chess not checkers

I don’t even know how to play chess, but I loved this book! chess not checkers

In typical Mark Miller style, he writes the book as a story, weaving humor, wisdom, care, and pragmatism in a quick, easy-to-read format. The main character, Blake Brown, takes a new CEO job in a struggling organization. Work is frustrating and drudgery, teamwork is non-existent, morale is weak, and customers are going elsewhere. The game has changed, old strategies aren’t working, and losing is miserable for everyone.

Blake begins to meet with a chess master mentor who teaches him four simple – yet essential – principles for playing a new game in today’s complex world:

1. BET ON LEADERSHIP – Identify and invest in emerging leaders. Mark gives excellent tips about developing yourself, your team, and the organization.

“…proactively develop your leadership.
The earlier in their career you invest in them, the better.”

“Leadership growth always
precedes organizational growth.”

2. ACT AS ONE – We know this as alignment, and it requires excellent communication. Mark describes it with a helpful illustration:

“Think of your organization as a car
driving at high speeds down a bumpy, dirt road.
The car will constantly be knocked out of alignment.
Part of your never-ending role is to keep the organization
aligned on what matters most.”

3. WIN THE HEART – Greater engagement happens when you allow people to contribute their unique gifts and work using their personal strengths.

“This is the way you need to look at your people.
When you deploy them thoughtfully,
you create greater value.”

4. EXCEL AT EXECUTION – This involves the important areas of resource allocation, measurements, and systems versus personality design.

“To help your team improve execution,
measure what matters most.”

There is much more in the book. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy today!

Any leader who implements these timeless principles will grow personally and improve the game plan for their team and their organization.

Which of these principles is most urgent for your situation? How can you apply new and improved strategy in your context?

Check out the great book trailer video HERE!

You can also find Mark Miller blogging on his website, Great Leaders Serve.

I also wrote a summary and review of some of Mark’s other books: The Secret and The Heart of Leadership. 

“The Secret” to great leadership

The SecretHappy 10th Anniversary to “The Secret“!

The book, The Secretis celebrating its 10th anniversary, and I gladly reviewed the anniversary edition. Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller wrote The Secret. It is a quick and easy read filled with powerful principles to apply to any leadership role. Here is just a taste of the excellent content:

“No matter how long the runway,
that pig ain’t gonna fly!”
¹

This is a great way to remember that the purpose of training and development is not to “fix” people. People can learn and improve, but they will always be more powerful in their areas of strength… and never eliminate their areas of weakness. A key responsibility for a leader is to “fit” people into a role that is good for them, a role that matches their strengths.

In order to “fit” people into their best role, a leader must know the vision and the roles necessary for accomplishing the vision. The leader must also know their people well.

The BE, DO, HAVE, and HELP Framework²

Blanchard and Miller mention this framework taught by Bobb Biehl. The tool is helpful for getting to know your people and building a deeper relationship with them. The idea is to ask someone to share the top five things they would put in each category: five things they want to be (ex. a better mom), five things they would like to do (ex. attend a special event), five things they want to have (ex. more family time), and five people/areas where they would like to help (ex. favorite charities). Then, as the leader, look for opportunities to resource these areas – provide a ticket, a mentor, a network contact, a training, a workload/hour adjustment, etc.

The SERVE principles 

SERVEEach letter stands for one of the five key principles of leadership success. The book’s entertaining and effective story format explains each of these principles.

There is also a helpful self-assessment on these principles included in the book.

If you want to improve your leadership, I highly recommend this book. If you read it ten years ago, maybe you would like to read it again!

What do you think is part of the secret of leadership?

_______________________

¹ Blanchard, K. and Miller, M. (2014). The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. (p. 70)
² Ibid (p. 94)
Celebrate 10 years by reading a #freesample of #TheSecret by @kenblanchard & @LeadersServe here:  http://bit.ly/TheSecret10

the HEART of leadership

heart_of_L_12_1_


Powerful words. Great story. Quick-read book. 
What could be better?

I accepted the opportunity to be part of the launch team for Mark Miller’s new book, The HEART of Leadership. I read it in just a few hours(!)… but I will be referring back to it for a long time.

Without leadership character,
no one cares about your skills.

Mark’s book tells the story of Blake Brown and his search for what makes leaders different after he misses a leadership promotion. Blake seeks out help from his mentor, Debbie Brewster, who sends him to meet with five special people. Each of the five share with Blake one element of leadership character. Blake changes his heart in the process, as well as his leadership at home and at work. 

This book is a simple, quick, easy read… but there is great depth in its content. Here is a quick review of key points from The HEART of Leadership, but I highly recommend you buy the book for yourself!

H

UNGER FOR WISDOM  Wisdom informs all of our decisions. Mark mentions four ways to cultivate a hunger for wisdom:1) focus on the pursuit, not the outcome; 2) be open to input, new ideas, different opinions; 3) grow constantly, and 4) establish a network of counselors/mentors for advice.

E 2XPECT THE BEST  Leaders see potential, what could be. They are generally optimistic and believe the best about others and themselves. They don’t ignore reality or facts, but they generally see the glass as 100% full – half liquid… and half air!

A 2CCEPT RESPONSIBILITY   Mark says that leaders “own” their actions and the actions of others. They accept responsibility when the team fails. Leaders don’t blame others; they guard against pride and people pleasing and… they give the praise to others!

RESPOND WITH COURAGE  Leaders don’t hesitate when faced with difficult or challenging situations; they initiate to mend broken relationships, challenge people to grow, or make hard or unpopular decisions. They may get it wrong sometimes, but they choose to act.

THINK OTHERS FIRST  This is the most important point of all. The servant leader works to ensure that others do well and that they feel honored and valued… but they must act with a sincere heart attitude; they can’t fake it or manipulate.

As I read Mark’s book, I felt numerous tugs at my heart in every chapter. Like the imaginary Blake, I saw obvious weak areas and lots I can improve. Mark uses an iceberg to illustrate that only 10% of leadership is the skills that show above the water. 90% of leadership is the leadership character below the surface.

Our work and homes and world need leaders with great character… with great HEART. I’m ready to work on my HEART. Want to change the world with me?

______________________

MarkMiller_About_179x240_050813Mark Miller, well known business leader, best-selling author, and communicator, is excited about sharing The Heart of Leadership: Becoming A Leader People Want To Follow with those who are ready to take the next step.

You can download a FREE sample chapter or buy the complete book at Amazon or bookstores everywhere!

And you can follow Mark Miller on Twitter @LeadersServe and through his Great Leaders Serve blog.

working women of the Bible

One of the things I like best about Twitter is the new people who I have met in the tweeting process. There are some “crazies” out there as in all of life, but I have also been privileged to interact with leadership experts, soul sisters, and wise life-practitioners.

Susan DiMickele happens to be an incredible combination of all three. Susan and I have never met face-to-face, but we hope to someday. Susan tweets at: @SusanDiMickele and blogs at: www.susandimickele.com. Susan has been a trial lawyer for nearly 18 years and a mother for 12 years. She describes herself as “an author who writes about the working mom’s struggle to live out an authentic faith in a complex and fast-paced world“. Susan has written a new book that will go on sale this week! (pre-sale available now)

I had the exciting opportunity to pre-read Working Women of the Bible and provide a review of the book. This is basically what I wrote…

workingwomenofthebible book

Working Women of the Bible is a unique, refreshing, and encouraging book about women and work. Many believe in error that the Bible mandates all women to work only at home, barefoot and pregnant, with their main role being to serve the men in their life. Susan DiMickele demonstrates that God offers an incredible variety of work options for women of faith. . . and He has provided women mentors from many different situations to guide us. Bible stories, personal experiences, and individual reflection questions combine to create a motivating and challenging resource. The mentors you meet in this book will inspire and empower you… and your work!”

In the book’s introduction, Susan writes: As much as I try to juggle it all—home, work, marriage, kids—I often wish, “Could somebody just please show me how it’s supposed to be done?” and  Too often, we forget that the women of the Bible worked. And they worked hard. They made mistakes, and they didn’t give in. In many ways, their stories are our stories.

I really enjoyed Susan’s fresh perspective and practical applications. She helped me let go of the “superwoman” phantom and find hope in second chances. If this sounds good to you, visit your favorite book seller this week and pick up a copy of Working Women of the Bible for yourself and/or a friend. You won’t regret it!

Have you ever studied the working women of the Bible? Who is your mentor?

___________

susan dimickeleSusan is also the author of Chasing Superwoman: A Working Mom’s Adventures in Life and Faith (David C. Cook, 2010). She has authored articles in both secular and faith-based publications, including, ”War of the Worlds,” a recent article in Home Life Magazine (February 2011) that candidly discusses the need for common ground between stay-at home mothers and mothers who work outside the home. While Susan strives to be at the top of her profession, her greatest desire is to use her God-given gifts to be the woman He created.