Personal Leadership: Lessons Learned in Tough and Good Times

Turning Downturns into Upturns

Image by VizwerxGroup –

Good times happen just as bad times do. Leaders need to navigate both. As important is what leaders learn from good and bad times. In our monthly leadership conversation, we will share experiences and lessons learned. When we learn from each other, we will have a better footing to do the right things in good times and understand how to lead through tough times.

Join us!

The April Authentic Leadership Dallas lunch meeting will focus on leadership lessons learned from good and bad times. We will meet on April 22, 11:45 am to 1:00 pm, at the Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel. Please RSVP on our Meetup page; you can find directions and other details there. We meet in the restaurant.

Background Reading

7 Ways Leaders Maintain Their Composure in Difficult Times. Key quote: “The 21st century leader sees adversity through the lens of opportunity.  Rather than panic, a leader with composure takes a step back and begins to connect the dots of opportunity within adverse circumstances.   These types of leaders quickly detect the causes of adversity and solve for them immediately.  They then enable the opportunities previously unseen that could have avoided the adversity to begin with.  Many times crisis results when composure is missing.”

How to Thrive During Tough Times. Key quote: “When leaders push emotional or professional challenges under the rug, those unaddressed feelings plant a seed of self doubt. That leads to low confidence, self-comparison, and diminished faith in your ability to handle future trials — a toxic combination. On the other hand, if those challenges are addressed, leaders begin to flourish. ‘Struggle and leadership are intertwined,’ Snyder says. ‘Challenges create the opportunity for leadership growth.’”

Leadership Lessons for Hard Times. Key quote: “A healthy company enjoys not only strong financials but also a culture and values that bind it together. Much of what our interviewees describe as important is driven by corporate culture—open communication or a focus on a company’s long-term health, for example. Several CEOs chose to highlight how a strong culture had helped them in hard times and how important it is not to sacrifice that culture when a company comes under pressure.”

Activity to Prepare

Draw a line down the middle of a page. Above the line – Think through your past experiences and jot down one or two good experiences and what you learned from them as a leader. In these situations, you could be the leader or team member. Either case will deliver lessons.

Below the line – Think through your past experiences and jot down one or two challenging experiences and what you learned from them as a leader.

Leading and Learning from Good and Bad Times


Our meeting agenda is:

  • Forty-five second introduction: What do you want people to remember about you after the meeting? (10 minutes)
  • Question 1:  In your challenging times, what leadership lesson did you learn? What leadership trait was strengthened? (20 minutes)
  • Question 2:  In you good times, what leadership lesson did you learn? What leadership trait was strengthened? (20 minutes)
  • Wrap-up: Leadercast updates and areas of assistance, May 9th.

If you haven’t registered for Leadercast on May 9th, please consider joining us to energize your leadership skills and spirit!

Special thanks to the great people at Vizwerx Group for providing the feature artwork for this post!

Mistakes: Leadership and Culture

The February Authentic Leadership Dallas lunch meeting will be focused on mistakes and what they mean for developing your leadership skills and building a robust organizational culture. We will meet on February 18, 11:45 am to 1:00 pm, at the Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel. Please RSVP on our Meetup page; you can find directions and other details there. We meet in the restaurant.

Just as change is a constant and so are mistakes. We are human after all. Most people don’t intentionally make mistakes. What happens after a mistake is made makes all the difference. There are at least three dimensions to consider:

  • What does a leader do when they make a mistake?
  • What does a leader do when a team member makes a mistake?
  • How does an organizational culture view and handle mistakes that happen?

We will explore some of these questions during our leadership conversations.

To help prepare, highlighted are several articles on mistakes, leadership, and culture.

Mistakes and leadership:

10 Common Leadership and Management Mistakes. Key quote: “We all make mistakes, and there are some mistakes that leaders and managers make in particular. These include not giving good feedback, being too ‘hands-off,’ not delegating effectively, and misunderstanding your role. It’s true that making a mistake can be a learning opportunity. But, taking the time to learn how to recognize and avoid common mistakes can help you become productive and successful, and highly respected by your team.”

Human Leadership: Admitting Faults by Matt Monge. Key quote: “Leaders have to admit faults. Why is it so hard to do this? It could be a pride thing, sure; but it could also be that it’s simply hard, as a human being, to admit you’re wrong. No one that I know of especially enjoys doing that. I know it’s not at the top of my list of things to do. I’m sure most of you are the same.”

Mistakes and organizational culture:

Startup Company Culture by John Ousterhout. Key quote: “We also want a culture where everyone has an opportunity to contribute on any topic and in any way that they can. And finally, we want a constructive culture where criticism is viewed as a good thing and where we can work through problems and disconnects in a positive, non-personal fashion. The result will be an environment where we have lots of fun, learn and improve, and produce terrific results.”

Top 5 Reasons to Celebrate Mistakes at Work by Alexander Kjerulf. Key quote: “Peter Drucker provocatively suggested that businesses should find all the employees who never make mistakes and fire them, because employees who never make mistakes never do anything interesting. Admitting that mistakes happen and celebrating them when they do, makes mistakes less likely.”

Leading Conversation Agenda

Our meeting agenda is:

  • Forty-five second introduction: What do you want people to remember about you after the meeting? (10 minutes)
  • Question 1:  When a team member makes a mistake, how do you handle it? Share an example. When you have made a mistake, how did you handle it with others? Share your experiences. (20 minutes)
  • Question 2:  What role does organizational culture play when mistakes happen? What type of culture is the healthiest for purpose and profit? (20 minutes)
  • Wrap-up: Leadercast status, May 9th.

If you haven’t registered for Leadercast on May 9th, please consider joining us for this engaging event!

Lead Ahead: Week of February 10, 2014

Purpose is embedded in many things and leadership is definitely one. When purpose blooms in the way you lead, wonderful outcomes unfold. In looking at what leaders from Authentic Leadership Dallas and Lead Change have been writing about, purpose seems to be at the top of the list.

Before diving in to the various leadership insights below, please take some time to read about Leadercast and consider registering to join us on May 9th. Early registration is open, and we hope you will join us.

3 Steps to Elevate Your Purpose and Maximize Your Impact by Mike Henry. Key quote: “What is an elevated purpose? My definition of an elevated purpose is one that creates great value for others. An elevated purpose isn’t one that benefits only us. In the end, our legacy will be what we did for others.”

Break Free from Inertia & Live on Purpose by Allison Rimm for People Results. Key quote: “Your personal mission is where you can use your talents and passions to address a need in the world – it’s as accessible and profound as that.”

Are You Pushing People Up? by Tal Shnall. Key quote: “No matter how much potential your business has, how good your products and services be, the most important aspect of your business that will yield success or failure is whether your people are motivated and inspired.”

Empower Innovation with Millennials by Jon Mertz. Key quote: “No matter if Millennial or Boomer, many individuals would leave organizations that block innovation, don’t listen, and create barriers to creativity and eventual new sources of profit, along with discouraging ways to improve our communities. The time is now for leaders to embrace a higher purpose for their organizations and encourage collaboration between generations to innovate for better products, services, profits, and a betterment of society.”

Lead with purpose. Lead well in the week ahead!

Lead Ahead: Week of December 9, 2013

As Dallas begins to thaw this week, it may be from the sparks of calls to act more fully as leaders. Writers from Lead Change and Authentic Leadership Dallas amped things up and rightfully so. There is a leadership gap present, and this gap may be growing, unless we do something to step up in how we lead. As you read through the key quotes and click-through to read the full posts, it may be time to ask:

What can I do to become a more engaged leader and lead in a more purpose-driven way?

It is time. Lead well in the weeks ahead!

How to Lead Without Authority: 4 Easy Strategies by Krista Kotrla. Key quote: “Step up. Speak up. And brave up. Embrace responsibility even if you are faking it at first. Is it really fair to expect people to follow you and trust your ideas if you seem unsure of yourself or unwilling to accept full responsibility? Ask to take on new projects. Dream up a new initiative. Mess up, own up and describe what you learned from the experience. Try again. Deliver. Get results.”

Coherent Leadership by Mike Henry. Key quote: “We are coherent when our actions line up with our words, when people can understand what we’re trying to do and when we are sincere and uncomplex. Our actions will align with our most basic, primal leadership principles.”

How Leaders Create Positive Change? by Tal Shnall. Key quote: “A transformational leader focuses on positive change to help others to look out for each other, to be encouraging and harmonious, and to look out for the organization as a whole. With this leadership mindset, the leader enhances each person’s talent, morale and performance of his followers through positive change.”

Nelson Mandela Lead from the Back of the Room by Patti Johnson. Key quote: “Richard Stengel, editor of Time magazine, spent years interviewing Nelson Mandela and collaborated with him on his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. In an interview with Voice of America, Stengel said, ‘Lead from the front is the more conventional kind of leading that we know—getting up on the podium and giving a speech or saying follow me. But leading from the back is a different idea.’ Nelson Mandela embodied this idea of leading from behind. He provided the example and the values and let others lead.”

Craving Leadership by Jon Mertz. Key quote: “The real answer to address the leadership craving is this: All generations of leaders need to be engaged. The only way to solve the leadership challenges is by working across generations, understanding perspectives, and sharing experiences. By reaching across generations, we will close the leadership gap and enter a new era of trusted, engaging leadership.”

Are you ready to lead more completely?

Reading Behind to Lead Ahead: Week of October 21, 2013

Leadership takes on many different essential elements, and this past week highlights several key ones, including: Inspiration, Communication, Vision, Values, and Change. Many great insights from Dallas-area leadership writers, along with key insights from the Lead Change team. Enjoy the insights. Join in the conversation!

The Most Important Phase of Inspirational Leadership by Krista Kotrla. Key quote: “It is because of the struggle that you will fly to higher heights. So thrash away and develop really, really strong wings. Because your inspirational leadership example is desperately needed and flying low is not an option.”

How Great Leaders Communicate and Connect by Tal Shnall. Key quote: “Great leaders never call themselves experts or gurus. They are not here to impress. Great leaders are not self-absorbed. They want to communicate as a WE and not as a ME.”

Which Comes First: Organizational Values or Personal Values? by Jon Mertz for Lead Change. Key quote: “Don’t take your intuitive feeling as your personal values. Take the time to write the answers and think about them. Refine them. Write them again. Live them. Lead by them.”

Frontline Festival – Vision and Values by Mike Henry for Lead Change. This post provides access to a solid roundup of thoughts and insights on vision and values.

The Impact of Millennials: Big and Bold by Jon Mertz. Key quote: “This is a big, bold, and innovative generation, and we need to foster their leadership. It is about leading from the middle. It is about creating a culture to encourage the innovative spirit of Millennials. For older generations, we need to answer the call by ensuring our organizational cultures encourage innovation and provide an opportunity to try, fail, learn, succeed, and repeat.”

Lead well in the week ahead!