Leadership Freedom Checklist – Where Are You on the Journey?


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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.

Leadership Freedom Checklist [Infographic] by the team at FreedomStar Media

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
Email | LinkedIn |  Web | http://www.wordpearlspress.com/

Image Sources: preacherontheplaza.files.wordpress.com

Building Better Relationships, Building Better Business

Organizational Love

As an organizational communication professional, my goal is to help organizations do what they do, better. And I am very passionate about it!  

My earnest belief is that whether in a corporate, nonprofit, institutional, or government environment, employees are an organization’s greatest resource.

As such, developing and maximizing mutually beneficial relationships within and beyond the organization is critical to enhance satisfaction and effectiveness.

This is particularly true of leadership as their influence is so pervasively intertwined with the culture of the organization that it influences everything that occurs within that organization.

Types of Organizational Relationships

There are several types of organizational relationships:

  • Superior-subordinate
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Friendships

As well as the relationships with nonmembers, such as those between an organization and its various publics, including

  • Clients
  • Vendors
  • Contractors
  • And so forth.

Regardless of the level of connectedness, there are characteristics common to all relationships that must be considered to ensure that is rewarding to both parties.  Hon and Grunig developed guidelines for measuring relationships as a tool for public relations practitioners to assess the value of their programs.

These guidelines also serve as an excellent framework for examining our relationships, both organizational and interpersonal, to help reflect on areas which may need some attention to enhance the mutual rewards to all parties involved.

6 Components of Relationships

Hon and Grunig identify six components of relationships:

1) Control Mutuality

While balance in a relationship is key to its success, at varying times in the relationship one party will exercise greater control over the other. Control mutuality reflects the understanding between parties that this imbalance will occur, and recognizes (and accepts) that one party will exert greater control at given times.

For example, when a potential client asks you to present them with a solution to an existing problem, you control the situation through your selection of content, presenters and media which represents your organization and perspective in the best possible light.

Following the presentation, the control shifts to the client who, having several options from which to choose, can negotiate to their advantage.

 2) Trust

At some point in all relationships each party will open up to the other party, creating a level of vulnerability. Trust allows both parties to be confident in engaging in disclosures that help the relationship grow.

When pitching your presentation to a potential client whom you deem credible and desirable, you likely offer unique ideas and creative options. The client trusts that you will come through on the claims you are making and have the resources to do so.

Likewise, you trust that your ideas will remain proprietary and that the client will not use them to their benefit if they decide to go with another firm.

 3) Satisfaction

When both parties are happy because the positive expectations about the relationship are reinforced and outweigh the costs of the relationship, satisfaction occurs.

As the relationship with your new client progresses, satisfaction increases for the client as you continue to honor the conditions of your agreement by listening and responding to their needs and honor your commitments.

Your satisfaction increases when the client provides useful information from which to develop a plan; and also from the positive feedback received on the new project in your portfolio, as well as the potential for continued work or referrals.

4) Commitment

Relationships take effort, and commitment is indicated by a desire from both parties to continue with the relationship because they feel it is worth their energy to maintain and develop.

Even the best relationship experience challenges, but when a strong foundation based on trust and satisfaction is in place, it remains worthwhile to pursue. Communicating openly about concerns and disagreements help keep both the task and relational aspects in focus in order to achieve common goals.

 The remaining two components characterize the relationship more holistically.

5) Exchange Relationship

When one party in the relationship does something for the other party as reciprocation, either for a past or future service, it is considered an exchange relationship.

6) Communal Relationship

When both parties provide benefits to each other out of concern rather than payback, seeking no additional recompense, the relationship is communal.

For example, if your client moved up an important deadline to accommodate an unplanned visit from the CEO you might accelerate the schedule to meet the new deadline. As recognition for your effort you might request additional payment, or consideration for future projects (exchange relationship).

Alternately, you might make the necessary adjustments to meet the deadline simply because your client needs the assist (communal relationship).

Investments in Developing Relationships

While seeking compensation for services rendered is certainly reasonable, there may be occasions when building the relationship offers far greater benefits than would adherence to policy. As such, developing communal relationships should be an inherent organizational goal, particularly in key relationships, internal or external, that you would like to develop.

Beyond enhancing the relationship, individuals also experience positive outcomes such as greater self-esteem and satisfaction with life, further adding to benefits of engaging in such practices. Future posts will discuss each of these characteristics in more detail

Have you given thought recently whether your organization is (genuinely) people first or profit first? What practices do you employ that contribute to building communal relationships? Are these practices the norm within your culture, or “special circumstances?”


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Andrea Pampaloni

Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D is Professor of Organizational Communication at LaSalle
Her research focuses on Relationship-Building and Presentation of Image
Email | LinkedIn |  Web

Image Sources: healthnetpulse.com

6 Ways to Communicate Better With Employees

Of all the contributors to business success, the ability to effectively communicate with employees is essential. Organizations that understand the importance of good communication tend to have highly unified workplaces.

They also enjoy more motivated, productive, and loyal employees than those companies that take communication for granted.

Still for many businesses, implementing effective employee communication practices is often easier said than done. To that end, here are 6 proven ways to better communicate with employees that any organization can put into practice right away.

6 Ways to Communicate Better With Employees

1) Promote Genuine Face-to-Face Interactions

There’s no denying that there’s a number of new and novel ways for people to interact and communicate using technology. However, when it comes to communicating in the workplace, no technical tools are as effective as good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction with employees.

As efficient as texts and emails can be, their impersonal nature does little to strengthen working relationships the way that real-time, face-to-face communication can.

In addition, when managers take extra time and effort to talk face-to-face with employees, the employees tend to feel more valued and respected by the company, which in turn makes them more engaged and productive.

2) Promote Openness and Inclusion

Nothing motivates an employee more than feeling that what they do has a direct benefit to the company. Being open and inclusive with employees with respect to corporate objectives gives them a better understanding of the big picture and the role they play in moving the company forward.

The key is to communicate regularly, as this promotes engagement by keeping employees updated on how their efforts are contributing to the achievement of corporate goals.

3) Exchange Opinions and Ideas 

Along with feeling appreciated for their work, employees like to feel that their ideas and opinions matter. Companies where management solicits and listens to employee feedback—without employees fearing retaliation for negative comments—are making wise use of a valuable communication tool.

Comments made anonymously through surveys and suggestion boxes are also effective in making employees feel that they have a real voice in how things are done.

4) Break Down Walls 

By definition, there will always be walls between employees and management. More often than not, these walls can become real barriers to communication by making management appear more isolated from employees than may actually be the case.

Therefore, a vital role of management is to break down these walls so that employees can feel comfortable about approaching them with any issues or ideas they might have.

5) Action-Based Communication

Few things can stifle communication more in the workplace than management that fails to take action with respect to employee feedback. Employees who feel that their comments are falling on deaf ears will soon stop trying to communicate, because what’s the point?

This can lead to a drop in morale and productivity, which could potentially spread throughout the workplace like a virus.

Managers wishing to maintain a workplace of frequent and open communication need to act on what they hear—or soon they won’t be hearing anything.

6) Express Employee Appreciation

While many of the above communication techniques can help employees feel more appreciated, nothing takes the place of managers directly communicating employee appreciation for a job well done.

Open and ongoing communication in the workplace helps to ensure that, when the time for recognition comes, employees will be rewarded in personal, relevant and meaningful ways.


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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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Edited by Valentina Hoyos

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Bullet Proof Leadership: Leading with the Strength of Deliberative

Imagine this: You have great ideas, a lot of self-motivation, and you are ready to get started! Well, almost… Details are not your forte.

Not only that, you have no interest in them, much less troubleshooting your project.

Learning Vigilance

Instead, you go to your good friend and co-worker, Faye.

  • No matter the project, Faye has an innate ability to scour the details and identify, assess, and reduce risks.
  • She is able to slow you down, identify the potential minefields and bring them to your attention.
  • Her judgment and counsel are invaluable because she is inevitably able to see things you did not.
  • She has naturally good judgment, and after she is done with your project plan, it’s essentially bullet proof.

This because Faye is leveraging her Deliberative strength.

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

People strong in Deliberative know not to take everything at face value. Just because something appears to be air tight does not mean it is. You know that life is unpredictable, and beneath the surface you can sense the many risks.

For this reason, you approach life and your decisions with reserve.

You know that life is not a popularity contest, and that the right decisions are not always the most popular. Others can count on you to place your feet deliberately, and tread with care.

Leveraging Your Vigilance

As a Deliberative leader, your team can count on you to lead them in the right direction and to make well thought-out decisions for the team. You provide security and certainty, which is invaluable as a leader. Because you are not interested in popularity, you don’t play into office politics and can be relied upon to make unbiased decisions about your people and your team.

Your team will seek out your sound judgment.

As a leader, you also need to be aware that though you make great decisions, time plays a factor in the real world as well. Deadlines need to be met in order for things to get done. You know that all things carry inherent risks; it’s important for you to identify the most important ones and address those.


Balancing Strengths

It’s not efficient to deliberate over every single factor. Be prepared to leverage people with strong Command, Activator, and/or Self-Assurance Strengths. They will help you make strong, efficient decisions and implement them. It’s also important to be aware of your team’s perceptions.

No, being popular isn’t more important than making good decisions, but your Deliberative can be misconstrued as an inability to act or tentativeness when addressing challenges or change.

As a leader, that can be detrimental to your cause.

To avoid this, make sure you explain your decision-making process, and that you find the risks in order to mitigate and reduce them.

Leading The Vigilant

If you are leading someone strong in Deliberative, they can be a great asset for you, especially if you are strong in Activator, Achiever, or Futuristic. You will be inclined to move quickly and may not have thought of every possible outcome or pitfall.

Though it may pain you to take a step back and slow down, you will have more successful endeavors that not.

Your partnership will also benefit them because you will be able to push them forward, as they have a tendency to sit still for long periods of time.

If you are a Deliberative person, what’s your process for decision-making? Do others come to you to help them make decisions? How to you avoid taking too long while still being thorough? If you lead someone with Deliberative, do you leverage them in team decision-making processes? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Alexsys "Lexy" Thompson HCS, SWP

Alexsys “Lexy” Thompson is Managing Partner at Fokal Fusion
She helps building Strong Leaders through Strong People Strategy
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 Image Sources: photographyblogger.net


How Leaders Contribute to Workplace Conflict and How to Fix It

Workplace Conflict

Leaders can inadvertently derail productivity and innovation through their design of organizational systems.  Structural conflicts between people and departments are often one of the unintended consequences of this.

And leaders are the only ones with authority to do something about it.

Poor Leadership

According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workforce report, poor management is responsible for the 20% actively disengaged employees. This costs the U.S. $450 to $550 billion annually. Conversely, Gallup found that the most engaged employees (30% of the workforce)—those with the best management—create the most innovative ideas, attract new customers and are the most entrepreneurial.

A study identified common patterns of behaviors that characterize a bad boss which can be summarized as poor social and people skills.

Leaders must promote people with excellent “soft” skills because these lead to engaged employees who produce hard results.

Employees resent it when poor performance or bad management is not adequately addressed. Their motivation goes down and soon they do barely enough to meet expectations.

People inherently ask:


  • Why give 110% when someone giving only 80% or less can get away with it?
  • Why share their most creative ideas when the immediate supervisor takes the credit or doesn’t want change?
  • Why buck the system if the potential for harm is greater than the potential for gain?

Performance Management Systems

While most performance management systems are structured correctly, executing them is a hit or miss proposition in many organizations.

  • Some managers are plain uncomfortable with giving performance feedback.
  • Well-intentioned senior leaders, expecting their managers to deal with performance issues, only want to see “meets or exceeds” on appraisals.
  • This causes managers to avoid checking the “needs improvement or does not meet” box, fearing it could negatively affect their career or end-of-year bonus for their unit.

Leaders should hold their managers accountable for dealing with poor performers and reward them when they do. And yes, inadequate people skills in a manager constitutes poor performance and it should be addressed.

Competing Reporting Relationships

You see this with cross-functional project teams. Often people on such teams report to a division manager but work under a different project manager. Conflicts can erupt between the two managers who are both vying for the same resource: the employee’s time.

The employee may end up in conflict with either manager due to competing priorities.

Team members may end up at cross purposes because of lack of clarity about goals and time commitments.

Establish a matrix style reporting structure for cross-functional teams. Clarify expectations and priorities regarding specific deliverables, time to work on the project, and reporting relationships.

Unclear or Overlapping Roles and Responsibilities

This type of situation can create bad feelings between employees, turning a simple-to-solve structural conflict into an interpersonal one. These are territorial conflicts as in, “Hey, that’s my job.

It can leave employees worrying about whether management thinks they can’t do the job, or has plans to downsize. Another conflict related to unclear roles is when tasks fall through the cracks and blame starts flying.

Fortunately though, unclear roles and responsibilities are a common problem and relatively easy to solve.

Reward and Recognition Systems

Individuals need to know that their contributions matter. If they work independently and don’t rely on co-workers for information, resources or idea generation, then an individual reward and recognition system is best. If results require teamwork, a team incentive is also necessary.

A good ratio is to create an incentive that gives 2/3 for individual contributions and 1/3 for teamwork.

Without an individual incentive, some people might coast and ride the coattails of their team mates, creating resentment. Not including a team incentive when you need team creativity and problem solving, could create unproductive competition among individuals.

In addition to company-wide bonuses, consider including localized recognition events and rewards. These can be low-cost but personalization is a powerful motivator.

Of course, the best reward of all comes from allowing employees to identify and solve problems and develop innovations. Tapping into intrinsic motivation is the most powerful of all.

Communication Systems

The structural side of organizational communication systems has to do with how easy it is for employees to communicate with people and decision-makers across units. The more silo-ed and hierarchical the communications are, the more difficult it will be for employees to collaborate and exchange critical information.

The conflicts resulting from an inability to communicate effectively across organizational boundaries usually have to do with unintended consequences of changes made in one part of the organization that have a negative impact on another.

Another type of conflict occurs when work units have different norms and rules about how, when and to whom to communicate. Misinterpretations, misunderstandings and missed communication—all can erupt into conflict unless someone catches them early and deals with them.

Design formal communications to facilitate employees’ ability to work together effectively.

One simple tool for extremely effective weekly communication is something called 15Five.

Be Wise

Entire books have been written about each of the categories above. Clearly, much more could be said.  The key is to assess how organizational structures might be contributing to employee conflicts and make adjustments.

What would you do to mitigate against the unintended consequences of structure conflicts?


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Jagoda Perich-Anderson, M.A.

Jagoda Perich-Anderson, M.A. is President of JPA TANGO
She helps leaders harness the power of conflict to build innovative solutions
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Image Sources: twelveexecutivecoaching.co.uk

On Leadership, Effectiveness and Succession Planning

Succession Planning

When we explore the role of leadership, its application, expectation and outcomes, we find a number of interesting and interrelated functions to which all leaders should aspire if they wish to move from good to great.

These functions can be from the leaders themselves or from those who have direct or indirect influence with them.

What’s a Leaders Role?

If you ask leaders what they think that their role is, you are likely to receive a host of very different and even complex answers.

And although leadership is generally regarded by many as setting the strategic direction of group or organisation, there is another often-overlooked component that is one of the hallmarks of truly effective leadership.

This is something called “succession planning.”

Succession planning is an element of leadership that eludes a great number of organisations, both large and small. And is often only considered when someone is about to leave an organisation.

This happens whether or not it is a job that the person in question has been doing for some time.

So Somebody Leaves…

When somebody important leaves their position at most organizations, oftentimes the panic button is pressed and something of a scramble ensues to see who can fill the shoes of the incumbent. There is seldom any long-term thought or planning that precedes this hive of reactive activity.

There is no prudent and carefully thought-out change management plan that seeks to make the transition from “what was” to “what is” as seamless as possible.

This is true whether it be for the people within the organisation, or other important people outside of the organization.

Often, there is no one being mindful to inform partnership agencies or clients who would benefit from knowing that their preferred or hitherto single point-of-contact within that organisation is about to move on to new pastures.  And little assurance is ever given as well to the fact that they will soon be contacted by their highly trained and equally capable replacement.

The Sad Reality

Such things are rarely mentioned in some organisations. The preferred method of managing such departures seems to be that of the “suck-it-and-see” approach or the all too common “fingers-crossed and hope for the best” method of administration.

  • How often have you worked for an organisation that has sought to identify its future leaders through a well structured and comprehensive ‘talent management programme’?
  • Whether it is through training, mentoring, coaching or continuous professional development.
  • Add to that the number of leaders who are comfortable with the idea of training their potential future replacement.

For most people it is likely that the answers to these questions are: no, and one or two at best.

It is certainly not the wholesale approach to leadership that an overwhelming number of organisations and or leaders share.

The Leadership Process

As previously stated, leadership is a multifaceted and multi-layered process, one that can produce tangible results if leaders choose to embrace a number fundamental truths.

One of which is that in order to establish a robust and consistent method of organisational development there needs to be a comprehensive and visible method of talent management, one that demonstrates the importance of succession planning and actively promotes the legacy of a well prepared and forward thinking organisation.


• What is succession planning?
• Identify some of the benefits that exist for an organisation that embraces succession planning?
• Why do effective leaders embrace succession planning?


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John Babb

John Babb is the author of “The Phoenix Leadership Programme”
He facilitates comprehensive and Bespoke Leadership Mentoring Programmes
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web

Image Sources: 2.bp.blogspot.com 


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