Thursday, February 27, 2014



February 27, 2014

Leadership is one of my favorite broad subjects. I’ve read many books on the subject and have been to a bunch of training seminars over the years for leader/managers. I’ve also been privileged to hear different motivational speeches that always leave me inspired. The speaker that I heard a few weeks ago was no exception. 

When I think of leadership there are many quotes that come to mind:

  • “A leader is one who knows the way; goes the way; and shows the way.” – John Maxwell
  • “Leadership is influence.” – John Maxwell
  • “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” – Harvey Firestone
  • “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” – Andrew Carnegie.
  • “Leadership in its simplest form is making a difference.”  - Mark Fernandez, The Luck Company

I am sure there are many, many more quotes where those came from, but those were my favorites. Leadership is making a difference. Not only to those around you but also to yourself. It is a high calling to be a true leader. Not all leaders are born to be Presidents or CEO’s. Some leaders are right amongst the ranks of the everyday, normal, hard-working folks. 
Leaders come in all forms and fashions but generally there are some traits that stand out to me for those that are good leaders.  Here are my thoughts on qualities of a good leader:

  • A good leader is a good follower; someone who can lead the whole, and also step back and follow just as easily.
  • A good leader is slow to speak – not slow speaking, but is slow to open his/her mouth and remove all doubt of idiocy. Sometimes it is necessary not to mouth off but to step back, ponder the situation thoroughly, and then speak.
  • A good leader is someone who is meek. Now bear in mind that there is a huge difference between meekness and weakness. Being meek is being humble, patient, and calm. Just because someone is meek does not make them weak in any form.
  • A good leader is one who leads by example, not the old “do as I say not as I do” adage. It is terribly hard to follow someone who can’t live by the boundaries that they set for you.
  • A good leader can be friendly with everyone he/she is leading, but never friends with them and there is a big distinction between the two. Sometimes that’s one of the hardest qualities to possess and the hardest lines to draw.
  • A good leader is a good communicator, not necessarily a good orator, but one who can  communicate to those that they are leading and motivate them, make them buy into the course of action that it requires to achieve an end result.
  • A good leader is one who realizes that he/she is only as great at being a leader as the team is at following. I remember a scene from G.I. Jane where the Master Chief is talking to Lieutenant O’Neil and he tells her “there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.” This goes toward knowing who you have in your team and influencing them to use their strengths and expertise. As Harvey Firestone said, “The secret to my success is a two word answer: Know People.”

There are many more traits or qualities of good leaders and I could keep going with traits that I think are important. We as a county, the United States of America have been blessed with so many great leaders through the years that we have many examples to follow of how to do the job correctly.  Look at the legacies that men like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Regan, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Andrew Carnegie just to name a few.

What happens in cases where there is no leadership? It has been my experience that the lack of a true leader causes discord among the team. It causes division and derision. It causes the team to turn against each other and turn in on itself to the detriment of the organization or to the purpose. 

When I think about the lack of leadership, I wind up going back to a scene in The American President when Michael J Fox’s character – Lewis Rothschild – is challenging President Shepard played by Michael Douglas. The scene in mind is in the oval office and Lewis is demanding some answers of his President and it goes something like this:

Lewis: “People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absences of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”
President Shepard: “Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference. 

In truth, we are thirsty for leadership. We are either searching for someone to follow, or we’ve got people following us. Leadership is something that is learned, practiced, and perfected. 

So, what are your thoughts on leadership? What traits do you find make people good leaders? I’m really interested for your thoughts on this one.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Work Ethics

Work Ethics

February 5, 2014

I love to go to conferences or workshops where there are motivational speakers. I always come away feeling so fired up and ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, it lasts until I get back to work and the normal day to day grind starts bogging me down then I lose that fire and enthusiasm. I went to one of those conferences a couple of weeks ago and heard an awesome speaker. With the next few posts, I’m going to try to hold on to a little bit of that enthusiasm and hopefully in the process, keep me on fire and encouraged to keep taking on the world. I’m going to use a few of the points that the speaker made during his awesome presentation as my talking points and maybe, just maybe it’ll encourage some of you all too.

Work Ethics by definition is said to be “a belief in the moral benefit and importance of work and its inherent ability to strengthen character. This is according to the definition that I found on 

What has happened to our work ethics over the last several years? According to some statistics that the speaker gave to us, 22% of American workers love their jobs so much that they figuratively run to work. The rest of us, well, I guess we’re the ones that drag in and complain the whole day. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle of these two classes though. There are days that I run to work. I can’t wait to get there and get the day started and start working with the students. Then there are the days that all I want to do is pull the covers back up over my head and tell the world “Take this job and shove it!” 

I was raised by hard working parents and grandparents. My dad was/is a hard worker, always seeing that his family was provided for. My mom, while she didn’t work that much outside of the home, she raised my brother and I and many other kids that she baby sat for. She was always there when we went to school of the morning and waiting on us when we got off the bus in the afternoon. How she managed to keep the bills paid and food on our table on their sometimes very limited budget, I will never know. Now we didn’t have the finest of “things” that were out there, but we never went without and we always had our needs met.  And, I can 100% say that we had the finest of family and love that there ever was – and still do thankfully. We were raised to work hard at whatever job we had. We were taught that you earned things - houses, cars, toys, tv’s, this kind of thing - by that hard work. We were also taught to take care of our own. Now mind you, if my brother or I either one went to our parents for financial help, I know that they would do the best that they could to help us out. But after the way that we were raised, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to go ask them for it. It’s not out of fear that I wouldn’t ask them, it’s totally out of respect for the way that they raised us and the examples that they set for us.

Over the last 20 plus years that I’ve been in the “real world” I’ve seen many different views as to what work ethics means to others. I’ve had some employees work for me that had a good job as far as the “package” went – good insurance, reasonable pay and benefits, decent hours – but that person would rather not work and collect welfare for them and their kids than to do the job. What is wrong with that mentality? I’ve seen people that come to work and bust their butts to do the best job that they possibly can each and every day. I’ve seen people that will do just enough to get by or meet production and that’s all you’re ever going to get from them. I’ve seen ones that come in each and every day and fuss and complain and gripe about their job, even going so far as to voice “I hate this place”- those are the ones that I refer to as the life-suckers because they totally suck the life out of everyone around them. 

I’m assuming that these kids of mentalities about their own work ethics have been around since the dawn of time. Although I think in recent years the life-suckers, the just getting by’ers, and the stay home and collect welfare ones seems to be gaining in numbers on those that work hard for what they’ve got. What kind of message are we sending to our young people with these beliefs? Do we really think that this country was built on the backs of those that just did enough to get by? Back during the World War II era when the women worked in many of the American factories while the men were fighting a war on two fronts, do you think they would have been as successful as they were if they’d had that just getting by or staying at home collecting welfare attitude? 

I know not all of us are blessed by having our dream job. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up so I don’t know what my dream job would be. I mean sure, if I could figure out a way to stay home all the time and still get the pay check, yeah, I’d do it. But seriously, why can’t we all try to find something positive about the job that we have? Sure, there are times that I complain about things, people, rules, etc. with my work, but there are still silver linings around all of the clouds. There are still opportunities with each and every day – sometimes more than others and sometimes hard to remember. I also remind myself that I like to eat, I like to drive my car, I like to live in my house, I like to have that house cool in the summertime and warm in the winter, I like to have times that me and my husband can go out to eat or go to a movie, and I like to be able to feed all of my critters; I cannot do any of these things if I’m not working. That helps to remind me to be thankful for what I’ve got.

In addition to being thankful and trying to make the most of what we’ve got, I think we’ve GOT to help to instill a true work ethic into our kids that are growing up in this “hand-me” society. A little hard work never hurt anybody. If work was meant to be easy, it wouldn’t be called work, it’d be called play. Sadly, though I’m sure that we would all find problems with play if we knew we had to do it. I hope not!

Tune in next week for my continued motivational blogging!