Category Archives: Book Review

Guest Post – A Recipe for Employee Engagement


Today’s post is from Art Barter, in conjunction with the newly released book “Servant Leadership in Action” by Ken Blanchard. Art is one of a handful of people who contributed to this book, including Marshall Goldsmith, Dave Ramsey, mark Miller, Cheryl Bacheleder, and Simon Sinek. Art brings to us a perspective of servant leadership in reagrds towards employee engagement.


The Servant Leadership Institute helps leaders around the country change their leadership beliefs from the control model to the service model. Leaders we help all have a common desire: to engage their employees at the highest level possible. Most realize that how they are leading today needs to change.


We have all been in meetings where those in attendance have lost interest in what the leader is saying. It took me some time to understand when people are looking down at their papers, playing with their pens and doing everything to avoid eye contact, it was my own behaviors that drove their response. Why is it so hard to connect with those whom we spend most of the day?  As leaders, how do we develop a culture where people are encouraged to participate and give feedback to their leader — and the leader cares about them enough to actually listen to understand? Here are some of my thoughts and experiences on how we can engage employees today.


Do you inspire your employees?


People don’t feel inspired by their leaders. Leaders today do not live the company values through their behaviors. Leadership behavior, in the most part, has been driven by the command and control leadership model. People want their leaders to care about them, not just say they care. Leaders inspire others through their behavior more than anything they might say.  Part of that behavior is painting an inspirational picture for employees — one that shows them how their work impacts the world. Be a storyteller, reminding employees all the things they have accomplished.


Do you invest time in your employees?


People don’t feel their leaders really invest in them. Leaders today don’t feel they need to meet people where they are. Most leaders don’t know what this means. I love to ask leaders if they invest their time in their employees. Most will respond with that worn out saying, “my door is always open.” I ask them to tear the door off its hinges and show me their calendar. When I see employees scheduled in a leader’s calendar on a regular basis, I know the leader really cares.  We all should schedule regular one-to-one meetings with those who report directly to us.


Do you trust your employees?


People don’t feel leaders trust them. Trust is the basic item needed in any relationship. If leaders don’t extend trust, how can they expect trust in return? There is both a social and economic driver in trust. Leaders need to understand both. In our manufacturing company, we measure trust every six months through a trust index. Leaders can’t build trust in their organizations until they trust themselves and trust the other leaders in the company. Leaders don’t believe the trust issue is with them — which couldn’t be further from the truth.


Do you model the company values, mission and purpose?


People notice when leaders’ behaviors do not support their words. “Walk the Talk” is another worn-out this phrase. We need to change it to “Behave the Talk.” Leaders cannot inspire and equip others through their talk, only through their behaviors. Leaders need to change their own behavior first before they can expect a change in their organizations and people. In todays’ world, people are looking to follow a leader who is serious about values and a higher purpose for the organization. They will follow leaders who behave their values, purpose and mission. Do people in your organization see you behave in accordance with all three of these?



In the end, our role as leaders is to inspire and equip those we influence. People are disengaged today due to their leaders’ behaviors. Leaders need to change their own behavior before they can set expectations for people in their organizations to change. It took me almost 30 years to realize this. Our organizations started to grow and perform after I changed my own behaviors and invested time in our people. Serving them has been the most rewarding journey of my leadership career. Start your journey today; you won’t regret it.

More about Art Barter

Art Barter ( is the owner and CEO of Datron World Communications and the founder and CEO of the Servant Leadership Institute. Art began his career working for the Walt Disney Company. He then spent more than twenty-five years with several manufacturing companies before joining Datron in 1997. Art Barter has a chapter in the new book Servant Leadership in Action (Berrett-Koehler, March 6, 2018). Coedited by Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell, the book is a collection of original essays contributed by 44 servant leadership experts and practitioners.


Guest Post by Shelly Francis – The Courage to Choose Wisely


Today’s post is offered by Shelly L. Francis, her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life. The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. 

The following is an excerpt from “The Courage Way”:

Greg, whom we met in chapter 8, faced a difficult time as a business owner in the years following the 2008 recession. “I was constantly stretched by the reality of living through ’08, ’09, ’10, when the economy was so tough. Wanting to keep the company healthy and profitable and also care for the workforce I care so deeply about, as so many things are shifting . . . Talk about tension.”

In his business organizing corporate meetings and incentive trips, Greg wanted his employees to be as productive as possible and to enjoy what they did—because when they did, it showed. “We clearly are in business to assist clients at a high level of excellence. But what do we do internally for the people here who give the best hours of their day, year after year, to this work so that they feel engaged and know that they’re cared about? That’s what kept me awake during those lean years.”

Of course his employees knew the economy was in a rough spot, but they didn’t know the extent of Greg’s concern. “I was torn between not wanting, but wanting to share a little bit of that tension. And I wanted to demonstrate that I believed in them, as individuals, and that I had confidence that we would get through it.”

Greg was faced with many difficult decisions affecting the bottom line, including rapidly escalating health insurance costs. Although the company covered the employee portion, Greg was aware that the big increase in premium costs meant that many employees were not purchasing additional coverage for their spouses and children. With significant price differences among plan options, he could have made a swift unilateral decision to select the least expensive plan. But Greg chose a different path that aligned with his and the company’s stated values to always relate in an open, honest, direct, and caring manner.

He wanted to bring people from different departments together and have a conversation about choosing a health insurance plan, so he sent out materials for his staff to read in advance, with questions to reflect on as well. Greg explained in advance that when they all came together to talk, they would listen to each other share about how plan options might impact families or spouses. He told them, “We’re not just going to dive in to which plan do we want, but we are going to spend some time looking at the whole person you bring to the room and the other whole people in the room. We’re not always aware of what’s going on for one another. I might make difference choices if I know more.”

On the day of the meeting, people had individual time to reflect and write down their thoughts. Next, they sat together in smaller groups where they could safely share a little bit aloud and hear the questions that others were asking. “By the time the discussion moved back to the larger group, the rough edges of thought were gone, and the collective truth was more well defined,” Greg said.

Greg noted how helpful it was for everyone to prepare for speaking honestly to each other. He watched as people stepped out of their own context and saw a bigger picture. He could see them realizing the ways that different health plans would affect others. As they shared their stories, they began to see that maybe another option would be better for all of them as a whole.

In the end, the decision was Greg’s, but the staff supported his choice because they had heard one another’s concerns and understood Greg’s convictions. e process increased their personal regard and respect for each other as human beings, which is essential to building more relational trust (as we discussed in chapter 4).

Greg recognizes that people become more invested and engaged as employees when they reflect on their own choices and attitudes. By offering a reflective process to his staff that honored their wholeness and trusted their capacity for empathy and dialogue, Greg increased the chances that their own internal plumb lines would guide them, which enhanced their sense of commitment to and fulfillment in their work. But it all started with Greg’s internal choice to lead with integrity.

A man or woman becomes fully human onlyby his or her choices. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day to day. These decisions require courage.

—Rollo May


Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

Getting Off to a Fast Start – Guest Post by Mark Miller

Mark Miller is an accomplished leadership author whose day job is as puts it “selling chicken.”

As Vice President of High Performance Leadership for Chick-Fil-A, Mark knows what it tskes to make and duplicate leaders throughout a large organization. he has a passion for developing and teaching, and his new book that released earlier this year, Leaders Made Here, continnues on that path to leadeship development that Mark started many years ago. We appreciate his sharing his wisdom and insight with us today.

Originally published on

Leaders face obstacles daily, and often, we may not even think much about it. Challenges are just part of what we do. But what about a new leader, what issues does he or she face? What mistakes do you see new leaders make that could be avoided?


The following issues are often contributing factors when you see a new leader have a false start…


No vision – Leadership always begins with a picture of the future. People expect their leaders to have a destination in mind. Our followers have many questions for us even if we are new… “What are we trying to accomplish? What are we trying to become? Why does it matter?” As soon as possible, begin to paint a picture of the future. A partially formed vision is better than no vision at all.


Too few questions – The majority of leaders, new and seasoned, ask too few questions. This is extremely dangerous for the new leader. He or she may make countless bad assumptions that could be avoided with some carefully crafted questions: What are the biggest opportunities around here? What’s your favorite, and least favorite, thing about working here? Etc. 


Insufficient context – The likelihood of this being a major issue for the new leader is in direct proportion to the number of questions he/she asks. What you don’t know can hurt you. Lack of context can make a leader look incompetent and out of touch. As a new leader, you are trying to build credibility and trust. You don’t have any chips to burn.


Moving too fast – or too slow – This one is tricky. Every situation is different. And, every situation demands its own pace. If you move too fast, the odds of a disaster escalate. When you move too quickly, you are at risk of missing the context and making bad decisions. The flip side – if you move too slowly, many will question your courage, competence and your leadership. Trust your instincts and remember… Progress is always preceded by change.


Trying to make everyone happy – This is a curse every leader must face and defeat. If you are a new leader, you are probably hypersensitive on this issue. You really do want people to like you – most human beings share a degree of this sentiment. However, leaders know to succumb to this desire dooms your leadership from the beginning. Your goal is not to make people angry – it is to lead with all diligence. If you work to make everyone happy, you’ll work yourself out of a job.

If you are a new leader, congratulations! Get ready for a fast start. 


What mistakes do you see new leaders make?

Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

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