Humility or Pseudo-Humility?

My wife and I were exchanging words of appreciation for each other on our 18th anniversary a few weeks ago. I was honored and blown away when she said that the thing she appreciated most about me was my humility. Walking in integrity, humility, and generosity are key character values for my life and to hear that in some way humility has been actualized in my heart was really meaningful.

Liberating leaders operate from a base of humility.

Humility is a tough concept. Did I just nullify my humility because I told you that story? Can one actually even say “my humility”? Am I actually humble or is it better to say I am growing in humility? (Hint: I prefer the latter).

I’ve detected a difference between humility and pseudo-humility. Since humility is an absolute essential for liberating leaders, it is important to detect genuine humility. See if this list helps and feel free to add more contrasts in the comment section;


  • I receive compliments
  • I say “thank you”
  • I focus on expanding capacity in others
  • I am generous with coaching and compliments
  • I know the specific character & competency areas of my team because I am perceptive of where they are at.
  • I am secure enough to apologize
  • I celebrate that some of my advancements have come through the demonstration of trust and relevance.
  • I listen and ask many questions.
  • I pursue feedback about my affect on others


  • I deflect compliments
  • I say “Oh, well, it wasn’t me”
  • I focus on how others can help me win
  • I give occasional compliments when others are discouraged
  • I don’t really know where my team needs to grow because I am more focused on my own development
  • I am insecure enough to not admit when I have made a mistake
  • I am frustrated. I self-promote and wonder why I am not getting ahead
  • I talk to display my knowledge.
  • I am easily offended when others point out challenging areas in my life.

In my next post I’ll talk about ways to cultivate genuine humility.

Leadership Legacy & An Event You Can’t Miss

It’s 2014.

We live in a culture in love with the idea of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and “putting people above profit.”

Yet, somehow, our collective culture of leadership still leaves much to be desired.

Sure, everyone talks about leadership because they know it’s important, but how many of us actually know how to grow our leadership capacity in tangible, actionable ways?

From my experience, the answer would be not many.

Due to this lack of concrete skill in what is so often and reverently called “the soft skills,” the leadership space has become accordingly flooded with lofty language, pie-in-the-sky goals, and word-smithing gurus. People today have all the knowledge in the world about what “leadership” is or isn’t, and they’ve seen all the case studies and statistics about the result of good leadership.

But what the majority of us don’t know how to do is intentionally, concretely improve our own personal leadership capacity. We are equally as ill-equipped to consciously and systematically raise up other great leaders around us.

If we were, we wouldn’t see statistics about 78% of people leaving their jobs, not because of their work, but because of their bosses. Nor would we see so many examples of company cultures like Enron and Worldcom running amok with the kind of toxic leadership that has the power to bring an entire state and industry to it’s knees.

The trouble is, because that ethereal thing we call “leadership” seems so intangible and immeasurable, we find it difficult to put solid actions and plans behind it’s development. Finding numbers and strategies easier to deal with, we often leave the leadership problem to sort itself out on it’s own, hoping each person will “do their part.” So it’s not that we plan for our companies, or indeed even ourselves, to exhibit poor leadership cultures, it’s just that we don’t plan not to.

Because it’s so much easier to plan and measure for strategic success, we cling to our trite collection of core values and armor ourselves with confidence in our goodness, hoping that strategy and good intentions will win the battle for us.

But that won’t cut it in the long term and each of us eventually comes to this realization at some point or another. I think it’s also safe to say that far too many of us learn this fact the hard way from first hand experience.

The problem then is figuring out what to do about it.

That’s where the Liberating Leader Tour comes in.


The Liberating Leader Tour is a day of leadership focused on helping you BECOME a leader that people want to follow. GiANT Worldwide Co-Founders, Jeremie Kubicek & Steve Cockram, will be sharing a host of practical insights they have gained over the past 12+ years of working with leaders from all over the world. (You can sign up by visiting

GiANT Worldwide founders Jeremie Kubicek & Steve Cockram

GiANT Worldwide founders Jeremie Kubicek & Steve Cockram


GiANT Tour - IMAGEIn short, it’s for you. It’s for your teams, your friends, and anyone you know who is hungry for growth as a person, as a leader, as a spouse, and as a person in any other area of their lives. We’ve shared our practical tools & content with a multitude of people from a wide variety of backgrounds. This includes everyone from elected officials in the British Foreign office to small startups in Atlanta and non-profit organizations all over the globe. What we’ve discovered is that organizations are made of people, so when you focus on developing people at their core, healthy growth will disemminate throughout the rest of the organization.


When you look back at your leadership legacy, what kind of followers would you like to see?

Do you want the people you lead to be there because they have to follow you, or because they want to follow you?

I think most of us would answer the same way.

And that’s what this tour is about. We’re going around the country starting conversations about the key to building willing, engaged, empowered followers rather than accumulating punch-card employees.

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So what’s the key?

The key is to begin with yourself – to first Become a Leader Worth Following.

Once you become a leader worth following, not only will people want to follow you without the need for pulling rank, you’ll also have a template for building other leaders worth following. When this happens, you’ll find yourself running a company everyone wants to work for.

Join us this October for a day of leadership and liberation.

After all, you can’t give what you don’t possess. Focus on liberating your own leadership capacity first, then you’ll have the tools to make your organization a place everyone wants to work.

“Before you can ever hope to lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself.”

The Mindset of Abundance Based Leadership

[stag_intro]Ice cream is the universal love language of my family. After a long week of extensive study and tough practices, my kids and I find ourselves engaging our Pavlonian response systems and indulging in a little “duce scoop.” I know Dr. Oz probably wags his finger at celebratory eating, but this is how we roll![/stag_intro]

Last weekend, we were on the hunt for an old-fashioned ice cream parlor that was recommended by a good friend. We found the little shop tucked behind the busy downtown streets of a local historic hangout quite “churning” with a long wait of families responding to a similar allure of the senses.

With great anticipation, we pulled up to the counter and each placed our order for a small cup (we were warned ahead of time that the proportions were quite “healthy”). To our “utter” surprise we were offered a small cup heaving with ridiculously proportioned ice cream delivered with a kind of smirk that signaled “good luck!”

Uplifted and wonderfully messy, we were absolutely WOWED by this crazy experience of abundance.

Abundance Based Leadership

Abundance Based Leadership is the intentional creation of similar experiences that are uncommon and stirring to the human spirit. Leaders who generously approach life, leadership, and service hold a liberally framed mental model that positively influences both the organization’s health and the well-being of those they work along-side.

A person’s mental model directly influences one’s behavior. Abundance Based Leadership is recognized via behaviors that call to deep levels of competence, character, and commitment towards the health of others and the organization.

Attractive Behaviors – Abundance Based Leadership

  1. Thinks Long-Term And Big Picture
  2. Sustains Zeal And Focuses Toward Making Positive Relational Connections
  3. Respects And Builds Upon The Past – But Is Not Constrained By It
  4. Seeks And Receives Feedback As A Learner
  5. Proactively Shares Information And Power Across The Organization

Likewise, conflicting behaviors can be spotted literally and intuitively by leaders with negative and narrow focused agendas.

Unattractive Behaviors –Scarcity Based Leadership

  1. Protects Sub-Standard Behavior and Performance
  2. Fights For The Highest Good In The Life Of Self, Not Others
  3. Offends Easily
  4. Hides Behind Walls of Self-Preservation

Bottom Line – Selfless Indulgence

Abundance Based Leaders accelerate the spread of healthy culture and lead in organizations others WANT to work for. Liberated leaders build robust and thriving organizations where conflict is naturally present, but managed from a value of support and challenge. Abundance Based Leaders understand how to effectively message across the organization and are skilled artisans of teamwork and collaboration.

Take Home

  1. How is Abundance Based Leadership observed in your organization
  2. What are the behaviors evident of those bringing WOW to your organizational culture?
  3. How are you recognizing and celebrating the Abundant Based Leaders across your organization?

Leveraging Amusement for Performance

I am a Weather Channel Junkie. I think Jim Cantore has the best job in the world. I was recently scanning an article tracking the effects of Hurricane Odile where the iconic meteorologist was asked if he was going to have fun while on location for this particular story. Mr. Cantore’s bold retort sobered the poor reporter when he jolted back with, “they don’t pay me to have fun.”

walkway of airport

Can you almost hear The Good, Bad and Ugly whistle in the background…

How about you? Do they pay you to have fun at work? Would your team say that they are allowed to have fun at work? Do wrinkled faces, and frumpy attitudes parade as stress signals around in your workspaces?

The Impact of Happy

There is increasing evidence that well-balanced, happy people are the most productive employees. Dr. David Abramis, Research Professor at Cal State University – Long Beach, has studied fun at work for years. His discoveries are numerous with evidence far from laughable.

  • Laughter and joy on the job increases job performance
  • People who have fun in the office are more creative and make better decisions
  • Fun loving companies create healthier cultures
  • Enjoyable workplaces promote fewer absentee, late and sick days than those less-spirited environments.

Many organizations such as Southwest Airlines, Google, Twitter, and Zappos have been on the “fun” wagon for years where workplace amusement is the norm. Of course, no job can be all fun (except Cantore’s)… Every organization has its “get to do’s” and the unfortunate “got to to’s.”

“Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun” – Randy Pausch

Above and beyond pay and perks, employees can derive a great deal of satisfaction and higher levels of company morale from constructive influence promoting empowerment and opportunity. Leaders found within these liberating cultures exude enthusiasm into the lives of those they serve and intentionally invest in apprenticing high competence and values based culture across each sector of the organization.

Dale Carnegie said, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”

Perhaps promoting a little levity at work tomorrow might produce a beautiful long-range forecast ahead!

Take Home

  1. On a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (off the charts), how would your team describe the climate of “fun” within your organization?
  2. What interpersonal obstacles are in play that might limit others experiencing joy and happiness across your organization?
  3. What one thing could you intentionally create this week to leverage joy across your work place?

Opening the Door to Healthy Culture

My family and I have just adopted!

Our new bundle of delight arrived recently from Germany as a foreign exchange student and is staying with us for the duration of the school year.

Opening the Door to Healthy Culture

This addition to our home has created a very exciting dynamic in the way we think about the language we share, how it should be communicated, and how well it is understood. Prior to the arrival of our guest from abroad, each of us could get along quite well with our own unique verbal and non-verbal cues for “pass the dressing” or “yup, fed the dog.” All has changed now. Each of us must be more self-aware, methodical, and intentional in ensuring that what we are expressing is clearly enunciated and well understood.

When traveling for leisure, linguistic and cultural differences like the food and festivities we experience, can be a significant part of the fun and adventure. However, language variability is not always helpful across the internal lines of our organizations. Leaders who strive to effectively communicate common focus are often challenged by the nature of a workforce where language barriers abound across generations, genders, cultures, and experiences.

Similar to the difficulties experienced when visiting countries of different dialects, leaders can become just as disoriented when the organization they lead does not have a commonly understood vocabulary.

A common leadership lexicon of well-understood terms and tools helps us to alleviate uncertainty and provide clarity of expectations across the organization. A shared vocabulary also accelerates the establishment of healthy culture in expressing how members of the team will support each other and ensure a productive and engaging work environment.

Tips for Choosing Vocabulary

  1. The language should be simple enough for others to quickly understand and apply
  2. The language should be scalable across generations, genders, cultures, and experiences
  3. The language should be sustainable to endure the “clever word of the month” or idiom of a particular generation.

Leaders worth following choose vocabulary that ultimately creates a powerful leadership language. As a key influencer, establishing and reinforcing this common vocabulary begins and ends with you. A commonly held vocabulary IS required to leverage effective interactions and to maximize results through the channels of your healthy and robust team.

The Question Is: How is vocabulary and language translated broadly across all divisions and sectors of the organization?

Join us this October as we make our way across the country awakening leaders to the idea of becoming a “liberating leader.” The Liberating Leader Tour will equip you with proven, practical leadership tools, insights, and resources that you will be able to use the moment you leave. You will be inspired and challenged to grow in your leadership such that you leave the experience well-prepared to become a leader others want to follow.

Moving Beyond Performance Evaluations

Love them or hate them, performance evaluations are the norm at the vast majority of companies.

walkway of airport

Their helpfulness depends upon the quality of the person assessing more than the form that gets filled out. If you don’t know how to identify areas of character and competence that need to be addressed to serve the person you are evaluating, then frankly the evaluation will be a check the box and perhaps painful process.

I’ve chosen to move beyond a classic performance evaluation and have set the bar of evaluation with this metric; Fighting for the highest possible good in ____________ (name of the employee). I call it a highest possible good session! I don’t wait for the annual mandatory performance evaluation to come in order to give encouraging and challenging feedback. In fact, here are the three steps I take when giving input to those around me;

(Prerequisite: You are genuinely for the person and have demonstrated that commitment over a period of time. If you are captive to envy and pride and out for yourself, stop reading as this won’t work.)

  1. I write the phrase “Highest Possible Good Session” at the top of a piece of paper. This frames my thinking about exactly what I’m about to do. For me, it is a sacred task as we are dealing with human beings with great value and worth. I communicate to the person that I am committed to serving them as best as I possibly can.
  2. I write the phrase “High Challenge” and start there: Here’s the deal, the typical evaluation conversation starts with the things they are doing well SO THAT you can slam them with what you really want to say. Wrong answer in my view, I prefer to bring challenge first. This takes away any hint of manipulation in the kind things I want to say, and also helps reframe challenge as a good thing. I write down the top 3-4 areas of character or competency I have identified that need some attention and I go there straightway in a conversational fashion.
  3. I write the phrase “High Support” and identify the unique contributions of the person. Having laid the foundation of challenge, this now feels like party time! Celebrate them in a way that they will value the most.

The effective delivery of support and challenge, when done from a healthy perspective will yield transformation. How does this challenge you? Any helps you have in giving or receiving employee feedback like this?

Investing in Self is “Others” Focused

Many leaders consider leadership to be more of a team sport played with others than an individual exercise. While successfully leading individuals across your organization is unarguably essential to high performance, I want you to stop and think for a minute…

In the leadership equation, who is the most important person to lead in your organization?

Investing in Others

We’ve all heard the expression; “You need to put your oxygen mask on first.” This is critical on an airplane. Without oxygen, it would only be a matter of seconds before one loses consciousness and rendered unable to help yourself or others around you.

Our reality, whether in the air or in the boardroom of our organizations is the same; we can only lead and serve at the highest levels when we are healthy, self-aware and learning to lead ourselves first.

I discovered this truth first hand. After years of studying various leadership styles I was asked a profoundly powerful question. The question was, “have you ever thought of what it is like to be on the other side of you?” This question stopped me in my tracks and has set me on an exciting journey to discover what’s behind a leader worth following.

From my experience and from my years of studying leadership principles and practices, it is well understood that the most difficult person to lead is oneself. When I see simply through my own lens of reality, I miss out on the bigger scope of what is happening around me.

When we start asking ourselves tough questions, like the one mentioned previously, we grow and discover a deeper sense of our leadership core. The better we know ourselves the better we are able lead others and progress toward the quest of becoming a liberating leader.

Join our Liberating Leader Tour at one of four stops across the country. The co-architects of GiANT Worldwide will equip you with proven, practical leadership tools and insights you will be able to use the moment you leave.

During our time together we will be learning about how to make your leadership come alive, improving your connectivity, knowing yourself to lead yourself, understanding your core voice, and more. You will be given the tools and resources to help you lead yourself and others you serve across your organization.

If you are a leader, there is no better time than NOW to become the influencer you were called to be. Come be inspired and challenged to grow. Our mission is to come along side you to assist:

  • Becoming a Leader Worth Following
  • Building Leaders Worth Following
  • Leading Healthy Organizations Everyone Wants to Work For.

Registration information can be found on the Tour’s page or you can go directly to We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks.

A Brief Discussion on Strategic Delegation

When you take on the objective of apprenticing leaders seriously and it’s going well, you’ll end up with more responsibilities and more leaders. Having more people you can trust to lead out the vision is a great gift, but you’ve got to use them. The of practice of strategic delegation is something that has plagued leaders for a long time.

walkway of airport

When To Delegate

You’re overwhelmed, overworked, and out of your strength set. That’s when you need to delegate. If you find yourself there, you’ve got to act or you’re heading for burnout or some crisis. Don’t take yourself too seriously, you’re not designed to do it all. If you’re doing 50% of the things you have to do in order to do 50% of the things you love to do, you’re heading for burnout. You need to get to 30% (have to) and 70% (love to). If you’d say that’s impossible, then be brave enough to consider that you may be in the wrong seat on the bus.

What to Delegate

Keep it simple here. Write down all of your task list, projects, deliverables that you’ve got on your plate. Identify what only you can do and delegate to others what you’re not good at or that you don’t like. There are others who will be energized by what drains you.

How to Delegate

1. Delegate results not tasks.

This will create a really empowering culture with significant ownership. DON’T: jump in and micromanage. DO: Coach and lead the process.

2. Delegation is not abdication!

Assuming you clearly defined the results you are looking for, check in on progress. Inspect what you expect. Open the conversations and use your influence to serve the person you’ve empowered to accomplish the results.

The 7 Abilities of High Functioning Executives

Without exclusion, attaining leadership success in the swift flowing conditions of organizational life is growing increasingly more complex. Those who are able to successfully navigate the churning whitewater of institutional progress are equipped with a wide range of skills centered on the use of executive function strategies.

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Defining Executive Functioning

Executive Functioning is a relatively new expression referring to a person’s ability to manage or regulate a collection of basic I.Q. and E.Q processes. Executive function skills include planning, initiation, organization, and execution of tasks as well as the ability to cope with transitions or regulate appropriate emotional responses. Surprisingly, the skills within this arena begin to develop in the formative years of childhood and broaden in strength as one progress through adulthood. Unfortunately, those with underdeveloped Executive Functioning capacity tend to be less productive within the key circles of influence (Self, Family, Team, Organization, and Community)

Unclogging the Funnel of Focus

Leaders vexed with “Executive Dysfunction” are prone to holding “clogged funnels” and are often challenged to manage day-to-day logistical skills with success.

  • They struggle with open-ended tasks (e.g., organizing their calendars)
  • They have difficulty acknowledging and shifting between various degrees of task importance
  • They over-focus on less important details while often ignoring the bigger picture
  • They struggle to summarize big ideas and key messages from daily meetings
  • They forget, or stall in the completion of important tasks

Leaders who are incapable of “unclogging the funnel” may become unreliable and weak in their ability to influence others. Individually, those struggling with Executive Functioning skills often become frustrated, lose self-confidence, and as a result become generally poor performers over time.

Liberated leaders highly tune their executive functioning skills to maximize personal and organizational impact.

The 7 Abilities of High Functioning Executives

  1. Ability to Focus on Tasks
  2. Ability to Plan and Anticipate
  3. Ability to Organize Thoughts and Materials
  4. Ability to Follow Through and Complete Tasks
  5. Ability to Cope with Unstructured Situations
  6. Ability to Cope with Changes in Routine
  7. Ability to Regulate Emotions

The X Factor

One of GiANT Worldwide’s primary tools to practically orchestrate high reliability across organizations is called the X Factor . This simple, scalable, and sustainable tool has been extremely helpful and widely embraced by leaders worth following.

18 X FactorTake Home

  1. What would you say is your most urgent AND most important initiatives for this quarter? How much of your time is focused here?
  2. What would you classify as your most important initiatives, yet not pressingly urgent? Do you have a plan for this?
  3. Which of your urgent issues are questionable in terms of importance? How do you determine your action to engage, defer, or delete?
  4. Which of those items on your desk is of low urgency and low importance? How did this become a task in the first place?

A Forgotten Prerequisite In Developing Leaders

Do you have more leaders than you know what to do with?

What a problem that would be, however most leaders we engage with are inviting us to come alongside to serve them because in actual fact their leadership bench is not stacked with people ready to play at the level you need them to.

walkway of airport

You want to see more initiative, more people in the right seat on the bus, more people understanding that influence is not about title, that they can contribute from wherever they are.

We agree, but let’s back it up for a minute.

For you to have people who can lead others, they must be able to lead themselves. We champion the importance of knowing yourself to lead yourself because it really does all start there.

I believe this is a forgotten prerequisite in developing leaders; It’s what The Leadership Pipeline would describe as the passage from leading yourself to leading others, one which most people are not prepared for. Tendencies to overpower, micromanage, and doing rather than delegating are beginner errors. This happens because leaders don’t know their own tendencies and they are not clear on what they need to do in the new phase.

2 Questions

  1. What are the character and competencies you want to see in people before they move from leading themselves to leading others. Here are four transitions by way of example:
    • ….from solo-peformance to team performance.
    • …from having credibility to using that credibility to build great relationships.
    • …from being coached to coaching others.
    • …from complaining about problems to someone else to initiating problem solving.
  2. Do you have a clear leadership pipeline? The benefits of a clear process that everyone inside your organization is aware of and can rally around are significant.

I was in a conversation the other day with an employee who started a job at a company that highly values healthy culture and promoting from within. They hadn’t been there for too long when a manager approached them and said; “Here’s what we see in you, the track we see you on, and the timeframe you can expect.”

This compelling clarity helped them know where they stood and what they could look forward to. This company gets it! Spending time observing and expanding capacity of your employees when they are not leading others will accelerate the pace of readiness for leading others with quality.

Help them to know themselves so they can lead themselves and succesfully transition to leading others effectively. To be crystal clear; This does not just happen, you must be intentional! We would love to help.