Great Leadership Works through Emotions

November 21, 2015 | Posted in Leadership | By

A very important element of my personal leadership philosophy is based upon the concepts of emotional intelligence. My understanding for emotional intelligence derives from the work of Daniel Goleman’s through his book Emotional Intelligence (1995) and also his joint work with Boyatzis & McKee on Primal Leadership (2004).

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize the emotions of others and yourself, and to use the understandings of these emotions to guide thinking and behavior (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2004; Goleman, 1995).

Great Leadership Works through Emotions

Goleman outlines that emotional intelligence is made up of five constructs:

  1. Self-Awareness – ability to known one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, vales and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
  2. Self-regulation – controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
  3. Social Skill – managing relationships to move people in the desire direction.
  4. Empathy – considering other [people’s feelings especially when making decisions.
  5. Motivation – being drive to achieve for the sake of achievement.

Specifically, it is through employing emotional intelligence in my communications, vision casting, and trust building that I lead within and at my university. It can be a challenging task to clearly outline a vision in an inspirational and emotionally expressive way. However, emotional intelligence assists me in doing this in a very practical way.

I accomplish this through individual consideration (Burns, 1978), by personally taking the time to meet with our department’s leadership and staff regularly. These meetings are a leadership behavior that I have come to habitually conduct at my university. It is in these personal meetings, as well as in the regular departmental wide meetings, that I seek to incorporate emotional intelligence in an effective way to inspire others to also serve.

As I meet with staff regularly, my intention is to understand the emotional layout of the department (social skill and empathy), as well as communicate our team’s direction. I seek to understand my own emotions (self-awareness), as well as channel those emotions (self-regulation) to positively encourage each staff member (motivation) to lead transformation effectively. Without employing the concepts of emotional intelligence in these regular meetings, leading at my university would be an almost impossible task to accomplish.

I found have found that once you understand how important positive and encouraging emotions are for leadership, and furthermore how they contribute to employee motivation, your leadership style will change forever.

One of my favorite quotes on emotional intelligence, which encapsulates the transformational and tremendous power of emotional intelligence, comes from Goleman, where he explains:

“Great leaders move us. They ignite our passions and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas … the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions” (Goleman, Boyatzis, McKee, 2004, p.16).


Works Cited:

Burns JM. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2004). Primal leadership: Learning to lead with emotional intelligence. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why it can mater more than IQ. New York: Bantam.

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Exceptional Leaders produce extraordinary Action!

April 26, 2015 | Posted in Leadership, Purpose | By

Think about someone in your life who was an exceptional leader.

What made this person stand out in your mind as an exceptional leader? Most likely, this leader accomplished something noteworthy; an extraordinary action that you were able to witness. Many times we attribute exceptional leadership to the extraordinary results that were accomplished.

As we discovered previously, exceptional leaders do not focus on just the results they aim for. For great leaders, results come as an aftermath of focusing on a timeless purpose or worthy cause. That’s not to say that leaders do not want great things to happen. In fact, that is the contrary.

Exceptional leaders realize that when they passionately lead with purpose, and they effectively shares their dreams, extraordinary things can happen.


When examining further how great leaders inspire great action, we found that followers were motivated to greater extents and performed to higher levels when there existed an alignment or sharing of purpose. Furthermore, it was found that when leaders led from a strong sense of purpose (or cause), they found greater meaning in their work, had greater influence, and tended to perform to higher extents than those who did not.

Think about Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, or Gandhi for instance. These men led extraordinary causes, which ended up changing ideas, people, and society forever. What did these men have in common? Well, they led with purpose, had a powerful vision, and then extraordinary action took place.

A prominent author on the subject of purpose, Nikos Mourkogiannis (2007), outlines that purpose is the starting point for great leadership. “Whether that is shareholders, board members, or constituents, finding and fulfilling a purpose that fits the identify of the organization is the foundation and starting point for greatness.”

Furthermore, Mourkogiannis (2007) states that, “when a company is driven by a shared purpose, its morale will be higher, the quality of innovation will improve, its internal and external relationships will be strengthened, and its leaders will be able to point the way forward with conviction.”

The topic of purpose is also a constant strand in Transformational Leadership expert James MacGregor Burns’ (1978) writing who says; “there is nothing so power-full, nothing so effective, nothing so causal as common (or shared) purpose . . . leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose”.

Lastly, emotional Intelligence experts and authors, Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee, and Daniel Goleman (2002) also highlight that “leaders cannot keep achieving new goals and inspiring the people around them without understanding the meaning of their own dreams.”

It is the constant of purpose, meaning, and timeless vision that seem to propel exceptional leaders to produce extraordinary action in their organizations and through their people.

As a leader, it is quite clear that understanding these concepts of purpose has tremendous benefit for your leadership, your team, and your organization. Exceptional action is possible when you lead from a strong purpose, and communicate a powerful, contagious vision.

The question is, will you take the time to find your purpose?


Works Cited:

Boyatzis, R., McKee, A., & Goleman, D. (2002). Reawakening your passion for work. Harvard Business Review, 80(4), 86-94.

Burns JM. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Mourkogiannis, N.,. (2007). Purpose: The starting point of great leadership. LTL Leader to Leader, 2007(44), 26-32.

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Desirable Leadership Behavior for Higher Education

January 24, 2015 | Posted in Education, Leadership | By

Leadership is in a sense a pattern of thinking that is shown through a leader’s behavior. This past weekend I read a very interesting study about effective leadership behavior within higher education. I would like to share with you the important points from that study.

This quantitative study asserted that if certain leadership patterns or behaviors were present, this would lead to improvements in the subsequent processes, and in turn the quality of services provided by the higher education institution.


These desirable leadership patterns are known as Bryman’s proposal of desirable higher education leadership behaviors.

Desirable Leadership Behavior for Higher Education

  • A proactive approach to pursuing the university’s missions
  • An emphasis on a visionary approach that guides and provides focus for what the leader seeks to achieve for the institution
  • Being internally focused, and well connected in the institution, being seen and drawing inspiration from its participants
  • Being externally focused, having a good understanding for higher education, and networking with a variety of constituents and reinforcing within those constituencies the direction the university is taking
  • Having personal integrity
  • Introducing changes in a way that entails consultation with others
  • Importance of not sealing leaders off from the university at large
  • Importance of not undermining pre-existing organizational culture
  • Being flexible in approach to leadership
  • Entrepreneurial and risk-taking
  • Influencing the organizational culture and values to support change
  • Designing structures to support change

In addition, this study identified another set of undesirable leadership behaviors to avoid within higher education:

Undesirable Leadership Behavior for Higher Education

  • Failing to consult
  • Not respecting existing values
  • Actions that undermine collegiality
  • Not promoting the interests of those for whom the leader is responsible
  • Being uninvolved in the life of the department or institution
  • Undermining autonomy
  • Allowing the department or institution to drift

I pray this is a good encouragement for you higher education leaders out there. I will leave you with this excellent quote and bible verse;

The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.” – John Scott

But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant. – Matthew 20:26


Works Cited

Flumerfelt, S., & Banachowski, M. (July 12, 2011). Understanding leadership paradigms for improvement in higher education. Quality Assurance in Education, 19, 3, 224-247.

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Exceptional Leaders lead with Purpose

July 13, 2014 | Posted in Leadership, Purpose | By

You will find many definitions for what exceptional leadership looks like. In fact, exceptional leadership can often times be relative to the environment of the leader. However, I have noticed that there seems to be three trends which are present with exceptional leadership.  First, exceptional leadership begins with a Purpose, being the foundation. Second, exceptional leaders have a timeless Vision, or communicating dreams into reality, and third exceptional leaders inspire great Action, which are the results of a purpose being fulfilled through a timeless vision.

I would like to take a few moments to talk about what Purpose in leadership looks like:


Having a well defined Purpose is a critical foundation for exceptional leadership. Purpose is defined as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”. In other words, this is your “WHY”. When you relate purpose to yourself or to your leadership, the question is “WHY” are you here? “WHY” do you even bother? “WHY” do you lead? The answer to this questions is far beyond just making money, or having a secure job. We are not talking about management, this is exceptional leadership. Exceptional leaders are compelled by something greater that just monetary gain. Exceptional leaders are compelled by a clear, well define Purpose.

To expand further, exceptional leaders possess three key elements when it comes to purpose: (1) a greater than average sense of purpose in life and meaning; resulting from a heightened level of self-awareness, (2) a strong understanding of what their organization’s purpose is and, (3) a belief that they are fulfilling their purpose in life which fits with the identity of the organization they are leading.

Without having a clear understanding of your purpose in life, you will not be able to grow to the most exceptionally leader that you could be. Let me give you a few examples; Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Steven Jobs, Ghandi, Mother Teresa and countless other authentic leaders were each driven by a deep understanding of what they or their organization was trying to do. They were led by their deep sense of purpose, which was communicated through their visionand put into action by their decisions.

The first step for taking your leadership to the next level, and even understanding “WHY” you yourself exists, is defining your purpose in life. 


This past year, I began a new journey in my life when I started my doctoral program in organizational leadership. As I interacted with other leaders from across the country, I ran into a powerful idea … Purpose. Throughout my coursework, I grappled with and researched further as to what purpose meant for leadership. My results were compelling, almost all of the leaders I perceived to be exceptional, had a well defined purpose in life. Furthermore, their purpose was timeless and was not motivated by extrinsic rewards (such as money, recognition, or power).

What I also found to be interesting was; Leaders who lead with a strong purpose, and also aligned to the organization’s mission that they lead, tend to perform to greater extents than others that do not.

Praying through these ideas, seeking guidance from God and others I trust, I established my own purpose statement which is a reminder for me on my purpose in life. Here is what I believe to be my purpose in life:

Model the example of Jesus Christ in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord for my family and circles of influence, consistently serve others by influencing them to find their purpose, excel in their callings, and point them toward God.

I will accomplish this by:

  • Modeling Jesus Christ’s example, and letting everything that I say, do, touch and have influence over be honoring to God.
  • Helping others to find their purpose life by mentoring and developing them to become more effective in their vocations.
  • Leading within Higher Education, helping institutions become the most effective environment to teach others How to Think and to Choose for themselves and developing others to have the ability to tell the difference between a groundless argument and one based on fact or logic.
  • Building Trust relationships.
  • Growing in Transformational leadership.
  • Transforming others into a life with Jesus Christ.
  • Passion is something that I will pass on …. I will do it with God’s love!

My purpose for writing this is so that you can spend time in front of God asking him to reveal your purpose in life to you. I pray that God can use you to authentically lead with Purpose and Vision to produce extraordinary Action  for His Kingdom!

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What is Transformational Leadership?

April 6, 2014 | Posted in Leadership, Purpose | By

Over the past month I have been involved in a study to examine the leadership styles for a variety of senior-level administrators at different higher education universities around the United States. The goal of our research group was determine if there are particular types, or styles of leadership that are most prevalent at the American higher education institution.

The results of our findings (from the group of senior-leaders we interviewed)  indicate that  all leaders display  characteristics from a particular approach to leadership,  described as Transformational Leadership.

So, what is Transformational Leadership?

Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership is a approach to leadership that ehances the motivation, morale, and performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms. These include connecting the follower’s sense of identity and self to the project and the collective identity of the organization; being a role model for followers that inspires them and makes them interested; challenging followers to take greater ownership for their work, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, so the leader can align followers with tasks that enhance their performance (Bass & Avolio, 1994).

Transformational Leadership can be additionally described by the following four elements:

1) Idealized Leadership

  • Being role models; modeling the way
  • Considers the needs of others over his/her own need
  • Is consistent and shares risks with follower
  • Does the right things and demonstrates high standards of conduct
  • Avoids using power for personal gain

2) Inspirational Motivation

  • Provide meaning and challenge to follower’s work.
  • Display enthusiasm and optimism.
  • Involves followers in envisioning desired future states.
  • Arouses a team spirit.
  • Clearly communicate expectations and goals.
  • Inspires a shared vision.

3) Intellectual Stimulation

  • Employees participate in decision making and are encouraged to be innovative and creative by questioning assumptions, re-framing problems and trying new approaches to existing problems
  • Does not publicly criticize for mistakes.
  • Does not criticize an employee’s opinions if different from the leaders, rather rewards “out of the box” thinking.

4) Individualized Consideration

  • Pays attention to their employees’ needs for achievement and growth through coaching and mentoring.
  • New learning opportunities are created in a supportive climate.
  • Individual differences are recognized and accepted.
  • Communication effectively and practices “management by wandering around”
  • Sees the individual as a whole person, not an employee.
  • Delegates tasks to assist in developing others.
  • Monitors to provide support and direction, not to check up on people.

Another great model describing some practical examples of Transformational Leadership can be found from the authors Kouzes & Posner: The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Model

This research study got me to thinking, is this coincidence, or did these administrators, from all different parts of the country mind you, stumble upon a leadership style that is truly most effective? Moreover, do leaders that embody these characteristics seem to make the greatest contribution to their organizations and onto others? Is this is why they have risen to the ranks of senior-leadership at these institutions?

My conclusions have lead me to the belief that this is not coincidence. I believe these leaders all identify with this particular approach to leadership because it is most effective. Additionally, each of the leaders we studied all have a “timeless purpose” they are committed to. This purpose helps to define their meaning, a meaning in which they believe that they are creating a “life changing” impact on the people, communities and world around them. I believe this is why Transformational Leadership seems to resonate the strongest from these leaders.

So, the last question, are you a Transformational Leader?


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Authentic Leadership: What’s Your Story?

December 29, 2013 | Posted in Leadership | By

We each have a unique story to tell. Our authentic story, lived out in a real way, gives us tremendous influence to make a lasting impact on others.

Think about this for a moment.

As individuals, God has equipped each of us with a unique mix of skills & abilities, a distinctive personality & behavior, and certain passions & desires. These things have been given to us as a “tool belt” by God to use in this life. Our “tool belt” equips us with the tools necessary to accomplish our purpose in life. In addition, the “experiences” we encounter also give us a very unique perspective in order to share our stories with others. The good, bad and even ugly experiences in our life come together to help shape our authentic story.

Romans 8:28 and Ephesians 2:10 from the bible remind us that God works for good in all things for those who love him, and also that we have been created in Christ Jesus long ago for His purposes to do good works.

By sharing our authentic story or “experiences”, as well as the wisdom learned from them, we find a valuable way to influence, inspire, develop and serve others.

What is your story?

Our “tool belt” and “experiences” come together to shape who and what we are under Christ. In fact, we really are a mix of these elements; it is the combination of these items that shape our authentic story. The trick is to understand these things in an intimate and vulnerable manner. This is what it means to be Self-Aware. Self-Awareness, or the understanding of one’s self to an intimate and vulnerable extent, is the beginning to authentic, influential leadership.

As a young professional growing up, many times I tried to mimic others whom I perceived to be successful in life or business. I found that while this process revealed a wonderful amount of insight and knowledge, I always seemed out of place. Often times I found this was a mistake, I would end up mimicking something that I was not. I felt like I was constantly trying on clothes that did not fit quite right.

What resulted was a realization that I needed to spend time focusing my efforts on understanding “Who I Was”; this included an intimate understanding of my “tool belt” and what my life “experiences” meant.

God has created each of us to be unique. When we try to act as how we see others, the result will not be authentic. In fact, when your leadership is perceived as unauthentic, the results will not build trust, nor will it provide meaning and purpose for your life.

There are two important concepts which are vital for leaders to understand: (1) Unauthentic leadership does not last, and (2) Self-awareness is the beginning for discovering authentic leadership.

Authenticity is a key trait for developing as an influential leader. Now, as a higher education administrator, and someone who spends a great deal of time with college students, I intentionally encourage others to discover and understand who they are.

Taking time to discover your “tool belt” and “experiences before God will lead to a greater understanding of “Who you Are”. Furthermore, this will lead you to help discover what your purpose in life is, which is tied to your authentic and unique story that you can share with others.

One of the reasons for building this website and blog was to encourage others to discover their “tool belt” as well as what life “experiences” make up who they are. When we use our “tool belt” and “experiences” in the way they are intended, God will use our life in a tremendous way to influence others and for making a lasting impact.

I would like to invite you to take check out our page: Finding Purpose

This page offers a variety of different assessments which have been put together to aide you in discovering your “tool belt”. Complete these assessments and then record your personal results from each of them. Additionally, I suggest taking time to map out the major experiences encountered in your life. These are all breadcrumbs from God which can assist you to discovering your purpose in life.

We each have an authentic story to tell, what’s yours?

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Let’s Do War, Together.

December 15, 2013 | Posted in Leadership | By

There is one particular scene from Mel Gibson’s 2002 movie, We Were Soldiers, that has an important truth for us as leaders, especially for those who lead or work alongside the millennial (those born between 1980-2005).

Mel Gibson plays Army Lt. Colonel Hal Moore, who commands the 7th Calvary during the Vietnam War. This particular unit was responsible for blitzing the enemy by transporting soldiers via helicopter right onto right onto the most dangerous front-line battlefields. The Army 7th Calvary was known for its aggressive and very dangerous strategies during the Vietnam War. This particular unit would be consistently led onto what could be called the “depths of hell” during the Vietnam War.

The following video is a powerful speech by Lt. Colonel Hal Moore right before they leave for Vietnam. Knowing full well that his troops would be landing under fire, and that casualties would be expected, Army Lt. Colonel Hal takes a unique approach to motivating and embodying trust for his men.

Take a moment to watch this video here: Lt. Colonel Hal Moore’s Speech (or click on the image below):


“I will be the first person to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off, and I will leave no one behind …”

Imagine as an employee that your leader embodied this value. “We are going to do this work together.” The “I’ve got your back” mentality displays the high levels of trust and admiration between the leader and the employee. In their book The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner describe this trait of leadership as “Modeling the Way”.

“Modeling the Way” establishes principles concerning the way people should be treated and the way goals should be pursued. They create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow.

Particularly for the millennial workforce, this approach to leadership resonates very strongly. From my years of working with and hiring the millennial generation, I have noticed they want to “do work together”. The millennial wants the relationship connection, they want to be mentored, and they value work that has variety, as well as opportunities for personal growth. Compensation, while important for the millennial, does not hold the same weight as it did for their parents.

Through relationships that “Model the Way”, we can “pull along” the millennial to develop professionally. Additionally, we can also come alongside the millennial to fill their needs for connecting and feeling valued. I have seen the results of this kind of leadership which has a profound effect on the millennial, as well as on their contribution to the organization. In fact, as a millennial myself, I can attest to the positive example that this type of leadership engenders.

As the millennial continues to enter the workforce, let’s embody an approach to leadership that “Models the Way”. Let’s come alongside our colleagues and say, “I’ve got your back, let’s do this together … And I will never leave you behind.”

In the words of Mel Gibson, “Let’s Do War, Together.”

(p.s. Thanks to Eric Bruntmyer who initially shared this story with me, it still has meaning all of these years later).

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Shoe Shopping and finding Purpose

November 17, 2013 | Posted in Purpose | By

What does shoe shopping have to do with finding purpose? Well, I’m glad you asked. Let’s start by picturing yourself in a large shoe store, very similar to the store shown below:


There are rows and rows of shoes with different colors, sizes, shapes and materials. As you peruse through the rows of shoes, you begin to see certain styles and colors that appeal to you. Selecting a few different shoe styles, you begin to try them on, one by one, to see which fits most comfortably. You begin asking yourself, which shoes look the best on you, and which shoes best fit the purpose and reason for their purchase?

Finding purpose, is a lot like shoe shopping.

As we described earlier in this site, Purpose is a deep rooted set of values in which you believe that what you are doing is worthwhile and will have a positive and beneficial impact on others and society. Purpose in Life is the foundation in which all else of a fulfilled life and impactful career is derived. People that have a greater sense of purpose in their lives, resulting from a heightened level of self-awareness, tend to perform to greater extents than their counterparts and are more fulfilled and happy in their lives. Purpose in Life begins from a very intimate, vulnerable understanding on one’s self, including one’s skills & abilities, personality & behavior, passions & desires, as well as a willing and prayerful heart for God’s direction.

From my years of working with college students and in higher education administration, I have found everyone’s process to find purpose is very different. However, I have noticed a particular trend that involves focusing on these areas: (1) skills & abilities, (2) personality & behavior, (3) passions & desires, (4) a willing and prayerful heart for God’s direction.

No one, apart from God, can find your own purpose in life. It is up to the individual to start their journey to see what skills & abilities, personality & behavior, passions & desires they have, and then begin to see what shoe fits. All we can do is take others to the shoe store, provide advice based on our own experiences, and point them in the right direction. The size, style and color is up to the wearer.

If you decide to take this journey, you will encounter some very hard and sometimes scary truths about yourself. However, it is in those moments of vulnerable self-awareness that you can understand what experiences (both good and bad) that have shaped you overtime. I encourage you to map out your skills & abilities, understand your personality & behavior, and cultivate your passions & desires — then bring this all back to God and ask Him what He wants you to do with it.

The bible tells us in 1 John 5:14-15 that if we have confidence to ask in His name and in His will, our Lord will answer us.

I encourage you to begin the journey to understand purpose, you need to start to mediate and “unpack” these areas about yourself.

It’s time to go shoe shopping!

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