Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Special Tribute to our Nation's Veterans - The High Ground Movie Trailer

     With every decision to commit our nation's most precious resources to combat comes a price that is hard to quantify.  While this movie's focus is on the personal struggles and triumph of eleven veterans from our most recent wars, the individual struggles of these veterans represent the enduring courage of those who go into harm's way at our nation's request and are forever changed.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

How the Led can change the Leader -

      I recently had the distinct privilege to co-author an article for with Leadership Coach and CEO of N2Growth, Mr. Mike Myatt (Picture left), on one of my favorite concepts - how an organization affects the leadership growth of its leader.  Mike graciously offered an opportunity to share development of his weekly column and I hope you enjoy the result!

Here's a sample...  

     "The reality is that the ‘led’ have more of an impact on a leader’s growth over their career than any individual mentor/leader. After all, the led are the group that will accept or reject a leader’s actions, words, and decisions. This acceptance or rejection..."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Giving a Chance to Succeed - Who is Sitting on Your Bench?

     This CBS News story is five+ years old (March 2006) but you still can't help but smile, marvel and be inspired by Jason McElwain.  Sports has always served as a leadership laboratory for youth, a place where they can risk and learn to work collaboratively for something greater than themselves.

     The lessons from this story are many, but here are my 'Top Five', the ones I think are most important:

     1 - Never judge a team member's ability to contribute without giving them the chance to succeed.
     2 - Inspired performance by one member of the team will unfailingly inspire the rest.
     3 - As a leader/coach you must follow your instinct and challenge the 'norm' with action.
     4 - Leaders/coaches have the power to change lives - every single day.
     5 - Is there someone on your bench you haven't 'pointed to' yet?

What lesson do you 'take away' from this amazing story?
Who is sitting on your bench?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What You Learn While You Lead Stays With You.

     The transcript of this speech came to me via email sometime in 2004 and it resonated enough that I have kept it in my files ever since.  The speech was given at a cadet "Dining In," a traditional, formal military officers' dinner held to honor the unit's history and build comraderie amongst warriors.  Then LTC Guy Lofaro has an outstanding reputation as a true scholar-Soldier and his words provide exceptional insight into the values and dedication of those who serve in uniform.  While the words are nearly 11 years old, the sentiments are timeless and worth sharing again.  

     "Let me say before beginning, that it has been my pleasure to attend several dinings-in here at West Point and hence, I have some basis for comparison. You people have done a fine job and you ought to congratulate yourselves.
     In fact, why don't we take this time to have the persons who were responsible for this event, stand, so we can acknowledge them publicly. I guess I am honored with these invitations because there exists this rumor that I can tell a story. Cadets, who I have had in class, sometimes approach me beforehand and request that, during my speech, I tell some of the stories I've told them in class.
     For the longest time I have resisted this. I simply didn't think this the right forum for story-telling, so I tried instead, with varying degrees of success, to use this time to impart some higher lesson - some thought that would perhaps stay with one or two of you a little longer than the 10 or 15 minutes I will be standing here. I tried this again last week at another dining-in and I bombed. Big time. Of course, the cadets didn't say that. They said all the polite things - "Thank you, sir, for those inspiring words - You've provided us much food for thought - We all certainly learned something from you tonight, sir." And I'm thinking - yeah - you learned something all right. You learned never to invite that SOB to be a dining-in speaker again.
     So in the interim, I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I would say to you tonight. What can I say that will stay with you? And as I reflected on this I turned it on myself - what stays with me? What makes a mark on me? What do I remember, and why? How have I learned the higher lessons I so desperately want to impart to you? Well - I've learned those higher lessons through experience. And as I thought further, I realized that there's only one way to relate experience - that is to tell some stories.
     So I'm going to try something new here this evening. I'm going to give you your stories and attempt to relate what I've learned by living them. I'm going to let you crawl inside my eye-sockets and see some of the things I've seen these past 18 years.
     Imagine you are a brand new second lieutenant on a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula . You are less than a year out of West Point , and only a few weeks out of the basic course. You are standing at a strict position of attention in front of your battalion commander, a man you will come to realize was one of the finest soldiers with whom you've ever served, and you are being questioned about a mistake - a big mistake - that you've made.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Leadership Matters.

One man's quest to change a continent, in this video Patrick Awuah tells the story of how he learned to think about leadership and how it matters to the world using his native Ghana as an example.  Soft spoken and extremely articulate, his insights into the future of Africa are profound and teach a number of great lessons that can be applied to our own lives and country.

If you don't have the time to watch the video, consider these six important messages:

1) The manner in which we educate our leaders is fundamental to progress . . .and will make all the difference.

2) Good leaders do not emerge spontaneously, somebody trained them.
3) When a leader fails, then the nation suffers.

4) Leaders develop the ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity, to deal with problems they have never seen before.

5) "The real privilege of leadership is to serve humanity."

6) Leaders should never have a stronger sense of entitlement than their sense of responsibility.

Patrick Awuah left Ghana as a teenager to attend Swarthmore College in the United States, then stayed on to build a career at Microsoft in Seattle. In returning to his home country, he has made a commitment to educating young people in critical thinking and ethical service, values he believes are crucial for the nation-building that lies ahead.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Will They Come Get You in a Fight?

True courage in leadership is often, and surprisingly, found in the little day to day things we do. Small acts of courage to make the hard choices, to confront adversity and uncertainty demonstrates to the organization that you follow a moral compass that will get the team from point a to point b without compromise of integrity or standards.

A mentor once told me to judge my leaders (or people posing as leaders) by whether or not they would "come get you in a fight." The phrase is a colorful one and a product of Army culture, but his message was really about judging my leadership's courage, their ability to stay the course, underwrite my organizations mistakes and stand behind my decisions when things got rocky.

Now more, than 10 years after he told me that, I find myself telling the leaders on my own teams that "I will come get you in a fight" and use that phrase to open the open the dialogue about my expectations for their courage and integrity levels. It is a powerful conversation to have when there is open dialogue about what you expect from your leaders.

One word of caution though ... ensure that your acts of courage are guided by a clear set of values that align with the organization's mission.

Without clearly understood values and alignment, acts of courage can rapidly be interpreted by others (and your team) as lunacy.

I highly recommend Mike Myatt's blog post on Leadership and Courage found at

Sent from my iPhone