Leadership Lessons I Observed in Africa

By Tina Black
In the first two weeks of May 2016, my husband and I traveled with a team from the nonprofit Coco’s Foundation, which partners with the nonprofit Food 4 Africa organization to feed, clothe, and build shelter for families in South Africa. During those two weeks, I observed many leadership lessons, which I’d love to share with you and, as usual, give both you and myself a challenge.

I also plan to form teams from my salon and schools to go back to Africa and build five more homes. Message me if you want to go with us, and please include your email address. In the meantime, check out the websites of Food 4 Africa (www.food4africa.org) and Coco’s Foundation (www.cocosfoundation.co.uk).

 

Last but not least, please enjoy this video from our trip: http://bit.ly/27T0o6n

 

Lesson #1 – Be a Servant Leader

 

1As most of you know, my husband Bryan and I just returned from a trip to South Africa where we represented Paul Mitchell Schools and got to see firsthand how the money that Paul Mitchell Schools have been donating since 2007 is used. To date, Paul Mitchell Schools have donated $880,000 to help Food 4 Africa feed 10,000 orphans each day.

 

We were invited to take this trip by Chris Connors, founder of Coco’s Foundation (which partners with Food 4 Africa). Chris organizes teams to take this trip 3-4 times a year to build homes and make a difference in the area he serves. Our team included 7 lovely students from the UK. (I use the word lovely to describe them because that is the word they most often use.) I found it refreshing, because in America we use the word amazing most often!

I’ve been on many mission trips before (Mexico, Haiti, Guatemala) so seeing the poverty was not a shock; however, this time it had a whole new meaning to me. Chris has been leading these mission trips for six years now. He could have just collected money over the years to feed the Africans, build homes, etc., but instead 2he chose to immerse himself into the culture, build solid relationships with the people, and serve them in a way I have never seen in my entire life.

 

I have never seen a servant leader like Chris Connors before. I observed him during the entire two weeks we were there, and not once did he waver from his servant leadership. He represented what I strive to be.

 

Chris owns several salons in the UK and utilizes this mission in Africa to serve his team and community. He takes people on this mission trip to change their lives and he offers an opportunity like no other nonprofit I know. He gives people the chance to not only sweat (by building homes) but also to immerse themselves in the community and really get to know the people they are serving, witness firsthand how they live, hang out with them, and just “be.”

 

I spent many moments on the trip alone, taking it all in. In the quiet of those moments I listened, watched, and observed Chris, the Africans, the movement, the sounds. It was the most profound two weeks of my life in so many ways, both personally and professionally. Chris is one of the most selfless human beings I have ever met. He has a heart for people you don’t often see. He’s a servant leader.

 

This made me wonder: How much of a servant leader am I? How can I become a better servant leader? How can I help my team become better servant leaders?

In John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he talks about the Law of Addition (leaders add value by serving others), and he includes a mini assessment in so readers can determine whether they possess this trait. Try it yourself:

 

Answer Yes or No:

 

  1. Rather than being annoyed when team members have issues preventing them from doing their jobs effectively, I see the issues as an opportunity to serve and help those people.
  2. I look for ways to make things better for the people I lead.
  3. I find great personal satisfaction in helping other people become more successful.

 

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of work to do here! Maxwell gives four great suggestions in his book, which I’d love to share with you here:

 

  1. Value others. (If you are thinking, “Tina I don’t value everyone on my team,” then my suggestion is to figure out why. What’s causing you to not value another human being?)
  2. Intentionally add value to others. (What are some gifts you have that can benefit everyone on your team?)
  3. Know and relate to what others value. (Do you know what your team values?)
  4. Do things that God values. (Do you know what God values?)

 

I’ll end with this AMAZING quote from John Maxwell’s book (an excerpt from the Message Bible). It pertains to my trip to Africa and what will keep me going back there and supporting my teams to go with me, and it pertains to what will help me become a better servant leader:

 

I was hungry and you fed me,

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

I was homeless and you gave me a room,

I was shivering and you gave me clothes …

When you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me — you did it to me.

 

So my questions to myself and to you this week are: Do I have a servant’s attitude when it comes to leadership? In situations where I am required to serve others, how do I respond? Am I impatient? Am I resentful? Do I believe certain tasks are beneath me or my position in the company? How can I better serve my team this week?

 

Lesson #2 – Build Solid Relationships First

 

Last week we talked about my first leadership lesson from Africa: Be a Servant Leader. How did you do? Has that lesson raised your level of awareness? I know it raised mine: I now look for examples of servant leaders, and each day as I fill in my calendar I intentionally think of ways to serve my team, my family, and my community.

 

Are you ready for the second leadership lesson I observed in Africa? Before you ever try to help people, sell them something, or coach them to greatness, the ONLY way to successfully earn their trust is to build a solid, appropriate relationship. I learned this from John Maxwell’s book, The 5 Levels of Leadership. Anyone can be appointed to a position, but people only follow you because they want to – and usually only because they like you.

 

I used to try to get my team to produce results without first getting to know them and what they desire. I treated my people as if they were a paycheck. I’d often hear myself asking, “Why can’t they just do their job? I give them a paycheck, don’t I?”

 

After I read and studied John Maxwell’s book I realized I had it all wrong. I’ve mentioned to you many times that I was mostly a great employee for every job I worked in before I became a business owner – but now that I look back on it, I realize it was because my bosses always took time to get to know ME. They genuinely cared about me. My last employer, Dr. Dale Sweeney and his wife (yes I was in dentistry!) were perfect examples of that. They always, always pulled me aside to get to know me. Always asked questions about my husband, my family, my life. They were people people! No wonder their team never leaves them. No wonder they are so successful.

 

When I was in Africa I observed Chris Connors, the founder of Coco’s Foundation, with the people whose homes we were building and the people he hired to build those homes. Even though most of them don’t speak English, Chris has managed to find people in Africa who trust him and visa versa. He did this through mostly nonverbal language: hugs, giving of gifts that they actually need or want, and smiles. You can tell Chris genuinely cares, and you can tell that the people FEEL it. Chris’s actions speak much louder than his words. He showed me that you don’t have to say anything; your people FEEL your love for them. And just like John Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” You can’t speak into people’s lives if they know you don’t genuinely care about them.

 

Am I an expert in this? NOPE. I honestly have so much to learn in this area, but I am closer than I was. I’m a work in progress. Here are some questions I ask myself that I have learned from The 5 Levels of Leadership: 

 

  1. Do I know things about every person on my team’s family and personal life outside of work?
  2. Do I know every person on my team’s strengths and weaknesses?
  3. Do I know every person on my team’s hopes and dreams?
  4. Am I committed to helping every person on my team succeed in his/her work?
  5. Does every person on my team trust me, and do I trust them?

 

I can honestly say, I am almost there with the team I am directly responsible for in my companies, but I still have work to do in this area. And the rest of my team? I have a LOT of work to do in this area. How about you? Are you the kind of leader who says, “Why can’t they just do their job? They get a paycheck”? I want to challenge you to read The 5 Levels of Leadership and work to gain influence by building solid relationships with your team.

 

Even if you don’t have the title of “leader” on your team, you’re not immune from this. The quickest way to gain influence is by building solid relationships with everyone you work with. And if you need to coach or redirect people, they won’t listen unless they know you genuinely care about them. Building solid relationships makes life at work so much easier. Trust me. Now go do it!

 

And please let me know how you do. I can’t wait to hear your victories!

 

Lesson #3 – One Is Too Small a Number to Achieve Greatness

 

In the last few weeks I shared with you some leadership lessons I observed in Africa.

The first two were: (1) Be a Servant Leader and (2) Build Solid Relationships First.

 

The second one really challenged me to spend more time with my salon team and do more relationship building. Last week, we went on an incredible leadership retreat that allowed me to get to know my team personally. We did an assessment utilizing the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 and it was so much fun getting to know my teams’ strengths.  Something that really hit me during that day was realizing that when we fully engage our strengths, we will be unstoppable. My goal with my salon team for the rest of this year is to help them focus on action plans to engage their strengths until they really lean into them and utilize them. When you work within your strength zone, you’ll be amazed to discover how much more energy you have and how much happier you can be!

 

Are you ready for the third lesson I learned in Africa? “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.” This quote comes from John Maxwell, and he has been saying it a lot in our John Maxwell Leadership trainings. It is SO TRUE! I’m in the hair industry and I’m always perplexed by the number of hairstylists who would rather rent a chair and work alone than to have a team around them to support and cheer them on. I guess they choose to do it not because they will make more money (because most do not) but because they don’t like their boss or they don’t like the people they work with. That really makes me want to step up my game as a leader and make sure I communicate often with my team and recognize when they are disenchanted with my leaders or me.

 

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell often talks about the Law of Influence. He says, “If you don’t have influence, you’ll never be able to lead others.” I observed this leadership quality in Chris Connors in Africa. I saw that he had a dream to help people in Africa but he knew he was only one person. To develop the area and serve the Africans, he would need to influence others around him. He knew that “one is too small a number to achieve greatness,” so he reached out to Winn Claybaugh, Dean and Cofounder of Paul Mitchell Schools, to see if a few students could come out to help build homes. Chris knew that if he could “influence” them he would have more people who would believe in his cause.

 

As you know, instead of two students he got two school owners: my husband and me. I bet Chris didn’t know that Bryan and I would fall in love with the South African people and desire to help them as well. It’s the kind of situation you just can’t walk away from and you know it’s part of your legacy. But now I know that, like Chris, we need to influence those around us to join our cause, because one is too small a number to achieve greatness. (Speaking of that, if you want to join us in May 2017 to go build homes in Africa, message me and I’ll add you to our private Facebook group!)

 

While talking about the Law of Influence in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell says the only way to persuade people to follow you is to become a better leader. To become a better leader you have to strengthen some core qualities and become the kind of leader others want to follow.

 

Try this quick assessment see if you possess the Law of Influence. Rate yourself on a scale of 1–10, where 1 means it’s not a factor in your life and 10 means you rely on it continually:

 

  1. Character (who you are)
  2. Relationships (who you know)
  3. Knowledge (what you know)
  4. Intuition (what you feel)
  5. Experience (where you’ve been)
  6. Past success (what you’ve done)
  7. Ability (what you can do)

 

How can you optimize or better utilize the factors to which you gave yourself low scores?

 

Here’s a way to stretch your influence that John talks about in his book: this week, try to influence someone you never have before – a supervisor, a colleague, a follower in your sphere of influence, or a family member or close friend. Test your influence. Let me know how you do. I’d love to hear your successes, your struggles, and your plan to gain more influence over those around you.

 

And remember: One is too small a number to achieve greatness!

 

Lesson #4 – Leaders Must Give Up to Go Up
Are you ready for leadership lesson #4? Leaders must give up to go up!

 

This is true for any leader. As much as I have given up time with my family and friends, sleep, free time, and resources, to name just a few, in the end I have gained so much more, so I have never seen it as sacrifice. To me, influencing other human beings and watching them live their dreams because of what I taught them makes it all worthwhile.

 

I love this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” And, as John Maxwell always says, “Life is a series of trade-offs.”

 

Talk to any leaders who have done something significant and they will tell you they have made trade-offs. When I was in Africa, I repeatedly saw this in Coco’s Foundation founder Chris Connors. I can only imagine the worry, the fear, and the late nights he spends trying to figure out how to pay for the next home and the next meal. He has given up so much to make this all happen.

 

I also saw it in the home of Rachel and Victor, who gave up their lives in England and transported their family to South Africa to serve the people there. Barely a day or a week goes by when they don’t have someone staying in their home or joining them for a meal. Every evening while we were there, Rachel made dinner for all 10 of us plus some of the locals. And they weren’t ordinary dinners—they were all made from scratch and typically took anywhere from two hours to the majority of the day to prepare.

 

It’s perplexing for me to imagine that Rachel doesn’t make dinner for just herself and her husband. Or have date nights with him. Or time alone. Their kids are married now, and it’s hard for me to imagine that they don’t see each other as often as some families do. The orphanage that Rachel was taking care of burned down some months ago, and I can’t even imagine the worry she has for the displaced orphans with nowhere to go. Victor is a doctor in the community and I can only imagine his daily worry as he tries to save lives. What they have given up is astounding to me.

The needs are so great in South Africa, and I have been trying to put together a team and get them excited to go there and help. I feel overwhelmed with grief and sick with worry that it won’t happen. Some nights I can’t sleep because I’m worried I won’t influence enough people to want to make a difference. I’m only trying to give up a few weeks of my year! I can only imagine the frustration and worry that Chris, Rachel, and Victor have.

 

Chris has committed the rest of his life, in between running his salon business. Rachel and Victor gave up their entire lives to serve the South Africans. What they’ve given up I would never give up. John Maxwell calls it the Law of Sacrifice: you have to give up to go up.

 

Do you have a dream so big you can taste it? The truth is you have to sacrifice some things for your dream to happen—time, ego, money, just to name a few. But there may be other things you are unwilling to sacrifice.

 

Here’s your challenge for this week …

 

Make 2 lists:

 

  1. Write down the things you are willing to give up to go up.
  2. Write down the things you are unwilling to sacrifice in order to advance. For example, I’m willing to give up money and risk it all to make things happen in my life. I am willing to give up time, and I am willing to give up my fear of failure. But I am unwilling to give up my health and my marriage to advance.

 

Now write a statement:

 

For 6 months I will give up_________________________________________________

 

And instead I will ________________________________________________________

 

My goal is to____________________

 

I will tell ___________________________ about my progress and ask this person to hold me accountable.

 

(Adapted from the book 21 Laws of Irrefutable Leadership)

 

I can’t wait to see what you wrote down. Be willing to share!

 

Leaders must give up to go up (literally)!

 

 

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I know this doesn’t look high to most of you but I gave up a lot of fear to stand on this “manmade” ladder, as I’m very much afraid of heights. The lovely Lara from England helped me conquer my fear.

 

 

 

Lesson #5 – Leaders Know They Are Only as Strong as Their Weakest Link

 

When we were in Africa building houses, the second of the two homes we built went a lot slower because two of the missionaries with us got sick. I didn’t feel so hot that week, either. I’m guessing we all ate something that made us all feel ill, which is common, of course, when traveling abroad. The heat was exhausting, too, and I noticed that I didn’t work as hard on the second house as I normally would. In fact, I noticed the whole team working with less enthusiasm than the week before. We only completed three-fourths of the house before we left, but I bet if we had all been feeling 100% well, we could have built the whole house.

 

It is so true that when one team member is down, the whole team falls because of it. We’re only as strong as our weakest link. I’ve witnessed that too often in my businesses, and I’m sad to say I’ve barely addressed it through the years. I’ve been much more aware of it this past year, and together with my company’s leaders, we’re addressing it more and more. It’s not an area we can overlook in our businesses!

 

This realization has also made me ask myself if I’m the weakest link in my family, the community organizations I belong to, my church, etc. I honestly feel like I often am and I now know that I need to either quit that organization or get on board 100%.

 

How about you? In your business, job, organization, which one are you—the strongest or the weakest link? Your business, organization, or team will never hit their goals or achieve their dreams until everyone gets on board.

 

Take some time to evaluate this week:

 

  • In my business or organization, are we hitting our goals?
  • In what ways do I prove I’m not the weakest link in my business?
  • In what ways can I improve myself to be a better team player and be the strongest link?

You’re only as strong as your weakest link!


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Bryan and I laying the first brick to the second home we built. We sponsored this home with Coco’s Foundation for a family in South Africa.  5

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson #6 – Leaders Read Between the Lines

 

Successful leaders apply what John Maxwell calls the Law of Intuition: they can always sense their people’s hopes, fears, and concerns. They always know when their team members are at 100%, and if anyone slips below, they address it immediately.

I witnessed that with Chris Connors in Africa. Every day, he checked in with every one of us missionaries. If we were struggling, he knew it, he addressed it, he helped us find solutions, and we’d move on. There was never a time when we didn’t feel cared about or supported.
Chris knew this about the South Africans, too. He visits the same people four to five times a year so he always knows if something is “up” with one of them, even though they barely speak English. I often witnessed him hugging people and taking time to listen to them.
Watching Chris made me ask myself, Am I that way with my team? I definitely have some work to do when it comes to the Law of Intuition. I need to get better at reading between the lines.

How about you? How do you do with your team? Your family? Your friends? Do you, too, have some work to do in this arena?
Three ways to improve your intuition are to read books on relationships, learn how to ask better questions of people, and study their nonverbal communications. (Be a people watcher!)

 

Some great books by John Maxwell include:

 

  • Everyone Communicates, Few Connect
  • How to Influence People
  • Good Leaders Ask Great Questions

 

I also recommend Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

 

Take time this week to evaluate:

  • What can you do more of?
  • What can you do less of?

 

 

6Chris Connors at a family’s home before we decided to build them a new one. We discovered these harsh conditions when we saw sticks literally holding the house together. Every time it rained at night, the family had to stand and keep out of the rain until it stopped.


 

Lesson #7 – Leaders Make Growth Their Responsibility

 

After becoming a John Maxwell coach, I learned what separates great leaders from good leaders: great leaders invest in those who follow them. Just as leaders need their own growth plans, we also need to set up a growth plan for those who work for us. One thing I love about being a Paul Mitchell School owner is that we provide so much additional education for our teams, as well as a solid career path so they can grow technically. Since I became a John Maxwell coach, I have set up a system to help my team grow emotionally as well. Why? Because I’ve learned that emotional intelligence trumps IQ.

 

Show me a staff member who excels in being aware of his or her own strengths and weaknesses and has a plan to develop them, and I will show you a successful staff member for life. Too often, staff members fail in their positions or they lack results or performance because they lack emotional intelligence: they lack in areas such as assertiveness, stress tolerance, change tolerance, anger management, social skills, accountability, flexibility, empathy, decision making skills, and communication skills, just to name a few.

 

On my mission trip to South Africa, I observed that Food 4 Africa and Coco’s Foundation not only provide food and homes for the families, but they also provide emotional intelligence training and afterschool classes for the students. Most of the children who attend these classes are orphans—both parents have died, and their grandparents, siblings, or extended families take care of them. These kids have access to very little life training, and it makes me proud to support organizations that provide this very important training and focus on the growth of the people they serve. The main goal behind the classes and training is to provide emotional support and strategies to help people overcome their losses.

 

One thing I am working on in all of my businesses is a SOLID PLAN for emotional intelligence training, including professional development and emotional development for every team member in our business. I want to make growth my responsibly so no team members ever want to leave our company again.

 

Some great books that I use for coaching and I highly recommend include:

 

 

How about you? Do you work for a company? Does your company have a solid plan for growth? If not, why not mention this article to them? Remember, leaders make growth their responsibility!

 

 

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(above left) Tendo, an orphan in the after-school program, sought me out and hung onto me for over an hour. Although I couldn’t speak her language, my heart knew she wished she had a mom who could hold her hand and make her feel secure, even if it was just for one hour. My heart felt so full by the time I left there.

(above right) Olga, a counselor who teaches the afternoon programs and my new best friend for life. These 50+ children are just a few of the local orphans who have lost both of their parents, mostly from AIDS.

 

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Although these children in the after-school program lack resources, they do not lack affection or love. The community support I witnessed there was beautiful.

 

 

 

Lesson #8 – Who You Are Is Who You Attract

 

The eighth leadership lesson I observed in Africa was this: Who you are is who you attract. John Maxwell calls this the Law of Magnetism, and he says our teams are seldom determined by what we want, but more by who we are. This discovery was truly a game-changer for me after I joined the John Maxwell Team. After losing and having to fire so many staff members during my years as an entrepreneur, I suddenly learned that to get eagles working for me I had to stop being a duck! I needed to become an eagle.

 

Trust me, I still have a long way to go but I can tell you this: I WILL NOT stop growing. Why? Because I’m beginning to really know my strengths and I definitely know my weaknesses. Every day I look in the mirror and ask myself, “Okay, Tina, who can you hire to cover your weaknesses?” I look at my leaders each day, and think, “Tina, how can you support your leaders to hire and staff their weaknesses?” And better yet, “What growth plan can I put my leaders on so they feel empowered to put their teams on a growth plan? How can I get my leaders to never settle for mediocrity (ducks) on the team and raise up eagles? How can I inspire them?”

 

Real leadership is honestly about helping my team transform themselves, and the only way I can do that is to transform myself. When they see me grow and become better, they desire to invest in growth themselves. When I see my leaders investing in their own growth—picking up a book without my nudging and telling me all about it, listening to a podcast and telling me about it, investing in their own growth seminars—I know I have empowered successfully. You see, it’s not just about our team doing their jobs; it’s about our team investing in themselves personally and professionally. Leadership truly starts at home, and if I can help them see that, everything changes: their lives and our business.

 

I witnessed the Law of Magnetism in Chris Connors and the team he chose to join him on our mission trip. Every one of them was like-minded and had a desire to serve. Every one of them had a desire to grow. Every night Chris would videotape what they learned that day, and there was not one day that one of them failed to grow from the experience there.

 

How much better could we all be if we videotaped ourselves at the end of the day—every single day of our lives—and said, “This is what I learned today”?

 

Chris Connors truly is a brilliant leader and I am so glad I met him and learned to stretch my mind to think differently. How about you—do you have a Chris in your life to make you stretch and think differently? Someone who won’t settle for your duck status and will instead push you to want to become an eagle?

 

I have two challenges for you:

 

  1. Find a mentor to stretch you and start stalking him or her. (P.S., that’s my first step to success in my book, BE AMAZING). If you haven’t picked it up yet, you can order it http://emerge-books.myshopify.com/products/be-amazing

 

  1. My second challenge is to daily or weekly record a video of yourself telling what you learned that week: how you were stretched and how you grew personally and professionally.

 

P.S. I’d love to see your videos! Please send them to me at tina@tinablack.net

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The missionary team Chris Connors put together, praying for the family of 20 who will live in the home we built for them.

 

Lesson #9 – Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

 

My recent trip to Africa was no ordinary mission trip. I like to call it a mission trip with a twist! For example, after we built our first home in South Africa, our leader Chris Connors surprised us with a trip to an African safari. “After all,” he said, “what’s a trip to South Africa without going to a safari?”

As we drove up to the safari we saw zebras and monkeys randomly running near the sides of the road. It was a sight to see. Chris, knowing how much I love zebras, stopped several times so I could take pictures. When we got to the safari, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before: animals roaming around in their natural habitats, including many animals I’d never heard of before. Giraffes everywhere. I felt like I was in the movie Jurassic Park!

On our jeep tour we were blessed to see lions off in the distance (thank goodness they sleep during the day). A zoo pales in comparison and a safari is a must, so be sure to put it on your bucket list!

On the last day Chris had another surprise for us: to touch and pet elephants. I’m not going to lie: that has never been on my bucket list. And honestly, it was raining and cold and I wanted to say, “No, go ahead. I’m good.” But then I remembered this leadership principle: Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

 

Trust me, I was definitely not comfortable with the idea of standing under an elephant that could crush me at any moment if he desired. And to top it off—to have to touch his tongue? Oh my! It would take a few days to wash that off! But I can honestly tell you that when I finished I felt a huge sense of achievement. I felt so proud of myself that I could tackle anything.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Tina, I’d love to do that. Why were you so scared?”

Well, you might have something you need to get comfortable with, too. Maybe it’s 12speaking in front of your peers. Maybe it’s talking to your boss. Maybe it’s reaching out to a mentor you’re intimidated by. Maybe it’s joining a gym to get healthier. Maybe it’s writing a book. Maybe it’s starting your own business. Whatever it is, all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Count to 20 and just do it!

What’s on your bucket list that you’ve been putting off and can’t put off anymore? What’s that one thing you need to do to catapult you to the next level at work or in your business? Write it down, then count to 20 and do it.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable!

 

Lesson #10 – Get Your Leadership On!

 

My daughter Brianna and I love to teach a class for salon and school owners called “Get Your Leadership On!”

Most classes teach you how to succeed in business, but few classes teach you how not to fail, or the biggest reasons for failure. That’s why we put this class together, and let me tell you, salon and school owners love it because it includes all the things they wish they could say but never actually say. After the class, most of them thank us and tell us that they now have the courage to have those crucial conversations with their staff members.

One thing we teach is one of the biggest reasons people fail in any business: they can’t manage their emotions. Many people fail in business because they lack the self-awareness and self-management skills required for success. I’ve been studying emotional intelligence quite heavily, and one thing is for sure: in most cases, emotional intelligence trumps IQ.

When I was in Africa I noticed that Chris Connors constantly recognized the emotional ups and downs of our teams. He knew when team members were struggling to get along and when they were struggling emotionally, especially after witnessing the devastation in the areas we served. I’m not going to lie: it never gets easier to see people struggling for their very existence. I wanted to pack all of the children in my suitcase and bring them all home, but that wouldn’t solve anything. We need to teach people how to give a hand up, not a handout—and Chris is a genius at this. He knew exactly how to turn a situation around and how to get our team to laugh. He knew how to connect one-on-one and always made time to do it. I may never be as skillful as Chris at this, but I want to be better because I know it will take my businesses to the next level.

I know I need to constantly get my leadership on, and the way to do it is to always have a growth plan. It’s easy for me now because I belong to the greatest leadership company in the world, the John Maxwell Team, and through their mentoring program I have access to a plethora of courses I can take and teach to my teams.

How about you? Do you have a growth plan? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Do you have a plan to develop them? How can you, too, get your leadership on?

Take time now to write out a growth plan for the rest of the month, the next quarter, and the next year. And get your leadership on!

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Before we wrap up the 10 leadership lessons, let’s recap them one more time …

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