Archives For leadership

The Best Leadership Question:

“How Am I Doing?”


Julie and I recently got a well-deserved three-day break to Suncadia. It’s a couple hours east of Seattle. In the summer you can play golf, swim, and hike. In the winter, it’s a winter wonderland.

On our first evening we went to a neighboring winery for a quiet dinner. I hadn’t pre-planned my conversation opener… but simply asked: “Honey, how am I doing as your husband?” What followed was perhaps our best heartfelt conversation in months. She was tender in her critique. She was humble in her suggestions. She lovingly shared how I could improve.

She built me up with some nice positives too! Bottom line: I came away with valuable intel… The kind that can really help improve a husband, a father and a leader.

Question: If you lead – At any level… when was the last time you asked, “How am I doing?”

I heard once managers ask, “How are you doing?”

Leaders ask, “How am I doing?”

I have found every time I’ve asked my children my wife my clients… How am I doing? I received valuable feedback that accelerates my personal leadership, growth, and influence in their lives.

Part of my leadership manifesto is to be humble enough to ask for feedback and then make adjustments in order to be a joy to those I love and serve. Try it this week… four words: “How am I doing?”

Your partner in success,

Steve Gutzler

Contact Steve for information on keynote presentations, team workshops, and one on one coaching at:



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The Hot Seat

Steve Gutzler —  February 27, 2014 — Leave a comment

“I am very pleased to say that your presentation exceeded everyone’s expectations and was an absolute home run. Not only were you engaging and attention getting, but most importantly, the material has already made an impact. You certainly “Unleashed the Leaders” within all of us!”

Testimonial from: David Jobe, President, Leadership Conferences

I’ve been a part of dozens of corporate and business events and retreats. After a while they kind of blur together. It is the same hotel conference rooms. The same curiously similar buffet tables. Always the ridiculously poor lighting at the podium. But the people, they are who make it special. Yes the people!

Recently I was presenting at a corporate leadership retreat on Emotional Intelligence for Extraordinary Leadership. It was a really great morning of dynamic interaction. The CEO of the organization was truly exceptional; he had stunning leadership execution. But honestly, he captivates you with his people skills. His smile, his wit, and his unique ability to involve each person. You feel yourself elevating in thought and conversation just by being in his presence. Plus, my personal favorite, he had a contagious laugh that you just couldn’t get enough of.

The Defining Moment of the Retreat

On the second day of our retreat (the CEO actually called them “Advances” because his company never retreats) the CEO came up to the front to address everyone in the room. The previous morning I had described an example of a company where they take time each month to place a team member in the “Hot Seat.” When the team member is sitting in the Hot Seat, everyone goes around the room and talks about how that person contributes, shines, makes a difference and works hard to put skin on their goals as a company. It is a “your special. Thank you” Moment.

Sometimes when I share that story I can almost feel people rolling their eyes, sometimes I even see them. Tough minded types don’t like warm and fuzzy moments. Business and leadership is not for the weak of heart. It is a jungle out there and if you can’t step up and perform then you will find yourself in the junk yard!

So here was this CEO in front of his team. He stood and addressed the room stating that he would like to do the Hot Seat activity, but with a little twist. Then he walked around the room, stopping at each person. He literally placed his hand on each team member’s shoulder and talked about the stunning success contributions that each person had made. I kept thinking, “Where are his cheat sheets?” But he didn’t have any. I watched in wonder as the faces of each person lit up at his words. Each person looked newly inspired. I was witnessing the power of communicating personal value. Its transforming power, just those two or three minutes of recognition healed, emboldened, and filled hearts with a renewed courage to continue on!

Emotional Intelligence 401 in action! What a leader. What a magical moment.

And then the Surprise!

If that moment wasn’t enough, he turned to me. Yes, little ol’ me, in the corner taking it all in. He actually said, and I won’t forget the words, “And now I left the best at the end, Steve Gutzler.”

As he walked toward me, my heart started pounding. My eyes moistened. When he placed his hand on my shoulder and spoke glowingly, I melted. I faked a cool demeanor and a soft smile. But inside, I was a puddle. I have those words recorded in my mind. I return to them often because in my world, as I am sure it is in yours, I have many small voices. Sometimes even my own voice is speaking small to me.

But on that day I found myself driving to live up to those words of greatness. Emotional Intelligence can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For me it is something you experience and I attempt to deliver to one person at a time. One conversation, one smile, one handshake, one leadership moment at a time.

“Leaders understand emotions drive behaviors, performance, and greatness!”

You matter to me!

Partnering in your emotionally intelligent success,

Steve Gutzler

For information on keynote presentations, team workshops, and one on one coaching, contact Steve at:



Originally posted November 6th, 2012


An innovative environment becomes like a greenhouse where ideas get seeded, sprout up, and flourish. Here are seven ways leaders encourage unstoppable innovation and become industry leaders:

  1. Leaders encourage innovation – Studies of innovative companies and organizations suggest that the biggest single variable of whether or not team members will innovate is whether they perceive they have permission.

  2. Leaders place a high value on trust among team members – Innovation comes from trust. Trusting your instincts. Trusting that smart failures lead to smart innovations in time!

  3. Leaders celebrate the offbeat – Innovation, by its very nature, often explores off the beaten path and goes against the grain. Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple foster creativity in personal leaders and even tolerate a little oddness. Celebrate offbeat ideas ~ it may be your next BIG IDEA!

  4. Leaders challenge the status quo – By using innovative ideas and creative thinking ~ Priscilla Presley turned the estate of Elvis Presley into a business empire that earns tens of millions of dollars each year. The Key: She shattered the status quo and believed a tourist attraction called Graceland would flourish… and flourish it did!

  5. Leaders know innovation is contagious – Innovation is contagious and ideas rise as brainstorming is a part of a culture. Teaming up spring boards new discoveries.

  6. Leaders appreciate the power of dreamation – A creative environment promotes the freedom to dream. Innovation cultures use a blank sheet of paper and ask the question;
    “If we could draw a picture of what we want to accomplish, what would it look like?”

  7. Leaders allow breaking of rules – Katharine Hepburn remarked, “If you obey all the rules… you will miss all the fun.” Innovative thinkers think outside the box. They travel, explore new cultures, traditions, and playful places.

Be a leader of innovation – stretch – explore – and above all have fun! I’d love to hear your innovative ideas!

-Steve Gutzler

For information on keynote presentations, team workshops, and one on one coaching, contact Steve at:



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