“Remember the difference between a boss and a leader; a boss says “Go!” – a leader says “Let’s go!“ – E. M. Kelly

One of my favorite subjects is Leadership – the process of influencing others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation.  How to be a better leader?  I devour books on the subject in my search for self improvement.  In the process I have developed a leadership model based loosely on John Bucciarelli’s Leaders are Made, in which I establish a foundation for leadership and a series of building block management skills, which can be both learned and reinforced through practice.



Ethics and morals form the foundation:  trustworthiness, honesty, respect for self and others, taking responsibility, playing fair, caring for others, and being a good citizen are basic foundational traits and and form basis of character.  Character, in turn, drives all behavior.  As Coach Dick Vermeil states in the movie Invincible, “character is tested when you are up against it”.

I have found you either have good character or you don’t – most everyone I know has generally good character.  Yet I have witnessed leaders at close hand who just don’t have the same value set as I do – they see leadership as a power game (it is not) where the strong push around the weak, whatever the cost.  If you don’t have the same sketchy morals, following such a leader will create a discordant stress within you – one you just can’t shake until you find yourself on another team.  Those with good character, who treat people right and are honest and straight forward, will find they have a solid foundation for leadership, and their followers will have little trouble hitching their wagon to the team.

We all make mistakes.  We all have setbacks.  —Confidence in our ability to learn from our mistakes and overcome our setbacks is what makes us successful in the long run.  —No matter what your self-confidence level is right now, you can probably improve it, but you need to believe in yourself and your capabilities before anyone else will.  Remember, if you want to lead others you must start with the man in the mirror.  “There are two types of pain in this life, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret

It All Starts with Why”  What can I say?  Simon Sinek nails it like few others.


One of the greatest gifts you can give another is your undivided attention – not your advice! Oftentimes just talking about an issue helps your partner formulate his/her own solutions.  —”Being listened to feels so much like being loved we can’t tell the difference” -Oxberg

Communication – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” What indeed?

Ernesto Sirolli Want to Help Someone?  Shut up and listen!  Reminds us of the basics…

Killer Presentation Skills by Douglas Jefferys – Don’t forget 60% of communication is non-verbal


“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them.  They went out and happened to things.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Take Initiative!  The importance of taking the first step to make things happen!

Where Do Good Ideas Come From? by Steven Johnson helps us understand creativity.


Without the guidance of emotions, reasoning has neither principles nor power.” – Robert C. Solomon

Giving  Awesome video…

Service Leadership  Makes you think – do you really know what others are going through?  Does it matter?


People don’t do things unless they want to do them – remember that when trying to influence others – make it in their self interest.

Amazing Teamwork Indian Construction Site reminds us where there is a will there is a way.

Attitude is everything.  Negative people create more negative people.  Is that the kind of leader you wish to be (or follow)?  Attitude Makes All the Difference – Zig Ziglar at his best.

Dan Pink Ted Talk:  The Puzzle of Motivation

“What we do in life is determined by how we communicate to ourselves.  In the modern world, the quality of life is the quality of communication.”  Tony Robbins’

Why We Do What We Do  Master Speaker – thoughtful message.

What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work? by Daniel Ariely – understanding what really motivates us – and what does not.  Really powerful.


—Delegation is the true force multiplier for leaders at all levels. Push decisions down to the lowest level possible.   “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority and don’t interfere.” – Ronald Reagan.

Good videos on delegation are hard to come by – very dry and not much distinguished from the literature.  An exception is How to Micro Manage Like a Real Ass  Well, it gets its point across!


Judgment is the ability to combine hard data, questionable data, and intuitive guesses to arrive at a conclusion that events prove to be correct.

  • Common Sense is not all that common.



Plan the entire job…

—Start with the outcome in mind and time frames set.
—Get everyone involved in a one-philosophy system.
—Think everything through, first things first, from the beginning to the end.
—Expect, then inspect, and adjust accordingly.



—“Chronically disorganized people are a serious liability to their organizations…They waste an enormous amount of time…To compensate, they work longer hours but never seem to get caught up.” – Alec Mackenzie The Time Trap.
  • Activity ≠ Work
  • EAT YOUR PEAS – focus on key tasks.  Do difficult tasks first.
  • Focus 80% of your time on the 20% of your tasks that yield 80% of the results.

Business Literacy

Understanding Business, cost principles, and measurements and its impact to each function and bottom line results.
  • Know where to look – basic financial and cost accounting, KPIs and KPMs, Pareto analysis for time and energy
  • Know how to look – understand cost drivers (Bills of Materials, time and labor sinks, quality issues), variance analysis
  • Know what to do when you find savings or opportunities for growth

Technical Competence

Though leadership transcends technical boundaries, technical competence increases your self-confidence and the confidence of your followers in our ability to lead them.

Administrative Control

Manage your boss with clear, concise, regular reports.  The first step in accountability is self reporting.  Aids planning and communication.

Control is for Beginners. —”With too much control, you don’t get jazz”.  -Scofield

  • When we don’t give our people the space to take calculated risks, learn, apply, and iterate, we are really risking our future. 
  • In our push for perfection, we over-engineer.
  • Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

We’ve all heard about it… here is the video…Cowboys Herding Cats

Problem Solving

As a leader, you must be a problem solver, not a problem maker.  Don’t bring problems without offering solutions.  If You Can’t Win…Change The Rules:  think anew and get creative.  To prevail against the old rules get rid of them.

“Doing things the way you did them last year is just an excuse for not thinking.” – George Koch.

“The defining factor is not resources – it’s resourcefulness” – Tony Robbins

Tom Wujec’s Build a Tower, Build a Team challenges us to rethink the way we solve problems and shows the importance of rapid experimentation.

Failing to practice is practicing to fail” – John Wooden

“—I will > IQ” Kraig Kramers

—Involvement ► Ownership.  —Agreement ►Authority

Physical Stamina

How do you feel in the morning?  How do you wish to feel?  Hard work takes stamina.  You need to take care of yourself first if you wish to lead others.


—When in charge – take charge.  Make a decision and move on.  If the decision is wrong, say “oops”, take corrective action, and move on

Mission Accomplishment

It is easy to know What to Do. (Strategy).  —It is quite difficult to know How to Do It (Implementation).  A poor strategy well executed is preferable to a good strategy poorly executed.

If you want to get things done, work on culture.  “Culture eats strategy for lunch”.  But I am here to tell you structure builds culture.  Stick to the basics, over and over, and you will drive a continuous improvement culture that enables a winning strategy.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution (McChesney, Covey, and Huling):

  1. Focus on the Wildly Important.  The more you try to do, the less you accomplish
  2. Act on the Lead Measures.  Activities your team must do to reach the goal.  Predictive and actionable.  Leverage efforts.
  3. Keep a compelling scoreboard.  Simple, visual, and visible.  Keeping score leads to Engagement.
  4. Create a Cadence of Accountability.  Frequent and regular team meetings for peer accountability and adjustments.  Trim the sails.

It turns out you actually must do something.  You can’t merely intention your way to extraordinary (Bruce Sullivan)


The first rule of Leadership is Followership.  Every good leader is a good follower.  Leadership is service – followership is optional.

First Follower:  Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy says it all.

And, for some perspective, The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Achor is not to be missed.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.“ Engineer at LinkedIn.

© 2013 and 2017 Paul Yandell.  Call 760-500-6006 or email




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