In the business world you hear constant talk of differentiating yourself and your business. How to differentiate yourself is not hard. If you are a leader you outperform your peers. If your company has a culture of leadership you will out perform your competition.

What is hard is being a leader and creating a leadership culture. What does it take? It takes starting with a solid foundation:

  1. Establishing your vision
  2. A ruthless assessment of where you are today
  3. The soul searching process of validating your values
  4. Taking consistent disciplined actions to live by and run your organization aligned with your values

Easier said than done. Do you know of any individuals or organizations that articulate and consistently live by their values? If you do, I will venture that they are high performing trusted individuals and organizations and seen as leaders.

What actions are you taking to develop yourself as a leader and develop a leadership culture for your organization? If your actions are not based on the foundation of values what is the foundation? Set a solid foundation for your actions otherwise you are destined to be in the middle of pack – just ordinary.

Leadership differentiates you and your organization from the ordinary.

Are you a leader or are you just in charge?

  • If you do not understand this question –  get in touch with me
  • If you do not know how to tell the difference – get in touch with me
  • If you are just in charge and want to be a leader – get in touch with me

It is difficult to find a leader who would answer the above question with a “No”. However, how do those you lead and serve know you care and what you care about? There are two ways to communicate your level of care: The depth of your commitment and level of accountability to your vision, your work, your teammates, and your customers communicate – you care.

What is meant by commitment? It is doing the small things consistently correct. Attention to detail in your interactions is contagious to those around you. It sends the universal message that details are important. The more you know about your endeavor and those with you on the journey, the louder the message. When you tend to details of your vision, your, work, your teammates, and customers those around you sense – you care.

The depth of your accountability and to whom is the second element that transmits – you care. As a leader you are accountable first to yourself for your vision and work. Being true to yourself takes care of any superiors you may answer to. A close second are teammates and customers. Being able to look your teammates and customers in the eye and be accountable for your work ethic, performance, and results sends the clear message – you care.

Put the theory to the test. Pick two leaders that stand out to you as caring. Think of an icon and one of your leaders.

An icon that comes to mind is Steve Jobs. He was committed to making Apple into a force that delivered life-changing products. He was known for his relentless obsession with details, how employees performed, each product, and the Apple experience. On commitment it was clear – he cared.

On accountability, he was just as relentless. He set the vision for the company and pursued it with passion, being his own worst critic. He used continuous feedback from within Apple and customers to improve products to reach new standards. Demonstrating accountability to his teammates and customers. His methods and the fervor with his approach invite much criticism. However, there has never been any doubt – he cared.

Now put yourself to the test. Take time to reflect and provide specific examples on the following questions:

  • How committed am I to the details of the organization I lead?
    • My vision, my work, my teammates, and my customers
  • What is the depth of my accountability for my vision and work to:
    • My self, my teammates, and my customers

Consider receiving feedback by using the above questions as a 360-degree evaluation. Have your teammates and customers answer the same questions as you just did. Does the thought of asking and receiving this feedback make you nervous? Consider this: everyone except you already knows the answers. It will show your commitment and increase the depth of your accountability. Take the risk and get the feedback. It shows – you care.

On this Martin Luther King Day it is good to reflect on those who had an impact on you.

Is there a mentor that has affected your development as a leader? If you are a true leader you likely have had at least one. It is also likely that your mentor provided guidance, advice, and an example for you through a close comfortable relationship.

Now reflect on the individual that has had the most profound impact on your growth as a leader.

  • Was that a close comfortable relationship?
  • Were their words always encouraging?
  • Did the individual present challenges, conflict, and push you to struggle?

If your definition of a mentor is one who fosters your growth as a leader, look around and you may find some atypical mentors pushing you to new heights. Whether the relationship is close and comfortable or formal and edgy, accept the lessons they provide and thank them.


If you were asked “Do you have specific moral principles that guide you as a leader?” The inevitable answer would be: “Of course I do.” I bet you would probably be able to rattle off a list. But what does that mean? Recollect the most challenging moral dilemma you were faced with in your professional career. Now reflect on the following:

  • How were my moral principles applied in the event?
  • Was I flexible with my principles?
  • What did I learn about my principles and myself?

As a leader you must have a vision for your future. However, for that vision to guide you it must be something you can achieve and it must be yours. Individuals with good intentions constantly attempt to shape us. Unintentionally we adopt the dreams that others have for us. Take the time to reflect and answer to the following questions:

  • How realistic is my current vision?
  • What percentage of my current vision is truly mine?

Setting the end state of where you want to be is the key to your growth as a leader.