Who Should be the Leader?

Who makes the best leader?

The question who ought to be boss is like who ought to be the tenor in the quartet? Obviously, the man who can sing tenor.  -Henry Ford

Not everyone can sing tenor. I can’t sing at all. The only time I ever sang with a quartet, my microphone wasn’t even plugged in. Thankfully, the other three were so talented, I wasn’t even missed.

But why is it that leadership roles are often given to the wrong people?

For example, you have a group of salesmen and their manager leaves. Someone needs to fill this position. And it usually goes to the best salesman. What a ridiculous idea. The skill set of a salesman and the skill set of a leader are completely different. The job should go to the person who can do it; who has the necessary skill set.

In the above example, no one wins. The sales team is unhappy because they are working for a poor leader. The new manager is unhappy because he is expected to do a job that he has no talent for. And the company is unhappy because their sales are down. Sales are down for two reasons.

  1. They sales team is unhappy
  2. They have lost their best salesman

We see this happen all the time. The only thing the company could have done worse would be to give the job to the person who has been there the longest. Why would longevity relate at all to talent? And yet we see it all the time.

Back in my early twenties I worked for the Provincial government as a survey instrument man. At the time I had earned my commission as a Manitoba Land Surveyor. That meant, that not only was I overqualified for the job I was doing, I was overqualified for the job my supervisor was doing. My skills and abilities were being wasted because of seniority.

The jobs weren’t allocated based on skill sets and ability. They were allotted based on how long you had worked there.

So if leadership roles should go to people with leadership skills, then how am I supposed to get ahead? The obvious answer is to increase you leadership skills. Don’t wait until you are up for a leadership position. Be ready.

Leadership is definitely a learnable skill. Oh, sure there are some people who have a natural talent for it but it is a skill like any other and can be learned. It takes time and it is a process. But it can be learned.

Are You Preparing to Lead?

Are You a Leader?

Or Do You Just Say You Are?

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t! -Margaret Thatcher

I remember working with a fellow once who would tell anyone that would listen, that he was a leader. In fact he would say that he had been called to be a “leader of leaders.” But anyone who knew him for any amount of time realized that it was all in his head. You see a leader is someone who has followers. And even though he always had an excuse for why he couldn’t get people to follow him, his every attempt at leadership failed. It was because for him leadership was all about him and his position.

He had apparently never heard the saying, ‘If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.”   But you can’t influence people just by telling them that you are their leader. True leaders know that is isn’t about them, it is all about their followers.

The fifth law of John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is the Law of AdditionLeaders Add Value by Serving Others.

Every relationship, and in fact every interaction either adds to, or subtracts from our lives. The question is; Are you adding or subtracting from the lives of your followers? Are you having a positive or a negative impact on them?

How do you know whether you are adding or subtracting from your followers? It’s actually pretty easy. If you can’t give some evidence of making things better for your people, then you are probably subtracting. 90 percent of people who subtract are not doing it on purpose. On the other hand 90 percent of people who add value do so on purpose.

The bottom line in leadership is not how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.

And it is not dependent on position. You can add value at any position. Take my friend Carey Lauder as an example. He has no employees. He is not in a position of power. And yet he has added value to so many people, in so many ways, that he has gained tremendous influence.

He adds value to others intentionally. He doesn’t do it to gain influence. He just loves to add value to others. Most people don’t add value to others because they are naturally selfish. Most of us are. Carey is not selfish. And he adds value to so many people that he not only adds, he multiplies his influence. He is also one of the greatest action photographers in the world.  He photographs many sports teams, both professional and amateur.  In fact, he is my photographer and his pictures are all over my website.

Telling someone that you are a leader will not make it happen. Adding value to others will.
This leaves us with two critical questions:

Are you making things better for the people who follow you?

Can you show evidence of that?

Do Your Goals Match Your Strengths?

Stop Chasing After Dreams Outside Your Strength Zone


“If you really, really believe in your dream, you’ll get there. But you have to have passion and total commitment to make it happen.” – Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger


This quote should carry weight because this is the guy who dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame. And finally right at the end of the movie he gets in for a play? Right? Wrong.

Have you ever seen the movie Rudy? About a kid who tries and tries and finally gets to play in three plays for his beloved Notre Dame? So many people get the wrong message from that story. They forget that Rudy wasted a great part of his life for that one game and those three plays.

Rudy did not even get into Notre Dame when he left high school. He spent two years in the navy and worked for two years in a power plant. When he applied to Notre Dame he didn’t get in because of his grades and had to spend two years at a junior college.

At 5’6″ and 165 lbs, he was not built like a football player but through his work ethic, made the scout squad. These were the tackling dummies that the real team would practice against. He finally got into the final game of the season when his coach decided to dress him for that game. He recorded a sack on his third and final play.

Now I admit I loved the movie. But Rudy had it wrong. He spent way too much time and effort chasing a dream that was outside his strength zone. Just imagine if he had discovered his strength zone. And then put that same determination into reaching a goal that was his strong suit.

When you are setting your goal you need to look at two things. What are you passionate about? And what do you have a talent for?

When I first started as a magician, I looked at my strengths and weaknesses. It was easy to see that I would never be the next David Copperfield. It wouldn’t matter how much passion and commitment I had. I didn’t look the part and didn’t have the necessary skill set. But, I could be a comedy magician and excel at that. That was a talent I possessed.

John Maxwell makes this point in his book Put Your Dreams to the Test. “People can improve a talent only a certain amount. It has been my observation that our potential for growth in a talent area is about 2 points out of 10. In other words, if I am average in an area—let’s say a 5—I may be able to become a 6 or 7 by working hard in that area. Occasionally an exceptional person can move up 3 points and become an 8. However, people don’t achieve dreams in areas where they are naturally 4s or 5s. If you want to achieve a dream, you need to work in an area where you start as a 7 or 8. Then if you work hard, you can be truly exceptional!”

I think Rudy’s quote should read:

“If you really, really believe in your dream, you’ll can get there. But you have to have passion, a talent for it, and total commitment to make it happen.

Stop wasting your time and effort chasing after a bad dream. Discover your strengths, then create your goal.

What are your goals?

Do they match your talents?

Here’s Another Way That Won’t Work – Use a Quote Incorrectly

Learn Something Every Time You Fail

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” –  a quote credited to Thomas A. Edison


The story is that Edison failed more than 10,000 times when trying to invent the light bulb.

Never mind the fact that Thomas Edison never actually said that.  And never mind that he didn’t even invent the light bulb. This quote is used any time somebody fails at something.  The thought seems to be that Edison kept trying so you should keep trying.

That is NOT the lesson at all.

The real lesson behind this quote is that every time you fail, you need to learn something from it.  You have never truly failed unless you have learned nothing from it.

“A failure is a man who has blundered, but is not able to cash in on the experience”.

– Elbert Hubbard

After every experiment Edison would take copious notes.  He was determined to learn something every time.

While trying to perfect the light bulb, there was a huge explosion in the lab.  Edison covered in soot, with the smoke still swirling around him, got up and was taking notes.  A reporter asked him why he was taking notes as this was certainly not the answer he was looking for.  It had caused an explosion. Edison replied “Well, who knows, someday, someone may need an explosion.”

It is not helpful to use this quote when someone is failing over and over again if they not learning anything from it. You must be learning something and not just ‘trying again.’ I am not suggesting that failure is final.  It is only final if this is your final attempt.  I AM saying that you need to learn something with every failure to improve.  Actually, you need to learn from your successes too.  But you will always learn more from your failures.

Look at football teams.  They go over the game tapes and find out what happened.  What went wrong?  How can they improve next game?

By the was, the Edison quote is probably taken from this actual quote. It is from an interview with Edison, published in the January 1921 issue of American Magazine.

“After we had conducted thousands of experiments on a certain project without solving the problem, one of my associates, after we had conducted the crowning experiment and it had proved a failure, expressed discouragement and disgust over our having failed to find out anything. I cheerily assured him that we had learned something. For we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn’t be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way.”

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Just Because You Believe, Does NOT Mean You Can Achieve It

One of So Many Lies We are Told Every Day

If you can believe it, you can achieve it. I see this posted over and over on social media and I want to scream, “What a load of crap.”

E. Frenkel, a Russian psychic, truly believed that he could stop a train with his psychic powers.  So he stepped directly in front of a freight train and tried.  He was wrong.  According to Frenkel, he had already stopped a bicycle, a car, and a streetcar and this was the next step. Unfortunately, a train cannot brake as fast as bicycles and cars. See  http://www.aintnowaytogo.com/trainEsp.htm

Belief alone is never enough.  It needs to be rooted in truth.

I have a daughter who struggled with anorexia in the past and at time BELIEVED that she was fat. It would not be loving of us to tell her that if she believes it, then it is truth to her.

Because of her bipolar disorder she has BELIEVED that she didn’t deserve to live and that she would be better off dead.  Because of this belief, she has made a number of suicide attempts including one where I got her to the hospital with less than ten minutes to live.  She was in a coma for five days and when she awoke she was angry because she still believed it would be better for her to die. 

While it is true that you will almost never achieve something if you don’t believe it is possible; just Believing it is possible will not make it so.  Far too many people waste valuable time and effort working toward something that is NOT possible.  For example, I know my limits and my talents.  While I love to sing, and do so every chance I get, I will never be a professional singer.  In every musical I ever had a part in, I got the largest non-singing part.  I was almost always the comic relief character.  I could take voice lessons and spend a lot of money trying to get better.  And I would probably improve a little but no matter how hard I believed it, I would never make it as a singer.

Years ago I would watch American Idol and I would see a contestant before the audition who was absolutely sure that they were going to get a golden ticket and go on to win American Idol.  When the judges told them that they did not have what it takes, they would get mad and promise to show them by becoming a star.  They truly believed that they could sing.  I assume that they then spent thousands of dollars on voice lessons and coaches.  Time and money wasted when they should have been working in their strength zones.

BTW on a related note:  Have you seen the the Scotia Bank commercial where they say, ” you’re richer than you think?” Well you’re not.

What Can We Learn From Elections?

Leadership is Still the Most Important Issue

As someone who has studied and continues to study leaders and leadership, an election can be a great time to see what the leaders will do.  I quite often use the leadership lessons from andelection when a am speaking, coaching, or teaching on leadership. But when it comes to the 2016 Manitoba election, I have been disappointed. But that does not mean that there is nothing to learn here.  We can learn just as much from bad leadership as we can from good leadership. Why?

Leader Number One: Greg Selinger

Greg has really shown no leadership skills at all over the last several years.  There is no doubt that he has experience as a leader.  He has been the Premier of Manitoba for the last five and a half years.  However, his lack of leadership is distressing.  He lied.  A leader cannot expect to continue to lead if he does not have the trust of his followers.  He made a huge mistake when he raised the PST and refused to admit that it was a mistake.  Real leaders make mistakes but they are quick to admit when they are wrong.  Selinger has not done this.  He did make an “election” apology a little while ago but by then it was too late.

A real leader would have said long ago, “Hey, I made a mistake.  We are going to have to raise the PST in order to pay for things here in Manitoba.  Therefore, we will be holding a referendum to see what the people of Manitoba think of this.  It is especially important since I said that it was ridiculous to think that we would raise the PST.”

Leadership Lesson No. 1:  Be honest and when you make a mistake, admit it and move forward with the permission of the people.

Leader Number Two: Rana Bokhari

Rana has a long way to go to prove any leadership skills and her own handling of the botched nominations shenanigans has not shown any leadership.  The Liberals do not even have a full slate in this election.  She allows her party to jump from issue to issue without any real thought to a unified plan.  The worst of this was a campaign promise that the Liberals would fix a glitch in the booking of provincial campsites.  I guess it was in the news and so they thought they would jump on it and make some hay.  This was a computer glitch that affected a few people and she thinks that it is important to the province of Manitoba.  I will be surprised to see her win her own seat and if she doesn’t, I will be really surprised to see her stay the leader of the party.  There are a number of current candidates who have far more leadership skills.

It is too bad because I had some high hopes for her.  And she had time to learn to be a leader but did not take advantage of it. Leadership is absolutely a learnable skill. Leadership is predictable. It operates by laws. Learn the laws and you learn to lead. But if you ignore the laws then you’re always going to struggle with leadership.

Leadership Lesson No. 2: Learn to be a leader before you become a leader.  Then when the time comes, you will be ready.

Leader Number Three: Brian Pallister

Brian has been the leader of opposition for the last four years and spent time as Minister of Government services, and held leadership positions both in opposition and in government at the federal level.  So he does have leadership experience. The number one thing that I see Pallister has done to prove his leadership is to present a full plan for the future of Manitoba.  He has done other things that show he understands leadership but the plan for the future is the one I see as a proof of leadership skills because

“A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others do.” – Leroy Eims”

It is not possible to lead if you don’t have a vision and Brian Pallister is the only one of the three party leaders who has a vision and a plan to accomplish it.

Leadership Lesson No. 3: Have a plan and cast a vision.

What other leadership lessons have you learned from this election?

Please enter into the conversation and leave a comment below.

Manitoba NEEDS a Great Leader

A Real Leader Charts the Course

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership John Maxwell states that Law #4 is the “Law of Navigation” – Anyone Can Steer the Ship, but It Takes a Leader to Chart the Course.  Which of the three leaders of the three major political parties in Manitoba has a real plan?

A Leader has a plan


Leaders #1

At this time there is really only one party with a plan.  That is the PC Party of Manitoba.   In fact they had this plan into the hands of virtually every voter before the election was called.  They have charted a course for Manitoba.

better future


Leader #2

The NDP and Greg Selinger do not have a plan except perhaps to attack anyone with a plan.  Or “more of the same”.  But to be fair, they can hardly come up with anything NOW and pretend that it is important. If it were important you should have done it already.  You had 16 years. See my previous post.

Leader #3

The Liberal leader Rona Bokhari also does not seem to have a plan at all and was recently quoted as saying that the campaign promises she is making is what she is hearing at the doors she is knocking on.  That is not a plan.  That is a knee jerk reaction to what a few people say.  That is planning at its worst.  I will promise whatever I can in order to try and get elected.  Her leadership is totally untested and the worst place to test it would be as Premier of the Province.  The Globe & Mail says it this way.

Her agenda, so far, is a hodgepodge of half-ideas ranging from freezing rents and exploring a guaranteed annual income to cheaper booze and opening the province to Uber. Her public performance has been tentative, and her party lacks much organizational infrastructure. It’s not even clear she’ll be able to claim a seat in the legislature for herself. – Globe & Mail

There are those who will disagree with me on this post because of a particular party position or campaign promise.  However, this is not about campaign promises or political parties.  It is about leadership.   As John Maxwell, number One Leadership guru in the world says:

Everything rises and falls on leadership. – John Maxwell

Manitoba desperately needs great leadership. And Manitoba deserves great leadership.

Doesn’t Manitoba Deserve Level 5 Leadership?

Level Five Leadership = Humility + Will

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins shows how companies that went from good companies to become enduring great companies all had level five leadership.

Level 5 Leadership

“Level 5” refers to a five-level hierarchy of executive capabilities, with Level 5 at the top. Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves.    Jim Collins – Good to Great


The Leadership We Have Had

Let’s take a look at the leadership that we have had for the past 6 1/2 years and see how it stacks up.  Has Greg Selinger shown that his ambition is first and foremost for the Province of Manitoba?  There is no doubt that he is ambitious.  One need only look at what he did to remain in power during his leadership challenge. BUT, that really only shows that he is ambitious.  By hanging onto power by the narrowest of margins, Selinger showed that he is NOT interested in doing what is in the best interest of the Province.  It was not even in the best interest of the party.

Does anyone in Manitoba look up to Selinger and say “that is my leader”? Or is he just in the position to force his will on us?

If I put a loaded gun to your head, I can get you to do things you might not otherwise do, but I’ve not practised leadership; I’ve exercised power, True leadership only exists if people follow when they have the freedom not to. If people follow you because they have no choice, then you are not leading.     Jim Collin – Good to Great and the Social Sectors

In order to accomplish his will over the people of Manitoba, Selinger had to break a promise and change the laws on the books that were put there specifically to protect us from that kind of leadership.

The Leadership We Need

There is no doubt that we need a leader for Manitoba that wants the best for Manitoba and not just the best for him and his friends.  Remember that we you vote in this election.

Which Candidate Comes Closest to displaying Level 5 Leadership?

How Have They Shown This in the Past?


Why Do Brian Pallister & Rana Bokhari Have an Unfair Advantage Over Greg Selinger in This Election?

Election Manitoba 2016

It almost seems unfair.  Brian Pallister and Rana Bokhari rolled out their plans for Manitoba if they are elected on April 19th.  Poor Greg Selinger has nothing to offer.  After being in power since 1999, he really cannot promise anything except more of the same.  To every promise he makes, the same questions arises. “If this is REALLY important than why haven’t you done it already?  Why did you wait until now to unveil it?”

No, Greg Selinger and the NDP can make no promises except to continue along the same path.  That means we can expect more infighting, more taxes and more lies.

I truly believe that this election is about leadership, because as John Maxwell says,

Everything rises and falls on leadership. – John Maxwell

The Province of Manitoba desperately needs better leadership. And Manitoba deserves better leadership.  And Greg Selinger does not offer that.  In fact he only kept his leadership by the smallest of margins.  A real leader would have seen this as a sign and handed the reigns over instead of making a backroom deal to stay in power.  How can he expect the public to see him as a leader when he can only get HALF of his own party to support him?

In The M.A.G.I.C. of Leadership, the I in M.A.G.I.C. stands for integrity.  This is because no one can lead who does not have the trust of his/her followers.  You see, when someone becomes a leader they start with a little bit of change in their pocket.  When they make good leadership decisions, they add some change into that pocket. When they make mistakes they must pay out of that pocket.  In the case of Greg Selinger, the pocket has long been empty. He is bankrupt.  He has also spent any change he had in his trust account. (See what I did there?).  He is not trusted because he has lied to us about the PST hike and refused to admit that what he did, and how he did it was wrong.  That is why his own party turned against him.

Sure, a real leader makes mistakes at times.  If a leader is not making SOME mistakes then they are not taking enough risks. This is the premise behind a training seminar I present called Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn. We must learn from our mistakes and use that to move forward.

Unfortunately, breaks in character are not the same as mistakes.  It would almost be funny, if it wasn’t so sad, that Selinger would wait until the election has been called to come out and apologize for it. If he had done so from the outset, or maybe even when his own party revolted against him, it might have got him a little bit of change back.  As it is, it is seen as a desperate attempt at holding on to power by a failed leader.

Remember when you vote to think about the leadership that the Province of Manitoba needs now. Trusted leadership with a real plan.

How do you see leadership affecting this province?

What Leadership Qualities are YOU Looking for?

What Do A Chief of Police, A Leadership Expert, & A Boy Scout Have In Common?

My earliest experiences in leadership was with the Boy Scouts of Canada.  In only my second year as a Cub Scout, at nine years of age I was given the position of Second. This put me second in charge of a group of about six or seven boys.  The next year I was promoted to Sixer, in charge of that group.


The Cub Scout Motto is ” Do Your Best” and the Cub Scout promise is”

I promise to do my best,

To love and serve God, to do my duty to the Queen;

To keep the law of the Wolf Cub pack,

And to do a good turn for somebody every day.

So at a very young age, I learned that leadership was about:

  • Doing my best
  • Serving Others, and
  • Adding value to others

It is so interesting to me that over 40 years later as I studied under my mentor John Maxwell, I saw that he teaches these very same leadership principles.

John wrote The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You
.  Law number FIVE is The Law of Addition – Leaders Add Value by Serving Others.

In his most recent book,  Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership, John says “If you want to be the best leader you can possibly be, no matter how much or how little natural leadership talent you possess, you need to become a serving leader.”

I recently interviewed a man that I believe is a great example of a serving leader.  His name is Devon Clunis and he is the Chief of Police for the City of Winnipeg.


Devon learned that people can lead from any position.  He transferred to the evidence unit.  Here he found that he had to show the employees that their input mattered; Their seemingly mundane task was important and they had real purpose.  He tried (and succeeded) to give them a healthy work environment.  He wanted them to have energy for their family when they went home at the end of the day.

He started in this new department with a simple statement “I am your servant”

When he started to lead this department, (The most unwanted at that level) there were 14 open positions and only 3 applicants.

The next year he started to get applicants because they “Heard you care.”  They were knocking down the door.

Devon remembers vividly, the day that somebody walked into his office and sat down and said “Devon, I don’t know if you realize this but we look forward to coming to work now.” Devon told me “That’s what I want, I want people coming to work feeling good about being there, knowing that they have a purpose; that they are accomplishing something.  That’s what we as leaders are supposing to be doing, serving the people, that’s what we call serving leadership.”

Jim Collins, in his book Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t says that companies that go from Good to Great and stay there are companies with level 5 leaders.  These are the humble leaders who put the company before themselves.  They are serving leaders.

The greatest leaders throughout history are those who served others.  If you want to increase your leadership (your influence) then learn to be a serving leader.  And the best way to do that is to start to serve others.

If you want to change someones life, start by changing their day.

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
― Harry S Truman