Leaders: Are You Serving Wine In The Office?

A while back the following question was asked by one of my team members who had resigned and I was trying to retain him:

“Are you serving wine in the office?”

He was a great performer with never-say-die attitude that used to inspire the entire team. His question certainly did make me think, but at that time I didn’t consider it to be an important one in the perspective of employee retention.

A Change of Perspective

Now I realize that he was simply asking some important questions:

  • Do you know what I need?
  • Whether organization can meet my needs?
  • What recommendations my manager is authorized to make?
  • What can be done by senior management & HR for a person without making exceptions?
  • What exceptions can be made for a performer like me?

My suggestion to the managers in my team has been to understand these questions and be prepared with the answers before discussing anything with the employee. Direct the employee to senior managers or HR guys to get answers for the questions you can’t answer or don’t have answers for.

Many of us make the common mistakes while negotiating with the people in order to retain them and we repeat the same mistakes again and again! Here are some of the common mistakes:

Common Mistakes in Trying to Retain Employees

Here are some of the common mistakes that leaders make when trying to retain employees:

Not ready with answers to above mentioned questions

Many managers (myself included!) have this instinct for contributing in a crisis situation without preparation. My recommendation is to understand the cause of the resignation first and then prepare well before trying to retain the employee.

Comparing the skill & performance with peers at the same (or even higher) level

Managers do this to boost the ego of the person and to highlight his/her importance. This might work sometimes that too with average performers but smarter guys always know about their real performance level and standing in a team.

At the end of it, manager loses respect in front of the team – I can tell you that such conversations travel at a higher speed than light and you can’t hide it!

Over-committing the role/designation/compensation

At times we become too passionate to retain the employee and tend to over commit. Sometimes managers are not even authorized to commit change of designation/compensation but still commit. It is dangerous, because quite often organizations don’t agree to making exceptions unless person is too critical or strategic for the larger organization.

It is a good practice to recommend a change of role. If there is one already which suits this person, go ahead and recommend.

If you don’t have a role for a true performer, try to create one. You’ll not only have a successful retention case but will also have a motivated employee.

Avoid assuring or recommending anything like designation/compensation change without having a prior approval. Otherwise employee would expect a change because you discussed it with him/her. I have faced situations where person took the resignation back and mentioned the reason as ‘promotion or salary change commitment made by my manager’ and senior management was in red as they had no clue about the promise made by manager.

This is very difficult situation to be in; and

  • If HR/management disagrees, manager loses credibility. Organization may lose two guys (employee & manager) in place of one
  • If HR/management agrees, this becomes a bigger problem for the organization as employee may quote in the public about ‘resignation as a successful tool’ to negotiate on promotion/compensation. Even the managers (including the successful one whose team member got promoted!) will quote this as an example in future
  • In any case, people will question the ‘fairness’ in the organization

Changing the reporting manager quickly

A lot of resignations happen due to ‘my manager does not understand/like me’ phenomenon. Changing the assignment (hence the manager) works well for retaining good guys, but if you make the change quickly you will face a bigger problem. Change in assignment is typically done by higher level of managers along with HR.

They shouldn’t commit a quick change and it should be done by taking the reporting manager in confidence about the proposed change. Well thought transition plan should come from the manager. Employee will be able to get the objective & importance of transition.

Offering the wrong role

Sometimes managers offer the roles to employees that are not meant for them. I might have an important & vacant role, and a performer who has just resigned. I play the role of a mathematician and a manager who likes the employee and hence I offer this position to him/her.

Mathematically, the position is filled and I feel proud to have managed a problem. And three months later, I crib about retaining a person who was not worth it!

By the way I was able to retain my guy at that time!

So what are some of the mistakes that you might have made in trying to retain a valuable employee? What are some of the successes you have had? I would love to hear your thoughts on best practices!


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Madan Mewari

Madan Mewari is the Global Head for Delivery and Operations of eDynamic LLC
He has lot of experience in building large & high performance teams
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5 Sacrifices A Leader Must Make


You may believe that as a leader your job is relatively easy, where you simply watch over and manage the behaviour of your employees; this is not so. As a leader, you have a number of responsibilities including not only watching over your employees but ensuring that they manage their work effectively and that they are happy.

It’s also part of your job to make sacrifices for the company and for those that work below you.

Not all of these sacrifices have to be extravagant or draw attention to your person, but they have to be made for the right reasons.

5 Sacrifices A Leader Must Make


sac·ri·fice [ sákrə f̄̀ss ]

  1. giving up of something valued: a giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance


1) Sacrificing Time and Energy

Giving both your time and energy in order to help others and the company that you work for is a sacrifice that all excellent leaders make. This is an important sacrifice because you cannot regain the time or energy that you have expended; once you’ve given them to somebody else they become lost to you. By giving your time and energy it also means that you are working hard towards not only your future, but that of your colleagues and employees too.

2) Ambition

Another sacrifice that is often made by a leader in times of need is that of their own ambition. By prioritising the needs of others including your employees, you leave less time for you to focus on yourself; any parent will understand this situation completely and the same applies to any leader.

To truly look after your workforce, you must focus on their every need to ensure their productivity. By helping those around you to succeed, you may have to sacrifice personal pursuits but these actions will always have a positive effect going forward.

3) Authority

As a leader there will come a time within your job when you are asked to sacrifice your absolute authority in order to let others progress and develop the skills that are needed to reach a higher position. Giving up authority can be difficult and threatening but it is important for your workforce to feel that they are progressing and learning new skills.

4) Benefits

As a leader it’s your duty to protect those around you and ensure their happiness; even in times of difficulty and instability. If your company is suffering from temporary financial instability (as many have during the recession), as a leader you should set the example by forgoing any bonuses and if necessary taking a pay cut. An excellent leader would never ask of anything from their employees that they aren’t willing to do themselves.

5) Relationships

As a decision-maker, you will understand that you may not always be liked or favoured for making the right decisions. For example, if you feel that an individual is not pulling their weight and fails to heed your warnings, you may find that your only solution is to remove this person from your team.

There will also be other times where you have to reject salary increases or defend requests for additional work hours to meet a deadline but by being the leader, you will sometimes have to play the villain.

Become Your Best Self

You may find that during your time as a leader, there are many other things that you must sacrifice in order to become the best leader that you can be. However, try to be fair at all times and don’t ever ask anything of your employee that you wouldn’t ask of yourself.

So, how do you feel about the idea that leaders must sacrifice in order to succeed? Do you think that if you reach a certain position or status that you no longer need to sacrifice? Or do you embrace the steps above and think that you will be more fulfilled if you learn these lessons and apply them? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Georgina Stamp

Georgina Stewart works for Marble Hill Partners
She helps Organisations to Recruit for Executive Roles and Interim Management
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On Leadership, Commitment and Employee Engagement

Engaged Employees

A frequent complaint from supervisors is that an employee or team member should be doing something…but that they are not. And they state that when an employee is doing what they should be doing…it is being done incorrectly.

This is a source of great frustration to many supervisors!

Also, the managers wrestle with getting the supervisors to act like better leaders and deal effectively with their “errant” employees.

The Missing Ingredient

Organizations today are missing a critical ingredient important for their business success. The challenge is that they cannot purchase this important commodity. In fact, trying to acquire it with money and incentives usually has the opposite effect.

What is this cherished resource? Employee engagement; a sense of ownership.

When employees and team members feel ownership about their work, they respond with more positive motivation for the work they do. They also respond better to change and are able to make the necessary changes and successfully adapt.

The Right Partnership

Engagement and ownership are valued resources for any leader to have on their team. Organizations need employees to act as partners at work and as advocates for their employer away from work. Any business would benefit from having employees who can adapt to change.

Engaged employees understand the need for change, and do not resist changes.

This can often make the difference between success and failure for any project implementation.

Engaged employees typically:

  •  Are more receptive to new ideas
  •  Accept the need for change
  • Respond quickly to change
  • Support continuous improvement efforts
  •  Act as partners
  •  Take ownership of the industry away from work

Once the employees are fully engaged and feel ownership, organizations often see positive outcomes, including:

Increased business flexibility

·         Processes becomes changeable

·         Continuous improvement and problem prevention become the norm

Increased commitment

·         Employees can sustain positive motivation

·         Employees make positive contributions

Increased satisfaction

·         Workforce is more stable

·         Turn-over, hiring, and training costs are diminished

·         Employees are more satisfied

·         Supervisors have an easier job managing the employees

Improved business results

·         Management experiences a profitable balance sheet

3 Counter Trends

What makes it difficult to achieve the desired feelings of ownership?

Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld, in their book Re-Engage: How America’s Best Places to Work Inspire Extra Effort in Extraordinary Times write about three counter trends in today’s work environments that can make it difficult for a supervisor to build a sense of ownership:

  1. Diseconomies of Scale—the larger a company becomes, the greater the opportunity for there to be disconnects between employees.
  2. Generational Diversity—we are seeing multiple generations working together. Although there are many advantages to this diversity, without strong leadership the team can fragment and loose engagement.
  3. Uncertain, Turbulent Times—uncertainty can cause fear and frustration in the absence of effective leadership communication.

Creating the Right Environment

It becomes the supervisor’s priority as the leader to respond to these workplace challenges and create an environment where ownership can flourish. Employees are engaged and productive and add value to the organization when the supervisor can create an environment in which they feel ownership and are positively motivated.

Where motivation is lacking, value is diminished and productivity, safety, and long-term success is limited.

Employees who feel ownership are able to adapt to change. They are in a state of mind where they are always “Ready for Change.” When change is resisted, opportunities are lost and productivity, safety, and long-term success are limited as well.

 A sense of ownership is critical to motivation both at work, and away from work.  Ownership is also important for dealing with change effectively.  That is, when an organization is change ready, the business benefits from changes that are planned, and those changes that are emergent.

So how is your organization fostering better environment for employee growth and productivity? What is being done to monitor employee engagement levels? What steps can you take as a leader to foster more commitment with the people that you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Mark McCatty

Mark McCatty is Senior Consultant at Cornelius & Associates
He is a positive influence for Effective Personal and Organizational Leadership
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Articles of Faith: Who Do They Say that You Are?

Who Do You Say I Am?

This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series here. Published only on Sundays.

Have you seen the new movie Son of God? It’s an awesome display of interaction between leader and follower.

One of the most poignant bible verses regarding leadership is where Christ turns to His disciples and asks, “Who do the people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-30)

A simple, yet significant question which should be asked by all leaders to those they are leading, whether first degree followers such as the disciples, second degree followers such as the apostles and believers, or third degree followers such as the Pharisees (yes, our enemies follow us, as well).

The Question: “Who do the people say that I am?”

You Are a Leader

You are a leader, therefore, you have followers. Who do they say that you are? Everyone who follows you, everyone you lead, everyone in your circle of influence and, possibly, everyone in their circle of influence, refers to you in some manner.

From your pet to your pet’s vet, your mother-in-law to your mother-in-law’s hairstylist, your virtual assistant to your virtual assistant’s assistant.

In your life, whether near or far, first or last name basis, direct contact or by virtue of association, these people have defined you, pigeonholed you, categorized you, promoted or demoted you, simply by what they call you.

The Question is this: “Who do they say that I am?

On Being Named

The Lion of Judah received several monikers in response: John the Baptizer, Elijah, a prophet, and so on.

He then turned the question inside out, exposing their sub-consciousness, asking this:

“What about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Gutsy Peter nailed it, “You are the Christ, the Messiah!”

The Finisher of our Faith’s response to Peter: “The Father must have told you. No one else knew.”

My Own Personal Experience

Now, this is by no means, a comparison, but recently, I serendipitously learned what “they” (the “they” being those as referenced above) call me.

A reporter from our local newspaper wrote about me, calling me a slew of predictable names, self-proclaimed names that I had keenly persuaded my community to call me: writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, trustee (of a community college), and volunteer.

But, there was another term she used, one that wasn’t included in my marketing repertoire.

When she called me this name, like Peter, she nailed it! And, I knew that the FATHER had given it to her because no one else had verbalized it, certainly not me. It was a truth I may have realized it; but, never actualized, never embraced.

Assuming that she was using the term in its most positive connotation, yet intrigued in her so doing, I picked up the phone and dialed her number. When she answered, I said – with half of my accusatory voice implying a TV courtroom libel suit, the other half venerating as I sensed an addendum to my dossier had just been signed off by the Creator of the Universe.

“What did you just call me?”

She was caught off guard; perplexed even.

“Did I get something wrong?”

You see, as I am constantly cheering her on for the fantastic, professional, neutral journalist that she is, she had never imagined such an encounter as this…from me.

Before I could answer, she began reciting her adjectives.

“Yes,” I interjected, “you said all that, but you said something else.”

She drew a blank. So much pressure!

Finally, I said, “You called me a ‘civic activist.’”

She explained with the sincerity of encouraging intentions,

“Of course I did. That’s what you are. That’s how I see you. That’s how I’ve always seen you.”

It was the sound of her voice traveling through the airwaves, but it was the Voice which I heard, just as Christ must have heard as He read Peter’s lips. The Voice said

“You are truly blessed. It was I who told her what you are because it is I who created you. You are a leader; a civic activist, a compassionate advocate who loves your fellow-man and yourself equally, and who loves Me with all of your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.”

And with His gift of infinite instruction, He said “Now walk ye in it!”

Getting Ready For Your Next Level

Has the LORD blessed you with such a revelation?  Do you sense He is preparing to do so?  If your answer is yes, I would suggest you grab the safety bar, and hold on!

Your leadership feathers, having been clipped by the dull shears of unawareness, are growing in.   And you are being instructed to “walk ye in it!”

Now let’s contemplate a few questions:

  • Who are your followers: first, second and third degree levels?
  • Who do they say that you are?
  • Have you even asked or are you waiting – like Chicken Little – for the words to fall out of the sky?
  • Who do you say that you are?
  • Who does the FATHER say that you are?

And finally, do you walk yet in it?


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Donna Clements

Donna Clements is a Professional Writer and Motivator
She inspires Positive Social and Individual Change
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On Leadership, Perseverance and Leading Through Failure

Henry Ford's Model T

When great entrepreneurs set out on their quest to “do what they do,” they often times meet a massive amounts of personal, professional, and financial failure. Yet it seem like the most successful have one thing in common: Perseverance.

Title this one: “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: The Worst Failures By the Most Respected Entrepreneurs

Being Defined by Failure

There’s much that budding entrepreneurs and experienced business people can learn from the success of others, but entrepreneurs are also defined by their failures. Examples of modern entrepreneurs who came back from failure abound, from Steve Jobs, who was fired from Apple, to founders of budding companies, such as Todd Pedersen, founder of Vivint.

However, we would be wise to also pay attention to the lessons learned from some of the most respected entrepreneurs in our history books. These visionaries may be remembered for their great successes, but there’s a lot to be learned from their greatest failures too.

3 Great Leaders Who Led Through Failure

1. Henry Ford

Henry Ford created his first car inside a brick shed in his garden. Appropriately named the Tin Lizzie, it was pieced together with scrap metal, featured a two-cylinder, four-cycle motor, sat on four bicycle wheels and had no brakes. Ford probably first realized he’d made a mistake when the car wasn’t able to make it out the shed door, but after breaking down a wall and taking the car around the block, he realized the design wasn’t successful.

I’m guessing it had something to do with his inability to stop.

Ford’s failure didn’t stop him from pursuing his interest in the automobile, however. He approached a group of businessman to fund his venture and was given $10,000 to create ten cars. Unfortunately, Ford got so focused on perfection that he ended up spending the money without producing a single car.

After gaining some public recognition through racing, Ford once again formed a company, but due to production delays and conflicts with shareholders, Ford saw his company collapse once again.

Yes, it wasn’t until his fourth attempt that Ford’s famous Model T led him to success, but there is plenty we can learn from his failures as well as his successes:

  • Good ideas take time to develop
  • You need a good product to get funding; you need good business sense to succeed.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail (or knock down brick walls.)

2. Walt Disney

Walt Disney went through bankruptcy at the ripe old age of 22. His first cartoon series, Laugh-O-Grams, started out as short pieces on a weekly newsreel. The Laugh-O-grams were a hit, so Disney decided to start creating animated fairy tales that were modernized by including recent events. He managed to produce seven of the cartoons before his company went bankrupt due to the distributor failing to pay for the cartoons as promised.

Disney’s first big success also turned out to be a failure, as he lost the rights to his character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as well as many of his workers who decided to work for the distributor instead of him.

The inspiring thing about Disney’s story is that despite being betrayed and cheated out of his business twice, he continued to take risks and develop something new, and Mickey Mouse was the result. The rest is history. What should we learn from this?

  • Despite our own talents and work ethic, we must also deal with the consequences of others’ actions.
  • The ability to take risks after experiencing failure is a key attribute for a successful entrepreneur.

3. Rowland Macy

For the first ten years of his business pursuits, Rowland Macy had four retail ventures fail. Despite these failures, Macy founded the first Macy’s store in Massachusetts. Applying what he had learned from his earlier mistakes, Macy started offering lower prices for cash purchases and eliminated bargaining in his store.

Unfortunately the changes he made weren’t enough to keep his venture from failing a second time. Still he didn’t give up, and once again founded a Macy’s store, this time in New York. Macy’s sought to learn from his past mistakes and chose to work on solely a cash basis, refusing any credit from wholesalers. His wise business decisions allowed him to turn a hefty profit despite the country being in a recession.

What we learn from Macy:

  • Pay attention to details
  • Learn from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid of them.

What other lessons would you add from your favorite entrepreneurial story or your own business ventures? How have they impacted they way you persevere? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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On Leadership, Communication and Your Email Address


If you make a list of your pet peeves about work, I bet high on the list are, being kept in the dark, being patronised, and being misinformed.

Contrary to this type of workplace environment, healthy and successful organisations communicate as transparently as they can and keep secrets only as long as is absolutely necessary.

Great delivery also depends upon great communication, which should start at the top.” ~ Sir Richard Branson

Misunderstanding Communication

Talk to many leaders about communication and they think about, “how can I get my message out to the staff?” This is a symptom of how they perceive their relationship with their followers. They are in charge, they’re paid the big bucks to create the vision and strategy and they make all the important decisions.

Consequently they see communication as top-down delivery of their important information which should be understood and acted on in proscribed ways. This “information” is generally perceived by the recipient as poorly cloaked instruction and coercion intended to drive the company’s agenda.

In doing this leaders miss the purpose and full power of authentically open integrated communication entirely.

A Two-Way Street

Communication is at its simplest a two-way interaction but more often than not (and often unintentionally) is multi-directional.

On the one hand, your response to a message from your boss might be restricted to your own thoughts. On the other, you discuss the matter with a colleague who in turn talks to another and so on, with the inevitable distortion created by the rumour mill.

As is the case with the physical conservation of energy, human communications can never be destroyed, they are simply converted into other forms of communication often with unforeseen, unwanted and uncontrollable consequences.

Transparent Communication

Victor S. Sohmen (Drexel University) clearly explains the fundamental role of transparent communication in his paper “Leadership and Teamwork: Two Sides of the Same Coin” in the Journal of IT and Economic Development.

Ask yourself this:

  • If all communications are multidimensional, are never truly secret and you can never learn less from them, why not take full advantage of its power for good?
  • Why not give out your e-mail address to everyone and invite them to use it?

Create equally powerful multiple well-integrated lines of communication bottom to top as well as top to bottom in your organisation. The rest is about building flexible yet robust systems to manage information flow and integration.

Open Authentic Communication

In an excellent article “Relationship between Organizational Culture, Leadership Behavior and Job Satisfaction”, Yafang Tsai clearly describes the fundamental foundation of open authentic communication to building high performing organisational cultures.

Imagine a scenario where the brother of someone who cleans the toilets knows someone who is the father of a genius kid who has recently invented a new widget which could revolutionise your business. If you always excluded that cleaner from contributing their ideas they’ll cease to bother and you will lose out. If that sort of communication disconnect is a cultural norm in your organisation, then you are in trouble.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” ~ Peter Drucker

Best-Centered Communication

I am convinced most leaders are well-meaning and attempt to improve communication, but their efforts are generally self-centered and inevitably come across as patronising and back fire disappointingly. A good rule of thumb is to “ask” twice as many times as you “tell”.

As Vincent van Gogh said, “It is the little emotions that are the great captains of our lives.”

If we know that day-to-day we’re really heard, truthfully informed and treated as adults we feel valued, are more internally motivated and are much more likely to identify with our place of work and go that extra mile for the team.

Too many organisations feel that incentives will drive staff to behave like the 300 Spartans who laid down their lives at the battle of Thermopylae in an attempt to drive back invading Persians; THEY WON’T! But if they feel they can influence the future of their organisations THEY JUST MIGHT!

Closing Thoughts

Ask yourself these questions today:

  • Do you feel communicating with staff is a chore or a key element of business?
  • Did you communicate to your staff today? If your answer is “no”, why didn’t you?
  • What information did you send out today, to what extent might it be viewed by the recipient as patronising, opaque or misleading?
  • What open questions did you ask your staff?
  • Who has your e-mail and phone number; why them?

Make a brief cost/benefit analysis if you opened up your lines of communication.

A really good place to find your voice is “Leading Out Loud: A Guide for Engaging Others in Creating the Future by Terry Pearce.


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 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Leading with Honor: 4 Ways to Have What It Takes

Are you alarmed by the frequency of ethical scandals in recent years?  No doubt, you have seen the headlines about Wall Street greed, but ethical problems are just as prevalent on Main Street where bookkeepers, purchasing agents, and business owners violate the trust that others have placed in them.

Lackluster Leadership

Think of the headlines in recent months:

  • A highly respected coach resigned for covering up NCAA violations by his players
  • A Congressman is convicted of accepting bribes
  • A religious leader cheated on his wife, another is accused of using his authority to fleece the flock
  • Teachers changed students’ responses on standardized tests and administrators collaborated in cover-up
  • A college inflated the average SAT score of their students to improve its image.

What is happening to our society?  Does anyone care about honorable leadership?  What can you do about it?  What have others done that might guide those of us who seek to turn the tide in this onslaught against character-based leadership?

Our Best Leadership Examples

It seems ironic that some of the best examples of leading with honor come from the POW camps of North Vietnam, an environment so life-threatening that one might expect to see frequent examples of self-centered, self-serving leadership.

But when life and limb were on the line, these brave leaders chose honor over comfort, humiliation over cooperation with the enemy.

Their courageous service can inspire and show us what is required to lead with honor, and I’ve shared my Vietnam POW story and 14 leadership lessons learned in my latest book, Leading with Honor: Leadership Lesson from the Hanoi Hilton.

4 Lessons of Courageous Leadership

Let’s look at a few of the lessons that I learned from these courageous leaders.

1) Know Yourself

The POWs leaders were experienced and strong yet they had no choice but to be humble. The enemy used torture and isolation to try to break their will and force them to cooperate in making propaganda. They were vulnerable, stripped to their core; they could not pose or pretend they were something they were not.  Fortunately, they were solid—healthy people with a strong character that enabled them to lead with honor through the most unimaginable humiliation.

“If you don’t know yourself and have a peace about who you are, your fears and insecurities will take you out.”

Rather than pursuing your passion and purpose using your unique talents, style, and convictions, you will constantly be comparing yourself to others and trying to guide your life by someone else’s ways and standards. Alternatively, when you know and accept yourself, you can be authentic, leading from your own true north. Objectively knowing your strengths gives you confidence, while awareness of your weaknesses gives you humility.

Few will ever be POWs, but eventually we will all face situations that expose who we really are.  Spend time with yourself and go deep. Accept who you are, but realize there is always room for growth; work every day to build yourself strong so you can lead authentically, from the inside out.

2) Clarify Your Values and Standards and Commit to Them

The POWs had a uniform code of conduct that everyone knew and was charged with following. It acted like signs along the road giving direction and providing a framework for decisions, choices, and behaviors, helping them stay on the right path even in the most difficult situations.

Unfortunately, most people have only generic assumptions and a superficial understanding about their moral values and ethical commitments.

Jeb Magruder, White House advisor who went to jail, said that he had been taught right but somewhere along the way he “lost his ethical compass.”  We are all cut from the same cloth as Magruder and without regularly clarifying our commitments, we will drift off course as well.

3) Confront Your Doubts and Fears

Fears and insecurities take out more leaders than anything else and they generally can be traced back to the first point above—your identity—knowing who you are and being comfortable with yourself. Even the smartest, toughest, and best leaders face insecurities and fears.

The POW leaders were tough warriors but they all struggled with fear. Commander Jim Stockdale endured frequent physical abuse and more than four years in solitary confinement, so naturally, there were fears, but he did his duty and suffered the consequences. Great leaders know that fear is the norm, and they know they must lean into the pain of their fears to do what they know is right.

“Courage does not mean that you are not afraid, but that you do what is right when it feels scary or unnatural.”

4) Connect with Your Support Team

In your struggle to lead with honor, you are like any other warrior—it’s not good to fight alone. That’s why the enemy tried so hard to isolate the POWs in North Vietnam and why the POWs risked everything to keep the communication lines open. Even the toughest POWs relied on the counsel and encouragement of their teammates.

Authentic leaders realize they cannot see every situation objectively.

On the tough choices, you will usually need the perspective of someone who is outside the issue to help you evaluate the situation. Build a network of a few key advisors who can help you navigate the treacherous waters ahead.

Final Thoughts

Our culture desperately needs men and women who will lead with honor. Don’t take it for granted that you will lead honorably. Engage in the battle required to guard your character.

To be prepared, know yourself, clarify your values, standards, and commitments, confront your doubts and fears, and connect with your support team.  Then you are ready to face the giants and avoid the headlines of failure.


Special note from Tom Schulte, Editor and Publish of L2L:

Leading with Honor book

How did American military leaders in the brutal POW camps of North Vietnam inspire their followers for six, seven, and even eight years to remain committed to the mission, resist a cruel enemy, and return home with honor? What leadership principles engendered such extreme devotion, perseverance, and teamwork?

In this powerful, practical, award-winning book, Lee Ellis, a former Air Force pilot, candidly talks about his five and a half years of captivity and the fourteen key leadership principles behind this amazing story. His story has been featured on networks such as C-SPAN, CNN, ABC World News, and Fox News Network as well as hundreds of speaking engagements throughout the world. Learn more about Leading with Honor.


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Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.


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