Tell Them

Tell them. Phillip Kane's blog
Image credit: Marc Shaeffer |

Friday, April 29, 2022

In my work with clients, at the end of each engagement, we conduct an exercise among the members of a firm’s leadership team wherein each member of the team takes a moment or two to tell each individual in the room what they mean to them personally. It is not uncommon for these sessions to become emotional. One I was a part of this week, in Hot Springs, AR, was particularly so. At one point, a member of the team shared with the business leader that the things he was told had so profoundly moved him that he felt like a new person, ready to take on anything, adding that there was not one thing he wouldn’t do for his boss.

See, the thing about this little exercise is that in it, people say things that they never have and maybe never would have to people that they’ve worked alongside for years – decades in some cases. It puts people in a position to let others know that they care about them, that they are valued, and that they matter; and for many people this is knowledge enough to run through a wall or walk over broken glass for the person who said it. See, people don’t do things for others because they have to; they do things for others because they want to, and almost always because somebody made them feel like they were loved and had value in the world. But people won’t always know these things if their leaders don’t say it out loud. To be certain that people know that we care, we need to tell them.

And that’s the point for the week.

Assuming that others know how we feel is one of the gravest errors we as leaders can make – right behind believing that love has no place at work. Most leaders routinely make both mistakes, and as a result, they sub-optimize in almost everything they do.

Too often, whether at home, at work, or in our communities, we fall prey to the notion that those closest to us, those we spend the most time with, and those we see every day must know how we feel about them, for no other reasons than they are closest to us, spend the most time with us, or see us every day. Surely, we think, they must know how we feel. And besides, we go on, we’re not comfortable with all of this lovey-dovey, soft-skill stuff. We’ll just slip them an Amazon gift card one day next week, we tell ourselves.

But people don’t want Amazon gift cards. They want gifts from the heart – words that say you matter to me, I care for you, and I couldn’t imagine doing this without you. More than anything they want to know that they are loved, and they long to actually hear it said out loud.

Our engagement-ending exercise is so powerful because it is the closest thing most of these organizations will ever get to experiencing love in their workplace. And once experienced, it becomes transformational. People will do almost anything for those they love and will likewise do anything to avoid hurting them or letting them down. Such is the result of simply opening one’s mouth and telling people that they count for something – that they are loved.

Organizations that trade on love are able to accomplish extraordinary things because those in them want extraordinary things for the other human beings that work there. It is no more complicated than that. 

And the key to unlocking the extraordinary power of it all is no more difficult than telling people what they mean to you, that you love them, and that you never want them to leave. Because if you do, they won’t.

So, tell them.

And win.

For more about the author, please follow this LINK.

To pre-order my new book, please click, HERE.

Image credit: Marc Shaefer |

General Leadership

Choose the Light

Choose the light. Phillip Kane's blog.
Image credit Bruno van der Kraan |

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Today is Easter Sunday. For the more than 2 billion Christians on the planet it’s the day we commemorate Christ’s resurrection from the dead – God’s triumph over darkness. It is for those of us who believe, the proof of salvation and the evidence that good will prevail over evil. For just as Jesus Christ was condemned by the wicked to suffer and die a horrible death upon a cross, he did rise again on the third day, exactly as he said. And just as the tomb in which he had laid was flooded with light the moment the stone was rolled away, so too was the world, the instant he stepped back into it. But that’s the thing about light. No amount of darkness can ever overcome it; the light will always prevail. 

And that’s the point for the week. 

Don’t believe it?  Bring a dark shoebox into a light room and open it. The room won’t become one bit darker. But the box will be flooded with light. Try a bigger box. Then a bigger box. No amount of darkness will ever prevail. But walk into the pitchest of black with the tiniest of flames and watch what happens. The light will always win. 

Leaders who bring light prevail similarly. Because people willingly follow light. People want to be uplifted, to be fed, to be part of something bigger than themselves. Leaders who recognize these things collect more followers. And they win more, for the simple reason that people are attracted to the light.  

It’s the reason that 2,000 years after he walked this earth, 2 billion people still believe … in the light. 

People who follow blackness do so because they have to, because they are forced to, or are under some control or addiction to the dark. No one grows up wishing they could be an addict, or a thief, or a horrible boss. They do so because there is no light in their life. Because the thing they worship is black. And it’s why when they’re gone no one remembers them. Because light quickly swallows the darkness – as if it never even existed. 

So, make today a choice. Make it about more often bringing light into a room or a home or a business or a community. Live your life as a bright, shining reminder of He who conquered sin and death for us, who deserve naught, so that we might have life and light everlasting. 

So, choose the light. 

And win. 

To learn more about the author, please follow the LINK.

To order Phillip’s new book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, please click HERE.

Image credit Bruno van der Kraan |

General Leadership

Be the One Others Want to Follow

Be the one others want to follow. Phillip Kane's blog.
Image credit: Todd Greene | 

Friday, April 8, 2022

This week, the North Carolina men’s basketball team very nearly beat Kansas to win the 2022 National Championship game in Boston. I say nearly because the Tar Heels lost by just 3 points, 72 – 69, after having led for much of the contest. UNC was not even supposed to be in this game, let alone be in a position to win it. They were an 8-seed. The last and only time an 8 seed ever won the tournament was 1985 (with no team lower than an 8 having ever reached the final game.)

But the Tar Heels were, in fact, there, and almost won.

Along the way, they beat a 1-seed, a 2-seed and a 4-seed. They got there the hard way. They won their way there.

And they did so with almost the same group of players that had lost in the first round to Wisconsin just one year ago. UNC returned 4 starters from the 2020 – 2021 season. So, with the exception of newcomer, Brady Manek, the team wasn’t much different.

What changed was the coach.

Hubert Davis was different. Hubert Davis was someone these kids wanted to play for. See, teams perform at a significantly higher level when they do what they do for someone they want to follow.

And that’s the point for the week.

In the semi-final game, UNC played Duke in a rubber match it was not supposed to win. Duke, a 2-seed was favored to win by 2 baskets. But it became clear relatively quickly that Carolina would be only the fourth 8-seed to ever play in an NCAA final. It was clear because it became plain to see that the Tar Heel players love playing for Hubert Davis. These kids would follow him anywhere. Duke’s players, on the other hand, were listless. Even in Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final game ever, the Blue Devil players didn’t rise to the occasion. There was no apparent love of Coach K. There was no one going over a cliff for him that night.

Those who unwillingly follow someone will bolt, curl up or mail it in at the very first sign of trouble, pain, or difficulty. Even in the best of circumstances, they will rarely give their all. That’s because in the human markets of give and take, the worst leaders take way more than they give. So, when it comes time to ask for more, they find only empty hearts. Those they lean into walk away, leaving them to fight alone.

But those whom others willingly follow are those who put in more than they ever take out. They invest in others with no expectation of return. They seek to make others really, really big, by making themselves really, really small. That’s because they understand the cardinal rule of leadership – that it’s not about them.

It’s the paradoxical truth of all of this: that the more we put others ahead of ourselves, the more they will stand behind us … willingly, without reservation, without fear, and without anyone ever having to throw a dry erase marker in the direction of another human being.

So, be like Coach Davis. Be the one others want to follow. 

And win.

To learn about booking Phillip to speak at your event, please contact us.

To order Phillip’s new book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, please click HERE.

Image credit: Todd Greene | 


With Everything You Want Will Come Something You Don’t

With Everything You Want Will Come Something You Don't. Phillip Kane's blog
Photo credit: L. Ann Kane

Friday, April 1, 2022

This week, my wife, Annie, who almost never complains about anything, reached the end of her rope with our dogs. We have four of them – three English Bulldogs and a stowaway Boston Terrier. For those of you who have ever had English Bulldogs, you know that they are much like having toddlers. They are only about that bright, are always needing something, and forever requiring this or that to be wiped … all on top of their routine indoor “accidents.” And if you’ve ever had a Boston, you know that they are pot stirrers. So whatever problems the Bulldogs are creating become near infinitely worse when you add a Boston to the mix. Normally, Annie is their chief cheerleader and life chronicler. She has 738,000 photos of them on her phone and texts at least 19 life updates of each dog every day. So, for her to have had it with them took quite a lot. Naturally, she came to me for help. I say naturally because whenever the dogs misbehave their ownership status reverts to me; they become my dogs again. My advice for Annie in that moment was simple: with everything you want in life, will come something you don’t.

And that’s the point for the week.

It’s also true.

Don’t believe it? Think back to anything you’ve ever wished for and subsequently received. I’ll bet you that it came with something you didn’t want as well. It’s a simple fact of life. Everything comes at a price.

Rainbows come with rain. The down part of a rollercoaster ride comes with the boring click-clack up part. Spring always follows Winter. Higher income comes with a higher tax bracket. You get the idea. It’s always the case. With everything you want will come something you don’t.

The best leaders understand this intuitively. And they plan accordingly. They don’t draw up plans with lines that move only in an upward trajectory, because they recognize that ups come with downs and that highs come with consequential lows. They hire great people knowing they will have developmental areas. They recognize that any two steps forward will likely come with one taken back. They know that humans never get everything right; so, they don’t expect them to. 

As a result, they hold people to realistic standards. They factor in the inevitable back-ups. They rarely lose their patience or their minds when bad things happen – mostly because they expect them, but also because they recognize the futility of temper tantrums. They know that no good ever comes from dwelling on the bad. So, they don’t do it. Instead, they celebrate progress and those who achieve it. They happily endure rain, the click-clack parts, and the backward steps. Because they know that they bring with them progress, beauty and joy.

They are people that others willingly follow, mostly because they are people who hold others accountable without destroying their dignity. Because they know they will live through minor setbacks and simple mistakes. And because they know that they will be encouraged and consoled when they fall, not berated, embarrassed or belittled. Most of all, it’s because they know that they will be accepted for who they are – taking any bad with all of the good and all that they want with everything they don’t.

So, recognize that anything you want always comes with something you don’t.

And win.

To learn more about Phillip Kane, please click HERE.

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s new book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, please follow this LINK.

Photo credit: L. Ann Kane