Projecting and Reflecting

A simple principle about leadership

Projecting and Reflecting

Our followers will reflect whatever you project. It is just that simple. It is also just that scary.

Many years ago when our children were very young, I was joking about their behavior (and by behavior I mean misbehavior) in Sunday School one morning. I jokingly said that they must have learned that behavior while playing with the other children. The response from the teacher was humorous but it stung my heart. It became one of the most haunting little statements that anyone ever made to me when I was a young parent. Here is what she said: “Children only do what they see at home.”

I was suddenly mortified. What if that was true? (And I believe that it is to a large extent.) What if those little eyes really are watching my every move? Fast forward now many years later and I can tell you that my children have grown into incredible adults. They are each wonderful parents and role models for their own children now.

But stay with me, please. This is not an article about parenting. It is really a quick article about leadership outside of the home. And it is about how our followers perceive us. In other words, how do they perceive the leadership message or methodology that I am projecting? And can I tell what I am projecting by how they reflect my leadership?

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Help Others Get What They Want

Is that the best way to get what we want?

Help Others Get What They Want

“Your function in life may not feel like it has anything to do with sales, but when we deal with others it matters to remember that the best way to get the outcome we want is to help others get the outcome they want.”

This was a statement that I made about a photo meme that I posted on Facebook. It sparked a brief dialog with a close friend and one of the driving forces behind And it has caused me to share some more thoughts that further develop my original post.  But first, here is the question that prompted my additional thoughts.

The Question

How do I do that when our wants are sometimes at cross-purposes? Or, what if what they want is detrimental to the health of the organization?

The Answers

There are some problems in life we can’t solve.

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My Leadership “Voice”

Sage, Sherpa, or Struggler?

My Leadership Voice

It is time to take Leadership Voices and this site to some new levels. Toward that end, I am looking around for resources and inspiration to spur me onward and upward.

Recently I found some great resources when I attended a webinar being hosted by Michael Hyatt. Many of you will recognize his name and know of his success in this arena. I have been following Hyatt for several years and have incorporated many of his thoughts, tools, or suggestions.

One of the tidbits of truth that I received from that webinar was to determine my “voice.” You would think with a website such as, that would be something that I already had a pretty good handle on. And you would be correct. My voice has become something with which I am very comfortable.

What was the tidbit? 

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Are You Likable?

Is it better to be liked or respected?

Are You Likable

I want to be liked. I think that everyone wants to be liked. Do you want to be liked?

The question today is this: Do we need to be liked to be an effective leader?

I am going to speak from a male perspective today. If you are a female, read on. It may be insightful for you to further see how men think and process information. But I am speaking today from a male viewpoint.

What is that point of view?

There is something inside a man that longs for respect. And I think that many, if not most men would choose respect over love if they had to make such a choice. So, what do we do with that reality?

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Leadership That Calms

Do you bring “calm” to your team?

Leadership That Calms

My TimeHop today reminded me of a quote three years ago from George Will that compared Ronald Reagan to a ship captain. George Will said, He calmed the passengers – and the sea. On top of that, my Sunday School lesson that I taught over the weekend was about the words of Jesus Christ to his Disciples as he walked to them on the water — Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.

All of that added up tells me that I need to be thinking about leaders and calmness in difficult situations.

Leaders Are Calm in Difficult Situations

Calmness and composure are synonymous to me in this context. The composure of a leader is reflected in their body language, attitude, body language, vocal tone, vocal volume, and overall presence.   In today’s business environment, it is clear that leadership is not only about elevating the performance, aptitude, and development of our teams – it is also about the environment that we create within our organizations. 

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Weak Leaders

And the Relationship to Weak Followers

Weak Leaders

Weak leaders naturally attract weak followers. That is my hypothesis. I am not sure if there has ever been an academic or scientific study to prove that hypothesis or not. But, it is clearly an observation that I have made over many years of observational study.

Why do you suppose that would be the case? And who is really attracted to who? Is it really that it is the weak leader that is attracted to weak followers?

My fear is that it may in reality be the weak leader that is attracted to weak followers. For it is in that setting that they can operate without much fear of any challenges to their leadership or true accountability for their actions.

I have not yet met a leader who would admit to being a weak leader. Often they will admit that they are not as strong as they would like to be. But they usually don’t admit to their weakness in this area.

According to Les McKeown of Inc. Magazine, “The problem comes when a weak leader masquerades as a strong leader. Outwardly, they appear effective, dependable, on top of things. But look closely at what they believe to be strong leadership and what you see is, in fact, a set of dangerous, destructive behaviors. Behaviors which will eventually strangle the organization.”

McKeown goes on to provide some typical behaviors of weak (or in his words, “ineffective”) leaders. I will not elaborate or comment on all of them. But I would offer my thoughts on how weak leaders interact with their followers.

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Leadership and Appreciative Inquiry – Part 2

AI - Part 2

Earlier in the week I tried to provide a bit of an overview of what Appreciative Inquiry is all about. The most concise definition I can provide is that it is a way of looking at challenges in a more positive manner.

As a reminder, here are the five principles of AI from my earlier article:

  • The Constructionist Principle
  • The Simultaneity Principle
  • The Poetic Principle
  • The Anticipatory Principle
  • The Positive Principle

I invite you back to that article for a synopsis of each of those principles.  Click this link to review that article.

This article is about the process that comes out of the questioning and positive approach to what many would call “problem solving.”

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Leadership and Appreciative Inquiry – Part 1

AI - Part 1

I had a “vigorous” discussion several months ago with someone whose opinion I have always valued. I have not always agreed with it. And in fact, I did not agree with it in the context of that vigorous discussion. However, I had reflected upon something that he said to me and have decided to put make of those thoughts available to Leadership Voices.

He challenged me to consider the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Model rather than the model of problem solving that I tend to employ. I was not as versed in AI as he. And you may not be as well. If so, consider this quick definition of AI.

Appreciative inquiry (AI) is a model for analysis, decision-making and the creation of strategic change, particularly within companies and other organizations. It was developed at Case Western Reserve University’s department of organizational behavior, starting with a 1987 article by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva. They felt that the overuse of “problem solving” as a model often held back analysis and understanding, focusing on problems and limiting discussion of new organizational models.

The model is based on the assumption that the questions we ask will tend to focus our attention in a particular direction. The more common methods of assessing and evaluating a situation and then proposing solutions are based on what AI terms a “deficiency model.” Some of these more common methods ask questions such as “What are the problems?”, “What’s wrong?” or “What is broken and needs to be fixed?”.

Appreciative Inquiry has 5 Principles:

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Vision provides the “What” – Leadership provides the “How”

The How and The What

My personal journey toward understanding leadership began many years ago. It began in a medium-sized church in Marietta, Georgia in 1983.

Prior to that point I had been an observer. And I had observed some incredible leaders. I would put my own father in that category. His leadership in many areas are an inspiration to me to this very day. But I have observed many different leaders in these past 32 years. I learned as much as I could from men like Bill Searcy, an entrepreneur and small business owner in the Atlanta metropolitan area. He owned a Firestone auto repair shop. I owned a piece of junk Chevy Celebrity that went through 4 sets of brakes in 2 and a half years. It was a “lemon” and I didn’t realize it. We were destined to spend time together. He taught me more about leadership than just about any one else early in my leadership journey. I owe him a great debt of gratitude.

That kind of observation over the years has shown to me that there are two distinct skill sets that are identifiable among those who would consider themselves to be leaders. There are those that “see” what needs to happen. And there are those who “make” it happen. My observation is that it is actually “vision” that provides the “what” or the goal and objective. But it is “leadership” that provides the “how” and the plan to execute the vision that has been laid out.

Let’s consider for a moment those two skill sets:

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Are You a Guide or Explorer?

Explorer or Guide

What kind of leader are you?  Are you a Guide? Or are you an Explorer? Are both of these leaders with just different skill sets? What is the difference?

A Guide — A guide is someone who has been down this particular path before. They probably have been this way before many times. They have gotten really good at navigating the simplest, safest, and best route for folks to follow. A guide has specific experience related to the specific journey on which you find yourself. They have been where you want to go. They have returned to where you are. And they are now ready to go again and brave the same dangers and traverse the same rough terrain that beckons you.

Guides carry a huge responsibility. Often they are responsible for the life and welfare of the folks who put their trust in them. But folks are willing to trust them because they have a proven track record in the particular journey that needs to be undertaken.

An Explorer — An explorer is a brave individual to be sure. In fact, they may very well be a

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