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Coach's Corner

Can small talk make you a better leader?

Leaders are intentional about what they are saying and to whom. They begin all dialogues with the end in mind. Even small talk can lead to increased trust and better relationships. Are you using conversational intelligence to help you?

Check out this article from the Wall Street Journal for insightful thoughts on how being a better conversationalist can make you a better leader. 

Is your leadership style building your leaders??

There are many types of leaders and styles of leadership. There are also a variety of tools to see which type you are and which are your strong styles. Have you used any of those? Strengths Finder, DISC are some great examples. But the tools alone won’t do anything. You must be in action!

Extraordinary leaders know their gaps and work at closing them, so they can be the most effective leaders for their teams and organizations. They also know to use different styles with different people; the more senior your team, the more you will need to stretch, grow and develop them.

Are you aware of your strengths? Do you get feedback on your leadership?  Are you recruiting and developing a diverse leadership team around and below you?

Great leaders aren’t threatened by other great leaders. They surround themselves with diversity. Know your style and work with other leaders who possess different strengths. What style are you? Visionary? Team- builder? Directional? Strategic? To find out more, click here for a great article that explains these styles and more.

Interview with Ellyn

Check out this interview. Here is what the Amanda Fellows had to say, "During my first conversation with Ellyn she became one of my new favorite people as she infused humor, insight, and ease into the dialogue. She is one of only 4 Master Executive Coaches in Indiana, and the Chief Visionary Officer of Team Summit which she founded in 2004. If you're hungry for some gut-level, practical inspiration and advice on how to stretch yourself to achieve your best, then this is an episode not to miss!"

Listen to the audio below: Listen HERE

10 Barriers to Strong Leadership

In the past few months, I've worked with several leaders who were navigating significant new challenges in their roles. The differences between those who managed these situations successfully and those who didn't often showed itself in their responses to these very common blocks to leadership growth. I recently read an article "10 Barriers to Great Leadership" from INC magazine and I want to share it.

Any growth process includes the inevitable stumbling blocks. Leadership growth is no different.

1. Believing that it can't happen to you: Every leader needs to be aware of things that might prevent, delay, or stop growth. To do this, you need to start with a couple of basic insights: that leadership growth is not inevitable and that certain things can stop or derail it. In too many cases, leaders are unable to figure out what's blocking their growth, because they're in denial about the need to do so.

2. Ignoring the usefulness of mistakes: Mistakes are necessary for growth. They are signposts on the learning journey. I worked with a client who was experiencing a series of difficult and upsetting events, and he wanted to move past them as quickly as possible. When you find yourself feeling low about your leadership, don't push it into the background. Rather, embrace the opportunity for growth, reflect on how to avoid similar potholes in the future, and learn how to scramble out of the next pothole a bit more adroitly.

3. Refusing help: We all need help in order to learn. For a variety of reasons, usually rooted in personal insecurity, many leaders refuse help. Use a coach and commit to your development. (An excellent resource on leader "derailment" is the Center for Creative Leadership.)

Please CONTACT US for the other 7 leadership barriers and tips on how you can elevate above them!

Operate with Clear Direction

Leadership is half full or half empty, depends on your perspective. As a leader, you can either add water to a fire or add gas.

Which are you adding?

It depends on where you are and if you are intentional, what you want to create with the message or the lesson. Sometimes, team members need some fire placed carefully on the burner to create urgency. If so, the way you build the fire is critically important and your reaction, or lack of reaction, is vital.

Some leaders will create the fire and then react emotionally, which can cause chaos. If you are intentional about creating urgency with your team, do so with a calm presence and clear message. If your team is running around frantically, then use water to calm the mood and create clarity.

Teams operate best with a clear direction.

Leaders are Lifelong Learners

Some of the most effective leaders today are lifelong learners.

Learning and discovery is a journey, you are never really there and there is no end point. By keeping an open mind, leaders learn not only from those around them, but from the universe. That is powerful learning to pass on.

Some leaders think that by having all the answers that makes them powerful or in control. However, control is just an illusion. You can never control others and it is only in the releasing of control that you can actually positively impact the outcome of situations you are involved in. Surrender. Learning. Patience. Those are three critical areas for leaders to continue to practice.

Set the pace!

Reaching Your Dream

Leaders know that to achieve their dream it is a journey. Start by using your own gps by setting your end point. You create all the turn by turn directions based on feedback you are receiving. You can't get ahead if you don't get started.

Speak with Clarity

Leaders choose their words carefully, knowing that words dictate actions and others into action. Be clear and concise.

Many times leaders think that if they keep repeating themselves others will hear them. Often it is the opposite. Someone who goes on and on doesn't appear clear and calm. It is your responsibility as a leader to make your point and give your perspective on an issues. It is one thing to communicate and another to coerce. If you make your point clearly, it is unlikely you will need to hammer away at it. As Dwight Eisenhower said, "you don't lead by hitting people over the head- that's assault, not leadership."

Learn and Grow

When we teach leadership to groups of individuals, many times there are some people who go home from a training or event and nothing will change from them. Those people overestimate the event and underestimate the process. The process of learning and growth. Every fulfilled dream occurs because of leaders dedicated to the process. People gravitate towards inertia and no change. That's why self- improvement is so difficult for people to take on and stay dedicated to in their lives.

Find something that will stretch you, because if you're not stretching and growing you're standing still. Only by failing do we know how high we can go.

Leadership and Balance

Leadership is all about balance. Balancing driving for results through your people, and balancing when to cheer, inspire, push, coach, ask, direct or support your team! The results will only happen through and with them!

Leaders who are successful show they care about their teams and the leaders they are mentoring. People will not follow you just because you may be smart or have good ideas, they will follow you because they know you care about them and who they are. Leaders who drive for results and deliver results through others will accomplish more than the superhero leaders who do everything themselves.

Balance and give your team what they need, when they need it.

Leap Forward

Leap years happen only once every four years. What can you do only once in four years that will make a difference with people you lead and people you reach? Many people didn't do anything different on an extra day, giving them extra time to be extraordinary!

Leaders make the most of extra time. There are many things in life we can make more of : cookies, money, fame just to name a few. But we can't make more time. To make the most of your time, you must be present, committed, connected and conscious!

Leap to new heights by making your time count!

Lead with Your Heart

Lead your team from your heart. Use your head to manage them and day to day activities. People will follow you after they see and know how much you care. It's more than words, it will show up in every interaction with everyone, every day!

Leaders who lead from their heart create trust and loyalty. Their teams will work more in unison and they create more leaders underneath them. They also end up modeling the way and coaching others. This creates an environment for trust, high performance and leadership in these teams that is shared by everyone.

Who are you creating trusting relationships with today?

Make a new one matter.

What's Your Ceiling?

Leaders who want to achieve new heights are willing to climb where they've never been before. Bump up against your ceiling, for it's only there to keep your greatness in. Let it go!

Leaders who try new approaches and challenge themselves and their team will create new goals and successes that they've only dreamed of in the past.

The key? You must be willing to try something new! Both internal conversations with yourself and external conversations with your team, colleagues and boss. "No one benefits from you playing small"; one of my favorite quotes from Marianne Williamson. Check it out and go for it!

Create a new ceiling for your greatness!!


Leaders with a healthy self-image and self-worth are happier, more fulfilled and more apt to act in accordance of integrity.

Get clear on your self-image and make it work for you. It's a key factor for your success and for your team.

Think big!

Moving Forward

Leaders look to the past for learning, but look to the future for action. If you are always looking in the rear view mirror, you'll end up hitting something in front of you. Look back to see where you've been; look forward to navigate your new path and see where you're going.

Leaders know that to move forward they must be willing to make changes along the way. Be committed to your path and be willing to make adjustments based on what others need from you or what the organization needs. Don't give up your road, but know that there are many ways to get there and be willing to let others get where they are going their way.

Inspire and navigate the way!

Onward to a great 2012!

Build Trust

Trust is and must be built a day at a time and critical moments at a time. It calls for consistency. People will not follow a leader they don't trust. Actions that destroy trust are breaking promises, gossiping, withholding information and being two-faced.

They destroy the environment necessary for growth of new leaders. Once trust is broken, leaders must work twice as hard to regain it.

Keep trust, build upon it and be sure you're not acting to destroy it.

Leaders know that trust is the single most important factor in any relationship. It's the glue the binds teams and leaders together. Be consistent, keep your word and be open.

Be Willing to Risk

Leaders know that in order to succeed, they must be willing to fail and make mistakes. To grow, take chances and take risks.

In order to seize an opportunity, you must be willing to make mistakes and learn from them. You will fail at 100% of everything you don't try.

What is the fear all about? Would you rather be fearful of something that you never tried or just live in fear and let it paralyze you? Courage is born out of doing things outside your comfort zone; we will not grow if we live in our comfort zone every day. Jump outside of it and take yourself to a new place!

Learn more about you and others, that's where the excitement is! If you don't, you will be living in mediocrity. The people who don't make mistakes end up working for those that do. Don't live in regret, live in action! Jump!

Dream Big

Leaders dream often, big and challenge their dreams.

Goals that are set from big dreams will take you to places you've not been. Goals that you set from this year's goals are just stair-stepping.

Take the time to get out of your box and comfort zone. Start with a fresh sheet of paper to encourage you to think differently.

Dream, do and act! Once you dream it you must act on it, or it's only a brilliant idea on paper.

Dream on! Stretch; you will far succeed where you have been!

Teach Ability

Leaders know that in failure comes learning.

In fact, research says that if you're not failing at least 5 times a day, you're probably not doing enough.

The more you do, the more you have a chance of not quite getting there. The more you stretch, the more you fail.

However, the more you stretch, the more you will accomplish. You will fail 100% at everything you don't try.

Learn from failure and embrace it as feedback; don't run from it or you'll be running from your own progress!


Train Your Talent

Leaders train their top talent in 5 steps: model, mentor, monitor, motivate and then multiply!

Many leaders feel they don't have enough time to model or train that way. I have one question for you....can you afford not to?

By not modeling and mentoring, we are consistently creating the way that we do it all, and it has to be done our way. That isn't leadership and your team won't grow and be sustainable by themselves.

To be most effective: Model-allow your talent "to be" and assist in the process. Mentor-they do the task and we assist. Motivate-we are coaching here, not in the process. Multiply-let them go and teach. That is the best way for others to learn!

Train on!


Based on a national research survey of employees in companies of all sizes, honesty was the most important characteristic of leaders they work for and follow. Leaders without honesty aren't really worth following, for when the going gets tough, how can your employees trust and follow someone who isn't being honest and upfront?

This is especially important in today's economic situation where companies are going through tough or turbulent times; the strength, character and honesty of the leadership becomes even more important.

Honesty is the base of a trusting relationship and a trusting environment in the company, where teams and leaders can grow to achieve their best.

As a leader, you are showing your employees everyday whether you value honesty or not. Honesty is not something you do, it's something you are.

Only you know.


Leaders lead, inspire and coach from their authentic center. If you don't come from your authentic self, change and growth aren't possible.

To be authentic means to speak your truth. Inspire those around you to your vision and passion in your work.

If it's true for you, others will know and follow. If it's not, you can't fake it. You can be the same person at work and at home from your core. That is authenticity.

Get clear on what that is for you. Then go shine.

Are you leading or leading authentically?

Serving Others

Leaders know that serving others benefits both sides- many times in giving we receive more.

Research shows that leaders who serve others are better adjusted and more likely to feel content; it also cultivates happiness.

If we get deep in our own issues, it's best to look outside ourselves to serve others; many times the answer lies within our serving. We all learn from each other; sometimes, it's the people who we resist that teach us something invaluable about ourselves.

Live by this Chinese proverb - if you want happiness for an hour - take a nap. If you want happiness for a day - go fishing. For a month - get married. But if you want happiness for a lifetime - help others.

Who are you serving today???

Walking the Walk

Leaders know that character is the cornerstone of their effectiveness to lead others and drive change.

To talk the talk can be the easy part. Sometime the words are easier than the actions, because to actually lead from authenticity is to ensure that we are putting our talk into action, meaning we are walking the walk!

What we say and what we do are keys to being an effective and authentic leader, one that your team will want to follow and other leaders will want to emulate! Beware, it is harder than you think, kind of like walking a tight rope.

Are you talking the talk or walking the walk?

Slow and steady! Onward!


We can control our thoughts.

Your thinking prompts your emotions. The dominating thoughts of your mind and your emotional state affect your attitude. It can be all your perspective.

Are you being half empty or half full?

You do have a choice!

Are You a Lifter?

Leaders lift others up. Be committed to encouraging others and initiating a positive work environment. Leaders know the difference that separates hurting and helping. The little things that we do every day may have a great impact, especially if you are lifting up versus pushing down.

Too many days are filled with too many people trying to push others down to make themselves feel better, and leave the environment and their teammates feeling awful. Leaders know that today is the time to make the difference and do it now, with the people right in front of them!

Care about others more than yourself and the reward will come back to you!

How are you changing your mindset on this today?

Leaders use 13 choices that can be made to impact talent throughout their teams and organizations.

Many times, it starts with belief in a talent someone has, followed by initiative. You must act and use your talent for others to see it and reap the benefits. Then comes the 3 Ps- preparation, practice and perseverance. After which comes courage, teachability and character. Character protects your talent. Who you are with and your relationships with them influence your talent. Taking responsibility strengthens your talent; you own it all when you take responsibility.

How are you using your talent and developing it today and this week? How are you multiplying it?

Pay or Play?

Leaders know that you either pay now and play later, or play now and pay later. Life demands a payment; no free lunch!

Discipline of knowing that there is no free lunch is important. According to winning coach Vince Lombardi, "I firmly believe that any man's finest hour- the greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear- is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle- victorious."

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

What are you waiting for?


Some leaders get more caught up in managing rather than casting and creating a vision. True leaders know how to recognize the difference between managing and leading; however small that space is at times, there is a distinction. Many times I hear from leaders that it's easier to do it themselves, yet, by doing that, it detracts from learning and coaching opportunities as well as levels your leadership.

To lead takes creativity and innovation, new ideas and seeing things that managers don't see because they are too busy managing the details. The direction of your organization is built with your vision as a leader. Be sure to take time to create it and steer towards it daily!


Leaders know that many have talent. Successful leaders work their talent within themselves and the organization every moment of every day.

Some have said that talent is as cheap as table salt and that what separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. You can't rest on your talent, you must work it and raise it to be better; that is the mistake many talented people make. Natural talent will only set you apart in the beginning; after that, it's all up to your work ethic and character.

What are you doing to raise your talent level?


Leaders know that only one degree separates good from great; ordinary from extraordinary. Many times, it is the attitude of the leader that carries the team forward making the leap into possibility from doubt.

Be a change maker with your team.

As a leader, you need to be a thermostat for your team. You adjust and know where your team needs help and guidance and you provide that when it's needed. A thermostat is an active part of the environment and senses the change that is needed. The difference between average leaders and great leaders is the ability to give and provide what is needed at exactly the right time to propel the team and company forward.

Water is only hot at 211 degrees, but boils at 212. Sometimes, all it takes is that extra effort to keep things going when your team is tired or wants to quit.

Who are you being for your team? A change leader?

Onward to boiling!


The relationships you keep is the single most important factor in how we get along in every aspect of our lives. Leaders increase their people skills and know the importance of them.

Where are the relationships in your life taking you?

Too many times we get involved for the right reasons with the wrong people. That leads to trouble. Sometimes, we get involved with the right person at the wrong time, that creates mistakes. Relationships with a crooked person or alienating a coworker can also signal growth or making similar mistakes that you've made before. The true sign is if you're making new mistakes, that shows you're in new space and creating new relationships and new conversations.

Your successes and failures can be traced back to your decisions around the relationships you keep. Nurture the ones that make you grow, let the others go!

The Value of Teamwork

One is too small a number to achieve greatness. Anything significant in history was performed by a team. There are few problems we can solve alone. Individuals win games, but teams win championships.

President Lyndon Johnson said, "There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few we can solve by ourselves."

The truth is that teamwork is a the heart and center of great achievement. The question isn't whether teams have value, it's whether we acknowledge that fact and become better team players. Everyone has value to the team. The best leaders find that in people and bring it out for the betterment of each person and the organization.

Look recently at the Super Bowl Champions, the Green Bay Packers. They overcame injuries and adversity in a way that few teams ever have. They put new people in new positions and the only way they won is that they supported each other and covered for each other.

What kind of leader are you being and what kind of team are you building?

It Takes Clear Vision to Create a Masterpiece

By John C. Maxwell

In 1882, construction began on Barcelona's Sagrada Familia. 129 years later, the cathedral remains unfinished! The church has already been named a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts more than 2 million visitors each year. Yet, officials estimate another 15 years will be needed to complete it. That the project has attracted the interest of donors, architects, and builders for more than a century testifies to the powerful vision of its designer, Antoni Gaudí.

Gaudí's passion for the Sagrada Familia is legendary. He spent the last 12 years of his life working exclusively on the church. He even lived on its premises during his final months. Although obsessed with the project, Gaudí had no illusions that the cathedral would be completed in his lifetime.

"There is no reason to regret that I cannot finish the church. I will grow old but others will come after me. What must always be conserved is the spirit of the work, but its life has to depend on the generations it is handed down to and with whom it lives and is incarnated." As the man responsible for erecting the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí paid surprisingly little heed to its "life" or actual construction. Instead, he painstakingly sketched drawings and crafted models to clarify the vision behind the cathedral, or its "spirit." In the 85 years that have elapsed since his death, the 3D renderings Gaudí left behind have guided work on the Sagrada Familia. "They contain the entire building's structural DNA," explains Mark Burry, an architect with 30+ years of experience on the project. "You can extract the architectural whole even from fragments. The models are how Gaudí met the architect's challenge: taking a complex, holistic idea and explicating it so others can understand and continue it after your death."


Gaudí spent over a decade fine-tuning his vision, and its clarity has been the driving force behind a project that has spanned three centuries. The renowned Spanish architect understood a fundamental principle of leadership: what must precede how. Leaders have to define where they're going before they begin to move.

Seeing the Vision Clearly Requires Your Effort

Clear visions only come into focus through sustained effort. For me, the whole process begins with questions I must ask myself. What are my deeply felt concerns? What are my values? What strengths do I have? How have my experiences shaped me? These questions uncover how I am wired and what I hold dear in life.

Once the vision starts to come together in my mind, I share it with the key people in my life. These relationships refine my vision. As the vision crystallizes, I also surround myself with inspirational resources (books, movies, paintings). In the early stages visions must be stoked, and resources stir up the passion behind them.

Seeing the Vision Clearly Specifies Your Direction

Why should we make the effort to see the vision clearly? Because vague visions cannot serve as compelling guides. Followers do not rally behind a leader's fuzzy picture of the future. Rather, they are attracted and motivated by leaders who can paint an instantly recognizable portrait of tomorrow.

A leader's vision acts like a transmitted satellite image; the signal strength of the vision diminishes the further away it gets from the source. As your vision spreads throughout the organization, it will fade. Thus, the more people you rely on to support your vision, the clearer it must be. A powerful vision must have sharp enough resolution that even when weakened it remains easily identifiable.

Seeing the Vision Clearly Determines Your Priorities

Every leader has limitations. Limited time, limited resources, and limited energy. As such, nobody can have it all in life. In light of our limitations, we each have to make sacrifices and scale back the scope of our ambitions. Seeing the vision clearly helps us to prioritize which opportunities to bypass and which activities deserve our dedication.

The choices we make either draw us closer to our vision or push us farther away from it. If we're unsure of the vision, then we won't know how to make decisions that carry us in the right direction. Clear vision illuminates the path in front of us as we select which roads to travel down in life.

Change to Grow

To grow, you must change. To change, you must be open. Most people desire improvement but are resistant to change. Change isn't easy, but neither is leadership.

To change requires a great deal of energy, time and perseverance! The most important is desire. Desire is the one thing that will keep you moving when the change seems that it is too difficult or taking too much time.

Change does take time, yet, some things can change very quickly. The outcome of a conversation, a meeting, all can happen quickly. The end result of a changed attitude and behavior is what takes time. The difference between a leader and everyone else is that everyone else may quit after one time but a leader sees the results of the change and keeps the behavior and attitude moving forward in the right direction.

What direction are you taking? Easy or change?

Leadership Starts Small

People and your team follow leaders who are consistent. Start small and then work up to the large areas in your life and organization that require leadership. If you can't handle the small things, there is a good chance that you won't conquer the large ones.

Leadership starts small and consistent, where your values are shown and grown. Master the smaller things that require vision and good decision making; don't try to conquer the world before you've taken care of things in your own backyard.

What needs to be handled in your yard? Now is the time to rake and clean the backyard!

To The Summit!

The Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting

Have you thought about what you want to be doing in five years' time? Are you clear about what your main objective at work is? Do you know what you want to have achieved by the end of today?

If you want to succeed, you need to set goals! To accomplish your goals, however, you need to know how to set them. Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. Unless you clearly define exactly what you want and understand why you want it, your odds of success are considerably reduced. By following the Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting you can set goals with confidence and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with knowing you achieved what you set out to do.

See The Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting......

What will YOU decide to accomplish today?

Avoid the Spotlight

Leaders avoid the spotlight. Does that mean you don't have an ego? No. Does it mean you're not talented? No. It just means that you know that your team and your team members do better when they are recognized and you know that everyone on your team is important. People do better work and do it with greater effort when they are recognized for their contributions. They know the value of real, appreciative praise.

If you want to help your team go further and help your team members maximize their potential and sharpen their toolbox, the next time something goes wrong take more of your fair share of the blame. When things go well, give the credit away. See what stars start shining on your team.

Onward Shining Star!

The Four Practices of a Visionary Leader
by John C. Maxwell

In February 1895, brothers Louis and Auguste Lumiere patented the cinematograph, an all-in-one film camera, projector, and printer. With the use of their invention, the two Frenchmen created the concept of a motion picture. Their public screening in March 1895 was history's first. Later on that year the Lumieres reached another milestone, as a showing of their work became the earliest instance of an audience paying admission to watch a film.

Initially the brothers made a splash, producing thousands of short films in a span of less than two years. Their footage, shot at a variety of exotic locations, is widely considered to be the forebear of the modern documentary. However, despite their pioneering work in cinematography, the brothers failed to foresee the broad appeal of motion pictures. Within five years, the Lumieres had given up filmmaking to return to their previous work developing still photographs. "The cinema is an invention without a future," Louis Lumiere allegedly remarked.

Read the full article ...

Just For You

Leadership is all about helping PEOPLE solve their problems, rather than helping SOLVE people’s problems…wow. Can you focus on that for the next 2 weeks. Really--- just that and your humble, open and respectful ways of leading. Buckle your seatbelt and just do that.

Here’s how:

  1. Never allow others to think you always have the best answers.
  2. Ask questions. help people think through the entire process of their problem.
  3. Become a coach, not a king. A coach brings out the best in others, a king only gives commands.
  4. Have them list their solutions on paper, integrate your ideas with them and let them have ownership.
  5. Ask them to decide on the best solution to their problem. Have them take ownership and responsibility.

Tattoo this to your butt. Memorize it and live it.!!!

Leadership Water or Gas?

As leaders, as new potential leaders come into the organization, have the conversation, are you an asset or a liability? When’s there’s a fire, leaders are the first on the scene and they have 2 buckets, one contains water and one contains gasoline. The spark before you will either become bigger if you throw gasoline on it or will be extinguished if you use water. Are you training your new leaders to use water or gas?

Leadership Wired -
Communicating Vision
by John C. Maxwell

Nothing motivates an organization like a clear and compelling vision. But it can be tricky to paint a picture of what's in your mind so that others can see exactly what you're seeing. As a leader, how do you enable others to glimpse your vision and how do you inspire them to adopt it?

A primary responsibility of leadership is to communicate expectations, both with words and actions. When leaders carefully and consistently set expectations, they engineer a flourishing work environment. However, when leaders abdicate their duty to communication expectations, chaos ensues. Here are six rules of thumb to follow as you set expectations in your organization.

Let me know how I can support you in moving forward!!


Food for Thought!