Blue-Collar Leadership

I wish someone would have given me this book nearly 30 years ago when I started my career on the front lines. It would have changed my life then. It can change your life now.

better: moral authority (influence).Blue Collar Leadership Cover pictureSeparate yourself from the crowd quickly by learning how to master the traits High Impact leaders value most. You will learn how to get noticed for the right reasons and how to get promoted for the right reasons. You will learn how to become recognized as a front line leader worth following, and you don’t need formal authority (position) because you will develop something 

Note: The following is an excerpt (Chapter 1/Introduction) from my newest book, Blue-Collar-Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. Order now by clicking here.

Chapter: 1



“A few start at the top, but most of us start at the bottom.” ~ Mack Story

Merriam-Webster’s simple definition of blue-collar: requiring physical work; relating to or having jobs that require physical work.

I’m proud of the many years I spent on the front lines as part of the blue-collar workforce in various manufacturing plants. Those years, and the many outstanding people I worked alongside, shaped me and prepared me to be uniquely positioned to help you today. For that, I’m forever grateful. But, I’ll never be satisfied.

If you’ll learn and apply what I’ll be sharing with you on these pages, you won’t have to settle any longer. Like me, you should always be grateful but never be satisfied. You can become a lot more. It’s a choice I hope you will make.

You have unlimited potential within you and can move far beyond your current circumstances. I want to help you increase your influence. When you increase your influence, you’ll have more options no matter where you work or what work you do.

Those on the front lines have been overlooked for far too long. I’ve written this book for you. If you invest your time in reading it completely, you will benefit tremendously as a result.

When you decide to accept responsibility for your future, you will be able to define your future.

My intent is to motivate and inspire you to climb to the next level and beyond. I want to help you go faster and farther by sharing what I didn’t begin to learn until nearly 20 years after my first day on the front lines. I wish someone had given me this very book in 1988. Things would have been better for me. And, they would have been better much sooner.

I hope as you make your way through this book you begin to see things, including yourself, in a much different way. I hope you feel encouraged, empowered, and engaged to make a bigger difference in your own life and those around you. I believe you can do things you’ve never even imagined doing.

I want to take you back to my days on the front lines for a moment. I’m sure you will be able to relate in some way. You may not work in the manufacturing plants like I did. But, if you’re a blue-collar worker, I know you work hard and long, no matter what type of work you may be doing: electrical, plumbing, construction, farming, mining, manufacturing, oil & gas industry, carpentry, service work, welding, assembly, etc.

There are many of us. We are everywhere.

The blue-collar workforce built this country, and they can and must save this country.

I worked long, hard hours, in hot, cold, dirty, and sometimes, unsafe environments while being bossed by others who thought they were far above me because they had a position of authority and power or simply because they had a college degree. Most often, I only respected the position and not the person. They had to earn my respect.

They didn’t listen to me. They didn’t have to. They didn’t want to. However, if I wanted to continue to get paid I had to do what they said, when they said it, and how they said it.

I didn’t realize I had a choice. But, I did. You do too. This entire book is going to help you realize you have a lot of choices and a lot of untapped potential.

I’ll never forget my first day on the front lines in 1988 at the age of 18.

It was the first time I had been in a manufacturing plant of any kind in my life. I was quickly taken from the front office and handed off to someone in front of a very, large, loud, and oily machine, a machine like nothing I had ever seen before. I had been in the plant for about 10 minutes at that time.

It was official. I was a blue-collar factory worker. I would stand in front of many machines for many years in many different plants before that would change.

I was shown how to load the machine, start the machine, unload the machine, inspect the parts, and repeat. Then, I was on my own. I was at work doing exactly what I was told to do.

When I got home from work, all of my clothes, even my underwear, were soaked with oil. It was that way for the next two weeks until someone finally told me I could purchase a plastic apron in one of the break rooms, for less than a dollar, that would help keep me dry.

This is how my blue-collar career started.

For the next 10 years on the second and third shifts, I often worked seven days a week, 10 to 16 hours a day for months at a time to make ends meet. When overtime was available, I was always quick to volunteer. I didn’t want to. I needed to.

I was greedy because I needed to be greedy. Life was tough. I could never get ahead regardless of how many hours or days a week I worked. I’m sure not much has changed today for many who are still making it happen day in and day out on the front lines of the blue-collar world.

There wasn’t much respect for us then, and there’s not much respect for many on the front lines today. I know the potential that lies within you. It was also within me, but I didn’t know it. I want to help you realize it sooner rather than later.

Everything changed for me in 1995 because one person believed in me and shared that belief with me.

It will be my privilege if I can be that person for you.

I want you to know: I respect you.

I want you to know: Who you are matters.

I want you to know: I believe in you.


Be a Game Changer – The World Has Enough Followers.

In a recent blog post, I wrote about living with abundance, achieving success, choosing significance, and leaving a legacy. However, I want to revisit this in a different but similar context and also add the foundational element that was understood, but not discussed, listed here as Decision #1.

Note: What I’m discussing here has nothing to do with having a position. However, it has everything to do with having a purpose.

5 Decisions that will Change Your Game

Decision #1: Accept Responsibility

If you truly want to be a Game Changer, there’s something you must accept from the start: accept responsibility.

If you don’t make this choice, you will never be a Game Changer. You will simply dream about changing the game while standing on the sidelines watching, helping, and supporting others that are actually changing the game. Don’t get me wrong. If you can’t change the game yourself, to continue to be relevant and effective, you must support and follow those that are changing the game. Game Changers depend on and value an army of trusted and creative followers. They know they can’t do it alone. And, they know they can’t do it without accepting responsibility for doing it with and through others.

Game Changers don’t dream about changing the game. They change the game!

Decision #2: Live with Abundance

When Game Changers accept responsibility, they will quickly discover the need to live with abundance.

Game Changers know that an abundance mindset is not about them having an abundance of everything. They are not selfish because they are not competitively seeking it all.  They understand there is plenty of everything to go around and want to work with and through others that believe the same thing. The Law of Magnetism states that who we are is who we attractGame Changers realize early on, that in order to attract unselfish people to their cause, they must also be unselfish. Game Changers also know this truth: an abundance mindset is the key to building strong, sustainable, and mutually beneficial relationships.

Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into. ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Decision #3: Achieve Success

The key strategy of a Game Changer is to live with an abundance mindset. Living with abundance will not only allow them to achieve success, but it will allow them to do so in a positive value-driven way.

Game Changers are focused. They are not wandering aimlessly and endlessly. They know where they are going and when they are going. To achieve success, they must follow their passion until they discover their purpose. As they move closer to discovering their purpose, they will simultaneously be developing their competency in their area of passion. Game Changers realize it takes a high degree of character to live with abundance, but it also takes a high degree of competency to achieve success. They are intentional about their own personal growth and development.

Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself. ~ Viktor Frankl

Decision #4: Choose Significance

Only the most highly successful Game Changers move beyond success and choose significance. For these select few, reaching the summit of the mountain isn’t enough. They want to go back down and help others climb their way to the top.

Not only do these Game Changers want to change the game. They have developed a passion to help others become Game Changers. Most people that achieve success will not choose significance. Why? Because it’s much easier to pay the price for your own success. Choosing significance requires us to first pay a high price for our own success. Then, we must pay an even higher price to help others achieve success. Only when we are willing to sacrifice our own time and resources to help and benefit others have we chosen significance. When we value other’s success more than we value our own, we are in a position to become significant.

 John C. Maxwell’s “Rule of 5” for creating a life of significance:

1. Everyday I value people. Manipulating devalues. Motivating values.

2. Everyday I think of ways to add value to people.

3. Everyday I Look for ways to add value unexpectedly.

4. Everyday I do things that add value to you.

5. Everyday I encourage others to add value to people.

Decision #5: Leave a Legacy

Dr. Stephen R. Covey is a great example of a Game Changer. The ultimate Game Changer will make a lifetime of choices that results in them leaving behind a legacy.

Leaving behind a legacy requires a Game Changer to not only repeatedly make a significant difference in the lives of others, but also to do it consistently over a long period of time. Leaving a legacy is not about what we do. It’s about what others do after we’re gone because of who we were while we were here. I’ve been hearing consistently over the last few years of many school systems that have recently embraced teaching the principles that Dr. Covey wrote and taught about in his amazing book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Part of his legacy lives in me. Had he not chosen significance, I would not have had the opportunity to read his book. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he changed my life, and through me, Dr. Covey will change many lives because I too have experienced a transformation in my life and chosen significance.

Everyone chooses one of two roads in life- the old and the young, the rich and the poor, men and women alike. One is the broad, well-traveled road to mediocrity, the other the road to greatness and meaning. ~ Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.

Make an impact!

Mack Story

My passion is helping people understand what’s common sense isn’t always common practice. I help leaders at all levels develop 360° of influence. The result: they take more responsibility and lead with speed.

Live with Abundance. Achieve Success. Choose Significance. Leave a Legacy.


As you may know, I write a lot of blogs and post a lot of quotes to help motivate and inspire others to be more, do more, and have more with the hope, that in time, they will serve more by first becoming a more effective leader of themselves with the intention of becoming a more effective leader of others.

I recently shared these thoughts:

“Live with abundance. Achieve success. Choose significance. Leave a legacy.”

Shortly after I had made the post, I received this comment:

“This is a great mindset, but I would appreciate it if you could develop this further for us. We all want abundance, success, significance and to leave a legacy. What we often lack is the road map. We have the ‘what’ and not the ‘how.'”

I could easily write a complete book, a road map, to answer this question. However, I will attempt to keep it relatively short while adding links to support this lesson. I’m going to share more information about the “how” relative to each aspect of my original quote.

Live with Abundance

Abundance is about understanding the big picture and knowing there is plenty of everything for everyone. We must understand resources and recognition are truly abundant and unlimited. In order to understand abundance, it may help to first understand the opposite: scarcity.

When I have a scarcity mindset, I believe what I want and what I desire is limited.

In other words, there is only so much of what I want such as love, money, recognition, praise, credit, etc. to go around. When I live out of scarcity, I think that if someone else gets what I want, there isn’t any left for me.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. However, if you believe this, you will, in fact, have less. Not because there is less, but because your selfish character will attract less. As a result, you are providing the evidence to support your belief.

When I live with abundance, I believe there is enough of everything for everybody. As a result, my character reveals my beliefs in a way that can be validated by others through my actions. I am not selfish. I am selfless. That is not something I say; that is something I am.

When I live with abundance, I don’t go through life seeking only to win. I actually grow through life seeking to win while also helping others win. Not only do I know I can win, but I also know you and everyone else can win. We can all win. Therefore, my challenge is not with you. My challenge is within.

No one can stop me from winning, but me. No one can stop you from winning, but you. Anything else is simply an excuse.

Here’s a simple example of abundance to help you understand. I write a lot of blogs with win-win in mind. Sure, I win by expanding my network, demonstrating my competency relative to my expertise, and occasionally receive the opportunity to serve others professionally. The reader also wins by receiving value through free content, by being valued as a person with greater potential, and by being helped and developed by a stranger that believes in them with no expectations or strings attached.

At the end of each blog post, I add this note, “I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful.”

This demonstrates an abundant mindset. A scarcity mindset wouldn’t put out free content much less give you permission to share it with the world. This is not all the content I have. I read and grow daily. I will always have more content.

My content is not limited unless I limit it. My knowledge is not limited because I am not limited. However, if I was resting on what I have done in the past with no desire to grow and become more on a daily basis, I would be hoarding my knowledge because that is all I would ever have.

That wouldn’t be your fault. That would be my fault.

Achieve Success

An abundance mindset will allow you to achieve success. Actually, living with abundance provides the foundation for success. People with an abundance mindset attract and are attracted to others with an abundance mindset. Together, they can achieve great success.

There are two keys that will allow you to achieve success.

The first key to achieving success is to work on your own personal character development. Who you are will determine who you will attract. Who you attract will determine your level of success.

If you want to achieve a higher level of success, you must develop a higher level of character. It’s that simple! Your character development will allow you to move beyond manipulating others to achieve success. High levels of success only come when we begin to motivate others in a way that inspires them to choose to help us achieve success.

The second key to achieving success is developing our competency relative to our passion and our purpose. We must follow our passion to find our purpose.

Whether we choose to continuously develop our competency or rest on what we have accomplished in the past is also based on our character.

It takes a higher level of character to continuously invest in developing ourselves.

It’s a lot easier to settle than it is to continuously stretch. As we continue to develop in our areas of passion, we will become more energized, motivated, and inspired. As a result, we will become contagious to those that believe what we believe and want to achieve what we want to achieve. Our influence with others will increase significantly.

I’ve written an entire book, Defining Influence, to help those that want to achieve success understand many of the foundational elements of character development.

High Level Character + High Level Competency = High Level Success


Choose Significance

Significance is a choice that only successful people can make. Why? Because significance is about helping others achieve success. It’s not about me. It’s about we. However, it does begin with me.

If you haven’t achieved success yourself in a specific area, others are not likely to seek you out to help them in that area. Even if they do, the odds you can actually help them achieve success in an area where you haven’t had success yourself is very small, if at all.

You may have achieved success in some areas while struggling in other areas. Success is very dynamic. For instance, someone may have achieved tremendous success in their personal life as a parent. Yet, that same person may have struggled tremendously in their professional life at work.

In this case, the person would be very well positioned to help others achieve success as a parent. However, relative to their area of expertise professionally, they wouldn’t be of much help to anyone because they haven’t achieved success in that area themselves.

Choosing significance also requires a much higher level of character development than achieving success.

Why? Because it’s no longer about your success. It’s about helping others become more successful. Success comes with a high price. However, significance comes with an even higher price. It’s easy to pay the price to achieve success because you win. But, paying the higher price for significance, which means you are paying more to help others win, is not something that most successful people are willing to do.

This blog post is a simple example of success versus significance. Many very successful people have the ability to write blog posts, books, etc. relative to their area of expertise but choose not to do so.

I had to pay the price to achieve success relative to the leadership content I write about by reading, learning, and applying what I’m sharing with you here in my own life. But, by choosing to invest nearly four hours of my time today thinking and writing this blog post to help you, I’m required to pay an even higher price to help you.

I’m giving you and others four hours of my most valuable resource: my time.

By choosing to invest time helping you, I’m sacrificing the time I could be investing to help myself. Additional reading for myself during these four hours would be about achieving additional success. However, writing this blog post for you is about helping you achieve additional success. By making this choice, I’m choosing to be significant instead of successful.

Leave a Legacy

Significant people are the only ones that will leave a legacy. We can only leave a legacy through others.

By choosing significance, my intent is to leave a legacy through others. If I would have continued to only worry about what I had and what I wanted when I was focused on success, I would have never been in a position to choose a life of significance. I would not have the opportunity to leave a legacy.

Leaving a legacy is not about leaving something for others. Leaving a legacy is about leaving something within others. When we repeatedly choose significance, we are making our best attempt to leave a legacy within others.

Leaving a legacy is not truly determined by us.

We have only left a legacy when those we have influenced along the way choose a life of significance and continue the cycle.

Leaving a legacy is about inspiring others to choose significance. Motivation comes from the outside which means we or others must be present to stimulate action. But, inspiration comes from the inside which means others will take action based on what’s already inside of them, not because of who is standing beside them.

When others are acting because we influenced and inspired them, we are leaving a legacy.

We don’t really ever work on leaving a legacy. We first must work on living with abundance. Then, we must work on learning to achieve success. Next, we must work on making intentional choices to become significant. And finally, if we do it well enough and we do it long enough, we will be in a position to leave a legacy.

“Humility means knowing and using your strength for the benefit of others, on behalf of a higher purpose. The humble leader is not weak, but strong…is not pre-occupied with self, but with how best to use his or her strengths for the good of others. A humble leader does not think less of himself, but chooses to consider the needs of others in fulfilling a worthy cause. We love to be in the presence of a humble leader because they bring out the very best in us. Their focus is on our purpose, our contribution, and our ability to accomplish all we set out to accomplish.” ~ Alan Ross

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy Be a Game Changer: the world has enough followers.

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.

Make an impact!

Mack Story

My passion is helping people understand what’s common sense isn’t always common practice. I help leaders at all levels develop 360° of influence. The result: they take more responsibility and lead with speed.

The Key to Leading in a Negative Environment


Would you mind writing an article about how to thrive as a leader amidst tides of negativity?” This is a question I received a few weeks ago in my LinkedIn inbox. I hope this post adds value to the person that asked me to share my thoughts on this issue and others that may be in the same situation. I get some form of this question almost weekly from someone.

My reply may not be what you expect. Most often, people that ask this question are searching for practices, but they should be searching for principles.

Practices apply in certain situations. Principles apply in all situation.

For more than 10 years, I have thrived as a leader among a sea of negativity. I’m often sought after for cultural transformation and to professionally lead teams through challenging processes. I usually know nothing or very little about what the teams are actually doing or planning to do. What I do know is how to motivate and inspire people to achieve great results. I recently calculated that I have spent over 11,000 hours leading cross-functional teams through change. Change that most didn’t ask for and most didn’t want. Teams that often didn’t know each other or me. Teams that were often made up of some very negative people.

When a leader is challenged to lead (influence) in a negative environment, they have three options:

  1. Step up. To do so, you must have already made a large investment in personal character development. You must also be the top leader or have leaders above you with the ability to lead at or above your level. If you and your leaders, if applicable, have paid the price, you will be able to effectively deal with any negativity you encounter. Either by changing the people through growth and development or by changing the people through removal and replacement. The leaders that are able to step up never ask me the question that started off this lesson. Why? They already know the answer. If you can’t improve the team and/or your environment, you’re not leading. You’re being led.
  2. Step aside. This is typically what happens when a leader hasn’t done the character work that will allow him/her to lead among a sea of negativity but wants to remain with the team because they don’t have other options. The leader simply steps aside willingly or is pushed aside unwillingly when the real leader, the person with the most influence regardless of rank or title, begins to lead the team. Understand, this influence can be positive or negative. Often, the person with the most influence is negative which influences those around them to also choose to be negative.
  3. Step out. This is typically what happens when a leader has done the character work to lead in a negative environment but has a leader above them that has not. When this happens, the leadership above is undermining the leadership below. High level character development means you have the courage to do whatever it takes to make any situation better. In this case, you can’t make the current environment better because of poor leadership above. However, because of your personal growth and development you have created options and have the courage to act on those options. The result: you change your environment by changing your environment. In other words, you join a new team that doesn’t attract or allow negative team members to contaminate the team.

Strong leaders step up. They are ready. They are positive. They have strong character. They are in a position to make it happen and do make it happen.

Weak leaders step aside. They are not ready. They are negative. They have weak character and blame others for their inability to cope with reality. They are in a position to make it happen but cannot.

Trapped leaders step out. They are ready. They are positive. They have strong character. They are not in a position to make it happen, but they want to make it happen. So, they find a place where they can.

The answer to the question: “How do I thrive as a leader amidst tides of negativity?”

The key to dealing with negativity at any level is character development at your level.

To thrive as a leader in a sea of negativity, you must either step up or step out. The answer to how you thrive in a sea of negativity is found within, not without.

Character is developed daily, not in a day. Everything we cannot effectively deal with can be traced back to a lack of character on our part. That’s not someone else’s fault. That’s our fault. Dr. Henry Cloud, author of Integrity, put it this way, “Character is the ability to meet the demands of reality.” He also added, “Integrity is the courage to meet the demands of reality.”

Note: I’ve written two books and over 100 blog posts that will help you develop your character and your ability to lead.

When you are surrounded by a sea of negativity, it’s always rooted in a lack of leadership. Where leadership thrives, negativity cannot survive. Negativity cannot thrive in an organization that is being led well. Likewise, negativity cannot thrive in an individual that is leading themselves well. Everything rises and falls on leadership. This includes negativity.

Here’s an important question. Which leader causes the negativity in an organization? Sometimes, it’s a leader above us. But, most often, it’s the leader within us. Here’s the most important question. Which leader can we directly influence to address the negativity? It’s always the one within us.

When we think our problem lies outside of ourselves, that very thought is the problem.

Why? Because if nothing “out there” ever changes, we will always have a problem. But, if we think the problem lies within, we have total control and can find a solution to our problem. Now, we simply must do what it takes in order to work and live in the environment we prefer to be in.

Relative to this lesson, if everyone “out there” remains negative, and all we do is blame them and try to fix them, we are in for a miserable life and/or a frustrating career. But, if everyone “out there” remains negative, and we take responsibility for developing ourselves and focusing on our mission, we will create new and better options for ourselves. We may, in fact, influence them to change as a result, or we will develop ourselves to a level where positive people and teams want us to join them.

When dealing with negative people, it’s always nice to have options. When dealing with positive people, it’s still nice to have options.

Be intentional. Develop yourself by developing your character.

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.

Make an impact!

Mack Story

My passion is helping people understand what’s common sense isn’t always common practice. I help leaders at all levels develop 360° of influence. The result: they take more responsibility and lead with speed.

Demystifying Common Sense


Everyone seems to know that common sense is not common practice. However, most people don’t seem to know why.

Knowing why common sense is not common practice requires an intellectual level of understanding far beyond common sense.

When I speak on the subject of common sense in my leadership development seminars, everyone in the room always realizes that the leadership principles I speak about are common sense, but they also know that they are not commonly practiced among the masses of people.

Why isn’t common sense common practice?

I’ve come to understand that the problem is found in our perceived definition of common sense which leads to our expectations not being met. You see, when someone says something is common sense, what they actually mean is that it is commonly understood.

Again, the principle relative to common sense that most people are missing is this: When we say something is common sense, we mean anyone should understand it. However, doing what is commonly understood is far beyond common.

Here’s a simple example to prove my point:

It’s common sense to understand that we should invest our time and money into our own personal growth and development in order to become more effective at work and at home. If we want to be better, we need to get better. If we want our organization to be better, we must help our people become better people. Common sense right? Of course. Common practice? Usually not.

“The top 5 percent of achievers invest an average of $3,000 per year on personal growth while the other 95 percent average only $7 per year.” ~ Les Brown

If we invest in ourselves and become intentional about moving ourselves forward, we will move forward. Our personal and professional lives will get better. Most people will instantly agree. But, most people don’t do it. Most people won’t do it.

Instead, most people will choose to spend more money hanging out with friends over the weekend having a good time, or purchasing something else they don’t need but that will make them temporarily feel good, or taking a weekend getaway to escape a job or life they don’t like than they will spend on their own personal growth and development. Rather than choosing to intentionally invest their time and financial resources into their own personal growth and development in an effort to create the life they want and improve their circumstances every day, they settle for what’s easiest, escaping from the life they have.

Why is this the case? Because common sense means we understand what we should do. However, doing it requires uncommon sense.

I think you get will get the point. After all, it’s “common sense.”

Why wouldn’t we do it? Because understanding this is common sense while taking action requires uncommon sense.

  • Believing in ourselves requires uncommon sense.
  • Investing in ourselves requires uncommon sense.
  • Developing ourselves requires uncommon sense.

If you want to achieve uncommon results, you must possess uncommon sense.

Those with common sense will talk themselves out of what they know they should and need to do at this point. Invest in themselves more.

Knowing but not doing. Again, common sense only means we will understand what should be done. It doesn’t mean we will do it.

Having the discipline to take the initiative to better ourselves requires uncommon sense.

My challenge to you: be more intentional; become more uncommon.

You can do it on your own, or you can partner with others. But, do it.

I’ll be happy to schedule a complimentary call to help you understand how you can do it yourself, how I can help you, and/or how I can help you develop yourself and your team simultaneously.

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.

Make an impact!

Mack Story

My passion is helping people understand what’s common sense isn’t always common practice. I help leaders at all levels develop 360° of influence. The result: they take more responsibility and lead with speed.

2016 is coming! It’s time to get off the fence and prepare to make it happen!


Pause and Think:

What would change if you had more influence? At work? At home?

“There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead us inspire us.” ~ Simon Sinek

Leadership is Influence

Do you believe the person with the most influence, in any given situation, at any given time is the leader of the group? Notice, I didn’t ask if the person with the most power, the highest rank, or the biggest title is the leader of the group. Think about the question deeply for a moment.

Forget all the questions that may be popping into your mind as you consider your answer. Keep your thoughts simple. If you have the most influence among a group of people, are you the leader of the group? Yes or no? Without a doubt, the person with the most influence is always the leader.

Do you believe you will be better off with more or less influence? Personally? Professionally? What would change in both areas if your influence increased?

My mentor, John C. Maxwell said it best, “Leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less.” The person with the most influence is the leader of the pack. The word influence can be used in place of the word leadership at any time. They are synonyms. Train yourself to use them interchangeably. But most importantly, when you speak with others, be sure to define leadership as influence to help them better understand they too are leaders, regardless of whether or not they have a formal position.

My belief that everything rises and falls on influence led me to write an entire book on influence, Demystifying Leadership Series: Defining Influence. In Defining Influence, I help the reader discover many principles of influence and fully understand that everyone has influence. Therefore, based on my belief in John C. Maxwell’s definition of influence, everyone is a leader.

The question is not, “Are you a leader?” But rather, “What kind of leader are you?” And most importantly, “What type of leader do you want to become?” How far do you want to grow?

Are you intentionally working to increase your influence? Should you be?

What would happen if your influence increased in every situation? Would your life be better? Would the life of those around you be better? Would you achieve better results? Would your income be more likely to increase? Would you have more options?

Increasing your influence always increases your options.

Consider the last time you were mad, sad, upset, or frustrated at home or at work. Was it because you had too much influence or not enough?

Consider a time when you needed help with a project and couldn’t get it. Was it because you had too much influence or not enough?

I believe everything we ever achieve will be based on the amount of influence we have with others. However, I also believe in order to develop our influence with others, we first must influence ourselves. We must lead ourselves well before we can lead others well. If we want to lead better, we must be better. We must become higher level leaders than we are today.

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.

Make an impact!

Mack Story

Hey boss, having a position doesn’t make you a leader.


The best teams, departments, divisions, and organizations all have one thing in common. The people are led not managed. Bosses aren’t allowed, but everyone at every level receives an invitation to lead.

In the very best organizations, leaders are welcomed but bosses are not.
Unfortunately, many people in today’s society strive to be the boss. They desire a position of authority and the related perks. These narcissistic, prideful, and ego driven individuals are drawn to the title, not the people.

Once they get their sought after position, they think they have arrived. They think they are on top of the Leadership mountain. They now have power, control, and authority over other’s lives. Every real leader understands that a boss is not on top of the Leadership mountain. The boss is only at the base of the mountain. All it took was someone else in a position of authority to share their authority with them, to select them, and to give them a position.

“A leader is someone who has followers. If there are no followers, there is no leader. A person may have subordinates, workers, admirers, associates, co-workers, friends, and people who report to him or her, a person may have authority over other people, a person may hold an elective office, and a person may influence a large number of people, but that does not make that person a leader if there are no followers. A follower is someone that has chosen a leader.” ~ Jimmy Collins, Retired President of Chick-fil-A 33 years

Leaders are the only ones that can and that will climb the Leadership mountain. However, only the best leaders will make it to the top. Once the best make it to the top, some will choose to do what only high impact leaders can do. They will go back down the mountain and help other developing leaders climb their way to the top.

Reaching the top of the Leadership mountain is about success. Helping others reach the top of the Leadership mountain is about significance. The #2 book on my all-time reading list is The 5 Levels of Leadership by my mentor, John C. Maxwell. If you aspire to climb the Leadership mountain, this book is a must read. In it, John reveals that position is the lowest level of leadership. When I reference the 5 Levels, I add in that not only is the positional level is the lowest level of leadership, but it is also the highest level of management.

We should lead people, but we must manage things and processes. A boss simply attempts to manage it all: people, things, and processes.

The 5 Levels of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
Position. Key word: rights. People follow you only because they have to.
Permission. Key word: relationships. People follow you because they want to. Note: The results of a research study conducted with 17,000 people, reflected a 40% increase in productivity when people follow a leader because they want to compared with following a leader because they have to.
Production. Key word: results. People follow you because of what you have done for the organization.
People-Development. Key word: reproduction. People follow you because of what you have done for them personally.
Pinnacle. Key word: respect. People follow you because of who you are and what your represent.

“Respect is something earned, not a feature of a title, office, rank, or position.” ~ Jimmy Collins

  • Key things to understand about The 5 Levels of Leadership
    Every time you meet someone, start a new job, get a promotion, or move to a new company, you must always restart at level 1 regardless of where you were with other people or organizations. Note: If you don’t have a position of authority relative to other people, you must climb to level 2 and build a relationship before you can lead (influence) them. If they don’t choose to follow, without a position, you will not be able to lead them.
  • You will be on different levels with different people at the same time.
  • The higher you climb, the harder it gets but the greater your influence will be.
  • You never leave a level behind but rather build on each level with each person like a multi-layered foundation.
  • You must master each level before you can climb to the next level. For instance, I could be a millionaire CEO getting tremendous results (level 3). But, if I don’t truly value the people in my organization and just use them as a means to an end, I am still a level 1 leader getting great results. Or, I may be developing people (level 4). But if the only reason is to get better results and make more profit, I’m still leading from level 1. A true level 4 leader develops people because he values people and wants to see them do well in society not just in his company.

“A transformational leader intentionally engages people to think and act in such a way that it makes a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others.” ~ John C. Maxwell

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful.

Hey boss, why are we always losing our best people?

Let me start by telling you right away, most of the time, the boss doesn’t have a clue why the best AAEAAQAAAAAAAAWTAAAAJGUwMmVkNjRmLWM4YjEtNGI4NS1hNjEwLWRmMmExM2Q2OTFiMgpeople are leaving! I also want you to know, it’s usually because of the boss.

“People quit people, not companies.” ~ John C. Maxwell

Numerous studies have determined that the #1 reason people leave a company is because of their relationship with their boss.

There’s nothing worse for a team, department, and organization than hiring and developing people only to have the best ones always leaving. It’s also expensive, even the poor leaders know this. Why? Because poor leaders are more concerned with the numbers than the people. They know what’s going on. But, they don’t know why. They really don’t. Yes, I know it’s sad. That’s why I do what I do.

“Leadership is about taking responsibility for lives not numbers. Managers look after our numbers and our results, and leaders look after us.” ~ Simon Sinek

If you work for a really bad organization, there’s something worse than having the best people leave. What’s that? Only having the worst people stay and all the rest, the average people and the best people, leave. If you work for a company like this, I have one very serious question for you. Why?!?

There’s a metric used to measure what I’m talking about. It’s called turnover.

I’ve literally worked with organizations that have several hundred percent turnover. If you’re not familiar with turnover as a metric, let’s say we have 100 employees. If we have a 10% turnover, this means 10 employees are hired annually. If we have 100% annualized turnover, 100 employees are hired annually. This really happens. And often, it’s worse!

If we have a 200% turnover, 200 employees are hired annually to support an organization with only 100 employees. This doesn’t mean everyone leaves. Some may have been there 20 years. But there, are some that only stay a few days or weeks and have to be steadily replaced.

I’m telling you. I have seen this repeatedly. Some companies really struggle to find people, the worst in the job market, which will actually stay. These companies are terribly led and blame the turnover on the “bad” people they’re hiring. When actually, the “bad” people are staying, and the “better” people are leaving.

The higher the turnover, the bigger the problem. And, it’s not at the bottom. It’s at the top!

The turnover metric also measures something else indirectly. Leadership! The higher the turnover, the worse the leadership. Not sometime, every time. Of course, when there is high turnover, those leaders will simply say things like this, “We can’t find any good people. There just aren’t any good people out there. People just aren’t loyal like they used to be.” Blah…blah…blah. Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.

What’s interesting is that the very best led companies have hundreds and often thousands of people applying for a single position when one finally opens up. They don’t do a lot of hiring because their turnover is low. Their people are loyal, just like in the old days. They don’t have a problem finding good people. Their halls and facilities are full of them.

Remember, when I said earlier that the boss doesn’t have a clue why the best people leave. It’s because there’s a huge blind spot between them and the mirror. Whenever we place the cause of our results outside of ourselves, it’s an excuse, not a reason.

Knowing how many poorly led companies there are out there, I’m sure there are some reading this thinking, “I work for a company like this. The bosses don’t have a clue. Only the worst people stay.” If you’re thinking this, you’ve also got a problem. If you’re aware that only the worst people stay, why aren’t you aware that you’re one of them? It’s time to wake up! You also have a blind spot between you and the mirror.

I saw the following on a sign some time ago, “If the truth hurts, it probably should.” If this is you, quit goofing off after work and on the weekends. Get intentional. Lead yourself. Begin by developing yourself, so you will have options that you don’t have today.

5 Reasons the Best People Leave

  1. Their boss is an insecure leader. The boss tries to keep people in the same position. The boss is afraid of someone taking his/her job.
  2. Their boss doesn’t care about them. They don’t feel valued. The boss is more concerned with their work than with them.
  3. They don’t trust their boss or the boss’s boss. They feel manipulated much more than they feel motivated.
  4. They literally know more than their boss. Their talents and capabilities aren’t being utilized. They want to contribute but feel overlooked.
  5. They have outgrown the organization. They are growing at a faster rate than the boss and the boss’s boss. They are hungry for growth and want to make a difference, but aren’t allowed to do so.
  6.  (There are more than 5 reasons. Add your thoughts in the comment section below.)

Jim Lundy had a humorous take on this in his book, Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way. In it, he includes the response of people who work in an environment where leaders hold back from them. He writes about the “Subordinates Lament,” which says, “We the uninformed, working for the inaccessible, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful!” And the “Mushroom Farm Lament” goes like this: “We feel we’re being kept in the dark. Every once in a while someone comes around and spreads manure on us. When our heads pop up, they’re chopped off. And then we’re canned.”

5 Reasons the Worst People Stay

  1. They are insecure. They feel the company is doing them a favor by allowing them to work there. They feel they can’t find another job.
  2. They have a lot of baggage. They felt lucky to get the job in the first place. They know most (better) companies would not hire them.
  3. They don’t have options. They haven’t developed themselves and don’t want to develop themselves. They are happy to do their time and get a check.
  4. They don’t like change. They hope they never have to find another job or get moved to a different department. They live for the status quo.
  5. They don’t value people because they don’t value themselves. They fit in because they don’t care and neither do the bosses.
  6. (There are more than 5 reasons. Add your thoughts in the comment section below.)

“A good leadership coach will do everything in his power to help you close the gap between your potential and your performance. That may entail brutal honesty. Why? Because the painful truth is the fast track to increased performance.” ~ Andy Stanley

Note: If your turnover is too high and you want to look in the mirror and take responsibility for addressing the root cause, the leadership of the organization, I’ll be happy to accept the responsibility of helping you grow and develop the leadership team. However, if the top leader doesn’t want to be involved, please find someone who is only interested in helping for the money. I truly want to make a difference and know it won’t happen without the top leader’s support and involvement. I don’t want to waste your time or mine.

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.

Make an impact!

Mack Story

My passion is helping people understand what’s common sense isn’t always common practice. I help leaders at all levels develop 360° of influence. The result: they take more responsibility and lead with speed.

Leadership is not about me, but it starts with me

The cost of leadership is self-interest. ~ Lt. General George Flynn – USMC

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAL-AAAAJGEwNjIzN2I0LTE2NjUtNDcxMC05ZWNhLTQxYzZhYjY4NWNhZQIf you’re a student of leadership, you already know that mangers and leaders see themselves and others differently. What determines what we see? Our paradigm, our frame of reference. What we are on the inside determines what we see on the outside.

Let me remind you, both managers and leaders are valuable to every team. We need both to truly make things happen. We should never manage people, but many low level leaders (managers/bosses) do. We manage things and processes (stuff). Stuff can’t think. So, we have to do all of the thinking. This isn’t the case when it comes to people. That’s why leading is more effective than managing when people are involved.

When we attempt to manage people, we begin to set ourselves up for a struggle. Why? Most people do not like to be managed. They like to be led. If we attempt manage people, we will not be highly effective. High impact leaders know what to manage and when to lead. Low level leaders (managers/bosses) only know how to manage. To them, they are a hammer and everything and everyone is a nail.

Let’s look at how managers and leaders view things differently.

Manager vs. Leader


Manager: Concerned with managing the work being done. Span of control is limited because of a micro-management style. Always checking up on and hovering over those doing the work. They feel others will not come through without supervision. Drags or pushes people along because they are not following willingly.

Leader: Concerned with leading and developing the people doing the work. Span of influence is significant because it is multiplied through others. Always has faith others will follow through. Comes alongside the people to help them achieve success.

Leaders continually grow in order to grow others. To do big things, a big team is needed. The size of the team is determined by the size of the leader. They need to bring together and lead people with various skills, energy levels, and agendas. They must sharpen their leadership skills to be effective.

Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches, or pounds, or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking. How big we think determines the size of our accomplishments. ~ David Schwartz


Manager: Sees people reporting to them as subordinates serving the manager while carrying out the mission. Wants the people to accomplish the mission without support.

Leader: Sees people reporting to them as voluntary followers to be served and supported. Wants to support the people in order to accomplish the mission.

Leaders valuing people have the primary goal of serving others. This means staying with the people, not leaving them behind while enjoying the spoils of success. The leader has to be able to get to the top of the mountain. A high level leader will not remain there enjoying the view alone. They will go back down and help others climb to success. It’s not about how far they can advance themselves, but how far they can advance others.

You don’t help others because of who they are, and how they can repay you.  You should help them because it gives you an opportunity to do something incredible with all that you’ve learned and all you’ve become. ~ Tim Sanders

Want to read more? I have 15 more Manager vs Leader perspectives. To read the other 15 plus some additional leadership content, click here now for a FREE download of the entire leadership principle-packed Chapter 11, “Get Out of the Way and Lead” from the first book in my Demystifying Leadership Series: Defining InfluenceIn this nearly 20 page chapter, I share about:

  • Managing vs Leading
  • Scarcity vs Abundance
  • Formal Authority vs Moral Authority
  • The 5 Types of Leaders
  • Compare/Contrast 17 Manager vs Leader Perspectives

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful.

Make it happen!