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What kind of leader are you? Take the quiz to find out!

Taking a leadership style quiz won’t make you a great leader, but it will give you some of the insights you need to start developing your leadership into something greater than it already is.

We all lead with style. For some of us, our leadership style is sort of like bellbottom jeans or parachute pants – a bit dated. We need a new wardrobe. Many of us, on the other hand, pay close attention to the trends that drive successful leadership in our competitive economy. Regardless, we all need to take an honest look in the mirror from time to time.

Some things never go out of style, but great leaders recognize that the world around them never stays the same. So they take core, foundational leadership qualities and adapt to them to a style that fits their personality and the times of the world in which we all live.

What type of world is that? Well, we live in a world that’s far more transparent than ever and that demands far more of its leaders. Followers expect openness, honesty, involvement, engagement … and, yes … love. They want to be in the know, even as they expect confident, smart direction.

Delivering on these expectations isn’t easy. That’s why it’s important to understand how we lead so we can build on our strengths and work on our weaknesses.

What is your leadership style? What type of leader are you? Are you a dictator? Are you a consensus builder? A people pleaser? Are you a politician? A bottom liner? An Extreme Leader? This leadership quiz will provide the answers. Take a few minutes (really, it only takes a few minutes) to answer some simple questions in this leadership style quiz. You’ll get a straight-forward definition of your leadership style and how it’s received by others around you.

Examine the results in light of three key questions: What type of leader are you? What type of leader do you want to be? And how are you going to get there? Then take your leadership to the extremes.

The Alchemy of Culture: 4 Key Ingredients from the Founder of Qor

If there’s one thing Joe Teno knows with great certainty, it’s that he knows nothing with great certainty. And that’s a good thing to keep in mind if you want to help build an innovative culture.

The Forest Alchemists. Some Flasks And Test Tubes With Gurgling

“I’m a firm believer in not knowing,” Teno says. “All things that have potential reside on this edge between knowing and not knowing.”

But this much we know: As president of Athleta, the women’s athletic wear company, Teno helped build an organization known for its collaborative, heart-led culture. (My daughter works at Athleta HQ and raves about the place).

We also know he led Athleta through tremendous growth and helped engineer the sale of the company to Gap in 2008 for $150 million.

And we know his latest venture, men’s sports apparel startup, Qor (pronounced “core”), is already achieving over 30% yearly growth in part because it’s replicating the Athleta culture of caring.

Teno is hesitant to tell others what they “should” or “should not” do. Nonetheless, here are four things I learned from my inspiring discussion with him:

1. Know thyself

One of the turning points for Teno came in the ’90s when he was a hard-charging rising star with L.L. Bean. He worked long hours, won the favor of his supervisors, and was promoted from financial analyst to a succession of leadership roles including Director of Customer Acquisitions.

He felt like a good person on the inside, he says, but became an autocratic, disrespectful controller when he walked through the office doors.

When the HR department pointed out his flaws, he spent a significant amount of time in self-assessment, communication skills training, and leadership workshops figuring out how to “represent” himself better.

Ultimately, he adopted a more empathetic approach that served everyone–including himself–better.

He listened more. He was kind to his colleagues. And he invited others to be the authentic, warm, outgoing people they were at home instead of being “business people.”

It’s an ongoing process, he points out. And it’s filled with uncertainty. (That’s a good thing).

2. Know your culture

Teno’s original business plan for Qor included all the usual components: the product, the market, the competition, financial models, etc.

But it also included an intentional focus on creating a collaborative, heart-felt culture similar to what he’d seen work so well at Athleta.

“I saw a group of people from diverse backgrounds come together with a common purpose and treat each other extremely well along the way,” he says. “The impact of that was spectacular results. Naturally, I want to capture the power, the energy, the potential by trying to re-create that same human approach at Qor.”

That means personally modeling humility and demonstrating the power of vulnerability so that it becomes baked into the culture.

“For me,” he says, “it’s about working with the right people.”

That’s why his core team at Qor consists of people he worked with at Athleta–people he knew would naturally carry the culture with them into the new venture.

Which brings us to…

3. Know that “you” is plural

Individuals contribute to companies in individual ways, of course, but Teno never loses sight that success–especially when it comes to creating a great culture–is a collective effort.

He has an avowed bias for “we” over “I” when describing business accomplishments. So if you pose a question to him like, “What did you do well?” he will squirm a little and then insist that the “you” be plural. Working with people in a vulnerable, heart-centered way leads to shared successes, joys, sorrows, and frustrations.

“That community has a life force of its own, and it didn’t come from me,” he says. “It is all of our efforts, all of our energy combined, that propels this thing forward.”

4. Know that love matters

We have relatively short windows on this planet during which we can make a difference, so the least we can do, Teno says, is “treat each other very, very well during the time we have together.”

“There’s something about opening your heart and showing that you’re there, that you’re listening,” he says. “I’m hesitant to use the word, but it is truly, absolutely, all about love. When people feel that, it is profound.

“There is no greater thing that one can experience in or out of the workplace. Defenses fall away. People know they’re in a safe place, so they’ll show you anything and talk about anything.”

It’s more artistry than science, Teno believes.

“Business is not a rote numbers kind of thing; it’s not facts. It’s not linear,” he says. “You can’t take two swigs of leadership in the morning, a management pill in the afternoon and get somewhere by the evening. That’s not what I’m talking about. It’s alchemy.”

Maybe that’s one thing Joe Teno knows for sure.


[This post was originally published on my weekly column at]

A WUP Upside the Head 2.0

Chapter 13 craft


I folded the note and put it in my pocket as I walked back up the beach to rejoin Smitty and Cam at the café. I was thrilled to hear from Edg, and I was excited about meeting this woman, Agnes. She had to be an exceedingly special person to have had such an influence on Edg and Pops. I admit that I would have preferred visiting Agnes alone, but since I’d committed myself to Cam for the day, I reluctantly decided to bring him along. As I got to the table, I noticed that my two dudes seemed to be tolerating each other well enough. Nothing appeared broken, anyway.

“Well, Cam, it looks like we have a lunch date up in Encinitas.”

Smitty clapped his hands, pushed his chair back, and jumped to his feet. “You boys are in for a treat. Agnes Golden is one of a kind, and that’s a shame for the rest of us. We could use a lot more just like her, that’s for sure.”

“Who is she?” asked Cam.

“You’ll see, Buck. Even you won’t be able to resist her charms.”

Cam looked at me.

I shook my head. “I don’t know her either, Cam, but let’s just say she comes highly recommended. And besides, we’re going to have to eat lunch anyway, so why not at The Wake-Up Call?”

“From the Wake-Up Pad to The Wake-Up Call, huh? Is that a coincidence, or does everyone in your circle of friends have a fear of sleep?”

“No co-inky-dink, Buck. Agnes named ’em both.” “Well, then,” said Cam the all-knowing sales god. “I’m sure this will be a treat.”

Chapter 14

The Wake-up Call was on the main drag of Encinitas, just two blocks from the ocean. It felt like a small beach community diner but with an impressively brisk lunch business. As I searched for a parking space and scanned the bumpers of the parked cars for the telltale backup light, I noticed that the tables on the sidewalk were packed. The inside clearly was, too, because another crowd was hovering in front of the adjacent boutiques, waiting for their turn.

As luck would have it, and sometimes you’re just lucky, I found a spot three blocks south. Cam had suggested that I park closer in a delivery zone and that he’d pay the inevitable ticket to save time. Even though that was an interesting take on valet parking, I decided to play it legal. Besides, a short walk wouldn’t hurt either of us.

As we sauntered up the crowded sidewalk toward the diner, I gathered The Wake-Up Call’s clientele wasn’t the normal touristy bunch. Conversations  throughout the patio were in full lunchtime swing and the wait staff moved effortlessly among the tables with plates of food, pots of coffee, and lots of laughter. I got the distinct impression that they all knew each other.

We made our way inside and found the hostess, who was dressed in a flowered T-shirt and khaki shorts and wrapped in a white apron with a name badge that said Mary Ellen in a friendly, festive script. Her blonde hair was pulled back from her perfectly tanned face. She appeared to be in her early 40s, although with her lithe, runner’s frame and youthful, energetic demeanor, it wouldn’t surprise me if she got carded every now and then.

“Hey, boys, welcome to The Wake-Up Call,” she virtually sang. “We’ve got about a thirty-minute wait right now. Shall I put you on the list for something inside, outside, or the first one that pops up?”

“Actually,” I ventured, looking around at the throngs of diners, “Edg sent us to see Agnes. Any chance you can get us in?” Name-dropping never hurts, although I always feel a little guilty trying it.

“Oh, that boy!” Mary Ellen chirped. “I haven’t seen him since Pops left us. How is he?”

“He seems to be doing fine.” True, as far as I knew. “I’m sure he’d appreciate your asking about him. Is Agnes here?” “First time at The Wake-Up Call, eh? She’s in the back booth, as always. And it looks like she’s alone, which is very unusual. Can I bring you a…” she sized us up and then pointed a finger at me and said, “a Diet Coke and” a finger at Cam, “a black coffee?”

“Yeah, sure,” I said, surprised as Cam nodded in agreement. “How’d you know?”

“Just a little game I like to play. It’s no big thing, I’m wrong as often as I’m right, but it doesn’t stop me from guessing,” she laughed with a disarming burst of joy. “Come with me; I’ll tell her you’re here.”

As she walked us toward the back booth, I saw a tall,  slightly  plump  African-American  woman  sitting peacefully in a cushioned bench against the wall. As we got closer I realized  that  “peaceful”  was  something  of an understatement. She was, in fact, sleeping. Her chin slumped slightly toward her chest, and her short, otherwise thick, gray hair was thinning slightly on top, which I knew because that was pretty much all I could see of her as we approached. I marveled at how anyone could take a nap in the middle of all this chaos. Mary Ellen put her hand gently on Sleeping Beauty’s shoulder and she straightened immediately, blinking her eyes as though being aroused from a deep thought rather than a slumber. She had to be at least 90 years old, which for some reason caught me entirely off guard. Her dark face was deeply lined, and white, meticulously plucked eyebrows arched playfully over her gray, luminous eyes. “A couple of young studs here to see you, Agnes,” Mary Ellen winked at us. “Should I send them away?”

“Oh, you’re so bad, girl.” Agnes raised her perfect eyebrows at Mary Ellen as she chuckled. She looked Cam and me over as though sizing us up against that stud remark and then gestured for us to sit. I slid into the booth and Cam followed.

Smiling with her whole face, Agnes extended her delicate hand across the table and, feeling myself melting, I took it in mine. “And you are Farber. Don’t look so shocked, Smitty called to say you were coming. I know you have a first name, baby, so why do Edg and Smitty call you Farber?” “Not unusual,” I said, loving that she called me baby.

“Most people know me on a last name basis, I guess.” “Well, Steve’s gonna work just fine for me.” She turned  toward Cam, who’d been conspicuously silent so far. “And who’s this handsome young man?”

Before I could make the introduction, Cam thrust out his hand and said, “I am the prisoner, he is the warden and this,” he swept his head around to indicate his surroundings, “is my jail.”

Agnes looked at Cam’s hand and hesitated ever so slightly before she gripped it in both of hers. “Oh, my,” she smiled. “My, my, my.”

You got that right, I thought/mumbled to myself.

“Call me Cam, though. Cam Summerfield.” He shot Agnes such a charming grin that I almost yelped in surprise. This dude could certainly turn on the charm when he wanted to. It almost seemed—and I mean almost—that he felt guilty about spewing his sarcasm on this innocent old lady.

Mary Ellen arrived with my Diet Coke and Cam’s coffee. I picked up my glass and took a sip; Cam did the same with his coffee, except he used his left hand, which almost caused us to have a midair beverage collision.

“You’re a lefty,” I said to Cam as Mary Ellen stood by the table. “I never noticed that before.”

“You got a problem with that, now?” he sneered.

“No, he doesn’t,” said Mary Ellen in my defense. “He’s just being observant, right?”

“Right,” I said. “Just like you.” I wondered if she’d read the same book I had.

“That, my friend,” said the hostess to Cam, “is a left- handed coffee cup.”

Yep. We’d read the same book, all right. Hal Rosenbluth, the travel executive, had once written a story about a waitress who would size up her customers and then serve drinks to the left side of her lefty guests. It was a great lesson in adapting to the needs of customers and not expecting them to adapt to yours, and I hadn’t thought about it for many years. It was cool to see someone actually putting it into practice.

Cam picked up the cup and gave it a dubious perusal. “Sorry. I don’t see the difference.”

“You’ve never heard of the left-handed cup factory?” asked Agnes.

“No. Can’t say I have.” Cam peered at her over the thick ceramic mug.

“There’s a good reason for that,” she said. “Which is?”

“There isn’t one, you silly young man.”

We all had a good laugh at Cam’s expense, which I have to admit, I very much enjoyed.


[Note: I’m excited to share my second book, The Radical Edge, in serial fashion here on! We’ll post one installment a week until the very end of the book. You can go back and read from the beginning here. If you ever get impatient and want to scarf the whole thing down at once, you can always just pop over to Amazon and satiate yourself.]

A WUP Upside the Head 1.9

Chapter 12    My heart skipped when I recognized the script. I hadn’t heard from Edg in the two years since he’d swept into my world and in one eventful week twisted my head and heart around until I got my life back on track. He had … Read the full article→

These 4 Days Could Change Everything for You (For the Better, of Course)

I know that title sounds like hyperbole; I know a lot of people make that claim to describe their programs and events--so, I don't use the words lightly. But now that we've had several years of Extreme Leadership Certifications under our belt, I … Read the full article→

3 Key Lessons From Some of the Most Influential People on the Planet

Bernie Swain is the man who knows everyone. Not literally, mind you, but I've never met anyone who knows more people worth knowing than the co-founder of the Washington Speakers Bureau. He's worked with and befriended almost every person of … Read the full article→

A WUP Upside the Head 1.8

Chapter 11 “Now, this next step is where the magic happens,” Smitty rolled on. “This is what makes the mondo difference, and it’s the one thing that note takers since the days of tablets and chisels have rarely even thought about. So write down … Read the full article→

Help Me Fight Breast Cancer and I’ll do 500 Pull Ups for You

Barbells For Boobs is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the early detection of breast cancer, with an emphasis on women under the age of 40 and men. Inspired by athletes everywhere, local communities come together and raise funds to … Read the full article→

Introducing the Golden Clock: Is a Flexible Schedule the Key to Productivity?

If you listen to politicians, especially those aspiring to live in the big, white home on Pennsylvania Avenue, you might think your happiness is directly tied to their victory in the election. Turns out, that's not big factor; having control over … Read the full article→

A WUP Upside the Head 1.7

Chapter 10   “Tell me the truth now, Cammie Boy. Have you ever listened in on another person’s conversation? Let’s say you’re standing in line at Starbucks, minding your own business, and there’s a couple behind you in line having a little … Read the full article→