Monthly Archives: September 2013

5 Steps to Help Obama (or Any Leader) Regain Leadership Confidence

leadership development perspective on barack obama

Original OpEd Published by

Regardless of your personal vote and support of Barack Obama and his policies, he is our President and Commander in Chief. He sets our foreign policy for the most part and commands our military. Certainly, there are no simple or easy solutions to dealing with whoever is responsible for the horrid deaths by the lethal, illegal, gassing of Syrian citizens which the United Nations is still documenting.

Still, we’ve heard a clamoring for “leadership” by both Americans and the media to address this crime against humanity. Some have supported President Obama’s threat of force, but the vast majority of Americans, both Republican and Democrat, even independents alike, strongly oppose such use of force by the United States.

So how does President Obama—who has been accused of leading from behind—regain confidence from the people he was elected to lead? Here are five important steps –

Keep America the first priority. As the elected leader for the United States of America, President Barack Obama’s top commitment is to his electorate—the American people. All other objectives such as global responsibilities and commitments to our allies, keeping both sides of the political spectrum satisfied, or strategizing his party for the 2014 election—should be secondary to what is truly in our national interest.

Get qualified counsel. When the risks are high, you need insights from the most experienced leaders possible—not political hacks or PR experts. Just recently, Zig Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger were on a TV talk show expressing concerns about retaliatory strikes on Syria. Perhaps they could’ve given some good advice before the “red line” was communicated? Leaders never know it all and many times don’t have the best ideas, but they know when to listen and when to follow their own instincts when getting counsel.

“Leaders never know it all and many times don’t have the best ideas, but they know when to listen and when to follow their own instincts when getting counsel.”

Choose the best worst decision. The Syrian issue has deteriorated so that there are no good options. Tony Mendez, CIA operative who planned and executed the exfiltration of the American hostages (ARGO) during the Iranian crisis of 1980 said that he had to convince the CIA Director to go for the best of the worst plans. President Obama is in a similar dilemma. After reviewing multiple facets of society that will be affected by the decision, he should choose the best worst decision without delaying the issue any further.

Communicate with clarity and focus. In the President’s defense, there is relentless pressure by the American people and the world to get immediate answers as scenarios continue to develop in Syria. While he is accountable to the American people for a plan to engage with Syria, the first rule in the accountability process is communicating a clear and focused foreign policy plan based on the steps above.

Execute the plan. Once the carefully constructed foreign policy plan has been communicated, execute the plan and own it. Consistency in execution is essential and especially when your plan is high risk. The president will gain more national confidence and respect—even if it’s an imperfect plan—by taking action and leading the charge on a clearly established plan.

“Consistency in execution is essential and especially when your plan is high risk.”

President Roosevelt’s plan to attack Japan in 1942 was far out and destined to fail militarily. Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his strike force did little damage to Tokyo, and most of our planes never made it to their recovery bases in China. But the decision to carry out this flawed plan proved strategically valuable as it shockingly exposed the vulnerability of the Japanese homeland, and on the other side of the globe it gave a tremendous morale boost to the American people at a time when it was sorely needed.

Sixty-one years later, America needs another morale boost. These five steps won’t guarantee a successful foreign and military policy on Syria, but it will give us the best chance of charting our way through challenging times.   

{Editor’s Note: Though this article is focused on Obama’s presidential leadership, these five steps obviously work for any leader. What step above is the most important to you in your personal leadership? Why is it a challenge, many times, to execute these simple (but not easy) steps? Please share your thoughts.}


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Washington Needs a Real Shot of Courage—A Call to Action Editorial


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Quitting is Not An Option: How to Get Up One More Time Personally and Professionally

Leadership Development - Lee Ellis

Last month, “How the Mighty Fall” by author Jim Collins was a recommended read from Lee’s bookshelf. Now, check out this insightful article on the same topic. Have you been, are you, or will you be in a place where you’re in the midst of a personal or professional battle?

Jim Collins mentions in this article – “The path out of darkness begins with those exasperatingly persistent individuals who are constitutionally incapable of capitulation. It’s one thing to suffer a staggering defeat—as will likely happen to every enduring business and social enterprise at some point in its history—and entirely another to give up on the values and aspirations that make the protracted struggle worthwhile. Failure is not so much a physical state as a state of mind; success is falling down—and getting up one more time—without end.” 

The full article can be read at this link – click here.

What was your strategy for moving forward? What were your drivers? Please share your wisdom.


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Authentic Leadership

by Phil Eastman

(Editor’s Note: From time to time, we want to feature blog articles from other authors that highlight a particular issue related to leadership and personal development.)

I was once told that the secret to any book’s success is its title. Unfortunately a book title does not always properly portray what is inside. The title can be clever and catchy while the text inside is dull and disappointing. To illustrate, several years ago Mahan Khalsa wrote a solid book on solution selling with one of the best titles I have ever heard, Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play. What a great title with great potential for sales. That title is also a great opening line for a discussion of authentic leadership.

The pursuit of leadership authenticity is like a book with a provocative title. Too many leaders have been ingrained with the myths that results are all that matter. In fact, results do matter, but what matters more is the means by which a leader achieves those results. Interestingly results are better when leaders are authentic in their approach. The challenge is to make sure your road to authenticity winds through your character.

“The challenge is to make sure your road to authenticity winds through your character.”

There are three major barriers to leadership authenticity –

1. First, we live in an image saturated world with few opportunities to see, recognize and celebrate authentic leadership. Successful leadership portrayed in most media outlets are usually centered on the deal and winning above being true to oneself and others. The television show, The Apprentice, is a great example. On the show, teams work together toward a common goal while competing against another group doing the same. When the losing team finds itself in the boardroom making a desperate plea for remaining on the show, the people seem willing to resort to any behavior to keep from being fired. Very few have taken responsibility for their own actions and often times those who do are the ones who get fired. We don’t have a productive manner or model for a discussion of character.

2. Therein lies the second challenge. When character discussions arise, they are almost always directed negatively rather than focused on the positive. In other words, character is more visible when things are fractured rather than intact. We need a model for the positive proactive discussion of character and its connection to leadership.

3. The third and possibly most challenging element in the pursuit of leadership authenticity is solid and realistic self-awareness. Introspection about your character and leadership style is very difficult and yet is the master key to your development.

“All that said, self-awareness is the key to authentic leadership, and authentic leadership is critical to your organization’s success.”

All that said, self-awareness is the key to authentic leadership, and authentic leadership is critical to your organization’s success. But what is authentic leadership, and what does it look like?  An authentic leader is one that courageously and wisely moves a group of people, by doing what is right, to an end that is in the long-term best interest of everyone.

Character then becomes the pivotal aspect of authentic leadership. In other words, a leader’s character defines and drives their actions, and as such, if you want certain leadership behaviors, we must tackle the shaping of your character. That must however be done consciously rather than by letting your character be formed by the unconscious flow of media driven images.

To develop authentic leadership, one must –

1. Find and use a character model that appeals to you.
2. Determine what behaviors you will adopt and build into your leadership based on that character model.
3. Practice your new leadership behaviors in the work you currently do.
4. Share with your team what you are working toward (they will appreciate the authenticity).

Think of authentic leadership as matching the book’s content with its title. The compelling, clever, descriptive exterior representation must match the text inside so that neither the title nor the text disappoint. Remember, let’s get real or let’s not play.


Phil Eastman is the Principle Advisor at Leadership Advisors Group. Specializing in strategic planning, leadership development, and leading change.

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How to Avoid Two Dangerous Traps in Leadership—Listen and Engage

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Why is Leadership Development Important? Lee Ellis Shares His Unique Thoughts, and Please Share Yours

In this short interview, human performance consultant, Lee Ellis, shares why he thinks leadership development is important.

One phrase he mentions is, “Leaders must change and grow, they cannot do things the same way forever. If you want your team or organization to grow, you have to be willing to change and evolve as a leader.”

Do you agree? Tell us what you think…


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Company Culture Shapes the Way Your Business Operates

By Caitlin Florence

(Editor’s Note: From time to time, we want to feature blog articles from other authors that highlight a particular issue related to leadership and personal development.)

Company culture and vulnerability were discussed in-depth at this year’s Inc. Leadership Forum. Here are some conference takeaways from Caitlin Florance, Marketing Partnership Manager for Hiscox Small Business.

I had the privilege of attending the Inc. Leadership Forum in San Diego and gained some valuable insight on how to be a successful leader and business owner. Two major themes at the conference were company culture and the power of vulnerability.

Company culture is an important aspect of any business, big or small. All business owners and partners need to agree on one culture that will shape the way their business operates. If you are a business owner, it is imperative that you “walk your talk”. If you are passionate about your company and the success of your business and you practice what you preach, your employees will take notice and follow and respect you as a business owner and as a person. This is the key to a successful business culture. Norm Brodsky, entrepreneur, columnist and co-author of “Street Smarts: An All Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs,” spoke at the forum and was asked a question from the audience, “How do you measure your company culture?” He simply replied by asking two questions back, “Do your employees stay with the company? Do you have a high customer retention rate?” Happy employees make happy customers – it all starts with the company culture and hiring the right employees to fit that culture.

The second topic, the power of vulnerability left a lasting impression on me – Success is how you go from failure to failure. At the forum, research professor and author, Brene Brown led a discussion on how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way people live, love, parent and lead. Vulnerability is seen by many as a sign of weakness – being fearful, timid and shameful. People protect themselves from being vulnerable by putting up a wall, a mask, a “game face.” Though this wall may protect us from emotions that we are scared to feel or don’t want to feel, it also prevents us from being creative, innovative, authentic, accountable, and adaptable to change… all attributes that a successful business leader needs. Dr. Brown closed her session with a quote, “Courage and comfort do not coexist. If you get into the arena, you will get your ass kicked. So, you need to ask yourself, what is worth doing even if you fail?”

I leave you with a final statement – Start a business you’re passionate about. Establish a culture that you can live by day in and day out. Hire people that fit your culture. Most importantly, be prepared to fail a few times, but remember that success is not measured by your failures, it is measured by how you overcome those failures.

Caitlin Florance is the Marketing Partnerships Manager for Hiscox Small Business

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How to Avoid Two Dangerous Traps in Leadership—Listen and Engage

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A Tribute to Major LeRoy Homer, USAF Veteran and Co-Pilot of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001

Today, Lee Ellis and FreedomStar Media remembers Major LeRoy Homer. A USAF veteran, Major Homer was the co-pilot on United Airlines Flight 93 when it was hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001. Some of his military accomplishments included flying missions in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991, Rwanda in 1994, and Haiti in 1994.

Read more about LeRoy’s life at this link – Veterans Tribute Page

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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Leadership, Military, Seasonal


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Lee Answers this Life and Leadership Question – “If I had the choice whether to get shot down in Vietnam and be a POW, what would you choose?” Hear His Answer in This Interview

Lee was honored to be a recent guest on Anything is Possible radio. The host, Jack Krasula, has also featured guests such as Roger Staubach, John McCain, Lou Holtz, and others.

In the long-form interview, Lee shares more in-depth details about life, and clear advice on finding your passion and purpose as a leader.

What was the best piece of advice that you received from this interview? Please listen and share your comments –


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