Vol. 3 Number 2 - February 2005.
Publisher: The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.


SECTION 1: The Leadership Contract The Fundamental Building Block Of Leadership Success That Most Leaders Haven’t A Clue About. 

SECTION 2: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.    

SECTION 3: Message from Brent Filson: How One Leadership Talk By George Washington Saved The Revolution (And Our Fledgling Nation) From Catastrophe.

SECTION 4: Points of Light.

SECTION 5: News.

SECTION 1: The Leadership Contract:
One of the crucial challenges of leadership is motivation.  How do we motivate people to be ardent supports of our cause?  Most leaders I’ve encountered struggle mightily when it comes to the “M” word.


Here’s a fundamental building block of motivation that most leaders miss.  Why more leaders don’t realize it and put it into action, I don’t know;  for it involves a simple change of thinking and easy actions flowing from that change that can quickly lead to big increases results. 

I call it the Leadership Contract.  It’s a great leadership tool, one you can use daily for the rest of your career.  It’s based on this principle: There’s a crucial difference between doing a task and taking leadership of that task that makes a world of difference in results.  

For instance, if one is a floor sweeper, one does the best floor sweeping, not simply by doing it but by taking leadership of floor sweeping.

Such leadership might entail:
-- taking the initiative to order and manage supplies,
-- evaluating the job results and raising those results to ever higher levels,
-- having floor sweeping be an integral part of the general cleaning policy,
-- hiring, training, developing other floor sweepers,
-- instilling a “floor sweeping esprit”that can be manifested in training, special uniforms and insignias , behavior, etc. 
-- setting floor sweeping strategy and goals.

Otherwise, in a “doing” mode, one simply pushes a broom. 

You may say, “Listen, Brent, a job is a job is a job.  This leadership thing is making too much of not much!”

Could be.  But my point is that applying leadership to a task changes the expectations of the task.  It even changes the task itself. Think of it, when we ourselves are challenged to lead and not simply do, our world is, I submit, changed. 

Because of the many benefits accruing from a doing-to-leading change in mind set -- manifested by the Leadership Contract -- you’ll see that its frequent application can create seismic transformations in your job and career.

The Leadership Contract is simply an agreement between you and the people you lead that spells out the specific actions they’ll take to be your cause leaders. 

Keep in mind three things:

One is that you and they recognize the important difference between doing and leading. 

Two is that they do not necessarily have to be reporting to you.  They can be your clients or customers, members of your team, even your boss ... or even your teenage son or daughter! 

Three, this is a “contract”, not an “agreement.”  An “agreement” ranges from a mutual understanding to a binding obligation.  However, a “contract” carries with it the force of law.  The “law” in this case is a rule or injunction that must be obeyed.  Hence, the contract is an instrument, an injunction fashioned by you and your cause leaders, that must be complied with as if it were a law.  

Here’s a 5 step process for making the Leadership Contract happen.

Step 1: Understand.  Know and have the people know precisely what the Leadership Contract is -- and isn’t.  

* It is an unwritten or written agreement (usually informal) between the leader and the people that details specific leadership actions they’ll take to achieve increases in results.
* It is not a legally binding instrument. 
* It cannot be drawn up and implemented unless the people agree to take leadership for the task. 
 * It’s development is accomplished through negotiation, not fiat.
* You can veto any of its terms.  In other words, the people cannot take actions you disagree with.  

Implementing this step may entail some education and persuasion.  For instance, if the people do not believe there is a difference between doing and leading, you cannot develop a Leadership Contract with them.  You must first educate them as to what the Leadership Contract is then persuade them to join with you in the Contract.       

Step 2: Develop.  The process of developing the Contract is as important as the Contract itself.  That process is always the same. 

First, have the people propose what leadership actions should be taken to accomplish the increase in results.  Otherwise, if you tell them what actions they should take, you are into an order-giving situation; and in terms of getting big increases in results, the order is the lowest form of leadership.

Second, once they have made their proposals, come to a tentative agreement as to which of them will be implemented. 

(Again, they cannot take any leadership actions they see fit.  You can veto actions you think won’t work.  In all the leadership contracts I have witnessed, I have seldom seen a leader veto a proposed action the people wanted to take.  On the contrary, leaders are usually pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of the actions the people propose.)   
Step 3: Test.  Once you have agreed upon their actions, apply a testing methodology to the results, such as the SAMMER test.  Are the results Sizable, Achievable, Meaningful, Measurable, Ethical, Repeatable.  More information on the SAMMER test at:


Review the actions you’ve tentatively agreed upon.  Do they meet your criteria for getting increases in results?  If they don’t, get new actions.   

Step 4: Support:  Agree with them as to how their leadership will be supported.  This support can take the form of additional training, logistics, administrative, communication, and flying “air cover” if they need to be protected from the scrutiny and interference of higher authorities in your organization.    

Step 5: Monitor and evaluate.  Agree with them as to how and when the actions will be monitored and evaluated.  This step is critical to creating lasting change.  I suggest you meet every two to three weeks at the start to monitor and evaluate how things are going.  Later, you can switch to monthly, semi-monthly and even quarterly evaluations.  The idea is to hold your cause leaders accountable for their leadership and the results they achieve through that leadership; and they will be especially accountable if you have made sure you take Step 2 of this process.  I call it interior accountability – it comes inside from them not outside from you. 

A good way to evaluate the results they’re getting is with the SAMMER test.

The Leadership Contract will take the guesswork out of motivation.  Apply it consistently, and you’ll have people lining up to be given the chance to work with you.

SECTION 2: The Good.  The Bad.  The Ugly.

The Good:
When Aristotle was reproached for giving alms to a bad man, he replied, “I didn’t give alms to the man but made an offering to humanity.”

–Look upon the Leadership Contract not simply as an agreement between you and an individual but as “an offering to humanity.”  For the Contract works best when ultimately it is manifested by deeply human qualities: trust, empathy, persistence, vision, and accommodation. 

The Bad:
When Marcel Proust was on his death bed, he asked that one of his manuscripts be brought to him, which described the death agony of one of his characters.  “I must re-write this,” he said.  “It doesn’t square with what I’m experiencing.” 

–The meaning of the Leadership Contract will be revealed not just in its abstract provisions but in the action-related experiences it engenders.

The Ugly:
John L. Sullivan, heavyweight champion, once gave boxing instructions to a young man whom, in the course of the tutoring, he beat up rather severely.  When the young man came for his second set of instructions, he said he was stopping the lessons.  “Mr. Sullivan, I wanted to learn boxing from you so I could beat up a bully I know.  But I’ve changed my mind.  If it’s all the same to you, Mr. Sullivan, I’ll just send the bully to you to take the rest of my lessons for me!”

–The object of the Leadership Contract is not for you alone to get results but for you to enlist others in the cause.  When you face a critical challenge, consider “sending it to Sullivan” by using a Leadership Contract. 

SECTION 3: A Message From Brent Filson:

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link.  Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: brent@actionleadership.com

How One Leadership Talk By George Washington Saved The Revolution (And Our Fledgling Nation) From Catastrophe.

By Brent Filson

As our nation celebrates Presidents’ Day, we should recognize George Washington’s contribution to the most important victory of the Revolutionary War.  

That victory occurred neither at Saratoga or Yorktown but in a log hut in 1783 with a few heartfelt words uttered by Washington.  It was a victory brought about by a soft-spoken Leadership Talk.  A Talk that literally changed the world.  And it’s not just a history lesson, it’s a leadership lesson. 

To realize what took place in that hut and how important it is to history, we must understand two things: the first is what’s a Leadership Talk? and the second is what was at stake at that moment in 1783 for America?

As to the Leadership Talk: There’s a big difference between speeches/presentations on one hand and Leadership Talks on the other.  Whereas a speech or a presentation communicates information, Leadership Talks do something more: It establishes a deep, human, emotional connection with the audience.  The Leadership Talk is a much more effective means of leadership communication.  If Washington hadn’t given a Leadership Talk in the log hut with this assembled officers who were on the verge of revolt, the Revolution would have ended right then and there; and the history of America would have been far different.

As to what was at stake at that moment in history: This occurred a year and a half after the battle of Yorktown.  Popular misconception has the Revolutionary War ending at that battle.  Though active hostilities had ended, the War continued to drag on; and as it did, the Continental Army became increasingly rebellious.  Most of the troops hadn’t been paid in one and sometimes two years.  Their promised pensions were not forthcoming.  Popular sentiment in the army was gathering to overthrow the Continental Congress and install a military government. 

On the ides of March in 1783, dozens of officers, representing every company in the army, met in a log hut to vote on taking this action when George Washington suddenly and unexpectedly walked in.  He gave a speech denouncing the rebellious course they were on.  But it wasn’t the speech that carried the day, it was the Leadership Talk at the end of the speech.  Witnesses report that Washington’s speech left many officers unconvinced, and when he was finished, there was much angry muttering among them.  To bolster his case, the general pulled out a letter he recently received from a member of the Continental Congress.  As he began reading, his usual confident air gave way to sudden hesitancy. 

Then, unexpectedly, he drew out a spectacle case from his pocket.  Few officers had ever seen him put on spectacles. Usually a severely formal man, he said in a voice softened with apology: “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.

The deep, human, emotional power of that moment can hardly be described.  It electrified the officers.  Here was their commander who had never taken a furlough during his eight years of command, who had faced storms of musketry fire, who through his daring and intelligence had kept the Army in tact in what most of the world thought was a lost cause, here was George Washington modestly asking his officers to bear with him in an all-too-human failing.  It was an astonishing turning point.

As Major Samuel Shaw, who was present, wrote in his journal, "There was something so natural, so unaffected in this appeal as rendered it superior to the most studied oratory. It forced its way to the heart, and you might see sensibility moisten every eye."

After Washington left the hut, the officers unanimously voted to “continue to have unshaken confidence in the justice of the Congress and their country ....”  The result was that the Continental Army peacefully disbanded after the end of the War a few months later and thereby set in motion the peaceful events that led to the creation of the Constitution. 

Without Washington’s intervention, America may very well have become a kind of banana republic, at the mercy of thousands of armed and angry soldiers and their officers.  And it wasn’t his speech that did it, it was a Leadership Talk.   

2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.   All rights reserved.
The author of 23 books, Brent Filson’s recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS.  He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. – and for more than 20 years has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results.  Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: “7 Steps to Leadership Mastery ,” at www.actionleadership.com        
2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.   All rights reserved.
SECTION FOUR: Points of Light.
I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.  –Wilson Mizner

A man gazing on the stars is proverbially at the mercy of the puddles on the road.  –Alexander Smith

Leadership is showing people not that they must take a certain action but that they GET TO take that action. –Brent Filson

All men that are ruined are ruined on the side of their natural propensities.  –Burke

The shortest and best way to make your fortune is to let people see clearly that it is in their interests to promote yours.  –Jean De La Bruyere. 

Half the art of listening is waiting.  –Brent Filson

To get the best out of people, embrace the best in them.  –Brent Filson

People are often unaware of the best that’s in them.  When you reveal it to them, you are well on your way to getting cause leaders.  –Brent Filson

We only believe as deeply as we live.  –Emerson

I was successful because you believed in me.  –Ulysses  S. Grant to Lincoln

Brent’s latest leadership books, The Leadership Talk: The Greatest Leadership Tool and 101 Ways To Give Great Leadership Talks , is available in bookstores.  You can also purchase advance copies by calling 800-403-5368. Mention this e-zine and you’ll receive a free wallet card with the Leadership Talk processes. If you purchase the hardcover book, you’ll receive a free copy of 101 Ways To Give Great Leadership Talks. In addition, you’ll be eligible to receive a set of Brent’s previously published books at half price.

Listen to Brent been interviewed: 

Brent has put together two great systems that will boost your leadership and your leadership communication abilities. 

One is Brent Filson’s Leadership Talk System:

The other is Brent Filson’s The CEO Public Speaking System

During the past few months, Brent has been interviewed on more than 125 radio shows  – and many more are on the way.  If you are interested in having him on your show or at your meeting, go to the Action Leadership website and click on either the “meeting planner” button or the “press room” button.

Check out Brent's latest newsreleases: 

The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. is putting together a CD collection of interviews with leaders, called the “Leaders Speak” Series.  It will begin this month and can be found on the Action Leadership website.  Click on “Leaders Speak CD Series.”   Brent says, “I want to interview leaders from a broad spectrum of human endeavor to be represented.  Don’t be surprised to find landscape contractors, gang leaders, horse trainers, sports coaches, as well as business and political leaders.  Leadership is practiced by practically everyone, and we will bring it to you on the CDs in all the richness of human relationships.”  For more information, call the F.L.G. headquarters, 413-458-4403 or contact Brent.

(413) 458-4403

(c) Copyright 2003 The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.

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