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7 Signs You May Be Working For A Justifying Leader

justifyThere are many different types of leaders out there. Many are leaders in title and position only, as their style and process is anything but leadership. One of those leader/position types is something I refer to as “The Justifying Leader.”

Justify [juhs-tuh-fahy] verb jus·ti·fied, jus·ti·fy·ing: to show (an act, claim, statement, etc.) to be just or right. to defend or uphold as warranted or well-grounded: to declare innocent or guiltless; absolve; acquit. to show a satisfactory reason or excuse for something done.

The Justifying Leader tends to justify many aspects of their leadership lack of leadership.

7 Signs You May Be Working For A Justifying Leader

  • 1. They fire twice as many people as they grow and develop.
  • 2. They always have excuses for failures, challenges, shortcomings… and they rarely offer solutions for success.
  • 3. They will quickly deflect, blame and point fingers and they rarely look in the mirror admit they are wrong and embrace the fact that everything rises and falls with their leadership.
  • 4. They are quick to defend team members who have worn out their welcome to defend.
  • 5. They justify the culture of turnover with the thought process that those leaving, “Didn’t have what it takes and they couldn’t hang.”
  • 6. They consistently overlook negative and inappropriate behavior instead of confronting it head on.
  • 7. They act totally different and get their “Chameleon” on when the big bosses show up. After all this would help them to look guiltless, good, innocent, awesome, warranted… (see definition above)

These are just some signs that you may be working for a Justifying leader, the sad thing is that Justifying Leader mays just be you.

Seth Godin On Organizational Fear, Brainwashing and Entrepreneurship

Short video, great thoughts.

Top 5 Ways Leaders Destroy Their Teams

Often times with leadership we hear the warm and fuzzies or the great success stories. There are so many great books and tools at the disposal of leaders that growth and competency should be inevitable.  The challenge with that theory is it’s rendered “not always true” because of the simple fact that leadership deals with human beings.  Anytime you are dealing with people things are never that simplistic.

A key understanding to leadership placement and roles is this: people hire people, who hire people, who hire people. Somewhere within those three generations, there are people placed in roles of leadership that they are not capable of.  In my tenure working as a Deputy Prison Warden, before being promoted to Warden, I worked for a leader that definitely should not have been in her role.  She literally destroyed her staff and destroyed her team.  Not only did she destroy them, she didn’t have the self-awareness to make the necessary adjustments.

Unfortunately the “Leadership Destroyers” were not isolated to my experience, if you live long enough and work for enough people, there is a good chance that you will work for one of these destroyers.  To help identify how these leaders or managers destroy their teams, I have identified 5 ways.

5 Ways Leaders Destroy Their Teams

  • 1. My Way Or The Highway (MWOH):  Everyone has an opinion and often times people have thoughts, ideas and suggestions that can be helpful to those that are in charge.  MWOH is fueled by the insecurity of the Leadership Destroyer.  MWOH can create an environment of control, but not an environment of healthy success.  Listen to your team, involve your team, learn from your team and embrace the reality that the collective sum is much better than the Big-Headed MWOH Leader.
  • 2. All About The Numbers: The numbers do matter, the bottom line is important and if it doesn’t make dolla$ it doesn’t make sense.  In business, ministry or non-profit work, it’s important to measure things as it’s a great barometer for success.  Where numbers become a problem is when the Leadership Destroyer focuses on the numbers, bottom line and measurables so much that they forget about their team of people who are making those numbers happen.  They lose sight of the “how” because they are so focused on the “what.”  Number matter, but people matter more.  Focus on creating a healthy team and healthy numbers will be a natural bi-product.
  • 3. Talk But Don’t Listen: No one can get a word in or have an opinion because the Leadership Destroyer is always talking.  Not only are they always talking, they never listen. If people are not heard, they will cease to say the things that matter.  Shh (be quiet) Listen!
  • 4. Change Things For The Sake Of Changing Things: Change is good and sometimes necessary to create forward momentum.  The Leadership Destroyer takes this to another level by changing things just to let you know that they’re the boss.  They are unwilling to receive feedback or go back to what worked, even if their change isn’t working.  I heard a great thought from OSU Football Coach Mike Gundy from his press conference this week.  OSU is ranked #2 and they are rolling like a well-oiled machine.  Mike Gundy said, (paraphrasing) “I try to change things up a bit, just to justify my existence.  My team will come to me and say I think we need to stick to XYZ and this is why.  Often times what they are saying makes perfect sense and I change it back.” It’s important to survey the impact, timing and necessity of change.
  • 5. They Just Don’t Care:  The quickest way to destroy a team is to not care about the players on the team.  Team members know the difference between the fake stuff and the genuine care and concern for the individual players and the collective team.  Leadership Destroyers care more about their title, role, corner office and the fact that they have arrived than they do their team.  One of the things that the inmates used to say when I was a Warden in regards to leadership and life is this, “It’s All About Missouri!”  In other words, Missouri is the Show-Me State.  I’ll close with the words of John Maxwell, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
What Do You Think?  Share your thoughts and experiences with either of these 5 Ways.

When Organizations Create Robots


One of the ultimate overlooked pitfalls of organizations is when they develop a culture of creating robots. Over my 20 years of organizational leadership I have been a part of and had various clients who have struggled with creating these robotic cultures. In order to further track with what I’m saying, lets start by defining robot:

ro·bot [roh-buht, – bot] noun

1. a machine that resembles a human and does mechanical, routine tasks on command.

2. a person who acts and responds in a mechanical, routine manner, usually subject to another’s will; automaton.

3. any machine or mechanical device that operates automatically with humanlike skill. adjective

4. operating automatically:

With these clear definitions, it’s easy to see how organizations can fall into the category of developing a culture where people act and respond in a mechanical, routine and expected manner. They become a robot that resembles a human. They are expected to do this and do this in this manner (period the end). Anything outside of “this and this manner” is taboo, frowned upon and ultimately not part of the robotic expectation.

I remember having a conversation with a professional athlete that over their career had the opportunity to play under a number of different organizations. According to him, each organization had a different culture, style and expectation. One particular culture was, “very robotic… you were expected to do this and do it this way… period the end.” Ultimately this didn’t allow the freedom to create and make things happen and therefore limited the success of many players. As players began to transition to other organizations over the years, players began to find their grooves in environments where they could create, play and lead. Some people prefer to punch the clock and simply be robots, others are stiffed by robotic cultures and need the freedom to create.

If an organization wants to have ultimate success they must focus on setting clear expectations rather than programming robots. When a culture removes the opportunity to think, challenge, process, push and get outside of the box, the culture is programming robots and not developing leaders. A leader is the antithesis of a robot, if you’re creating a culture of robots, you’re not creating a culture of leaders.

The Manipulating Leader

manipulatorOften times you find yourself under the tutelage of a Manipulating Leader. You ask yourself “How did this happen?”Initially, you were drawn in by their confidence, their persuasiveness, their interpersonal skills and their success. The traits that originally drew you to that leader are now being used to manipulate you and the rest of your organization.

Yes! Fast forward a few years, a few seasons, a few successes, a few failures and those appealing traits are now being used to manipulate and control you and every situation around you. The Manipulating Leader is cunning and the manipulation generally comes in the form of “If you don’t do it XYZ way, you are not doing in the right way; If you are not 1,00,000% bought into the organization and willing to sacrifice your family, you are not bought in; If you have a better opportunity for you, your family, your future and everything in between, if you even remotely consider it you are being disloyal; If you have a hobby outside of work it’s seen as interfering with work itself; You should take a significantly less salary than the market suggests in the name of commitment and organizational sacrifice; You should look in the mirror because you are always the problem, the leader and the problem are never the problem, you are the problem…” These are just some of subtle ways that The Manipulating Leader try’s to manipulate and control you and your organization.

One of the greatest attributes you can have as a leader is self-awareness. Leaders should recognize when their leadership has turned into me-me-me manipulation. On the flip side it’s important for individuals that are being manipulated to call out the manipulative and controlling behaviors of their leader. If the situation doesn’t change, you have a responsibility to change the situation.

The more you allow yourself to be manipulated, the more comfortable you will become with the manipulative behavior. Next thing you know, you will fall into the category of The Justifying Leader. (That’s another post for another day)

The Fundamental Flaw Of Leadership

The Art Of Leadership is not something that comes natural for everyone, although some individuals are uniquely gifted to be more successful than others. The one thing that is certain for all leaders is the fact that in order to be successful they will have to over-come leadership flaws. Leadership flaws come in many shapes, forms and fashions. Just think of the leaders that you have worked for and imagine their flaws that caused you and your co-workers headache and heartache. Imagine your own leadership flaws and the challenges that you might have caused others.

There are enough leadership flaws out there that we could fill up a book of flaws and fixes. In my opinion The Fundamental Flaw Of Leadership is not shooting straight with team members and not allowing them to know where they stand. Time and time again, leaders will talk about the ineptness of a team member or department, without talking to that team member or department head about those particular challenges. A more unfortunate fact is that when these employees are on the ropes and getting ready to be fired or moved to another department and don’t even see it coming.

Leaders have the responsibility of letting people know where they stand. If a person knows where they stand, they know what to fix. As a leader if you find yourself talking about the struggles a team member is having and they don’t know they are having those struggles… you need to look in the mirror, because you are not doing you’re not leading.

Again, if you are a leader and are not letting people know where they stand and not Keeping It Real, you are committing The Fundamental Flaw Of Leadership. Give your team member the one thing they need and that’s the right information. Information is not knowledge and knowledge is empowering. Have the right information, leads to the right knowledge, that leads to the right decisions and ultimately leads to success.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts and experiences with The Fundamental Flaw Of Leadership.

Why Leaders Should Write Down Their Thoughts Daily

What do you think? Share your thoughts and experience.

The Leader That Can’t Let Go


There is nothing more frustrating than a leader that can’t let go.

  • They can’t let go of the past mistakes that a team member made.
  • They can’t let go of their foolish pride.
  • They can’t let go of their “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality.
  • They can’t let go of yesterday’s successes.
  • They can’t let go of their “kissing-up” behavior.
  • They can’t let go of the details and micromanage their team to death.
  • They can’t let go of their team members – (as if they were theirs to hold onto in the first place).

“The more you hold onto, the less you can grab ahold of.”

If a leader wants to be truly successful, they must learn to let go. If you want to be a leader, you must learn to let go.

Inside The Eyes Of A Great Leader

vision1One quality that great leaders all seem to have in common is having great vision. Great vision not simply from the standpoint of casting great vision, but the uncanny ability to see the things that matter and see the things that contribute to success. Below are 10 things great leaders can see.

“If you want to be a great leader, you must develop great vision.”

  • Great Leaders are able to see what’s coming.
  • Great Leaders are able to see the best in others.
  • Great Leaders are able to see pitfalls.
  • Great Leaders are able to spot leadership potential in others.
  • Great Leaders are able to look in the mirror and be honest with themselves.
  • Great Leaders are able to see the writing on the wall.
  • Great Leaders are able to see successors for themselves and others.
  • Great Leaders are able to see the story behind the story.
  • Great Leaders are able to see The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
  • Great Leaders are able to see things a little sooner and a little more clearly than others.

“You must be able to see the invisible in order to receive the impossible.”

Share your thoughts on any of these 10… Please add additional things to the list.

Don’t Confuse Great Performance With Great Leadership

time leadershipLeadership can sometimes be tricky, by tricky I mean difficult to evaluate the true impact of one’s leadership. Some leaders push people really hard, create an environment where individuals can’t ask questions or challenge the king and results are more important than anything else.

These leaders and leadership environments may produce results for a season, but in the long-run, morale will be negatively affected. Those employees will do just enough to meet the performance expectations and they will begin to plan their exit from that environment when the 1st lateral or better opportunity comes available.

Don’t confuse great performance with great leadership. There are plenty or organizations, environments and teams that have great performance, while the implications of the leadership is devastating to the employees. These teams are generally over-worked, under-valued, under-appreciated, stressed out, carry their work problems home and are flat out unhealthy. Great leadership produces healthy teams.

The best way to evaluate the effectiveness of leadership is to get true and honest feedback from the team. If this feedback is filtered through an independent 3-party it’s even better.

Don’t measure success from performance alone, dig a little deeper and answer this question: “Are my team members happy, healthy, satisfied and excited to come to work everyday?”

Healthy teams are comprised of healthy people. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the leader to create an environment that fosters health.

Don’t Confuse Great Performance With Great Leadership.

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