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Hugh Ballou on August 29th, 2016

Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. – James Allen


Leaders Model What Others Should Do

As a musical conductor, I know that the ensemble is a reflection of the conductor. The better we are in inspiring excellence, the better the performance is! Conductors are skilled at creating excellence. If the musicians respect the conductor, then they play as the conductor intends and not as they direct. Some of our motions might not be exactly what we intend, so the players respond to the intent. This only happens when there’s respect for the conductor (the leader).

In non-musical situations, it’s pretty much the same. Leaders are basically influencers. The Transformational Leader leads by influence and not by power of position. That’s a difficult transformation for many leaders. We have been taught things that don’t work. Mostly we’ve been taught to be the BOSS. This is not good in today’s culture.

Effective leaders create relationship with those whom they lead so that the team members respond to the leader like a highly skilled orchestra musically responds to every nuance of the conductor. The leader must develop the skills to lead. There is no option.

Leaders are Developed

Yes, that’s true. Leadership skill is not something that we are born with. We must develop our skills. We must adapt to the current culture and the current situation. Leading a charity is different than leading an investment business.

There are many styles of leadership that fill the entire spectrum, from autocratic leadership (the BOSS, it’s about me) to servant leadership (about the vision).

I have worked with leaders of all types in a mentor role for over 30 years and have found that leaders have some of the same challenges, no matter what type of organizations they lead. I found lots of helpful stuff, but none of it met my expectations for a fully implementable strategy; therefore, I developed my own programs and systems that totally integrate strategy and implementation. Others provide pieces of the puzzle and I provide the fully integrated system.

I’d love to share this with you if you are interested. Go HERE is get my free report and training videos that will impact your success, starting right away. In the series of messages, you will have an opportunity for a 25-minute power session with me that will give you lots of value.

It’s Not Your Team…It’s YOU

If you are…

  1. Facing leader burnout…
  2. Struggling with an under-performing team…or
  3. Not generating the revenue to achieve your mission…

It’s time to change the results.

Let’s chat.

Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

Subscribe to The Transformational Leadership Strategist by Email

(c) 2016 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.


Hugh Ballou on August 26th, 2016

This is Podcast 4Orchestrating Success

Create Your Plan for Success

Get it on the iTunes store HERE.
Get it on Stitcher HERE.

Hi, it’s Hugh Ballou, the transformational leadership strategist, representing the integration of strategy and performance. It’s a seamless process. It doesn’t matter if you have a strategy if you can’t make it happen. It’s an intuitive skill that a musical conductor knows. We take this piece of paper with dots that we call music, and we lead people into creating glorious sounds. Highly engaged teams focused on the outcome and passionate about the delivery, which in music we call ensembles.

My company is SynerVision, the contraction of the words “synergy” and “vision.” SynerVision represents this collaborative sense in a high-functioning culture.

Today’s session is about the strategy. We as entrepreneurs have lots of ideas. We have lots of ideas as to how it should go. We implement lots of tactics. At the end of the day, we are back where we started because we have not created a framework or a strategy into which those tactics fit. Long-range objectives and short-term goals, action plans, and daily to-do lists are a pattern of work that takes you to the end of the road. It takes you to your goal. It takes you to where you see in your mind that you want to be.

This podcast is about orchestrating success, converting your passion to profit. It is not about money. The goal is not about money. Napoleon Hill in his book Think and Grow Rich listed the attributes of wealth. Money was the very last one because it was the least important. However, it was on the list. Like I said previously, we build a car, and then we are trying to learn how to drive the car. The car represents your enterprise, and the engine is your team. Your skillset is learning how to drive it. We need to put gas in the car. The fuel for our charity, religious institution, educational institution, our business, is revenue, cash flow, profit. We must have a bottom line profit. Nonprofit is a tax classification, not a philosophy. I know a lot of business leaders who are mentally running a nonprofit; that is not the end game. Quality of life, achieving tangible results, helping other people solve their problems is why we exist. That is why we and our organization exist is to provide value for others. In return for the value, we get this cash, this money that we use to pay the bills. Our bills are recurring every 30 days.

So in this planning process, we are going to think about 30-day milestones. What are we going to accomplish on a monthly basis? How do we define what we do, what our team members do? Those are things that are so critical in the work that we are going to be doing, the work we are doing, the work we should have been doing. If you don’t have a strategy, stop. If you are going to be successful, you must write a strategic plan. For charity, I have reframed it into what I call a solution map. It is the same thing. Where you want to be, how you are going to get there. That is the document. It is not a business plan; it is an operational plan. You can extract a business plan that you can give to your banker or investor. You run your organization on a strategic plan.

There are many components to it, more than we can cover in a podcast. I want to give you some key elements to think about. My planning process is proprietary, and it is a process I use and share with clients. To the fairness of everybody, I won’t give you all the components of it. However, I will help you get started. If you go to, you will get my report. There is a part of it that talks about having the strategy.

If you are a fan of Steven Covey, he says, “Begin with the end in mind.” Define your future vision, your organization 3-5 years out. Write the statement in present tense. As Napoleon Hill discovered, the successful people he interviewed all had definiteness of purpose. They perceived it as already having happened, and they proceeded to move toward it without having to perfect every step. They knew where they were going, they built a team around them, they brought value to others, and they kept a positive mental attitude always. Successful people think in the future. We think ahead. We find the result. We solve the problem.

There are three descriptors that each define leadership. 1) Leaders get things done. We don’t just talk about it, but we accomplish our goals. We must write them. 2) Leaders figure out how things happen. We get it done. That means we have to figure out how. Lots of people have not figured out how to do what they want to do. That is why we need coaches. 3) A leader is a person of influence. The musical conductor is influential. People play at a higher standard. They sing better. They create an ensemble because we influence them to access that passion and access the excellence that is already in there and create the excellence of team that I told you was ensemble. It is the synergy of team.

When Napoleon Hill interviewed Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie said to him, “Any idea that is in the mind and emphasized, that is either feared or revered, will begin at once to convert itself into the most appropriate and convenient physical form available.” Define the vision. Write it down in present tense. Share it with people that matter. Proceed toward that outcome. Envision the future, like in my previous podcast, and go there.

First, we want to talk about what our organization is about. The vision is the concept. We do this. Synervision Leadership Foundation provides high-quality resources and support systems for leaders accomplishing goals that change people’s lives. We change people’s lives who are changing people’s lives. We create the synergy of team together. My vision statement is to empower leaders, social entrepreneurs, to make a difference with their enterprise and create the lifestyle and outcome they deserve. My mission statement is: We accomplish this through coaching, keynotes, workshops, online trainings, group masterminds, summits, and seminars. We have the highest performing team with the best practices available on the planet.

That gives you an idea. Vision is the concept, and mission is how you are going to achieve it. If someone sees you in the elevator and says, “What is your organization?” blah, here is my vision. It is compelling. They get off the elevator and say, “How do you do that?” Here is our mission.

In your planning process, you want to define the future. What does it look like? Typically, there are three pillars, three objectives that are 3-5 years. If you wrote down everything you wanted to accomplish and group them in categories, you will begin to see that there is most likely three categories. One would be financial. What does the financial picture look like? What is the revenue you are bringing in? Two, what is the organization look like? Who works with you? Are you worldwide? Are you regional? What does the organization look like? What is the machine that drives the results? Three, products and services. How will you generate the revenue? We must have multiple streams of income. For charities, it is eight. For businesses, it is infinite. We need more than one. If you have one, you will go broke. Defining how you are going to generate revenue and building your products and services to provide value is the secret. Define the future. Long-term vision, boom, it looks like this in 3-5 years financially, organizationally, and products/services. That is your long-term vision.

Scale it back to one year. Your short-term goal is one year or less. What does it look like in one year on your way to that big goal? Define it in present tense: financial, organizational, product/service. Then, what are you going to do every 30 days to get to each one of those? Start listing the milestones, the major steps to get to that one-year goal. You can do more detail for the first 60-90 days, and then it is more general after that. Measure your milestones for every 30 days. Life happens in 30-day rotations. We pay the bills. We think in monthlies. Put your milestones down in present tense, and accomplish this at the end of the month. Then we start thinking about the milestones and breaking them into taxes. This is your action plan. We convert from the statement in present tense to an action statement: to create, to draft, to write, to contact, to develop, to implement. Action statements drive action. We have an action statement, which is a task for an action. We have a responsible person, and we have a deadline.

When will it happen? This is your accountability mechanism for yourself and the team. This should be shared openly. That is the accountability. Smart goals: specific, measurable, accountable, realistic, and time. Realistic, do you have the time, do you have the resources? Time, when will it happen? Accountable, have you shared it with your team and people outside of your team? Once you have shared it, other people will know where you are going and they are in a position to help you. We don’t write goals and put them in a drawer; we write goals and share them, especially when you have a team together. Formal team, informal team. Virtual team, live team. It’s important to have a program at work that you co-create.

You are the leader. You define the vision. You define the mission. You define the goals. You define the milestones. Now the team starts co-creating the how-to. For each person on the team, here is the secret sauce: the DVDs, Daily Valuable Deliverables. What will you do each day on one of those goals? These are baby steps. You must do them if you write them on your calendar. Five days a week, three DVDs. Daily, every day. Valuable, they are related to your goals. They are results-oriented, not activity-oriented. If you do three of those a day, that’s 15 a week and 60 baby steps a month. It makes a huge qualifiable difference in the results you and your team are going to see. Teach your team to have that kind of discipline. That is the secret sauce.

There are many more components to your micro-strategic framework. Who is your customer? Who is going to come to your church or synagogue? Who will buy your products and services? Who will donate to your program? Who will come to the events that you have? Who will join your community online? Define that person. It’s not everybody; it is a very specific targeted person. Specific demographic, sociographic, psychographic, age group. Who will be attracted to you, and why? This is the other piece that requires a whole lot of thinking. All of these components require a whole lot of thinking. I am giving you a huge amount of data in a short period of time. Go to the webpage on or for this podcast #4, and you will see these things listed on that page along with the links I am referring you to.

Why do people need you? Your unique value proposition is the very thing that people need from you and they can’t get from other people. Why should they attend your events? Why should they subscribe to your newsletter? Why should they donate? Why should they buy your products? Why did people make a decision to join your tribe?

We haven’t taken time to clarify the value proposition. In there is your brand identity—this is who we are, this is what we represent. It is your brand promise—this is what people are going to get as a result of participating. As we are crafting the statements, it’s important to understand why people need us and be able to tell them. People don’t care what we have to offer until they understand why it’s important to them. Then they will understand the what. They also need to understand the impact that participating will have to their organization, to their lives, to their finances. What impact will you provide to them? Here are the quantifiable results.

Another component is: If you don’t have a budget, that’s wrong. Every line item on your budget should tie to a milestone, to one of your activities in your plan. There is a circular reference, there is a discipline. If you spend money, what do you get? Is it leading you toward your final result? Having the discipline to match your budget with your plan and the discipline to stay focused on the plan—if you need to spend money on something not in your plan, either you don’t spend it or change your plan. It’s important to have a unified plan and the discipline in that plan. Converse to what some people think, writing a plan does not constrain or limit your creativity. It actually frees up your creativity because you are not spending time thinking about what to do next, working out the details, or fixing what you did wrong or out of sequence. You are spending your energy and time being creative, doing what you want to be doing when you pay the upfront price to create your plan.

There are many models for strategy. I would encourage you to do a lean strategy if you are an early-stage start-up or a concept. Get the major components. On The Definitive Leader, I give you an idea of what those are. Build your plan. Share it with your team. Share it with the advocates that you have in your life. Keep those advocates up to date. Share your goals with them every month. The more you share your progress, your challenges, your celebrations, the more energy those people will bring back to your project. Your advocates are people who like you, you like them, you have a relationship, and they understand your value proposition.

Number one leadership goal is to define the end results and create a pathway to get there. Equip yourself and your team to accomplish those goals. Long-term objectives are 3-5 years. Short-term goals are one year or less. Milestones are monthly accomplishments. The action plan is for weekly actions to get to the milestones. DVDs are for what you will do every day. It sounds like a whole lot of work. Well, you chose to do this. You could have been a barber. You could walk into work and cut people’s hair or be a stylist. You are changing the world. It requires some heavy lifting on your part. It requires learning things that you don’t know. It requires having a coach or a mentor who is a subject matter expert who will give you value on leadership skills, sequence, planning, and marketing. Find the right person. Have a coach, have a mentor. The people who are successful have successful people around them. When you pay somebody to hold you accountable, you pay somebody to teach you the things that you don’t know that you don’t yet know that you don’t know. There is a different dynamic; there is a level of commitment that drives success in a quantifiable way.

This is Hugh Ballou. Here is a note to the weary and the frantic. You are too busy, you can’t get things done. Stop. Go back to your plan. Make sure that you have things in the sequence, and the sequence is reasonable. Once you put things in a sequence, you will find out that you have more time to do things correctly, and you have to spend less time going back and doing them over when you really didn’t have time or thought you didn’t have time in the first place. Don’t discount planning because you don’t have time. Take the time. Pay the upfront cost. That will make sure you don’t go in the ditch and become weary and frantic spinning your wheels ending up where you started at the beginning of the day. At the end of the day, you want to mark up something. I have accomplished these DVDs. They are baby steps. I have done it. I am closer to my goal.

This is Hugh Ballou, the transformational leadership strategist. I will see you on the next episode.

Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist

Subscribe to The Transformational Leadership Strategist by Email

(c) 2016 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.


Hugh Ballou on August 22nd, 2016

Plan to succeed or plan to fail. – Winston Churchill

plan before you start

Planning is Essential

Every day I talk to leaders in some organization who have a great idea, an amazing product or service, and know that they can make a difference in the lives of others. Many of these people are stuck. They have a well thought-out concept, completed books, polished professional keynote or workshop, and other really great offerings…they, however, remain stuck.

As James Allen wrote so many years ago, “Men don’t attract what they need, they attract what they are.” It’s still just as true today as it was over 100 years ago. If we haven’t defined who we want to attract…we are stuck.

We are stuck because we are implementing tactics in the absence of an overall strategy! We can’t lead without a plan! As a musical conductor, I would never think that I could lead any kind of musical ensemble without a musical score. The music needs a map defining the outcome. We need a map for the enterprise we are attempting to lead.

Plan Backwards

Begin with the end in mind.” – Stephen Covey.

Define the end result and then plan how to achieve the defined results. This works for any venture and any activity. I facilitate meetings for organizations, and part of the process is to break the bad paradigms for meetings…mostly the use of the Agenda. See my post on this topic, “The Agenda: The Enemy of Productivity in Meetings.”

Envision the future and then create the plan. It’s that simple…not really simple, but not as difficult as we make it. Trying to short-cycle the process of creating success creates failure… every time.

We see successful leaders and they make it look easy. Well, look into their journey and find out what it really took to achieve their success.

Pay the upfront cost (planning), which is far less that the alternative, and begin at once creating the pathway to success.

Leadership is the pathway to profit.

Check out my Podcast on this topic.


Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

Subscribe to The Transformational Leadership Strategist by Email

(c) 2016 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

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Hugh Ballou on August 19th, 2016

This is Podcast 3Orchestrating Success

Hugh Ballou’s

Four Success Principles

Get it on the iTunes store HERE.
Get it on Stitcher HERE.

Welcome to session number three. I am excited about this one. I have been teaching leadership for 30+ years with social entrepreneurs. I am in the middle of watching the Olympics in Rio in 2016 while recording this podcast, and I came to the realization that I am addicted to these games. I also came to the realization that all of these American athletes have worked very hard. They have trained very hard. They have really good coaches. I meet people every day launching an enterprise, and they are just going to go do it, no coaching, no training. They are going to run a marathon and die on the road.

This session is about equipping yourself for success. It’s a session about transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is the model for growing your business, and it’s infinitely scalable. It is about transforming your idea into results. It is about converting your passion to profit. It is about building your high-functioning team. It is about creating the life that you want.

People say to me, “What does a musical conductor know about leadership?”

I respond, “I am a musical conductor. I know about leadership.” Through 40 years of my career, I brought people together who were singers. I transformed them into a choir, and then I transformed them into an ensemble. Same thing with instrumentalists. Formed an orchestra, transformed them into this high-functioning team we call an ensemble. It is where the sum of the parts is not it; it’s greater than the sum of the parts. We have 50 players, 200 singers. It’s not about that. It’s about the culture of high performance to achieve that high standard of excellence. That culture is a reflection of the conductor, just like your team is a reflection of your leadership. When we want to complain about our team, it’s good to look in the mirror and understand why they are functioning that way.

This session is about creating the culture of high performance. High-performing teams are a culture of excellence, and that is the point of transformational leadership. It was developed in the 1980’s by two authors Burns and Bass. Burns wanted to reform our political system, and his book was titled Transforming Leadership. We are still in that transforming phase. It has been adopted and moved into a style of leadership that is extremely powerful. As I said earlier, it is infinitely scalable.

It is not about you; it is about the vision. It is not that we are the boss. We do what we want other people to do: we model excellence, commitment, and passion. Whatever we model, people will reflect to us. The leader sets the standard. The transformational leader builds leaders on teams, builds a high-functioning culture, mentors others, avoids micromanaging, learns to delegate, and first and foremost, influences others by power of influence, not power of position. It is not the boss, which by the way, is double s-o-b. We are not the boss; we don’t have to approve everything. We have defined a culture of high performance with the standards of excellence defined as guiding principles.

By the way, if you go to my website, you can get my free report on this. It gives you videos on these four principles I am going to talk about. It gives you a report about leadership, about how important this is to the excellence that you see and the vision that is in your brain. The session coming up next is going to be creating your strategy. It is important to begin with equipping ourselves for the journey, equipping ourselves to develop and implement the strategy. In this podcast, I am going to give you my four principles of leadership. If you can master these four principles, you can lead any organization anywhere. It will make you a better leader starting now.

Four principles, number one: When a conductor steps on the podium, they know the score. Principle one is about foundations. The conductor knows exactly what they want to accomplish. They have the plan in front of them we call music, and everybody has their piece of that music. Everybody knows what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it, but the conductor has the end result in mind, knows it, and teaches it. The influencer is the conductor. The foundation is about being very clear with your vision. Know exactly where you want to go. Also, be masterful at communicating where it is that you want to go. If we can’t communicate the vision, if it is not written down, if it is not in people’s hands, if we don’t have measurable outcomes and we can’t share it, we don’t have the skill to lead, and we are not going anywhere.

This first principle is about creating that plan: defining that vision, developing the skill for that vision, and the foundation is knowing that we lead. We are the leader. We have equipped ourselves. The Ballou 10/90 rule is that our skill, our product, our abilities, our programs, our books, our keynotes, whatever we have that is our intellectual property and that we are sharing with others, that is 10% of what we need. The other 90% is like that 90% of the iceberg that is underwater. It holds up that 10%. That 90% enables you to do what you need to be doing. It is your team, your plan, your financial plan, the money, the stuff underneath the water that enables you to do your passion and to connect that passion to profit. Build your skill, build your plan, work on your ability to influence others. That is the number one principle; that is the foundation.

I meet people every day that say, “No, I have it in my mind. I haven’t written it down, but it’s a plan.” It’s not a plan. It’s a dream. What were you thinking? You are going to march off a cliff and people are going to follow you? You are going to run a marathon and die on the track because you have not equipped yourself and you don’t have a coach. Fundamentally, the foundation is having someone coach you. Look at the most successful people in any field: actors, performers, musicians, athletes, the people making the most money, businesspeople. The people making the most money, the most successful people, they all have mentors, have coaches. They have somebody that works with them. We can’t see our blind spots. We don’t know what we don’t know. Commitment to excellence is that foundation. Make that plan. Work your plan. Equip yourself to do the plan.

Number two. I hired the best players. I have the best singers. Two is hire the best. You want to surround yourself with the most capable people. If you are the smartest person on your team, get a new team. Number two is about relationships. Leadership is based on relationships. Results and communication are based on relationship. Finances, financial results, sales, donors, it is based on relationship. Build and maintain healthy relationships.

In the definitive leader report, I give you four steps, and we are going to have a whole podcast on this. There are four steps to finding, qualifying, onboarding, and equipping leaders on your team, whether it is a consultant, a collaborator, a staff member, a contract labor person, a board member, it doesn’t matter. The person on your team represents your vision and your culture. Hire the best, equip them. If the team does not function, that is what we have set up as a leader. Make sure they have the qualifications. Make sure you have checked their background. Make sure they understand their role and responsibility in this organization. Make sure that they fit the culture because you have defined your core values, and most importantly, your guiding principles. How do we make decisions as a culture? How do we function as this high-functioning enterprise, this very successful business we are launching, this highly effective charity?

Last of all, define the expectations. We need to tell people the results we want. It’s in our strategy, very clearly. We tell them the results, but we don’t tell them how to accomplish the results. We do not micro-manage. That is the number two… We are going to talk about the number one team killer. But the number two team killer is micro-managing people. You might as well throw wet water on them and cover them up with a blanket, if they don’t shoot you first. Don’t micro-manage. Equip people. Give them information. Mentor them. That is a world different from micro-managing.

I didn’t hire the world’s best oboe player in my orchestra and then tell them how to play the oboe. I said, “Here is my music, here is what I want,” and then I guided the process. The conductor is perceived by no other conductors to be a dictator. Let me tell ya. Just because you have a little white stick does not mean you can make anybody do anything. You can however influence people to perform at a higher standard. We as transformational leaders are people of influence, and we create a high-functioning team based around this vision, this plan, this strategy we want to achieve.

Number three, we establish effective systems. In music, I say this is rehearse for success. The very best musical groups in the world rehearse for every performance. The way they rehearse defines the excellence of the performance. Yet in business, we do dumb things over and over. That is like a musical group learning the wrong notes and playing with apathy. Who wants to listen to that? We are playing out of tune. We are not together. We are not in sync. That happens in the workplace because we don’t rehearse for success. We don’t take time to perfect our systems.

We will have a whole podcast on the most highly dysfunctional systems, like the search committee. We are going to bring on people to our charity and our business, and we appoint a group to do it. That is not good. We haven’t given them direction. They don’t have a system. They don’t know these four steps I am going to teach. The number two dysfunctional system is the meeting. Number three is the annual review. The meeting is your number one team killer. Boring, unproductive meetings. That is a whole session in itself.

But here are a few tips: Purpose. If you are going to have a meeting, have a purpose. Know why we are there. Start on time, and end on time.

Be in control of the meeting. Facilitate it.

Post everything where people can see that. Get them off of the computers. Get their noses out of their phones. Have people talk to each other and write.

Begin with the end in mind. Define the deliverables. Never ever use an agenda for a meeting. An agenda is activity; like for instance, we are going to talk about marketing. That is not useful. We in turn say we are going to define the top five strategies for increasing our sales/donations by 25% over the next 12 months. That is a very purposeful outcome. We state the outcomes for the meetings. We don’t dwell on activity.

If you stop using agendas and start using deliverables, you start on time and end on time, you review what is going to happen before and review what you did, and dismiss with assignments, you will empower your team to function at a much higher, more energized, more effective level. We the leader set the bar for all the systems.

Number three is systems. We define the culture in our systems, and we rehearse, good or bad. We define the DNA of our organization by how we function together.

My fourth principle of leadership is value the rests. In music, rests have a very specific function. It is not simply the absence of sound. It is punctuation. It is a grand pause after a dramatic, loud, fast section of music. It is a pause that sets up the next section of music. It’s emphasis on what happened before and what is happening next. It is very intentionally placed within the music score. Our lives should be punctuated with rest, with planning, with thinking, with recreation. Time off, time working. Balance is this fourth principle.

Foundations was one, relationships is two, systems is three, and balance is four. No, balance does not mean everything is equal. Balance means we have adjusted things so that they make sense in our lives, that we are not working 24/7. People tell me they work 15-hour days, seven days a week, and have not had a vacation in years, like they are bragging. It makes no sense to me. Define your quality of life. Your job should support your quality of life, whether it is your enterprise or you are leading somebody else’s enterprise. Quality of life is number one. Balance between personal life and work. Balance is the whole person: body, mind, spirit, voice, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Balance is managing multiple priorities, making sure that we are not doing too much and the team is doing too little.

Those are the four principles. Get the free report on the definitive leader. There is more for those principles. There is a series of videos. There is a handout. There is a report. This will change your life, if you can manage those four principles and equip yourself for success. Remember, don’t attempt to run the marathon unless you have trained for it. Always have a coach. Always have a subject matter expert as a mentor. Always have an accountability partner and an accountability team. It might be a mastermind team. It might be some other kind of team. Surround yourself with the very best people because over time, you become like those people.

This is Hugh Ballou orchestrating success for you in your enterprise. I would love to hear from you. Rate this on iTunes. Give me some comments. Let me hear from you. I want to know about your success, your questions, and your challenges. I will see you in the next session.

Here is a note for the weary and frantic. You are weary and frantic because you have not worked on yourself first. Work on yourself. Know how to lead. Manage your stress by working on your ability to lead first.

Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

Subscribe to The Transformational Leadership Strategist by Email

(c) 2016 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.
Hugh Ballou on August 16th, 2016

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

– John Quincy Adams

Adams Quote



Envision the Future

Everybody has a dream. Only 3 out of every 100 people will actually do something about that dream by acting on the vision. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 people attempting to launch a new enterprise, whether a business or a charity, will fail without achieving that dream.


What’s the difference? It’s having a plan and surrounding yourself with a competent team to implement that plan. The first priority, however is equipping yourself for the journey. Develop your skills to lead, implement the plan, and build the right team. And, by the way, equip yourself to build the income that you deserve with this enterprise.


I have been glued to the television every night for the Rio 2016 Olympics and have been massively impressed with our American athletes! They are highly skilled, masterfully trained, and consequently highly successful. Each successful athlete has a very competent coach.

Take Action

This is the same for professional athletes, actors, musicians, and business professionals. They all have a coach and train for success. We would never consider running a 26.2 mile marathon without training our bodies and minds for the task. Then why do we even consider starting and running a business or charity without having a coach and a content specialist mentor? That’s why over 90% fail…they lack the ability to lead the enterprise, as defined in the D & B research in 1995.


There’s an alternative. I have coaches, therefore I do what I teach.


Subscribe to My Podcast 
Orchestrating Success
Consequently, I have launched my podcast today and invite you to subscribe.


Get it on the iTunes store HERE.
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If you are running a great enterprise, and are facing burnout and not making the income you deserve, then let’s chat. I’ll give you a free power strategy session of 25 minutes to assist you in reversing that paradigm. Click HERE to schedule your session.

Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

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(c) 2016 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

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Hugh Ballou on August 15th, 2016

This is Podcast 2Orchestrating Success

Forecasting the Future:
And Making It Happen

Get it on the iTunes store HERE.
Get it on Stitcher HERE.

This session of Orchestrating Success is about forecasting the future and then making it happen. Orchestrating Success: Converting Your Passion to Profit. Don’t misunderstand this as being all about profit, all about money, all about the green back. It is an important commodity that helps us. It’s sort of like the gas. You get a car, which is sort of like building your business. You learn to drive it sometimes. Now you need to put gas in the car. It’s the fuel that runs your organization, the enterprise that you have been charged with leading.

Effective leaders live in the future. We forecast what is going to happen. I remember somebody talking about a famous hockey player one time. They noted that he skated where the puck was going to go. He was there ahead of time. Think about visionary leaders. They are paying attention, looking at the future. That is part of it. Let’s envision the future in this podcast.

Looking ahead: envision the future. When Napoleon Hill interviewed Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie introduced him to the most successful business leaders of his time: Ford, Woolworth, Wanamaker, Edison, five presidents, amazing people with amazing success. What Napoleon Hill found out is that every one of them saw the future and could see it in present tense. Definiteness of purpose is what he called that. We as leaders are charged with a vision. The vision is what takes us to where we want to go. Does it? No. The vision is the target. We take us where we want to go. There is a whole lot that needs to happen between the visioning and the arrival point.

I’m watching the Olympics, and the track and field is this week. I really love it. I used to run in high school, and I still do; well, we call it running. It is equipping our bodies to do what our brains think we want to do. I have run several half-marathons and lots and lots of shorter races, and I don’t just get up one day and decide to run a road race. However, I meet lots of people, visionary leaders, who want to start a charity, a church, a business. They have an idea and are going to make it happen. Wait a minute, did you train for this marathon? Did you learn to fly the plane before you take off? Flying the plane might not be too hard; it’s the landing part that is tricky. Starting a business, a lot of people do that. Mark Twain used to say, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing I have ever done. As a matter of fact, I have done it hundreds of times.” Sometimes serial entrepreneurs keep starting businesses because they don’t succeed. We read about the ones who start successful businesses, sell them, and then move on. We don’t read as much about the ones who start and don’t make it. Therefore, let’s equip ourselves for success before we start. Let’s envision the future. Then let’s create a pathway to get there. Envisioning the future, that is an art in itself.

Let’s talk about leadership. There are many styles of leadership. Autocratic, charismatic leaders, we read about those. Those people are up there saying, “Do this, do this.” They are called the boss. They give all the orders. They manage. They create anxiety, which we call energy. They create all the stress for themselves. They are always in charge, and they are always giving orders. If that is the way you want to live, that’s okay; however, you might want to take a day off, you might want to go somewhere. We are going to talk in the upcoming sessions about building a system that is going to be the underlying foundation for your enterprise. It’s going to make money in several ways: make money while you are sleeping, make money with your team, your projects, your events, your products, and your personal activities.

Before we get there, we have to look at the future. Now, we have a talent, we have a vision, we have programs, we are really good at something, we have really good products. That is the core of what we are doing: the vision and delivery of content around that vision. The Hugh Ballou 10/90 rule is 10% is what you know you have, and the other 90% is what you don’t know that you don’t know. The 90% that is under the water of the iceberg is what holds that 10% above the water. The 90% is the structure of our business: our team, our skill, our plan, our implementation process, our budget. All of those things empower that 10% to be successful. Otherwise, we are running down the runway without any idea as to how we are going to take off in this plane and much less of an idea of how to land it. Charismatic leaders are those that have a vision, but it is mostly all about them. They are the heart of everything; they are the bottleneck of it.

The antithesis of that is transformational leadership. It is on the same side of the curve as transformational leadership. On one end of the spectrum, you have the autocratic, charismatic leader: “Do this. Do this. I call the shots. I do everything.” 180 degrees the other way is the transformational leader. The transformational leader clearly identifies the future. Here is the vision. Here are the goals. This is our mission. This is how we are going to accomplish it. The transformational leader is very skilled at creating a high-functioning culture.

I call this series “Orchestrating Success” because of my 40 years as a musical conductor. I pulled people together that typically had no reason to be together. I worked in the church and did music ministry for 40 years. I had the pleasure of working in some very large organizations and was able to hire players from significant symphony orchestras around the country and the world. I would pull groups of people together, and we would be aligned with our commonalities. That is, the passion for music, the passion for creating excellence. We knew what to do because we had that thing in front of us called sheet music, which is a piece of paper. What I did as a leader was impact the culture, influence the people to perform at the highest level possible to connect their passion with the end results. We create this magnificent stuff called music just out of nothing. It is a bunch of dots. We get together, and we make it happen.

Transform that into the workplace. We have a vision as a leader. We have defined the future. How are we going to get there? Let’s create a plan. Let’s define the gaps. In the first gap, we are going to have a couple of sessions in this series about all the mechanics of all of these rubrics of putting together the plan. I am in favor of a strategic plan. A strategic plan is like the piece of music. It tells you what to do when; it’s an operational plan. It’s how you will implement and when and who and how fast. All of that stuff is in your strategy. A business plan is usable for some functions in my world, like giving it to a banker, presenting it to an investor. It’s a summary document that is about the business.

By the way, I don’t make any distinctions on running various kinds of small enterprises. We as social entrepreneurs are making a difference, whether we are running a charity. We use the word nonprofit as a philosophy when really it is a tax classification. If we make money, then we can pay salaries, we can accomplish things. We are tax-exempt, so the entity does not pay income tax. However, when we pay salaries, we pay income tax on that. Everybody wins. We pay taxes as a responsible citizen. We get things done as a responsible enterprise. We have installed business principles into this charity. Nonprofit is not a philosophy; it is a tax classification. There are lots of rules governing how we do things, and it is very important that we mind the shop. We take care of how we run business, whether we are running an S-corp, a C-corp, an LLC, or a charity. We have disciplines that are very important.

As a musician, if we don’t have commitment, if we don’t have discipline, we don’t have excellence, and we are not good. There is no point in us making music because people don’t want to hear it. In business, we must have discipline, commitment, and focus. Installing a leadership culture of high performing is what transformational leadership is about. It is about the vision. It is about us as leaders not doing everything. We let go of things we should not be doing. We however learn delegation as one of those high-level skills that a leader needs to have. We duplicate and multi-task through the work of others who have the passion, the commitment, and the discipline because we have modeled that, which is the first and foremost principle of transformational leadership: modeling what you see.

A famous conductor of conductors, as he was teaching other conductors, said, “What they see,” meaning the orchestra or choir, “is what you get.” In managing teams, what they see with the experience is what you are going to get. It’s like our children learn from us, and they model things that we do, not necessarily what we say we ought to do. Some of those are good, and some of those are things we wish we had not shared with them, but they were alert and picked up on it anyway. Therefore, we want to shape the future of not only our enterprise, but also how we are going to get there by building a strong, high-functioning, passionate, excellent team. We do that by starting with ourselves.

This podcast is about managing self. If we want anything to happen, first and foremost, we need to work on ourselves, the transformational leader. We have a vision. So what? Everybody has an idea. Out of every 100 people that I hear a fantastic vision from, there are only three that will actually do something about it. Why? Because, well, as Jim Rohn used to tell us in his trainings, that is the law of averages. Three people will do something. Now the statistics show that 90% of those who do something fail because they did not start out by equipping themselves for this marathon.

If you are going to run a marathon and you don’t want to die on the path, you don’t want to run out of steam, you don’t want to end up in the ditch, it is important to train for the marathon. Train regularly, train with a pattern, and train with a coach. You have a plan. You have a coach. You have an accountability partner. It is the discipline of regular training that builds up your body’s ability to make the end of the marathon. Running an enterprise is not a sprint; it is not a series of sprints; it is a marathon. We do one plan, and we migrate that plan over time. We upgrade it and fine-tune it, and it becomes the plan of action for everybody. We are not starting and stopping with a new plan every 3-5 years. We are growing the plan of excellence that we have envisioned, and we change it, revise it, edit it, and update it according to the culture, the upgrade of the vision, the progress we have made, and the new products and services and accelerated revenue we have to broaden the base of that plan.

As we are beginning this journey, it is really critical to write down the vision, to claim the vision. In my world, that is the concept you tell people. “What is this about?” they ask you. You can tell them in one concise statement. It is one powerful statement that talks about what the concept is. Define the future in present tense. A good response to that would be, “How do you do that?” That would be the mission. The mission is we accomplish it this way, this way, and this way. Our vision and mission are at the heart of success, which is our ability to lead.

As we wrap up this particular podcast, I would like to encourage you to work on yourself first. I had to stop there because I had to think about how to say that. Managing self is a constant upgrade. I say this with all humility because I am still working on myself, upgrading myself, and working on those things that I would like to increase my ability and my effectiveness and the whole footprint of what I offer to humankind. That is a lifelong journey.

When I listen to the famous leadership presenter Bob Proctor speak, last time, he said he was 81 or 82, and people ask him when he is going to slow down. He responds to them, “I am going to speed up because I am 80 and I have more to do.” It is more impactful. I thought, Isn’t that great? He also goes on to say that retirement is not part of his vocabulary or DNA. That is a great inspiration. If we are doing something, it is important to continue to build excellence.

Let’s look at what our skills are. Later in this series, there is an interview with Cal Turner Jr. Cal went to his management team in Dollar General. His highly-skilled managers were very talented. Cal went to them and said, “My dad founded this company, and I am now president and CEO because I am his son. I have a vision for where we are going, but I don’t necessarily have the skills. I got this job because of my genes, not my skills. Here is where we are going.”

Cal reported that every one of those people stepped up and said, “Okay, I am contributing, and we are going to achieve that vision.” They did. They went public, and it was very successful. Dollar General continues to be a very profitable, successful business, even to this day.

Cal said to me, “Hugh, leadership is about defining your gaps and then being very transparent about them.” This is very consistent with the model of transformational leadership that I have been teaching for years. I have morphed it into the conductor teaches leadership because the conductor models the transformational leader in taking individuals and transforming them into a choir or an orchestra and then transforming it into what we call an ensemble. The ensemble is that higher level of synergy that musicians learn to perform because they listen, because the conductor inspires them to do, and because the conductor creates the space for people to achieve excellence as a community, as a culture.

As we think about leading our teams in the enterprise that we lead, equipping ourselves is the first rule of order. Often, when I am talking to people about building their business, they say, “I am going to do all this stuff, get my team, come back, and work on leadership.” I am sad to report to you that doesn’t work. That is backwards. First, work on yourself, then work on your plan, then work on your team. That is the sequence. Otherwise, you won’t have the wisdom for who to put on the team. Who is going to do what, and how, and how will you manage this? We start a train wreck right from the beginning. Leaders cause problems. That is one way we cause problems. Because it is us, we don’t really know what we are doing. We send off confusing, conflicting, and damaging messages to the culture that we hope to lead. We have it in our mind. I love it when people say, “I have my goals in my mind. I don’t need to write them down.” If you are going to work all by yourself, that might be good. But it is never beneficial: it is a lack of commitment and clarity. It is so easy to keep changing them as there is no accountability if you don’t write them down and share them.

The first rule of leadership is defining the gaps. This is what I do really well. I suggest you start with a blank piece of paper and list your skills. These are the things that you are good at. Give it a number from 1-10. How good are you? How many 10’s do you have? How many 9’s? That means you are very good at those things. Look at the things that you are very good at. Then look at the ones with low numbers, and start making a list of your gaps. Here are things I don’t do well. You are starting to build a list of things you can delegate, which is another podcast on how to build the skill to learn to delegate. Build the skills; work on those that you are good at. As John Maxwell writes, if it is below a 5, don’t worry about increasing it because it will never get to a 10. If it is a 5 or below, that is where you want to delegate. You are going to work on the ones that are a 6 or above because those are the ones you are good at. Among those things that you are good at, there are still things you should not be doing. We as leaders do too much.

The primary lesson of this podcast is to identify your gaps. Notice I did not say strengths or weaknesses. I don’t think that because we don’t do a thing well that it is a weakness. It is a gap. It’s not what we are supposed to be doing. Free yourself of this critical language. Here is my skill. Here is my gap. Here are opportunities for me to surround myself with skilled people that can help me work with me partner with me, collaborate with me to achieve the vision.

There are two things we are responsible for as leaders in any enterprise: 1) Make sure the vision we articulate is faithfully executed throughout the organization. That is a full-time job as you grow this. It is very important to make sure that vision is faithfully articulated, and that is part of your strategy. If we don’t mind the store, who is? It’s our vision.

The second responsibility of the leader is to watch the money. Where does it go? Do we have positive cash flow? Are we making a profit? In a nonprofit, we must make profit in order to do the work that we said we are going to do. It is not profit in a business sense where we take it home and distribute it to stockholders. It is profit that is fuel for the programs and services that we offer people because we are a charity. We must have positive cash flow; we must have money left over. It is really good stewardship of resources.

No matter what we are doing, work on our gaps. Tend to ourselves. Manage ourselves because we as leaders are people of influence.

When we are in business, we do get stress. For the weary and frantic, take a note. Take a breath. Inventory your skills and gaps. Develop a plan on working on your skills and delegating those gaps.

This is Hugh Ballou. Orchestrating success begins with empowering yourself to do those things that you don’t yet know you are going to need to do for your ultimate success.

Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

Subscribe to The Transformational Leadership Strategist by Email

(c) 2016 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.


Hugh Ballou on August 8th, 2016


An effective leader does not have all the answers, but asks good questions.

In the beginning, people think vulnerability will make you weak, but it does the opposite. It shows you’re strong enough to care. – Victoria Pratt


Lead by ExampleBeing vulnerable is a strength of leadership, not a weakness. We think that being strong means that we are not vulnerable, not transparent, and basically not honest with those whom we lead. In fact, when we are not transparent, people know it and want to prove to us that they know it.

The autocratic leader holds secrets, uses power, and has all the answers – this equates to being the “Boss.”

Rather than being “bossy,” the Transformational Leader builds leadership skills in team members by nurture, engagement, questioning, and any activity that enables team members to use their thinking skills.

A large part of Transformational Leadership, as a style of leadership, is authenticity. Do what you say. Do what you ask others to do. Be genuine. Be ethical.

Transparency is related to, but not the same as, vulnerability. The transparent leader is open, direct, and vulnerable. This includes the authentic statement, “I don’t know.” Pretending to know and providing an answer or solution that is made up, and not authentic and not accurate, is deadly. If teams do not trust the leader, then there is little or no open, honest, and direct communication. In some cases, teams will try to prove the leader to be wrong.

The Transformational Leader empowers, engages, equips, and inspires leaders on teams by open transparent communication based on relationship.

Here are some thoughts from others:

As James Jordan puts it, “And he talked at length about being authentic and vulnerable with your singers, so as to get to the soft, immaculate heart of the music for an emotional, rapturous performance.” (1)

Henri Nouwen says, “Let’s not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular.” (2)

Cal Turner, Jr., former CEO and President of Dollar General, shared with me that he was able to be transparent with his team of managers in telling them that he had the vision for the company, but didn’t have the skills for getting there. That’s where they could fill in with their skills. He pointed out that leadership is basically identifying the gaps and finding people to fill in those gaps. (3)

“After spending the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness, I’ve come to believe that leadership has nothing to do with position, salary, or number of direct reports. I believe a leader is anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes.” – Brené Brown (4)

The pastor, corporate leader, conductor, and professor all advocate vulnerability from different perspectives.

Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

Subscribe to The Transformational Leadership Strategist by Email

(c) 2013 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.



1. James Jordan in the Musician’s Soul: Musician’s Soul: A Journey Examining Spirituality for Performers, Teachers, Composers, Conductors, and Music Educators

2. Nouwen, Henri J. M. (2009-03-17). Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith (p. 4). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

3. Cal Turner, Jr. Leadership is About Defining Your Gaps

4. Brené Brown, PhD, site:


More Resources:

Henna Inam: Why Vulnerability Can Be Your Biggest Strength

Thrive Blog: A Leader’s Key to Influence: Developing Your Vulnerability Muscles

Mike Robbins: The Value of Vulnerable Leadership

Kevin Eikenberry: Why Remarkable Leaders Are Vulnerable


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Hugh Ballou on July 18th, 2016

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. – John F. Kennedy

Removing the Barriers to Success

barrierWhen I work with leaders, I find repetition of some of the same issues. The issues are mostly of our own causing. Leadership actually sets up problems. We then are confused and point fingers at others, when we should be looking in the mirror.

Here are some of the most prevalent barriers to success that I encounter:

  1. Not Knowing Self: What’s blocking our success is not knowing what really is happening in our subconscious mind and not being aware of how past issues are crippling future success. It’s crucial to understand self and have an expert guide the process of self-discovery and awareness. We get trapped in a cycle and don’t know what caused us to get trapped in the first place.
  2. Not Having a Coach: Yes, I’m a coach and I’m certainly in favor of everyone having a coach. Actually, I have 2 coaches, so I do practice what I preach. I can’t do for myself what I can do for others…none of us can, and if we think we can, then who do we think we are fooling? Look at those who are successful and explore how many coaches they have. Successful people have coaches…the rest think they can do it for themselves.
  3. Not Having a Plan: The quantifiable difference between those who are successful and those who continually find that success is elusive…is a plan. Having a plan is a roadmap to your destination. It’s not an option.
  4. Not Having a Team: Building and maintaining a support group is how legendary leaders stay informed and inspired. In his research, Napoleon Hill discovered that the successful people he interviewed (Ford, Edison, Wanamaker, Woolworth, 5 Presidents, and more) all had a group of successful individuals they used for a mastermind support system for inspiration and problem solving. We become like the people we hang around with the most.
  5. Not Having an Accountability Process: Having the motivation and support of those who hold leadership accountable is a trap. Marginal leaders make excuses. Effective leaders have transparent accountability.

Check out my posts at SynerVision Leadership Foundation about leader burnout and let me know Burnout3what you think.

Click HERE

Hugh Ballou on June 20th, 2016

This is Podcast 1Orchestrating Success

Reframing Leadership:
Leading is Profit

Get it on the iTunes store HERE.
Get it on Stitcher HERE.

Welcome to Orchestrating Success: Converting Passions to Profits, Session 1. This is my brand-new podcast. The recurring themes that have come up over my 30+ years of working with leaders leading businesses, churches, synagogues, charities, and all kinds of organizations are themes that I am going to weave through this podcast over the different sessions. I have already interviewed some really great people with some powerful wisdom. In the next series of podcasts, I will be uncovering things like my four universal principles that will make you a better leader no matter where you are leading, and my five pillars of success: one, two, three, four, five, here is my pathway to success.

I meet leaders doing all kinds of different things. I go to events. I keynote at meetings, conferences, workshops, symposiums, summits. I meet people at all kinds of gatherings where they are sharing information and improving their future. I commend people for studying.

Many times, people come looking for the secrets outside of themselves. They are looking for secrets to come from someone else when in fact the secrets are inside. As a matter of fact, some of the secrets inside are the secrets that are holding us back. The barriers we create to success often are those barriers that we hold inside of us. They are those negative scripts, those things that we have been compromised with over the years, the things we don’t know about ourselves. There are the mistakes that we’ve made. It’s time to forgive ourselves and let go of those mistakes. Say, “It’s time to let go. I have done the best I can.” Those mistakes have been reframed from mistakes and redefined as learning opportunities. I have had many, many, many learning opportunities.

This foundational podcast is about equipping self, unbinding self, releasing the barriers, discovering what is holding us back. It is the shadow that is inside of us that repels money, repels team members, repels customers, when we really want to attract those. Those are the people we need because we have something they need.

I don’t know about you, but I listen to lots of podcasts. I learn lots of things from many people. Many people are very successful, and many of these successful people have a niche. This is what I do. I have been bombarded with people selling me, “This is the program that is going to make you rich.” Yes, we do need to make money. It’s not about the money; it’s about me making a difference in people’s lives and building a sustainable profit and income for myself and my business. We need to make money to make sure that we achieve the vision and mission that we see so clearly in our minds.

Over this series of podcasts, we will look at some of these shadows, these barriers, these fears and obstacles that are holding us back. Let’s look at defining the life that we want, and then we create the enterprise that will support the life we want. When I meet people at different gatherings, they have great ideas, and out of every 100 people who have a great idea, only three people will do something about it and follow through. Out of those three people that do something about it, 90% will fail because they have not worked on their skill.

One of the people I read and listen to is John Maxwell. John Maxwell talks about the different laws of success. One of those is the Law of the Lid. It says that our organization that we are charged with leading can only develop as far as our ability to lead. I tell people that, and I talk about the Dun & Bradstreet study that says 90% of businesses fail because the leaders can’t lead the business. People nod at me, tell me it’s interesting information but it doesn’t apply to them, and move on, trying to invent the future without the skillet.

The 10/90 rule is: The knowledge, the skills, the programs, the services, and the systems that we have, we teach, and we offer is 10% of our business. The other 90% are those things that we don’t know that we need. It resembles an iceberg. We see 10% of the iceberg above the water, and the 90% that is below the water is what holds up the 10%. I equate this to trying to fly a plane without ever having taken flying lessons, without having a pilot’s license. We wouldn’t dream of flying a plane, especially with passengers, without having the proper lessons.

I meet people who say, “Okay, I know this, I know this. What do I do?”

I say, “I will help equip you for success; we call it leadership.”

I have gotten the response, “I have read the books. I don’t need that.”

I have watched some of those people that have given me that response who are stuck in the same place years later as they were when we first talked. I would challenge the assumption of, “Okay, I can figure it out as I go.” We are social entrepreneurs. We are making a difference in the world. We have a vision and mission to impact people’s lives, and that vision and mission deserve to make it. We are, however, not in a sprint race; we are in a marathon. It is important to train for the marathon because we want to make it to the finish line. It is not sufficient to say, “Oh, I just ran.” But we want to make it to the finish line. It is not important to me to be first; it is important to me that I get there, and I want to get there knowing that I have not completely destroyed my body. I have trained for this marathon.

Yet we want to run a business, or we want to start a charity, and we don’t think we need to think about the systems, structures, and skills that we would need. What are we thinking? I am going to invent it. I have infinite time and resources, and I have an abundance of money, and I am going to waste it all and see if I can get there.

Well, guess what? The most successful people I know have coaches. The most successful people I know study their craft. They study about how to get there. If you think about your favorite sports figure, actor, musician, every one of them works with someone to stay at the top of their game.

During my 40 years of working as a musical conductor, I studied with the best conductors in the world. The better they are, the more this is true—they always are working on themselves, always working on getting better at their craft, always drilling at those things that they need to learn, and always working with the best of the best to stay ahead of the game. I recommend that people always have a mentor in business, no matter where you are, because we are always developing, always growing, always building our skills.

We want to define leadership in these ethereal, esoteric terms that are kind of fluffy. I would rather get down to brass tacks. Let me give you my three benchmarks of leadership. A leader is 1) a person who gets things done. A leader is 2) a person who knows how things get done. A leader is 3) a person of influence.

People have said to me over the years, “You are a conductor. I know conductors are dictators.” Well, well, if you got a little white stick, it doesn’t mean that you can make anybody do anything. You can however influence them. I was lucky to be able to hire some of the great players from some of the major orchestras and do some guest conducting in Europe. I had some really great musicians that were sitting in the chairs around me. I would get on the podium, and these are union musicians. They are getting paid for a union gig.  You have two hours, you have to be done, and they are leaving or you are paying them overtime. It is a very high-functioning culture, and they are daring you as the leader to empower them. They want to be challenged. They want to be challenged, or they just want to show up and play the notes. You have paid them for two hours. They will play the notes and leave. Or we can inspire them to excellence. I was yet to find any group that did not have the passion for excellence. They were looking to me to excite the passion to influence them and shape the process.

In my life, I heard a piece of music, and it was okay. I heard the same piece of music by a different orchestra with a different conductor, and it was stunning, it was exciting. The difference was the leader. I worked with lots of different companies, and there is a difference in the culture. The culture reflects the leader. I also find lots of leaders that blame others for things that don’t happen. They blame their board, they blame their staff, some even blame their customers. If an orchestra or a choir does not perform up to standard, the first thing the conductor does is look in the mirror. There is a famous saying, “What they see is what you get” in music. In non-musical leadership, the culture is a reflection of the leader: what they see, what they experience, what they learn from the leader is what they will reflect back.

I represent the integration of strategy and performance. When the conductor steps on the podium, we have a musical score. It is a piece of paper with dots. It is our job to transform those dots into this glorious music that the audience hears at a concert. There is work to that. This piece of paper will sit on a desk or a music stand, and it makes no sound on its own. We must integrate that strategy, which is a piece of paper, into performance. All of the musicians in the choir and the orchestra have their own parts. They know exactly what they are supposed to do. Yet I find leaders in major companies that don’t have a strategy or a plan. They say, “I have it all in my head. I can tell people what I’m thinking.” Well, it’s mass confusion because nobody knows exactly what’s going on, and it’s an insecurity of a leader not to be transparent and write down the goals.

I say to leaders: If you have a goal and it’s not written down, it’s not a goal. It’s a dream. It’s a fantasy. It is not going to happen. Writing the goal down is a commitment. It’s a commitment to success. Sharing the goal with your team, your mastermind group, your mentors, your accountability partners is a commitment to success. It is also a pathway for the leader to develop the collaborative synergy of getting referrals.

I experience over and over leaders who are burned out and complain about others in the culture not doing what is expected of them, yet when I probe deeper, I find that the same leader is doing everything. I ask this leader, “What is the incentive for others to do things if you are doing it all?” That is an Aha moment for a lot of leaders. That is called over-functioning. The reciprocity for over-functioning is under-functioning. So leaders actually set up problems. When we have an under-functioning team, it is time to review how we trained them to treat us, how we trained them to perform in the culture, how we have created the standard of low performance. It’s good to set the goals. It’s good to be transparent about the goals.

Transparency by the way is a very high leadership skill. Transparency is about being very clear on what you do and what you don’t do. My friend Cal Turner went to his team at Dollar General and said, “My dad founded this company. I have this job of CEO and president because of my genes. I’m chairman and president of this company, and I have a vision of us going public. You have the skills. We need to work together. If you want to be successful, let’s take this company public.” Everybody on his team stepped up, and they took the company public. Everybody was wildly successful. They later sold the company for a whole lot of money, and the company became very successful.

Cal said to me, “Hugh, leadership is about defining your gaps and then finding really competent people to fill those gaps. I needed to be transparent with those people that I didn’t have the skills and they did.” He continued to say, “If I had pretended to have those skills, they would know better, and they would say, ‘Aha! I am going to prove it to him. I am going to show him.’” They created a culture of collaboration because Cal Turner invited them into that space.

I am remembering one of the power leaders who I coached on process and culture development and leadership. We are finishing a call, and this person said, “I have to go to my team now. There are some things that I don’t do really well. What do I tell them?”

I said, “Why don’t you tell them?”

There was silence, and he said, “I can’t tell them that I have weaknesses.”

I paused, and I responded, “And you think they don’t already know?”

He said, “Thank you,” and hung up.

The next week’s call, I came on the call, and he said, “You know what? I told people that these are things I don’t do well. Every one of them filled up the space and said, ‘I can do that. I can do that.’” So I told him the story of Cal Turner and defining gaps.

Leadership is defining our gaps. It is finding what we do and we must do and we do that well, and finding other people to fill the gaps. Leadership is not about strengths and weaknesses; it is about skills and gaps. What we should be doing is what only we can do and getting the other things off of our plate. Leadership is getting things done. Everybody has ideas about what ought to be. 3% will actually do something. That is the law of averages. I remember hearing Jim Rohn in person. He gives these stunning principles. He says, “Only 3% of you will actually do it. Why? It’s the law of averages.”

In this first podcast, I would encourage you to think about your goals. What are your goals for your life? Write them down. Bob Proctor is famous for saying, “Write down 101 goals.” I say great. But write them down on index cards. Sit down at your dining room table. Get a fine marker, and write your goals down. Write as many as you can think about.

By the way, what I have learned from studying the writings of Napoleon Hill is that the successful leaders he interviewed could see the future, define the future in full detail, and then imagine and define it as already having happened. We write our goals in present tense, and we define them as already having happened. Then we work backwards for the process to get there.

Define your goals in specific, measurable, present-tense, powerful language. I am in possession of $1,500,000 from sales of products and services in the year 2020. 2020. That is a specific, measurable outcome defined in present tense.

My company delivers products and services to people in 83 countries.

I have a staff of 900 people that work with clients in a very intense manner every day, 24 hours a day, with somebody in every time zone in the world. Those are specific, measurable goals.

First, write your goals for yourself. What does your life look like five years from now? Here is your assignment. Get some index cards, get a marker, sit at your dining room table, and imagine the future. This is called future visioning. Write down as many goals for your life as you can think of. Then move the goals around, and begin to cluster them. I am willing to bet that if you cluster all the ones about money, there is a financial track. There are goals about systems. How do we live? What is family like? What does our life look like? Do we take vacations? Do we work? Do we play? All of these are about how we function. The other ones might be about skills. What do we need to grow in ourselves? That is an example.

Once you do that, you probably will end up with three or four categories. One might be physically fit, running a marathon, and here are the goals around being physically fit, nutritionally fit, losing weight, building muscle, being healthy, being disease-free. You may have three or four categories. Four is the maximum, and three is ideal. If we have too many goals, we are going to lose control of them. Therefore, put them in a track, put them in sequence in the track, and then commit them to paper. Sleep on it, and come back. For every category, write a header that is the ultimate goal of where you are going to be. After you complete those, that is the five-year target.

Only after you have done what your life looks like, make sure that you put in there the measures of satisfaction. What does success look like? What does satisfaction look like for you? How much is enough? How much is too much?

Then you do the same exercise for the enterprise that you lead. You might have a napkin idea. You might have been in business for years. You might be compromised in the income that you want to receive. It’s time to change that. Unlock that barrier. Remove that obstacle. Begin by envisioning the future for this business, this charity, this religious institution that you lead. Sit down and write as many goals for the future. Cluster them. I am pretty sure you will come up with a category of financial, a category of organization—What does the company or nonprofit look like? How many people? What are the systems?—and one of products, services, programs, and offerings. Group them. Put them in sequence. Commit them to paper. Sleep on it. Come back. Create a header for each category. This is what it looks like at the end of five years. After you sleep on it, you can decide if you were too tame or too bold. Make sure that you have been bold enough. Make sure that you have created the measure of satisfaction.

Now look at your personal goals and your business goals. This enterprise that you are starting, will it provide the life that you have defined? Make sure that you are going into this in alignment. You are not going to create an enterprise that will consume you and take away the quality of life. Goals written down are the primary starting point.

Then we will come back and write our vision and our mission. What is our vision and mission personally? What is our vision and mission for the enterprise? We will cover that in a different podcast. But first, let’s do this future visioning. Define what the future looks like because our thinking defines our results.

When Napoleon Hill interviewed Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie told him, “Any idea that is held in the mind and emphasized, that is either feared or revered, will begin at once to manifest itself into the most convenient and appropriate physical form available.” That is powerful. He wrote it down. Napoleon Hill interviewed these great people: Emerson, Edison, Ford, Wanamaker, Woolworth, five presidents, and more. He interviewed successful people and created the laws of success.

In chapter two, he summarizes the strategy that he encourages people to read every day: 1) These people all had definiteness of purpose. They were very clear, and they could articulate the future. 2) They brought good to the world. They brought value to people. 3) They surrounded themselves with very competent people. It is true that we become like the people who we hang around. If you want to be broke, hang around broke people. If you want to be successful, hang around successful people. Associate with those people who will lift you up and put you into a different space. You will become like them, and you will support them. Keep the future in mind. The last of those principles is 4) Have a positive mental attitude. These successful people had a positive mental attitude. They knew what the future was, and they did not consider failure an option.

Be the best leader you can be no matter what you are doing. Leadership is the pathway to profit. We have infinite passion. It does no good if we don’t implement. There are lots of strategies that people have written, and those strategies become written documents that sit on desks. A friend of mine calls it credenzaware.

Remember leaders are three things. 1) Leaders get things done. 2) This is the illusive piece for a lot of people. Leaders figure out how things get done. That is the secret. We must learn that. 3) We must become a person of influence. We attract people, not the people we need, as James Allen says, but we attract people that are like us. it is important to attract the people who are going to empower us. Know what you want. Articulate your goals, and you will start moving right away toward those goals. You will begin attracting people that will bring you value.

This is Hugh Ballou. Orchestrating success is about converting passion to profit. I’ll see you again on next week’s podcast.


Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

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(c) 2016 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.
Hugh Ballou on June 20th, 2016

Guiding Principles are the compass that keeps leaders on track.

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. 

― Stephen R. Covey

CompassGuiding principles are statements that guide our decisions and keep us true to our “Basic Self*.” When guiding principles are clearly defined, leaders can apply these principles to decisions without compromising the fundamental values that shape our organizations and ourselves. This is called “Differentiation of Self” in Bowen Family Systems Theory.

Differentiation of Self is one of the eight Bowen concepts that define our basic self. As the leader remains solid in principles, he or she remains true to what Bowen refers to as “Basic Self.” Adherence to these principles keeps the leader from making decisions in the state Dr. Murray Bowen called “Pseudo Self” in which leaders make compromises to their principles to accommodate the desires of others.

In my leadership journey, it has been difficult to remain true to myself and my principles. I have sometimes opted to make a compromise in my principles to please others. I now see that decisions that compromise one’s guiding principles can be harmful to self and others.

Guiding principles anchor the leader in a way that guides decisions and influences others. I have created personal guiding principles for my personal life, principles for my relationship with my wife, and principles for my business. Each set of principles is consistent with the others and, as a whole, strengthens me and my leadership.

Here are some examples of Personal Guiding Principles (I set these for myself):

Principles that shape and guide my personal life:

  1. Always remain calm in spite of adversity and stay in my thinking self, rather than feeling self.
  2. Refer to #1.
  3. Focus on the few that matter, rather than the many that can confuse and create stress.
  4. Observe people, processes, and group interactions, and intervene only when appropriate.
  5. Maintain a personal discipline for food, rest, pace, study, play, work, writing, and relationships in order to be my healthiest self.
  6. Live out my leadership principles of Foundations, Relationships, Systems, and Balance.
  7. Read my guiding principles daily and highlight pathways to improvement.
  8. Pray without ceasing.
  9. Speak the truth in love – always.

Principles that shape my life as a leadership strategist:

  • Listen – listening is so close to loving that you really can’t tell the difference – listen actively
  • Ask questions – I’m not the “answer man”
  • Allow for silence in conversations – for clarity, for validation, for emphasis
  • Allow clients to find their own answers – don’t over-function
  • Do not see the failure of clients as my failure
  • Breathe

I set the context for group process – define deliverables, off-limits, background, and purpose of session (informational, brainstorming, decision-making, etc.)

  • I manage the process – I am the sole focus for the group
  • The participants are responsible for content – I manage process
  • I remain calm – I approach sources of conflict and interact with questions
  • I clearly define what we are not going to do (Off-Limits) – taking a stand
  • I observe people, ask for participation, and address people who are attempting to dominate
  • I set the context for speaking the truth in love – allowing all to remain separate, open, equal
  • I never use useless tools – agendas, chart pads, PowerPoints, because they are the enemy of productivity and barriers to relationship building

Examples of guiding principles for an organization (private school):

  • We will hold ourselves accountable to achieve tasks, goals, and deadlines we set for ourselves. We will act on details while keeping in mind the big picture.
  • We will help kids to adapt to the world as it is, prepare for the world that might be, and help create the world that ought to be.
  • We celebrate diversity in our membership and in the world. We explore Wisdom Traditions and cultural celebrations, engage in service learning, and work to contribute positively to both our local community and the larger global community.
  • We will not take money if it compromises our values. We do not compromise our values.
  • We will socialize people to our culture and we will resist pressures to assimilate with societal values that betray our core values (we will focus on our values rather than compare them to others).

The bottom line: leading without guiding principles is like trying to sail a boat without a rudder.

Have you written guiding principles for yourself, your professional and personal interactions, and for your enterprise?


* A person with a well-differentiated “self” recognizes his realistic dependence on others, but he can stay calm and clear headed enough in the face of conflict, criticism, and rejection to distinguish thinking rooted in a careful assessment of the facts from thinking clouded by emotionality. Thoughtfully acquired principles help guide decision-making about important family and social issues, making him less at the mercy of the feelings of the moment.

Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist

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(c) 2013 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.


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