MVP Seminars Blogs

The Kentucky Derby Championship series is underway and the hopes of many owners, trainers and jockeys are pointed toward Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.  Living over half of my life between Lexington and Louisville I could not escape all the talk and action that leads to the Derby.  Though I am not a gambler, I do enjoy the human interest stories and the drama that unfolds before the horses answer the call to post.  I know little about horse racing.  But what I do know is that in each race there is only one horse that wins.  The horse that finishes second is called the “place” horse and the horse that finishes third is called the “show” horse.  Even though the “place” and “show” horses pay a return on a wager, when it comes to a race like the Kentucky Derby or one of the other Triple Crown races, only the winner is remembered.  So, as a leader, do you want to win, place or show? Noble character is an important ingredient in the life of a leader who wins.  Winning leaders embrace and practice honorable attitudes and actions toward others.  They value others as highly as they value themselves.  They express a heart of generosity.  They live with integrity.  Jealousy, dishonesty and selfishness are not part of the winning leader’s package.  Remember, winning leadership requires good character. To a certain degree, all leaders are running a race.  The leader who possesses strong character certainly puts himself or herself in a better position to be the one who wins.  After all, seldom is a horse entered into a race with the hope of simply being the “place” or “show” horse.  Each horse entered into a race is done so with the hope of winning!  You are a winner.  Run your race with good character.
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Are your employees reaching optimal productivity? Is absenteeism minimal? Are  the “generational gaps” in your company manageable? If not, you and your company can benefit from my De-Stress to Reach Optimal Productivity trainings. See you soon!
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Black Belt Leader as Visionary: Part Two 

“A recent national study conducted by MSW Research placed the number of ‘fully engaged’ employees at 29%, and ‘disengaged’ employees at 26% – meaning nearly three-quarters of employees are not fully engaged (aka productive).” – Forbes                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

The following story may offer us a clue as to how we as “Black Belt Leaders in the Making” can remedy this malaise of disengagement. (Note: Though the survey that is mentioned below is 13 years old, I believe the problems it addresses are still current.)

In 2000 the UN sponsored a survey to find out what the major problems were in the world. The committee in charge of the project received over 100,000 replies from member nations. Multiple issues were raised. Organizing the results, the committee classified their findings into four categories: culture, politics, economics, and environment. Then they simplified the process by choosing a single word to describe the core issue for each. For culture the word they boiled the problems down to was rootless; for politics the word they came up with was powerless; for economics, they actually chose two words: jobless and ruthless; for environment: futureless. Still not completely satisfied, the committee decided they needed to settle on a single word that would identify the most urgent problem. After much discussion, they concluded that the one word that best described the major problem in the world was meaninglessness

If we as “Black Belt Leaders in the Making” can create work environments where our followers can find meaning for themselves, then it is quite possible that their level of engagement will rise appreciably.  

How can we can do this? Here’s how:

An analysis of the recent MSW study revealed that “.... a ‘caring’ leader,’ (i.e. one who works to help people find meaning in their lives), is one of the key elements that drives employee engagement. That is, employees want their leaders to care about their personal lives, to take an interest in them as people, to care about how they feel and support their health and well-being. A leader’s ability to build strong team interaction and lead in a ‘person-centered’ way creates an engaging environment in which employees can perform at the highest possible level.”

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New questions lead to new solutions for old problems. New questions give companies access to their upside potential, to growth, to hidden equipment capacity and more. Sometimes new questions make it obvious that the wrong thing is being protected and that a better solution is just out of reach. Have you ever thought about the questions managers and employees ask (and the questions that are never asked)? For example, when reviewing budgets, are the questions ONLY about how people will meet budget? Does anyone ever ask "How much better than budget can we be?"

There are two reasons why questions tied to potential are NOT asked:

1) Historically, decisions about investments, targets, costs, etc. are made using 2 sets of data: budget and actual. Data directs focus. Neither data set is tied to potential. Adding a "3rd set of data" linked to potential helps create a mindset focused on potential. If all 3 sets of data are used in decision-making and communications, they collectively reveal information about change and potential that prompts new questions and new solutions not limited by "meeting the budget" thinking. 2) Management does not want their assumptions to be questioned. The price paid for this approach is VERY HIGH but SELDOM MEASURED. If people are not free to question the status quo, companies are "trapped in the present" and will not be able to maximize earnings, improve culture or sustain change, despite the investment in high cost change initiatives. Are people asking questions about how much better you can be? Is anyone listening? Do you have data that can help answer that question? If you answered "no" to all these questions, change is constrained by a lack of data related to potential OR by a management choice that limits what can be achieved. Both conditions occur due to a lack of awareness about how to connect people to potential. Once the losses attached to these conditions become clear, it is easy to make the changes required to maximize growth. It is also easier for management teams to abandon ol practices and old ways of thinking in favor of practices that make more money and help people change faster.
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The Economics of Putting People First in Corporate Leadership, Part Three

By Jack Lannom Economics Pt 3I’ve been talking about the solid economic practice of putting people first in Organizational Leadership. I introduced you to Dr. Adam Grant of the Wharton School and showed you how his philosophy echoes the wisdom of the ages: Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. I also showed you how two companies—Southwest Airlines and Wegmans—have employed this philosophy and enjoyed tremendous success. I’ve met people who mistakenly think that the People First® leadership philosophy discounts the importance of profits. That simply isn’t true. I’m in business to make a profit. When I speak of the economics of putting people first, I’m not making a distinction between what is important and what’s not important. Both people and profits are essential for sustainable development. I am not saying that people are important and profits are not, nor am I saying that profits are important and people are not. It’s not an either/or prospect; it’s a both/and philosophy. I am however, making a clear declaration about the order of importance. With limited resources at our disposal, we must choose to put people first. The ability to maximize profits begins with an understanding of the value of the human spirit. Business leaders shouldn’t focus on profits as first in importance, because profits don’t produce profits; people produce profits! Even more importantly, we should highly esteem people more than profits because of the intrinsic value and worth of who people are. People are worth infinitely more than all the profits a company could ever make. Perhaps you think I’m making an altruistic statement. I disagree; I believe I’m making a statement that resonates in the hearts of tens of millions of people! Whether it be a terrorist bombing in Boston or a killer tsunami in Thailand, Americans (and people all over the world) open their hearts and their wallets and offer their prayers in support of the victims. In 1987, when 18-month-old Jessica McClure fell down a well in Midland, Texas, the entire world tuned in to watch the rescue efforts in real time. Two years ago, Jessica, now 27 and a mother of two children, was able to access a trust fund that was created from $800,000 worth of donations that poured in shortly after her rescue. “People First” is not my own idea; it is not a theory; it is the way the vast majority of us live. Our ears are gifts so that we can listen with care and concern to the needs of others; our hands are gifts so that we can be helpful in carrying the burdens of others; likewise, our feet are given to us so that we can walk in humility to serve others. Consequently, people are truly the most fulfilled and the most productive when they are caring for, helping, and humbly serving others without expecting anything in return. I will insist with my dying breath that the ennobling economics of putting people first are the key to sustainable development. At the outset of this article, I defined economics as the science of human choice; sound economic policy dictates that you choose to put people over profits. You choose to value people, first and foremost, as human beings. You choose to create trust-based, caring connections with people. When you love people—value them, honor them, and listen to them—you clearly communicate that you esteem them more than profits. And when people absorb that and believe that, they will pour their hearts into their work. They will engage with their hearts, not just their hands, because they will view their work with you as something more than a career—they’ll see it as a calling. What is the most obvious thing that so many business leaders are missing? Let me answer that question with another question: Why do people keep coming back to spend their dollars with companies like Wegmans and Southwest Airlines? It’s because they love the experience! My good friend Tom Manenti, Chairman of the Board of MiTek Industries, Inc., a Berkshire-Hathaway company, often says that “People like to buy from people they like and trust.” And customers like and trust people who live in a culture that celebrates likeability and integrity. When customers see that members of that culture don’t just treat each other well, but exceptionally well, customers will want to engage with that. A culture built on the foundation of truth, wisdom, and excellence will cultivate the exemplary qualities of love, joy, and peace. When the members of that culture seek to outdo each other in showing honor to one another, rock-solid, trust-based relationships are formed, and the quality of those internal relationships will inevitably spill over into joyful, genuine interaction with external customers. I’ve been saying it for years: Whatever you want your external customers to feel, your internal customers must feel first! You can’t impart what you don’t possess.
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Many people are open to learning, but not all are interested in developing.

You might ask, “Isn’t learning the same thing as development?” Not quite.

There are really two levels to learning.

  1. The first level occurs when you hear, see, and/or experience something interesting or novel. It is often followed by the comment, “Wow, I didn’t know that.” or “That’s cool.”
  2. The second level of learning takes the new knowledge and applies it. Personal development is all about translating insight into action. It is the process of doing something with the information, transforming and integrating it into new or different behaviors, habits, and mindsets.

Not everyone readily jumps into the second level of learning and undertakes true personal development. It takes time, practice, and a lot of potential discomfort.

The metaphor of a lobster shedding its shell is a powerful way of depicting this choice for real development.

As the young lobster grows, it becomes too large for the shell that protects it. The lobster must search for an area within the rocks on the floor of the ocean where it can feel relatively secure from any predators. Slowly, it begins to shed the shell, that which is stunting its growth.

When the shell is gone, just consider its plight. Its new shell, which began growing before the old one was shed, is still soft and provides little protection. During this time, the lobster is extremely vulnerable and at great risk from predators. It is completely exposed to its dangerous world. Yet, the alternative would be worse. Without the periodic shedding of its shell, the lobster would not be able to grow and ultimately perish.

As leaders, we are faced with a daily choice to grow. We are continually learning new information, and deciding if and how we do something with it.How can development be structured to create a safe environment for a leader to grow and shed their shell?

To help leaders make this important choice and feel that being vulnerable is worth it, here are 6 secrets for achieving lasting personal development. These principles can foster the right environment, attitude, and actions to achieve level 2 learning. These also become the foundation for lasting individual and company-wide training and development solutions..

6 Secrets to Personal Growth:

1. Every Day: Development is far more than a single event or training class, it is an everyday effort to practice, practice, practice. Spending time on a consistent basis is key to growing a skill or a new way of thinking. For example, learning to ask open-ended questions to foster more open dialogue on one’s team is not merely a single event. It is a new habit that can take weeks to achieve proficiency.

2. Aligned: Get in sync with your team, your boss, and your organization so your development can be supported and sustained. How many of us come back from a conference with a long list of great ideas and the next day they all go out the window? It is critical to gain the feedback and insight from others in the organization and what they value. They can advocate for you instead of against you. And aligning with the current power structure will best position you to appropriately push back, developing yourself and others simultaneously.

3. Motivated: Development should happen because you want it, not because someone told you to do it. If there is not an internal desire for personal develop, you may go through the motions but not receive much benefit. The notion for mandatory development rarely works. People need to want it for development to be effective. Reach deep inside, and find or create the motivation to learn and apply good ideas to help you be a better leader.

4. Positive: Spending time on development is in investment in the future. Engaging in development can and should be seen as a positive experience that will lead to a better way of working. Having the right attitude about development helps one reap the greatest value from it.

5. Tailored: Each person brings a myriad of unique experiences, successes, and concerns. Crafting development experiences to fit the needs of each person, effectively builds on their strengths and addresses their specifics areas for opportunities. The more tailored the development, the greater level of respect and value the leader will feel.

6. Discomfort: When speaking with groups, I sometimes tell them that I hope they feel uncomfortable today because that is a strong sign that development is occurring! Lasting personal development pushes one beyond their comfort zone. It stretches and expands one’s capabilities and is strong evidence that learning has transitioned into behavior-changing development.

How have you or your organization used these principles to build training programs or foster personal leadership development?

I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!

Click here to download a FREE resource we created for you!

Get the summary of the above 6 Secrets to Your Leadership Growth for you to download and even print for future reference, here.

*Note this article was originally posted on LinkedIn

About Daniel

Daniel Stewart a Leadership, Talent, and Change Consultant at Stewart Leadership.

He thrives in supporting top performing companies manage and retain exceptional talent, and coach the leaders of tomorrow.

About Stewart Leadership

Stewart Leadership is a talent management and leadership development consulting, coaching, and training company building leaders in start-ups to the Fortune 500. Click here to contact us and discover how we could partner with you.

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A few years ago, I was visiting Disney World with my family. While waiting in line for the Peter Pan attraction, I watched the cast members (employees) as they helped each guest enter and sit in the small flying ships to begin the experience. 

I noticed a very focused and cheerful cast member who was busy neither helping guests exit nor enter the ride.  She was instead sprinkling each of the ships with invisible pixie dust, the substance that helped Peter Pan and others fly in the story. Following the same pattern for each ship, she took from her hand some imaginary pixie dust and gently spread it along the roll bar and across the seat of each flying ship. 

The ultimate test came when a ship emerged that had tape across it with a sign “Out of Order.” I wondered what she was going to do with this ship, which was not worthy to carry any guests. To my surprise, she prepared that same ship with pixie dust just like the others! She didn’t look around to check to make sure others saw what she did. She just did it! 

I don’t know if this pixie dust routine was expected of her or if it was her own invention. Regardless, she clearly understood why she was there -- to create a magical experience for the guests! She knew her role, had fun with it, and delivered it with high engagement. 

As I reflected on the coming New Year, I remembered that fun experience. I see it as a wonderful lesson in building engagement and purpose. Clarifying your individual purpose and desires and aligning them to your team’s mission is important to create full engagement—for you and for those you lead. Despite the “Out of Order” signs or other obstacles that come our way, knowing your purpose will enable your commitment to shine through. 

Define Your Purpose 
My challenge to you is to define your personal purpose for this year. To help you do this, below are three questions you want to answer. The intersection of these questions will create your purpose for the year. Use this for yourself and for the members of your team. 

#1 What Do I Care About? 
Start with identifying the top 3-5 things you value or are most passionate about professionally, personally, or both. 

Here are two examples: I recently coached a VP of Product Development and he loved ideas, trying new things out, and failing fast. We created a purpose statement for him around innovation and creating an environment of learning for his team. 

Another example involves a former colleague who had a passion for marine life and protecting the oceans. Because of this, she is planning on volunteering with a non-profit that works with ocean conservation. 

#2 What Am I Good At? 
Instead of focusing on things you are not good at, identify 3-5 strengths or talents that bring you joy when you do them. What has helped you become successful at work? Think about moments when you lose track of time or when someone came up and gave you a fantastic compliment. What were you doing? 

For example, a VP of Quality I was coaching excelled at recognizing the achievement of her people. She would write a letter every day telling someone they did a good job. She leaned into this strength and her team’s engagement showed it. 

#3 What Am I Grateful For? 
Recently a study was done, where researchers divided volunteers into two groups: one group to keep a weekly list of things they were grateful for and the other group to keep a weekly list of hassles and problems they were having. Not surprisingly, the people in the first group showed significantly higher life satisfaction than the problem focused group. 

If you want to increase the likelihood that you will be happy, focus on the good things in life.  If you want to sustain that level of happiness, build elements of gratitude into your annual purpose statement. 

Your Purpose Statement 
As you answer these three questions, combine the answers into one thought. It doesn’t matter if your focus for the year comes out as a single sentence: “Be present and positive when listening to other’s ideas” or even as a single word: “Present.” A purpose statement is important because it supports you doing what you love and loving what you do. It can bring you happiness as you lead others. 

Having a focused and defined purpose will direct your energy, help you manage through the bumps, and enable you to fly (with or without the pixie dust!) and make it a great year ahead! 

Time to Share 
Share your purpose statement with others, plan time to support it, and have fun living it! And please share your experiences with us in creating your purpose for the year. Leave a comment below with your experience or even your own purpose statement. 

To help you answer the above questions, and support you in coming up with your purpose statement, we created a worksheet for you that you can download and or print. Click here to download your FREE copy of the “Defining Your Purpose of the Year Worksheet.” 

*Note: Article originally published on Linked In 

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Several years ago, a group of students won the opportunity to submit an experiment for a shuttle flight into space. The students wanted to see how well a spider could adapt to weightlessness in a near zero gravity environment.

When in space, the spider started to create its web, but this natural process changed in an instant when the eight-legged astronaut was confronted with a very new situation. As she attempted to spin her web in space, she discovered there was no gravity to pull her from point A to point B. Every rule and condition of her previous existence had dramatically and completely changed. Her web was a total failure.

She did not give up. After many failed attempts, and considerable trial and error, she figured out that she could actually “swim” through the air like a waterstrider bug on the surface of a lake. Using this technique, the adaptable little spider soon completed a web. In the end, she mastered her web-making skills in a totally new environment, even though everything she had previously known was obsolete.


As people are promoted into leadership positions, they can experience a very new situation. Much like the spider in space, they will likely try and do the same behaviors that helped them achieve success in the past. However, those same behaviors will likely not be as helpful as they were in previous positions. Like the spider, a newly promoted leader needs to adapt their behavior to their new environment, leveraging their strengths and building new skills.


What are the skills that a leader needs? What are the most important behaviors that a leader must adapt to and use? Over the past two decades, Stewart Leadership has collected over 8,000 responses from our 360-degree leadership assessment. These responses come from executives, managers, and employees from Fortune 500, mid-sized, start-up, and government organizations across multiple industries.

From a list of 78 leadership behaviors, each participant was asked to rank the top behaviors of an “ideal leader” (one they would like to work for). Our team analyzed and ranked their responses to identify the Top Ten Most Desired Leadership Behaviors. Note that these behaviors are listed in order from highest to lowest, so the first trait is the most desired. Look through this list and see how you are doing in your leadership activities.


  1. Sets clear strategic direction.
  2. Knows when to stop analyzing an issue and make a decision.
  3. Follows through on actions, promises, and assignments.
  4. Has the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively perform job duties.
  5. Demonstrates high ethical standards.
  6. Lives, leads, manages, and works with integrity.
  7. Accepts responsibility for own actions.
  8. Leverages the strengths of each team member.
  9. Treats others with dignity.
  10. Creates a working environment that motivates high individual performance.

With so much discussion these days on how to create engaged and committed employees, the answer lies with so many of these Top Ten behaviors. Employees expect leaders to establish a clear direction and to support that focus with thoughtful and deliberate decisions. We all expect leaders to follow through on their commitments, do what they say, and understand what they are talking about. This does not mean that leaders need to have all the answers. They can respect the contributions of others in doing great things and finding new solutions together. Ultimately, leaders build an environment of accountability both for themselves and for others where high performance can occur.


  1. So, how do you measure up to this Top Ten list?
  2. How have you adapted your behaviors to new leadership situations?
  3. Which of these 10 behaviors would you like to further develop?


Let’s learn and take heart from the astronaut spider. If she can learn to spin her web in zero gravity, surely we can adapt our behavior to more fully inspire, empower, and collaborate with others as we perform our role as a leader!


We created a printable infographic with the above 10 Leadership Behaviors for you to download and print for your home, or office, to support you as you continue to develop your leadership skills and invest in yourself in 2017.


Learn more how the LEAD NOW! 360 Assessment can support you in your leadership journey. We invite you to schedule a time to visit with Taura Prosek, one of our amazing Stewart Leadership coaches, on how we can support you as you invest in yourself as a leader!

Note: This article was originally posted on LinkedIn


Daniel Stewart is co-author of the award-winning book LEAD NOW! and president of Stewart Leadership, an international leadership, teaming, and change management consulting, coaching, and training company, which has been building leaders for over 35 years. Visit to learn more and follow him on LinkedIn and twitter @stewartleader.

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I recently heard a story about a woman who had a dream.  In the dream, her husband gave her a beautiful necklace that she had always wanted.  In the morning, she explained the dream to him and asked what he thought it meant.  He smiled and said, “You’ll find out tonight!”

That evening, the husband came home with an elaborately wrapped gift.  Full of anticipation, she slowly opened the thoughtful present.  Much to her surprise, she discovered a book entitled, A Guide to Understanding Dreams.  (Uchtdorf, Training Broadcast, 2012)

In our work with leaders, we find there are often misunderstandings about what they think great leaders do. Just like the husband felt his response was the right way to help his wife, leaders can think their approach is the right way for their teams.

Yet, if the leader is viewing the situation through incorrect or outdated leadership assumptions, they can miss the mark completely.  They may deliver a decision or provide guidance, like a book to interpret dreams, when their people were expecting and needing something very different.  Despite the best of intentions, sometimes leaders can behave in ways that make sense to them but not to their teams and employees.

The following are three large myths that can be deeply ingrained in the attitudes and behaviors of leaders.  Being aware and debunking these detrimental assumptions can improve leadership performance and create more engaged team members.

Myth #1:  I’ve Already Got the Skills!

One of the biggest myths occurs when a leader thinks he/she already has all the needed skills.  In other words, what determined their past success will be sufficient to create their future success.

Often organizations promote the best technically competent person to become the leader of the group.  While this can make sense from a credibility and short-term performance perspective, it can send a message that business results and the person’s individual ability to achieve them are what is most valued by the organization.  Therefore, the new leader will often strive to work hard, distribute individualized tasks, and have an extra focus on the areas and approaches he/she did in the past.

The challenge with this myth is new leadership responsibilities also usually require new skills and mindsets to be successful.  Rarely do these new skills spontaneously show up.  It involves deep shifts in how one spends their time and works with others.

For example, instead of getting things done on one’s own, it is getting work done through and with others.  Instead of getting information for one’s own use, it is keeping everyone informed and being open to new ideas that come from a variety of sources.  And instead of focusing on one’s own deadlines and consequences, it is making decisions and moving things forward involving multiple needs and often competing priorities.

The best way of addressing this myth is with clear expectations before and after a leadership promotion.  While this is especially true for new leaders, it is also beneficial for leaders as they advance in their career regardless of level. Spelling out that leaders need to achieve bothbusiness and people results, that thinking and planning is important work, and that developing others is a critical role are important to clarify for leaders at every level.

Myth #2:  As your leader, I will solve your problems!

One of the most popular Harvard Business School articles of all time is surprisingly about monkeys.  The article by Bill Oncken entitled Who Got the Monkey?, describes how each task or responsibility we have is like a monkey hanging on our back.

Each leader has lots of monkeys to deal with from one’s boss and other organizational demands.  When an employee comes in and asks the leader to solve their problems, it is like they are adding more monkeys to the leader’s back.  The leader might be tempted to solve the problem and be the hero, but that might not be the best approach.

The challenge is when a leader’s team gets into the habit of taking problems to their leader without first trying to solve things themselves.  Add up all of these problems, and the leader can get bogged down with lots of issues (monkeys). By doing this, the team’s ability to be creative and to show initiative can also be limited.

There is a strong temptation to take on more than one can handle and to believe that a leader is expected to do it all!  A leader needs to be selective about the problems they try and solve. The fact is successful leaders know how to not solve all the issues on their own.  They focus on the biggest things that only they can solve.  They leave the rest to others or let them go unresolved.

Myth #3:  Mistakes mean I’m a bad leader!

Too often, there can be a widespread perception that leaders have all the right answers, and if they don’t, then they are bad leaders.  Apparently, we want to believe omniscience is granted with every leadership promotion!  While of course this is not true, we too often think this should be the case.

This can happen in two ways…

The first way is when a leader is filled with fear of failure.  In this state of insecurity, leaders may not reach out for input or guidance, relying on their own insufficient knowledge and not benefiting from the learnings of others.

The second way is when a leader is suffering from an overgrown ego.  Leaders with this condition have the delusion that they can’t make a mistake because they have been sanctioned with organizational authority.  Either way, leaders limit their own development and their team’s performance when they resist the knowledge that they are fallible.

Interestingly, leaders may admit in private that they often don’t know what to say or do, but they still might set the high bar of perfection for leaders above them. This is a strange double standard—allowing oneself to make a mistake, but rejecting others when they do.

To avoid this myth, leaders need to embrace the value of learning and a healthy level of humility.  

Recognize that vulnerability is an endearing characteristic and essential to producing a productive team.  Although it seems counter intuitive, plan on making mistakes and set up time to review and learn from them.

Treat moments of uncertainty and surprise as opportunities to grow, not evidence of failure. Be honest with yourself about your areas to develop and actively seek ways to stretch yourself.

The road to remarkable leadership can be filled with many misperceptions. Seek to clear away these myths for yourself so you and your teams can reap the benefits of great leadership!

BONUS: We’ve created a complimentary resource for you, to support you in not becoming a victim of the above myths. This Overcoming Leadership Myths Checklist will dramatically support you in your work and role as a leader. 

*Note this article was originally posted on LinkedIn

Website LogoAbout Daniel

Daniel Stewart a Leadership, Talent, and Change Consultant at Stewart Leadership.

He thrives in supporting top performing companies manage and retain exceptional talent, and coach the leaders of tomorrow.

About Stewart Leadership

Stewart Leadership is a talent management and leadership development consulting, coaching, and training company building leaders in start-ups to the Fortune 500. Click here to contact us and discover how we could partner with you.

Read More →

We all have challenging people in our lives yet unfortunately few of us have been properly trained in how to effectively deal with them. Well, that's going to change today. In no particular order, using the an acronym "C~U~R~B  Appeal", you will learn tips that will better enable you to get along with difficult people. C: Consequences  Very often when we are dealing with challenging individuals we fail to set limits and boundaries. We may be comfortable speaking up and addressing their inappropriate behaviors or attitudes. Additionally we might also comment on how we expect them to behave. However, that's typically as far as we get. Without motivation to change (which can either be a reward or a penalty) people are often inclined to continue doing what they're doing without regard for the feelings or impact it has on others. Much like our speed limits, if police officers only expressed a desire that we obey them rather than exceed those limits, few would comply. Imposing a ticket or points on the offender's license gives one ample reason to make the necessary changes. The key to effective consequences is following through with them. U: Understanding  It's essential to realize that behavior is an outward expression of our internal issues. Those who are arrogant, vengeful, rude, combative, uncooperative, etc. are verbally or physically expressing what is bothering them inside, those issues that they have not yet resolved or healed. Individuals are not always aware of why they act as they do and are therefore powerless to some extent to change. Even though I may be understanding that one who is yelling and threatening me is operating from a place of fear (aggression is a need to self-protect from a perceived threat), I may not necessarily know the source of that fear and neither is it necessary. I only need to be understanding of their suffering and therefore compassionate that they are struggling with an unresolved issue. R: Respect  Regardless of how difficult the individual may be, it is imperative to always treat them with dignity and respect. This can be extremely challenging as it is our natural inclination to want to put others in their place when they are acting out or to get even with those who have offended us. We also tend to assign value to people based, in part, on how they treat others. Those who are disrespectful or offensive have lower worth to us than those who treat one another with dignity. However, it is not our place to judge; neither do people have to earn our esteem. Respect is defined as "to value" and the one who assigns importance to all humanity is the One who created it. All human life has equal value. Respect is a God-given birthright. To offer it is a Divine responsibility. Additionally being courteous shows the other party how to be polite as well and hopefully they will follow your example. B: Boundaries  Robert Frost said, "Good fences make good neighbors." In every relationship it is important to establish rules and regulations defining what is acceptable treatment and what is not. Too often, we are fearful of speaking up when someone mistreats us or treats us in a way that we find offensive or uncomfortable. "People should know how to treat one another," we proclaim. However, respectable treatment is different for each person. What one is fine with another may find appalling. Each person must be crystal clear in their own minds how they want to be treated - what is and is not permissible - and then clearly convey that to the other party. Without verbally expressing our desires, we cannot expect that every person will treat us in a way that we find acceptable.  Ideally, having boundaries in place precedes consequences. Once they are made known, one can follow up by also expressing the consequences they are prepared to enforce should the other person disregard their request.  A: Appeal  Appealing to what matters to the other person , to what is important to them, is a powerful tool in gaining their cooperation. What strikes a chord within is more likely to result in an affirmative response than that which they cannot relate to. For example, one can appeal to their sense of moral values making a statement such as, "I know that it matters to you to always do what is right and fair." Pointing to issues of right and wrong, or to what is in their best interest can also enable them to adjust their attitudes or behaviors. "Do you think that your choice is ultimately going to be good for you? I'm concerned that it may not be and you certainly deserve to be safe/happy/healthy, etc." "How is this behavior/attitude going to benefit you?" is another powerful question that challenges the other person to reconsider their actions. "What is the more responsible thing to do? Is this a fair decision for everyone? Are you being a good role model for your children?" are all thought-provoking questions. Reach out and touch their "heart interests", what matters most to them. Share your concern for their well-being and in doing so you may very well gain their trust and cooperation.  In dealing with those who require greater effort on our parts, it is imperative that we remove our own ego and operate from a place of spirit - kindness, concern, and equality. Remind yourself that everyone is struggling with their own unique pain and fear. It is not your place to put them in their place but rather to uplift them and assist them in creating the best scenario possible at that moment. With a little concern, a reasonable amount of patience, and the C~U~R~B Appeal Method, you'll increase your ability to better interact with those who are typically uncooperative with others.     
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