Ken Downer

About Ken Downer

Ken has been a leader in many capacities, from his 26 years in the Army to his 17 years in the Scouting program. He's excited about being able to share what he has learned about leading with others who are just starting out on their leadership journey.

Book Notes: It Worked for Me

I hope you have problems.

That’s a good thing, really.  A book I read recently cast a whole new light on what it means to have problems as a leader, and what you should do about them.

Today we’ll talk about why having problems can be good, and how you can handle them in a way that will significantly strengthen your ability to influence and lead others.

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Play Your Part

Are you giving it your best?
I was watching The Tonight Show recently – the opening monologues are often funny, and other parts of the show can be entertaining.  The musical guest that night seemed interesting, so I fast forwarded to watch their performance.

On stage were the two rappers, some percussionists, a 16-person gospel choir complete with director, and a pianist at a big beautiful grand piano.

After watching a while, it was the piano player who caught my attention.

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Waiting for the Light to Change

Are you waiting for permission to proceed?
Traffic signals organize and coordinate the flow of traffic. They keep things safe and orderly. We wait for the green light to proceed.

Organizations have managers and supervisors. They direct the traffic too. Most people wait to be told what to do, then do it.

But leaders don’t wait.

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Modeling Success: Three Ways to Communicate Effectively Without Words

Success doesn’t come easy, and the more complex the challenge, the harder it can be to communicate effectively with your team.  Sometimes, the more you talk, the more words can get in the way.  One way to cut through the noise is modeling success.

If you can show them what success looks like, it can help them visualize what they need to do, improve teamwork, and get you a positive result a lot faster.  Today we’ll talk about what modeling success looks like, and three ways you can put this modeling idea to good use.

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Anatomy of a Fall

Saturday.  A mountainous trail half-marathon.  Mile 11.5.  Rocky down-slope.  Running.

Legs are tired.  They feel like clumsy chunks of solid rubber with hamburger for feet.

Left foot finds an unseen rock, and stops short.  Then the right foot joins the mutiny.

Suddenly anchored, everything rotates earthward.  Not in slow motion, either – it happens fast, unexpectedly.  I twist at the last moment […]

Goal Failure: Mission (Almost) Accomplished

What happens when you set a goal and fail to achieve it?
In January of this year I set a personal goal.  Made it public on this web site.  Tweeted about it almost daily.  Posted weekly updates on Facebook.  I worked at it just about every day – hours of exertion, sweat, even a little actual blood.

The day of reckoning came last Saturday, and in the end, I was not equal to the test.  I failed.  But does goal failure make us failures?

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Climbing Solo

When I hear of the exploits of amateur climbers who somehow manage to summit Mount Everest, it makes me wonder – how many more times has his guide been to the top?

When I watch amazing footage of wild life experts and extreme sports, I wonder, “If it was hard for the person on screen, how much more challenging was […]

Is Your Team Due for a Spring Cleaning?

There’s something about “new.”  Somehow the idea of new gives energy, enthusiasm, focus.  Yet so often we find ourselves stuck in “old.”  Same job, same house, same routine.

Just as winter transitions to spring and the world outside renews itself, maybe it’s time to look at your leadership and your team and take a moment to renew, too.  Today we’ll look at four ways to do a team spring cleaning to renew, energize, and help you recapture that sense of “new.”

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Spotlight the Support

My daughter is a big fan of Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton.  She was home on spring break recently, so we took her to see an earlier production of his:  In the Heights.

Our seats were good, the actors were talented, the lyrics were clever, and at the end the crowd gave the actors a standing ovation.  They […]

How to Build Team Culture From the Ground Up

Every team will develop its own distinctive culture.  A good culture can be positive, supporting, and contribute to greater productivity, employee engagement, and satisfaction.  A bad one can have the opposite effect.

The thing is, you don’t have to leave it to chance to see which way your team culture will go.  If you want to build team culture that will move you in a positive direction, here are over a dozen ways to help you build yours from the ground up.

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