The Power of the Growth Mindset and Risk of Holding onto the Fixed

People talk about wanting more knowledge, additional talents, and greater personal strengths. They may also talk about working on their character, understanding their core values, and identifying their personality preferences. I bet rarely will you hear people express a desire to expand their “growth mindset”. You may wonder (1) what is a mindset and (2) why is it important to understand it. Because mindset can predict behavior and future results.

Have you ever been in a situation and asked yourself (1) how can he think that way or (2) why did she do that? No one intentionally chooses an illogical action or makes an illogical decision. Although there may be an untold number of factors, one contributing explanation could be a difference in mindset between you and the other person.

Your mindset is a reflection of your belief system. Think of mindset on a continuum, anchored on one end by “growth” and “fixed” on the other. Are there different areas of your life where you have a different mindset approach? Answer the questions below and self-assess where on the continuum you may fall today. 

The Growth Mindset

  • I’m not discouraged by failure. In fact, identifying with failure isn’t difficult for me, because I think of it as learning.
  • I have a passion for stretching myself and sticking with it even when things aren’t going well.
  • I routinely take inventory of my strengths and weaknesses and aren’t afraid to acknowledge them to others.
  • When I reflect on my setbacks, I turn them into future successes through perseverance and resilience.
  • I get excited to see how I improve when I continue to press forward.
  • I surround myself with people who are smarter than me, so I can learn from them.
  • I love to be challenged and learn new things.
  • I like hard problems.
  • I readily admit when I’ve made a mistake.
  • My failures don’t’ define me. I can always change if I choose to.
  • I feel comfortable sharing my honest opinions, even when it’s not popular or part of the group think.
  • I can easily forgive people.
  • I prefer to be acknowledged for my commitment and effort rather than my results.
  • I welcome coaching, because I want to improve.

The Fixed Mindset

  • I look for opportunities to confirm my level of intelligence, character, and talents.
  • I’m concerned whether people consider me successful.
  • I strive to be accepted.
  • I sometimes avoid situations where I believe I will fail and be judged.
  • I believe talent is something people are born with. Practice can only improve talent so much.
  • My intelligence is something that I can’t change much.
  • I find it difficult to admit mistakes.
  • I look for ways and people to validate me.
  • I make safe choices where I have a reasonable opportunity to succeed.
  • In situation I can influence, I’m usually the smartest one in the room.
  • I like easy problems.
  • I typically transform failure (I failed) into an identity (I’m a failure).
  • It makes me feel better to hang out with people who are worse off than me.
  • I blame my failures on other people or situations, rarely taking responsibility for my failures.
  • I believe if you are talented or smart it should come naturally and take little effort.
  • Effort is required for those people who don’t have talent.
  • I don’t usually seek feedback.
  • I feel uneasy or uncomfortable with people give me feedback.
  • I do things for the sake of receiving praise.
  • I find myself judging people.
  • I don’t see the benefit of a coach.

“The worst fear of the fixed mindset person is to try and still fail without the ability to make excuses or blame others.”

Growth Mindset Benefits

What are the benefits of the growth mindset in companies? Studies show that employees have much higher trust in their company and leaders, and have a greater sense of empowerment, ownership, and commitment when led my leaders with a growth mindset.

In business, fixed mindset leaders can damage company performance. At the extreme, these leaders become so concerned with their reputation for personal greatness, they may set the company up for failure after they leave. What greater testament to their greatness than for the company to fall apart after they resign. They don’t want great teams; they want to be the smarter person in the room. The fixed mindset leaders have a strong need to prove their superiority and fail to develop and empower employees.

The fixed mindset leader causes a cascade effect. They become controlling and everyone starts worrying about being judged. Their direct reports stop learning, taking risks, and wait for the orders to come down from above. And then they wonder, “Where’s the talent?”

You Choose Your Mindset

The study of mindset provides thought-provoking insights into the impact on relationships, business, and life success. The good news is that you may now have a fixed mindset, but it doesn’t have to stay fixed. You can choose to move toward a growth mindset, and the mindset you choose will profoundly affect the way you lead your life.

If you’d like to learn more about mindset, check out Dr. Carol Dweck’s Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfill Your Potential. And if you’d like to do a deep dive, we can schedule a coaching session.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life story. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

What You Want from Your Leaders

You spoke. My informal LinkedIn poll asked: in your opinion, what behavior undermines a leader’s influence the most? I had colleagues betting on which of the four answers would rise to the top. A few said they couldn’t choose, because they were all important. No doubt.

Where does your choice align with the following results?

  • Micro-managing your work: 27%
  • Under-appreciating your value: 23%
  • Not providing clear direction: 21%
  • Failing to meet commitments: 29%

Although these are only a handful of leadership behaviors, what conclusions might be gleaned from the limited data.

  • With the highest percentage of votes for “failing to meet commitments”, what is this behavior really measuring? I’d propose it undermines the foundation of trust in any relationship. The resulting mindset: if I can’t count on you to do what you said you’d do, I can’t trust you.
  • “Micro-managing your work” received the second highest number of votes. Again, what does this behavior imply about the leader’s relational influence? I’d suggest that direct reports would infer that their leader didn’t trust them to deliver the quality of work and/or meet important deadlines.

As a leader, when was the last time you evaluated and then developed a plan to expand the trust factor with your direct reports, your teams, and even your family members? Trust is the foundation of every relationship in your life. Without trust, anything you build on its shaky foundation has a high risk of toppling. If you value leadership, you’ll spend some time exploring the value of trust in what you do, what you say, and how you lead.

About the Author:Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life story. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

What Lies Do You Believe About Work?


Your Work Engagement

I bet there’s been a time or two in your work history, where you’ve shaken your head and thought or maybe even said, “What’s the purpose of spending time on creating annual goals? They’re not relevant one quarter into the new year.” How many times have you wished you were working for [fill in the market leader in your industry]? Maybe a few times over the course of your career you said to a trusted colleague, “This is a grind; I need to find a better work-life balance.” Statistics show that less than 20% of employees are fully engaged at work. What side do you live on? And what are you doing as a leader to move the needle for you and your team toward the side of full engagement?

Nines Lies About Work

I’m a big fan of Marcus Buckingham, who is a leading researcher of team performance. His book Nines Lies About Work, co-authored with Ashley Goodall, explains most all you knew to be true but didn’t have the data to prove it. What does Marcus mean by lies at work? These are the truths that companies buy into and operate by to manage people.

Why do they buy into the lies? Buckingham would have you believe it satisfies the organization’s need for control. There’s truth in that statement, but I also believe from my own personal history working in Corporate America that many employees, who laddered into the C-suite, got there by successfully navigating through the lies. They now suffer from faulty thinking, believing in the validity of the lies that worked for them but don’t for most. What they don’t fully appreciate is that operating under these lies pull the organization down by attaching a ball and chain to the employees’ ankles.

Based on decades of working in Fortune 1000 companies, I have my own personal favorite work lies but I’d like to share my top three favorite of Buckingham’s nine: (1) people care which company they work for, (2) the best companies cascade goals, and (3) work-life balance matters most.


Lie: People Care Which Company They Work For

It’s true people are attracted to certain companies based on name, reputation, and supposed culture. I was certainly attracted to the big Exxon name as a chemical engineering graduating from college. Who wouldn’t want to work for one of the biggest chemical companies—Exxon Chemical—like I did? However, whether an employee stays will be less about the company and more about the opportunities to do their best and the team’s cohesion.

Teams are a home for people, and its only when we work on teams that our best is put to highest use and unlocks our highest potential. “Local team experiences have far more bearing on whether we stay in the tribe or leave it…” (p. 28). Teams matter more than the company. “Teams make work real; they ground us in the day-to-day…and, teams, paradoxically, make homes for individuals” (p.30). People care about what team they belong to and what they’re working on.


Lie: The Best Companies Cascade Goals

Years ago, the typical annual performance review and goal-setting process had your supervisor ask you to write up how you did on your goals in the current year and create new ones for the upcoming year. These would roll-up the organizational ladder. Today, its more fashionable for leadership to first create theirs from the company goals and then cascade them down through each level of the organization. You see your boss’s goals and then create yours. Was that approach any more effective?

Did you feel like you were checking a box? Did you say your yourself, “I’ll let the dust settle and work on what’s truly important regardless of what’s written and approved.” Your assumption is that by the end of the year it won’t matter, because you’ll be able to rewrite your goals to reflect what you actually did.

We spend so much time on this process, and for what practical reason? There’s no data that supports that goals set from above stimulate greater productivity. In fact, “…evidence suggests that cascaded goals do the opposite: they limit performance. They slow your boat down” (p. 55). What’s a company to do, if it’s not cascading goals? “The best companies cascade meaning” (p. 62). People should not be told the what to do but the why, so they can be released to use their best gifts to perform on behalf of the company.


Lie: Work-life Balance Matters Most

People crave work with meaning and purpose—bottom line—and yet research shows that “…only 16-17 percent of workers say they have a chance to play to their strengths every day” (p. 197). When this happens, our pay becomes the price that we accept for the inherent badness of work. Think of it as a bribe to grin and bear it.

Work doesn’t have to be categorized as work is bad, the rest of life is good, and we have to find a balance. Let’s get real: “neither you nor your life are in balance, nor will you ever be” (p. 188). Life is ever changing, not static.

What’s an employee to do? The common mantra is to do what you love. Actually, for most of us, it should be find love in what you do. Surveys from U.S. working populations show that “…72 percent of workers say, ‘I have the freedom to modify my role to fit my strengths better’” (p. 197). Over the course of my career in Corporate America, I convinced my employer no less than three times to create a specific position for me that allowed me to drive on my strengths and drive value to the company, all the while finding love in what I do.

If any of these intrigues you, make sure to pick up this book and learn of the other six lies.


Buckingham, M., and Goodall, A. (2019). Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Diversity & Inclusion: Which Comes First?

christina-wocintechchat-com-eS72kLFS6s0-unsplashOne of the hot topics in today’s business world is Diversity and Inclusion or more commonly known under its acronym D&I. Although people are likely to have different definitions of what that means, most wouldn’t disagree that the purpose of D&I would include (1) affording equal opportunities and a working environment for all people to succeed and (2) leveraging the positive effects of diversity to achieve a competitive business advantage. However, the big question we should be discussing and deciding is whether diversity (numbers) comes before inclusion (behaviors) or whether inclusion drives diversity. Diversity and inclusion: which comes first?

When businesses focus on diversity first, they can and some of them do, end up with silos built around ethnic and gender lines and never achieve the win-win for both employees and employers. I believe diversity does not necessarily create inclusion, but inclusion always supports diversity. Why not focus first on inclusion? When companies focus their efforts on creating cultures that value and reward inclusive behaviors, diversity should be a natural outcome.

What can businesses do that will help promote inclusive behaviors with the staff they already have on board?

  1. Seek input from more employees across more functional and hierarchical lines
  2. Listen to colleagues who are speaking until they feel understood
  3. Ask lots of questions
  4. Identify misunderstandings and resolve conflict
  5. Seek to understand each person’s value and contribution
  6. Examine your assumptions about people

How well is your company practicing inclusive behaviors with the employees it has now? The truth is that many companies haven’t achieved any inclusive milestones even with a concerted effort to hire and retain a diverse workforce. The question of whether diversity or inclusion should come first is similar to the age-old question of whether the chicken or egg came first. Where will you decide to focus your efforts?

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

How Leadership “Addiction” Impacts Team Performance Through a Crisis


When most people hear of addiction in the workplace, they think of drugs, alcohol, and maybe the overuse of technology where employees can’t seem to separate from their iPhones. Outside of work, people have addictions to shopping, love, food, and gambling. Regardless of the addiction, they have one thing in common—all provide a hit of one or more of the feel-good chemicals of serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine.

Our decisions in how to seek out these pleasure chemicals have a profound effect on what our leadership looks and feels like, not only to us, but to the teams we lead. Each chemical is triggered and released into our bloodstream in a different way. Some are self-serving and others selfless, and the balance we seek as leaders will shape company culture and how we lead out of a crisis. As a leader, what pleasure chemicals are you addicted to?

Sinek (2017) discusses how endorphins are the survival chemicals that help mask pain and keep us going even when we think we can’t go any farther. In this high-stress, performance-driven business world, endorphins have a powerful influence in mitigating cortisol. The dopamine high is the reward we receive after accomplishing an important task—it motivates us to keep trying to achieve a defined goal. Dopamine and endorphins are chemical highs that don’t require interaction with others.

On the opposite end of the pleasure-seeking continuum are the selfless chemicals that make us feel valued and keep teams feeling they’re in the Circle of Safety (Sinek, 2017). Serotonin is also known as the leadership chemical—making us feel strong and confident knowing someone likes or respects us based on our decisions and behaviors. Oxytocin, more commonly thought of as the “love” chemical, increases our empathy, makes us social, and expands our generosity, which in turn creates bonds of trust and friendship.

Where leaders choose to get their chemical fix influences company culture, their effectiveness, and how their teams ultimately feel about them. During a business crisis, it’s highly unlikely that a leader can single-handedly lead a company through it. It takes a dedicated team, who feels part of the Circle of Safety, to work tirelessly for their leader as they successfully pull through the crisis. Those leaders, who inspire that level of commitment, are likely those with a significant level of serotonin and oxytocin running through their veins.

Which chemicals are you addicted to? What re-balancing do you need to make? How will you lead differently?


Sinek, S. (2017). Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t. Penguin Group: New York, NY

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

3 Things Leaders Should Do More of During a Crisis

antenna-cw-cj_nFa14-unsplashCommunicate, communicate, and communicate. Best practice communication tactics leave people feeling better as opposed to worse. COVID-19 has the general population fear levels at all-time highs: fear of getting the virus, losing a job, plummeting 401Ks, and not being allowed to visit loved ones who are dying or sick. Leaders, who focus on empathetic listening, truth-telling, and more frequent communication during times of crisis, will win over the hearts and minds of the people they lead.

Empathetic Listening

Crisis creates fear which clouds our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. Fear makes people feel like they’re alone. The best leaders step up their empathetic listening towards those who are fearful. They don’t rationalize or try to convince them that it’s not that bad or that they’ll land on their feet after the crisis passes. They focus on just listening and validating what the person is feeling and experiencing in the moment.

Truth Telling

What’s worse than dealing with the fears of the known created by a crisis? It’s fear of the unknown. Even if the news isn’t favorable, people would rather deal with the truth of bad news versus not having the information. Leaders respect and honor people by being truthful even if the news isn’t pleasant to deliver or receive.

Communication Frequency

The best leaders make it a priority to overly communicate to their teams. When people are feeling overwhelmed and unsure, communication helps to ease their anxiety, even if the message is “no new news.” That extra time that leaders take to check-in with their teams, even if to share nothing new, boosts feelings of care and connection.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to or visiting her website at

Your Energy Score: What It Means for Your Leadership

nathan-mcbride-mokWXKenVoY-unsplashWhen you hear the word energy your first thoughts might be of gasoline, oil, or electricity. If you’re a physicist, you might think of different types such as potential energy (stored) versus kinetic energy (movement). A geologist might think of thermal energy and lava moving below the earth’s crust. But what about human energy? Have you ever met someone and come away saying, “What great energy. I’d love to work on her team.” Or perhaps you’ve thought, “If I only had his energy, I could get so much done.” Can people get more of what they see others have? The simple answer is yes.

What is Energy?

Energy is inherently neither good or bad. It is just a measure of what is. When you gravitate toward someone, you are likely attracted to his or her energy. Energy is life. The more energy you have, the more life you have. [1]

Energy Levels

People who score on the low end of the energy continuum are described by others with phrases such as always in a bad mood, has a victim mentality, creates a toxic environment, and possibly depressed. On the other end, people who score high in energy are described as passionate, enthusiastic, positive, supportive, and creative. No one stays at the highest energy levels all the time, but he or she can choose to stay on one side of the continuum versus the other.

Energy Levels

Schneider (2008) describes seven distinct levels of energy which are:

  1. Victim, lack of choice, fearful, I can’t, I have to
  2. Anger, combativeness, resistance, fighting energy
  3. Rationalizing, acceptance of what is
  4. Care, compassion, service to others
  5. Reconciliation, win-win
  6. Creative genius, visionary, intuitive
  7. Complete passion for all aspects of life, oneness

Your Energy Score

Which of the seven statements would you currently most identify with respect to your work environment?

  1. I’m upset. He just ignores me. It’s like I don’t even exist.
  2. I’m going to tell her off. I’m so mad at her.
  3. It’s okay. I guess I’ll just deal with it.
  4. I really want the best for my co-worker and company. I’ll support her in any way I can.
  5. Where’s the opportunity? How can we both win?
  6. We’re all connected, and everything here has value and purpose.
  7. I feel passion and joy here and in all situations.

Your Leadership

Your energy score impacts not only how you see the world but also influences your ability to lead. It reflects how people see you and will respond to your leadership. People with low energy scores rarely have sustainable influence except to the extent given to them by their positions of assigned power.

If you want to improve your leadership, check your energy score and see what adjustments you need to make in order to build a solid platform from which to lead. If you need help moving your energy score up, I can help. Reach out for a conversation.

 [1] Fun fact: Life as we know it ceases to exist at 0 Kelvin or -273 Celsius.


Schneider, B. (2008). Energy Leadership: Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life from the Core. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. Sandra has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about her by visiting her website:


Leadership Ideas Worth Sharing

 When a leader get better, everyone wins!


Global Leadership Summit was packed with a wealth of leadership principles, strategies, tactics, and messages delivered from an all-star leadership faculty. If you missed the speakers, I’ve captured some key highlights. Read through these concepts and decide which ones resonate with you. Which ones might you want to put into action?

Craig Groeschel (Co-founder and Senior Pastor, Life Church)

  • Leaders have influence. Everyone has influence, so everyone is a leader. Leaders can learn from anyone.
  • False assumption: better always costs more. The truth: investing more eventually gives a diminishing return. Leaders look for ways to bend the curve by increasing value with lower costs.
  • Practice GETMO: Good Enough To Move On. Perfection is often the enemy of progress.
  • Think inside the box. Constraints drive creativity by eliminating options.
  • You have everything you need to do everything you are called to do.
  • If you had everything you wanted, you might miss what you really need.
  • Burn the ships: eliminate options to turn back.
  • If you commit to the what and are consumed with the why, you’ll figure out the how.

Bozoma Saint John (CMO, Endeavor)

  • Creating company culture is 100% everyone’s responsibility.
  • Show up in your most brilliant, authentic self.

Ben Sherwood (Former Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks)

  • The speed of change can be daunting for leadership, and leader cannot be afraid to lose.
  • Leaders in crisis need to know:
    • The study of asymmetrical conflict shows that the stronger side wins when conventional tactics are used in conventional conflict; whereas, unconventional tactics win 63% of the time in unconventional conflict.
    • The theory of 10/80/10: in a crisis, 10% if the people will emerge as leaders, 80% will freeze and wait for someone to tell them what to do, and 10% will engage in negative behavior.
  • Leadership secret: unlock team performance by “connecting”

Liz Bohannon (Co-founder & Co-CEO, Sseko Designs)

  • Beginner’s Luck is the supposed phenomenon of novices experiencing success; wheres, Beginner’s Pluck is spirited and determined courage.
  • Good leaders turn the stages of learning into a continuous cycle:
    • unconscious incompetence: you don’t know what you don’t know
    • conscious incompetence: ouch, you know what you don’t know
    • conscious competence: I can do it, but it takes effort
    • unconscious competence: I’m so good I can do this in my sleep. Good
  • Leaders don’t choose comfort.
  • You’re never going to find your passion; you’re going to build it.
  • Dream small, not big. Small dreams have a surprising power. Dreaming small will allow you to take the next step.
  • Leaders are not the heroes for others but help others be the heroes of their own life.

Jason Dorsey (#1 Rated Gen Z & Millennial Researcher & Speaker)

The Center of Generational Kinetics is the #1 generational research and consulting center studying the WHY behind the behaviors.

  • Parenting styles and natural relationships with technology are the only two parameters that shape generations.
    • Parenting influences everything. Entitlement is a learned behavior, reinforced in schools, and now culturally acceptable.
    • Technology is only new if you have the reference of remembering what it was like before.
  • Generations are not defined by chronological years but predictable behavioral changes. Cuspers are in between behavioral changes.
  • Millennials are the largest generation currently in the workforce and the only generation to split into two segments (Mega-llennials and Me-llennials). Many are experiencing significant delays in real-world traction (adulting): marriage, jobs/careers, and parenthood. By age 30, the two Millennial population segment can no longer relate to each other.
  • Millennials are tech dependent, not tech savvy.
  • Gen-X are squeezed between taking care of parents and kids, naturally skeptical, and are typically the glue of the organization.
  • Boomers know geography, define and measure work output in hours/week, believe there are no shortcuts to success, and are focused on policies and procedures.
  • Gen Z’s parents are Gen X or older Millennials. Their philosophy to parenting is you will not end up like those entitled Millennials. Gen Z are practical with money, shop in thrift stores, and in some cases are leap frogging Millennials.
  • Leadership tips to manage the Gen Z: (1) provide specific examples of the performance you expect—how it looks, (2) drive on the outcome—they do not think linearly—show the end first, and (3) provide quick-hit feedback.
  • Every generation brings something to the table and all generations lead.

Danielle Strickland (Pastor, Author, Justice Advocate)

  • Leaders not just survive but are part of transformational change.
  • Transformational change starts with your beliefs. Beliefs shape values which leads to action and then results. A leader’s beliefs are the roots from which everything grows. Is it true what you believe? Or is it faulty?
  • Stages of transformational change: (1) comfortable, (2) unsettled and disruptive, (3) chaos (scary and exciting), (4) less scared/more exciting, and (5) new normal.
  • Embrace the process of change. Disruption is not a threat but an invitation to a new normal. And leaders should not be afraid to ask for help.

Devon Franklin (CEO, Franklin Entertainment)

  • BE YOU: own and cultivate your own recipe for success versus stealing someone else’s.
  • The key to leadership is the struggle with our difference, because our difference is our destiny. Difference can be painful, because sometimes it’s hard to stand out. Your difference looks good on you. Own who you are.
  • Keep differences sharp and not sanded down. Your difference is your key to enter into your destiny.
  • Stop being quiet, use your voice. Resist the exchange for what makes you different with what is common in order to fit in.
  • Don’t be afraid of discomfort. Discomfort means you are on the right path. Don’t retreat, keep going.
  • How to own your difference: (1) admit you are different, (2) do not confuse someone else’s distinctiveness for your own, (3) hang with those who encourage your difference, and (4) be salt and light. Shake your creativity on others and take your light where it is dark and where no one else will go.
  • Your difference makes a difference.

Patrick Lencioni (CEO, The Table Group, and Best-selling Author)

  • Leadership is a privilege. You need to know your “why” to be the leader. If you don’t know your why, your “how” won’t matter. What is the motivation behind why you want to lead?
  • There are two types of leader motivations: servant leader and reward-based.
  • Reward-centered leaders have common behaviors of abdicating responsibility and delegating what only they should do, and this hurts people. Characteristics of the reward-centered leader: (1) avoids and pushes uncomfortable conversations onto others, (2) doesn’t coach direct reports, (3) is unaware of what the team is working on, (4) doesn’t align the team, (5) runs poor meetings which lead to poor decisions, (6) avoids team building because not comfortable with emotions, and (7) under communicates.
  • Servant leadership is the only kind of leadership. If you are the reward-centered leader, do the right thing by either leaning into leadership or resigning.

Chris Voss (Former FBI Hostage Negotiator, CEO of The Black Swan Group)

  • If the words “I want …” or “I need …” are coming out of your mouth, you are negotiating.
  • Negotiation is a learned skill.
  • Negotiation is about connecting and collaborating. Tactical empathy—everyone wants to be heard and understood. Empathy—understand where people are coming from and communicating that to them.
  • Listening is a martial art. Mirroring is tactical listening and responding to the other person. Effective pauses give people the chance to respond.
  • Calibrate to a “no” versus a forced “yes”. When a person can say “no” they feel emotionally safe and protected and are able to continue in the negotiation.
  • The words “that’s right …” continues the conversation; whereas, “you’re right …” stops the conversation. The fastest way to end a conversation is to say, “You’re right.”
  • If you are “likeable”, you are 6 times more likely to make a deal.
  • You want to understand why someone is asking for something. “What makes you want that?” is a better question than “Why do you want that?”
  • When a negotiation is slipping away, you want to say, “It doesn’t feel like I’ve earned your trust.” This keeps the negotiation going.
  • Ask HOW questions, because it gets people thinking.
  • Genuine curiosity is the counter for when fear creeps into the negotiation.

Aja Brown (Mayor of Compton, California)

  • Vision is the vehicle to creating momentum
  • Collaboration is the momentum multiplier to move on mission

Jia Jiang (Best-selling Author, Entrepreneur)

Concepts in how to use or interpret rejection:

  • Rejection is a numbers game. Ask enough times and eventually someone will say yes.
  • Rejection is the opinion of the rejecter only.
  • Rejection is an opportunity for growth. When you embrace rejection, you gain confidence.

Todd Henry (Founder of Accidental Creative and Leadership Consultant)

  • Creative professionals are prolific, brilliant, and healthy. If you are missing one component you poor results:
    • Prolific + Brilliant – Healthy = Fried
    • Healthy + Brilliant – Prolific = Unreliable
    • Prolific + Healthy – Brilliant = Fired
  • Leading your teams on two dimensions: (1) stability (clarity + protection) and (2) challenge (permission + faith). Based on these two dimensions, teams can be categorized into one of four groups:
    • Angry: high challenge/low stability
    • Lost: low challenge/low stability
    • Stuck: low challenge/high stability
    • Thrive: high challenge/high stability
  • Leaders will be rewarded with the best work of their team, if they can move members into the thriving category.
  • Trust is the currency of a creative team. Leaders forfeit trust by declaring things that are undeclarable and being a superhero.
  • Leaders move from leading by control to leading to influence. Focus on bounded autonomy—principles under which to do work.

Krish Kandiah (Founder, Home for Good)

  • Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.

Jo Sexton (Author, Leadership Coach)

  • U.S. organizations are facing a burnout crisis.
  • Fifty percent of CEOs feel lonely, and 60% say loneliness affects their leadership.
  • Questions every leader should be asking themselves: (1) who were you before people told you who you were, (2) what would your body say if it could talk to you, and (3) who are your people?

Bear Grylls (Adventurer, Writer, and TV Host)

  • The first failure gives you freedom.
  • Our fears make us real and relatable.
  • True wealth is found in our relationships.

Craig Groeschel (Co-founder and Senior Pastor, Life Church)

  • Kindness changes people. The fastest way to change people’s minds is to connect with their hearts.
  • Knowledge alone rarely leads to action. Knowledge leads to conclusions, and emotions leads to action. Three important questions: what do I want them to know, feel, and do?
  • Share stories purposefully. Stories stick, but facts fade. We have two processors: emotional and logical. Emotional is the default processor. When you use a story, you connect the heart of emotions to the strength of the logical—igniting a power action. “Let me tell you a story…” is an opener that gets people’s attention.
  • Choose words deliberately, because the words you choose determine the emotions people will feel. When crafting vision and values, use powerful words.
  • Share vulnerability deliberately but don’t overshare. We may impress people with our strengths, but we connect through our weaknesses. Show people what’s in your heart. People would rather follow a leader who is real versus right.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Co-leadership: A Theory that Sounds Good but Doesn’t Deliver


Let me re-phrase: I’ve never seen co-leadership achieve its intended objective. Theoretically, if two is more than one, then co-leadership should deliver twice as much value as single leadership. In my experience, dual leadership sometimes produces less than one. Why does co-leadership not deliver when the theory sounds so attractive?

Why Co-Leadership Doesn’t Work

In many cases, co-leadership is set up for failure from its start. Co-leadership by its design means co-responsibility, and yet, co-leaders rarely take the time to discuss co-leadership objectives, boundaries, responsibilities, decision-making, accountability, and deliverables. These areas need to be defined, discussed, and decided between the co-leads; otherwise, one or both leaders will believe he or she is doing more than a fair share, which can then lead to feeling:

  • overwhelmed for having an increased workload
  • resentful for not getting fair credit or that the other is getting more credit than deserved
  • unproductive because of wasting time circling back to bring the other up-to-speed
  • stifled for not being able to make timely decisions
  • frustrated in the communication process and slowness in achieving goals

A co-leadership structure can make leaders feel less empowered

Ideally, co-leaders should have complementary, not similar gifts, so that leadership has a breadth of strengths to lead a team. What happens, more often than not, is that co-leads share similar talents, and tension results when each feels he or she cannot lead in their gifting without checking in with the other.

Resentment can easily build when one co-lead is pulled toward a priority outside of the team and leaves the other lead with the same accountability and more responsibility. Co-leads are more likely to become distracted, because they know they have a co-lead who can pick up the slack. The second co-lead may or may not have time to pick up the extra work. What happens next?

Over time the team notices a fraction in the co-leadership. Teams are emotionally and mentally attuned to the unity of their leadership. In some ways, teams are like families. When children sense their parents aren’t united, each aligns with one parent more than the other based on personality, similar views, and loyalty. The team naturally starts to split into subgroups in which energy is pulled away from the task and wasted on unhealthy team dynamics. When allowed to play out long enough, one co-lead typically emerges as the single leader, so why waste precious time and resources setting co-leadership up for failure.

When Co-Leadership Works

As mentioned, I’ve never seen co-leadership work, which then begs the question: how could co-leadership work well. In my opinion, co-leadership might be a viable choice when two very different teams or cultures need alignment and co-leadership serves as continuity. For co-leadership to work, the co-leaders should have complementary skills and clearly defined co-leadership responsibilities, boundaries, and decision-making power, which should then be communicated with the rest of the team so there is no confusion.

Co-leadership is a tall task even for the seasoned leader. Before considering co-leadership, define the compelling reason and payout.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Global Leadership Summit 2018: How to Get Comfortable with Difficult Conversations

joshua-ness--bEZ_OfWu3Y-unsplashSheila Heen said it well at Global Leadership Summit when she said, “Your leadership is defined by your ability to have difficult conversations.” How many times do you shy away from conflict, rationalize away what you want to say, or intentionally avoid the tough talk? You are not alone if you said anything but never. Most people struggle with difficult conversations, but the most respected leaders get comfortable in saying things that need to be said.

Heen describes the types of conversations that challenge us: (1) standing up for oneself, (2) disappointing someone, (3) working across cultures, (4) telling a boss they may be wrong, and (5) helping peers with their self-awareness. When we’re in a difficult conversation, three questions drive the direction of our story are:

  • Who’s right?
  • Who’s fault is it?
  • Why is this person acting this way?

Difficult conversations are challenging, because our identity is at stake, and we may not know what to do with our feelings. How can we approach difficult conversations? Heen suggests shelving those three questions and finding answers to:

  • What is this conversation about? Why do we see this so differently?
  • What did we each contribute to the situation?
  • How can I separate intentions from impact? What impact am I worried about?

As a leadership coach, I frequently work with clients on communication strategies and conflict resolution skills. I encourage people to understand the other person’s worldview and values that drive decision-making. People are not irrational; they make decisions based on what makes sense within their worldview.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at