Valuing Relationships and Results

The Challenge of Leading Your Peers

A while back I was speaking at an event and was asked the following question from one of the attenders.

“As a supervisor, how do I gain more authority when many us are the same age and have relationships outside of work.”

What a great question!

We can all relate to times when the lines between work and play become blurred, especially if we work with people we consider friends. 

Note: Maybe it’s just me, but why would you want to work with people you don’t consider friends? 

Assuming we can all get along, then how do we keep the boundaries clear between leader and follower? 

Here are four things to consider:

  1. Don’t be afraid to lead. If you hope to accomplish something great, it is going to require courage. If the leader is afraid of stepping on toes, the team is doomed from the start. 
  2. Think others first. Many times when we are concerned about establishing authority, it is an indicator we are thinking about what others can do for us. The best leaders think other’s first, seeking to add value to those they lead. In the end, servant leaders create a culture where team members gladly submit to authority. High performance teams are ones where followers recognize their leader cares for them as much as he does himself.
  3. Communicate with clarity. Many times people don’t live inside the boundaries because the boundaries haven’t been made clear. Don’t be afraid to talk about what is expected. When a person agrees on the expectations up front it is much easier to hold them accountable when standards are not met.
  4. Value relationships and results. Teams achieve more than individuals do. If you really want to maximize your potential, don’t underestimate the power of working together with people you love. While there is a mountain to climb, who you climb it with is of equal importance. Many leaders have made it to the top only to find themselves miserable because they failed to bring others along to share in the celebration. 

Accept the reality that lines of authority will always challenge teams. Your team can win the battle if you will lead with courage, humility, clarity, and love.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Do you find it challenging to balance relationships and results?

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When is the Last Time You Took a Field Trip?

Last week I joined a couple of close friends for a field trip to Boulder, Colorado. We spent the day learning from a startup company that helps creatives do what they do better. 

I left with my head spinning on many levels. As a speaker and coach who spends most of my time encouraging leaders and organizations toward high performance, I was grateful to have the chance to be the one taking the notes. 

Field Trip 1

The day reminded me of the importance of field trips. When I was a kid in school the field trips were my favorite days of the year. While most of the fun was missing class, I actually learned a thing or two when we left the routine of the classroom. As a leader it is easy to fall into the rut of the routine. 

For me, I’m glad I took time away from the norm and flew across the country. The field trip forced me to do three things. 

1. Think – The leaders in the room last week were thought leaders. Their intelligence was on full display, and honestly, at times I struggled to keep up. I spent most of the day listening. On the plane ride home I found myself thinking in new ways. Scalable ways. Simple ways. I realized I don’t spend enough time thinking. 

In a blogpost on thinking, My friend Mark Miller wrote, “Leaders are not generally paid for the work of their hands as much as they are for the work of their heads.”

Do you spend too much time working in the business rather than on the business. Leaders who invest time on the task of thinking create a tremendous competitive advantage.

I challenge you to carve out time to consistently think. A field trip can jump start your brain. It worked for me.

2. Question – I was fascinated by the processes of the startup. They clearly have also spent time thinking. Their thinking has led to simplicity and simplicity has become a filter to attack complexity.

Field Trip 2Seeing their systems and processes made me question my own systems and processes. When I started my company the goal was to survive. Now that I have been at it for a while survival is no longer the target. I now hope to thrive. This will not happen and my business will not scale unless I continually work on my infrastructure. Making the visit out West helped me surface several questions that I am confident will force me to refine moving forward.

Are you using a simple strategic process to help you win in today’s competitive world of craziness? If you want to put yourself in question mode, go look at how others are doing things.

3. Learn – My thinking and questioning led to learning, which was ultimately the goal of the trip. I was different when I left than I was when I walked in. I gained a greater appreciation for the link between technology and transformation. And on a side note, I discovered Boulder, Colorado is worth another visit. 

Anytime we travel we open ourselves up to all sorts of learning possibilities. When is the last time you learned something new that forced you to change the way you work? I’m guessing it was the last time you removed yourself from your daily routine.

Thinking, questioning, and learning are all vital for a high performance leader. If today finds you lacking intentionality in any of the three, I suggest you take a field trip. It will make you a better leader.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Can you think of a place you visited as a leader in hopes of learning? What was the result of your visit?

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Your Problem Solvers Might Just Save the Day

One of my favorite things I do throughout the year is spend time with the Pittsburgh Pirates MLB Club encouraging the coaches and players. Every time I am with the team I feel like I receive more value than I add. Yesterday was such a day.

I had the chance to hang out with the Buccos and attend a game at PNC Park in the Steel City. What a game! The good guys Raised the Jolly Roger and sent the first place Nationals packing in a thrilling 3-1 victory.

Pirates ace, Gerrit Cole became the first pitcher in baseball to win 14 games this year, but it was not without excitement. In the top of the eight inning, on a hot day, Cole ran into trouble when a couple of Nats reached base. With two outs and the game on the line, Bryce Harper, the NL leader in home runs came to the plate representing the potential winning run.

Thankfully, the Pirates have a structure to solve problems. It is called a bullpen. After a meeting on the mound, Bucs skipper Clint Hurdle called on reliever Tony Watson and a few pitches later the fire was out and so was Harper.


The bullpen is one way baseball teams are prepared to handle a crisis. The relief pitchers represent their problem solvers.

When you look at your organization do you have a structure in place to solve problems? High performance organizations expect the unexpected. They resist the temptation to ignore difficulties. 

Someone once told me there are two types of leaders … goal setters and problem solvers. If that is true, it would be a mistake to undervalue the problem solvers on your team. As you approach this week, I encourage you to identify 3-4 problems you are currently facing and then mobilize and unleash your bullpen. Rather than looking down on them for not being goal setters, recognize their value to your organization.

Remember, the next time you find yourself in trouble your problem solvers might just save the day.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What structure do you have in place to solve problems?

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The Lesson of the Learning Curve

A couple of summers ago our family had the opportunity to visit China. On the first day of our trip I found myself in trouble.

We sat down to have our first meal in the country and the waiter handed me a pack of chopsticks. Uh-oh!

I was horrible. The first week I lost about five pounds. Not because the food was bad. It was because I was a disaster with the sticks.

There was no turning back, though. No forks in sight. It was sink (starve) or swim time.

After a week, I began to get the hang of them. After two weeks, I was showing signs. By the end of the trip, they were suggesting that I take on an Asian name.

Using chopsticks three times a day for three weeks reminded me that proficiency is available in almost any discipline … but discipline is required.

Any time you try something new, there definitely is a learning curve. Unfortunately, the curve is when most people give up. For some reason we all like straight roads more than the crooked ones. May I remind you, the best places are at the end of crooked roads … places where the view is worth the effort to get there.

On the last night of our trip I attended a cookout with our team members and a group of Chinese high school students. The meal was grilled chicken and baked beans. It was the first western meal I had eaten in a couple of weeks.

I found myself sitting by a young boy from China, both of our plates loaded down, but with one noticeable difference. In his hand was a shiny American fork, and in mine was a set of old wooden chopsticks.

In that moment I was proud of us both. For we both had mastered the challenging “lesson of the learning curve.”

I hope you have too.

Leadership Begins at Home,


When was the last time you tried something new?

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