Expecting, Inspecting, and Respecting

Thoughts from my recent sabbatical


Here is my twist on an oft quoted business or management adage. “It is not expecting, but inspecting while respecting.” I first heard it from Dr. Elmer Towns nearly 25 years ago in a seminar on Sunday School Growth. And it has been the substance of my 6 week sabbatical from LeadershipVoices.com.

“You can expect what you inspect” has been credited by Wikipedia to author W. Edwards Deming, but there’s no evidence that he first coined or popularized the saying. Likewise, Lawrence Appley, president of the American Management Association from 1948 to 1968, was credited with the saying as far back as 1967.

Other variations include, “People do what you inspect not what you expect” and it has been cited in print since 1959. Also, “you get what you inspect, not what you expect” shows up since 1962. The adage is sometimes said to have a military origin, but documented citations are not conclusive.  And, “Don’t expect what you don’t inspect” was written by W. Clement Stone in his book, The Success System That Never Fails and published in 1962.

So, enough of the history lesson. What is my point?

Leadership Voices is Taking a Sabbatical

In the almost 3 years that Leadership Voices has been blending various voices of leadership into a message of hope and encouragement, we have grown and attracted a following of nearly 2,200 folks who share our passion.  And each of you have made us sharper through your comments and your feedback.  But, in order to remain a great resource on the subject of leadership, we are going to be taking a sabbatical leave to re-evaluate our web presence, our content, our focus, and our brand.

During that time, I would invite you to remain tied in to the various well known and big name thinkers within the leadership movement. But, I also want to invite you to get connected with someone who I believe is on the leading edge of servant leadership and becoming, what Rodney Mills calls, a Transformational Servant Leader.

Rethink Leadership Crash Course Image

Click this link to get connected with RethinkLeadership.net.

But stay tuned and check back here from time to time over the next 6 weeks to see how we are progressing.

Free Advice

Free Advice - Blog

I have been speaking to a lot of “young” (really they are just new bloggers) lately. Each of them is addressing the gap that exists between the amount of good, practical leadership principles and the availability of the same. There is no shortage of leadership advice to be had on the internet these days. But, each of these new bloggers that I am speaking with are addressing a vital niche market.

If you have some experience or passion for leadership, then start a blog. There is room for more.  There is room for you to join us.

Therefore, I am offering up a bit of a brain dump that I wished someone had provided to me when I started my first blog in 2006. I have learned by trial and error over these last 9 years.

Many start out with one of the hosted blogging platforms such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com. I began with Blogger and used it for almost 6 years. And it served me well. But, I have chosen to move on and I now have a very different “web presence” in 2015 than I did in 2006.

Here are some thoughts for any new blogger to consider:

Play Your Loser Card

Play Your Loser Card First - No Graphics

It would be a mistake to assume that you will only get great leadership insights from folks who are much older than you. Sometimes they come from your peers. And sometimes they come from a peer who is as young as you are at the time.

Such has been the case in my life. I have been blessed to have great influences in my life. This is especially true in my early adult years. Like most, those years coincided with my college career. It was there that I met Daren. And it was there that Daren taught me a great leadership lesson.

“Play your loser card.”

Here is the context of that leadership lesson.

Thinkers are Revolutionary Leaders

Revolutionary Thinking - Blog Graphics

Tomorrow is not “The Fourth of July.”  That is a date on a calendar.  It is not the name of the National Holiday that we celebrate tomorrow.  The name of the holiday that we celebrate tomorrow is Independence Day.  It is the day that we celebrate the declaration of our independence from England.

Today I wish to focus on that word – Independence.

Most organizations are looking for people (and leaders) who can think independently and have the necessary leadership qualities to help act upon those thoughts and make their organization successful.

A Leadership Definition

Many people have different definitions for leadership.  Some have boiled it down to just one word – “Influence.”  But in general, leadership is the ability of one person to gain agreement, support, and active participation to accomplish a task or a goal. Perhaps it is at the most basic level an ability to get people to follow you. Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon Bonaparte, Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, and Jesus Christ are all leaders in their own unique ways. Some would not be necessarily considered positive leaders.  Nor would we want to emulate their actions.

  • Julius Caesar ushered in the Roman Empire at the cost of the Roman Republic.
  • Abraham Lincoln held the fledgling United States together after the secession of the southern states and the Civil War.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte used his creative military strategies and personal charisma to create and rule a great empire.
  • Jack Welch took over the reigns at General Electric and during his tenure there, the company’s value rose 4,000%.
  • Steve Jobs used his intelligence and passion for computers to “revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.”
  • Michael Jordan became one of the greatest basketball leaders and players of all time because of his desire to continually improve, work hard, and take over in tough situations late in the game.
  • Joe Montana holds Super Bowl career records for most passes without an interception (122 in 4 games) and he has the all-time highest quarterback rating of 127.8.
  • And then there is Jesus Christ.  And, well, if you don’t get Him being on the list, then nothing I can say will change that.

Leadership Skills

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books on leadership. And there are thousands, or maybe even hundreds of thousands of blogs, just like this one,  dedicated to leadership. Many of these books and blogs identify similar traits, attributes, or skills that comprise a good leader. Here are a few of the most common:

Butler to the Great

Butler to the Great

His name was Eduardo.  He told me to call him “Eddie”.  He was from the Philippines but he left after Ferdinand Marcos was deposed in February of 1986.

I met Eddie at a banquet while at a business conference in Las Vegas.  Eddie had been in the personal service of Marcos.  He was what would most likely be considered a butler.  He served Marcos proudly and he served him well.  Eddie was one of the fortunate ones to get out before the downfall of Marcos.

Eddie left and found himself in the service of King Khalid of Saudi Arabia.  He served the King until his death.  Eddie has served other persons of great political prominence and wealth, but we did not discuss them much.

At some point on a visit to family here in the U.S., he found his way to Las Vegas, Nevada.  And then, as Eddie said, “the planes hit the Twin Towers and all that.”  Suddenly he found himself stuck in Vegas with no real plan or the wherewithal to get back to where he had been prior to visiting Las Vegas.  Quickly running out of money he turned to what he knew.  He could serve.  But, there are not many kings or presidents in Vegas.  There are “whales”.  But they come and go and he needed something steady.  So he got a job serving food to business folks like me who come to Vegas for conventions.  And that is just how we met.  We met at the final dinner of a convention that I attended that week.

And here is what impressed me.  He served me like I was a president or a king.  I don’t really know that for absolute surety what it feels like to be a president or a king.  But I know he served me well and with great care.  And I am nobody really.  I am just a guy in a suit who works for some big corporation.  But Eddie treated me with great dignity and respect.

What is the leadership lesson here?

You can lead a horse . . .

You can lead a horse

You can lead a horse to water . . .

How many times have you heard that statement? It is an old bit of country wisdom. You can bring your horse to the water trough. But, if he ain’t thirsty, then he ain’t drinkin’.

Now, consider an update to that piece of rural wisdom.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. However, you can salt his oats!

In days gone by, our forefathers knew that if a horse has been sick and is weak and in danger of going down, you can put a little salt in his oats and that salt will draw it to the watering trough and make it want to drink. This is a great analogy of one of the skills that we need as leaders from time to time.

From time to time we will have reluctant followers. Their reluctance may be the result of factors beyond our control. Nevertheless, we have to lead them even when they are not exactly in the mood to be led.

What is the leadership lesson here?

What Sharpens Iron?

What sharpens iron?

What sharpens iron? Every leadership “junkie” has probably been exposed to the Biblical passage from Proverbs that gives us the answer to that very question.

It is iron that sharpens iron. Or at least it is some other substance that is as hard as iron such as a whetstone or grinding wheel. If that is the case, that iron sharpens iron, then what are the implications for you and I as leaders?

We often only look at ourselves as the ones that will be doing the sharpening. But what (or who) is sharpening you? We need to constantly be in contact with something or someone who sharpens our leadership skills.

The first time I was exposed to this concept was many years ago in 1990 when Steven Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “Sharpen your saw” is Habit #7. This habit was encouraged so that we take care of ourselves on physical, mental and emotional levels. Only then would we have the “strength” to remain highly effective.

Only the confident and strong leaders will offer themselves to be sharpened by others. In fact,

How to Know if You’re a Leader or Not

What makes somebody a leader? Is it a position or a title? Is it the nameplate on the door or maybe a spot towards the top of the organizational flow chart? I think I have some answers for those questions. But first, a story.

leader or not

I’ve never been terribly athletic. My parents didn’t push me into sports. My love has always been music. I started band in the 4th grade, but because of my size (I’m 6’4″ – in the top 3 percentile of the entire planet. Really!), by middle school the coaches started pursuing me for football and basketball. Here are the results:

  • I went out for spring training in football and didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Guys half my size bulldozed me like I was a feather in the wind. It was painful – physically and emotionally. I decided I better get out while I still had a life. Death was imminent. I was just sure of it.
  • So next, I went out for the basketball team. The coach said I hustled like nobody he had ever seen. He said they could use somebody of my height on the team. But unfortunately, hustle and height weren’t enough. I was cut from the roster.

So fast forward 30+ years. I’ve been training extra hard for triathlons over the last year. When I finished my first half-marathon a few weekends ago, I was thanking my coach for guiding me along. I told him that I’ve always been a band geek and not an athlete and I was grateful to him for helping me with this transformation.

His response to me was, “Dude. You ARE an athlete.” Now wait a minute. I know athletes. They’re those guys that play football or basketball and don’t get cut from the team before the season ever gets started.

Strongest Following – Weakest Followers

Strongest Following - Weakest Followers

Is your strongest following from your weakest followers?

If so, what does that say about your leadership abilities or style?

Well, you say, “I don’t know.” “What do you mean my ‘weakest followers.’”

Take a look around you. Are you surrounded by strong leaders? Are the people that are the closest to you able to think and act independently? Do you trust them? Are they capable?

I get to observe a lot of different and varied organizations. Some are in the very top tier of the Fortune 500. And some are small to medium sized business. Some are very small entrepreneurial ventures. And some are ministry and non-profit organizations. Each organization has leaders with varied skills and varied “amounts” of leadership ability.

One of the defining characteristics of the top tier leaders is the quality of those who are working the closest with them. That may almost seem like a “Duh!” statement. But stick with me for a second.