Stop Talking About it, and Start Doing

If we took all the time in our lives that we thought about doing something, and planned on doing something, and compressed that together, I bet we’d have years of inaction that prevented us from achieving many things. I have been involved in many projects where team members wait until the last week of the quarter to start on their part and then they don’t get it done. I have consulted and coached with individuals that knew what they had to do, but every excuse in the world prevented them from acting. I have seen business owners spend thousands of dollars on training, and then they do absolutely nothing with that training to help their company.

The last year I have had some stresses that have taken a lot of my energy. Wait… hold on… do you see what I just did? I just made an excuse. Sure I had a tough time, but I could have moved an inch, instead of not moving at all. I can’t blame my inaction on anyone but myself. The same goes for you. Don’t be one who says they’ll do something and doesn’t follow through. Create a plan and act. Even if your action is small, you’ll be closer and closer to your objective.

Timeless Contents of a Leader’s Toolkit

leadership-management-toolkitLeadership is the ability to make things happen. Given the increasing complexity of the world in which we live in, and the enormous demands placed on leaders, I believe these seven tools will help you maximize your leaderability.


Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29: 18

Vision as a picture of the future a leader has in mind which inspires him and he shares it with others for them to feature in bringing it to pass. Being a leader requires you to have a clear vision of the future and being able to communicate it passionately and clearly to others.

Leadership success begins with vision. Walt Disney envisioned a place people can come and have fun, Todd Nielsen thought of a place where people can come together to learn and share their leadership views, and Martin Luther King, jr., dreamed of a world where everyone is equal.

You must endeavor to create a compelling vision, clarify it and market it properly for people to buy-in. The success of your leadership is tied to the actualization of your vision.


Passion is essential for effective leadership. I have observed great leaders in corporate, religious, academic, political and social organizations, one thing they have in common is that they are very passionate with what they believe in.

Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said, “Passion is one of the most powerful engines of success. Nothing great was ever achieved without passion.” Leadership is a marathon and passion is the energy you need to finish fine.

Your passion is your passport to progress; make it right.


Firm belief in yourself is a key to being a successful leader anytime. It helps you go the way and show the way. Douglas McArthur painted a good picture of it when he said, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.”

Confidence is a fundamental basis of leadership. It helps you to stand your ground during challenging times. Self-confidence is not magic; it can be developed.


To share your vision, inspire others, and sell your products and services, you need good communication skills. To excel in leadership, you must master the art of effective communication. Great leaders are great communicators.

Don’t just communicate; connect!

Communication styles differ from leader to leader. Your body language and words should be topnotch. As a leader, your communication must be clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete and courteous because your ability to communicate and connect effectively raises the bar on your leadership.


Compassion is one of the silent but principal qualities of a leader. One grave mistakes people make in life is asking for hands while they have not touched a heart. A leader should be compassionate.

Compassion is the people-centric mindset of a leader that inspires him to aspire and perspire to help others become better. This is not weakness but, strength.

A compassionate leader loves his people and this motivates them to give their best to make his leadership a success. To be a great leader you must shift from “I” to “We” mentality because this helps you show kindness, care, fairness, genuineness and gain trust, respect, loyalty and followership.


In a world that is constantly accelerating, many people find it difficult to stay focused, we spend energy worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. Leaders are humans and at times they encounter overwhelming situations which can make them go off-course but, focus helps them comeback on track and win in the race. Focus helps you stay true to your leadership goals and discriminate yourself from things that will militate against your success.

FOCUS = Follow On Course Until Successful


The quality or fact of being honest gives life to your leadership. Honesty is a veritable tool in building trust between leaders and
followers.  Honesty is one of the great characteristics of effective leaders. This is one quality that is lacking in Nigeria politics and

Without honesty one cannot lead with integrity. One place some leaders miss opportunity to display honesty is in handling mistakes. Being honest doesn’t mean you are weak but, it shows you are morally strong. Honesty is a virtue and a mark of
higher-life. It’s a key to becoming a leader of repute.

Leadership is not title but, result. The tools in this toolkit are the arsenal you need to move yourself from a common to an uncommon leader.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

5 Areas of Leadership We Cannot Delegate

leadership-delegation-habits-valuesOn a recent flight I was half-listening to the takeoff instructions reminding me about tray tables, flotation devices and oxygen masks. “If you are traveling with someone who needs assistance, please put your oxygen mask on before assisting others.” I’d heard it a hundred times, but today, it spoke to my weary soul. I had gone through a ministry season during which I had delegated too much of myself assisting others rather than “putting on my oxygen mask first”.

The evidence of the impact of this season could be seen on: my calendar that showed no margin; my stress level from too little time in the gym; and my mental and physical health, showing signs of poor eating and mental fatigue. I was an effective leader of everyone but myself.

“Leader” – The word itself conjures up images of a person who is in charge, discerning, strategic and magnetic. We manage projects, build teams, solve problems and develop people while delegating and distributing vision necessary to bring the future into reality. But at the core of all our work lies a personal responsibility… to lead ourselves.

What I learned through this season, was that while I was good at delegating many things, I cannot delegate self-leadership. There are certain things that ONLY I can do. We have been designed to lead ourselves. This truth was unpacked in a much deeper way for me when I was studying Galatians 6:4-5 “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” (emphasis mine)

The word “LOAD” in this verse is a form used in the Greek language referring to some type of luggage or baggage. Some baggage could be hired out to be carried by a porter. But this particular word for “LOAD” is one the Greek language indicated can only be carried by YOU. It likened it to the fact that no one can be sick for you. No one can grieve for you. It became a powerful awareness for me to pay attention to the things in my life that only I can carry in my self-leadership.

As I began to apply this verse to my own self-leadership, I observed 5 things in my life that, slowly over time, I had allowed to be led by the urgency of others instead of the my own boundaries.

  1. MY POWER HOURS – Morning is the most productive time of my day, so I guard my power hours for my most pressing projects. I get up early each day and I need to guard that time to be focused on important projects, brainstorming and creativity. The saying is true that I cannot burn the candle at both ends. If I know my day starts really early, then I also need to guard that it cannot end very late. I need 8 hours of sleep and must guard my evenings to make sure I have powerful mornings. What are your power hours and how can you guard them?
  1. MY HABITS – Where am I wasting time? (social media, constant emailing, tv, phone) . Is my health suffering? (exercise, eating, stress) How are my relationships? (marriage, parenting, family and teammates) I need to consistently assess areas to identify ways my habits are becoming unhealthy.  Small choices – good or bad ones – over time can affect the person we become. What is one habit you know needs your self-leadership today?
  1. MY VOICE – Steven Covey “It’s easy to say no when you understand your greater yes.” I’ve identified my greater yes to be about things that are specific to my calling, passions, goals and dreams. It releases me to say YES and, more importantly, to say NO to family, professional, and even social invitations and decisions. What is a decision you’re facing that you are tempted to give away your voice?
  1. MY CALLING – There are certain things I am currently doing that many other people can do. However, there are a few things that ONLY I CAN DO. I continually need to filter my calendar, decisions and commitments through my calling and mission statement. I need to challenge myself to say NO to good things in order to say YES to better things. I have been uniquely designed to leave a mark that only Lisa Allen can leave on this world. Can you find one thing to take off your calendar today that can be done by someone else in order to create room for something only YOU can do?
  1. LIVING MY VALUES – Authenticity is one of my top personal values. Am I the same person on the inside as the outside? Am I the same leader at home as I am in the office? Who am I when no one is looking at me?  Leaders who practice self-leadership are keenly aware of the inconsistencies in their lives. Take a good look at yourself and identify any areas that you know are inconsistent with your values. Redirect your choices to reflect the values you hold dear.

From one leader to another, I hope you can learn from my missteps. Aristotle says “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” What are the things that you need to “take back” in order to put the “oxygen mask of self-leadership” back on today? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Three Ways to Polish a Diamond Employee In The Rough

leadership-polish-employees-coaching-todd-nielsenAs the leader of your team, it is your job to encourage and enrich as much potential as possible in each employee that you oversee.  Real leaders not only see the potential in the obvious places, but in those “diamond in the rough” employees too.  Read on to discover three ways in which you can pull out the best of qualities and polish talent until it shines.

Have a Conversation

The first step in getting the most out of a promising employee is explaining to them your eye for their potential.  People need to be able to trust in you if you want to successfully coach them to a higher level of success, so be willing to lay your cards out on the table and explain to them why you are taking the time to enhance their efforts.

In an effort to get your employee to open up, be vocal about the qualities that you already admire in them before you narrow in on areas that could use improvement.  Try to get your employee in on the conversation as much as possible by asking them to share their input and personal perspective.

Brainstorm and Bond

Once you figure out areas that you think an employee could excel in- its time to brainstorm possible pathways.  Encourage your employee to exercise an air of transparency, feeling free to discuss questions, comments and concerns.  Give your employee a tangible goal with benchmarks to meet along the way, also, establish a deadline for them to reach this goal.

In addition to taking the time to coach your employee, take the time to get to know them as well.  If you can bond with the person beyond the job title, you have a better chance of connecting with them- increasing both compliance and loyalty.  What are their interests?  What is their family life like?  Don’t get too personal but don’t remain stagnant; if you want your employee to grow within your team it would not hurt to build a connection that can be used as a platform for growth.

Communicate and Collaborate

Day in and day out your employees will be working toward the established goal that will condition their greater level of potential.  Your presence will be crucial in fueling their fire.  Communicate with something as simple as a daily check-in.  Knowing that you are still watching will keep them accountable, knowing that you care will keep them committed to the goal and tasks at hand.

Should you see your employee improving within their own talents, be sure to let them know.  More important, continue coaching them to keep the improvements going.  Take the time to show your employee places in which their potential could take them within your company.

As time goes on you might consider plotting out a plan of growth for them within.  Regardless of your approach, always encourage your employee to keep learning and improving within their efforts.  At the end of each day, you will have a better employee to show for it.

How do you bring out the potential in employees?

The Leadership Pendulum

The-Leadership-Pendulum-Sandro-da-SilvaDilemmas are part of a leader’s routine. Should you follow your own gut feeling or should you listen to what others say? Should you offer the market what you want to sell or should you offer what the market says it wants? Should you tell your team members what to do or should you allow them to make their own decisions?

As you can see, the questions above are either-or questions, and choosing one option automatically excludes the other. If you approach your leadership challenges this way (many of us do),  you are always confronted with the risk of choosing one option at the expense of the other. That evokes fear in you, and sometimes so much fear that it paralyzes you and disturbs you with anxiety and stress.

My experience as an executive coach has shown me that there is a way-out. Leaders profit when they realize that the two options they see are only extremes of a continuum. They feel empowered when they discover that there are many more options, many more shades of grey (50 I have heard), between the black and white extremes the normally see.

That’s when I came up with the idea of The Leadership Pendulum. The Leadership Pendulum is a tool that helps leaders become  aware of what other possibilities there are between the two extremes they at the moment see. Moving from one extreme to the other,  leaders are invited to translate what the different pendulum positions mean to their current challenge. After translating what those different positions mean, they decide which best to use or implement.

Leaders profit when they realize that the two options they see are only extremes of a continuum. “~ Sandro da Silva Tweet this!

It’s no rocket science. Try it yourself:

  1. Take a blank piece of paper and draw a pendulum on it.
  2. Think about a challenge you are facing at this moment, which you experience as an either-or situation, a dilemma.
  3. Now write down either option at one extreme of the pendulum’s trajectory.
  4. Start now moving the pendulum away from one extreme towards the other extreme. Stop at different places in the pendulum’s trajectory and translate into words what that position means to your challenge. Carry on until you have reached the other extreme.
  5. Reflect on your options, make a choice and act.

The Leadership Pendulum has proven to be very useful in a variety of situations. I invite you to try it a few times and share your experience here. My clients usually say that it frees them from the conflict and the stress of dilemma, and allows to reconcile two options that seemed mutually exclusive. That makes them feel comfortable and at ease, and I hope it does the same to you.

What’s The Leadership Parachute That Helps You Escape Disaster?

What's Your Leadership Parachute?I recently had an interesting dream. In the dream I was on top of a very large hill overlooking a lake. A man was chasing me and we were struggling over a small parachute, the kind used in kite-surfing, sometimes called parachute-surfing. I managed to gain control of the parachute and deploy it, just in time to get away from him. Being that it was a small parachute, it would take me up in the air and then drop me back down in short bursts. I was often being dragged on the ground until I cold get back on my feet.

My pursuer was hot on my trail. As I came down the hill toward the lake, I was not sure what to do; but the wind picked-up and took me high up into the sky and across a section of the lake towards an opposing shoreline. As I was up in the air, I had my eyes clinched tight, scared because of the situation I was in. I opened one eye and saw myself very high in the air and descending rapidly downward, fear filled my heart and …I awoke.

From a leadership perspective, I was left wondering about parachutes. Parachutes are often used in the financial planning world as an analogy to financially protect oneself or ones family from disasters that could hurt them.

As leaders and individuals we all have a lot of strings to manage and keep taught. We have many relationships to carefully watch over.  There are competitors and sometimes colleagues, chasing after us. There is a huge demand for our time, and forces that often blow us in many directions, yet leave us feeling alone. So I have to wonder, what is your leadership parachute that can help you escape disaster?

Perhaps it is a coach that can help you gain perspective on problems in the business. Perhaps it is a “second in command” or other key employee that has your back and will help you climb out of the holes that you get stuck into. Perhaps your parachute is an activity that grounds you, such as a sport, or a learning resource. Perhaps it is a friend or family member.

Parachutes can come in all shapes and sizes. It is important that you know what your parachute is so that you can grab it when the world seems after you.

What is your parachute? When has your parachute gotten you out of a sticky situation in business or life? Please share your thoughts below to help inspire others.

Finding Coaches To Accelerate Growth Without Killing the Bank Account

Leadership CoachesOne might think that with all the topics I write about that I would be an arrogant know-it-all type. This is really, really far from the truth. In fact, the more I learn in life the more I realize that I know very little. This year as I was preparing for 2012 and making my personal success plan, I knew that it wouldn’t be the best year ever, nor would I be able to complete my goals without a network of people to help me.

Harvey Mackay once said, “I have had twenty coaches, if you can believe it. I have a speech coach, I have a writing coach, I have a humor coach, I’ve got a language coach, and on and on.

In that spirit, this year I sought out individuals, and resources that I could turn to for help when I needed guidance in improving a particular area and pushing me to greater success. My goal in this though was that I did not want to spend a crazy amount of money on coaches that would cost me hundreds of dollars an hour. So the search began. These are the coaches or needs that I was looking to fill:

  • Productivity Coach
  • Personal Performance Coach
  • Writing Coach
  • Public Speaking Coach
  • Executive Coach
  • Life Coach
  • Technology Advisor
  • SEO Coach
  • Social Media Coach
  • Relationship Coach
  • Personal Branding Coach
  • Career Coach

Phew… I know it sounds like a lot. Let me explain 4 steps I used to find coaches and resources without breaking the bank:

  1. First I scanned my networks. This consisted of friends, colleagues, associates in groups, and my social media networks and I identified individuals that were qualified to be my coach in each of the areas. I then approached them and told them what I was trying to achieve and why I wanted to achieve it. Then I offered them something. This might be helping them to promote something, or perhaps I would coach them on leadership, execution or goals. I firmly believe that you have to give more than you take, and my hope is that I am doing that for all those that agreed to assist me.
  2. Then after that, I scanned my networks for organizations to join that would help me in my progress on a particular topic area. The “coaching” from that might be an individual or a group of individuals that I could reach out to if I had questions or needed assistance. Sometimes these organizations did cost a small amount of money to join, but in my opinion were worth it.
  3. Next I looked at programs I could take part in. For example on the relationship coach, I joined Keith Ferrazzi’s MyGreenLight. They had a great offer at the beginning of the year that was too good to pass up. This course is a step, by step program for self-learning the methods that they teach. You also get to interface with lots of other individuals that are in the courses, and there are challenging assignments to stretch you. They have coaches and community directors that you can interface with. I joined a few other courses as well.
  4. At this point, I had narrowed the list and looked for coaches and individuals that would be worth paying to help achieve my goals. I vetted and selected a couple individuals.


After all this, I left nothing to chance. I organized recurring meetings with the coaches that were individuals and made schedules to go through the programs I had signed-up for. It is so comforting to know that I have a network of people that are genuinely concerned about my success and are pushing me and helping to hold me accountable. I have not and will not use the “coaching” services forever. I use them as I need them, always trying to give more than I take.

Are you looking for coaching and/or have something to offer in exchange? Subscribe and send me a message and I will see if I can make some connections for you.

So, now that you’ve read this article, how are you going to use this information to gain better success through coaching?

Please take a moment and share your ideas in the comments section below, share this with your social media friends, and subscribe to receive A Slice of Leadership notices, and occasional leadership advice, articles, tips and freebies.