Mean It Madness Month On LGL #meanit

Welcome to Mean It Madness Month on Let’s Grow Leaders. My sister, Jill Herr, works is a healthcare executive and speech pathologist, my nephew, Jared Herr (middle school) and son, Ben Evans (college), are active student leaders.

We’re all disturbed by a pattern we see across many contexts. The severe consequences of people not saying what they mean: damaged relationships, disrupted trust, missed opportunities, wasted time, frustration. So, we’ve joined forces to present Mean it Madness on Let’s Grow Leaders. We’re on a mission to encourage more sincere conversations.

Watch this less than 1 minute video to hear more about our movement, and join our Intergenerational and International Inquiry into why more people don’t say what they really mean.

Click here to tell us how a meaningful conversation has change your perspective, your relationship, or your life. We’re looking to hear your stories of when saying what you really meant, made all the difference.

How Do We Encourage More Meaningful Conversations?

Share your story on a particularly meaningful experience, where saying what you mean made all the difference. If you know people with stories or passion around this topic, please pass this along. We want to cast as broad a net as possible. If you have #meanit ideas, or see great examples of sincere leading and living, tweet it out with #meanit. If you’ve got something to say, why not send me a short video clip with your ideas?

Bloggers, another opportunity to share your views on sincerity is to contribute to the March Frontline Festival Click on the link for more information and to submit your post If you write other related posts this month, I encourage you to email them to me at (don’t use the form for that). I’ll work to share it under our #meanit campaign.

Why Leaders Should Say What They Mean

To kick-off our Mean-It Madness, I wrote a post over at Switch and Shift:

Positioning, spin, strategic ambiguity – why do so many leaders fail to say what they mean? Leaders worry that if they say what they really mean.

  • Someone might panic
  • The truth will leak
  • Employees will make bad choices
  • They’ll become disengaged

Spinning the truth has all of those same side effects, only worse. When humans aren’t told the truth, the stories they concoct to fill in the blanks are far more dramatic than the actual scene.

I’m always surprised by how surprised employees are when they’re told the honest truth.  To continue reading click here.

In Other News

Don’t worry, we’ll return to our regular leadership programming most of the month, with occasional sprinklings of #meanit madness. Stay tuned, share your stories, and enjoy the fun.

Build Your Leadership Prototype

Your journey toward authentic leadership involves evolution and revolution. You’re in what LinkedIn Founder, Reid Hoffman, calls the state of permanent beta.

But, what’s your ideal leadership prototype? What are you working on becoming? Not some textbook leadership prototype, or what someone else wants you to be. Build your prototype of your leadership at it’s very best.

Design Your Leadership Prototype

  1. Name your leader. When you’re your very best, what would you call yourself?
  2. What does your ideal leadership self…

       •  Value?
       •  Think?
       •  Feel?
       •  Do?

  3. What are the greatest strengths of your best possible version of you?
  4. What are the potential downsides of your desired leadership prototype? Where will this guy get you in trouble?
  5. Now consider your beta version. Where are you closest to your prototype today? What areas still need work? What people and situations are helping you grow toward your ideal image? What (and who) is getting in the way?

    Be deliberate in your leadership prototype design. Test it across many contexts. Find the weak spots. Make them stronger. Test some more.  Acknowledge flaws. Learn. Grow.

Real leadershipThis post is part of a series on the third branch of the REAL model. If you’re not yet a subscriber, enter your email address to join the REAL conversation.

Real Leadership: Defining Your Personal Leadership Paradigm

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you…It doesn’t happen all at once,’ You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.”

It didn’t happen all at once. Somewhere along the line, I began the journey toward REAL. Lately, it’s occurred to me that no matter what, my calling is growing leaders. Extraordinary, fearless leaders, working toward great ends. Not just in my day job, but in the world too. There are so many humans “up to something” great. I want to help. Next came how. Then what. That’s the journey.

I used to dicker over competency models, what was more important, “results orientation” or “results focus.” Who cares. Now, I’m just pragmatic. For God’s sake (and others) pick one. NOW. Pick a framework and start growing leaders towards it.

What’s REAL Leadership?

In my upcoming posts, I’ll share with you my 4-pronged REAL model: Results, Energy, Authenticity, Learning.

More importantly, I want you to reflect on your leadership paradigm.
  • What’s growing on your tree?
  • Where did the seeds begin?
  • What are you growing toward?
  • What’s your leadership paradigm?

I’ll share my model as instigation. Fight with me, challenge me. Expand my thinking. Help me to be more REAL in my leadership and inspiration. Share yours. What’s REAL for you. Let’s grow together.

 Not yet, part of the LGL community? Enter your email to subscribe.

P.S. Tomorrow, I start a three part series on the “Results” branch of the model. Feel free to add links to any related posts in your comments as well.

*Image copyright 2013 Let’s Grow Leaders

Frontline Festival-May 2013: Trust and Transparency Edition

Welcome to the May Frontline Festival. Thanks to all the amazing thought leaders sharing their perspectives on Trust and Transparency.

Building Trust

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership says you “can’t build trust,” in his post How do I trust thee? Trust is important, but it has more than one dimension. I like that he differentiates between being trusted as a person and being trusted as a leader, with salient examples of a newly promoted team leader.

New to the Festival, Henna Inam, of Transformational Leadership, shares her post How To Influence Others Powerfully. She explores the linkage between influence and trust. I agree with her statement, “influence expands in direct proportion to trust and connection.”

Jonathan Green, of Monster Leaders, shares The Three Rules for a Prospering Work Culture. Jonathan teaches, “Sharing is caring. It is critically important to keep people in the know and connect them through honesty, sharing experiences and promoting open dialogue.”

Trusting Your Team

“He who does not trust enough, Will not be trusted.”
~Lao Tzu

Lolly Daskal of Lead From Within offers great advice for building trust in her post, Just Trust Me. My favorite point, “Trust is a two-way street. To make someone trustworthy, you need to trust them first. The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”More leaders need this message.

John Hunter of Curious Cat shares, Trust Your Staff to Make Decisions. “Often the basic problem is managers don’t trust their systems to hire and develop people. The solution to this problem is not to give your staff no authority. The solution is to manage your systems so that you can trust your people.”

Mark Miller of Great Leaders serve shares his post Great Teams Take a Leap of Faith we must trust that building community will reap rewards.

Trusting Yourself

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
~Steve Jobs

Dan McCarthy, of Great Leadership shares, Authentic Leadership Development: Your Past, Present and Future He shares, “Becoming an authentic leader involves transformation. It’s not “doing” leadership, it’s figuring out who you are and who you want to be as a leader.”

I love this post from Eric Dingler of, because he starts by considering how you trust yourself. Are You the Leader The Team You Are Looking to Lead Is Looking to Follow? He asks provocative questions: “Would you follow you? Are you trustworthy? Do you really want what’s best for your team? Are you in it for them? Do you let your team get to know you? Would you want your kids to grow up and work for you?”

Matt McWilliams of Life. Leadership. Love. Learned the Hard Way. Shares his journey toward becoming a better leader in, Feedback for Leaders (Or, You Suck, Sincerely, Your Team). I admire his candid insights.

Leigh Steere shares her Lead Change post, Your Executive Title Does Not Make You a Leader. She interviews an exec who chose to leave her leadership post, in order to remain a leader. “Laura concluded, “I was actively uninspired. I could not stay, because I am a leader.” Powerfully provocative.

Elements of Trust

I love the angle taken by Joan Kofodimos of Teleos Consulting in her post, The Dark Side of Trust. She provides specific actions we can take to “take responsibility for identifying your own interests and negotiate to get them met.” Sometimes what feels like a breach of trust, may be a gap in expectations.

Tal Shnall of Habits of the Heart, breaks down several components of trust in his post, The Meaning of Trust. My favorite, “if you are willing to place other people’s concerns and aspirations on the top of your agenda, you will be able to expand the trust with them for the long run.”

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context asks What Variables Impact How Freely We Extend Trust. She has a nice list, what would you add?

Greg Marcus of Idolbuster shares a chapter from his excellent book, Busting Your Corporate Idol, Who to Trust at Work.

When Trust Breaks Down

“Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”
~J.K. Rowling

New to the Festival, Skip Prichard of Skip Prichard Leadership Insights, interviews Scott Weiss on the “crises of trust” in his post, The Challenge of Trusting Leadership. He invites Weiss to “speak to the new graduate who is just starting out. What can he or she do to avoid the shocking experience you had when you first were exposed to these concepts?”

Blair Glaser  exposes the risks of following in Are You Strong Enough to Be My Fan. My favorite line, “There is a way to follow that won’t set you or the leader up for a fall. You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to recognize the human fallibility in all of us.”

Bob Winchester shares  Five Reasons Your Boss Doesn’t Trust You– How To Break Through Corporate Culture Revolution. He also offers tips for recovering when you screw up.

David Dye, of Trailblaze shares, Can We Really Trust Your Leadership? He’s got an interesting story that will make you feel better about your driving, as well as tips for building trust in the midst of a mistake.


“What passes for woman’s intuition is often nothing more than man’s transparency.”
~George Jean Nathan

Dan Rockwell of Leadership Freak, exposes the dangers of hiding your views in Death to Bobble Head Leaders. “Leaders become bobble heads to protect position and get promoted. It’s dishonest and disingenuous. Look around. How many bobbing heads sit at the table?” The best question, “Is anyone disruptive?”

Jennifer V. Miller of The People Equation says that leadership bloggers are fond of touting “transparency” as a path to authentic leadership. But are there times when disclosure is not the best policy? Find out in her post Is Leadership Transparency Always the Best Policy?

Also new to the Festival, Randy Conley,shares Four Strategies to Increase Organizational Trust & Transparency. In today’s fast-paced, globally connected business world in which we live, an organization’s successes and failures can be tweeted across the internet in a matter of seconds. A knee jerk reaction of many organizational leaders is to clamp down on the amount of information shared internally, with hopes of minimizing risk to the organization. Many times this backfires and ends up creating a culture of risk aversion and low trust.

Jon Mertz, of Thin Difference shares Trust: At the Speed of Social Media. As Generation Y or Millennials grow in workplace presence, this new definition of transparency (Transparency = Accountability) is a reality. Jon shares some of my same concerns over the over-use of the word “transparency.” He writes, ” personally, I never like the word transparent. It seems so flimsy; something high-priced people say. It has become bureaucratic-speak or position talking points. With social media, transparency turns into immediate accountability, which is what it should be.”with social media, transparency turns into immediate accountability, which is what it should be.”

Becky Robinson, of Weaving Influence asks, what is the right level of transparency, in her post, Transparency. The post elicited an excellent comment, worth reading, it begins. “I think that there is a danger here of mistaking transparency with openness (and lack of discretion for that matter)”

Thanks to all the contributors. June’s Frontline Festival is all about Conflict and Conflict Resolution. Submissions due June 7th.

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