Monday, June 21, 2010

Leadership Nuggets from the Rabbit Trail

It's amazing where rabbit trails can take you while conducting online research. My most recent finds occurred while searching for information to support a new Leadership in Cinema lesson plan for The Blind Side. You might find the following information helpful.

Rabbit trail #1 features Michael Lee Stallard's blog entry "The Blind Side" where he talks about leaders creating a healthy social environment and mentions his book Fired Up or Burned Out, which I'm finding an interesting read and have only finished the introduction. (Read how I got a copy in my third rabbit trail.)

Rabbit trail #2 wound up in a broken link where I opted to go to Stallard's home page only to find another trail to Michael Hyatt's leadership blog entry "John Wooden and the Power of Virtue in Leadership." (We had recently posted a link to a TED clip called "John Wooden on True Success" on About Leadership in WFLDP toolbox, so this seemed a logical path.)

Rabbit trail #3 landed me on Michael Hyatt's blog entry "John Wooden and the Power of Virtue in Leadership." Hyatt is CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He provides a very fitting tribute to the late Coach John Wooden whose virtuous leadership style touched many lives. Hyatt generously provides access to a free digital download featuring Michael Lee Stallard's Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team's Passion, Creativity and Productivity. (You'll have to follow the trail to get this nugget for yourself.)

Just like Alice in Alice in Wonderland, I followed the rabbit down trails and wound up back home more grateful and knowledgable than before. I trust that you will too. Happy trails!


Employee Engagement Dude said...


Thanks for mentioning my book and the guest post I wrote about John Wooden on Michael Hyatt's blog. Just to mention it, for your readers who don't have time to read my book, they can read the Connection Culture Manifesto I wrote for that is available as a free download at this link:

By the way, although I didn't know it at the time of publication, my wife Katie is now completely cancer free and not expected to have a recurrence.

With best wishes and warmest regards,


Pam McDonald said...


Thanks for taking the time to comment. "Fired Up or Burned Out" is a great read and very applicable to use in developing wildland fire leaders.

A special thank you for suggesting the "Connection Culture Manifesto." I'll definitely give that a read.

What great news for Katie and your family. My mother succombed to breast cancer two and a half years ago. Every day is a blessing!


WF Leader said...

I have been a big fan of John Wooden ever since I was an aspiring 9 year old basketball player and got the chance to attend a basketball camp in rural NC that was run by Coach Wooden. During the 1960's he put on an annual week-long basketball camp there at Campbell College. Years later as I attended NC State University, I witnessed Wooden's coaching skills as UCLA and NC State dueled in some of the most epic basketball games I have ever seen, in which NC State actually bested UCLA the one year (1974) that they went all the way to NCAA championship titleship. Clearly, Wooden was a class act and model for all coaches and leaders.

More recently, I was reintroduced to Wooden as an excellent leadership role model while reading the book “Mindset” by Dr. Carol Dweck. Dr. Dweck used Coach Wooden to illustrate a classic case of a ‘growth mindset,” the mindset that accepts one's self and others as a “work in progress,” never labeling or branding any individual, but having faith in their ability to become and grow as a person, whether it be an athlete, coach, business person, or wildand fire leader. The “growth mindset” understands that one’s innate qualities such as physical abilities, intellect and all their “natural” talents and abilities are just starting points for one's development. They view set-backs and difficulties as challenges to overcome rather than ultimate roadblocks. They spend enormous amounts of energy and time developing their skills and abilities, and essentially exhibit a life-long love for learning and growth. All great leaders and high achievers have many elements of a “growth mindset.”

The “growth mindset” is contrasted with the “fixed mindset.” An individual who shows tendencies towards the fixed mindset feels that "either you have it (looks, talent, intellect, etc.) or you don’t. They tend to go through life trying to validate their own qualities rather than spend time developing them. They view set-backs or difficulty as validation that they are either not good at something and therefore they shouldn't waste energy or time on pushing through a learning curve or challenge. They try and blame their inadequacies on something or someone else (their teacher, the environment, circumstances or whatever) rather than accepting responsibility for their actions. To them failure is something to be avoided at all cost, and as a result they rarely fail, but not because they are always good, but because they avoid taking risks at anything but a sure bet.

Reading this book “Mindset” has been a true eye opener for me and I feel strongly that we should be informing our leadership students of this new concept in human psychology. Because the concept of mindset goes into our core understandings of ourselves and others, I feel that it is more of a foundational understanding of wisdom and knowledge. Rather than being a gold nugget or wisdom pearl, I more liken the concepts brought out by Dr. Dweck to the string on which to thread the pearls and nuggets we learn. The principles in “Mindset” are nothing really new, but it is the concept and context of the psychology behind them that helped me to finally understand how and why I should use these principles. Dweck has a website at

I felt strongly enough to have bought a book for each of my own firefighters and refuge managers with whom I work. I admit that the book is interesting, but for me it's the concepts and revelations they have given me that I am “fired up” about. I feel that it has help me find a much needed kick to my career as a fire management professional and has helped guide me through some difficult challenges. I am looking at myself and others in a totally different way than I used to. (It was once much more comfortable for me to find excuses for my failures or shortcomings than to look at opportunities to grow.) It has changed the way I supervise and value others.

Tom Crews, FMO
Alligator River NWR, USFWS

Pam McDonald said...

Here is another great post by leadership guru John Baldoni (you will recognize the name from a book I suggested a while back titled "Lead Your Boss"). His thoughts relate to those presented in "Fired Up or Burned Out."

John's post titled "Managing Employee Satisfaction in the Workplace" on Bloomberg Businessweek's blog addresses dissatifaction levels in the workplace.

Read the blog yourself at