Leaders Made Here – new book!

Hi All!

Leaders Made HereOne of my favorite authors has put out a new book! Mark Miller writes creatively through story about leadership and character in a way that is immediately useful to readers. Mark’s new book, “Leaders Made Here”, helps us know how to create a leadership culture that supports a leadership pipeline for our organizations. Check it out HERE!

Below is a very practical guest post from Mark for you!


How to Create Catalytic Meetings

Most meetings are useless. I’m guessing the more meetings you attend the more you’ll agree with that statement. Think about the REAL value of the last five meetings you attended. How much action was initiated or change realized as a result? How can we generate more action as a result of our meetings?

First, let me begin by affirming the value of well-designed and executed meetings. Here’s my vision for meetings…

Meetings are a forum capable of empowering teams and individuals, identifying and solving problems, reinforcing core values, encouraging, affirming, learning, challenging, helping people grow, collaborating, building community, increasing accountability, changing behavior, improving performance and more!

If the meetings you attend don’t do these things, you should work to make it so. But, the truth is, if you can’t use your meetings as a platform to generate productive action, you’ll be wasting tremendous potential.

To create catalytic meetings, here are five ideas guaranteed to make things happen…

  1. Start with the intent to create action. All meetings are not created equal. If you attend a meeting with the purpose of updating people on projects, don’t expect this to create much activity. My recommendation is to focus 75% of your meeting agenda on performance management. Intent is the primary driver of action.
  1. Ensure closure on every agenda item. This may seem obvious – unfortunately it is not. This is not to suggest you will actually finish every item you address. However, you should never conclude your discussion without identifying appropriate next steps. There are infinite options including identifying work to be done outside the meeting or the date on which the team will address the topic again.
  1. Visually display action items during the meeting. This simple step increases accuracy and agreement. Allowing individuals to capture his or her own action items does not provide sufficient visibility for the rest of the team. This is more powerful than you can imagine. A flip chart in every meeting, used to document action items, would revolutionize most businesses.
  1. Be sure you really have an action item. Again, this is basic but often missed. Unless you know WHO is going to do WHAT by WHEN, you do not have an action item. And, to be sure everyone else knows, I recommend reviewing the action items at the end of the meeting, distributing them after the meeting and distributing them again with the agenda for the upcoming meeting.
  1. Review all action items at every meeting. Once an action item is identified, by definition, it must have a completion date. Therefore, it falls to the facilitator to be sure every agenda has a designated time allocated to review previous action items. When the team begins to hold people accountable, you will see more action as a result.

One reason meetings have such a bad rap is a lack of action. If your meetings begin to create positive action, you may be surprised how quickly their reputation will change.

Mark MillerMark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs. 


Which of Mark’s books have you read? What have you learned from him?

Additional Resources:

You can register for Mark’s FREE Webinar on March 22 at 1PM ET HERE!

You can also read my posts on some of his other books:

Chess Not Checkers —  The Heart of Leadership — The Secret of Teams

facing future challenges

googleAlmost two years ago, my organization made a major shift to Google for our email client and file and calendar sharing. It has been a painful headache for some and an immense joy for others. I fall more towards the joy side, although it has been a steep learning curve for me too.

I am a learner, and I love systems that help me interact with others – even globally – while getting work done, so Google has won me over. I think Google has figured out some key principles that can make a big difference for the future. Here are a few of them:

  • Power has shifted from the organization to the client/consumer, and expectations are higher than ever. We can’t offer a sub-par product, at least not for long. Bad reviews trump clever marketing. Today, great products win. 
  • Most organizations today set up to minimize risk, not maximize freedom and speed. We tend to hoard information and restrict decision-making power. We need to move and change faster. We need to let go and empower.
  • We need more “Smart Creatives” – people who combine technical knowledge, business expertise, and creativity. They can do amazing things and have big impact. We need to recruit these people and provide an environment for them to thrive.
  • Smart Creatives like authenticity, small teams, plans that offer freedom and fluidity, involvement in decision-making, LOTS of communication, crazy goals, prototypes, and freedom to fail.

Communication is as important as decision-making,
and like decision-making,
it is something that most leaders think they are good at.

They are mostly wrong.

These principles challenge me when I think about my work and how I view the ideas and opinions of the coming generations… even my children.

If you want to think more about these ideas, you will enjoy the following SlideShare presentation. It is the basis for my content above.

What do you think are key principles for leaders and organizations as we move towards the future?

digital preferences for leadership development

onlineOnline learning is growing at exponential rates. Information and resources for leadership development are available online like never before. Expectations are also rising. Leaders want resources that are easy to access and relevant to their needs, and they like to learn with others. Organizations need to know their audience well in order to provide the right kind of resources in the best ways.

You have read in many of my posts about my studies for my MA in Global Leadership that I am doing together with my husband. We have learned a lot in the last three years and are nearing the home stretch for finishing our degree. This semester we are doing our last project about integrating digital strategies and leadership development. The project will serve our Leadership Development team and leaders around the world.

The project has two parts:

  1. Evaluate the google analytics behind our CCC/Cru Leadership Development websites and
  2. Survey others interested in online options for leadership development about their digital interaction preferences

We will combine these two sources of information to identify and correctly describe our audience for leadership development resources. We will also gain understanding about how leaders want to interact online. Identifying our audience and recognizing their preferences will help us design our online training resources to better meet their needs.

Would you like to help me with our research?

I have posted the link to our quick, 9 question survey. It takes only about 5 minutes to complete. Would you be willing to answer the survey for me? Your input would be greatly appreciated!



I’ll be sure to write a post after the project is complete, so that you will see how your feedback contributed to our understanding! Thanks so much for your help!

the BEST of 2013

antique trophy

Where has the time gone? I think I say that every year! It has been an eventful year… events that have brought travel to new places -internationally for work and eternally for beloved family members. I have laughed, and I have cried. I have written about many of the adventures, body and soul, here in these posts.

Thanks so much for accompanying me on my journey. I have loved your feedback, your pushback, and your encouragement along the way. I prefer to do my processing verbally, so your interactions with me make the challenging process of disciplined writing worthwhile.

There are days when I think I am ready to give up this work, but I know it is good for me to write out my thoughts and some of you have expressed that it is helpful for you too, so I think I will give it a go for another year. I hope you will travel the journey with me!

Here are the top-read posts written this year. I hope you will read any you’ve missed or re-read any favorites!

(Each post is available in English and Spanish. Feel free to look around in the archives!)

Most Read English Posts:

2013 top postshow to know yourself better

destroying double standards

when holidays hurt

creating more leaders

a bucket list

Catching Fire leadership

2013 top posts spanMost Read Spanish posts: 

rompiendo las barreras

peleando como un “ezer”

un ogro (grinch) del Día de San Valentín

espiritualidad e integridad para líderes

asombroso pastel de cumpleaños

destruyendo la doble moral

You can also read more about how the blog got started here: About Me  and here:  coffee as a way of life or here: why a blog

And you can check out earlier posts on:  The Best of 2012  🙂

THANKS AGAIN for reading! I really do appreciate you!

What were the biggest happenings in your 2013?

the HEART of leadership


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!


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.

breaking down barriers

file0001312170283In addition to the external barriers erected by society,
women are hindered by barriers that exist within ourselves.
Sheryl Sandberg¹

I received a copy of Sandberg’s book, “Lean In“, from a dear friend. I have only started reading it, but I have found connection, empathy, authenticity, grace, and challenge in the first chapters. Sandberg proposes a hypothesis which many of us already know is truth… as women, we are often our own worst enemy.

Sandberg explains that women often deeply internalize the negative messages we receive during our life – and quickly undervalue the positive messages that we earn.

I believe that women are essential to making important world changes in society through our relationships, families, and jobs today. To do that, we need support, advocacy, and partnership with the men in our lives, but we also need to believe in ourselves to step confidently into the places that we are created and gifted to fill. 

How can we do that? I’ve started a list here from some of Sandberg’s comments and some of my own experiences:

Gain self-awareness.

Personality profiles, StrengthsFinder, Reflected Best Self Exercise, work preferences, gift tests, feedback from mentors/friends/others… all help to discover and affirm unique value and contribution. The more I learn about myself, the easier it is to choose where to invest my time and my talents with confidence.

Don’t give unnecessary power to gender stereotypes.

“Strong”, “assertive”, “outspoken”, “intelligent” – these words often negatively describe a woman leader, but compliment a man. Words like “sensitive”, “passionate”, “caring”, “transparent” can also be used to disregard a woman’s position, but be considered uncommon and valuable assets for men. The key principle to remember is – no matter what I do or what I am like, I will never please everyone. I need to be comfortable in my own skin.

Get past the fear.

Women sometimes feel afraid… afraid of not knowing enough, afraid of saying something stupid, afraid of failing, afraid of being labeled as a fraud². Fears like these could easily paralyze and cause a step back from opportunities, but so often they are irrational and never actually occur. I am learning to speak up or act with courage in spite of my fears. I am learning that I am needed and because of that, I must “keep my hand up… and sit at the table”³. 

Say a simple “Thank You” for compliments and awards.

Sandberg explains that it is often our insecurity that causes us to scoff, brush off, and negate the achievements and accolades that we receive. I sometimes fail to accept a compliment without explaining or excusing it away with a, “It was nothing”, “I had lots of help”, or “I guess I had them fooled.” I am grateful for those in my life who (first) express their sincere appreciation for my efforts and (second) confront me if I undervalue my contribution. 

How have you been your own worst enemy? What would you add to this list?

¹Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2013. p. 8.
²Ibid. p. 28-29.
³Ibid. p.38

let them fly

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My “baby” (just finished her freshman year in college) boarded a plane this morning to take an international flight… all. by. herself. I am a bit nervous. I am anxiously awaiting updates as she makes her way through three flights, three airports, immigration and customs, money changing, and a bus ride to a destination where she will finally connect with friends. I will be counting the hours… minutes… seconds?

I go through second guessing… Is she ready for this? Did I tell her everything she needs to know? Will she get stuck somewhere?

And then I remember… I raised her to do this. I am not an overly protective, micro-managing, hovering type of mother. I want her to be confident, try new things, step out of her comfort zone, take adventures. I want her to figure it out on her own… or be able to ask for help. I want her to make her own (wise) decisions, trust her instincts, lean on her faith, be strong and not afraid of the unknown. 

I want this for all my children… and I want this for those I supervise at work and in ministry. One of the hardest things to do is to let them fly on their own… be in charge, take over, make the decisions. One of the key lessons in leadership is: get. out. of. the. way. Let others lead.

Will they make mistakes? Yes.

Will they make poor decisions? Sometimes.

Will they need help? Sure.

Good training, modeling, and coaching is crucial, but there comes a time when it is really only our pride and our fear that stand in the way. I have seen many leaders that hang on to leadership for too long, wearing too many “hats” of responsibility that could be released to others. I’ve done this myself. But I’ve learned that when we sense a lack of leader candidates, they oftentimes step up only when we are out-of-the-way and there is a real gap to fill.

It’s OK to feel nervous… to worry a bit from the sidelines… even to remain available for a quick touch-point .. but it is not OK to hold them back by our own fear or selfishness.

Let them lead. Let them go. Let them fly.

Is is hard for you to let go? How have you learned to let others lead?