How do you get feedback?

Feedback. I need feedback. Continuously. I need it when I want it, and when I don’t. 

  • Without feedback, I continue operating from my blind spots, miss out on opportunities to improve my effectiveness, and possibly harm relationships.
  • With feedback, I serve different individuals better, increase my understanding of what the core problem is, and guard against my shortcomings. With feedback, I can grow.

What about you? How do you feel about feedback? What happens when you don’t get feedback? What happens when you do?

Since I continuously need feedback, I pursue getting it by…

  1. Asking a question at the end of coaching sessions, consultations, and meetings: “To serve more effectively, what should I KeepStartStop doing?”
  2. Comparing what I learn (from reading, podcasts, and online classes) with what I do.
  3. Using daily, weekly, and quarterly previews to assess progress on my goals.
  4. Talking with a trusted advisor on a weekly basis.
  5. Doing weekly date night questions with my wife. We we ask each other questions, for example:  What’s a recent win you’ve had? How can I serve you this week? What’s 1 thing you’re concerned about? 
  6. Taking self-assessments like LifeScore, Working Genius (US$25), and Accidental Diminisher.
  7. Asking myself, “What’s the real challenge here for me?”

Like you, my goal is not to get feedback. My real goal is to grow in order to serve more effectively, in part by implementing feedback. Results for me include:

  • Using a better balance of listening and talking.
  • Establishing habits, like exercising 5 days a week and reading books more regularly.
  • Adding tools (like Scout, Not Soldier and Radical Candor) to my toolbox.
  • Using my LifeScore Assessment results (which address a variety of aspects of my life, not just my work) to establish goals that help me annually pursue my best year ever.
  • Being more helpful around the house by sweeping the floors daily.

What about you? How do you feel about feedback? How do you get feedback? How do you use feedback?

Here’s what I’m learning from Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most:

  • “What if the biggest thing keeping us from doing what matters is the false assumption that it has to take tremendous effort? What if, instead, we considered the possibility that the reason something feels hard is that we haven’t yet found the easier way to do it?” (loc 351)
  • “As our lives become increasingly busy, overwhelming, and fast-paced, it’s tempting to seek out easy instructions or methods that we can apply to a problem right away, without expending much mental energy. This is a mistake. Why? A method may be useful once, to solve one specific type of problem. Principles, however, can be applied broadly and repeatedly. At their best, they are universal and timeless” (loc 1913).
  • “Mistakes are dominoes: they have a cascading effect. When we strike at the root by catching our mistakes before they can do any damage, we don’t just prevent that first domino from toppling, we prevent the entire chain reaction” (loc 2527).


P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word feedback:

  1. “Without a doubt, one of the most important tools to develop in your organization is a consistent culture of feedback” (Giving and Receiving Feedback, Part 1).
  2. “Industrial Age leaders rely on making every decision, telling people what to do and how to do it, and micromanaging their direct reports. Knowledge Age leaders seek to empower people to make their own decisions, being open to feedback, and unleashing the talent of their direct reports towards the organization’s goals and priorities” (Unlocking Potential, loc 1005).
  3. “High-performing teams are nearly six times more likely to share reinforcing feedback than average teams” (Everyone Deserves a Great Manager, loc 1319).
  4. “…low-performing teams share nearly twice as much negative feedback as average-performing teams” (Everyone Deserves a Great Manager, loc 1320).
  5. “You (as the leader) set the tone for the feedback culture in your organization. Nothing affects your organization more than the executive leader’s willingness to seek and receive feedback” (Giving and Receiving Feedback, Part 2).
  6. “Here are four common ways managers cheat their team members: 1. Solving their problems…. 2. Micromanaging…. 3. Not giving honest feedback…. 4. Not having high enough expectations” (4 Ways Managers Cheat Their Employees).
  7. “..98% of employees will fail to be engaged when their managers offer little to no feedback. In fact, 65% of employees said they want more feedback” (Building Champions Podcast: 3.2 Feedback Phobia).
  8. “If you’re on the receiving end of someone else’s feedback, and you’re the boss, how you react in the split second someone starts to give you critical feedback is a crucial moment. Fly off the handle and you will set your relationship back months. Calmly listen and approach the situation with curiosity versus defensiveness. Don’t Get Mad, Get Curious, a handy little phrase coined by Fred Kofman in Conscious Business. Just keep saying that in your head. What does this mean? If you get deeply curious about the feedback you are receiving, it starts to feel more like a problem to solve. Humans like solving problems” (Radical Candor Podcast 3.4: Gauge the Feedback You’re Giving & Getting).
  9. “Having someone on our side who can provide context and honest feedback to us is like opening a gift” (Power of 3, loc 1705).
  10. “Remind yourself that feedback is a gift…. Ask for feedback 1-2 times per week…. Don’t get mad, get curious…. Schedule a time when you’re going to follow up” (Radical Candor Podcast Episode 16: Take Feedback Like a Boss).

How do you feel about questions?

I really like questions. As a student, I enjoyed asking questions, and now as a coach, I enjoy asking questions. I use questions for the titles of my blog posts. And I like reflecting on quotations about questions, for example:

What intriguing questions have you come across recently? Here are some of the intriguing questions I’ve come across recently through reading and listening to podcasts:

  1. “What is the #1 thing you need to communicate to your team during this season?” (Sharpening Your Communication Skills, Part 1)
  2. “Where do I get my best return?” (Think Investment Not Spending)
  3. “What’s the biggest thing you learned about yourself in pursuit of the goal?” (Lead to Win: Celebrate Eagerly To Boost Your Company’s Success)
  4. “What could happen in your life if the easy but pointless things became harder and the essential things became easier?” (Effortless, loc 210)
  5. “What is the core problem?” (Power of 3, loc 621)
  6. “What actions could you take to help people deal more successfully with the nonstop change in which your organization currently finds itself and become more able to do so in the future?” (Managing Transitions, loc 2485)
  7. “…how can I implement these great ideas when I’m already too busy?” (Cracking the Leadership Code, loc 632)
  8. “How do you react to personal criticism?” (The Scout Mindset, loc 842)
  9. “How good are you at managing your emotions?” (ALIEN Thinking, loc 3902)
  10. “Have you started more organizations, initiatives, and activities than you have phased out?” (Subtract, loc 141)

What questions do you ask? I’ve given that question some thought and found it helpful to keep a list of go-to questions I can use when working with others and when thinking through something on my own:

  1. How are you?
  2. What does this make possible?
  3. What’s the real challenge here for you?
  4. What do you want?
  5. What do you want to KeepStartStop doing?
  6. What are you creating through your decisions and actions?
  7. How is your system perfectly designed to produce this?
  8. What degree of credibility do you have to address this?
  9. Why would a reasonable, rational, decent person do that?
  10. How might you (with best intentions) actually be diminishing others?
  11. How healthy is your organization?
  12. How could this be effortless?

What about you? How do you feel about questions? What questions have you come across recently? What questions do you ask?

Here’s what I’m learning: 

  • Building Champions Podcast: 3.2 Feedback Phobia: “So how do we face our fear of feedback so that we can overcome it? It starts with how you receive feedback yourself. If you want to create a culture that values feedback, you have to model it yourself and create a discipline of regularly asking for feedback from those around you—which means being aware of how you might react in the moment when receiving this feedback.”
  • The Scout Mindset, loc 72: “…scout mindset: the motivation to see things as they are, not as you wish they were.”
  • Subtract, loc 2036: “’Lewin’s insight was that if you want to achieve change in behavior, there is one good way to do it and one bad way. The good way is by diminishing restraining forces, not by increasing the driving forces.’ Lewin’s ‘bad way’ was to add—whether incentives for good behavior or punishments for bad behavior—because this increases tension in the system.”

P.S. Here are some related posts:

What’s in your toolbox?

I want to serve others effectively. And I’ve found that having a toolbox helps. While I don’t actually have a real toolbox like a mechanic does, I do have a digital toolbox (a Google Doc) where I store my tools. Having a toolbox gives quick access to the tools I want to use. 

My toolbox contains 4 types of tools:

Recently, I’ve added some tools to my toolbox, for example:

  • Mindsets: Scout, Not Soldier (article, video): When addressing a conflict, think like a scout (open, curious, seek truth), not like a soldier (closed, defensive, seek evidence/winning).
  • Models: ALIEN Thinking (webinar): To innovate, use ALIEN thinking: Attention • Levitation • Imaginations • Experimentation • Navigation. ALIEN thinking is a flexible framework—you can start with any component, move on to any component, and use only the components you need to.
  • Practices: When approaching a task, use Who Not How. Focus on who can help you, not how you can get the task done. 
  • Questions: How could this be effortless?

Where do you find your (new) tools? I tend to find mine through:

How do you decide which tools to stop using? For me, I need tools that get results (actually help those I serve), are user-friendly (easy to use, easy to remember), and that actually get used. Recently, I took 25 Lenses out of my toolbox because I wasn’t using it (in part because using 25 different lenses isn’t easy–too many) and, consequently, it didn’t help my clients get results.

What about you? What’s in your toolbox? What tools have you recently added to your toolbox? Where do you find new tools? How do you decide which tools to stop using?

Here’s what I’m learning from Craig Groeschel’s How the Best Leaders Think:

  • 3 Ways to Change How You Think: “How you think will determine how you lead. The problem is that what you think about leadership may be wrong.”
  • Think Empowerment Not Control: “When we try to control everything, we unintentionally undervalue the people who are around us. And undervalued people don’t grow or they don’t stay.”
  • Think Investment Not Spending: “Most leaders want to use people to get results, but the best leaders are going to invest in leaders, helping them get better and strengthen[ing] their whole organization. Most leaders are going to spend time doing tasks, but not the best leaders. The best leaders aren’t going to spend their time. The best leaders are going to intentionally invest their time to achieve the desired results.”
  • Think Possibilities Not Problems: “If you want to change the way you lead, you have to change the way you think.”
  • Think Inspiration Not Motivation: “Our goal isn’t just to motivate leaders. Our goal isn’t just to find self-motivated leaders. What is our goal? Our goal is to inspire self-motivated leaders toward a world-changing mission.”


P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word tool or tools:

  1. “…trust is the ultimate collaboration tool” (On Leadership: Innovate at The Speed of Trust: Stephen M. R. Covey).
  2. “…empathy is the most powerful connecting and trust-building tool that we have, and it’s the antidote to shame” (Daring to Lead, loc 2297.) 
  3. “Listening is a powerful tool. It is an investment in relationships and the key to problem solving. Most importantly, listening demonstrates respect for a variety of inputs and perspectives, grows relationships, and reduces conflict. When your team members feel heard, they become more likely to share important information with you when it’s most essential” (Leading with Questions—Get More out of Meetings by Leading with Questions).
  4. “Reframe failure as a learning tool” (On Leadership: Add Value to People: John Maxwell).
  5. “The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution. One of the most common ways people—especially ambitious, successful people—damage this asset is through a lack of sleep” (Essentialism, p. 94).
  6. “Too many leaders don’t understand what it takes for them to succeed. They mean well and work hard, but they lack the proper mind-set and tools (Cracking the Leadership Code, loc 581).
  7. “Any tool is only as good as its user’s commitment to using it. And not just once—but consistently, over time” (Cracking the Leadership Code, loc 4494).
  8. “A hallmark of wisdom is knowing when it’s time to abandon some of your most treasured tools—and some of the most cherished parts of your identity” (Think Again, loc 248).
  9. “It takes humility to reconsider our past commitments, doubt to question our present decisions, and curiosity to reimagine our future plans. What we discover along the way can free us from the shackles of our familiar surroundings and our former selves. Rethinking liberates us to do more than update our knowledge and opinions—it’s a tool for leading a more fulfilling life” (Think Again, loc 3132).
  10. “Another tool for increasing conflict is something I refer to as real-time permission. The idea here is that people need to get immediate feedback, the positive kind, when they start to try out this approach to conflict. And no matter how minor the nature of that initial conflict might seem, it is going to be uncomfortable. So when a leader sees her people engaging in disagreement during a meeting, even over something relatively innocuous, she should do something that may seem counterintuitive but is remarkably helpful: interrupt. That’s right. Just as people are beginning to challenge one another, she should stop them for a moment to remind them that what they are doing is good” (The Advantage, p. 45).

What are 10 things that help you serve others?

Walking—I’m out in the rice fields, letting my mind wander, seeing what I’ll come up with. And then it all comes together: 10 things that help me serve others. I take out my memo pad and write (while the local farmer looks at me and probably wonders what I’m doing):

  1. Providing coaching for others. I’m working towards using 80% of my time for investing in others.
  2. Using LIFE skills: Listening (instead of talking) • Inquiring (instead of advising) • Focusing on others first • Encouraging (instead of critiquing).
  3. Using the 4 disciplines of organizational health as a framework for helping organizations.
  4. Using the WIDGET process for projects:
    Wonder • Invention • Discernment • Galvanizing • Enablement • Tenacity.
  5. Soliciting feedback on my service by asking, “To serve effectively, what do I need to keep doing, start doing, and stop doing?
  6. Learning each day through reading (like ALIEN Thinking), listening to podcasts (like Craig Groeschel), and/or watching videos (like 5 Levels of Leadership).
  7. Blogging each week—this helps me reflect on what I’m learning and also helps me provide things for others to read.
  8. Walking several miles each day, giving my mind a chance to wander—and come up with ideas to address challenges others are facing.
  9. Getting coached each week.
  10. Doing daily, weekly, and quarterly reviews of my progress on my goals.

Why think about things that help me serve others? Well, because Jesus served others. Because I think leadership is service (not power, title, or control). Because I find myself in agreement with Patrick Lencioni when says that effective leaders “want to serve others, to do whatever is necessary to bring about something good for the people they lead. They understand that sacrifice and suffering are inevitable in this pursuit and that serving others is the only valid motivation for leadership” (The Motive, loc 1504). 

What about you? What are 10 things that help you serve others? To what extent is serving others the focus of what you do?  

Here’s what I’m learning:

And here are some related posts:


P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word serve:

  1. “The fact is, God didn’t create people to serve themselves. Everyone ultimately wants and needs to help others, and when they cannot, misery ensues” (The Truth About Employee Engagement, loc 3231).
  2. “Positive teams commit to the mission and to each other. Instead of serving themselves, they serve one another” (The Power of a Positive Team, loc 313).
  3. “You don’t have to be great to serve, but you have to serve to be great. The big questions you must ask yourself each day are: What am I doing to serve my team and the people I lead? How can I serve them to help them be the best versions of themselves? How can I demonstrate my commitment to them?” (The Power of Positive Leadership, loc 1621)
  4. “People ought to think about measuring those things that make a difference to the person or people they serve” (The Truth About Employee Engagement, loc 2060).
  5. “Ask, ‘In order to best serve you, what should we keep doing, start doing, and stop doing?’” (The 7 Perspectives of Effective Leaders, loc 1391)
  6. “Many leaders think that, as they gain power and responsibility, their teams should serve them more, but positive leaders know that their job is to serve their teams. When you serve the team, you help them grow and they help you grow” (The Power of Positive Leadership, loc 1610).
  7. “Too many of us have allowed the craziness, the busyness, and the high priority of this meeting or that project to crowd out the discipline of sitting down and intentionally connecting with those whom we serve and lead” (The 7 Perspectives of Effective Leaders, loc 1044).
  8. “Provide people opportunities to make choices about how they do their work and serve their customers. Structure jobs so that people have opportunities to use their judgment, developing both greater competence and self-confidence” (The Leadership Challenge, loc 5427).
  9. “…people can serve…from any direction, even upward to a diminishing supervisor” (Multipliers, loc 3491).
  10. “A person who is not humble will not be able to be vulnerable and build trust, making them unable to engage in honest conflict and hold others accountable. And they’ll have a hard time committing to decisions that don’t serve their interests” (The Ideal Team Player, loc 2310).

What is ineffective leadership?

Ineffective leadership is about _____, not _____. How would you fill in those blanks? Things that come to mind for me include: Ineffective leadership is about…

  1. Control, not empowerment and legacy.
  2. Spending, not investment.
  3. Problems, not possibilities.
  4. Motivation, not inspiration.
  5. Diminishing, not multiplying.
  6. Absentee management or micromanagement, not partnership.
  7. Giving directions, not setting direction.
  8. Being the commander in chief, not being the facilitator in chief (through connection, communication, and collaboration).
  9. Seeing others as objects/tools/machines, not as people.
  10. Power or title, not influence.
  11. Reward, not responsibility.
  12. Position or an event, not consistent service.
  13. Getting the results, not being responsible for those getting the results.
  14. Me-centered, not you-centered.
  15. Expertise (being a know-it-all), not constant learning (being a learn-it-all).

Or to put it another way:

  • “…lousy leaders create culture by default, while great leaders create culture by design” (On Leadership: Master the Leadership Code: Alain Hunkins).
  • “Bad leaders care about who’s right. Good leaders care about what’s right” (Simon Sinek on Twitter, Sep 1, 2020).
  • Those who see leadership as a reward (instead of as a responsibility) avoid “building a leadership team, managing subordinates, having difficult conversations, running effective meetings, and constantly repeating key messages to employees” (The Motive, loc 183).

What about you? What is ineffective leadership? How would you fill in the following blanks?: Ineffective leadership is about _____, not _____. As a leader, what’s 1 thing you need to stop doing and 1 thing you need to start doing?

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • 3 Ways to Change How You Think: “How you think will determine how you lead. The problem is that what you think about leadership may be wrong.”
  • Leading with Questions—Get More out of Meetings by Leading with Questions: “As CEO, a significant part of my job is to sit and learn from people. I’ve participated in thousands if not tens of thousands of meetings with teams of people across many disciplines and at many companies. My biggest takeaway from all of these meetings? Nothing is more important than leading with questions and then making space to listen.”
  • On Leadership: Master the Leadership Code: Alain Hunkins: “…if we just operate from this know-it-all [mindset] and have this tell-convince approach (as opposed to a…seek-to-understand approach), we’re going to be missing out on so many of the valuable insights that people have for us. And in a knowledge work age, those insights are our competitive advantage.”


Where do you start when you want to make a change?

Change—if you want to make a change, I invite you to keep the following 3 things in mind: (1) Change starts with you. (2) Before making the change, solicit feedback; before soliciting feedback, raise your self-awareness. (3) Feedback helps you grow. To learn more, read on!

(1) Change starts with you: Remember, Jesus started with Himself—40 days in the wilderness. Check out 1 or more of the following:

(2) Before making the change, solicit feedback; before soliciting feedback (and definitely before giving feedback) on the change, raise your self-awareness: Remember, Paul instructs us “not to think more highly of [ourselves] than [we] ought” (Romans 12:3), and Peter instructs us to “clothe [ourselves] with humility toward one another” (1 Peter 5:5). Consider 1 or more of the following:

(3) Feedback helps you grow: Remember, feedback is one way others can spur you on “to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). Review 1 or more of the following resources:

What about you? Where do you start when you want to make a change? How self-aware are you? How do you feel about feedback?

P.S. I like 2 X 2 charts that Kim Scott provides:

What is leadership?

Leadership is _____, not _____. How would you fill in those blanks? Things that come to mind for me include:

I added that last point, based on a Simon Sinek tweet my wife shared with me: “Leadership is not an expertise. Leadership is a constant education” (March 6, 2021). This quotation resonates with me both as a learner and as an educator. For me, leadership is constant learning so I can provide constant teaching.

What helps me do constant learning? Setting aside time to learn (possibly an hour a day), blogging (which helps me pull my learning together), and using quality learning resources, for example: 

What helps me provide constant teaching? Having a schedule of weekly meetings (classes) with staff (my students), using a coaching approach, and using my toolbox. Here are some of the tools I’ve recently added to my toolbox:

  1. 4 Ps (podcast, transition model, book summary, assessment): During a transition, remind people of Purpose (why do this), Picture (future vision), Plan (steps to get there), and Part (role they play).
  2. 7 Perspectives (quick start, webinar, assessment): As a leader, your effectiveness is determined by the decisions you make and the influence you have. Consistently using all 7 perspectives* with humility and intentional curiosity will help you make effective decisions and have maximum influence. And using this framework will provide you with calm, clarity, confidence, and courage. (*7 perspectives: current reality, long-term vision, strategic bets, team, customer, your role, and the outsider)
  3. Influencer (model, video, assessment, planner, blog): Increase the likelihood of successfully implementing change 10X by using the following 3-step process: (1) Clarify the measurable results. (2) Find the (few) vital behaviors that will drive the measurable results. (3) Ensure that those involved are motivated and able (see 6 sources of influence) to consistently practice the vital behaviors. 
  4. Power of 3 (model, assessment): Ask the right questions, activate your God-given gifts, and invite advocates into your life.
  5. Radical Candor (video): Care personally and challenge directly.
  6. Scout, Not Soldier (article, video): When addressing a conflict, think like a scout (open, curious, seek truth), not like a soldier (closed, defensive, seek evidence/winning).
  7. Who Not How (video, resources): When approaching a task, ask “Who can help?” Don’t ask, “How can I get this done?”

What about you? What is leadership? What helps you do constant learning? What helps you provide constant teaching?


P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things by Simon Sinek on Twitter (@simonsinek) that contain the words lead, leader, or leadership:

  1. Leadership is not an expertise. Leadership is a constant education” (Mar 6, 2021).
  2. “Let us all be the leaders we wish we had” (Feb 15, 2021).
  3. “Ambition is refusing to quit on ourselves. Leadership is refusing to quit on others” (Jan 29, 2021).
  4. “Every day, leaders have to deal with the selfish pressures of outside parties to prioritize the short term over the long term. It takes unbelievable courage to choose the important over the urgent” (Jan 29, 2021).
  5. Leaders have the desire to see others succeed and accept the responsibility if they fail” (Jan 7, 2021).
  6. “Authorities have control. Leaders have legacies” (Dec 5, 2020).
  7. Leadership is not a rank or a position to be attained. Leadership is a service to be given” (Oct 9, 2020)
  8. “Bad leaders care about who’s right. Good leaders care about what’s right” (Sep 1, 2020).
  9. “Instead of calling people out, let’s start calling them in. Lead with curiosity instead of judgement” (Jul 19, 2020).
  10. Leaders are the ones who have the courage to go first, to put themselves at personal risk to open a path for others to follow” (May 3, 2020).

P.P.S. Extra bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word boss, bosses or bossing:

  1. “When ‘you’re it’ for people who call you ‘boss,’ the first question should be, ‘How can I make each of you a success?’ If the people you supervise succeed, then you are much more likely to succeed in what you’re all trying to accomplish together” (You’re It, p. 28).
  2. Bosses do 3 things, 3 crucial things. They create a culture of feedback…. They build a cohesive team so that together the team can…achieve results” (Radical Candor Podcast Episode 8: The Go-To Question).
  3. “…when you’re trying to get things done, when you’re trying to achieve results, one person doesn’t have all the answers, especially not the boss…. You’ve got to work collaboratively. You’ve got to use everybody’s experience and everybody’s wisdom and everybody’s thoughts in order to achieve the best results” (Radical Candor Podcast Episode 6: Telling People What to Do Doesn’t Work).
  4. “People don’t quit their jobs. They quit their boss and their culture” (How to Become the Leader You Would Follow).
  5. “Telling others to do what you haven’t done yourself isn’t equipping. It’s bossing” (The Leader’s Greatest Return, loc 1914).
  6. “…only 44 percent of workers trust that senior management communicates honestly—which means that about six in ten believe their bosses are not honest about what they’re saying” (The Speed of Trust, p. 143).
  7. “I know of leading organizations who ask their employees directly the following simple question in formal, 360-degree feedback processes: “Do you trust your boss?” These companies have learned that the answer to this one question is more predictive of team and organizational performance than any other question they might ask” (The Speed of Trust, p. 17).
  8. “Seventy-nine percent of the respondents are not held accountable for lack of progress made towards critically important goals. Only 21 percent meet with their bosses even as often as monthly to assess achievement of their most important goals. Usually, accountability is top-down, punitive, or intimidating; or it is soft, permissive, and infrequent at best” (Unlocking Potential, loc 826).
  9. “Why aren’t all bosses showing appreciation?…they forget…fear…they don’t have a good example of it” (Radical Candor Podcast Episode 9: Showing Appreciation Makes Work More Fun).
  10. “…do not assume that your boss is managing or leading the way he or she wants to…. [instead] assume that that manager…would like to get better—they’re open to that” (At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 9. Managing Up Without Sucking Up).

What future are you creating?

I’ve been thinking. Furiously. About the following 5 quotations:

  1. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1 NIV).
  2. “If you want to predict your future, just look to your daily actions. If you want to know what your health will be like 3 years from now, or your relationships…just look to your daily actions.” —Brian Moran
  3. “Your leadership effectiveness will be determined by the decisions you make…” (The 7 Perspectives of Effective Leaders,  loc 222).
  4. “How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?” (Jerry Colonna as quoted in 3-2-1: On Eliminating Clutter, Reinventing Yourself, and Unity)
  5. “Systems are for people who care about winning repeatedly. Goals are for people who care about winning once.” —James Clear
What is the relationship between decisions, actions, and the future?

I’ve been thinking so furiously that I decided to go for a walk to clear my head. I took my trusty notepad and along with me to jot down thoughts. I would have used the dictation function in my iPhone, but (alas) I accidentally put it into the washing machine, and you can guess what happened.

Walking worked. It helped me pull my thoughts together. I’m now home and ready to write it all out:

I want the future that God wants. For my leadership, this means making effective foundational decisions that will drive effective daily actions. These foundational decisions include:

These foundational decisions guide my daily actions. So, for example:

  • I pray to ask God for wisdom.
  • During weekly 1-on-1s, I ask questions and then (if appropriate) give advice.
  • I assign someone to serve as conflict miner during a meeting.
  • I ask “To serve more effectively, what should I KeepStartStop doing?” Then I implement the feedback.
  • I start meetings with a review of the mission and vision.
  • I prepare thoroughly for meetings and for projects, in part by asking, “How will this help us carry out our mission and achieve our vision?”
  • I track and review key performance indicators.

For me, leading effectively is hard work. It takes discipline. Making foundational decisions has really helped me. My foundational decisions serve as systems which increase the likelihood that I’ll practice effective daily actions. 

What about you? What future are you creating? What is the relationship between your decisions, your actions, and your future? What foundational decisions are guiding your actions? What does effective leadership look like to you in terms of daily actions?

What are you learning? Here’s what I’m learning:

  • “What are my actions moving me closer to?” (3-2-1: On Hate as a Defense Mechanism, Reciprocity, and Consistency)
  • “Leadership is not a license to do less; it is a responsibility to do more.― Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
  • “GRASS: Guilt, Resentment, Anxiety, Self-absorption, and Stress. These are the five real and measurable costs of not managing transition effectively” (Managing Transitions, loc 2891).


P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from The 7 Perspectives of Effective Leaders that contain the words effective, effectively, or effectiveness:

  1. “Leaders must have both feet firmly planted in current reality. If you have no handle on today’s business, you can’t effectively manage and lead through today’s opportunities and challenges” (loc 252).
  2. Effective leaders remember that they’ve never truly arrived. They know they always have more to learn and more to contribute” (loc 329).
  3. “To succeed, effective leaders accept that they must remain curious, stay open, and act with humility” (loc 378).
  4. “The most effective leaders keep their finger on the pulse of the business. They know what to look at, when to look at it, what it’s telling them, and more importantly, what questions to ask” (loc 402).
  5. “The best leaders often tell a compelling story of the future. The more effective you become at telling your story of the years ahead, the easier you will find it to lead the heads and hearts of those you lead” (loc 686).
  6. “…listening to the team provides one of the greatest opportunities for improving leadership effectiveness. Too many of us have allowed the craziness, the busyness, and the high priority of this meeting or that project to crowd out the discipline of sitting down and intentionally connecting with those whom we serve and lead” (loc 1044).
  7. “The perspective of Team is about putting your personal perspective aside and fighting to see what your people see. It involves acknowledging and believing that they have different experiences, insights, and information that you need to understand to be an effective leader. And to truly embrace it, you must chase it with intentional curiosity” (loc 1050).
  8. “In regard to my role, what things should I KEEP doing? In what areas am I effective and where do I add value? What things should I START doing? Where can I add even more value and improve my effectiveness?” (loc 1580)
  9. “Humility plays a key role in all leadership effectiveness. The moment we think we’ve arrived, the moment we think we know it all, the moment we think we no longer need anyone to hold up a mirror to show us that we might not be firing on all cylinders, is the moment we stand on a knife’s edge of losing leadership effectiveness” (loc 1811).
  10. “The clearer your team is around what matters—how they make decisions, how they communicate, how they treat and influence others—the better, stronger, and more effective your organization will become” (loc 1972).

What do you want to change?

How do you feel about change?

You’re not smiling. You’re thinking about your team’s last meeting, and you’re not smiling. People were cautious, seemed to want to appease each other, and didn’t ask very many questions. At times they seemed somewhat competitive, and at time they seemed uninterested in what others were thinking and feeling. 

You open an email newsletter and read, ““How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?” (Jerry Colonna as quoted in 3-2-1: On Eliminating Clutter, Reinventing Yourself, and Unity).

And then it really hits you—and now you’re frowning. “I did those things, too,” you think to yourself. “I’m team leader, and I’ve been modeling those same behaviors—cautiousness, appeasement, competitiveness, lack of interest. Something needs to change. I need to change. We need increased engagement. We need better communication. We’ve got to find some way to be direct and caring at the same time.”

“Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets” (Upstream, loc 331). How can you change your current system? 

What will help you make the change? Three things come to mind:

(1) Start with yourself:

  • Review your job description and then assess the impact of your current behaviors on your job performance.
  • Talk with a coach about the the change you’d like to see in terms of your motivation and your ability to change. Next, set a measurable goal.
  • Solicit feedback from others by asking, “To serve more effectively, what do I need to keep doing, starting doing, and stop doing?”
  • Learn more about effective communication by reading some blog posts (How can you improve your conversations? What helps you and others grow?) and watching some videos, including this one:

(2) Involve others. Personal change is difficult, and involving others increases the likelihood of success. How can you involve others? By talking with your teammates and/or colleagues about your concerns and inviting them (A) to read and discuss a book (like Radical Candor) and/or (B) take a course together with you (like The Feedback Loop).

(3) Research your organization’s policies and practices to see how they impact your current behavior and your desired behavior. Which policies and practices help? Which policies and practices do not help?

Note: You can increase the likelihood making a successful change by using an effective model. Consider exploring and using the Influencer Model by Vital Smarts. This model (see worksheet) has a 3-step process: (1) Clarify the measurable results. (2) Find the key vital behaviors that will drive the measurable results. (3) Ensure that those involved are motivated and able (see video below) to consistently practice the vital behaviors.

What about you? What do you want to change? How have you contributed what you want to change? What will help you make the change?

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • “There is nothing that will help you become more effective at resolving conflict and building collaboration more than better managing your own defensiveness” (First Step to Collaboration? Don’t Be so Defensive!).
  • “People don’t describe what they see, they see what they can describe” (Three Keys to Working Together Effectively, Ken Blanchard webinar).
  • “It isn’t the changes that will do you in; it’s the transitions. They aren’t the same thing. Change is situational: the move to a new site, a new CEO replaces the founder, the reorganization of the roles on the team, and new technology. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological; it is a three-phase process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the details of the new situation that the change brings about” (Managing Transitions, loc 226).


P.S.  Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the words change, changes, or changed:

  1. “Your organization doesn’t need a leader unless they want to change. It doesn’t take a leader to maintain the status quo. A competent manager will do just fine. If, however, you find the status quo unacceptable and want to focus your efforts, energize your team, and scale your business, you must be a vision-driven leader” (The Vision Driven Leader, loc 323).
  2. “Isn’t the whole point of leadership to effect positive change? I mean, nobody is paying us to secure the status quo. And as it relates specifically to leading others, shouldn’t the ultimate change manifest as you watch someone you’ve coached and invested in succeed?” (Management Mess to Leadership Success, loc 2447).
  3. “Deep change is slow” (5 Critical Leadership Choices to Make in the New Year). 
  4. “The single most important lever to embed change is for senior leaders to be role models of the desired change” (Culture Leadership Charge – Make Culture Change Stick).
  5. “Your ability to get things done, build relationships, make changes, and help other people grow depends on the quality of your conversations” (Keith Webb).
  6. “How can I frame the changes I’d like to see so that people respond more positively to the idea?… If things were to change for the better, where would be the most high-leverage place to begin that work?” (Influence in Action, p. 129)
  7. “When leading change, are you calm, confident, and focused—or anxious, threatened, and scattered?” (Management Mess to Leadership Success, loc 2440)
  8. “…every leader can overcome resistance to change by addressing these three challenges: the change challenge, which you overcome with clarity about what’s changing and what’s not; the personnel challenge that you overcome with candor and inclusion, letting people know exactly where they are in the picture; and the feedback challenge, which you overcome with objectivity about the change and a willingness to listen to feedback” (Lead to Win: 3 Challenges in Managing Change).
  9. “Most people think change is good—but only when it’s their idea. When it comes from other people, it’s not nearly as enjoyable. As MIT scientist and management expert Peter Senge said, ‘People don’t resist change; they resist being changed’” (Everyone Deserves a Great Manager, loc 1744).
  10. “What is essential to keep an organization running and profitable? A good leader. What is essential to grow an organization? A good leader. And what is essential to bring positive change to an organization? Again, the answer is a good leader. Every organization needs more and better leaders” (The Leader’s Greatest Return, loc 3286).

How do you feel about planning?

How do you feel about planning?

What do the following 3 scenarios have in common?

  • You want to win. To do so, you’re going to have to play hard. The problem is you don’t know what you are playing (lacrosse, curling, backgammon) or what constitutes winning (golf = low score, basketball = high score, chess = capturing the king)—so, you don’t know what “playing hard” looks like.
  • You want your organization to go from here (current reality) to there (vision). To do so, you’re going to have to get busy. The problem is that you haven’t defined the current reality or the vision—so, you don’t know what to “get busy” doing.
  • You want your team to get results. To get those results, your team is going to have to focus. The problem is that you haven’t determined what results you want, who’s responsible for what, what the timeline is, or what accountability practices will be used—and you haven’t gotten your team’s commitment. So, your team doesn’t know what to focus on.

What do these 3 scenarios have in common? One thing they have in common is a lack of a plan. I recognize that plans aren’t everything, but they are something. I recognize that you can’t proactively plan for everything (some things you just have to react to), but you can proactively plan for some things.

How does your team feel about planning?

How do you feel about planning? I enjoy planning, and words that come to mind when I think of planning include intriguing, engaging, and inspiring (which is what you would expect from an INTJ). However, others (including ESFPs) don’t really enjoy planning and perhaps avoid planning. I did a Google search on “reasons why people do not plan” and got 4,840,000,000 results including:

How do you go about planning your schedule?

What words come to mind when you think about planning? And how’s your mix of proactively planning and reacting in the moment when things come up—and they do! 

  • As a proactive planner, I am working to be more fully present in the moment and to more effectively address things as they come up.
  • For those who are reactive planners, I invite you to consider the following: “Reactive leaders tend to be focused on problems, rather than purpose and vision” (Five O’Clock Leadership: Reactive vs. Creative Leadership).

What about you? How do you feel about planning? What words come to mind when you think about planning? How’s your mix of proactively planning and reacting in the moment?

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • “There are inherent tensions between crisis management and reform-oriented leadership. During a crisis, leaders often try to ‘minimize the damage, alleviate the pain, and restore order’ (p. 549), which conflicts with attempts to disrupt the organization and move it in a new direction” (Boin and Hart (2003) / Hat tip to Scott Mcleod).
  • “How can I accomplish this?” That question, although common, leads to mediocre results, frustration, and a life of regrets. A much better question is: “Who can help me achieve this?” (Who Not How, loc 210)
  • “That’s what real leadership is: Creating and clarifying the vision (the “what”), and giving that vision greater context and importance (the “why”) for all Whos involved. Once the “what” and “why” have clearly been established, the specified “Who” or “Whos” have all they need to go about executing the “How.” All the leader needs to do at that point is support and encourage the Who(s) through the process” (Who Not How, loc 244)


P.S.  Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the words plan, plans, planned, or planning:

  1. “When people create the plan that they eventually will implement, belief in its viability will be inherently high” (Multipliers, loc 1864).
  2. “Clarity research tells us that successful people know the answers to certain fundamental questions: Who am I? (What do I value? What are my strengths and weaknesses?) What are my goals? What’s my plan? These questions may seem basic, but you would be surprised how much knowing the answers can affect your life” (High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Became That Way, p. 59). 
  3. “Here are ten common management mistakes…. Not having a plan or agenda for your one-on-one meetings” (10 Scary Leadership & Management Mistakes).
  4. “The Five Most Common Reasons Why Leaders Don’t Create and Follow a Business Plan     1. They don’t know how. 2. They failed at it before. 3. They fear being held accountable for executing it. 4. They lack the time to plan. 5. They believe it will be a waste of time.” (Becoming a Coaching Leader, loc 1684).
  5. “I see so many managers who think shortcutting planning will get them to the finish line more quickly. The irony is that rather than making things faster, shortchanging the instructions leads to more time in editing and rework and ultimately later delivery. Reduced speed isn’t the only nasty consequence of rushing the planning phase. Failing to clearly communicate expectations sets up an interpersonal conflict when the work is reviewed” (The Good Fight: Use Productive Conflict to Get Your Team and Organization Back on Track, p. 67).
  6. “Strategically planned and executed, 1-on-1s are arguably the best way to create the conditions for high engagement and ensure your team members are connected to you as their leader” (Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team, loc 485).
  7. “Do I have a system for following up with my teammates when their action plans are due?” (Becoming a Coaching Leader, loc 198). 
  8. “If you want to get real lift from your vision, you must integrate it into how you lead and how your company operates. Use it as an anchor point to build your plans and strategy (more on that in the next chapter). Review it when you’re in your executive off-sites and leadership meetings to remind your people of their purpose and where they are headed” (The 7 Perspectives of Effective Leaders, loc 803). 
  9. “…every leader can build confidence and lead with confidence even in this crisis by taking three actions. The first: recognize the situation, your response to it, and your available resources. The second action is to reassess your position, your risks, and your opportunities. The third action is to respond by distilling your findings into a simple, clear plan of action and cascading that through your executive team, your whole team, and finally, to your customers” (Lead to Win: Episode: 3 Actions to Lead Through Today’s Crisis).
  10. “When we dedicate ourselves to a plan and it isn’t going as we hoped, our first instinct isn’t usually to rethink it. Instead, we tend to double down and sink more resources in the plan. This pattern is called escalation of commitment” (Think Again, loc 2937).