Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Latest Leadership Lessons from Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar As you may know from reading Dave's Raves, last November I was honored to be invited to the dedication ceremony of the Zig Ziglar Center for Ethical Leadership at Southern Nazarene University - SNU (Zig is pictured here after a LONG day).

What you may NOT know, is Zig and his son Tom, CEO of Ziglar Inc., asked me to drive with them from Dallas to the ceremony so we could discuss my latest leadership research (based on my analysis of more than 170,000 leaders). As I reflect on our drive time and our 17-year relationship, I realize that Zig is an eXceptional leader who sustains eXtraordinary performance because he integrates the four critical leadership styles scientific studies reveal are the key to success, especially in tough times.

1. Rational - Pursue what is true.

2. Visionary - Creativity flows where knew knowledge goes.

3. Empowering - Appreciate appreciation.

4. Commanding - Choose to embrace the struggle.

1. Rational - Pursue what is true.

RationalSciencej0439851The year was 1992; Zig and I took our seats at the Universal Hilton hotel café in Studio City, CA after his inspiring talk. Before his salad arrived, Zig asked me to tell him about my research idea.

“Zig, I’ve been listening to your programs for a decade. They’ve worked for me and I’d like to study how they work for others.” I went on to explain how I wanted to research goal setting with him.

“That sounds great Dave. Let’s make it happen.” He smiled.

It was during this meeting that I realized that Zig is more than a ‘motivational speaker,’ he is a difference maker dedicated to pursuing and teaching the truth. While many leaders confuse anecdotes for evidence, Zig applies his RATIONAL leadership style to research what really works. He understands that science has the tools and rules to test our assumptions and biases. How well do you pursue what is true?

2. Visionary - Creativity flows where knew knowledge goes.

VisionBinocs2MCj02936300000 During our drive time to SNU, Zig told me that he was not a good student when he was in school, but became a great one after. At age 82, he still spends three hours every day studying, and several hours preparing for every presentation. He told me that his creative juices flow when he links current information with new ideas. VISIONARY leaders like Zig know that today’s problems cannot be solved with yesterday’s thinking. How are you stimulating your creativity through constant learning?

3. Empowering - Appreciate appreciation.

Thanksj0105220jpgA few years after our first meeting, Zig invited me to attend his presentation at the Great Western Forum, former home for the Los Angeles Lakers. As we marched through the labyrinth of corridors and got closer to the stage, Zig began thanking all the people behind the scenes for supporting him when he’s on the stage.

Zig applied his EMPOWERING leadership by offering sincere praise and appreciation to the sound, lighting, and maintenance engineers who, based on their delighted faces, seldom hear an encouraging word. Leaders lift the spirit of those in need. Who needs an uplifting word from you today?

4. Commanding - Choose to embrace the struggle.

CommanderTankpe01479jpg The dedication of the Leadership Center was amazing. People flew in from all over the country. Several guests spoke about how Zig’s teaching had helped them achieve top performance. I was fortunate to sit next to a CEO who had climbed Mount Everest. He said practicing Zig’s principles motivated him to reach the top… literally.

We heard from Zig when his daughter Julie interviewed him. Although a fall last year has affected his short-term memory, it is inspiring to see Zig still wow the crowd as he embraces his struggle. He believes these obstacles are his stepping-stones. Leaders like Zig access their COMMANDING leadership style by choosing to respond to adversity, not react to it. How can you choose to be more proactive and less reactive to adversity?

Rational, Visionary, Empowering, Commanding are the four critical leadership styles that my analysis of hundreds of research studies shows that eXceptional leaders, like Zig, use to achieve eXtraordinary results. If you would like to receive a free copy of Twenty Top Tips to eXpand Your Leadership and Achieve eXtraordinary Results During Tough Times,” e-mail me @ (NO CHARGE).

Keep on eXpanding,



Justin C said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information about leadership and Zig's influence. I am currently writing a paper for my Master's class on Zig and his leadership (style, history, opinions, etc.) Its been great to learn about Zig in my research and if can direct me to anymore of your research on Zig I would love to "borrow it" all the while giving proper literary credit, of course. Thank you very much!

Justin C
Kansas City, Mo

Dave Jensen, Leadership Expert said...

Hi Justin,

Thanks you for your comments. I'd be happy to share some Zig research with you. E-mail me at and I'll send you a paper Professor Locke and I wrote about goals using Zig's participants.

Eshan said...

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