Leadership lessons from Grandma

Today was the day my grandmother was born. Many years ago.
She went into her final sleep early in 2009. There are certain times of the year where I really miss her. Today is one of them. She was a simple woman- but read the post I shared after she passed- and you will learn some powerful, insightful and quality leadership lessons I learned from her.

May they bless you and serve you as they have for me.

Debbra Sweet Entrepreneur Leadership Training Blog

Earlier this year I lost my last grandma.  Her passing wasn’t a total surprise as she was getting up in years.  Even though her time was going to come someday- it still wasn’t easy. In fact, as we get closer to Christmas, I find I am missing her horribly.

The past couple days I’ve been reflecting on our family Christmas’s from times past.  Going to Grandma’s was always part of our family tradition.  We knew going to see her was a couple hour drive and you never knew how all the relatives were going to act that day- but one thing that’s been pinging at my heart this year as I reflect on her and how she influenced my life is that she was a great example of a leader.

Grandma was not overly school educated- in fact, if I recall correctly, she really only finished 8th grade or so. …

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3 Reasons Why Leading Yourself First Matters


Three little letters.

One powerful concept.

Once you understand this concept, you can start to experience the transformational benefits it can bring into your life and leading-yourselfbusiness.

What does VCP® mean?

  1. Visibility
  2. Credibility
  3. Profitability

Where you are at on the VCP curve impacts your effectiveness as a leader, your networking time, your results. (VCP applies in all facets of life. Not just business and networking.)

The VCP curve is the process of moving from invisibility, to becoming visible. Once you establish visibility then you need to reach a state of credibility, then finally achieving a level of trust that brings profitability from your time, efforts and energy.

Start seeing where you are visible

When you network as a way to grow your business or support personal causes, you are visible. When you take on a leadership position, you have immediately positioned yourself to be visible.

Whether you like it or not, visibility comes with the role and responsibility of leadership.

Being visible is easy. You can be physically present and visible by attending networking functions, meetings, showing up for work, taking care of clients, vendors and even doing things with colleagues.

Belong to any online networking groups? You have a digital life. You have a level of visibility even if you do not participate in the online activities of the groups.

Are you a member of any service club, trade organization, church, community groups? Do they have a roster of members? Do you attend their meetings? You have  a level of visibility here.

Ever stand in line at the grocery store, at the bank or even wait to get into a local sporting event? You are visible here too!

Why does awareness of your visibility matter?

Being visible is easy.  Just because you are visible does not mean you are credible.

Being credible when being being visible is a goal effective leaders strive for.

How does learning to lead yourself first, and have a goal to move up the VCP ladder matter?

People will follow those who they trust. It takes a long time to build trust, takes a few seconds to break it.

If you are visible, but not credible, people will not trust you.  Think you will get abundant, quality referrals without strong credibility?  Think again.

Think you will be a great leader when what you say and what you do are not in alignment? Think again.

What is needed to lead yourself and move from invisibility, to visibility onward to credibility?

Take action to lead yourself by:

  • being attentive to what you do
  • why you do it
  • how you do things
  • when you do things
  • where you do things and
  • with whom

The most effective leaders live and work with transparency and personal  integrity. They are highly aware that everything they do while at work or play, is a direct reflection of who they really are.

Ever seen a doctor who is clearly overweight and out of shape? They stand before you huffing and puffing. Sweat dripping down their neck, forehead and face because all they did is walk to see you?  Yet, this very doctor tells you that you need to ‘loose weight and start exercising’ to cure your ailment.

Ever call a business with a concern, or problem you need help with and the customer service person says in a rote way “I’m sorry for your problem”… but what you feel on the phone is that they really don’t care? You can tell it’s simply just a statement they are trained to say.  How does that moment make you feel? Does it add to the problem, or do their words (without feeling) provide comfort, peace and a lead to a resolve?

Those are two simple examples of people living, working, talking and yes, even ‘leading the moment’ without integrity. Both stories show a type of  visibility, but both lack credibility with their words and actions.

What you say, what you do, when you do it, how you do it and with whom…matters.

Great leaders need to be consistent in all they do.

It’s easy to fake words.  Faking behavior is not so easy – especially over the long term.

Some people will say anything to anyone to get what they want. This is not leadership.It’s manipulation. This type of person does not live with integrity. The words they say may sound sincere, but sincerity is no guarantee for truth.  It’s easy to sound sincere if the first person you lie to is yourself.

This is where the real opportunity to lead yourself really presents itself.

Are your words, thoughts, actions in alignment all the time? Everywhere and with everyone? Or, do you think,speak and act one way with some people, then change how you speak, act and think with others?

Do you put on your ‘best behavior’ hat when you network, or work with clients face to face- and turn around criticize, judge, demean or speak ill of them behind their back?

Have you boasted about how important people and relationships are only to blow off meetings, show up late all the time, come in half prepared?

What about those days where little challenges that frustrate us all have you reach a point where to complete strangers you are rude, obnoxious, belligerent simply because you feel entitled to do so since you are having a bad day?

What if this ‘bad day behavior’ happens often- and unbeknownst to you, one of your best clients, who you’ve told how much you value people – sees you from afar treating others this way? Do you think he will be your best client very long? Do you think he will refer his trusted friends to you?

Take the lead with yourself

You need to be able to lead yourself first with integrity, authenticity, transparency and willingness to ‘do what it takes’ to be your best.

Not there yet? That’s o.k. You have a place to start.

Are  you already there? Congratulations!

The best leaders will never ask anything of others that they themselves will not be willing to do. Ask yourself to be your very best self.   Be aware that your VCP is in play at all times.  You can move up the VCP curve. You can also move down it. You can move down it so far and fast that you might not be able to easily recover.  Be attentive at all times.

When you lead yourself first, you set the example. You learn through experience what it takes to have the commitment, discipline, dedication, and learning curve of how to humble your heart, set aside your ego.  Start to live with honesty to your own self, in all areas, at all times.

I am not talking about being a perfectionist – nor being perfect. No one is perfect.

I am talking about having an awareness of your strengths, your good qualities, your great qualities.  What are areas in your life and skill sets are at a place of excellence right now? What are areas in your life and skill sets that could use improvement? Where do you need support? Who can you reach out to mentor, train or support you?

Live each day, one day at a time.  Great leaders are life long learners. Learning to lead yourself takes time.

Just remember this: the concept of “Do as I say, not as I do”… doesn’t work for effective leadership.

Your actions DO speak louder than words.

People today have access to more info, more ways to spread info about you. When you lead yourself first, get your house in order.  Then you will have more insight, wisdom, an authentic voice when it’s time to network and  time to lead others.  Lead yourself with excellence so that when people talk about you, it builds your reputation.

This is vitally important when you are eventually in a place to lead the leaders.

Be the change you want to see.

You are reading this to increase your skill sets and understanding about how to be a leader when networking.

The people I work with most often want results.

To get results your networking time, you need to ‘walk the walk.

Effective Networking is about building deep, quality relationships.

Relationships take time to develop.

During that time, you are really building and increasing the trust factor between you and those you network with?

Depending upon your reason for networking, it may not be the relationship between you and your networking circle that matters.  It does, (very much)- but often, when business professionals are networking, their goal is to have access to the people your ‘people’ know.

When you lead yourself with excellence in all areas, the bond, trust between you and your first level contacts will be strong.That’s important when they go to vouch for you to their contacts. Those contacts might be their friends, family, peers, customers, vendors, acquaintances.

When you are networking, your reputation (built upon your words, actions, deeds, attitude, ethics and ability to deliver that which you say you will) has a direct impact on the reputation and quality of relationships the person who refers you has with their contact sphere.

The risk is high when we work by referrals.

If you are looking to network for many years to support your businesses, your personal life, your passions or even your social responsibility causes… your ability to lead yourself first…matters.

Your reputation matters.

Your time matters.

You matter.

Question:  What is one action you can take that will increase your credibility? Share your answer on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Here’s to you taking action to lead yourself!

Debbra Sweet

VCP® was developed by Dr.Ivan Misner.
Dr. Ivan Misner lives a full life. An entrepreneur, businessman, philanthropist, and bestselling author, he has achieved enormous success in each field. He is the Founder of BNI, the world’s largest business networking and referral organization. In addition, he is the Senior Partner for The Referral Institute, the world’s leading training company on referral marketing.

Lead Yourself, Lead Others, Lead the Leaders: Little Known Factors That Could Affect Your Leadership Results

This is a saying I’ve vocalized for many years.

This is more than just a focused statement for me.  It’s a value based approach I’ve lived for many years now.  “Lead Yourself, Lead Others, Lead the Leaders.”Lead Yourself Debbra Sweet 1

I first introduced this statement in the first version of  “The Power of Leadership in Business Networking”.

Initially, this theme was just a chapter in the book. I was talking about how to really be a leader when you are networking. In that approach to building your business, there really is a flow to how a person builds credibility in order to get referrals.

Over the last few years however, I have really come to understand the depth of this statement. In all aspects of our life, if we are truly going to be our best, walk with integrity of body, mind and self; if we are to live a balanced, fulfilled life, understanding the importance of this ‘flow of leadership’ is important.

I personally believe that the majority of people in our country are living a life that is not in true harmony between their inner self and their outer self. Too many people are living under a shield of ‘survival’ without knowing it.  Their inner self yearns for one type of life, yet their outer self resides in a world, a way of living, based on other people’s beliefs and values.

How do I know this? I lived that way for years too.  I have also learned how to let go of other people’s beliefs for me – and learn to embrace what are really my core beliefs, value systems and vision for my businesses, my life. Now I love to help others make that same transformation.

Mind you, I recognize that not every single person experiences this disconnect. I have met people who are blessed from a very young age to know who they are, know what they were born to do, and have had a support system around them to help make that happen. I love meeting people like this because it gives me a different perspective about life.

However, in my world, the majority of the people I coach, teach, consult with, are not in alignment. They struggle with things like: lack of health, (too much weight, too many meds, and increasing health issues due to their body being out of balance.).  I work with people who had a vision for themselves, but gave it up to the dreams and input of others around them.  Then there are others who are visionary, and always on the go- but are not sure how to create a team around them to make their vision a reality. They are great at doing, but not clear on how to inspire others to do the same.

In all these situations, the mindset (mantra? value system? concept?) of Lead yourself, Lead Others, Lead Leaders comes into play.

Whether your life is out of balance with your physicals (your body), your way of thinking or perceiving things (mind), and in your day to day profession (business)- the way to make a change that is lasting is to first slow down and make the commitment to: Lead Yourself.

What area(s) in your life need to get into a state of balance and vitality first? 

Do you lack health? You know you do if you are overweight, have many health symptoms and are unable to operate at peak performance. All these ‘symptoms’ are  ‘tells’ from your body that it needs attention from you.  To be your best for others, you must be your best for yourself first.

How you think affects all you do. This is a deep subject (One I’ve written about before), and will write about again. Your thinking encompasses more than just your day to day conscious thoughts. It gets into the deep, stored thoughts, beliefs and ideas you may not even recognize are the filters of your thinking.  Your thoughts dictate your actions, words and choices.

To lead yourself, not only might you need to change habits that relate to your physicals, but you might need to change your habits of your thinking.

Yes, this is not always easy or comfortable- but the outcome, the benefit of taking the time to learn to lead yourself so you live a life that is full of vitality, optimal health, resonate with an inner peace that shows in all your actions, words and outcomes- is worth every step of growth and temporary discomfort you may feel when letting go of old habits and beliefs.

To lead yourself takes time. The good news is: for lasting results, if you have the right kind of support in your life, you can experience a transformation wherein the journey is just as rewarding as arriving at the end destination.

When you understand and experience how to make changes in how you live, you then can inspire others. You begin to lead others – often as simple as them watching you.  When your thoughts, words and actions are in alignment; and when your inner and outer you are aligned- the power of you choices and way you present yourself each day- is remarkably motivating for others to do the same.

Finally, you can reach a point of leading leaders if you so choose.

I do my best to live in a state of integrity of the inner and outer me, aligned with my vision and values. I do not claim to be the expert that knows everything, but I do coach, teach and train from a place of experiential compassion, understanding and patience.  Along my journey I’ve discovered tools, systems and resources that can help you thrive in Body, Mind and Business.

What area in your life or profession would benefit by improving your thoughts, actions, words?

  • Do you seek optimal health (without drugs, deprivation, ‘dieting’?) If so, let’s talk. 
  • Do you seek to be a better leader in your life or business? If so, let’s talk.
  • Are you already leading and you want to improve results with your time and efforts in your business so that you are more profitable and have more money? If so, let’s talk.

As we delve into how to be a leader when networking, the real depth of understanding of “Lead Yourself, Lead Others, Lead Leaders” will be revealed.