In a marriage class many years ago we were taught as men that when the wife comes with a problem they don’t necessarily want you to solve it. All the she is often looking for is a listening ear and an understanding heart.

That truth is applicable in marriage and it also has merit in the workplace.

One of the first and hardest things I learned through my year of coaching certification at UTD was to ask questions and not tell people what they needed to do. I have grown to believe that asking questions is an art. Not only is it an art it also takes patience.

When someone has encountered a problem or looking for a better way asking questions rather than giving answers is the best avenue to take. Even if you feel the answer is obvious, always ask questions. Here are a few reasons why.


When we solve the problems of others we are building dependency. The likelihood of them coming back for more answers instead of trying to solve problems themselves increases. When questions are posed it allows the person to think and become more confident in their own ability to find resolve with daily challenges.

Our goal should be to grow a force of problem solvers. We want people who use their brains, not puppets that are danced around on strings. Engage employees in thought-provoking conversations with questions and you’ll have a team that embraces change and welcome challenges.


A workforce empowered to make decisions is a workforce that drives a company to success. When leaders ask employees their ideas, insights and depend on them for answers to problems a sense of ownership is created. When employees have ownership they are no longer employees but shift to becoming partners.


Which is more likely to stick: Being told what to do or realizing yourself what should be done and doing it? When a person creates his or her own solutions the odds greatly improve that the improvement will stick around. When someone jumps in to resolve a problem for someone there is a good chance the problem isn’t completely understood; without question no one understands the problem better than the one who has to live with it on s daily basis. Ask thought-provoking questions but allow the person with the problem to discover the way forward and the problem won’t be a problem.


 Trust Thrust Teams To The Terrific!

 When we ask questions a trust is being communicated. When trust is established a connection is made; there is a sense of family. Better stated, there is a feeling of belonging. When we belong, are accepted and respected then there is an inward joy. A feeling of purpose is felt that results in positiveness. Trust, joy, and purpose drives performance. Performance is what takes a winning team across the finish line.

Asking questions does indeed take longer and more patience, but the return on investment is worth it. Start adding questions to your daily work. Make a goal to ask at least five questions a day. When you are told about a problem, pause tot hint how you might ask a question instead of resolving the problem.

The more you ask, the more you learn. Embrace question and not only will your team grow, but you will as well.


Leaders Look for Greatness

Lake Greatness“Bad leaders excuse away greatness; good leaders look for excuses to recognize greatness.”


We have all heard it. “John is a good employee, but…” or, “Yes, Susie does a good job and is productive; it is just that sometimes she…”

You can fill in the end with many things, but the end result is that a leader has put a negative spin on someone who was otherwise a good, perhaps even a great employee. Now they have placed doubt in someone else’s mind about that person needlessly.

Bad leaders have a tendency to want to push their employees down in order to feel important. Insecurity, negativity, and feeling threatened are a few of the reasons these leaders feel the need to respond this way. Employees want to shine and be their best but become discouraged and dismayed when they are constantly placed in the “yea but” category.

Good leaders find ways to find greatness and express it out loud and often. They see things, even the smallest of nuggets and have the ability to put them on a showcase for the world to see. The effective leader is constantly building his or her people up. There are not “yea buts” in their language. Their people are rock stars and as a result each one strives to be even better. The more employees shine the more they want to shine.

“All negative comments leave a sticky residue on the one sending the message”

What leaders who excuse away greatness in their people do not understand is that some of that negativity is left on them as well. People see the leader who constantly belittles or downplays their people, as also being less than adequate. The leader believes that their comments are making themselves seem superior; however the opposite is true. To push someone down they must go down with them…and they do.

Yet the opposite is true for the leader who always has positive words for their employees. They are seen as great leaders; positive people. The more a leader talks their people up, the more opportunities to move up comes their way. Leaders who lead by criticism generally become bitter because when they minimize others they are minimizing themselves. As a result the critical leader does not get promoted and opportunities don’t come their way creating a vicious cycle of continual sourness exuding from every word and action. People don’t want to be around them and certainly are not going to place them in higher positions of influence.

People are looking for positive people who can build good teams. No one builds good teams who can’t see or communicate the greatness within each member.Good teams become great teams when they are built up with a continual battery of encouragement and positiveness.

Practice saying, “(Insert your employee’s or a colleague’s name here) is great!

Find other positive words to describe your employee and look for opportunities to speak publicly and privately. Stop at the end of the adjective that describes them as being wonderful. Don’t add any “buts” to the sentence. Walk off leaving them as being a great employee in the listener’s mind.

How do you bring out greatness in those around you?









Do you ever find yourself getting negative? Spitting out negativeness about a person, place or thing? Perhaps it is someone you work with who gets under your skin. Sometimes it might be an organization or church that has rubbed you the wrong way. There may even be times when a person becomes negative and they do not even know why!

If we were all to be honest we have all done it. I have been there and quite frankly probably will again. It happens. Something comes into our life that, if we are not careful will consume our every thought and word. These are Neg-Factors that can change a person from being the life of the party to the person everyone hopes stays home. If we are not mindful negativity can lead us to a dark and lonely place with us wondering how we got there.

So how do we avoid the Neg-Factor? What can we do to pull out should we find ourselves in a nosedive into becoming a Negative Nancy or Undesirable Dave?

Here are a few ideas that help me when I am free falling into the Neg-Factor. I am not always successful;  we can all go negative. Even so, if we take action to go against the slippery slope of negativeness we will find ourselves in a much better place more often.

RECOGNIZE IT: The first step in changing anything is to acknowledge there is a need for change. Whether it is a person with an addiction or a process at work, nothing changes until a desire to change has developed. Take time to write down the warning signs that you have begun to go down the wrong road and keep them in a place where they can be reviewed on a regular basis as a form of self-accountability. You could even get a close friend who you share these with and ask them to let you know if they see these behaviors, because most times others see them long before we do ourselves.

ROOT CAUSE: Sometimes we are irritated and do not even know why! We don’t like someone, but can’t put our finger on it. Take the time to analyze what it is that has got under our skin. Is it the person or something they are doing? Are they doing it on purpose or is it just something that is different than what we are accustomed? Perhaps it is our own insecurities or even that they are taking us to a place where we are not comfortable and we are therefore simply fighting against something we know is more personal? The list is endless, however it is important to ask ourselves what it is that is at the root of the matter. Again, get someone you trust to help dissect and give honest feedback on your thoughts.

REMEMBER IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU: Most times that root cause is placed somewhere in the fact that we have become self-focused. What is happening is not what we agree with; we don’t like it. The problem is fleshed out in the Neg-factor because we are not in control. Our minds believe whatever is occurring needs to change to our way of thinking and when it is out of our control, in other words we can’t change it, the first response is to begin the attacks. We might attack in words, body language, gossiping, criticizing, and even rebelling by refusing to follow or have contact with someone. All of these behaviors are signs that we have possibly arrived at a place of looking at what we think should be, but feel out of control because we can’t change it. We have to remember, the world does not revolve around us no more than it revolves around the other person, business or company that has gotten under our skin. Everyone is a player in this game and harsh truth of the fact is that we are simply a piece of the puzzle like everyone else.

REMEMBER IT IS  ABOUT YOU: The only person you can change is you. This is counsel my wife and I give in almost every situation. Even in marriage, neither can change the other which is where most arguments develop. People want everyone else to change while we remain the same. The fact that we have to remember is that the only person we can truly change is ourselves. What is amazing about this is that when we change, there is some kind of cosmic magic that happens in which the world around us begins to change. When a wife or husband starts working on themself, the other is affected and a change begins to occur. When a leader focuses on how he or she is leading, their team changes. A church member begins to grow in their faith; the people around them are affected and begin to change. When we work on ourselves our perspective of others change as well. Work on you and watch the world around you begin to have a fresh new look.

REBUILD: When we have gone down the Neg-factor road there is a chance that some damage has occurred. The faith the team had for the leader has been questioned. Friends no longer want to hangout. Perhaps it even grew into a more volatile state where words and actions tore down relationships; even resulted in a loss of a job or position. If that is the case it is time to rebuild. Begin to rebuild by replacing words of negativity with positive thoughts, comments and accolades. Start building others up. Not only should we see things from the bright side, we should express them in public. Through writing a positive email or making a phone call to encourage someone, understand that your actions can change others. Build others up, build relationships; build positive environments, build, build, build!


The Neg-Factor happens to us all. It can be a lonely and dark place leaving us all alone; however the good news is that the darkness can be overcome by light. We all have a light to shine, it is our choice turn it on. How do you shine light and avoid the darkness of the Neg-Factor?


diamond mining

It’s dirty, but a worthy job. Mining for diamonds. Man has been digging into the earth since the fourth century B.C. The beauty and value of the precious diamond are something admired by both men and women across the world.

The diamond in its natural state is not the precious gem that it will eventually become. The miner has an eye for the stones; however it is the jeweler who is able to take the rock in its roughest of form and then chisel, cut and polish it into a sparkling jewel.

Leaders, good leaders, are both miners and jewelers. Each day he or she goes out looking for those diamonds in the rough. They are seeking the work that is done by those who work for them that can be put on display. That work may seem and perhaps even is normal task and responsibilities; however the good leader is able to chisel and polish away the imperfections making the individual(s) under their charge shine for the world to see.

The joy in elevating others is a sign of a true leader.

Leadership Mining

  • Go Looking: As a leader go out daily to look for the good things your people are doing. The good leader knows there is enough negative dirt that their employees have to deal with on a daily basis. Good leadership goes out to find the value their employees bring.


  • Have an eye for gems: It takes a special leader with an eye for recognizing the good things their people are doing. It means having a positive attitude; a mentoring approach.


  • Collect: It is not enough to notice the good things your people do, but it has to be collected; recorded. Make note of each thing they do no matter how big or small.


  • Clean & Cut: This is where the leader becomes an artist. Being able to communicate the work of employees in a positive fashion is a talent, yet essential part of leadership. Whether articulating in words in a memo or putting them in for an award, it is important to be able to make them shine more beautifully than even they could imagine.


  • Display: Find ways to showcase your people’s work and work. Send out emails to the team highlighting accomplishments, send messages to senior leaders, give small gifts, or awards. It is important to let your people know on a regular basis that their work is not only valued, but is noticed.


  • Go digging for more: Mining is not a one-time event. Going out and digging around in the efforts of your people and placing the special things they do on display is a regular part of leadership. The leader who understands the importance of this can’t settle for just one diamond. They become obsessed with putting the work of their employees on display. The joy in elevating others is a sign of a true leader.