The Leadership Shop

A Leadership Tidbit

“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspiration with others.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

Stevenson’s advice sounds like wise council but isn’t. He would have benefited from Thomas Jefferson’s observation, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Sir Walter Scott’s caution would have also been helpful, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” The suggestion, either explicit or implied, that intentional dishonesty is appropriate or correct is silly and – well – dishonest.

“Inspiration” is the product of one’s creative thinking and work, a sudden intuition about a situation or problem. It pops into reality partially or fully formed, without supporting analysis or carefully considered explanation. Assuming that the “fears” Stevenson suggested that you keep to yourself are associated with the inspiration you share with others, the problem is this. The inspiration is the “I think” part of the sudden intuition. The fears you aren’t sharing are the “I feel” part. Stevenson suggests that you share the “I think” part but not the “I feel” part. That seems to promote a “half truth” as the way to go.

Suppose instead that Stevenson didn’t intend that the “fears” and “inspiration” were associated. Your fears relate to X and your inspiration relates to Y, with X and Y being unrelated. You should share your inspiration about Y but not your fears about X. The advice would still be debatable but trivial. He is merely counseling people to share their inspirations with others but keep their unrelated fears to themselves. That would make concurrently sharing, “I have discovered a cure for cancer but am deathly afraid of snakes,” inappropriate. Is that profound advice or did you, perhaps, already know that?

No, Stevenson advised that you share your inspirations but not your related fears. That makes his advice unacceptable. People need and are entitled to the full truth, not half truth. It also makes what you share more credible. This is especially true for leaders. People want to know what you think, want you to share your vision, your inspiration. They also need to know what you fear, what the risk is for you and for them. Go with the whole truth, inspiration, fears, and all.

The Gurus Say

ameron, Kim S., Jane E. Dutton, and Robert E. Quinn. Positive Organizational Scholarship: Foundations of a New Discipline. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2003.

For the sake of contrast, now imagine another world in which almost all organizations are typified by appreciation, collaboration, virtuousness, vitality, and meaningfulness. Creating abundance and human well-being are key indicators of success. Imagine that members of such organizations are characterized by trustworthiness, resilience, wisdom, humility, and high levels of positive energy. Social relationships and interactions are characterized by compassion, loyalty, honesty, respect, and forgiveness. Significant attention is given to what makes life worth living. Imagine that scholarly researchers emphasize theories of excellence, transcendence, positive deviance, extraordinary performance, and positive spirals of flourishing.

Specifically, we define authentic leadership in organizations as a process that draws from both positive psychological capacities and a highly developed organizational context, which results in both greater self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviors on the part of leaders and associates, fostering positive self-development. The authentic leader is confident, hopeful, optimistic, resilient, transparent, moral/ethical, future-oriented, and gives priority to developing associates to be leaders. … The authentic leader does not try to coerce or even rationally persuade associates, but rather the leader’s authentic values, beliefs, and behaviors serve to model the development of associates.

A Success Tidbit

Get Out Of Your Way

Make up your mind to win and nothing
else. — Norman Vincent Peale

Peale believes that all the resources you need to succeed are in
your mind. If you expect to succeed, you likely will. If you think you will
fail, you probably are right. Peale counsels you to expect success. Pealeisms
have a powerfully positive ring. Always play with abandon. It is always too
soon to quit. Conditions will shift in your favor. Faith cures fear. Are you
climbing aboard Peale’s winners’ express? Do you believe you can succeed? Dr.
Peale knows you can succeed. You can if you think you can. Stinking thinking
leads to hardening of the attitudes. Zig Ziglar is at least as colorful as this
Ziglarism. In How to Get What You Want, Ziglar quickly cuts to the chase.
"If you don’t think you deserve success, you will do things to keep you
from getting it."

How do winners who know they deserve success get their get up
and go up and going? Ziglar contends they start from where they are with what
they’ve got. They do not wait for something to change or for things to get
better before deciding to succeed. They just get on with it. They go as far as
they can see, knowing that once they get there they will always be able to see
further. Ziglar combines his self-motivation philosophy with personal goals and
a zest for people helping people. On personal goals, Ziglar zeros in with a
total lack of subtlety. You cannot reach goals you do not have. You cannot
reach someone else’s goal; you can only reach your own. Thinking you are too
busy is stinking thinking. It is not the lack of time that is the problem, it
is the lack of direction. Either you think you deserve success and go for it or
you will get cooked in the squat which is even worse than it sounds. "You
will get everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get
what they want." For Ziglar, this is the nub of personal goal setting. It
is both the value and the direction. More eloquently, Ziglar says, "You
don’t climb the high mountain by yourself; it is in conjunction with others
that you really accomplish the major things in life." If you look, think
and behave like everyone else, you will look, think and behave like everyone

Michael LeBoeuf calls his success philosophy Imagineering. Your
uniqueness is your ticket into the winner’s circle, according to LeBoeuf.
Getting to the circle to be admitted is your personal creative challenge, the
problem before you. But waiting on an inspiration is useless. Start on the
problem and then the ideas will come. Inspiration, LeBoeuf advises, usually
comes to those who have done the groundwork.

In Blow Your Own Horn, Jeffrey P. Davidson shows he knows about
the ways of winners. You are your own marketing department, according to
Davidson. In one sentence, what is it that you are marketing; what is it that
you have to offer the world? If you do not know, no one else is likely to care.

Peter F. Drucker makes a similar point when, in The Frontiers of
Management, he says, "It is your vision or its absence that shapes your
future." Drucker sees success itself as the ultimate test of success; and
your personal vision is the key to your status as a winner or loser.

In Developing Winner’s Habits, Denis Waitley adds meat to the
wishbone of goals and personal vision. Waitley insists that winners never let
anyone know they are scared or unprepared. Winners act like winners; they
project confidence. Waitley’s strategy is to find one good idea to pull your
trigger on, remembering that there is still plenty of time to win but never
enough time to lose. Attack the problem and never the people.

Roger Fisher and William Ury in Getting to Yes join the
unanimous chorus of success experts in emphasizing the importance of people
skills. Fisher and Ury give their attention to negotiating; but their main
points could equally apply to almost any success opportunity. Focus on
interests, not on positions. Invent options that benefit both sides. Use
objective criteria, not opinions or emotions.

Mary Heideman joins the chorus when she counsels winners to take
responsibility for people processes. For example, in Winning Over Stress
Heideman says, "Do not be a stress sponge, absorbing the stress of others,
thinking you should fix their stress." Being a stress spreader and
participating in pity parties and gripe sessions also are not the ways of winners.

In Coping With Difficult People, Robert M. Bramson extends the
repertoire of people skills for winners. Do not automatically respond by trying
to solve difficult people’s problems. Do not automatically agree with difficult
people even if you think they are right. Never argue with difficult people.
Always feed back the difficult person’s main points before you do anything
else. Be calmly assertive and do not let the difficult person run over you.

The range of people tips and techniques emanating from the
success chorus is impressive. They extend to every detail of your personal and
business life. A tidbit or so more will suffice for now, though.

1. People do not want to know what you cannot do for them; they
want to know what you can do for them. From Developing a Powerful Telephone
Image; Dave Winter.

2. Start by asking the person what’s the problem? They will
likely tell you. From Turning Marginal Employees Into Productive Employees;
Nancy Campbell.

3. Know what you want, who can give it to you and how to get it.
From How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less; Milo
O. Frank.

If you always judge new experiences based on past experiences,
you will never have any new experiences. Kevin J. Murphy in Effective Listening
may have found the ultimate secret of success. Implicit in Murphy’s pithy
insight is the kernel from which all other success secrets may have grown. Make
up your mind to win and nothing else. It’s a new game. The score is tied:
zero/zero. It does not matter how you did before; today you succeed, today you

Stinking thinking leads to hardening of the attitudes. It’s past
thinking, worn attitudes and dated approaches that smell so rotten. Dump the
garbage and start afresh. Success requires new thinking, new attitudes, new
approaches. To paraphrase LeBoeuf, if you look, think and behave like you
always have, you will look, think and behave like you always have. Here is the
problem. It’s a new game, things are changing, the world moves on. You either
develop a new look, new ways of thinking, new ways of dealing with events or
you will fall back, be forced back with the other losers.

You have committed to success, you
have dumped the mental garbage, you have new ideas and approaches. What is the
problem? What is getting in your way? The answer to this question is the last
key to your door of opportunity. Separate the people from the problem. The only
person in your way is you. Get out of your way so you can attack the real
problem, realize the success you deserve.