Thursday, July 2, 2009


In our workshops, we drive home many leadership points. One of the overall points is that people who want to be leaders should think, speak and act as a leader in everything they do. If we hold ourselves to this standard, our performance will improve and our presence in the workplace will improve.

Before we speak or act, we should put our thoughts through the Leader Filter. Is this what a leader would say? Is this how a leader would say it? Would a leader do this? Would a leader do it this way?

If we think, speak and act as a leader and use the Leader Filter, we will soon eliminate unproductive complaining about petty items at work. We will stop having certain types of conversations with co-workers that leave us unhappy. We will actually enjoy work more because we will complain less and produce more.

If you are a leader, use think, speak and act as a leader with the people you lead. Individually ask your people if they want to be a leader or to be a better leader? After they answer yes, inform them that in order to achieve their leadership goals, one of the steps they must take is to think, speak and act as a leader.

Don't get into a discussion as what a leader is or is not. Tell your people to use their own definition of a leader. After they agree to think, speak and act as a leader, ask them to commit to do this going forward. Tell them to use the Leader Filter. Finally, to help support them in their efforts, hold them to their commitment.

This is a great non-confrontational way to get your people to raise their performance and to reduce unproductive complaining when you are not around. Whenever your direct reports don't think, speak or act as a leader, ask them the following. Would a leader really say or do what you just said or did? Hold them to their own definition of a leader. Make it about them, not you. This technique will empower your people and you may be surprised how the efforts of the people around you starts to improve.

Cheers, Mike


  1. When I was a young Second Lieutenant at the Infantry School, a wise NCO instructor informed us that:

    "Officers were always on parade"

    The meaning was that we were to be leaders in our words and deeds, 24/7.

    Just because we were off-duty and in civilian clothes gave us no excuse to act like 19 year old drunken frat boys at Club La Vela.

  2. Stephen, well done. I am beginning to wonder if a military leadership program should be a required course at MBA programs. Time and time again the students who have been in the military are much more leadership savy.

    Cheers, Mike

  3. Mike: If that motion is ever tabled at an MBA program in my neighborhood, count me as an automatic second.

    Once upon a time, when my face was pressed into the north Florida sand along with 28 of my Navy flight school classmates, our Marine drill instructor stood over us in the mid-day sun intoning; "Your character is what you are in the dark. Be sure the light of day will always find you." In the context of the moment, he was distinguishing between full-time personal accountability and part-time expedience. Some lessons you just never forget because of the way they are delivered.

    No doubt, MBA programs will not be backstopping their leadership courses with Marine DI's any time soon. But there is a way to fully weave the end product of long-term, disciplined leadership training into MBA programs. In the post Wall Street meltdown world, I am hopeful that a few high profile MBA programs will commit to such a discipline.

    My best regards.

  4. Scott, thanks for the comment. MBA programs teach management rather than leadership. The Wall Street meltdown exposed the lack of leaders. Every organization can use more leaders at all levels. Leadership should be the lifeblood of all MBA programs.