Leadership Development

Persistence: How to Balance Accountability and Kindness

“I don’t want to hear your excuses. Rules are rules!”

“Sometimes you just have to bring the hammer down.”

“If you don’t show them who’s boss, they’ll walk all over you.”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO

Of course it’s OK to want people to take responsibility. Resorting to authoritarian and adversarial tactics like threats, intimidation, guilt, blaming, and verbal abuse might get compliance in the short term, but over time the results are disastrous to morale, productivity, and engagement. (more…)

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Resourcefulness: Stop Giving Fish Away!

“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for the rest of his life.” – Chinese Proverb

I used to think my dad came up with this proverb. I heard him say it all the time when I was a child growing up on a farm in rural Zaire. My parents were missionaries and their purpose was to help develop sustainable ways for local Africans to have good nutrition, a safe water supply, and basic rural healthcare. My dad brought rabbits to Africa. Rabbits are high in protein, easy to care for, breed rapidly, eat green stuff, and their waste products are great for gardens. Perfect for a tropical climate! My father helped develop systems for local Africans to raise rabbits in a way that fit into their culture and helped supplement a low-protein diet. (more…)

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Openness: Compassionate Accountability Starts Here

Why won’t your employees tell you what’s really going on?

Why don’t people follow through even though you’ve been crystal clear about expectations?

Do you bend over backwards to solve customer problems and they’re never satisfied? 

If you can relate to any of these, you may benefit from increased Openness.

Openness is one of the three core competencies necessary to practice Compassionate Accountability. I’ll tackle the other two (Resourcefulness and Persistence) in future posts. (more…)

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Three Essential Compassion Skills for Leaders

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know my enthusiasm for the concept of compassionate accountability. It all starts with the recognition that Drama at work or at home is an energy vampire and that simply avoiding it isn’t the mark of a great leader.

Compassion is the antidote and the core competency to lead out of drama, and means a whole lot more than having empathy and being nice.


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Four Leadership Tips to Get More Honest Feedback

When I was in middle school, my older brother once told me, “Nate, you will never know what people really think of you.”

I was shocked. In my typical style of never taking “no” for an answer, I challenged him to explain himself.

“You act so sure of yourself and are so persuasive that it’s very hard for anyone to be honest with you,” he answered.

I’ve always cared what people thought. Sometimes too much. Why would I make it so hard for others to give me honest feedback?

This is something I’ve worked on my whole life. I’m better than I used to be, and I still sometimes hear second-hand that someone doesn’t feel comfortable being honest with me. As a leader, I want feedback. I rely on honest, sometimes brutal, feedback to get better as a leader and do the best job I can for my team. What I’ve learned is that telling people that I want feedback and actually getting it are two different things. It takes more than words to get people to take the risk of putting themselves out there. (more…)

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Comfort the Afflicted, Afflict the Comfortable

My father used to tell me, “My job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” He was a missionary. He had a huge heart for people who were suffering, a passion for justice, and continually pursued excellence in all he did. He had little patience for those who were entitled, complacent, or just a little too comfortable with themselves and their lives. I think he even got a little secret satisfaction from watching them squirm when he’d ask a tough question or recite a parable that exposed their folly. Yet he still accepted each person, no matter what, as having something wonderful to offer and the potential to learn and grow. (more…)

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How You Struggle When The Going Gets Tough?

We all know the experience of fighting for something, struggling for something we want or believe in. How do you judge the value of your struggle? There are three different kinds of struggling.

Struggling Against

You’ve decided that someone must win, someone must lose. It’s probably important that you keep telling stories about yourself and the opponent so that you can keep feeling justified that you are right about your position. This leads to violence. (more…)

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Conflict is Energy: Use it Wisely

I want my coffee in my hands before 7:45 AM so I can get to work on time, but the line is long at Starbucks.

I want my team to gel around our strategic vision but they keep asking questions and don’t seem to feel confident about their roles.

I want recognition for my hard work on the project but my client points out a mistake.

I want cheap gas but the prices keep going up.

Conflict, at the most basic level, is a difference between what I want and what I am currently getting.


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Will you help us write our next book?

Our first book

Beyond-Drama-Book-w_reflections-and-shadowPublishing our first book, Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires, was a life-changing experience. The hardest thing I’ve ever done, and one of the most rewarding projects of my career. Since it’s release in 2013, Beyond Drama has been sold internationally and become a staple in our coaching, training, and advising relationships. It’s packed with tips and tools for understanding and responding to personal and professional drama. In this book we introduced our concept of compassionate accountability and suggested that positive conflict can be a force for good. Watch video. 

 Since then..


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