Thoughts on Leadership by Jonette Crowley

(Note: I found these discussions in my files and thought you would enjoy them, especially at these times when we are all stepping up to greater personal power and responsibility.)

Leadership is Not for Everyone Jonette-new-photo-blue

Leadership is not for everyone because you must be a leader 100% of the time.

Here is a useful analogy: I’m a gardener. My garden depends on me to water it, pull weeds and not step on the plants. I can water it well all the time, pull all the weeds, and talk nicely to the shoots. But if I’m having a bad day and I go out and stomp on the plants— even if my tirade only lasts five minutes out of the whole summer— my garden is devastated. Sure, the strongest plants—the ones I didn’t totally destroy, will be able to repair themselves. But even if I keep watering and weeding them, they’ll never, ever be what they could have been. And, of course, the weaker plants won’t survive at all.

I can lament, repent, apologize but the living things I hurt will always show signs of damage. When you do something that hurts another, an apology doesn’t cure the damage, it only keeps it from getting worse.

Leaders create leaders. It’s impossible to manage people into being leaders. When you show up in the power of your unique essence energy—that creates a magnetic space in which others lift to their highest essence. Leaders have a resonance and charisma that create leaders in their wake.

Power and Authority

Some organizations—organized religion, large companies, governments— hold their authority because they make the house rules. However, they lose their authority when they don’t listen to the people. By not listening, such organizations also lose the next higher lever of power—that of influence. What is sad is that many of our large organizations appear to be incapable of responding differently.

When authority doesn’t respond to the people, the people will eventually pull back their power, and leave the game altogether. For example, I was visiting a friend in St. Petersburg, Russia, I learned that nearly all educated and successful Russians keep their savings in U.S. dollars locked in cupboards. They’ll only put up with currency devaluations and unfair taxation so long before they completely pull out of the legal money markets. Something else will fill the void and there is no going back.

Here is another example. In England Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles have authoritative power. Princess Diana had influence. People give the power to the influencer to influence them. There is nothing authoritative power can do in the face of true influence.

There can be incredible change when authority and influence reside together. We want our authorities to have the vision and human connection of an influencer. Martin Luther King, Gandhi… were influencers.

Authoritative power is based on fear. It lasts as long as people transfer their power to what they fear. No matter what, power comes from the people. Authoritative power can also be based on the culture or tradition—it is a habit to give power to the king, the boss, the chief.

Fear is the transfer of power to what you fear.


Darkness: The darkness and shadows we see in the world only seem darker because the overall  light is brighter. On a cloudy day the shadows don’t seem as dark as on a bright day.

Honor: The personal quality of honor—honoring another— is the key to ending conflict and war. It is more effective than the idea of peace, because honor is experienced personally—one-to-one, while peace generally isn’t experienced as individuals.

Clear Vision: We must not only have a clear vision of the future, we must cut the past, so we don’t drag it into the future.


Emotionally Intelligent Leadership


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Leadership that displays behaviors of high emotional intelligence is valuable to any company. Emotional intelligence is about your ability to recognize and react to emotions in yourself and those around you. This is a specialized skill that requires an abundance of practice. Unfortunately, as our world becomes more and more interactive through digital and online mediums, we see these skills deteriorating or simply not developing in young people. Emotional intelligence first requires a basic awareness of ourselves. The ability to recognize how we are feeling and react or manage this feeling appropriately. Jason Young details his personal experience in leadership and his quest for Emotional Intelligence.

research reveals four core EQ skills:

Personal Competence:
1. Self-awareness: your ability to accurately perceive your own emotions in the moment and understand your tendencies across situations
2. Self-management: your ability to use your awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and direct your behavior positively

Social Competence:
3. Social awareness: your ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on with them
4. Relationship management – your ability to use your awareness of your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully.

…More at The Emotionally Intelligent Leader by Jason Young 

Leadership is responsible for picking and periodically evaluating their team. An emotionally intelligent leader can delve deeper into a person's performance and address critical issues that do not arise with a leader who lacks insight. This is great for teams as unaired grievances are resolved before becoming huge blowups. An emotionally intelligent leader has the ability to defuse tense situations and manage interactions skillfully. Leadership that displays behaviors of high emotional intelligence is of high value to any company.


8 Ideas for Leadership Success


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Leadership success is based on a positive outlook and these eight ideas can help you achieve it. As leaders, we must keep our focus on the future and what it has in store for us. We must pursue a level of success that we want for ourselves and not be worried about what past failures signify. We must ask the right questions at the right times in order to achieve breakthroughs. Mark Sanborn discusses eight ideas that can be adapted to become a powerful and successful leader. 

1. You and I know how good we have become, but we don’t have any idea of how good we could be.

What great projects are you undertaking in your business? In your life? Many people go through life driving with their dome lights on instead of their headlights. What you have become is important, but not nearly as important as what you can be.

2. More important than achieving your goals is pursuing your potential.

It is satisfying to achieve your goals and objectives, but that’s no proof that you are living up to your true capabilities. Keep experimenting and trying new things in thepursuit of your true potential.

3. Losers make excuses. Winners make explanations.

Excuses don’t teach you anything and keep you from making needed changes. Explanations help you learn what went wrong and give you insights for needed changes.

…More at 8 Powerful Ideas for Achieving Success

Leadership success is measured in numbers and words. It can be difficult to quantify the specific impact that a leader has but we always look to do so. Success is more than just achieving a percentage growth for your company though. It is also about keeping focused forward and always working towards your potential. It is about learning from failures and implementing strategies to avoid the mistakes that caused these failures. Leadership success is achieved through maintaining a positive outlook with these eight powerful ideas.


Trust Building Leaders


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Building trust is a process that leaders can look at as a foundational activity. Trust is a complicated issue that goes all the way back to childhood, infancy even. An ability to cherish relationships and put trust in others is a powerful indicator that you value a relationship. Leaders should be subscribing to the innocent until proven guilty model rather than vice versa. You should put your trust in your team and let them prove that they deserve it rather than guard it and make it something to be earned. This will go a long way in gaining your team's respect. Kevin Eikenberry details this tactful trust model in the article below.

Everyone I’ve ever discussed the concept of trust with has a wide range of emotions related to it. While everyone wants more trust in their relationships, and believes that in an environment of higher trust they will be more productive, less stressed and generally enjoy their life and work more, we are often stymied, wondering how to reach these greater levels of trust.

Arriving at this conclusion comes from one basic mental model that assumes trust grows based on the other person’s behavior. This mindset is proven by comments like:

  • “They have to earn my respect.”
  • “I have to see that they are honest and dependable.”

When we see trust in this way, it seems to be outside of our control—we must wait for others to prove their trustworthiness in order for trust to build. 

…More at The Courage to Build Trust — Business Management Daily: Free

Leading with trust is something that takes time and courage. It is an effort to let yourself release a reactive trust model and envelop a proactive trust model. This effort will pay many dividends down the road in improved relationships that will flourish and can lead down many new paths. Leadership needs to understand this fundamental concept and embrace it to build a successful team. Leaders need to be building trust in the workplace as the foundation of their efforts.


Leadership Coaching


The View

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Leadership coaching is a great way to prepare for the future. One leadership skill is recognizing talented individuals in your company for advancement. Everyone can be a leader but there are some who will naturally work their way into it and there are others who will need some more coaching to become a solid leader. Leadership coaching is a great way to safeguard your team's assets by prepping for future responsibilities. Leadership coaching has to fit in with organizational needs and it can be an expense that will not pan out if the correct corporate infrastructure in place to ensure impactful results. John Hoover talks more about the contextual coaching style that maximizes impact.

It seems that leadership coaching, which has blossomed in popularity over the past decade, has somehow become the tail that is wagging the dog. Many organizations have been subsidizing leadership coaching engagements with no platform, systemic structure for identifying and capturing enterprise-wide trends and patterns, nor anyone responsible for analyzing and reporting to upper management on key strategic themes or metrics.

Leadership coaching might be delivering huge returns for the beaucoup dollars being invested. But, who can tell?

Coaching, as it is customarily practiced, usually takes place behind a veil of secrecy or on a desert island where what is revealed under the palm tree remains forever buried beneath the palm tree.

…More at The Leadership Coaching Dilemma: Contextual Coaching Is the

Good leadership teams are in a prime position to identify successful individuals that are part of their team. These individuals can make good candidates for future leadership opportunities. Often a leadership coaching situation can be a tangible benefit to the company and the individual. Leadership coaching can be useful for leaders who are struggling with certain aspects of their leadership and just want to solidify certain skills. Leadership coaching is a great way to improve performance when it is done in context of specific situations that arise within your company. Leadership coaching is a great way to get ready for the future.



11 Leadership Improvements to do Today

Simon Bolivar

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Leaders can integrate these 11 improvements to their leadership skills today. Being the best leader that you can be should be constantly in the back of your mind. Taking the time for even fifteen minutes a day about how to improve on a leadership skill will be time well spent. Leaders hold a heavy weight on their shoulders but are in a strong position to lighten the load by improving their skills. Take a look at these 11 improvements from Margaret Buj and make it a priority to start working to improve today. 

In one leadership study, qualities such as assertiveness, adaptability, intelligence and conscientiousness were cited as the most important. Research clearly shows that transformational leaders – leaders who are positive, inspiring, and who empower and develop followers – are better leaders. They are more valued by followers and have higher performing teams.

As a result, it would only make sense that you strive to improve your leadership skills and get the most out of life for everyone in your sphere.

Consider some of the following tips for how to become a better leader and think about ways that you can implement these strategies in your daily life.

1. Have a clear vision

Take the time to share your vision, your mission and your goals with your team. Your job as a leader is to provide a clear path that your team can follow. Your team also must understand why the goals you have set are valuable to them. Take the time to explain to them, in detail, why and how your vision will not only improve the business, but how it will benefit them in return. Include your team in your strategic planning sessions, ask for feedback and get them to “buy into” your vision for the future of the company.

…More at Top Ways to Improve Your Leadership Skills | Career Rocketeer

Leaders should take their role seriously and work on this list over time. There are eleven great improvements to make today, tomorrow and every day. If we practice a skill it becomes a habit and these natural leadership abilities will become ingrained in your persona and make you a more efficient, likeable, and intelligent leader. Leaders can incorporate these 11 improvements to their leadership skills today. 


Leadership and Employee Motivation

Beautiful Obselescence

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Leadership can always improve employee motivation by tweaking a few key factors. Employee motivation can be a difficult task for managers and leaders when the dominant company culture is lax. It can be extremely challenging to tackle a workplace culture of laziness that has invaded and become the norm. Motivating employees is all about intrinsic reward and satisfaction. Leaders must be able to tap into this internal drive for achievement to get employees motivated. Ray Williams writes more in depth on the subject below. 

It turns out that people are motivated by interesting work, challenge, and increasing responsibility–intrinsic factors. People have a deep-seated need for growth and achievement. Herzberg's work influenced a generation of scholars and researchers–but never seemed to make an impact on managers in the workplace, where the focus on motivation remained the “carrot-and-stick” approach, or external motivators.

What do we mean by motivation? It's been defined as a predisposition to behave in a purposeful manner to achieve specific, unmet needs and the will to achieve, and the inner force that drives individuals to accomplish personal and organizational goals. And why do we need motivated employees? The answer is survival. Motivated employees are needed in our rapidly changing workplaces, and to be effective, managers need to understand that and do something about it.

…More at How to motivate employees | Psychology Today

Leaders require employees who are motivated because motivated employees are the work-horses of the office. They are go-getters who want to succeed for themselves which translates into success for the company. Leaders can and should develop a methodology for designing projects that are intrinsically pleasing to their team. This is not to say that you need to make up work for your team but rather you should adjust your presentation method and frame the project in light of how it will impact the company and the team by working on it. In other words, give the project purpose or meaning. Leadership can always improve employee motivation by tweaking a few key factors.


Leadership Accountability

Carrot on a stick

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Generating accountability for leaders can be a challenge. Often we confuse reminders with follow-through. We get so caught up in our own actions that it becomes difficult to see that our team is struggling to generate action amongst themselves. This could be because we believe that once we have reminded someone to do something that their own intrinsic motivation will kick in and take over. This is often not the case though. It is very hard for people to do things that they do not want to do. Look at the obesity epidemic in America. Everyone knows that the secret to slimming down is to eat less and exercise more. How many people follow through on these simple steps? Leaders can start to generate accountability through taking action with their teams. Mark Sanborn discusses this accountability dilemma further below.

Helping people be accountable is more than identifying what they need to do; it is about clarifying what needs to be accomplished.

Clear outcomes can often be achieved several different ways. We tend to be too rigid about the means and completely miss the end. For instance, in the example above, the objective wasn’t running, it was fitness.

Structure your efforts around the end goal, and involve the person you’re working with in determining the “how.” Giving them an active role in creating the process will engage them and create a greater sense of ownership.

…More at Leadership Accountability: Holding or Helping? | Sanborn and

Everyone has goals and new years resolutions this time of year. Goals are a healthy and natural way of accomplishing tasks and making meaningful progress in our lives. Goals and resolutions often fail however because we do not associate a goal with a particular benefit. Leaders can help their teams link benefits with their work goals. It is very important for the human mind to have some driving purpose and a goal without a benefit can be a challenging task. For example, lets say you give your team a project to retool the user interface of the dashboard for your member portal and do not give them a reason or benefit to doing so. Without the why behind the project, it is difficult for your team to see the purpose of the project. Telling them that by retooling the UI you can enhance the clicks on extras that will improve the bottom line by 4% and boost the year end bonuses greatly enhances the motivation behind the task. Leaders need to be able to generate accountability which can be a major challenge.


Leadership Should Focus on 6 Steps to Great Employee Selection


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New employee selection is an important business move for every leader. Hiring the right candidate can be a bit of a mystery if leadership does not have a good idea of what they are really looking for. It is essential to have a structured process that clearly lays out what you are looking for and what a suitable candidate can bring to your team. If you go into the hiring process without a thought to culture, purpose and fit then it is a near certainty that you will hire someone ill-suited for the position. Chris Young discusses six steps that will enhance your hiring process to help you make better employee selections. 

Step 1: Commit to hiring the best talent possible – every time. Committed managers do whatever it takes…  They commit to carefully hiring the very best talent possible.  They commit to studying the performance difference between top and bottom talent.  Committed managers do not rush the employee selection process because they know the costs of getting it wrong are high.  
Step 2: Do not rush the employee selection process. All too often I see a sales manager who is tired of hiring low performing sales people who says, “I am tired of the headaches.  I will do what it takes – I will wait until all steps are taken and the right candidate is found.”  Then they need a sales person next week and they rush the employee selection process.  Within weeks, they regret rushing the process because the new hire is not the ideal candidate.  Take the time necessary to hire the best possible talent.  
Step 3: Partner With Stakeholders. As a manager, it is your job to get results.  The best possible talent will help you get there.  Identifying and hiring the best possible talent requires partnership and the most important partnership is with HR. 
I have a “love-hate relationship” with HR.  Some HR professionals are incredibly intelligent and some are incredibly…  less intelligent.   
Whether your HR person is brilliant or not – you need to partner with them.  You cannot do it alone nor can you work against them.  You need HR and/or at least an external recruitment firm to help you with the employee selection process.        

…More at 6 Steps to Better Employee Selection

Employee selection is vital to your business and every leader needs to have hiring experience. Leaders are best-suited to know the strengths and weaknesses of your teams. This makes being able to think critically and truly examine what your team needs of paramount importance in the hiring process. There are many factors to consider when selecting new employees and you are in the best position to notice whether a candidate is going to work out. Consider the six steps above and try integrating them into your employee selection process. Employee selection is one of the most important moves a leader can make for his or her company. 


Innovation Requires Great Leadership

Crater Lake Mirror

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Innovation is an inherent gamble for any company and it requires great leadership. A great leader knows their industry and recognizes opportunities to explore new options and innovations for their business. Innovation is always a risk. A major overhaul of a product may be a disastrous failure. Failure is an important piece of success that seems to have been forgotten in our relentless drive for perfection however. All of the greatest thinkers of our time and times past knew that they would only make progress and achieve success through hundreds, even thousands, of trials that ended in failure. It would be great to be successful the first time out in a new venture but true growth happens through success and failure together. We learn a lot through our failures. Robert Brands knows this and writes about the subject more below. 

Innovation is impossible to achieve without taking a necessary amount of risk. In a world where the success rate of new product entries in the grocery business is 1 in 100, it is inevitable that every success sees failures along the way. An effective innovation leader should encourage creativity and risk taking, while also practicing a tolerance for failure.

In order to foster initiative and innovation, ask yourself these questions.

  • Do you allow free research and development (R&D) time?
  • Do you invest in innovation: money, people, resources?
  • Do you celebrate failure and risk taking?

In a tough economy the willingness to take risks can wither, so it’s critical to let team members know that failure will not result in punitive measures. A strong leader practices failure management by setting and agreeing on the risk taking bandwidth or budget. It is ok to fail but that failure should be seen and recognized as a learning experience.

….More at Innovation Excellence | Innovation is Creativity x Risk Taking

It is the job of leaders to know their industry and have a vision for what the future holds for their company. This is imperative so that they are able to allocate appropriate levels of devotion to innovation. Innovation requires that teams know that failure is an option. Failure is simply a step in the right direction. Leaders must be able to project this attitude and truly believe it in order to get the most out of their teams. A team that is constantly afraid of the repercussions of failure will consistently underperform. Only through true risk-taking can you achieve innovative results. Innovation requires great leadership.