5 Top Leadership Articles 11-27-2017

5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of November 27, 2017

Each week I read leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. Click on the title of the article to read the full text. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.

The 5 Things Mediocre Managers Forget (But Inspirational Leaders Never Do) by Chad Perry

Most of my career has been in leadership roles — and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I mean, a lot of mistakes. More than I can count.

I’ve learned about leadership the hard way. I’ve learned the most about leading by doing it the wrong way.

I can still remember when I first hit the management track. My very first thought? “Finally, I don’t have to be ‘on’ all day!”

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

So with that in mind, here are some things I once forgot, and I’m sure others have too at some point in their careers.

My Comment: This is one of those rare articles that has made two appearances in the Top 5 – and with good reason. I once read a fable that said the “curse of our humanity is that we forget.” Those words stuck with me and they will certainly resonate as you read Perry’s article. I’ve watched so many fantastic team members enter management roles and forget the very things Perry mentions. I know I’ve done it too. How can you prevent yourself from forgetting: What it’s like to follow? That you can be wrong? And more…

The Importance of Surrounding Yourself with the Right People by Lewis Howes

“Surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it in yourself.” Edmund Lee

I’ve got another epic custom track from Fearless Motivation for you today. This one is on a topic that I really believe in.

We are so influenced by the people we surround ourselves with. It’s nearly impossible to rise to your own personal greatness if you aren’t surrounding yourself with people who are doing the same.

My Comment: Look back at motivational speakers through the centuries and you will find a common thread: surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do and who are like the person you want to become. This isn’t empty hype. Your brain takes shortcuts to keep you safe and healthy with the minimum amount of effort. One of the big shortcuts it takes is to look at the people around you. What are they doing? If you do that too, you’re likely to be okay. Peer pressure is a real phenomenon that you can use to propel yourself.

13 Amazing Travel Gift Ideas for Entrepreneurs Who Never Stop by Rose Leadem at Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs aren’t known for their fondness for sitting around. We’re always on the go! And while traveling around the country, or world, can be fun and exciting, it’s also exhausting and sometimes even a little stressful. Getting enough sleep, staying healthy, being organized — these are only a small number of the obstacles of constant travel. Luckily, there are tons of products available today to make traveling smooth and stress-free. Here are a few of our faves for you nomadic types.

My Comment: First, I was surprised at how popular this article was. I guess many of you have entrepreneurs in your life and the holidays are approaching. Karin and I totally fit the description of “on-the-go entrepreneur” – I spoke in seven countries last year and had several ten-day stretches that included eight airplanes. That said, #6 is cool and #7 is intriguing.

5 Tips for Measuring Employee Engagement by Saige Driver at Business News Daily

Every employer has heard the words “employee engagement,” but do most executives truly understand what it means? More importantly, do they know how to measure it?

Employee engagement is important because involved employees are typically more productive, have more energy and are more creative.

“Engaged employees are passionate about what they do,” said David Almeda, chief people officer at Kronos Incorporated. “Highly engaged employees build better products and take better care of customers because they want to, not because they are told to.”

My Comment: I invite you to approach this article with caution. Measuring employee engagement is useful, but can also be very destructive. The worst thing you can do is survey your people and then either ignore what they said or, as I’ve seen happen, punish them for their answers. Another poor practice I’ve seen: executives don’t realize the extent of Gamer manager behaviors and managers bribe or pressure their people to answer differently than they might.

If you want inspired, energized employees who give discretionary effort, be prepared to do the work. The survey is just a measurement to let you know where you’re starting. Before measuring, commit to the work of fixing your broken systems, of developing your leaders, and addressing cultural issues that undermine trust and collaboration.

Lessons I Learned from Adversity by Shubha Apte

With the hectic pace of today’s world, we easily get caught up in the busyness of life.

We are forever stressed, overwhelmed, and running errands, attending to work, rushing to office, stuck in traffic jams. Our mind is swirling with thoughts, and we have no control over it. We do not even think to press the pause button and listen to the body whispers.

The bones creak, joints are screaming for attention, but we don’t care. There is a lot of work to get done and many mountains to climb. The to-do list never ends and goals remain goals forever.

My Comment: Apte has some important reminders for us in this piece. Your leadership is a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourself so you’re able to go the full distance. Reflect and know what matters most. Filter the noise. Always pertinent.

Your Turn

What thoughts do these articles bring to mind? Do you see something differently than the author? Did you have a favorite leadership article this week? Leave us a comment and let’s hear from you.

Expert Advice On Gifts And Giving: A Frontline Festival

Welcome to the Holiday Edition of the Frontline Festival: Expert Advice on Gifts and Giving. In addition to sharing their posts, I invited each thought leader to share their “leadership gift” in one or two words.

Engaging a Giving Spirit

Jon Mertz, Thin Difference shares The Unboxed Life: Giving To lead more fully, we need to unbox our life and engage our giving spirit. When we do this, we become more connected to our true self, our true mission, and our community. John’s Gift:  “Listening well.” Follow Jon @thindifference

Wally Bock, Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Blog brings us Remembering the Legendary Christmas Truces  In 1914 and 1915, all along the Western Front, soldiers simply stopped fighting and celebrated Christmas. It is a true tale about gifts to remember to ponder. Wally’s Gift: “To me: the importance of integrity; From me: the nobility of work”  Follow Wally @WallyBock

New to the Festival, Bernie Nagle, ZunZhong  brings us BlessingState – Sharing Our Gifts  We transition from spirit to physical existence, purposely endowed with an abundance of gifts. Our mission as physical beings is to share our gifts to depletion. Benie’s gift:  “Empathy.”  Follow Bernie @altrupreneur.

Regina Verow, Creatively Conscious, reminds us give ourselves the gift of rest this holiday in her post True Gifts.  Stay tuned for the Creatively Concscious meets Let’s Grow Leaders collaborative Xmas music video on Dec. 23rd along a similar vein. Worth checking back here for a holiday giggle. Regina’s gift: “Creativity” Follow Regina @ReginaVerow.

Gift Ideas

Joy and Tom Guthrie, Vizwerx Group,  share Leadership Gifts (pic right) Follow Joy and Tom @VizwerxGroup Joy’s gift, “Vision.”  Follow Joy @Joy_Guthrie.

New to the Festival, Barbara Kimmel, Trust Across America offers her gift, Twelve Months of Trust for 2014 With the right plan, any leader can build trust! Trust Across America – Trust Around the World offers this 2014 gift to all leaders – twelve months of trust-building activities. Barbara’s gift: “Building Organizational Trust.” Follow Barbara @BarbaraKimmel.

This month Jennifer Miller, People Equation, shares her Smartblog post, 7 Leadership Gift-Giving Ideas for the Workplace. She calls leaders to widen their thinking about the “gifts” they can offer their employees and colleagues. Jennifer’s gift:  “Determination.” Follow Jennifer @JenniferVMiller

David Dye, Trailblaze, shares 45 Fantastic Leadership Gifts to Give and Receive David provides an encouraging list of gifts effective leaders give their teams as well as motivating gifts leaders receive, David’s gift: “People who always believed in me.”  Follow David @davidmdye.

Matt McWilliamsLife. Leadership. Love. Learned the Hard Way offers  How Do People Really Want to be Treated? The upside of “preferential treatment,” including gifts. Matt’s gift:  “Motivating others and celebrating success.” Follow Matt @MattMcWilliams2.

Julie Winkle Giulioni, JulieWinkleGiulioni.Com offers  Top 3 Gifts Employees Want Most this Holiday Season (and All Year Long). Why not give employees something they really want this year – a gift that will keep giving long after the egg nog is gone? Consider something from this Holiday Gift Guide… for leaders who want to delight employees and deliver results. Julie’s Gift: “Empathy and the ability to stand in other’s shoes.” Follow Julie @julie_wg.

Julie Pierce, Empowered By Pierce, brings us 3 Empowering Gifts for Those You Lead Seriously considering gifting your team with Duck Dynasty bobbleheads this Christmas? Leadership Coach Julie Pierce comes to the rescue with 3 thoughtful and empowering gifts for those you lead. Julie’s gift:  “Powerful questions.” Follow @julie_pierce

Tanveer Naseer,Tanveer Naseer Leadership, brings us Making Feedback A Gift For Your Employees Giving feedback doesn’t have to be difficult. Discover 5 steps leaders can use to transform the act of giving feedback into a gift for their employees Follow Tanveer @TanveerNaseer.

New to the Festival Sean Glaze, Lead Your Team Blog shares How to Give the Gift of Advice  Learn how to give the gift of advice so it can be received. Sean’s Gift: “Appreciation.” Follow Sean @leadyourteam.

Receiving Gifts

Jesse Lyn Stoner, Jesse Lyn Stoner Blog, shares  It’s Easier to Give Than to Receive, But Not Necessarily Better It is easier to give than to receive, but not necessarily better. Allowing others to help you is a sign of strength, not weakness. Here are 9 reasons why it’s better to receive. Jesse’s gift: “Listening”  Follow Jesse @JesseLynStoner.

Lolly Daskal Lead From Within, offers The GIft of Receiving She inspires us to be more than great givers, but to also accept the gift of receiving? Lolly’s Gift:  “Lead with heart; lead with love; lead from within” Follow Lolly @LollyDaskal.

Joan Kofodimos, Anyone Can Lead, shares How Hardship Creates Leaders In my experience, some of the greatest gifts don’t initially look like gifts at all. This post considers how hardships are a gift to us as leaders, if we can open to the lessons they offer. Joan’s gift: “The ability to honor one’s true purpose.” Follow Joan @JoanKofodimos.

Encouraging Gifts and Talents

Renee Ruchotze, Growing VItal Leaders, shares The Gift of Being Called How does it feel to be seen as a leader by someone you admire and respect? Renne’s gift:  “A balance of heart and head.” Follow Renee @Vitalleaders.

Kate NasserSmart SenseAbilities(TM) offers, 25 Incredibly Valuable Gifts Your Employees Give To become a great leader, learn to spot, mentor, and appreciate the gifts of those you lead. This is how you inspire and engage employees to full commitment. Appreciation! Kate’s gift:  “Emotional Intelligence” Follow Kate @KateNasser.

Mike Henry Sr., Lead Change Group, shares the The Zen of Employee Motivation One of our best posts this year on the importance of understanding everyone is a volunteer. As a result, their energy, skills and effort are gifts, given to you, the leader of the effort. David M. Dye challenges us to remember to treat everyone as a volunteer and to appreciate the gift they give us when they join! Mike’s gift: “Years of experience leaning how to influence without position.” Follow Mike @mikehenrysr.

 Bill Benoist, Leadership Heart Coaching, offers The Gift of Leadership Looking for that special gift this holiday season? Something meaningful. Something that will make an impact. Something that will be remembered. I know of a special gift, but it’s not one I can give you. Bill’s gift: “Trust.” Follow Bill @leadershipheart.

New to the Festival, Tracy Shroyer, TracyShroyerPhD.com, brings us No Longer a Passenger  An event that initially felt like punch in the gut eventually changed me for the better. Has something happened in your life that may have upset you at first, but then you realized it was a real blessing because it helped you to change for the better? Tracy’s gift is “Being genuine.” Follow Tracy @tshroyer2.

Lisa Kohn, Thoughtful Leaders, shares The Value in Giving There are many gifts that we receive, for which we can be grateful. But the greatest gift is the ability to give. This month is a wonderful time to give – to give actual gifts and to give of ourselves: our time, our attention, our friendship, our love, and our support. May you practice giving and have a month full of gifts! Lisa’s gift: “The ability to give.” Follow Lisa @ThoughtfulLdrs.

Skip Prichard, Leadership Insights, brings us What’s Your Yes What’s Your Yes  Life is about discovering your gifts (your yes) not your limitations (your no). Learn how to be defined by your “yes”, your unique gifts that have you performing in your strength zone. Skip’s gift: “Expressing.” Follow Skip @SkipPrichard.

John Hunter, Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog, brings us, Giving More Than Money to Charity. Volunteering your time and expertise is often more rewarding to those you help and yourself. Follow John @curiouscat_com.

Embracing Your Inner Grinch

Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak shares How to Rise Above Gift Exchanges at Work. Office gift giving is an awkward obligation. How to avoid, or make the best of, gift exchanges at work. Dan’s gift:  “Developing Others.” Follow Dan @Leadershipfreak.

Coming Soon

January’s Frontline Festival will be curated by David Dye of Trailblaze. The topic is “Leading Up and Sideways.” Please click here to submit your link.

Finding The Perfect Gifts For Your Team: A Development Exercise

Jack gets very excited this time of year. He stumbles on a perfect gift that he knows EVERYONE on his list must have. It’s clever, and he finds it useful. Convinced his friends and family can no longer live without it, he buys a dozen or so.

Watching the excitement in his eyes, I know it’s not laziness. He’s convinced. The sad part comes when the reaction is not as he hoped. He begins “selling” to inspire excitement. As leaders it’s tempting to take such an approach to employee development. We offer the development that comes naturally.

“People with great gifts are easy to find, but symmetrical and balanced ones never.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Development is most meaningful when we leverage our unique gifts with the areas the employee is looking to develop. We won’t be able to fulfill their entire developmental wishlist. That’s okay. Great leaders are developmental matchmakers.

Just the Right Gifts – An Exercise

An easy exercise helps match your gifts with your employee’s needs:


  • Step 1 – Consider your best leadership gifts. What are you in the best position to give this team member? Write them in the left hand column.
  • Step 2 – What’s on your team member’s developmental wish list? What do they want (or need) to work on most?
  • Step 3 – Identify where your strengths and their needs best align.

Interpreting The Results

  • Green a direct match you can coach (e.g. you’re great at speaking, they want to be a better speaker).
  • Yellow a nice synergy to partner> (e.g. your a good listener, they want to be a better speaker). Share how you use effective listening in speech preparation, delivery, and in Q&A)
  • Red, areas to look for additional support. They’ve got a need that you’re not in the best position to support. Work together to brainstorm and identify co-workers, mentors, or coaches who can help.

Call for Submissions: December Frontline Festival, is all about Gifts (widely interpreted).

Submissions due December 13th, post goes live December 20th.

People with great gifts are easy to find, but symmetrical and balanced ones never.

Graphic by Joy & Tom Guthrie, Vizwerx

Simple Gifts: The Best You Can Do is Enough

My favorite Christmas stories are the ones where a humble hero offers the best gifts he can muster.  It never looks like much on the outside.

In Why The Chimes Rang, a small child accomplishes what all the rich and famous could not with their extravagant gifts.  He did what he could, with what he had.

The Little Drummer Boy, “had no gift to bring” but we keep singing about him.  I could go on, but the point is not about Christmas stories it’s about you and me.

Why Our Gifts Remain Ungiven

Where do we stop because we think our gifts are too simple.

We sooth our conscience with stopping thoughts:
“I’m really not the best qualified.”

“There’s not much I can do”

“This problem is too big”

“I don’t know what to say”

“I’m not really that good around sick people”

“They probably are being bombarded with support.”

We think ourselves out of doing.
We think ourselves out of helping.
We think ourselves out of leading.
And our gifts remain ungiven.

Encouraging Reluctant Gifts

As leaders, do we look for the humble gifts available in others?

It’s easy to pre-judge potential contributions. We look for the most talented.

We go to our “go-to” guy again. We want this project to be perfect, so we don’t give it to the woman who would grow most from the experience.

A few months ago, Ben, my high-school senior son came home and told me he was going to conduct a middle school brass quintet.

I was surprised and skeptical. Ben loves music and is a competent musician.

But he will not major in music. He does not aspire to be drum major. He has never had a private lesson.

On paper, there are more kids in his school qualified for this gig. If he had asked me, I might have offered my hesitation.  But he didn’t ask me.  And, they asked HIM.  And he said yes. 

He selected the music, he conducted the rehearsals, he found venues and scheduled performances. He put on a ridiculous Christmas sweater.  His gift was a gift.

Each middle school musician also trumpeted their gifts.   A Blast of Brass makes beautiful music and a joyful noise.

Begin the offering, more gifts will emerge

Don’t let yourself or others talk you out of giving what is enough.