Tag Archives: Cultural Impact

Unlocking Creative Vision

Leading others impacts all of us, whether we are leading or being led. In general, all leadership can be defined in one of two ways: Leadership through influence that inspires (serving others), or Leadership through positional authority.

What does each look like in real life? The first values freedom for others to become their best selves with opportunity, while the second uses power to motivate action based on stated consequences. Yes, both gets results. Beyond this, though, how are those under either leadership model connected to you as a leader? Put another way, what is the result of your leadership upon their heart? Your “leadership lifestyle”, or how you lead on a regular and consistent manner (i.e. actions arise from internal values) defines this relational truth. As such, creativity within those you lead becomes tied to this result.

The role of one’s heart and motivation, I believe, remains greater than most will consider in their personal leadership lifestyle. How so? Consider a key component for any organization/company — VISION. How one leads dramatically impacts the lens by which vision is seen, and subsequently, carried out.

Take a moment to consider the following quotes and the kind of “vision” that arises:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said: FASTER HORSES.” — Henry Ford

“What you yearn for will be what drives you to explore.” — Mark Francis

Our personal sphere of leadership will be dramatically impacted by our personal leadership lifestyle, especially towards how we help unlock creativity in those we lead. Creativity needs freedom to thrive, as well as opportunities to explore. As leaders, are we creating that environment? Without, vision will diminish and become nothing more than a sign on the wall.

Here are few ideas/thoughts that could serve as a beginning point in your own self-reflection:

> If you ask for input from your team, give value to it (beyond just a “Thank You”) – even using a portion of it building increasing trust that vision is a collaborative effort.

> When a process is not being successful, seek first to find out what it is not being self-corrected by those involved – Training gap, relational disconnection, loss of confidence, etc.

> Consistently communicate and demonstrate room for “failing forward” – using failure to drive creativity, not diminish it.

> Appeal consistently to one’s heart and importance over the rule of command/process – if your team feels they are present only for your personal success, you will lose their creativity and their heart for you.

> Ask open-ended questions for discovery – highlight the unknown and its value for driving exploring.

In our fast-paced world and ever-changing circumstances, our ability as leaders to value and support personal creativity in our teams will many times make the difference between short or long-term success.

Growing Through Challenges

Ask yourself this question – When I’m faced with a challenge, either with myself, others or circumstances, what is my initial reaction?

  • Do I judge it as a weakness or failure with drama?


  • Do I focus on it being an opportunity for changing something towards greater growth and success? 

We likely all have responded in both ways. The key question lies in the pattern of our gut-level reaction. Our ability to walk in truthful self-awareness of our reactions will in fact dictate what we emphasize and focus on during these moments. Excellence in all forms arises from seeing challenges as stepping stones to something greater.

Embracing and strengthening a “growth” perspective is largely a daily choice. As such, what we practice becomes our “nature”. Impactful leaders cultivate a growth-oriented perspective which is vital to sustainable success.

Need some practice tips? Here are a few to help – I’m sure you will think of others:

  • Calibrate your Emotions – Our feelings are part of us yet, cannot lead us. They can be a window into our hearts and the beliefs we hold about what is around us. A strong reaction can be an important tip off of something deeper to be explored personally. However, when dealing with yourself, others or even circumstances, keep them in check.
  • Embrace Changes – Life ceases to be such without change. From the moment we were conceived, life reflects an on-going expression of change. This includes our internal lives of our heart, mind and will. The one constant we experience is that life will not be constant. We can make change a part of our decisions (causing growth) or contend against it and stay stuck.
  • Value the Long-term – While we all experience life “in the moment”, a long-term vision helps us hold our moments with the weight they deserve. Even in moments of great impact, whether joy-filled or intensely painful, the capacity we all have to weave these into a larger life story depends on how we hold them. We can get stuck in moments and define all of our life by them. In contrast, we can make them but a part of other moments towards something greater or even different.
  • Connect with your personal community – Our personal lives can only be fully experienced in connection with others. Isolated, personal reflection is certainly key to personal awareness and growth. However, the encouragements and support of those around us fill in and fill out what we understand of “ourselves”. If we are left to only ourselves, we become self-absorbed and self-centered humans who will disesteem others for the sake of me, myself and I. Focusing only on what others think of me devalues the reality of my uniqueness through personal awareness. Both are key for us to understand ourselves and how others relate to us. The feedback from both becomes an important, and needful opportunity for growth and change.

None of us are exempt from challenges. How we respond to them determines what kind of opportunity we embrace. As leaders, the stakes are even higher. The challenges we face and our ability to create growth from them defines both our role and effect on those we serve. Excellence arises as we recognize the best that can come from the challenges we encounter. Let’s make growth our choice!

The Reflective Pause

Do you take regular reflective pauses?

Our ability to take a pause and reflect at any point in our daily routine or crisis circumstances
serves as an impactful indicator of both a growth mindset for our journey, and an enlarging
capacity for handling complex details. The more we normalize and value this response
internally, the greater our positive effect on our spheres of influence.

What is a “reflective pause”? Simply, it is a practiced discipline of moving from reaction to
responding after a deliberate pause to examine the truthful and provable details being
encountered. Many times, reactive behaviors spring forward quickly as a release of our
emotional state in the moment. Emotions are important to process and do have a role. In and
of themselves, however, they are the least effectual reason to base our responsive behavior
upon. Instead, responses based on what is true and real in circumstances will create the
greatest opportunity for appropriate, reasonable, and potentially helpful attitudes and
behaviors that can lead to positive interactions. The ability to ascertain what is both true and
real needs some level of examination beyond the actual moment. Pausing and reflecting on
these details can provide this outlook.

Why is this quality important, especially for relational leaders? For one, a leader who values
those they lead desires to build relationship based on truth. Discovery of what is true and real is
more important than even the expression of their own perspective or opinion. Two, these same
leaders also understand that a leadership lifestyle demands personal growth as part of the
journey. Otherwise, one’s capacity to be others-centered will eventually diminish as they fight
only for their own opinions. And lastly, relational leaders are well acquainted with the fact that
life experiences, especially with others, is rarely simple and straightforward, but rather complex
and messy. They desire an enlarging “capacity” within themselves to be able to handle more
and more complexity and messiness. Reactive living, as determined mostly by emotions and
limited understanding, diminishes each of these three areas over time. In doing so, leadership
impact shifts from serving and growing others to becoming more controlling and self-centered.

How can we grow this quality within us? Here are a few tips:

  1. Make it Important to You – Personal change begins with an internal shift of priorities
    and values. Choosing this quality as important reflects that first step.
  2. Practice in Routine – Make it a point to practice your pause and reflect during a normal
    day that has no particular crisis. That which you practice in times of normalcy will
    become a part of your life expression, especially in times of crisis.
  3. Explore Actions for Your personality – For some, their ability to pause and reflect can
    happen internally, no matter whose around. For others, they need to remove
    themselves and get alone to do so. Regardless of the manner, it will require both some
    time (pause) and critical evaluation (reflect) of the details. Create action based on how
    best you can do that right now.
  4. Follow up Questions – Be proactive to follow up with additional, clarifying questions to
    ascertain with greater confidence the truth and reality of the circumstances. Asking
    instead of assuming is the mark of a truth-seeker.
  5. Make a Decision – Depending on the events, a decision is needed, whether to remain
    quiet, offer counsel or direction, or even enter a type of conflict resolution process. As a
    leader, act on in some manner the outcome of your pause and reflection. Doing so
    reinforces its value for you personally.

Cultivating a reflective pause into our daily routines positions our hearts and minds to embrace
life and all its circumstance. Doing so gives us the constant opportunity to grow stronger,
deepen our courage and enlarge our outlook that life and relationship, even in crisis, remains a
gift of beauty, goodness, and wondrous expectation. Our world desperately needs this outlook.
In fact, each of us needs the encouragement of others like this too. Let’s do our part to be that
for others. You have permission – take your reflective pause. It will make all the difference.

Our Lingering Presence

“The words, attitudes and actions we express become our presence in others when we are not around.” MGF

Consider a leader of your past that you hold with honor for their positive impact on your life. What do you feel about them? I suspect if you were to see them again today, these same feelings would spring to the forefront as you interact with them. In effect, even though years may have passed, their “presence” has remained with you through how they treated you in the past. That presence defines their life to you and how you would re-engage with them now.

Whether we are leaders or not, we all create this kind of “lingering presence” in every other human we interact with, whether intentionally or not. As such, the importance of paying attention to how we interact cannot be understated. Consistency of our attitudes/actions/words plays a key role in that which lingers as well as the frequency of our interaction. The more we interact, the more we reinforce the kind of presence we create.

As leaders, our lingering presence with those we serve becomes even more pronounced and impactful. Time together, expectations for results, conflict potential, and leadership styles all contribute to increased impact over time in a leadership environment. Realizing the outcomes of our leadership in the lives of others, in particular the kind of presence it creates, is in one way, our responsibility. I would hope we actually make it something greater — a willing priority out of respect for ourselves and for those we serve.

Determining this presence doesn’t have to be an unknown. We all have choices to help create and establish that which lingers in the perspectives of others. Here are a few choices we can make as part of our leadership journey to create the presence we want:

  • Identify Key Values – What are those qualities that are most important to you for defining your life and connecting with others?
  • Practice towards Consistency – Prioritize and drive your attitudes, actions and words with your key values.
  • Esteem Feedback – Ask regularly about what others are believing about you as outcomes of your leadership interactions.
  • Adjust Often – Be quick to own mistakes or failures and then make a change, as needed, to connect more accurately to your key values.

We all create lives that touch others. That which lingers as presence in those we lead depends on what we offer day in and day out. When a positive priority, leadership becomes a joyful encouragement in the lives of others. That’s a legacy worth the effort!

Strategy and Vision

Strategy only has meaning when connected to vision. — Mark Francis

Identifying and understanding your vision, or where you want to go, is what gives purpose to the steps needed to get there (i.e. strategy). Doing something for the sake of simply “doing something” may look productive, but mostly leaves frustration, heart-ache, and unrealized goals after it is over. You deserve more — your teams and organization deserve more.

I’m here to help with both. Let’s visit to get you started.

Cultural Legacy

Each and every one of us are building an impactful history, or legacy, on a daily basis. Every decision we make, each conversation we take part in, the actions we repeat, and the values we hold to all contribute to the individual culture, or relational environment, we create for ourselves and those who walk the path with us. What lasting impact or mark on the world do I want to leave? If not by our design, the answer will lie in what we practice day in and day out, more specifically how others feel around us. Impactful, life-giving leaders who leave a legacy that lives on after them treasure those around them through mutual honor and respect. They live as a leader motivated by humble honor, willing to serve so that others can discover their own worth and make their unique contribution in their sphere of influence. Whatever our organizational description we are a part of, it serves in many ways as simply the backdrop for building cultural legacy that endures, calling those after us to a higher road. What marks your legacy?

The Trust Bridge

Imagine the strongest bridge you have traveled upon. Regardless of its size, the distance it spans, or the two areas it connects, building this connecting pathway took planning, time and foundational pillars sunk into deep bedrock. Building trust with others, especially with co-workers, takes many of the same qualities. Intentional effort to honor and value others, faithful consistency in word and action, and the time-tested fulfillment of spoken promises each provide the necessary materials for building an enduring and strong trust bridge with others. In many ways, on-going trust behaves more like a living thing, than something that is accomplished and finished. A virtue that needs faithful attention and intentional valuing, its presence inserts itself into every aspect of organizational life. Take a moment today to evaluate your trust bridges with those you walk with. Are you making each of them stronger and connecting with others in a secure way? Make 2016 the year of strengthening each of your trust bridges.

Culture’s Impact

How is your organization’s culture impacting your efforts? Do you have cultural goals you are wanting to achieve? How do you measure cultural success? How many of your staff are enjoying their work or looking to leave because of your organizational culture? How is your bottom line, whether financial or otherwise, affected by your organizational environment?

These and other questions are increasingly more relevant in today’s world of organizational proliferation. Establishing, sustaining and maintaining a climate for organizational growth and impact, both internally and externally, is a significant context for exploring and answering these and other relevant questions that truly influence organizational success. To not only capture the “pulse” of your current culture, but to consistently work on one’s cultural environment helps to impact every level of organizational life — individual, team and collectively as an entity.

A common theme emerges both from practical experience and intentional cultural philosophy — Culture happens — it will be defined by defaulting circumstance or by specific vision. Who is defining yours?

%d bloggers like this: