Tag Archives: grit

3 Red Flags to Avoid When Hiring

Hiring is tricky. There are as many hiring strategies as there are hiring managers. And while you're not a mind reader, there are red flags to let you know you might be making a disastrous decision.

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Equitable Leadership – Worth the Effort

My last LeaderSips blog took on what I consider to be - for the most part - a lazy and unfair leadership style: the "equal" approach. And judging from the response, I thought the topic warranted a deeper gulp rather than a morning sip.

While the opinion that "equal is unfair" seems counterintuitive, consider this scenario: you have enough money budgeted to send 2 colleagues to a week long training course. If you ascribe to the equal approach, you will put all the names of your department in a hat and let fate take its course. This will not take into account your employees who have the skills and the interest in the course. Nor will it recognize the employees who have worked hard at bringing their skill set to the point that additional training will be beneficial. It will send a message to your entire team that individual effort means nothing.

But you can rest easy because you treated everyone equally, right? Um, no.

For those who fall on the side of "equal" I make this argument: every employee is not equal. Their abilities, attitude, history, and contributions are all different. If, by chance, you have two employees who truly are equal - then by all means, treat them exactly the same. This will serve you particularly well if your team is made up of Stepford wives.

If, on the other hand, your team is comprised of humans, you might explore equitability. Taking this approach means more work. It means spending more time developing policies that are flexible, fair, and reasonable. It means knowing the needs, talents, and accomplishments of your employees. It means you know who has made significant contributions and you know who is skating by.

Often the fear of a disgruntled employee making accusations of favoritism keeps leaders from equitable decisions. The good news is, we're not in kindergarten. Support your decisions with facts, not opinions. This keeps you from going on the defensive - and gives you an opportunity to work with employees who feel they have been mistreated. "Why yes, David, Susan is going to the conference. You and I have talked about your attendance record, your inability to meet a deadline, and the customer complaints we've received. When you have shown demonstrable improvement in these areas, you certainly will be a candidate for a conference."

The decision then is in their hands. If they opt to put in the time and effort that is required, they can be afforded the same chances as their peers. Equal leadership gives everyone the same reward, regardless of effort. Equitable leadership ensures everyone knows where they are on the playing field - how close they are to the goal line, and what they must do to score. As a leader, it is requires a great deal of work. But if you are asking your team for extra effort, shouldn't you be doing the same for them?

3 Truths for Emerging Leaders

I've seen a lot of potential leaders, and I've seen many of them derail over commonly held myths. Here's some truths I want emerging leaders to know.

  1. Leadership is about behavior, not title. Just because you have a bright shiny new title doesn't mean people will automatically follow you. In the same vein, don't wait for the title to lead. Leadership is about influence, and ultimately it is your behavior that will be the deciding factor for those who chose whether or not to follow you.
  2. You are going to screw up. And when you do, your team will be watching carefully to see how you handle it. Set the right tone by admitting your error. Talk about the lessons learned. Apologize if appropriate. While you may be concerned that these responses show weakness, they actually prove one's grace and grit - and will go a long way to building trust and loyalty.
  3. Leading and managing are two different functions. Managers rely on systems and rules. Leaders create a culture of accountability. Managers maintain. Leaders innovate. Managers rely on control. Leaders inspire trust. Managers give orders. Leaders steward ideas.

4G Leadership: Leading with Grace

Grace LeaderSips


I once had a co-worker who loved to comment that I was "so nice." I knew it wasn't meant as a compliment, but I took it as one. I knew something she didn't. It takes a strong will to lead with grace.  Continue reading

4G Leadership: Got Grit?

3 quick jolts of leadership insight

I see effective leaders as having four key characteristics: grit, grace, gravitas, and gratitude. Let's talk about grit. Grit is about being able to stay the course despite setbacks and obstacles. Do you have what it takes to lead for the long haul? Continue reading

3 2016 Leadership Books You Should Put On Your “To Be Read” List


You've made it through the Mother of All Mondays and 2016 is underway. There are new ideas coming down the pike and here are 3 to keep an eye out for. Find original ways to champion creativity, communicate effectively and memorably, and tackle challenges with forceful persistence.

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LeaderSips: 3 Reasons Your Career Is Stuck




Feeling stuck? Wondering why other people seem to magically find new opportunities and professional growth? You might actually be sabotaging yourself. Start off 2016 with a fresh outlook, and consider these 3 sips...

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Do You Have the 5 Intangibles of Leadership?

fiveSeveral years ago, Richard Davis published The Intangibles of Leadership: The 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance. It seeks to answer the question: what is the real difference between competent leader and extraordinary executive? Is it pedigree, experience, intelligence? The answer is yes...and much more. Based on this research and as part of his GLS 2015 opening talk, Bill Hybels gives us a condensed version with these five intangibles that bridge the gap from competent to extraordinary.

Do you have "grit"?

What is grit, you ask? It is a passion & perseverance over the long haul. It is an unremitting long term tenacity. Gritty people believe to the core of their being that they can complete the challenge before them. Think Lincoln. Think Ghandi. Think Mandela. Think MLK.

The archenemy of grit?  Ease. The development of grit demands a degree of difficulty - so all you helicopter parents out there that are trying to make sure your child has a happy and stressfree life... you are doing them no favors. In addition to mental and emotional grit, elite leaders have figured out overcoming physical challenges through rigorous sport contributes to grit. Richard Branson has attempted to navigate the Atlantic in a powerboat, cross the Pacific in a hot air balloon and leap into thin air on a skydiving expedition. The boat sank, the balloon caught on fire and, during his skydiving freefall, Branson pulled the wrong release tag, jettisoning his parachute.

When senior leaders develop grit, it makes the whole organization gritty

Are you self-aware?

When you read about a meltdown in an organization, it's usually based on a lack of awareness on behalf of the leader. It starts with blindspots. Raise your hand if you think your boss has some blindspots. Raise your hand if you think you do.

See, there's the problem. Most if not all of you raised your hand for the first question but not the second. Well, then, just who are these blind-spotted leaders, then, if not you? A blindspot is something you think you do well, but everyone else knows you don't. Average blindspot per leader? 3.4

The simplest way to combat blindspottedness is to ask those close to you. Trust me, they'll be prepared with an answer. I asked my husband. He's still working on the list. Another way is to do a deep dive self-examination to understand how your past is affecting the decisions you are making today. How are your decisions tethered to an unaware driver? Who are you trying to prove yourself to? What fears have you not faced?

Be prepared to face the brutal, honest truth in order to release yourself.

Are you resourceful?

Or asked another way, are you an agile learner?  Agile learners are quick learners - and quick learners grow fast. They stay with a problem until they figure it out. Think about the Wright Brothers. They experimented. They failed. They made adjustments. They failed. And then, they figured it out. The primary way that resourcefulness gets develop is to put yourself in situations that are confused and broken, and figure out a way to make it work.

If you want to see who in your organization is resourceful, identify real problems that need solving and assemble small task forces of young leaders to tackle the problems.

Are you self-sacrificing?

Here I continue my quest to make "love" an acceptable word in the workplace. Do you love the people you lead? Do you make it personal? Vision is not the core of leadership. Neither is problem-solving. Or strategy. Self-sacrificing love is. It melds and molds groups of people into a compassion-filled, service-focused organization. In a time when trust is low and cynicism is high, altruistic love, deep personal concern, must start with the senior leader. Demonstrating love to your colleagues humanizes your culture.

Are you infusing a sense of meaning in the life of your colleagues?

Remember Simon Sinek? His TED Talk, "How Great Leaders Inspire Action" has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with the question "Why?" Be a CMO - a Chief Meaning Officer - to help your team understand the why behind the "what" and the "how" of their daily work life. Understand what your "white-hot why" is... what moves you, what drives you, what fuels you to greater heights. Then go help your team find theirs.


I Knew I Could

i think i can

In the past 5 days two writers who I greatly admire have discussed "grit" as an important part of leadership and professional development. Hey, when I see a trend I act on it. So, let's talk about grit - true or otherwise.

Here's some random grit fun facts:

  • Abraham Lincoln was defeated in eight different elections. He went on to be one of the most respected Presidents of the United States.
  • Walt Disney was told he had no creative talent and fired from a newspaper job. He went on to create one of the world's most beloved cartoon characters.
  • Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected by 23 different publishers. The 24th publisher accepted it and sold 6 million copies.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from the varsity basketball team in his sophomore year. He went on to become one of the most successful and popular athletes in the world.
  • Elvis Presley was fired after his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry having been told, "you ain't going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck." Elvis became one of the most famous American singers of the 20th century.

Researcher Tammy Duckworth defines grit as "the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals."  Do you remember the story of the "Little Engine That Could?" Faced with unimaginable odds, this little train had the tenacity to do what no larger train could - make it over long, arduous terrain to its destination. "I think I can... I think I can... "

That's grit.

One of the writers I  alluded to above is Seth Godin. I'm a big fan of his. As he would be of me, if he knew I was alive. But I digress. Seth made the observation that grit equals hard work and persistence. And as long as he defines it with both of those qualifiers, I'm good.


Grit is not synonymous with hard work alone. It involves a certain single-mindedness. It's the difference between starting a new project every month and sticking with the same one until its difficult conclusion is reached. Both require hard work. Only one requires grit. 

And as the other writer I alluded to, Bill Hybels, has said, "the enemy of grit is ease." Grit is tough because you don't get the adrenaline rushes that new projects bring. It is slow, inch-by-inch success. It's that very moment when you say to yourself, "I knew I could..."