Bobb Biehl's Alphabet Soup

Bobb Biehl is a proven personal coach. He has devoted his life to helping leaders like you clearly define and reach your dreams. He's an executive mentor and it's what he enjoys most! Since 1976, he's consulted personally with over 500 senior executives. In that time, he's met one-to-one with over 5,000 executives and invested an estimated 50,000 hours in private sessions with some of the finest leaders of our generation.

Bobb is a master of asking the right questions. Let's take a trip through the alphabet with Bobb as he asks you some of his most potent questions!

# - $2,000 / HOUR To focus on your largest boulders fast, ask yourself what professional activity you do that is worth $2,000 per hour. And, ask yourself what activity you do that is worth $20 per hour. en concentrate on the big items and try to eliminate the $20 items.

A - ASSUMPTIONS “All mis-communications are the result of di ering assumptions,” according to Dr. Jerry Ballard...and lead to frustration, pressure, and tension. To get to the bottom of a frustrating situation fast, remember this quote. Begin listing your assumptions.

B - BALANCE Life is a constant struggle for balance. Balance is a result of one word...schedule. Typically you determine your own schedule. Therefore, you schedule your own balance/imbalance. Plan basic balance into your life by scheduling many of the really important things into your life a year in advance (family vacations, personal retreats, time with parents, etc.) At this point in your may be the only way to achieve any semblance of balance!

C - CREDIBILITY When your visibility exceeds your ability it destroys your credibility.

D - DELEGATION When you are doing something that someone else on your staff could do 80% as well, you are probably wasting your time. Learning to delegate effectively is even more important in determining the size of your contribution in life than your native intelligence is.

E - EXCITEMENT What are you really, really, really (yes, you need to repeat really 3 times) excited about today? This is a non-threatening but very profound question to ask a person. It is also a great question to ask each team member over lunch, dinner, or as a team discussion.

F - FUN Fun is “uninhibited spontaneity.” Things that are inhibited and not spontaneous seem boring. Think back to the last time you were having fun. Why was it so much fun? The activity was uninhibited and spontaneous.

G - GOD If God does not exist it changes everything! God does exist and that changes everything!

H - HEART “When you meet a man you judge him by his clothes...when you leave a man you judge him by his heart.” (An ancient Russian proverb)

I - IF, BEFORE YOU DIE If you could only accomplish three measurable things before you die, what three things would you accomplish?

L - LEADERSHIP IS Leadership is Knowing WHAT to do next... Knowing WHY that is important...and, Knowing HOW to bring the appropriate resources to bear on the need at hand.

As a leader keep asking yourself... What next? Why? Where will we get the resources?

M - MENTORING Ideally, Mentoring is a life-long relationship in which the mentor helps the protégé realize her/his God-given potential.

N - NEW NORMAL When major change comes to most people, they keep waiting for things to “get back to normal.” When this “I just want it the way it used to be” feeling hits you, or someone you love, remember the phrase a “New Normal.” It really helps in the adjustment to difficult new realities.

O - OPPORTUNITY “Last year’s unexpected success is next year’s opportunity.” —Dr. Peter F. Drucker

Have each person on your team identify what surprised her/him with how successful it was... then ask, “How can we take full advantage of this opportunity to make this area 10 times as successful next year?”

P - PROBLEMS - HUGE What one huge problem are you dealing with that you would happily pay 10% of your annual salary to have solved for you?

Q - QUESTIONS If you ask profound questions you get profound answers! If you ask shallow questions you get shallow answers! If you ask no questions you get no answers at all!

R - RAW REALITY If we just look at “raw reality” where are we?

S - SINGLE GREATEST STRENGTH What is your “SINGLE GREATEST STRENGTH”? What do you DO the very BEST? There are many things that you do “better than most.” But which do you do the very best? What does each member of your team do the very best? It is your responsibility to maximize that strength.

T - TIMING - GOD’S God’s timing is perfect... even when it differs from our plans.

U - UNIQUENESS What is our unique market/ministry position? What can we do that others can’t? How can we maximize our positive uniqueness?

V - VISUAL PERSPECTIVE Draw a picture of how you are feeling right now...this gives you “visual perspective” and can snap “fog” into focus very quickly!

W - WANT What do you really want from life? What do you really need to get there?

If you enjoyed this article full of leadership insights from Bobb Biehl, you'll enjoy hearing from him at our live learning venue even more! Join hundreds of leaders learning together how to operate their company well, all on a biblical platform at the Leadership Summit 2017 in Hilton Head, SC on May 3-5, 2017. Find out more here.
Can't make the Summit but crave more learning? Tune in to our Convene online leadership learning portal!


Think about a difficult leader that you have worked for. Have you made a conscious decision to lead differently than “them”? I’ve only been a waitress once, for one day. I was sixteen years old and had just passed my driver’s test on the second try. Excited to have the independence my age deserved, I realized I would need money for gas. It was time to get a job.

Applications submitted. Interviews complete. I found my job as a waitress in a nursing home in Cupertino, California. Eagerly I reported to work on the first day as a dining room waitress. A notebook and pencil thrust into my hand, I went onto the floor to take my first orders.

Quickly I realized that this job was much harder than I thought. The residents starting telling me what they wanted for lunch. But they also had questions and special requests. I didn’t know the menu. I didn’t know the protocols for special requests. I wrote everything down as fast as I could and tried to be patient with the people who were getting increasingly impatient with my novice abilities.

Evidently I didn’t get the orders right, because when I went to the kitchen to pick up the food for my table, the chef was yelling at me, calling me incompetent, and barking about my stupid first day mistakes. I grabbed the food, struggled to get them on the table, only to find the residents at my table were as irritated with me as the chef.

At the end of the lunch shift, with teary eyes and embarrassment, I turned in my resignation and went home, discouraged and defeated by my first and only day as a waitress.

“I’ve never known a person who didn’t light up at the memory of a truly great boss. And for good reason – they can shape and advance your career in ways you never expected – and sometimes they can even change your life. In stark contrast, a bad boss can just about kill you.”

Jack Welch, Winning

What is your memory of the worst day you ever spent in a job? What happened? How did you feel? Who was the leader on that worst day in your life? Can you remember their name?

My experience was 42 years ago, but I can feel the humiliation and defeat of that job as if it was yesterday. The only leader I remember is the chef that chewed me out. I don’t remember who hired me. I don’t remember any training or preparation for my first shift. I don’t remember anyone concerned about my decision to resign. There was no exit interview. But this I know. I don’t ever want to put a new employee in that position. I don’t want any person to remember me 42 years later with humiliation and defeat.

Today, jot a few notes down about the worst working day of your life. What could the leader have done to set you up for success? What could they have done to make that the best day of your working life?

Then the hard part of the assignment.

Turn the mirror towards you.

Have you set up your people for success today?

Decide what you need to do right now to make sure that working for you will be a positive memory.

Let’s be better leaders – and leave a legacy.

4 Reasons Why it is Important to Grow as a Leader

How many of you were enthralled by watching the Summer Olympics in 2012? I know I am. It was thrilling to watch the Fab Five win the gold in gymnastics, Michael Phelps winning gold and then losing gold by centiseconds in two of his individual events, and who didn’t fall in love with Missy Franklin, the swimming sensation and sweetheart from Colorado? Despite all of their natural ability they worked hard to hone their craft. I wonder what kind of leaders we would be, if we devoted as much time and energy to grow as these Olympians did?

As I prepared to attend a recent leadership summit, I thought about why I carve out time to hone my craft. Growing as a leader does the following:

  1. It raises my game. There is nothing like the stress of working hard to break through a plateau and reaching a higher level of performance. Several years ago I could barely bike 20 miles at any one time. Today I’ve completed several century rides and think nothing of going out for a 50-mile bike ride. Certainly part of this improvement was achieved by practicing, but I also needed to learn more about pedal stroke efficiency, interval training, heart rate training and the things I needed to do off the bike to become a stronger and better rider.   The same is true of leadership – we practice every day, but what are we doing to improve our game? 
  1. It motivates others to follow me. People are not interested in following leaders who are stagnant. They are much more interested in following leaders who are energized and have great ideas and vision that expands over time. Certainly character and competence are prerequisites if we expect others to follow us, but if we’re not growing, the people we lead will soon become disinterested in following.
  1. It helps me identify my blind spots. We all have blind spots. The other day I was talking to my coach about an area of improvement I saw in someone else. As we processed the issue, it became clear that I had a blind spot that was preventing me from addressing the issue in a timely manner. It reminded me again that leadership is not a solo sport; we need other people to help us identify what we can’t see in ourselves. Input from others helps me see things from a different perspective.
  1. It helps me reach my God-given potential. Don’t we all long to be all that God created us to be? Part of this includes being intentional about our growth and seek opportunities for growth. There is a 2012 60-Minutes interview with Michael Phelps. After the 2008 Olympics, he spent little time in the pool. He didn’t practice to to point where his coach didn’t know if he was going to make it to the Olympics despite his natural talent. Michael’s challenge was to learn to grow beyond the accolades and medals he previously won.

Being a great leader takes discipline and diligence, even in the face of success. You can be good at what you do, but you can never be all that God intended until you cooperate with His purposes and are intentional about your growth and development.

Share Your Thoughts: What types of things do you do to develop your leadership and your character?

The 2 Driving Forces in Life

Both are powerful, but only one will help you build a great life.

There are really only two fundamental driving forces in life. One of them can be helpful, but is short lived. The other one can make you very successful.

1) Running away from something (survival) 2) Running toward something (your Big Why—purpose)

Only the second one creates lasting success. The first one might even create failure.

Survival—Running Away

Moving away from something is a survival tactic. Survival is a very strong instinct, but the negative nature of it will not help you get to great places. It will only help you escape unhelpful ones. Running from something gets tiring.

There are legitimate reasons to run from something—a bear in the woods, a mudslide, that guy who won’t stop talking. Many people look for a new job or start a businesses because they are fed up with the boss or the company they work for. Others do it because they were let go and didn’t want to ever be that vulnerable again. All of these are legitimate reasons to run from something unhelpful.

A negative driving force can be a good incentive to get something started. But the problem with running from things is that it isn’t sustainable. The gravitational pull of that thing chasing you, will eventually slow you down and wear you out. We aren’t built to find long term sustainable motivation from running away from things, but by running toward them.

Purpose—Running Toward

When you find something to run toward you’re much more likely to create a sustainable motivation and succeed. A positive driving force is something that you don’t have, but it has you. It grips you and compels you forward—you can’t help but go in that direction because the gravitation pull in front of you is strong and always getting stronger as you get closer to it.

What drives your life? What compels you to get up in the morning even when you’re not making money and when you’re tired of the struggle? What helps you see the struggle as the road to success rather than the road to nowhere? I call that my Big Why—the big reason to be in business or in life that is so much bigger than just the trivial need to make some money.

If you have a Big Why, a positive driving force that is compelling you forward, you are unlikely to wear out, slow down or give up.

The Paralyzing Middle—Neutral

But there is one other condition that won’t get us anywhere, and is paralyzing—living in neutral. When we’re living in neutral, we’re neither moving away from something or toward something, but simply not going anywhere—dead in the water of life—just treading to keep our head above it all. People who live in neutral many times have reasonably safe, comfortable and predictable lives, but rarely have a story to tell. Movement of some kind is critical. Moving away from the earth might help us eventually find the gravitational pull of the moon. Running away can help us find something to run toward, but neutral doesn’t help us find anything.

Get A Big Why—Your Blue Flame

Get out of neutral if you’re in it—wake up, get a Big Why and run toward it. We call it the blue flame that drives you forward, like the afterburner of a fighter jet.

Do you have a blue flame coming out your back side that is driving you forward? It’s the best way to ensure you’ll build a life you’ll love.

Some day your life may flash before you. If it does, make sure it’s worth watching.

Carpe freaking diem, already.