GPS Leadership

This past week, our family had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles, CA.  My wife had a counseling conference to attend, and my daughter and I made it a vacation.  Now, if you have never driven in LA, then you do not know what you are missing.  The rumors are true.  It is slam packed, turtle moving, and prayers needed. We had to make a lot of Ninja and Jedi moves to get to the correct turns sometimes.

We rented a car and used the GPS on our phones for directions.  As I reflect, I found a lot of leadership lessons from the trip and the GPS.


Good leaders need a great wingman.

I found myself a few times telling my wife or daughter, “Talk to me Goose.” The classic line in Top Gun with Maverick and Goose.  They both did an excellent job in guiding me where we needed to go.  Leadership is like that.  There has to be trust and communication. You have to have someone on your side, by your side who is going to help you because it benefits the whole group, not just themselves.

Good leaders plan for the long road.

We were going to Anaheim one evening, a distance of only 26 miles.  1 hour and 39 minutes later, we arrived.  No one in LA says, “I’m just going to run over there real quick.” Leadership takes a look at what is ahead and determines the path to take.  It may be long, slow, stressful… but at least you are doing something.  Too many times, it is too easy to say no, let’s not do that.  It will take too long.

Good leaders sometimes make wrong turns.

Every day, I made at least one wrong turn.  LA is full of forks in the road and merger here and merge there lanes.  The great thing about missing a turn, the GPS will always recalculate.  That is what happens in leadership.  Sometimes leaders make a wrong turn, a bad decision, an oops and an opportunity to recalculate.  Let’s try that again.  Many times, on our wrong turns or missed exits, we were able to see something that was not planned.  A lot of great leadership decisions have been made in the same manner.

Our GPS made our trip all the more doable.  I would not want to drive in LA blind.  At the same time, I do not want to be leading blindly.  I am not a fan of the “let’s fly by the seat of our pants leadership.”  Too many bad things can happen.

Leaders need a good wingman, a plan for the long road, and an opportunity to recalculate.  If you do not, then you are leading alone, probably shortsighted, and think you never make mistakes.  If this is you, then stay out of everyone else’s lanes that know where they are going.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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Living vs Dead Leadership

Any leadership worth its salt must be evident, not so much by faith, but by the works which are shown to others. If you live your leadership in the faith of hoping others will embrace your leadership, then your leadership is dead.


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As leaders, one of our primary aims is to distinguish between living and dead leadership. Sounds easy, right? Probably easier than you realize, if you are a servant leader in your works that is seen and felt by others.

Three thoughts that can make sure your leadership is alive and not dead hinge on being a servant leader. Let’s see how it plays out…

The cause of living leadership is having your heart in the right place toward others. True leaders know they cannot produce living leadership merely going through the motions. This quickly leads to dead leadership. The leader with dead leadership believes they have the power within themselves instead of empowering others.

The nature of living leadership is a firm belief of the truisms that others matter. Dead leadership is nothing more than emptiness and paranoid opinions that have no real effect on the heart of others. Living leadership, on the other hand, embraces the essence of others and surrounds itself with meaningfulness.

The effect of living leadership is the most important. This is where leadership can be distinguished. What your leadership says about others is more important than what your leadership says about yourself.

What effect is your leadership having on others? Is it living or dead? The beauty and the burden of the effect are that it will be one of the two.

Dead leadership leads others to trust in a vacuum. They get sucked in and just circulate within the chamber of self. Until we start providing living leadership, we are dead leaders walking.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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It’s Dark In Here… Can Someone Turn On The Leadership Light?

In the Greek… phos. That is what light is. It is the action of making visible things that are not seen. That is what light does, and it carries a leadership theme.


How? Let’s contrast the two and see.

I like the thought of a sunbeam shining through a window in your house early in the morning. While dark, we do not know what all is there or around us. Even if we turn the light on, we still cannot see everything. But when that sunbeam shines through a window, we see every bit of “stuff” in its path, the dust, the muck, the filth. Dark leadership hides things. Leadership light brings everything in the open.

Do you remember the GE light bulb commercial slogan? “We bring good things to life.” Well, that is what leadership light does. It shows what type of leader you are exactly. When the leadership light is turned on, it brings to life (or out in the open) what a person’s dark leadership is, dead leadership.

Those are the things that dark leadership tries to hide and for the most part that is why those things are done in secret and behind people’s back. There is scheming, conniving, and anything/everything else that is done under handed, all done in dark leadership.

Dark leadership, dead leadership is repressing the core of what leadership should be today. Too many leaders are using it to advance themselves instead of helping others advance, which in turn, would help all advance. When we all are better, we are all better. That is what leadership light is about, helping others shine.

Remeber this… mold, stench, and slime grows in the dark. Don’t let your leadership be like this. Be the leader that shows and carries a leadership light. Turn it on. Let your leadership light diminish the darkness of dead leadership.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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How Well Do You Listen and Can You Hear Me Now?

Do you remember the Verizon Phone Company’s commercial of “Can you hear me now?” While that “jingle” might be slightly funny, the question itself with regards to leadership is profound. How many times, do others have conversations with us, and they walk away wondering if they were ever heard?

One of many essential characteristics of great leadership is listening. It sounds simple, but… as you well know, some leaders simply do not listen, or they do not listen as to understand. I believe that there are times when people come to us, they have something to say. They want our attention, and they know real quick if they have it or not.


As I think about the different time’s people have wanted to speak with me, did I listen to hear? I can also ask that same question for when I wanted to be also heard. For those times when the answer was “no” in both cases, after hard lessons learned, I begin thinking of what type of listener leaders are and the type of listener I wanted to be.

To always keep it simple, I have three ideas about what type of ears a listener you may have…


When a leader has closed ears, it is tough for others to talk to them. They cannot ask questions or explain anything. It becomes more of a task and chore. The issue here is with the listener. It has nothing to do with the person or what is being said. I believe there is a direct correlation between leaders with closed ears having a closed heart.


We have all heard that notion of someone having selective hearing. Well, here it is. Leaders who have this, only listen to what they want to. They want to hear what is pleasing to them. Leaders like this will surround themselves with people who say the “right thing” and are basically “yes people.”


For a portion of my life, I listened to others with my brain (and I am still guilty of it at times). Listening this way means I would think of how I would respond to the other person instead of listening with my heart to truly hear what they were saying. This is the type of listening leader we should strive to be, listening with heart ears.

What type of listener are you with your leadership? If you do not know, odds are others do. Like me, I am sure each of you can name a leader whose listening style reflects one of the above.

If leaders care for their people, then having heart ears is the only way to listen. You and everyone around you will be better for it.


©2018 J Clay Norton

Follow me on Twitter at TheBookChamber

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