Tag Archives: strategicmonk.com

Leadership Is Climbing the Mountain – A Trade with Strategic Monk

I love being original and keeping things fresh with this website. My friend, Greg, over at StrategicMonk.com came up with a cool idea: trade posts. So… I’ve posted on his website, StrategicMonk.com, and his entry with the same title is posted below. Enjoy!


The gently rolling hills of Wisconsin, smoothed by glaciers so long ago, are a great place to be born and raised. They did not, though, teach me many lessons about climbing mountains.

Mountain climbing was a purely theoretical exercise for me. There were pictures of mountains in books. They brought to mind exotic names of distant places like the “Alps” or “Himalayas.” They were far removed from my everyday life.

The first time I ever saw a mountain was from the window of an airplane. It was majestic, but still did not give me any practical insights into mountain climbing.
In the same way, leaders were not people with whom I recognized having any real connection. They were pictures in books or on television.
Now I live in a place where I can see mountains from my front window. I have climbed mountains, and have a tangible appreciation for what it takes to climb them well.
The key to climbing mountains, and to leading, is taking the next step. It is good to have the right equipment, but you would be amazed at what you can improvise. It is good to have experience and information, but analysis can also stop us from doing what we need to do.
Each step is significant. Each step determines what comes after it. Each step informs you about your own resources and insights, and helps you see your true self more clearly. Each step is a journey of its own.
As we take each step into the unknown future, we turn potential into reality and possibilities into results. We learn the lessons each step has for us, and we transform the exotic into the everyday.
What mountains are you climbing today?
Where will your next step take you?
You can read more of Greg’s reflections on leadership at his website, StrategicMonk.com, or follow him on Twitter at @StrategicMonk.


Filed under change management, leadership, motivation

Leading Yourself First (from StrategicMonk.com)


Our friend Greg Richardson of Strategic Monk recently posted this article on his excellent site, StrategicMonk.com. It rings so useful, true, and spot-on – and it deserves a re-post. Enjoy!

Leading is personal.

Yes, leadership is about bringing out the best in people and helping them work together to achieve common goals. But leading is even more personal than that.

Leading is personal to the leader. Each person leads uniquely. You cannot become a leader by reading a book or just doing what someone else tells you to do. Everyone leads by example; leadership is do it yourself.

The first person you ever lead is yourself.

The leaders who inspire me know themselves. They lead me by sharing their deepest selves with me. We connect around the values we share, and their leadership is deeper than titles and positions. They have done the hard work it takes to overcome obstacles and distractions, and I trust the wisdom and judgment they have gained. Their leadership is centered much more on Why? than on How? or When?

The work and time it takes us to know ourselves are not indulgent, and not superflous. We do not necessarily become stronger, better leaders by spending time leading other people. We become the leaders we have the potential to be by learning to lead ourselves.

We learn to lead ourselves by coming to recognize and appreciate who we are. We get to know our abilities and when we need some help. We become aware of how we can bring out the best in ourselves, even when we are tired or afraid.

I am not a very easy person to lead. I am very good at convincing people I am following them, especially when I am not. I can be stubborn, impatient, and reluctant to trust. When I learn how to lead myself well, I am learning lessons that help me lead others as well.

How are you leading yourself today?

What lessons do you have for yourself?

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Filed under business, leadership, motivation

5 Questions with Greg Richardson (from StrategicMonk.com)


Greg Photoshoot Square 250

Every week, we ask 5 questions to a different person. The questions remain the same but the people change. Some people are leaders, some are followers, but all have valuable input. This week we meet Greg Richardson of StrategicMonk.com.

Name: Greg Richardson

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Position/Job: Leadership and Organizational Coach, Spiritual Director, THE Strategic Monk at StrategicMonk.com

1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

There are a couple of things that have been especially motivating for me, and they are both connected to having respect for the leader I could become.
For one example, I worked with someone who began our project together by giving me a list of clear, tangible objectives that took us to our goal. I had no question about what they expected, and was confident that each action would be a step toward completing our project well. I set out to make sure that we met each objective ahead of schedule.  The project went extremely well, and we had a great time working hard to stay ahead of each other.
For another, I worked with someone who was very good at giving me time to find solutions. We would sit down together and I would describe all of the obstacles, all of the challenges, all of the reasons we were not going to succeed. They would listen, give me some time to catch my breath, and then ask , “So, what are we going to do?” Again and again, their approach gave me the opportunity to examine the pieces of our situation and see the way we could move toward our goals.

2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

I think the thing that takes away my motivation more than anything else is when someone tries to take away my ability to find my own way of working.
When people micromanage me, when they take away the discretion or authority they had already given me, when they do not listen to what I have to say, I hear them communication that they are not interested in me. They are not aware of what I can contribute, they do not share my values, they are not interested in how they can help me become a stronger leader. Their main concern seems to be getting someone to do something for them.

3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?

Becoming an effective leader begins with knowing and being your deepest self.
The leaders who inspire me do the work it takes to clear away the distractions so they can recognize and appreciate their true selves, then share themselves with the people around them. They are the leaders who have been able to see my true self, even before i could see myself, and guide me toward becoming the leader I can be.

4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?

I am a recovering attorney, and used to work as a criminal prosecutor. I learned how to motivate people to do and say what I wanted them to do and say.
Now, as a coach and a spiritual director, I am less directive, less argumentative. I listen more, and try to motivate people to speak and act for themselves. I ask questions that are different from cross-examination. I am not trying to present a persuasive case, more helping people listen to their own deeper stories.

5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?

Spend some time in reflection every day. Set aside the distractions of expectations and urgency. Take a walk or sit in a rocking chair. Get some fresh air and take deep breaths. Spend some time listening to silence.
Give yourself the opportunity to remember your core values; why is what you are doing important, and how does it reflects your deepest self?

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Filed under 5 questions, motivation