Leadership Trevolution Blog

Blog Entries by Tag: Self Leadership

Self: The Greatest Leadership Challenge

Published on: Feb 28, 2013 | Tags: Leadership, Leadership Development, Trevolutinary Leadership, Self Leadership

Having grown up on a dairy farm, I had early experience with “stuckness.” I have stuck tractors and trucks of various sizes on many occasions. I even have friends from that time who still accuse me of getting them stuck. I do not believe their perspective on those past events is accurate, yet they persist.Stuck

 Being stuck was no fun because it usually entailed a long walk for help, additional resources like a bigger truck or tractor to pull us out, loss of time, and at times money. You did, however, know you were stuck and how to get out of the mud.

 While you may not have the kind of experience I had on the dairy farm with “stuckness,” everyone has been stuck in life. In life, stuckness is not always as easy to recognize, nor is clarity regarding what it takes to get moving again.

 Some indicators of being stuck in life may include: 

  • Lack of Direction – When a person lacks direction in life, decisions are more difficult. Without a clearly defined future, any path will do and any future must be acceptable. Living life in this manner involves risk. By the time you recognize you do not want to be where you are, it is too late to change it. 
  • Lack of Meaning – When activities and relationships have little or no meaning life becomes mundane and common. If what one does day to day does not matter, then what does? Research shows that having a sense of purpose in work and life is important to people. 
  • Stress and Weariness – Life takes a lot of work, but when one works at life in a manner that does not provide a fulfilling return on the investment it can be wearying.  Whether at work, as family, or as a volunteer, being drained by relationships and responsibilities is unhealthy.   

I did not like getting stuck on the farm, but I really don’t like being stuck in life. Beyond that, I do not like to see others stuck in life. My work on the Trevolutionary LeadershipTM System: Self Leadership allows me to equip people to keep moving in life.

 For instance in the course participants: 

  • Develop a personal vision statement, representing a future that is better than today, even when today is meaningful.
  • Discover a mission that clarifies who you are, why you exist, and the difference you will make if you achieve success.
  • Learn to live a balanced life, which includes making sure personal needs are met as you fulfill responsibilities and meet the needs of others. 

Those who have completed our Self Leadership Course describe it as transformational. People who completed it almost a decade ago still comment on how it continues to serve them. 

 As a result of interest expressed by many individuals, we will be offering the Trevolutionary Leadership System: Self Leadership Course this spring in the Austin, Texas area. If you would like information on how to participate, click here or call us.

Leadership is Tricky

Published on: Jan 21, 2013 | Tags: Leadership, Leadership Development, Team Leadership, Self Leadership, Productivity

Captain AMy four and a half year old grandson went out on the sailboat with his dad and me this weekend. There was no wind to speak of, so we motored around a bit with my grandson at the helm. I think you would agree he is a great helmsman if you had seen him. I am convinced he is a natural, and I am fairly certain this is not Skipper’s (that is what he calls me) bias. He was able to hold a heading, avoid running aground, and obey the warning buoys. He even let out a “Land ho!” a few times. A true sailor!

When he was ready to return to the marina, he pointed the boat in that direction. After a moment, he turned to me and said, “Skipper, this looks tricky, I think you had better do it.” Amazing perceptivity for a four and a half year old, I think. It is tricky to bring a boat into its slip in a marina. There are many factors that must be considered and he was aware that he needed more experience to be successful. Do you ever feel that way as a leader?

 I have been working with leaders for over a decade, developing resources that result in skill development. I have trained, coached, written, and consulted with many developing leaders, and I believe most of them recognized that leadership is tricky. It is so tricky that a few months ago, I was asked my definition of leadership and I replied I could not provide a succinct definition. I had definitions of self-leadership, team leadership, and organizational leadership, but not a general definition that encompassed all three. These three definitions are the basis of what I have called the Trimergent Leadership® System.

 Last year I began a review of the science behind our content and approach to leadership development. In that review, I was able to write a succinct definition of Trevolutionary LeadershipTM that people will be able to apply practically to self, workgroup, and organization. It brings clarity of practice to leaders. This effective leadership practice will revolutionize the way leaders lead, improving work performance. We are introducing our new leadership system, the Trevolutionary LeadershipTM System, this year. The new system builds on the previous one with greater clarity, a renewed focus on skill development, and a continued commitment to new science that supports new practices so leaders will no longer have to rely on the historical practices of scientific management.

 Leadership is tricky, but with competence developed over time and through practice, it can be mastered. We are committed to developing people who lead with concepts, knowledge, and skills that yield results personally, in workgroups, and in organizations. If you are finding leadership tricky, and would like more information on how we can revolutionize your leadership practices please contact me at clint@jclintanderson.com.


A Leader’s Self-Investment

Published on: Sep 24, 2012 | Tags: Accountability, Self Leadership, Productivity, Management, Team Leadership

Creativity PostIn a recent article on The Creativity Post, Elizabeth Grace Saunders encouraged us to put ourself first. I completely agree with her. Balancing personal needs with the needs of others ensures that one succeeds over the long term. 

I am writing this blog sitting in my small sailboat on Lake Travis in Austin Texas. I am not here because I deserve to enjoy my passion. I am here because a simple drive and investment in me results in higher productivity and creativity that I hope benefits you. 

As a leader, you must invest in yourself. There are many ways to do that depending on how much time you have and what interests you. If you do not develop your capacity to lead and improve your skills, it is those you lead that will suffer not you. 

There are many options for you to invest in yourself as a leader to ensure your success and the success of those in your life. Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Reading Books, Blogs, Articles (thanks for reading this one!)
  • Reflection
  • Observation of Effective Leaders’ Behavior
  • Peer Learning Groups
  • Professional Development Courses
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring Relationships
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Webinars
  • Assessments
  • Advanced Degrees 

Our mission to Revolutionize the Way People Work Together guides us to invest in leaders who are successful and investing in greater success. If you cannot find time to invest in yourself, you will eventually hit the ceiling of your current skill level as a leader. Beyond that, you may be living with challenges and frustrations that you believe are intractable. What will happen if you take some of the time you spend constantly addressing the same problems to develop the leadership capacity to solve them? 

We are offering you an opportunity invest one hour in yourself this week. If you are spending time addressing these challenges then it may be a great investment for you. 

  • Low Accountability
  • Employees Who fail to Take Ownership
  • Difficult Feedback Sessions
  • Credibility as a Leader

Our webinar entitled, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability is designed to provide insight that develops leadership capacity to address these challenges.

It is true that many managers find the practice of holding employees accountable difficult. At the same time, they resist empowering those employees to make decisions and take action, limiting performance.

There is a connection between the ability to hold an employee accountable and the willingness to empower that employee for performance and goal achievement. This webinar provides participants with methods that make accountability a positive experience for both the manager and employee. 

The opportunity to invest in yourself is this Friday, September 28 from 1 to 2 pm Central Time. If you have an hour to invest sign up here.

Do you know this secret to employee motivation?

Published on: Aug 13, 2012 | Tags: Self Leadership, Productivity, Empowerment, Employee Motivation

Standing in a corridor responding to an email, a gentleman walked by and engaged me in a brief conversation. At the end of the conversation, he told me that if I wanted the best shoeshine I have ever had, stop by his stand in the shop down the hall. Since, until that day, I am the only one who had shined my shoes it was not hard to imagine that his might be the best shoeshine I had ever experienced. Shoe Shine

I went into the shop for the shoeshine, not because I thought I needed one. I liked the gentleman. As he shined my shoes, we talked. He has shined shoes for 40 years, but is working on a college degree. His was an interesting story. At some point in the conversation, I asked him why he shines shoes. He said, “Because I love to shine shoes, that is why I am so good at it.” Talk about motivation at work. 

I think he is on to something, don’t you? Love what you do and you will become good at it. That has implications for motivation. 

As a leader, you desire those you lead to perform at high levels. They need to be focused and very productive. Leaders spend significant energy ensuring this occurs, struggling with employee motivation and accountability when it does not. 

Have you ever had to hold someone accountable who loves what they do? I haven’t. There is no need for motivating employees in this scenario. 

I was inspired to make sure I do what I love and love what I do that day. No one has had to motivate me or hold me accountable for that. 

Here are four tips that will position you, as a leader, to enjoy the benefit of team members who love what they do. 

Hire Them - 

When you are interviewing people you will lead, ask them what they love to do. Make sure that at least some significant portion of their job is work they love to do. 

Watch Them – 

You can see the intensity, passion, and engagement that a person experiences when they love what they do. Many times, after a presentation, someone will express appreciation. I respond, “Thank you for letting me do what I love to do.”  They tell me that it is obvious as they watch me. 

Listen to Them – 

Listen to what those you lead say about their work when not asked. Positive expressions made to customers, co-workers, suppliers, partners, or you provide insight. When you hear them, provide that person more opportunity to do what he or she loves to do. 

Ask them - 

If all else fails, ask them. You may raise a person’s own recognition of what he or she loves to do. By the way, it is a great question to ask yourself. 

I have to admit, I can’t imagine loving many jobs that must be done (including shining shoes). I have also observed people who love to do most of those jobs. 

You may not understand why a person you lead loves his or her job. That is ok. You don’t have to understand it to ensure both that person and you, as his or her leader, benefit. 

What do you love about your work? Let me know in the comments below.


Published on: Jul 10, 2012 | Tags: General, Team Leadership, Management, Organizational Leadership, Productivity, Self Leadership

Self AccountabilityIn a recent course, we discussed discipline and self-discipline. When some heard the word discipline, they assumed it included self-discipline. We spent some time differentiating the two. In some cases, the differentiation is not very important, but in the context of our discussion, it was very important. We defined discipline as that which is imposed on us by someone who has the authority to assign consequences if we fail to respond. Self-discipline is that which we impose on our self. The discussion ended with all preferring to practice self-discipline, avoiding discipline by another. It seems to me the same logic applies to accountability. 

Typically, when a leader thinks about accountability, it relates to potential discipline that he or she may impose on another. While some leaders do not relish this responsibility, most recognize it is part of leadership. If there is no accountability, the quantity or quality of work suffers. Traditionally, those who hold others accountable rely on position and authority to exert accountability. 

It is possible for people to hold themselves accountable. We know this, but one might question whether this can become the primary approach to accountability in an organization.  It can if leaders use position and authority differently. A leader uses his or her position and authority to situate followers for self-accountability. To accomplish this, the leader must be intentional with every step he or she takes in developing the leader-follower relationship. 

Consider the potential of people being accountable to self for the results of their work, and their impact on co-workers. 

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Teamwork
  • Goal Achievement
  • Engagement
  • Personal Success
  • Ownership

 Ultimately, a person with a greater sense of personal accountability benefits an organization as well. 

  • Improved productivity
  • Connection to the team and company
  • Commitment
  • Long term employment
  • Higher level of contribution
  • Positive culture 

This is a “win-win” scenario! I can easily see that barriers to self-accountability are well worth overcoming. The question is how to lead in a manner that people begin to practice self-accountability.  Four primary barriers you can anticipate include: 

  1. History – Leaders and followers have history to overcome. This shared history has resulted in established behavioral patterns that are accepted and comfortable. Even though they do not represent the most effective concepts and practices for creating self-accountability, they are well established
  2. Organizational Resources – I have heard many leaders express frustration over resource limitations. The perception of inadequate resources should not limit self-accountability. Organizational leaders must design an organization with clear direction, clear expectations for leaders and followers, and leadership that knows how to develop people.
  3. Management Style – While many leaders would celebrate people on their team whose first level of accountability is self, they are not sure how to lead them there. Even though leaders know that present approaches to managing people are not working, they continue to practice them. When one is not aware of alternative concepts and practices, that person continues to do what they have done. The basic assumption is that he or she has to live with the results they currently experience.
  4. Change – Organizational, group, and individual change continues to be a hot topic. Even with all of the talk of change, most of us don’t like it. This is particularly true when we are not sure what will change, how to change, and where the change will lead. When a person has not possessed a sense of self-accountability, that expectation is a big change. A change avoided at all costs by many. 

The benefits of self-accountability far outweigh the barriers to its practice. Our upcoming, complimentary webinar Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability will introduce you to an approach to accountability that overcomes these barriers. You can participate on Wednesday, July 25 from 11 am to 12 pm by signing up here.

The Power of Diversity

Published on: May 14, 2012 | Tags: General, Team Work, Team Leadership, Self Leadership, Weakness, Strength, Productivity

The workplace grows increasingly diverse. I define diversity as anything that makes one person different from another. By this definition, some personal characteristics make identifying how we are different from those we work with easy. At the same time, there are more subtle differences. These can be overlooked or ignored. A leader who aspires to bring people together and achieve optimum levels of performance needs the skill to leverage this diversity. 

In some cases, managers either intentionally or unintentionally attempt to move people to conformity. This is essentially an attempt to make everyone the same. I understand this desire as it appears to the manager that her job will be easier if everyone acts and thinks the same way. If this is your expectation as a leader, how realistic is it? The energy expended attempting to get people to act as you want them to act and the frustration you experience when it does not happen can be better spent. 

Diversity presents the integration and differentiation challenge. Your team has to be integrated enough to work together and fit into the organization while differentiated enough to bring individual resources derived from personal uniqueness to the team. Teams that achieve this balance share three characteristics. Diversity

  • Each person understands self in order to contribute out of strengths and manage weaknesses. 

When a person contributes from self-understanding, there is less temptation to let another person define individual contribution. As people understand and lead self well each one fits into the team without losing personal high potential or hindering team productivity. Everyone complements others with confidence in what each one can and cannot contribute to the team.  The expectation is that everyone contributes out of personal strengths and weaknesses. 

  • Acceptance and appreciation of self and others expressed as openness and mutual support. 

Failure to accept and appreciate self and others generates judgment, criticism, relational distance, and misunderstanding. This becomes a negative diversity experience. At best, independence limits group productivity. At worst, everyone lives in constant turbulence.  Alternatively, when everyone accepts what others bring to the group with openness and mutual support, one person’s strengths cover another’s weaknesses. This is diversity’s power. 

  • Collaborative interactions evidenced in collective outcomes. 

Diversity’s power results in collective outcomes. The ability to collaborate derived from acceptance and appreciation engages every resource each person possesses. In the end, the team’s productivity improves as each person’s best synergistically produces what the individuals cannot. Personal achievement excels as well when each person contributes from her strengths. 

Some managers may believe it easier to make everyone the same. Great amounts of energy have been expended to this end. The problem with this approach: it goes against nature. Do we really believe it is easy to make someone become who he is not? It is easier to position a person to be who she is with the expectation of openness and support of others. There will be some turbulence as acceptance is sorted out, but it diminishes in time. Attempting to make people who they are not for conformity’s sake perpetuates turbulence.

How Personalities Connect in a Team or Not

Published on: Apr 09, 2012 | Tags: General, Team Work, Personality, Self Leadership

PersonalityThe discovery that I am mildly introverted was a defining point in my life. The revelation occurred when, as a young professional, I participated in a workshop on personality. Upon completion of the assessment, I reviewed the feedback report, when I was sure I had someone else’s results. 

The description of an extrovert did not reflect what I knew about myself, yet it was my result. I learned that day that I was an introvert living as an extrovert based on what I believed others expected of me. This discovery explained my stress, weariness, and lack of motivation. Accepting my introversion and learning to be effective out of who I am was a transformational experience. 

Because of that experience, introversion and personality became a topic of great interest to me. The more I learned about personality the more important it became in my personal growth and development as well as my ability to work well with others. While there are other factors that influence actions and interactions, there is no question personality is one of the primary behavioral influences in a person’s life. 

There are many assessments that help individuals and groups understand personality. I developed the Team Style Profile to go beyond individual behavioral tendencies by clarifying how individual conduct converges into group patterns. The assessment results in a list of strengths and weaknesses that are specific to that team. I discuss the positive potential of personality for your team’s culture in my article, Four Ways to Create a Positive Team Culture on Young Upstarts web site. Young Upstart

Whether assessing a team or individual, interpreting a personality assessment should be done with three key perspectives in mind. 

  1. Your personality is neutral. Every personality has strengths and weaknesses. Every one. This is true no matter which assessment you use. One personality style is no better or worse than any other, only different. You should not wish for someone else’s personality because you will have to accept its weaknesses to enjoy its strengths. 
  2. Context influences your personality. You may find yourself acting differently in some situations. You make behavioral choices based on many factors, and at times, there may be influences on you that are greater than your personality.
  3. How you deploy yourself determines your effectiveness.  Make sure you control the impact of your personality on self and others. Because your personality is neutral and influenced by context, make sure you are determining its influence on your behavior. Your personality becomes subject to your self-leadership as you understand and accept it. 

Many people I work with have taken personality assessments and found them interesting. After that, they put them on a shelf and forgot about them until someone mentions personality assessments. Then they say something like, “Oh yeah, I took one of those, but I forget which one it was.” I hope that is not you.

Leading Self: A Case Study

Published on: Mar 12, 2012 | Tags: General, Personality, Trimergent, Self Leadership, Productivity, Mission, Vision, Communication

Many professionals struggle with a lack of clarity and direction in their career. This has a direct impact on life direction as well. We share a common desire to experience purpose, passion, and reward for our work. One young professional found herself in just such a position.

She works for a large healthcare organization in Central Texas that represents many professional opportunities yet, as with most large organizations, can be challenging to navigate in terms of career path. As she sought clarity on the direction of her life and career, she decided to participate in the Trimergent Leadership® System Leading Self course. She said, “I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do career-wise.”


Her participation resulted in a personal mission and vision that were supported by her core values. She also developed a clear understanding of her personality as well as her passions. These, plus the identification of her strengths and weaknesses, positioned her to be true to self.  

“It is definitely a challenge,” she said, “It’s one of those things where you have to be willing to take an honest look at yourself, who you are. It’s extremely powerful. It was extremely eye opening and freeing.” The focus she gained through the Leading Self experience allowed her to know both who she is and who she is not.

The next step was to apply her experience on a day-to-day basis. She developed this ability as she practiced improved communication skills, life management and life balance. “Throughout Leading Self, I learned a lot about timing, being patient and really learning to voice who you are and being okay with that,” she reflected.

Once the course was completed, she possessed clarity and direction. “I was offered a couple of jobs during that time that were just a little outside my most suitable place to work,” she said, “They were things that, over time, would have really drained me. I don’t think that I would have had the awareness to recognize that without Leading Self. I actually turned those offers down.”

In the current economic climate, turning down good job offers is a very bold move. This surprised the people interviewing her and led to another meeting.

“They called me in and said ‘Those were nice offers, why did you turn them down?’” she recounted with a smile. “I was able to be open and honest and tell them why and additionally what I would enjoy doing, and they found a position to meet me where I was. It was pretty incredible that I got to have a hand in finding something I would really enjoy. That all came out of Leading Self.” In addition, she received a significant salary increase.

She credits discovering who she is designed to be to the Leading Self experience. “I’m able to be more of the person I desire to be in more areas of my life,” she said.

 Trimergent Leadership® System Leading Self is available for groups in a 5 day or 10 day format. Individuals can experience it in an 8 session coaching format.


Starting 2012 with Purpose at Work

Published on: Jan 03, 2012 | Tags: General, Productivity, Self Leadership, Team Work

I was working with a group on some of the challenges they faced in leading self well at work and asked them to list activities that they do which are demotivating, monotonous, uninspiring, or boring. Every person has work responsibilities that fall in this category. These are usually the ones that we ignore, dread, and put off until they have to be done. They are approached with low motivation and done to meet the basic requirements that someone has placed on you. The reason I asked the group to list them is to determine if there was a way to bring meaning to the dreaded tasks. As we discussed the list, one person in the group said that he hated one of his responsibilities was because there was no purpose in it. Perhaps that is why we dread these types of tasks. I know that meaningless tasks do not engage me. How about you?

 Recent research by the Corporate Executive Board quoted in a story by Forbes writer Meghan Casserly listed the number one driver for employee retention as job-interest alignment.  This is no surprise. You want to do work that is interesting to you. But will every part of your work ever be interesting to you? Probably not, and if not, what are you going to do about it. If you are fortunate the portion of your work that disinterests you is minimal. If not you may consider your job mundane and monotonous. Yet even if it is a lesser percentage of your responsibility, you may still avoid it and put it off like a trip to the dentist. One common practice is to play the victim and blame it on management or the company for expecting you to do something that you don’t like. You might succumb to the reality of uninspiring job responsibilities by believing this is how it is and just accept it.

While it is true a good leader will work with you to align your interest and job, whose responsibility is it to make your work interesting to you? When you assume this responsibility you take the first step in making 2012 different from previous years. The idea is to find purpose in tasks that have historically fallen into the “I don’t like to do this” category of work. While purpose may not equal enjoyment it can bring meaning to the work, resulting in a higher level of fulfillment for completing it. Ask these three questions about any such task or responsibility:

 1.      Why is this task important? - As we discussed the lack of importance for the task described by the person in the group previously mentioned, he did not seeany value in completing the responsibility. As we talked about the reason it was done, he discovered that the result of the task was not important to him, but it wasimportant to others and the company.

2.      Who benefits when the task is done well?  - When you struggle with jobs you don’t like who are you focused on?  You may find purpose in recognizing itdoes make a difference for others. You might consider asking them if you can do the job in a way that will create even greater benefit to them

3.      What difference will the well done task make over time? – You may take a short term view of those job responsibilities you don’t enjoy. Consider thedifference the results you are generating make over time. You may find that tasks you don’t enjoy have impacts over time that are bigger than you previouslyrealized and therefore become more purposeful for you.

 As your recognize the importance of the task and its benefit to others you may find yourself more engaged and motivated, as well as seeing yourself as a greater contributor to others and the company. The result can be the discovery of more purpose in your work for 2012. I hope you have a great year!

Sitting in Santa’s Lap

Published on: Dec 20, 2011 | Tags: General, Productivity, Self Leadership, Goals, Decision Making

We made the annual trip with our grandson to see Santa this week. He is three and a half years old and really fascinated with Santa from a distance. There was much debate about the outcome of the endeavor. Last year was more of a wrestling match with mom near Santa than sitting in his lap and talking with him about desired Christmas gifts. As we waited for Santa Claus to arrive there was much anticipation and when he walked up our grandson was obviously very taken with him – from a distance. This year he was much more aware of the need to talk with Santa to ensure receipt of the desired bounty on Christmas morning, but as we stood in line he was adamant saying “I don’t want to talk to him.” He was a little scared of Santa. He also wanted Santa to know what he wanted for Christmas.

Leadership begins with self. We all experience times when there is something we need or want but there is risk in pursuing it. It can be either an opportunity or a responsibility with clear potential benefits. Being an adult does not remove the human desire to avoid that which we anticipate will be unpleasant, or beyond that risky. It is true that levels of risk and the unpleasant are different for each of us, but at some point we all face both. It can be in professional or personal life, but it will occur. When those times arise we have to make a choice. Will we remain in perceived safety and ignore either the opportunity or the responsibility because we will not face the avoidance that is within us, or will we lead our self through the internal challenges?

 The greatest leadership challenge is leading me well. As 2011 ends, we consider all the potential 2012 holds. The expression I hear to describe its potential is uncertainty. Uncertainty does not engender confidence in decision making for most of us, but decisions will be made. At some level most decisions begin with determining what we as individuals will or will not do. Where will our decisions take us if fear and avoidance are their primary drivers? Our grandson did sit on Santa’s lap much to our surprise. He seemed pleased with himself after he had. That may not seem like a big deal to us as adults, but I watched him lead himself through the internal resistance he faced with the support of those around him and enjoy the result. It was a great reminder of the joy found in accomplishment. What results will you enjoy because you lead yourself well in 2012?

Sitting in Santa's Lap

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