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A Recipe for Leaders

What makes a positive work experience? First and foremost the work needs to be
fulfilling by bringing a sense of accomplishment. The environment needs to be one that brings out the best both personally and professionally.  So how does that happen? 

It doesn’t matter if you are a CEO or a Janitor; everyone wants to be respected not for their position or title, but a person with something to offer and feelings. 

As human beings, we have a need to feel cared for and that does not stop when we go to work. Care means taking an interest in employees as whole people, not just a means to an end. 

Everyone wants recognition for their contribution; just not in the same way. Recognition in and of itself is not enough, it needs to be personal and meaningful. 

We all want to feel like we are valued. Respect, care, and recognition are building blocks of feeling valued. This also sets the stage for creating a positive work experience.   

When we are part of a team we feel we are part of something bigger than ourselves. True teamwork is each person being able to contribute to the greater good and supporting the rest of the players. 

Leaders don’t create inspiration, they foster it and support an environment where it will take hold and grow. They do this by setting the example of respect, care, recognition, value, and teamwork and by holding others accountable.

The adage that when you take care of your employees they, in turn, take care of your customers is true and it starts with those at the top setting the example. A positive work experience is a culmination of many things that takes work, dedication and intention and the ingredients are like a recipe, everything must be present for it to turn out.




[Definition: the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.]

Today more than ever there is an accountability crisis in the world. We see leaders of all kinds deflecting responsibility, making excuses and placing blame when things go wrong or they themselves fail. We have come to accept this instead of challenging and expecting more of leaders. It must be understood that leadership is a privilege that is earned, not a right, and it comes with great responsibility.

When it comes to leadership of any kind, accountability is essential. Leaders must not only take responsibility for their words and actions, but also the words and actions of those who they lead. There must be communication, direction, and follow-up. This includes recognition and praise as well as guidance, problem solving and correction when problems arise.

Accountability means standing by those you lead, not in front or behind them. Extraordinary leaders see others as partners, not subordinates and expect them to not only hold themselves accountable, but hold the leader accountable as well. 




Being a boss is not the same as being a leader. While both share a set of responsibilities, there is a world of difference between the attributes that set the true leader apart from his or her counterpart, the boss.

Let’s take humility.

As defined by Webster’s humility is: freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble

For leaders, this means not thinking they are the most important person in the room. They understand that their success is dependent on those they lead, not themselves, and as a result, they let those around them take credit, and they praise them. Leaders know they don’t have all the answers and have the sense of confidence to openly admit it. They surround themselves with others who have the knowledge and skills they don’t and they entrust them to do their jobs without interference.

The pride they do have is in the accomplishments of those they serve and the collective whole versus their own contributions and achievements. Their humility comes from knowing that when others have success and achievement they have it as well. And when things go wrong, or mistakes are made they accept the fallibility of individuals and situations with an attitude of ownership and support.Humility allows the leader to rise and in turn, those around them rise as well.  




Today, a co-worker shared with me a note she sent my boss and it touched me so deeply that I want to share it with you. 

"I know you are a very busy person and I will try to keep this short. I want to send a positive story your way about Anthony Eaton, Manager Service Delivery.

Without going into great detail, my husband recently passed away and my boss allowed me to work from home the last few weeks of his life. Rewind to November when Anthony Eaton asked if I would like for him to share his “Quote of the Day”. I said “YES”, because my husband was so ill and I loved getting anything that kept my thoughts off of negative situations and on to encouraging thoughts. Fast forward to end of January, when I was working from home and I was still receiving the “Quote of the Day”. Anthony’s emails helped me get through the tough days.

On February 6, 2018, almost two weeks before my husband passed, Anthony sent a quote from Jane Goodall – “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”. That was my wake-up call that yes I was saddened by my husband having a short time left and I wanted to make a peaceful difference in my husband’s life.

I spoke to my husband with a smile on my face, sharing with him how much I loved him. I let him know that soon he would be out of pain and would be with other family members that loved him very much, such as his grand-daddy who taught him to build, his uncle who taught him to hunt and fish, his momma who taught him to be tough and my grandmother, who loved him for loving me. I encouraged everyone who came into our home to speak with my husband about the good he brought into their lives. They all did. Even our mail person came in to thank my husband for always being kind, for sharing tips on how to take care of his guns (my husband was a gunsmith among his many hobbies) and the young man said with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes, “Mr. Chamberlain, you be sure to tell my daddy hello when you see him and tell him I love him”. That afternoon my husband passed.

Now back to Anthony. Those stories may not have happened if it wasn’t for Anthony sharing his “Quote of the Day”. I also want you to know that in November he shared with me an article he wrote . I read it twice the day he sent it to me and then set a follow-up to read again in December. I then skipped a couple of months of reading it but read it today and set a follow-up to reading again the middle of April. I believe this article helped me with my employees while I was in and out of the office with my husband. It also helps me with my employees when life situations hit them hard.

There has been so much happening with our company over the last few years, that employees tend to side with the negative people with the negative thoughts and I am so thankful for Anthony Eaton coming to our company and working so diligently to send a positive message.I appreciate you taking the time to read this email."

Life is full of lessons if only we are willing to pay attention.The lesson here is that we never know the impact we have on someone's life. For me, this is an example of things coming full circle, because I needed a reminder that what I do matters.




We all make mistakes, it’s inevitable and leaders are no exception; after all, they are only human. Even so, there are some mistakes that certainly can and should be avoided. I interview leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds about leadership and here is how five of them answered this question.

What do you think is the biggest mistake any leader can make? 

Richard Shapiro: I think a leader makes a mistake when he/she doesn’t thank and appreciate the staff. Employees should be continually acknowledged. 

Scott Mabry: Well there are many potential pitfalls but I think one of the biggest mistakes I see leaders make over and over is trying to create dependent followers in order to maintain control and feed their ego. This is manifested in micromanagement, arrogance, power plays and
needing to be the smartest person in the room. 

Tim Paynter: Allowing one's ego to interfere with solid decisions.  Leadership is sometimes luck and fate, but one must always keep the greater good in mind. 

Tony R. Smith: Take credit for the work of an entire team.  A leader is just part of the picture of success.

Rick Mann: Failing to listen well. Failure in continuing to learn

These are by no means the only mistakes leaders should avoid, there are probably enough to fill a book, mine is Don’t Make Assumptions: Don’t assume your employees “know” things like how to perform work or what you want and expect.  Unless you have seen them successfully do something, they have confirmed understanding err on the side of assuming they may not. Far too often I hear leaders say they “expect” employees to know something that perhaps they don’t because they have never had the experience, opportunity or it was not made clear to them.



They may surprise you but not your employees

Gallup is one of the most trusted in the field of surveys and statistics, so it is no surprise that when it comes to leadership, they have the inside track. The following may not be a surprise to employees, but leaders should take note! 

•    Only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged
•    Only 21% of employees feel they’re managed in a motivated way
•    Only 29% of employees strongly agree their performance reviews are fair
•    Only 50% of employees know what is expected of them at work every day
•    Employees searching for new jobs or watching for openings 51%

So what does it mean? 

This statistic is worldwide, and for the U.S. the percentage of engaged employees is 33%, but what company would be proud of that?

Companies will always have disengaged employees for a wide variety of reason and engagement is not static, it is fluid. Who doesn’t feel more engaged one day over the next? 

Personal and organizational changes influence engagement. For example, as I write this today, in my current company I have had three different CEO’s and bosses in the last 18 months and everyone that was in my department when I started 22 months ago is gone. If that was an employee in your organization how engaged would they be? 

No punches pulled here. I believe motivation is found within but influenced externally. Out of sight is not out of mind when it comes to leading employees in a motivating way. Everyone wants to know how they are doing; good or bad. 

It is easy to point out what a person is doing wrong, and while accountability is important, it is so easy to de-motivate with critical feedback as opposed to using it as a learning opportunity to motivate for improved performance. 

Additionally, leaders need to be seen and engaged with employees on a regular basis. Again I will fall back to a personal experience of having a new CEO who came in with a great vision and during an initial all hands meeting said “…we will have these on a regular basis…” but then over the next  18 months, we were only graced with his presence once. 

Of course, this oversimplifies things considering the demands on a new leader who has to learn and understand how the new business he is responsible for works, but the lesson is that leaders set an expectation by what they say and then an example by what they do. 

Let’s not confuse understanding the organization or leaders expectations with knowing how to do one’s job and getting the day to day priorities done. What we are talking about here is vision, impact, measurable results and moving the proverbial needle. 

We all want to know what the end game is regarding what we are doing. Of course, some of that is simple when it comes to the day to day, i.e., pay invoices on time, make sure people get paid, vacancies get filled, etc. 

What employees want to know is, is that all that matters? Or do you want me to be looking for efficiencies, cost savings, perfection, etc. and the why. If the latter does not matter, just say so, because then it is clear that what is important is the function or transaction. Without the “clarification” employees are left to wonder if what they are doing is what is expected of them. 

The flaw here is that most leaders evaluate employees against vague, subjective goals but have little or no idea of what their employees do day in and day out. Couple this with the above-noted organization and leadership changes, and the fact that most companies don't train their leaders well in this area, it is impossible to fairly evaluate employees against the department goals, organizational

and their peers. 

I am neither a fan nor an advocate of the “Annual Performance Review.” I believe that if leaders have regular ongoing meetings with their employees that include discussion about expectations and performance, then there is no need for the “Annual Performance Review,” and thus there are never any 

For this to work, leaders must ensure that having “face time” with their direct reports is both a priority and a regular occurrence, i.e., no less than monthly. Monthly feedback gives leaders the opportunity to praise, provide direction and address any performance deficiencies. It also allows employees the opportunity to get clarification, share obstacle, roadblocks and ask for help while at the same time knowing where they stand about performance and expectations. 

Imagine half of your workforces looking for a new job; if that is not an eye opener, imagine half of your direct reports looking for a new job; in my case that it 2 or 3 employees. If you have not already heard it or read it, the number one reason employees leave is that of their manager. If they are looking, they are already not engaged.

The cost to organizations is enormous. Although a big part of the solution is noted above, simplified:

Know and understand the influencers of engagement and respond accordingly. This requires that you be engaged and present.

Be present, be engaged as a leader, and articulate the bigger picture and its value. Learn and understand what intrinsically and extrinsically motivates your employees.

Make sure employees know what is expected of them, be specific, and have them acknowledge understanding. Let them know what success looks like and what will happen if they don't meet expectations. 

Give feedback on a regular and consistent basis, more than “You’re doing a great job,” again, be specific. There should never be any surprises. 

If organizations are going to change those statistics, it is up to the leaders to not only take notice but take action.




Personal leadership requires that we not allow others to treat us with any less respect and dignity than they expect for themselves. It does not matter if we are in the boardroom or the living room; no one has the right to use us for their convenience to serve a personal agenda, build themselves up by tearing us down, take advantage of our kindness and generosity or expect that they are guaranteed space in our life based on their position or relationship with to us. 

We can accept and forgive while at the same time walking away from people and situations that do not support, add value to our lives and allow us to grow. Forgiveness, after all, is for us, not someone else When we allow situations to control us, let someone treat us as lesser or with irrelevance, we diminish our ability to be the person we are meant to be and we stunt our spiritual and emotional growth. 

Personal leadership requires courage to look deep within ourselves and recognize our worth and potential. Courage to let go of things that hold us back and hinder our growth; only then can we begin to achieve all that is meant for us. 

We must all take charge of our own lives and have the strength and courage not to relinquish control to others or allow ourselves to become a victim of situations that we find ourselves in. We cannot depend on others to validate our worth and fill those spaces within us or our lives that feel incomplete or empty. Everything we need is within us, and it is a just a matter of looking for it, finding it, and using it.  We must have faith that there 
is a plan and design for us and not let our progress be hindered by obstacles and perceived roadblocks we encounter.I hope that this is something that resonates with you, for me, these are all things I have to remind myself of on my journey.


[  "Let your words elevate your life to the heights of greatness.” ATGW  ]