From the Toolkit: Five Circles of Influence

Leadership doesn’t just happen at work. It happens in all circles of influence: self, family, team, organization and your community.

The Ultimate Goal of a Leader

What should a leader’s biggest goal be?

I like that question.

Some might answer “Results,” “Company Value” or “Team Loyalty.”

I have thought about this often, especially when leading through uncertain times. I found the answer in the last words of King David.

The Ultimate Goal of a Leader

Last words are important. They mean something as life is on the way out and death is near. They especially mean a lot from a revered king and historical legend. King David was a strong, effective leader. So, I have taken his words a bit more to heart. Here is what he said on his death bed.

“A great leader is like the morning sun shining on the morning meadow with blue skies above.”

When I first read this I thought it was a bit light and fluffy. “Morning sun shining on a meadow?” Really?

And then I caught his intent. I would paraphrase it like this…

“A great leader brings peace! A right leader brings peace to their team, to their company, to their family and to themselves. That is their goal and their aim.

Wow! Are you bringing peace right now? Am I?

Let me be careful to help you understand that David was a warrior. He went to battle almost every year of his 40 years of service. That doesn’t seem to be peaceful, does it? Yet, he was called a man after God’s own heart. He resided over much discord, yet, I believe he means this: A great leader has intent for peace even if it means making hard decisions, positioning companies, removing employees, etc.

Is peace your intent? Are you working and leading to take your company into peace and prosperity? A great leader has the intent to lead a peace-filled existence and to rest in the grace and rewards of their efforts. That is a peaceful leader. That is a great leader.

The ultimate goal of a leader is to lead their teammates down the paths of contentment, rest and peace.

Whiteboard Planning

We live in a visual culture. We focus heavily on building everything to be visual and easy to understand. Sometimes the whiteboard is our best friend!

Do You Suffer from Leadershock?

I’ve been captivated by a word I came across in an article by Robert Martin; leadershock. He used the word to describe the paralysis experienced by leaders who are overwhelmed with information and remain indecisive.

Do You Suffer From Leadershock

The formula for Leadershock:

Step #1

Read too many leadership books.

Step #2

Be apathetic, indecisive and uncertain because you read too many leadership books and have not formed concrete ideas of your own but merely marveled at the concepts of others.

Step #3

Second-guess everything and spin out of control.
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Presence and Understanding

The role of a leader in developing people is not a new one to debate. There are those who believe the primary role of a leader is to teach the right behaviors. Some believe modeling is the best way to develop people. And still others would emphasize the need of the leader to simply reward right behaviors and remove repeat offenders who seem to create problems. Any engaged leadership is likely to produce some good result. But what is the best method to bring out the best in someone else?

When my youngest son was 6, he was afraid of the dark. As a dad who longs for his son to reach his full potential, I encouraged him to overcome this irrational behavior without seeing growth. I had great logic and sound instruction for him, but did not see any development.

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Self-Preservation is Your Enemy

This sounds a bit preposterous when you think about it. I mean what is wrong with protecting yourself?

Please hear me on this – you do nothing for yourself when you work hard to protect yourself. When you work hard to protect your job, your reputation or your salary you will increase your chances of not receiving what are trying to preserve.


Here are the primary reasons for this: Read more

Perfect Tendencies

Do you know someone who’s perfect? The way they act, communicate, handle pressure and conduct themselves is all in line with how you would like them to be all the time? They never annoy you. The only way someone could answer yes to this question is if they aren’t married and live alone in the woods with their dog. We all accept that everyone is different and true relationship is a give and take.

Perfect Tendencies

How About Leaders?

Have you ever worked for a perfect leader? Another impossibility. Think about the good and bad leaders in your life. What were the tendencies that they had, good and bad? Were they aware of these tendencies? I doubt it. Read more

Make a Learning Resolution

What do you want to learn? What do you need to learn? The three pound brain that you’ve been given has incredible power to learn new things (literally as while you are awake your brain generates up to 25 watts of power, enough to illuminate a light bulb according to scientists).

Chris Lonsdale, who learned to speak Chinese inside of six months, has been captivated by the question of how we can learn faster.

He answers the same way we do at GiANT:

  1. You look for people who can do it
  2. You look for situations where it is already working
  3. You identify the principles and apply them

He calls it modeling. We call it relational apprenticeship and we are passionate about it. We get fired up about teaching leaders how to learn.

Think back to learning to ride a bike when you were young. It was difficult at first to balance, steer, and pedal until eventually what happens is that neurons create a pathway so that what was difficult is second nature. The challenge is to stick through the learning process until you’ve really learned it.

I’ve known for a while that I am prone to go surface level with a lot of concepts, ideas, and thoughts without seeing my learning through to resolution. It’s something I still challenge myself with and if you are around me long enough these days, you’ll find index cards with scribbles, drawings, models, and ideas.

There are simple things you can do to learn more effectively such as being relaxed, drinking enough water, and reducing your sugar intake. My most important learning of this month about learning is to learn with resolution. Be specific about what you want to learn, find a person or model that works, and see the learning through.

Comment below with your learning resolution for the month.

Being Intentional About Your Growth

You are responsible for growing as a person and as a leader.

It starts with you.

The key is in being self-aware… to admit that you need to grow… to admit that you need some fresh perspective. You are the key to the growth of your team and organization, even your family.

Being Intentional About Your Growth

Credit: Pridash on Flickr.

Your growth depends on your desire to grow and on your commitment to grow. Desire and commitment together can do a lot in a person.

For instance, I have known for years that I needed to get healthier. I needed to eat better and I needed more physical activity. As my waist band expanded and my huffing became obvious to my wife on our walks, it was time for change. The desire to change had been there, but my commitment wasn’t until the moment a good friend of mine got serious and started seeing amazing results in his own physical training. I had to admit that if he could do it, I could as well. That was what turned on the commitment, but one last thing was missing. I needed a plan for execution of my desire to get in better shape and my commitment to exercising.

My wife and I bought one of those TV exercise programs, P90X. They had the eating plan and the workout regimen that I needed to order my days. My desire connected to commitment and my commitment leveraged a plan to produce great results that I have wanted for years.

  • Where is your desire to grow as a leader? Do you want to grow?
  • What is your commitment to the process  Are you willing to do what it takes to get to the next level?
  • What is your plan? Do you have a regimen to help you become a great leader?

Please realize, I can’t give you desire, that is up to you. I can’t impact your commitment, either. Our company has developed a plan that helps people with their commitment. If you follow this plan it will give you the basic activities you need to get moving and start growing as a leader. You can always add other things into this plan. The plan is really a framework of growth that incorporates informal time (growth during drive time or exercise time) and formal times (events, retreats, book plans, etc.)

It is up to you to commit. Once you start, it will be pivotal to start your teams (those you lead), and your organization as well. Once people see your success they will ask what has gotten into you. That is when you get them moving toward growing as leaders. That is what it means to be intentional.

Growth happens by intentional focus on raising the level of leadership. Here is to your intentional success!

Learning My Role

Ned and I were having breakfast on purpose… my purpose. How quickly things can change!

My Purpose

At the time I was leading a not-for-profit organization and we had what I thought were big plans to make a big difference in the world. Though Ned was not on our board of directors, he had been a significant contributor to our cause and now that I was rolling out some new initiatives wanted Ned’s counsel, his advocacy, and hopefully his investment.

I had sent Neb a copy of our strategic plan the night before, high on vision, yet grounded realistic logistics. In order to fulfill our mission to make a difference in our city we needed some infrastructure improvements in our property, some additional staff, and some upgraded technology… a hefty reach for our budget but necessary for our purpose. Still, I felt confident I could win Ned.


“So, what do you think?” I asked him between bites of his breakfast. Ned looked at me, half smiled and pulled out his copy of my document. “This is all fine,” he said. Pause… “But it doesn’t excite me.”

I swallowed my hash browns, hard. This wasn’t what I’d expected. “So, what excites you?” I added, feeling more defensive than I let show. Ned flipped to the backside of the paper where he scribbled notes. “I’ll tell you…”

Changing a Nation

And he did. For the next 30 minutes Ned lit up with the passion of a true zealot. He shared how he and a group of fellow engineers had recently visited Afghanistan and how doors were open to them to help rebuild the infrastructure of that nation. He told me how they were now planning to build a gas pipeline across the country with the purpose of being able to say “Christians did this!”

I sat dumb and dumber. “So sure, you need a new roof on your building; But you gotta understand, we’re going to change a nation! That’s what I get excited about.” I looked sheepishly at my little paper. Then I heard myself say, “So, how can I help you?”

My Role

Like many leaders I have spent much of my energy dreaming up a worthy vision and trying to get others to join me in the chase. I want to do something significant, and I want to help others do the same. But what I’m discovering – finally in my fifth decade – is that my primary role as a leader is not to muster support for my vision, but to Love, which we define as:

Fighting for the highest possible good in the life of another.

I had come to that breakfast intending to motivate Ned to fight for my cause; I left having committed to lend my influence to fight for the purpose that ignited his heart. And that encounter, simple as it was, changed my understanding of leadership.