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March 2024 iLead Newsletter: Lessons on Leadership

Hey Leadership Challenge Fans!

The iLead team was busy in February, but not so busy that I didn’t spend a little time playing golf early in the month and hanging out in Austin with 23 of my favorite people for another sold-out Leadership Challenge Workshop.  That event was then followed by a packed Leadership Challenge Facilitator Training.  It was great to be together and make new friends as we explored leadership in such a great city.

This month we feature:

  • Three amazing leaders recently interviewed on the Let’s Talk Leadership with Banangkur podcast. Each brings a unique perspective to their leadership, but they all have one thing in common, they apply the lessons of The Leadership Challenge in their daily practice.
  • Tawnya Mitchell’s take on The Power of the Pause which can help anyone stay focused and on mission, despite working in a world of distractions.
  • Our workshop offerings for the rest of the year.  Hopefully, you can join us for our next sold-out workshop.


Best wishes for a great Spring,


Celebrating Three Inspirational Leaders

Last month, Banangkur Mustafa, the host of Let’s Talk Leadership with Banangkur, conducted an insightful interview with Lawandra Smith, a member of our iLead “family” and a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. The podcast is dedicated to inspiring and motivating women on their leadership journey, making Lawandra Smith an exceptional choice for a guest.

Lawandra, who serves as the Director of Leadership Training for the Department of Family and Protective Services, was recently acknowledged for her remarkable 30 years of service. During this time, she has not only navigated the challenging realm of Adult Protective Services, working directly with investigators and supervisors but has also dedicated almost a decade to enhancing leadership development within the Department through her association with The Leadership Challenge.

Recognized for her unwavering commitment and exceptional leadership skills, Lawandra’s acknowledgment was well-deserved. However, she is just one of three remarkable women interviewed by Banangkur, all of whom have been positively influenced by The Leadership Challenge, either as participants or as Certified Masters. Among them are Dr. Heidi Miller, MD, representing the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and Meredith Garcia, CPDT, who serves as the Director of Professional Development for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

If you’re curious about how these highly influential leaders discovered their voices and led from their values, we invite you to explore the podcast series on Spotify here.

Quick Tip – The Power of the Pause


Do you know many leaders who strive to be “in the weeds” or labeled as “short-term thinkers?” Probably not, but many leaders find themselves exhibiting these traits during times of stress. When pressed, these leaders will admit that they were acting this way unconsciously and were not aware of the behavior in the moment. People seldom start their day saying, “Today I will frustrate lots of people!” However, that is what people who do not exhibit the ability to prioritize issues, think strategically, and empower others do when they do not honor the Power of the Pause. The Power of the Pause is simply the intentional act of leaders who make a habit of taking a few moments each day to think critically about the tasks at hand and align their behaviors with their priorities.
Not recognizing and activating the Power of the Pause, can be the root of poor leadership behavior. Imagine a professional tennis player starting practice by adjusting the ball machine 30% above the pace they know they can handle. No matter how good they are, when the balls start approaching at an unreasonable speed, they will feel overwhelmed and exhausted from frantically swinging at the balls being hurled their way. The only way to be successful in this scenario is to take a pause, adjust the machine, and then determine which balls to swing at.
Think about those tennis balls again. Imagine they are the opportunities or challenges that are hurled at us each day. When we do not pause and determine a strategy to identify and prioritize them, we run the risk of hitting the wrong ones or missing the right ones. In the absence of clarity, all balls look alike, and we will tend to try to return all of them. We lose the ability to prioritize, delegate for development, or even seek feedback. Only by discipling ourselves to pause, can we ask ourselves which balls are truly our responsibility, which ones we could allow others to take, and which ones have no value.
Exercising intentional pauses throughout the day creates positive energy by increasing our resilience and our ability to deal with more complex issues in leadership. There are several ways to pause, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

  • Spend some time early each week focusing on what is most important to focus on during the week to accomplish your overall goals.
  • Pause each day by taking a walk, block out 20 minutes of reflection in your daily calendar, or simply schedule a recurring high-quality coffee break away from your office to focus/refocus on your priorities.
  • Spend some time at the end of the day reviewing your progress towards goals and listing what needs to be accomplished towards those goals the next day.

The essential Power of the Pause is that it regularly creates the time and space you need to empty your mind to then reflect and filter the issues and challenges that leaders face daily.

We would love to hear how you exercise the power of the pause in your life.


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