It’s a week of revitalizing conversations, humbling mistakes, and mountaintop perspectives. The semiannual John Maxwell Team certification conference has become routine for Suzanne and David, but this training came with unexpected curves and heart-level convictions.

Accountable to the Team

During the past 10 trainings, Suzanne has grown a rich understanding of the true meaning of leadership. She began mastermind groups in our community and shaped the values of Lemler Group as it grew. In many areas, Suzanne could look at examples of her hard work and see at least a small amount of success. Each training helped her gain a new perspective, but after a while, the insights began to blur together.

Then she heard John Maxwell talk through his newest book. One chapter at a time, John pressed into the theme of accountability. Hearing written principles spoken out loud reinforced how important they should be to the leaders in the room — including Suzanne.

They’re so simple: cast a clear vision, develop your inner character, fill your schedule with priorities. But as John spoke into each new principle, Suzanne felt increasingly convicted of how she had failed her own team.

From this place of humility, Suzanne built a concept of accountability that included changing her attitude, creating a physical habit, and committing to a renewed leadership role.

Set the Tone

David and Suzanne volunteer at the John Maxwell Gear Store during their free time at the conference. Needless to say, running a medium-scale retail shop in the middle of a tightly scheduled event with volunteers who have come from all kinds of backgrounds is a challenge every year. But on the plane to Orlando this year, Suzanne stopped herself from fixating on the issues in the shop and told herself to change her attitude.

Instead of seeking answers to “what’s going wrong?” she instead asked “what needs improvement?” Rather than worrying about what other people were doing (or weren’t doing), she focused on her ability to help.

Suzanne learned that leaders don’t simply complain about an unideal situation, they offer solutions.

Gather New Tools

For leaders who find their heads full of mountaintop visions of what their team could accomplish, translating big ideas into everyday language is tough. Suzanne has started practicing how to live out the lofty leadership inspiration from conferences like this one thanks to a small notebook she carries with her.

During one of the standard talks at the conference, John Maxwell reminded his certified team members that there are stories everywhere. Any situation, small or massive, involves a story and a lesson, if only they watch for it.

In her notebook, Suzanne writes down stories as they happen. As someone who struggles with recall, this helps her solidify the memory and link it to a learning point. In the three weeks following the conference, she covered 4 pages with notes — all of them nuggets of insight — and is now beginning to tell a shift in how quickly she can recognize and describe lessons in the moment.

Being able to name these moments as they happen is a key development step in Suzanne’s commitment to Lemler Group. The more she looks for ways to add value to others, the more she finds, and the better our whole team becomes.

Start at Home

Now fueled by a positive attitude and equipped with a new tool, Suzanne can begin to make the leap from knowing principles to doing them in the office she works in every day.

At Lemler Group, this looks like committing to mentoring team members, rather than simply handing them books and asking them to read them. It looks like bringing up words like “service,” “perspective,” and “teamwork” in everyday conversation. It means working more intentionally and taking lessons from the conference home, not leaving them in the master class.

Even acknowledging a heart-felt leadership failure didn’t ruin Suzanne’s experience at her 11th John Maxwell Team training. Instead, it added weight to the familiar lessons she heard during the rest of the conference.

Healthy Accountability

Being accountable to other people doesn’t mean following a list of rules or maintaining the status quo. It means taking responsibility for others’ growth, equipping them with proper tools, and helping them draw from deep wells of personal conviction.

The word “accountable” means something new to Suzanne after this conference, and we hope her story helped spark inspiration in you.


  • Make growth happen first in yourself, then encourage those closest to you, then go out and empower others.
  • Every day is full of stories, and every story illustrates growth and truth. Write them down if you have to, but don’t lose track of ordinary stories.
  • You’re in charge of your own attitude! Own it and shape it into the person you want to be.