Knowing Who You Are As A Leader…

First, let’s state this as a premise for our thoughts today…

“Not everyone thinks like you.”

If you are hung up on this notion and believe that others should or even do, then trouble is already at your door.

Every leader has specific skill sets that allow them to be who they are.  This skill set can only be defined by words and actions – right or wrong as it may be. The fallacy is that many leaders go through life leading as though they are the example everyone should follow.

When we lead like this, our leadership is only supported by ourselves, and we limit leadership growth in others.

A few thoughts moving forward… Knowing who you are as a leader is important because…


As a leader, we must be aware of how we lead and understand that not everyone is going to respond. To get the most out of people, we have to be willing to understand them.  When we do, our leadership and theirs become more effective.

Situational leadership is sometimes needed, but consistency is key. No one is for the better if they are always trying to figure out what we are thinking. Think of it this way… If other people are having to try to figure out why you lead like you do, it is like looking at the seven-day forecast of the weather. Why? Because they need to plan for however the wind blows…

Find a style of leadership that works for both you and more importantly, others.  Many times, we model our leadership based on leaders we admire or the latest book we have read and therein lies the problem.  We are not them.  Be who you are based on knowing your “why” and lead by serving.

The more I listen, observe, and participate in discussions with regards to leadership, the more I realize that society does not promote the type of leadership that is for others. We are in need of an agenda that helps, not an agenda of self. Start leading by knowing who you are.

©2019 J Clay Norton

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Is the “Leadership Force” strong with you?

I am a Star Wars fan, a big fan. I remember my dad taking me to the first Star Wars movie in 1977. Yes, that original one…

With a family of our own now, we still watch them periodically and even enjoy the newly added and spinoff movies as well. When our daughter reached the age to understand what was going on, we began binge watching all of them.

The idea that fascinates me so much with Star Wars is not only are they great stories, but they tell a story of good vs. evil, sacrifice, and team building. Some of the character’s EGO’s “get checked,” and most of all there are numerous leadership takeaways in each movie and with each character.

Sometimes I walk around our school and give the “Vader” breathing sound, or I do “Yoda speak.” Joking, I remind students that the force is strong with me (I really wish it was).

The other day, I did my “Yoda speak” and began to think about why strong leaders are strong and mentally shrugged thinking especially about Yoda.  Yoda had it going on…


Yes, I believe there is a “leadership force” state of mind and great leaders use it every day. What they do differently, is what sets them apart. Here are a few thoughts on how the “leadership force” can be strong with you…

Change can be an agent of good
Yoda speak: Agent of good, change is

Leaders who are afraid of change will not take risks, even if it is a calculated risk. Leaders who are strong take decisions, weigh them out, per se, and limit the liability of what can go wrong if a change is made.

Are not puppets
Yoda speak: Puppets, need not be

As soon as you become a “yes” person, you have given away your power as a thinking individual, and you allow someone else to have control over you. Respect for others is one thing, but being fearful of other’s leadership is something else.

Celebrate others
Yoda speak: Others celebrate, they do

Let others be the focus. This goes back to what I have repeatedly said often… Just listen to a leader’s words. Any time success for others occurs, they will insert themselves into the conversation with “me” and “I” and move the spotlight on them instead.

Are not people pleasers
Yoda speak: Pleasers of people, they do not

Leadership is hard and lonely, and decisions that are made are not going to please everyone. Stay grounded to your core values and do not be afraid to speak up when something goes against the grain of right vs. wrong.

I am sure you can come up with other ideas of how the force can be strong in your and other’s leadership. The main idea is not to be part of  “the dark side of the force” also known as weak leadership. You are the only one who can take control and has the responsibility of making sure you remain “strong with the force.”

May the force be with you…?

©2019 J Clay Norton

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Do You Have “Drop Anchor” Leadership?

For the boater’s out there… Why do you ever drop anchor? I suppose you can come up with many reasons…

I do not own a boat but have been in a few over time. The times I have been on a boat, and heard the classic “anchors away” or “drop anchor,” I knew something was about to happen. A few thoughts I have never wondered were: is the anchor large enough to take hold, or is the chain or rope long enough to reach the bottom. If either one of these two is not what they are supposed to be, then dropping an anchor does not carry the value of its words.


Now the only two reasons why I can think an anchor would need to be dropped is either to keep the boat in one place because you want to stop, or a storm is coming and you need to hold fast. Regardless of which reason, dropping an anchor has its effects on many around. Let’s look at a few implications (assuming the above premise is correct)…

Leaders whose leadership is anchored…

Creates a safe environment for others

When an anchor is dropped, everyone goes on about their business.  Nothing is amiss and everyone feels safe. People need to know that they can be themselves. Confident in performing their work and the freedom to know they can speak their mind. Their perspectives and point of view have value. Now that does not always mean that it will be accepted, but at least they are acknowledged.

Make decisions

To “drop anchor” you must decide. Anchored leaders make decisions. I can see it now, “Do you think we should drop here?” If this question keeps being asked, before you know it, you will be way off course. I am not promoting that there should not be some due diligence, but once there is, make a decision.

Know the lay of the land

A great leader does not “drop anchor” anywhere. They know their anchor weight and chain length. Their expectations are precisely what they need to be to succeed. Better yet, they communicate their expectations. Leaders are the ones who say, “Drop anchor.” To communicate effectively, a leader must know what is going on and where they are.

Anchored leadership is about sustaining success safely for all involved. Too many times we find leaders whose anchor is large enough but not enough chain or not large enough and too much chain. Either way, their “anchored leadership” never becomes “grounded,” and their leadership either drifts or is tossed.

Let your leadership be anchored.  Everyone around will be better for it.

©2019 J Clay Norton

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“Plastic-Leather” Leadership

PRIDE… It had “I” right in the middle of spelling for us as a reminder. Pride is a funny thing, and you can have it either way, good or bad in your life. To answer the “pride” question, you really have to look deep within yourself and be able to answer the hard questions.

I believe there is a vast difference between being a prideful leader and a leader who has pride. Both are everywhere but one of the two wants and needs an audience more than the other and does almost anything to obtain it.

Prideful leaders crave accolades, applause, and recognition. They live their lives drawing attention and will give it to themselves if they cannot receive it from anywhere else. Their presence of pride is lived on public identity. Listen for words of “me” and “I” in their speech.

Vinyl-cracking-1024x768I like to use the word “pleather” here as a definition for an analogy – prideful leaders are nothing more than “plastic-leather,” a sham and a fake. Eventually it will show what it truly is.

They rub enough elbows and pat enough backs to get where they want to be. Most of all, a prideful leader’s heart is hard, blocked and clogged from being able to let humility flow with the struggle of each beat. Their whole body becomes stiff, leaving them unable to bend in humility with and for others.

Here is what leaders who have pride do… THE OPPOSITE of everything above. Easy to say, right? Yes. How do you know? It shows in their actions instead of their speech. They help others without making other lives miserable. They teach and educate, not browbeat. They give confidence to others. Their pride is in the fact that they want others to succeed. Their freedom of being prideful is in their humbleness of putting others first — no “pleather” with them.

It matters not where you work or what position you are in; pride is always there. Let it be the right kind of pride in your life. Everyone around will be better for it.

I would be remiss if I did not close with this Scripture reference: “… Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'” – I Peter 5:5 (ESV).

©2019 J Clay Norton

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