The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Monday, September 19, 2016

PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS AND AXIOMS ABOUT LEADERSHIP (AND LIFE)…


…from my recognition that life is not a spectator sport that can be lived from the sidelines.  I hope you can find validation and confirmation from these observations – and are empowered to add your personal axioms as comments after you have read mine.

There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we seek results and conclusions rather than recognition and credit. 

We gain much from life when each step is celebrated as an accomplishment rather than celebrating only upon reaching the goal at the end of our journey.

You cannot fulfill another’s dream nor find peace in reaching another’s expectations.  Far too many limit themselves to “what must be done” without seeking “what might be possible” – accepting “what is” as a destination rather than a temporary resting place upon the never-ending road to an ever-changing reality. You will never rise higher than you expect yourself to rise nor fall lower than you allow yourself to fall.

When we imagine that which is incomprehensible, seeing it as not only achievable but viewing it as a foregone conclusion, we can accomplish those things once believed to be impossible.

Dreams are thoughts not yet realized – aspirations not yet brought to fruition.  We can live life without dreams but cannot embrace its full potential without first visualizing what we want to become then dreaming about what we wish to accomplish.  Rather than living the life that others might establish for you, live your dreams – risking more than other might think wise so that you can accomplish more than others might believe possible.

When seeking change it is important that we run towards opportunity rather than away from failure.

When initiating change it is your responsibility to SELL an idea, not someone else’s responsibility to 
BUY the concept.

When seeking to initiate change we must recognize and accept that the long-term gain our short-term pain might produce is more desirable than the ramifications (and comfort) of our complacency.

We must recognize that before we can move from “what we have” to “what we hope for,” one journey must end before another can begin.  We must acknowledge that before we can take a new path towards a yet-to-be determined destination we must abandon the old and familiar roads that have taken us safely to places in which we have found comfort.  All change begins with the deliberate consideration of an intentional action that, if acted upon, will forever alter where we are as it redefines where we are going.

In order to accomplish anything of significance in life we must establish goals and expectations – for unless we determine where we wish to “end” our journey it is difficult to know how far we have come or how much longer we must travel.

Words describe what one wishes to accomplish – actions (and results) define success.

Our emphasis should always be upon recognizing and rewarding accomplishment rather than rewarding recognized effort.

Gaining respect and credibility in the eyes of those one leads is far more important than trying to befriend them.

Saying what you mean – then doing what you say – are two of the greatest attributes a leader can possess.

Imagine living in a glass house – where everything we say or do is open for critique and criticism.  Nothing is “secret” or “private” when it comes to the choices we make or the actions we take.  Such is the reality of leadership – and the tremendous weight of responsibility placed upon a leader’s shoulders by those looking up to him or her for guidance.

Leaders must recognize that their actions speak far more loudly than do their words.  As a child I was taught that “seeing is believing.”  Never was I told that “hearing makes things right.”  Those around you form their perception of who you are by what you do and how you act NOT by the things you say about yourself.  We cannot expect loyalty, efficiency and productivity from employees if we do not demonstrate it through our own actions.  Leaders would never ask others to do what they would not (and have not) done themselves.

In order to make a difference in life you must be willing to be different.  You cannot remain “one of the crowd” doing things the same way they have always been done if you expect to accomplish great things.

It has been said we should lead, follow or get out of the way in life.  Perhaps the most critical of these is the last – for if you are not an active part of the solution through your leading the charge or participating in the process, you become a significant part of the problem by obstructing the progress of others.


Leadership is much like life – fulfillment comes to those that recognize opportunity, identify alternative courses of action that will alter or modify unacceptable results then intentionally take action to initiate change.  May the pathways you choose lead you to safe passage as you seek to make a difference in your own life (as well as in the lives you have been empowered to lead).