Category Archives: Empowerment

The ABC’s of Leadership

Michael Jackson sang “ABC”.  Remember that song?  Listen here to a short snippet of the chorus: 

ABC. 123.  Do Re Mi.  These are elements we are all familiar
with.  Elements that denote simplicity,
basics and foundations for greater, more complex concepts.

You might even say, that the song ABC,
performed by Michael Jackson, was the foundation for much of what Pop Music has

Everything starts with the basics.  Even leadership.

Leadership can get quite complicated if we
don’t begin with the right foundation, a foundation of principles I call
“The ABC’s of Leadership”




Many years ago, I was the leader for an
organization of young women ages 12-18. 
We were organizing an event, and each of these young women had an
assignment that was integral to the success of the event.  One hour prior to the event, Heather’s mother
called me.

Heather won’t be coming to the event
”, she said.

My panicked reply was, “But Heather was
assigned to bring the ingredients for our main dish

Heather’s mother replied, “Well, she won’t be attending, and I won’t
be bringing her assigned items.  I guess
that’s just some of the challenges of being a leader
”. Click.

I learned a few things about this interaction:

1. This young
woman was not dependable.  (Perhaps her mother served as an example for that). 

2. This young woman was not accountable.    

Accountability is the characteristic of
being accountable.  A leader that is accountable feels responsible for the outcome, both good and bad, of a situation.  Accountability requires not blaming others, but always
looking for a way that a better outcome can be achieved, despite the failings
of others.

In the case of Heather, clearly she didn’t
fulfil her responsibility, but I was the one that would be viewed as
responsible for the outcome of our planned event.  Perhaps, it was even my fault that Heather
didn’t follow through.  Perhaps I had not
communicated properly to her.  Clearly, I had failed to get Heather’s buy in.  

Heather’s mother was right: I was being challenge as a leader. 

After a few deep breaths, I made a few calls, worked out some deals, and made sure we had what we
needed for our event.  
It wasn’t easy, but I had maintained my ACCOUNTABILITY.  

If you want others to see
you as a leader, then you must conquer the first characteristic of basic

The second characteristic of basic
leadership is:

Resolute; Chutzpah; Courage, whatever you call it, boldness requires
a willingness to step outside the box, try something new, and even take a little risk.  

The band K.I.S.S. had a pretty good handle on BOLDNESS.

You don’t have to wear heavy makeup, or be a rock star to be bold, however.  Here are 5 easy steps to becoming more BOLD in your leadership:

1. Don’t hesitate – make the
first move.  A wrong decision is usually
better than no decision.

2. Be unpredictable.  Take a little risk.  I guarantee you’ll get a different reaction than normal from those who know you best.

3. Get rid of pretense – be yourself,
and delight in your weirdness.

4. Act as though you already are
what you want to be.

5.  Say no to what you really
don’t want to do.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it…for boldness has
genius, power and magic in it

BOLDNESS is the second characteristic of the ABC’s of


Without Commitment in leadership, accountability and
boldness won’t matter. 

Once there was a
skinny, awkward kid from New Jersey named Eugene Orowitz.  He was
painfully shy and very self-conscious.  Although Eugene greatly lacked
self-confidence, when a high school coach half-jokingly asked him to try out
for the track team, Eugene took him up on it.

“Ugy,” as his friends affectionately
called him, fell in love with javelin throwing and committed himself to
being the best that he could possibly be.  What Ugy lacked in
self-confidence, he made up for in commitment.

By the time he graduated high
school, Eugene had achieved a national High School record (for throwing the
javelin 211 yards).  His commitment to being the best also bought him a
college track scholarship in sunny California!

A torn shoulder muscle ended
his javelin-throwing career and any hope of making the Olympic team. 
However, while watching a play, Ugy fell in love with acting.  So, again,
he committed himself to being the best he could be.  He was determined to
make it in the ridiculously over-crowded acting field, so he enrolled in acting

Eugene Orowitz, better known as
Michael Landon, went on to star in three of the most popular shows in
television history:  Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Highway to

Michael Landon exhibited both boldness and commitment.  

As a teenager, I always got a little “bold” when I watched Michael Landon play Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza every day.  (Be still, my heart!)

Little Joe never went down without a fight, and I challenge you to lead with COMMITMENT in the same way!

Remember, the
ABC’s of leadership:




Abc, easy as 123
Or simple as do, re, mi
Abc, 123, baby, you can lead!

Ability: Are You A Little Flat?

To be an exceptional leader, you must have ability to do so;
or, at least the desire to have ability.

I once said to a friend, “I would give anything to play the

My friend replied, “obviously not, or you’d already be a
piano player

So true!  I realized
that I didn’t want to be a piano player bad enough to put in the effort. 

How about you?  Are
you willing to work hard for what you really want?  Exceptional leaders have the ability to do
many things.  In the areas where they
lack ability, exceptional leaders learn, study and practice their desired skill.

That being said, everyone has the ability to inspire and
motivate others.  That is the essence of
leadership.  Recognizing your strengths,
and enhancing them is where you likely fall short of your capacity to lead.

Bob Marley, a man who exhibited much musical talent said, The
greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity
and his ability to affect those around him positively”.

And positively speaking, Norman Vincent Peale proclaimed, Believe
in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable
confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy

Having belief in ourselves is often the hardest challenge to
overcome.  I find it is so much easier if
I focus on what I CAN do, and think less of the things that I CANNOT do.

realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one
can build a better world.  ~
Dalai Lama

We are innately blessed with certain gifts, talents and skills;
yet we have a hard time seeing these abilities in ourselves.  If you’re like me, and you believe in God, or
a power greater than yourself, then you understand that you are here for a
reason, and that the abilities you possess will help, guide and nurture others
if you have a desire to do so.

From the New Testament in 2 Peter 4:11, we read,

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as
of the ability which God giveth….

Ponder on your strength, abilities, and natural talents.  Decide how you will nurture those abilities
as you strive for exceptional leadership. 
Consider lessons from that piano I always wanted to play:

Whether you are sharp, a little flat, or always natural, a beautiful
piece of music contains all these elements.  

When you enhance your talents, strengthen your weaknesses, and act in a
manner true to yourself, you will be an instrument of exceptional leadership.

What ability are you going to enhance in the next 30 days?

The Tricks and Treats of Staff Turnover

Happy Halloween!

Today is the day in America when we have come to expect more treats than tricks.  Tricks are fun sometimes, but treats are much more appreciated!

It is the same in business.  We’d much rather get treats than be tricked.  “Tricks” are the cause of employee turnover.   Staff turnover can be the worst, most expensive “trick” for any business.  Turnover realistically cannot be eliminated, but it can be reduced greatly when you provide staff with more “treats”

By treats, I don’t mean more money.  In a list below of 12 items that contribute to greater satisfaction on the job, adequate compensation is 10 on the list.  There are 9 other items that staff members view more valuable than pay. (Find the complete list at the end of this post) 

“The back office staff does not need training (staff meetings) because they just do what we tell them to do.  It is the front office team that can benefit from consistent conversations and idea sharing”.

The picture above depicts my reaction when I heard a doctor actually say the quote above.  (blood-curdling scream)

This was said by one of two partner doctors who I have discovered think very differently from each other, but who also think very differently than what experience has taught me will bring them the greatest success in business.

These business owners were inadvertantly playing “tricks” on their staff members by non-verbally making three statements:
1. “Your ideas are not necessary, and probably unrealistic”
2. “Your abilities are just not that important to your job”
3. “Your role in our business is to show up and shut up”

I also learned that salary increases were being made arbitrarily.  The senior partner (who handled payroll) would occasionally say to an employee “I’m giving you a raise”.  There was no further conversation.  No reason was given for the increase, and no explanation for the amount of the increase.  Because the senior partner had decided on a “cap” for salaries, this pay increase was very rare.

Besides the arbitrary pay increase, no employee had ever had a performance review at this practice.  There had been no protocol for either praising or disciplining employees.  There was no vision, no mission, no values to align with.

I could imagine a group of 6 people coming together, and an assignment being given “we’re going to build a house”.  Without any instruction, the work would begin.  How do you think the “house” would turn out? 

It had become very clear to me why the staff at this particular practice were not communicating well with each other, nor well with their patients.  I also understood why the competence level seemed so low–there was no set criteria for a level of competence.  Even if there had been, without feedback and performance review, how would you ever know if you were measuring up?

The unspoken rule in this workplace was, “Do your job, get paid, and don’t try to improve anything.”

If this practice would just incorporate 3 “treats” into the character of their employee communication standard, the practice would have greater productivity, increased teamwork, and greater profit.

1. Have a written personnel policy manual stating expectations, protocols and communication standards.
2. Develop a written job description for each team member–highlighting the strengths and abilities needed to perform up to the defined standard.
3. Provide opportunities for training and collaboration to enhance a sense of ownership.

These changes won’t happen overnight–especially when expectations are introduced.  There will be some resistance.  However, those who resist a better work environment, better communication, and accountability are probably not the employees who are loyal anyway.  These are the types of employees who play “tricks” on their employers.   Let them go!

If you are an employer, and identify any of these characteristics in yourself, think about your outcomes.  Are you making the profit you’d like to?  Are you happy with the performance of your employees?  Do you recognize that a change may be the difference between success and failure?

“Oh, Bee-have”! says Jackie the Bee.
When you “bee”have like a leader, you will have greater success in business!

Based on surveys by Bent Eriksen & Associates of hundreds of staff members, here is what employees indicate would contribute to their productivity and sense of satisfaction on the job (“treats”):

1.     Ethically sound business principles and quality services. 
2.     A consistent and fair management style where policies are friendly, frank, fair and firm, consistently applied and clearly explained in writing.
3.     A pleasant and harmonious work environment with minimum stress. 
4.     Adequate facility, instruments, tools, equipment and supplies. 
5.     Competent, supportive and compatible team members. 
6.     Assistance in learning: to become more skilled, develop communication skills, make decisions and take initiative. 
7.     Clearly defined job responsibilities and expectations. 
8.     Recognition as an individual and as a team member. 
9.     Knowledge that their efforts are being appreciated and that inadequate work performance will not be tolerated.
10.  Adequate compensation and benefits. 
11.  Evaluation and feedback by the employer.
12.  Worthwhile staff meetings.

Art Without a Frame

Washington Post Staff Writer, Gene Weingarten shared a story in the Sunday edition on April 8, 2007.

It seems that on the morning of January 12th, 2007, Joshua Bell stepped into the L’Enfant Plaza of the Washington DC Metro station and offered a free concert to commuters there.  Wearing jeans and a baseball cap, he stood against a wall near a trash can and played his violin.   

Most of the commuters in the station that morning were mid-level bureaucrat federal workers with titles like, policy analyst, project manager, budget officer, specialist, facilitator, and/or consultant.   Evidently none of these well-educated, skilled people knew the impressive title of Joshua Bell

Knowing the man playing the violin that morning was an “American Grammy Award-winning violinist“, or “one of the finest classical musicians in the world” may have caused the commuters to pause and listen.  Maybe the fact that Joshua Bell plays a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin would have, at least, aroused curiosity in the people who walked by while he played that day in the station.  And surely, once a musician of such caliber begins to play a piece of music like “Chaconne” from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor (which has been called, “not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history“), people would take notice, stop and listen, and drink in the magnificent sound.

But that IS NOT what happened.  According to the article, Mr. Weingarten reports that, in the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run — for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.  $32 for a man whose talents can command $1,000 a minute.

You may read the entire Washington Post story here: Pearls Before Breakfast

Following this experiment, Joshua Bell said, “at a music hall, I’ll get upset if someone coughs or if someone’s cellphone goes off.  But here, my expectations quickly diminished. I started to appreciate any acknowledgment, even a slight glance up. I was oddly grateful when someone threw in a dollar instead of change.” 

Before he began, Bell hadn’t known what to expect. What he does know is that, for some reason, he was nervous.

It wasn’t exactly stage fright, but there were butterflies,” he says. “I was stressing a little.”

Bell has played before crowned heads of Europe. Why the anxiety at the Washington Metro?

When you play for ticket-holders,” Bell explains, “you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I’m already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don’t like me? What if they resent my presence . . .

Joshua Bell was, in short, art without a frame.

I was reminded of this story because of an experience I recently heard about – a story that has very similar outcomes to Joshua Bell’s story. 

It seems that a business owner hired “Mack”, a talented consultant, whom the business owner had met before.  The business owner had personally witnessed Mack’s strong work ethic and varied skills.  Mack was hired by the business owner to accomplish a very specific task in the business.

Mack accepted a position as an employee in the business – with the idea that once the specific task was completed successfully, the business owner would see the worth of Mack’s skills.  Mack wanted to be viewed as a consultant to this business owner, and they agreed that after a 90-day period working together, that the business owner would pay Mack closer to his professional rate and their relationship would move more toward a partnership and away from an employer/employee relationship.

Well, just as in the case of Joshua Bell, the business owner in Mack’s story did not understand the worth of Mack’s talent and skill.  Even though the specific project was successfully completed, Mack’s position as an employee was hard to shake.  After 90 days, the business owner did not renegotiate the terms of their relationship with Mack, and instead kept treating Mack as an employee – including wages well below Mack’s worth.

Mack, on the other hand, felt that if he kept providing examples of his talent, and continued to serve the business owner with the tools of his consulting knowledge, that the business owner would see the worth of his position as a consultant, and that Mack would be paid what he was worth.  Mack believed that it would surely work out in the end, and that this business owner would become a client instead of an employer.

But that IS NOT what happened.  Mack reports that, in the 22-months that he’s worked with this business, and has provided the company with “solutions to their greatest challenges, tools, resources and innovative ways to improve essential aspects of the business, and opportunities to have greater security and safety in the business“, Mack has been given a $1 an hour raise.   

Mack, like Joshua Bell is “Art Without A Frame”. 

This business owner, like the commuters in the DC Metro Station, can’t see the pearls before him.  Many of us don’t know the priceless opportunities before us, or the valuable relationships we have been blessed with  We get too busy to stop, listen and drink in the music and the talent around us.

Are you guilty of this? 
Are there people you work with who are pearls in their talents and abilities? 
Are there individuals that add to your life, your business, or your happiness that you have failed to notice or value? 

Are you a pearl? 
Are you someone who, for whatever reason is not being valued? 
If so, what can you do to change the situation? 
What could Joshua Bell have done? 
What could Mack have done?

Three P’s of Empowerment

Would you like to be more EMPOWERED?  YOU can EMPOWER yourself when you discover the power-meant for YOU to create your own success!

Self-empowerment is developed when YOU master three characteristics:

  1. Preparedness
  2. Principles
  3. Promises

To enjoy the power meant for YOU, you must focus on preparing yourself early and often for whatever may come your way.  For instance, getting an education is the greatest preparation for career opportunities in the future.

Principles are values that YOU must live by.  Principles define who YOU are.  Are you honest?  Are you compassionate?  Do you live by the value of hard work, and understand that “luck” only comes after preparedness and principles have been practiced?  It’s true!

Anyone who is to be empowered must keep his/her promises.  Trust will take you a very long way in your relationships, career and life in general.  If you want more happiness and opportunity, then you must keep your promises.

These three P’s: Preparedness, Principles and Promises are required for you to be EMPOWERED with success, love, career, talents, and even enjoyment.

These three P’s were practiced by one of the greatest musicians of our time. 


Todd Sucherman, the drummer for the band Styx, recently spoke about how he empowered his career by living these three P’s.  With Todd’s approval, here is his story……

“Early in my career as a drummer, I was contacted by another band that had a gig the following weekend for which they needed a drummer.  I was available for the show as well as the rehearsal the Thursday before, so I accepted.  By Monday I received a tape of the 20 or so songs I needed to learn and I spent the next few days listening to the tunes over and over, even listening in the shower and playing along at every opportunity.  By the time Thursday arrived, I knew the material. I was ready.”

“I arrived early for rehearsal and had my gear set up well before the rest of the band arrived.  When they did, I introduced myself and offered to help them load in their gear.  After all were set up, I asked if we would be doing the songs in the order per the tape I had received.  They responded “Yes.”  I immediately counted off, “1-2-3-4” and drove right into the first song.  I got the gig within the first few moments of rehearsal.”

“If you want to succeed in this business, show up prepared, show up early, and show up ready to help in any way you can.”

~Todd Sucherman – Drummer, Styx~

Todd prepared himself by learning the necessary songs.  Then he applied principles of punctuality and service, which provided a positive path toward friendship with other musicians.  And then, he proved that he was trustworthy, and could be depended upon to perform well.  Todd had kept a promise, and his career was EMPOWERED.

The three P’s work!  If YOU want to be more EMPOWERED, then you must master the three P’s!

Watch Todd Sucherman drum solo

Have Your Cake, and Eat It Too!

Do you want to be a better, more inspiring leader?  Your odyssey toward that end must first start with yourSELF.  SELF is an acronym for 4 aspects of leadership you must develop in yourSELF before you can lead others.


SELF empowerment begins with truth.  Listen to this personal experience to understand what I mean….

If you want to have your cake, and eat it, too, then you must stop buying imitation desserts.  So many aspects of our society, our businesses, and our relationships are fake.  Consider the following:

1. Forgery of families imitates commitment and love

The collapse of family life: Most children in U.S. born out of wedlock
More than 5 children die every day as a result of child abuse

2. Counterfeiting of food imitates health and fitness

80% of America’s Food is Genetically Modified

3. Imitating violence as entertainment

Homicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24 years old
68% of American households play computer or video games

So many aspects of our lives are imitation. We want health, happiness, and safety; yet we take the wrong path to achieve them.  Later on, we wonder why our dreams are so fleeting.

is the only way to combat imitations, forgeries and counterfeiting.  Truth is empowering

Truth: the family unit, consisting of two married parents, is the ideal to a thriving successful society and happy, well adjusted children.

Truth: we have enough natural resources to sustain every living person.  The only reason to modify our food is for financial gain.

Truth: children need to be taught values and boundaries so they can learn from consequences to their choices.

Living with truth, and avoiding imitation is the first step to

Good choices = good consequences. 
Bad choices = bad consequences.

Please share you thoughts on this post by commenting below……