The Only Three Quotes You Need To Become A Better Leader and Coach

Quotes. It’s a crowded landscape these days.

Once relegated to desktop calendars and inspirational posters tacked to the breakroom wall, quotes now pepper our every waking moment with reflective insight and omni-directional intent.

People flock to social media like they’re running to the medicine cabinet, hoping for some intellectual, emotional, or spiritual stimulation to help navigate the challenges of yet another day.

Witnessing banal content such as “Be Happy. Happy employees work harder” garner six figure views, 18,000 reactions, and hundreds of comments to the effect of “Love it!”, “Yes!”, and “Speaks to me!”, makes me wonder:

How much of that enthusiasm penetrates the surface to influence your performance as a leader or a coach?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good quote. Along with a simple mantra, motto, great poetry, and the occasional song lyric, or two. They all inspire me in different ways.

For my money, though, there are only three quotes that leaders and coaches need to embrace. All three simplify the complex while providing insight to guide your efforts at creating a better tomorrow.

Out of respect and humility, no Tall Tim Quotes have been added to the short list . . . for now.

Quote #1: Three Sources of Behavior

Human Behavior flows from three sources: Knowledge, Emotion, and Desire” – Plato

Subjected to centuries of translation and interpretation, Plato’s theories on behavior can be traced in the DNA of efforts to influence the development, function, and growth of humans for more than 2500 years.

Why is this a Tall Tim Top 3 Quote?

Change your perspective and rephrase the quote in the form of a question:

Does my team have the knowledge, the emotional investment, and desire to fulfill standard performance expectations?

We now have a three-pronged application capable of targeting areas for opportunity or improvement.

KnowledgeDoes everyone know their responsibilities and expected level of performance?

This begins with proper training on tools and equipment, performance standards, operating procedures, etc. Expand your review to include not only the content of performance standards, but how those standards are communicated.

Information itself is not knowledge. Do members of your team clearly understand how their performance contributes to the overall purpose and vision?

Ensure that your methods and practices relate to everyday performance
(applied effort = goal achievement).
EmotionEmotions influence choice, the beauty of free will.

In our model, this equates to empowerment. Given the opportunity, will your team choose to do whatever it takes to ensure product or customer satisfaction? 

Falling prey to the victim cycle, boorish or bullying behavior, or pendulum swings in mood and behavior are all signs an individual is not emotionally invested in their job or performance.

Counter this by embracing creativity and soliciting input, recognize your team for making the choice to contribute. This sense of inclusion will help restore or promote balance, depending on your current state. 
DesireEveryone would love to feel in control of their future.

When your team feels their destiny aligns with the destiny of your Brand, product, or service, you experience true engagement.

The knowledge to perform and support of discretionary effort promote trust, the foundation of any healthy relationship. Loyalty begins to minimize the distraction of external factors.

The emotional parameters of a job extend beyond today, driving the desire to do more for tomorrow.

Embracing the sources of behavior can benefit your efforts from both a proactive (talent recruitment and selection, performance standards, training requirements) and reactive (performance review and evaluation, quality assurance, adherence to standards) perspective, depending on your current state of review.

Quote #2: Choose the Right Talent

“Clint Eastwood doesn’t direct actors. He chooses actors that best portray characters. He then directs the story.” – Morgan Freeman

This quote may surprise some for its inclusion in the Top 3.

It is captured from a response Morgan offered to the question: What makes Clint Eastwood such a great director?

Why is this a Tall Tim Top 3 Quote?

We live in a results-oriented society. Your strength as a coach or leader is the ability to influence your team in pursuit of a common goal or objective: Sales, Productivity, Wins, Oscars.

Concerning yourself too frequently or intently with baseline behavior of individuals can distract you from the overall narrative, trapping you in the day-to-day, and clouding a more holistic perspective necessary to guide your team along the path to success.

That’s why selecting talent with not only knowledge, but the capacity to learn and grow is a critical first step. Choose people that like and fit your business. Check for demonstrated alignment with your core values and overall purpose based on previous employment or life experience.

Development then becomes a matter of adapting natural ability to the desired standards of performance.

Actors know the function of acting. Selecting those capable of fulfilling the expectations of a role enables the Director to focus on the emotional investment within the essence of a story.

This isn’t to say there won’t be conflict or disagreements at times. That’s the beauty of the process. With the right talent, conflict works to refine the final product. Without the right talent . . . your emotional investment could be left on the cutting room floor.

Quote #3: Design That Works

“Design is not about how something looks, or how something feels. Design is about how it works.” – Steve Jobs

This was the landmark perspective adapted by Apple that changed the course of history.

The company started out designing products they thought the world wanted. When they began to listen to and solicit input from consumers, their immense talent was channeled into designing products that the world needed.

Why is this a Tall Tim Top 3 Quote?

Be willing to change and adapt your style.

Leadership extends beyond what you feel, or think is best for your team. It is providing your team with what they need to be successful.

Soliciting input regarding the look, feel, and daily mechanics of a work environment is hands down the best way to ensure your team is prepared for success.

Designing an engaged work environment promotes sustainable growth, achievement, and lasting loyalty. Employees are no different than consumers in that they willingly contribute more when they feel their opinions are valued, and have leaders that are open to change.

Focus on collaboration. If your team requires more frequent communication, and you’re not a great communicator, do your best or seek help. Find someone who can fill that role to keep the team moving in a positive direction.

The most valuable opinion of your ability as a leader belongs to those looking to you for guidance. Design an environment that works.

Wrap Up

There are endless contributions from thought leaders over time that could have been included in this list. Ancient philosophers such as Buddha and Confucius come to mind. Maya Angelou is another contemporary favorite, her “People will remember how you make them feel” is certainly in running for consideration.

Leaders of industry like Jack Welch or behavioral guru Dr. Stephen Covey are from a previous generation, but their perspectives maintain value through the passage of time.

I don’t consider most of what is published today to possess much beyond a surface appeal. The content is like a Pop Song you hear on the radio . . . makes you feel good in the moment, may worm around your brain for a couple of days, then you move on.   

That’s why these three quotes work for me. Their impact lingers.

They each build on an organic concept of leadership, appealing beyond the original intent of expression to inspire cognitive action and influence results.

Understand behavior, choose the right talent, and seek input from those you serve.

This is inspiration that you can use, today, to become a better leader or coach.

I’d love to hear your comments, perhaps samples of what you would include in your Top 3 Quotes. Please enter them below or email to

Thank you for spending your Tuesday with Tall Tim Talks!

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