What’s Your Leadership Program Game Plan?

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Zebra Chasing Lion without ad I love this picture! More than that, I love what this picture represents. You see, a  zebra isn’t supposed to be chasing a lion. At least that’s not the picture most people  have in their heads when they hear zebra and lion in the same sentence. It’s usually  the lion doing the chasing. That’s what makes this picture so fascinating. It’s outside  of the norm.

We automatically associate lions with leading, but can zebra’s lead?

 The lion is the king of the jungle. His strength leaves no doubt that he can take care of  business. Many fables, and at least one Disney movie , reinforces his position in the  jungle. We’ve learned many lessons from the lion, but what can the zebra teach us? Maybe the zebra can teach us about situational leadership.

The designated leader of the Zebra harem doesn’t run from danger. While those he is protecting rounds up the young ones and surrounds the vulnerable, he stays behind to fight off the danger.  Many times he may lose his life, but he gives the time needed for the harem and the young ones to get away. Thinking of others before himself is an integral part of the zebra’s leadership program.

Another leadership trait of the zebra, and perhaps the most important one that I will mention here, is the ability to be very aware of his surroundings. While it would be reasonable to think that the zebra would try to stay out of sight, it uses its natural attributes to hide in plain sight. But that’s not the leadership trait that I’m highlighting. It’s the Zebra’s uncanny ability to know when a certain environment is no longer safe or productive, and to implement a new strategy in favor of survival of the harem. Staying with a wrong decision too long in the jungle could get a zebra killed. Decisive leadership activities are needed in the jungle to save lives.

This picture of a zebra chasing a lion is worth at least a thousand words.

What if you made up your own story about this picture? One that inspires you to lead, even though you are afraid. One that inspires you to lead, even though the odds are against you. A story that inspires you to lead, even though you aren’t the one with the title that says you are in charge. A story that inspires you to lead, even though “they” said that you can’t.  What if you made up a story about this picture that encouraged you to turn the tables and lead, even when you fear that the deck is stacked against your success.

What if your leadership story begins with turning and chasing the lion? 

Drop me a line and tell me what  you see when you look at this picture of a lion in a compromising position.

Here’s to creating bottom line value in the business of your life!

Copyright © 2016 JDHouse. All Rights Reserved


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She needed a Hug – Compassion in Leadership

Leadership can be about the big picture, but often times it is about the leadership that begins within and spreads abroad one person at a time. My friend Marlene writes about this principle in her article about compassionate leadership. Enjoy!


Everyone Needs a Hug!

Walking into the restaurant, my eyes locked with a lady sitting at a table with a mound of receipts in front of her. We smiled at each other. She was dressed in the garb of the workers, all in black. Her red hair was pulled back in a ponytail. Suddenly I had an intense urge to hug her. I walked over and said: “Hi, I need a hug.” She got up and chuckled: “I need a hug too!” I replied, “I know.” We hugged.

Then she shared with me that her husband is in the hospital. She was with him until 5:30 a.m. that morning and came directly into work. She was tired. I insisted that we hug again. I asked her for her name and her husband’s name. I told her that I would pray for them on my prayer line. She smiled at me…

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Leadership is not about feelings, is it?!

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”  ~ Maya Angelou

Vase in mirror with border jpg Leadership comes with some privileges, but mostly it comes with lots of responsibility. As a matter of  fact, any privilege that a    leader is afforded should be tied very closely to that responsibility. If it’s a  privilege because the leader feels that he or she is better  than his or her followers, the danger light should  come on and stay on until this conflict is rectified. For example, if as a leader you  have the services of an  assistant because it helps you have more time for your followers, or more time to earn revenue which in  the  end benefits your followers, this is good use of your resources, and it’s justified.  On the other hand, if  you misuse your assistant,  or any one of your followers, because you don’t want to deal with the negative aspects of your work, your actions are neither  justified or a wise use of resources.

Misusing human or any other type of resource is not a good leadership skill.

It’s highly unlikely that anyone reading this article would be guilty of such an abuse of leadership power. However, what might be an issue is the justification of actions that make perfect sense to you because they help you to move the mission of your company or organization forward, but they make no sense to your followers. It’s important for leaders to remember that the perception of your followers is their reality. If your followers are consistently saying a particular thing about the way that you lead, whether you perceive it to be the truth or not doesn’t matter. It is the way that your leadership has made them feel.

Never has the axiom, perception is reality, been more true than in leadership situations.

This is a hard lesson and a tough balancing act.  Especially for new leaders and newly promoted leaders. While you thought that you properly greeted everyone when you walked into the office, before you closed your door so that you could work through the pile of papers with deadlines near and passed, what your followers may have perceived is that you rushed into the space and disappeared behind a closed door not really caring about the struggles that they are facing to get their jobs done.  Even though your actions are justified, your followers maybe feeling neglected, and most times they aren’t going to come and tell you how they feel. Instead they will talk among themselves, and create a rift in your department.  You can say that you have an open door policy all you want, but until your followers feel that you have such a policy, it doesn’t exist.

I’d like to be able to say, “This isn’t your fault, and let the chips fall where they may.” But, as the leader, whether it’s fair or not is irrelevant, make no mistake, it is your fault.

 Here are five ways you can minimize the negative feelings that may come from your innocent actions:

  1. Don’t become defensive when word gets back to you that some innocent action that you have taken has caused someone to feel a way that you did not intend.
  2. Be willing to take a long hard look at the behavior, and if the situation allows for change, be willing to make a change so that you can change the perceptions of your followers.
  3. Ask your followers what they need from you to feel supported in their work, and if appropriate and within your power, do it!
  4. Join with your staff in completing a 360 degree assessment of your leadership skills. This will provide you with a picture of what your followers are thinking and feeling…..the things that they won’t say to you directly.
  5. And most importantly, recognize that leadership is a journey, not a destination. On this journey, you will be constantly looking at the woman or man in your mirror and becoming more acquainted with who you are verses who people think you are.

Here’s to creating bottom line value in the business of your life!

Copyright © 2014 JDHouse. All Rights Reserved

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