Is Your Leadership A Gift?

It’s the season of giving…

First, a disclaimer… This is about intentional giving and not about giving out of obligation (I have never been a fan of that anyway).

Have you ever considered the mental taxation and stress that goes on our hearts and minds of buying a present? Often, there are serious calculations that take place, causing the Advil bottle to empty quickly. The heavy sighs of not knowing what to give, the internet searches, the pages of the catalogs turning, asking others what they think, looking for the one present that says as much about you as it does the person you are buying for.

When we buy a present for someone, it is nothing more than a transaction.  Hardly any feelings take place between the seller and the buyer.  There is probably a friendly, polite conversation but no emotional feelings are exchanged. Why? Because when we make a purchase, a relationship is not established. Just another heavy sigh takes place, but this time one of relief, knowing that you have completed the task.


Once you give that present to someone, it becomes a gift — everything changes; you take on a different mindset — the anticipation in hoping that everything you went through to make that “transaction” was worth it. Relationships are established when we give the present. The present becomes a gift because when we give it, we are expressing to that person you value them and you want them to be a part of your family or a part of your inner circle.

For some of the gifts we give, a lot of thought process goes into it.  We really try hard to find that perfect gift for others.  Why is this? Intentionality! I believe when we give gifts, it says something about what is inside of us and the relationship that we have with the recipients.  As I think about it a little more now, everything we give shows what is inside of us.  Our time, money, thoughts, etc.; even our leadership.

What then can be said of our leadership as we give it to others?  Is it intentional or out of obligation? Is your leadership nothing more than a present of a transaction? Does it matter what we give in regards to leadership?  I believe so.  Let’s make sure that it does. Turn your leadership into a gift for others. Let it transform not only you but them also.

©2018 J Clay Norton


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“Masked” Leadership

This past summer when we visited Los Angeles, my daughter and I decided to take a tour of the Warner Brothers Studio.  One of the areas of the tour was the “Streets and Buildings” section. This section of the tour took us up and down streets on the grounds of the studio with buildings that were “sets” for many of our favorite TV shows.

While I knew each building was just a “prop,” seeing it up close reinforced my notion of the great facade within TV shows.  You might be saying, “Duh, really?  You did not know that?”  Well, yes I did, but to see it up close makes you realize just how real, “fake” can be.

The same can be said with leadership.  Often, leadership is nothing more than a facade, providing a face that appears to have it all together.  As we continue to live our lives in leadership positions, and the more mature we grow in that, we should begin to see how many fake, masked leaders are in roles that end up causing more harm than good.

How can we tell the difference? How do we see beyond the facade that “fakes everyone out?” What is really “behind the scenes?”  To answer these questions, we must look at the actions, and then hear the words to see if they connect.


I believe leaders who wear a mask do the following…

Fail to speak the truth

Masked leaders swallow the truth.  They speak what they think is best to cover themselves.  When this happens, they also swallow their integrity, self-respect, and most of all their authenticity.

Want to be “blenders”

Masked leaders want to be whatever they think they need to be for whatever environment they are in. They change their leadership style to accommodate and blend into every new crowd.

Find it hard to apologize

Masked leaders find it very hard to apologize. Either they do not, or they deflect with, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Are “copycats”

Masked leaders who “copycat” other leaders cannot be themselves. I believe this is one of the more dangerous characteristics of leadership. People want a real leader.

Promote their “perfectionism”

Masked leaders cannot handle situations where no one agrees with them. It causes them to feel rejected. Believing that your leadership is perfect actually stems from the fear of knowing that it is not.

Shine their “light” too bright

Masked leaders never dim their light. They always want to be seen as the brightest in the room. Having their light the brightest automatically dims anyone else’s light that actually could shine brightly.

When you wear a mask, you rob not only yourself of what you could be, but you rob others of their ability to be who they are around you. If you are wearing a mask, please lose it.  Halloween should only come one time a year, and life is not an everyday masquerade ball.

©2018 J Clay Norton


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The “Lights” of Leadership

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…,” until you have to deal with the Christmas lights!

As we decorate each year, all of our Christmas lights are in one bin. Every year when we “undecorate” I take the lights, wrap them nicely, put them in a bin and close the lid. By the way, all bulbs of each string of lights are working…

Fast-forward eleven months and something has happened. Obviously, someone has gone in and tangled the strings together in knots, thus making many of the lights not work. I believe that the Gremlins have come back from the ’80s and are living in my attic. Anybody working with me? Have you Gremlins and lights not working too?


So, where is this going with regards to leadership? Let’s see if we can turn the lights on and make a connection…

When you plug the lights in, one of three things is going to happen. Every light lights up, some light up, or none light up — only those three options. What happens when you plug your leadership in? Let’s let the lights represent characteristics of our leadership.

Those same three ideas are present when you plug your leadership in; your characteristics either all work, some work, or none work. Only one of three is for the best. Have you ever notice when you buy a box of lights they give you a “few” extra bulbs (just in case one does not work)? You cannot replace every bulb.

The question to be asked with regards to your leadership is, “Are the lights working?” Not some, not a few, but all. Think of it this way… Do the “lights” of your leadership shine? What type of connection are you making? Are there a few “lights” that are not working well? A much bigger problem is when not a single “light” comes on.

In leadership, we must regularly check to see if our “lights” are working; even changing a few bulbs out along the way. Sometimes we might just have to throw the whole string away and start new; and you know what, that’s ok too. Leadership is about finding what works.

Now, about all those strings being tangled up? I am going to blame that on the Gremlins… Someone fed them after midnight…

©2018 J Clay Norton


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Thanksgiving Grace

Hope each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving…

If you would like to print and have a paper copy of this, click here: Thanksgiving Grace1

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Thanksgiving Grace

Grace… Bestowed by God –
Accepted and appreciated in humility.

The gift of life, a remarkable thing – 
Every breath, a beat of the heart.

The Heavens declare His grace – 
The noonday sun, the nighttime stars.

Grace displayed beautifully through the Scriptures –
Following Jesus; what a change!

The words of Jesus ring out to all who would hear Him say –
“Come unto me… and you will find rest.”

Grace, seen in the purpose of God –
“How sweet the sound…”

The grace you seek is in Him –
Knowing “I was once lost, but now am found.”

We cannot boast or make any claims –
Mercy and grace are what we need.

Grace is wonderful –
For sinners are saved, condemned no more.

Once a sinner, now redeemed –
A sobering and humbling scene.

Thanksgiving, a time our hearts should be stirred –
Truly giving thanks, for the grace undeserved.

Abundantly given by God –
Every day, thankful for Thanksgiving Grace.

©2018 J Clay Norton


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