The Barrett Leadership Blog

The Barrett Leadership Blog allows those of you who have read my books or have utilized The Barrett Center for Leadership Development, LLCâ„¢ services another means to immerse yourself in the conversation of leadership and organizational development. Therefore, I encourage you to participate in an open and honest manner so that you can continue to develop your leadership from the inside out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Radio Appearance Rescheduled


Due to a scheduling conflict, my radio appearance on WHCR 90.3 FM NYC's Third Dimension @ Dusk will be rescheduled to Wednesday June 11th 8:30-9:30PM. To reiterate, the topic of discussion will revolve around my new book Leading from the Inside-Out (available for purchase at http://www.BarrettLeadershipBooks.com/).

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Just a Little Reminder

Do remember my radio appearance this coming Wednesday May 28th on WHCR 90.3 FM NYC. Listen in from 8:30-9:30PM, as I will be discussing my new book Leading from the Inside-Out (available at http://www.BarrettLeadershipBooks.com/).

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A Memorial Day Thank You To Our Fallen Servicemen and Women: Leadership Resulting In The Ultimate Sacrifice


Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial beginning of America's summer season. This is when many Americans fire up the barbecue grill, gather some refreshments, play some music, and invite a few friends to the house and grill until the sun goes down. Like most, I enjoy a great Memorial Day weekend barbecue or two, but as the weekend unfolds, the essence of what this holiday means always runs through my mind. Its essence has nothing to do with the beginning of the summer travel season or the opening of the local beach or pool. Have you ever given serious thought to what Memorial Day actually means?

Being that I am a Air Force veteran, I acknowledge Memorial Day for what it truly stands for, which is to honor the servicemen and women who gave their lives in service to this nation. Throughout history, these men and women (once regular civilians) from all walks of life chose to transform themselves into leaders through military service, all the while, having one goal in mind, to honorably serve their country.

During my years of service, I was part of several high priority military operations, and I can tell you that at times I was scared, very scared. This is why I can't watch films of the D-Day invasion, old video footage of the Vietnam War, or news coverage of the current Iraq engagement without chills running down my spine. You see, I felt some of what many of these servicemen and women must have felt as they were about to enter a hostile environment. I remember as if it was yesterday, all of the thoughts racing through my head as I was flying into a hostile zone in the Middle East at the tender age of 19:

  1. What is going to happen to me?
  2. Will Saddam use his gas on us?
  3. Will I be able to put on the chem suit in time?
  4. Did I get enough chemical warfare training?
  5. If I don't get the chem suit on in time, will I be able to withstand the horrible pain of a chemical attack?
  6. Will I make it out of here alive and with all of my parts in working order?
    Who will miss me if I die here?
  7. If I die here, will my life have mattered?
  8. If I die here, who or what could I have been?
Questions like these constantly popped in and out of my head. Nevertheless, my resolve to effectively carryout my mission never wavered. I am sure that the servicemen and women who came before me struggled with similar questions as they entered hostile environments. However, like me, they did what was asked of them by their country despite the odds or their own fears. This kind of courage and leadership was required of all our fallen servicemen and women, as military service often requires that servicemen and women push through their fear and serve for the greater good even if they have to make the ultimate sacrifice of giving up their lives. This is why I respect, admire, and treasure all of those who have served and have given their lives for this nation. Whether I agree with the validity of the war that was waged, I honor those who fought and lost their lives in service to others. These men and women were and always will be amongst our nation's greatest leaders and heroes.

For all of us that enjoy this weekend's Memorial Day barbecues just take a moment to remember our fallen leaders. Think about their choice to serve us, and their ultimate sacrifice. Think about their courage and dedication to effectively carry out the mission regardless of the consequences. These leaders and heroes of the past have paved the way for all the servicemen and women who will be the leaders of tomorrow. Just take a moment to think about that as you enjoy this weekend.



To those that have given their life in service of others:

Thank you all, my fallen comrades. Your leadership has helped to define mine. I will never forget your sacrifice, dedication, courage, and leadership forged in your military service and ultimate sacrifice.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Barrett Center's Context Of Leadership Development: A Systems Theory Based Approach To Goal Attainment

The purpose of this blog is to discuss leadership and organizational development in such a way that you see and value the role that leadership development plays in the successes or failures in the attainment of your goals. Throughout the various topics discussed on this blog, The Barrett Center has and will continue to present the utilization of leadership development in many different contexts, allowing you to see the relevance between leadership development or lack thereof and the successes or failures of goal attainment in different areas of life. However, before we proceed I would like to make sure that you know what leadership development means in our context, as there are many contexts for leadership development that can confuse even the most astute reader.

Leadership development has been presented in several forms by many different leadership gurus. Some leadership gurus view leadership development in a moralistic or ethical context, some a religious context, while some view leadership development in a business context (primarily for managers). However, The Barrett Center views leadership development differently. We view leadership development simply as a goal achievement mechanism or tool. This leads to one of our fundamental questions-Are you achieving the goal(s) that you set out to achieve? And if not, what is lacking in your leadership development process that is resulting in constant failure?

The context in which The Barrett Center views leadership development involves exploring and assessing one's thinking and resulting actions throughout the goal attainment process. We call this the Barrett Leadership Model (BLM). By utilizing the BLM, one now has the power to address any leadership development issue that is preventing successful goal achievement in a systematic approach. Some of you may recognize some of Ludwig Von Bertalanffy's Systems Theory in this model.

Bertalanffy's research on System Theory provided researchers with the understanding that everything in the universe is connected in some fashion, whether we have the knowledge to see or understand the connection. For example, the earth's rotation, gravity, and the movement of molecules have always been guided by the positive and negative electromagnetic forces of the North and South poles. This system has always been in effect, even though we could not yet comprehend it. The same can be said about photosynthesis (the process by which plants transform sunlight into energy). In both instances, there were systems in place long before humans had the ability to understand the complexities of their links and far-reaching influences. And trust me when I say, there are far more systems out there that have yet to be discovered.

Well, what does this all mean to you? It means that you should not look at an event, action, or decision in isolation. There is almost always a cause and effect (system) playing a major role in that event, action, or decision that needs to be understood. This applies to your goal attainment process, especially if you find yourself constantly failing. In the BLM, leadership development is the means for accessing your personal system, because own it or not, your ability to lead yourself and your life is the essence of who you are.

Rest assured that your goal attainment or lack thereof does not occur without cause, and the BLM forces you to explore these causes. Just as Bertalanffy taught us to look at the universe as a system, we must view our goal attainment process as a system. The BLM utilizes a systematic approach to goal achievement based on you owning and developing your leadership development. Now are you ready to kick your life into overdrive and achieve your goals? If the answer is yes, then take a look at the Barrett Leadership Model, which can be found in The Barrett Center's new book Leading from the Inside-Out. If you are interested in purchasing a copy click on the title on the right side of the blog under Barrett Center books for sale.

Thank you for your time and feel free to leave comments.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Leadership Development is Essential (Part 5): For Humanity and the World

Global warming, poverty and starvation, and hostility among nations are some of the major problems that still remain in today's world. These problems directly impact the quality of life of millions of people around the world as it relates to macro level issues (such as the depletion of wildlife, natural resources, and the perceived instability of national economies), and micro level issues (such as the reduced sense of personal vitality, happiness, and well-being). Nevertheless, these problems remain as humanity struggles, stumbles, and fails in its attempts to address each of these concerns. This leads to a fundamental question regarding this topic-Does humanity have the ability to successfully address these problems so that they no longer plague our lives? If so, through what means?

The Possibilities For Society
Throughout this series: Leadership Development is Essential, we have explored leadership's potential impact on the individual, the family, the community, and the organization. Now it is time to explore leadership's potential impact in the context of collectively addressing the problems of the world that are degrading the human condition. This is not to say that the world we live in is a horrible place. But, most of us can agree that it is no utopia either. Therefore, in an attempt to create a world that successfully addresses its problems head on, humanity must call upon itself to lead the charge for its own betterment, and not rely solely on a specific group of individuals to lead us. As it relates to the problems previously discussed, it is our collective voice that gives rise to our leaders taking the appropriate actions to addressing issues such as these.


Facilitated by leadership, scientists and politicians around the world can put aside egos, self-interest, and posturing to understand and address the causes and create solutions for global warming. Fostered by leadership, business leaders, doctors, and politicians can assess the underlying issues that create poverty and starvation around the world and come up with viable solutions to fix this problem. Finally, hostility among nations continues to give rise to unnecessary wars, however, through the utilization of leadership it too can be addressed through collaborative brainstorming and dialogue by national and military leaders. All of these world issues can be solved if humanity uses its collective voice to force its leaders to listen and take appropriate action(s). In this context, leadership does not rest on the shoulders of a chosen few, but rather on that of the collective many.

The Influence of Humanity's Collective Voice
While I identified a specific group of individuals (leaders) that have direct influence on each of these issues, I would like to reemphasize that every human being has a voice as it relates to issues that impacts his/her life. Collectively speaking, we give power to our leaders, and it is our collective voice that has always driven societal change, whether beneficial or detrimental. The French Revolution, the rise against England's Catholic church that spurred the Puritans journey to America, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the fight for the right of women and blacks to vote in America have all resulted in beneficial gains for the masses. On the other hand, the Holocaust, the Crusades, and slavery have all had a detrimental affect on humanity and still leaves scars today. But make no mistake about it, in each case (whether the result was beneficial or detrimental), humanity's collective voice had a significant influence on the actions taken by leader(s) of the time.

For The Betterment of Society
Throughout history, humanity has utilized its collective voice to give rise to those individuals we now honor as great leaders or heroes. They are the ones that we often credit for being the face of the movement and leading the charge for the betterment of society. However, we are the wind beneath their wings, as they help society move toward that state of utopia that we may never actually achieve. Nevertheless, it's a vision worth undertaking. What else is there for humanity to do, but to keep pushing for society's betterment for all who yearn to partake in the harmony and happiness that life can provide?


However, we all must remember that harmony and happiness is not a given. We have to put in the effort to create and maintain the conditions that we want for the world we live in. This is why our collective voice is so important to the leadership (creation and maintenance) of this world. If humanity wants to work towards a vision of harmony and happiness, it can never forget to utilize its collective voice to force its leaders to take the appropriate steps toward this goal.

After reading this entire series: Leadership Development is Essential, I hope that you now see the importance of leadership to all that we do, as well as the importance that you play in making this world what it is and what it will be.

Thank you for your time and your listening. I encourage you to leave comments.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Upcoming Radio Appearance


To my readers:

I would like to inform you all that I will be making a radio appearance on WHCR 90.3 FM of NYC on Wednesday, May 28th from 8:30-9:30 PM. I will be discussing my new book Leading from the Inside-Out (available where all fine books are sold). Please listen in. I guarantee an interesting discussion.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Mother's Day Story About Leadership


I remember the struggles of my childhood like it was yesterday. Growing up in public assisted housing, interacting with the neighborhood drug dealers and the violence often associated with blighted urban areas clouded my view of myself and my place in the world. However, there was always one person in my formative years that promised me a better life if I did not let my environment consume me and put in the effort to change my existence. This person of inspiration during my formative years was my mother, and on this Mother's Day I would like to acknowledge her for the sacrifices and perseverance that she demonstrated for my siblings and I so that we could escape the cycle of poverty that engulfed our family. There is no doubt in my mind that her experiences were instrumental in showing us the way to a better life.

Humble Beginnings
My mother was born in the countryside of Jamaica (roughly 25 minutes outside of Ocho Rios). She was born to poor parents, which was very common years ago and still is, because of Jamaica's historically weak economy. It is a common cliche to hear the stories of our parent's lives being tough as children, but I can verify my mother's stories because I see remnants of her stories in the lives of many of the children of Jamaica today. So, needless to say, my mother's childhood in Jamaica was not an easy one. Nevertheless, she persevered against tremendous odds.

My mother was always a hard worker, cleaning the house that she shared with her grandmother, all the while managing to get good grades at school. Unfortunately, there came a time when school ended for my mother, not because she dropped out, but because she could not afford to go any further. Throughout my youth, my mother would tell me the story where one of her teachers gave her the money to take her school boards. However, even though she passed, she was unable to continue her education because of the cost.

A Lonely Immigrant
Like many who can no longer afford to continue their education, my mother went out into the workforce and began to live her life the best way she could. However, the problem was that the way she was living was not good enough for her, as she saw promise of a better life in this foreign land called America. Therefore, she set out to do what was necessary to get there, and get there she did. However, leaving everyone behind that she knew in order to come to America was very rough for her. I remember her telling me that she began her journey in America as a housekeeper for a Boston family. She would speak of how lonely and sad she felt. Lucky for me, these feelings did not stop her from continuing to push for a better life.

After her stint in Boston my mother settled in New York City, where she worked odd jobs (just enough to make ends meet). In her early days in NYC, she lived in what some would consider a boarding house. During this period is when I came into existence, then my brother, and finally my sister. The problem with this rapidly expanding family was that my mother could not afford to take care of all of us with what she was making and our father really didn't provide any financial support. So, she had to make the difficult decision to keep me (the oldest) with her, and send my siblings back to Jamaica to live with family until she got into a better financial situation. Now, I know that some of you may be asking the question-Why have us if she could not afford us? Well, the simple answer is that my mother waited until she was 35 to have me, with my brother following two years later, and my sister two years after him. She always wanted to be a mother, and had waited long enough for the "right conditions." However, the "right conditions" never came. My mother never spoke of what it felt like to leave her children behind in Jamaica and I never asked her, but I know that it wasn't easy, as it wouldn't be for most mothers.

Progress Made, But With New Struggles
As my mother gained more stable employment, we moved out of the boarding house to an apartment building in Brooklyn, New York. It was a nice apartment in a questionable neighborhood, but it was what she could afford. We lived there for a couple of years until our apartment started to get broken into. Our apartment was ransacked twice. I remember vividly, my mother crying out as we were putting the place back together each time. Eventually, my mother got some good news, as she was approved for section-8 housing (a NY state-funded housing assistance program). This program subsidized my mother's rent, and made it possible for her to reclaim my siblings from Jamaica after a five-year separation.

While the new apartment and the reuniting of the family brought about excitement for all of us, our new environment had darker issues that we would soon have to face. You see, during the late 80s-early 90s section-8 areas tended to have a significant amount of poor single women with children, often leading to a poverty stricken mindset. However, my mother was different. She never allowed us to keep our mind locked into the everyday struggle. She challenged us to think bigger and expect more from ourselves. She demanded that we do well in school and stay out of trouble, even though trouble was around every corner. She made sure that we understood that her lack of education was a major factor in the struggles she encountered in life. But, unlike many parents who just talk a good game, my mother did something about it. Over a ten-year period, my mother earned her GED (high school equivalency), two associates, and a bachelors degree. She fulfilled her life long dream of obtaining a quality education, while demonstrating to us the benefit of hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance. My mother's leadership contributed to all three of her children getting graduate degrees, good jobs, and owning our own homes before the age of 30.

Mom, I just want to say thank you and let you know that I acknowledge you for who you have been for us and what you have accomplished in your life. Happy Mother's Day!

Have you acknowledged what your mother has done for you? If not, today is a great day to start.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

True Leadership in American Politics Requires Informed Voters

I have always been a political junkie. I mean, I love keeping abreast of both the local and national political scene. It intrigues me how citizens like you and I can rise to positions of power in local, state, and federally elected offices. Currently, we are witnessing a historic national democratic primary, facilitated by two popular candidates. On one hand, you have Illinois state senator Barack Obama who enjoys an almost rock star appeal. On the other hand, you have New York state senator Hillary Clinton who is using all of her power and influence to try to reclaim the White House. Now, I would agree that to the average political junkie like me (republican, democrat, or independent), this primary season is entertaining to say the least. Nevertheless I question, does the attainment of political office in today's political atmosphere inspire leadership in our elected officials? Some may answer yes, citing former mayor of New York City, Rudolph Guliani's handling of 9/11 as proof that American politicians are leaders. However, I'm not so easily convinced.


I am not so quick to agree with such arguments because even though American politicians have been using the term leadership in their campaigns since forever, I don't think that we the American people require our elected officials to be true leaders. And when I say true leaders, I mean those that govern based on sound thinking, courage, vision, compassion, and don't bow to the pressures of doing or saying whatever is necessary to be elected. For ever American politician that one can cite as having these qualities, there is another that displays the opposite. If this is the case, how can American voters decide on who to vote for in elections and shift the political conversation from simply elected officials to true elected leaders?


This question is hard to answer for the average American voter as political campaigns are loaded with high-priced consultants, pollsters, and spin doctors, all aimed to confuse you but still garner your vote. Every political season, American voters are bombarded with flyers, phone calls, advertisements, and pundits telling us either who we should vote for, or what issues should matter most to us. With this constant diet of propaganda, it is no wonder that so many Americans are disenfranchised with the political process and don't vote on Election Day. However, the problem with this approach is that when we don't vote, we are turning over our collective voice to the small percentage (relative to the total American population) that do vote. This means that any given candidate can get elected and claim to be a leader, simply by appealing to his/her party's base (core voting group), leaving those that did not vote out in the cold if their views don't coincide with the newly elected politician's.


So, how do we demonstrate our collective voice and force our elected officials to govern as true leaders so that we get a political system that energizes the American public to participate? Well first off, you have to become an informed citizen. Informed in regards to:
  1. how the political system works (the roles of the three branches of government: legislative, judicial, and executive)

  2. how laws are created and passed

  3. what the local, state, and federal election issues are, and how they can potentially impact you

  4. which candidates are running for which offices, and their corresponding platforms
In order to achieve all of this, that's right, you have to research and read. I can't stress this enough. Doing your own research more than any other means of processing information, will remove your ignorance and disenfranchisement pertaining to our political process.


After learning about the political process, issues, candidates, and their platforms, you should observe the candidates in debates. Determine what you like and dislike about their responses, alliances, posture, appearance, etc. Listen to the political pundits as well, but not so they can determine for you, who to vote for, but for them to add to your wealth of information regarding the candidates and the issues at play. They may have access to information that you may not.


Also, try and discuss your political views in situations where you feel it is safe to exchange ideas without persecution or judgment so that you can get different perspectives regarding a given candidate or issue as it relates to other citizens that may not necessarily share your views because of a difference in background. But do be clear that this may be difficult for some to do because politics can be a testy subject to discuss if the environment is not supportive of open and diverse points of view.


Finally, vote!!!!!!! Vote for the issues or candidates that best serve you and your constituents' purposes. Our elected officials can be true leaders if those that are voting make informed choices. Only then can the politicians that are put in office be expected to lead. Think about this as you evaluate those running for office in your hometown, state, and national offices this coming November.

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