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 coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

The Best of Global Leadership Summit 2017

GLS-BannerFor those who were not able to soak in the messages of the 13 outstanding speakers presenting at Global Leadership Summit (GLS), I share a few key messages from each leader. My hope is that one or more of these points spark an idea, ignite an interest, or passionately resonate with you and that you will pause long enough to explore how to expand on its impact in both your personal and professional life.

Bill Hybels

  • Humility allows leaders the ability to continue learning.
  • Leaders set the tone by showing everyone respect even in the midst of any lack of civility.
  • Leaders get behind a grander vision above delivering on the bottom line. How else can you make an impact?
  • Leaders plant leadership seeds in young people where they see leadership potential.
  • Ask yourself whether you are leading as well on the home front as in the workplace.

Sheryl Sandberg

  • Resiliency is learned through failure and a muscle you can build. Instead of thinking of failure as post traumatic disorder, think of it as post traumatic growth.
  • Hire people with bigger skills: (1) people you need for the future, and (2) people who will get you were you want to go. Employers make the mistake of hiring for what they need now and not for what they need to grow.
  • How come there is not a reference section in the bookstore called HELPING OTHERS? We need to show up for each other more.

Mark Lemonis

  • Business grows through connection which is built by understanding people’s backstory (personal history)?
  • Creating a connection is accomplished through vulnerability and transparency because they unlock the heart to trust.
  • People love it when you walk a day in their shoes even though you will never be in their shoes.

Fredrick Haren

  • 98% of polled workers state it is important to be creative in their jobs; 45% say they are creative, and only 2% say their company is helping them be creative.
  • An idea is just knowledge and information combined in a new way.
  • People need to make the time to allow themselves to be creative.

Bryan Stevenson

  • Effective leaders need to get close to what they need to achieve because answers come in proximity.
  • Leaders need to do uncomfortable things.
  • A change in narrative can liberate fear.

Andy Stanley

  • If you choose to study failure, you may never understand success. You need to perform an autopsy on success to understand success.  Ask, “What did your organization do to grow so fast?”
  • Business growth usually comes from having a “uniquely better” product. Uniquely better is on the frontier of your ignorance.
  • Uniquely better is rarely created within a company, but leaders need to develop a culture where it can be recognized versus resisted. Many top tier companies have taken a financial hit, because they failed to acknowledge “uniquely better” offered by their competition.
  • Be a student, not a critic; when you criticize you stop learning. Replace HOW questions (implied idea killers) with WOW: TELL ME MORE statements (implied idea developers).

Laslo Bock

  • In work, match joy with duty. Pursue passion and purpose.
  • Ask people what is motivating them.
  • Make work better for everyone: (1) give work meaning, (2) have and communicate a goal, (3) trust your people with information and the freedom to achieve the goal, and (4) hire people who are better than you in some way.

Juliet Funt

  • When people don’t have the time to think, business suffers.
  • The pause, otherwise known as “whitespace”, is where innovation and creativity grow, and yet, it is being squeezed out of our schedules.
  • When busyness overtakes whitespace, drive turns to overdrive, excellence turns to perfection, information turns to overload, and activity turns to frenzy.
  • Create whitespace by acting on your answers to the following questions: (1) What can I let go of? (2) When is enough good enough? (3) What do I truly need to know? and (4) What deserves my attention?

Marcus Buckingham

  • The opposite of failure is not success; it is non-failure. If you want to be successful, study success.  Leaders figure out what is happening on the best teams, so they can build on it.
  • The two most important questions a leader ensures his team affirms are: (1) At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me, and (2) I have a chance to use my strengths every day.
  • Leaders should be asking their team, “What are your priorities, and how can I help?”
  • No one really likes unsolicited feedback, but everyone wants coaching attention.

Sam Adeyemi

  • In leadership, you don’t attract what you want but rather who you are.
  • Leaders help people change how they see themselves, helping to break self-limiting beliefs.
  • Transformation starts in the heart. Leaders help people see and hear messages differently  on a consistent basis, so new beliefs can take root in the heart.

Immaculee Ilibagiza

  • Fear is your worst enemy.

Angela Duckworth

  • Grit = Passion + Perseverance over the long-term
  • People can increase their grit through deliberate practice.
  • Talent x Effort = Skill; Skill x Effort = Achievement; notice how effort counts twice
  • Don’t quit on a bad day. If you want to quit, quit on a good day.

Greg Haugen

  • Leadership begins with a dream, and fear is the ultimate dream destroyer.
  • Keep dreams alive by relentlessly and rigorously inventorying your fears.
  • Lead without fear; switch from playing defensive to offensive.

GLS provided meaningful leadership messages for the current times.  Reflecting on my two days invested in GLS, I propose we need to overcome our fears that tells us we “can’t” or “shouldn’t”.  We need to create whitespace to be creative and bring our dreams to life.  As leaders, we need to build teams with clear purpose and allow people to drive on their strengths. We need to trust our teams with information, so they can solve problems, do the right thing, and create value.  Sound simple enough?  Simple is not necessarily easy.  Leading others well can be frustrating and difficult, because at times it requires us to change our engrained attitudes, beliefs, and views as well as to release the fears that have us playing defensive and not offensive.

What message resonated with me the most?  None of the speakers did a deep dive into the impact of fear and leadership, yet the concept was weaved through some of the presentations.  In my opinion, fear is a powerful motivator in people’s decision-making. Fear paralyzes purpose, passion, and perseverance.  Fear undermines people from choosing to do the right thing.  Fear undermines great leadership. I believe leaders need to take an honest inventory of fears that are holding them back in growing in their leadership capacity and develop constructive mitigation strategies to overcome them.

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Self-leadership: Building a Leadership Foundation


Leadership Under Construction

Although many would agree that leadership starts with leading yourself well, they want to know, “What are the practical steps I can take to improve my self-leadership?” I would suggest the first step involve a self-evaluation and personal inventory. Achieving clarity on the following questions can help build that solid foundation from which to grow self-leadership:


  1. What do I stand for?
  2. What do I value?
  3. What am I good at and what am I not?
  4. Am I following my passion?
  5. Is my personal vision clear?
  6. Am I excited in what I do and whom I do it with?
  7. Am I making decisions that honor everyone?

Bill Hybels (2009) mentions that great leaders embody several key traits. After addressing the “what and how” questions, a deeper dive into personal characteristics will continue that self-leadership inventory.  On a continuum, leaders should ask themselves which traits they hold strongly and which ones they want to develop further?

  1. Integrity
  2. Optimism
  3. Decisiveness
  4. Courage
  5. Wisdom
  6. Emotional authenticity
  7. Commitment to collaboration

The self-evaluation goal is to become self-full, which is to attend to oneself in a way that allows one to lead self and others well.  At times, leaders can extend themselves so far and for so long that they exhaust themselves and are then not able to give others their best.  Therefore, leaders should ask themselves, “Where will I focus my attention and where will I not?” Leaders cannot be all things to all people and should understand their limits. Leaders benefit by scheduling downtime to work on self-leadership and keep themselves energized.


Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous Leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.



Intentional Leadership: Leaders Growing Leaders

I haven’t yet heard a business owner, executive, or manager who hasn’t expressed a need to have stronger leaders in their organization.  Everyone wants more and better leaders.  Unfortunately, some employees don’t view themselves as leaders and neglect to grow their leadership capacity.  What these employees may not realize is that their DNA rubs off on others as their colleagues observe them, have conversations, and work alongside them.

leadership investmentAlthough I believe everyone is a leader, I admit that the ability to influence may be easier for some. From my experience, these perceived “natural leaders” already possess a high degree of certain personal traits they build upon to grow in their leadership strengths.  Yet, even these emerging leaders need the partnership with more experienced leaders to help them grow their leadership brand.

Organizations that emphasize leadership development for all their employees will foster stronger employee engagement.  I propose that part of an organization’s intentional mission should be to identify and raise up the next generation of leaders. Some business leaders may ask, “What’s the best way to start investing in our emerging leaders?”  Growing leaders can be broken down into a few simple steps:

  1. Make the decision that you will invest your time and resources in growing new leaders. Leadership demands intentionality, which means you will take on this assignment as part of your job description.
  2. Identify potential leaders that have some level of the characteristics you believe will make for great leadership within your organization. Bill Hybels (2009) mentions five key qualities that he looks for in potential leaders: (1) influence, (2) character, (3) people skills, (4) initiative, and (5) intelligence.  You may select all five or modify; however, you should be clear on the criteria by which you will base your selection.
  3. Invest in potential leaders through coaching, mentoring, training, and wise counsel. Storytelling is a powerful way to learn, so share your stories of successes and challenges and what you learned. Be aware that just listening to leadership stories does not grow leadership; therefore, it is important to have them put to use what they know.
  4. Create opportunities for potential leaders to practice leadership. You need to trust they will become stronger leaders by figuring out leadership through their own trials. Leaders grow by moving from theoretical to practical experiences through a series of more challenging assignments.

Management typically justifies leadership coaching for an identified few, because the investment payback can be roughly calculated.  With relatively high turnover rates at lower levels in the organization, management does not want to invest in these employees only to have the competition realize the benefits.  Decisions in leadership investment can be a difficult decision, but I can make the argument that if companies invested more broadly in leadership development, they would keep their best employees and also have the competitors’ employees want to join.


Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous Leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and leadership consultant with an extensive background in business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all their employees.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

What is Your Level of Leadership Engagement?

leaderI occasionally hear clients express that they do not think of themselves as leaders.  When I ask how they came to that conclusion, their typical answer aligns with the message that they do not manage, supervisor, or oversee a team.  Since the idea of leadership and its definition are routinely portrayed by a position or person, is it surprising that people remain confused and tend to assume they are not leaders?  With the hope of dispelling any confusion on leadership and who is eligible, I define leadership as influence and propose that everyone is a leader.  Leadership is a choice.

Leadership is also a muscle.  Like all muscles, leadership needs a good workout to stay strong and fit. The first step in growing leadership is to assess and establish your leadership baseline.  On a continuum of 1 to 10, where is your current level of leadership engagement?

  1. I am unsure of the definition of leadership and the characteristics of a good leader
  2. I question whether I am a leader
  3. I believe I am a leader but do not often practice leadership
  4. I have doubts about my leadership abilities but still try to lead
  5. I know I am a leader and am fully aware of my leadership strengths and growth areas
  6. I educate myself on leadership and welcome those few opportunities to practice it
  7. I routinely accept leadership opportunities presented to me
  8. I purposefully seek opportunities to strengthen my leadership abilities
  9. I create opportunities for me to lead and grow my leadership
  10. I create or provide opportunities for others to increase their leadership capacity

A leadership rating of 10 signifies a leader who is growing the next generation of leaders through coaching and creating opportunities for them to practice. Great leaders know there is a time to lead and a time to follow, and even great leaders know when they are to follow and not lead.  When they follow, you might assume they are leading from behind.

Growing leadership capacity and strengthening leadership ability is a lifelong journey and available to anyone who chooses.  The second step in growing leadership is to ask yourself these questions:

  • What will I lead?
  • How will I lead?
  • When will I Iead?
  • Where will I lead?
  • Will I choose to lead?

Answers to these questions help a leader formulate a leadership vision and goals to increase their leadership capacity and abilities.

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees. Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

What’s in Your Leadership Box?

Leadership BoxYou’ve likely heard the saying, “Big things come in small packages,” which can be translated into practical terms as: “Do not underestimate something’s value based on its packaging.” This concept applies as much to leadership as it does to a gift.  Leadership is not necessarily packaged in a big box with a boldly colored bow but likely wrapped in a modest box with a refined ribbon.

Although leadership expresses itself in casting vision, building effective teams, setting goals, solving problems, and inspiring teams to action, I propose most people would describe leadership by the attributes of a leader who casts vision and inspires people to change.  While many give leadership recognition to the person who articulates the vision, Hybels (2009) describes 10 key leadership styles that are required for any organization to grow.  Which ones can you identify on your team?

  • Visionary: casts vision; draws people in
  • Directional: chooses the right path at critical junctures
  • Strategic: align teams and breaks an exciting vision into actionable steps
  • Management: organizes people, processes, and resources to achieve the mission
  • Motivational: keeps the team fired up
  • Shepherding: builds, nurtures, supports, and listens to the team
  • Team-building: finds and develops the right people with the right characteristics, character, and chemistry, and puts them in the right positions to get the right results
  • Entrepreneurial: possesses many leadership styles but optimally functions in start-up mode
  • Re-engineering: thrives on turning around teams who struggle because they are missing a leadership element
  • Bridge-building: deals with complexity and brings many groups under a single leadership umbrella

I believe great leadership involves building an organization, where all the leadership styles are represented and recognized for their contribution.  No leadership style is more important than another, because failure in one area impacts a company’s ability to achieve their goals.  A company is only as successful as the sum of its parts or as strong as its weakest link.

Each leadership style has a critical mission to accomplish.  Do you know your primary leadership styles and how they impact your organization?  I suggest all leaders answer these three questions for themselves:

  1. On a scale of 1-10, what is your ability on each of the 10 leadership styles?
  2. Does your current position allow you to drive on your leadership strengths?
  3. If not, how can you use more of your leadership strengths in your current role?



Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous Leadership: Field-Tested Strategy for the 360o Leader.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in business development and leadership.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ specific  business needs.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Where Does Leadership Start?

Leadership LeadAlthough everyone has their own perspective on what leadership entails and the key characteristics embodied by leaders, few would disagree that leadership involves the ability to influence people. Many people struggle with how to increase their leadership capacity within their families, work, and communities. I propose that the first step in expanding your leadership capacity is learning to lead yourself better. What are your emotional intelligence, attitudes, and behaviors reflecting into the world? How are you preparing and working on yourself to be a better leader, so you have greater influence with your skills, competencies, creativity, and knowledge? Although self-reflection might be the start in developing self-awareness, an objective self-evaluation may prove difficult. You may receive more useful feedback, when you ask trusted friends and colleagues. Although family can be a source of leadership feedback, the closer the emotional connection, typically the more biased the feedback. The following general questions are examples that should solicit concrete feedback for self-reflection.

  • Would you provide an example where you believed I could have had more influence? What could I have done more or less of that would have affected a better outcome?
  • What changes should I consider in my general behaviors to achieve greater influence? Would you provide an example where this change might have led to a different outcome?
  • When you observe me leading at my best, what am I doing or not doing?

Some people only provide congratulatory remarks and refrain from feedback that could result in “shooting the messenger.” Other people will be caught off guard when you ask such questions and may need time to process and think of specific examples. In this case, schedule a second meeting to receive that feedback. I find if you appear sincere in wanting the feedback for self-improvement, people are likely to provide an honest evaluation.

144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  Email: sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com