My daughter and I just recently watched the musical Hamilton and in it were some incredible lessons on how to lead.
This week, we discuss one of the core themes in the musical where Hamilton refused to “throw away his shot” and go all in on his goals and aspirations–sometimes with good results and sometimes not so good…
We imagine you’ll see this same theme in your life just like we see it in ours.
May 9, 2023 by Stephen T. Messenger Retired Four-Star General Paul Funk frequently spoke on his fundamentals of leadership with one of them being “Good units do routine things routinely.” This phrase could not be more accurate when it comes to large organizations. There are hundreds of tasks that must be accomplished every day, andContinue reading “Good Units Do Routine Things Routinely”
A few weeks ago, we discussed the importance of having goals and working towards them, but is there such a thing as being too obsessed with meeting objectives?
This week we learn from leadership expert Marshall Goldsmith and a Princeton University experiment replicating the Good Samaritan. Can ruthlessly focusing on our goals actually cause us to miss our purpose? And how can we do both?
I’m not a big basketball fan, but this has been the best March Madness Tournament I can remember.
It’s because the higher seeded teams are knocking off the favorites at an unprecedented rate. This week we listen to some of the winning coaches after their Sweet Sixteen victories and see what makes a champion out of an underdog.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and I hope you’ve done something special for your significant other. They’re the ones we spend much time with, love, and cherish. It’s our job as half of the relationship to work on improving it every day.
Your work team is also a group that you spend much time with. You love and cherish them, albeit in a slightly different way. Just like in a relationship, you have half—if not more—of the responsibility to help them love their work.
This week, we look at a few ways to make your team feel loved.
This week we dive into a leader on the grid iron who has hustled his way to the top.
Success is way more than talent and passion. It requires relentless effort to be achieve uncommon results. We can all learn from Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, even after their playoff loss, who does not take this for granted.
This week two-time guest author Tom Console takes us into the operating room. Here he explores how detailed planning, decisive action, and teamwork are required whether in the hospital, school, boardroom, or battlefield.
Every time this young leader writes I learn something. Great lessons from a great leader!
We are always looking for new authors. Let us help you share your best practices.
This is our last article until the New Year, because we’re going to recharge through the end of December.
I say this with some trepidation. If you were to hang out with me, you’d know that I don’t do “recharge” very well.
I say this not to boast, but to identify a weakness. All of us, especially in leadership positions, need to make time to refresh, reflect, and give our bodies and brains a rest to prepare for whatever’s next.
Watching the World Series this week, there are some BIG swings. And some BIG misses.
As I reflect on my leadership journey, I can easily recall times I’ve swung for the fence and missed. These failures in life were very painful but at the same time taught me invaluable lessons I needed for the future.
We need leaders who aren’t afraid to prepare well, swing big, miss, and try again. Those leaders allow others to do the same.
This week we walk through a number of swings resulting in both passed balls and home runs.
This week, guest author, Tom Console, defensive football coach at University of Pennsylvania, leads us into “The Great Leadership Academy” on the field.
His five lessons of leadership provide a way to continuously improve as a leader and an athlete. Tom has a great theory on how to increase confidence on and off the field through his acronym KCAC. Great article from a great leader!
If you want to guest author, drop us an email and we’ll help you publish.
This week I visited the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy, an alternate high school program for 16- to 18-year-old students who have dropped out or are not progressing in a traditional setting.
I found that in this environment, they exemplify the Easy-Hard Principle: doing hard things today leads to an easier future.
It was inspiring watching them build a better life, and this week we look at how to apply those principles in our own leadership.
October 11, 2022 by Stephen T. Messenger I’m the assistant coach of a 13 year-old soccer team, and the first things we do every practice are stretch and run a lap around the field. I noticed an interesting phenomenon on day one. The players didn’t run the full field and cut the corners by aContinue reading “Don’t Cut Corners: In Soccer… Or in Life”
As I look across my—or any—organization, there are so many talented, hard-working individuals. One of our jobs is to understand what talents each person brings to the team, and how to engage and interact with them appropriately.
This week we explore the Nine-Box Matrix. This tool allows leaders to assess talent based on current performance and future potential and engage employees appropriately.
I hope this helps you think deeply about workforce development and how to develop and retain our talented workforces.
I recently rode in the car with a really bad driver. He took the corners too fast, stopped abruptly, and generally made me fear for my life. Yet, when I subtly brought up his lack of driving skills, he brushed it off as if he could be a driving instructor in his spare time.
What would cause such a bad driver to think they’re good?
This week we explore the intersection of confidence and competence, graphed through the Dunning-Kruger Effect. An interesting concept to observe in both others and our own lives.
I recently sat in a on a portion of a servant leadership class, which is one of my favorite subjects. I like to say that this type of leadership is “talked about by many but understood by few.”
Servant leadership often gets a bad rap. Many see it as a wishy-washy way of leading—a style that only focuses on the well-being of people and ignores the success of the organization. But done correctly, servant leaders both value people and accomplish the mission.
This week we look at servant leadership and how to leverage it more effectively.
I took command of Army Garrison Fort McCoy 62 days ago and quickly noticed an interesting thing. Many times, members of the team speak to me about the command and preface it with the word “your”—as in, “your garrison” or “your installation.”
I quickly correct them. It’s “our” installation. While this language may seem like semantics, this week we explore how one word makes a huge difference.
I was walking into my office building last week with a few colleagues when I clearly saw a piece of trash laying on the ground. I instinctively tried to ignore it when once again the all-too-familiar voice of a man I’ve never personally met, but once heard speak, echoed in my head.
“Never pass a piece of trash without picking it up.”
General Michael Garrett’s leadership advice is both literal and metaphorical. This week we explore how to ensure we’re not walking by trash and instead improving the organization through personal example.
July 19, 2022 by Stephen T. Messenger Last week, I took command of United States Army Garrison Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. My family and I are humbled and blessed to be placed in this position of responsibility that influences hundreds of wonderful people who work for the garrison, tens of tenant organizations, and thousands of peopleContinue reading “Be Great Today!”
So often, we leave a leadership position or event with success but seldom know why. We move onto the next assignment without much thought as to what we personally did right or wrong. We fail to reflect on our own actions.
In preparing to take an Army command position this summer, I deliberately carved out time over 30 days to reflect on my individual leadership.
This week we talk about the importance of reflecting, and my hope is that you’ll give it a try. This journey has certainly helped prepare me for the next adventure.
This week we explore what Blaise Pascal called the three orders of greatness. These three orders of the body, mind, and heart are all needed reach your full leadership potential, but followers gravitate most towards the third order.
I hope this makes you think today about what our followers truly need from us day in and day out.
A few years ago, I gave a presentation to a senior military leader. It was a brief I’d given several times before in different variations. I was well prepared, well-rehearsed, and felt both confident and nervous right before going on stage. It was GO time!
Four minutes in, this senior leader literally dismissed me. He said something to the effect of, “Yeah, thanks Steve. We have other things to talk about.” I slunk over to my seat in shame, and the meeting could not end fast enough for me.
He chewed me up like a crocodile.
While professionally embarrassing, this experience encouraged me to work on being a better presenter. I wanted to know the secrets…
Click on this email to learn about effective presentations.
Have you ever looked at someone and wanted to be as lucky as they are? I know I have.
Yet, upon closer examination, while successful people certainly have some luck, they have more hard work and talent. This week we look at why people are lucky and how we, as leaders, can be lucky as well.
I really appreciate talking leadership with everyone – keep at it! And I’m always looking for new authors to publish their ideas – be bold… and lead well!
January 18, 2022 by Stephen T. Messenger Oblintunity: An obligation that one must do, but at the same time provides massive opportunity for personal growth and development I’ve recently been part of a mission to place military medical professionals into civilian hospitals struggling with high numbers of COVID patients and staffing shortages. These military doctors,Continue reading “Oblitunity”
This week our second guest author, Brittany Lake, takes us on her leadership journey. She has experienced the highs and lows of mentorship and shares how one person helped change her perspective to become that one person to others.
Writing about leadership is the best way to grow. I encourage you to be bold like Brittany Lake and help others improve through your experiences shared with others.
Contact us if you’re interested in publishing an article. Thanks for sharing, Brittany!
by Stephen T. Messenger December 14, 2021 “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” –Michael Jordan Nothing brings out the true heart of a group better than going to battle together. I recently heard of the Battle of Kruger Pass through an exceptional “From the Green Notebook” podcast. Scott O’Neil, CEO of aContinue reading “The Battle of Kruger: The Power of Us”
by Stephen T. Messenger December 7, 2021 I left the Army after only four years in 2004. There were a few different reasons, but I remember watching my leaders and wondering, “Do I want to be them in five, ten, or twenty years?” Many of them were exceptional leaders. They loved their jobs, families, andContinue reading “People Don’t Quit Their Jobs… They Quit Their Bosses”
by Stephen T. Messenger November 30, 2021 I recently tackled Greyrock Peak Mountain Trail in Fort Collins, Colorado, a challenging 7.2-mile hike with a 2,400-foot elevation gain, topping off at 7,600 feet above sea level. It was a beautiful day in the mid-50s, and everything was perfect except my start time. I planned to beginContinue reading “Summit Fever”
By Stephen T. Messenger November 16, 2021 As every individual walked in the door for the first time, I shook their hand and thanked them for being part of our team, and it mattered It’s awkward meeting people, especially when you’re assigned to a new group. In those initial stages of team building, it’s importantContinue reading “Meet Them at the Door”
We all want efficient organizations, but often our decisions on how to use time get in the way. This week, we look at lessons from running, Greenpeace, and capturing insurgents to help us make better decisions on how to use our time effectively.
Too many organizations fail when the leader departs. This week we explore the importance of successors and how to find and develop your eventual replacement. We all need a trained and ready leader waiting to take over, Don’t wait until you’ve already left.
This week, I had the honor of promoting to the rank of Colonel in the United States Army. As I looked back over a 21-year career, I reflected to select one, seminal leadership lesson I wanted to pass along to military and civilian leaders, and especially my children.
Consider two perspectives on your leadership – one from the field and one from the bleachers. We sometimes get tunnel vision playing on the field. This week we explore how a different perspective can help your leadership.
I’m wrong… a lot. This week’s article digs into what it feels like to be wrong and how lessons from a packing a car, military bombers, and a WWI helmet can help us be right more often. If you’re ever wrong, this is one you don’t want to miss!
On the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, we take a look at our Nation’s history through the lens of Generation Z. Caleb Messenger, born after September 11, 2001 and part of the rising cohort of American leadership, shares thoughts on this tragic event.
By Stephen T. Messenger September 7, 2021 Thomas Edison as a child overheard a conversation between his teacher and a school inspector. The teacher said it wasn’t worthwhile to keep Edison in school because he was “addled” and had trouble thinking clearly. In this one hurtful sentence, the teacher unfairly defined Edison’s potential according toContinue reading “Exceed Your Potential”
By Gerald D. Eady August 31, 2021 I was drafted by the Seattle Mariners twice, once out of high school and once out of college. There I spent four seasons in the Mariners’ farm system as an outfielder. I thought for sure I was going to the big leagues, and I actually made it. InContinue reading “Lead Outside the Circle”
By Stephen T. Messenger August 23, 2021 Redwoods thrive in groves. Standing somewhere around 300 feet tall and up to 30 feet in diameter, you would think deep roots are the key to keeping them up. Instead, their root system is shallow and broad extending over a hundred feet from the base. More amazing, theyContinue reading “High Performing Teams”
By Stephen T. Messenger August 17, 2021 I’ll admit, I felt a little guilty sitting by the water doing nothing. It was my third week of vacation between job assignments, and I’ve been relatively unproductive for a number of days. The kids and I were in the water more often than not and having aContinue reading “The Mental Retreat”
by Stephen T. Messenger July 13, 2021 Last week I completed my Battalion Command experience—it has truly been an honor to lead America’s best and brightest. I was challenged, humbled, and encouraged by the great men and women who so diligently work on behalf of our Nation. While I learned many lessons from the job,Continue reading “Success Versus Significance”
July 4, 2021 This Independence Day, we thought it would be appropriate to share one of our Nation’s foundational documents, the Declaration of Independence. The struggle our fledgling Nation went through to separate from Great Britain was leadership at its finest. Fifty-six signatories supported by a countless background cast signed this declaration that would essentiallyContinue reading “Independence Day”
By Stephen T. Messenger 22 June 2021 Know your people, see your people, love your people, and hold them accountable. If you’ve been around the United States Army recently, you’ve heard Chief of Staff General James McConville say, “People First, Winning Matters.” I’m not sure there’s a more profound and relevant statement out there forContinue reading “The Importance–And Challenge–of People First”
by Stephen T. Messenger June 22, 2021 Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential. –John Maxwell We were teaching our young son baseball the other day at a minor league game. He was enjoying it but had no concept of the rules.Continue reading “Student of the Game”
By Stephen T. Messenger June 15, 2021 The other day I was talking to the gym trainer about personal goals. While I was focused on conquering and achieving them, Devin was more interested in working on them. He said, “The joy is in the journey.” This made me pause. While I agree with the theory,Continue reading “The Joy Is in the Journey”
By Stephen T. Messenger June 8, 2021 This week commemorates the 77th anniversary of the D-Day invasion where on June 6, 1944 Allied forces began the operation to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany. There are many incredible aspects of this story, but one of the most interesting rests in the decision General Dwight Eisenhower hadContinue reading “Establish Your Foothold”
By Stephen T. Messenger May 31, 2021 Memorial Day evokes a wide range of emotions across our Nation. Many consider this holiday to be the unofficial beginning of summer. The grill comes out, the lawn games appear, and the fun begins. Some take their first seasonal vacation and spend time at the lake, beach, orContinue reading “Never Forget the Sacrifice”
By Stephen T. Messenger May 25, 2021 This week, I was honored to speak at a commissioning ceremony for ten newly minted Army lieutenants. I love watching young leaders begin their journeys. Upon commissioning, second lieutenants outrank 82% of everyone in the military on Day One. Similarly, leaders in many different roles, whether military orContinue reading “Personal Responsibility and the Ford Ranger”
By Stephen T. Messenger May 18, 2021 I often ask myself, “How full is my cup of leadership?” Some days I have lots to give, and others I find myself running low. I know that I owe it to those I lead to keep my cup not just full but running over and pouring intoContinue reading “The Five Cups of Leadership”
By Joshua Messenger May 11, 2021 Frantically, I scanned his text and drafted a response. He couldn’t back out from speaking tonight–not at the last minute! Sure, I could have swooped in and pulled out my emergency lesson I’d prepared a while back, but that would have defeated the entire purpose. I had to respondContinue reading “Responding with Intention”
By Stephen T. Messenger May 4, 2021 Great leaders influence others to do more they can possibly dream or imagine. We see this throughout history with great leaders such as George Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi, to name a few. While these public figures all changed nations, there are privateContinue reading “The Science of Influence”
by Stephen T. Messenger April 27, 2021 I have to admit, this was a moment of weakness. I was at the track early on Monday running quarter mile sprints. I felt slow, lethargic, and just plain old. The last two weeks, my running has been declining, and I was starting to mentally feel like myContinue reading “That One Sentence Matters”
by Stephen T. Messenger April 20, 2021 COVID scrapped our plans again. We spent over two months planning an exciting, week-long, COVID compliant, offsite for our leadership team. Between reinforcing our strategic narrative, sharing best practices, conducting one-on-one counseling, hosting a competitive event and team building, and providing ample down time, this event was destinedContinue reading “Plans Are Worthless; Planning Is Everything”
by Stephen T. Messenger April 12, 2021 Every Sunday morning at 11:00 we clean the house for an hour right after church. This has been going on ever since we moved into our new home, and while the kids don’t like it all that much, they diligently comply. But not this week. A scheduling changeContinue reading “Vacuum Grief: Leading through Change”
I wasn’t expecting to say anything, yet every eye was looking at me. Walking around the organization, I was planning on making small talk with the team, thanking a few individuals, and asking questions on how things were going. The next thing I knew, one of the workers asked if I would address the groupContinue reading “The Special Speech: Impromptu Speaking”
by Stephen T. Messenger March 30, 2021 Once I saw it, I only had three seconds to decide before it was too late. I was driving home on the highway when I noticed a car up ahead on the shoulder with a blown-out tire. My mind flooded with excuses not to help: They probably alreadyContinue reading “Flat Tire Leadership: No Fail Missions”
by Stephen T. Messenger March 22, 2021 Throughout my career, I’ve moved thirteen times, had twenty different job positions, and occupied as many desks or workspaces. After multiple transitions, I’ve developed a theory: Move the Desk! On the first day of owning my new area, the first thing I do is grab the corner ofContinue reading “Move the Desk!”
by Stephen T. Messenger March 15, 2021 While I always strive my hardest to place first in anything I do, rarely do I actually finish there. In fact, I can only think of two times when I was first in any school, competition, or evaluation. Even though I don’t take home the trophy often, IContinue reading “Increasing Competitive Capacity”
by Stephen T. Messenger March 9, 2021 Every afternoon, I leave work and am immediately faced with a dilemma. There’s usually no one around the empty parking lot, and by far the most expedient way out is through the way I came in—a short, eighty-foot access road to the main highway. The only problem isContinue reading “Not A Hint… Whiff… Sniff… (5 of 5)”
by Stephen T. Messenger March 2, 2021 We finally got a dog. After many years of deflecting the pressure from our kids, my wife and I allowed a four-legged tornado into our house. Puppies, no matter how innocent they look, are a lot of work. They require constant attention, aren’t potty trained, eat everything inContinue reading “Expect the Greater Reward (4 of 5)”
by Stephen T. Messenger February 23, 2021 Never in my life had I been so scared. I was 20 years old at Fort Benning, Georgia, recently starting my military career, and staring out the open door of a C-130 Hercules Air Force cargo plane. It was my first jump at Airborne School, a place whereContinue reading “Lead Boldly and Courageously (3 of 5)”
by Stephen T. Messenger February 16, 2021 All new Army officers take the oath of enlistment to begin their career. In this oath, they raise their right hand and swear to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which [they are] about to enter.” In effect, they are taking accountability for theirContinue reading “Accept Responsibility (2 of 5)”
by Stephen T. Messenger February 9, 2021 I watched my eleven-year-old son holding on for dear life at the top of this swaying tower at a rock-climbing gym. He had scampered up there with no problem, but fear was paralyzing him from coming down. It seemed safe enough from the ground: a harness and automaticContinue reading “Reject Passivity (1 of 5)”
Stephen T. Messenger February 3, 2021 Leadership is hard to define. Thousands of scholars and practitioners have placed their unique spin on this topic and tried to describe what leaders are and how they act. But wading through these definitions, its often hard to communicate leadership to others from a simple and practical perspective. TheContinue reading “RALE+1 Leadership”
by Stephen T. Messenger January 27, 2021 I always get motivated about a new leadership opportunity. It’s exciting to know that I’ll be at the tip of the spear and leading innovative men and women to tackle a challenging project or assignment. I was once newly assigned at a Fortune 500 distribution center to leadContinue reading “Overcoming Leadership Fog”
by Stephen T. Messenger January 17, 2021 It was the day after one of my peers and good friends left the organization. I walked into the office and staring me in the face that morning was a white envelope with my name on it. Outside was his name professionally printed on quality cardstock. Inside IContinue reading “The Art of the Thank You”
Stephen T. Messenger January 7, 2021 Roger Federer and Andre Agassi are two of the most successful tennis players of all time. With over 2,000 match wins between them, they ruled the courts of their day and demolished their competition. Interestingly enough, one loves the game while the other hates it. Federer found his motivationContinue reading “Acing Transformational Leadership”
Stephen T. Messenger 1 January 2021 “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Every year in January, much to my wife’s chagrin, I outline a list of twenty personal, audacious goals thatContinue reading “2021 – Setting Audacious Goals”
by Stephen T. Messenger January 1, 2021 I have three baseball caps in my house. One is a clean tan Army hat that I wear outside in public at places like sporting events and beach gatherings. This reminds me that I am a military officer both on and off duty and represent the profession ofContinue reading “Wearing Different Hats”
by Stephen T. Messenger January 1, 2021 In 2007, Starbucks faced backlash for a failure to protect the environment. Between wasting over six million gallons of water per day from constantly running faucets and selling more than two billion unrecyclable paper cups per year, their environmental footprint, or lack thereof, was not making any friends.[i] Continue reading “Not a Hint of Impropriety”
by Stephen T. Messenger January 1, 2021 The most powerful words any leader can say are “Follow me.” Leaders lead from the front and are the first to walk into any conflict—be it the field of battle or boardroom. You cannot expect your team to do what you say unless you do what you said. Continue reading “Follow Me!”
by Stephen T. Messenger January 1, 2021 I’ve been a runner now for many years typically hitting the pavement five times a week. In periods where I run just to say I exercised; I rarely improve. I generally don’t see changes in my performance except preventing atrophy. I can tell my coworkers I ran toContinue reading “Doing Things Right”
by Stephen T. Messenger January 1, 2021 What would you get your boss if she asked you for a cup of coffee first thing in the morning? One of my mentors asked me this very same question ten years ago. I pictured myself walking to the break room to fill up a Styrofoam cup two-thirdsContinue reading “Cup of Coffee Philosophy”