Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Dan Rockwell

What Loyalty, Heart, and likelihood of success have to do with Leadership?

Few things are more devastating than being used and abused by those you support.

Disloyalty burns like no other burn. Disloyalty demoralizes.

Loyalty for loyalties sake is foolish: Calling for loyalty demands reciprocity.

By Dan Rockwell


The strength of an organization is expressed by the loyalty of its people. Military organizations thrive because members disadvantage themselves for the advantage of others, for example.


Sacrifice of life calls for loyalty to the fallen. “No man left behind,” is the flip side of, “Give your life for the cause.”

If you want loyalty, give it.

Have you ever heard the bull crap line, “I need you too much to promote you?” Never be loyal to those who are disloyal.


Loyalty is seen when:

  1. Gossip is rejected. All gossip is disloyalty.
  2. Serving others rises above serving self.
  3. Disagreement is encouraged and honored. People who won’t engage in constructive disagreement believe they’ll be thrown under the bus when it’s convenient.
  4. People own decisions even if they disagreed.
  5. Everyone is held to consistent standards. Those higher in organizations never enjoy benefit at the expense of others.
  6. Leaders take blame and share credit.


Disadvantaging self for others isn’t sacrifice when values align, it’s an honor. Standing for something enables you to stand-with.


Loyalty is best seen in the context of mistakes and short-comings. Few things stir the soul more than standing with someone who fell short.

Stand with those who acknowledge mistakes and make corrections. Reject those who hide mistakes and persist.

Standing “with” demonstrates and invites loyalty.

Few things bring out the best in others more than loyalty. Who are you standing with? Who stands with you?

How and when do you express loyalty?

Have you seen loyalty at work?




By Dan Rockwell

Problems are spiny gifts wrapped in sandpaper.

It’s foolish to wish for problem-free leadership.

The four benefits of persistent problems:

#1. The prospect of becoming your best self.

“Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do.” Francis Hesselbein.

Discomfort and distress are the hammer and anvil of becoming.

Personal growth gives meaning to persistent problems because problems help you become yourself.

“Leadership is synonymous with becoming yourself…” Warren Bennis

Becoming yourself requires conversations with the problems you face.

Two questions to ask nagging problems and recurring distress:

  1. Why are you here?
  2. Who are you calling me to become?

You lose yourself when solving problems is all you think about.

#2. The potential of an open mind.

An open mind reflects the potential of a new future. But the promise of a closed mind is repetition.

You aren’t open minded if you haven’t recently changed your mind.

Persistent problems are useful when you:

  1. Acknowledge you don’t know. Potential begins with knowing you don’t know.
  2. Practice curiosity longer than others.
  3. Rise above, “I’m right,” and allow others to be right.
  4. Try new things.

#3. The power of choosing your attitude.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Victor Frankel

The difference between success and failure is the attitude you choose toward the road ahead.

#4. The possibilities from taking action.

Personal development is the result of action, not simply contemplation. As you act, do three things.

  1. Work on yourself.
  2. Open your mind.
  3. Choose your attitude.

Arrogance short-circuits growth because it blames, excuses, and pretends.

Humility fuels growth because it accepts reality, takes responsibility, includes others, and doesn’t need to be right.

The value of a problem is the opportunity it creates.

How might problems and distress be the tools of authenticity?

What benefits do persistent problems offer?

What is discouraging you? Should you be “encouraged” and for what…?

Dan Rockwell is intent on encouraging people in 10 ways.

“Performance improves when people feel encouraged and declines when they’re discouraged or hopeless: Leaders who lift get further than those who push down”.

You don’t have to beat up high-performers – they do it to themselves – lift them instead.

All successful leaders encourage; they fill people with hope.

The added responsibility of encouraging others may discourage you, especially if you aren’t good at it.

10 Ways to encourage others:

  1. Encourage in private. The more people are involved the more likely they’ll feel a need to posture and protect.
  2. Agree with their feelings. Never minimize or correct. “Oh it’s not that bad,” is demeaning not encouraging.
  3. Break obstacles and challenges into bite-size pieces.
  4. Use questions. “Do you think you can deliver your report this afternoon.” Progress encourages.
  5. Remove a weight or responsibility, temporarily. Warning: some discouraged people need a new challenge.
  6. Explain their value. “You’re the best (fill in the blank) we have.”
  7. Get on their level. Avoid speaking as a superior.
  8. Encourage rest. “Why don’t you take a couple days off?” Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.
  9. Let them talk.
  10. ????

Facebook contributors say leaders who encourage:

  1. Give people challenging assignments and check them periodically.
  2. Lead by example and practice what you preach.
  3. Communicate clearly and follow through.
  4. Recognize and reward progress.

More at: Leadership Freak Coffee Shop.

A big one:

Have you argued with a discouraged person attempting to change their feelings? It’s futile. Confrontation closes discouraged people down.

Accepting people as they are – even if you must challenged negative behaviors – allows them to open the door to your encouragements.

Prevent discouragement in the first place:

Deal with discouragement before it happens by being a positive leader.

  1. Spend more time affirming and less time correcting.
  2. Give public acknowledgement, gratitude, and praise.
  3. Be available.

What techniques help you encourage discouraged people?

Connect without self purpose: Purposeful Influence follows

Leaders who work to extend their influence are barking up the wrong tree.

Gaining influence is about connecting. (When people mention experience, they tacitly think that the person has the necessary connection in his field)

By Dan Rockwell?

John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence.” But, gaining influence isn’t about working to get it; it’s about connecting.

Stop worrying about gaining influence; start connecting.

Who enjoys the power to influence?

  1. Respected people.
  2. Skillful people.
  3. Famous people.
  4. People with position.
  5. ???

But there’s more:

Connection enhances influence. People you influence feel connected to you – the deeper the connection the greater the influence.

New focus:

The new focus of leadership is on connecting.

Connecting tips:

  1. Walk toward people.
  2. Share yourself. Be transparent.
  3. Speak to values, fears, hopes, and aspirations.
  4. Give. (Give of your precious time?)
  5. Understand and serve their best interest.
  6. Talk less – listen more.
  7. Remember names.
  8. Praise and thank.
  9. Move first – serve first.
  10. ???

Connect with intent:

Avoid connecting for the sake of connecting. Connect with purpose.

Connect to open channels that enable giving. Earn the right to be heard then enhance the success of others.

If leadership is influence, influence is about connecting.

How do you connect with people?

Kinds of questions… Manipulative questions?

Questions may make others feel uncomfortable even manipulated.

By Dan Rockwell?

I felt disappointed when I was told, “Sometimes when you ask a question I think you already know the answer.” Ouch!

It’s true; I frequently have an answer in my head. But, I don’t have the answer. I’m interested in yours. I love asking questions.


Why be concerned about manipulative questions?

Some people ask general questions and then creatively apply responses. They might ask, “What do you think about the Tech Department?” You respond, “They’re improving their turn-around time.”

Your answer becomes, “The boss thinks you’re slow.”

Backstabbers and manipulators make us weary. The issues, in this case, are integrity and trust, not questions. Additionally, it’s wise to answer general questions generally. (If your question is Not specific, it means you failed to do your due diligence)


Questions are an exploration.

When coaching, for example, my answers don’t matter. Of course it isn’t always that simple.

It’s normal for a coachee to ask, “What do you think?”

When exploring solutions or options I keep my answers to myself. , I avoid polluting your thinking by giving my answer, first.

I can see where someone, after hearing the option I had in mind, might think, “Why didn’t you just say that in the first place?”

How can you ask questions without making others feel manipulated or uncomfortable?


  1. Begin by saying, “I’ve been considering options for the “xyz” project and wonder what you think.” This signals others that you’re exploring.
  2. Respect and explore answers. Say, “If we choose your suggestion, what are the next steps?”, for example.
  3. Withhold judgment. When I already have an answer, I tend to use it to evaluate yours. That closes my mind. Open minds go further than closed minds.
  4. Create a list of options together and explore each one. “Let’s create some options that move us forward.”

How can leaders ask question, most effectively?

What are some of your favorite questions?

If Talent is overrated, should belief (commitment) be automatically underrated?

Adams and Jefferson, Founding Fathers of the United States, didn’t always like each other. Toward the end of their lives they came to appreciate and respect each other, but for much of their political careers they were rivals.

By Dan Rockwell?

Jefferson’s compromising skills offended a dogmatic Adams, for example.

They were at odds but they invested their lives in a shared mission.

Committing to shared mission and vision binds talent together.

I constantly hear, “Find great talent.” But, fools think talent is enough. Leaders miss the point when they focus on talent and neglect shared mission.

Talent without shared commitment is disruptive and dangerous.

Off target interviews:

Job interviews miss the target when they focus on what people have accomplished and neglect what they believe in. Spend more time talking about organizational vision and values.

Dig deep into belief systems. See if their eyes light up when you share your mission.

Shared mission:

  1. Binds diverse people and groups together.
  2. Builds connections where people respect each other even if they don’t like each other.
  3. Enables a context where people rely on the performance of others.

Great talent strengthens organizations as long as everyone deeply commits to a shared mission. Apart from that, diversity is paralyzing chaos.

Don’t just tell me what you’ve done, tell me what you believe.

True believers:

Some are too good to deeply believe in an organization’s mission. They’re too talented, too smart, or too proud. They have their own agenda.

They feel they lower themselves if they “drink the kool aid.”

“Company men” are looked down on by aloof elites. I’ll take a true believer with average talent over a disconnected hot-shot any day.

Talent is overrated – belief is underrated.

The leaders who founded the United States believed and because they did, they committed. These are the people who change things.

Note: All these USA “founding fathers” had plantations and refused England’s new law to stop slave trade. Thus, they decided to split through independence. Was this a shared mission? Certainly, the mission was camouflaged under abstract notions from the common people.

The Advantage of Strategic Disadvantage

Ease and comfort are the enemies of growth.

Ungraceful flight is better than no flight.

Baby bluebird in our grass wondering what’s next?

The bluebirds emptied their nest, yesterday. Every year we watch the egg to flight ritual. One year we saw the young leave.

This year we found one quaking in the grass.

By Dan Rockwell?


Mother bluebird usually sits on the eggs while father bluebird feeds her and stands guard atop their box-shaped house. Eventually, we hear empty-bellied babies hungrily squawking.

Both parents bring food and stand guard. Their commitment, discipline, and loyalty inspire.


Feeding grows nearly frantic till one day mother stands on their slanted roof holding a tasty bug in plain view. Yellow beaks cry out, complaining. Eventual she gives in.

Taking flight:

Both mom and dad feed and guard less and less.

They swoop past their gawking, nest-bound young, providing glimpses of glorious flight.

They offer food but don’t give it. They bring sour berries instead of juicy bugs.

They don’t stand atop the house much anymore. They perch, in plain view, about fifty yards away.

Eventually, after much complaint and coaxing, former eggs fly. Every year it’s the same.

Disadvantage and distance motivate flight.

In praise of disadvantage:

Ease and comfort are the enemies of growth.

On the other hand, strategic disadvantage is advantageous. Make things harder not easier. Uncomfortable challenges provide emerging leaders opportunities to rise up, develop new abilities, and eventually take flight on their own.

Difficulty strengthens.

Emerging leaders:

Welcome difficulties don’t resist. Step out of the nest. You’ll drop toward the ground, bang into things, and ungracefully flap. But eventually, you’ll fly. Trust your gifts.

Leadership development bluebird style:

  1. Create stress.
  2. Provide less expect more.
  3. Stand nearby but don’t hover.
  4. Model behaviors.
  5. Let them struggle. Ungraceful flight is better than no flight.

Advantageous stress:

New opportunities that test skills and challenge abilities create advantageous stress. Baby bluebirds fly because they live in a fly or die world.

How can leaders create disadvantages that help the nest-bound take flight?

When does help become a disadvantage?

Is serving people a utopia concept?

The simple, uncomplicated principle of success is you are here to serve.

The better you serve – the more value you add – the more success you’ll enjoy.

By Dan Rockwell?

  1. Reject distractions.  Anything that requires your attention and doesn’t serve people is a distraction.
  2. Stop the irrelevant.  Activities that don’t directly or indirectly serve people are irrelevant.
  3. Minimize structures.  Stop using systems and structures as excuses for not serving people.

You’re not selling products.  You’re serving people.

You’re not making money.  You’re serving people.


  1. Serving is an others-first activity. (The reason to take care of you is to enhance your ability to take care of others.)
  2. Serving is giving before receiving.
  3. Serving takes humility.
  4. Serving elevates everyone.
  5. ???

Servant-leaders get ahead by helping others get ahead. It doesn’t take brains or talent to obscure the simple, complicate the clear, and forget the essential. You are here for one reason, serving.

What makes us reluctant to serve?

What does serving look like in your world?

Youth on the run: Advantages and disadvantages

Young leaders focus on themselves too much. They mistakenly believe success depends on them rather than others. They think about their own potential and neglect the potential of others.

By Dan Rockwell?

Small dreams are reached alone. Great dreams require others.

Young leaders limit themselves by sinking into themselves. Shifting from success to significance makes great dreams possible.

Other mistakes young leaders make:

  1. Reluctance to lead. (Frequently a belief issue)
  2. Assuming dissent is resistance.
  3. Making impulsive decisions without doing their homework.
  4. Hiding ignorance.
  5. Not asking.
  6. Being arrogant.
  7. Assuming collaboration just happens.
  8. Acting independently.
  9. Inconsistency.
  10. ????

This list is inspired by contributors on the Leadership Freak Facebook page.

Missed Opportunity:

The strength of youth is passion. Never quench it; always fuel it. Yes it’s dangerous. But it sure beats lethargy and safety.

Fools preserve the status quo, when they corral young leaders.

Teach young leaders to:

  1. Embrace their passion.
  2. Take risks. I see young leaders who talk it but refuse to take risks. All great dreams are risky!
  3. Understand people.
  4. Ask questions.
  5. Inspire others.
  6. Embrace high expectations.
  7. Work hard and follow through.
  8. Embrace values while pursuing new opportunities. Values create stability and consistency.


Successful leaders equip others to bring value, efficiently and effectively. Teach young leaders to become what I’ll call “second generation” leaders.

It’s useful to ask, “How can I help?” Second generation leaders also ask, “How can I help you help others?


I’m nauseated by our inability to capitalize on the power of youth. Trying to make them like us cripples both them and us. If potential is in people, leadership’s greatest opportunities are in young leaders.

How can we address the weaknesses and capitalize on the strengths of young leaders?

Belief: In yourself before believing in another one? Which belief is the hardest, which is more powerful, more beneficial…?

If you think believing in yourself is hard, try believing in others.

By Dan Rockwell?

Every leadership development tool, technique, method, and strategy fades in comparison to the power of belief. Everyone needs someone who believes in them; young leaders need it the most.

The people who change us the most believe in us the most.

The first person I coached changed when they understood their employer believed in them enough to invest time, energy, and money.

It was belief – not pearls of wisdom – that lowered their walls of protection and gave them permission to change.

People worry less about proving themselves and more about performance when they believe others believe in them.


Believing is risky. We don’t believe in others because we’re afraid they’ll make us look bad. In the end, the ability to believe is about us.

How to let others know you believe in them:

  1. Learn who they are.
  2. Provide opportunities, challenges, and risks.
  3. Explore options and solutions with them. “What would you do?”
  4. Call for and expect high performance.
  5. Explain the whys behind what you’re doing.
  6. Express confidence in their abilities. Be specific.
  7. Help them learn from failure rather than beating them up with it.
  8. Speak well of them in front of others. (Make it a habit when meeting other people)
  9. Connect them with experienced mentors.
  10. Deal with them according to potential.
  11. Invest your time in them.
  12. Keep your distance. As long as they know you’re on their team, don’t meddle.
  13. Avoid molding them into your likeness; help them find their own.
  14. Tell the truth even when it hurts them.
  15. Celebrate their efforts and contributions; minimize yours.

All successful leaders courageously believe in others.

How do you let others know you believe in them?

How do you decide to believe in someone else?




April 2023

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