The Power of the Tug

DSN9164-2-MI looked up from my reading and out the airport window was a little vehicle pushing an airliner back from the gate. I’ve seen it plenty of times before but this time I noticed something I must have overlooked in the past. The little vehicle pushing this enormous plane was called a “tug”.

The power of the massive jet was way beyond comparison to the little tug, but the tug was necessary to move the plane away and get it into taxiing position. The dwarfed tug could do one thing the large aircraft was unable to do by itself; back up. I thought it a little ironic that the vehicle was called a tug when in reality its only purpose was to push, not pull. I thought about the word, “tug”.

Great leaders provide the tug for the team. The power of the team far exceeds the power of any individual, but great leadership pulls the team; motivates, empowers; aids them into position to accomplish their purpose(s).

Great leaders pull, they don’t push.

Copyright 2014 LeadersBridge

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Leadership Courage and Vulnerability

DSN9164-2-MFacilitating an event is always a learning experience. For a recent team building event I was asked to facilitate a discussion for a senior leadership team. During the activities and follow-up an individual brought up a serious situation that was happening in the office. A conflict between two of the leadership team was effecting the work and relationships of others in the office. The two in conflict were aware of the issues, but not completely understanding of exactly what the problem was. Or maybe more correctly stated, they were interpreting the situation differently and each wrong about the other person.

This third party was concerned about the relationship and the working situation and brought the subject up for the entire team to consider. You might say it was one of those ‘elephants in the room’ that everyone is aware of but nobody wants to speak about. But this person knew that for the good of the organization, and to move forward as a team, the issue had to be addressed and resolved. By bringing it up there was much discussion, airing of feelings, understanding of truth and positions, several apologies, asking of forgiveness, and resolution of the conflict; as well as ideas shared on how to not let it happen again.

One person had two qualities that are indispensable for leadership. He showed courage and vulnerability. Often these two go hand in hand. Addressing, or calling attention to an issue can be very dangerous. But the danger of not solving the problem is more hazardous to the organization than the issue of personal comfort. In this instance a man made a decision to overcome his personal fears of what might happen to him personally, and to address an issue that needed resolution for the good of the organization.

That courage made him vulnerable to the others in the group, especially the two in conflict. But his courage and vulnerability to talk about how it was effecting him made the difference in the meeting and in the future of the company. He opened up and it allowed others the freedom to do so also. His courage and vulnerability were contagious as others bravely opened up and shared concerning the situation; and the two at conflict doing the same. The discussion revealed truth about the conflict that otherwise wouldn’t have been known, and brought healing to the individuals involved and relief to the office and relationships around them.

Great leadership involves courage and vulnerability.

Copyright 2014 LeadersBridge


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Choose Nice Over and Over

DSN9164-2-MI’ve heard my mother say many times, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

I suppose that anyone with an ounce of niceness would agree. But a recent incident had me thinking about those famous words. What does it say about leadership?

It was just after the recent elections and two winning candidates were giving their acceptance speeches. One was very gracious to the person who had challenged them. They spoke highly and gave tremendous credit to their opponent. They were very kind in thought and words and did not say one bad word against the challenger, except to say it was time for a change.

The other’s acceptance was much more painful. It was accusatory and said that the resulting vote was an indictment of the other candidate’s opinions and actions. They fell just short of calling names, but the accusations inferred plenty. Their comments were polemic and divisive.

Both of these people are now in important positions, but one was nice and the other was not. The warm comments and congratulatory nature was heartwarming and felt genuine. The accusatory speech also seemed genuine, but was hateful and derisive.

Neither of these people are from the location where I vote. Both were from the same political party. One would make me glad to be associated with that party, the other would make me ashamed. But I would much rather give my support to a nice person than one that isn’t, regardless of party affiliations.

I think nice is a habit that comes from a series of previous choices to be nice. It develops and becomes the natural order of things. When we refer to a person as being nice, it is because their habits, built from their past choices, has led them in that direction. So their behavior reflects those nice things that they have thought and done.

To be a leader does not mean to be nice. You can be promoted, elected, etc. into the position; but great leaders know to be nice is more important than just being important.

Nice first, important someplace after that.

Copyright 2014 LeadersBridge






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Correcting Expectations

DSN9164-2-MI have a client that is a great repeat customer. I deal primarily with two different people from this organization. They are interesting in that they are very different. One will promise and promise and then put things off, be slow to respond, and generally be undependable concerning information and timing. When problems arise they are very apologetic and then promise to do what is necessary to correct the situation.

The other is very nice and always follows up and follows through. This person doesn’t make promises, but just does what is expected and then some.

Both are nice and I enjoy working with each of them. But over time I have come to have a level of expectations based on prior experience. Those expectations help me to handle situations when they arise without being surprised, disappointed or overwhelmed. I know what to expect no matter which calls and initiates a program.

You may be thinking that I would say one is a better leader than the other, but that’s not my point. But rather part of leadership is managing expectations. The one person is much easier to work with and takes less time and effort. But knowing how they each work helps me manage my stress when issues arise with the second.

Certainly expectations can cause problems if handled incorrectly, or if they color one’s ability to engage. But learning to manage expectations gives leads a definite advantage in dealing with people is a genuine, sincere manner. Managing expectation is a key to self-leadership.

Copyright 2014 LeadersBridge



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Therapeutic Information

DSN9164-2-MToday was my last day of physical therapy after my shoulder surgery two months ago.

The two months of visiting the therapist a couple times a week, along with daily exercises, has brought progress , but not without pain. The exercises and the stretching has been excruciating at times, but I also know the importance of getting the joint and muscles back in shape and stretched to normal limitations. The surgery was necessary to repair and remove problems that had developed. Therapy was necessary to restore previous loss and prevent further complications.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons through the experience and I could say a lot about the surgery and therapy; about leadership repairing situations, removing problems, restoring loss, and preventing complications. All great lessons with tremendous applications. But through this process the most important thing has been communication. As I went through the surgery and the therapy I knew the reasons for every step of the way. At no point was I left wondering ‘why?’ at any circumstance or situation. I knew what was being done and the reasons. I was included in all information, as well as decisions.

Great leaders keep people informed. They know that information is the most important ingredient to understanding and shared responsibility. They place a high priority on communication; the breadth and depth of information, and would rather risk too much than too little. Clear, accurate information is the necessary key to handling the responsibility of communication.

Copyright 2014 LeadersBridge



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A Winning Losing Season

DSN9164-2-MA group of people had brought breakfast to support a local high school football team. The players were all very appreciative and so were the coaches. It was a great time to talk with them and get to know them. It was also great to see the interaction and observe the relationships between the players, the coaches and the community members that had come bringing food.

Several times throughout the brief encounter there were times when announcements had to be made. It’s not easy to get the attention of over 30 high school football players. But one thing was clear, when the coach spoke, they listened.

Observing throughout the short time it was easy to see that the attention given the coach was not the result of fear or consequences. The coach was well-liked and respected. Throughout the activity, by what was said and observed, it was easy to see that the head coach, as well as the rest of the coaching staff, cared greatly about the kids.

In talking with the coaches their concern went way beyond the football field. I heard stories of personal sacrifice of time, energy and money by the coach and his staff in support of the players; not just for their contributions to the football team, but in regard to the personal lives of the players. It was a joy to talk with team members and coaches, but a greater honor to observe the situation.

They were not a great football team. Their record for the season was a losing one, and the day we served breakfast turned out to be their last game of the season – a losing effort in the first playoff game.

But the leadership displayed by the coach and his staff was first that they cared. Great leaders care. Great leadership understands that the most important things may not be revealed in the score. Maybe the most important thing a coach can demonstrate is not that they won on the field, but that they cared off the field.

Copyright 2014 LeadersBridge

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Self Leadership

DSN9164-2-MLeadership begins with character.

A lot is said about a leader’s influence and each person’s own sphere of influence. And it is true that everyone is a leader to some degree whether they realize or admit it or not. Everyone wields some influence and it begins with self.

Self-leadership is where character is formed. It is the values you hold and the fervency with which you hold them that determines your ability to lead. A person’s integrity, how they lead themselves, will determine the extent and effectiveness of their leadership of others.

A person must first conquer their own leadership dilemma before they can confidently allow others to follow. That simply means they must be self-aware and self-disciplined.

Self-awareness is knowing who you are. It is understanding your strengths and weaknesses; talents, gifts and abilities, as well as shortcomings, prejudices, and frailties. It is to know what you are good at; what you can and cannot do. It is to know when you can trust yourself and when you need to task for help.

Self-discipline is maintaining integrity, being self-motivated and self-controlled. It is simply the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

The first order of leadership is mastering your self.

Copyright 2014 LeadersBridge



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