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3 Tangible Ways To Become A Trusted Leader

It is impossible to be a great leader if you are not trusted. Trust is the foundation upon which great leadership is built. I’m not talking about the trust related to ethics (that’s a whole different conversation), I’m talking about trust in relationship to reliability, predictability, and performance. Here are my 3 tangible ways to build a foundation of trust for your most powerful and authentic leadership.

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#1. Create Clarity And Accountability

The key to creating trust and growing your authentic leadership power is being responsible for your word — ALWAYS! How you do this is by taking full responsibility for what you said you would get done and by ensuring it gets done. In the case where you are not able to create the results you promised, take immediate responsibility for what didn’t happen. This means NO EXUSES! Not giving excuses is extremely hard for even the most trust worthy of leaders because they often feel it necessary to explain what happened; however, explaining what happened does not build trust. Any excuse or explanation of the circumstances diminishes the responsibility and ultimately the trust you were creating. So, to take responsibility means admitting your mistakes immediately, apologizing for not having the intended result (with no excuses), and sharing your proposed solution for going forward, or admitting that you don’t know what to do next and need some advice. It is a myth that leadership lies in strength, perfection, and always delivering results. True leadership lies in the ability to see what isn’t working and to correct that path. Often times what isn’t working and what needs correction is you. Excellent leaders can see where they didn’t get results and correct it, just as they would with any other issue or error.

In being responsible for your word every time, you will build your authentic leadership, and furthermore, you’ll achieve the more important goal of never embarrassing yourself, your boss, your colleagues or your organization. Once time I had an Assistant Manager who was covering the Manager position before I was hired. In that time, he was over budget on an item and failed to let my boss know and take responsibility for it. I was at day two of my new job when my boss stormed into our office because he had been questioned about the over budget item in a meeting with his peers and he didn’t have a response because he hadn’t known about the overage. To add fuel to the fire, my Assistant Manager was defensive about the error, taking no responsibility, which further enraged my boss. In my Assistant Manager not being responsible for his accountabilities and his error, he undermined his own leadership because he had embarrassed our boss in front of his peers. At a later date, I was in a similar position, over budget on an item. As soon as I discovered the issues, I went immediately to my boss, admitted the issue and explained I wasn’t sure what to do about it. Through our discussion, I was able to identify the reason I was over budget. We had been training more that we had anticipated, and thus I was able to put together some information for my boss, so when he was in the weekly meeting with his peers, he was able to knowledgeably speak to the budget issue. He thanked me for that. I knew in that moment, he trusted me and my authentic leadership and power had grown. To end this story, when I left my position and my Assistant Manager was eligible for a promotion, into my position, he did not get it. He had a reputation that he could not be trusted to responsible for his accountabilities.

#2. Create Existence

Another way that leaders create and grow trust is through existence.What is existence? Existence is the who, what and when of anything that is to get done. I have been in many meetings where the meeting ends, everyone is happy about the outcomes of the discussion, but no one has created clarity around what is to be done, who is to do it, or when will it be completed.

I was once in a meeting with the CEO of the company and my marketing team. We had had a very interesting discussion about the next steps for marketing for the company. As we neared the last 10 minutes of the meeting I asked “What are our actions and outcomes of this meeting? Who is going to do what, by when?”. Everyone in the meeting was a bit taken aback. We were all so caught up in the exciting ideas, that no one had stopped to think about tangible execution and outcomes. Had I not asked the question about what, who and when, nothing would have been accomplished from that meeting, despite the conversation being so productive. This is an extremely common occurrence. It costs businesses lots of money and more importantly, it costs time, creativity and innovation.

You can create clarity and accountability for who, what and when by asking “What is a tangible next step, who’s accountable, and when will it be done?”. Or if you are responsible for taking the next step, you can create clarity and accountability by saying something like “I’ll have a summary report emailed to you by Friday at 4pm and I’ll schedule a meeting for Monday at 2pm to go over it.” If you ask the question about who, what and when or take clear responsibility for the the action item then things around you will get done and you’ll achieve the goal of being known for the willingness to be accountable and for generating results.

#3. Create Peace Of Mind

In business, everyone is busy and trying to juggle many things in their head. To develop yourself as a trusted leader, you need to always be in communication about what you’re responsible for, so that those around you know they can rely on you to do what you say you’re going to do, and that they don’t have to remember what’s on your plate, because you’ve been in communication and they know you’ve got it handled.

I used to have a colleague who was always afraid of what I call the “CEO drive-by”, which is when the CEO all the sudden remembers that you’re working on a project and pops by your desk to get a status update (no fun, right). The reason the CEO does this is because he or she hasn’t received enough communication about the project status so he or she has to try to remember to ask you. This keeps the CEO and others overwhelmed will all that they have to remember and prone to “CEO drive-bys”.

How to build trust, that you have everything handled, is that you always initiative communication about what you’re working on regularly, whether it’s done or not. In weekly meetings with a CEO, I used to have items on my agenda that he had asked me to do, that I knew I wouldn’t get to for months. I keep those on my weekly agenda. Every week, I let him know that I wouldn’t get to these items this week. It might seem counterintuitive to remind your boss, colleagues or team that you’re not working on something or not done something; however, if you always let people know where things are at, then they don’t have to spend time wondering about the status of your work. This creates trust in you and it also achieves the goal of “providing peace of mind” for your boss and colleagues without having to ask you for a status update.

The way to do this is to always be in communication, before you are asked. I actually play a game with myself to see if I can drive enough communication to never be asked about where my work stands. When I am asked, I lose and I start again. I play the game by sending weekly “FYI” updates to my boss, team and colleagues if appropriate. I know that mostly they’ll never fully read them, but I also know that I get less “CEO drive-bys” when I do that. Also, I respond to all communication with phases that create existence like “got it”, “will do by…”, “will report back by…”, “added this to weekly agenda…”.

Creating clarity and accountably, creating existence, and creating peace of mind are the foundations of being a trusted leader. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Ask me about a free no pressure coffee — ninja style — to discuss business and the results you want!

0 comments on “3 Essentials Every Effective Leader Starts With”

3 Essentials Every Effective Leader Starts With

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As a business coach and strategist, I’ve seen how diverse and confounding the challenges are in being an effective leader. Whether you’re a CEO, founder, vice-president, director or manager, the challenges come in many forms: strengths, weaknesses, blind spots, technology, feedback, growth, outsourcing, decisiveness, and integrity. To take your leadership game to the next level, you want to start with 3 essentials that are the foundation of effective leadership.

1. Understand What Drives Your Behaviour

To be an effective leader or manager, at any level, you need to start with an in-depth understanding of your core values because core values drive your behaviour or “run the show”, so to speak. If you don’t understand your core values, you’ll find yourself questioning your actions and decisions, or you’ll find yourself unable to act decisively. Understanding your core values is key to being able to take decisive action without analysis paralysis or decision remorse — two things an effective leader cannot afford.

Values are not something you overtly choose because it’s what you want to value, or it’s what you think you should value. Values are evident in how you do things, what decisions you make and what you prioritize. For example, I’ve seen many leaders say they value ‘growth’; however, in their actions and decisions, it’s clear that they value ‘harmony’ (making everyone happy), which is directly in conflict with the value of ‘growth’. Check out my other blog on values that includes a comprehensive values exercise, noting that when you do the exercise, you should consider what actions and behaviours are present.

Once you understand your values, you can use them as a way to understand your own thought process. You’ll also be able to use your values as a framework for making tough decisions. Often leaders are paralyzed when they have to make tough decisions, or they make decisions they regret because they get caught up in the details and dynamics of the situation and they can’t see the bigger picture in the moment. By using your values as a framework to make decisions, you’ll be able to make tough meaningful decisions that you won’t regret in the long run.

Lastly, once you understand your core values, you can use them to educate, inspire and lead the people around you. I let everyone I work with know my core values so they have a better understanding of who I am a person, why I think and act the way I do, and also how to succeed with me. Established values create clarity, confidence, decisiveness, power, velocity and ease.

2. Understand What Makes You A Leader

Getting clear on your unique combination of strengths is essential to being an effective leader. Your strengths are the things you will always gravitate towards and they’re often the things that light you up! Knowing your strengths is so important because it’s where you’ll get your “10x” (exponential returns on your efforts). Danielle Laporte says “if you round out your edges, you lose your edge” and knowing what your strengths are allows you to sharpen your edge by putting your efforts where you excel, and then confidently delegating what you know you don’t excel at. The most effective leaders, “A players” spend their time doing what they’re great at and delegating everything else.

The best strength analysis I’ve come across is the Clifton StrengthsFinder analysis. I have found that the individual combination of strengths (not pre-defined personality profile) that this profile analysis provides to be the most accurate, insightful and useful to leaders.

3. Understand What You’re Trying To Accomplish

Every leader has a “big why”, a thing they are trying to accomplish that has them do what they do. It’s their driving purpose, the difference they want to make for themselves and others. Steve Job’s big why was “make a dent in the universe”; Oprah’s — “to be a teacher and to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be”; Richard Branson’s — “to have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes”. You have a “big why” that has you be a leader, work hard, and make sacrifices. What is the difference you are trying to make?

Once you know what your big why is, you can use it as a tool to keep yourself motivated, to understand your own actions, to guide your decisions in tough times, and most important to motivate, inspire and enrol everyone around them about what your trying to accomplish. If you haven’t figured out, or articulated your “big why” try a few of these resources:

Mastering these three big essentials is the foundation to being an effective leader! Good luck and let me know how it goes!!

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6 Secrets To Master Getting Feedback For Managers and Leaders — Part 2

Feedback is an essential part of performance. In my previous blog about giving feedback I explain why it’s so important for managers and leaders to give feedback. In this blog I’ll explain why it’s so important for managers and leaders to get feedback. Here’s my 6 tips for getting feedback.

#1. Feedback Is A Gift

I had a client ask me “How do I NOT take feedback personally?”. My answer was simple — “feedback is a gift”. Let me say that again — “feedback is a gift”. In business and in life attitude is everything and if your attitude about feedback is that it’s a criticism, that’s how it will show up for you and it won’t be of any use to you. But if your attitude is that feedback is a gift, then feedback will be something you can use to your advantage!

#2. It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

When you get negative feedback it’s hard to hear it for what it is. For example, when my client got feedback that he was a “micro-manager” the reason this feedback felt so personal was because what he heard in the feedback was that he was a “bad manager” or “not good at his job”. And that’s not what the feedback meant. Feedback is personal because it relates too you, but it’s not about if you’re good or not, it’s about receiving information in relationship to your performance or your results. So hearing that you’re a “micro-manager” does not mean you’re a bad manager, it just gives you information about where to go to work on taking your management to the next level. It’s like a hockey coach telling his star player that he needs to focus on getting in front of the net more often. This feedback from the coach doesn’t mean the hockey player is a bad player, it just tells the player what to focus on to up his game. So, when you get negative feedback know it’s just information that can help you up your game.

#3. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

In one of my fav business books, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, Marshall Goldsmith writes about how whatever got you to this level of success will not be the same thing that gets you to the next level of success. I have seen this over and over and over again with many leaders. They get stuck because they’ve fallen into the trap of relying on their past strengths and it starts limit their results. Feedback is a very effective way to avoid this trap because feedback is always related to current performance, not past performance. Feedback tells you what you need to focus on for where you are right now.

#4. Be Proactive

One of the biggest issues for managers and leaders is that as they move up the “food chain” in their career they tend to get less and less feedback and this slows down their professional growth and starts to create an avoidance to feedback. To prevent this from happening you have to proactively seek feedback and make sure you get honest feedback. The best way to do this is through both structured and unstructured feedback. Structured feedback can include regular anonymous feedback from your colleagues, subordinates and those above you — a great way to do this is through a 360 Review. Another way to get feedback is through a less structured approach, like just asking more questions to as many people as possible (don’t limit yourself to just your subordinates or your boss). Try out these questions to start getting some valuable feedback:

  • What can I dial up?
  • What can I dial down?
  • What can you rely on me for?
  • What does everyone know about me?
  • What would everyone say about me if I wasn’t in the room?
  • What’s your experience of me? / Working with me? / Working for me?
  • What’s the one thing I could have done better in that meeting/week/month?
  • Follow each of these questions with “Tell me more about that?” / “Can you give me a specific example?”

#5. Use Feedback To Build Trust

One of the best talks I’ve watched in a long time is Brene Brown’s “The Anatomy of Trust”.

In her talk, Brene Brown explains about how we trust people who have integrity. She defines integrity as choosing courage over comfort; doing what’s right over what’s fun, fast and easy; and practicing values not professing them. Thus, when leaders stop getting feedback and stop seeking feedback they start to loose the trust of their teams because they’re being comfortable, they’re doing what’s easy, and they’re not practicing the values of leadership (see my post on ‘Leaders go first‘).

#6. Follow Up On Feedback

Last, but certainly not least, once you get feedback you have to follow up on it. Meaning, you have to take action on the feedback and circle back to the person who you the feedback and let them know the action(s) you’re taking in regards to his or her feedback. There is no point in putting effort in to getting feedback if you’re not going to use it — that’s like paying for a gym membership and never going. Plus, you will further diminish people’s trust in you if they provide you feedback and never see that you’ve taken it into account in an actionable and accountable way.

Want to take your leadership to the next level?

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1 comment on “6 Secrets To Master Giving Feedback For Managers and Leaders — Part 1”

6 Secrets To Master Giving Feedback For Managers and Leaders — Part 1

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Giving feedback is an area where many good leaders and managers fail. I’ve heard many top employees complain that they don’t get any feedback — really that’s what they are complaining about?! The truth is that millennials are one of the hardest working, most passionate and most open generations in the work force. Millennials grew up in a time where following their passion was possible, where being open and vulnerable (think social media) was a virtue, where immediate feedback was everywhere (think internet, texting and social media) and personal development was a way of life (think Oprah, Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil). So, if you are going to successfully manage millennials you’re going to want to master feedback because they are expecting it and they’ll use it! Here’s my 6 secrets to being great at giving feedback.

#1. Feedback Is Your Job

Feedback is your job. Feedback lets your team members know how they’re doing. Imagine a basketball coach that focused only on the vision of winning the championship and the task of running drills and playing games, but never gave his or her players any feedback on what they were doing well and were they needed to improve. Not only would that be super weird, it would make for a very ineffective coach and if not incompetent coach. Giving feedback is your job! If you’re not giving feedback all the time, you’re the coach who’s is team running drills and playing games with no coaching.

#2. Feedback Is Both Positive and Negative

If you’re like me I cringe at the thought of feedback. “I have some feedback for you” causes my stomach to clench the same way as “come to my office” and “we have to talk”. But, feedback is not all negative. Feedback is about giving information in relationship to results. Your team members need to know both where they’re doing well and where they’re not doing well to perform at their best. If you’re only providing negative feedback, you’re only giving half the coaching and leadership.

#3. Feedback Is Not Motivation

Lots of leaders dole out the motivational phrases like “good job”, “you’re doing great”, “keep up the good work”, but, this is not feedback. For feedback to have any value (and register as feedback) it must be specific. Feedback must give the details of what worked and what didn’t work — think about a coaching helping Michael Jordon with his free throw. If the coach says “That was good, do it again.”, it doesn’t give Michael Jordan any information on what worked and what to focus on to get even better. But, if the coach says “The follow-through with your wrist was perfect, now focus on following-through all the way to your finger tips.”, this is feedback Michael Jordan can use to improve his performance. You need to provide specific feedback about what’s working and what’s not working so your team members know exactly what to keep doing and what to go to work on.

#4. Structured And Unstructured Feedback Is Required

Most leaders and companies I know do put in a lot of effort to provide feedback in an annual type of review. This is a good place to start and it’s not enough. Feedback is like sports (if you didn’t get that from my previous basketball analogy). Coaches need to give feedback in the pre-season training camp, in weekly practice and during the game. Saving up all your feedback for an annual review makes the feedback too weighted, too late and too general. When you save all your feedback for annual review you often end up watering down the feedback. It’s also too long after the event to remember significant details that make the feedback valuable. Plus, it doesn’t give your team member any game-time feedback to help them win the game. It’s like telling them the score after the game is over and telling them they should have tried harder when they didn’t even know they were losing.

#5.  Feedback Does Not Always Have To Be a Sh** Sandwich

A common mistake the best leaders make is always giving feedback in the form of a sh** sandwich — that is sandwiching negative feedback between positive feedback. The reason it doesn’t work is that the message is so unclear. So the team member is confused about what’s really going on with their performance. However, if a coach tells her player to increase their sprint speed by 20%, the player is super clear what part of his performance he needs to focus on. And when the player improves and the coach acknowledges his diligence and improvement that’s clear too. Don’t diminish good and bad feedback by sandwiching them together.

#6. Feedback Is A Skill

Feedback is a skill. It is not something that comes naturally to most people. So you really need to focus on it if you want to become good at it. The good news is that it gets easier with time and there are a lot of great resources to help you (eckhem, like this blog). It is worth spending some time and energy learning more about giving feedback and growing your capacity in that area. Your career, success and everyone that works with you with thank you. And to make your job a little easier here are some great sentence starters for giving feedback:

  • I’m grateful for…
  • I admire you for your…
  • Because I care about your success may I recommend…
  • I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.
  • Can you dial up…
  • Can you dial down…

Contact me for a free consultation — Ninja Style!

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3 Top Mistakes Executives Make And How A Business Coach Can Help

One thing that your executive and small business coach knows for sure is that most executive mistakes and foibles are not unique — in fact they are very common. This is good news because it means you’re not flawed, you’re just dealing with the same issues that all CEOs, executives and managers are dealing with and that your business coach can help! Here are 3 top mistakes that executives make and how a business coach can take your performance to the next level.

Mistake #1: Continuing To Rely On Your Past Strengths

In the book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, Marshall Goldsmith explains how the strengths that made you successful at the previous stage of your career, likely won’t be what will make you successful at the next stage of your career. For example, you might have been a rock-star employee that is known for coming up with all sorts of new and exciting ideas — some of which turned out to be good ideas. And because of your ingenuity you got promoted to a management position where you continue to come up with new and exciting ideas, as that’s what you’re good at and what got you the promotion. However, as a manager being an “idea generator” might not be the quality needed for success at that level. As a manager, being an “idea generator” might cause issues with your team as they could feel overwhelmed with all your ideas or they could feel that you don’t provide them with the opportunity to generates. You might also be also be missing other management issues that should be your focus such as resolving interpersonal issues on your team, securing needed resources for your department, or improving interdepartmental relationships — because you’re focusing too much on what you used to do. Thus, you need to develop and employ a completely different set of skills every time you “level-up”.


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How A Business Coach Can Help: A business coach can provide you with new tools and strategies that will help you develop the skills needed to be successful at each stage of your career or business success.

Mistake #2: You Stop Creating the Next Level

Early in your career or business there are lots of opportunities to advance and the path to this progression is clear.  However, as your career or your business advances you will likely land in a position where the next level isn’t as obvious or as readily available — you might be a director, VP, or CEO for a long time before you “level-up” again. Having the same position for the long-term often creates stagnation in personal growth and learning and slows down our “opportunity radar” in this position. Just because the position per say doesn’t change, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be looking to level-up in that position — this is a very common problem for CEOs and senior managers.

How A Business Coach Can Help: A business coach can help you keep pushing, growing and transforming your current position so that you’re better prepared for the next step and so that the people under you can continue to expand as you do.

Mistake #3: Stop Getting Feedback

Early in your career or business feedback is inevitable — you get it whether you solicit it or not. And in the beginning you often seek it as you’re hungry to find out where there’s gaps in your performance so that you can improve and get better results — after all you have nothing to lose! However, as you become more successful in your career or business the feedback lessens usually because there are less people to give it to you (you’re close to the top of the “food chain”) and your amphibian brain kicks in, creating that you now have something to lose (ego, pride, strength, security) so you inadvertently stop seeking feedback. Feedback is key not only to continually improving performance, but it is also a key part of power and influence. Leaders that continue to seek and accept feedback are more trusted, more skilled, more respected and thus more powerful and influential.

How A Business Coach Can Help: A business coach can help by being an unfiltered, unconstrained, objective source of feedback so you can create bigger and better results and continue to grow your authentic power and influence.  Furthermore, a business coach helps you be accountable to that feedback once you get it.

Contact me for a free consultation — ninja style!

 

1 comment on “6 Reasons Your Business Coach Has You Do A Values Exercise”

6 Reasons Your Business Coach Has You Do A Values Exercise

As an executive and small business coach in Vancouver, I always start with a values exercise. This may seem simple, but it’s actually very strategic. Going though a values exercise produces several long-lasting benefits. Here are the 6 benefits from completing a values exercise with a executive and small business coach:

1. Clarity 

Going through the process of a values exercise with a business coach helps identify what’s clear and what’s not — this way the coach does have to waste time on things that are already clear for you, and can focus on helping you define what is in the grey zone, which creates the most value out of the time with your coach.

2. Confidence

One of the consistent challenges I see when working with with executives, CEOs and managers is a lack of confidence that prevents them from taking action or making decisions. They all aspire to have the unwavering confidence of Steve Jobs, Gary Vaynerchuk, or Oprah — but the truth is


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Sensei Says “Values equal

that Steve Jobs, Gary Vaynerchuk and Oprah don’t have unwavering confidence. What they have is a clarity around their values — who they are, what they stand for, what matters to them — so that even in the face of criticism, uncertainty and disbelieve they can have confidence in their values, even if they don’t have confidence in themselves.

3. Decisiveness

In my MBA ethics class I read this great book called Defining Moments, by Badaracco and one of the author’s main points is that ethical decision making is rarely about a decision between good and bad or right and wrong, but it is a decision between right and right or bad and bad. So, when we are faced with these challenging decisions we are often paralyzed, but having defined and articulated values can be a guide to tough decisions because the values will clearly point to the decision that is the best option based upon what maters to you.

4. Power

True power, the kind of power you can summon when you feel powerless, comes not from authority, intelligence or title — it comes from authenticity, from being 100% who you are. Being clear about what your values are give you the power to speak and act in any moment under any circumstances.

5. Velocity

When you’re unclear about what’s important to you, you spend lots of time “humming and hawing” about what to do, weighing the pros and cons, and playing out all the different scenarios and this creates “analysis paralysis” which slows down the momentum of your growth and trajectory.  Once you have clear values, then you can make decisions much quicker and easier, which means you can take more actions to create bigger results faster!

6. Ease

For most executives and managers making tough decisions is only half of the battle, living with those decisions is the other half. In business when there are important decisions to make or lots to do, our heads spin with all the scenarios and all the implications — you know the feeling. Having clear values, allows for value-based decision making which helps clear the mind for fast effective decision making, but it also helps create ease after making a decision. It helps keep those crazy-making, wheel-spinning thoughts at bay because you were able to run your decision through criteria and you can rest assured that you made the best decision at the time with that criteria.

So, when your executive or small business coach wants to start with a values exercise, it’s not a frivolous activity, she’s looking to to create many long lasting benefits for you and your business. If you want to get started clarifying your values you can try this simple and powerful values exercise.

Contact me for a free consultation — Ninja Style!

0 comments on “Why Hire A Business Coach?”

Why Hire A Business Coach?

person-woman-sport-ballThe question really is “Why ever have any type of coach?“. Olympic athletes have a coach because they have a critical objective. Olympians care about optimizing performance, expanding potential and achieving results. The coach sees what the Olympian can’t see on the field. The coach provides clarity and structure so the Olympian can focus on doing what it takes to get on the podium. The coach is the Olympian’s partner in fulfilling his or her goals.

 

0 comments on “#1 Way To Improve Your Leadership”

#1 Way To Improve Your Leadership

Two of my favourite books are Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Both books point to the power of being vulnerable. True leaders are vulnerable, true leaders go first!


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Leaders apologize first, admit their mistakes first, ask stupid questions first, say I don’t know first, admit the sunk cost first, fail first, speak from the heart first, push first, learn first, put in the hard work first, show up first, try first, demonstrate first, show values first, say no first, say the hard things first, be vulnerable first.

Where can you go first? 

Want to take your leadership to the next level? Contact me for a free consultation!