Appreciate Often

Humanity tends to focus on the negative aspects in life rather than appreciating the good that is all around. The mental state of many is dependent upon the words that they hear on a daily basis. As leaders, it is critical that we let those we lead know how valuable and important they are. Showing appreciation for the smallest things can go a long way. If we don’t focus on the good that is all around us, then our focus will change our leadership into a dictatorship. Those we lead need to know they are appreciated and valued.

As I stated before, the smallest amount of appreciation can go a long way. People need to hear they are wanted, needed, and that they matter. When all they hear is what they don’t do well, what they need to fix, what they need to change, etc., their desire to do well diminishes. When leadership only focuses on what people need to do better, they stifle the hearts and minds of those working hard so hard trying to be better. Would you rather work for someone who tells you what you need to work on and how you can improve with little to no appreciation, or would you rather work for someone who expresses appreciation for your hard work and dedication and provides guidance and support for you to get better? I know which one I would choose. Simon Sinek said it best when he said, “Be the leader you wish you had.”

Appreciation for others is one of the highest forms of respect. Appreciation forces us to think beyond the issues, troubles, struggles, and frustrations and look at the positives someone brings. However, showing appreciation every once in a while is not beneficial. Charles Schwab said, ““The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” If leadership is about how one life influences another, then appreciation is a characteristic that should be foundational in leadership development. Start by showing appreciation for those you see often and move to those you see in passing. Tell them you value and care for them. Find a characteristic in people that is positive and celebrate it. It will feel awkward at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. It might be your simple word of appreciation that changes the mindset of those around you.

I have found that showing appreciation for people makes them do a double take. I have been given some strange looks just by sharing my appreciation for someone. What this tells me is people aren’t given enough appreciation. People find it foriegn to be told that they are appreciated and valued. Leadership should make it a habit to express appreciation as often as possible. Will people screw up, do the wrong thing, or make bad choices? Of course, we’re human. That shouldn’t change our appreciation of someone. Leadership is a mindset and action. If we focus on the problems and issues and neglect the building up and encouragement of people, then all we will see are the problems and issues. If you want a strong, forward progressing company or organization, then invest in your people. Share your gratitude and appreciation for them; especially when they mess up. 

People see leadership as an example to follow, and many take what leadership says personally. This means that leadership needs to be careful with their words. One of my favorite authors and speakers, Rock Thomas, expresses the importance of identity and the power of words. “The words that follow ‘I am’ follow you. The words you use after “I am” is who you become and how you define yourself.” Below is a link to Rock’s Goalcast video that focuses on building a positive identity. Showing and sharing appreciation for others is a way to promote and encourage positive identity building. This doesn’t mean leadership allows bad habits and poor work ethic. Instead, share what you appreciate about people while providing guidance, support, and encouragement. 

Rock Thomas, This Is How To Resist Labels,

Confession Time

I have spent much time reflecting, writing, reading and pondering what effective leadership looks like. I have written what I believe to be the positive acts of selfless leadership. And as I continue to work through the meaning of selfless leadership, and the acts that accompany said leadership, I can’t help but stop and take pause to say, I am nowhere near perfect in living out selfless leadership on a daily basis. There are many days when I don’t do it well at all. However, it is still in my heart, by desire, and my passion to give and lead selflessly. It is only through constant, mindful reflection that I return to the true purpose of leadership and realize that I have a chance to do it right tomorrow. But isn’t that what leadership is all about? Doing your best, raising the bar, and when you don’t hit the mark, admit your failures, reflect and learn from them, and try again tomorrow.

Confucius once said, “Learning without reflection is a waste of time; reflection without learning is dangerous.” An effective leader is one who is in a constant state of reflection. One of my favorite authors, Brian Lomenick, once wrote, “People would rather follow a leader who is always real versus a leader who is always right. Don’t try to be a perfect leader, just work on being an authentic one.” I find these words to be the heart of what is missing in most leadership. Many times we try to have all the right answers, have the right things to say, do all the right things, etc. The truth is, leadership is not a position, it’s a person; and people are fallible. We gain more trust and respect from those we lead when we show our humanity, vulnerability, and authenticity than when we put on a front and pretend we have all the right answers. What does this mean? It means leadership will fail, and when we do, we need to be authentic, humble, and confess our faults. 

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you spend an entire work group or team building seminar confessing all your sins and faults to a group of people. What I am saying is when you make a mistake, own it. When you say the wrong thing, apologize. When your actions break relationship, seek to rebuild it. Humility is a missing trait in leadership these days. Turn on the TV, read the news, or watch social media, and you will see hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of leaders leading through arrogance rather than humility. As I said, humility is a lost trait in today’s leaders. It’s okay to be wrong, but it’s not okay to never admit you’re wrong. Humility is a hard pill to swallow, but when we do, it softens our heart and our eyes for the people we lead.

This post is titled “Confession Time” because I have to confess, I am not perfect at doing things right all the time. I can get caught up in emotions and lash out on unsuspecting individuals. I wrestle with doing the right thing at times, even when it is a simple act of kindness or being responsible. For example, walking down the street and seeing a piece of trash, I know very well that I should pick it up and do the right thing, but too often I walk right on by and leave the trash behind me. I know I should smile and ask how someone is doing, but my selfishness takes over, and I don’t want to take the time to engage or invest. I am not perfect, and I know I will never be. However, this is NEVER an excuse to stop trying to be the best me I can be. Once I beat myself into submission, I will walk back and pick up that trash or go back to the person and ask how they are doing. Leadership should never be about me, and selfishness is the hardest monster to defeat. But, the monster is beatable. 

I want to encourage you to fight the good fight of selfless leadership. I want you to know that you are not alone in wrestling to do the right thing all the time. I want to encourage you in your journey to be the best version of yourself you can be. It’s okay to make mistakes, just don’t ignore them. Own them, reflect on them, learn from them, and do what is needed to be authentic and real.  As the great playwright and poet, William Shakespeare, once wrote, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” 

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

Speech is one of the most interesting and most powerful aspects of humanity. Even more so, speech can influence, persuade, inform, discourage, encourage, and much more. But most of all, speech is less about what you say, and more about how you say it. Something that was not meant to harm, can be taken as harmful. Something meant to encourage, might discourage. Something meant to instruct, might hinder progress. Ultimately, it is very rarely what someone says that is the issue, it is how they say it. This is why it is vital for leadership to pay attention to how they speak and be mindful of who they are speaking to. If leadership is about one person influencing another, then paying attention to how we say things, and to whom we say them, is of most importance.  

Communication is a powerful tool, but when done poorly, it can lead to misunderstanding, confusion, and worse, broken relationships. It is crucial that we reflect on what and how we say something. As leaders, we need to remember that how we hear something in our head may not be how others hear it. In other words, know your audience. Know who you are talking to; and if you don’t know your audience, get to know them. Build relationships with those you lead. Find out everything you can about their personalities, likes and dislikes, and their story. If we take the time to invest in those we lead, we will know how to communicate effectively. 

There is a difference between telling people what to do and inspiring people to do something. As a leader, our job should be to encourage staff to be their very best. We should inspire others to be leaders themselves. Simon Sinek said it best when he said, “ There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” Leaders must inspire others to be the best versions of themselves. This inspiration comes only by building relationships, understanding who you are leading, and helping others become successful. Inspiration does not come from numbers, charts, and surveys. Inspiration can only come from intentionality and authenticity.

Finally, when communicating with staff, patrons, or whomever, never communicate and expect something of them that you would not expect from yourself. People can see through BS. As a leader, if you expect others to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself, you will lose all credibility as a leader. Leadership is about helping others become the best versions of themselves by being the example to follow. If you are not willing to put in the hard work, sacrifice, and time it takes to be successful, then don’t expect it from others. This means leadership must hold themselves to a high standard, be willing to work hard and sacrifice, and be willing to step in and do what they expect their staff to do. 

Remember, it’s not what you say that counts, it’s how you say it. How you communicate with those you lead will determine the success you see in your staff, business, and organization. Be intentional, authentic, and take time to understand who you are leading. Build positive relationships so that you know how to make what you say meaningful to those who are listening.

Promoting Safe Space As a Leader

WAIT! Don’t quit reading just because you read “safe space”. It is critical that leadership creates an environment where everyone feels welcome to share their thoughts, opinions, and ideas without fear. How many of you have sat in a meeting with an idea you wanted to share, or you had a question you wanted to ask, but you were too afraid to say anything due to the fear of being ridiculed, judged, or given a negative response? The expectations of a meeting should be set by the leader, and the leader should set the expectation that all ideas are welcome, all opinions will be heard, and everyone has something to offer. The leader needs to set the tone for the environment and then lead by example. Don’t just give lip service, rather, set the expectations for yourself and live by them. 

As a reminder, the foundation of leadership is about how one life influences another. During staff meetings, professional development, and team building, the focus should constantly be on how leadership is influencing others. If you find yourself asking questions in a group and getting little to no response from the group, ask yourself “Why?”. Don’t assume it’s the group’s problem or issue. Ask yourself if you are promoting a safe place for people to speak freely without fear of repercussions, or if you give off vibes that do not welcome the sharing of ideas. Rember, as a general rule, 80% of communication is nonverbal. Be sure to be the example people can follow. If leadership does not have an open mind to accept or hear what others might have to say, or they do not express the willingness to listen and accept others ideas through nonverbal lanugague, then don’t expect people to problem solve and collaborate with leadership. Leadership’s goal should be to influence staff in a positive and encouraging way, and to encourage the sharing of ideas and thoughts without fear. 

There are reasons meetings are quiet, and people have little or nothing to share. Speaking in front of peers and leadership can be intimidating; especially for those who do not like to be put on the spot. A good leader realizes that their employees bring amazing potential to the group, company, and/or organization. If people do not feel comfortable or encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas, that means potential is lost. Some of the greatest ideas might come from those you are leading. I believe people assume that leadership should be the one that has all of the answers, but the truth is, some of the greatest answers to the worst problems come from the people who are most affected by the problems. However, if leadership does not provide an environment or an opportunity for staff to share their problem solving ideas openly and safely, then leadership runs the risk of losing out on the answers they might need. 

Some might ask how to encourage staff to share openly in groups and meetings. If there is already a history of little to no collaboration happening in groups, then the answer is to address the problem head on. Leadership needs to take responsibility, share their views and beliefs openly and transparently with staff, and give staff the example of vulnerability. Again, staff look to leadership as the example to follow. If leadership is rough, abrasive, and quick to shut down other’s ideas, then leadership needs to self assess their effectiveness as a leader. I believe Colin Powell stated it best when he said, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” Leadership must have an open mind and an attentive ear to allow others to share their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and opinions. Get rid of fear in the room by showing your staff your willingness and desire to hear what they have to say. Show them that you value their input and welcome their ideas. Fear stifles progress. 

Encouraging and establishing a safe environment for collaboration and sharing of ideas can be the difference between a successful organization and an unsuccessful organization. Have an open mind, welcome the ideas and thoughts of others, and be the example you want others to follow.

Who Is A Leader?

To restate John Maxwell, “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” This statement expresses that a leader is anyone who chooses to be one. Leadership has nothing to do with titles or positions held within an organization or company. The highest level of management may hold a high title, but that does not make them a leader. My hope is that companies and organizations are promoting people and hiring people for certain positions that possess or hold the qualities of good, strong leadership. However, leaders are everywhere. 

I have seen leaders in the lowest of positions. A leader is someone who cares more about those around them than they do their title or position. In the education system, we have people labeled teacher leaders. These are teachers who take on responsibility to lead, mentor, and help other teachers. They may not necessarily be in a position of leadership, but their actions and purpose have leadership qualities. Their focus is on helping their fellow teachers become better, supporting others in the profession, and some even take on leadership roles within their school and district. Teacher leaders are about being examples for others to follow. 

I believe there are leaders everywhere. However, people don’t know they are leaders because most people see leadership as a position or a title. I want you to remember, leadership is how we act and react toward people. As I mentioned earlier, there are people with leadership titles and positions that are not leaders. Their focus is not on people, but rather money, titles, and things. True leaders are those who focus on people over things. Leaders are the ones who find joy and value in seeing others succeed. Selfless leadership is purposeful leadership. 

With that being said, to anyone who reads this, I encourage you to be a leader. I encourage you to take up the responsibility of caring for, supporting, and encouraging others. Don’t be a man or woman on their own island. Leaders don’t live on islands. They have open doors, open borders, and open hearts. Real leaders invest in the people around them. You do not need a title or a position to be a leader. Listen intentionally, encourage wholeheartedly, and support unconditionally. These are qualities of good, real leadership. So the next time you go to the office, the checkout, the gas station, or wherever you call work, lead with purpose; lead selflessly. 

Leading Through Chaos and Crisis

Depending on your role in leadership, hundreds,  thousands, or even millions of eyes are watching you. They want to see what you do, how you act and react, what you will say, and how you will respond. In times of chaos and crisis, those watchful eyes are even more focused on leadership. It is not an easy feat to lead during these arduous times, as most are looking for answers, direction, and guidance.  Here are three objectives I believe are essential for leadership to be successful while leading during chaos and crisis. I understand that there are many qualities that are needed in leadership during difficult times, however, if I wrote about all of them, this would be a book more than a blog.

During times of disorder and calamity, it is crucial that leadership learn to be still. Panic breeds panic, and calm breeds calm. Your worst enemy as a leader is quick, brash decision making. Learn to be still. There is an old adage that says, “Before making a critical decision, you should sleep on it.” I understand that there are times when this is not possible, but the point is to take a step back, breathe, and not rush into a decision. Another way to to think about being still is to slow down. Slow down your thinking, slow down your emotions, slow down your mental state of mind. Leaders are responsible for those they lead, and when decisions are rushed instead of carefully considered, you run the risk of causing more harm than good. So before you act on anything, take the time to slow down, be still, and make well informed decisions.

Be humble. As people are going through a range of emotions during times of chaos and crisis, there is no doubt that you will be too. However, leaders are seen as examples to follow. Do not presume you have all of the answers; more than likely, you don’t. Do not give false hope, as this will do more harm than good. Do not take credit for something that others have been working hard to accomplish. Throughout the confusion and trouble, remain humble. Place credit where credit is due, give honest answers and feedback, and never forget, it’s okay to say “I don’t know.” As St. Vincent de Paul once said, “Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying.” Humility is the foundation in which trust is built. Remember, the leaders job is to support, encourage, and help those they lead. 

Finally, hold yourself accountable. There is never an excuse for poor choices, bad decisions, and a lack of integrity. Live by a code of self responsibility. When everything around you seems to be crashing down, things no longer make sense, and injustice may be all around you, hold yourself accountable to your actions, your motives, and your words. Do not let your actions become something that destroys your reputation. If you live by a personal code to take responsibility for your actions and words, then what you do and say will be more closely considered and well thought out. As a leader, be the example for others to follow. Be the example of what is right. Do not succumb to the desire to act out in frustration, anger, hurt, pride, or fear. Hold yourself accountable above all things.

If you have ever been in a situation where everything seems to be going wrong, people are doing more harm than good, the actions of others are having negative consequences, or everything you know seems to be crashing down all around you, then you will know how easy it is to react based on emotions and feelings or get caught up in the same chaotic mentality. Before you make a decision or take actions, slow down and be still. Be humble in your actions and words. Hold yourself accountable for everything you do and say. Be the example others can follow. Do not follow the chaos into more crises. Rather, lead others by doing what is right, when what is right is hard to find.

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

It is so important for leaders to make sure they are asking the right questions. I believe Steve Keating did a great job expressing how important it is to ask the right questions. The biggest take away, “Can you invest critically important time with your people to ask the right questions?” One of the foundational words in leadership: Invest!

Lead Today

When you ask the right questions you receive much better answers in return. I mention that because it’s very challenging to lead people that you do not know. Knowing them requires consistent communication with them and questions are one of the most effective communication tools a leader has.


If they are asking the right questions. As a leader one of your primary responsibilities is to help your people grow. To grow into their potential, to grow into their goals, and to grow into a leader, if that is one of their goals.

Most leaders would agree with all that but here’s the problem. Too few leaders have asked the people they lead any of the questions that would help them understand the goals of their people. Too few leaders ask their people how they can help them stay motivated long enough to reach their potential.

As Clarence the Angel…

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Who Are Your Heroes?

Growing up, we look up to mythical and make believe characters. We imagine ourselves as Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, and if you were like me, Rambo; who doesn’t like running around shooting guns and bow and arrows and taking out bad guys. As children, our heroes represent what we wish we could do or be, and they play on our imagination. The older we get, the more real our heroes become. As teenagers, our hero’s are pop stars, sports stars, and celebrities. As adults, our heroes might be political leaders, authors, and/or people we may know or who are close to us. Ultimately, we look at people and notice things about them that we want to immulate. As a leader, it is good to have heroes. They show us qualities that we want to immulate, they give us examples we want to follow, and they give us a sense of ownership for our actions. 

I have many people I look to for examples of good leadership, but there are three individuals that mean the most to me. These three individuals have taught me significant lessons in what characteristics make up great leadership. In no particular order, the three people are Bud Corbus, Alan Bermensolo, and my father, Kelly Wallaert. Each man has taught me something about leadership that I will never forget.

Bud Corbus is a man of few words, which is a quality I truly appreciate. He speaks only when he feels it’s time to speak, and when he speaks, you better listen. He is never demeaning in his speech, nor does he make people feel less than him. One of the greatest qualities I have observed in Bud is to be still. Bud does not act hastily or out of emotion. If something happens, or he is presented with a problem, Bud will take time to gather all important information and facts before any decisions are made. He listens intently, and many times can be found taking notes as someone is talking with him. Bud will not make decisions on a whim, but rather takes whatever time is needed to ensure the decision that is made is in the best interest of all parties involved. Bud does not care about fame or being the center of attention. He cares about his employees, his crew, and those he leads. He cares about their safety, well-being, and wants nothing but the best for everyone. He is a good man, and an even greater leader. I have great respect and admiration for Bud Corbus and the example he sets as a leader

Alan Bermensolo is a man of personal responsibility, honor, and loyalty. Alan was the Chief of the Mountain Home Fire Department when I first joined the department. As a rookie in the department, Alan shared something with me that will stick with me forever. One day during a department meeting Alan said, “When things go well, I will make sure you get all the praise. When things go bad, I will make sure I take the blame. If you fail at something in this department, it is because I failed you as a leader.” He explained that our failure could be due to a lack of training in a certain area or not enough support. Alan knew what it meant to be a leader. He never placed blamed, never pointed fingers, and never made excuses. He stuck to his words and showed loyalty, honor, and responsibility as a leader. He would go to bat for anyone, and took all the blame when things went badly. He genuinely cared for his firefighters and their safety. He cared about them as individuals. He would invest into each members’ life and speak positively into their life. Alan Bermensolo has shown me what loyalty, honor, and responsibility as a leader looks like and sounds like.

Kelly Wallaert is a man I have had the pleasure of knowing my whole life. He has shown me what hard work and dedication looks like. He didn’t grow up with the greatest of examples in his life, and when it came to being a father to me, he did his best and strived hard to do better than the examples he had growing up. I will admit, I was not an easy son to be a father to. I made plenty of mistakes and should have been whooped a lot more than I was. My father and I had a rocky relationship when I hit my teenage years, and that rocky relationship lasted until I got married at the age of 25. Today, I am blessed to have the father that I do. There is one quality in my father that I admire greatly. My dad is the perfect example of what real, active listening looks like. When I speak to my dad about anything, he makes me feel like he genuinely cares about what I am saying. He doesn’t try to fix my problems, but listens intently; wanting to truly understand what I am saying. He offers suggestions and ideas only when asked, and he asks questions to seek a deeper meaning in the conversation. He maintains eye contact, doesn’t allow outside distraction to deter his attention, and stays focused on every word I say. Kelly Wallaert has shown me the power of real, true, active listening. He has shown me how genuinely listening makes the other person feel.  

These three men have been a staple in my understanding and building of my own leadership ideals. Each one has shown characteristics that make great leaders. I respect and appreciate each one of them. They have hearts willing to do the right thing and actions that prove it. Are they perfect? No. Do they try to be the best versions of themselves? I believe they do. If we wait for the perfect leader, we will be waiting for a long time. The perfect human leader doesn’t exist. Every leader struggles, but how a leader conducts themselves both publicly and privately is what defines their effectiveness as a leader. All three men I mentioned have made mistakes, they have had their failures, but each man has risen above their mistakes and have become stronger, more effective leaders because of it. 

Who are your heroes? What qualities do you look for in leadership? Do you have people in your life that can speak into your life and encourage leadership qualities in you? I encourage you to take an inventory of your heroes and write a list of qualities that you see in them that help you become a better leader, or even more, a better human being.

The Need To “Be Still” In Leadership

A leader is faced with multiple situations, decisions to make, and people to consider on a daily basis. Through the chaos of leadership it is crucial that leaders learn and practice being still. Being still allows for clarity of mind, understanding, the opportunity to think before acting. Being still can take on many forms, and those forms depend on each individual. The important part is that leaders take time to pause and be still. 

Being still forces someone to think before they act. This is a vital characteristic when in leadership. When employees, patrons, customers, or higher up leadership shares frustrations, concerns, questions, or whatever, instead of giving an immediate response based on emotions and feelings, the power of being still allows for leaders to think through the decision making process. What is the best response that can be given in a highly emotional situation? Decisions made on emotions and feelings tend to lead to rifts in relationships, shortcuts, and negative outcomes for organizations. Being still, thinking through decisions allows for a more logical and well thought out response. It allows for relationships to be mended, progress to be made, and the overall health of the organization to flourish.

Being still allows leaders to put the focus on the most important part of any organization; those that make up said organization. David Novak, cofounder, retired chairman, and CEO of Yum! Brands, stated in his book Taking People With You, “Who you choose to recognize has a real effect; it differentiates people, motivates them, and shows those who didn’t get recognized what it takes to get ahead.” Decisions made on the whim can give a bad impression and set a negative precedence for the organization. Being still allows for leadership to truly consider what is most important for the organization, what is wanted from those they lead, and how to best support individuals in the organization. Afterall, leadership should be about serving those you lead and helping them reach their full potential. 

One of the most important aspects of being still is focus on self awareness and provides time for mental and emotional health. Leaders who do not take care of themselves cannot take care of those they lead. With the pressures of leadership constantly bombarding leaders, maintaining positive mental and emotional health is crucial. There are a myriad of health concerns that can happen when leaders do not take the time to take care of their own mental health. If leaders do not take the time to be still and take care of themselves, then they will fail at taking care of those they lead. 

Before you make a critical decision, before you give a response in a heated discussion, before you lose yourself in your work, step back and learn to be still. Lead with purpose and care. Don’t allow the rush and pressure of leadership force you to make a potential decision that will hurt the organization, those you lead, or most importantly yourself. 


The Keys To Success In Leadership

We live in a world where hurry is encouraged, timelines must be met, and the busyness of life determines our overall success. It seems that the busier we are, the more successful we appear to be. I find this to be detrimental to strong, effective leadership. A hurried and busy leader creates more strain on an organization and on those they are leading. The busy and hurried leader runs the risks of missing important aspects of an organization and making critical mistakes that might potentially harm the organization, or, the most important piece of an organization, the individuals who make it up. There are three keys, I believe, that lead to successful leadership.

The first key to leadership success is to slow down. When we are caught up in the hussle and the bustle of work, timelines, and mandates, we miss out on what’s really important, building strong, positive relationships with those we lead. As Greg Mortenson wrote, “Slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects.” Relationship is everything when it comes to leadership. When we focus our attention on what really matters, productivity increases, morale goes up, and a positive culture is created. Slowing down means leaders are there to support, encourage, and serve those they lead. Leaders do not lead companies or organizations. Leaders lead people. If leaders are too busy to invest, support, and encourage those they lead, then they are not leaders. Afterall, leadership is how we treat others.

The second key to leadership success is to pay attention. Too often people in leadership get caught up in the money, bureaucracy, and the “title” and completely forget to pay attention to what is most important. When leadership stops paying attention to the hard working individuals within their company or organization, employees become expendable. Paying attention to what employees are saying, wanting, needing, etc. is crucial to the growth and morale of any company and organization. To reference Colin Powell, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” Leadership must make a conscious effort to pay attention to those they lead. This means listening to, engaging with, and being in the trenches with those they lead. 

The third key to leadership success is to focus on detail. If you ask any Navy Seal, Special Forces, or high ranking military officer, they will all tell you how vital the details are. Missing details means making grave mistakes; potentially jeopardizing the company or organization. Dan Crenshaw, in his book Fortitude, states, “Details matter. Ignoring them can be the difference between success and failure.”  It is critical for leaders to focus on the details, not just in planning, but in listening and observing staff. Focusing on details means you are paying attention to what matters most. John Wooden once said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”  It’s the hard working individuals of the company that make big things happen. Focusing on detail is, in my opinion, the most critical keys to success in leadership. 

There are many more keys to successful leadership, but I believe starting with these three will begin to refocus the mindset of leaders. Slow down, pay attention, and focus on detail. Who we lead is much more important than what we lead. Never forget, leadership is not a title or a position. Leadership is about how we treat those around us. Invest in those you lead, and you will have a team and a family willing to work WITH you.

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