A Year Worth It

I recently watched a movie over the holidays titled “The Secret – Dare to Dream”.  That movie had several scenes and statements that were pretty profound.  One of these statements from a main character was, “I am not asking for life to be easy, but I do want to know that it’s worth it”.  You don’t have to know the plot of the movie to relate to that comment. 

We have all just come through a very difficult year and have many of those same challenges facing us in 2021.  I know my list of concerns that I reflect on early every morning just seems to get longer!  So life is not easy right now for any of us, but that’s not the point.  The point is to ensure, in light of what we are going through, the impact we are having as leaders make it worth it. 

With that framework in mind, here are a few thoughts for all of those in leadership roles to consider as we start a new year:

  1. Do something hard every day.  Several years ago, I started getting up at 5AM to workout.  Those workouts have a predefined objective to ensure I push myself to be uncomfortable every day.  You see, not only do I want to get the benefit of regular exercise, but I want to continue being comfortable with being uncomfortable.  That hard task every morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.  Your focus may be something other than an early morning workout, but there is benefit for a leader to embrace hard things daily to develop the habit of addressing challenges!  You pick what you do, but do something hard daily!  Be uncomfortable in 2021.
  2. Encourage someone daily.  Several years ago, I put a list of people in my phone that I thought might need encouragement in a specific area of their life.  I review this list daily to see who I can call, text, schedule a meeting with, etc. to be an encouragement for them.  I have added to that list over the years, and it is quite extensive today.  As a leader, make a point to encourage someone every day.  That single act alone may lead to that day being worth it.  Be an encourager in 2021.
  3. Invest in yourself regularly.  I try to read, listen to podcasts, or find some ways to continue to learn and grow as a leader each week.  We don’t ever need to quit learning or growing.  If we stop growing, we are losing ground.  Nothing stays the same; we either grow or die.  Think of it this way:  We lead and benefit others out of the overflow in our lives.  If we are running on empty, we have nothing to share and nothing to impact others.  Fill your tank regularly this year.  Be an investor in 2021.

As you can see, this message is really for anyone, but I do want to focus on the leadership aspect as that factor enables us to impact others.  Life will bring challenges at times.  Life and work will not be easy.  The real question we have to ask ourselves:  Is It Worth It?  Let’s make sure we can answer that with a yes for 2021!

Don’t Quit

Today is Pearl Harbor Day if you don’t remember; the day the US was forced to engage in WW 2.  I recall reading the account in history and watching the movies  depicting that attack on Pearl Harbor.  However, one of my favorite movies relates to a battle that occurred six months later; the Battle of Midway.  That battle was a huge turning point in WW2 (a terrific example of strategy and execution working together), and I have watched both the older and newer versions of movies about that battle several times.  One line I recall from the movie is the  admiral of the US Fleet, when learning the exact coordinates of the enemy fleet, giving the order to turn the carriers into the wind and prepare to launch the planes.

While I am not an expert on carrier takeoffs, I understand that in WW 2, flight decks on carriers were not that long.  To ensure the planes got the needed lift required to clear the edge of the flight deck, they needed the wind pushing against the wings to generate the necessary lift.  Today, even with advanced catapult systems, carriers still turn into the wind for takeoff.

Think about that comment for a moment.  Carriers turn into the wind, to face resistance, to enable the plane to take off safely.  The planes must face resistance to do what they were made to do.  The planes must go into that headwind to achieve their purpose.

Isn’t that also true of leadership.  The need for leaders comes to the forefront when time get tough, when the headwinds are against us, and when the pathway is no longer clear.  It’s these challenges or headwinds that enable leaders to do what we are called to do. 

I can’t think of a time where leaders were needed more. Regardless of your function, there are more challenges now than I have ever seen before.  We need leaders embracing that calling and meeting these challenges!  Just three quick thoughts on embracing the challenges:

  1. Calm the situation
  2. Clarify the focus
  3. Communicate the plan

When times are tough and the challenges seem overwhelming, calm everyone down and ensure we are under control.  Make sure we all are focused on the right things and not letting the distractions of the obstacles cloud that view.  Cleary communicate what needs to be done.  That’s leadership. 

I will close with an excerpt from a poem I recall from my teenage years titled “Don’t Quit”.  I recall the beginning and end of that poem:

When things go wrong as they sometimes will

When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill

When care is pressing you down a bit

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

And you never can tell just how close you are

It may be near when it seems so far.

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

I know many of you are tired right now.  Don’t give up on leading.  We need you now more than ever.  Be what you were called to be!

From Tenant to Owner

My wife and I had been married a little over four years when we purchased our first home.  We had rented various apartments and condo’s through several moves prior to that purchase.  I still remember that first house.  It was built back in the 1940’s and had been renovated at least one time.   We painted every room in that house during the first few months we were there.  I would eventually paint the kitchen cabinets, build a fence/gate to the backyard, rework the flower beds, and so many more things.  We really took pride in that house.  We addressed things timely that needed to be done with the money we had available.  

That experience was so different from our rental years of letting things go because it wasn’t our responsibility.  On larger things we would just call the owner and turn the problem over to them; that’s what renters do!  We knew we would only be there temporarily, so we never really got too  caught up in long term commitment type discussions about those places.

I share that story because our workplaces often have the same feel to them.  If we have employees that come in every day and view themselves at tenants, then you can get a picture of how they respond to the work environment.  They come in, wait to be told what to do, meet the expectation, but never really get fully committed or fully involved.  Maybe they view themselves as just passing through until something better comes along.

However, if we can lead people from that tenant mentality to owner view, then we start to see the real capability of a team working together.  People that view themselves as “owners” take a different level of pride in their work, their workplace, their view of customers, and their interaction with coworkers.  Safety awareness and overall involvement is heightened.  Quality of work and the product produced is more closely monitored when ownership is established.  Machine care and reliability are taken to a different level when people see themselves as “owners” of the equipment.

So how do we lead our employees from tenant to owner when most naturally come to work thinking tenant?  Here are five quick thoughts for you to consider as you lead your team:

  1. Communicate: share information openly about what’s important, how we are doing, and how everyone can be a part of making a difference.  Always get it back to why it should matter to them.  It’s not about the Company in this discussion, but rather why it matters to the individual.  Remember, you are leading that individual to be part owner with you.  (what’s in it for them)
  2. Ask Questions:  get input from your team and include them in the decision making process as much as possible on things that involve them. You can’t always do what they suggest, but do what you can to bring them further into the decision making process; even if it is just small stuff.  When we start valuing what people think and not just what they do, we are on our way!
  3. Use the Right Pronouns:  When talking about the plant, talk in terms of our plant, what we have to accomplish, our customers, etc.   Stay away from “I”, “me”, “their”, etc.   Inclusive conversational focus is the key.  Don’t talk departments in the plant either.  It’s all about “we” and “our”.
  4. Take and Defer:  The leader takes responsibility (publicly) for the team not doing well and defers (publicly) the recognition to the team when things do go well.  The leader builds credibility here.  People follow leaders that have credibility and will likely take on more ownership when that happens.
  5. Empower:  Last, but certainly not least, is the need to give people an opportunity to make decisions, work independently, and assume responsibility.  Hey, we may have some short term setbacks along the way, but the long term benefits of ownership (if done right) far exceed the momentary setbacks.

I am essentially talking about what the company and industry refer to as employee engagement.  That’s just a fancy word for taking ownership. 

As you think about how we wrap up a very challenging year with so many obstacles in the way, give some thought to how we can create a culture of ownership in our plants and our teams.  We sure need more owners now more than ever!

Leading Safety – Less is More

I started this communication process back in 2016 and save the messages to a blog posting site just to keep a record in the event anyone would want to refer back to one of them (59 messages).  That site is open to folks outside IP.  I noticed a while back that the message most read (by far) was a message several years ago entitled Leading Safety.  In fact, I think this message might have been read as many times as all others put together.  There must be a strong interest in that subject matter.

With that in mind, I want to revisit that subject, but from a very different perspective.

You see, over the years, I have learned that simplicity and execution make a huge difference in anything I get involved in.

Let me give an example outside of our basic job function.  I have followed Texas High School football for years.  One coach that I keep up with due to his longstanding success is Todd Dodge.  Dodge has won state championships at Southlake Carroll in Dallas and more recently Westlake High School in Austin.  He is known for his high powered offenses that throw the ball all over the field.  I talked to one of his former players a while back and learned that although Dodge has a very thick playbook, he and his staff only select 8 passing plays each week based on what they see on film and think will work the best.  They work on these 8 plays each day of practice leading up to the game and focus on precision execution.

If that isn’t the picture of strategic simplicity and focused execution, I don’t know what is.

Now let’s take that same concept to leading safety with three key focus areas that really drive safety:

  1. Environment:  Do we have a safe working environment for our people?  That question entails guarding, gates, energy control processes on machines, walking surfaces/handrails, and anything else that would inherently provide layers of protection for our people while they do work.
  2. Equipping:  Are we effectively teaching our people how to do work and how to recognize and respond to hazards?  You likely call it training; I call it equipping.  As we introduce people to the work environment, we have to prepare them to work safely.  We give them knowledge, PPE, and processes to do their work safely.
  3. Engagement:  Are we ensuring everyone maintains focus (all the time)?  Leaders engaging employees and employees engaging employees is the most effective way to maintain focus.  With any initiative involving people, fatigue, distractions, complacency, frustration, etc. can impact focus.  For leaders to overcome these challenges, we not only need to engage others, we have to develop a culture of engagement where everyone is engaging all the time.  Part of that engagement is a culture of personal accountability as well.

If we could build our strategy around those three key things and execute them with extreme precision, we would see lasting change in leading safety.  Our tendency, if we aren’t careful, is to just keep throwing more activities at the challenge.  Sometimes, less is more. 

How does this work for you leading your team; Strategic simplicity coupled with precision execution as our focus?

When to Quit Pushing

The summer before my junior year in high school, I got a job at an apartment complex.  It was just down the road from the apartments that we lived in.  The complex was very large and had a lot of grass to mow.  The manager of the complex was a retired Air Force colonel and was very specific in what he wanted done.  My job was to clean the pool every morning from 7 to 7:45 and then to mow/edge/trim for the remainder of the day.  He wanted the grounds mowed every 7 days and said it would take me that long to finish one round.

I was given a green Lawnboy push mower and a gas weedeater that first day and went to work.  Near the end of day two I had finished mowing and was starting on the edging and trimming.  The colonel was not sure of my getting everything done and made a trip around the complex in his golf cart to inspect.  When he got back he asked me how I was able to get all that done in two days.  Using the same mower, the same amount of grass to mow, and having no special skills, I just said I am not sure, I just keep pushing.

Now there’s a lot to be said of that comment for all of us.  There’s a trait there that we all need.  We all need to persevere at times and just keep plowing through tough times and obstacles.  However, I have overused this trait at times and made some big mistakes too.  You see, there are times, after we have “pushed” for a while and not seen the results we need or the outcomes we are looking for that we need to stop and ask two very basic questions.

  1. Are we doing the right things (strategy/plan)?
  2. Are we doing the things right (execution)?

Those two questions have the exact same words, but totally different meanings.

When we stop and evaluate if we are doing the right things, we are really challenging whether those things (if done correctly) will lead us to a successful outcome.  I have worked really hard and persevered on things in the past and failed because the strategy/plan was just wrong.  Success had nothing to do with hard work or perseverance.

Think of it this way, a football coach develops a game plan (set of plays) that he thinks will work against the opponent.  That’s the strategy for the game.  As leaders in any business, we deal with strategy/plans too.  We have sales plans to target the right business.  We have operating plans to take care of equipment, to run efficiently, and to ensure quality.  To ensure you have the right strategy/plan, forget pride.  Ask people with experience and/or proven success in the area you are struggling.  Your  job is not to figure it out on your own as a leader; rather your job is to use all the resources possible to get the results needed.  So before “pushing” any more, ask that simple question:  Are we doing the right things?

After you are convinced we are doing the right things (or made changes to the right things), then evaluate if we are doing those things right (execution).  Take an honest assessment through observation, evaluation, and questioning.  Are we really doing what we are supposed to do without compromise, on a consistent basis, all the time, and executed properly?  Going back to the football coach example of game plan being strategy, execution is running the plays correctly during the game (all 11 players carrying out their assignment, on every play, to the best of their ability, throughout the entire game).  Great plans fail without solid execution.  Good plans succeed with solid execution!

Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t getting results.  Stop and ask those two questions.  Get some wise counsel.  Observe what’s going on around you.   Make adjustments as needed.  Leaders have to consistently ask those two questions and make adjustments.  Yes, there are times to keep pushing, but there are also times to stop and ask!

Yes, this message applies to individuals, groups, leaders, etc.  You pick any area of life, and this message is applicable.

Oh ya, my reward for finishing that mowing so quickly was the opportunity to help apply hot asphalt roofing to the complex’s flat roofs.  Nothing like pulling those buckets up three stories with a rope onto the roof and spreading that liquid in 100+ degree sunshine!   Fun Times!

Leading in a Pandemic – Finish Strong

For the last five years, I have gotten up at 5AM to work out during the week. On weekends, I start a little later and tend to go a little farther on the running portion. I distinctly recall a run several weeks ago that I tried to stretch out several miles farther. For me, that was a stretch. Coming back with about one mile to go, I was out of gas. I was struggling, tired, ready for it to be over and just wanted to stop.

That last sentence probably sounds a lot like the way many leaders feel right now dealing with a pandemic and trying to lead through all these new obstacles, on top of all the normal challenges.

As I approached that last mile, I saw a muscular looking guy standing on the side walk, buzz cut, and wearing a marine corps t-shirt. I spoke first, as my normal custom, but his response is what I remember. He said, “Finish strong brother”. Now, I have run that route for five years and have never seen him before. I didn’t know him, and have not seen him since then. But you know, after he said those words, I picked that pace up, lengthened those strides, and pushed through that last mile at a pretty good clip. Here I was not wanting to disappoint someone I didn’t know that merely spoke three words to me.

Encouragement to finish strong is a powerful message. I don’t know what you are finishing, but I want to encourage you to finish strong too. Whether you are trying to finish the day, the week, the month, the year, or the pandemic, finish strong!

Here are some ideas on how to do that:

1. Narrow the focus and simplify. In times of added pressure, new obstacles, or too many variables, narrow what you are focused on and simplify the messaging to the people. Safety focus, Covid focus, and taking care of customers (reliability is huge piece of taking care of customers) is the essential focus right now! These are the three basic focus areas for any business. Communicate that message, lead in that manner, and execute those areas at a high level.
2. Take time each day to stop, assess, reflect, and re-engage. Many leaders are too busy being busy and not effective. Be more intentional with your focus and more impactful. More time doesn’t make you a better leader. Rather, more impact makes you a better leader.
3. Utilize all the resources available to you when needed. Ask for help, get support, throw pride out the door, and stay focused on your team’s success and not personal agendas.
We don’t need leaders operating on an island trying to be a hero. Get a break from the action when you need it.
4. Once the basics (#1 above) are in place, identify where you can improve something each week. Maybe it’s improvement in the work environment for your people. Maybe it’s something operational that would really improve business results. Keep it simple, but don’t ever stop improving things; even in challenging times. Our people need to see us moving forward and not just surviving.
5. Be a great communicator and encourager daily! People need to hear from leaders at all levels now more than ever. Be open, transparent, honest, and always leave them with hope.

Hey, I don’t know if that dude on the side of the road was a real marine or was an angel. What I do know is that this random encounter sure impacted how I dealt with pain and fatigue. We all need to finish strong in whatever we are doing!

Looking Back to Impact Today

On July 5th I completed my 29th year with IP and my 34th year of fulltime employment. I ironically started my first job out of school on July 5th and started with IP on that same day exactly four years later.

As I look back over those years, a few things come to mind:

1. Thankful: I have never been without employment when I needed a job. From 12-15 years old I was able to mow yards, I was fortunate to always have a summer job in high school, was able to work part-time in college, and have been very fortunate to have had steady employment the past 34 years.
2. Content: I have not necessarily enjoyed every one of these jobs over the years but I have learned to be content. One of the keys to this contentment is perspective. Focusing on the people provides lasting significance and meaning well beyond the job requirements or frustrations. I recall giving a facility tour years ago (actually in my second year with IP) to an executive who referred to people in the facility as liabilities. When I asked him what he meant by that, he referred to safety liabilities and said we were better with fewer. While I didn’t challenge him at that time, I did not and still don’t agree with any aspect of what he said. People are opportunities not liabilities. We have an opportunity to impact people every day and truly make a difference in their lives. That’s perspective and where I have learned contentment.
3. Unifier: One thing that I have learned over the years and is even more important today is striving to bring people together for a common cause/focus. While there seems to be more influences in the world today dividing people and causing disruptive divisions, we need unity more than ever. Finding common ground, shared purpose, team based objectives, and mutual commitment all drive unity. Tearing down the walls and building bridges has been and continues to be a primary focus for me.

So 34 years summed up in three words: thankful, content, and unifier. I write this not to draw attention to myself, but to challenge you in each of these three areas. I have struggled with each of these three over the years, but have continued focusing on developing in each of them. Take some time this week, reflect, and give consideration to the following:

Thankful leaders help others see the positives through challenges.
Content leaders can focus on the opportunities (people) in front of them in the moment.
Unifying leaders bring people together, heal divisive wounds, and create a better work environment.

Special Things Happen with Unity

Like many of you, I have seen quite a bit on the news lately. I often reflect back on past experiences to better understand the application for today:

My mom moved my younger brother and me to a small town in North Louisiana when I was about ten years old. My parents had just divorced and dad was not really in the picture any more. We moved into a two bedroom apartment, would qualify as poor on any scale you looked at, but I was blessed with opportunities to play sports almost year around.

One thing I noticed early on that was so different to me (based on where we moved from in Texas) was that the youth sports leagues were segregated. There was a predominantly white league for all the sports and a predominantly black league for the same sports. They were run by the same city director, would compete at times in various district tournaments, but were separate throughout the year. In Jr. High School, we came together and played on the same team and had outstanding success in football and basketball. That success would continue together all the way through high school.

In baseball, we didn’t come together on one team until our 10th grade year. Both leagues had good all-star teams each year, but I don’t recall either league ever winning a district tournament, much less a state tournament. But you know what, when we came together as one team in high school, we would go on and win three consecutive state championships. What we could not do apart, we achieved together. Something special happened when we came together!

It seems so ironic, that a group of kids could come together with a common purpose and achieve so much. You see, when we were in that huddle in a football game, the race of that guy next to you didn’t matter. All that mattered was that we worked together. When we were on the diamond and needed a big out to win a key game, it didn’t matter what league we had played in growing up. We just needed to find a way together to make a play!

I don’t have all the answers for what has gone on in our country over the years nor what is going on now. One thing that experience has taught me though is that special things happen when a group is unified! We worked through things at times, but stayed focused on the team. When a group comes together with a common cause, special things can happen.

For those leading people today, consider these key thoughts:
1. Humility precedes unity. When we humble ourselves and look to the interests of others first, unity can occur. That’s servant leadership at its best. Asking what can I do for those that I lead! Team success is above personal recognition.
2. Common purpose is essential. You saw that in the above story. Leaders have to engage their teams in a common purpose that all value.
3. Be a good teammate. Leaders have to also recognize that not everyone has the same background or outside influences in their life. The old adage of be quick to listen and slow to speak can come in handy for a leader when things are not clear.
4. Seek something great. Don’t limit expectations or just get by with what you have in the past. Leaders provide vision and hope. The acronym for TEAM is so relevant right now – Together Everyone Achieves More!

If a bunch of high school kids back in the early 80’s could figure this out, surely folks can figure this out today. Ya, I know it was just a bunch of kids just trying to win games, but those kids grow up to win much more important things in life.

Special things can happen when people are unified!

Healthy Debate or Just Plain Disruptive

While I try to get in an early morning workout during the work week, I try to commit more time on the weekends. I will usually take longer runs as part of these workouts. There is a trail not far from our home that I particularly like to take on these longer run mornings. During those runs, I come in contact with many others out running, riding, or walking. I speak to everyone I encounter. I make a point to look at each one and acknowledge and affirm them. Now, most people respond back, but some will just refuse and look the other way. Whether they respond or not, I am going to make sure everyone I come in contact with is acknowledged and affirmed. Most respond, but some don’t.

Leading others can be like that too. Most folks respond to leadership, but not everyone responds positively. Here are some thoughts on how to deal with those difficult situations (ok, I will say it…those difficult people).

1. Be sure you separate those cases where someone just as a different opinion on a subject from those that are just trying to be disruptive. Healthy debates are actually a good thing. People will have differing opinions from time to time. I don’t have any issue with someone bringing up a different view on a subject. I recall several instances of changing our plans based on other’s ideas being better than mine (I know, hard to believe right?). We need to have people with diverse backgrounds and experiences bringing up different ideas. The key is the healthy debate/discussion is calm, not self-seeking, and all parties have the aim to better the team.
2. Now, assuming it’s not a healthy debate issue, but rather a “just plain disruptive” behavior/individual that we are dealing with, the first key is to deal with the issue. If that behavior is impacting the team in any way, deal with it. If they are taking away from the right focus, hurting engagement, stirring up negativity, or just harming the team in any way, you have to address it. By ignoring it, you are hurting the team (that you are responsible for) and not doing your job (not to mention you just relinquished your role as leader). Address it or “give the keys” to someone that will!
3. So how do we address it? Typically, a disruptive person wants to do it in public to get attention. Don’t let this thing play out in public. Shut it down publicly, but solve it privately. Don’t engage in lengthy debate in a plant-wide meeting, department training session, or any other group gathering. End the disruptive discussion and move it to a private setting as soon as possible. By taking away the crowd, you have just taken away a big part of the motivation for disruption.
4. In the private (or more private setting) session, keep asking probing questions to get to the root/motivation of their issue. Stay away from personal judgements, attacks, or accusations. Stay focused on your team as a whole; what’s best for them. Use the term “we” when referring to team, plant, etc. Let the disrupter further isolate themselves in the conversation if they choose to. Your job is to lead in the best interest of your team. Remember, you are not trying to win an argument, you are actively listening to understand, but more so, conveying your key messages for your team and that continued disruptions are not helping the team succeed.
5. Put a time limit on the session and convey how much time each party will generally have to present their issues and/or responses. Time frames will require focused discussion and stay away from getting on side-bar issues.
6. Keep in mind, you aren’t going to rid the world (or your plant) of disruptive people. You do need to ensure that they don’t undermine or hurt your team in any way. The key is to not let this person’s disruptive behavior distract the team or you from what needs to be done in the facility. Sometimes getting closer to them will help, while other times isolating them and giving them little attention is the way to go. There is no one answer for this issue. Just embrace it as one of the challenges of leadership!
7. Don’t go it alone. Get others involved and seek advice. You would be surprised at what others have gone through and learned along the way.
8. By all means, don’t spend all your time focused on a disruptive individual and lose the entire facility’s focus. Address the issue, but don’t be consumed by it!

Just to recap:
1. Healthy debate or just plain disruptive?
2. If disruptive then do something.
3. Direct it publicly to a private session to solve.
4. You aren’t out to win an argument.
5. Set time limits.
6. Embrace the challenge.
7. Seek counsel.
8. Address, but don’t be consumed!

Leadership is a Verb

Looking back many years now, I reflect back on one of my first real clarifying moments of leadership. I was moving up from the freshman football team to the varsity and going through fall practice. I noticed the seniors that played the higher profile positions being very vocal during warmup and pregame activities. These guys were also tough on the younger guys and made practice and the locker room difficult at times. I guess we looked at these guys as being the leaders of the team, but as the fall practices went on and the season started, I noticed that these guys were not nearly as vocal, not out front, nor taking charge of anything when times were tough. Rather, I saw a couple of slightly undersized offensive lineman step forward and take charge in time of crisis, times of extreme challenge, and times of pure exhaustion. These guys were also the ones at practice early, the last to leave, and were the ones that would spend time talking to the younger guys throughout the day giving advice and encouragement.

John was one of these guys. I noticed he would be constantly pushing himself to get better every day and would always be encouraging and pushing others through difficult drills or game situations. He would regularly check in with younger players to make sure things were going ok with school and football. He didn’t have the glamor position, never got interviewed after the game, and never was written about in the newspaper. He just did his job on the line and was clearly the leader on that team! He was an example of commitment. He was a calming influence when things were chaotic. He was an encourager when things were tough. He was a fierce competitor when the challenges were steep!

I learned early that year, that leadership was not the position we hold, but rather what we do! We are known by our actions. You can be given a title of manager or supervisor, but your actions dictate whether you are a leader or not.

Leaders care about those they lead.
Leaders provide clarity of direction.
Leaders live a life of example for others to follow.
Leaders sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Leaders communicate, encourage, and correct to ensure others are informed and stay on the path.
Leaders take responsibility for everything.

I think you get the idea. Leadership is a VERB!

During these challenging times we are in now, we need more people stepping up and leading than ever before. The opportunity to influence is there now like I have never seen it! Seize the opportunity.

By the way, we won the state championship that year in a very competitive classification in Louisiana. John went to West Point after high school; not surprising!