John Baldoni On Leadership

If you are a student of leadership, you will likely know the name John Baldoni.  His manybooks including Lead With Purpose, Lead Your Boss, How Great Leaders Get Great Results and Lead By Example all line the bookshelves of my office.  If you somehow missed all of his books on leadership, you may have read his work in publications such as, Fast Company, Forbes, CBSNews/MoneyWatch, Bloomberg/Businessweek, and Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post.

What I like most about John’s work is that it is practical.  I can put his advice to use immediately.  His latest book is The Leader’s Pocket Guide: 101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Any Situation.

John, this pocket guide seems to distill so much of your work in bite-sized tips.  What motivated you to write this pocket guide?

This book is the result of my work with executives I have coached over the past decade or so. As I say in the dedication to the book, my impact on them has been small but their impact on me has been large.

You start the book with self-leadership, then move to working with colleagues and finally an entire organization.  Why is self-leadership always the starting point?

One cannot lead others without leading oneself. So where does that begin? With self-awareness and self-understanding. So often I work with executives who are capable leaders and are giving to others but they end up shorting themselves. This section focuses on things to do to develop your critical thinking, awareness and presence. All are critical to leadership.

Why Leaders Don’t Need Parrots



When I first became a CEO, I noticed something strange.

In a meeting, I was suddenly funnier.  The slightest hint at humor could erupt the room into laughter.  I was also smarter.  And my arguments were more persuasive.   Heads would bob up and down as I made a point.

Obviously my new title didn’t bestow some magical gift of brilliance.  What it provided was positional power, and people were reacting to the position.

Immediately, I knew what happened.  It took me longer to figure out what to do about it.

I’d seen this much earlier in my career when people would “parrot” the CEO.  I call it the Parrot Principle.  To get along and be accepted, some find it’s just easier to parrot the CEO than to think critically, to argue, or to be independent.  Why rock the boat when you can just agree and repeat what you’re told?

The cause is usually fear.  Fear of losing a job or of not being in the inner circle.  It’s also a symptom of a culture needing change.

Parrot Principle

Because of a lack of self-confidence, a fear of job loss, or an extreme need for acceptance, it is easier to agree with the boss than to advance a different point of view.

The result is usually what I call a “pocket veto” where people nod in a meeting, then go outside and talk about what they really believe.  It’s bad for everyone.  The company is not served well.  The CEO may not even realize what’s happening.  And the parrot is building distrust throughout the organization.

It’s not just the new CEO who faces this problem.  It’s almost any new position of power.  If others are dependent on you, you can be vulnerable to the Parrot Principle.

So what can you do about it?

My Favorite Zig Ziglar Quotes


“You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind.” –Zig Ziglar


“You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” –Zig Ziglar


“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” –Zig Ziglar


“People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Well, neither does bathing.  That’s why we recommend it daily.” –Zig Ziglar


“You can have everything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want.” –Zig Ziglar

“If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” Zig Ziglar


“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you.” Zig Ziglar


“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” Zig Ziglar


“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” Zig Ziglar


“Every sale has five basic obstacles:  no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” Zig Ziglar


“Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.” Zig Ziglar


“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” Zig Ziglar


“The only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.” Zig Ziglar


“Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” Zig Ziglar


“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” Zig Ziglar


“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Zig Ziglar


“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Zig Ziglar


“Success is the maximum utilization of the ability that you have.” Zig Ziglar


“If you learn from defeat, you have not really lost.” Zig Ziglar



What’s your favorite Zig Ziglar quote?  Do you have one to add?