Simple Tools for Effective Communication

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

Peter Drucker

Effective communication requires effective listening. You can’t have one without the other. Unfortunately for most of us, active listening skills don’t come naturally.

If you are like me, you like to be understood. You like it when people hear and understand your perspective on things. And you probably will find yourself defending your point of view when people challenge your position on important topics.


listen_up_and_develop_more_effective_communication_skillsWe are all accustomed to one-way communication where our objective is to be understood by those we are talking to. The problem with one-way communication is that there is typically no room for dialogue. It’s just two people talking at each other rather than to each other.

You see this play out in relationships and home and at work a lot. People can get caught up talking at each other, and it usually causes friction in the relationship. Usually both parties walk away from the conversation frustrated and are not as willing to engage in future conversations. After all…what’s the point! They won’t listen anyway!


As we work on our communication skills, it is important to realize that the failure to understand will result in a failure to be understood.

If we put more attention on what the person is trying to tell us, they will also be more inclined to hear our perspective as well. You will also discover that you will be able to unpack more of their thoughts and feelings when they know you truly care about what they have to say.

Remember what Proverbs 20:5 says, “Counsel in the heart of a man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Using these simple tools for effective communication will help you draw out the hidden thoughts and feelings of those you communicate with.

  1. Questioning. Asking open-ended questions can be a powerful way to help the person you are talking to unpack more of their thoughts and feelings. You will be amazing with how effective a simple question can be in helping a person articulate how they really feel. Asking questions also communicates genuine interest in what they have to say, rather than being focused on what you want to say to the person.
  2. Encouraging. Sometimes people need to know that it’s safe to share how they really feel. Encouraging someone to be honest and open reiterates your genuine concern and interest in what they have to say.
  3. Paraphrasing. Paraphrasing their statements is a great way to make sure you are hearing their intended message rather than your interpreted message. Paraphrasing requires you to use their words and phrases as you recap what they just said. This allows them to clarify themselves if necessary and keeps both of you on the same page.
  4. Reflection of feeling. Reflecting the feeling of someone is a wonderful tool to engage and connect with someone. Imagine if someone just got bad news about a loved one and they are grieving. Acknowledging their feeling, and being present with their feeling at the time allows them to know you really care. Think of a time where you were extremely excited about something and you wanted to share it with someone, but they seemed uninterested. Didn’t it make you feel disconnected from that person? Reflecting the persons feelings, whether they are happy or sad, will allow you to engage in an effective way.
  5. Summarize. At the conclusion of your conversation it’s always a great idea summarize what you believe was said. Much like paraphrasing during the conversation, summarizing allows you to share what you understood, and for them to give you more clarity in case you misunderstood something.

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5 Keys to Mentoring Effectively

“A mentor is not someone who gives you advice. A mentor is someone whose advice you follow.”

Aeneus Williams

Being a mentor is one of the most unique and beneficial relationships one can have. It’s unique because it requires both individuals to willing to accept their role as the mentor or mentee. This is not something that can be forced. Rather, it is a relationship built on the mutual need to give and receive advice and support.

Even though most people will agree that there is value in being or mentor or having a mentor, most people do not have an intentional relationship with a mentor!

personal-mentorWe all admit that we need help, and don’t want to allow other people rear lights be our headlights. But in reality, most people do not make themselves vulnerable enough to admit that they need a mentor. And even worse, people tend to devalue their life experiences and shy away from being a mentor to other people.

I love what the late Dr. Myles Munroe said, “Success without a successor is failure.” What good is knowledge if it is not shared with future generations? What good is success if it can’t be replicated? Who will be able to start their life journey based on the knowledge of yours?

Here are 5 Keys to Mentoring Effectively to help you start your mentoring journey.

  1. Empathy/empathetic understanding. One of the most effective was to establish trust, and allow people to open up to you is to show empathy. Empathy is simply the ability to understand and share the feeling of others. This does not mean that you have had to have the exact same experience as the person you mentor. But it does mean that you can relate to the feelings that they are expressing. Acknowledging their feelings, and reflecting on a time where you felt a similar emotion is a great first step in establishing trust.
  2. High positive expectations. Everyone needs a coach. Everyone needs someone who can call greatness out of someone, and hold them to a higher standard. A great mentor will have the capacity to see the greatness that is inside their mentee and not allow them to settle for anything less than accomplishing the goals they have mutually established.
  3. Advocacy. Knowing that someone believes in you, and will go the extra mile to support you is something that is rare these days. Having a support system of people who are on your side no matter what is something that provides fuel to any relationship. Especially to the person you are mentoring!
  4. 12-months or longer and frequent positive contact. Consistency and commitment tend to be to the biggest issue with mentors. Being a mentor requires being intentional in the relationships that you spend time with, and with assessing what is important to you. Remember, a person is a mentor because that’s who they already are, not because its what they are trying to do. The mentoring relationship should be a natural extension of who you already are.
  5. Relationships focus on strengths rather than deficits. The last key of focusing on strengths rather than deficits can be challenging. It can be easy to see what’s wrong, and what to address the issues that need to be developed in a person. But if you truly want to be a transformational mentor, focus on the strengths of the person and what they are doing right. By focusing on their strength you reinforce their self-esteem and belief in their potential. Remember what Proverbs 18:16 says, “A man’s gift will make room for him, and bring him before great men.” Your mentees gift and strengths will open doors for them. Therefore, you should focus on developing their strengths, rather than being frustrated with their weakness.

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Key Ingredients to Credibility

“I think credibility, irrespective of what you do, if you are in public life, then it is important.”

Rahul Dravid

It’s impossible to be an effective leader, or have a happy relationship if you aren’t seen as credible. Credibility is the filter that we use to determine if the person or information given to us is reliable.

Out of the countless stories that are leaked on the Internet we tend to rely on the credible news sources (ABC News, CNN, Fox News, etc.) in order to determine if the story is real or not. Even though the data may be accurate, if the source of the report isn’t credible we tend to not trust the story.

nfl-draft-football-c046fda5b7fb453aLawyers understand this during trials. They will question the credibility of the person based on their past to taint the validity of their testimony. Even if the person was an eyewitness to the incident, the credibility of the witness will either support the case, or hinder it.

The reality is that we all have to deal with our credibility at work and at home. Our past either makes it easy for people to trust us, or it can be an obstacle that makes it more difficult.

Learning how to rebuild credibility when we have made mistakes is the key to effective leadership. Not understanding how our past actions or decisions impact our leadership or relationships is a mistake too many people make today.

Here are a few ways to assess your credibility with others.

  • Integrity: Are you congruent? Integrity includes honesty, telling the truth, and leaving the right impression. When a person has a track record of either not telling the truth, or consistently misleading people, it makes it almost impossible to be seen as credible. It’s important to acknowledge the impact of the integrity issues of the past, and begin to rebuild trust daily by being consistently honest.
  • Intent: What’s your agenda? Isn’t it interesting how skeptical people are? People who have been disappointed in the past will try to not get burned again. Intent is about your motive, agenda, and behavior. If people question your intent, the most important thing to remember is to be patient, consistent, and transparent. The more you show you are focused on serving, loving, and leading by putting other’s needs ahead of your own, the more receptive they will be over time to see you as credible.
  • Capabilities: Are you relevant? Credibility also incorporates your talents, skills, knowledge, capacities, and abilities that allow us to perform or give advice. People always look to see if you have knowledge or experience in the area as a form of validation. Do people see you as an expert, or knowledgeable in the area you are trying to support? A lack of history or success in an area will cause people to hesitate in trusting your insight on the topic. Make sure you aren’t just sharing accurate information, but you also have demonstrated the skills and capabilities to be a trusted source.
  • Results: What’s your track record? Could you imagine listening to Johnny Manziel talk about leadership and decision-making? How about listening to Lance Armstrong discuss the importance of integrity in athletics? Of course not! A persons track record is their report card. Your report card is either making your voice loud in the ears of those you lead, or it is operating like a muzzle and making it hard for people to hear what you are saying. Be mindful of your past, and if you need to address something that you haven’t be successful in, make sure you acknowledge it, and share what you learned from the mistake.

You don’t have to be perfect to be credible. But you do need to acknowledge your imperfections to have influence!

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13 Ways to Rebuild Trust

Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.

Steven Covey

Trust is the foundation to every relationship. Once trust is broken, it makes having a healthy relationship difficult. Trust is the glue that allows people to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Trust allows people to be vulnerable with their thoughts, feelings, dreams, and concerns. Trust is what makes bonds of friendship special.

trustSo what do you do when trust has been broken? How do I rebuild what has been broken? Is it even possible?

Though it may be difficult, it is possible to rebuild trust. It may not happen overnight. But it is something that can be reestablished if both people believe in the potential of the relationship and are willing to work to make things work.

Trust is a two-way street. Both people must be willing to see each other without the filter of pain, and disappointment. It is not always easy, but it is possible.

Many times people want to get things back on track, but “want-to” isn’t enough to rebuild trust. Understanding the key ingredients that must be done consistently and applying them is what will give you a chance to win the heart of the person again.

Here are 13 ways to rebuild trust in your relationship from my friends at Felicia Hall Allen & Associates:

  1. Talk Straight. Be honest. Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand, and call things what they are. Let “your yes be yes, and your no be no.”
  2. Demonstrate Respect. Treat everyone with respect. Show kindness in the little things. Behave in ways that demonstrate caring and concern.
  3. Create Transparency. Transparency is about being open, real, genuine, and telling the truth in a way that people can verify.
  4. Right Wrongs. Make things right when you’re wrong. Apologize quickly and demonstrate personal humility. Don’t ever cover things up!
  5. Show Loyalty. Go out of your way to give credit freely.
  6. Deliver Results. Before you make a commitment, make sure it’s realistic. Don’t over promise and under deliver.
  7. Get Better. Two strategies that are helpful in maximizing your effort: seek feedback, and learn from mistakes. Many times we don’t get better because we don’t ask for honest feedback from others.
  8. Confront Reality. Confronting reality is about taking the tough issues head on. Avoiding tough issues won’t make them go away. In fact, it tends to make things worse.
  9. Clarify Expectations. Create shared vision and agreement about what is to be done up front. This allows for everyone to be on the same page, and have a common interest in making things work.
  10. Practice Accountability. There are two key dimensions to practicing accountability. You must be willing to hold yourself accountable for your personal goals and values, and be willing to be held accountable by others for mutually agreed goals.
  11. Listen First. Listen before you speak. Failure to understand typically results in a failure to be understood.
  12. Keep Commitments. The quickest way to build trust in any relationship is to keep commitments. Every time you keep the commitment, you take a step closer toward rebuilding the trust you are aiming for.
  13. Extend Trust. Give what you want to receive. If you want people to trust you, you must also be willing to extend trust to others. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is a powerful way to change the tone of the relationship, and makes it easier for them to extend the same courtesy to you.

How to Measure Success

“Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.”

Arnold H. Glasow

Why does it matter how I measure success?

Your measure of success determines EVERYTHING! Your measure of success determines what you do, why you do it, and how long you will do it for.

I saw how important this was when I saw the difference in two of the football teams I played for.

paterno_wide-560509ddad3d3937df9d1804dd1243cec6c20ca4-s900-c85At Penn State, Coach Paterno had a goal of wanting to win a national championship, and graduating every player. Every class, practice, workout, and meeting was all geared toward helping us to be prepared to have us ready for the ultimate goal.

As a result, behaviors like loafing in practice, being late or inattentive in meetings, or not working out with maximum effort was not tolerated. We even had mandatory breakfast every morning by 8 AM and Coach Paterno sent staff around campus to ensure everyone went to class and had good grades in class, otherwise you would not be allowed to play in games.

Our goal set the tone of what is expected of us everyday. It created the accountability necessary for everyone on staff and on the team to understand their role towards the goal.

When I arrived in the NFL, I noticed a different measure of success was in place. The Falcons weren’t focused on winning the Super Bowl. After all, we were in the same division as the San Francisco 49ers who was loaded with future Hall of Famer’s like Jerry Rice, and Steve Young. They dominated our division during that time and beating them was not the focus. We had a goal of simply playing “respectable” against them.

Being “respectable” impacted everything! I immediately noticed a difference in the tone and intensity of practice, meetings, and workouts. It was easier to focus on individual goals rather than team goals. And it was easier to accept defeat when confronted with adversity.

Your measure of success will determine when you are willing to accept failure.

Here are 2 warnings and 3 important questions to ask yourself to determine how you will measure success.

In today’s world that is starving for instant and shallow fame through social media, and filled with people willing to do almost anything to gain affirmation or acceptance from other people. It’s important to ask yourself the question, “How will I measure success?”

It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about your role in your home as a husband or father, or your role in the community as a coach or CEO. If you have a wrong measure of success you will find it difficult to make the necessary sacrifices to succeed.

Warning #1: Your personal life is shot, but people still want you for things.

“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Mark 8:36

Never allow the thirst of the approval of others become more important than your ability to love and respect yourself. People may think you are wonderful, but if your personal life is in shambles, then you need to forget about winning the approval of others, and focus on having healthy relationships with God, yourself and then your family.

Warning #2: Don’t try to prove something to people who don’t matter anyway.

We have found that people who tend to bend over backwards in an effort to try to please people who never acknowledge what they do will find themselves spinning their wheels like a hamster in the wheel. Don’t waste your time setting goals to please others. Your goals should first please God, and then bring satisfaction to who you are as a person.

Question #1: Do you want to be busy or effective?

The answer to that question should help you prioritize your time to accomplish your goals. Too many people confuse being busy with being effective. How much of your day is spent moving closer to your goals?

Question #2: What is something of significance that you can accomplish?

The answer to this question unlocks the vision of what you truly are called to impact or change. Many times the clues to the answer to this question is found by looking at how strong your emotions are for or against something. Your emotions are a wonderful indicator of something going on inside you that is important for you to address.

Question #3: What are you willing to sacrifice, and for how long?

Some people forget to think about the process of accomplishing their goals. Within your journey, there will be things that you will need to sacrifice in order to gain what you really want. What are you willing to let go of, and how long are you willing to do it? You can tell how bad you want something based on what you are willing to give up to accomplish it.

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5 Ways to Embrace Obstacles as Opportunities

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

Booker T. Washington

There are few guarantees in life. But one thing that we know we are guaranteed to experience is the need to overcome obstacles.

Jesus even makes mention of the reality obstacles when he said, “In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The question is not if you will face adversity and obstacles. The question is when will you face adversity, and which one will you deal with today!

013014-fsf-NFL-ray-lewis-superbowl-OB-G11.vadapt.664.high.52On October 15, 2012, during his farewell season, Hall of Fame Linebacker Ray Lewis tears his right triceps making a routine tackle in a home game against the Cowboys. It was a play he made countless times throughout his career. However, this time the tackle tore his right triceps and the initial thought was it was a career ending injury.

At the time, the Baltimore Ravens were on the hunt to earn a playoff birth to make one final push for the Super Bowl for their inspirational leader. After having such a successful career, having his career end with an injury was something that he would not accept.

When he asked if anyone has ever returned and played with this injury, the training staff answered him honestly and said, “No.” The answer was irrelevant to Ray. According to his interview on America’s Game, Ray tells the trainers that he will be the first, and will lead his team on one "last ride" in the playoffs.

Ray didn’t allow the injury or the situation to define the future possibilities. And 3 months later, Ray found himself leading his team to win Super Bowl XLVII. Something no one thought he would be physically capable of doing.

What has been the biggest obstacle that you have overcome in your life? What obstacles are on your path and blocking you from your opportunities and goals? Who has told you that you can’t do something that you accepted as your reality?

Here are 5 ways “to embrace obstacles as opportunities from my friend Dr. John Townsend.

  1. Don’t be surprised. “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” 1 Peter 4:12. The first step to overcoming obstacles is to stop being surprised by them. It would be like playing football and acting like there isn’t a defense on the field that is trying to hit you. Because you know there is a defense, you can develop a strategy to limit their effectiveness against you. Prepare for the unexpected and learn to be more adaptable to handle unexpected challenges.
  2. Validate it, don’t minimize it. Some people make the mistake of acting like the problem isn’t there. Avoidance and denial will never remove an obstacle. Validate the problem. Look at it. Start to problem solve on how you can overcome the problem, rather than just walking away from it entirely.
  3. Plug in to the right people. Your support structure is vital if you want to overcome obstacles. Who is breathing life into you? Who is around you that have similar experiences, and has experience in what you are dealing with. I love what my friend Michael Smith says, “Sometimes it’s easier to let someone else’s rear lights, be your headlights.”
  4. Learn the lesson. Sometimes we find ourselves dealing with the same problems over and over again. It’s important to assess whether there is a pattern or habit that is getting you in trouble. Figure out the lesson, and learn from it!
  5. Swing the bat again. Have you ever seen the kid that gets upset that things didn’t go their way, so they get up and take their toys away? That’s what some people do in life. When things don’t go the way they expect, they stop trying. Just because it didn’t work out last time, doesn’t mean it won’t work this time. Especially if you do steps 1 – 4!

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6 Essential Keys of Being a Leader People Want to Follow

“You know you’re a good leader when people follow you out of curiosity.”

Colin Powell

Being a leader today is not so much about the title you have, but rather the influence you earn. Everyday people make a decision to submit to your leadership. It doesn’t matter whether you are husband or father, a CEO, or manager the reality is that your title alone only gets you so far.

In order for you to maximize your potential as a leader, you will have to earn voluntary buy-in beyond your marriage vows, or their paycheck.

BN-LW576_NYGIAN_J_20151228183850I love the story of transformation of two-time Super Bowl winning coach, Tom Coughlin. In his early years as a coach, he had more of a dictator style of leadership that focused on driving the team as hard as he could. He focused on being firm, fair, honest, and demanding.

This model allowed him to achieve moderate success, but he never won a Super Bowl. He found himself on the hot seat in New York, with fans calling for him to be fired. It was during this point he made a decision that changed the course of his career and how he would be remembered forever.

In a recent interview on America’s Game, he shared how he added one other guiding principle to how he would lead his team. And it was: caring.

In all his time coaching, he never showed his players that he cared for them. He never let his players see that side of him. The side that makes his wife and children adore him, or the side that comes alive when he is with his grandchildren.

This one thing transformed his relationships with his players, and caused them to have a deeper bond of trust that allowed them to ultimately win two Super Bowls.

Do you want to develop your influence?

Here are 6 keys to being a leader that people want to follow from my friend Dr. John Townsend:

  1. Observable Execution: This is a principle many college coaches use in recruiting. There is a difference in a recruiting call from coaches like Geno Auriemma, Mike Krzyzewski, or Nick Saban. There is a clear track record of success that is appealing for a potential recruit. People need to see you successful in the area that you are leading them. The people you lead find confidence when they can see the fruit of your life. Your previous execution builds credibility and a belief that if you’ve done it before, you can do it again.
  2. Personal Warmth. This is what Tom Coughlin discovered at the end of his career. People need to know that you are approachable. Research has shown that people prefer to follow Clark Kent, rather than Superman. People like to know that they can identify with you, and can understand what they are going through.
  3. Failure to clearly set expectations, and define roles and responsibilities is a common mistake of leaders. If a person doesn’t understand what they are expected to do, then it’s impossible for them to stay connected to that leader. They may begin excited in the beginning, but the lack of clarity will cause their zeal and excitement to fade over time, and they will be drawn to something that gives them more certainty of knowing how they can help.
  4. Buy in to the vision. Leaders must give people an opportunity to buy in to the vision by making it a shared vision, rather than just the leaders vision. Creating a common vision requires asking people their thoughts, ideas, and feelings about your vision to find a common ground. Once people see themselves in the vision, it’s easier for them to take ownership of making it happen.
  5. Attraction and Frustration. Leadership is a lot like a game of tug of war. It requires a leader to be able to give and take at the proper amount to accomplish the goal. Understanding whether a person needs to be affirmed or challenged is the key to getting people to stay connected. High performers will need to be challenged with goals and objectives to do. Low performers will need to be encouraged and supported through the process. Treating a high performer like a low performer will cause them to be bored and check out. While treating a low performer like a high performer will push them out of their comfort zone, and they will not be effective.
  6. Reality Test. The final key to being a leader people want to follow is to have a firm grasp of reality. It is great to dream and have a vision of where you want to go, but you must also balance that with where you really are now, and how you plan on moving forward with where you really are, and where your people really are. Some leaders fail to acknowledge where things really are. Failure to not address reality causes people to feel as though the leader has their head in the clouds, and doesn’t see where they really are, and what they really need today.


“You have faith; I have deeds…I will show you my faith by my deeds.” James 2:18.

“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15.

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5 Questions to Develop Future Leaders

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

Tom Peters

Research has shown that leaders talk 2/3rds too much! Rather that embracing dialogue with those they lead, most leaders fall into the trap of dominating conversations and never giving people room to share their ideas.

Can you think of a time either personally or professionally where someone never allowed you to express your thoughts and ideas? How frustrating was that? How many times did you have valuable information to share, but because they wouldn’t listen, issues would arise that could’ve been avoided if they would have listened to you?

This is a mistake many leaders make. It doesn’t matter if its your employees, or your children. Everyone needs room to share their ideas. In fact, research has shown that when you tell people what to do, you regress and disempower them. A leader actually creates a cycle of dependency because people are conditioned to come to the leader for decisions rather than making decisions on their own.

Empowering people has been one of the secrets to the growth and success of Google. Google has been successful at staying in the frontline of innovation by tapping into its employees and allowing their ideas to fuel app development.

imagesAs a part of the culture of creativity Google allows employees to allocate 20% of their work each week towards projects that interest them. Many of their most successful and popular apps were birthed from the creativity of the employees. Not from the strategic plan and vision of the CEO!

Creating growth opportunities is essential for your family and business.

Here are 5 questions to grow people around you as a leader from my friends at the Townsend Institute.

  1. Listen well. Ask why? One of the first skills that has to be mastered is the art of listening. Learning to lean in to conversations, read body language, and sense what isn’t being said, will open up honest and clear dialogue that is beneficial for everyone.
  2. How do you see the problem? Asking how they see the problem gives you a glimpse of how they process the situation, and how they problem solve. You may be surprised with the perspective that is shared.
  3. What have you done? Asking this question gives them permission to be proactive in problem solving situations. It is an empowering question that says, “I trust you.”
  4. What do you think? Many times people need permission to share their ideas, or want to know that the leader is interested in what they think. Asking this question helps create a culture of transparency that allows people to feel comfortable sharing their honest ideas, and not just what they think you want to hear.
  5. Why do you think that’s the right way to go? A little challenge doesn’t hurt. Allow people the opportunity to justify their opinion. They will appreciate allowing their case to be heard, and will make sure they have done the hard work of analysis which should give you more information for the final decision.

Early stage. If they are a child or undeveloped leader.  Remember to be nice! Say something like, “Here’s what I recommend… “ If the person is young or new, this is a great way to give guidance without quenching their zeal to grow. Making a recommendation fosters a culture of inclusion and collaboration, rather than one that is dependent on the leader making every decision.

More mature – If the person is older or a more seasoned employee. Use the conversation and do something. Encourage them by saying something like, “Let’s talk about how it works out in a week or so. I would love to see how your ideas solve the problem!” This will keep you from firefighting problems over time, and build competent and reliable leaders around you that you can depend on.

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Creative Ways to Create New Culture

“If you are building a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm, then the group will address poor performance and attitudes.”

Dr. Henry Cloud

My friend and mentor, Dr. John Townsend once said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Failure to understand the culture of your family or business can short-circuit your efforts to accomplish the goals that you desire.

Culture is defined as the beliefs, customs, or ways of life of a particular society, or group. Your culture involves your way of thinking, behaving, expectations, and working that takes place.

Your culture cultivates your productivity, or it strangles the opportunities of success and productivity.

Because most behavior is learned behavior from your family of origin, most people don’t assess whether their culture is healthy. There is a difference between things being normal, and things being healthy.

Normal simply means the way things are always done. It is the standard or expectation of how to communicate, what we can accomplish, and what I expect from others. Healthy on the other hand refers to what is optimal, and addressing anything that is preventing things from being optimal.

cultureI remember that first time I heard a veteran in the NFL tell me to “take it easy” in practice. There had be a norm established of how we should practice, and it was not to get the team better. It was about making sure we did enough to get the next paycheck. That environment earned the team a 3-13 record!

If you focus on your values, and build an environment at home or at work that have honest expectations for a common goal, you will see success.

Here are 2 ways to create new culture:

  1. Make the un-discussable, discussable. If you want to change the culture at home or at work, you will need to get the courage to talk about the pink elephant in the room. Be clear and direct. Don’t talk around issues hoping people will read between the lines. Let people know how the issue has made you feel, and discuss how “we” can move forward. Avoidance and denial never accomplish anything.
  2. Create 200 percent accountability. In order to change your culture, you will need 200% accountability. 100% from you, and 100% from the team. Shifting the environment won’t work if everyone hasn’t bought in to the dream of what could be. Once everyone is in agreement with vision, allow everyone to have a part of owning their part in making it happen. The strength of the new normal will be based on the consistency of the entire group being willing to speak up and protect your new culture.

Creating behaviors and expectations aren't easy. But it is worth it. Your culture will fuel and energize everyone around you, and you will accomplish more as a group, than you could have ever imagined!

This weeks focus: Why leaders fail

This month I will be writing a series of articles on leadership from a few different perspectives to help you in your pursuit of maximizing your influence with those you lead. All of us are leaders. All of us have influence. The question that we must ask ourselves is, “How will I use my influence today?”

Over the next few weeks I will address some common issues of why leaders fail, how to change your perspective, and the importance of knowing your weakness as a leader.

Let’s get started!

I love what my good friend, and current Detroit Lions Head Coach says about character,

“There is a high cost for low living!”

You may say, I thought you were talking about leadership? Why are you discussing character? Because you can’t have a great leader without great character, and without great character you will never maximize your potential for leadership.

Leadership has a very broad definition. But at its core, leadership is about the impact you have on those around you, and being able to lead a group of people to perform at a higher level than they thought they could.

Leadership is not just about what you know, your competence in doing something, or the title you carry. Leadership is about people being willing to follow your lead because they believe in you as a person before they believe in your vision.

Your character will be the reason why people will trust what you say, because they can look at your life and see a person who is honest with themselves, and with those around them.

So what is character?

Recently, the tabloids have been filled with people who we thought had character, only to find out that they had secret lives, or had major issues that forced them out of their role, their job, or out of the public spotlight. These were all people that at some point were believed to have great character. But that’s because we were looking at the wrong thing to define character.

Character is not what people can see.

IcebergThink of character like an iceberg. Only 10% of the iceberg can be seen, the other 90% of the iceberg is under water. What people see is really only 10% of who you are. It is the part of you that you are intentional about showing other people. It is the part of you that decides how you want people to think of you.

The other 90% reveals your true character. It reveals what you would really like to watch on TV or see on various websites. It reveals the types of things you search for on the internet. Your character reveals your relationships, which will be the reason why you are successful, or they are the reason why you won’t be successful.

I like what Dr. John Townsend says about character,

“Character is that set of capacities to deal with the demands of reality.”

In other words, when the demands of life show up, your character also shows up. The “moment of weakness” is really a part of the 90% that if unchecked, will reveal itself at some point in your life.

So how do I deal with the 90%, and not allow my character to impact my leadership?

Here are 4 things you can do to cultivate your character:

  1. Be honest with yourself. Realize that you must own the fact that you are not perfect, and need to continue to grow as a person and a leader.
  2. Be vulnerable. In order to work on your 90%, you must find a pastor, coach, mentor, or colleague that can be trusted for you to be vulnerable with. This allows you to not have the pressure of carrying the burden alone. It also allows for someone to have permission to help you in an area that you’ve identified as a need. It’s ok to wade into this process slowly, and allow people to prove they can be trusted with “little things” before revealing the deep stuff.
  3. Be transparent. Acknowledge to those that you lead that you are not perfect, and a work in progress. Research shows that people would prefer to follow the leadership of Clark Kent, and not Superman. They want someone that they can identify with.
  4. Build your integrity. Find ways everyday to honor your personal integrity. Whether it’s through how you use social media and internet, or taking that second lustful look at someone, or having a relationship with someone you shouldn’t. Don’t give yourself permission to justify not maintaining your personal integrity. What you do should not change based on who is around you.

VISIT to connect with Freddie and find out more about M46 Project.

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