Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/cweathrs/public_html/wp-content/themes/sealight/functions/admin-hooks.php on line 160

Marion Mann’s Takeaways from ACE Leadership Symposium

The best blog post we can share today comes from our friend @MMANN47 – Marion Mann – with the Greenville Chamber. Her summary of the ACE Leadership Symposium is awesome.  If you’re not intrigued by the topics of diversity, inclusion, and “minority” leadership; you will be after reading this. Thanks for capturing the essence of the day Marion!!!

ACE Leadership Symposium Takeaways

Comments { 0 }

Why Do You Serve on this Board?

“I believe in the mission.”

“I’ll do anything for the kids.”

“I love kids.” (multiple Board members stated this)

“I’m an advocate for children.”

“I want to learn how I can better help children.”

“I want to provide information for families in the community.”

“I just want to help.”

Imagine a nonprofit Board of Directors (Governing Board Members) that provide the above responses when asked the question, “What’s your motivation for serving on this Board?”

What wonderful and heart-warming responses – no one can argue or dispute that these motivations aren’t noble and worthy – surely they are.   There’s only one problem, I’m not sure if these self-proclaimed noble and worthy motivations are enough.

Now, imagine this is a Board that has an expectation of raising money, attending events, and being advocates for the organization.  The vast majority are not fulfilling the minimum expectations.  So what does this really mean about their motivations??

  • I believe in the mission, but not enough to raise money to support it.
  • I’ll do anything for the kids except attend events and serve as a “voice” for the “voiceless”.
  • I just want to help, as long as it’s in my comfort zone.
  • I want to learn how I can better help children, as long as helping them doesn’t include work on my behalf.

Of course I’m being facetious because I, nor you, can speak to another person’s motivation.  I believe they care and I believe they’re concerned.   I can only observe their actions, and that causes me to question their commitment.  So my advice to this and all the other imaginary Boards that may have this challenge is simply this, “Your displayed actions speak louder than your proclaimed motivations.”  Board service requires more than talking the talk – we have to walk the walk.  Here’s a truism regarding “real” Board service:  Some care enough to talk about it, some are concerned enough to think about it, but few are committed enough to do it.  We need you to do it.  Why do you serve on this Board????




Comments { 0 }

Obstacle or Danger???

A healthy dose of perspective & insight  can help successful, high-performing leaders with their decision-making.  The ability to “see things for what they are” is a good thing.  The ability to “see things for what they are not” is even better.

There will be times during your leadership journey when you will face obstacles that will challenge you.  Overcoming these obstacles will prove to be moments of growth and create confidence for facing even greater obstacles in the future.

There will also be times during your leadership journey when you will face danger that needs to be avoided.  There will be warnings (sometimes subtle) like signs on the side of the highway to help you avoid dangerous situations and predicaments. When dealing with danger, the goal is not to overcome it, the goal is to prevent and/or avoid it.

Some leaders confuse obstacles & challenges with warnings of danger; resulting in their team and organizations being placed in a perilous situation because they didn’t know the difference between the two.

Perspective and insight will help the Teachable leader discern the difference between an obstacle to be overcome and a danger to be avoided.

In our next post we’ll begin to explore how to tell the difference between an obstacle and danger.  Have you had any obstacle vs. danger confusion along your leadership journey?? – Please share.

Comments { 0 }

7 Things Staff Want

Your staff is on the front-line for your nonprofit, government agency or corporation.  Your staff see things that you don’t see, they hear things you don’t hear, they know things you don’t know.  Your staff doesn’t hold the key to your success, they are the key to your success.  ApproachABLE, TeachABLE leaders value their staff and take the time to find out what their staff really want and need to be succesful.

Here’s a brief list of what we’ve discovered staff want.  After reading, please suggest any additions in the comment section.

Staff Want:

1) To be respected.

2) To be valued.

3) To be appreciated.

4) To be heard.

5) To grow and develop personally and professionally.

6) To be challenged.

7) To trust leadership.

So what do you do now that you know???

Spend today respecting, valuing, appreciating, listening to, developing, and challenging your staff and watch them start to trust you.


Comments { 0 }

What’s the Diagnoses?

A common definition for diagnose is: To identify and analyze the nature of (an illness or other problem) by examination of the symptoms.  Proper examination, understanding and defining of the “symptoms” leads to a sound diagnoses of the illness or problem. Once the diagnoses is in place some form of treatment is decided upon and administered to addresses the root causes of the illness or problem, thus not only eliminating the symptoms, but also treating the underlying causes.

This provides some great lessons for today’s professional leaders and managers. Like physicians, leaders and managers must possess the ability to diagnose.  Three lessons we can learn:

1. The diagnoses precedes the decision.  Before a prescription is filled, an operation performed, or a treatment plan is decided upon, a diagnoses must be in place.  Why??? In the world of medicine, deciding before diagnose could result in severe harm or even death to the patient.  In the world of leadership we harm our staff, we kill morale, we damage projects, we destroy opportunities by deciding before diagnosing.  Take the time to clearly understand the nature of a problem, before you prescribe treatment.

2. Treating symptoms and solving problems aren’t the same thing.  Medical professionals know the difference between a symptom and a problem – a runny nose is a symptom, the problem is some sort of virus or infection.  No prudent doctor will treat a runny nose by prescribing tissue paper.  Yes we need the tissue to wipe and blow our nose, but to solve the problem, we have to attack and eliminate the infection or virus – if not, we’ll just keep wiping our nose and the root cause will spread and get worse.  In the world of leadership we must do a better job of identifying and addressing the root causes  and not simply treating symptoms.  What viruses or infections are living in your organization that are being treated with tissue paper?

3.  Tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.  Great physicians are also great communicators.  They don’t over-promise, they don’t mince words, they don’t “spin” the issue.  If there’s an illness or problem that needs to be addressed they help paint a picture of what this process will look like.  It may be weeks, months, or years, but whatever it is, they tell you.  It may be painful, heartbreaking news, but they tell you.  It may be the last thing you wanted to hear, but they tell you.  Because they know they can’t treat you, you can’t recover, you can’t fight for your life if they don’t give you the real diagnoses.  They aren’t overly concerned with hurting people’s feelings – they tell us what we need to hear.  Prudence, integrity, and ethics demand that the physician tell us what we need to hear, it can be done with compassion and even love, but it must be done.  In the world of leadership when we have clearly diagnosed a problem with staff, structure, strategy, or resources we must have the courage to tell people what they need to hear.  What person, program, project or department do you need to sit down with and tell what they need to hear?  They can’t get better if you don’t tell them its worst than they thought.




Comments { 0 }

Can People Change?

This post is dedicated to the leaders, managers, parents, significant others & anyone else who spends time looking at someone in your circle of influence pondering the question, “Why won’t they change?”

We all have an area of our life that could use a little adjustment, modification, or improvement.  We’re also surrounded by others who could use a little adjustment, modification, or improvement – A Change!!!

Many of us spend an inordinate amount of time, energy, and resources focusing on the change that someone else needs to make.  A change, I might add, that the other person frequently denies the need for or doesn’t value.

I am proponent of change.  I believe in change.  Change is possible.

But there are two facts about change I’ve learned:

1. People can change.

2. You can’t change them.

For what it’s worth, I suggest we spend time addressing and navigating the areas of our own lives that need change and let others be responsible for addressing and navigating their own change.

Remember, people can change, but you can’t change them.


Comments { 0 }

The Courage to Encourage

We all need encouragement, a little push, or a little reminder that we can do it (See Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine That Could”). Knowing that someone believes in us enough to encourage us can be the motivating factor that keeps us going when we feel like quitting. I salute all the encouragers in the world, the people that cheer for others, the people that are fans of the underdog, the people that don’t give up on others because they can still see greatness in them.

I do however have a word of caution for the encouragers – be aware of the line between encouraging someone & enabling* them. It can be a fine line, a subtle line, and most importantly, it can be a moving line.

Here are some differences between encouraging & enabling:

Encouraging = Interdependent.
Enabling = Co-dependent.

Encouragement = You have to want it for yourself more than I do.
Enabling = I want it for you more than you want it for yourself.

Encouragement = I advise, but you decide (you own the decision).
Enabling = I advise AND I decide (I own the decision).

Encouragement = You face the consequences of your decisions.
Enabling = I protect you from the consequences of your decision.

As leaders of families, organizations & communities we must have the courage to cultivate a culture of encouragement. A culture of enabling will always destroy families, organizations, & communities.

*Enabling in this context refers to the process by which we contribute to the negative behaviors of others by failing to recognize a problem, set appropriate boundaries, establish expectations & enforce consequences.

Comments { 0 }

City Year Columbia – Young People Making a Difference

Today I had the honor and privilege to facilitate a session on Leadership and Inclusion with City Year Columbia 2013-2014 Corps Members.  Spending time with this diverse, inclusive, and engaging group of young people was awesome, simply awesome.  I hear many people talk about Generation Y and the Millennials, and unfortunately most of the comments are negative or pessimistic.  We hear about them being selfish, lazy, self-centered, impatient, and even spoiled.  Well, I can’t speak about everyone in a particular age group or generation, but I can tell you something about the City Year Columbia 2013-2014 Corps members – you can call them a lot of things, but you can’t call them selfish, lazy, self-centered, impatient or spoiled.

Here’s my strongest piece of evidence.  We asked each Corps Member the following question – What is your greatest hope regarding working with students this upcoming City Year?  Here are their answers:

  1. Give them (students) insight
  2. Having an impact on the students while having then progress.
  3. My greatest hope is that the students remember that no matter what circumstance they ever face, that they can always rise and push on.
  4. That I will be able to make the difference that I have heard other corps members say they have made.
  5. To make a difference in the life of at least one student
  6. Building strong relationships.
  7. Everyone will graduate
  8. I hope that I can see the difference I make in at least one student.
  9. To have an impact on students’ lives and push them towards graduation
  10. Inspiring students to believe in themselves and to take personal responsibility for their academic success and furthermore their lives. I hope to inspire students to understand that anything is possible if they believe they work hard towards their goals.
  11. That I build healthy and lasting relationships with them.
  12. To make a difference in my students lives
  13. My greatest hope regarding working with students during my time at City Year is that I can positively affect a student in the way my past teachers have affected me. I just want to let my students know that I am going to be consistent and there for them to talk to about academics and life.
  14. Seeing a positive change being made.
  15. I hope that I will be able to inspire students to take pride in their education and give them the tools they need to excel.
  16. My greatest hope will be that I make a positive impact on these children lives and help to strive towards decreasing the dropout rate across the world.
  17. I hope that the students I work with really take away something great from the time that we spend together.
  18. Making a difference in their lives
  19. I hope to leave a long lasting impression on at least one student
  20. That they will teach me and transform me and that I will also be able to impact their lives.
  21. That I establish positive and life-changing relationships.
  22. That I will touch one of the kids in the way that some of my teachers did for me. A lasting impression can help in decision making years down the line.
  23. To get students to believe in themselves
  24. To make a positive impact

Wow!!!! Every time I read their responses I smile.  There’s nothing selfish, self-centered, or lazy about these answers.  As a matter of fact, their answers aren’t about them, their answers are about the students they’re committed to serve.  These Corps Members recognize a fundamental principle to effective, ABLE Leadership – “It’s Not About Me”.  As I said earlier, this is awesome.  They’re here to serve a greater common good, a purpose that’s larger than their ego, a cause that’s bigger than their issues, a vision that they all believe in.

So the next time you look at “young people” and think all hope is gone and everyone is caught up in “self”, stop for a moment and think about 24 young people – 24 young people who are committed to make a difference, who strive for excellence, who are stepping outside of their comfort zone, who believe in the greater good, who are demonstrating real leadership, who call themselves City Year Columbia.  Great job.  Proud of all of you.  Be the best leader you’re ABLE to be.

Comments { 4 }

Undermining The Chair’s Authority

Attention Board Chairs, want to undermine and subvert your own power and authority? Just do these things:

1. Do your best to convince your board to postpone and avoid every decision that comes their way. Who needs to make a decision anyway, it’s not like we’re “in business”.

2. Have meetings before the meeting with certain board members to “pit” them against each other. This will ensure there’s a healthy level of transparency & trust.

3. When Board members aren’t fulfilling their roles, responsibilities, and expectations, have the CEO contact them and “get them in line”.  Why should you take the time to reach out to the Board members??  It’s not like you should be keeping your finger on their pulse.

4. When Board members quit or resign forbid remaining board members from having any contact with the exiles. And definitely resist the temptation to conduct some type of exit interview – you don’t want to take the chance of gathering some useful information.

5. Remind your CEO that she works for you, not the entire board.

6. Never, ever, under any circumstances, should you have any contact with your CEO outside of the normal Board meeting. There’s enough time 5 minutes before the meeting to get you caught up on any relevant issues.

7. Allow your CEO to develop the agenda for the meeting absent your input, afterall; it’s the CEO’s meeting anyway, isn’t it?

8. Refuse to listen to anyone that knows better.

9. When board members  are uncertain or concerned, reinforce their uncertainty by agreeing with their fears and reminding them that it’s always been this way and will always be this way.

10. Always speak in the past tense, focus on yesterday and talk about the good ol’ days.  We’ll always have time to talk about tomorrow, but yesterday is gone forever, let’s do our best to keep it alive.

OK, seriously, my legal counsel is about to make me delete all of this If I don’t offer some type of disclaimer.

I’m joking and being sarcastic – this is not real advice – please don’t do these things.

So why did I take this sarcastic approach?? Because, unfortunately, people still do these things after being told not to do them.  So this is my attempt at reverse psychology?  Seriously, don’t make these mistakes.

Be the best Board Chair your ABLE to be.


Comments { 1 }

Clean and Free to Lead

Darius’ room is clean!!!  Yeah!! Great news.  Cue up the band.  OK, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me regroup.  You may be wondering what my 13 year old son’s clean room has to do with leadership.  Ahhh, well I’m glad you asked.

This has been a struggle for a “minute” and by minute I mean a long time.  At times I’ve felt more like a prison guard or drill instructor than a dad.  We’ve explored the continuum of disciplinary alternatives and nothing seemed to stick – the change was never sustainable.  Many friends and others told me to let it go, he’s 13, it is what it is.  And I’ll admit for a time I did let it go – just close the door.  As long as nothing crawls out (including odors)  and he’s still able to get out unscathed I let it go.  After all there are worst issues we could be dealing with, right?

Well we both realized this “clean room thing” was a point of stress in our relationship.  I set an expectation, he wasn’t meeting it, I wasn’t enforcing it and we weren’t syncing like we want to because the big elephant in the room (no pun intended but there could have been one in there) was hanging over our heads.  So our daily and nightly routine became a series of my demands for him to clean his room, his half attempts at cleaning the room, my checking the room, his 2nd half attempt at cleaning the room, my yelling, his “sad face”, and on and on and on.

What a cycle, we had to break it.

One day, Darius and I had a conversation about sports.   He wanted to try out for the football team, so we began discussing football and the discipline and commitment required to be a great player.  We talked about practice and preparation and the blood and sweat great players shed when no one’s watching to make them better on game day.  We talked about the dedication and consistency of great players who did what others wouldn’t, who showed up when others didn’t, who kept going when others quit.  We talked about how great players accept responsibility for themselves and recognize they’re accountable to their team. Darius was getting “geeked” (that’s what the kids say) and I was getting “hyped” (that’s what old school says).  He was ready to do it.  I was ready to do it.  What a moment.  Wait a minute — then it hit me, we needed to have a conversation like this around cleaning the room.

We began to transition from football to room cleaning, but we kept talking about the same principles; discipline, commitment, practice, preparation, consistency, dedication, responsibility etc….  And then there was this epiphany – it clicked, I saw it in his eyes.  He realized the room was about his character, his responsibility, his image.  Darius was TeachABLE.

Darius stayed up that night and cleaned his room.  The best it’s ever looked.  Now here’s the great part – Darius walks in my room a couple of days later and says, “Dad, I feel free. I feel good, because you can’t say anything to me about my room being clean – it’s clean.  I handled my business. This is nice.”

What a revelation.  Darius is free because he handled his business.  The distraction of the dirty room was gone.  He was able to focus on more important things. I could see the confidence in his eyes.  He did what he was ABLE to do and he’s reaping the rewards.

What about you? What about me?  What business do we need to handle? What do we need to clean?  It may not be our room, but it may be our heart, it may be our task list, it may be our mind, it may be our reputation,  it may be our attitude, it may be our speech.   If being clean can make a 13 y/o feel free, imagine what it can do for you and me.  Let’s clean up our mess and free ourselves to lead.

Comments { 6 }