Speaker | Entrepreneur | Author

Sam Davidson's blog

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Posts in Leadership Does
Performance, Not Position

A position does not make a leader; performance does. 

I've rarely found an election or an appointment to be the galvanizing moment in which a leader is born. Rather, leadership happens when someone - anyone - decides to take the action needed to make something better or to lead others towards an important goal. 

You don't need a position or a title to give you permission to lead. You need the gumption to pick yourself, get to work, and tell a story by your actions that others want to be a part of.  

Elections don't make leaders. Actions do.  

Leadership Stands Up (podcast)

In the latest episode of the Leadership Does podcast, I get to speak with Mike Dilbeck, founder and president of the Response Ability Project

Mike is also a speaker, reaching students and adults all over the country with the idea that any of us can be an everyday hero. He and I talked about how leadership means you can't be a bystander when the opportunity presents itself to act.  

In the episode, Mike shares some inspiring stories from his work and travels and also describes how all of this came to be. I think you'll enjoy his take on leadership, action, and making a difference. 

And, here is some more info on Mike:

Thanks again for listening. And if you haven't yet, be sure to subscribe to the Leadership Does podcast on iTunes.  

Leadership Motivates (podcast)

The Leadership Does podcast has a fresh new episode, interview style! 

I had the chance to chat with T.J. Sullivan, author, CEO, and speaker.

T.J. has written Motivating the Middle , an in-depth look at how one task of a leader is to motivate groups within an organization in a relevant, meaningful way. And while most of his context is on a college campus, I think the principles T.J. and I discuss can be applied in nearly any setting, whether in a company, for a nonprofit, or out in the community. 

The key takeaway of this episode is the idea that in order to motivate, leadership needs to be willing to re-examine how meetings happen, what commitments are being asked of members, and what engagement looks like. In the end, this kind of customization can result in a healthier organization that can accomplish great things. 

And, to learn more about T.J., check out: 

And, be sure to subscribe to the Leadership Does podcast in iTunes by clicking here.  

Your Touch

The way we treat things is our way of showing gratitude for those who came before us and a way of showing hope to those who will come after us.

We are all stewards, then, rather than owners.

The planet, this job, that community, this relationship - our actions to and in these things are tacit nods to our predecessors and successors. What messages are you sending?

Will we leave it all better than when we found it?

Leadership improves things, regardless of origin or ownership.

Leadership Busks

Walking through my own downtown Nashville on Monday, I encountered a handful of street performers. This is common in many big cities, but seems to be especially present here in Music City, U.S.A.

I've never had a craft that lends itself to performing for free, unannounced, in public, but I think the idea of busking - another term for street performing - can apply to any line of work.

Busking: the word itself sounds cumbersome. Such a loaded and unsexy word brings out all the hard work, slogging, endurance, gumption, and risk needed to succeed. This is why shows like American Idol are deceptive. Busking doesn't lead to discovery there. You just need luck, the ability to wait in line all day, and usually, a good story.

You can busk as an accountant when you open your practice. Teachers can busk and so can sales reps, designers, plumbers, and landscape architects.

Leadership busks. It puts in the hard work, maybe for free at first, until people notice. And then once people notice, the creation, launching, and cultivation of a tribe of fans and supporters can happen.

If at first you don't succeed, busk and busk again.

Leadership Bakes

In this extended article about the sale of Instagram to Facebook, the author describes Instagram's early shift in product design that ultimately led to its popularity thusly:

It was the sort of eureka moment that made perfect sense because the solution had been there all along.

We often assume eureka moments will happen when something or someone new shows up. But often, these moments occur when we finally see rightly what has been in front of us or correctly put together something wonderful from the ingredients we already have.

There's a cake in my pantry. Well, it's not a cake yet - but the ingredients are all there. The actualization of the cake can't happen, though, unless I show up and bake.

Don't lament what hasn't yet arrived. Spend your energy piecing together what you already have and watch as something delicious takes shape.

What Are You Aiming For?

If you aim at something (a target, the middle of the green, a basketball goal), you may just hit it.

What's true in marksmanship is true for markets. No archer can hit every target at once; no company can reach every customer. Focus, then, helps you grow. By limiting your core offering or audience, you'll actually attract more business.

You cannot (and you should not) lead everyone. Your goal is not to increase your ranks until you have legions in your care. Your goal is to take those who identify with your story and equip them to reach that destination together.

Leadership focuses. It focuses on the right people doing the right things to get to the right goal.

Aim well.


Thanks to this Seth Godin post for jumpstarting this idea in my head.

Leadership Sets the Agenda

Leadership that impacts the lives of others does so by setting the agenda. While unexpected events will need to be managed, leadership isn't reactionary. Leadership that is purely reactionary is crisis management.

The reason leadership must set an agenda if it is to be most effective is because if leadership waits for someone else to set it, it departs from its very nature. If someone or something else is setting the agenda, then it is leading the way - not you.

And as Seth Godin reminds us, when someone else sets the agenda, they own your best work.

Therefore, if you want to be at your best, do your best work, and lead in a way that impacts others, set the agenda. Determine where the group is going and what it needs to get there. Set a deadline.

Then, get to work. Onward!

Leadership Does

Now that I've been at this a year, it's time to do something with what I've learned. Knowledge, after all, is just trivia if it's not applied.

So I'm writing a book. I'm taking the best of these Daily Doses, adding in some other ideas I've been mulling over this past year, and packaging it all into a book, Leadership Does

This will be a book about action, not theory. It's a book for anyone who's ready to lead. It's a book that proves you don't have to get elected to lead; you just have to be willing to take the action needed to make a difference.

So, you may notice some programming changes around here. For example, this is your first "Daily Dose of Does." These daily thoughts will keep coming your way, but the majority of them will now be focused on helping you get in gear and take the action needed to help others, lead well, and make an impact.

Next week, I'll be rebooting my podcast called - you guessed - The Leadership Does podcast.

And, I plan on writing this book in a very public way. There will be points where I'd like your input. I'll be taking the action needed to get this and the end goal will be - I hope - a book that's useful to you, enjoyable to read, and meaningful in its application.

Thanks for journeying with me this far. We've come a long way, but there's still so much awesome stuff on the horizon.