ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — June 2003

In This Issue
When Executive Coaching Shifts
to Clinical Consultation
Observations From a “Reinvented” Coach
Leading Wholeheartedly:
A Quality Approach
Full Engagement Leadership
Looking Toward the Future
AQP’s Team Excellence Award Evaluation Criteria



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Leading Wholeheartedly: A Quality Approach
Full Engagement Leadership

In the spring issue of The Journal for Quality and Participation, we shared the insights of Robert Staub, author of The Heart of Leadership: Twelve Practices of Courageous Leaders and The Seven Acts of Courage. We’re now pleased to launch a column by Staub that can help you learn how to lead wholeheartedly every day.

“Son, any fool can tell you that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. A leader will tell you that you only have to figure out how to get the horse thirsty, then you can’t stop it from drinking.”

Lt. Col. Bob Staub

My father was a wise and experienced leader, having led men in World War II, Korea, and then in three businesses after he retired from the military. What he tapped so successfully in others was their deep reservoir of commitment and good will that constitutes getting the very best from those with whom you work and lead. This “discretionary effort” inherent in all of us is that extra effort it takes to go from compliance and doing what is expected to a passionate effort to give our all and then some.

When I am not coaching consultants within my own firm or working with the senior team of a client organization, I am giving keynote speeches. In one recent speech, I was able to physically and powerfully demonstrate the difference between compliance and full engagement. I asked everyone in the audience to raise their hands. Everyone politely raised a hand, about halfway extended. I then asked, “Can you raise them even higher?” The hands shot up with elbows fully extended, twice as high as before. I asked the audience with more passion and urgency in my voice, “Can you get them even higher?” A half dozen people stood up, making their hands 100% higher than they had been in the second attempt! I laughed and said, “I wonder if any of you can get them even higher.” Two people stood on their chairs, taking it 100% higher again from their third attempt. Then, one of them had the bright idea to raise both of his hands! Then I said quietly but with all of my heart, “That is full engagement. This is what you want from your work force and those you lead, and it is all too rare.”

How many of you are really asking for the very best that those around you, at work and at home, have to give? Are you really getting the full discretionary effort that differentiates so-so work from effort leading to superior work and powerful leadership? To get full engagement leadership requires five things:

  • Realizing that whatever you currently are getting is only a fraction of what is available and having the courage to look more deeply into how you are engaging others.
  • Starting to ask yourself—and then of those with whom you work and live—that the best you/they have to offer be given. Do this by asking the magical, power questions, “What else can we do to make this even better?” and “What will it take for us to get the very best, the full power of what each of us has to offer?”
  • Clarifying the core sense of purpose of what you are doing together and engaging the potent motivations to make a difference and contribute to something greater.
  • Demonstrating the courage to challenge and to invite challenges, and showing through your non-defensive actions that the mission and purpose are more important than your ego in the moment.
  • Inviting ideas and full participation by the way you listen and respond.

ROBERT EARL (DUSTY) STAUB II is a nationally known author with two books in print and is the founder and CEO of Staub Leadership Consultants. He facilitates leadership development programs for individuals and organizations and is based in Greensboro, NC. E-mail your questions to or call 336-282-0282.

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