Posts Tagged ‘success’

The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to SuccessThe Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall, this was a pretty good book. McArdle makes a good case for all the reasons why learning to fail well makes us more successful in the long run (a big reason is all those lessons we should – and if we don’t, then we’ve failed at failing – learn from falling flat on our faces). (more…)

The Quintessential Leader Always Lends a Helping HandQuintessential leaders are always looking for ways to practically help other people whose paths intersect with ours. This is part of the integrity of our character and the authenticity of who we are.

What this means practically is that we are conscious and continual observers of all the people we cross paths with, whether it’s just one time, occasionally, frequently, or continually. It also means that we have a heightened awareness of all situations and genuine needs that arise in these relationships.   

In other words, quintessential leaders are always paying attention for opportunities where we can practically lend a helping hand to others.  

Quintessential leaders don’t look at these opportunities as a burden, nor do we look at them as a one-time obligation that we check off a list and move on from. Because quintessential leaders are teambuilders and relationship builders, we stay involved and we keep lending helping hands with the goal of assisting others to be able to stand on their own again, so that they can then lend a helping hand to the people who cross their paths in life.

Quintessential leaders do this all their lives. They prefer to be anonymous, in the background, and quietly providing the practical help that others need. The greatest satisfaction for quintessential leaders is to see those we’ve endeavored to persistently help along the way in practical ways succeed and move into a position where they are able to help others.

What are some ways that quintessential leaders practically lend a helping hand to others?

You more than likely will never know about any of this because quintessential leaders never talk about what they are doing (we don’t take out billboards, literally or virtually, and announce it to the world) for others. Instead, we just do it, freely, modestly, and continuously lending our hands whenever and wherever there’s a genuine need that we can fill.

However, because we are striving to be quintessential leaders all the time, we need to know the what and the how of what practically lending a helping hand to others so that they can get back on their feet and pay it forward looks like in practice.

There are impractical and practical ways to lend a helping hand.

If (and this seems to be an increasingly rarer “if” in our “what’s in it for me?” society, where most people either simply don’t care, are totally oblivious to the needs of others, or they glance at needs and then promptly forget that the needs ever existed) people are inclined to lend a helping hand, the help is often short-term and immediate (impractical in the big scheme of things because it doesn’t address the root cause of the need), instead of long-term and big-picture (practical because it works to lessen or eliminate the root cause of the need).

So we’re going to look at a few practical ways that we can lend a helping hand to others and show how quintessential leaders use all our networks to enhance our help and work to reduce and eliminate the need.

This, by the way, was supposed to be the functional outcome of professional networking and social networking, but both have failed miserably.

Professional network to lend a helping handThese networks, however, have ended up being nothing more than, in the first case, a closed club with a college sorority/fraternity feel involving bar meetups to drink and hook up, and, in the second case, social-networksa closed inner group of select people (the wider group of contacts and friends is off the grid and nobody even notices – it’s as though they were never there) who just hang out with each other all day.

The first way that quintessential leaders practically lend a helping hand is by volunteering their time and expertise whenever and wherever they find people in need. They create opportunities to volunteer by establishing and actively participating in specific groups to meet specific needs.

Throughout their sustained efforts in making these groups a place for information, education, and help, quintessential leaders also invite and respond Quintessential leaders volunteer to lend a helping handto ongoing individual needs within the groups. 

While most people aren’t even aware of it, quintessential leaders always spend a lot of one-on-one time with individuals within the group when the needs arise, with the goal of lessening the burden for those individuals and helping where they are able in a practical and proactive way.

Another area where quintessential leaders are constantly practically lending a helping hand is in the area of helping people who are looking for employment and financial stability. These are tied inextricably together, but it seems that society, in general, doesn’t realize this. 

There are a few people who see the financial aspect of someone looking for employment and they give a little bit of money to the person. While this is appreciated, there is a better and more practical way to lend a helping hand in terms of the long-term and big picture need, which is employment and being financially self-supporting.

There’s an old saying that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life. There’s an parallel in this saying that applies to someone looking for employment and financial stability.

As noble and as kind as the gesture is, the reality is that handing somebody who’s looking for a job a little bit of money doesn’t give them employment or financial stability. In fact, it usually, at least emotionally and mentally, makes things worse for that person.


There are several reasons:

  1. A one-time small amount of money doesn’t pay the bills;
  2. The person doesn’t want to freeload or mooch, but instead work and earn the money they receive;
  3. The money doesn’t – and can’t – address the long-term and big picture need of employment or financial stability.

So let’s talk about better and more practical ways to lend a helping hand to someone who is looking for employment and financial stability instead.

Anybody who is looking for employment has undertaken a full-time job. It’s a job with no pay, a substantial time investment, mostly silence or rejection as the outcome, and a hiring process that makes Dante’s hell seem like a stroll in the park

Quintessential leaders lend a practical helping hand to people looking for employment in the following concrete ways:

  1. Engaging with the people looking for employment to know what their skills and experience are, what areas they are looking for, and what their soft skills are.
  2. Getting resume or website links from people looking for employment and actually reading them.
  3. Sending the resume or website links to their professional contacts with a brief summary of qualifications, areas of competence, as well as a recommendation (i.e., a reference) and a request for a time-delimited followup. If their professional contacts don’t do the followup, quintessential leaders do, both as a reminder and as an advocate for those looking for employment.
  4. If there’s interest, setting up a face-to-face for the potential employer and potential employee to meet.

What does impractical look like (although some of these are the best people know how to offer – which is why we all need the education provided in this post – if you want to make people’s employment searches even more frustrating and hopeless, do any or all of these)?

  1. Reviewing the resume or website links and saying “Oh, that’s great experience” or making suggestions to change it, but doing absolutely nothing else with it.
  2. Indicating, by a weak or lackluster response, that you’re not going to go out of your way to do anything with the information.
  3. Promising that you’ll do something and then promptly and forever forgetting about it.
  4. “Advising” people looking for employment in a way that is condescending (when this is a person’s full-time job, they’ve already turned over every rock we can think of and many we can’t even imagine) or deceptive (dishonesty in any form is unacceptable – if we suggest it, we are definitively not quintessential leaders).
  5. Sending generic newspaper articles or job fair notices of hiring that you’re not connected to and don’t have any direct influence (or interest) with to people looking for employment.
  6. Giving people “leads” on jobs they aren’t remotely looking for, are overqualified or unqualified for, and/or are infeasible because of location differences and expense involved.

Another practical way that quintessential leaders lend a helping hand to people seeking employment and financial stability is to support their other attempts to create revenue streams and use their networks to help generate revenue from these streams.

Many people who are seeking employment and financial stability have looked at every possible avenue for earning an income and being self-sufficient. In addition to their full-time employment searches, they have put in long hours creating things of value (using skills like sewing, knitting, crocheting, woodworking, jewelry-making, baking, confection-making, writing and self-publishing books to educate and inform, etc.) to offer for purchase, so that they can not only earn the money they receive, but the person who pays gets something of value in return.

Esty revenue stream lend a helping handThese items are generally sold through venues Amazon lend a helping handlike Etsy or Amazon, where the seller gets a fraction of the purchase price for each item sold (for example, for a $10 printed book, Amazon authors get less than $2 in payment, while they do not get anything for the Kindle version unless someone buys it after purchasing the hard copy).

Quintessential leaders invest the time and interest to find out if people looking for employment have these kinds of items for sale. If they do, instead of handing cash to these people, quintessential leaders lend a practical hand by:

  1. Committing to buying their products (once every three months, for example);
  2. Reviewing the item at the purchasing site;
  3. Getting a firm commitment from a certain number of people in their social and professional networks to buy the item and asking those people to do the same with their social and professional networks and to pass the same instructions on with each iteration of getting social and professional networks involved in the process.

This is win-win all the way around. The people purchasing are getting something of value at a great price. With enough volume from the cumulative social and professional networking and purchasing, the people selling are actually earning the money they receive and it may give them enough financial stability to be able to hang in there until employment materializes. Or it may lead to something totally different that opens new doors and new opportunities for the person who is seeking employment.

Most importantly, it gives these people the ability to pay forward being able to practically lend a helping hand to the people in their lives.

As always, we as quintessential leaders need to look in our own mirrors to see how – or whether – we are doing.

Do we practically lend a helping hand to other people? Or are we guilty of being impractical in our attempts to help, pulling further down the very people we should be making every effort in our power (and we have a lot, but it takes our attention, our time, and our effort) to pull up?

What are we doing? How are we doing?

Airplanes are like organizationsThe connections between planes, pilots, flying and quintessential leadership have been percolating in my mind for several years. 

Each time there is a new air disaster, these connections come back to the front of my thinking and expand as I find deeper meaning and more interrelated threads between these on-the-surface seemingly dissimilar things.

They are very similar, as this post will demonstrate, because the same core mechanisms exist among them.

Let’s start at the basic connections. Planes are like organizations. Pilots are the leaders who are responsible for the planes. How pilots fly (lead) planes depends on whether the project (the flight) is successful or unsuccessful. (Passengers are customers who pay for and expect success every time.)

The health of a plane is a factor in successful outcomes. Like organizations, if a plane is poorly or sloppily maintained, has outdated equipment and/or software, and has major structural or mechanical problems that compromise its integrity, that will limit and hinder the ability of the pilot to lead the plane to a successful outcome: a safe landing and delivery of passengers to their destination.

The leadership ability of the pilot is also a factor in successful outcomes. This encompasses several areas, including experience, skills, health (vision and heart come to mind), lifestyle (getting enough sleep, alcohol and/or drug consumption, and allergies that are treated with medication), and attitude toward the job and the customers (selfless or self-centered).

How the pilot flies the plane is a third crucial factor in successful outcomes. And, while not the only factor, this factor can often mean the difference between successfully averting disaster or disastrously averting success when problems with the plane or another pilot arise. 


Pilots have choices as to how they fly a plane. They can choose to manually fly the plane, relying on their critical thinking, their skills, and their experience, or they can choose to fly the plane on autopilot, which is automation – often out-of-date and based on a limited (because humans write it) scope of scenarios under ideal conditions – software installed on all commercial planes. 

Pilots Are LeadersResearch has shown that when pilots depend on automation software primarily to fly their planes, they lose critical thinking skills. They also lose touch with the plane’s structure and instrumentation and how to use those to their greatest advantage – successful outcome – in emergency situations. Reaction time to crises is also considerably slower when pilots depend exclusively on autopilot to fly.

Too many inexperienced pilots depend solely on autopilot, which can lead to a disastrous outcome.

One of the more recent examples of this was the February 12, 2009 crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Buffalo, NY, which killed 50 people (this included a man in the house the plane crashed into).

The pilots of Flight 3407 assumed that because they were flying on autopilot, they didn’t need to pay attention or monitor anything. Ice began to accumulate on the wings, making the plane heavier and dragging it down under the burgeoning weight, resulting in deceleration. The pilots didn’t notice.

Finally the plane began to stall as it descended. The pilot, inexperienced, confused, and panicked, pulled the stick shaker, which had alerted him to the impending stall of the engines, toward him instead of away from him. 19 seconds later the plane had crashed and 50 people were dead.

On the other end of this spectrum is the example of an experienced and highly-skilled pilot – ironically, almost a month before the crash in Buffalo, NY – who was flying USAirways Flight 1549 out of LaGuardia Airport in New York City. 

Captain Chelsey Sullenberger had just taken off from the runway when a flock of birds flew into the plane’s engines, stalling them both. Unable to maneuver back to LaGuardia or maneuver over to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, Captain Sullenberger was forced to land the plane in the Hudson River.

Because he was flying the plane manually, he was able to use his expertise and ability to think clearly in a time of crisis to accomplish a soft landing into the river, referred to as the Miracle on the Hudson, which kept the plane intact on impact and ensured the survival of all the passengers and crew.

For us as quintessential leaders, our experience, skills, attitudes, and how we choose to lead – on autopilot or manually – can also be the deciding factor in ultimate success (even if the only thing that amounts to is minimizing the impact of what is going to be a disaster no matter how we slice it) or ultimate failure.

As humans, autopilot is our default mode of operation. We are the sum of our biology, experiences, knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Some areas of our life depend on autopilot. Breathing is one of those. Imagine having to think about and manually having to force breath in and out of our lungs. We’d get nothing else accomplished in our lives but this because breath, more or less, is life.

So autopilot for some things is an absolute necessity. However, where we run into trouble with autopilot in our lives is in the areas of experience, knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Much depends on when we acquired them, how we acquired them, and how we apply them from that point on.

Most of our autopilot programming, if you will, is acquired early on in our lives. Because we don’t have full knowledge of everything and we don’t have the maturity or resources to (a) realize that, and (b) do something to correct it, we end up with a lot of faulty and outdated programming in our autopilot that we often employ the rest of our lives, resulting in the same old failures – some disastrous and some not – over and over again throughout our lives.

At some point, we would hope, maturity – and getting tired of the same old, same old – would direct us to start flying our lives manually so that we can figure out how to successfully navigate through, around, and beyond the things that our autopilot keeps crashing us in the middle of. (Sorry, Grammar Nazis, that preposition has to be at the end of that sentence. :-))

Quintessential leaders recognize that our autopilot is faulty and outdated. We understand that the only way to lead is manually.


Because leading manually ensures that we are:

  1. Fully engaged all the time
  2. Maximizing our current level of aggregate experience, expert skills, full knowledge, and optimized attitudes
  3. successful outcome quintessential leaderCritically thinking about obstacles, problems, options, and solutions
  4. Able to respond in real time without panic or chaos
  5. Able to ensure successful outcomes even in disastrous situations
  6. Updating – or, in some cases, rewriting from scratch – our autopilot with new and corrected code to use in future similar situations

So, my fellow quintessential leaders, now is the time for us to look in our own lives to discern the current state of our planes (organizations, families, congregations, schools, etc.), our piloting (leadership) experience, skills and attitudes, and whether we as pilots choose to fly (lead) on autopilot or manually.

What do we see? What needs to change? What do we need to change?

Are we willing to commit to what we can change and what we need to change, no matter how difficult it will be, how much resistance – from ourselves and others – we might encounter, and how much time and effort it will take?

If we’re striving to be quintessential leaders, the answer is unequivocally “Yes.” 

But here is the heart of the matter. What is your answer?

vision and focus quintessential leader perspectiveContrary to popular opinion, vision and focus are not the same thing. They are related, but vision and focus are distinct from each other in many ways. To be a quintessential leader, we must possess both vision and focus and know when and how to execute them consistently and well.

Frankly, many people in leadership positions today do not have either vision or focus. The majority of the exceptions to this have one, but not the other. That sliver-thin few, then, that possess both vision and focus are the ones we want to focus on in this post and, as we strive to be quintessential leaders ourselves, that we want to emulate.

What is vision and what role does it play in quintessential leadership? Vision is a big-picture and well-defined view of a distinct and yet-to-be-realized goal. Our mission statements, organizationally and individually, must capture vision.

This is the first step of quintessential leadership. Vision must be clear and concrete in its expression and it must create a framework within which we operate. In other words, if anything about us – thinking, being, doing, saying – goes outside that framework, then we have lost our vision.

Vision answers essential questions in broad terms, distinguishing the uniqueness of why we and our organizations exist and what we alone bring to the table to achieve a stated objective.

(If we cannot find anything unique in our existence – and by unique, I don’t mean philosophical differences, power plays, personality differences, etc. – then we won’t have a very compelling vision.

It will be difficult, if not impossible, if our stated vision looks almost identical to all the other organizations in our field, to distinguish why we should be the organization of choice. Not only that, but where there is no unique vision and there are lots of very similar competitors, the end result is confusion and attrition. In other words, everyone in the field loses in the end.)

Vision answers these questions:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. What are our objectives?
  3. What is the framework in which we will meet those objectives?
  4. How is our framework both unique and better able to meet those objectives?
  5. What does success, in terms of the objective, look like?

seeing without vision helen keller quintessential leaderOne of the biggest problems I see with vision statements in general is the wrong objective. Getting money, getting more customers, doing this, doing that are all short-term objectives and they are selfish objectives, and they are the wrong objectives.

Vision’s objective is long-term and consists of not what we get, but what we give. Because reaching long-term objectives requires giving a substantial investment of ourselves and our resources to the effort to give something better than what exists now to others beyond the organizational boundaries.

In other words, vision requires a selflessness that very few people in leadership positions now have. But quintessential leaders do and you see it in everything they are, they say, and they do.

vision goals mission statement

Vision is the first and necessary part of being a quintessential leader. The second and equally-important part of being a quintessential leader is focus.

Focus is keeping your eye on the goal and moving toward it without deviation. It sounds simple, but this is, in many ways, the harder part to actually accomplish.

We live in a distraction-filled world that makes getting focus, keeping focus, and maintaining focus toward long-term goals the most difficult accomplishment to actually achieve for all of us.

Much of this is because our attention spans have been shortened to almost non-existence both subtly and overtly.

The overt ways have come to our doorsteps as a result of the technological revolution.

A constant and steady stream of new and cool gadgets litter and clog up our neurological landscape and they all seek to claim our attention and our desire at the same time.

24/7 virtual connectivity through email, cell phones, and social media are all increasingly fragmenting our time and attention while demanding our continual obsequiousness.

The subtle ways our attention spans have been practically destroyed can be attributed to the media and the workplace.

no focus no destination winston churchill quintessential leaderMedia’s contributions have been shorter commercials with more products advertised, 24/7 multiple-channel access to talking heads, and, from digital providers, multiple-screen programming that can be simultaneously (sports channels lead in this area). With the addition of streaming services, our neurological landscapes have just become completely overcrowded and overwhelmed.

The workplace has contributed to this with its championing of multitasking – the more things you can do at one time, the more brilliant, the more talented, the more wonderful you are – and multitaskers, creating in the process, including most of the people in leadership positions, a superficial semblance of productivity that upon closer examination shows no depth, no forward progress, and no focus.

So how do quintessential leaders keep their focus when it’s clear all the odds are against them?

They never allow the vision, the mission statement, and the goal out of their sight. They, like salmon, swim upstream against the tide of distractions, exercising extreme self-discipline and extreme determination all the time to get to that goal.

Quintessential leaders are big-picture and long-term people and that’s how they live and breathe. As a result, they’re able to move right through the distractions without getting caught up in them for the most part.

Occasionally, though, even quintessential leaders will get taken in temporarily by a distraction that may seem important or significant. But the difference is that quintessential leaders recognize that it’s a distraction.

So what do quintessential leaders do? They always evaluate the distraction in terms of their vision, their mission statement and their focus. If the distraction is within that big-picture framework and needs to be addressed or resolved on the spot, quintessential leaders take care of it immediately and starting moving forward again.

Quintessential leaders, then, are never moving and doing just for the sake of moving and doing. If moving and doing does not have a purpose within the vision, the mission statement, and the goal, it’s irrelevant and eliminated.

Quintessential leaders are very proficient at this because they’ve either been doing it all their lives – some of us are naturally wired this way – or they’ve learned how to do it in the process of becoming quintessential leaders.

It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, and it’s most definitely not always popular. 

But quintessential always eventually reach their goals, in the end, no matter how long, how bumpy, how rough, how intense, and how grueling the journey between the initial vision and the completed objective is.

So let’s look at ourselves in relationship to our vision and our focus.

Unquintessential leaders (people who have no vision and/or no focus) tend to complain about having too many things to do at once, not being able to finish anything, finding it hard to focus on what they’re supposed to be doing, having no breathing room or free time to recharge.

Unquintessential leaders also complain about not being organized and being perpetually confused about what they’re supposed to be doing, and, often, in the end, they quit, either literally or symbolically (just going through the motions as a pretender).

Quintessential leaders (people who have both vision – with the right objective – and focus), on the other hand, rarely complain about the effort and the toll it takes from and on them – and it does because all effort takes a toll, but the difference is whether it ultimately means anything or not – and the only thing they will complain about, at times, is having to expend even more effort to keep all the distractions and noise out so that they stay focused on the objective.

There is no disorganization, no lack of clarity, and no confusion. And they don’t quit, no matter what gets thrown in their way along the route from vision to goal.

So, my fellow quintessential leaders, how are we doing?


the quintessential leader building trust and being trust worthy book

In the first post of this series, the excerpt from chapter 1 included a list of all the components we must develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy.

In the subsequent chapter excerpts detailing the components we need to have and develop to build trust and be trustworthy, chapter 2 discusses honesty, chapter 3 discusses integrity, and chapter 4 discusses fairness, chapter 5 discusses righting wrongs, and chapter 6 discusses accountability.

This post, which includes an excerpt from chapter 7, discusses the component of consistency that builds trust and makes us trustworthy.

Being consistent in our lives as humans is often very difficult. The reasons for this difficulty are quite simple:

  • Our conduct is a reflection of our feelings, which are constantly changing, instead of our thinking, which is – or should be – more unchangeable in all the things and ways that matter
  • We do not have a solid foundation and core of principles, absolute right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, and good and bad that we adhere to ourselves and apply equally to everything and everyone else in our lives without exception

Inconsistency is extremely damaging in every way.

It creates instability, unreliability, fear, reluctance, malaise, disenfranchisement, alienation, and excessively-high stress levels.

Inconsistency completely inhibits the ability to plan, to project, and to grow. It also prevents teams from developing and reaching their potential and will eventually lead to high attrition rates. 

And, yet, consistency is impossible to find in many people who are leadership positions today. Randomness and chaos seem to rule every corner of the world and that is a big contributor to the prevalent lack of trust in and untrustworthiness of the majority of people who are in leadership positions now.

Building trust and being trustworthy is an integrated trait of quintessential leaders.

It is also an integrated trait that all of us – because each and every one of us leads at least one team, small or large, of people in our lives – need to develop and have as part of the core of who we are and what we are. In essence, this trait is at the center of exemplary character and conduct, and none of us should settle for anything less than this in ourselves and others.

Unfortunately, most of us settle for less. A lot less. In ourselves. In others. 

The majority of people in leadership positions today are not trust builders and they are not trustworthy. Many of us, frankly, are also not trust builders and trustworthy.

We live in a world that with no moral code as its foundation that expects trust to be non-existent or broken. Look around. It’s everywhere, including, in many cases, very close to you.

And society has become so accustomed to this that it glorifies it instead of condemning it.

Politicians who lie routinely, who line their pockets with money and perks while making decisions that hurt and destroy the people they are supposed to represent, who cheat on their wives because they can.

Arts and sports celebrities who have no regard for faithfulness to their spouses, who live hedonistic lifestyles that destroy their families, the people around them, and, eventually their lives.

Religious leaders who cheat on their wives, who cheat on their taxes, and who scam their congregations both in how they deceitfully handle the word of God and in coercive and corrupt financial matters, acquiring wealth and power in the process.

Business leaders who destroy millions of lives by deceit, fraud, and illegal actions that result in their employees and customers losing everything while they escape any kind of punitive action and instead reap obscene profits and end their tenures – only to go to another financially lucrative position – with golden parachutes that are equally obscene.

And we, as individual leaders for our teams, who cheat on our taxes, who are routinely dishonest with the children (our own and others) and other people entrusted to us, who routinely steal things from our workplaces (you most likely didn’t pay for that pen you’re using at work, so it doesn’t belong to you), who routinely break traffic laws, who will walk out of stores with something we were not charged for and never think twice about it, who will take extra money that we’re not owed in financial transactions without blinking an eye, who cheat on our spouses, who marry until “divorce do us part,” and who, as a course of habit, break confidences of family and friends, gossip about family and friends behind their backs, and destroy reputations in the process.

Maybe we haven’t thought about building trust and being trustworthy at this kind of nitty gritty level.

But until we do – and we develop and have this trait as the core of who and what we are – we will not build trust and we will not be trustworthy. And we will not be quintessential leaders.

Trust and trustworthiness is probably the single most important trait we can possess. And it is also the most fragile.

It can take a long time to build and be, but it can be broken irreparably in a single second.

Therefore, this is a lifetime work on and in ourselves that we must commit to making an integral part of our character by continually developing it, maintaining it, and growing it. 

This goal should be our goal.

But it requires courage. It requires diligence. It requires vigilance. It requires continual self-examination. It requires continual change. It requires the ability to, much of the time, stand alone to maintain.

It is not for the faint-hearted. It is not for the vacillators. It is not for the crowd-pleasers. It is not for the pretenders. It is not for the wannabes. It is not for the weak.

But if you’re reading this, I know that you’re not any of those kinds of people. Those kinds of people won’t even read this because it requires time, effort, change, and commitment, and too many of us are, sadly, either just too lazy or we just don’t care. 

Building Trust and Being Trustworthy takes an in-depth look at the “this is what it looks like in practice” aspect of each of the components we need to develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy. The second chapter discusses the component of honesty in building trust and being trustworthy.


Excerpt from”Chapter 7: The Consistency Component of Trust and Trustworthiness”

What this means in practical terms is that a quintessential leader is who he or she says he or she is and that he or she is what he or she says they believe – all the time, without exception. When we as quintessential leaders practice consistency, our teams always know what to expect and that helps to create an organized, sensible and predictable environment in which team members can operate, grow, and thrive.

When those who claim to be leaders don’t practice consistency, they become very much like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The environment for their teams is chaotic, confusing and unpredictable and is characterized by constant fear and failure to thrive.

Consistency, like all the other components of trust and trustworthiness, is a rare commodity in any part of life today. It goes hand-in-hand with fairness and character. In society, in parenting, in politics, in religion, and in business, consistency has been replaced by expediency. The lack of consistency that overshadows humanity now is also a reflection of the “it’s all about me” mindset that seems to be the driving force in most people today.

Convictions, commitments, principles are built on foundations of sand that shift continuously (and are, therefore, broken almost as soon as they are made) depending on the situation at the moment. Most people and most people in leadership positions are more concerned about how things will effect them personally and how things look than they are about consistency, fairness, and character. 

That is a sad commentary on what we as a society have become. However, quintessential leaders don’t follow the crowd and allow society to mold and shape them (“everybody else is doing it, so it must be okay”), but instead stay on the path of building trust and being trustworthy and they exhibit consistency no matter what the situation both as leaders and examples to others. 

I was recently at a conference where I saw a lot of glaring examples of inconsistency among people in leadership positions.

But one stood out more than most of the others.

A presenter had three presentations during the conference.

In his first presentation, he made some erroneous and unsupported statements that left many of us scratching our heads.

In his second presentation, he was on target with everything and was able to fully provide support for the whole presentation. 

In his third presentation, he went back to the erroneous and unsupported statements of the first presentation and actually expanded on them.

The problem? The speaker’s second presentation completely contradicted what he said in his first and third presentations.”

world series 2014 san francisco giants kansas city royals quintessential leaderI’ll get this out of the way up front. If I watch a baseball team play an entire game (which is rare because I don’t often want to give up three or more hours of my life to something that, in the end, doesn’t move me forward in some way in the rest of my life) during the regular baseball season, that team is the New York Yankees.

Although I grew up in the South, my dad – who grew up listening to Yankees baseball games on the radio in Burlington, NC – was a Yankees fan and he passed that on to me. The things I loved about watching Yankees’ games with my dad when I was a kid was to see how much he enjoyed and knew about the game and how much he enjoyed sharing that with his family.

After Daddy died, I let baseball pretty much slip away from my active radar because it just didn’t hold any appeal without him to watch it with. Now I’m an extremely passive Yankees fan. I might catch an inning or two a couple of times a year – although I occasionally check their standings throughout the season – but that’s most of the extent of my baseball consumption these days.

However, during the World Series each year, no matter who is playing, I try to watch at least a couple of innings of each game until a clear winner emerges because I want to see what it was that got those teams there that year.


Because beyond the exceptional skills of a few players on each team, there has to be leadership and teamwork to get all of the players and coaches synced up enough over the course of the season to play the kind of baseball that consistently makes its way successfully through the playoffs to get to the World Series.

Last year, when the Boston Red Sox outperformed the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series, there was a distinctive outward manifestation of the team-building that had taken place during the regular season – every Red Sox player grew a beard and none of the players shaved their beards until the World Series was over.

2014 world series jake peavy pitcher quintessential leadershipThere is an interesting link between the 2013 World Series and the 2014 World Series. That link is Jake Peavy, a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in 2013 and for the San Francisco Giants in 2014.

The quality of a baseball team’s pitching staff is often a determining factor in how well the team gels together and how far the team extends its season. Starting pitchers are critical in this mix and, while they may not be the official team captains (leaders), they are often the de facto leaders on the field during games.

Peavy had good pitching stats going into his stint with the Red Sox, but after a dismal two-year performance, he was traded to the Giants in 2014. Peavy has not done much better in his first year there, including in the World Series.

And here’s where leadership and team-building and teamwork come into play. No one respects Jake Peavy.

I was very surprised to hear how the sports commentators basically trashed Peavy in the first game he pitched this year against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.

Supposedly the objective and unbiased presenters of the games, these commentators made it clear that they didn’t expect anything but failure out of Peavy with their disparaging comments from the get-go.

The body language, facial gestures, and actions of the Giants on the field and in the dugout during game 2 and game 6 of this year’s World Series showed the entire team’s – including the coaches and manager – contempt for Peavy when he was pitching.

Although he was the de facto leader on the field, it was clear no one wanted him there and it led to the beginning of the Royals’ rout of the Giants when no one paid any attention to him during a crucial play in last night’s game (game 6).

The crucial play came during Peavy’s disastrous second inning when Peavy was telling Giants first baseman Brandon Belt to throw home and Belt completely ignored him and decided to run down the tag of the Royals Eric Hosmer at first base. Hosmer beat the tag.

In that moment, the lack of leadership, teamwork, and team-building among the Giants organization was crystal clear to me. It replayed in slow motion in my mind as I thought how those few seconds showed me all I needed to see as a quintessential leader to know that Giants don’t have it.

san francisco giants logoOh, the Giants may win the 2014 World Series, because they have a few great hitters and one great pitcher – who may be a clutch reliever tonight if starting pitcher Tim Hudson gets behind in the early innings – who might get lucky enough to pull it off.

kansas city royals logoHowever, the odds favor the Royals, who clearly have leadership, teamwork, and team-building in place. They look like a time, they act like a team, and they play like a team.

It’s taken the Royals 29 years to get another World Series-ready team in place, but the organization carefully and skillfully, over the course of several years (one of last night’s commentators said that professional baseball is different from any other sport in that it takes a lot longer to bring an athlete up to the skill level and capability to play at the professional level), ensured that the leadership, the team-building – individually and collectively – and the teamwork is in place for just such a moment as this.

Based on my experience as someone who strives to practice and continues to grow toward quintessential leadership in every part of who I am and in my life every day, I know that what the Royals have in place – and the Giants don’t have in place – gives the Royals the advantage of being successful.

What about us? You and me. Do we strive to be and work at being quintessential leaders continuously in every part of our lives? Do we even know what it is? Can we recognize it when we see it or don’t see it, no matter where we see it? 

The reality is that if we don’t live, do, and are something 24/7, then it’s not a part of us, of who and what we are. We’re pretenders.

And because we’re pretenders, we don’t know what the real thing looks like and are susceptible to falling for counterfeits and believing they’re the real thing, when it fact they’re not.

To know what quintessential leadership does and doesn’t look like, we must be actively striving to be and practicing quintessential leadership everywhere in our lives, even those areas and places and moments where nobody’s looking (those count more, in many ways, than the ones in which somebody or everybody’s looking).

How are we doing?