What Do Healthy Leaders Do?

When it comes to defining the essence of a “healthy leader”, one could list thousands of qualities. Indeed, this subject is as deep as it is wide. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to find a group of characteristics to strive for in the process of becoming a healthy leader.

Dr. Joseph Hill, founder of Live Lead Serve, has gathered 10 characteristics he believes every healthy leader possesses and I wanted to share them with you:

10 Characteristics of Healthy Leaders

  1. Healthy Leaders Are Spiritually And Emotionally Whole
  2. Healthy Leaders Are Dedicated To The Health of Others
  3. Healthy Leaders Represent The Character and Mission of Their Organization, But Are Also Capable Of Objectivity
  4. Healthy Leaders Understand The Organization As A Social System
  5. Healthy Leaders Provide A Calming Presence And Emotionally Well-Differentiated Leadership
  6. Healthy Leaders Plan
  7. Healthy Leaders Embrace The Wisdom of Deliberation
  8. Healthy Leaders Are Never Too Old To Learn
  9. Healthy Leaders Know What To Pay Attention To
  10. Healthy Leaders Enlist Followers In Change

**Visit Live Lead Serve to read more about each characteristic.

Leading well is a remarkable challenge for every single person. Knowing what it looks like to lead well is a step in the right direction of growth and progress.

Now it’s time for you to take action.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. What is the next area of growth for you as leader?
  2. What needs to be removed from your life to help you grow?
  3. What needs to be added?

Priorities for Navigating Change

Change can be overwhelming, even for the most change inclined among us. In the midst of turbulent change, we can experience confusion, doubt, and fear alongside the thrilling hope of what the future may bring. Our capacity gets stretched and we step carefully ensuring that we are considering all perspectives, people, and possibilities for the most effective way forward.

What are your priorities when navigating change?

Visionary leadership and skilled management are essential for sure. A knowledge of organizational culture and the readiness of people to engage the process are also vital. Too often people assume everyone is ready to engage.

Clarity and Conversations are my top two priorities when navigating change.


Am I keeping the main thing, the main thing?

One change typically impacts a number of other areas and people within an organization. It is easy to get ADD when seeking to influence one area. Sometimes it is necessary to address tangential areas, but many times the priority is to stay focused. Go back to the drawing board and ask; What was the original goal? Is the change process we are initiating actually addressing that role or did we get sidetracked? Are we headed into unnecessary areas?


Am I verbally moving things forward toward closure and traction?

For intentional change to take place, conversations are of the utmost importance. Change starts with someone initiating a conversation to frame the issues and boundaries of what needs to take shape. Conversations then continue toward aligning people for the greatest effectiveness. An understanding of what unique voice each person you are getting input from helps you discern and filter as you lead the charge. We love serving leaders to understand the different voices that exist in an organization so that you can know your team to lead your team with even greater results.

Hope is an anchor for your heart in the midst of whatever change you are experiencing, so we speak hope to you today.

What are your priorities when navigating change?

Two Tools Every Leader Needs

Much of what we spend our time on in the Executive Core can be boiled down to two words: support & challenge.

What makes an effective leader?

We like to say that a good leader, or a “leader worth following”, is someone who understands how to accurately use support and challenge with those he or she leads. In essence, they use support and challenge to fight for the highest possible good in those around them.

As simple of a concept as this may be, the vast majority of leaders struggle with implementing it on a daily basis, and for good reason.

It’s hard.

In the heat of battle, time flies by, deadlines draw nearer, and the weight of reality sinks in faster than we’d like it to. I would venture to say that most leaders spend the majority of their time putting out the fires of today (more likely the fires of yesterday).

When the pressure of hitting goals is on, the DNA of workplace culture will show itself in all of its glory (or lack thereof).

Two Tools

At GiANT, we use visual tools and concepts to help leadership principles become more sticky and useful in the field. Today, I want to give you an illustration to help you with support and challenge and what it might look like to use each of them.

1. Support: Shield

When you think of supporting someone, I want you to think of a shield. As a leader you called to come to aid of your people and serve them. The use of support can look different depending on the situation, but at the core, support is used to encourage and protect for the sake of growth.

Oftentimes leaders who favor support over challenge will create a culture that feeds on verbal reinforcement and encouragement but loathes any sort of reprimand or conflict. Being an encouraging leader is a great thing, but if your leadership is weighted disproportionately in favor of support, you are not building a culture of growth, but rather one of entitlement and insecurity.

That’s why it’s important to balance out the amount of support offered with a healthy dose of it’s side-kick, challenge.

2. Challenge: Sword

Every leader needs a shield, and every leader needs a sword. Swords, just like shields, are necessary for building a culture of growth. As a leader, you are called to challenge those around you to strive for higher goals, become more competent, and to get stronger. Effective leaders use challenge to hold their teams accountable to a certain standard of excellence.

Where leaders typically become derailed is when the majority of their leadership is full of challenge with little to no support. The mindset here is that “My team needs to be pushed hard and I am not their mother. Growth only happens when you put people in tough situations, and that’s what I’m doing.” I get this, but it’s not the whole story.

Leaders who challenge and forget to support aren’t actually building a healthy culture of growth, but rather one of fear.

Challenge is good, but only when accompanied by a healthy amount of support.

3 Questions

  1. Which do you tend to lead with, support or challenge?
  2. What would it look for you to begin using both in a healthy manner?
  3. How can you bring this language to your team to help them to grow in their leadership?

How to Live for the Sake of Others

Very few of us would look back and say that we started out with a pure desire to influence others because we were genuinely “for them”.  I suspect that many of us relate to starting out by living for ourselves.  Some (perhaps most?) never make the shift to an others-focused life out of a genuine desire for them, fighting for their highest possible good.

I resonate with the vision that our lives go through four phases:

1. Searching

Here we ask the fundamental question of “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  Once we resolve the search at a level we can at least live with, we enter into….

2. Striving

We work really hard to attain the vision of our lives we decided on in phase 1.  We experience the temptations of overworking, using others to get ahead, doubting that we will ever get ahead, but we eventually end up…..

3. Succeeding

We made it! We achieved our goals.  We have the office, the car, the home, the toys, the career we dreamed of, yeah…me!

Some of you are here right now.  You are asking the question, is this all there is?  Is there still enough time to do something of…

4. Significance

In the significance phase, we refused to continue believing it is all about us.  We made tough decisions that led us to a reckless resolve to do something for the sake of others that really matters.

Success can be a curse that blinds us from the things that really matter.

Two Actions

If you want to live for the sake of others, here are two action questions I’d like you to consider right now:

1. What are 2-3 ways you would like to be significant for the sake of others?

Perhaps you would like to write, coach, mentor, serve, or start a non-profit.

2. What do you need to do to get there?

A number of years ago, I chose the pursuit of an intentional mentor and going back to school to take me to the next level.

The journey to significance involves dying to selfish ambition.  Are you dying well?  If so, you can be assured that your influence is increasing and you are becoming more fully alive in the process.

3 Reasons To Consider Participating in Exec Core

When you physically work on your Core, you strengthen your entire body. Strong, healthy muscles at the center serve your entire being. The same is true for your leadership muscles at the Core.

We have been working for over 12 years to build something for leaders that help them grow at the highest levels while benefitting their teams and organizations. It is called the Executive Core and our next cohort launches June 23 in Atlanta, GA. We meet 4 times per year (once per quarter), then twice per month via video conference with an additional 1:1 meeting if desired per month. We gather in groups of 8 and we hope to have 4 to 6 groups at the June start.

There are 3 reasons you should consider joining.

1. If you are willing you could grow deeper as a leader than you have ever grown to date

At the Exec Core we focus deeply on Knowing Yourself to Lead Yourself. We have designed a process for you to look at yourself in a mirror to see what it is like to be on the other side of you. The growth program is designed to affect you at work, home, and in your very view of yourself.

2. You will learn tools, language and processes that make you more effective for the rest of your life

We have created memorable tools, comprehensive leadership language and unbelievably practical processes that will affect every culture you are in and benefit those you lead.

3. You will learn how to multiply people and organizations to accelerate health on all those around you

The exec core doesn’t mess around with cheesy leadership programs. We have built an apprenticeship process that raises the capacity of the people by connecting to 90% of an organization. Simply put, we have created a way for leaders to learn how to multiply influence not just add more books to their shelf.

“But I am not an Executive,” you might say. The Exec Core is for people leading people or divisions or organizations. We have entrepreneurs, government leaders, church leaders, some corporate execs, but mostly people who are humble and hungry and willing to grow at levels never before.

Would you be willing to take a look at it? Go to www.executivecore.info and see what others are saying about it. If it isn’t for you then you may know someone that wants to go to the next level with something that truly works. Pass it on to those you know.

Our mission is to help leaders become leaders worth following while leading companies everyone wants to work for. It is a noble mission as we are simply tired of leaders being for themselves rather than for others.

Will you help us?

If you or someone you know may be interested, simply reply to this email or send an email to hello@giantworldwide.com.

Think Bigger, Yet Get Better

For me, this is a season of big thinking.

Bold thinking.

Thinking that takes our organization places that we have never before dreamed.

Truly, I am thinking bigger than I ever have before about our company, our reach, our impact and our growth.

This is the time for offense.

I would rather die trying to grow and influence then die defending something in a defensive posture.

So how do you get bigger? How do you grow in a time like this? How do you think big when everyone around you has their head in the sand?

In the words of Truett Cathy, “You get bigger by becoming better.”

Or in other words to get Big, get Better.

Now, how can you get better?

You can think better and you can make your products or services better. This is the time to work on getter better. Practice, think, innovate. I know you may not have enough money to do all of that, but you can certainly start with a few.

It starts with you.

Can you, as a leader, get better? Chances are, yes you can. Can your team get better? Your processes? How about your website or marketing materials?

You don’t always have to spend money in order to get better, either. You can improve little things. It starts with your mindset.

If you want to get bigger, you must get better.

That is as simple and powerful as it gets.

Fear: The True Death (Part II)

Whether you are a soldier or politician, businessperson or doctor,  or anything else – regardless of whatever path you’ve chosen in life, the one sure way to bring an early end to your dreams and stunt the impact of your life is to fear death above all else (check out Part I for context).

Now, of course, I certainly can’t blame anyone for having a healthy fear of death.  After all, everyone’s had their fears about the how, when, and why of the phenomenon we’re all sure to experience. But I’m here to encourage you to choose life and courage rather than the fear of death, which itself may be just as much a fear of psychological, emotional, or professional death, as it is of a physical one. And that’s the truly difficult part.

Though we may ward away thoughts of physical death by focusing on our current vitality, successes, or other signs of life, many of us have a much harder time facing down our fear of professional death. Or emotional death. It may be odd to say out loud, but most likely we’ve all met someone who has given into one of these fears, ourselves first and foremost.

What this fear does is take root in our minds, starve our hearts of courage, and permeate our actions until we find ourselves impotent and unable live in the full joy and accomplishment of our feared state. Too shortsightedly, we often make the mistake of choosing the fear of death as a means to preserve life. But in reality, we usually find out too late that the opposite becomes true. That the very fear of a single death – psycological, emotional, or physical – spawns the burden of a daily death for the rest of our lives.

To support my point I’ll call on none other than our favorite Scottish Highlander, William Wallace, as he so famously proclaimed in the movie Braveheart:

Fight and you may die. Run and you will live; at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”


Source: IMDB

The crucial point here is that the army was willing to give in to fear in order to avoid immediate death. But as Wallace so eloquently pointed out – the price of running from death today is a daily death from this day until the final death bed when the men would long to have one more chance to live fully and face down death for the sake of freedom. After all, that’s really what we fight for when we fight against fear: Freedom.

We fight for the chance to live our lives fully, striving for joy and a worthwhile purpose. But when we give into fear, when we fear one death more than a lifetime of deaths, we forfeit that freedom and submit ourselves to a lifetime of bondage. It’s ironic really, that living in fear of death, no matter what form (physical, psychological, or professional) is the only surefire way to guarantee we will feel the pain and consequence of a true and complete death. That’s because living in fear is a constant burden that suppresses our potential and robs us of our life and our ability to impact the world.

So don’t give into the fear that plagues you today. Whether it be fear of your daily tasks or lifelong ambitions, fear of relationships or a difficult conversation, or even fear of some physical manner of death, I implore you: DO NOT GIVE IN! The moment you decide to let fear of death rule your life is the moment you begin dying each day for the rest of your life.

Wouldn’t you rather take the chance of living a full and courageous life than shoulder the burden of fear for the rest of your days?

Finishing Well

J. Robert Clinton has done some excellent work on how leaders develop over a lifetime and challenged me with his research revealing that few leaders finish well. This led to further study as to why they don’t finish well and what could help them. One of the enhancements that enables leaders to finish well is mentoring. Leaders who finish well having 10-15 significant people who came alongside them throughout their life! That’s a significant number. At GiANT we are passionate about coming alongside and apprenticing leaders to finish well.

I have had the privilege of a number of mentors, one of whom I consider to be an expert on the subject of mentoring so I invited him to contribute to our blog. I asked Dr. Greg Bourgond the following questions:

1. What advice would you give to someone who is looking for a mentor?

  • Read Connecting by Stanley and Clinton. This resource provides excellent guidance in finding a mentor.
  • Identify the issue, area, or concern you hope a mentor will be able to address.
  • Determine what will comprise your view of a successful outcome. What objectives do you hope to reach?
  • Prepare a single page document outlining your mentoring need, the type of mentor you seek, what you will provide in the relationship (i.e., your commitment, what you will provide in the relationship, your teachability and willingness to take direction,
  • Look for someone who has demonstrated expertise in your area of need.

2. What red flags do you see that would lead you to say no to investing in someone?

  • Lack of clarity regarding their need for mentoring.
  • Unwillingness to be held accountable.
  • Too many verbal conditions or reservations.
  • Lack of follow through with an initial assignment meant to test their commitment.
  • Argumentative spirit, arrogance, defensiveness, or otherwise poor attitude.
  • Resistance to advice or counsel.
  • Someone who wants association without responsibility.

3. Your recent book “Setting Your Course” is for leaders of faith to develop a focused life. Why this book? Where are leaders missing it?

Many leaders live unfocused lives with little intentionality, reacting to circumstances, bouncing from one crisis to another, and living a life of mediocrity. Situational lifestyles are adopted to make one’s way forward – patterns of avoidance, reaction, transference, indecision, and obsession – all motion with little forward progress. Coming to clarity regarding your divinely ordained wiring will help a leader move from scattered engagement to laser beam focus.

Fear: The True Death (Part I)

If I am killed, I can die but once; but to live in constant dread of it, is to die over and over again. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Truer words have never been spoken. For many of us death is the ultimate fear. But the curious thing about fear is that from the fear of a single death come many deaths over the span of a lifetime.


President Franklin Delanoe Roosevelet captured the essence of this truth when he proclaimed in his inaugural address that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” For the greatest and most sure death we can endure is death at the hands of fear. Though we may live, a life ruled by fear is a life already forfeit. No great work or deed can come out of such a life because a life lived in fear crushes the courage it takes to do anything of importance.

Counter Fear with Courage

Even those who had no idea they were on the verge of doing something great could not have begun their journey to greatness if they had allowed fear – fear of failure, fear of ridicule, or fear of physical death – govern their lives and their actions. Those that counter fear with courage are the ones who truly live. While their heart still beats they lead a full life, but even after their final breath is drawn they are the ones who continue to live on, defying the confines of death. They are the ones who had the courage to pursue their purpose, to persevere amidst persecution, and in doing so to cement their efforts in a timeless legacy that continues to influence the world even from beyond the grave.

5 People

While I have much more to say on the topic, I’ll leave that for Part II and end our time together with a list of 5 people whom I believe chose the challenge of life over the fear of death. In no particular order, they are:

  1. William Wallace
  2. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  3. Irena Sendler
  4. Tyler Doohan
  5. James Shepherd

Why We Do What We Do

Today I’m at the airport on an extended layover writing a few posts for our blog.

This one wasn’t intended, but as I am in proximity to an executive catching up on their phone calls I simply can’t help it.

What exactly was said about so and so at the meeting? What did they say about my three team leads?

Without exaggeration, I estimate that 50-60% of the two conversations that happened within one foot of me were dealing with the aftermath of relational conflict not handled well, low emotional intelligence, and what we would call a dominating leader reaping havoc in this organization. This executive described the yelling, the accusing, and the insensitivity in communication that one of the team leads was operating with.

I sit here and wonder: what if the culture of this organization understood and practiced both high support and high challenge in a way that was calibrated to the needs of individuals? What could be done with the other 50% of the time that was invested in the aftermath of leaders with an apparently low EQ and understanding of how to fight for the highest possible good in the life of those around them.

Dominators – through high challenge and low support – create a culture of fear and manipulation. They have low regard for attending to the needs of others because they are blind to their own self-preservation.

In reality they are not for others they are for themselves. They seem secure, but they are insecure. They project their own competence often because inside they don’t want others to know that somewhere inside there exists a number of knowledge, skill, and character gaps. I agree with the Harvard Business Review article “In Praise of the Incomplete Leader” (worth a read) when they say it’s time to end the myth of the complete leader; the flawless ones who have it all figured out when in reality we are all incomplete.

We all know you are incomplete and it’s a good thing, that’s why we need different voices on the team.

This is why we do what we do.

We want you in your sweet spot with a high self-awareness and appreciation of differences in others. We want your organization having the right kind of relational conversations.