Do Others “DIG” Your Leadership?

Leaders who are most successful have the openness to allow empowerment. Leaders who “take care of” their people will build a trust earned of the heart and not just the mind. Leaders who give of themselves first, invite the cooperation of others to work alongside “with” not “for” a common goal. What is this common goal; to make leadership about others and not yourself.

It is tough to do this in a society that places so much emphasis and importance on the “me first.” It goes against every fiber of our bodies to “let go” and begin to think of a different way to lead. At some point a leader must ask themselves, do I have the respect of others? Leaders who are for their people do not have to ask this. If you have to ask, then you probably do not. It is straightforward to tell because you are the one who determines the respect.

After pondering my thoughts above, I believe there are three ways to determine where you are with your leadership with others and where others are with your leadership. Yes, it goes both ways.


Do what you say, say what you do…

You are the example, the poster-face of your organization. You must understand the responsibility that comes with being the leader. Everything, everything you do provides some level of engagement that others will feed off of, either good or bad. This is the responsibility you have as a leader. Great leaders understand this. Great leaders know that they are putting their lives in with the lives of others for the greater wellbeing of the organization, not just themselves.

Get the shovel and help dig the ditch…

I have always been a fan of the line, “Do not ask someone to do something you are not willing to do yourself.” What I do not like to hear or see in leadership is the idea of, “I have paid my dues, I don’t have to do that anymore.” Yes, dues are paid; everyone understands that, and some can even respect that. But what is not ok, is for you to flaunt yourself and not be willing to do any of the work. If you want your people to be inspired, do not only get in the ditch but get a shovel and dig. People want to see leadership in the ditch with them. To understand and feel as they do; not every blue moon, but on a consistent basis. Having a clean shovel is not a good sign of leadership.

Responsibility is yours; credit is theirs…

Leadership must own its actions and decisions. It is so easy to place blame on others; we see it all the time. This is where that ego of many gets in the way. I have witnessed many times where a leader will “paint themselves in a corner” only to let someone else take the fall; the idea of being “called on the carpet” per se. But, to look at the opposite… when something great happens, the leader wants to be front and center, forgetting the ones behind. I am sorry to say this, but once again, it is about the people, not you. Be willing to acknowledge and reward the opportunities that can make a difference for the people. Let the light shine on them. Better yet, just be the shadow. Give credit where it is due, to the ones, you work “with.”

Great leaders should understand the impact they have. As the leader, you are being watched and more than likely, being talked about. Is it good or bad? It is so important that you, the leader, model what you want in your team, because what you model will be modeled.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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“Ride The Fence” Leadership

“I wish I knew what they were thinking.” “I wish they would make a decision.” “If they change their mind one more time…” Have you ever had these thoughts with the leadership in your organization? While these are common, the question that needs to be answered is why are leaders this way?

Why do they “ride the fence?”

The main reason I believe leaders ride the fence is for self-protection. They put their needs first, which are often in direct opposition to what is best for the people of the organization or the organization as a whole. While they feel like the “have to” make a decision at the end, it only protects themselves.  Most of the time it is to save face. I also believe insecurity is the underlying foundation to people who look to self-protect themselves first (I will write about insecure leadership in the future). Leaders with insecurity issues are only for themselves. They are desperate to keep their power and the appearance of control.

When a leader’s actions do not match their words; riding the fence occurs. No one likes “ride the fence” leaders, and it does not take long to figure out who rides and who does not. All you have to do is look at their butt (see last sentence in bold at end of blog). But who are these leaders and what are their characteristics?


“Ride the fence” leaders have…

One group hears this and another group hears that. This and that are not the same. What is said is what the leader thinks each group needs to hear.

Like it or not, it exists. The problem with this is leaders will go to their “favorite” people to get their input. Most of the time, they already think like the leader, or they would not be the favorite.

When a leader sits on the fence, it is because they do not want to be on one side or the other. They just sit there not deciding at all, hoping that “whatever” will work itself out.

I like to call these characteristics the “if-i” of riding the fence. When leaders ride the fence, their leadership is always “if-i” do this or “if-i” do that. While it is good to weigh options and gather facts to make a decision, nothing of value comes from being an “if-i” leader. Please get off the fence and be who you need to be for your people not for yourself.

One thing is for sure, when you ride the fence, you are going to get splinters.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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“AAA” Calculator Leadership – Are You Leading With A Basic Or Scientific Mindset?

534078_LI have in my hand a calculator; the old four function one. The one, many of us remember having for the first time after we set our abacus aside. Yes, the one that only you could add, subtract, multiply and divide with and was about the size of a wallet.

In my other hand, I have a scientific/graphing calculator that has an untold amount of functions. Many of the functions, never been used. But none the less, it does more than the basic calculator. TEXTI84PLUSCE

It is like that in leadership also. Either we can be “basic” with our leadership, or we can have many functions available. Most importantly, we must know what buttons to use. Any calculator, like any tool, is only as good as the person using it. Every day we have opportunities to lead; some more than others, but lead we do. The more functions you have as a leader allows you to know and understand which to use at the appropriate time.

The compare and contrast between the two different styles are not very complicated. Either you have the functions to do all that is possible, or you limit yourself because you only have the basics. Looking more closely, we can determine what style we lead with easily and establish why one is better.

When we lead “scientifically” instead of “basic” we…

Are ALIGNED with almost anything that comes our way.
Different situations will occur and the more functions you have to add value and show significant concern provides a calming effect. If all we have is “basic,” then we can only make one to four decisions. Sometimes you just need more to align yourself to make sure you provide the right leadership.

Have the ADVANTAGE to better the opportunity.
I also like to think that here, we have the advantage to connect. For me, that is one of the fundamental ideas of leadership. If we have more “buttons” to use, then our connection with others can only increase. Being “basic” does not carry an advantage. It limits our ability to function properly.

Can ACHIEVE more.
“Basic” is what it is, basic. We all know that the more functions we have, the more we can do, the more we can be. Achievement is satisfying. It provides success. It completes the desired outcome of what we want to achieve.

ASSIST to the overall good.
Assist, to help. Better yet, to serve. That is what all leaders should strive to do. To assist others, we have to go beyond a “basic” mentality of giving an effort of just what we have. When we assist, we move beyond the idea of selfishness by placing the importance on someone or something else above our thoughts.

images-3Have you ever noticed what is needed to make a scientific calculator work? Most of the time it is four “AAA” batteries, and they all need to be working together. Make sure your four “AAA” batteries are charged and ready to lead. Your leadership will not be able to provide as many functions if they are not.



©2018 J Clay Norton

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Flop Flop Fizz Fizz – Leadership Indigestion

“Keep your words short and sweet, for you never know which ones you will have to eat.” – Unknown

Have you ever been watching TV late at night and seen commercials for a new drug that can help you with any problem you have, that you did not know you had, but realized you probably did after watching the commercial? Many times I feel like I do and sometimes it seems that the commercial is “talking” directly to me.


The other night a “drug commercial” came on, and its opening line was, “Do you suffer from indigestion?” As I was trying to keep my food down from supper, limit my acid reflux that turns into heartburn that causes my stomach to cramp which gives me a headache, which leads to my hands shaking, I realized that, WOW, I have indigestion, and did not know it. Not really, but you get the point. What I did understand, however, is that we all have “things” that can give us indigestion and they are not always food.

To take a more serious approach to the topic, let’s ask this question, “What can cause you to have leadership indigestion?” Are there things that you see leaders do that cause your stomach to turn? I am sure the list can become rather lengthy for each of us, but let’s look at a few that I think are the most gut-wrenching and heartburning.


Bottom line, they do not want confrontation. This is not to say that you do not like confrontation, but you know how to deal with it. People who avoid confrontation make excuses for their thought process, such as “I’m a peacemaker,” or “I don’t want to ruffle any feathers.” They never want to be seen as the “bad guy.” However, when their moment comes, they want to be seen front and center. Any other time, they will put on the chameleon suit and do their best to blend in and be part of the crowd. They want everyone to think that they are like everyone else. No, you are not, you are in a leadership role, act like it.


It is just bad leadership. It is the opposite of servant-leadership. It keeps the Leader-Follower model of leadership intact, and no one is ever empowered. Paying attention to detail is ok. Making sure work is done is ok. What is not ok is always breathing down someone’s neck when you hired them to do their job, and you know they do their job. The problem with micromanagers is they question a majority of what you do. This creates a working atmosphere of unwarranted scrutiny. It does more calling out instead of calling up.


Have you ever been around people that you have to carry around with kid-gloves and on a silver platter? You feel as though you have to walk on eggshells because you do not know what kind of mood someone is in. They have to ask others to see if the “leader” is in a good mood and approachable. Moody leaders are inconsistent with their leadership, and when they are inconsistent, they become unpredictable. Everything about a moody leader is terrible, and there is no way to mask it. Inconsistent, unpredictable leadership creates a mood that no one wants to be a part of.


Get the pill bottle and refill it. This might be the worse one of all. We have all been part of an announcement in a meeting or an email where a blanket is thrown over everyone about an issue that only concerns one person. Here is the scene of what is being thought… You hear an announcement about a problem or issue that is not good, and everyone agrees that it should be addressed, but no one believes they are the ones who need to hear the message but they know who needs to hear it. What good does that do? Please quit leading this way to handle problems. Tell whoever it is that needs to hear it. Everyone else will appreciate it. It goes back to bad leadership and wanting not to be seen as the bad guy.

To make sure you are not the leader who is causing leadership indigestion, make sure you are taking the right medicine. Yes, the prescription is to be a servant-leader. Start taking a daily dose. All four of the “symptoms” of leadership indigestion can be healed where you lead. Servant-leadership handles confrontation in the right way without dodging it, not micromanaging or moody, and most of all they directly handle issues without throwing a blanket over everyone.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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