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By: Beth Flynn, Monday, June 06th, 2016
  • Identify past successes that paved the way to your current position.
  • Think about challenges you faced along the way to those successes.
  • List the specific skills and talents that allowed you to overcome past challenges.
  • Think about the resources you tapped into to learn about and get better at things you needed to succeed.
  • Think about the help you received from others as you stretched and grew.
  • Explore how your past creativity, strength, and support network could be leveraged to help you overcome your current self-doubts (p. 102)."

What are ways that you talk back to the voice of doubt in your head?

From:  Reina, D. & Reina, M. (2015).  Trust and betrayal in the workplace: building effective relationships in your organization (3rd edition).  Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.


By: Beth Flynn, Monday, June 06th, 2016
"William 'Bill' Crawford was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily
overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Mr. Crawford, as
most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor.

While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic
events, Saturday morning parades, and room inspections -- or never -- ending
leadership classes-Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing
floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess
100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory.

Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little
more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, "G'morning!" in his direction as
we hurried off to our daily duties. Why? Perhaps it was because of the way
he did his job -- he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even
the toilets and showers gleamed. Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us
had to notice or get involved. After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not

Maybe it was his physical appearance that made him disappear into the
background. Bill didn't move very quickly, and in fact, you could say he
even shuffled a bit, as if he suffered from some sort of injury. His gray
hair and wrinkled face made him appear ancient to a group of young cadets.
And his crooked smile, well, it looked a little funny. Face it, Bill was an
old man working in a young person's world. What did he have to offer us on a
personal level?

Maybe it was Mr. Crawford's personality that rendered him almost invisible
to the young people around him. Bill was shy, almost painfully so. He seldom
spoke to a cadet unless they addressed him first, and that didn't happen
very often. Our janitor always buried himself in his work, moving about with
stooped shoulders, a quiet gait, and an averted gaze. If he noticed the
hustle and bustle of cadet life around him, it was hard to tell. For
whatever reason, Bill blended into the woodwork and became just another
fixture around the squadron. The Academy, one of our nation's premier
leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk. And Mr.
Crawford... well, he was just a janitor.

That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976. I was reading a book about
World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled
across an incredible story.

On September 13, 1943, a Private William Crawford from Colorado, assigned to
the 36th Infantry Division, had been involved in some bloody fighting on
Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy.
William Crawford's Medal of Honor Citation.
William Crawford's Medal of Honor Citation.
The words on the page leapt out at me, "in the face of intense and
overwhelming hostile fire... with no regard for personal safety.. on his
own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked fortified enemy
positions." It continued, "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk
of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United

"Holy cow," I said to my roommate, "you're not going to believe this, but I
think our janitor is a Medal of Honor recipient." We all knew Mr. Crawford
was a World War II Army vet, but that didn't keep my friend from looking at
me as if I was some sort of alien being. Nonetheless, we couldn't wait to
ask Bill about the story.

We met Mr. Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page in
question from the book, anticipation and doubt on our faces. He stared at it
for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, "Yep,
that's me." Mouths agape, my roommate and I looked at one another, then at
the book, and quickly back at our janitor. Almost at once, we both
stuttered, "Why didn't you ever tell us about it?" He slowly replied after
some thought, "That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago."
I guess we were all at a loss for words after that. We had to hurry off to
class and Bill, well, he had chores to attend to.

After that brief exchange, things were never again the same around our
squadron. Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had a hero in
our midst -- Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had been bestowed The Medal! Cadets
who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a
smile and a respectful, "Good morning, Mr. Crawford."

Those who had before left a mess for the "janitor" to clean up, started
taking it upon themselves to put things in order. Cadets routinely stopped
to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to our
formal squadron functions. He'd show up dressed in a conservative dark suit
and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his heroics
being a simple blue, star-spangled lapel pin. Almost overnight, Bill went
from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates.

Mr. Crawford changed too, but you had to look closely to notice the
difference. After that fall day in 1976, he seemed to move with more
purpose, his shoulders didn't seem to be as stooped, he met our greetings
with a direct gaze and a stronger "good morning" in return, and he flashed
his crooked smile more often. The squadron gleamed as always, but everyone
now seemed to notice it more. Bill even got to know most of us by our first
names, something that didn't happen often at the Academy. While no one ever
formally acknowledged the change, I think we became Bill's cadets and his

As often happens in life, events sweep us away from those in our past. The
last time I saw Bill was on graduation day in June 1977. As I walked out of
the squadron for the last time, he shook my hand and simply said, "Good
luck, young man." With that, I embarked on a career that has been truly
lucky and blessed.

Mr. Crawford continued to work at the Academy and eventually retired in his
native Colorado, one of four Medal of Honor recipients who lived in the
small town of Pueblo.

A wise person once said, "It's not life that's important, but those you meet
along the way that make the difference." Bill was one who made a difference
for me. Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable
leadership lessons, and I think of him often."
From:  Reprinted with permission.
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By: Beth Flynn, Monday, June 06th, 2016
"You are the actor, writer, and director of your leadership story.  You act in the moment, initiate ideas, provide a bigger view, and allow for ideas and creativity.  Understanding and communicating your leadership story can be quite powerful.  It provides clarity around what you stand for as a leader.  It keeps alive the people, values, and life lessons that you hold dear.  It gives you the power of influence and authenticity by allowing you to match your words and your actions.  It allows you to build trust.  Trust leads to credibility.
By helping you to understand what has shaped you as a leader, your leadership story can make the strong emotional connection that is necessary to inspire and motivate others.  It can also be a useful tool with which to impart knowledge and lessons to others - to help them learn from the experiences that have shaped your leadership story.  And it provides you and others with insights into what you hold important as a leader (p. 16)."
What is your leadership story?
From:  Tobin, T. (2015).  Your leadership story: use your story to energize, inspire and motivate. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
By: Beth Flynn, Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
Here are some practices that will help you walk in the other person's shoes. Follow these, and you'll be more empathetic, winsome, and engaging. Think about the person you're about to meet with:
  1. Picture the circumstances. What's happening, right now, in the other person's life? What pressures are they under?
  2. Reflect on what you can do to make that person comfortable and relaxed.
  3. Imagine what they are thinking. What's on their mind?
  4. Imagine what they are feeling. What emotions are they experiencing right now? What will their mood be?
  5. Lead with thoughtful questions about both thoughts and feelings.
  6. Start with their agenda, not yours. Don't be so anxious to persuade and convince-to push your point of view on them as soon as you're together.
  7. Think about how your ideas or proposals will be received. How will the other person react?
  8. Try to help others come up with the right answer or best conclusion, as opposed to giving it to them directly.
Ask yourself how pure your own motives are. Whose best interests are you pushing? Is there a self-interest motive that you're pursuing? (pg. 55)
From: Sobel, A. and Panas, J. (2014). Power Relationships: 26 Irrefutable Laws for building Extraordinary Relationships.
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By: Beth Flynn, Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
"Managers and leaders are central to employees' experience of work and their experience within the organization.  Leaders are always part of a broader organizational culture and the overall culture will outlast any individual leader's efforts.  Over time, leaders will shape the culture, but this takes years and affecting this type of change is more similar to steering a tanker - slow and deliberate.
On the other hand, it is also true that leaders create their own subcultures within the company.  For example, an organization may be generally very command and control in its operation, requiring adherence to rules and hierarchy for decision making.  Within that culture, a leader may behave in a way that is very participative, asking team members for input and making decisions that are more greatly influenced by employees.  The subculture of the team can exist within the broader framework.
As another example of the leadership paradox, a broader organization may tout plenty of employee choice making, personal discretion, and freedom, but within that culture, a leader may manage team members closely, checking work, checking quality, and checking work process.  Leaders create their own cultures, and the cultures leaders create are often mirrors of their own personalities.  People join a company because the nature of the job and work.  People leave a company because of the leader.  One's direct supervisor is one of the most essential factors in personal experience of an organization, job or work-life supports."
Have you left a job due to the impact a boss had on you?  What were the behaviors of the supervisor that caused you to leave?
From:  Brower, T. (2014).  Bring work to life by bring life to work: a guide for leaders and organizations.  Bibliomotion,
By: Beth Flynn, Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
The leader is the most important person in any organization.  The leader sets the tone by the way he/she talks, behaves, responds to others, and treats people every day.  People tend to "follow the leader" in that they imitate or mimic the behavior of the leader towards others.  When the leader treats other people with courtesy and respect, everyone eventually begins treating coworkers with the same courtesy and respect.
There are specific behaviors that leaders can practice each day, and in each interaction, to make people feel good about themselves.  When you deliberately take the time and make the effort to build self-esteem in other people and simultaneously the fears that hold people back from putting their whole hears into their work, a peak performance work environment blooms naturally around you, like flowers in the spring (Tracy, 2011, p. 68).  
What are some practices you use to help others feel good about themselves?
From:  Tracy, B (2011).  Full engagement: inspire, motivate, and bring out the best in your people.  New York: AMACOM
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By: Beth Flynn, Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
"Not one of us is free of it.  We all have moments when we question our ability to succeed and our ability to make good decisions.  Why? Because we can't know the future.  Winners feel doubt just as often as anybody else.  They understand you have to earn success.  They know you can't be haphazard if you want to make progress toward your most important goals.  These truths inevitably lead to questions about their ability to succeed.
If you aren't on guard, though, those moments can expand and can kill your spirit.  They can demoralize.  They can give us a faulty perspective.  They can distract us and disrupt our forward momentum.  They can waste our precious time.  The clock is ticking and you can spend your time worrying and doubting or you can spend your time working.
When you allow doubt to send you into a tailspin of indecision and hesitation, you invite fear.  You grind to a halt.  All work stops, and with no work, you have no hope (p. 14-15)."  


From:  Weidel, L. (2015).  Serial winner: five actions to create your cycle of success.  Austin, TX:Greenleaf Book Group Press.
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By: Beth Flynn, Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
"Abundance encourages people to bring all of themselves - their passions, their creativity, and their talents - to work.  It creates a context for joy at work.  Abundance provides the opportunity for people to express themselves more fully at work.  A leader creates abundance when he provides for employees to engage in the work that inspires them.  A leader creates abundance when he connects the employee's efforts to a broader purpose.  As workers, we all want to build cathedrals, not just lay bricks.  Abundance is when we can look up from our brick-laying and see the cathedral that will result from our collective efforts.
Don't misunderstand, abundance does not mean that companies are making additional demands of workers, it means that organizations provide for workers so they can bring their best to their jobs (p. 9)."
What are some ideas you have to help build abundance at work?
From:  Brower, T. (2014).  Bring work to life by bring life to work: a guide for leaders and organizations.  Bibliomotion,
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By: Beth Flynn, Monday, April 11th, 2016

“Leadership is a gift – a gift that requires you to set a direction; motivate, inspire, and develop others; and deliver results that matter.  It is also a journey.  It is about your experiences and the influence you have onothers.  Leadership is certainly about the work that gets done, but it is much more about how the work gets done and the relationships along the way.

A great story can motivate and inspire others.  It can impart a message.  Think about how your leadership story imparts a message.  Think about how your leadership story imparts a message, inspires, or motivates.  Remember, your leadership story lives in the hearts and minds of others, and you are constantly onstage as a leader.  Sometimes you can rehearse or plan ahead.  Other times, improvisation is needed.  Those around you will have expectations, assumptions, interpretations, and perceptions that impact your story.  For you to be at your best, others’ perceptions of you must be aligned with your story (p.129).”

From: Tobin, T. (2015).  Your leadership story: use your story to energize, inspire and motivate. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers


By: Beth Flynn, Monday, December 01st, 2014

You show integrity when you:

  • Are truthful
  • Follow through
  • Are consistent in your behavior
  • Are discreet and keep confidences
  • Uphold unchanging principles and values
  • Always keep promises and commitments, no matter how small
  • Walk your talk
  • Don’t walk away from others’ breaches of integrity (p. 48)

What are additional ways you can show integrity?

List two promises or commitments that you have kept.  What effect did keeping these promises have in your relationships?

Source: Sobel, A. & Panas, J., (2014).  Power relationships: 26 irrefutable laws for building extraordinary relationships. Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ

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