Millennials – Love Them, Don’t Hate Them

Millennials – or Generation Y – have been studied, maligned and totally misunderstood.

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Recently there has been a more dedicated effort to better understand Millennials.  This is an encouraging step that’s needed to see how this new generation will develop into the next leaders in society.

In the Fortune article 5 Myths About Millennials in the Workplace, they dispel the myth that Millennials have different career goals than Baby Boomers had at their age and want to be given positions of authority, seniority and leadership.

If you are a Boomer, think back to when you began your career.  You wanted those same opportunities – authority, seniority and leadership.

However, the big difference between the two is nothing more than the technology.  Boomers entered their careers in a hierarchical system where knowledge was king.  But knowledge came from either intense and special study or putting in your time in the system.

Today, knowledge is at our fingertips.  But Boomers are digital immigrants and Millennials are digital natives.

And because Millennials are fully immersed in today’s technology, they can access information quicker.  This gives them an advantage that, if given the chance to perform, will move their position and company farther much faster.

For Boomers it becomes a challenge to just keep up with the speed they access information and develop vital networks.

This is a generation driven by a desire to develop new skills, try new positions within the company they work for, and use the skills they develop to become better and more fulfilled.

The best we can do for them is to support them and help give them the opportunities to learn and grow.  It is our responsibility to guide them and mentor them while at the same time learn from them.

They will be the leaders of the future. They are begging to learn and grow.  They may frustrate us at times, but work with them and we’ll both be the better for it.

The Devil Made Me Do It

From the very beginning of creation, we have been blaming others for our own actions.

The devil convinced Eve to eat the apple.  Eve convinced Adam it was good and he ate.

God asked Adam if he ate of the forbidden tree.  Adam said “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” (Adam had guts – even blamed God for giving him the woman!)

God asked Eve what she had done.  Eve said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

That’s where we got ‘The devil made me do it’.  (And you thought it was Flip Wilson!)

IMG_0441We aren’t very consistent with our blame game though.

We blame the gun in a shooting, but we don’t blame the car in a fatal accident.

Politicians blame the other party for not getting anything done and then participate in a sit-in protest not getting anything done.

I wonder what happened to responsibility?

Responsibility for our actions, responsibility for our words.

Every day there is another example of saying things that incite riots and violence – Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas.

It seems with every new situation there is someone stepping to a microphone to vilify a business, a race, or a political party.

Frankly, I’m tired of it!

What happened to responsibility?  What happened to leadership?

Responsibility and leadership are about others.

Blame is about power – and not the good kind.

Recently, I was listening to an episode of Jeff Brown’s podcast Read To Lead where he was interviewing Seth Godin.  Jeff asked him what he would fix in the world:

“I would like the people who work to tear down our culture and to tear down our society, to take responsibility and to own what they are choosing to do with their time and with their words and their weapons.

It’s so easy to blame the other guy and deny that it’s your responsibility when you act in a certain way, whether you are a freedom-fighter or a lawyer or something in between.  You need to own your actions.

Unfortunately, the combination of media and politics and commerce makes it too easy to say ‘I was just doing my job, I was just following orders’.

And I hope we can get ever closer to a place where people say ‘Yeah, I did that and I take responsibility’.  Because if they do say that I believe we will all end up acting better.”

It’s time we had real leaders step up, take responsibility for their words and their actions.  That’s real strength. Blaming others is weakness.

It can be scary to be responsible, I know from experience.  But the integrity and credibility to end up with is worth it.

So, I’m calling for a new set of leaders.  If you’re going to say it – own it and be prepared for the responsibility of the result.  If you’re going to do it – accept the consequences.

If you want to stand out in today’s world, be a responsible leader.

It’s called PRINCIPLED LEADERSHIP.

Leave a comment if you are through with the blame game and want to be a responsible, principled leader.  We need you.  We’ll do it together.

 

Independence Declared: Are We Still Free?

A person of principle, once a decision and course of action is set, doesn’t look back or second-guess their decision.

Firm resolve is sorely lacking today.  People seem to be afraid of criticism so either they don’t act with conviction or they absolve themselves from making decisions.

When it comes to leading a team, a company or a country a firm resolve is paramount.

Declaration-of-Independence

July 4, 1776

By July 4, 1776 General George Washington was desperate for more reinforcements, flints for their guns and provisions for the troops.  Watching as the British and mercenary fleet kept growing in New York harbor, it was only a matter of time before an invasion by the British began.

For several weeks now, General Washington sent daily dispatches reminding the Congress of the critical shortage of men and supplies.  The few reinforcements that were being sent were not enough.

50,000 men were now gathered for a showdown on Manhattan Island.  Muskets and guns were about to resolve the issues being argued by statesmen on both sides of the Atlantic.  The only thing remaining was the bloody business of war, and that was in the hands of General George Washington.

For two days they edited and changed the wording of the declaration.  Finally, on the 4th of July 1776, there was agreement on the terms – the document was ready for the vote.  A final reading was ordered:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

A bold and majestic manifesto, a declaration of freedom for all men, unanimously adopted.  Men of proud vision and violent passion, they signed the charter of freedom with a bold and selfless vow:

“An for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

And so was born the United States of America.

Weary and tired, the delegates were anxious to leave.  First, a few last-minute details needed to be settled.

A committee to supervise the printing of the Declaration was elected and resolution passed to have copies sent for public reading to the assemblies of the newly independent states.  Copies were also sent to General Washington for proclamation to the Continental Army and to all the churches to be read on the first Lord’s day after it was received.

Before concluding this historic session on July 4th, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were elected to prepare the official seal, the Great Seal of the newly united states.

On July 8, 1776 the Declaration of Independence would be read for the first time in public, announced by the ringing of the Liberty Bell.


What do resolve to do today?  Don’t wait until tomorrow, you have probably been putting it off….for too long.  Do it today and move forward.

Leave a comment on your decision.  I’m rooting for you!

Terrorist Threat or Practical Joke?

You hear of a terrorist act or threat nearly every day now.  They are meant to intimidate and control the actions of others.

There’s nothing new about them, except today leaders have become cowed and controlled by even the threat of terrorism.  It didn’t use to be that way in America.

July 3, 1776

A day after agreeing to a resolution for independence, the delegates to Congress discovered an anonymous note which had been left on the President of Congress John Hancock’s Table.

It contained a warning that they all would be destroyed because they had “gone too far”.  A plot had been devised for their destruction unless they halted the course they were on.

Some thought it was a practical joke, but others were not so sure.  Several potential enemies of America had been rounded up in the past few days and a number of prominent loyalist sympathizers had been tarred and feathered.

Some delegates wanted to form a search party to search the cellar below the State House to see if a bomb had been hidden in the munitions storage.  Samuel Adams thought it a waste of time. It was decided to ignore the note and show the world they were not afraid of a silly note.

On the afternoon of July 3rd the delegates to Congress assembled to hear the first reading of the Declaration of Independence that Thomas Jefferson had been working on for several days.

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The title, “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled”, it was the first time the term “United States of America” had been used in a public document.  These were unfamiliar words that would ultimately define a nation.

The four-page document included a Preamble and philosophy of free government, accusations against King George III, and a closing resolution to be free and independent states.

As the day of debate drew to a close, the adoption of the declaration would have to wait another day.

While the delegates in Philadelphia debated the terms of independence, a former colleague, Silas Deane, was on a secret mission to France to convince them to sell munitions to the rebels in America.  Playing on the dislike of the British by the French, Deane located a source who offered an arrangement to provide the necessary munitions for a war.

Freedom was hard to come by in Europe.  Their best hop to be rid of the oppression of the British empire lie in America.

Asked why he was so willing to help, the new ally said, “May the tree of liberty grow and flourish there:  its seeds will scatter far, and the great winds of change shall blow them across the seas.  You deserve our help.  You deserve the help of all who call themselves friends of freedom!”


When someone is trying to bully or threaten you, do you cower and give in or do you stand by your principles?

Leave a comment about the principles you live by.

Leaders Find The Resolve to Act

We call it partisanship.  It’s actually a ploy to continue to divide in order to project implied power.

If the leaders of the states practiced partisanship to the level we experience today, we would be singing “God Save the Queen” as our national anthem.

However, when a people are pushed to the limit of their endurance and governed with oppression, undue taxation, and arrested without due process, the desire of each person to live free swells to a fever pitch.

July 2, 1776

Finally, they had reached the turning point.  The proposed resolution for independence was a step into the future.  No matter how rough or dangerous the road ahead is, they must go forward together and show the world a united front.

The divided colonies need to put aside their differences and rivalries and form a strong union.  They need to make a treaty with a foreign country which could supply them with munitions.

The debates had divided the delegates over boundaries, taxation and representation as well as whether Congress should have the right to limit the size of the states or have jurisdiction over the Indians and if they should be regulated by Congress.

Before the Congress could consider these issues, they must achieve independence first.

It was raining again on July 2nd and the Congress nervously anticipated the vote on the question of independence.  It was late in the afternoon and the delegates tired of waiting all day for all the delegates to be present.

The Secretary of Congress read the resolution to declare independence.  It contained three clauses that would dissolve all connection with the mother country and become free and independent states – to form a confederation – to secure alliances.  Hearing no objections, after three weeks of debate, the Secretary called the role…

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After the final tally was made, twelve colonies had voted and all twelve were in favor of independence, with New York abstaining.  Any olive branch offered by Britain would now be on the point of a bayonet.

The shocking discovery of the plot to assassinate General Washington and his key officers was still the topic of discussion around the port of New York.  General Washington had approved the sentence of hanging for one of his favorite bodyguards involved in the plot.  It was carried out only 4 days earlier.

For days now, the harbor around New York received more and more British and mercenary ships with soldiers ordered to stop the rebellion in America.

Fully aware of the discussions and debates by Congress, General Washington assembled his rag-tag troops.  In silence, the militia men stood within sight of the growing number of ships in the harbor.  Washington let them know it was now about time for them to determine if Americans were to be free men or slaves.


Are in it for you?  Or do you work to resolve your difference?  Sometimes we can’t reach agreement so do you give in or stick to your principles?

Leave a comment and tell me about your resolve to act.

Led By Principles – Are you?

Principled leaders are in short supply.

Many so called “leaders” today, whether in business or in politics, act from greed and the expense of others, break the law because they believe they are entitled, or accuse those who try to hold them accountable “haters”.

There was a time when 56 men came together, argued, threatened and accused each other but in the end came to agreement on a common cause: the freedom that they believed the Creator – Almighty God – gave to every person.

Declaration Debates

It wasn’t an easy decision, nor a popular one.

July 1, 1776

As the low rumble of thunder rolled across the Delaware river, John Dickinson from Philadelphia urged the delegates of the Continental Congress to delay their decision to adopt a resolution for independence.  Lightning flashed, gusty winds and sheets of rain were lashing at the State House as the plea to postpone grew stronger.

“Declaring our independence at a time like this”, he said “is like burning down our house before we have another; in the middle of winter; with a small family; then asking a neighbor to take us in, and finding that he is unready!”

The plea to wait until an answer came from France on the request to form an alliance had merit.  They could use more munitions to fight the British, yet his pleas seem to fall on mostly deaf ears.

They had been debating and arguing the notion of declaring independence from Britain for several weeks.  The Congress delegates knew the arguments.  If they declared to the world at this time the reasons propelling the to independence, they could win allies in their struggle – they could unify the country.

The people were tired of British oppression and ready to resist.  They were ready to combine their strength and risk their lives in support of the Declaration.

John Adams argued for independence.  The King was sending thousands of troops and mercenaries to subdue the country, to divide the colonies and to keep them from forming a strong resistance.

Adams said, “The people will stand behind the Declaration.  We shall be united; we shall fight for freedom; we shall win the respect of the world…”

The evening of July 1st found Thomas Jefferson in his room, with his writing box propped up in from of him near the dim light of an oil lamp making notes of the day.

Appointed to a committee several days earlier to draw up a draft declaration, Jefferson was chosen for the task by the other committee members.

In order to make their case he listed the charges against King George III.  he knew the words he had written on the document would be seen as treason and could get him arrested, sent overseas, and executed by His Majesty’s government.

Jefferson’s faith in the future was stronger than his fears.  He looked out his window to the west and saw the future: new territories and cities, bountiful fields and a republic of free men yet to be born.


Principles – they are what define you.  When others talk about you what do they say?  Are you a person of your word and live by principles that are encouraging, helpful and that motivate others?

Ask some of your friends to be brutally honest and tell you how you are doing.

Leave a comment about what you found out.  If you would like to have a conversation about principled leadership and living a principled life, just email me and I’d be glad to talk with you.

Leadership Principles or Principled Leadership – Part 3

10 Traits of a Principled Leader

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Too often we see people promoted into a leadership role and fail.

When I was an Administrator in a nursing home several years ago we were always looking for nurses to take on a leadership role either as a charge nurse or as the director of nursing.

And how did we typically pick them?  Well, we looked for the best nurse.  A compassionate, caring, and dedicated nurse who had really good assessment skills.  We’d say something like, “You’re a really good nurse with good skills and I know I can rely on you to make good decisions.  I think you’d make a great charge nurse!”

Then they would be given a shift of nursing assistants and a wing to ‘run’ and make sure the assistants got all the tasks completed in all the plans of care, hygiene, feeding, toileting, etc.

But nearly 8 out of 10 would fail.  Why?  Because we didn’t teach them to be leaders or supervisors.  We just “threw them to the wolves” because they were a good nurse.

Well, in nursing school they teach nursing – not leadership.  Their failure was my failure for not teaching and training them.

In order for me to develop leaders, I myself need to be a principled leader because it is my responsibility to grow those around me so they succeed in life.  A principled leader is more interested and concerned about those around them than they are with themselves.

In the first two parts of 10 Traits of a Principled Leader we looked at the first six traits:

  1. They put the interests of the group/organization above their own.
  2. They understand it is the small acts done when no one is looking that truly defines their character.
  3. They understand respect must be earned over time and can be lost in the blink of an eye.
  4. They call attention to their people, not themselves.
  5. They take responsibility for their own failures and those of the group.
  6. They share the credit for their successes.

As you can see in the first six, a principled leader’s focus is solely on their group or organization and not on them.  If the group doesn’t win, then no one wins.

In this Part 3 we will look at the last four characteristics.

PRINCIPLED LEADERS (7-10)

7. They are consistent and predictable in their decision making.

A principled leader doesn’t go around making decisions based on which way the wind blows.  Whether a product launch fails or the outcome of a strategy to move the organization forward backfires, you know what decision the principled leader will make.  If you are in the trenches and fight the small battles and understand the principles of their decision-making then you can predict what the response will be when major challenges hit you.

8. They strive to do what is right instead of what is convenient, in spite of how it affects them.

It’s not too often these days you see someone who chooses to do what is right no matter how difficult it might be or what it might cost them.

When was the last time you stopped and helped someone change a flat tire, knowing you will be late for your appointment, because it was the right thing to do?

When was the last time you spent the afternoon with your grandson at the park knowing you had yard work that needed to be done, because it was the right thing to do?

When was the last time you took the blame for a problem at work knowing it wasn’t your fault and it will leave a mark on your record, because it was the right thing to do?

Be that rare person.

9. They aren’t afraid to make unpopular decisions and make sure those affected understand the rationale for it.

At some time, a leader must make decisions.  Not all decisions are fair or popular.  But a principled leader cares more about those around them and the future of the organization to make sure everyone affected understands the vision and reason for the decisions.  They talk through it and listen to their coworkers to make sure each one knows they are being heard.

Many leaders fail at this point.  They try so hard to be friends with their coworkers or the team they lead, that when a tough decision comes they either don’t make the right decision or they turn into a bully.  Neither is good for the organization and their leadership pretty much ends.

10. They only serve organizations that don’t ask them to compromise their principles.

Principled leadership is ingrained in them.  It has become who they are and to ask them to compromise those principles is asking them to violate who they are.

Don’t take a leadership position just for the glory or prestige.  Yes, you will receive many accolades and awards but it will be very shallow and not rewarding.

Knowing you stayed true to who you are and didn’t compromise will actually give you many rewards in the long term.

As we reach the end of these posts about Principled Leadership, the overriding concept is that you operate from a set of values that earn the trust of those around you.  And that trust will result in people that respect you and will follow you.

When that happens, you and those around will accomplish wonderful things!

Leadership Principles or Principled Leadership – Part 2

10 Traits of a Principled Leader

Leadership seems to have taken on several meanings in today’s world.leadership-slider_4

Typically it is used to describe the head person of a company or a team.  Usually it is position based and more than likely appointed.

But now we see more younger individuals in the workforce looking for opportunities to develop their leadership skills and take on leadership roles.  More young people in their 20’s are switching jobs, looking for positions where they can learn how to lead.

According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey , leadership was rated as the most prized attribute on which businesses placed the most value.  And they feel that businesses don’t do enough to make sure a new generation of business leaders is developed.

Up to 71% are likely to leave their current employment within the next two years because they are unhappy about how their leadership skills are being developed.

So it’s incumbent on us to teach the next generation of leaders.  And it’s not just the principles of leadership but to focus on the person as well and develop a principled leader.

In the last post I discussed the first three characteristics of a principled leader.  Let’s continue with the next three.

PRINCIPLED LEADERS (4-6)

4. They call attention to their people, not themselves.

It’s so frustrating to pour your heart and soul into a project and when completed the leader of the team or department takes all the credit.  There is no greater de-motivator.

A principled leader will not only support and promote their team, they will take every opportunity to praise and reward them.  Not just in front of their teammates, but also to the larger community.

Principled leaders know that almost every accomplishment is a team effort.  Recognizing individuals for their contributions and successes is a regular act which in turn fosters much greater commitment and participation.

5. They take responsibility for their own failures and those of the group.

It is rare indeed to find someone who will accept responsibility for their own failures.  It is more rare to find someone to accept responsibility for the failures of their team.

In today’s world, it seems it’s okay to not accept responsibility.  Blame it on your skin color, or where you were born, or the other political party and you are absolved of all responsibility.

Sadly, that is our world today.  But it is not reality in business.

And the leader who steps up and takes the responsibility squarely on their shoulders will be more likely to have a strong, close-knit team that is able to overcome the failure.

6. They share credit for their successes.

A principled leader who accepts responsibility for failures, will also share the credit for the successes of the team with the ones who made it possible.

As individuals contribute value to the project and the environment is one of sharing and working together toward the outcome goal, they should know that they will be recognized for the part they played.

When you share the credit, you gain a friend and a tighter bond with the whole group.  The energy and the creativity will increase…because hey, we all like to be recognized for what we do!


Leadership isn’t easy.  It’s easy to boss people, but you won’t get very far and your team will fall apart.

Learning what it takes to be a principled leader isn’t easy.  It’s changing who you are.  It isn’t a skill to be learned, but more of a way you live your life.

These are life principles.  Learn them, develop them and teach them by doing them.

In the next post we will look at the final four characteristics.  See you then.

Leadership Principles or Principled Leadership

10 Traits of a Principled Leader - Part 1

leadership-slider_4We all have our own idea about what a leader is – or should be.

Maybe you have been asked to take a leadership role but stopped because you weren’t sure you were leader material.

Or maybe you have experienced different leaders, some who were demanding and overbearing, some who never could make up their mind, or others who just didn’t show up.

When faced with these types of leaders the result will often be:

– the fear of speaking up because you’ll be yelled at or belittled;

– never knowing the true direction or responsibility of the group;

– lack of interest and participation drops off

Several years ago I was part of a group at a Chamber of Commerce tasked with developing a plan for the year’s tourism marketing.  The leader of the group was a loud and boisterous man who was very much intent on having his way.  Although he was very involved in the tourism industry, it was pretty much his way or he would wear you down until you agreed.  The result over time was everyone just agreed.

So much for a group effort.  They should have just picked him!

There are many different “styles” of leadership.  Most of them exist because the person has never learned HOW to be a leader.

John Maxwell, one of the most established authorities on leadership writing today, in his book Developing the Leader Within You defines leadership as influence.

Developing the Leader

In addition, a leader not only must learn the principles of leadership as John Maxwell outlines in the book, but they also must be a principled person.  A person of principles is a person of integrity.

So what are the characteristics of a Principled Leader?  There are 10 we will be looking at, but in this post we’ll look at the first three.

PRINCIPLED LEADERS (1 – 3)

  1. They put the interests of the group/organization above their own.

Too often we see individuals seek out leadership positions because they have an agenda that serves their own interest.  This often results in conflict, hurt feelings, a lack of engagement by other members of the group to the result of the leader being the only one doing anything.

When you put the interests of others first, you are sending a message that everyone is equal in the group and all ideas and opinions matter.  These groups work seamlessly and when conflict does come up it is dealt with openly and gently.

2. They understand it is the small acts done when no one is looking that truly defines their character.

When you look in the mirror in the morning who do you see?  The true test of a person is how they act and treat others when they think no one is looking.

Oh sure, you know someone who does great things and is kind when the eyes are on them.  And then the person shows their true colors when they THINK no one is watching.  There certainly is no integrity being displayed there.

Always treat everyone as if others were watching.  It’s a habit well worth learning.

3. They understand respect must be earned over time and can be lost in the blink of an eye.

Most of us are skeptical to a point.  We have been treated badly at times and burned more than once.  So to be asked to trust someone can be a huge step to take.  If you know the person well, it may be easier to trust than if it is someone you just met.

As the saying goes: “Your word is you bond” is only as valuable as your actions.  Treat everyone fairly, kindly and with respect and eventually you will gain the respect of others.  Respect can’t be demanded, it can only be earned.

More To Come

Leadership has many rewards as well as challenges.  If you aspire to a leadership role, take the time to read books like John Maxwell’s.  It will be well worth the time and a few dollars you will spend.

If you don’t invest in yourself, no one else will.

In the next post, we’ll look at the next three characteristics of a principled leader.

Thank you for reading.

Stay tuned!

 

Leadership Gone Mad

Don't Look To Politicians For Leadership

Politics is a dangerous topic to begin a new blog.  I think it’s important that we address the style of leadership on display today.

With the 24/7 news cycle and constant tweeting and sound bites, we are being bombarded daily with the worst example of leadership.  I beg you to not learn too many lessons from what you see, unless you use it as an example of how not to act.

I’m not mad.

Telling me I’m mad, doesn’t make me mad.

I have been inspired by great leaders.  John Maxwell’s Developing The Leader Within You is a great place to begin you leadership journey.  John has coined the phrase: “Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less”.

Influence is a precious gift, and shouldn’t be wielded like a sword

How you use that influence is key.  History is full of examples of leaders who used their influence for both good and evil.  Influence is precious gift, and shouldn’t be wielded like a sword.

Principled Leadership

Being a principled leader isn’t about bullying.  It’s about having integrity.  Here are three qualities of a principled leader:

  1. They put the interests of the institution they serve above their own self interest.  It is not difficult to spot a leader who is promoting him/her self above those they serve.  We at times fall for their boasting and bravado, but underneath it’s all about them.
  2. They promote their people, not themselves.  If it is all about them and not about the people who helped them get where they are or work in the trenches day in and day out, then they are not a principled leader.
  3. They take responsibility for their personal failures and for the failures of the groups they lead.  Placing blame on others for our failures is poor leadership and will eventually result in leading no one.  Instead of leading, it’s call just taking a walk.

Principled leaders make a huge impact on the organizations they serve.  How can you tell someone is a principled leader? Usually it’s after they have moved on.  The contributions they made and the impact they had on the organization are most palpable when they are gone.

Leaders have a special calling.  It will reveal who you really are on the inside.