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Leading a Team to Success

Leading a team is by far the most important skill a leader needs to master if they desire to be more successful. Over the past 24 years, I have participated in an annual Thanksgiving tradition, a two-hand touch football game called the Turkey Bowl. Over this almost quarter of a century, I have learned seven key leadership lessons about building a team, leading a team, and navigating through challenges. Here are my takeaways:

1. Draft Talent and Get Out of Their Way: As a leader, you will only be as successful as the collective skills and talents of the people you surround yourself with. There is no sense in recruiting and hiring talented people if you are going to micromanage them out of their gift zones and passion. Your main job is to build their capacity, place them into positions of success, and remove any barriers. If you are not finding the talent you need to achieve the organization’s goals, you need to take a look in the mirror.

There are only two ways to...

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5 Ways to Make Meaningful Connections

On a walk last summer, I crossed a bridge built over a slow-moving creek and spied a snake slipping through the water. As a mother of three boys, I instinctively wanted to point it out to them and start guessing what kind of snake it was. Alas, my teenage boys were at work or gymnastics practice. They were missing out on my moment with the snake, and I wanted to share this sighting. Just up the path, I saw a dad with two toddler sons coming my way. I was thrilled to have someone to share this moment with.

When the dad was within earshot, I said, “Your boys might like to see the snake in the water back there.” The man looked right past me and kept walking. I carried on toward my house, not bothering to repeat myself. However, in just a few steps, I heard the dad say, “Hey boys! There’s that snake the nice lady told us about.” The boys squealed, and I smiled, knowing that I’d opened up their world just a little bit that day.


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How to Learn From Your Failures

I fail daily. If you want to be successful, you must not only be willing to fail, you must be intentional about how to learn from your failures. Sociologist Alvin Toffle said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

How to Learn From Your Failures

For over a decade I was deep into a gambling addiction and lost well over $100,000 on a teacher salary. I spent every opportunity I could thinking about gambling, scheming my way to feeding my addiction. I went bankrupt at 24 and lost trust and credibility with those I loved most. Over 99.9% of the world’s population would have quit after bankruptcy, but I pushed on for five more years! So what was truly impeding my progress? The answer seems simple now. I certainly had character and accountability problems, but really it came down to my inability to learn from my failures.

Refocusing Your Habits

The choices we make, make us and...

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The Law of Consistency

In John Maxwell’s 15 Laws of Invaluable Growth, he stresses the idea that in order to make significant change, consistency has to be one of the main ingredients. He concluded that “Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing.”

Many times in life we jump into a project, diet or other life-changing program with incredible determination and drive. But, after 5-10 days we find that it is more difficult than anticipated and we allow our previous habits to win out and overwhelm our new found passion. What was the problem? Was it that we tried to do too much, too soon? Was it the program’s fault? Poor teaching? Genetics? I believe it was that we have a difficult time following the Law of Consistency.

Jim Collins, best-selling author of Good to Great, defines a breakthrough as a series of good decisions, diligently executed, that accumulate overtime. To make significant changes on your life takes patience and a process. Researchers...

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Leading Through Change

Leading through change is what separates the good from the great. Right now, thousands of school leaders across the nation are saying, “I cannot wait until next year. Next year will be different.”

My question to them is, “How do you know?”

When leading through change, it is all right for leaders to be uncertain about their process to get there, but it is not all right for leaders to be unclear about their overall vision. It is in time of change when people need their leaders the most. When people lack hope, the leader needs to provide hope. When people lack answers, the leader needs to have a vision and clearly communicate that vision.

A time of uncertainty is the hardest time to lead. Most people tend to freeze when the future is uncertain; unfortunately, this is when many leaders decide to take a step back rather than being at the forefront. When I was a principal, in times of change or adversity, I did not want to have to answer everyone’s questions...

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27 Things Extraordinary Boards Do

  1. Adopt long term goals: If you do not have a destination, you will never get lost.
  2. Focus on the critical data: If it does not inform the board on the long term goals, it doesn’t belong on a board meeting agenda.
  3. Develop a strategic calendar: Your board calendar is your best tool for oversight.
  4. Prepare for meetings: Board members should read all reports provided (sent 7 days in advance)  
  5. Ask great questions: Good questions inform, great questions transform.
  6. Plan ahead: Organization’s should respond, not react.
  7. Follow focused agendas: Follow the Pareto Principle: 80% of the organization’s issues come from 20% of the problems. Identify and focus your time and skills here.  
  8. Understand their role: If you feel like you are overwhelmed, you are probably micromanaging.
  9. Utilize subcommittees: Subcommittees made of critical friends dive deeper.
  10. Speak with one voice: Whether the vote is 5-4 or 9-0, it has been decided.
  11. Purposely...
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Five Levels of Listening


Learning how to listen is a vital step in becoming an effective leader. According to research conducted by Personality Insights, the average executive spends two hours talking each day but eight hours listening. After spending two hours at home with my five year old son, I estimate that the average stay-at-home parent  spends 12 to 16 hours a day listening!!! Well… at least one of the five levels of listening (more about this to come).

Whether we realize it or not, whether we are intentionally engaged or not, we are always listening. Sometimes we are listening to new ideas, listening to a story, to music, to the background noise of a television, or in a true conversation where we are sharing our thoughts and conveying important information. I don’t know about you, but after a day of listening and communicating at any level, my brain is exhausted.

According to relationship and leadership DISC expert Dr. Robert Rohm, there are six hidden components to every...

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To Be An Effective Leader, You Must Have Vision

leadership skills Jan 10, 2019

On October 6, 2017 we hosted a 100 leaders for a leadership conference in Raleigh called, “Live2Lead” where leadership expert, John Maxwell, served as  one of the speakers. During his talk, John stated that the number one characteristic of an effective leader is vision. The best leaders lead by their ability to see more than others see, and see it before others see it. I have always been a visionary. Whether it was playing sports or planning a party, I could see things before they happened. In fact, before I founded Leaders Building Leaders, I envisioned you being in the crowd and participating in one of our trainings. I envisioned us, as a team, giving back to the community that hosted the session.

While being a visionary is great, I understand how and why having a few too many visions can be frustrating to my team. Oftentimes, I take off on another initiative before the last one has been fully accomplished.

An effective leader remains focused and in...

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