Leaders are Creators

If you’re a leader, you’re a creator! This week on The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, John talks about the things leaders create in their organizations and in their people. They create confidence, ideas, strategy, and options.

After John’s lesson, Mark Cole and Chris Goede will offer some ways you can apply John’s lesson to your own life and leadership. They discuss how many leaders are the most creative when they are working in their strength zone, and how leaders who don’t think of themselves as creative need to be reminded to get back into their strength zone.

Our BONUS resource for this episode is the “Leaders are Creators Worksheet,” which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Mark Cole:       Hey podcast listeners. Did you know you are a creator? My name is Mark Cole, and this is the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, the podcast that adds value to leaders who multiply value to others. This week, we're talking about the things that leaders create. They create confidence, create ideas, strategy. They create options. In this episode, John is going to explain how leadership creates each of those things in organizations and in the people in those organizations. Once John is done, I'll come back with my co-host today, which is Chris Goede and we're going to unwrap some of John's lessons and offer application for your own leadership. Now, as always, we have a free bonus resource for you. This is a fill in the blank worksheet from John's lessons. You can download this by visiting Maxwellpodcast.com/create. Click the bonus resource button, and you will be able to download that tool. Now, here is John Maxwell

John Maxwell:  Leaders create and I want to share with you some things that they create. Number one, they create confidence. Leaders had the ability to create confidence within the organization. Kipling said, "First prizes don't always go to the brightest or the strongest, and again and again. The person who wins is the one who is sure that he can." There's a sense of confidence and leaders have confidence in themselves, and that confidence bleeds through to the organization. How do you create confidence? It starts number one, with self confidence. I have never known a person to be able to create confidence in others that lacked it in themselves.

Confidence is an inside job. So it starts with you. Now, as you have self confidence, it goes over to secondly people with confidence. Now, all of a sudden, you begin to have confidence in people. So you go from personal success to people success. Then it flows over number three to mission confidence. You begin to believe in your mission and what you're doing, and it becomes mission success. We're talking about trust. We're talking about creating confidence as a leader.

We receive the people's trust or confidence when we do two things. Letter ., when we are leaders of character and letter B, when we are leaders of competence, when we have character and when we have competence and both of those, when leaders come to you and say, "How can I really have people trust me? And by the way, you have to have both. If you have character, but you don't have competence, the good news is, everybody believes you, but nobody wants to follow you. If you have confidence, you don't have character, the good news is, everybody believes you can probably get them there, but they aren't sure how much they're going to jerk you around the block until they do. So it's not like I have one and I don't have the other. You've got to have both of them.

Judith Bardwick says in your notes, "Real confidence comes from knowing and accepting yourself, your strengths and your limitations in contrast to depending upon affirmation from others from the outside." Leaders create confidence. They have a personal confidence which becomes a people confidence, okay. But they not only create confidence, number two, they create ideas. Leaders are great idea people. The leader doesn't come up with all the ideas, but the leaders' the catalyst for great ideas. So how do you become a catalyst for ideas?

Seven things. Number one, always be thinking about the business. The room that ideas are incubated in is in the think room. Always be thinking about the business. Number two, always be asking questions about the business. Great idea people are great questioners. Number three, focus your thinking on two areas of the business, potential and problems. Always be asking yourself as a leader, "What ideas can I create to develop more potential? And what ideas can I create to reduce problems?" Okay.

Number four, know who the idea people are on the team. In your organization you have some idea people. You have some people that just are great with ideas. You have some people who haven't had an idea for years. It would be nice. Okay. We have an idea room here. The only people that go in that room are people have ideas. We don't let you in the room if you don't have an idea. You stay out. Go have lunch somewhere else. And nothing's worse than having a non-idea person in an idea meeting. When I have an idea meeting, I don't call 210 employees here. I call 15 and we go have an idea meeting. We sit in there and close the room, tell people not to disturb us. We're thinking, we're incubating ideas. We're thinking, we're creating.

Number five, whenever an idea comes to your mind, include them. This is huge. In other words, whenever an idea comes to mind your first response when you get a good idea... And by the way, you know where we all just get our ideas is in the shower. Isn't that right? You get to singing in the shower and you get your good idea. See, it's not the idea you got in the shower that makes you a great idea person. It's what you do after you dry off with that idea. And most ideas, it's like when we rub the towel on our skin, it seems like the idea disappears too. So what you do is when you have a great idea, the first thing you do is you bring all the idea people together and say, "Look, I just thought of something. What do you think?"

Just the other day, for example, on Saturday, I thought of something that was very important and so I called a couple of my ideas guys, and I said, "Let's go down to the basketball game and let's go to a restaurant at noon. And I want to talk to you two hours before the game, and I'm going to throw out this idea." And I threw out not one idea, but I threw out three ideas with them. And I promise you in about an hour and 45 minutes, we took the ideas I had and they just took off because I had idea people. I had the right kind of people in the restaurant with me. But as soon as you get a great idea, don't try to make it any better yourself. You probably have already hit your limit, by getting the idea, okay. Don't expand your mind farther than it can go. First thing you do is go get other people like mine and say, "Here's what I think. What do you think?" And let them jump on that idea too.

Number six, ask and expect them to make your idea better. In fact, I was doing a leadership conference recently and I had a person that said, "Well, how do I know if my team members are adding to the team?" I said, "It's very simple. When you go to a team meeting, do you walk out charged up and encouraged or do you walk out drained? If you walk out drained, you got the wrong people in the room. They're sucking life out of you. You're going to have to go get oxygen. But if they're charging you and energizing people," in other words, here's the thing.

If you're my idea group and I come in and bring an idea, in an hour I expect you take that idea and make it much better. And if you can make it much better, the good news is you get to come to the next meeting. If you can't make it much better, the bad news is, you don't come to another meeting. We only let people in the room that make the idea better.

Number seven, when they do. In other words, when they make your ideas better, give them the credit. This is huge. Just give them the credit. How do you motivate your good people is by letting everybody know it's their idea. Say, "I just brought this to them and look what they did with it." Give them the credit. Leaders create confidence, create ideas. So third thing that leaders do is leaders create strategy. Henry Ford's exactly right. He said, "Nothing's particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs". So you got to have a strategy. One of my favorite quotes on strategy is, "Hope is not a strategy." People thought, "Well, we're hoping to turn the company [inaudible 00:08:12]." "Well, yeah, we're really hoping for success. Well, we're..." Get you a strategy. Break it down. Step one, step two, step three, step four, step five. Break it down. Okay.

Now what I have found is great strategy is built on the foundation of great questions. So if you want to have great strategy, you have to ask the questions. I'm going to give you 10 of them right now. Here we go. These are so simple. They're already in your notes. What is the goal? Where are we now? What is the timeline? Who are the players? What are the resources? What are the steps? What are the obstacles? What are the options? How should this be communicated? What is the cost? Man, just go through that list and answer each one of those questions and you begin to develop a strategy. Now, leaders create strategy. They create confidence. They create ideas. One more thing leaders create, and that is leaders create options. Chuck Smith was right when he said, "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken."

So let me talk to you about options for a second. Here's the way this works. As a leader, there are times... Now just listen very carefully to this statement... As a leader there are times that you are unclear, but you are never uncertain. As a leader you know where you want to go. You're just not always clear how to get there. And what I have found is spatially working with young leaders, Andy Stanley was the one that taught me this principal. It's a huge principal and especially huge with young leaders. They're certain about what they want to accomplish, but they're unclear about how they're going to always accomplish. And there's nothing wrong with that.

That's where I'm talking about the fact that you're focused, but you are also flexible and there's that tension. Here's what I know. There are some people that are totally flexible and they're worthless because they just bend whichever way the wind's going and they never get anything accomplished. There are some people that are just totally focused and they're worthless too, because they don't have the ability to adjust. They don't have the ability to back up. They don't have the ability to detour.

The balanced person is focused yet flexible. For example, they're focused on the vision, but they're flexible on how to get there. There's a flexibility on how they're going to get there. And the reason they're flexible and this is not because they're wishy washy, they're flexible in the fact that they don't always know how to get there. They know where they want to go, but they don't always know how to get there. For example, they're focused on building a team. I mean, they say, "Okay, I got to build a team to scale Mount Everest here. I got to build a team to get this challenge accomplished." They're focused but they're sometimes flexible in how they're going to use the team members.

For example, one of the things that we absolutely refuse in this organization is we refuse to let anybody be put into a box. We cross lines all the time because we don't run an organization by job description. We run an organization by giftedness and there's a world of difference between the two and these job description people will drive you nuts. "Well, it's not my job." "Well, let's make it your job or let's find another job for you somewhere else." Okay. It's just a thought. So we do crossover all the time because we have gifted people that are over here in another organization. We need them over here for the moment. We go over there and bring them over here. And we just tell them, "You're going to cross lines all the time. We don't have territory, we don't have job descriptions. We don't have turf. We don't have any of that stuff.

We're not into tenure or insecurity or anything like that. And we constantly cross pollinate all of our people because we understand yes, we're into the team concept, but we're not always sure how we're going to use them. Values, we're all for values. The question is not do you have values? The question is, how do you best flesh them out? How do you flesh them out? And we've had to be very flexible in that because one of my values is I add value to people. I'm an added value person. I say, "I'm going to come into your life. I'm going to add value to you. When we're done you're going to be better than what you were before I came to your life. I'm not a sucker of life. I'm not a subtracter of life. I don't divide. I multiply, hopefully, at least I add if I don't multiply."

Now, what I'm saying is when I said, "I want to add value to people," the first group of people I wanted to add value with because it was my calling and so what happened is I had to keep being flexible. I had to keep enlarging the ring of people I had to add value to so I could add value to the people I really wanted to add value too. So what I'm saying is you're focused, but flexible. Okay. Now let's review. Leaders create four things, confidence, ideas, strategy options.

Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome back. Chris, I talk a lot about this standout statement that Jake and our team provides for us. Here's the question, here's the statement really. You're a leader, you should be creating, so now let's answer the question. What are you creating? And John gave us some really cool things here that I can't wait to unpack with you.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. This is a personal lesson for me because this is an area that I've struggled in with my leadership because of the way that I'm wired. We'll talk a little bit about that as we get into today's lesson. And I think being in this environment and this culture being challenged, receiving confidence from you as my leader and other areas have really helped me do that. And so what I want us to do today as we talk about this because I think there are a lot of leaders that say, "Yeah, I manage people. I manage things. What do I need to create for my team or my organization?" And so what we're going to do today is I want to talk a little bit about the how, right? We have great principles here from John giving us a ton of content and I want to encourage you to go back, take notes, listen again, but I want to talk about how, and I want to talk about how we create ideas.

So I had this word picture, Tim Elmore, a dear friend of ours, now League of Extraordinary Leaders, joining us, moving forward has all these habitudes. I'm going to talk to him about this habitude that I thought about, which is the artist versus the mechanic, right? So the mechanic is how I'm naturally wired to where I want to eliminate things. I want to fix things versus an artist really, as we should all be thinking of, of leaders works in iterations and adds to it and creates. We're really building off of what we talked about last week on our podcast of growth and how do we go about doing that? So I want you to talk a little bit as a leader in regards to creating ideas. You are not one that is short for ideas.

Matter of fact, you've often said to me and the leaders inside our organization, "Hey, let me be a thinking partner for you." And I love John's statement in here where he says, "The leader doesn't come up with all the ideas. The leader is catalyst for great ideas." How do you position yourself as a leader in order to be that catalytic leader, that moment where you're able to help leaders create a little bit of... I told you, this is personal for me and you've helped me grow through that. How do you go about doing that?

Mark Cole:       Yeah. Well, so you were... I love one of the greatest feedback that we get from our podcast is how authentic, how vulnerable we all are. And of course you work alongside John Maxwell who's very comfortable in his own skin and he talks about his weaknesses more than anybody else. So we create this real vulnerable environment. And I want you to know Chris, I appreciate you being vulnerable right there at the beginning in your pursuit of more creativity. I don't think you're not creative. I think you're pursuing to be more creative.

Chris Goede:     That's correct.

Mark Cole:       Now let me relate to that because on John Maxwell's team, I don't feel like I'm very creative either and you are very kind to me in your question, but you got to know, I struggle with that same thing. Man, there is a level of creativity that I want and to illustrate, let me explain something. So for two years now, we have changed the organizational and the ownership structure of John's organization. We're two years in right now, two years in and something I heard Jamie Kern Lima say last week. She says, "A lot of leaders confuse momentum with a tailwind." Now in creativity, I've got to be honest since you were honest. I'm riding a tailwind. I've got a John Maxwell tailwind pushing me on the creativity even two years after some of the dynamics and changes that we've had. There's a tailwind, Chris, that you and I and our leadership are on.

Chris Goede:     No doubt. Yeah, no doubt.

Mark Cole:       However, one of the things that I do feel like, and in 2022, it's interesting that you asked me this in January 2022, in 2022, John is going to be working with me on opportunities. How do you sense and seize opportunities and isn't sensing and seizing opportunities really all on the back of creativity? And so I love you asking that question because one, in full disclosure, I've got to be honest with you YouTube viewers and podcast listeners. I feel a little bit like Chris at the opening here. I got some work to do.

At the same time. That is the focus this year is to be a leader that creates. So let's talk about it. I have discovered that when I'm invited into a room to where a good idea is already given, I used to think that my role was to affirm the idea. "Good idea, Chris, way to go, high five, man." Show the YouTube. We actually in the studio. I wanted you all to see that. "Good idea, Chris high five, way to go." And I was just this cheerleader and I changed something about three years ago when I heard John say something about, "Hey, I don't need your affirmation for my idea. I need your contribution to a better idea." And the first thing I'll tell most of us leaders is walk into rooms with an understanding, "I have one responsibility. I want to up-level the thinking and the energy and the ideation of the opportunity that we're discussing. I changed my perspective. They don't need affirmation. They don't need conformation. It's their idea. They probably feel better about it than they should.

Okay. Now that we've said that-

Chris Goede:     That's right.

Mark Cole:       ... Now, let's go... Now I don't want to walk into the room and be a critic either. So I've got these leaders that come in and want to tell you why it's a bad idea. I've got other leaders that want to come in and tell you why it's the best idea they've ever heard. The leaders that I want in creative environments is the leaders that come in with one intent, to up-level your thinking. And I think that has helped me, Chris, to perhaps get a little bit of the accolade that you gave me in the question. I have changed the perspective of my responsibility, surround myself with creative, good ideating type people, but now my responsibility is to up-level, not affirm and certainly not to critique.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. We didn't even talk about this example before we started recording. But it was one that I was thinking about because you have communicated to our leadership team, I, in proximity to John over the next year, I've got to understand how does he come up with all these ideas and the opportunities to add value to people and organizations because he does it so well. What I want to talk about a little bit here and I want you to unpack a little bit for me is we've learned from John the power of asking questions. And I think when you ask the right questions, you're able to help your team be more creative. I also want to tie this to just a comment real quick around leaders. When you have the discretionary effort of your team, what we call level two influence, the ability to connect with them, you're going to get creativity out of them because they're going to be thinking about the business when they're not in the business. They're going to be thinking on it for you.

I want to encourage our leaders to, as you begin doing this, to feel comfortable as Mark talked about. Be that leader that when you walk into the room and or when you walk out of the room, they don't go, "Wow, that individual is the smartest individual that I've ever met." Don't leave meetings created like that. You want them leaving saying, "Man, I feel smarter because I was in this meeting.

Mark Cole:       Yeah, and I made them better.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And I made the ideas better.

Mark Cole:       I contributed, I helped.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. Now let me also spin this the other side, which John has said to us before, if you're not adding value or bringing ideas to this meeting, you might not be invited back to the next meeting. Right. So I think that this is a big part. Talk about, from a leader's perspective, your perspective of, and Jared Cagle who helps us a ton on our podcast mentioned this. This is a real issue to where leaders don't feel confident enough to let their guard down and say, "I don't have all the answers. I want my idea to win. I don't want it to be the team's best idea." Talk about the best idea wins and to get comfortable, what that does for your community, for your organization, whatever you're leading or have influence with does for the leader.

Mark Cole:       Well, so this is what I love about John Maxwell. Now let me, disclaimer, John might be listening this morning. I'm just kidding. I love a lot about John Maxwell. One of the things I love the most is how hungry he is for the best idea. So at the taping of this podcast next week, so next week John Maxwell is calling, I think there's 18 people together to brainstorm how to make a book better. Now let me give context on that because that sounds really good at face value, but let me give context on it. Number one, the book that we're talking about is the 25th edition of 21 Laws of Leadership. For contextual purposes, that book has sold 3.5 million copies of that book to date. Now for a little more contextual purposes, John has written 86 books and 34 million hands now have a John Maxwell book in it. Okay.

John knows how to write books. He knows how to sell books. So what would make John on the 25th edition to bring almost 21 people? I don't know the exact count, to bring a lot of people into Atlanta to brainstorm this book? The book's already been written. The book's already been consumed. The book's already incredible. Why? There is this appetite that I've not ever seen by the best idea wins. Now let me give you further context. This is after our board meeting next week to where we will be presenting a 35% growth in our nonprofit to where the impact, our KPIs has grown 75% over the previous year. We're going to have a day to remember, but yesterday's greatness does not styme John's desire for a better future. Get it. So the creativity is stemmed off of not only anticipation of a better idea, but a desire to never settle on yesterday's great idea. And that reality of John Maxwell blows me away every time.

We've got a day that we're going to have with our board that we could high five for three weeks. But by the time we say goodbye to all the board members that are here in person, I mean, some of the most influential people in America are on our board... By the time we say goodbye to them, 30 minutes later, we're going to be back going, "How can we make a 3.5 million copy book better?" That insatiable desire to get better is the incubation of creativity. It is a dissatisfaction that causes that desire that we're going to create something better, even on the backs of greatness.

Chris Goede:     I think the statement I'm sitting here thinking about when you're talking about is I think John continually models for us the whole expand and push back boundaries. But when I think about it, I think about what is versus what could be? I just want to challenge leaders. I want to come back to this point and we're going to move on is that we have to get comfortable in our own skin as leaders. Okay. We're not that great. And if John does that and you do that, we should all be doing that and ask yourself those questions, what could be and when you begin asking you that question and you bring your team around you and you're open to them, allowing to speak into that, you're going to create an energy. Jake talked a little bit before we were talking about some thoughts and ideas around it, where he said, "We're creating energy one way or another. So why not go about doing it in a way that benefits your leadership, the organization, the community, whatever it might be."

Mark Cole:       Can I say-

Chris Goede:     Absolutely.

Mark Cole:       ... one more thing because you've got me fired up now. Leaders and I'm going to look directly to my YouTube viewers and you need to go view the YouTube. Give us one shot of viewing us at-

Chris Goede:     Not while you're driving.

Mark Cole:       Yeah. Maxwellpodcast.com/YouTube and you'll be able to find us, but YouTube listeners and then all of you podcast listeners, leaders, a lot of time go into creative environments feeling like they've got to give all the answers. So I've got a creative environment. I'm going to study all night because I got to go in and wow everybody with my creativity. It takes discipline and time for you to get a creative environment that leaders really need to have because I've watched John do this dozens of times as you have. We walk into a creative meeting. Do you know many times, let's say it's a two hour meeting, a three hour meeting, many times it is 62 minutes in or 95 minutes in before you ever hear one peep from that deep baritone voice. Yeah. Because he don't come in to give the best idea. He comes in to receive the best idea and leaders, if I could challenge you and me on anything, it's to begin to discipline your team, that they're going to hear less from you in creative environments than more from you.

And I know, I, Chris, I put so much pressure on myself walking to a creative meeting. I better come with some really good ideas because I is the leader. I are the leader.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. You have the answers.

Mark Cole:       I've got the answers. I got to have it. And our challenge is, is we come in and we stymie creativity because the voice of the final decision maker, if it's spoken too much, actually paralyzes creativity rather than encourages or promotes creativity.

Chris Goede:     So good. Couple things coming out of that, then we're going to go on the next point. Jake's about to just cut us off. So was-

Mark Cole:       The music's playing in the background.

Chris Goede:     [crosstalk 00:26:29] right. Listen, man. Leaders, make it a point to make sure that you are listening more than you're being hurt.

Mark Cole:       Yep.

Chris Goede:     Right, especially in meetings like this. And then finally, one last comment about this, about we're talking about this how to get creativity in your team and your meetings and your leadership. When you come out of those meetings, it's okay leaders to give credit to the team, to the individual, however you got to that point. You brought an idea into the room. And like John says, if we don't leave with that idea of being greater than it was, then shame on the people that were in that meeting. But when you do get to that point, give credit to the team for doing it because you want to create more energy around creating greater ideas, to making sure that this organization, your leadership, your team of what could be, make sure that you do that. If you don't know, no Jake said you can't talk-

Mark Cole:       Yeah, I'm going to because the quotes from Jake, so he's going to give you a whole pass. So listen to this quote, in our notes that Jake found from William Arthur Ward, "The mediocre leader tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, the great teacher inspires," and our sense of responsibility-

Chris Goede:     That's tweetable.

Mark Cole:       That's tweetable. Our sense of responsibility leaders and creative environments is to inspire creativity. Not tell it, not explain it, not demonstrate it, but to inspire it.

Chris Goede:     That is so good. Yeah. Okay. So I am going to move to one last point. And then I just want you to comment on this and then you can wrap up for us. I bring this up, which is the last point that John talks about where we create options, because I know that John loves options. I also know that from your leadership standpoint, you love options and have learned to be extremely flexible when it comes to this side of things. He talks about a quote from Andy Stanley in there about where, hey, listen, maybe unclear, but I am certain about certain situations, right? When you have that mindset and you can communicate to the team and I share this, because I just want you to talk about this because I've seen you live this out where you come into our organizational meetings or our leadership team meetings. You go, "Man, I am certain this is where we're going. This is what we're going to be doing."

I don't know how. You're going to help me figure that out. I need the creativity of the team to help me figure that out. Talk about the power of a leader being able to be flexible and to be vulnerable, to be able to say, "Hey, I'm certain this, but I'm very unclear of where we're going or what it's going to look like and I need you to help me get there." Talk about that from a leadership perspective.

Mark Cole:       Yeah, recently in this very studio, I did a lesson on the law of navigation, which is one of John's law in 21 Laws. And he talks about in that lesson, he talks about how great leaders know how to chart the course. By the way that digital product is available. We'll put a link on there for you to get it. It's a digital product on the 21 Laws but as I was teaching the 21 Laws, I began to talk about my responsibility, because John's given me a lot of credit through the years, not on the 20 other laws, but he did give me credit like I had one of the laws, got a lot of work to do team, but he says law of navigation is one of my best. I teach often that the way that I have led in the law of navigation for John is to quickly be able to identify a problem to just as quickly be able to identify a solution and then to give John three options to pursue that solution.

Well, what that did is in the area of problem solving, which Carly Fiorina says, "Is leadership."

Chris Goede:     That's right.

Mark Cole:       In the area of problem solving, I have become creative in the area of solutions and ways to solve problems because that's what I have served John. So in this law of navigation. So coming back to that and your question, I believe that find an area of your gifting. So John says that I'm gifted in the law of navigation. No other law, but the law of navigation.

Chris Goede:     20 to go.

Mark Cole:       In that area where I'm gifted, I have worked hard to develop creativity in my gifting. Now what I have discovered, Chris, now that the vision of the organization is my responsibility, what I have learned in developing creativity and problem solving is transferrable in creativity and vision casting. But if I would've started with vision casting, imagine casting vision with John Maxwell as the organizational leader... That's a joke. But if I would've tried to become creative and wow people with my vision casting when it wasn't even number one, my strength or my responsibility, I would've gotten frustrated in developing creative and what would I've done? What every leader's done. I'm not creative.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. Shut down.

Mark Cole:       I'm not creative, but I discovered where to find creativity was in the area of my strength. And now I am finding that that is transferable [crosstalk 00:31:19] the areas that I'm learning.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. That's so good. So as I get ready to finish up, one thought, and I know I've already said, we're going to wrap up and Jake is about ready to jump on the table. You just gave us a great example of how to develop personally our creativity. Find that skillset and build off of that. Let me give you a perspective in regards to leading people and team in helping them become creative. One of the things that I love is to understand the human behavior, right? We're in behavioral change when it comes to leadership. And for me personally, one of the things I learned and I'm going to share of how my team has helped me grow in the creativity side of things. You're either abstract or concrete when it comes to seeing the world and seeing creativity. And I'm very concrete, and this is what this means.

An abstract individual, you would give them a piece of a small little spiel and say, "I need something to hold papers together." And that abstract individual is going to take that and they're going to create a paper clip. Now, if you gave that to me and said, "Create something to hold papers together," there ain't no telling. I probably wouldn't be able to do it. I'd probably make a hole and stick it right through it. But then you take that paper clip and you give it to a concrete thinker and you say, "I need you to make that better, get creative on that," I'm going to take it and say, "Here's three ways we could make that better. We can put little slits in the paperclips so it really stays in place." So when I'm saying this, I tell my team all the time, "Give me a thought, give me an initial idea, and then let me build off of it." Right?

So this is a way that you can not only have your team help you, but I want to encourage you as you're leading your team and you want creativity for them, set them up for success in understanding how they are wired so that they can be creative with you and raise the energy level in those meetings that will then obviously benefit the organization as a whole.

Mark Cole:       I like what you said, Chris, and on the spot, I think what I'll do, I need a million-dollar idea. You bring me the million-dollar idea and I'll up-level it. Okay. So next leadership, you can get [crosstalk 00:33:19] two weeks-

Chris Goede:     It's on me.

Mark Cole:       ... Bring me a million-dollar idea.

Chris Goede:     I got to go now-

Mark Cole:       [crosstalk 00:33:24] level.

Chris Goede:     I got to go. This will be my last podcast. I'll be resigning-

Mark Cole:       Team, we have been working hard to associate a next step with each of our podcasts. And so today's next step is a creative work that John and a guy named Rob Hoskins has put out in book form, and it's called Change Your World. And I'm holding it up again for our YouTube viewers, but it's called Change Your World. It's an incredible book that was released a year ago this week, actually. And I want to challenge you to read this book because what it's going to do, I just challenge you for a million dollar idea, this book is going to challenge you to go and make a difference in your community. And so what we've done is we have a promotion for you, our podcast viewers, our podcast listeners. We have a promotion for you which means 15% off. You can go to the show notes. We'll have a link in there.

Make sure that when you click on the link to order the book, Change Your World, that you use the promo code Podcast, and it will save you some money, but more importantly, it will set you free in creativity to make a significant impact in your community. I want to finish today. I'm loving the renewed commitment from our podcast community on providing comments or thoughts and we had a question from Kent, our YouTube watcher, and he was talking about the Focus on the Future episode. Now, by the way, that is a great episode. We'll put that link in the show notes too for those of you that have not seen that. Here's what Kent asked and I'm going to ask the question to you and I'll wrap with some closing comments here, Chris, but he says, "Why did John say that today matters, that we have to fix our eyes on the moment?" Does that contradict the idea imposed here to focus on the future? Which should we focus on? The future or today?

Chris Goede:     Yeah, my initial reaction is it's about today. As a leader, not only of teams, but of my family, I say little things lead to big things. And I want to focus on what that big thing is. It goes back to the goal versus growth mindset of a previous podcast that we did together, which is for me, it is about every single day. We're focusing on the little things and we're focusing on growth. And if you do that, it will take care of the future. Matter of fact, it's probably going to supersede anything you ever thought about what the future could be.

Mark Cole:       Yeah. And for me, Kent, in this question, which should we focus on, the future or today, I'm going to demonstrate my pursuit of learning how to be a political leader. And I'm going to say both, and I'm not kidding because it really is both. And let me explain. Our good friend board member, chairman... CEO not chairman of Delta Airlines, Ed Bastian was talking with John Maxwell and I, when he took over CEO role and he said, "The biggest change between being the president of Delta Airlines and being the CEO is my focus as CEO is on the future and my focus as president was on the present, on today. He said, as CEO, he realized that if he is not thinking about the future of Delta Airlines, six months, I’ve years, two years down the road, nobody else in the organization is thinking about the future.

So Kent, here's my challenge to you. Is there anybody else in your world thinking about the future and if there's not, whether that's your personal future or your company's future. If there's not, you need to have some time to be thinking about the future, but you can't be so focused on the future that you don't take care of today's business. So it really is both. In some organizations, you are fortunate to have somebody that focuses just on today and somebody that just focuses on tomorrow. In many organizations like ours, I have to do both and in my life, I absolutely have to do both. I focus on today, but I look forward to what I want to be in the future. Hey, thank you, Kent. Thank you all you YouTube viewers and all of our podcast listeners. Thank you, Chris Goede.

Chris Goede:     Absolutely.

Mark Cole:       John Maxwell, thank you so much. Go order your Change Your World book and until next week let's lead.

3 thoughts on “Leaders are Creators”

  1. Mark & Chris, Since 1/26 is the anniversary of Change Your World, and I have received many emails about the date and the 13,000 facilitators who have conducted roundtables; it occurs to me that the “HOW” to engage a person to want to be “The Change” is an idea not yet fully formed. Here in Northern CA where I live, the excuses are many, the participants few. People have “time” to complain about the world, but “no time” to engage in changing it on a personal level. Here’s an idea which can be “up-leveled”: Speak to the “time” factor and the “priority” in a person’s life and how they can be the change, even in a small way. For your consideration, Janice Bastani, Ex. Director, JMT

  2. Mark & Chris, I am thinking about a leader of a small organization who does not have the luxury of dismissing individuals from the “next meeting” for their lack of contribution. These followers need to be developed to where they can be of value to the mission and the leader. Can you share some ideas on how a leader can reach people in his/her organization who don’t ‘get it’ yet even though the clock is ticking?

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