Leaders, what (really) happens when you leave the room?

It’s that time of year. The end of one “cycle” and the beginning of another.

In other words, time to reflect, envision, decide. Then act.

According to Bill Donahue with Lead Change here’s how I interpret three ways to take that first step to self-evaluate and reflect upon your leadership:

Dig Through Past Decisions. Use them as a guide or a “wise teacher” as you consider whether you would do something again. If you do, what would you change? How accountable are you for taking both credit and blame? What are the ripple effects of your decisions, actions and/or lack thereof? And, can you look at your decisions with clear-eyed honesty?

Revitalize Your Relationships. I seriously love this question—and it kinda hurts for any leader to think about if they’re really trying to be more effective:

What happens when you leave the room?

Are your team members and organization members ready to take up the sword with you and for you? To carry on that mission with the gusto you envision? Honestly. What would that look like on a daily basis, on the ground, and with absolute unwavering integrity to yourself and others? What’s it worth to you if you build those relationships? What’s it worth if you don’t?

Take Note of Transforming Moments. Your vast and varied experiences aren’t going to matter a bit if you don’t evaluate them and find the lessons within. Whether super obvious or buried under some layers, how are you going to use those lessons to move– or better yet, thrive— forward? And yep, those personal, vocational, and communal experiences can certainly overlap. Some of the best transformative moments in one area will help you transform in an entirely different one, so quit separating your ideas and see what happens when you apply and combine takeaways in new arenas of your life.

What are you waiting for? Today is the day to start digging in to your leadership story, one person, one decision, one experience at a time.

You know me by now, so if you’re doing all of this with a marker in hand, you know your thinking and leadership will become a whole lot clearer. If you want someone to partner strategically with you to do that, let’s chat.

Achieve your legacy with this one action

I read once that most people spend more time planning a holiday than they spend on setting goals for their lives.

I thought, “No…that can’t be true…”, then started thinking about my own life. I know this is the Time of COVID and most norms have flown out the window, but yeah, I was guilty of not being specific about goals and reviewing them on a daily basis. Sure, I have goals, but many are related to my son and short-term successes at work. And I definitely haven’t been writing them down for daily review.

I mean, who has time for lifetime legacy goals? Isn’t that selfish?

Jim Rohn implores those who want to be successful to write those goals down. And THEN revisit them every single day. Ideally you would even re-write them each day!


Legacy is that “gift” you leave behind that inspires others to do more, be more, and serve more. If you are gearing your work and talents to serve others or the world in some capacity, that is not selfish.

You are your greatest asset. How will you show up ready to achieve what you truly want? Here’s the secret:  set your goal, visualize what you want, define and describe it in detail and write it down. The highest achievers write their goals down in vivid detail. And revisit them consistently. It sounds easy, but very few people set any goals at all. A small percentage of people set goals and write them down, but fewer than 1% of people write their goals down AND review them on a daily basis.

Decide what you want to achieve. Write it down. Review it. Repeat daily.

That’s crazy, isn’t it? Just by writing down your goal, picturing it vividly and reviewing it consistently, you’re more likely to achieve success. Imagine doing this on a personal level, with family members, and on a team or organizational level. With all the uncertainties COVID-19 has wrought, this is the time to get clear on your next steps.

There’s magic in those markers, so get visual and achieve more.

3 Ways to Introduce Visual Thinking into Meetings

Psst…hey. Leading a meeting anytime soon? Here are 3 ways to introduce visuals into your meetings.

Paint done. Be crystal clear about what “done” looks like. This phrase and concept come from Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead and is an antidote to clarifying expectations. We’ve all been there, where we have expectations that are crystal clear in our own mind, yet we’ve never voiced them to others. Maybe it was a personal situation, maybe professional. Inevitably, frustration ensued and most likely the required expectation(s) were never achieved.

When you ask someone to Paint Done, however, you are asking to see a picture of what success looks like in a holistic view. It invites thinking from others who will be involved in the work, giving them the opportunity to make sure they have what they need to do what is being asked of them.

Reality check, space to tackle tough conversations, and authentic collaboration? Check.

Provide a central image, whether it is of your customer, ideal client, employee, or even the competition. It does not have to be fancy and in fact, you might be amazed at the power of your stick figures to finesse conversations. Using an image recalibrates your thinking by tapping into the visual brain. The central figure serves as a neutral anchor for everyone’s focus, and your group can use it in multiple ways, even virtually.

In practice, you can use breakout rooms for groups to respond to your prompt. Let’s say you’re reconfiguring your ideal customer during times of COVID19. Rather than elicit ideas from a huge group, smaller groups can converse then you can see where the overlapping ideas among teams exist and where disparities reside. Enter greater thought diversity.

Alternatively, a second idea is to ask teams to annotate directly onto the screen using the text feature, typing out descriptive phrases. The anonymity of this feature may be a comfortable boost to those who want to speak against the tide, allowing you to gain real feedback you wouldn’t otherwise glean from a larger, inhibited “public” group.

Co-create a visual library. Choose 10 icons or simple sketches to represent concepts you are continually discussing, challenges you are facing, aspects you are celebrating, and more. The co-creation piece can be done within set organizational teams, OR among different teams that don’t typically work together for cross-pollination of ideas.

Once you have those common shared images, they can be used as shortcuts in meetings, on organizational material (newsletters, memos, PR materials, etc.), during mentor/ mentee meetings, as building blocks to spur greater creativity or to enhance communication among different departments. The resultant shared understanding enlivens conversations, clarifies information, specifies requests for action, and illuminates processes, all because the focus is more tangible when seeing our words on paper or screen.

In other words, use simple visuals to help you drill down to the essence of your meeting by helping you clarify what you want to say, connect the dots, prioritize topics and ideas, and specify next steps.

Warning: once you use visuals to get clear, focused and action-imminent, you’ll never go back. Prepare thyself.