“The more you understand yourself, the more you’re in control of what’s going on around you, and you’re not just reacting…” – Lyle Benson

In episode #097 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast, we welcome back Lyle Benson, who visited us previously in episodes 082 and 089.

This time we invited Dr. Benson to take part in our “Inspiring Leadership Stories” series, where he gifts use with an invaluable excerpt from his lifetime of experience.

Lyle Benson

Lyle Benson - Meeting Leadership Podcast - Effective Meetings

Lyle Benson is an Associate Professor in the Bachelor of Commerce Program Department of Organizational Behaviour, Human Resources and Management at MacEwan University.

Dr. Benson’s research interests focus on holistic leadership development. These include undergraduate development leadership skills, team building skills, and negotiating skills. He is also interested in undergraduate self-confidence development.

You Can get in touch with Lyle at

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00:00 – Show Opening

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

00:27 – Podcast content starts here!

Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard, and I just want to say thank you so much for listening to this show and taking action. 

00:37 – Feedback from a listener

Gordon Sheppard: I got a direct piece of feedback from a listener the other day, and he said this, he said, “You know what, I used to not prep to get ready for my team meetings that were online, but after listening to the show I was able to go and spend probably 15, 20 minutes getting ready. Guess what, Gord, the meetings went a lot better.”

01:07 – Welcome back, Lyle Benson – MLP 082 – MLP 089

Gordon Sheppard: It’s really so good to get that kind of feedback, because he is an action taker and it’s really wonderful that you’re here spending the time to do the same thing. I really appreciate it. Today we’ve got another one of my favorite installments from the inspiring leadership stories, because today we’ve got Lyle Benson back on the show. Many of you will remember Lyle from episode 82 called Why Leaders Need to Learn How to Build People Up. He was also on in episode 89, and he talked about why sarcasm is hurting your team and what leaders can do about it. If you’d like to get those episodes, you can just go to​82, or /89. In this interview we’re not only going to get a chance to hear about what inspires Lyle, he’s going to give you more practical leadership tips that you can apply right away. With that in mind, I’m not going to keep you waiting any longer. Here’s the interview with Lyle Benson.

Gordon Sheppard: Lyle Benson, you were such a great gift as an expert guest on episode 82 and episode 89 when we talked about how to build people up and why sarcasm is hurting people and their teams. It’s just great to have you back on the show again. Welcome.

Lyle Benson: Well, thank you very much for having me back. I really appreciate it.

02:13 – Lyle’s self-introduction

Gordon Sheppard: Lyle, some people are going to be listening to this episode and hearing you for the first time. I guarantee you after hearing you they’re going to rush back and hear those other two episodes, but for people that don’t know you how would you introduce yourself?

Lyle Benson: I’m a associate professor at MacEwan University, but before that I was a business consultant for 20/25 years, and did a lot of leadership training and team building and worked with organizations.

02:57 – What inspires Lyle Benson – Making a difference in people’s lives

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and that package going together at this time in your career when you’re out there teaching and having, still, it sounds like, a super-passion for training and teaching these students to become the leaders of tomorrow, what a great gift. Again, I mentioned that we learned a ton from you before. Today we’ve got you back on to learn a little bit about what inspires you. Please, can you share what inspires you so that we can learn from it as well?

Lyle Benson: Well, what inspires me is that I want to make a difference in the world. Now, some people make big differences and some people make small differences. Trying to make a difference in my sphere of influence, and over the years that has changed. Trying to make a difference with my family, with my children, with my colleagues at work, with organizations, so that it’s not like I have this great big plan, but just trying to make a difference in people’s lives to make their lives better and starting with myself.

03:36 – The Holistic Leadership Development Model 

Lyle Benson: How can I be a good person, and then spread that goodness not in a religious context but rather just in a very practical way. If I’m a good person, can other people become good people as well too? That’s the basic motivation. Years and years ago back in the 80s I developed a model called the holistic leadership development model. Basically it said to be effective as a leader you need three sets of skills. You need your work skills. You need your people skills, and your self skills.

Work skills are easy, you just get training in that. Dealing with people is much more difficult, and over the years there are a lot more areas of communication and teamwork skills that developed, et cetera, et cetera. My focus has really been on self skills development. How do you develop the self skills? Well, self skills are things like do you know who you are as a person? Do you know your personality? Do you know your goals that you want to achieve in your life? Do you know what your own values are that you want to role model on a daily basis?

05:06 – Lyle’s journey to self-awareness – The more skills you have, the more choices you have

Lyle Benson: Because these things are like an iceberg. On the top of the iceberg we see the work skills and the people skills, but underneath, which is most of the iceberg, there are all the self skills that people may not know about you, but too. If I’m not clear on what my own values are, or if I’m not clear and understand who I am as a person that will have a positive or a negative impact if I don’t understand how I deal with people. That’s my history in terms of saying these three areas are important, but I focus mostly on self skills development, and to some extent on the people skills, development of people.

Gordon Sheppard: Lyle, this is a pretty enlightened approach to life. Were you always in this position to be this self-aware and being able to do the good stuff?

Lyle Benson: I thought I was when I was younger. I’ve always been interested in philosophy and religion and how can you be a good human being. That has always been there. I didn’t have the skills for that. We have to go back 50 years now. There wasn’t a lot of training in self-awareness about who you are, and there wasn’t a lot of training in people skills. It wasn’t until the 70s and 80s that that training came along. Now, of course, there’s all sorts of people skills development, there’s all sorts of self skills development that are happening.

It’s important that people keep taking courses or learning about themselves, because the more you understand yourself, the more you are in control of what’s going on around you and you’re just not reacting in making decisions or talking to people. That you really have intentional lifestyle and a positive lifestyle. One of the things that I want to help people to do is that when I do training with them I want people to be consciously aware of what they’re choosing to do or not to do.

I want the training to be positive, and I want them to make choices about themselves. Because I really believe in free will, that we really do have a lot of free will, and that we can choose to make positive choices in our lives. If we don’t have the skills, then we do things that we’re just reacting and we’re not taking control of ourselves, so that we have choices, we have actions and we have consequences.

Many times people talk about just the actions and the consequences, but they don’t talk about the thing before that. We can choose to do things or not to do things, and that is a very freeing thing for people, that they’re choosing not to do something or they’re choosing to do something. Now, I’m not going to put a value on whether people choose or not choose, because they have their own life situations and they’re doing the best they can with what they have. The more skills you have, the more choices you have.

Gordon Sheppard: This really resonates with me, because in my training that I do with people to help them focus on meetings, I always say you can choose how you act in a meeting. This is a big differentiator that people when they go through and they realize that, and I say it doesn’t matter whether you’re the leader or the follower. You can make that meeting a little bit better or a little bit worse depending on what you choose to do in that meeting.

07:21 – 21st century leadership skills

Lyle Benson: It’s very interesting, because educational institutions have what is called AACSB which is a North American credential, or EPAC which is a European credential. We call them 21st-century leadership skills. They want people to be able to conduct proper meetings, because so many people can’t conduct proper meetings. They want universities to start teaching students how to conduct meetings, and, in fact, in my classes when we do group assignments and teamwork assignments every student has to lead two meetings and then reflect upon them. So that when they come out they can know how to lead meetings. It’s just paramount that people can lead effective meetings.

Gordon Sheppard: This I couldn’t agree with more. We started out to say your inspiration is just your own ability to go out and be the best that you can be and influence the world in the right way. You gave us some really practical tools based on your own research and experience, and you lead us through the trajectory of self-teaching and that kind of stuff. Lyle, it’s been wonderful to have you back here on the show. I really appreciate it. If anybody wants to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

08:22 – Get in touch with Lyle Benson –

Lyle Benson: People can contact me at bensonl, B-E-N-S-O-N-L@macewan,

Gordon Sheppard: Lyle, thanks for being on the show.

Lyle Benson: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

08:52 – More from Lyle Benson – MLP 082 – MLP 089

Gordon Sheppard: One of the great pieces of wisdom that I take away from that interview is that Lyle is changing the world within his own sphere of influence, and you can hear he’s doing it day in, day out, and we could all do really well to do the same. Like I mentioned earlier, Lyle’s already been on the show a couple of other times. In episode 82 it was called Why Leaders Need to Learn How to Build People Up, and you can get that one by going to

Then in episode 89 Lyle talked about why sarcasm is hurting your team and what leaders can do about it. You can get that episode by going to I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy.

09:20 – Meeting Leadership Academy – 

Gordon Sheppard:    I am honestly super-proud of all the great live training and online training options that are happening there. It’s helping people like you, leaders to build up their skills, folks in their teams to learn how to lead highly effective meetings. They’re doing it online. We’re doing the workshops in-person, and I hope you take advantage of it by going to As always, thank you so much for listening, and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

09:56 – Podcast Outro

Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader, and don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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