Thank You, Leaders: Lessons in Gratitude from Jimmy Fallon

Fallon has made a hilarious spoof of  saying thanks on his show. If you have not seen the regular segment, here are a few off the net at  ( – so have a good laugh.


Thank you, salad tongs, or as Shaq calls you, tweezers.

Shaq Salad Tongs, tweezers  tumblr_mofl183BRq1qi8j7qo1_500


Thank you, dolls, for being one missing eye away from being the creepiest thing ever.

doll with one eye tumblr_mofl37xGVv1qi8j7qo1_500


Thanks you, hors d’oeuvres, for being appetizers that moved to France and got all snooty.

appetizers tumblr_mofky6wPwv1qi8j7qo1_500


I wonder what it would look like for followers to say “thank you” to their leaders. What would they say? Sarcastic ones like Fallon’s might sound like this:


Thank you, leaders, for taking all the credit for our success and still making me feel great about my job.

Thank you, leaders, for caring about my opinion, even though you already made your decision two weeks ago.

Thank you, leaders, for adding 10 hours to my week without adding even 10 dollars to my salary.

Thank you, leaders, for letting me have this little gray cubical in the corner with the flickering white light…I always wanted to know what prison felt like.


It would be much better to hear…


Thank you, leaders, for the sacrifices you make and opportunities you provide, even though it is not part of your job to do so.

Thank you, leaders, for cheering on my success, even when it gets me more attention and recognition than you received.

Thank you, leaders, for listening to my thoughts, ideas and opinions while you are in the decision-making process – especially when you actually use some of them!

Thank you, leaders, for providing an exciting and creative workspace so we can all leverage our creativity and look forward to our time in the office.


Also, I realize as a leader I need to be in the “thank you” business – genuinely. An attitude of gratitude is always inspiring to others. Motivational guru Zig Ziglar built a business around the whole practice of saying thanks. Keep an Attitude of Gratitude



Leaders who really care about followers must recognize they are in the gratitude business – both giving and receiving.


What if your team heard comments like these from you today?


Thanks, Mike, for your provocative and keen insights at yesterday’s team meeting. It challenged me to really think about this from a different perspective. Jenna, I appreciate your willingness to ask hard questions and dig deeper into the problems we have to tackle. Kevin, your reports are timely and accurate – that means a lot to us when we are making such crucial decisions.



What people thank you for is what they remember you for.


For what actions and attitudes might your “followers” say thanks today?


To whom (and for what) can you express thanks today?


Leading through Change and Chaos

Leading through Change and Chaos – Graph Detail

Referred to in Video

Leading through Change and Chaos



Leading through Change and Chaos – Transcribed

Hey talking today about the tension leaders face in managing chaos in change. Both of those things are inherent in any group or team or organization that’s moving forward to accomplish its mission.

If you’re looking to create high change in other words new initiatives, new risks, new vision you’re looking for Entrepreneurial Leaders.

If you look on the diagram that accompanies this video you’ll see I put them in the upper left-hand corner. Because they are high change-oriented people and really don’t like a lot of chaos. They create a lot of chaos but they don’t thrive in the chaos because there are too many details flying around and sort of stall them. But they love change, they love the new initiative. They love a blank sheet of paper to try the new sales territory, to create a new product, to think of the new ministry initiative if you’re in ministry work. These are people that say,” Hey, go out and try this or explore this or give us some fresh ideas of thinking in that area,” so entrepreneurial leadership is essential to push change forward.

At the opposite corner the lower right you’ll see Managerial type Leader.

Managerial leaders are needed to manage the chaos created by the entrepreneurial types. They bring structure, order, some systems in place, management kinds of initiatives needed. They sort of bring some control to the chaos that’s been created. You don’t want to stifle change but the chaos that gets created can really disrupt an organization if not dealt with over time. It can wear people down and it can create some pretty crazy environments as you know. So as you start to create new initiatives you say what structures need to be brought into that to make sure that initiative continues to move forward, so managerial leaders are great for that.

If you look at the lower left-hand corner you’re looking at someone I would call a Stabilizer type of Leader or that kind of style.

In ministry work people call this the shepherding or the pastoral style of leadership, it’s low chaos, low change. These people are best, and they are leaders, but they’re best at bringing stability to an organization or to a team or to a group. They put some systems in place, they make sure the vision is being carried out appropriately; they hold dear the values of an organization and make sure those things aren’t compromised as you create new change and as you manage the chaos. Often areas of accounting, finance, maybe HR but these are areas that bring some stability to an organization or group when they have to be led well.

The fourth one in the upper right-hand corner would be the Strategist who has to bring tension or manage the tension between the chaos and the change, make decisions about how resources are allocated to foster the change or the new initiative, but also has to know what needs to be managed and who needs to be managing it.

So the strategic leaders are directional type leader saying okay where do we invest what we have into what areas, we want to keep things moving forward but we want to make sure we make the right decisions and put the right strategies in place.

So as you manage chaos and change think, “What kind of leadership style do we need for what areas or group or organization, and what kind of leadership style do I have that contributes to forwarding the mission where I work?”

The Power of Vision: Walking with Buddy the Elf

Power of Vision Image of a Man Flying Dreams and Visions. That is what we are made of.


Really. We are.

The power of vision starts when we are small, and we want to be a firefighter, or when we build a glorious castle from a life-less cardboard box, so amazing that even MacGyver would be proud of the transformation. We are filled with awe and wonder and an ability to embrace the unthinkable and envision the impossible.


I want to be seized by the possibility of a grand adventure, and I long to join Buddy the Elf and say to a wide-eyed audience of fellow visionaries, “I traveled through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, past the sea of swirly-twirly gumdrops, and then, I walked through the Lincoln tunnel.”


Wow! Can I do that, too? Can I travel with Buddy? Sign me up for “The Buddy Vision Tour.”


I have a confession to make. Something inside me wants Buddy as my travelling companion. Yes, I know it is childish. But I’ll take a trip with Buddy over a Carnival Cruise any day of the week.


Because Buddy believes. He unashamedly, unwaveringly, “foolishly” and enthusiastically believes! He radiates joy, humility, wonder, risk-taking, self-denial and an others-focused lifestyle that wins the most ardent skeptics to his vision and the he cruelest critics to his cause.


It’s always Christmas with Buddy, 365 days a year. It is not an event – it’s a lifestyle. Contrast his effusive, obsession with all things Christmas with Lewis’ White Witch who leads her naïve wanderers to a colder, darker destination where it is always winter, and never Christmas. (That would be Narnia, not Chicago in February.)


I want a room full of Buddy’s. I’d rather have overly idealistic, possibility-thinking, belief-obsessed, Elf-like leaders than the woe-is-me, “we are all just losers/sinners/failures” Eeyore-like sad sacks that too often populate our institutions, grad schools, churches and organizations.


I want to be with visionaries.

I want to be with let’s-take- the-hill zealots.

I want to be with let’s-light-this-candle types.

I want to be with fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.


I want to be alive…And that means I want to dream!



There is much to be said about the power of vision!  Are you open to it? Do you use it? How has this mindset helped you accomplish a goal or lead a group to accomplishing what they thought was unreachable?


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

Wielding Power Wisely

Today’s  Video is on Wielding Power Wisely. – Transcribed

Every leader deals with power. What to do with it, how to wield it, when to use it? It’s a challenge for us frankly depending on what role we play.

I’ve been in corporate positions, church positions, nonprofit organization roles and there are various kinds of power whether that be sort of spiritual power, if you will, that a congregation gives to you, so the speak, or that you sense that God is you know put you in a place of leadership. It can be managerial authority I’ve had that, direct reports, people that that you’re responsible to lead. There are sort of subtle versions of power where it’s more about influence than maybe line authority. So regardless of your background corporate, religious or not power is an issue power, power is something we need to wield wisely.

Mel Lawrenz, in a book he wrote on spiritual influence talking primarily church leaders, though I think that it applies broadly, quotes the scene from Lord of the Rings when Gandalf is being offered the ring by Frodo, Gandalf says, “Don’t tempt me Frodo I dare not take it not even to keep it safe, now understand Frodo I could use this ring from a desire to do a good, you know I really could, but through me it would wield power too great and too terrible to imagine.” He didn’t want the power vested in that little ring. Later Frodo tried to offer it to Galadriel and she said, “Oh you have a queen beautiful and terrible as the dawn, treacherous as the sea, stronger than the foundations of the earth, all shall love me and despair.” The idea that if you give me that kind of power as much as my heart desires to use it well, I could really hurt people with it. And I think every leader with any significant amount of authority wrestles with that.

Sometimes we are given power we just don’t want. Spiritual leaders are held up a little too high on a podium, corporate leaders are expected to  solve every problem that comes their way and please shareholders and please other managers and boards etcetera and sometimes we send someone all that power. So one key thing I want you to remember today about power is how would you use it?

The apostle Paul, when writing again, here’s a guy who was an entrepreneur a church leader a salesman a manufacturer, if you will, he played a lot of different roles most people aren’t aware of historically. But he spoke about the authority and currently has and he said it was giving me for one purpose he says this to a group of people, “It was given me to build you up not to tear you down.”

But I’d like to think about that today…

How do I build people up that report to me?

How do I build people up and my organization?

Do I give responsibility and authority away freely?

Do I inadvertently overlook people, thereby tear people down?

Do I try to position something that works just for me so that I get the best part of the deal?

Again that’s not using power well that will tell others down in an effort to build yourself up. But if you build others up give them opportunity, speak wisely at them, support them, honor them, I think you’ll see your power will grow, people will respect it and you’ll be able to wield it very wisely.

So consider today how you’re using the power that you have in the role that you play as a leader.

Lincoln said if you want to test a man’s character just give him power. Wielding power wisely is a great privilege and sometimes a fearful responsibility. So what is power good for?

The 5 Principles of Ethical Leadership

I work in two environments – a faith-based graduate institution and in the marketplace. So I help leaders grapple with personal and cultural ethics on a weekly basis. I do this by focusing on 5 core areas that promote ethical leadership.

Quote - A leadership strategy without ethical clarity produces moral and economic bankruptcy. – Bill Donahue

As you face challenges in areas like decision-making, strategic planning, cultural transformation and leadership development, your ethical framework will reveal itself, particularly under pressure.

I confess that I do not like what I see in the mirror sometimes when I am frustrated, tired and weary of battling the challenges I face in work, life and personal growth. So it is important that I keep exposing myself to resources and people that deepen my ethical foundation and promote character growth. What I read, who I meet with, and how I go about my work all shape my approach to ethical situations.

Whether navigating a consultation, teaching students, or marketing my leadership development services to groups, teams and organizations, how I do this and the motives behind my actions sends signals about what I believe.

Since the time of Aristotle, says Peter Northouse, these discussions have focused on 5 core areas that have been the focus of many ethical systems. These are also described, bolstered or expanded personal beliefs, faith systems, and one’s philosophical or religious worldview.

Here they are: [i]

 Mindmap of The 5 Principles of Ethical Leadership - Respects Others - Serves Other - Shows Justice - Manifests Honesty -  Builds Community -


Respects Others: We might think we have this mastered, but we disrespect others when we interrupt them, show up late to meetings, only seek advice from our kind of people, or ignore the input of people lower in status or rank.


Serves Others: This is the goal of leadership, but many of us subtly exploit others. Some years ago a leader came to the organization I was a part of. He really did not care about the people – he saw us as a platform for his expanding his network, selling his resources, and gaining notoriety. It did not take long for everyone to see it and in a couple years he was gone.


Shows Justice: Justice is about “making things right” and leaders must act justly whenever they notice injustice in the team, community, church or organization.  An employee gets overlooked for a raise or promotion because their evaluation was not turned in on time by a supervisor. Make it right. You notice a minority person or woman gets shut down repeatedly in meetings because someone has a cultural bias (perhaps without even being aware of it). Make it right. You see a clear violation of HR practices or basic laws (like a banker I knew who was cleverly skimming fee income into his own personal account). Do the right thing and bring it to light.


Manifests Honesty: This is always a tricky one, particularly in the business world where corners are cut, backroom under-the-table deals are cut, and “bribes” for new business (let’s call it what it is) are routine, tolerated as “just the way things are around here.” Dishonest leaders create a dishonest culture. And a dishonest culture at work or anywhere else is an emotional drain to our people, a black eye on the organization and leaves scars on our families and communities.


Builds Community: This is an area I have devoted much of my life and leadership. Community is the result of shaping an honest, caring, truthful, engaging, fun and authentic culture. We move from narcissism and consumerism to being others-centered and creativity-focused.

Ethics matter. And you and I set the tone and shape the culture.


[i] Diagram can be found in Peter Northouse’s Leadership: Theory & Practice, page 431.


Where do you see ethical breakdown, and how can you be a force for change?


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

Expectation Management

One of the challenges common to all leaders, I think, is in the area Expectation Management.

I mean we manage resources, we manage time, we manage energy, we do some self-management, we manage people. But one of the things I think we need to ­­­pay attention to is expectation management. Not every day is it that the expectations for us and others are put on the table in our organization or on our team, or our relationship with a supervisor or even someone were supervising and I think there’s a few things we need to get focused on around this.



One of the challenges common to all leaders, I think, is in the area Expectation Management. I mean we manage resources, we manage time, we manage energy, we do some self-management, we manage people. But one of the things I think we need to ­­­pay attention to is expectation management. Not every day is it that the expectations for us and others are put on the table in our organization or on our team, or our relationship with a supervisor or even someone were supervising and I think there’s a few things we need to get focused on around this.

Expectation Management Confused emplyoyee

First is, are expectations clear? I’ve been in settings where probably like many of you sometimes that’s been true, sometimes it has not been true. I remember working in a banking situation I was new out of the sort of the training department, in commercial lending, and I was down on the lending floor, in a corporate area, new business development, meeting with my supervisor after being there six months. And he said, “Bill I’m kind of frustrated with you because I expected you to be … do more relationship building with CPAs and other financial professionals in the area.” Well I’d only been a year or so at college had just, you know, come through sort of the training program had done very well, but this was never talked about in the training program and those expectations were never placed on the by him. There were a lot of other things I was doing but no one ever told me to go out and have regular lunches with CPAs meet financial professionals in other areas within the city. So I didn’t know what the expectations were so naturally I didn’t meet them. So we had to get clear about that, it’s frustrating when you’re not clear.

The second thing is do the right people know who or do the right kinds of people know what the expectations are for you. Certainly your supervisor needs to know and you need to know, but sometimes there’s others in the organization that need to know. You don’t want to have the conversation with a key board member or a key senior leader who says, “By the way what you do around here?” Now maybe in a very large institution or organization that’s appropriate. But if it’s smaller or if you’re kind of a person that around the organization quite a bit and key people don’t know what you do, why you do it, how you contribute, that some things you need to work on because maybe they don’t know how you make them successful or help make the organization successful.

Another area and probably a final one is just how are the expectations managed or measured? In the sense of how do I know I’m meeting the expectations and when do I know? What kind of rubric is there, what kind of way to know that not just my job description but sort of those the subtle expectations about how I carry myself, how I am in the organization with new people things like that. I just recently had to have a meeting with someone and have kind of a heart to heart about how they carry themselves because they’re an emerging young leader and I wanted them to know that how they present themselves in public and how they engage with people in a public settings says a lot about their leadership, at least as a first impression. Now that’s not written in any documents somewhere but it was one of those things I thought hey that’s an expectation you need to know that’s for me but also from others that are looking at you as a rising young potential leader.

So expectation management .. key thing. Hope this helps you think a little bit more about it and to manage it more effectively with yourself, with others in your team, group or organization.


Do you and and those you lead know what is expected of them?

How can you manage the expectations others have for you and you have for your team?


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.


The Power of Gathering

The Power of Gathering is really showing its effectiveness as we gather for a university discussion on economics, we are talking about the culture at large mostly in North America but certainly globally as well.


Well I’m sitting here in a hotel, actually up in Lake Geneva and we are here gathered together as a university to tackle some pretty big issues both internally and externally. We’re talking about economics, we are talking about the culture at large mostly in North America but certainly globally, and we are bringing some experts in to challenge us on how to think about economic realities in light of the new reality of our culture and just the systems of our world. But what I find really powerful here is the power of gathering itself so irrespective of where the content might take us and what we need to talk about related to this, and what some of our scholars are going to be doing to really delve into some of the challenging global economic issues of our world, there’s a power in just gathering. I’m headed off to breakfast in a few minutes with some people and I’m looking forward to that because something happens when a team or a group or an organization gathers. I just want to highlight a few of those to remind us that this is strategic, it’s important, it’s life giving. Now here are a few things to think about first of all clarity I find that when we come together we’re not asking as many how and when questions as we do when we’re sort of in the office, or in the organization. We tend to ask bigger questions sort of the why questions and at a gathering of your core people you get that clarity. Why do we exist? Why are we here? What are some of the big questions we really need to be facing and why should we be facing the now? So the big why questions I think are important for your organization or your group. Another question that you tend to ask when you gather is, “Who are we? What kind of group are we?” And because of the informality that takes place in a setting like this I think it’s, it’s a better opportunity to understand who we are. I think there’s an informality that helps us achieve some relational unity. In our particular case there are three schools in the university represented here the graduate school, the theology school, and the college. The law school is not here it’s in another part of the country. But the those three schools have come together to say let’s get to know each other  better, let’s understand how we work better together, let’s see what skills and resources we bring to one another so there is a relational unity, a getting to know each other and that’s really lifted up by the informality. So not only in the formal sessions, the small groups, the strategic sessions, but in the having coffee afterward, the one-off conversations, the meeting after the meeting, the kind of thing we experience around the office sometimes is really lifted to a new level here. And so there’s that informality, that relational piece, that helps us answer that who question. But I think there is also the identity organizationally of; who are we, what kind of place do we want to become, what kind of people do we want to be as we carry forward our mission? So we had the why questions, the who question, and I think alternately we will make that strategic turn, we do that tomorrow morning. But that’s the strategy question of; where do we want to go from here, what do we want to focus on specifically, are there some next steps we need to take? So we will be in groups in teams talking about that as well. So the power of gathering allows us to answer those big questions; why, why are we here, why do we exist, why do we do things the way we do, who are we and who are we becoming and then we really want to go? Hopefully you’ll think about those things as you put some gatherings together and get “off-campus” and do something together in a setting that allows you to really engage these things both in formal an informal ways.


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

The Discerning Leader

Some have the gift of being a discerning leader.

The Discerning Leader  a quote by Mel Lawrence, “…leaders with no discernment can do tremendous damage in a short amount of time.”  Others – like me – learned it in the school of hard knocks and many mistakes. And I need more of it. Maybe you do, too.

In his book Spiritual Influence Mel Lawrence writes, “…leaders with no discernment can do tremendous damage in a short amount of time.” I second that emotion!

Mel says that a discerning leader must be capable of guiding people into clearer understandings and levels of reality. He adds, “How much we all need incisive leadership today!…The discerning leader approaches challenges and opportunities with a mental and spiritual scalpel. To be discriminating without being discriminatory. To judge without being judgmental. To separate without severing.” Pg. 119



That really is the beauty of discernment. Without it leaders are rash, harsh and impulsive instead of patient, wise and incisive.

And there is the difference. I see it in others. I see it in me.

I need to practice discernment.

For my own leadership to be sharpened I practice discernment in community. The Quakers understood this, and practiced a kind of team discernment back in our pre-revolutionary war days in the late 1600’s. Soon they would be known for “clearness committees” where a person gathered closed friends as they processed a decision. Participants were allowed to ask questions but give no advice. It forced the would be decision-maker to consider all points of an issue, face hard questions and see what could not be see if making choices all alone.

Some today call such a gathering “a personal board of directors.” For others it is a small group or some mentors. Whatever the form, the process teaches each participant to practice the skill of discernment; to reflect, play out possible outcomes, weigh emotions and consider the relational impact of potential decisions.

So who is on your board or sits in your discernment circle?

Who brings unbridled input, mirrors truth and forces you to look at the less desirable components of potential actions and choices?

Who teaches you to practice discernment so that when you must act alone, you have the insight, wisdom and tools to make wise choices?



We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

Ladies First – What Happens When More Women Lead

It’s still a man’s world out there. Recent data again affirms that men in comparable positions and with similar expertise and experience are paid 20-60% more than their female counterparts.  There has certainly been some progress, but it is still difficult to get a C-suite position if you are a qualified women.

C’mon guys. It is time for US to speak up. This is no longer a woman’s movement – it is a humanity movement.  And it is a leadership issue.

Women Lead

It starts early, even as women graduate from college. According to CNN Money, women graduates with the same majors, jobs and hours still get 7% less pay than male graduates. And that can follow them a long time, despite their performance.

If there is one place we should be able to get to some equality it is in the workplace, where we can measure results and performance more easily than in politics or education.

Let’s remember the gross inequalities that abound worldwide, and they are sad (just read Half the Sky if you want to look at some very stark realities for young women). Women worldwide are more likely to be abused, neglected, ignored, and overlooked, and treatment of young girls in many countries remains an atrocity.

But what about closer to home in the good old US of A? How are we doing? More women are going to college than men in many areas now, and more women are stepping into challenging roles in the media, educational leadership, politics and religion. But the marketplace remains largely a male-dominated place.

So, what are we afraid of? What happens when women lead?

When women lead, usually the same things happen that happen when men lead. There are great male leaders and some real duds out there. The same is true of women, but they do not get the slack that men get. When a women falls short in the leadership category she must overcome not simply a poor performance, but also the gender stigma – “she just could not compete with the big boys!”


I have worked with (and for) strong and weak leaders, men and women. A bad leader is a bad leader, and strong leaders can be found in each gender. But there are not many Meg Whitmans and Carly Fiorinas out there who will really get a chance to lead.  Writing in 2011 in the Courier News/Sun Times Dr. Ella Edmondson Bell observes:

This year a record number of women are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies — but you still don’t need all of your fingers and toes to count them. (You don’t even need all of your fingers to count those running Fortune 100s.)
Few as they are, they’re doing fine at the top, thank you very much. During the economic storm of 2009, women leaders proved they can be as tough, decisive and competitive as men. USA Today reports that stocks of the 13 Fortune 500 companies run by women for all of 2009 were up an average of 50 percent. The biggest female winner was Mary Sammons, whose Rite Aid stock soared 387 percent!

There’s more and it is worth the quick read.

When women lead they bring all their gifts, insights, experience, stamina, charisma and womanly strengths to the job – just as men bring theirs. I believe men and women are different (not just physically) and that each has great strengths to bring to the table. We need more balance in the boardroom and more ladies at the top of the leadership ladder – but for the right reasons. A token leader is a disaster for everyone, and no woman leader worth her salt wants a handout.


I believe we need more men and women leading together in the marketplace. Women will bring some relational depth that is lacking, typically have greater gut instincts and intuition, and bring a fresh perspective on our clients, customers, parishioners and students.

When men and women lead together with trust and integrity it is effective, efficient, engaging and profitable. Sure, we will still huddle with the guys and gather with the girls because we like to hang out with our own in some settings.

But when it comes to employing gifted, effective leaders, we should not be afraid to shout, “Ladies First!” Not because women are weak, but because they are overlooked and undervalued. Given the chance, they will open doors and build balance sheets with the best of us.


What would the world look like if more women joined the leadership ranks, sharing challenges and opportunities with men as a community of leaders? Wow…I can only imagine. 

The Pseudo- Transformational Leader

Great leaders are not always transformational leaders (think of awful dictators and power mongers). And truly great leaders are real leaders. Unfortunately, real leaders are hard to come by. Being a transformational leader means be a real leader – not a pseudo-leader.

According to Peter Northouse, the term “transformational leadership” was coined by J.V. Downton (no he does not live at Downton Abbey!) in about 1973. It was popularized in 1978 by James MacGregor Burns in his book Leadership (revised in 2010)

Burns said there was a difference between “transactional leadership” (the exchanges between leaders and followers) and transformational leadership.

Transformational leadership is …the process whereby a person engages with others and creates a connection that raises the level of motivation and morality in both the leader and the follower.” – Peter Northouse, Leadership, p. 186

Both kinds of leadership are real and necessary. But transformational leadership is always deeper, lasting and creates are greater sense of team, mutual motivation and joy in the arena of work.

But some leaders could never qualify as “transformational” because of major ethical issues, power mongering, and how they treat employees (sadly, Henry Ford became such a leader when wealth and power got the best of him).

Transformational Leadership vs Transactional Leadership

What are the marks of Pseudo-transformational leadership?

Here are signs that you or others are becoming pseudo-transformational in your leadership.

1)     You are in it for self-advancement. This is easy to assess. When a leader always cares more about growing their own platform instead of helping others build theirs, it is a telltale sign.

2)     Decision-making is always pragmatic. What works for the leader transcends what is best for the team or the organization.

3)     Ethical standards are compromised. This may be overt or subtle, or even done out of ignorance or the speed in making a decision. Nonetheless, it is a sign that things are bad. Employees or team members are treated with condescension or ignored, shortcuts are taken and due diligence is ignored, and compliance issues in HR or in legal matters are given lip service.

4)     Strategy takes priority over relationship. In other words, regardless of the damage a decision or path may do to the team, as long as we “win” or “realize the vision” or can say “mission accomplished” the collateral relational damage is chalked up simply as the cost of doing business.

5)     Everything has a price tag. Pseudo-transformational leaders believe they can “buy” everything – trust, votes, loyalty, performance, followers, relationships, customers, members, silence and compliance with their demands. In some cases money, severance packages (hush money, in some cases), promotions, perks and other “incentives” are used to move people and strategy in the direction the leader desires – even out of the organization.

So we must look at our own leadership habits, choices, motives and ethics.


Who are we in this role for?

What are we leaving behind?

What would others say about my leadership?


It’s time to increase the numbers of real leaders, and say no to the emergence of pseudo-transformational leaders.