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Alan Andersen

Entering Thanksgiving week, we are reminded about the importance of gratitude and giving thanks. So how can you as a leader apply this to your team?  Here is an article by Michael Hyatt highlighting Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) of Duke University, who is the is the winningest coach in college basketball. 

As a leader, he challenged his players to focus on gratitude. Find out what he asked them to do and the inspiring end result! A great read!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Your Coach, 



One Simple and Proven Reason Gratitude is the Winning Attitude

Before their 2015 tournament, Coach K and his players and coaches wrote the names of people who had helped them on a ball. They took it with them everywhere they went.

“Players started carrying the ball around—to team meals, on the plane, at practices, in the locker room,” Coach K told Success magazine. “Some of the guys even slept with it—had it right there with them in their rooms.”

It kept gratitude at the center of their game. And it helped them win. Why?

There are several reasons, but here’s one we probably don’t think about enough: Positive emotions like gratitude help us become more resilient. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met anyone who wins at very much for very long without resiliency.
What’s the connection? The are at least three ways gratitude encourages resilience. And these apply to athletes, entrepreneurs, parents, leaders … anyone.

  1. Gratitude keeps us hopeful. Gratitude is a contrast game. We remember something one way, then something else happened to improve it. Suddenly, we have something to be thankful for.

That process teaches us something critical about life. While our circumstances might be bad, they can also be better. And our stories prove it to us again and again. Gratitude keeps us positive, optimistic, and able to keep coming back for more when life throws obstacles in our way.

  1. Gratitude reminds us that we have agency. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true—and super, super important. It seems counter-intuitive because gratitude involves giving thanks for what we couldn’t manage on our own. But you know what they say about unopened gifts.

If we didn’t use our agency to receive and act on what others have done for us, we wouldn’t have benefited.

Coach K and his players highlight this. None of them would have made it to the tournament without the names on that ball, but they still did the blocking, shooting, and rebounding. And because of what they were already doing with the gifts others had given, they knew they could keep blocking, shooting, and rebounding.

  1. Gratitude expands our possible responses. I talk a lot about the difference between abundance and scarcity and how it affects our lives. Gratitude moves us into a place of abundance—a place where we’re more resourceful, creative, generous, optimistic, and kind. When we’re operating from a place of scarcity, it tends to make us reactionary, close-minded, tight-fisted, gloomy, and even mean.

Positive emotions, say researchers, “broaden one’s thought–action repertoire, expanding the range of cognitions and behaviors that come to mind. These broadened mindsets, in turn, build an individual’s physical, intellectual, and social resources.” In other words, make us more resilient.
They call it the “broaden-and-build theory.” But most of us know this from practical experience. We feel better, perform better, and respond to life’s ups and downs better when we’re grateful.
Coach K is one of the best basketball coaches of all time for a lot of reasons. One is gratitude. And his example can and should inspire the rest of us who want to win at work and succeed at life.
Originally submitted by Michael Hyatt. Article adapted. 

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What Choice Will you Make?

Alan Andersen


Everyday we are given the opportunity to make choices. The article below by Seth Godin, discusses how our attitude is the most important choice we will make.

The brain naturally gravitates toward the negative. We have been talking about the perils of a judgmental attitude and how it is a cancer in relationships. Every working person knows how it wreaks havoc in the workplace and sends everyone home in a bad mood. As leaders, we need to train people to think differently and arm them with tools to think positively and appreciate diversity of thought.

Awareness of what our motivators and values are helps us avoid judging others. Instead we learn to accept that people think differently than and are motivated differently than we are. Thus it shields us from the hazards of being a critical person.

Your Coach, 


The Choice

Attitude is the most important choice any of us will make. We made it yesterday and we get another choice to make it today. And then again tomorrow.

The choice to participate.

To be optimistic.

To intentionally bring out the best in other people.

We make the choice to inquire, to be curious, to challenge the status quo.

To give people the benefit of the doubt.

To find hope instead of fear in the face of uncertainty.

Of course these are attitudes. What else could they be?

And of course, they are a choice. No one does these things to us. We choose them and do the work (and find the benefits) that come with them.

Originally posted on Seth's Blog.


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Five Ways Leaders Lose Credibility

Alan Andersen

Credibility - while it takes years to build a reputation and credibility, it takes mere moments to destroy it.

My friend Dave Kraft shared this blog post on credibility and I think you will find value in the content. As he states: Credibility is essential in leadership. I agree!

Your Coach,


team and boss.png

Credibility is key in leadership. When you have lost your credibility your leadership is pretty much over. What causes a leader to loose credibility with followers. Here are five of them from Eric Geiger,

In The Leadership Challenge, researchers and authors, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner claim that the most important leadership characteristic is credibility. Based on extensive research over two decades, they write that “more than anything, we want leaders who are credible. People must be able to believe in their leaders.” Without credibility a “leader” won’t be leading long.
With similar thinking, Aristotle believed that effective communicators possess logic, passion, and credibility (logos, pathos, and ethos). A communicator without credibility is a communicator who won’t really be heard.

Credibility is essential in leadership. Here are five common ways leaders lose their credibility:

1. Lack of humility
Pride is repulsive. Over time, people loathe following someone who continually displays pride. Leaders who are unwilling to admit mistakes, who think everyone else’s ideas are inferior to their own, and who never asks for help lose credibility over time … and in escalating amounts.

2. Lack of clarity
When a leader fails to offer clarity of mission or clarity of values, people are unsure of their collective mission and their collective identity. When clarity is absent, trust erodes. An unclear leader loses credibility as people look to leaders for direction.

3. Lack of love
A leader without love is a clanging cymbal. A leader who continually is angry, not hospitable, and views people as tools instead of people with value decidedly loses the heart of those he/she is seeking to lead.

4. Lack of moral authority
People do not expect their leaders to be perfect. But they do expect their leaders to be men and women of character and integrity. A leader whose life lacks integrity is a leader who lacks the authority to really lead.

5. Lack of serving
Leaders who never get their hands dirty, who never step into the context of those they are leading, who never experience what their teams experience lose credibility to lead. They are perceived as dictators and talking heads and not leaders who serve alongside those they lead.

Originally submitted by Eric Geiger

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How's Your Motivation?

Alan Andersen


As a leader, the success of your business relies on how well you keep your team motivated. You have to be intentional, creative, and when it comes to your people, know what motivates them!  

John Rampton shares in his article below, 4 Ways to Motivate Employees to Achieve Phenomenal Results Every Day.  Rampton says: "Many entrepreneurs have started companies by themselves but none has ever grown a company by themselves."

This is so true!   How are you going to fuel your team today?

Your Coach, 


Motivating your employees’ day-in and day-out is no easy task. But, if you want to keep them engaged, productive, and happy, then it’s a necessity if you want your business to thrive. Not only will your employees give you their all, they’ll also be more inclined to stay with you, which reduces the cost of hiring and training new employees.

If you’re looking for a good starting point, here are four ways to motivate your employees to be phenomenal every day.

1. Identify and retain your A-Players.
Arguably the most important way to motivate your employees everyday is to make sure that you have people who are talented and can fit your company’s culture. In other words, you want to surround yourself with people who are, as Brent Frei, executive chairman and co-founder of Smartsheet, describes as “A-Players.”
Your A-players are trustworthy and reliable. They have good communication skills and insatiable curiosity about how things work. They set a high-bar for themselves and are willing to take calculated risks to achieve big results. You increase your odds of retaining them long term by allowing them to take control and accept responsibility on tasks or projects. Challenge them to them to work on difficult projects. Provide them with regular feedback and build trust by being honest and transparent, like sharing day-to-day revenue. Rewarding their hard work with everything from saying “thank you” to giving them a bonus or raise is, of course, essential.

Frei’s process achieves two goals. It inspires your top talent to be the best that they can be and weeds out toxic employees who aren’t pulling their own weight.
2. Live your mission statement.
One of my all-time TED Talks is from leadership expert Simon Sinek where he discussed the value of "why."
"Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100%. . . But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by "why" I don't mean "to make a profit." By "why," I mean: What's your purpose? What's your cause?"

Inspirational leaders provide their employees with a sense of meaning. And you can find that sense of meaning by revisiting the mission statement that won over investors and partners. The reason? It outlined your goals, what you want to achieve, the steps to achieve those goals, and why you want to come into work each and every day.

You mission statement convinced investors to financially support you with their hard-earned money, so it should also be used to motivate your employees on a daily basis to help you achieve your, and theirs, dreams.

3. Tap Into their passions.
When employees are passionate they’re engaged and productive, but how can you tap into their passions?

For starters, regularly meet with them one-on-one to discuss their goals and values. You can then provide them with advice and the resources to harness their skills to achieve those goals. For example, you could provide training or offer to pay for them to take an online course or college class to make them stronger and more well-rounded team members.
Another tactic is to have employees rotate positions. Along the way, they may discover that they enjoy that new position and are now doing a job that they love. Connect their work with something that they love and they’ll be more motivated, engaged, and productive.
4. Create a Happy and Productive Work Environment
I am thoroughly impressed with the workplace environment that Google has built. It’s just amazing. Google offers unique perks and benefits like reimbursement of up to $5000 to employees for legal expenses, 18-weeks of maternity benefits for both parents, free lunch and dinners, and on-site fitness center, car wash and dry cleaner. A forum every Friday allows employee to get questions answered by team leaders
The list of what Google does to motivate its team is long. 

  • Employees have the freedom and flexibility to tackle projects on their own terms, working the hours that they work.
  • Google encourages employees to work on passion projects. That’s how Gmail got it’s start.
  • The workplace is actually be fun. Google has things like pajama days and employees can take breaks to play volleyball, bowl, or rock climb.
  • There’s also unconventional office designs like conference rooms that look like an Irish Pub. Also, Google allows employees to design their own work areas.

Even if you don’t have a budget or the resources like Google, there are simple, and affordable, ways to create a happy and productive work environment.

  • Keep your office clean, organized, and comfortable.
  • Make sure that it’s well-lighted. Natural light is the best option, but if not, then have light fixtures with filters.
  • Create a quiet space where employees can relax.
  • Encourage employees to personalize their work areas by selecting their own desks and decorating it how they please.
  • Hold fun activities like birthday and holiday parties or weekly events like an ice-cream social.
  • Encourage wellness by offering gym memberships or even just doing yoga in the office.
  • Create spaces where teams can collaborate with each other to complete a project.
  • Be flexible with their work hours. Maybe you can allow them work remotely once a week or leave at 3pm so that they can pickup their children from school.

Here is to making the best office environment possible.
Originally posted on

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The Top 10 Fears that Keep People from Getting What They Want in Life

Alan Andersen


There are many things that can prevent humans from attaining what they need and want in their life. Probably the biggest obstacle that comes disguised in many "costumes" is fear. Fear can paralyze us, it can prevent us from making decisions, from taking any action, from asking for what we want, and from even realizing what it is that we truly value and need and want in our life. The following are the more common areas where fear shows up. A famous quote which is very helpful to remember when facing fears is, "Fear knocked at the door, and faith answered, and no one was there."

1. Fear of Failing.

This has traditionally been one of the things people say they are most afraid of when asked why they did not do something or try something. It is based on old ideas that everything we do has to be entirely successful (or even just successful) and that there even is such a thing as a real failure!

2. Fear of Success.

As with fearing failure, many people are just as afraid of succeeding. To them, success could mean more responsibility, more attention, perhaps more liability, and a continued pressure to perform at a high level. Many of us were taught to be prepared for failure and not for success, so we are therefore more afraid of it.

3. Fear of Being Judged.

We grew up wanting the approval of our parents and peers. This carries through to adulthood for many, and can create real problems if the fear that others are constantly judging us keeps us from doing what we want or need to do, and from going after our dreams and our goals. Judging others or ourselves is a waste of time and serves no positive purpose.

4. Fear of Emotional Pain.

This, like all fears, is one where we can only suffer or allow ourselves to feel pain if we give permission for it. Life is full of lessons, and within those lessons people make mistakes and errors and experience some kind of let down. That let down does not have to turn into emotional pain nor suffering unless we give it the green light to do so.

5. Fear of Embarrassment

Most people do not like the feelings associated with making mistakes publicly, usually because they allow themselves to feel ashamed, or they assume people view them as foolish. This again is a place where we have the choice to allow ourselves to live and to not be concerned with the judgments or opinions of others.

6. Fear of Being Alone/Abandoned.

For many, the fear of being alone keeps them in relationships (personal and business) even though they are abused and miserable. Others fear speaking their true feelings for fear their friends, colleagues, or loved ones will turn away from them or abandon them. Realize that we are never really alone, and that if people reject us or leave us because we are honest about our feelings, we are better off without those people in our life. There will always be new friends, new colleagues, and new projects we can become involved with which will keep us connected to others and we need not ever feel alone. As one builds a strong sense of their self worth and what they have to offer the world, the fear of being alone fades.

7. Fear of Rejection.

When we take a social or professional risk, there is usually the potential that what we say or the ideas we present might be rejected or not accepted as we had hoped. And so? The rejection of an idea or even the rejection of us personally does not mean we are not worthy, talented in our work, or otherwise desirable. It means a person or group of people views something(s) differently than we do. Period. So rather than take it to the heart and feel like we are a leper who has been shunned, or an idiot whose ideas are all bad, it is productive to view it as a single incident where what we had to offer was not compatible with what others were wanting, and move on. We have a lot of other people to meet and who will accept us freely, and we also have many others who might like our idea that someone else rejected. We need to move on, not take it as a personal attack, and keep being ourselves and create what we know to be positive work and social contributions.

8. Fear of Expressing Our True Feelings.


Lack of good, clear, honest communication has ruined more than one relationship, business or business transaction. It is vital, if we are to be successful in our life, to be able and willing to express our true and honest feelings to our loved ones, our colleagues, our adversaries, and even to ourselves. If we do not know how we feel, we need to take time to discover that. If we need help, we need to ask for help. Honest, open communication, delivered in a non-abusive non- violent manner, is a learned habit. Once learned, it is much easier to do, and practiced regularly, it does more to enrich and keep our lives in balance than almost any other thing we can do.

9. Fear of Intimacy.

While many think of intimacy as strictly having sexual connotations, it encompasses much more. It is actually the highest and best form of being and communicating with other people (or another person). Most importantly, true intimacy is made up of unconditional love for the people with whom we share it. Unconditional love is not easy for many to learn and master, but it is essential if one wants to learn to be a tolerant, non-judgmental person who respects both the needs and the wants of the other people in their life.

10. Fear of the Unknown

Life is full of unknowns. The best any of us can do is to know what our values and needs and standards are, and use that to determine what we are willing to spend our time and money on throughout our life. This includes some risks, but so does driving a car, crossing the street, or playing any sport. If we stay in the present moment time frame, we will not allow the fears of anything that happened or that we heard from the past to influence us. If we do not allow ourselves to think into the future and worry or "what if," we will not allow ourselves to incorporate any needless anticipatory and totally speculative anxieties into our mind. The unknown can be exciting and vast in a very positive way, especially if we use our common sense, our intuition and heart-felt feelings, and our values and standards barometer to guide us from moment to moment, day to day, and project to project. More often than not, that which we fear might happen never does, and if so, we are much more prepared for it than we imagined we would be when we were worrying.

Your Coach,


This piece was originally submitted by Dennis R. Tesdel

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The Top 10 Ways to Give Your Self More Time

Alan Andersen


In our quest for personal growth we often discover that our time is more valuable than ever.  We desire to invest in our time in things that are a part of our values, priorities, and passion.  We hope this list gives you some new ideas for how to facilitate that process in your own life!

The Top 10 Ways to Give Your Self More Time

Your day starts in a rush and continues on pretty much at the same pace until the end of the day when you collapse on your bed and have to struggle to quiet your mind chatter so you can get some sleep and do it all over again. Does this sound familiar?

How would it feel to have more time to do the things you love doing and to feel more at peace as you go through your day? It is possible.

1. Eliminate redundant activities and things that do not add value to who you are or what you do.

Limit the amount of TV, electronic games and other such activities to 5 hours a week (if that). These types of mind-numbing activities should be used sparingly. Eliminate anything that does not contribute to your personal or professional development. Ask yourself whether the information is nice-to-know versus need-to-know. Eliminate redundant activities to free up valuable time for more enjoyable activities.

2. Stop putting up with stuff.

When you stop putting up with stuff, you are redefining your self and raising your standards. There is great power in choice. When you choose to no longer put up with stuff, you have more energy and time to focus on the things that matter.

3. Value your time.

Don’t let others steal your time with unnecessary interruptions or long conversations. If others come to you with gossip, stop it. If you value your time, others will. Time equals life. How you spend each minute/hour/day of your life is your choice.

4. Eliminate the rush.

If you are someone who constantly runs late, drives too fast, procrastinates or avoids things, you may be an adrenaline addict. Stop the triggering behavior and avoid crisis mode. Arrive 15 minutes early for every appointment. Drive slower – you have the time. Eliminate procrastinating from your life, just get it done and you will increase your energy reserve and decrease your stress. Under promise and over deliver. Slowing down, doing less and taking care of yourself physically will actually give you MORE energy.

5. Organize.

Eliminating the mental and physical clutter in your life will allow you to focus more on getting things accomplished. Only touch a piece of material once and deal with it using the 3D model – Do it, Delegate it or Dump it. Resolve personal issues and issues that hold you back.

6. Do less. Simplify everything.

Stop doing things that are not a good use of your time. Learn to delegate. Automate anything and everything you can. Learn to say no to things that are not the best use of your time. Eliminate 50% of your projects. Stay involved in only 3 associations, volunteer organizations or Boards of Directors. Boredom is the gatekeeper to peace. Once you have simplified enough to bring boredom, you can fill the space with things you really enjoy. Do less; you will have more.

7. Identify your priorities. Live by them.

If you value spending time with your kids and you are working late every night, you are not living by your own values. Have your actions reflect your values. Stop comparing yourself to others and create your own standards. Identify and eliminate anything that gets in the way of living by your priorities.

8. Realize that you are already perfect – perfectly human.

Perfectionism is a great time-waster and energy-drainer. It doesn’t work. Don’t take life so seriously. Mistakes are our way of inviting lessons. These lessons are perfect for our growth. Be abundantly human and know that we are all perfect in our humanness; what is not perfect is our definition of perfect.

9. Take care of yourself.

Regular maintenance is necessary for your car and computer to run in perfect order. Your body, mind and soul need regular maintenance and fueling to run smoothly as well. Regular doses of exercise, meditation (15 minutes of quite time daily) and soul food (music, dancing, touch, etc.) rejuvenates and energizes you. This is necessary to maintain your engine in perfect working condition. If you are calm and at peace, you are in better condition to be productive.

10. Focus on Being rather than Doing.

If you rush through life you avoid being yourself. Give yourself permission to be a human being rather than a human doing. In school we are taught to think but no one ever teaches us how to feel our feelings and express them appropriately. Feelings are so important in decision-making, problem solving and goal setting. Give yourself time to reflect and experience your feelings. When you experience your feelings, you save time and energy by addressing the underlying issue right away. Learn to just be with yourself. When you have time to think and breathe, you let the creative juices to flow and you are able to synthesize the information and ideas that surface. When we are too busy doing, there is no time to consider the possibilities.

Your Coach,


This piece was originally submitted by Julie Fuimano 


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How To Truly Be Effective

Alan Andersen

There are few people that are leading effectively like Dave Kraft! Over the years, he has been an endless source of wisdom and passion for our firm. 

Today we learn from Dave Kraft about how we can truly be effective. In his words...

it all basically comes down to one thing…in many cases:


I had a coaching call with one of my clients recently and the entire call was pretty much a discussion about some bad habits he had gotten into and what he needed to do to break the vicious cycle and build some good habits.

Much of life, in general, and of the life of a leader, in particular, is all about breaking bad habits and forming good habits; as we are led by him, empowered by him and seek to honor Him.

Habits in how we are:

1) Using time

2) Spending money

3) Making decisions

4) Dealing with Conflict

5) Reading

6) Leading meetings

7) Hiring the right people

8) Letting the wrong people go

9) Continuing to grow ourselves and our leadership potential

10) Sleeping

11) Exercising

12) Eating

Using the above list what bad habits, over time, have you allowed yourself to get into?

There is something commendable about, by his grace, trying to stop doing things which are hurting you and the ministry and to, instead, start doing thing which will help you and the ministry. In a sense, we are all creatures of habit to one degree or another, for better or worse.

Let’s stop over-spiritualizing what’s wrong and look at our habits which are getting us into trouble…maybe even lots of trouble.

Oh, it’s the devil, or it’s this town, or it’s the people in my church or organization.  Maybe it’s YOU!  Maybe it’s some bad habits you have allowed to creep in, start with yourself. I have the habit of (fill in the blank).

By way of application, ask yourself these two questions:

1) What is one habit I have gotten into which is hurting me and the work I’m called to do?

2) What can I, will I, do to stop that habit and start building the habit of doing things differently which could make all the difference in the world?

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Go Ahead, Take That Vacation!

Alan Andersen

As Summer begins to wind down, it often means our thoughts turn to the next season where things get busy and life begins to change. But wait! It's not too late to enjoy one last summer vacation. Michael Hyatt shares how to optimize time off and come back refreshed in his article, Go Ahead Leaders, Take That Vacation

Go Ahead Leaders, Take That Vacation

7 Strategies to Optimize Your Time Off and Come Back Refreshed

The days are getting shorter again, but it’s not too late to take a few days off before the end of summer. August is often the perfect month to take some time away from work.

You should consider getting away for a bit because you probably need it. Vacations are vital for rejuvenation, especially for high-achievers.

And yet people constantly tell me they don’t know how to get time away or what to do with themselves when they get time off. So I’ve put together 7 strategies for how leaders can best plan and enjoy vacations.

1. Understand the Various Types of Vacations

Vacations come in different varieties. There are spiritual pilgrimages, health improvement vacations, change of pace vacations, rest and relaxation vacations, sightseeing vacations, and other kinds of vacations. You can see one longer list here.

2. Choose the Vacation that Makes Sense for You

There is no wrong answer, but it’s helpful to know what kind of vacation you want so that you can plan accordingly. Money matters as a consideration. I wouldn’t go into debt to go on a vacation, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking time off.

If you just need a change of pace, a “staycation” might work for you. Don’t go into the office, don’t commute, ignore all email and other social networks, and just have a good time with family and friends. Maybe read some books that you’ve been putting off, barbecue in the backyard, and sleep in.

Several years ago—when I was still CEO of Thomas Nelson—my family joined me after a business trip to Brazil with a rest and relaxation vacation in the fishing village of Buzios. We hung out there for a week, and it was totally refreshing. We ate fresh fish every day. We got massages. We laid out in the sun. It was fantastic.

3. Get Caught Up Before You Leave

I’m never more productive than I am in the few days before I go on vacation. Even if you have to work late for a few nights before you leave, you’re going to rest better knowing your physical and digital inboxes are empty and that there’s not some important task left half-done.

4. Delegate Authority to Act in Your Absence

If you don’t have anybody working for you, this may not be important. But if you’re a leader and you have a department or executive assistant or people counting on you for decisions, then you have to set this up.

If you already have a number 2 to delegate that authority to, that’s great. If not, then I suggest you do what I did at Thomas Nelson. I picked someone and sent an email out to the leadership team saying “While I’m away, I’ve authorized Joe to make any decisions that need to be made on my behalf. He has my complete confidence. Whatever decisions he makes will have my support when I return.”

5. Set Other People’s Expectations

Sending that email is an important part of setting other people’s expectations for what to do at work while you’re on vacation. If you don’t tell people you’re on vacation, they’re not going to know. They’re going to still send you emails or make phone calls, and they’re going to expect a response.

You have to make sure your voicemail and your email notifications are turned on (you know, your out-of-office messages). You have to tell people you’re not going to be checking messages. Then tell them what to do in case of an emergency.

You should also tell them when you’re going to return, and tell them not to expect replies to messages sent while you were on vacation. If it’s not resolved by the time you’re back, they can contact you again about it.

6. Focus on the Purpose of Your Vacation

Focusing on the vacation helps you to be fully present. Don’t think about the office. Don’t think about all the stuff you left undone, which, if you followed the previous step, you didn’t do. Don’t wonder what’s happening in your absence. Don’t think about what you’re going to be doing when you get back. Don’t be planning the future.

Instead, really focus on the people you’re with and the purpose for which you went on the vacation to begin with. Enjoy doing something wholly different from your usual workaday routine. This is the whole point of vacations. Miss it, and you’ll miss out.

7. Block Out a “Catch up Day” for Your Return

On the day I come back to work after a vacation, I have no meetings and take no phone calls. Usually, in my out-of-office message, I tell people that I’m coming back to work a day later than the day I come back to town. I don’t lie about it. I say, “I’ll be available on such-and-such a day.”

That gives me some buffer time when I can really catch up, where I can process email and other inboxes. Then I can hit the ground running again, feeling both refreshed and totally caught up.

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How to be a Leader who Coaches

Alan Andersen

At Shandel Group we are committed to helping you become the best leader you can be. If you've ever wondered how to become a great leader and coach to those on your team, the Ken Blanchard blog recently shared these great tips: 5 Important Coaching Techniques Every Leader Should Practice.

Your Coach,


More and more organizations are looking for their managers to use coach-like behaviors in conversations with their direct reports.

Here are five of the most important techniques coaches use in their conversations with clients.

Consider how these techniques could help the managers in your organization be more coach-like in their communication style.

  • Be fully present. Practice being fully present in your conversations with people. Avoid distractions, give undivided attention, and show you care. Of course, we all know this is easier said than done—but this alone can go a long way toward building trust.
  • Get, and keep, the conversation focused. It is easier to help a direct report move forward, faster, if they are the one who declares a specific focus for the discussion. Having them establish a focus creates a more deliberate and intentional conversation. Keep in mind there will be times when the conversation goes off topic. When it does, the manager is expected to get the conversation back on track.
  • Ask mostly open-ended questions, especially those starting with what and how. Open-ended questions promote discovery for the other person. The most essential questions coaches ask are what and how questions that help direct reports discover their own answers or course of action.
  • Stay action focused. Help the direct report create a plan of action that will move them forward. Share coaching questions such as “What do you think you need to do now?” As much as possible, keep the ownership of the plan, and any actions, in the direct report’s court. Actions they take may turn out to be excellent growth opportunities. Keeping the ball in the other court allows managers to get on to other things on their to-do list.
  • Follow up. Check in with direct reports on their progress, their learnings, and any challenges they might be facing. Doing this helps them keep what they said they would do top of mind. It also shows them again that you care—which is never a bad thing.

There are many ways for managers to incorporate a coaching style to help people develop more competence and confidence. The ideas above are in no way a complete list, but I encourage you to have the managers in your organization give them a try. Practicing coach-like behaviors in your conversations creates a learning environment not only for those you coach, but for you as well.

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How to Give Feedback that Actually Works!

Alan Andersen

This week, we are talking about constructive feedback. Here are some suggestions to help you get the conversation started with your team. Below, 13 entrepreneurs share some insight on how they communicate with their key people when they start sliding in their performance.

In your own experience, what has worked for you?

Your Coach,


How to Give Your Employees Feedback That Actually Works: 13 Suggestions

Is a key staff member suddenly underperforming? Here’s how to tell them the truth.

Your team can make or break your company. So what do you do when a valued employee isn’t living up to expectations or performing to their full potential? Fourteen entrepreneurs fromYEC share the best ways to deliver constructive feedback or criticism.

1. Find out what it is about their job that isn’t living up to their expectations.
Make the conversation about what that employee wants for his/her future. What type of career do they want? What do they think are their strengths and weaknesses? If you can frame it in a way that prioritizes getting the most out of their potential, they will be much more receptive to your concerns about their current productivity.–Simon Casuto, eLearning Mind

2. Use the sandwich technique.
When you have to criticize someone for any reason, always say something nice to begin with, then provide a bit of constructive criticism before ending with something else positive. It works every time.–Bobby Emamian, Prolific Interactive

3. Use the “2 ears, 1 mouth” approach.
My granddad advised, “You’ve got 2 ears, 1 mouth. So listen double.” First, ask the employee to self-evaluate. Their answer tells you if they’re honest or delusional. Many times they’ll suggest a solution. They’ll commit to an internal solution far more than anything you’d suggest. When it’s my turn, I commend one thing they feel they’re doing well. Then I dig in with where they must improve. -Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority

4. Schedule reviews regularly so issues don’t build up.
We have a review cycle that takes place every 6 weeks. These reviews are a free back-and-forth exchange about how things are going, what’s working and what’s not. The frequency makes sure that strong relationships grow and no small issue has time to evolve into something larger.–Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics

5. Understand the roadblocks they’re facing first.
Your lowest performing employee may not actually be the weakest link within your firm. Before offering advice, listen carefully to what may be hindering true productivity. Help eliminate those roadblocks, then see if performance has changed. If so, then you avoid an awkward conversation which challenges a person’s worth. If not, then you may directly diagnose and address the problem.–Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

6. Get personal.
Talk to employees on a human level and refer to a time in your own career where you received similar feedback. We all make mistakes and have personal growth opportunities, and sharing your own experiences with the employee can soften the message and get the discussion focused on improvement.–John Tabis, The Bouqs Company

7. Begin with a positive.
The person has to be doing something right. Initiate the conversation with that, and follow with an “and” rather than a “but.” For example: “Alex, you’re doing a wonderful job managing the client database, and I’d like to see you take more initiative to solicit updates for it.” This approach will put the employee in the right frame of mind (i.e. nondefensive) to receive the feedback. -Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

8. Split the ownership.
At RTC, we’re known for our interventions. When someone has a blind spot that is not serving them, our clients, or our company, we have a responsibility to make them aware and then challenge them to engage in coaching to overcome the issue. We split the ownership by saying, “This is going to be awesome for both you and the company.” And we offer to split the cost of the coaching. Works every time.–Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

9. Reiterate their importance to your business.
A common tactic most people use is leading in with one positive for every negative comment, which is always helpful. I think it’s a good idea to take it one step further and reinforce that they’re part of the team, and everyone is working toward the same goals. This can prevent them from feeling singled out.–Daniel Wesley,

10. Be clear from the get-go about expectations.
Be clear about what you expect from your employees from the beginning. A lot of disappointment can be avoided if everyone is on the same page. When you do need to deliver constructive feedback, be honest and straightforward about it, understand where they are coming from and create an action plan with them to improve it. No one benefits if you don’t respond promptly when you’re disappointed.–Basha Rubin, Priori Legal

11. Give specific details about the impact of their actions.
People always wants to know where they stand, whether good or bad, so they can focus more on what they’re doing right or wrong. But delivering the news is key. Try to word it in a way where the job they’re doing is letting their teammates down and putting more pressure on others. Give specific details so they clearly understand.–Michael Sinensky, Village Pourhouse

12. Make it about us, not them.
Most likely, if a good employee isn’t living up to expectations, you as a leader haven’t provided them a clear path to the goal. So take some responsibility and make it a “we” conversation with them. How can we work together to fix these problems? How can we make the end goal clear and work together to get there? They will be more receptive to change, plus you’ll learn something and become better too.–Kyle Clayton, Better Creative

13. Whatever you do, don’t sugarcoat it.
If an employee is not performing, it is your duty to clearly communicate your exact expectations and discern the nature of the issue. If you did your job and hired the right person it could be something else, personal or professional. But if you decide to let the person go, be sure to do so with respect and dignity. How you treat people who have been promoted out will have a direct impact on morale. –Joseph DiTomaso, AllTheRooms

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Meetings: Time-wasters or Team-builders?

Alan Andersen

Have you ever been frustrated when thinking about the meetings you go to? Here are some great observations and ideas from Dave Kraft. As you read, consider how you can contribute to more effective meetings in your own workplace, team, or organization.

Your Coach,



Many leaders spend a fair amount of hours sitting in meetings which are always mentioned in surveys as the biggest time waster.

For the most part, meetings I have experienced over 49 years of leadership are poorly prepared, poorly executed, with poor follow-up.

One of the key issues is that we spend too much time discussing and not enough time pulling the trigger and making decisions. We can discuss something to death, but seem afraid to make the necessary decisions.

There are a number of reasons that meetings have a well-deserved bad rap. Here are a few:

1.  There is no clear purpose for why we are having this meeting in the first place. Some are held simply because they have always been held…the first Monday of every month.

2.  There is no agenda so people are not prepared by having thought through some of the issues to be discussed, getting their problem-solving skills cooking and their creative juices flowing. Additionally, it’s easy to go down rabbit trails with no clear pathway for the meeting

3.  Some of the people who need to be there (for whatever reason) are not there and some who are there don’t need to be there.

4.  The meetings start too late and take too long, often eating up more time than is actually necessary and that was originally agreed upon.

5.  No one is taking notes so there is a lack of clarity on what (if anything) was decided, who is responsible for executing the decision(s), what the time-line is for the execution and how this person(s) will be held accountable?

6.  We optimistically think we can accomplish more than is realistic, so go longer or leave with a lot of unfinished items which is always frustrating

Do any of these sound familiar to you? What can you do (whether you lead your meetings or not) to address some of these common reasons for “Poor Meetings?”

In my thinking, there are three kinds of meetings:

1.  Meetings where the ball is moved down the field

The agenda is followed without allowing things to go down rabbit trails. It is clear from the get-go what needs to be discussed and what needs to be decided. It is clear who has authority to make certain decisions. If it is not clear who can and will make the final call, not much will happen, to most everyone’s disappointment.

2.  Meetings where we sit on the ball

In meetings where you are striving for consensus, it takes only one person to hold everyone hostage. I was in a meeting once (as a consultant) where the same topic came up yet again and was voted down by one individual. I was told afterward that this same person has been doing this for a number of years and they have never been able to make this decision because they feel they need to have 100% unanimity. Lord, have mercy!

There is a difference between taking your time and patiently waiting before making a decision and simply procrastinating because you feel you need more time or more information. In many cases you will never have all the information you would like to have, but more than likely have enough to make an intelligent, God-honoring decision.

3.  Meetings where we actually allow the ball to move backward

In some meetings we can actually move the ball backward by second-guessing ourselves and reversing a decision which has already been made because we have thought of more reasons not to make it; among them, caving to the fear of what others may think or the fear of making a wrong decision.

Here are some simple, but helpful, ideas on making decisions in your meetings. These are from the little book “Managing Your Time,” by Ted Engstrom, which I purchased for 95 cents in the 1960s.  What follows here is as relevant today as it was when first written in 1967--for sure an oldie-but-goody.

  • Don’t make decisions under stress
  • Don’t make snap decisions
  • Don’t drag your feet
  • Consult other people
  • Don’t try to anticipate everything
  • Don’t be afraid of making a wrong decision
  • Once the decision is made, go ahead to something else

Readiness to risk failure is probably the one quality that best characterizes the effective leader.  Never vacillate in making a decision.  Indecision at the top breeds lack of confidence and hesitancy throughout an organization.

Indecision ranks high among the time robbers, frequently resulting from fear of failure.  Failure to make timely decisions can result in significant long-run waste of effort and loss of time.

It has often been observed that a less desirable decision made in a timely fashion and implemented with discernment may result in far more progress than the best decision which is first delayed then implemented with hesitancy.

The risk of decision-making is inherent in the executive position.  Those unwilling to take the risks involved do not belong in this position.  Most important, yet perhaps least recognized, is the factor of time allowed for corrective action by a decision made and implemented in a timely way.  Even if it is not the best decision, prompt action often provides the added margin of time for correction.

-Adapted from an article by Dave Kraft.

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Worry is a False Sense of Control

Alan Andersen

Everyone has fear. The courageous learn to not listen to fear. Instead they choose to take action and press through to do what’s right.

The cowardly learn to listen to fear. They choose either passivity or control to hide behind — and ultimately compromise their values resulting in a boring meaningless life.

Either way it’s a choice. Your choice.

False Sense of Control

For me, choosing to not worry is nothing short of a miracle every day. Yes I fail sometimes. But what I notice is that when I stop myself, whatever I am thinking about is not that urgent, rational, or even real. When I stop the thought, nothing in my life changes!

You know why? Worry is trying to control the future, which clearly cannot be done. When we are anxious it is never about the present, it always about the future — and our need to control it.

Worry is a big fat lie and a false sense of control — which is addicting if you haven’t noticed.

During a coaching call, I had a client share about his victory over anxiety. He shared that his “A-HA” was that he is really good at solving problems and even better when it is a crisis. He is sometimes at his best in those situations. Therefore, why worry that something might happen when, first of all, it rarely ever comes true, and secondly, when it does, he is the man for the job to solve the problem quickly and efficiently? He has his joy back.

Learn to Trust

It’s true. We have what it takes to solve most problems! We all struggle with different fears, depending on how we are wired. Your fears may not even faze me, while my fears might make you laugh.

I am learning how much I suck at trust and lean heavily on worry for a false sense of security and control. However, I am learning the great lesson of trusting in something bigger than myself for that 3% of negative that might happen, and to leave the 97% behind (or at least for tomorrow to worry about LOL).

Live Fearlessly!

I often will ask my clients, “What if the fear of ______ (name area here) did not exist in your life, then what would you do?” The answers that pour forth are so amazing and life-giving it always gives me goosebumps. Try it right now and you will see what I mean.

Dismiss worry from your life! Or at least try it out for a few weeks. Do not allow yourself to worry and see what happens!

Let me know your thoughts below.

Fearlessly Your Coach,


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To Follow Through or Not to Follow Through?

Alan Andersen

To follow through or to not follow through — that is NOT the question! The question, what does it look like in your world to be a master of the skills of Follow-Up and Follow-Through? (See previous blog entries for the Why and the How!)

You are a master of Follow-Up and Follow-Through when you:

  • Have a vision for your commitments. Use visual reminders in your work area to boost your motivation.
  • Provide encouragement and motivation to others. You’ll uplift yourself in the process.
  • Follow prevailing standard operating procedures (if established) until you can improve on them. Model your actions on someone successful.
  • Plan your processes ahead of time. Create checklists so you don’t have to rely on memory to ensure each step is completed.
  • Schedule next steps using specific dates and times. Use business tools such as mobile devices or computer calendars to set automatic reminders at the time you schedule.
  • Respect other people’s time and wishes by asking what works for them and being on time.
  • Plan to take actions every day that can move you toward your commitments.
  • Schedule periodic evaluations of your effectiveness. Identify what actions were missing that could have improved outcomes and add them to your checklists.
  • Offer resources of value to others based on their needs, working towards a win-win situation.

When it comes to sales or new business development, you as a master of Follow-Up and Follow-Through:

  • Embed your campaign with value. This is helpful for building new relationships, maintaining current ones and expanding current engagements into larger accounts.
  • Build a favorable “personal brand recognition” with your customers by using frequent, brief emails, tweets or phone calls to provide communications the customer is genuinely interested in.
  • Educate people to aid their decision-making process and motivate them to action. Help prospects move towards making a decision without pressure or hype.
  • Personalize your efforts. Plan ahead to provide something of value from the other person’s point of view.
  • Be persistent, but don’t continually pester people who have told you no. Have a valid business reason (such as new information) for asking them to reconsider.
  • Ask permission to follow up with them at a later date when they may have further needs. Set a reminder to do so.

These are just the beginning of applying Follow-Up and Follow-Through in your working world. Of course you can (and need to!) apply Follow-Up and Follow-Through in your personal life as well.

If you could use a little assistance in strengthening these skills, let us know. We’ll follow up with ya!

Your Coach,


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Seven Unique Abilities of Good Leaders

Alan Andersen

Often you will hear leaders ask the question What makes a good leader?  Ron Edmondson shared an excellent blog on Seven Unique Abilities of Good Leaders. All of his points are right-on and more importantly, achievable.

Enjoy these tips and continue on your journey to: Get Clarity. Have Purpose. Be Intentional!

Your Coach,


Seven Unique Abilities of Good Leaders

1.  Ability to stand alone – You don’t have to always stand alone as a leader. In fact, that should never be the goal, but there will be times it takes others time to catch the vision you are certain you have been called to lead. There will be days when everyone appears a critic. You’ll still have to lead. That’s why not everyone is willing to lead.
2.  Ability to see what others can’t see – Leaders are taking people into the unknown. They see beyond the clutter of today into a bigger picture; a brighter reality. Many times they can view the end goal…as blurry as it may be…before others can. That’s why people need a leader.
3.  Ability to think beyond today – Leadership is different from managing. It’s not about maintaining systems. It’s about what’s next. What’s ahead. What’s yet to be realized. That requires a more heads up rather than heads down approach. Not everyone has that ability.

4.  Ability to cast a vision – People need to know the why behind the what. They need something to inspire them for the difficult days ahead. Good leaders can communicate effectively, share passion and motivate others to endure and succeed.
5.  Ability to include people in the process – Leaders have a unique understanding that they can’t complete the task without the assistance of others. Genuine leaders share credit and acknowledge the contributions of those they lead. There is little room for selfishness or dictatorial control in good leadership.
6. Ability to make the first move – Leaders aren’t intimidated by fear or the unknown. They aren’t emotionless, but they know the journey to victory begins with the first step…and they will lead others in taking that step. This ability alone eliminates many from the field of leadership.
7.  Ability to stay when others are leaving – There will be times of chaos when everything seems to be falling apart. The leader holds the banner of stability, pointing people back to the vision, reminding them of the rewards for staying the course.
Certainly there are others and I welcome you to share them. I’m also certain there have been great leaders who don’t have all seven of these, but good leadership will requires each of these at some point. And, great leaders, in my opinion, display each one often or when required.
What unique abilities would you add for good leadership?

Adapted. Original article by Ron Edmondson

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Leave Your Fear of Failure Behind

Alan Andersen

All leaders at some point will experience failure. It's something you can not hide from, but it is definitely something you can overcome!

Brian Dodd shares his takeaways from an interview in Sports Illustrated by Alan Shipnuck
. In it, Shipnuck talks with Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love. We learn how failure formed him to be the best! 

I love this quote by Dodd:
"The ability to learn lessons in the midst of failure while having the perseverance to keep moving forward is the mark of a successful leader."

Leave your fear of failure behind you this week! 

Your Coach,


14 Practices Of Leaders Who Overcome Failure
By Brian Dodd

“It’s O.K. to make a mistake as long as you leave it behind.” – Kevin Love

A significant part of being a great leader is knowing how to handle failure. We have all failed.  It is part of the human experience.  It is inevitable.
The ability to learn lessons in the midst of failure while having the perseverance to keep moving forward is the mark of a successful leader. Failure is not falling down.  It is staying down.

In the December 16th edition of Sports Illustrated, writer Alan Shipnuck profiles Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love.  For those of you unfamiliar with Love, he is currently the finest player in the NBA at his position.
Shipnuck vividly tells the story of Love’s commitment to improvement and passion to make others around him better.  The following are 14 Practices Of Leaders Who Overcome Failure I gleaned from the article. These lessons will make you a better leader.

  1. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Learn The Relationship Between Risk And Reward – Love is the NBA’s best rebounder.  He is also recognized as one of the best outlet passers in NBA history.  He says, “Whenever the ball is in the air that long, there’s a chance of a turnover (after the pass), so it’s always a risk.  You have to be smart about it.”
  2. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Value Chemistry With Their Teammates – Recently acquired Corey Brewer says, “We got signals…He knows when I’m gonna go.  I know when he’s gonna throw it.”
  3. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Work Hard To Continually Improve - Love says, “I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell.  I believe it takes 10,000 hours to be an outlier at something…I pride myself on putting in the work.”
  4. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Recognize Opportunity – He goes on, “You’ve just gotta assume everything is a miss.  In this league every shot is contested.”
  5. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Are No Longer Complacent – Personal trainer Rob McClanaghan says, “He’s willing to pay the price to be great.  He won’t be complacent.  Ever.  He brings his best effort to every workout, every time.  He’s a professional in everything he does.”
  6. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Begin Focusing On Making Others Successful – Love proudly proclaims, “I’m getting a lot of excitement and joy out of setting guys up for shots and getting guys going.”
  7. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Become Increasingly Aware Of Obstacles – He goes on to add, “I know a guy like (Dallas Mavericks center Bernard James) is gonna want to toss my shot into the third or fifth row.”
  8. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Are Resilient – Once you fail, you understand failure is simply part of leadership.  Love acknowledges, “In this league you’re going to get your shot blocked, it’s just part of the deal.  You can pout about it or you can keep playing.  I choose to keep playing.”
  9. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Are Humble And Learn From Others – Love recounts the story, “Bill Russell told me before my rookie year that he believes 80% of rebounds are taken below the rim, and I’ve taken that to heart.  If I do my work early I don’t have to jump high.”
  10. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Develop Great Anticipation – Teammate Ricky Rubio says, “He has an amazingly high basketball IQ.  He sees everything that is happening on the floor, and a lot of times what’s going to happen before it happens.”
  11. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Trust In Their Preparation - “I really love shots that hold a lot of weight…I’m very at peace, I’m very confident.  I know I’ve put in a lot of work to put myself in that situation,” says Love.
  12. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Now Focus On Their Successes, Not Their Failures - Love adds, “You’re gonna miss some (game-ending shots), I know that.  But what matters are the ones you make.”
  13. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Know Failure Is Never Final – Love knows leadership is an oval track.  No matter how good or bad an individual lap may be, it is always on to the next lap.  He says, “All that matters to me is the next game.”
  14. Leaders Who Overcome Failure Leave Their Mistakes Behind - Love concludes, “One thing Flip (head coach Saunders) has talked to me a lot about is how to fail quickly.  It’s O.K. to make a mistake as long as you leave it behind.”

What is one lesson from this list you learned on failure?



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Can Introverts Make Great Leaders?

Alan Andersen

In this post, I wanted to address the leaders, or future leaders, who may be considered an "introvert." Below Justin Lathrop shares a fascinating article that includes 4 interesting points on What Makes Introverts Great Leaders? In this, he talks about how the world typically views extroverts as leaders, yet introverts, who are just as capable, have qualities that bring a whole new aspect to their team! So whether you are extroverted or introverted, leadership styles are not cookie-cutter. Thank goodness! 

Your Coach,

What Makes Introverts Great Leaders?
Originally posted by Justin Lathrop

I understand the insecurity that comes with being an introvert and a leader. The assumption that extroverts make better leaders hasn’t just permeated our culture, it’s also made its way into my mind, and over the years I’ve often worried I didn’t have what it took to be a leader because of my quietness or my desire to spend time alone. 
Just look around at the people we most often trust to take leadership roles, and you’ll see the bias at work.
We expect them to be charismatic, gregarious, and well-spoken.
Recently Susan Cain released a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking where she is challenging, for maybe the first time, what she calls the Extrovert Ideal - our hidden assumption that extroverts are smarter, more capable, or they make better leaders.
Some of the things Cain shared made me realize how introverts are just as capable of leading — they have something to offer to leadership roles extroverts never could.

1. Introverts Are Highly Empathetic

The research here is brand new and still in need of some developments, but Cain shares how researchers are finding a connection between a quality she calls sensitivity and introversion. 
Sensitivity includes many distinguishable traits — including excitability and over-stimulation, hence an introverts drive to spend time alone. It is precisely this sensitivity that also makes introverts highly sensitive to others. 

  • Introverts are good at noticing. 
  • Good at listening. 
  • Good at understanding how someone else feels. 

I don’t know about you, but I want people with strong empathy on a team of leaders directing me.

2. Introverts Think Before They Act 

Study after study shows how extroverts are reward-driven, which means they’ll keep charging after an objective even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles or even failure. 
This is, of course, a strength of its own, but the strength introverts bring to the table is that especially after some kind of failure, or when faced with an obstacle — introverts tend to slow down.

They think through their options and are hesitant to rush, so they won’t make any errors as they’re moving forward.

3. Introverts are highly creative

Solitude is a catalyst for creativity, and as such, introverts tend to bring a creativity to the leadership table their extroverted counterparts don’t have.
Of course, extroverts can be creative, too (introversion and extroversion exist on a continuum, and aren’t black and white), but when trying to solve a problem or come up with an innovative solution to some frustration — introverts are far more likely to take time and space to come up with the most effective solution possible.

4. Finally, Introverts Lead With What Cain Calls “Soft Power”

While this kind of “power” hasn’t always held weight in our culture, there have been places and spaces where people of extreme influence have been sensitive and introverted. The power they wield might not be commanding or controlling, but it is very compelling. We can’t help but relate to them, respect them, want to follow them. 

Ghandi is one example. Eleanor Roosevelt is another.

Perhaps part of the reason for this is they are people of few words, so they have to speak with their actions. We follow them because their life is compelling, and we can see their example playing out right in front of us.
Again, extroverts can make great leaders as much as introverts do. The skills we bring to the table — introverts and extroverts together — are what give us the tools to execute the vision and mission set before us.
If you’re an introvert, don’t disqualify yourself from leadership positions.
Don’t feel insecure in your position (or your call) as a leader.
We need you!

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Growth or Control? You decide.

Alan Andersen

On a scale of "one to decisive", where do you fall? Okay, I know that question sounds a little bit like nonsense. But my point is this...

Do you accurately know how decisive you are or should be?

Today we share a helpful article on the matter by Steve Graves. You can see the original post here and along with other work. 

the Choice

As an old cowboy once said, “You can’t ride two horses at the same time.”

Sometimes we just have to choose between options and live with the outcome. This reality is very true when it comes to setting the organizing principle for any enterprise. You can’t be headed north and south at the same time. And you can’t be organized for growth and control at the same time. Holding on to both means losing both.

I first heard this idea a couple of decades ago from a mentor who was leading his Fortune 100 team through an explosive growth period. He and his company were on the early track of forging and executing high-level massive global partnerships managing billions of dollars of business each year.

His biggest challenge? Helping the “old timers” loosen their grip on the hyper-control, highly-linear culture that had made them famous. These “old timers” loved the results of growth but were uncomfortable with the looser, more agile approach to partnering. Time and again, my mentor had to preach that you can’t have both and you have to choose—control or growth.

I recently heard this same idea (again) from a colleague in New York who was quoting a pastor friend. In an instant, all the memories of my early mentor flooded my mind. There it was again: you can’t have both. You can’t design for growth and control at the same time with the same energy. I say it all the time and really believe, “Every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.”


If you want growth, you need to bake it into your design model. One common element some companies utilize is more decentralized operations and, in particular, decision making. This is essentially the idea contained in the old classic The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Ron Beckstrom.

Brafman and Beckstrom look at organizations as diverse as the Apache Nation and Craigslist to make their point that decentralized organizations have tremendous potential for growth. By depending on peer relationships to govern, these organizations dramatically increase the speed of new ideas and growth. Craigslist, for example, had just 40 employees (in comparison, Facebook had 6,500) but managed more than 50 billion posts per month.

Peter Drucker saw this trend coming decades ago:

“It isn’t difficult for us to get people into middle management today. But it is going to be, because we shall need thinking people in the middle, not just at the top. The point at which we teach people to think will have to be moved further and further down the line.”

How do you structure for growth?

Here are five tips:

  • Know where to place your best bets. In other words, you need to know what you growth drivers are. Luck is not a growth driver. And you must fuel the growth drivers with adequate resources. No fire burns long without oxygen and some kind of fuel.
  • Set a growth climate and culture. Talk growth. Set goals. Monitor and measure growth. Reward growth.
  • Give employees more authority. In everything from customer service to budget creation, but especially in innovation, give employees more authority than you’re immediately comfortable with. In this Forbes article on Chick-Fil-A, notice two things: 1) how quickly it’s growing; and 2) how often the VP mentions the authority that individual operators have.
  • Encourage meaningful crosstalk. You want your employees talking with each other. When you get a question, help them think about other employees who could help them answer that question. Encourage them to share cell phone numbers. I know this can slide into non-efficiency and must be balanced. But meaningful and healthy crosstalk is essential to spur and sustain growth.
  • Urge the executive team to do lots of vision casting and road clearing. If they are doing that job they won’t have much time to police the day-to-day operations (the habit of many leaders), which will give those managers more freedom to innovate).


The starfish idea sounds cool and fun, but it’s not always best. And frankly, it doesn’t always work. Companies organized for control are efficient, less volatile and have less short-term risk. Also, they are usually easier to partner with and safer investments.

All organizations eventually have a season of maturity (if they stick around long enough). Their growth slows and they swing back to a control model for a season. They’re the local pizza place that never compromises on its recipe, or the bank that doesn’t grow quickly but is the most financially sound one around.

How do they do it?

Here are a few tips for this season:

  • Use this time to shore up your people and processes. There is usually some wear and tear that happens during all growth spurts. So patch the holes. Mend the nets. And again, those are for both people and processes.
  • Double down on your culture aspirations. Often, leaders and organizations go the opposite direction. People only buy into control long-term when they believe in the people exerting that control.
  • Hold quality above everything else. Everything depends on a consistent experience for customers; so do intensive quality control, random product checks, etc.
  • Make sure you have the right people and an aligned strategic horizon to fit this stage.
  • Relax and enjoy this period. It might not be the “organizational empty nest” season but it certainly does not carry the weight and chaos of the early stages of explosive growth. And that is OK. I couldn’t disagree more with the old adage that if you are not growing you are dying.


At the end of the day, you simply have to choose. Like my friend in a canoe who was fast approaching a downed tree that had created a fork in the river. “It’s better to be wrong than to be indecisive,” he said later.

You’ve got to structure for one or the other. You cannot organize for growth and at the same time organize for control. And always remember, usually your choice is just for a season.

I hope that this was as helpful for you as it was for me. Check out more of Steve on Twitter.


Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

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Healthy Leadership Is Reading

Alan Andersen

As we continue our expedition toward defining healthy leadership, I am most looking forward to the topic at hand. Today we discuss the power of reading books.

Alan, what is so special about reading that it stands out from all of the other elements of healthy leadership?

Fair question. I'll share 3 reasons why reading books is one of the most imperative ingredients of healthy leadership.

  1. Dr. Tim Keller says it best, "When you listen and read one thinker, you become a clone. Two thinkers, you become confused. Ten thinkers, you’ll begin developing your own voice. Two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise and develop your voice."
  2. You will eventually exhaust your own depth of wisdom. Therefore reading various authors will fuel your thinking and help you to develop your own sustainable wisdom. 
  3. I am a byproduct of learning through reading (or listening) to others. I won't belabor this point as I've already written about it here along with a list of the top ten-ish books you should read.

A Caveat

I want to clarify what I mean by "reading". My intention is to use the word "read" and "listen" interchangeably. In other words, if you're like me, then three of the five or six books you work through a month are via audio format.

Admittedly, I felt like I was "cheating" when I began listening to audio books. Primarily because it wasn't until 2009 that I hit my stride averaging a book a week, which was a difficult task. I would (and still do at times) read and re-read sentences or statements in order to make sure I'm comprehending what the author wants me to know.

What finally clicked that made audio books a legitimate medium for you?

I finally understood that hard copy and audio books are simply different ways to communicate with an author. Since it is unlikely that I can grab a cup of joe with my favorite author(s) (at least at this point in my life), there is nothing stopping me from getting their book to engage with them.

That conversation can happen regardless of the type of book I have. Whether I am reading or listening to a book, I am still capable of critically engaging with the author.

Principle number five: Healthy Leadership is Reading


I have mentioned this previously, but it bears repeating. Charlie "Tremendous" Jones beautifully highlights...

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” 

Who do you want to be five years from today? I'll bet there is a remarkable story out there of someone who has generously paid your and my "dumb tax" so that we can freely learn and accelerate the healthy growth process. That is, if we will only pick up a book.

Practical Application

I have a little secret I rarely tell people. I hated books and reading as a kid. Maybe hate isn't strong enough, I despised books and reading.


First, when I was growing up there was no such diagnosis called "ADD". It was called "repeat-a-grade", which I did. My inability to focus made a squirrel look contemplative.

Second, my mother's favorite hobby was taking our family all over the county (and sometimes beyond) to attend used books sales. Our weekend was literally combing through old, used books which sure eased my ADD tendencies. #False. (At least until I discovered National Geographic.)

Long story, longer. In my mid-twenties I found myself with my first vocational leadership role. What was the recommendation from my boss? "Andersen, leaders are readers." Thankfully the weight of the responsibility was large enough that I realized I had to begin reading authors who may know more than me and help shortcut my growth process. In other words, I began to work out my "reading muscle".

While it's more than a decade later, I now genuinely love reading. That is something I never would have thought I would say. Here is how I developed a true love for books and reading.

  1. Understand your learning style
    • Are you Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic?
  2. Choose a book with content you actually want to learn about
    • If you can, grab a shorter book for that matter.
  3. Create a rhythm for reading
    • Read 15 minutes in the morning, at lunch time and before bed.
    • Repeat that 5 or 6 days out of the week.
    • Before you know it, you'll have read for about four hours or more a week.
  4. Read with someone who'll keep you accountable
    • Non-negotiable, at least at first!

At the end of the day, the linchpin here is your motivation. If you're not truly motivated to read, you won't follow through. So let's end with this little exercise.

Ask: What would my life look like in five years from now if I did not learn anything else?
Ask: What would my life look like if in five years from now I became very well read on "X" topic or subject?

Now, which outcome seems more healthy?

I know a number of very smart people who do not read, at least with any regularity. So I ask that question sincerely. Maybe you don't need to read to learn anything further. Or maybe you're like me and have so much room for growth, that reading simply becomes a habitual joy. Either way, pursue a healthy dose of reading in your personal and professional life.

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen


* I'm well aware of the push back on the VAK learning modalities. However, I use them as it makes sense when trying to quickly and simply create a starting point for someone to begin the learning process. 

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Growing Healthy

Alan Andersen

We're interrupting our Healthy Leadership series to share a new *exercise that Shandel Group has developed to help organizations or teams gauge their current health and answer the question:

Is your organization operating at full capacity?

The formula for full reaching your full capacity is simple.





Each organization is different, however what is consistent across all sizes and sectors is the necessity for sustainable health and an ability to execute. When your organization is healthy you will experience much more than increased performanceproductivity and profits; you will begin to generate "buy-in" from each person in the organization.

Organizational Health creates clarity around your vision and mission. This empowers you to attract employees and customers that function like evangelists who have fully bought-in to your service or product, namely your organization. 



Once you have accurately assessed the correct Prioritiesthe right People, and expected organizational Performance you can in turn effectively communicate to everyone in your organization. This will increase collective buy-in and your organization will begin functioning at full capacity.

According to research by consulting firms The Table Group and ghSmart and company only 10-15% of organizations are being led to function in this healthy and effective manner. However, by focusing on the correct indicators, we can help you grow healthy and prosperous!


Is this an exercise that your company needs to go through? We are here to help!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

*Concept adapted from the following books: Power Score by Smart. The Alliance by Hoffman. How To Measure Anything by Hubbard. The Breakthrough Company by McFarland. Clarity by Sutherland.

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Healthy Leadership is Hard

Alan Andersen

Somewhere along the line, a notion that life should be easy has crept into our societal mindset. I for one like that idea or at least I thought I liked it.

Uh, yeah, Alan! What's not to like?  Easy living is the good life.

Years ago I would have probably agreed with that thought. However, the older I get the more I find that there are really only two things that are quite attractive to me (well, three things if I include my bride in this conversation, but it's not Valentines Day yet so I'll table that until an appropriate time).

The first, and maybe the most attractive trait is Humility. The second attractive (and important) trait is Perseverance.

This is especially true when I see or hear a story about triumph in the face of hardship. You know, when all odds are against someone and yet somehow, by some miracle they beat the odds! Apparently, I am not alone in this inclination.

Take for instance a modern example of this in the New York Times Best Seller "I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond" by Michael Oher. Maybe you're more familiar with the 300 million dollar plus grossing movie of this triumphant story simply called "The Blind Side" with Tim McGraw and Sandra Bullock.

My point is this, in the history of the world, it has never been easier to live an "easy life" than right here and right now. However, just because something is easy that doesn't make it right, or healthy for that matter. Instead, what is typically right and usually difficult is going the extra mile or not cutting corners. 

Look at it this way, you can embrace the hardship of mediocrity. However, will you be left wondering what you would have become, could have accomplished, or should have attempted? I know I would.

Or you can embrace the hardship of growing pains. Knowing full well that some of the greatest satisfaction you've ever experienced was when you persevered. And this leads us to...

Principle Number Four: Healthy Leadership is Hard

In Tribe by Sebastian Junger, the author shares his unique findings on humanity and perseverance in the midst of difficulty.

“Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It's time for that to end.”

To be clear I am not saying that we should only work harder and not smarter! I am all for accelerating the healthy growth process and I love when we can "cut to the chase". However, I believe our society has forgotten that as humans we are either growing or dying. Period.

When you're growing, you're likely going to experience growing pains and you're equally likely to experience clarity and true meaning.  

Practical Application

Let's fight the urge to give up or give in when things get difficult. Let's remember that people can be at their best when life's circumstances are at its worst. Let's close by looking at the three ways that you can strengthen your inner resolve to embrace hardship and persevere, especially as a healthy leader!

  1. Uncover Your True North. 
    • Question: When was the last time that you wrote down (or reviewed) your personal purpose, values, vision, and mission for your life? If not within the last 3 months, get to it! (Consider this exercise quarterly)
    • If you don't know where or how to begin this exercise email me and I will help.
  2. Read.* Especially books by old, dead people that have had books around for decades or centuries!
  3. Embrace Community. Gather trusted advisors that will be candid and encouraging.
    • Question: When was the last time that you invited someone to tell you how they perceive your character, competence, and capacity to be? (Consider this exercise quarterly)

At the end of the day, if something seems "too easy" then let that be a red flag to at least consider an alternative option. Please don't be a glutton for punishment or invite unnecessary hardship. However, there is a reason that the rule of thumb that "you get what you pay (physically, mentally, spiritually, relationally, etc) for" is generally true in each area of life. Let's close with this...

What in your life do you cherish that came easy to you?

For me, the answer is nothing. There is not one thing that I genuinely cherish that did not come at significant cost or that I did not have to work my butt off for. That includes my bride of more than 12 years, my children, my friends and family, the home that we live in, even the trivial gadgets I truly enjoy (think anything Mac which are over priced yet I gladly pay the price for), etc. So again I ask...

What in your life do you cherish that came easy to you?

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

*When I say "read" I am including audio books in that term. For perspective, 3 of the 5 or 6 books I work through a month are via audio.

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