Leadership Attribute #21 (Last One)

VISION:  You Can Seize Only What You Can See

The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.
– John Sculley – Former CEO of Pepsi and Apple Computer

Vision is everything for a leader.  It is utterly indispensable.  Why?  Because vision leads the leader.  It paints the target.  It sparks and fuels the fire within, and draws him forward.  It is also the fire lighter for others who follow that leader.  Show me a leader without vision, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t going anywhere.  At best, he is traveling in circles.  To get a handle on vision and how it comes to be a part of a good leader’s life, understand these things:

  •  Vision Starts Within You can’t buy, beg, or borrow vision.  It has to come from the inside.  If you lack vision, look inside yourself.  Draw on your natural gifts and desires.  Look to your calling if you have one.  And if you still don’t sense a vision of your own, then consider hooking up with a leader whose vision resonates with you.  Become his partner.
  •  Vision Draws on Your HistoryVision isn’t some mystical quality that comes out of a vacuum, as some people seem to believe.  It grows from a leader’s past and the history of the people around him.  Talk to any leader, and you’re likely to discover key events in his past that were instrumental in the creation of his vision.
  • Vision Meets Others’ Needs True vision is far-reaching.  It goes beyond what one individual can accomplish.  And if it has real value, it does more than just include others; it adds value to them.  If you have a vision that doesn’t serve others, it’s probably too small.
  • Vision Helps You Gather Resources One of the most valuable benefits of vision is that it acts like a magnet-attracting, challenging, and uniting people.  It also rallies finances and other resources.  The greater the vision, the more winners it has the potential to attract.  The more challenging the vision, the harder the participants fight to achieve it. 


Where does vision come from?  To find the vision that is indispensable to leadership, you have to become a good listener. You must listen to several voices.

  • The Inner Voice – Vision starts within.  Do you know your life’s mission?  What stirs your heart?  What do you dream about?  If what you’re pursuing in life doesn’t come from a desire within-from the very depths of who you are and what you believe- you will not be able to accomplish it.
  •  The Unhappy Voice – Where does inspiration for great ideas come from?  From noticing what doesn’t work.  Discontent with the status quo is a great catalyst for vision.  Are you on complacent cruise control?  Or do you find yourself itching to change your world?  No great leader in history has fought to prevent change.
  • The Successful Voice Nobody can accomplish great things alone.  To fulfill a big vision, you need a good team.  But you also need good advice from someone who is ahead of you in the leadership journey.  If you want to lead others to greatness, find a mentor.  Do you have an adviser who can help you sharpen your vision?
  • The Higher Voice Although it’s true that your vision must come from within, you shouldn’t let it be confined by your limited capabilities.  A truly valuable vision must have God in it.  Only He knows your full capabilities.  Have you looked beyond yourself, even beyond your own lifetime, as you’ve sought your vision?  If not, you may be missing your true potential and life’s best for you.

Action Steps

To improve your vision, do the following:

  • Measure yourself – If you have previously thought about the vision for your life and articulated it, measure how well you are carrying it out.  Talk to several key people, such as your spouse, a close friend, and key employees, asking them to state what they think your vision is.  If they can articulate it, then you are probably living it.
  • Write it down – If you’ve thought about your vision but never put it in writing, take the time to do it today.  Writing clarifies your thinking.  Once you’ve written it, evaluate whether it is worthy of your life’s best.  And then pursue it with all you’ve got. 
  •  Do a gut check – If you haven’t done a lot of work on vision, spend the next several weeks or months thinking about it.  Consider what really impacts you at a gut level.

What makes you cry?  _____________________________________________

What makes you dream?  __________________________________________

What gives you energy? ____________________________________________

Also think about what you’d like to see change in the world around you.  What do you see that isn’t-but could be?  Once your ideas start to become clearer, write them down and talk to a mentor about them.

Take Away
From 1923 to 1955, Robert Woodruff served as president of Coca-Cola.  During that time, he wanted Coca-Cola to be available to every American serviceman around the world for five cents, no matter what it cost the company.  What a bold goal!  But it was nothing compared to the bigger picture he could see in his mind’s eye.  In his lifetime, he wanted every person in the world to have tasted Coca-Cola.  When you look deep into your heart and soul for vision, what do you see?

Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]–blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he. ( Proverbs 29:18 – The Amplified)

Attributes of a Leader – #20

Teachability:  To Keep Leading, Keep Learning

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.
– John Wooden, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach

Leaders face the danger of contentment with the status quo.  After all, if a leader already possesses influence and has achieved a level of respect, why should he keep growing?  The answer is simple:

  • Your growth determines who you are.
  • Who you are determines who you attract.
  • Who you attract determines the success of your organization.

If you want to grow your organization, you have to remain teachable.  These five guidelines will help you cultivate and maintain a teachable attitude:

  •  Cure Your Destination Disease – Ironically, lack of teachability is often rooted in achievement.  Some people mistakenly believe that if they can accomplish a particular goal, they no longer have to grow.  It can happen with almost anything: earning a degree, reaching a desired position, receiving a particular award, or achieving a financial goal.  But effective leaders cannot afford to think this way.  They day they stop growing is the day they forfeit their potential-and the potential of the organization.  Remember the words of Ray Kroc:  “As long as you’re green, you’re growing.  As soon as you’re ripe, you start to rot.”
  •  Overcome Your Success – Another irony of teachability is that success often hinders it.  Effective leaders know that what got them there doesn’t keep them there.  If you have been successful in the past, beware.  And consider this:  if what you did yesterday still looks big to you, you haven’t done much today.
  •  Swear Off Shortcuts – The longest distance between two points is a shortcut.  For everything of value in life, you pay a price.  As you desire to grow in a particular area, figure out what it will really take, including the price, and then determine to pay it.
  • Trade In Your Pride – Teachability requires us to admit we don’t know everything, and that can make us look bad.  In addition, if we keep learning, we must also keep making mistakes.  But as writer and expert craftsman Elbert Hubbard said, “The greatest mistake one can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”  You cannot be prideful and teachable at the same time.  For everything you gain, you lose something.  To gain growth, give up your pride.
  • Never Pay Twice for the Same Mistake – He who makes no mistakes, makes no progress is a true statement, but the leader who keeps making the same mistake also makes no progress.  As a teachable leader, you will make mistakes.  Forget them, but always remember what they taught you.  If you don’t, you will pay for them more than once.


There was a sign in a feed store that read, “If you don’t like the crop you are reaping, check the seed you are sowing.  This is a wonderful principle.  What kind of crop are you reaping?  Do your life and leadership seem to be getting better day after day, month after month, year after year?  Or are you constantly fighting just to hold your ground?  If you’re not where you hoped you would be by this time in your life, your problem may be lack of teachability.  When was the last time you did something for the first time?  When was the last time you made yourself vulnerable by diving into something for which you weren’t the expert?  Observe your attitude toward growing and learning during the next several days or weeks to see where you stand. 

Action Steps

To improve your teachability, do the following:

  • Observe how you react to mistakes – Do you admit your mistakes?  Do you apologize when appropriate?  Or are you defensive?  Observe yourself.  And ask a trusted friend’s opinion.  If you react badly-or you make no mistakes at all- you need to work on your teachability.
  •  Try something new – Go out of your way today to do something different that will stretch you mentally, emotionally, or physically.  Challenges change us for the better.  If you really want to start growing, make new challenges part of your daily activities.
  •  Learn in your area of strength – Read six to twelve books a year on leadership or your field of specialization.  Continuing to learn in an area where you are already an expert prevents you from becoming jaded and unteachable.

Take Away

After winning his third world championship, bull rider Tuff Hedeman didn’t have a big celebration.  He moved to Denver to start a new season – and the whole process over again.  His comment:  “The bull won’t care what I did last week.”  Whether you’re an untested rookie or a successful veteran, if you want to be a champion tomorrow, be teachable today.

Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:2)

Leadership Attribute – #19

Servanthood:  To Get Ahead, Put Others First

You’ve got to love your people more than your position.
– John C. Maxwell

When you think of servanthood, do you envision it as an activity performed by relatively low-skilled people at the bottom of the positional totem pole?  If you do, you have the wrong impression.  Servanthood is not about position or skill. It’s about attitude.  You have undoubtedly met people in service position who have poor attitudes toward servanthood:  the rude worker at the government agency, the waiter who can’t be bothered with taking your order, the store clerk who talks on the phone with a friend instead of helping you. 

Just as you can sense when a worker doesn’t want to help people, you can just as easily detect whether a leader has a servant’s heart.  And the truth is that the best leaders desire to serve others, not themselves.  What does it mean to embody the quality of servanthood?  A true servant leader:

  • Puts Others Ahead of His Own Agenda – The first mark of servanthood is the ability to put others ahead of yourself and your personal desires.  It is more than being willing to put your agenda on hold.  It means intentionally being aware of your people’s needs, available to help them, and able to accept their desires as important.
  • Possesses the Confidence to Serve – The real heart of servanthood is security.  Show me someone who thinks he is too important to serve, and I’ll show you someone who is basically insecure. How we treat others is really a reflection of how we think about ourselves.  Only secure leaders give power to others.  It’s also true that only secure leaders exhibit servanthood.
  • Initiates Service to Others – Just about anyone will serve if compelled to do so.  And some will serve in a crisis.  But you can really see the heart of someone who initiates service to others.  Great leaders see the need, seize the opportunity, and serve without expecting anything in return.
  • Is Not Position–Conscious – Servant leaders don’t focus on rank or position.  They are one person trying to help another.  If anything, being a leaders gives them a greater sense of obligation to serve.
  • Serves Out of Love – Servanthood is not motivated by manipulation or self-promotion.  It is fueled by love.  In the end, the extent of your influences depends on the depth of your concern for others.  That’s why it’s so important for leaders to be willing to serve.


Where is your heart when it comes to serving others?  Do you desire to become a leader for the perks and benefits?  Or are you motivated by a desire to help others?  If you really want to become the kind of leader that people want to follow, you will have to settle the issue of servanthood.  If your attitude is to be served rather than to serve, you may be headed for trouble.  If this is an issue in your life, then heed this advice:

  •  Stop lording over people, and start listening to them.
  •  Stop role-playing for advancement, and start risking for others’ benefit.
  • Stop seeking your own way, and start serving others.

It is true that those who would be great must be like the least and the servant of all.

Action Steps

To improve your servanthood, do the following:

  • Perform small acts – When was the last time you performed small acts of kindness for others?  Start with those closest to you:  your spouse, children, parents.  Find ways today to do small things that show others you care.
  • Learn to walk slowly through the crowd – One of the greatest lessons I learned as a young leader came from my father.  I call it walking slowly through the crowd.  The next time you attend a function with a number of clients, colleagues, or employees, make it your goal to connect with others by circulating among them and talking to people.  Focus on each person you meet.  Learn his name if you don’t know it already.  Make your agenda getting to know each person’s needs, wants, and desires.  Then later when you go home, make a note to yourself to do something beneficial for half a dozen of those people.
  • Move into action  –  If an attitude of servanthood is conspicuously absent from your life, the best way to change it is to start serving.  Begin serving with your body, and your heart will eventually catch up.  Sign up to serve others for six months at your church, a community agency, or a volunteer organization.  If your attitude still isn’t good at the end of your term, do it again.  Keep at it until your heart changes.

Take Away

Albert Schweitzer wisely stated, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know:  The ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  If you want to lead on the highest level, be willing to serve on the lowest.

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28)

Leadership Attribute #18

Self – Discipline:  The First Person You Lead Is You

The first and best victory is to conquer self.
– Plato, Philosopher

No one achieves and or sustains success without self-discipline.  And no matter how gifted a leader is, his gifts will never reach their maximum potential without the application of self-discipline.  It positions a leader to go to the highest level and is a key to leadership that lasts.  If you want to become a leader for whom self-discipline is an asset, follow these action points:

  •  Develop and Follow Your Priorities – Anyone who does what he must only when he is in the mood or when it’s convenient isn’t going to be successful.  Nor will people respect and follow him.  If you determine what’s really a priority, and release yourself from everything else, it’s a lot easier to follow through on what’s important.  And that’s the essence of self-discipline.
  •  Make a Disciplined Lifestyle Your Goal – To be successful, self-discipline cannot be a one-time event, it has to be a lifestyle.  One of the best ways to do that is to develop systems and routine, especially in areas crucial to your long-term growth and success. 
  • Challenge Your Excuses – To develop a lifestyle of discipline, one of your first tasks must be to challenge and eliminate any tendency to make excuses.  If you have several reasons why you can’t be self-disciplined, realize that they are really just a bunch of excuses – all of which need to be challenged if you want to go to the next level as a leader.
  • Remove Rewards Until The Job Is Done – Any business or industry that pays equal rewards to its goof-offs and its eager-beavers sooner or later will find itself with more goof-offs than eager-beavers.  If you lack self-discipline, you may be in the habit of having dessert before eating your vegetables. 
  • Stay Focused on Results – Anytime you concentrate on the difficulty of the work instead of its results or rewards, you’re likely to become discouraged.  Dwell on it too long, and you’ll develop self-pity instead of self-thinking of doing what’s convenient instead of paying the price, change your focus.  Count the benefits of doing what’s right, and then dive in.


Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates.  There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.  If you know you have talent, and you’ve seen a lot of motion-but little concrete results- you may lace self-discipline. 

Look at last week’s schedule.  How much of your time did you devote to regular, disciplined activities?  Did you do anything to grow and improve yourself professionally?  Did you engage in activities promoting good health?  Did you dedicate part of your income to savings or investments?  If you’ve been putting off those things, telling yourself that you’ll do them later, you may need to work on your self-discipline.

Action Steps

To improve your self-discipline, do the following:

  • Sort out your priorities – Think about which two or three areas of your life are most important to you.  Write them down, along with the disciplines that you must develop to keep growing and improving in those areas.  Develop a plan to make the disciplines a daily or weekly part of your life.
  • List the reasons – Take the time to write out the benefits of practicing the disciplines you’ve just listed.  Then post the benefits someplace where you will see them daily.  On the days when you don’t want to follow through, reread your list.
  • Get rid of excuses – Write down every reason why you might not be able to follow through with your disciplines.  Read through them.  You need to dismiss them as the excuses they are.  Even if a reason seems legitimate, find a solution to overcome it.  Don’t leave yourself any reasons to quit.  Remember, only in the moment of discipline do you have the power to achieve your dreams. 


A nursery in Canada displays this sign on its wall:  “The best time to plant a tree is twenty-five years ago … The second best time is today.”  Plant a tree of self-discipline in your life today.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.  (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Attributes of Leadership – #17

Security:  Competence Never Compensates for Insecurity

You can’t lead people if you need people.
– John C. Maxwell

All great leaders must have no doubts about themselves or their beliefs.  They cannot be always second guessing their decisions.  No one can live on a level inconsistent with the way they see themselves.  If someone sees himself as a loser, he finds a way to lose.  Anytime his success surpasses his security, the result is self-destruction.  Insecure leaders are dangerous – to themselves, their followers, and the organization they lead – because a leadership position amplifies personal flaws.  Whatever negative baggage you have in life only gets more difficult to bear when you’re trying to lead others.

Insecure leaders have several common traits:

  • They Don’t Provide Security for Others – An old saying states, “You cannot give what you do not have.” Just as people without skill cannot impart skill to others, people without security cannot make others feel secure.  And for a person to become an effective leader, the kind that others want to follow, he needs to make his followers feel good about themselves.
  • They Take More From People Than They Give – Insecure people are on a continual quest for validation, acknowledgment, and love.  Because of that, their focus is on finding security, not instilling it in others.  They are primarily takers rather than givers, and takers do not make good leaders.
  • They Continually Limit Their Best People – Show me an insecure leader, and I’ll show you someone who cannot genuinely celebrate his people’s victories.  He might even prevent them from realizing any victories.  Or he might take credit personally for the best work of his team.  Only secure leaders give power to others.  But an insecure leader hoards power.  In fact, the better his people are, the more threatened he feels – and the harder he will work to limit their success and recognition.
  • They Continually Limit The Organization – When followers are undermined and receive no recognition, they become discouraged and eventually stop performing at their potential.  And when that happens, the entire organization suffers. 

In contrast, secure leaders are able to believe in others because they believe in themselves.  They aren’t arrogant; they know their own strengths and weaknesses and respect themselves.  When their people perform well, they don’t feel threatened.  They go out of their way to bring the best people together and then build them up so that they will perform at the highest level.  And when a secure leader’s team succeeds, it brings him great joy.  He sees that as the highest compliment he can receive for his leadership ability.

How well do you understand and respect yourself?  Do you know your strengths and feel good about them?  Have you recognized your weaknesses and accepted the ones you can’t change?  When a person realizes that he is created with a particular personality type and has unique gifts, he is better able to appreciate the strengths and successes of others.
How secure are you as a leader?  When a follower has a great idea, do you support it or suppress it?  Do you celebrate your people’s victories?  When your team succeeds, do you give the members credit?  If not, you may be dealing with insecurity, and it could be limiting you, your team, and your organization.

Action Steps

To improve your security, do the following:

  • Know yourself – If you are the kind of person who is not naturally self-aware, take time to learn about yourself.  Take a personality test, such as the ones created by Myers-Briggs or Florence Littaurer.  Ask several people who know you well to name your three greatest talents and your three greatest weaknesses.  Don’t defend yourself when you hear their answers; gather the information and then reflect on it.
  • Give away credit – You may not believe that you can succeed if others receive the praise for the job your team is doing.  Try it.  If you assist others and acknowledge their contributions, you will help their careers, lift their morale, and improve the organization.  And it will make you look like an effective leader.
  • Get some help – If you cannot overcome feelings of insecurity on your own, seek professional help.  Get to the root of your problems with the assistance of a good counselor, not only for your own benefit but also for that of your people. 

Take Away

Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself.  Don’t let insecurity prevent you from reaching your potential.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:1, 39)

Leadership Attribute – #16

Responsibility:  If You Won’t Carry The Ball, You Can’t Lead The Team

A leader can give up anything – except final responsibility.
– John C. Maxwell

Today, people focus more on their rights than on their responsibilities.   Good leaders never embrace a victim mentality.  They recognize that who and where they are remain their responsibility – not that of their parents, their spouses, their children, the government, their bosses, or their coworkers.  They face whatever life throws at them and give it their best, knowing that they will get an opportunity to lead the team only if they’ve proved that they can carry the ball.  Take a look at the following characteristics of people who embrace responsibility:

  • They Get the Job Done – In a study of self-made millionaires, one thing they all had in common:  they work hard.  No one can do the minimum and reach his / her maximum potential.  How do people maintain a get-it-done attitude?  They think of themselves as self-employed.  If you want to achieve more and build your credibility with followers, adopt that mind-set. 
  • They Are Willing to Go the Extra Mile – Responsible people never protest, “That’s not my job.”  They’re willing to do whatever it takes to complete the work needed by the organization. If you want to succeed, be willing to put the organization ahead of your agenda.
  • They Are Driven by Excellence – Excellence is a great motivator.  People who desire excellence- and work hard to achieve it- are almost always responsible.  And when they give their all, they live at peace.  Make high quality your goal, and responsibility will naturally follow.
  • They Produce Regardless of the Situation – The ultimate quality of a responsible person is the ability to finish.  It is priceless to find a person who will take responsibility, who will finish and follow through to the final detail – to know when someone has accepted an assignment that it will be effectively, conscientiously completed.”  If you want to lead, you’ve got to produce.


Are you on target when it comes to responsibility?  Do others see you as a finisher?  Do people look to you to carry the ball in pressure situations?  Are you known for excellence?  If you haven’t been performing at the highest level, you may need to cultivate a stronger sense of responsibility.

Action Steps

To improve your responsibility, do the following:

  • Keep Hanging In There – Sometimes an inability to deliver despite difficult circumstances can be due to a persistence problem.  The next time you find yourself in a situation where you’re going to miss a deadline, lose a deal, or fail to get a program off the ground, stop and figure out how to succeed.  Think outside the lines.  Can you work through the night?  Can you call a colleague to help you?  Can you hire a staff member or find a volunteer to help?  Creativity can bring responsibility to life.
  •  Admit What’s Not Good Enough – If you have trouble achieving excellence, maybe you’ve lowered your standards.  Look at your personal life for place where you’ve let things slip.  Then make changes to set higher standards.  It will help you to reset the bar of excellence for yourself. 
  • Find Better Tools – If you find that your standards are high, your attitude is good, and you consistently work hard – and you still don’t achieve the way you’d like – get better equipped.  Improve your skills by taking classes, reading books, and listening to tapes.  Find a mentor.  Do whatever it takes to become better at what you do.

Take Away

In inmate at Butte County Jail in California explained his absence from jail to sheriff’s deputies in this manner:  “I was playing pole vault and I got too close to the wall and I fell over the wall.  When I regained my senses, I ran around to try and find a way back in, but being unfamiliar with the area, got lost.  Next thing I knew I was in Chico.”  People seldom realize how weak their excuses are until they hear some from others.

If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. (Galatians 6:3-5)

Leadership Attributes – #15

Relationships:  If You Get Along, They’ll Go Along

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.
– Theodore Roosevelt

The ability to work with people and develop relationships is absolutely indispensable to effective leadership.  People truly do want to go along with people they get along with.  And while someone can have people skills and not be a good leader, he cannot be a good leader without people skills.  What can a person do to manage and cultivate good relationships as a leader?  It requires three things:

  •  Have a Leader’s Head – Understand People – the first quality of a relational leader is the ability to understand how people think and feel.  As you work with the others, recognize that all people, whether leaders or followers, have some things in common.
  1. They want to feel special, so sincerely compliment them.
  2. They want a better tomorrow, so show them hope.
  3. They desire direction, so navigate for them.
  4. They are selfish, so speak to their needs first.
  5. They get low emotionally, so encourage them.
  6. They want success, so help them win.

Recognizing these truths, a leader must still be able to treat people as individuals.  The ability to look at each person, understand him, and connect with him is a major factor in relational success.  That means treating people differently, not all the same as one another.  This sensitivity can be called the soft factor in leadership.  You have to be able to adapt your leadership style to the person you’re leading.

  •  Have a Leader’s Heart – Love People – Being a leader is more than just wanting to lead.  Leaders have empathy for others and a keen ability to find the best in people … not the worst … by truly caring for others.  You cannot be a truly effective leader, the kind that people want to follow, unless you love people.
  • Extend a Leader’s Hand – Help People – People respect a leader who keeps their interests in mind.  If your focus is on what you can put into people rather than what you can get out of them, they’ll
    love and respect you – and these create a great foundation for building relationships.


How are your people skills?  Do you mix well with strangers?  Do you interact well with all kinds of people?  What about long-term interaction?  Are you able to sustain relationships?  If you relational skills are weak, your leadership will always suffer.

Action Steps

To improve your relationships, do the following:

  •  Improve your mind – If your ability to understand people needs improvement, jump-start it by reading several books on the subject.  Then spend more time observing people and talking to them to apply what you’ve learned.
  •  Strengthen your heart – If you’re not as caring toward others as you could be, you need to get the focus off yourself.  Make a list of little things you could do to add value to friends and colleagues.  Then try to do one of them every day.  Don’t wait until you feel like it to help others.  Act your way into feeling.
  • Repair a hurting relationship – Think of a valued long-term relationship that has faded.  Do what you can to rebuild it.  Get in touch with the person and try to reconnect.  If you had a falling out, take responsibility for your part in it, and apologize.  Try to better understand, love, and serve that person.

Take Away

In a short story titled “The Capitol of the World,” Nobel prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway tells about a father and a teenage son, Paco, whose relationship breaks down.  After the son runs away from home, the father begins a long journey in search of him.  Finally, as a last resort, the man puts an ad in the local newspaper in Madrid.  It reads, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office tomorrow at noon … all is forgiven … I love you.”  The next morning in front of the newspaper office were eight hundred men named Paco, desiring to restore a broken relationship.  Never underestimate the power of relationships on people’s lives.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love makes up for many of your faults.  (1 Peter 4:8)

Leadership Attribute – #14

Problem Solving:  You Can’t Let Your Problems Be A Problem

You can measure a leader by the problems he tackles.  He always looks for ones his own size.
– John C. Maxwell


Effective leaders always rise to a challenge.  That’s one of the things that separates winners from whiners.  No matter what field a leader is in, he will face problems.  They are inevitable for three reasons.  First, we live in a world of growing complexity and diversity.  Second, we interact with people.  And third, we cannot control all the situations we face.  Leaders with good problem-solving ability demonstrate five qualities:

  • They Anticipate Problems – Since problems are inevitable, good leaders anticipate them.  Anyone who expects the road to be easy will continually find himself in trouble.  If you keep your attitude positive but plan for the worst, you’ll find yourself in a good position to solve problems that come your way.
  • They Accept The Truth – People respond to problems in these ways:  they refuse to accept them; they accept them and then put up with them; or they accept them and try to make things better.  Leaders must always do the latter.  No leader can simultaneously have his head in the sand and navigate his people through troubled waters.  Effective leaders face up to the reality of a situation.
  • They See The Big Picture – Leaders must continually see the big picture.  They cannot afford to be overwhelmed by emotion.  Nor can they allow themselves to get so bogged down in the details that they lose sight of what’s important. 
  • They Handle One Thing at a Time – The leaders who get into trouble most often are the ones who are overwhelmed by the sheer size or volume of their troubles and then dabble at problem solving.  If you’re faced with lots of problems, make sure you really solve the one you’re working on before moving on to the next one.
  •  They Don’t Give Up a Major Goal When They’re Down – Effective leaders understand the peak-to-peak principle.  They make major decisions when they are experiencing a positive swing in their leadership, not during the dark times. 


What you think means more than anything else in your life.  More than what you earn, more than where you live, more than your social position, and more than what anyone else may think about you.  Every problem introduces you to yourself.  It shows you how you think and what you’re made of.  

When you come face to face with a problem, how do you react?  Do you ignore it and hope it will go away?  Do you feel powerless to solve it?  Have you had such bad experiences trying to solve problems in the past that you’ve just given up?  Or do you tackle them willingly?  The ability to solve problems effectively comes from experience facing and overcoming obstacles.  Each time you solve another problem, you get a little better at the process.  But if you never try, fail or fail to try again, you’ll never be good at it.

Action Steps

To improve your problem solving, do the following:  

  •  Look for trouble – If you’ve been avoiding problems, go out looking for them.  You’ll only get better if you gain experience dealing with them.  Find situations that need fixing, come up with several viable solutions, and then take them to a leader with good problem-solving experience.  You’ll learn from his decisions how he thinks when handling difficulties.
  • Develop a method – Some people have a hard time solving problems because they don’t know how to tackle them.  Try using the TEACH process:
                        Time – spend time to discover the real issue.
                        Exposure – find out what others have done.
                        Assistance – have your team study all angles.
                        Creativity – brainstorm multiple solutions.
                        Hit it – implement the best solution.
  •  Surround yourself with problem solvers – If you aren’t a good problem solver, bring others onto your team who are.  They will immediately complement your weaknesses, and you will also learn from them.

Take Away

Never allow others to put obstacles in the pathway to your dreams.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Attributes of a Leader – #13

Positive Attitude:  If You Believe you Can, You Can

The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind. 
– William James, Psychologist

If you look at the lives of people in any profession who achieve lasting success, you will find that they almost always possess a positive outlook on life.  If you desire to be an effective leader, having a positive attitude is essential.  It not only determines your level of contentment as a person, but it also has an impact on how others interact with you.  To learn more about what it means to be positive, think on these things:

  • Your Attitude Is A Choice – The average person wants to wait for someone else to motivate him.  He perceives that his circumstances are responsible for the way he thinks.  But which comes first – the attitude or the circumstances?  That’s really a chicken-or-the-egg kind of question.  The truth is that it doesn’t matter which came first.  No matter what happened to you yesterday, your attitude is your choice today. 
  • Your Attitude Determines Your Actions – The winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, a high IQ, or in talent.  The winner’s edge is all in the attitude, not aptitude.  Attitude is the criterion for success.  Your attitude is crucial because it determines how you act.
  • Your People Are a Mirror of Your Attitude – Who you are is who you attract.  Our positive attitude and enthusiasm not only fuels us, but inspires the people we lead to keep pressing on.  If all we  have is enthusiasm, we have all we need to succeed!
  • Maintaining a Good Attitude is Easier Than Regaining One –  If you have a positive attitude, keep it up … if you have a difficult time expecting the best of yourself and others, don’t despair.  Because you choose your attitude, you can change it.


Most unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.  What kind of voices do you hear?  When you meet people, do you tell yourself they’ll let you down?  When you face new experiences, does a voice in your head say you’re going to fail?  If you’re hearing negative messages, you need to learn to give yourself positive mental pep talks.  The best way to retrain your attitude is to prevent your mind from going down any negative forks in the road.

Action Steps

To improve your attitude, do the following:

  • Feed yourself the right “food” – If you’ve been starved of anything positive, then you need to start feeding yourself a regular diet of motivational material.  Read books that encourage a positive attitude.  Listen to motivational tapes.  The more negative you are, the longer it will take to turn your attitude around.  But if you consume a steady diet of the right “food”, you can become a positive thinker.
  • Achieve a goal every day – Some people get into a rut of negativity because they feel they’re not making progress.  If that describes you, then begin setting achievable daily goals for yourself.  A pattern of positive achievement will help you develop a pattern of positive thinking.
  •  Write it on your wall – We all need reminders to help us keep thinking right.  As incentives, people put up awards they’ve won, inspirational posters, or letters they’ve received.  Find something that will work for you and put it on your wall.

Take Away

The mind is what elevates the best to the highest level.   The thing that separates good from great is mental attitude.  If the mind is strong, you can do almost anything you want.  Is your mind conditioned to win?

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 2:5)

Attributes of a Leader – #12

Passion:  Take This Life and Love It

Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it’s very hard for people to stop you.
– Bill Cosby, Comedian


Experts spend a lot of time trying to figure out what makes people successful.  They often look at people’s credentials, intelligence, education, and other factors.  But more than anything else, passion makes the difference – nobody can be successful unless he loves his work.

If you look at the lives of effective leaders, you will find that they don’t often fit into a stereotypical mold.  More than 50 percent of all millionaire entrepreneurs never finished college.  What makes it possible for people who might seem ordinary to achieve great things?  The answer is passion.  Nothing can take the place of passion in a leader’s life. 

Here are four truths about passion and what it can do for you as a leader:

  • Passion Is the First Step to Achievement – Your desire determines your destiny.  Think of great leaders, and you will be struck by their passion:  Gandhi for human rights, Winston Churchill for freedom, Martin Luther King Jr. for equality, Bill Gates for technology.
  •  Passion Increases Your Willpower – There is no substitute for passion.  It is the fuel for the will.  If you want anything badly enough, you can find the willpower to achieve it.  The only way to have that kind of desire is to develop passion. 
  • Passion Changes You – If you follow your passion – instead of others’ perceptions – you can’t help becoming a more dedicated, productive person.  And that increases your ability to impact others.  In the end, your passion will have more influence than your personality
  • Passion Makes the Impossible Possible – Human beings are so made that whenever anything fires the soul, impossibilities vanish.  A fire in the heart lifts everything in your life.  That’s why passionate leaders are so effective.  A leader with great passion and few skills always outperforms a leader with great skills and no passion.


Despite the power of passion, many people in our culture seem to believe that passion is something to be suspicious about.  We’ve become not only materialistic, but emotionally dead as well; we don’t sing, we don’t dance, we don’t even commit sin with much enthusiasm.  Is passion a characteristic of your life?  Do you wake up feeling enthusiastic about your day?  Is the first day of the week your favorite, or do you live from weekend to weekend, sleepwalking through your everyday routine?  How long has it been since you couldn’t sleep because you were too excited by an idea?  If passion is not a quality in your life, you’re in trouble as a leader.  The truth is that you can never lead something you don’t care passionately about.  You can’t start a fire in your organization unless one is first burning in you.

Action Steps

To increase your passion, do the following:

  • Take your temperature – How passionate are you about your life and work?  Does it show?  Get an honest assessment by querying several coworkers and your spouse about your level of desire.  You won’t become passionate until you believe passion can be the difference maker in your life.
  • Return to your first love – Many people allow life and its circumstances to get them off track.  Think back to when you were just starting out in your career- or even further back to when you were a child.  What really turned your crank?  What could you spend hours and hours doing? Try to recapture your old enthusiasm.  Then evaluate your life and career in light of those old loves.
  •  Associate with people of passion – It sound hokey, but birds of a feather really do flock together.  If you’ve lost your fire, get around some firelighters.  Passion is contagious.  Schedule some time with people who can infect you with it.

Take Away

What price are you willing to pay to do what you know is right?  What you know you must do? 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.  (Luke 10:27)