it his best work and was very proud of it. Whenever he was deeply discouraged and doubtful of his abilities as an artist, he would look at it and remind himself, “I painted that.” Then his confidence and ability would come back to him.

In all of my years in leadership, I have yet to find a leader who didn’t want, need, or appreciate a little encouragement. I believe it’s a universal need and one not just exclusive to leaders. Regardless of your walk in life, who doesn’t appreciate some encouragement along the way?

The above story is a reminder to us of some simple truths about leadership. Let me share three with you.

Every leader has value

John Sargent is considered to be the leading portrait painter of his generation. His mark on the world was made through the arts.

Your gifts or talents may not revolve around being a distinguished artist, but your value exists in other areas. Perhaps you have organizational gifts that keep your business running smooth. You might be the visionary that causes people to see the big picture which creates the necessary momentum to plan for the future. You might be the change agent who speaks the truth about what needs to happen for the sake of your future. (I wrote about how you can add value to your respective organizations here.)

The point here is this: You are a person of value not because of what you do but because of who you are. Your value is more than what you contribute to the bottom line.

Every leader has doubts

Despite his acclaim as an artist, John Sargent still had seasons of discouragement and moments when he called his own abilities into question. Sound familiar?

At some point in time, I think every leader experiences the same struggle. I have. (I wrote about facing your doubts and fears here). We look at heroes in our respective fields of expertise and we say, “If I can only be successful like them, then I will have it made,” not realizing they most likely had the same struggle.

We unfairly compare ourselves to others and think that because we haven’t reached the same level of fame or success then we are a failure – not realizing it may have taken them decades to get there and we want to be there in a fraction of the time. It’s unrealistic and self-defeating. And in the end, discouragement sets in.

The point here is this: You are not the sum of your doubts and fears. And your growth and development as a leader is not a 50-yard dash, it’s a marathon.

Every leader has a sweet spot

John Sargent held on to the prized painting as a reminder of his talents. In moments of self-doubt and discouragement, it motivated him to keep going.

The sweet spot in your leadership comes when you realize that you are not as great as the headlines you write yourself. You are not as bad as the headlines your enemies or critics write. Joy in leadership comes when you discover your why, find fulfillment in the moment, and live for something greater than yourself. (I wrote about finding your purpose in leadership here).

For Sargent, his sweet spot moment came when his focus was on his best work, not his worse. Train yourself to look at the positive. Don’t allow the negative things to define you.

The point here is this: How you rise above self-doubt and discouragement begins with how you see yourself.

Have you found your sweet spot?


© 2017 Doug Dickerson

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Developing a Leadership Mindset

Photo Credit: Google Images

Photo Credit: Google Images

“You can change your mindset” – Carol S. Dweck – Mindset, The New Psychology of Success

In her highly acclaimed and recommended book Mindset , Carol S. Dweck lays out four foundational statements to gauge whether you have a fixed-mindset or a growth mindset.

Here are the statements ( Answer T  or F to each one):

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
  2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are,
  3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit.
  4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

Statements 1 and 2 are fixed-mindset statements. Statements 3 and 4 reflect the growth mindset. “Which did you agree with more? You can be a mixture, but most people lean toward one or the other,” states Dweck.

Over the years I have come to know that leaders have a mindset that sets them up for success or failure even before that leadership journey begins. 

The mindset you embrace sets the tone for your leadership style, success, and the influence you will have. What mindsets or characteristics will hold you back? Which ones will cause you to succeed? Here are a few.

The mindset of your attitude

In leadership, your attitude is your best friend or worst enemy. It’s one of the most contagious characteristics of your leadership style. It will cause people to rally around you and your vision or it will turn them away. The attitude mindset of the leader will be the benchmark for the rest of the organization. You can’t expect the attitude of your people to be good if the one you showcase is bad. Eventually, you will have to change your attitude or your people will change their address. (I wrote about attitude in the workplace here).

What kind of attitude are you projecting? Do you only focus on the negative? Do you only see what your people are doing wrong as opposed to what they do well? How does your attitude inspire, encourage, and motivate your colleagues? Is your attitude worthy of emulating?

The mindset of your perceptions

One of the basic foundational leadership lessons I learned many years ago from John Maxwell was in how he sees other people. Maxwell said he always looked at people and saw a “10”. It was his way of helping others get in touch with their potential and set them up for growth and success. Were all of the people he labeled as a  “10” truly a 10? Of course not. But the perception he put into play was one that emphasized unlimited growth and possibility in the people he believed in–even when they may have only been a 4, 5, or a 6 in reality.

What are the perceptions of the people you lead? Do you instill confidence in your people that reflects a 10 even though they may only be a 5? If known by your people would your perceptions give them a reason to be optimistic or discouraged? What changes do you need to make in your perceptions of other people or personal changes that would cause you to be a better leader in general?

The mindset of your personal growth and development

Every successful leader I know has one thing in common- they never stop growing.The older I get the more I realize how much I don’t know which is humbling. (I wrote about the things I wish I had known years ago about leadership here). You can have a fixed-growth mindset that Dweck writes about or you can have a growth mindset that will make all the difference in the world to your leadership. The mindset you choose, feed, and nurture is the one that will win out at the end of the day.

What are you doing on a daily basis that contributes to a growth mindset? As a whole, does your organization have a fixed-mindset or a growth mindset? What fixed-growth mindsets do you struggle with the most? What changes do you need to make to develop a growth mindset?

Developing a growth centered leadership mindset is the beginning of a leadership journey that begins by believing it is possible.


© 2017 Doug Dickerson

  • I am booking leadership training events for 2017. See the tab at the top of the page for more information.


Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

From Resolution to Lifestyle: This is Your Year

Photo Credit: Google Images

Photo Credit: Google Images

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

During WWII General Douglas McArthur asked an engineer how long it would take to build a bridge across a certain river. “About three days.” The engineer was told to go ahead and draw up the plans. Three days later McArthur asked for the plans. The engineer seemed surprised. “Oh, the bridge is ready. You can cross it now. If you want plans, you’ll have to wait a little longer, we haven’t finished those yet.”

A new year tends to bring up a nostalgic notion in many people. They make resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, go to the gym, diet, etc., – which on the surface sounds good but seldom lasts more than a few months. Sound familiar?

According to a survey about 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolution but only about 8 percent have success in keeping those resolutions. So where do you fit into this time-honored tradition of resolutions?

Instead of “New Year’s Resolutions” I prefer and embrace the notion of a lifestyle. While resolutions usually carry a certain intent, a lifestyle has a certain permanence to it.

I’d like to challenge you to think about the leadership lifestyle that you would like to develop, nurture, and commit yourself to living. Unlike a resolution ie. lose ten pounds and when done check it off; your leadership lifestyle is always under construction.

Here are three questions to ask yourself as a leader to help you think about what a leadership lifestyle means to you. On a sheet of paper answer these questions as you sketch out a blueprint for a leadership lifestyle and your intentional plan for growth.

What are my strengths?

Every leader I know has strengths. They have certain skill sets that come naturally to them or they have developed over time that serve them well. What are yours? It may be that you are a great people person or you are in your element in front of other people? It could be that you are a visionary and see the big picture before anyone else and you can help others see it.

Your strength is someone else’s weakness and your strength is going to compliment that person. Your strength is not meant to be hoarded but shared. Be humble and willing to add value to those in your circle of influence because when you do everyone benefits.

What are my weaknesses?

Every leader I know has weaknesses. We all do. For some the thought of speaking in front of a crowd is enough to make them lose their lunch. You may struggle with insecurities and self-doubts about your abilities and it holds you back from attaining all that you are capable of achieving. You may be too outspoken and a little rough around the edges and some people may not know to respond to you.

While we all struggle with weaknesses, we do not have to let them define us or prevent us from living a leadership lifestyle that makes a difference. It simply means that we are human and we are all trying to figure it out together.

Who can help me?

Every leader I know needs help. I know I do. And as leaders, we were never meant to go-it-alone. We need each other. And in my weaknesses, I can learn from your strengths, and from my strengths, you can perhaps learn a few things to help you along in an area of weakness. The idea is simple- find someone who can help you.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” And this is the leadership lifestyle I am committed to- growing in my strengths, growing through my weaknesses, and helping all I can along the way. Will you join me?


© 2016 Doug Dickerson

  • Check out my speaking services tab at the top of the page. I am booking 2017 leadership workshops now.
Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas


I’d like to take a moment to wish all of my readers around the world a Merry Christmas and prayers for a blessed New Year!

May 2017 be your best ever!


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why Do Your Employees Hate You? Guest Blog Post by Elizabeth Stincelli


“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.” —Nelson Mandela

I am surprised when managers act shocked to find out that their employees don’t like them. You have to remember that the way you think affects your behavior and your behavior determines how your employees react to you. If you don’t pay close attention to your thoughts this can become a vicious cycle. So, why do your employees hate you?

You think your title makes you a leader

I can tell you that one of the biggest factors that causes employees to hate you as their manager is if you think that your title makes you a leader. You don’t become a leader just because you get placed in a management position. Leadership is something that you grow into and earn. Chances are that if you think your title makes you a leader, you also think it entitles you to power. You may have control over rewards or consequences that give you the power to accomplish short-term tasks. This, however, does not equate to long-term power that is earned through respect.

They don’t trust you

If you don’t trust your employees, they won’t trust you. People like people they trust. Animosity is created when your employees’ notice that you think you know more than them, you stop listening to what they have to say, and you are always keeping score. When it appears that you do not trust them, they stop engaging with you even when you ask them questions. They don’t feel like they can be themselves around you. You can’t command trust and respect, you have to give it first and then earn it.

You fail to build relationships

Even if you had strong relationships at some point, when you were promoted you may have become distant and bureaucratic. Your relationships may have become superficial and fake; employees can see right through your facade. After making the move into a management position, it is easy to forget what it’s like to be the low man on the totem pole or working on the front lines. You fail to build relationships on an individual basis where each employee knows that you care about them personally. If you start relying on email as your main form of communication you lose that face-to-face interaction that can be so important to relationship building. You don’t encourage, welcome, ask for, or act on feedback which reinforces the perception that you don’t care what your employees have to say.

You have something to prove

You think that leadership requires you to make sure everyone knows you’re in charge. In fact, it is quite the opposite. If you need to prove that you are in charge, you’re not a leader. You feel you have something to prove, all the time. You’re smarter, stronger, braver, or more powerful; it’s always something. You default to the use of fear and intimidation when you feel you’re not getting the respect you think you deserve. And, you never admit when you are wrong. No one likes a know-it-all. If you are always trying to one-up your employees, chances are they will start to hate you.

You don’t value their contributions

When you think you’re all that, you tend to minimize the contributions of others. When you don’t recognize the value of your employees’ contributions or reward them for a job well done their distaste for you grows. If you don’t recognize their value you will fail to challenge them or engage their creativity. Everyone wants to feel that their contributions are valued and that their efforts are worthwhile.

Turn it Around

So, now you know some of the main reasons your employees might hate you, what can you do to turn it around? Start by recognizing that you become a manager by being promoted or hired into that position, but you become a leader by focusing on the needs of others rather than gaining power for yourself. Show your employees that you trust them and their abilities, communicate openly, and stop keeping score. Remember that you are not a leader if you need to prove that you are in charge. And finally, recognize that every employee adds value. Leadership is influence, and you can’t influence those who hate you. Pay close attention to your thoughts for they will become your behavior. Turn it around.


© 2016 Elizabeth Stincelli


lizLiz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Four Leadership Lessons From Ebenezer Scrooge

Photo Credit: Google Images

Photo Credit: Google Images

Hello, Ebenezer, I’ve been waiting here for you… – The Ghost of Jacob Marley

Listen to most any radio station and you will hear the Christmas Carols. The stores are decorated and the bells are ringing. Yes, Christmas is upon us. Are you ready? Are you in the Christmas spirit?

The festivities and good cheer can bring out the best in people. It’s a time to reflect, give thanks, and give back.

But it’s also a time to look back on 2016 before it closes out and reflect upon your progression as a leader and to make plans for your growth and development going into the New Year. With the help of one such literary character of Christmas we will learn some lessons of leadership that can help you all year.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a favorite for many. It’s a timeless story that has entertained for generations. But let’s not overlook the leadership lessons that can be found in the story. Here are four.

Epiphany’s happen for a reason

As Scrooge was preparing for bed he was visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley. Marley shows Scrooge the fate that had befallen him due to the way he abused the poor and hoarded his wealth. Marley’s fate was now to walk the earth bound in the chains of his own greed. Marley explains to Scrooge that this too would be his fate if he did not change his ways.

There comes a time in the life of every leader that you must take stock of who you are, where you are, and re-connect with your purpose in life. Your epiphany can be a wake-up call to make some major changes in your life or it can be to reaffirm the course you are on. But regardless, pay attention and heed the warnings.

Not everything that glitters is gold

The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge on a stroll down memory lane from his time as a young man. He is seen enjoying a Christmas party given by his boss Mr. Fezziwig. But things take a foretelling turn when the ghost shows him a Christmas in which his fiancée, Belle, leaves him because she realizes he cares more about money than her. He then sees Belle several years later on Christmas Eve happily married to another man.

Scrooge was blinded by his love for money and by his greed. It became his identity. It was more important to him than relationships. In leadership the bottom line is not money; it’s people. Don’t mistake your money for power or your influence for integrity. They are not the same. When you are right on the issue of people and relationships everything else will eventually take care of itself.

Words matter

The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge the festivities of London as well as a sickly Tiny Tim, Cratchit’s son. Upon expressing his concern for the boy, the ghost informs him that he will die unless something changes. The ghost uses Scrooge’s words about “decreasing the surplus population” against him. Presented with two more sick children to see again, his own words, “Are there no prisons, no workhouses?” come back to haunt him.

As leaders it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and say things that we wish we could take back. I’ve spoken my fair share. How about you? Perhaps it’s time to learn how to pause a few seconds longer before speaking the first thing that comes to mind. How about a more kind and thoughtful approach? Make no mistake – words matter. And you can do a lot less damage with your mouth closed.

It’s never too late to change

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge Christmas Day one year later where Tiny Tim has died just as the previous spirit predicted he would. Then the ghost shows Scrooge scenes of the death of a “wretched man” and how some people make fun of him and are even relieved that he is dead. The ghost then shows Scrooge the tombstone- and it bears his name. Scrooge weeps over his grave and begs for another chance before awakening to find that it’s Christmas Day. A remorseful Scrooge repents and becomes a generous man. He visits Fred, gives Cratchit a raise, and takes Tiny Tim under his wings.

To be sure, leaders are human and come with many flaws. But the story of Ebenezer Scrooge is a reminder about the importance of generosity, the value of relationships, and what matters most in life. It’s a reminder about the importance our lives moving in the direction of redemption.

© 2016 Doug Dickerson

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Leadership Lessons from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Photo Credit: Google Images

Photo Credit: Google Images

Then all the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee, Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history!- Robert L. May

For many years, the story goes; Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago purchased and gave away coloring books as a promotional during the Christmas season. In 1939, company executives wanted to do something that would both reduce costs and be new and different.

To help with the new project they turned to Robert L. May, a 34-year old Montgomery Ward copywriter who was known to dabble in children’s limericks and stories. His creation was a short story written in rhyming verse and differed from the version known today. The original Rudolph lived in the woods with his loving parents far from the North Pole.

May’s story became an immediate success. Montgomery Ward gave away 2.4 million copies of the story in 1939 and by 1946, despite wartime paper shortages; over 6 million copies had been distributed. Faced with large medical bills because of his wife’s battle with cancer, May asked Montgomery Ward officials if he could have the copyright to Rudolph turned over to him. The company agreed and that same year the story was published commercially.

May also asked his brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, to adapt his basic story idea to music. When Marks was done, one singer after another, including Bing Crosby, declined to record the song. Finally, in 1949, Gene Autry accepted and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer shot to the top of the charts. Autry’s version is now the second best-selling Christmas song of all time, surpassed only by Crosby’s White Christmas.

From the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, come leadership lessons that are still applicable today. Here are three lessons that will serve you well regardless of the season.

We all have gifts and abilities

Rudolph was the object of scorn by the other reindeer who mistakenly thought that because he was different from the others he didn’t have anything to contribute.

We all come in different shapes, sizes, and with unique gifts. It is not in the similarities that we stand out, but in our differences. The gifts and talents you bring to the table of your business or organization may not look like anything else in your company, but that is your gift. As you embrace and celebrate those gifts, others will also come to appreciate what you have to offer.

We all face opposition

Because his appearance was different from others around him, Rudolph faced opposition. There will always be an element of people who will oppose you not based on your appearance as in the story, but because you have a different perspective, you have a different attitude, and you bring an optimistic mindset to the challenges of your organization.

When you embrace that which causes you to stand out you are on your way to the top. Others can ridicule you or join you but the choice is theirs. Regardless of your opposition, never surrender your uniqueness to any opposition.

Your moment to shine will eventually come

It is in the little things that you prove yourself. Even though Rudolph faced opposition from the others, he didn’t allow their negativity to defeat him. In the moment of crisis when Santa needed a go-to Reindeer, Rudolph was ready. Armed with his natural giftedness and positive attitude, he navigated the team of fellow reindeer to a successful completion of the Christmas mission.

Your moment of destiny will come one day and it may not happen the way you expected. Open your eyes to all the possibilities that your leadership can provide. As you remain faithful your big moment will come.

This Christmas season, celebrate your gift as a leader, rise above your opposition, and stand ready to embrace your destiny. As you do, you will have a greater understanding of just how special the season can be.


© 2016 Doug Dickerson

  • This post is back each year by popular demand.
Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment