Posts Tagged ‘ leadership development ’

Why is this leader laughing?

Because he’s a laughing leader.


What’s a laughing leader?

Very simply, a laughing leader is someone who is happy and productive in both work and life.

Allow me to explain.

There is a direct correlation between our internal motivation, passion, focus and zest for life and our corresponding results, be it in our personal or professional worlds. In other words, who we are impacts what we do and how well we do it.

If the end game is to get results in business and live a fulfilling life in the process, then the ultimate work for each of us is to learn to become the leader we were meant to be—in all facets of our lives—so that what people see on the outside is a mere reflection of who we are on the inside. We call this leading from within. And the way to lead from within is to become a laughing leader. It’s that’s easy and that difficult.

Becoming a laughing leader requires a commitment to self-improvement…on a daily level! Why? Because we impact the lives of everybody around us and we have an obligation to ourselves and to those people to role model the very attitudes and behaviors we expect from them.

Here are some of the characteristics of a Laughing Leader:

·      They are internally motivated

·      They have compassion for self and others

·      They view mistakes and failures and valuable insight toward success

·      They are authentic in word and deed…what you see is what you get

·      They value laughter and play

·      They are open to trying new things

·      They admit their mistakes and take responsibility to fix them

·      They laugh at themselves

·      They ask for help

·      They embrace the trials & tribulations of life

·      They practice work-life balance

·      They see problems as challenges waiting to be solved

·      They are supportive and present with others

·       They are transparent

·      They are quick to give credit where credit is due

·      They are committed to seeking and creating joy in life 

Who wouldn’t want to work for someone like this? Who wouldn’t want to have a friend or family member with these characteristics?

Well maybe they already do…and it’s YOU!


It’s important to note that I’m not talking about being a Laughing Leader periodically or when it’s convenient. I’m talking about showing up in life as a Laughing Leader, day-in and day-out.

I have to tell you…I’ve been teaching about personal and professional leadership practices and philosophies for over twenty-five years to corporate America and to hundreds of graduate students at the University of Denver and I’ve never been as excited as I am now to share with you this new paradigm…this new way of leading.

Do you want to be happier and more productive in work and in life?

Then stick with me. I have a lot of good stuff to share in coming weeks!


What the little white ball taught me about authenticity–Part II

From the desk of Greg Giesen

CLICK HERE to read Part I

And then my mouth dropped as the title came into view. No way! I exclaimed. Are you kidding me!

Sure enough, the one subject I no longer wanted to read about…the one symbol I never wanted to see again…was right there staring me in the face. The cover depicted a golf ball flying over the fairway, giddy and happy as a golf ball could be.

51mvDokZbSL__SL500_AA300_I wanted to throw up.

Actually, if you look closely at the cover, the ball is clearly headed out of bounds. Can you see it? Naturally I could resonate with that part, but another book on golf! No way. I quit, remember!

Before I could look away, four words in the subtitle caught my attention…the Game of Life.

I quickly looked around to make sure none of my golf school buddies were watching before grabbing the book. I was surprised by how comfortable it felt in my hands. And it had that new book smell too. Do you know that smell? Even the cover was enticing in its own way, making me want to test drive it by opening to a random page.

Don’t worry, I consoled myself, it’s not going to make me want to play golf again.

I fanned through the pages, stopping randomly on page 68, and began reading. Call it a coincidence or call it an act of God, but what I read ended up changing my view of life, not to mention my perspective on golf.


For those of you not familiar with the story, Bagger Vance is a caddy who mysteriously comes into the life of a struggling golfer and ends up helping him not only turn his game around but his life as well. Here’s the excerpt that I read that day in the Phoenix airport, with Bagger Vance speaking…

“I believe that each of us possesses, inside ourselves, one true Authentic Swing that is ours alone. It is folly to try to teach us another, or mold us to some ideal version of the perfect swing. Each player possesses only that one swing that he was born with, that swing which existed within him before he ever picked up a club. Our task as golfers is simply to chip away all that is inauthentic, allowing our Authentic Swing to emerge in its purity.”

It was as if the golf ball on the cover actually hit me in the head. I was dazed by the powerful message from this passage and its many implications.

That’s it! I screamed, with goose bumps covering my body. I’ve been going at it all wrong! Instead of changing my swing, I need to rediscover it. I need to go all the way back before my first golf lesson and embrace my natural swing…that swing I started with instead of all the many versions that have been imprinted on me over the years.

It was suddenly becoming very clear; I had been looking for answers in all the wrong places. I was defining myself and my swing by external measures instead of trusting my own internal instincts and desires. And what’s worse, I had lost myself in the process.

I smiled. And to think—all of this from a few sentences in a book!


But it’s true. I had somehow lost my authentic swing—which in essence was my authentic self—by allowing others to define who I am and who I needed to be. You might say I was experiencing an identity crisis on multiple levels.

In the end I came to realize that releasing all the opinions, standards, and judgments of others, including my own, led me to a much more simplified perspective on life, not to mention a more natural golf swing. I also tossed out the “how-to” cards, the fancy clubs, and stopped keeping score when I play. And guess what? It worked. I started having fun again. That childlike exhilaration that drew me to golf in the first place reappeared. I began noticing the little things like the squishiness of the grass under my shoes as I walked down the fairway…the ping of a club hitting the ball perfectly off the tee…or more importantly, the battery engine of the beer cart driving up in just the nick of time. You get the idea.

Yes, but has my golf game improved, you ask? Probably not; but I’m sure having fun again…and isn’t that what life’s all about!


Leadership and the Hiking Stick

From the desk of Greg Giesen

I like meaningful rituals. I like traditions; and I like to use metaphors as a powerful teaching tool. I’m also a sentimental guy—if you haven’t figured that out by now.

It is also why my hiking stick means so much to me.

Allow me to explain.


I came up with the idea of giving each participant in the Leading From Within program an authentic hiking stick about ten years ago. These hiking sticks are carved from the very Aspen trees that encompass the beautiful North Fork Ranch where we host the Colorado workshop (September 18-20th in case you’d still like to attend).

As part of this ritual, participants are asked to sign each other’s hiking stick, using paint markers. In many ways this part of the activity feels like the last day of high school to me where we all signed each other’s yearbook. Remember those days?

Leading From Within - Illinois 255

But it’s much more than that. It’s what these hiking sticks have come to represent that make them so symbolic, especially for me.

You see, my hiking stick has both a practical and sentimental meaning. From a practical standpoint, it provides added stability, support, balance and protection for me whenever I go hiking. And from a sentimental standpoint, the ten-years worth of signatures that cover my hiking stick serves as a constant reminder of both my purpose (to help others embrace their authenticity) and the people who have supported me in that endeavor. Seriously, if my house ever when up in flames, the hiking stick would be one of the items I’d grab before running out. It means that much to me.


For the participants, the names on their hiking sticks represent not only their support group in the Leading From Within workshop but serves as a reminder that none of us can be successful in life without a support group of our own. To reinforce this point, I ask participants to add additional signatures to their hiking sticks after the program from the people that they would consider part of their broader support group.

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Last year we traveled to Illinois to bring the Leading From Within program to a corporate leadership team. After the program the group decided to prominently display one of their signed hiking sticks in their conference room to represent the importance of their commitment and support to one-another. Many other past participants have placed their hiking sticks in strategic locations in the homes or offices to remind them of their own support team.

Who would have thought a piece of lumber could carry so much meaning.


We’re saving a spot for you in next week’s Leading From Within program. Come join us and get your hiking stick. It will be an experience you’ll never forget.

For more information, inspiration and to register for our September 18th through 20th Leading From Within adventure CLICK HERE!


Greg Giesen

Why Leading From Within?

From the desk of Greg Giesen

I’ve been facilitating the Leading From Within workshop for 16-years now. Wow, seems like yesterday when our very first group joined me, Tim Lane and Kelly Coyle (Wyngarden) up at the YMCA in Estes Park back in 1998.

Do you ever wonder why the very first time resonates for you so much?

first lfw

I can still remember particular moments in that workshop like it was yesterday. Some still choke me up after 16-years just thinking about them, like the red curl. You see, Jimmy was a family owner of a business and very artistic. During that first Leading From Within, he was challenged by Kelly (who had red curly hair) to take a stand in his life and show up as the leader of his organization instead of as the facilitator (always trying to please everyone). On day 3 of the workshop when participants present their insights and visions to the group, Jimmy had painted a giant red curl to represent his breakthrough moment. That red curl is now framed and sits prominently in his high-rise office in downtown Denver.

And that is just one of a thousand stories I could tell you.

It is so amazing to me to see what happens when a group of adults come together, regardless whether or not they are from the same company, and form a support group that fosters authenticity, truth-telling, vulnerability, and love. I know, I said the “L” word, and it’s true. The whole point of Leading From Within is to break down barriers between who we think we need to be (our functional selves) and who we are (our authentic selves). This can only happen if the group field (the level of comfort and safety people feel when in the presence of their support group) is in place. And that’s my job…to create the space (group field) for people to do the work…their work.


I’m often asked, “But how does an experience like Leading From Within make me a better manager at work?”

That’s easy. When you’re clear on who you are as a person (and I’m talking about knowing your purpose in life, your passions, your core values, and what you desire your legacy to be), your foundation comes together. And it’s from this foundation where you define your management and leadership practices. Do you see the significance here? Who you are as a person and who you are as a manager become one. You’re the same person! The result is greater stability, consistency, and credibility in all facets of your life…because who you are on the outside is a direct reflection of who you are on the inside. Or, simply put, what you see is what you get, and that’s what Leading From Within is all about.


I can’t wait to also tell you about the birth of the Zen Leadership Institute and how powerful a resource it will be for each of you to become the leader you were meant to be…and in all facets of your life. Stay tuned for more.

For more information, inspiration and to register for our September 18th through 20th Leading From Within adventure CLICK HERE!