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.

Howling at The Moon: One Way to Handle Criticism

It can be tough to handle criticism.  As leaders we need to be open and ready to listen to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

How we respond to that criticism after listening can take many forms.

The story is told of a man out walking with Abraham Lincoln one day.


How to be Decisive: 9 Ways to Make a Decision You Won’t Regret

How can you be decisive if you don’t know what decision to make?
Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  That sounds like good advice, but how do you decide which fork to take?

Which one will have the greatest payoff?  Which will you be least likely to regret?

Indecision bogs us down and costs us time, momentum, and opportunity.  To break the stalemate, here are nine ways to help you make that decision with confidence.


The Golden Rule, With a Twist

No written word nor spoken plea,
Can teach your team what they should be,
Nor all the books on all the shelves,
It’s what the leader is himself.
– from Wooden on Leadership
The most powerful form of leading is personal example.

It’s a simple idea.

Be the way you want others to be.

Do the kinds of things you want others to do.

If they trust you, your team will begin to act as you act.

It’s really the Golden Rule: do to others what you would want done to do to you.

But to be a leader, there’s a twist:


Book Notes – Wooden on Leadership: Think Small

Why should leaders sweat the small stuff?
Someone said that you shouldn’t “sweat the small stuff”  but based on what I just read, they have it all wrong.  Sometimes it’s the small things that can make all the difference.  If you want to be effective as a leader, there’s good reason why you should pay close attention to the “small stuff.”  Here’s why.


Independence Day: 7 Ways to Defuse Conflict and Assert Your Freedom

Do our reflexive reactions cause unnecessary fireworks?
Conflict is inevitable in any human enterprise; how we handle that conflict is where leadership comes in.  Too often we seem bound to react instinctively: voices rise, pressure grows, and soon it’s fireworks like the 4th of July.  But to lead effectively requires us to cast off the tyranny of instinct in favor of a more productive response.  To do that, here are seven ways to defuse conflict and declare your own Independence Day.


Book Notes – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

What do you do when your team is falling apart?
We all know that in most cases you can accomplish more as a team than as an individual. But what happens when the “teamwork” part erodes away and all you have left is a group of individuals masquerading as a team?  How do you diagnose the problem and go about it curing it?  A book I recently read does a great job of helping to answer those questions.


Wading the Mississippi: Six Surprising Secrets of Success I Learned from Ol’ Man River

What does it take to achieve great things?
Last week, I waded across the Mississippi River.


And as I thought about that accomplishment, it seemed this great river had a lot to say about what it takes to achieve something great.  Here are six secrets of success the mighty Mississippi taught me that day, and how any of us can use them to achieve great things ourselves.


Leadership Incubator

I think one thing often overlooked in the world of leadership is patience.

We’re always in a hurry to get things done.  We have to produce results immediately.  Yesterday, if at all possible.

To make that happen, some leaders reduce themselves to the idea of “the louder and harsher the better.”

Kind of in the same way that someone traveling in a foreign land might try to make himself better understood by speaking louder and louder.

But not all things work that way.  Some things, like learning a language, take time.  They take patience.  They take steady application.


By |June 22nd, 2017|Learn Concepts, RapidStart Leadership Blog, Written Blog|Comments Off on Leadership Incubator

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Stop Yourself! 4 Ways to Grow Your Team by Shutting Your Mouth

As leaders we are responsible for getting things done through people.  But in our rush to see results, we risk becoming our own worst enemy.  If we are not careful, our well-meaning actions can breed frustration, cause discontent, and undermine trust.  Today we’ll talk about leader patience and when to apply it in a way that will strengthen your team instead of strangling it.


By |June 20th, 2017|Communicate, RapidStart Leadership Blog, Written Blog|Comments Off on Stop Yourself! 4 Ways to Grow Your Team by Shutting Your Mouth

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Leading Spaghetti – How to Use Your Noodle to Lead Your Team

“If you’re a leader, you don’t push wet spaghetti, you pull it.”
– Bill Mauldin
Bill Mauldin was a famous cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, the newspaper widely read by American GIs during World War II.

It’s easy to get his metaphor about leading spaghetti, and it makes sense, sort of.  But since Bill was into humor, let’s see if we can have a little fun with this, plus, I think we can take this idea one step farther.


By |June 15th, 2017|Learn Concepts, RapidStart Leadership Blog, Written Blog|Comments Off on Leading Spaghetti – How to Use Your Noodle to Lead Your Team

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