Symbols Express Meaning In Ways Words Cannot

The front of Beaver Stadium in Pennsylvania has a bare spot.

The spot was formerly the home of the Joe Paterno statue. The bronze image of a man who had coached a football program into a national powerhouse. The flattened, metal silhouettes of football players attached to the wall behind the statue removed as well.

The statue told a story of a man who led young men. It represented a piece of history for those who bled the blue-and-white of Penn State allegiance.

Yet as a different story came to light – a tale of corrupted power, cover-up, and unchallenged abuse – the statue came to mean something different as well.

Some might say, “it’s just a statue…it’s just a 900 pound piece of metal formed into the shape of a man.”

But we all know it’s more than metal – it’s a symbol. Symbols carry meaning. They carry the meaning we give them.

Who You Follow Influences Who Follows You

Leaders aren’t exempt from following.

In fact, the leader who says he or she isn’t following anything or anyone is a dangerous person.

Every person who fills a leadership position or role is a follower of something or someone. Every leader operates under some type of authority. This authority comes in a variety of forms.

It could be a boss.
It could be a culture.
It could be the rules.

3 Things Putting A Golf Ball Taught Me About Decision-Making

I spent four hours on the golf course yesterday with my son Mitch. He’s a funny guy (I told a story about him in yesterday’s post) and becoming a pretty good golfer.

Golf, like most sports, teaches principles that can be applied to other areas of life as well. You don’t have to be an avid golfer to learn and appreciate these principles. Personally, the little white ball is always teaching me how to deal with failure. As one golf pro told me, I’m much too close to my ball after I hit it.

In this post, I want to focus on three steps I take on the putting green which relate to decision-making. Putting is an art form. It’s all about making a good decision and then executing well on that decision. 

Forgiving May Be The Best Form Of Living (and Leading)

I haven’t read a lot of leadership articles that tackle the subject of forgiveness. Yet with all of the other leadership talk pointed at allowing people to fail, learning from one’s mistakes, and getting up one more time after you fall down…forgiveness has a huge role to play here.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”

Forgiveness is difficult. But just because it’s hard doesn’t take away from the fact that it is vitally necessary.

10 Reasons Why I Tweet

People often ask me why I tweet so often.

I love the potential and possibilities that exist within the social networking platform known as Twitter. It’s a cool tool if used effectively.

I joined Twitter in March, 2007. My first tweet simply said, “I just joined twitter…”

And nothing happened.

That might have been your experience as well following your first tweet.

Since then, I’ve found a lot of amazing people to follow. I’ve offered the Twitter world almost 10,000 tweets. I have developed relationships, friendships, and partnerships through Twitter.

Serving With An “Extra Mile” Motive

I think we would all agree that serving others is a good thing. In fact, it is a great thing.

Many companies will pride themselves on their excellent customer service. Entire philosophies of leadership have centered around the idea of the leader who serves those around her. There are countless ways one can offer service to both community and country.

But not all service is created equal. What I mean is, the effect of one’s service is often influenced by the motive of one’s service. For example, deciding to adopt a highway and keeping that part of the road clean originates from a different place than being put on a highway clean up crew and wearing the orange vest because I committed a crime.

Both scenarios end with a clean highway, but the motive of one’s service is different. And very often, the attitude and perspective of the one serving is different as well.

8 Ways To Measure Your Leadership Effectiveness

I am taking a break from writing for a few days to strategize for the second half of 2012 and for a speaking engagement in Southern California. While I’m away, I’m re-posting some of my most popular posts from the last year. I hope you enjoy reading or re-reading these posts. I’ll be back and better than ever on July 16, 2012!

Leadership requires a balance between an awareness of one’s self and others. If a leader is too focused on self, he or she is labeled egocentric. But if all of the attention is placed on others, a leader can quickly become unhealthy and unaware of his or her own personal pitfalls.

It’s a skill that considers the “me” and the “they” in an effort to create an “us” that’s moving in a specific direction, toward a certain goal.

Balance is something that takes hard work to capture and then more hard work to maintain. It requires constant correction. The trick is finding out what types of outcomes need correcting.

While it’s difficult to measure things like intent and motive, we can measure behavior. I suggest that one of the ways we can do this is by beginning with the end in mind. Let’s identify certain outcomes, in this case, leadership outcomes that relate to effectiveness.

10 Communication Myths We Thought Were True

I am taking a break from writing for a few days to strategize for the second half of 2012 and for a speaking engagement in Southern California. While I’m away, I’m re-posting some of my most popular posts from the last year. I hope you enjoy reading or re-reading these posts. I’ll be back and better than ever on July 16, 2012!

You can improve your ability to communicate. You can get better at it. Oftentimes, you don’t even have to learn something new. By simply unlearning false assumptions and common misconceptions, you will notice that your communication style becomes more effective.

At some point, each of us has probably thought that one of the following 10 myths would make us a better communicator.

1. We thought that we could take someone else’s message and simply pass it on.

This is like learning to paint by numbers. The true artist paints from an inborn passion about what s/he sees. When we paint by numbers, we attempt to copy someone else’s passion. If we want people to truly hear our message, it must be communicated with passion and belief.