Leadership Barometer 22 Be an Enabler

October 29, 2019

There are hundreds of assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. Here is one of my favorite measures.

Strong leaders are enablers

On this dimension there is a stark contrast between great leaders and poor ones. In organizations with great leaders, people view their leaders as enablers. They provide a clear and believable vision of the future that is truly compelling to the workers.

They provide the resources and support required to reach that vision. They engage and empower people to put their best efforts into the journey toward success.

They celebrate the small wins along the way. If there is a problem, the leaders work to reduce or eliminate it.

Strong leaders also enable trust by creating a SAFE environment where people are not afraid to express their true thoughts.

Weak leaders are the opposite

When leaders are weak, you see the exact opposite. Leaders are viewed by the employees as barriers. They get in the way of progress by invoking bureaucratic hurdles that make extra work.

They use a command and control philosophy that stifles empowerment. There is a foggy vision or the vision is not that exciting to employees. Like if they struggle to make it happen, the result will not be so great.

Weak leaders destroy trust by creating fear within their organization.

A real example

I felt that kind of leadership in my final years with a company I once worked for. The vision was very clear; they had to shrink their way to success. That meant huge stress and more workers who would be let go year after year.

What an awful vision! I left and never looked back. In organizations with that kind of vision, people feel they are operating with both hands tied behind their backs. Fear lurks around every corner.

This condition leads to poor performance, and so the leaders pour on more and more pressure to compensate. It is a viscous circle that reminds me of the water funnel in a toilet. In fact, it is very much like that.

If you want to measure the caliber of a leader, just start asking the people in the organization if that leader is an enabler or a barrier to progress. Their answer will tell you quickly how talented that leader is.

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations. He can be reached at bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585-392-7763.

Leadership Barometer 6 Inclusive Culture vs Bunker Mentality

July 9, 2019

One obvious way leaders can demonstrate excellence is by continually building an inclusive culture. I will define that term here and also discuss the contrast with a bunker mentality or exclusive culture.

Builds an Inclusive Culture

Organizations where people at all levels are part of the action and are appreciated for the diversity of talent they bring to the organization are run by enlightened leaders.

You can observe the leader going out of her way to include as many people as possible in discussions about issues and decisions in the organization. People are not left in a vacuum when important information is available.

Bunker Mentality

Less talented leaders surround themselves with a clique of insiders who guide the fate of the rest of the organization. I visualize a kind of shell around the anointed people on the inner circle.

It is hard to communicate through the shell, and people who try to penetrate it are repelled and scorned. The controlling group has a noble intention of making fast decisions, but the price they pay in terms of disengagement of the bulk of people is usually devastating.

If you have a leader who operates from a small command and control type style, you can see the bunker mentality in most activities.  This exclusivity leads to lower empowerment throughout the organization.

It may feel like an efficient way to run things to have an inner circle, but it leaves so much useful muscle and energy off the table. The way to build trust and engagement is to be as open as possible.

Create a Winning Organization

To be a winning organization, all of the talents of everyone are required fully aligned behind the vision of the organization.  Good leaders know this and instinctively get people involved as much as possible.

Oh sure, there are occasions when it is necessary to operate behind closed doors while decisions are being cast. That is no reason for the normal daily routine to mimic the College of Cardinals who have to send a smoke signal out to the masses when their deliberations are over.

Most activities can be visible, transparent, and inclusive of the general population. In return, people will give their best to accomplish the goals of the organization.


Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations. He can be reached at bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585-392-7763.

Successful Supervisor 55 – Your Give Back Ratio

December 2, 2017

All of us receive blessings and good things in our life. We also find ways to give back to others. This article is about making a conscious choice about your give back ratio.

What is “Giving Back”? 

Many people see giving back as contributing to the church, United Way, or some other specific charity. Monetary contributions are just one way to give back to society.  I will outline some other ways that you will recognize.  The challenge is to add up all the ways you are giving back and decide for yourself if is the right ratio for you. 

  1. Volunteering your time

We all have done some service to others in the form of donated time. How do you put a value on that sacrifice? Clearly you could calculate the hourly wage that your employer pays and multiply it by the number of hours you donate to others.  I think that is a little simplistic.

What you need to do is forget about the monetary value of your time but add up the, percentage of how much time you are actually donating to help other people.  It does not need to be an organization, such as the Red Cross. You might be helping to educate youth in a Big Brother Program or serve hot meals to homeless people.

The list of potential ways to donate time is nearly infinite, and you can often lose track of just how much time you are donating.  My advice is to be alert to the level of contributions you make on an annual basis and decide for yourself if you are giving back enough of your time.

  1. Contributing your talent  

When you agree to help an organization work toward the betterment of the community or mankind with no remuneration, you are donating your precious talent for a good cause. It might be as a Scout Leader, or it could be helping with a fund raising campaign.  Whenever you are using your mind to help further the cause of an organization, that is a contribution of your unique and special talent.

Feel good about these contributions and know that they are making a difference in the world.

  1. Helping Others 

Contributions here include visiting sick people or helping in a rehab facility. They also include helping friends and family members manage their way through their own minefields. As you coach others to improve their lot in life or survive a tragedy, you are really giving of yourself with no thought of what you will be getting back in return.

The universe has ways of keeping track of these altruistic activities, and you gain in your personal esteem by engaging in them.

  1. Giving of your treasure

There must be a billion ways to contribute cash to help out efforts all over the world. You may be contributing to save starving children or even animals. You may be giving to your alma matter so that future students can benefit from the education you enjoyed. You may be setting up a trust to help your family members after you are gone.

There seems to be no end to the number of requests to contribute money. The one irony is that when you give to some charities, somehow others find out about it and your phone rings a lot more along with a lot more letters to appeal for your money. You need to establish some kind of formula for how you are going to deal with all of these requests so that you feel good about your giving pattern but are not bled dry.

Putting it all together 

I am not suggesting any particular level of giving to others is the correct one. I am asking you to take a look at your giving pattern from time to time and ask yourself if it is the right level for you. For me, when I did the exercise I found myself dissatisfied, so I made an increase in my pattern of giving back, and now I feel that my level is more appropriate. That review will now become a part of my annual “renewal” process where I examine my life so far and plot my plan for the next year.  I think that is a healthy exercise.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Successful Supervision.” The entire series can be viewed on www.leadergrow.com/articles/supervision or on this blog.  

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 500 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.  For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763