Three Leadership Mistakes People Make

  1. They Criticize Others. The first leadership mistake that managers make is that they criticize others. Refuse to criticize anyone for any reason. When people make mistakes, focus on the solution. Focus on what can be done rather than who did it and who is to blame. This is the mark of the superior leader with admirable leadership questions. We all know that destructive criticism is harmful. Personally, we all hate to be the recipients of destructive criticism. It can make us angry for days, and even years. Destructive criticism attacks our self-esteem, hurts our self-image, and hinders us from reaching peak performance. It makes us angry and defensive. If it is so hateful to us, why would we ever do it to someone else?

  2. They Complain. The second leadership mistake people make is that they complain for any reason. Complainers are always looking for something or someone to complain about. They tend to associate with other complainers. They talk together at work and socialize after work. They go out for lunch and coffee breaks together. Complaining becomes a natural way of life for them. But there is a major problem with both criticizing and complaining. In both situations, you are positioning yourself as a victim. When you complain you actually weaken yourself. You feel inferior and inadequate. You feel angry and resentful. You feel negative and unsure. Your level of self-esteem and self-respect will decline as you complain about anything to someone else. If you are not happy about something, as the manager, you are entitled to bring it to the attention of the other person. You are responsible for putting it on the table and discussing it. These are admirable leadership qualities that you must learn to develop. If you are not happy with a behavior or an outcome, your job is to actively intervene to correct the situation. You can do this by being objective about the difference between what you expected and what has actually happened. You then invite input on how you and the other person or persons can solve the problem or improve the situation. But you never complain.

  3. They Condemn Others On Their Team. The third leadership mistake people make is condemning anyone for any reason, inside or outside of your company. When you condemn other people, you demoralize the listener, and the self-esteem of the other person will be severely lowered. When you condemn people outside the company, someone will eventually tell them what you have said. Usually, a distorted version is told and will come back to haunt you. This seems to be a law of nature, and completely unavoidable. 
These recommendations are equally as important when you are talking about competitors or customers in the marketplace. 

Never criticize your competitors. Admire them if they are more successful in some areas than you are. Then, look for ways to produce even better products and services, and sell them even more effectively.

Never complain about people and problems outside your business. Instead, use that same amount of mental energy to find solutions. Resolve the problems that led to the complaints in the first place.

--Adapted from

Three Scientific Experiments Showing That Thoughts Matter

  1. The Summer of ’93 D.C. Meditation Experiment. A group of 4,000 people volunteered to meditate on peace and love to reduce the amount of crime in the high-crime Washington, DC area. A team of scientists and researchers approached the project without bias and tested for every variable imaginable. The results were clear: during the month of meditation, crime dropped by 25%, definitively and scientifically proving that the positive thoughts of a group of people can affect and change the behavior of ill-intentioned individuals.

  2. Thinking You’re Younger Physically Makes You Younger. In 1979, a study was conducted on 70-80 year old men to see the difference between remembering youth fondly and actually reliving youth. One group talked and reminisced about their younger days while the other group actually pretended to be young, surrounding themselves with TV shows, music and activities of their youth. At the end of the experiment, those who imagined they were physically younger showed signs of de-aging. Blood pressure was lowered, arthritis was diminished, and even eyesight and hearing in this control group improved. By simply imagining themselves younger, some physical aging was actually reversed. Their thoughts made this happen.

  3. The Water Experiments. The most famous experiment that proves the power of thought was carried out by Dr. Masaru Emoto. He photographed frozen water crystals after thoughts of love and peace or hate and fear were projected onto them. Sometimes the intentions were spoken out loud, while other times the intentions were merely thought. The results were always the same. Messages of hope, peace, love, joy and the like resulted in beautiful, symmetrical crystals, while messages of fear, hate, anger, sadness and the like resulted in disjointed and broken crystals. His experiments proved that our intentions can physically alter the world around us.

Powerful Words From Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim. She was a professor at Wake Forest University. She died in 2014 in Winston Salem, NC. Below are some of her powerful words. 
  • I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
  • You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
  • We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
  • I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
  • You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.
  • If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
  • We need much less than we think we need.
  • If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?
  • Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
  • I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.
  • Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.
  • If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.
  • Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.
  • Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.
  • A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.
  • You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
  • Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.
  • If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.
  • Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world but has not solved one yet.
  • Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.
  • There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.
  • I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.
  • When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
  • If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.
  • We are only as blind as we want to be. 
  • I got my own back. 
  • There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. 
  • I respect myself and insist upon it from everybody. And because I do it, I then respect everybody, too. 
  • Determine to live life with flair and laughter. 
  • I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. 
  • I work very hard, and I play very hard. I’m grateful for life. And I live it – I believe life loves the liver of it. I live it. 
  • Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it. 
  • You develop courage by doing small things like just as if you wouldn’t want to pick up a 100-pound weight without preparing yourself. 

15 Realizations of Adversity That Can Lead To Success

  1. Realize adversity is a learning experience. You need to be tested or challenged in order to learn and grow. Every adverse circumstance is a lesson learned that helps you grow and develop your capacity to deal with future occurrences.
  2. Realize challenges as opportunities. Adversity will challenge you in new ways resulting in experiences you otherwise would not have encountered. Facing these challenges head-on, coping with them, and developing a recovery strategy emboldens you and gives you the confidence to face the next obstacle.
  3. Realize that you are building resiliency. These experiences develop your capacity to maintain resolve and determination through the tough times. Being able to effectively cope with the stressors associated with adversity enables you to cultivate a range of skills which make you stronger, better equipped, and more resilient for future events.
  4. Realize adversity allows you to gain perspective. Times of adversity makes us more appreciative when things are going smoothly. You will acknowledge adversity is also a state of mind, have a more positive mindset in the future knowing you survived once and will do so again.
  5. Realize adversity helps with planning. Another benefit of adversity is you are better prepared for the future. What you have learned about yourself, others around you, and even the organization, can be the basis for well- developed alternatives and contingency plans that can be expeditiously and confidently executed during the next unforeseen or untoward event. When adversity strikes your mindset is your primary weapon. It is how you react, how you decide to respond, and what you do that determines your ability to overcome the obstacles you face. As you face these inevitable challenges adhere to the following steps:
  6. Realize the need to accept it. Accept what has happened, what’s done is done. You can learn from this experience but for now, you look for ways to solve the problem. Focus on finding solutions instead of excuses. Accept responsibility instead of casting blame. Face the challenge head-on, view it more of an opportunity than an obstacle, move forward, understanding that every problem has a solution.
  7. Realize the need to understand. Get the facts. Often times problems are compounded by inaccurate information or misunderstandings. Making decisions based on bad data will only compound the problem and make it worse. Ask questions instead of making assumptions, drilling down to the basic issues, and underlying causes of this predicament. Once you have defined the problem determine which factors are in your control, and those not in your control. Determine what choices you have, what resources to use, focusing on what you can do versus what you cannot.
  8. Realize and respond. You want to avoid a knee jerk reaction while at the same time launch an initial response to the crisis. Focus on what steps you can take in the short term, however small, to exhibit movement and show action is being taken.
  9. Realize the importance of keeping your composure. Project a confident and calm demeanor, regardless of the circumstances. Set the tone by reinforcing your commitment and belief in what you are doing and what you are about.
  10. Realize the importance of having the proper mindset. You are defined not by the crisis, but how you deal with it. Your mindset will play a key role in how things turn out. A confident demeanor and a positive attitude, laced with enthusiasm, is contagious. Exhibit a can-do attitude, focusing on what can be done, instead of anticipating the worst.
  11. Realize your strengths. Focus on your strengths and what you do best. By concentrating on your strong suits you will realize quicker progress. Trust your instincts and trust those around you who are there to help you.
  12. Realize it is okay to ask for help. What you are going through is not unique. It may be to you but it has happened before, in some way, shape, or form. Do not be hesitant to ask for help or view this as a sign of weakness. Seeking advice from someone who has gone through similar circumstances can be helpful and give you a different perspective.
  13. Realize your values. When going through an adverse event a compelling factor in someone’s ability to effectively deal with the crisis is their unyielding faith and belief in what they are doing. Do not lose sight of what you are about and why you are doing it.
  14. Realize you need to plot a course. Once you have all of the facts and have considered the options you should develop a plan. Be consequent and deliberate in carrying out this plan, paying special emphasis to the process, since it a series of steps all properly executed that will enable you to emerge from this crisis.
  15. Realize you must be aware of your health. Everyone handles stress and anxiety differently. Be mindful of the impact the situation is having on your health and even those around you. Do not develop bad habits as a coping mechanism to get you through the crisis. Remember, there is a direct correlation between fitness and productivity, do not abandon your fitness program. If anything, ramp it up a bit during this trying time. Remember, tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

--Adapted from an article written by Fred Stuvek, a consultant, speaker, and author of the book It Starts With You. After serving in the US Navy, Fred transitioned to the business world where he has held senior leadership positions in private and public companies, both domestically and internationally. Fred has also been inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame for achievements in football, basketball, baseball, and track.

You Get One Life, Play Your Own Game

The most important things in life are internal, not external.

“The big question about how people behave,” says Warren Buffett, “is whether they’ve got an inner scorecard or an outer scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an inner scorecard.” To make his point, Buffett often asks a simple question: Would you rather be the world’s greatest lover, but have everyone think you’re the world’s worst lover? Or would you rather be the world’s worst lover but have everyone think you’re the world’s greatest lover?

Comparing ourselves to others allows them to drive our behavior. This type of comparison is between you and someone else. Sometimes it’s about something genetic, like wishing to be taller, but more often it’s about something the other person is capable of doing that we wish we could do as well. Maybe Sally writes better reports than you, and maybe Bob has a happier relationship with his spouse than you do. Sometimes this comparison is motivating and sometimes it’s destructive.

You can be anything but you can’t be everything. When we compare ourselves to others, we’re often comparing their best features against our average ones. It’s like being right-handed and trying to play an instrument with your left hand. Not only do we naturally want to be better than them, but the unconscious realization that we are not often better also becomes self-destructive.

Comparisons between people are a recipe for unhappiness unless you are the best in the world. Which, let’s be honest, only one person is. Not only are we unhappy but the other people are as well. They are probably comparing themselves to you—maybe you’re better at networking than they are and they’re jealous. At worst, when we compare ourselves to others we end up focusing our energy on bringing them down instead of raising ourselves up.

There is one thing that you’re better at than other people: being you. This is the only game you can really win.

When you start with this mindset the world starts to look better again. No longer are you focused on where you stand relative to others. Instead, your focus and energy is placed on what you’re capable of now and how you can improve yourself.

Life becomes about being a better version of yourself. And when that happens, your effort and energy go toward upgrading your personal operating system every day, not worrying about what your coworkers are doing. You become happier, free from the shackles of false comparisons, and focused on the present moment.

When what you do doesn’t meet the expectations of others, too bad. The way they look at you is the same way you were looking at them, though a distorted lens shaped by experiences and expectations. What really matters is what you think about what you do, what your standards are, what you can learn today.

That’s not an excuse to ignore thoughtful opinions—other people might give you a picture of how you fall short of being your best self. Instead, it’s a reminder to compare yourself to who you were this morning. Are you better than you were when you woke up? If not, you’ve wasted a day. It’s less about others and more about how you improve relative to who you were.

When you stop comparing between people and focus internally, you start being better at what really matters: being you. It’s simple but not easy.

The most important things in life are measured internally. Thinking about what matters to you is hard. Playing to someone else’s scoreboard is easy, that’s why a lot of people do it. But winning the wrong game is pointless and empty. You get one life. Play your own game.

--Adapted from

Eight Tricks For Reading Body Language

Body language provides an amazing amount of information on what other people are thinking if you know what to look for. And who hasn’t wanted to read people’s minds at some point? You already pick up on more body language cues than you’re consciously aware of. UCLA research has shown that only 7% of communication is based on the actual words we say. As for the rest, 38% comes from tone of voice and the remaining 55% comes from body language. Learning how to become aware of and to interpret that 55% can give you a leg up with other people. Here are 8 cues to look for...

  1. Crossed arms and legs signal resistance to your ideas. Crossed arms and legs are physical barriers that suggest the other person is not open to what you’re saying. Even if they’re smiling and engaged in a pleasant conversation, their body language tells the story. Gerard I. Nierenberg and Henry H. Calero videotaped more than 2,000 negotiations for a book they wrote on reading body language, and not a single one ended in an agreement when one of the parties had their legs crossed while negotiating. Psychologically, crossed legs or arms signal that a person is mentally, emotionally, and physically blocked off from what’s in front of them. It’s not intentional, which is why it’s so revealing.
  2. Real smiles crinkle the eyes. When it comes to smiling, the mouth can lie but the eyes can’t. Genuine smiles reach the eyes, crinkling the skin to create crow’s feet around them. People often smile to hide what they’re really thinking and feeling, so the next time you want to know if someone’s smile is genuine, look for crinkles at the corners of their eyes. If they aren’t there, that smile is hiding something.
  3. Copying your body language is a good thing. Have you ever been in a meeting with someone and noticed that every time you cross or uncross your legs, they do the same? Or perhaps they lean their head the same way as yours when you’re talking? That’s actually a good sign. Mirroring body language is something we do unconsciously when we feel a bond with the other person. It’s a sign that the conversation is going well and that the other party is receptive to your message. This knowledge can be especially useful when you’re negotiating because it shows you what the other person is really thinking about the deal.
  4. Posture tells the story. Have you ever seen a person walk into a room, and immediately, you just know that they were the person in charge? That effect is largely about body language, and often includes an erect posture, gestures made with the palms facing down, and open and expansive gestures in general. The brain is hardwired to equate power with the amount of space people take up. Standing up straight with your shoulders back is a power position; it appears to maximize the amount of space you fill. Slouching, on the other hand, is the result of collapsing your form; it appears to take up less space and projects less power. Maintaining good posture commands respect and promotes engagement, whether you’re a leader or not.
  5. Eyes that lie. Most of us probably grew up hearing, “Look me in the eye when you talk to me!” Our parents were operating under the assumption that it’s tough to hold someone’s gaze when you’re lying to them, and they were right to an extent. But that’s such common knowledge that people will often deliberately hold eye contact in an attempt to cover up the fact that they’re lying. The problem is that most of them overcompensate and hold eye contact to the point that it feels uncomfortable. On average, Americans hold eye contact for seven to ten seconds, longer when we’re listening than when we’re talking. If you’re talking with someone whose stare is making you squirm—especially if they’re very still and unblinking—something is up and they might be lying you.
  6. Raised eyebrows signal discomfort. There are three main emotions that make your eyebrows go up: surprise, worry, and fear. Try raising your eyebrows when you’re having a relaxed casual conversation with a friend. It’s hard to do, isn’t it? If somebody who is talking to you raises their eyebrows and the topic isn’t one that would logically cause surprise, worry, or fear, there is something else going on.
  7. Exaggerated nodding signals anxiety about approval. When you’re telling someone something and they nod excessively, this means that they are worried about what you think of them or that you doubt their ability to follow your instructions.
  8. A clenched jaw signals stress. A clenched jaw, a tightened neck, or a furrowed brow are all signs of stress. Regardless of what the person is saying, these are signs of considerable discomfort. The conversation might be delving into something they’re anxious about, or their mind might be elsewhere and they’re focusing on the thing that’s stressing them out. The key is to watch for that mismatch between what the person says and what their tense body language is telling you.

The bottom line is that even if you can’t read a person’s exact thoughts, you can learn a lot from their body language, and that’s especially true when words and body language don’t match.

--Adapted from


7 Principles to Lead With Imagination

Imagination is about seeing what others don’t see. In a disruptive world, we need leaders with more imagination. We all have the capacity for imagination and applied it has the power to unlock or fullest potential.

Brian Paradis was the Chief Financial Officer for Florida Hospital when he was tasked with leading the troubled organization in 2006. Plagued with doubt and inexperience, he records his journey in Lead with Imagination, to turn the enterprise around.

Lead with Imagination he writes is about “how to lead and how to do it with imagination. It is first about how to be, about character, before checklists and a list of to-dos.” It’s about “how to release yourself and those you lead from the constraints of the mind’s own making and those of our organizations.”

This is a powerful book. Honest, straightforward, and insightful. The lessons Paradis has learned on his journey, we can learn along with him. He cites a passage from General Gordon Sullivan’s book, Hope Is Not a Method, that is particularly instructive. Sullivan was a primary inheritor of a U.S. Army in shambles after Vietnam.

Below, is a summary of each of Paradis’ seven principles.
  1. Love in All Interactions Love is the foundation, the soil, and the fuel for imagination. Love is both power and powerful. An act, service, or business endeavor done in love universally turns out better. However, love is hard. It is much easier to give in to fear, cynicism, and self-interest than to lead, live, and serve with love. Paradis says love should be our brand, first inside our organizations so that it can radiate outside our organizations to whomever we serve.
  2.  Out of the Comfort Zone: Leaning into Authenticity and Humility. Once you commit to the principle of love, a high hurdle presents itself when leaning into authenticity in your leadership. At the same time, you must become self-aware about the influence your ego casts. Your ego must be managed. There is not a simple formula for this work. The struggle is the heart of this part of the journey to lead with imagination. It is difficult, if not impossible, to move forward effectively without consistency and balance to your words matching your actions. Authenticity and humility build trust.
  3. Chaos, Calm, and A Canvas: Creating the Environment That Matters. A leader’s primary job is to set the stage, not perform on it. If you want to lead with imagination, you must unleash the power, capacity, and energy of the many and release the stranglehold of the few—even if the few includes you. This is creative work. We often use the language of ‘creating culture’; however, we don’t think enough about what those words mean. This is work that involves careful thought and consideration of every decision we make as another brushstroke applies the paint, either moving us toward a performance masterpiece of moving us away from it.
  4. The Act of Fearlessness: Practicing Vulnerability and Right Risk-Taking. Vulnerability is about putting yourself in harm’s potential way, or ‘out there,’ in order to accomplish something. It requires clear and creative action. It exposes you. In that place of exposure, we move from preparing to lead to leading with imagination. First, we take risks personally, then we can begin taking the right risks organizationally. This is where the trifecta of imagination, creativity, and innovation get their solid foothold in what might be described as virtuous momentum.
  5. Tolerating Curiosity. Curiosity starts with questions. Both quality and quantity matter. Asking them is less than half the process. Holding the answer open, suspending judgment, questioning: do we even have the right answer yet? That is the larger half. That is the art. Curiosity is next about pursuing this process within the team, designing the space both physically and psychologically that is safe and collaborative, and tolerating the possible inefficiency of a ‘best idea wins’ mind-set. Far too many times, we stop asking and listening, believing we know the answers and leaving the most important insights undiscovered. Finally, curiosity is about being relentless and disciplined about the process.
  6. The Misunderstanding About Humor. Laughter creates a runway for love to land on, and then take off again. Life is serious, to be sure. Organizations are serious, too, but they are made up of humans. And because of that, humor contributes an essential living element to culture. Humor makes us human. It connects us. It gives us the energy and capacity to handle stress and challenge. It lifts us. If we believe people are our greatest organizational capacity, then infusing humor into an enterprise is a high return on investment and undervalued as a creative and cultural force. Humor opens a pathway to breakthroughs and new insights. It becomes a competitive advantage.
  7. Connecting the Dots: Doing Whatever It Takes. Leadership is hard work. Leading with imagination and leading for results require skill and competence, constant self-evaluation, a servant’s heart, and a relentlessness to get it ‘mostly’ right. It is about asking the important and difficult questions of yourself and of the organization and waiting for the answers. It is about engaging and encouraging what is working and owning and dealing with what is not. It is about finding the way and doing whatever job needs to be done to support the team. It is about continuously and consistently imagining the vision, communicating it, and taking daily action toward it. Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, has described the ‘long line’ or vision of a musical piece. He explains how the ‘line’ is easily lost with too much attention to single notes or short passages. As leaders, it is our constant job to keep bringing our organizations and enterprises back to the long line of the music and connecting the dots back to the big why.

--Adapted from