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3 Reasons Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective

Gary Vaynerchuck is a successful entrepreneur, author, and CEO of VaynerMedia. Among marketing professionals, he is known for his skill in social media marketing and brand building in the digital space. He is also known for tireless work ethic. He has frequently pointed to gratitude as his motivation. He wrote:

Knowing that I was born in Belarus in the former Soviet Union, probably the least capitalist place in the whole world—and having had the serendipity of being able to come to the most remarkable country on earth when I was three—I have a full perspective on where I come from. I got really lucky that what I’m great at (entrepreneurship and business) is really appreciated in the U.S. My perspective on both the health and wellness of my family, as well as where I came from, allows me to handle anything and everything. My gratitude allows me to step away from any issues and remind me of all the great things I’ve been given. It’s impossible not to stay motivated or get too down when you’re feeling grateful.

I appreciate his perspective and fully agree. Here are three reasons that gratitude makes leaders more effective:

1. Gratitude fuels work ethic.

When we are grateful, we want to maximize the opportunities that have been given to us. When we are ungrateful, we waste countless amounts of time being frustrated that we have not received what we are owed. Instead of attacking each day with appreciation for the opportunity, ingratitude causes people to complain they are not getting what they deserve or have earned.

2. Gratitude is attractive.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” We want to be around leaders who are happy and optimistic, who are excited and thankful for the opportunities. No one wants to follow a leader who is always complaining, who is unthankful. When we are grateful we are simultaneously encouraging. By how they approach life, thankful leaders are always reminding people that there are things to be thankful for and moments to enjoy.

3. Gratitude crushes pride.

Pride always leads to destruction. It robs people of perspective and emboldens foolishness. Therefore, effective leaders are humble and realize they have not earned all they have. They realize that they have received, that they have been given. One of Cicero’s most famous statements is: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Just as pride has been called the parent of all sins, Cicero called gratitude the parent of all virtues. Gratitude is the opposite of pride because gratitude is joyful admission that we have received, not that we have achieved.

If you are a Christian, you are commanded to be grateful. Gratitude is part of our faith because we believe we have received everything we have. The Christian faith is a receiving faith, not an achieving faith. We receive His forgiveness and grace. We don’t earn it.

The apostle Paul reminded a group of Christians that lived in the city of Corinth that everything they had was from the Lord, not something they earned or deserved. He wrote: For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn’t received it? (I Corinthians 4:7)

Life is so much fuller when we remember that all we have is a gift from our good and perfect Father. Our leadership is much more effective when we remember that our roles and opportunities are from the Lord.

Read the full article 3 Reasons Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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7 Indications That Fear is Hampering Your Leadership

In the book of Proverbs God gives His people a collection of wise sayings on living life skillfully. One of those sayings contrasts trusting the Lord with fearing other people.

The fear of mankind is a snare but the one who trusts the Lord is protected (Proverbs 29:25).

We are commanded to fear the Lord. In fact, throughout the book of Proverbs we are told that wisdom comes from fearing the Lord, from walking in awe of His character and deeds. But we are also commanded to not fear mankind. We cannot fear God and fear other people at the same time.

Fear of mankind is a snare. It causes us to stumble in our steps, paralyzes us, and hampers our effectiveness. How does fear of mankind manifest itself in a leader’s life? Here are seven indicators a leader is caught in the snare of fear.

1. Hesitancy to offer accountability

If a leaders needs to be approved, the leader is being ruled by fear of others, and won’t bring needed accountability. Leaders who need to be loved by those they lead struggle to offer accountability and correction to those who need it.

2. Too many goals

The trouble with too many goals is that it is highly unlikely they will be achieved. The attraction, though, of many goals is that many goals can actually lower expectations. A few goals raise the pressure and the expectation for those goals to be achieved because those goals are visible to everyone. So leaders who walk in fear will often chose, even without realizing their motivation, many goals to spread the expectations across lots of different things.

3. Small goals

Small goals can be leaders hedging their bets out of fear. Fearful leaders can’t stand the idea of a goal not being met so they set small goals, if they set goals at all. 

4. Paralysis

Fear of making a decision that people question or that upsets people can paralyze leaders from making important decisions. Ironically, not making a decision is often the worst decision a leader can make.

5. Risk aversion

Risks don’t need to be reckless. They can be informed by instinct, experience, and the wisdom of others. But a risk is still a risk and may not work, which means possible failure. Leaders who are allergic to risk are likely also allergic to disappointing others or being criticized by others.

6. Intolerance of failure

A leader who creates a culture that doesn’t tolerate failure is a leader who creates a culture that doesn’t tolerate innovation. Fear of failing in front of others is a snare that stops leaders from trying new things.

7. Approval junkie

A leader who needs approval from others needs approval from them because he or she ultimately fears them. Fearing God liberates us from fearing mankind and needing their approval. In Christ we are already approved. Because of Christ in us we are approved by His work on the cross and not our work.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of mankind is a snare.

Read the full article 7 Indications That Fear is Hampering Your Leadership that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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Day Off for Ministry Leaders: a Case for Mondays and a Case for Fridays

“Why do you take a day-off during the week? The devil doesn’t take a day off!” said one cranky old man to a young pastor.

“Because I am not trying to be like the devil” quipped the pastor.

Well done, pastor. Well done.

Ministry leaders must take a day off each week or they lack the moral authority to encourage those they serve to rest. Ministry leaders must take a day off each week for the sake of their own health, both physical and spiritual health. Without a time to rest, leaders will burn out or implode. Churches that make it difficult for church leaders to take a day off are harming the leaders and the church. Thankfully I have always served in churches that value the ministry leaders having time to rest. Thankfully the people who thought negatively about “days off” for ministry leaders weren’t in positions of decision-making.

If you are one of those people who think ministry leaders only work on Sundays, God loves you in the midst of your foolishness. But you are really, really foolish.

I had always taken Fridays as my “day off” before leaving the local church and serving as senior vice-president at LifeWay Christian Resources. Other friends of mine took Mondays off. Those seem to be the most common days off for ministry leaders. When I left local church ministry to serve at LifeWay, I learned what an actual weekend was. I had no idea what that word “weekend” really meant till not being on staff at a local church. Now that I have gone back to the local church, my current “day off” is Monday but I am going to experiment with Friday again too.

I have asked others which day is the best “day off” for ministry leaders and here are the best arguments I have heard for each day:

Take Mondays off:

  • Sunday is the end of your week. Take Sunday night and Monday off and rest before you start a new week.
  • The “Monday blues” can be real for ministry leaders. You are more susceptible to making bad decisions and express frustration to others. Take off and come back in a better place. You will have fewer regrets for your decisions and your interactions with others.
  • If you take Fridays off, you will be tired the entire week in the office. Rest up on Monday and you will enjoy the week more. And you will be more productive.

Take Fridays off:

  • On Mondays, you will not be able to resist problem solving from the weekend services, so you won’t really mentally be “off” on Mondays. On Friday, there is a better chance your task list is more complete
  • You put yourself behind on sermon prep if you take Mondays off.
  • You are exhausted on Mondays. Don’t give that time to your family. Give them Friday.

Which day is best? I recently polled church leaders on Twitter and 70% of those who responded chose Fridays over Mondays. It likely depends on the rhythm and the personality of the leader. You can experiment and see which works best for you. Or you can stick with what you have always known. The most important thing is that you are actually taking your day off.

Read the full article Day Off for Ministry Leaders: a Case for Mondays and a Case for Fridays that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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3 Common Emotional Mistakes Leaders Make

Sometimes being a leader feels like living with a split personality as leaders must think about the future while also executing today. And then there are the emotional challenges of leadership, as being a leader often requires leading with two emotions at once. Leaders often must grieve the loss of something while also holding to hope for the future. They carry a deep burden while also being filled with joy for the opportunity. They address problems with sober-mindedness while also rejoicing that good things are happening.

As I have grieved the loss of ending one season of ministry and rejoiced in the beginning of another, I have thought a lot about the tension of leading with two emotions at once. And of the mistakes we are prone to make. Here are three common mistakes leaders make emotionally.

Mistake One: Ignoring emotion

It is not healthy to ignore an emotion because it will likely surface later without the benefit of processing and learning from it in the season. For example, if a leader buries and ignores grief—the grief can manifest in unhealthy ways. Or if a leader ignores the joy of leading because the leader worries that celebrating will take too much time away from work, the leader can easily create an unhealthy culture.

Mistake Two: Minimizing emotion

My current tension has been this: I have been tempted to minimize my excitement about my new assignment for fear of being disrespectful and dishonoring to my current team. In the same way I have been tempted to minimize the feeling of loss for fear that people will think I am not ready to go. It is hard to hold two emotions at once but minimizing them robs the leader of important moments and conversations with the team.

Mistake Three: Being ruled by emotion

Leadership is emotional. In fact, there has been a lot written on emotional intelligence—the ability to connect with others, show empathy, and effectively communicate non-verbally. While leaders are emotional people, wise leaders are not to be ruled by their emotions. Emotions can take us down dangerous paths and into unwise decision-making. The great news for the Christian is that we are able to continually submit our emotions to our Savior. We don’t have to let our emotions rule us, but we can preach the truth to our emotions. Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God.

Read the full article 3 Common Emotional Mistakes Leaders Make that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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3 Common Blind Spots in Leaders

One of my mentors, Brad Waggoner, has regularly quipped, “Most people struggle with self-awareness, so why would I think I am somehow different from everyone else?” He is right. Everyone struggles with self-awareness to a degree, and we are foolish if we think we are immune. Our lack of self-awareness in life and leadership is often referred to as our blind spots. I have been leading other leaders for a long time, watching them interact with their teams and with the team they serve on, and I’ve seen three common blind spots in leaders:

1. Many leaders talk longer than they realize.

Many leaders talk longer than they think they do. They can easily dominate meetings because of their convictions, their ideas, and the sheer amount of work to report. But by over-talking in meetings, leaders can unintentionally stifle the team. One practical way to combat the temptation to talk too much is to set a time for yourself and hold yourself accountable not to cross it.

2. Many leaders sound harsher than they mean.

Because leaders can underestimate the power of their position, they can sound harsher than they realize. Every word from the mouth of a leader is received with amplified impact, so leaders who bring sharp critiques to their teams must do so very carefully. If the leader thinks the rebuke is a “5,” the people likely hear it as an “8.” Wise leaders steward their words very carefully.

3. Many leaders change direction more than they know.

Leaders are often about new ideas, change, and vision. Because of that, leaders can err by constantly bringing new direction to the team. The team can sometimes feel as if they have yet to execute properly the last batch of ideas or see the fruit of the last direction before a leader brings a new direction. Effective leaders know that consistent direction over time is far better than constantly shifting the direction of the team. Of course, there are other common blind spots, but these three can easily hamper a leader’s effectiveness. Blind spots can’t be corrected if the leader doesn’t know they exist. For blind spots to be corrected in a leader’s life, the leader must be in community and humbly listen to others whom the leader trusts. Read the full article 3 Common Blind Spots in Leaders that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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The Shared Values of Leadership Development by Todd Adkins

Creating a church’s distinct culture is one of the most important but difficult aspects of leadership. Culture really comes down to shared behavior or values. We embed these shared values through Scripture, strategy, structure, systems, skills, and style.* Each component correlates with our leadership pipeline framework. Leadership pipeline does not focus solely on top levels of leadership. Leadership pipeline is a long-term investment in a church’s most valuable resource: people. It provides a clear process of development for every volunteer, leader, coach, ministry director, or senior leader in your church. When these components are implemented, you create a culture that reproduces leaders at every level of your leadership pipeline. Creating a culture for development begins with Scripture. Ephesians 4 clearly states the role of church leaders is to be equippers. Our job is to develop others. But consider passages like Matthew 28 that remind all believers to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples. Development is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of leadership level. After establishing a conviction for development, you move into strategy. What’s your development process? Often what we call “training” is instructions to get someone started in a new role. We must shift to ongoing development that helps each person learn the role, then lead out, then multiply themselves in that role. You then know they’re ready for the next level of your leadership pipeline. If a person doesn’t want to advance, celebrate how they invest in and equip new leaders in their ministry role. The next two phases are often difficult to implement: structure and systems. Your church may have a nice structure on paper, but in reality, your church operates in ministry silos. When we lack clarity and alignment, we create confusion for our people. The same is true for systems. Over time, churches drift toward complexity, not simplicity. We add new processes without evaluating or restructuring our current ones. Establishing a leadership pipeline creates clarity and alignment in your church’s language, leadership levels, and processes so your people understand where they are, their responsibilities, and their next step of development. So how do you develop people? Through skills and style of training. You must identify core competencies required for every leadership level of your pipeline. For example, a small group leader and a parking team leader should be equipped in conflict management. Core competencies are universal, but skills also include role-specific skills unique to each ministry area. Style is how you train and develop your people. We encourage flipping the classroom. In traditional training, people gather to learn from a church leader who is a “sage on stage.” In the flipped classroom, people watch training on a topic prior to the gathering time. Training is appropriate to each person’s level of competence, not the same for all. When the group gathers, they discuss their training, and the “sage on stage” becomes a “guide on the side,” allowing the group to process and grow together. Recall again Paul’s command in Ephesians 4 to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” If we want to get serious about creating a culture of leadership development, we must do so through Scripture, strategy, structure, systems, skills, and style. Our legacy is not about what we do as leaders but those we develop. Let’s build an army to do just that. *Adapted from Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman, In Search of Excellence (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), 9-10. Read the full article The Shared Values of Leadership Development by Todd Adkins that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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2 Views on Hiring from Inside/Outside

A role is open on your team. Is your first inclination to hire from outside your organization or to hire from within? Most leaders have a default position on this issue, where their mind initially goes. They either tend to think first about hiring someone from within or they think first about what type of person they can find outside the organization. In the end, they may not do what they first think, but their default is to lean toward hiring from either outside or inside. It is important to understand both views so you can appreciate the strength of each view. And then you can decide for yourself which view will be your own OR you can choose the third way and do as Jay-Z once penned: “I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.”

View One: Hire from the Outside

Those who think first about hiring from the outside often do so because they value fresh perspective and fresh eyes. Those who prefer to hire externally have a fear that the culture will grow stagnant by simply recycling the same people into different roles. Jeff Immelt, who served as CEO of General Electric in recent years, increased external hires significantly during his tenure. From 2009-2016, external hires increased 60% at GE. Immelt believed a new type of employee and a new type of talent was needed for that important season in their company, so he ramped up external hiring.

View Two: Hire from the Inside

As I was writing this, I asked my youngest daughter, Evie, which view she thought was best. She said, “From the inside because you already trust the person.” Not bad for an eight-year-old, and she is exactly right. Those who advocate hiring from within point out that every hire is a risk, and hiring from within minimizes the risk because trust around character and chemistry has already been established. The person clearly already believes in the mission and has proven to be trustworthy. An additional benefit of hiring from within is the leadership development culture that is cultivated. Hiring from within can help send the signal that “we build our leaders instead of buying them.”

Past the Fork in the Road: Look at the Context

The third view is to discipline yourself to think first about the context. While I lean toward hiring from within because I am committed to developing leaders for the future, looking at the context is where I believe it is best to land. Context should drive whether you hire internally or externally. The needs of the organization at the time, the focus of the role for the next season, and the desire for cultural transformation or cultural sustainability all impact the immediate context surrounding the hire. John Kotter has wisely offered, and I am paraphrasing, “If you want to change the culture, hire from the outside. If you want to sustain the culture, hire from the inside.” Read the full article 2 Views on Hiring from Inside/Outside that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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Two Views: Severance and Financial Support for a Fallen Leader

I have enjoyed and benefited from the theological books that present multiple views on important theological vantage points. They have helped provide clarity on differing positions and caused me to research further and even challenge my own viewpoints. Today I want to offer two different views on severance or financial support for a fallen ministry leader. This is such a narrow and practical topic that it should not be a book, but there are multiple views on how to treat a fallen ministry leader financially. In recent years I have been asked numerous times for my thoughts on severance or financial support for a leader after the leader has been disqualified. There are two polar opposite views, and there are some who work hard to take a middle position or a third-way approach. Of course, each situation is different and there are levels of disqualifying behavior, but here are the two general views, the latter being the one I hold:

View one: Stop paying the ministry leader immediately.

Some have articulated cutting the leader off from financial support immediately. Multiple reasons are given for the approach. By cutting the leader off, the leader is forced to feel the weight of the sin and perhaps more likely to hit “rock bottom” more quickly. We have all seen leaders push through their fall with pride and blaming of others, so this approach holds that anything that helps a leader wake up to reality is a good thing. Another reason people hold to this view is the desire for justice among those who have financially supported the ministry. They discover that they have been financially supporting the leader while sinful and distracting behavior was consuming the leader, so they can feel as if their generosity was taken for granted. The leaders who remain feel they can regain some credibility with supporters and donors by not allowing any more financial resources to be invested in someone who took paychecks while living a double life.

View two: Be as generous as possible, especially to the family.

While I understand the motivation and the thinking behind the first view, I land on the second view, which is to be as generous as possible to the fallen leader and the leader’s family, even if the leader is not yet fully repentant. (Some have articulated generosity if there is repentance as the third option.) I hold to this view for multiple reasons. For one, it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and I hold to the hope that God will overwhelm the fallen leader with His grace, and perhaps, depending on the offense and the process of restoration, restore the leader to some type of ministry position in the future. Also, I think of the family of the fallen leader. They are in the midst of extreme pain as their world has been radically impacted. Most of the time they had no clue of the disqualifying behavior and are holding on moment by moment after hearing the devastating news. In many cases, they have depended on the ministry leader’s role for food on the table and clothes on their backs. They are suffering immensely, and I want the ministry to think about them as the leader is removed from the role. I wish we did not have to wrestle with this topic, but if you are leading a team you will likely be confronted with the issue of severance for a fallen leader someday. Regardless of which view we hold, we surely find ourselves saying, “Come, Lord Jesus, and fix this mess.” Read the full article Two Views: Severance and Financial Support for a Fallen Leader that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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2 Views on Hiring Friends

Should you hire a friend to work for you? If you are sitting among a group of leaders and that question is posed, you get a variety of responses, each with a heavy dose of passion.

“Don’t hire anyone you can’t let go.”

“Life is too short to serve alongside people you don’t like. So, yes.”

“You can’t be friends with people you lead.”

“You must be friends with people you lead.”

“It works great. Until it doesn’t.”

“Trust makes teams more effective, so hiring someone you trust is great.”

Thoughts about hiring friends are typically passionate thoughts because leaders have benefited greatly from doing so or been hurt deeply by doing so. This is a subject where there is little middle ground. So here are the two views, presented as objectively as possible, followed by my personal take. As a leader, you are responsible to form your own thoughts on the matter:

View One: Hiring Friends Is a Big Blunder

Those who view “hiring friends” as a mistake can arrive at that conclusion practically or experientially. Practically speaking, those who oppose hiring a friend believe objectivity is lost if you do so. You won’t be able to hold the friend accountable, they argue, in the same way you would hold someone else accountable. Or you could even overcorrect on decisions regarding salary and other benefits to prove you are not showing favorites, which in turn isn’t fair to the person. Those who get to the conclusion experientially have been hurt. Perhaps a close relationship is no longer as close after the hiring. Great friends, they argue, don’t always make great coworkers.

View Two: Hiring Friends Is a Big Blessing

Those who view “hiring friends” as a great opportunity likewise can arrive at that conclusion practically or experientially. Practically speaking, those who advocate hiring friends, point to the importance of trust on a team. In many cases it takes years to build solid trust among leaders. Hiring a friend, they believe, can speed that process up exponentially. Teams who trust each other move exponentially quicker. Those who have hired friends and have enjoyed the experience are likely to advocate for the practice. They point to the healthy relationships, the memories, and the blessing of being able to work alongside people you will know and love your whole life.

So Where Do I Land?

I understand the view of not hiring friends and have heard that view articulated well many times. I am not saying there are not risks involved. But I believe that the risks are worth it. Hiring friends is a blessing. Trust is high and you are able to enjoy life and work together without needing to view life and work as overly distinct (they have never been for me). On my team now are several friends with whom I have served in multiple cities. I won’t hire all my friends (some would never work for me), but I love it when I can. Read the full article 2 Views on Hiring Friends that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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3 Common Ways Leaders Disqualify Themselves

With the recent passing of the great preacher and evangelist Billy Graham, many are celebrating his finishing well. He remained faithful to God’s call on his life, fought the good fight, and finished the race. He avoided scandal and accusations against his integrity and was above reproach as he faithfully served the Lord throughout his life and ministry. We should be thankful for the example. And Billy Graham’s example stands in stark contrast to what, at times, seems to be epidemic among leaders—tragic, self-inflicted disqualification. Leaders seem to be disqualifying themselves at alarming rates, and if you disqualify yourself from leading, one of these three failures will be true:

1. Moral Failure

Coaches, politicians, teachers, pastors, and other leaders are routinely disqualified because of moral failure—failing to live up to the moral standard of the office they hold. Often those who own their sin and turn from it later confess a slow and consistent weakening of their character before their moral failure was fully born. The moral failure is the outer manifestation of a heart that has wandered from a deep commitment to leading oneself. Billy Graham’s commitment to his own personal integrity was applauded by some and mocked by others, but the fruit cannot be denied. The practice of avoiding being alone with someone from the opposite sex other than your spouse has been called “The Billy Graham Rule” because of his commitment to do all he could to avoid even a hint of questioning his character or his commitment to his wife. Because our hearts are prone to wander and none of us are above falling, we must daily turn from trusting ourselves and turn to trusting the Lord to keep us pure.

2. Ethical Failure

Leaders often disqualify themselves for ethical lapses. It is common to read of a leader who has been released from his or her duties for violating policies, for lying about one’s educational or professional accomplishments, for using the role for personal advancement, or for abusing the power of the office. Those who ask the leader to step down know that when a leader loses trust, the leader loses the ability to lead effectively. And seemingly small ethical lapses will likely degenerate into larger ones. Perhaps the best counsel I have received came in terms of ethical decisions in a leadership role from a Christian CFO of a large company. It is a cliché but true: “If it is gray, stay away.” In other words, don’t risk your leadership for something that is unclear.

3. Relational Failure

In recent years more and more leaders have disqualified themselves for leading with anger, for manipulating, and for creating relational strife and disunity among those they lead. In leadership, healthy relationships matter. Without them, trust quickly erodes. If you sense yourself waning in patience with those you serve alongside, get out of the office and take a break. If you sense your heart growing cold, don’t ignore it. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Forgive and seek forgiveness. Read the full article 3 Common Ways Leaders Disqualify Themselves that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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