Friday, November 13, 2009

Growing Leaders,

I would like to thank you all on behalf of the Fayette County Schools for providing such a wonderful presenter to WHS and SCHS during our
Red Ribbon week. I was able to observe and witness Tim Elmore at WHS - I came in late and was able to view the movie clip of the Titanic before and during the crash into the iceberg. It was an excellent clip and Tim was able to relate it to one's character . . . . what you see on the outside is not nearly as important as what is on the inside of the individual. One's character should be "wide and deep" just like the base of the iceberg so it can buffer one from making unwise decisions in life.

Tim related this analogy extremely well to the Junior Class at WHS. He did something that I have not seen in my 28 years at the high school level. He allowed a full class of Juniors, in the WHS auditorium, to discuss with their peers what this meant to them. I was impressed with Tim' courage - it was a risk - but he handled it well because he was able to get them back under control and discuss their issues/comments/concerns.

Also, Tim's book on
Habitutes is an excellent read. I am excited thinking that we can use his books with our athletic teams as well as potentially other areas in our curriculum. Once again, thanks and I appreciate each one of you and all that you do for our kids, our teachers, and our parents in Fayette County.


Sam Sweat

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Circle Christian School Newsletter

The following is a screen shot from the monthly Circle Christian School newsletter. Circle Christian School is a private school in Orlando, Florida. They serve over 1200 students and use Habitudes as leadership curriculum.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Two Extraordinary Schools

I'm in Tuscaloosa for four days on the campus of the University of Alabama. I arrived on Saturday for the Crimson Tide's homecoming weekend, and got to go down on the field before their big football game against the University of South Carolina. I was like a kid in a candy store.

Why do I get to do this? It's all part of a training experience they've chosen to do on many levels. Last night, I spoke to a group of freshman athletes from all sports, male and female. They are discussing our Habitudes For Athletes this year to grow in their leadership capacity.

Today, I will speak to staff and facilitators who will be using Habitudes in a variety of contexts, from first year students to student government officers. Tonight, I will speak to a group of students who'll attend a "Habitudes Experience" this afternoon. Tomorrow, I will train student leaders in some of the advanced Habitudes, and finally, tomorrow night I will address parents about their students, who are part of Generation iY. All of this will be exhausting, but exhilarating. I love the fact that staff at the University of Alabama embrace the idea that we must equip students to think and act like leaders.

What makes this month doubly exciting is that I just returned from Redmond, Washington where I spoke to people at all levels at The Bear Creek School, an extraordinary private Christian school in the Microsoft headquarters region. They, too, have embraced Habitudes. I had the privilege of addressing students, faculty, administrators and parents and kick off a Habitudes initiative this year. I have rarely seen a more engaged group of students and adults. They have determined that part of their DNA and curriculum will be equipping students not only in AP courses, but in leadership skills as well.

What do these two schools have in common? Both Alabama and Bear Creek recognize some important recent findings. First, according to the Gallup Organization, two thirds of people (students or adults) see themselves as leaders. 97% rated their capacity to lead as being average or above average. More than two thirds have led something in their past and they see the importance of knowing how to do it well. Further, according to the Higher Education Research Institute, in today's world every student (graduate) will need leadership skills. In fact, from the findings of both Gallup and HERI, we've drawn these conclusions:
1. Every student will find a situation in which they must act as a leader.
2. Students learn leadership best in a community that meets over time.
3. Students simply need a guide to catalyze their leadership growth.
4. Leadership can no longer belong only to exclusive group of positioned people.
5. Our world is so complex, we must engage every student to think like a leader.

How about you? What are you doing to put the leadership "cookies" on the bottom shelf? Are you putting leadership development within reach of every student and staff person? It's time to spread the virus of quality, effective life-giving leadership.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thank You...

Thanks again to you for the vision to bring these great people to us! I think Tim is absolutely my favorite speaker. I could listen to him for EVER......but he also makes one want to go apply the material as well. Growing Leaders has impacted us profoundly in our district. We plan to develop leaders within our students.
-Lisa Tipton, Athletic Director

Monday, September 14, 2009


“I soaked myself in the Habitudes and I am deeply inspired by what you have created. I immediately convinced my niece that she needed to use Habitudes with the high school group she leads at her church.

There was so much wisdom in the pages, I kept thinking of what a gift it would have been if Habitudes were available to me early in my student/professional life. I don’t believe this content has age limits. There were many chapters that personally convicted and challenged me to be more than I am and have been in the past. Reading them was a rich experience. Thanks so much for making them available to me.”

Tami Heim, Former President of Borders Books

Monday, August 31, 2009

Commanders, Kings and Celebrities

Stop and reflect for a minute. Think about the way you lead people. What’s your style?

This past year, I have purposefully observed thousands of leaders do their thing, as I travel the road and speak in schools, companies and other organizations. I’ve drawn several conclusions—and some have proven to be helpful, fresh insights for me. Let me toss one of them to you here:

Your motivation for leading, will determine your…

  • Duration – If your motive for leading is good, it will impact how long you last.
  • Donation – If your motive is good, it will increase the value you add to the team.
  • Decisions – If your motive is good, it will enhance your wisdom and objectivity.
  • Direction – If your motive is good, it will determine your style and approach.

In other words—why you do something will ultimately determine what you do, as a leader. Let me illustrate with the following popular styles of leadership, and suggest how motivation fits into the style and decisions of each type of leader.


You know these people. They lead with a top-down style. Their behavior is marked by one-way communication. They download only. It’s one person leveraging their power over the team. They may have begun their leadership journey in a different style, but as they aged or grew impatient with people, they got short and migrated to a “just do what I want you to do” style.” It’s an approach that’s more about telling than asking. It’s about demanding and requiring. You don’t have to be a psychologist to see that this leader’s motives are distorted. They now operate from a desire for power. The goal of the commander is to enforce their rules and authority. They want CONTROL.


Kings represent a slightly different style of leader. Their behavior is marked by a drive to maintain stability. Why? Because stability is the best way to remain king. They have a growing love for tradition; they have a vested interest in keeping things the way they’ve been in the past. It’s as though once this leader got their position—their entire goal is to keep their position. These leaders are about managing order. The want order. They aren’t necessarily bad people, but they are likely going to be bad leaders in this ever-changing world we live in. They are compromisers. They won’t take risks unless the risk is about helping to maintain and manage what already is. The goal of the monarchy is to enrich the king; to keep him in power. They want COMPLIANCE.


Celebrities are a third type of leadership style. Their behavior is marked by the pursuit of perks and popularity. If you watch them closely, you’ll notice a keen desire for applause and affirmation. Like the styles above, they aren’t necessarily bad people, but this motivation for recognition not only diminishes their ability to lead well, it clouds their ability to make good decisions. Their perspective is colored by their own needs. They are the proverbial “YouTube” video maker who wants to post videos to see how many people watch them. They love accumulating friends in a Facebook group. Because this is their motive, they want peace between all parties. They want folks to get along, be happy, and look to them for entertainment and fulfillment. They love the fame that comes with their position. They love the attention it affords them. The celebrity performer wants CREDIT.

So What Can We Do?

Although each of these styles are common, they represent unhealthy leadership. Perhaps each of us struggles with one of them, but today’s leader must emerge out of these ineffective styles, especially if we want to lead the next generation. I don’t know of any young person today who is looking for a leader who is a “commander” or a “king” or a “celebrity.” Students can sense that motives are wrong and that progress and purpose are diminished because of the leader.

So, what can we do to change? What is the change we need to make? How should we target our leadership so it is relevant and healthy for a new generation who looks for good leadership? Let me suggest a fourth style below that most young people I know are looking for in a leader.


If leaders will shift their motives away from themselves and their own needs, they will find their style will shift as well. I call the new kind of leader students are looking for today: a “Connector.” The connector is healthy and doesn’t need the team to affirm their value. It isn’t about them. Instead, it is about connecting the players on the team in four ways:

1. The leader connects team members to a “cause”

2. The leader connects team members to other people on the team.

3. The leader connects team members to their strengths

4. The leader connects team members to the leader relationally.

This is not to say the connecter fails to run point. They are definitely responsible for the outcomes. But they know it is a team effort, and their job is to maximize the potential of each team member. This means they understand they lead in an “upload” culture, not merely a “download” one, which only allows the leader to have a say. This leader helps others flourish. Their goal is to turn potential into performance, regardless of who gets the credit. It means the leader recognizes the value of relationships between team members not just their relationship to their team members. It means they share the power. The columns below summarize the shift from yesterday’s leader to today’s:

This kind of leader is described in detail in Habitudes—Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes, Book Four (The Art of Changing Culture). In it I talk about the leader who connects team members in order to nurture a healthy culture. If you’re interested in discussing this with your team—check out our special on this book to the right.

So, what’s your motive for leading? Here’s hoping you can move from a commander or king or celebrity to a connector…for the sake of the cause and for your sake as well.

Tim Elmore

Monday, August 24, 2009

Habitudes in Ethiopia


Dear Growing Leaders,

I have attached a few pictures from our recent Kindergarten graduation where we had 65 students graduate.  Our school is now serving pre-KG to 4th grade.  We are currently constructing more class-rooms and continuing to grow.  What a privilege to be able to serve so many children who would have no other opportunity for this kind of quality education.  Thank you all for you encouragement, prayers and partnerships.  May we continue to walk with them until they all reach their God given destinies!  
Thanks for your partnership in helping us develop young leaders in Ethiopia!

E. Evans