Leading Generation in the 21st Century – a look at millennials & iGens

Part 3 of 3

April 28, 2020

Over the past two weeks, we have been examining the current generations in the workforce and what it means for leadership in the 21st century. In the first week, I explained why it’s important to understand generational connections and how they can and do impact the workplace by seeing where the values and attitudes toward family, work, and life of each generation is affected by their shared experiences.  Last week, we discussed the two “older” generations in the workforce today: Boomers and Xers. This week, we are finishing up the series with a look at the Millennials (born 1976-1990) and iGens born 1991-2010.

Before I dive into these two younger generations, I do want to qualify that as we learn more about the shared experiences of each generation and the impact that makes on them, researches in this area have learned that there are many micro-generations as well. For example, many older Xers (born in the mid1960s) find themselves sharing some values with Boomers and others with Xers. Although technically Xers because they were way too young or perhaps not even born when JFK was assassinated, they have shared experiences of remembering the Moonshot in 1969 because of how big a deal it was AND often identify with the music and cultural attitudes of the Boomers. Some researches have called this group the Jones’ Generation as in wannabe Boomers. Similarly, there is a group of Millennials born in the late 1970s and early 1980s that have similar feelings toward the Xers, they remember a time when phone calls were made from a “land line” only – no cell phones. They are called the Xennial generation by some researchers. The point being that it’s up to each individual to understand what shared experiences make them identify more with one over another generation.

So, this week we begin with Millennials. This generation of adults have been perhaps the most maligned and misunderstood generation currently in the workforce today. To those of us that have criticized them, remember, many of us created them! The Millennials formative years would have been the mid to late 1980s through 1990s depending on their birth year. The 1980s were marked by considerable economic growth and prosperity in America. Yes, there were hiccups along the way, but for the most part, the overall mood of the Reagan years was optimism. That carried into the tech boom of the 1990s with the growth and expansion of Silicon Valley and the West Coast as the beacon of a new age. Microsoft in Seattle, Apple, the start of the internet with AOL and Yahoo and, perhaps most important, the development and widespread use of personal cell phones. In the 2008 Ryan Reynolds (Xer) movie Definitely, Maybe, Reynolds plays a father who is telling his daughter about her mother. There is a scene where Reynolds says to her, “Overnight everyone was walking around with their own connection to the outside world.” He was speaking of cell phones and it certainly did seem that the advent of their presence became ubiquitous overnight.

While Millennials and iGens do share much in common when it comes to their thinking style and worldview, their dividing mark is the release of the first personal cell phone by Motorola in 1995. As I’ve mentioned before, many older Millennials remember life without them, not one iGen remembers a time when they didn’t exist. Think about that for a minute. Perhaps the only other time in history where that happened was with the automobile in the early 1900s. Anyone born from 1908 doesn’t remember a time that cars weren’t around while those born before then, would have had a idea of what life was like before them.

Millennials are an incredibly optimistic generation. Perhaps no modern-era generation has had this trait since the Greatest Generation. They are a group of adults convinced that anything is possible and they can accomplish what they want in life. This was started early in life by their parents who wanted them to have everything. They were the first generation to receive participation trophies just for showing up. Millennials were told time and again by their parents that they should pursue a career that made them happy and they’d never work a day in their life. School, parents, sports, everything they experienced as children and teens led them to view the world as their oyster – they could have what they wanted. So, is it any wonder that they come to the workplace with what many Boomers and Xers see as an entitled view of the world? That they hop from job to job desperately seeking personal satisfaction in their job? Perhaps the most over-used phrase of this generation is “I just want to make a difference.” What their parents forgot to tell them is that there is a lot of monotony and repetition of skills on the way to making a difference. Millennials are mostly in their late 20s and 30s now. Some are even pushing 40. Many were college graduates during the Great Recession of 2008 which prevented them from starting careers after college. They got by with “gig” jobs and working retail, restaurant or temp jobs. Some were luckier than others and just continued their education during that time racking up more college debt and degrees. They are the most educated and credentialed generation in American history with perhaps the least amount of real-life experience to go with it. The potential in this generation is tremendous. The optimism and forward-looking characteristics make them great potential leaders if their supervisors and current leaders know how to channel that energy. They, like their younger counterparts are holistic thinkers. They naturally see every individual as part of a whole. Cell phones and the internet have change all of us of every generation in that information and stories of people are easily accessible literally in our hands daily, hourly, at a moment’s notice.

iGens are the youngest generation currently entering the workforce. We don’t know a lot yet about their work habits yet, but some of their shared experiences may give us some clues. Their formative years were the 2000s and some into the 2010s. They were at that critical values’ lock age of about 10 years when the Great Recession occurred. Those who had older Millennial siblings saw what having lots of college debt did to stifle your ability to get off to a good start. The events of the early 2000s with 9/11 and the many school and mass shootings made their parents (mostly Xers and younger Boomers) frankly helicopter parents. I was one of them. The physical safety of your children was all-consuming. Changes in school curriculum with No Child Left Behind meant higher and higher standards that children were expected to reach academically leaving little room for free time. Parents scheduled their children with tutors, dance, sports, church, you name it they had little, if any, free time. Teachers gave more and more homework to meet state and federal “standards” that were aimed at raising standardized test scores. Their parents were central to their lives and remain so to this day. This generation has dated less, has the lowest teen pregnancy rate of any living generation, and started working later than any previous generation. In otherwords, the milestones many of us look to as independent decision making opportunities that shape our ability to become adult such as who to date, which part-time job to take, heck even driving a car are not things this generation has experienced until as late as their early 20s. In fact, many iGens entering the workforce after college at 21 are the equivalent of a 16-year old in maturity and independent decision-making experience. This can a positive or a negative as a leader depending on how you choose to view it. The shared childhood experiences make this generation characteristically compliant and security oriented. They seek positions that offer a secure paycheck and are not as interested as their older Millennial counterparts to changing the world. Many researchers compare them to the Silent Generation that was wedged between the Greatest and the Boomer generation. They are definitely wanting to have an impact, but are happy to do it quietly and internally over a long period of time. They are not rebel rousers, but are very independent minded. They run circles around every other generation with their comfort and knowledge of today’s and tomorrow’s technology. They view the world holistically and are very concerned with their fellow citizens but are very skeptical of government and large institutions and their ability to effect meaningful change. The iGens are the perfect generation to recruit for those industries and job sectors looking for long-term employees as they will want job security and the ability to separate yet integrate their work and home life through technology. Working remotely is a breeze for them – they’ve done it since they were kids through Google Classroom.

So, what can today’s leaders use from this knowledge of generations going forward? Well, right now you have four distinct generations with their own unique personality. Understanding their shared experiences as young people will help you understand their general personality. Boomers are a dominant generation with all that goes with that personality – decisiveness, directness, competitiveness. Xers are your Compliant experts who want to have work-life balance and not be the workaholics that their Boomer coworkers are. The Millennials are the Optimists and Influencers. Channeling their optimism into specific organizational goals and helping them understand that staying on task consistently can give them great influence will go a long way to satisfying their desire to make a difference. With the youngest iGens, they will be the steady as you go worker bees of the 21st century workforce. Just as the Xers expertise and willingness to learn new technology counterbalanced the driving and work ethic of the Boomers, so too will iGens become the organizational experts that leaders can rely on to know who to go to and how to work the internal channels to accomplish goals. Something the Millennials, now entering management and leadership roles will need to balance their sometimes overly ambitious and optimistic goals. Organizations can take the knowledge of these four generations and put it to good use if they understand how each generation thinks and sees the world. Each individual employee is made up of many layers that include their values, their personality, their motivations AND their shared generational experiences. By knowing how to play to these aspects, today’s leaders can become 21st century leaders of a diverse, technologically advanced, and highly educated and motivated workforce that will propel their organizations to greater heights.

I hope this series has offered you some insights into the four generations that are currently in the workforce. As with any written piece such as a blog, it is often difficult to cover all of the details you want to convey. My hope is that this has sparked your interest in this topic and will encourage you to seek out more detailed information through the many books, websites, and research institutes that work on this topic daily. Let me know your thoughts. Please email me at kcorvin@lhln.org or sign up, log in and comment on our blog.

Remember, Leadership Rocks!




Leading the 21st Century Workforce:

Part II: Understanding Boomers & Xers

Guest Blog Post by Kelle Corvin

In last week’s blog, I began a 3-part discussion on the generations in the workplace and the impact they are having on leadership. In this week’s blog, I want to discuss the two older generations currently in our 21st century workforce, the Boomers and Xers. As the two older generations, they share a few “overlaps” in common as to how they think, what has influenced their view of work, and what they bring to the workplace. In next week’s edition, we will cover our two younger generations: Millennials and iGens and examine them through the same three core areas. So, let’s begin!


Boomers are so named for the Baby Boom that occurred after World War II. In general terms, this was the generation born from 1945 to 1960. Many generational experts will define the parameters differently, but for our purposes, we are interested in those who would have turned 10 years of age in either the 1950s or 1960s. Most will define this generation by the transformative events that occurred that they remember such as Sputnik, the Kennedy Assassination, the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of television over radio, rock and roll music, the Korean War, etc. This generation was raised during a time of rapid expansion of the middle class and a generally prosperous childhood. Many describe this generation as “indulged” “entitled” “hardworking” “rebellious.” What is general about this group is that they challenged the norms of their day. They asked the unwanted questions about social, civic, and technological issues and created a new way, a different way of doing things.

Despite the “rebelliousness” of the generation, they settled down in their 20s and conformed to their father’s (and mother’s) world of sorts. They thought as their parents did – linearly. Compartmentalizing home from work; work task from work task; finishing one thing before the next. While they could see connections and patterns, their early development focused them on seeing the parts, but not always the whole. Tremendously hard-working, this generation coined the phrase “workaholic.” It was the first generation to see working moms as a norm as many young women had college degrees and wanted to “have it all.” The linear thinking of this generation created and integrated modern workflows in manufacturing and service industries.

The sheer size and tenure of Boomers in the workplace and in leadership roles, means they have a great deal of organizational and institutional knowledge. They have been part of the establishment of the modern workplace from Boomer Steve Jobs and the creation of the iPhone and personal computer technology to the generation having two U.S. Presidents ( Bill Clinton and George W. Bush), no generation since the Greatest Generation has had such a significant impact on society, business and culture.


The Xers, the younger cohort of the Boomers, were those born between 1961 and 1975. This is the smallest generation in size of the four in the workforce mainly because many of their parents (Silent born 1930-1944 or the Boomers) were more interested in cultivating careers than children. The birth rate in the U.S. alone dropped dramatically in the early 1960s as more an more women turned to birth control to manage family size and to allow them to pursue other occupations than motherhood. This generation turned 10 in the late 1960s through the mid-1970s. Depending on their age, they remember the Moon Shot in 1969, being told not to watch the photos from Vietnam on the evening news, remember seeing a President resign from office, & the Bicentennial of the United States just to name a few.

This generation was self-sufficient from a very young age and are the reason the term “latch-key” children was coined in the 1970s. As a generation, they developed a very cynical view of government and of authority in the workplace. They entered work during a unsettled economy of the late 1970s to early 1980s where Boomers were already established in leadership roles. Despite their acceptance and embrace of new technology, they shared a more linear view of the workplace with their Boomer bosses. Where the Boomers made work THE priority, Xers became labeled by Boomers as “slackers” because they wanted to balance time with family with work. They saw the new technological developments of their adulthood as the best way to achieve work-family balance. Having lived as latch-key children, they didn’t want to do the same to their kids. Signs like “Baby on Board” telegraphed to the world that kids were important again.

Xers have achieved great technical and institutional knowledge throughout their career. They bring a more open mind to technology than Boomers and were often the young Turks that first pitched personal computers to their bosses in the late 1980s and 1990s. While they view the world more linearly than our newest generations, Xers have become the bridge generation between the true linear thinkers of old and the new holistic thinkers coming into the workplace. Xers have been the frustrated leaders. While they did successfully elect their first (and possibly their only) president in Barack Obama (born August 1961), they have seen their leadership opportunities limited by a Boomer generation that hangs on far beyond 65 years of age to leadership positions or forgo leadership opportunities because of their desire to balance family responsibilities with work.

These two generations possess tremendous knowledge in organizations both private and public. They understand the inner workings of departments and have the historical context of how various policies, decisions, systems evolved or were developed. Both generations will soon be gone from the workplace. Boomers are expected to be all but gone by 2025, while many older and middle-aged Xers have planned to exit upon retirement age to pursue other interests outside of their career. Organizations must develop knowledge transfer plans now to ensure that they are properly capturing that knowledge and transferring it to the people that will be leading their organizations in the future. Mentoring programs, knowledge transfer programs, and even exit interviews with individual employees upon retirement, are just a few ways that organizations can preserve the knowledge, history, and understanding of operations that have been developed by Boomers and Xers.

Next week, we will conclude this 3-part look at managing the 21st Century Workforce by looking at the future. Millennials (born 1976-1990) and iGens born 1991-2010. We will touch on how technology has significantly altered the thinking styles of these generations and tremendously influenced the two older generations in the workplace, and we will talk about how best to recruit, train and retain these generations based on how they view the world.

For more detailed information on this topic and generations in particular, please check out my detailed book list here.





Our Suggested Books on Generations

For further reading on each of these and other generations in America, below is a list of some of my favorites:

Generations: The History of America’s Future by William Strauss and Neil Howe

The Fourth Turning by Williams Strauss and Neil Howe

Generations at Work by Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, & Bob Filipczak

Millennials Rising by Neil Howe

When Generations Collide by Lynne C. Lancaster       

Gen Z Unfiltered by Tim Elmore

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood by Jean M. Twenge, PhD

On Thinking:

A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Share your books with us! Have you read a book on generations, thinking, leadership that we should know about? Please let Kelle know at kcorvin@lhln.org.  We will add it to our Leader’s Library!


Kelle Corvin is the Director of Business Development for Crisp Consulting Group. She has a background in public administration with more than 20 years of experience in the public and private sector. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from Kansas University and is certified in DISC, Motivators and Emotional Intelligence inventories. Kelle is passionate about understanding generations and how they contribute to the workplace.  She would love to hear from you about this topic at kcorvin@lhln.org 




Over the last few weeks, Dean has dived into the Leadership Tipping Point that the Covid-19 pandemic situation has created for leaders. No longer can a leader simply make decisions based on what is best for the “whole” but rather, they must factor in the impact their decision has on individual employees – never before have we been in an environment of this sort as leaders. While the tipping point may have been created by Covid-19, the elements and “push” factors have been in place for about a decade, or ever since Millennials were firmly established in the workforce. More on that later.

In this week’s blog, we will begin a 3-week look at what 21st Century leadership looks like and how it has been created. This is not just a straight discussion on generations, but rather a look at how those generations came to be and how they are impacting the 21st Century workplace and how leaders guide them.  All of this has contributed to the tipping point we have seen with the Covid-19 virus.

Looking at this topic does involve a close look at each of the 4 main generations currently in the workforce and how their values, thinking style, and worldview are impacting today’s work environment. We will take a close look at how each generation was formed by these aspects and what how each generation brings unique qualities that both enhance and challenge the workplace as well as how leaders impact their people. This first blog post will be a general overview of the topic and generations in today’s workplace. Then, over the next 2 weeks, we will dive deep into each generation’s characteristics, what they bring to the workforce, and how best to recruit, train, and retain them. So, let’s get started!


Let’s begin by establishing in this week’s post what we mean when we say values. We know from the work of many generational theorists that each generation develops a common “Values Imprint”. This was brought to the foreground in the late 1970s and 1980s by Dr. Morris Massey of the University of Colorado. While he was not the first to notice, he was the first to turn it mainstream and help corporate America understand what they were seeing in terms of differences between their mature workers and the newbies coming into the workforce (mostly Boomers at that time).

Massey explained that human development goes through a series of values development phases: 0-7 years of age is dedicated to understanding what your family sees as right v wrong. You are typically focused on learning self-care and self-management and experiences it’s first “values” lock – what my family says is right/wrong.

In the next phase 8-15 years of age, a typical human child will begin to look outward for validation and the beginnings of making social connections with their peers (same age range) and other adults. They will also begin to notice and process family, community and world events that will have an impact on the second values lock period. It is during this timeframe that the “values” of a generation are formed.

Values (cont’d):

Examples of each generation will be given in subsequent blog posts, but a specific one might be that Boomers (those who turned 10 years old during either the 1950s or the 1960s, would have had their values impacted by Rock and Roll, the rise of the middle class, the Vietnam War, the Summer of Love, and the Moonshot. The impact would have been I can do anything I want to do that I put my mind and effort behind and the government is often wrong and gets in the way of me pursuing what I want to do by making bad policy decisions that kill people. Now that’s a bit simplistic, but I think we can safely say that most Boomers (born between 1945 and 1960) are one of the more determined and ambitious generations in our current workforce. We will explore this more in next week’s blog post on Boomers.

Thinking Style:

Just as each generation has a “values” similarity, they also tend to view the world in one of two ways – either linearly or holistically. So, what does that mean exactly? Well let’s begin with what it is to be a linear thinker. Linear thinkers are those that prefer to compartmentalize their world. They view the world in separate parts or pieces. Home life is separate from work life. At work each aspect of their job may have connection points, but the linear thinker tends to work on one thing to completion before going to the next task. In other words, it’s a step-by-step progression that follows known cycles and rules where one step is completed before moving on to the next.  

Contrast this with a holistic or non-linear thinker. A holistic thinker looks at all of the individual parts and sees the connections. Remember the old Sesame Street Song “One of these things is doing it’s own thing?” Well that certainly played well to the linear thinker, who would see the immediate “unfit” object, but to the non-linear thinker, they wouldn’t see 3 knives and 1 fork but rather 4 pieces of silverware. Holistic or non-linear thinkers don’t work in straight lines or even a sequential manner. Rather, they will draw conclusions or make connections on what seems like totally unrelated topics! As leaders, it’s critical to understand your preferred thinking style, but also that of each of your people AND that there is a general characteristic of thinking that develops among generations! We will see that as this series unfolds.


So, we come to the third area of impact on generations that is really a culmination of the previous two. One’s values and thinking style (as well as personality, motivators, etc.) will combine to create one’s worldview. You will also see general worldview characteristics among the different generations. So, what is a worldview? Well it is defined as one’s philosophy or conception of the world. Some social scientists would call this a paradigm that has been established based on your life experiences, values, and thinking style. Often, one’s paradigm can be upended or dramatically changed by what Dr. Massey called a SEE (Significant Emotional Event).  This paradigm is usually established by the time most humans have reached upper adolescence or early adulthood (ages 16-23). Again, the influences of your family, your community, the world events that have occurred during the formative years of your life will all combine to create your worldview.

Generational theory is a constantly evolving body of social science. It is fascinating and goes back many decades and even centuries. Perhaps the defining book in the modern era that began to look at these generational patterns was the Strauss & Howe book called Generations that looked at the cycles of American history and the influence that generational characteristics had on it. They called them “turnings”.  Their work sparked a new field of study in many universities that continues to look at each new generation coming into American society. Over the next two weeks, I will explore the current generations that are in, exiting, or entering the workplace in the 21st century and how each contributes to the success of organizations while offering challenges to current leaders. The four I will focus on will be Boomers (born 1945-1960); Xers (born 1961-1979); Millennials (born 1980-1994) and iGens (born 1995-2010) but I will group them into the more linear thinkers (Boomer and Xers) and the more holistic thinkers (Millennials and iGens). I will touch on each by exploring the events that likely shaped their worldviews as well as what they bring to the modern workplace and how each plays a critical role going forward in the 21st century especially following a major event such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

I hope you enjoy this series! Let me know your thoughts and experiences on this topic.


Kelle Corvin



7 Tips for Leading In Crisis

This week’s blog is the third installment of the 3-part series on the Leadership Tipping Point in which we find ourselves. Over the last two weeks, I’ve talked about how the Coronavirus Crisis has highlighted what I think is a tipping point in how leaders must deal with their responsibilities and what skills leaders need to develop to successfully navigate this tipping point. In this third and final part, I want to suggest seven tips to help leaders navigate their people through crisis.

 First Show Empathy: This is perhaps the number one thing all leaders in your organization can demonstrate. In a time of crisis, people are usually very unsettled. They are worried about the dangers they may face on the job, and the impact the crisis could have on their family. This weekend, there were stories out of New York City that first responders were afraid to sleep in their own homes for fear of bringing the virus to their families so they were sleeping in their cars! Leaders owe their employees not only empathy as to the dangers they are facing on the job, but to find solutions to help them manage their fears and concerns as they may impact far beyond the job. One Boston area police department was negotiating with a national hotel chain to provide rooms for their personnel. That’s one solution that shows true empathy to their people! Showing empathy is one of the key components of emotional intelligence as well. Understanding the concept and execution of emotional intelligence will help you navigate difficult times. Remember, empathy is the fastest form of interaction between people.

Remain Calm, Cool, Collected: Just as Daniel Goleman discusses in his book on Emotional Intelligence, leaders must be self-aware enough to control their own emotions. If you as the leader act calm, your people will mirror that emotion. Convey to your employees that a crisis will not last forever and will end at some point. Be measured in your decision making and be sure to explain your decisions thoroughly to your employees so as to re-assure them that it is the best course of action for their safety and well-being.

Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable: As the leader, it is incumbent on you to first become comfortable with the unknown and with being “uncomfortable”  Realize that in a time of crisis, things will not go as planned; that there will be unknowns and surprises both good and bad. The more that you “roll” with the circumstances, the more clear your mind will be to deal with the unknown and the uncomfortable.




Think Before You Speak: Reinforcing the last two tips, it is very important as a leader to be completely measured in what you say to anyone – even your most trusted advisors. Be sure that everything that leaves your lips has been well-thought out and completely applicable to the situation at hand. During times of crisis, your people will literally “hang” on your every word.

Be As Positive As You Can Be: Remember that your people want reassurances that they and you and the community will get through the crisis. As their leader, they look to you for encouragement and support. Be sure to have your people’s backs and make sure they know that! It will give them the confidence to proceed with their responsibilities in a confident manner.

STOP, LOOK, LISTEN: This tip is so key and may need to really be number one. In a time of crisis, leaders deal with their own personal fears, concerns, apprehensions, but they owe it to themselves and their employees to STOP: evaluate the situation presented: LOOK – consider ALL aspects of the situation and ask: is it my responsibility or my organization’s responsibility? If so, do I have the resources to address the situation? And LISTEN – consult trusted advisors both internally and externally before making a final decision on how to proceed.

Finally, Reassure your People That The Crisis Will Pass: Reassure your people that your people will get through this; use the crisis as a learning experience to make them, the organization, and you better; use it as an opportunity to prepare for future events that may be similar in nature; and let your people know that there will be a return to normalcy as soon as possible.

I hope this series has helped give each of you some clear ideas on how to deal with this unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves. As always, I am available to help in any way that I can.

Thank you and stay safe,





Skills Leaders need to Navigate the Biggest Picture

March 31, 2020

Last week’s blog post discussed what I felt was a leadership tipping point that had been reached in the face of the Coronavirus crisis. Each day and each week, we seem to get deeper and deeper into a new reality. One of social distancing that has now been extended from 15 days to an additional 30 days. As Stephen Covey says, it only takes 21 days to form new habits.  I believe we are in the process of a fundamental change in how we relate to others from here forward. You can see it when you go to the grocery store and everyone is already conditioned to maintain the six-foot distance from each other. This will manifest further in how we relate to our neighbors, colleagues, and even in how we go back to completely normal situations a few weeks ago like sitting in church, school, or a training room. Everyone will wonder, does someone have a virus I might catch? Do I really want to be sitting this close or have my children this close to another?

Leaders will have a unique challenge in this new environment. I believe there are 5 key things they must be able to do. The first is be open to learning from the crisis and using it as a self-development opportunity. My mantra is that leaders must grow other leaders, but you really can’t successfully grow others if you don’t learn to grow yourself. Journaling is the best way I’ve found to do this. When I say journaling many of my students will sigh and say, “you mean like a teenage girl would journal?” 

The answer is “NO” not like a teenage girl! Like a leader! Really take the time to reflect daily on your own interactions with others – both superiors, co-equals and your subordinates. What went well? What could have gone better? What did you learn? What did you teach? Leaders that really embrace this process will always be the ones that grow the most and grow others the most. In fact, use what I call my 33 & 1/3 rule. 1/3 of your time should be learning from others that are more experienced than you; 1/3 should be spent exchanging ideas with your co-equals; and, finally, 1/3 should be spent helping to mentor those newer to the profession than you are. In this way, you will be able to fully embrace and exhibit what I call the 4 Be’s that are so important in times of crisis such as this one:

  • Be Seen – leaders must be seen by their people. This means beyond where they would expect to see you. Be present where they are and when they are. If you work primarily a day shift and have subordinates that are on a swing or over-night shift, take time to be present and seen with them especially during a time like the Coronavirus emergency.
  • Be Heard – make sure that your people hear directly from you whether it be in written, electronic or direct communication. Make sure they talk to you and that you talk to them. DON’T let the intermediaries muddle your message.
  • Be Present – this may seem like the same as “being seen” but you and I both know leaders and even colleagues who are seen but are not really present, right? They think they are doing the right thing by being seen, but really, they are not engaged with their people when they are there. Make sure you engage your people. Be part of what they are experiencing. This will help you grow empathy as a leader.
  • Be Reassuring – Just as the general public is wary of what is going on, so are your people. As leaders of first responders, many are stressed by the unknowns we are facing in this particular crisis. Reassure them that this situation will resolve itself and that you are there to help support them. Remember, just as you are worried about your family, they are as well. As people on the frontlines of dealing with people who may carry the virus, they worry for themselves and for their families. With schools closed, parents are distracted about all that they have to do both on the job and at home.  Reassure your people that you genuinely get it and are there to back them up where you can.

By focusing first on your own self-development as a leader, you will be able to execute the four “Bs” effectively. In doing so, you will see a transformation in yourself as a leader and in the leadership skills of your people. Next week we will wrap up this 3-part series by sharing what I think are good tips for leaders to successfully navigate this turbulent and uncertain time.

Last week’s Leadership Summit was so successful that we plan on doing a second one in the next couple of weeks. Would love to hear from you as to what topics would help you as the leaders on the front lines during the Coronavirus Crisis.

Thanks again and as always remember Leadership Rocks,

Be safe out there,
















The Leadership Tipping Point

In this week’s podcast released Monday, I had a critical conversation with our Director of Business Development, Kelle Corvin, regarding what I was seeing as a tipping point in how leaders will need to lead going forward. Although the Coronavirus has created this tipping point, it has been coming for some time.

On Wednesday of this week, we hosted a free live webinar where I shared my thoughts on this tipping point of which I believe we are in the midst of experiencing and moderated a really awesome discussion among law enforcement leaders across the country. We will be releasing the audio of this discussion next Monday as our weekly podcast. Please subscribe on iTunes to not miss an episode of Straight Talk on Leadership with Dean Crisp. We will also release the video portion next week on our website. We will send an email notification to our subscribers when that is ready. Now back to the Tipping Point.

What is a tipping point? Well this concept was made mainstream by author Malcolm Gladwell in his book Tipping Point. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend reading it or at least reading the Blinks on Blinkist. A tipping point is that point where something catches fire. It could be a product, and idea, a word where at a certain point in time where critical mass, a threshold, or boiling point is reached. That is what has occurred in leadership with the impact of the Coronavirus on the workplace. Let me try to explain.

For more than a decade, we have had Millennials (born 1980-1996) entering the workforce and right behind them are iGens (born 1996-2010) who are both, by nature the most holistic thinking generations we’ve ever had in the workforce. This has occurred because of the advancement of technology and social media that allows all of us to “share each other’s joys and pain” instantaneously. What this has created in the workplace is a demand on leaders (most especially in law enforcement) that forces leaders to focus on the needs or concerns of each individual employee more than ever before. I won’t be able to expand on this fully in this post but will make a few points to give you a perspective of what I am seeing. I call it a transition from the BIGGER PICTURE to the BIGGEST PICTURE leadership.

BIGGER PICTURE Leadership tends to be more linear thinking in nature. You do A, then B, then C. There is more of a focus on making decisions based on what is best for the entire organization. It focuses on people as part of a resource that is used to advance the goals of the organization. With the coronavirus pandemic, we have crossed the Rubicon if you will and what I am calling a Tipping Point to a new leadership reality. Leaders will be required to use BIGGEST PICTURE leadership.

What is that?

BIGGEST PICTURE Leadership demands that leaders think more Holistically. Remember, most of our leaders today are from the Baby Boomer and GenX generations – both of which are much more linear in their approach to work and in their thinking. They are leading Millennials and iGens who are by nature just the opposite – they think holistically. What does that mean? That for the first time, each individual employee and their needs are more important than the whole organization. If you visualize a computer-generated photo like the one to the left, you will get a better idea of what I mean. Each pixel is a key component of making the entire picture. If you miss one pixel, you whole doesn’t look right. So, in this new reality, leaders will be called upon to make decisions that are best for their individual employees – such as having non-essential personnel work from home; helping parents manage children who’s schools have been closed; and employees who are caring for elderly or at-risk family members.

It’s a huge change for leaders and one that I think we are all well-served to discuss. Next week, I will discuss my thoughts on how leaders can develop the key skills to manage in this new reality. Then, I will finish up this 3-part series on tips for leading in a crisis such as we are experiencing.

As always, I encourage your thoughts and comments in our blog discussion or by emailing me directly.

Our webinar yesterday was such a hit and we will likely hold another one in a couple of weeks. Look for an announcement.

During this stressful time, please take care of yourself as a leader and be mindful and empathetic of the impact it is having on your most precious resource, the humans in your organization.

Until next week,





“I am so happy to welcome guest blogger and fellow FBI-LEEDA colleague, Keith D. Bushey this week. This post is excellent and will certainly be beneficial to all leaders in these challenging times. Keith is a veteran law enforcement officer from the city of Los Angelos Police Department. Please share your thoughts on his post.”

Dean Crisp

Perspective on Leadership Development…

 Perspective on Leadership Development…                  

 Identifying Potentially Strong Leaders Within Your Workforce

 Guest Blogger Keith D. Bushey

 There is no magic process to ensure that those individuals selected as supervisors, managers and executives ultimately attain and exercise solid leadership.  This challenge is further exacerbated by the reality that some people reach and remain at a plateau, and do not continue to grow and advance.  Identifying and mentoring those subordinates who appear to have the strongest potential for continued career growth is an organizational responsibility as well as an imperfect professional challenge.

If there is any one concept that holds the strongest potential for identifying persons for leadership positions, it would be, “that the greatest predictor of how someone is going to perform in the future is how they have performed in the past.”  While most would likely agree that there is some validity to this concept most would also likely agree that there are no guarantees of enhanced performance levels, but also when and at what position a person may cease to be as effective as desired.

As someone with scores of years in leadership positions, and having witnessed first-hand the realities mentioned above, both personally and in others, I have come to firmly believe that certain personal characteristics are valid indicators of potentially solid future leadership effectiveness.  People are who they are and despite all that we do to achieve the expectations of our positions the very human consequence is to – at some point – default back to our core personal characteristics.  That being the case, it strikes me as making a good deal of sense to identify early those personal characteristics that bode well for leadership potential, and to factor this reality and those characteristics into our mentoring and promotional processes. 

This type of an honest assessment can also be valuable in helping all of our employees in the pursuit of workplace paths where they can be the most successful.  While the process of identifying certain personal characteristics can arguably be helpful in mentoring all employees, it pains me to remind the reader that we are not often successful in helping a struggling person in a critical position transition from the role of manager to one of being a true leader.  I have had several situations where I have essentially failed because of placing good and decent persons with questionable skill levels in positions “that they would hopefully grow into,” and it just did not happen.  Our workplaces are unique places where there are often a variety of factors that influence promotional processes, which in my judgment further increases the importance of recognizing the relationship between core personal characteristics and professional growth potential.


Character & Honesty

 This is far beyond just telling the truth, and involves consistent credibility in both deed and spirit.  When a heart tells you what to do and the mind tells you how to do it, the end outcome is more likely than not something that will withstand the test of time.  Those employees who generally enjoy the respect of their co-workers most likely possess these traits.

 Continuous Sharpening of Communications Skills

 A person’s ability to lead people and influence events is near completely dependent on communications skills.  The world is full of very bright and intelligent people who possess the highest degrees of solid intentions and commitment, but who because of less-than-optimum communications skills make only minimal difference in professional endeavors.  Conversely, the world is also full of people whose superb communications skills mask their less-than-optimum personal and professional characteristics!  True leaders are solid performers who also excel in oral and written communications.

One of my strongest developmental beliefs is related to written communications skills, which are related not just to the issue of becoming a leader, but also to the issue of continued upward accent in the organizational leadership arena.  I have witnessed far too many instances where folks with solid leadership skills have reached and leveled out at a plateau beneath their potential because their written communications skills did not continue to grow as well of their other professional qualities.  Those persons who make statements such as, “I have others who can write for me,” are doing themselves and the organization a disservice.  Those individuals who reach the upper levels in the leadership arena communicate in a variety of ways in both the organizational and professional realms, and need to be strong written communicators.

 Organizational Courage

There is a form of courage that is even more rare than raw physical courage, and that is the inclination and ability to be forceful and candid with co-workers and superiors, and where appropriate actually intervene to hopefully prevent them from making serious mistakes.  The world is full of people who will be candid after the fact, but there are far fewer who will instantly intervene to prevent a problem from occurring. The manners of input and intervention are also factors to be observed, considering the potential long-term consequences to the relationships involved.  Unfortunately, there is no magic way to ensure that candid and forceful input to the boss is not tantamount to professional suicide; one of life’s many potential consequences that contribute to the uniqueness of our workplaces.  Leadership is more art than science, and the art is often imperfect!

 Personal & Organizational Loyalty

 Seeing a vocation as a profession and in some cases, a following, as opposed to a job is among the factors that set leaders apart from managers.  People who are loyal to both their chosen profession and to the organization are reflecting solid character traits.  Watching shifting loyalties and the weight of those loyalties, especially as a person transitions from one organization to another, tells you a great deal about a person’s wisdom and character.  These can be treacherous waters with no guarantee of successful navigation.  A set of instructions of how to get this right does not exist.

 Providing Input in a Fair & Balanced Manner

 Among the most critical and sober responsibilities of a leader is the evaluation of persons and functions, and the subsequent making of decisions.  Leaders badly need unbiased and accurate information, and not input which is potentially biased, slanted or tainted in some way.  The only appropriate manner in which a person should influence the boss is through fair and balanced input; free of bias, personal motive or emotion.  An employee who lobbies the boss runs the risk of becoming the problem.

 Reasonable Inclination to Help Others Succeed

 There is no magic formula for recognizing the perfect balance between reasonable self-interests and the appropriate degrees of support and assistance to others.  However, smart people will recognize the appropriate balance when they see it. 

 Routinely Doing Kind Things for Other People

 I strongly believe that a valid indication of character is a person’s tendency to routinely do considerate things for other persons when there is nothing to be gained for the thoughtful gestures.  The employee who finds and provides baseball cards to the janitor’s kid is my kind of person.

Demonstrates Genuine Sincerity & Appreciation

 This can be difficult to evaluate, but not impossible.  Just about every person who I know who once held a position of strong leadership will tell of painful recollections of former protégés for whom they professionally invested, mentored and helped succeed but whose reciprocal good will evaporated when the former boss was no longer in a position to influence their upward career trajectory.  Over and above the pain of such professional betrayal is the very real issue of genuine versus perceived loyalty and character.  Beyond the painful issue of indifference, most of the individuals in my life who demonstrated such “selective sincerity” also turned out to be less effective in positions of responsibility than I originally would have thought, and fall into the category of mistakes that I have made in my career.

Identifying the trait of genuine versus superficial sincerity within the work force is not easily done, but there are some behaviors that might serve as indicators.  Just about all employees show goodwill and warmth to the boss, but their overall interaction with persons at the lower levels of the workplace and social spectrum can be telling.  Pay attention to how people interact not just with the CEO, but with clerical and maintenance personnel as well.  Also note levels of interactions with others for whom there is little or no likelihood of professional association.  Are the interactions perfunctorily cordial or of a manner that reflects sincere respect for all other persons?


Active Listening & Carefully Evaluating


There is often a big difference between a “good listener” and an “active listener.” Listening carefully and digesting what is being said, with brief interjections for clarification, bodes well for leadership potential. People who do more talking than listening seldom make good leaders. On a related note, these types of behaviors are almost always recognized by their peers and others in the lower levels of the organization.


Routinely Plays a Role in Both Preventing & Solving Problems


Those employees who prevent problems before the boss even recognizes the existence of a problem are worthy of keeping your eye on.  This inclination is often based on the very valuable trait of “looking over the horizon.”  The inclination and ability of a leader to recognize and plan for the potential multiple consequences of anticipated actions before taking those actions, is an extraordinarily valuable asset. 

 Standing Tall in the Face of Personal Adversity

 When professionally kicked to the curb and subjected to withering criticism, mere mortals slip into obscurity and often become marginal employees.  Men and women of extraordinary character pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and continue to march.  Although others can continue to be critical, the only person who can take away the reality of strong character is the person involved.  Those who continue to “lean forward” and demonstrate strong character will be the long-term winners, both organizationally and in the minds of others.

Performing Credibly in the Face of Organizational Adversity

 All organizations are unique and different, and the perfect organization or the absolutely perfect boss does not exist.  While not everyone sees things in the same light, the fact is that there are times when work places are not good places and where the person in charge is neither qualified or worthy. Troublesome situations of this nature are fraught with career-ending land mines and with challenges for which no written guidance exists.  While hunkering down and staying out of the line of fire typically does little for the organization, initiative and efforts to move forward can have serious repercussions as well.  Employees who are able to credibly navigate these types of troubled journeys are demonstrating some very valuable skills.


 In the development of this article I did something that I have never done before; I intentionally did not review related literature and I did not seek the perspective or opinion of others.  It was my intention to do a “brain drain” of my personal perspective, and not dilute my primary thoughts with contamination from others.  Upon completion of the article, I see that I achieved my goal!  Without being critical of other writings on identifying leadership potential, I found that my perspective is typically somewhat different from the thoughts of others who have shared thoughts on the same subject.  I have also resisted the temptation to add additional valid thoughts that are not among my personal priorities.

I think this difference is a good thing, as it gives the reader additional perspective from someone who has spent a great deal of time in the leadership trenches and who among successes has also made just about every personnel related mistake that can be made.  I am not the least bit critical of the writings and perspective of others; to the contrary, all of the issues I have reviewed strike me as solid and reasonable.  My perspective is a product of my experiences, good and otherwise, primarily in the public and military sectors.  While pretty comfortable with my knowledge and performance these days, both came at a healthy and painful price earlier in my career.

No one person possesses all the wisdom necessary to be the perfect leader.  By availing ourselves of the opinions and experience of others, all of us continue to grow and nurture our own perspectives of how best to lead.  To that end, I hope that my thoughts on identifying potential leaders in the workforce will be helpful to the those now in the leadership arenas.

About the Author:

Keith Bushey retired from the Los Angeles Police Department as a commander, from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department as a deputy chief and from the United States Marine Corps Reserve as a colonel.  Others law enforcement experience includes having served as a Los Angeles County deputy Sheriff, a State of California deputy game warden, and as the Marshal of San Bernardino County.  He is an instructor emeritus for the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association and has lectured and written extensively in the areas of leadership, management and ethics. His entire eight booklet Leadership Series is in the public domain and may be downloaded without cost from KeithBushey.com.

This Article was Reproduced and Distributed with Permission of Keith Bushey

Attribution is Appreciated

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Your GPS Moment

March 10, 2020

We were completely lost…

We were somewhere east of Bryson City, NC deep into the mountains with tons of foliage above. We’d driven through the area multiple times, but we were trying to find a specific location and needed guidance on how to get there. The GPS in our car couldn’t get a signal! The cell phone had no signal. The only thing we had to go with was the good old-fashion magnetic compass and, hang on now Millennials, a map! Yes, that’s right an old-fashioned paper fold out map of North Carolina! With those two things we could finally figure out where we were and where we were going. We could craft a route to get to our destination. We had had a REAL world GPS moment! For those of us that travel extensively for work, having a real world GPS moment is a recurring situation, but today, I want to talk about what it means to have a leadership GPS moment.

In my book, Leadership Lessons from the Thin Blue Line, I devote an entire chapter to helping you discover your leadership GPS moment and how to layout your pathway to success. Just as we shouldn’t drive in unfamiliar territory without the tools to help us find our way, we shouldn’t expect to lead or even map out our career without a strategic plan to get us where we are going. And yet, so many of us do just that! In this blog post, I will offer some suggestions on how to find your GPS moment and then develop a strategy that works for you.

Throughout my career, I’ve had many GPS moments. No, these aren’t crises that overwhelm you emotionally or mentally, these are turning points if you will where you make key decisions that chart a new course for you. This could be deciding whether to go back to get an advanced degree in college or whether to take that job that would advance your career, but might put your family at risk because the time of life for your children just isn’t right. Those decisions will impact your journey for sure, and should always be taken with caution and foresight.

Today I want to focus in on what it means to create a road map for success for yourself.  I call it Strategic Self-Discovery and it will certainly give you a step-by-step approach to crafting your GPS moment for leadership.

Why?  The first question to ask yourself is to envision your ideal future avatar. What do you look like? Where are living, working, doing? Who are interacting with on a daily basis? This “avatar” of yourself allows you to begin with the end in mind. By beginning with where your ideal self will be in (5, 10, 15, 20 years), you can then ask, and craft, your “why” statement.  This has three phases to it that I think work really, really well. This is simply a brief overview compared to the in-class activities we do in our Intentional Leadership: Leading with a Purpose class or will offer on our LHLN member site later this year, but it will get you started in the right direction.

 Step 1: List those people in your life that have or do impact you in a profound way. I call them your Mount Rushmore people. What qualities to they possess? What values did they instill in you that make you who you are today?

Step 2: List those values out on a piece of paper and then group them into “like” core values or things that motivate you to action. Why do they do that?

Step 3: What motivates you to take action on those values? What skills do you possess naturally or learned that enhance your ability to take positive action so as to affect the lives of others in a specific positive way?

Step 4: Using the list of core values and motivators, craft a why statement from that that looks something like this  To (use a specific gift, talent, skill) so that (impact it will have on others)

You are Here:  I admit, I have a weakness for ice cream. On a trip many years ago, I recall heading to the local mall one evening after teaching and looking for an ice cream shop that someone had mentioned earlier that day. I walked into the nearest entrance and went straight to the directory – you know the one that every large building has – and as I looked at it, I saw a marking on it that said “You are Here”. By being shown clearly where I was, I could then navigate my way to that ice cream shop.  Leadership GPS moments are much the same. To find out where you are, you sometimes need to be told by a kind mentor, spouse, etc. before you can chart your course for growth.  When I had my first AHA moment about this, I was a young chief who was learning my way. I got great advice from three of my go-to books to this day: The Leadership Challenge by Posner and Kouzes, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and Winning Everyday by Lou Holtz. I learned more than I could share in a single blog post, but I will share these concepts and suggestion for self-growth.  Here are some quick tips for you to consider:

Know Yourself – know your personality, what motivates you, what your “non-negotiables” are. I talk at greater length about the layers of a leader in my class, Intentional Leadership, but these two are perhaps the most critical.

Personality – there are so many tools out on the market to help you understand yourself and others. I’m partial to the DISC because of its ease of assessment and it’s ease of use. In a fairly short amount of time, one can discover their primary behavior style, how it is perceived by others and how you can adjust your style to communicate better with others.

Motivators – unlike behavior that is readily observable, the things that motivate you to action can be very different. Understanding what drives you and what may drive others will make you a better leader of yourself and your team.

Evaluate Your Mindset – make sure you are clear on your mindset. Be honest with yourself and where you are at on your journey. Do you have a growth mindset? Or more of a fixed mindset? You can read more about this in my blog post (linkhere) on mindset and I encourage all of you to read Carol Dweck’s book on Mindset. Having the right mindset will allow you to be honest with yourself.

Plot Your Course – Once you know where you are, and, when you have an idea of where you want to be, you will be able to plot your course. Just as a ship’s captain does with his coordinates, you can develop your plan of action for your intended destination. Make sure your GPS device is getting a clear signal. This means having what I call “Check 6ers” or colleagues, mentors, friends that help you make course adjustments as you travel.

These are just some of my tips for finding your GPS moment and setting your course for growth and success. I hope these tips will help do just that and that it will help you stay on your pathway to intentional leadership.

Tell me your thoughts on this? Do you have other tips that I didn’t mention? I would love to hear them!

Log in for free and comment on this and other blog posts or email me at hdcrisp@yahoo.com

Until next time,



Are you ‘All-in’?

March 3, 2020

Full disclosure, my sons and my money went to the University of South Carolina. Both played baseball for the Gamecocks and my loyalties are with them. However, many years ago while I was following them to a game against the cross-state rival, Clemson University, I found myself near the football practice area.  Spring practice had begun and I ran into then new head football coach, Dabo Swinney.

At the time, Swinney was probably in his 2nd or 3rd season as the head football coach at Clemson and was not the name he is now in college football. I walked up and introduced myself and was immediately struck by his connect-ability. I told him why I was at Clemson and he asked how my sons were playing and how the season was unfolding. He truly cared or at least was great at expressing it sincerely. We talked for a few minutes and he thanked me for being a law enforcement officer and we parted ways. As he walked on, I noticed a group of kids that came running up to him yelling “Coach Swinney, Coach Swinney”. He stopped and engaged each child and talked to them just as he had me. He bent down on a knee or lifted the smaller ones up in the air so that he could meet them face-to-face.  He spent several minutes with them and although I knew he was on his way to spring practice, not once with me, nor with the kids, did he ever say that or act as if he was pre-occupied with it.

That encounter has made me a big fan of Coach Swinney as a leader. A few lessons I have learned watching him over the years that I want to share with you today include:

  • ALL-IN: When he first came to Clemson, it was toward the end of the season and with only a few games left. He was replacing a relatively well-liked and successful coach at the time in Tommy Bowden who had just had a terrible season. The decision was made by the Athletic Director the Monday after a Clemson loss and Swinney literally talks about going into the janitor’s closet to talk to his wife about the move and told her he’d be home late that night because he already knew that he would have to make some bold personnel moves. Later, he held an all-team meeting where he talked to the players and coaches and asked what has now become Clemson’s rally cry to players and fans alike, “Are you All-In?” As a leader, you have to decide if you’re “all-in” and then ask your team if they are as well. Anyone that isn’t needs to be addressed immediately.
  • HUMBLENESS: Swinney showed his humbleness in that he knew he’d been given the opportunity of a lifetime, but many were not sure he was prepared. He showed humbleness toward his staff and team that had committed to being ‘all-in’ for helping achieve mutual goals. Anyone that looks at Swinney’s life can see he comes from very humble beginnings, but his optimism and willingness to put others first has created a recipe for success that is virtually unparalleled in the college football world today.


“I would love to hear your examples of leaders professionally and personally that exhibit some or all of these characteristics. Did I miss any? Tell me! I would love to hear them!”

  • HE EXPLAINED THE ‘WHY’: In that famous ‘All-in’ meeting with his team, Swinney explained to the players, the coaches, and fans what his football program at Clemson would be all about. That it was more than winning football games, it was about winning at life. He consistently says his program is about being the best at graduating students, growing boys into men, and being the best on the field. The stats back him up. Clemson has won awards for the highest graduation rate for a Division I football team and, with a few exceptions, has success stories of their players far beyond the gridiron.
  • OPTIMISM and ADVOCACY: Swinney is one of the most optimistic people you could meet. It’s infectious in fact. He advocates for his team with the media and the fans and, whether it is real or not, conveys a true positive image of himself and the program. Further, he advocates on behalf of the university and the team. In every post-game presser whether he wins or loses, he never once blames a player by name nor does he spend time on things he can’t control like officiating. Remarkably, he always finds something positive to say about the opponent. When his team loses such as in the national championship game, he uses the word “we” didn’t execute; “we” didn’t figure out how to manage what the opponent was doing. Many leaders and head coaches could learn the same. The best leaders put the spotlight on their team when things go well and take the responsibility when it doesn’t.
  • CONNECTIVITY: I will end where I began. Swinney is successful, just as most successful leaders are, because they live in the moment and make all they encounter the most important in that moment. How many leaders don’t do this? You can tell immediately that they are distracted by something else OR are simply not “all in” with you at that moment. Whether it’s a co-worker or a spouse or a child, being fully present is critical to becoming a successful leader.

I hope this post will spark your understanding of what makes a successful leader. I would love to hear your examples of leaders professionally and personally that exhibit some or all of these characteristics. Did I miss any? Tell me! I would love to hear.

I write every week to keep the growth going. It’s a two-way street and I learn as much from many of you and I hope you learn from me. Remember, be ‘All-in’ in your leadership goals, be clear on your ‘why’ of leaders and how that translates to the mission of your organization.

Remember, Leadership Rocks!



Login and comment on the blog at www.lhln.org/blog

Email Dean at dcrisp@lhln.org or call him at 803-240-3024


Using the LRPS Model as an intentional leader

A few years back, I published my first book, Leadership Lessons from the Thin Blue Line. Among many other topics on leadership, I introduced readers to my new model of leadership called the LRPS model. It looks like this:


The importance of this model has been made more clear to me in the years since I first published it as I traveled the country teaching my new course, Intentional Leadership: Leading with a Purpose. In this blog post, I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about the model and how an intentional leader can use it to great effect.

In the Model, I mention that leadership in all sectors be it business, government, military or non-profit have all transitioned from a much more paternalistic system of leadership characterized by hierarchy, command and control, and formality to a more maternalistic leadership model of today’s workplace where collaboration, mentoring, and relationship have replaced the more rigid, formal structure we have seen in the past. This is in part due to a more diverse workplace AND, due to a mindset shift among workers who see the world much more holistically rather than linearly.

While this model does follow a chain-of-command model, the LRPS model adds the dimension of synergy to the mix that is holistic in nature. It places special emphasis on partnerships in the workplace between leader and follower as well as follower to follower. Creating that connection can take many forms and I will discuss some tips I have for that. But first, I want to explain the model in very simple terms:

Leadership is defined by me with four ‘I’ words: influence, inspire, initiate, and inclusion. Effective leaders find ways to influence, inspire and include others and find ways to initiate action. There are usually two ways that leaders decide to do this. The first way is through manipulation which means they choose to influence, inspire, include and initiate through fear or positional power. The second (and I believe better way) is to do these same things through a shared vision with their people. So how do that do that? Well that’s where the other component parts of the LPRS Model come into play!

First, you must establish Relationship with those you lead. I believe this is done through three foundational pillars of proximal relations – you actually spend time with your people to get to know them and vis a versa; working trust – by spending time with each other, a trust is developed between leader and follower that allows for good working relationships to develop and grow; and by doing the first two, you develop shared expectations for the growth of the individual and the growth of the organization. This leads to the creation of partnerships in the workplace between leader and follower. The key components of creating partnership in today’s workplace includes mutual respect that comes from effective relationships, solid three-way communication that includes leader to follower and follower to follower as well as follower to leader; and establishing common values for the organization. The first two must be developed before the final and key part of the equation is created – synergy. When one has created partnership, they have usually done so through hard work on building relationships and partnerships with their employees.

Relationships are first because they are the key building block for developing partnerships. They take time to develop and establish a solid foundation. But the time is worth it to the leader that wants to create an inspired workplace. Remember it is through relationships, not directives, that leaders truly provide direction. Subsequently, it is through partnerships, trust, and values that people will follow leaders. This will become even more important as Millennials and iGens enter the workforce. Their holistic approach to everything they do will require leaders to create a workplace where relationship and partnership are the main components. It is through these that true synergy in the workplace is created. Synergy, after all, is the result of effective leadership creating relationship and partnership, that leads to working together to produce a desired result through a common purpose.

As I’ve taught the LRPS Model as part of my new signature course, Intentional Leadership: Leading with a Purpose, I find that it helps to take a self-reflective look at where you are with each of these components. Ask yourself some deep questions to truly analyze where you are with the creation of synergy in the workplace. If you go to the website, and login you will find a downloadable pdf with a simple assessment on it. Don’t over-count or under-count your efforts. Most of us are NOT really where we want to be or should be as a leader. The key to growth is honestly appraising your current circumstance so that you can achieve your desired destination – your GPS moment as I call it.

Some tips I’ve learned through the years in applying this model in my own leadership include some of the following:

  • Really understand your employees and what makes them unique. You don’t have to be their parent or family member, but you should understand what
    • Behaviors/personality traits they exhibit
    • What motivates them
    • What their personal goals are professionally
    • Understand what may be happening in their personal lives that may be affecting their work performance – this isn’t excusing poor performance, but allowing you as a leader to show empathy and offer guidance on how an employee can manage personal setbacks without it affecting work performance.
  • You must spend time with people. Yes, there are assessments out there and those are always helpful, but to truly understand what a person’s true goals and aspirations are takes time and effort on a leader’s part to help that person know what they need to do themselves to grow. I used to make sure I had lunch with my key staff people at least once per month and made myself visible and available to my entire staff as much as possible.
  • Take time daily to reflect on your professional (and personal) interactions to learn from them. What went well in that conversation with an employee and what didn’t. Did I as the leader allow myself to be triggered into a negative reaction? How can I learn from that and recognize it next time before I react and instead respond to the event.
  • What actions as a leader can I take to foster the professional growth of my staff?
    • Can I do a better job of relinquishing control and allowing an employee the opportunity to grow by giving them permission to handle a responsibility whether they succeed or fail?
    • What responsibilities am I doing that could be taught or shared with a capable subordinate so that they can learn and grow?

Let me know your thoughts on this and other blog posts by logging in and commenting or email me at the address below. How do you grow your people? What things do you do daily, weekly, monthly to foster relationship and partnership in the workplace?

Thank you and remember to put your leadership into action this week!




Note: Leadership Lesson from the Thin Blue Line will be re-released this Spring! We will notify you when it is available on all major platforms!


Ruby Cobb

Dean Crisp is author of Leadership Lessons from the Thin Blue Line. Throughout his career of more than 35 years, Dean has been a student, practitioner and now a teacher of leadership. He is passionate about giving people the information they need in a practical and applicable manner so as to help his students achieve a purpose-driven life. You can reach Dean at dcrisp@lhln.org. Learn more about our classes and how you can have Dean teach your staff by going to our website at www.lhln.org.