Leadership Lessons from Leadership Expert John C. Maxwell

“Leadership is a verb not a noun.” John C. Maxwell

John Maxwell is a leadership guru who has written numerous New York Times best-selling books on the topics of leadership and personal development. For well over four decades, he has written on the topic of leadership in addition to coaching leaders and consulting with companies and organizations. I recently had the opportunity to meet John Maxwell in person and other outstanding Thought Leaders at the Change Leadership Conference in Toronto. Maxwell delivered a humorous and enlightening keynote on leadership in today’s environment.

While there were numerous insights I gleaned from his talk, one of the key insights that stood out right from the start is that according to Maxwell, “leadership is a verb not a noun.” What this means is that leadership is the act of doing, it’s not a static entity. My opinion is there are people who are great managers (they know the functional and technical aspects of their job) yet they need to grow into being a leader. Maxwell described leadership as a process, which I understood to mean that over time it is possible to grow into a high level of leadership capacity. I think for many of us this is a relief to know as the term “leaders are born and not made,” is often used when describing an outstanding leader. Describing leadership as a process means that no matter where someone is at in their leadership journey, developing the skills to be an excellent leader can be developed with the right mentoring, coaching and tools.

A good metaphor that I liked that Maxwell used was the concept of the “leadership lid.” An organization and its employee or team members can only develop or grow as high as the leadership lid of its leaders. For example, say there was a scale of one to five and the top leader was operating at a level one. The employees and the organization as a whole would not be able to move past the level one leadership lid. If employees are capable of moving past level one, they will not stay in that organization over the long term because they will feel they are stagnating in their roles. Also, the organization as a whole will suffer and stagnant. If the top leader or leadership team is operating at a high level, everyone in the organization benefits and is elevated to that level, including the organization as a whole.

The majority of Maxwell’s presentation focused on the five levels of leadership described in his book, The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential. In his talk and in the book, he describes each of the levels of leadership. Level five leadership is the highest a leader can aspire to in their leadership journey. For more specific info about the various levels of leadership, read the book. In a nutshell, here is what I took away from his talk about the five levels of leadership.

Level One Leaders
Level one leaders have authority by virtue of their position and title. People follow these leaders because of their title and it takes minimal effort to convince people to follow level one leaders. In other words, people follow directions because their leader is the boss. If you are an employee and you want to stay employed, following the directions of your boss keeps you employed. Unfortunately, level one leadership (i.e. leadership by title) is the level of leadership that prevails in many companies and organizations. The leaders who have the authority to lead are not necessarily the most visionary leaders in an organization. Sometimes through tenure or seniority, some people have the authority to lead simply because of their title and position, not necessarily because they are a good leader.

Level Two Leaders
Level two leaders start to build relationships. According to Maxwell, there are various questions that followers at this level ask of their leaders. These questions can include: 1) do they like me? 2) can you help me and 3) can I trust you? In other words, as my leader will you manipulate me or help to motivate me to achieve goals? Leaders who start to gain the trust of their followers beyond their title, start to build trust in their followers and enhance their relationships. Level two leaders listen and ask questions. Their followers see that these leaders are open to building relationships. These leaders listen, learn and lead.

Level Three Leaders
Level three leaders are leaders who start to have the moral authority to lead. In other words, people don’t follow level three leaders just because of their title and position. They follow these leaders because they have been successful and they have a track record of successful leadership. Level three leaders are now teaching others what they know and are sharing their knowledge with their followers.

Level Four Leaders
Level four leaders start to gain momentum when it comes to leadership. Level four leaders start to really empower their followers. These leaders gain momentum because they have built upon the other levels of leadership. At this level, leaders have the formal title and position. As leaders, they are listening to their followers and incorporating the learnings into their leadership style. Level four leaders have a successful track record of leading others through their moral authority of listening and learning. And they also share their knowledge to empower others. Level four leaders want to equip and empower their followers so that their followers can start to be leaders in their own right.

Level Five Leaders
Level five leadership is the pinnacle of the leadership levels. Level five leaders have successfully gone through the various levels of leadership. People follow them because of who they are. They lead by example. Level five leaders want their followers to become successful, independent leaders who will empower other people. In other words, according to Maxwell, the person you equipped is equipping others. In the John Maxwell organization, they only invest in people who invest in others.

I thought the five levels of leadership scale is an excellent barometer to test where people are at in terms of their leadership journey, style and impact.

Another key point that really stood out for me from John Maxwell’s talk was his perspective on consistency. Maxwell revealed that he has been asked numerous times over the years, what is the key to his success. According to him, the key determinant of his success was consistency over 45 plus years of doing his leadership work. For me, it was a brilliant insight when he said, “Consistency Compounds.” Think about some of the less than stellar results you may have achieved or not achieved in your life. What were some the contributing factors? I’m sure lack of consistency played a factor in some shape or form. Let me leave you some questions to ask yourself to help you gain insight on your success journey.

1.If leadership can be described as a process. What steps are you taking to enhance your leadership skills to assist the process?
2.Where are you in terms of the five levels of leadership and how can you improve?
3.What would happen to your life if you made consistency a dominant factor? Stay tuned in the next few weeks. I will be writing a major blog post on the topic of consistency!

I always love hearing from my readers, share your thoughts on any of the above.

Exciting Interview on the Nikki Clarke Show!

I was interviewed by the amazing Nikki Clarke for the Nikki Clarke Network on June 12th. Our engaging interview discussed everything from coaching to how to overcome blocks to success and how people can step into their authentic power as leaders and as speakers. The first part of our interview will be broadcast through her online radio station.

The Nikki Clarke Network was founded by Nikki Clarke in May 2014. The network is a 24 hour inspirational online tv network. The network offers unique programming with informative and entertaining segments in the areas of business, lifestyle, health, wellness, beauty, music and food among many topics.

The Nikki Clarke Show is also broadcast on two television networks: Rogers and Bell Fibe. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview!

Lessons in Abundance from Dr. John Demartini

One year ago, I had the pleasure of attending a conference where Dr. John Demartini was one of the keynote speakers. Dr. Demartini is an international best selling author, educator and public speaker focusing on high performance in human behaviour. He helps people develop the mindset and behaviours required to create success. Dr. Demartini started from incredibly humble circumstances and has achieved great success in his life. Recently, I was reflecting on his talk and here are three keys lessons that I am sharing with you. They are:

Our Values Determine Our Financial Destiny

According to Dr. Demartini there are certain characteristics and mindset that must be developed in order to build wealth. One of the main ones is that you must know your values. Your values determine what goals you go after in life. Dr. Demartini posits that our highest values filter i.e. determine our reality. In other words, you will always find the time and the money for things that you value most. For example, if you say that you value health the most, yet you live a sedentary lifestyle and drink and smoke like there is no tomorrow, chances are being healthy is not one of your highest values. More likely you value pleasure and immediate gratification above a healthy lifestyle. People need to look at what they value without judgment. Getting real with what we value and realizing if our lives demonstrate the opposite of what we value, that realization could be a turning point to make change in our lives. Knowing your values is important in goal setting because if a goal is not in alignment with your values, then there is a high probability you won’t achieve it. A big part of goal achievement is setting goals in alignment with our highest values which is important when it comes to building wealth.

Guilt and Shame Prevent People From Receiving Abundance

In my experience, people who are wealthy or affluent are comfortable with making and receiving money. Money is simply a tool that helps them achieve their goals in life. A key part of building wealth is by being receptive to abundance in your life. In other words, do you feel worthy to receive abundance in all its forms? Abundance can take the form of love, good health, wealth, pleasure, friendship and the list could on. People are often comfortable with some forms of abundance but deep down they don’t feel worthy to receive others. You are worthy because you were created by the Divine. If you feel unworthy you will self sabotage or not take the action required to achieve your goals. According to Dr. Demartini you be must be willing to move past, liberate and process any guilt or shame over incidents in your life that have prevent you from receiving abundance. Anything that you feel shame or guilt about find a way to process it in a compassionate and forgiving manner. One of the initial ways that you can start processing these feelings is by writing them down in a journal or diary. You could also speak to a trusted family member, friend or if need be a therapist to help you move forward. Remember that nothing in life is wasted. Through every experience you have been made stronger, more courageous and resilient! For whatever may have occurred in your life learn to love, forgive and have compassion for yourself.

Make a Contribution by Serving Others

While it’s amazing to be able to use or express your gifs, ensure that you’re using them to help others. Be willing to make a contribution to the world, don’t just take up space. Ask yourself on a regular basis, Wayne Dyer’s famous question, “How Can I Serve?” After all, you are as Dr. Demartini would say, “a citizen of the world.” You have the potential to impact people globally not just where you were born and grew up. Sometimes people don’t know how to contribute and the first step is looking at your gifts and figuring out how to help other others. Start generating ideas in order to make an impact. At the conference, Dr. Demartini asked the attendees to do an exercise where they generated ideas to use their gifts to build wealth and help others. He encouraged us to make the following lists. They are:

• List 200 ways that you can benefit by serving the most numbers of people.
• List 200 ways to invest.
• List 200 ways to accumulate a vast fortune.
• List 200 ways to leave a legacy.

Once you have these lists compiled go through them and pick the ones where you feel you can set goals and make the most impact. You will be surprised at how brilliant and creative you are when you generate your lists!

The overall lesson that I took from Dr. Demartini’s keynote speech is that we are here to serve and make an impact. We can let shame, guilt, excuses, unworthiness, failure, family, society among a myriad of reasons prevent us from fulfilling our purpose and destiny. Or we can make the courageous decision to: live our values, deal with our feelings compassionately and use our gifts to fulfill our purpose while helping others. Now that is an abundant life indeed!

Three Ways to Play a Bigger Game in Life!

Rick Tamlyn is an international coach, speaker and author of Play Your Bigger Game. In the book and in his speeches and workshops, he helps people live more meaningful and purposeful lives by elevating the way they play their game. The game being a metaphor for life. I attended one of his introductory workshops and here are some key takeaways that I learned about how to play a bigger game in life. They are:

1. Be laser focused when it comes to your priorities. The world was here before you or I were born and there is a good chance it will be here long after we have departed the mortal coil. Meaning that if you set out with the goal to change the world, you’re going to be frustrated. With all the issues in the world it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Does that mean that you don’t fight the good fight for causes you believe in or against injustices that exist in the world. Of course not. You continue to advocate for issues that you believe in and rail against injustices. To deal with the overwhelm when you want to make a difference, pick an area or areas where you can make the largest impact for the most amount of people and focus in on those areas. Each human being only has so much time and energy and being laser focused helps you to achieve your highest priorities. Being laser focused on your priorities means that you know how you want to contribute and the type of impact or legacy that you want to leave. Look at how you can positively impact your sphere of influence with the causes you believe in. Sometimes you don’t need to go far, you can start with your family, your work or your neighbourhood.

2. Have a vision and be committed to it. Often in life people lack the confidence to start working on a goal or project. They believe they can’t finish a project or reach a goal, so they don’t bother starting. Even if you don’t have everything figured out when starting out on a goal, your level of commitment can help you achieve that goal. Rick Tamlyn says that “the antidote to lack of confidence is being committed.” When you know your values and have a vision for your life, it is easier to commit to a goal even if all the details aren’t worked out. For example, if getting healthy was a matter of life or death for you, your commitment to being healthy and living would make you figure out the details. Knowing your values and having a vision for your life can help you with being committed to a goal. When you have a life vision , it’s very easy to commit to priorities that fit within that vision and say no to things that don’t.

3. Play (live) outside of your comfort zone. Rick Tamlyn says that, “Playing a bigger game will design who I become.” If you are continuously “playing it safe” and not learning or growing, you will find your life becoming stagnant. When you don’t set new goals or aim for new achievements, it’s challenging for new opportunities, people and things to come into your life. Stepping outside of your comfort zone may mean setting a new vision for your life where you have to let go of people, places, things as well as things about yourself that don’t fit into your new life vision. We are creative beings. At any time we can choose who we are and who we want to be. We are not limited by our past, family, or societal programming and conditioning. While it does take work to bring your vision or goals to fruition, it is worth the time and effort required. When you learn to play outside your comfort zone while using your gifts and talents to serve others, life is enjoyable and you learn to live your life purpose. So have fun, take those calculated risks, learn something new, reach out to someone and love with an open heart.

Here’s to playing Your Bigger Game!

Six Tips To Help You When You Are a Panelist

Recently, I was invited to be part of a panel on women and entrepreneurship at an entrepreneurship expo at the Ontario Science Centre. I was part of a panel that included a moderator and two other panelists. The moderator was Katherine Roos, Executive Director – Imagination Catalyst at OCAD University. The two panelists were: Dr. Diana Kraskouskaya, CEO of Dalriada Therapeutics and Chakameh Shafii, CEO and Co-Founder of TranQool. It was a wonderful experience. The moderator asked questions to the panelists for about 40 minutes. Afterwards, there was a question and answer period with audience members.

If you have the opportunity to participate as part of a panel, I highly recommend it. Here are six tips that can help you navigate the opportunity when you are invited to be a panelist. They are:

1. Panel Fit. Before you accept the invitation to be part of a panel, determine if it’s a good fit for you. There are a variety of reasons why you could be asked to be on a panel. You could be invited based on: your expertise, your professional experience, your education, your network, or your profile and platform. Before you accept the invitation, decide if being a panelist is a good fit for you. Take into consideration your professional experience and the value that you would add to the panel. When I accepted the invitation to participate, I decided that it was a good fit. The other two panelists were CEOs and based on my experience as a “solopreneur” in the coaching and consulting areas, I could give a unique perspective. Being on the panel was also in alignment with my commitment to women’s issues, including economic empowerment.

2. Conduct Your Research. In order to prepare properly, conduct research into the following: the organization hosting the panel, the topic under consideration, the moderator and the other panelists. Doing your research in advance will help you to speak credibly to the topic that will be discussed. I conducted research into all the above and it served me well on the panel.

3. Questions from the Moderator. If possible try to obtain some examples of the questions that the moderator might ask in advance of the panel and prepare accordingly. If you are unable to obtain some of the questions in advance, prepare a few sample questions and practice with them. I anticipated what some of the questions might be and some of those questions were asked.

4. Share Personal Stories. You were asked to be part of a panel because of your expertise and professional background. The audience members want to learn about your journey. Be prepared to share relevant, personal stories that highlight your area of expertise. One area where I got personal was when the moderator asked me who my mentor was. I mentioned my mother who taught me the tenacity, courage, perseverance, empathy and compassion that I need to succeed in business and in life.

5. Questions from the Audience. Similar to preparing for the moderator’s questions, anticipate some questions that might come from the audience. When the questions are asked, answer to the best of your ability. I brainstormed a few potential questions in advance and some of them were asked by audience members.

6. Connect with Your Host. Before the date of the panel, ensure that you have communicated with your host well in advance. Have at least one phone call with your host in addition to email communication to determine the event expectations and the venue location/time. If he or she doesn’t do so automatically, ask to be connected with the panel moderator to touch base. On the date of the event, arrive early, connect with the host and make sure that you know where the panel meeting room location is. After the event, thank the host for the wonderful opportunity.

While you may not have participated on a panel (yet), these tips will help you navigate that opportunity smoothly. When opportunity knocks, preparation will enable you to open the door with full confidence!

Featured Speaker at Swift Networking Event on March 30, 2017

Are you a small business owner, entrepreneur or professional who is looking to connect with your ideal clients and grow your network? Speaking engagements are an excellent way to connect with potential clients and expand your network. On March 30, 2017, I will be a featured speaker at a networking event called: Swift Networking. I would love to see you there! The topic of my presentation is called: Develop Your Signature Speech. A signature speech is a presentation that outlines your key area of expertise when you are invited to speak at events. Developing your signature speech can help you to leverage your speaking engagements to connect with potential clients, maximize sales and other opportunities.

Developing your signature speech ensures that you are ready to speak on your area of expertise at a moment’s notice and attract potential clients and opportunities to you. In this dynamic workshop, I will teach you tips and strategies on how to develop your signature speech. You will learn:

– The components that you need to develop your signature speech.
– How to research your ideal target audience or clients.
– What you can do before your presentation to ensure that you maximize your speaking engagement.
– What you can do during your presentation to connect with potential clients and your audience.
– What you can do after your presentation in order to collect leads, maximize opportunities for sales and develop your network.

I’ll be speaking along with two other great speakers. Tickets are selling fast. You can purchase your tickets here!

Purchase Swift Networking Tickets

My passion in life is helping people to develop their leadership and communication skills to the highest level. It’s a privilege to be able to help people get their work out into the world. Feel free to reach out to me if I can be of service to you.

Looking forward to see you there!

Deborah

Happy New Year! Welcome 2017!

As we welcome 2017, know that a new year brings with it new possibilities, energies and opportunities. Whether you had a successful or challenging 2016, know that nothing in life is stagnant and the only constant is change. Evolution is our constant companion. Therefore for 2017, build on your successes from 2016 and gain wisdom from your challenges. Learn to be the creator of your life’s experiences rather than a passive spectator. Forge forward in 2017 with love, action, boldness, integrity and compassion to make your dreams a reality!

A Winning Attitude

Best wishes to you and your family for a happy, healthy, prosperous and successful new year!

Blessings,

Deborah Austin

Develop Your Signature Speech Workshop

Develop Your Signature Speech Workshop: Learn to attract new clients, expand your network and leverage opportunities! (Wednesday, December 7, 2016)

Are you a small business owner, entrepreneur or professional who is looking to connect with your ideal clients and grow your network? Speaking engagements are an excellent way to connect with potential clients and expand your professional network. A signature speech is a presentation that outlines your key area of expertise when you are invited to speak at events. Developing your signature speech can help you to leverage your speaking engagements to connect with potential clients, maximize sales and other opportunities.

Developing your signature speech ensures that you are ready to speak on your area of expertise at a moment’s notice and attract potential clients and opportunities to you. In this hour long introductory workshop, you will learn tips, techniques and strategies on how to develop your signature speech.

In the workshop you will learn:

• An overview of the fundamentals of public speaking.

• The elements that you need to develop your signature speech.

• Develop the components of your signature speech.

• How to research your ideal target audience.

• What you can do before your presentation to ensure that you maximize your speaking engagement.

• What you can do during your presentation to connect with potential clients and your audience.

• What you can do after your presentation in order to collect leads, maximize opportunities for sales and develop your network.

This is an introductory 1 hour workshop conducted on behalf of the Pink Portfolio Group on December 7th, 2016. In the new year Deborah will conduct a more in depth workshop on How To Develop Your Signature Speech. She is also available for 1:1 customized presentation skills coaching and can assist with presentation design and development of your signature speech.

To register for the introductory workshop you can register here.
Signature Speech Workshop

To contact Deborah for personalized coaching and consulting services please call 416-546-3390 or email deb@deborahangelaustin.com

The Art of Empowerment: Set Goals to Achieve Your Dreams!

Many people feel motivated to pursue their goals with tenacity at the start of a new calendar year in January. These goals could range anywhere from losing weight, getting in shape, quitting smoking, reducing debt and starting a new relationship. When the end of the year rolls around, it is unfortunate that many people who set goals at the beginning of the year have not stayed the course when it comes to achieving their goals.

The truth of the matter is we don’t need the beginning of the year to set goals or create new possibilities for ourselves. We are creative beings who can create numerous possibilities for ourselves at any time we choose. Each of us is capable of not just going through the motions of life. We are capable of building a life that we truly love that includes our dreams. Here are three tips that can help you achieve your goals.

The first tip is learn to establish good habits. The reason that many people don’t achieve their goals is because they have bad habits that don’t set them up for success. When you have bad habits, it’s difficult to achieve goals. Work on developing positive habits that support the type of person that you want to be.

The second tip that can help you achieve your goals is the accountability factor. Ultimately we are responsible and accountable for our lives. In a perfect world, each of us would be able to set goals effectively, break them down into smaller steps and then take the necessary action steps towards our goals. In other words, we would be highly accountable. Most people though need help in this area. It is an excellent idea if you can get an accountability partner or coach who can help you stay on track with your goals.

The third tip to help you achieve your goals is to understand your big why of why you want to achieve your goals. Understanding the underlying reasons of why your goals are important to you can help you achieve your goals, especially in challenging times. Find a way to make your goals meaningful enough to you so that you understand the consequences of not achieving your goals.

None of us wants to live a life of regret. Part of being fulfilled in life involves the feeling of satisfaction and success that is associated with achieving your goals. Achieving your goals involves developing excellent habits, being accountable and understanding the big why of the importance of your goals. By taking action towards your goals you can live the life of your dreams!

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (November 2016 issue)