Is Leadership an illusion of Control?
Leaders are comfortable with being uncomfortable; because they know every life event thrown their way can be a tremendous learning experience. Leadership can be an illusion of control, but changing your perspective on every day experiences can provide inspirational learning opportunities for personal growth and development.
Are We Asking Too Much from Our Leaders?
Or… are we asking too little from each other? We spend enormous energy dealing with internal communication issues (i.e., team dysfunction) that keep us from realizing our full potential. Our intention is to create an inspired common purpose that binds people together, but our efforts are often seen as over-management with mere compliance rather than true commitment. In a number of recent forums with CEO's, three themes have emerged as commitments to improve organizational effectiveness: 
Where Organizational Meets Individual Wants
As a CEO, I wanted everyone who came to me with challenges, opportunities and problems to say this:
  1. Here are the undisputed facts of said challenge/opportunity/problem.
  2. Here are at least two possible options to address the challenge/opportunity/problem.
  3. Here are the pros and cons of each option.
  4. Lastly, the recommendation along with why, and the implications for people and resources.
Of course that doesn't happen too often, because we often have misaligned expectations due to poor communication all around.  View the video below for what I think the the number one organizational challenge is...
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Zack Baddorf on Green Beret Leadership Traits
Zack Baddorf is a public relations professional, multimedia reporter, and a strong supporter of the Green Beret Foundation.  Zack has spent more than a decade working in 30 countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine and Kosovo. Zack recently spent a year working in Afghanistan as a videographer for Special Forces, so I thought his perspective on what he observed about those leaders would be insightful for our readers. I asked Zack, "What were the leadership characteristics of the Special Forces soldiers you observed?"  Also, "Did self reliance help SF soldiers lead in austere circumstances?"  You will see from his answers that what he observed are the leadership traits that are in great demand in civilian life as well!
Colorado's High Country - about 12,000 feet
Hearing the Unheard for Leaders
Doing the same thing over and over again.  Insanity or purposeful?  While choosing every step carefully carrying a 40-pound pack in Colorado's high country at an average of 12,000 feet, it was hard to think of anything except putting one foot in front of the other to accumulate the 18 miles that was the goal for each day.  It wasn't like I could contemplate much until I finished the route, because almost every step required some degree of concentration and thought.  When you're 20 miles from a jeep trail, with no cell phone signal, and averaging seeing three people a day, you can't afford to slip and twist an ankle!
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When a leader’s presence feels like a gift
Every once in a while, you meet someone whose mere presence feels like a special gift.  Regina Ellis is the Founder and CEO of the Children Cancer Association (CCA) - the only organization of its kind in the nation. Regina established the non-profit in 1995 after her oldest daughter died of cancer at the age of five.  Regina's vision was to deliver joy to seriously ill children and teens when they need more than medicine. When I asked Regina about the one characteristic every leader should possess, she paused  for a long time to carefully consider her answer. 
Inside the Mind of an Extremely Effective Enlightened Executive – Part 1
Colleen Abdoulah Interview - April 8, 2014 When Colleen Abdoulah enters the room, you know it's going to get interesting.  Besides the heartfelt embrace, you'll notice an executive with presence, wit, intellect, compassion and humility.  What makes Colleen so interesting is that she knows effective leadership is not the mastery of skills, but one of constant balance between results and relationships (performance and people).  As she says, "Leadership is simple, but not easy."  Colleen, more than most, has figured out how to care deeply for people while at the same time asking them to give more than they thought they could.  She draws out exceptional performance through others by being extremely clear with her expectations, and creating an environment for people to take risks, occasionally fail, but ultimately, learn, grow and produce.
The Proverbial Fork in the Road
During my annual mountain biking trip to Fruita, Colorado, I took a tumble (an 'endo' as in end over end) because I tried a different path.  It reminded me of the choice we have everyday to take the path of comfort, or the one that involves commitment, discipline, risk and sacrifice.  We all know which path provides the most rewards, but as we get set in our ways, it gets easier to choose comfort.  Here's to breaking free, and changing your trajectory - just not literally! 
Mentors to Many
I have written often about the mentor I have had since I was 17 years old, George Callahan.  Before I went into the army, George invited me into his home where he told war stories and showed me military memorabilia and old photographs.  George was positive, optimistic, immensely inspiring, and completely encouraging.  I saw George again recently, and we presented a pen to him with the phrase, "Mentor to Many."
Work in Progress
If it wasn't for one of my mentors, I don't know when I would come to know the Socratic virtue of self-control; and that self-sufficiency alone doesn't equate to a good life. Aristotle taught us we achieve true happiness when we fulfill the design of our nature (i.e., we stay true to our core values, and leverage our strengths).  I believe that self-reliant leadership means knowing what tough questions to ask yourself, and then have the courage to answer those tough questions and act!  Self-reliant leadership also means knowing when you need help with the questions, and it can be useful to have someone hold you accountable to the commitments you make.
What do you think of you as a leader?
I have a mentor who says that he only needs to figure out one thing during an interview:  Is the person a giver or a taker?  It amazes me that very few up and coming leaders say they have ever been mentored.  I contend mentoring goes both ways, and I believe the relationship has to be initiated by the mentee.  That is, a mentor has to be selected based on the mentee's perceived fit.
Two Dirty Words and the Multi-Generational Workforce
Carbon-copy. White-out.  Red-line. In-box.  If you entered the workforce before 1980, you remember when those terms described actual physical things.  You typed on carbon paper, used white-out to correct mistakes, made red-line changes on a sheet of paper with a red pen, and the whole editing process involved papers in and out of actual wooden in-boxes. A lot has changed in the last 30 years.  Technology advances have been explosive with major effects on the four generations working side-by-side in today's organization (i.e., Traditionalists born before 1945; Baby Boomers born 1946-1964; Gen Xers born 1965-1980; and Millennials born 1981-1999).
Focus

[caption id="attachment_1793" align="alignleft" width="300"] Click to View Video (1 min.)[/caption] I recently attended a series of events related to the USA Pro Challenge.  "The USA Pro Challenge, also known as America's Race, is an annual multi-day professional road cycling stage race that first took place in...

Elusive Focus

Focus can be defined as the ability to adapt to the prevailing level of light and to see more clearly.  In business, focus is all about execution and results, and the adaptation has more to do with internal strengths and weaknesses, and external threats and...

Solo versus…

I am a big advocate for seeking solitude for reflection, and consider myself very fortunate to have access to some of the best wilderness in the world here in Colorado.  I have solo hiked, backpacked, and climbed a lot mountains over the years, and have...

Fleeting

For the past month, I have had the opportunity to really step back and evaluate three important questions.  Where am I?  Where am I going?  How will I organize my ongoing journey?  For me, I find time away actually to be difficult work.  It's hard...

Is Your Pursuit Noble?

Esteemed Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen wrote: "Management is the most noble of professions if it's practiced well.  No other occupation offers as many ways to help others to learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of...

Just One Piece of Advice for Today’s Leader

Like me, you have probably been to many graduation ceremonies over the years.  Mine have included high school, college, business courses, seminars, and a fair share of military courses.  I have heard a lot of speakers pontificate, and some of those speakers were well-known, and...

The Problem: Over-Managed and Under-Led

Our challenges as leaders are greater than ever.  It's all the ions: Execution Revenue Generation M&A Integration Competition Innovation Team Dysfunction Lack of Prioritization And our results are coming up short, because our teams are being over-managed and under-led. We're planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling better than ever, but more than the science...