Leading with Conviction and Purpose 

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Once defined as the study of the well-examined life, philosophy has something unique to teach each one of us on how and why we live. Previously, we looked at how Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations encourage Leaders to care for the interests of their Followers.

Our philosopher this week hails from Ancient China. Confucius, or Master Kong, was a Chinese teacher, politician, and philosopher. His philosophy, commonly known as Confucianism, emphasizes personal and political morality, correctness of relationships, justice, and sincerity, and in his widely-read Analects, he touches on the composition of a great Leader.

Confucius believed that proper thinking paired with decisive action led to the best results.

“Chi Wan thought three times before taking action. When the Master was informed of it, he said, ‘Twice will do.’”

What does this mean? Think hard before doing something, and then act decisively. All too often, we act without thinking, and then come to regret it.

Or, perhaps the opposite — you may think so much, you never get to the “Act” phase and seem to never make those harder decisions!

Whether you are on the “acting too quickly side” or the “not acting fast enough side” the thought of thinking about a large decision 2 or 3 times before acting on it may serve us well.

So, what could this process look like?

Say you’ve got a strategic decision to make for your team. You know you are going to need to bring on at least two team members to be able to support the work that is coming your way in the next few months. You’ve got to figure out what those roles will do and who they will report to (do they report to you or do they report to some of your direct reports).

Thinking about it once: 

Use this “pass” as a pie-in-the-sky brainstorming session. What would you love to see happen? What are the possibilities? Break them down (even if they seem to contradict each other).

At the end of this time, walk away with three things:

(1) The list of possibilities

(2) What other information you need to gather to make an informed decision

(3) Schedule your time to come think about it again

Thinking about it twice:

So, you’ve gathered some more information and now is the time to look at defining your solution. Taking into consideration all your options (and the new info you have), map it out and jot down any questions or concerns you’ve got.

At the end of this time walk away with three things:

(1) The commitment to jot down any other thoughts or ideas you have in the next few days on this

(2) Don’t look directly at the plan or intentionally think about it until the next time you sit down

(3) Schedule your last time to think about it!

Thinking about it a third time: 

Pull your plan back out and read it!

What are your initial thoughts or feelings? Feeling pretty good? Or do you have any pending or lingering questions that just aren’t sitting quite right?

Look at those questions or comments you wrote down (if there were any) and think about how do those play in.

This time, determine if you’ll keep going with what you have or if you want to tweak it a bit.

And, from here – schedule time with the next people you’ll need to involve!

As Leaders today, we’re all grappling with many decisions and difficult problems. Confucius helps remind us to, think responsibly and act with conviction.

Leading a Community-Focused Culture

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Philosophy, while equally loved and despised by people all over the world, has a valuable lesson to teach each one of us (yes, even in 2018!). Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be looking back into the corners of Ancient Rome, Greece, and China to examine how Ancient philosopher’s can show us new ways to think about Leadership.

Our first philosopher stems from Ancient Rome. Marcus Aurelius was the Roman emperor from 161 to 190 AD. His Meditations offer unique insights into who he was as a leader of this great Western Civilization.

Marcus believe that people exist to help one another.

Marcus believed that even though there will always be people who seek to harm others and live selfishly, humanity was meant to live in harmony and unison.

He writes,“…We came into the world for the sake of one another,” and within that society, leaders emerge and rise to the occasion. It is the Leaders duty to be the guardian of their followers, the Leader exists for the sake of their followers, and the followers for their Leader.

Interesting food for thought. How can we apply this thinking to our twenty-first century leadership?

Take a moment this week to think about how you can best serve your Team this week. How can you help create a culture that perpetuates the philosophy of existing to help your Followers?

  • Maybe it’s sending an encouraging email
  • Maybe it’s lunch
  • Maybe it’s popping by their office or cubicle to ask about their week and how you can help

Whatever that something is, we urge you to take the 5 or 30 minutes this week, to make a difference in the lives of those whom you Lead.

Business Travel 101: Managing Work

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Your schedule for the day?

6am: Wake up and get it together

9am: Your meetings start

12pm: Grab a quick bite and travel to the next client

1pm: Your next client meetings begin

4pm: “Down time”

6pm: Working dinner

And mixed into that schedule, you’ve still got to prep for your trip next week, keep sight on a couple pressing projects, manage your team, make sure all your emails are tended to, and phone home to let your significant other know you are still alive.


While these tips might not help you today (sorry!), they may make your next trip more do-able!

Tip 1: Plan ahead

As much as you can, get ahead on any deliverables that are due while you are traveling (even if you don’t send them out!).

We’d recommend the week before you travel, block some time on your calendar and look ahead at what is coming up while you are traveling.

Be intentional about working to get ahead, or at least know clearly what is coming. And as best you can, clear your plate a bit.

Tip 2: Communicate

Let your peers, boss, direct reports, and anyone else who you might be working with know that you are going to be traveling and what they can expect from you. This could be anything from email response times being delayed, to reinforcing what deliverables you intend on hitting, or letting people know that you won’t have time to provide feedback while you’re out.

If you are looking at the week and thinking that you might not be able to hit a deliverable, talk to your team or boss now before you miss that deliverable.

Tip 3: Prioritize the Fires

There are always those fires that just seem to creep in while you are traveling. It really is incredible how they only seem to happen while you are strapped for time anyways.

As those items come up, ask yourself:

  1. Is this something that I personally need to deal with? Or is this something where I could risk a little and use it as an opportunity to develop someone on my team?
  2. What am I saying “no” to by dealing with this? And who do I need to communicate with about that?
  3. What can I learn from this fire to prevent similar ones in the future?

You’ve got this … and you’ll find your rhythm in managing it all