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Stuck Plumbing?

Stuck Plumbing?

Dear Dr. Sylvia, I am a newly named director in a major tech company. We have been around for many years and have so many systems in place. However, what cannot be programmed (wish it could be!) are the human beings who surround me. Here is my dilemma: my boss is a mixture of a micro-manager and a hands off do-it-yourself type. The combination is crazy making. She is, in your pattern terms, a persecutor always looking over my shoulder to see what is not being done right, and an avoider who hates conflict. Now I have studied your patterns and I am a bona-fide avoider, especially of speaking up to power. And my boss is very powerful. They even say she could be the next CEO. I am working at transforming my avoider pattern and becoming an initiator and it works with many. However, with her I tread lightly. Example: If I ask her for help when I have been at a meeting and I need to report back and I am not sure what to do she always says “I was not there so I can’t help you.” And with that she waves her hand and dismisses me. I do not think she has my back and I am fuming inside. It makes me nervous to say something to her and I feel all my upset at her and at myself, backing up inside. Suggestions? Signed, Need to flow freely Dear Flow, The combination of looking over your shoulder and ignoring your needs can be crazy making. I certainly understand. However, the ball is in your court...
What If…?

What If…?

Dear Savvy Sylvia, I want to quit my job. I am miserable. I went into healthcare to please my parents, both physicians. So, guess what I became? Nope, not a medical doctor. I became a senior V.P. in a large medical device company. Now, what we produce is really good and helps lots of people. And my parents are OK that I did not become a doc like them. At least, I am in the helping professions. HOWEVER, I want, yes yearn to be a philosophy professor. Everyone thinks I am nuts. I make big bucks and my travel expenses are covered for lots of amazing organizational meetings. Philosophy professor, in 2015? That is the look I get. No one takes the liberal arts so seriously anymore and while I am smart, what if…I don’t get a job. What if…the students think I am a fossil? What if…I cannot live on a lower salary? Any advice? Signed What If   Dear What If, I get questions like yours by the bucket full. So many people went into their careers to please others. You are not alone. Now, to answer that big question ‘what if?’ There are lots of variables. So, here is a check list before I give a really good suggestion. On a scale of 1-10 (1 is not good, not good at all, and 10 is soaring into the stratosphere): How much support do you have with family and friends? How could you live on a salary of 30% less than now? How is your overall health? How do you handle ambiguity? How much do you need...

Leadership, Violence, and Vigilance: Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, and the NFL

Remember where you were on September 11, 2001? Now, 13 years later can you answer this question: how did it change the way you see the world? For many it activated fear to a new level, for others the desire to crush the enemy, whoever they are. For some, it was the beginning of thinking about life and what matters in a deeper more holistic way. What about YOU? Is it a more violent world? Or has social media merely given us access to what goes on underneath the superficial that has been around, since people were in caves and tribes? People hurting and hating people; you would think we would have learned new ways of resolving conflicts by now. It just ain’t so. I believe we have been looking in all the wrong places for ways to resolve conflict. We still use “JUBLA” (Judging, Blaming and Attacking) as the way out of our discontent. My “Total Leadership Connections™”Program was to be launched on September 11, 2001. Of course we had to wait. And last month we started our 59th program. What I teach, what is missing, is that we do not look deeply enough as to why we punch and push and pull each other physically or verbally and therefore emotionally. Now, Ray Rice is on the chopping block for domestic violence. Comments are flying to flame the fire to fire Commissioner Roger Goodell. Then it will be time to go after the whole NFL. And when that is over there will be others, somewhere, anywhere we can judge, blame, and attack. Here is what we are missing: what forms us is family, culture,...

Leadership and Hidden Sources of Conflict

One day at a senior staff meeting Michael expressed strong doubts of George’s idea to acquire another company. Michael and George started to raise their voices, much to the surprise of the rest of the management team. Michael was so angry he was physically shaking; he nearly lunged at his colleague. He knew even as he stood there that his behavior was irrational – way out of proportion to the situation being discussed. He excused himself, went into his office and closed the door. After some deep breaths to calm down he started to write about what had just happened. As he wrote a memory seized him and he remembered an incident with his older brother (someone just like George). He was nine years old and no matter what he said he could never get his older brother to really hear him. The two boys were always competing for being the best, the smartest, the winner. And here he was, in this meeting feeling that his co-worker George was winning and he would end up being the younger brother who could never be first, never be listened to. Later that day Michael took a risk and went to talk with George who had stayed in the meeting dumbfounded with Michael’s reaction. Listening to Michael was a turning point in the relationship with the two men. Not the touchy-feely types, they were both a bit shy. However, finding out that George was not the source of Michael’s upset, was gratifying. They made an agreement to really hear each other and when in the heat of a discussion the situation seemed to veer off course they would stop...

3 Things to Avoid When Giving Feedback

It’s always a sticky situation when you have to give or get negative feedback and this is just not a topic always covered in business school. It really is about understanding how to manage people relationship systems. Here are some guidelines for giving feedback so you can mentor employees to grow to the next level. For most of us giving and getting feedback is uncomfortable. We would rather lie on a bed of nails than have to give difficult or negative reports. In any case, we are rarely taught about the dangers and pitfalls inherent in these often tense and uncomfortable situations. The main problem is that we were never taught to decipher the secrets of why we interact the way we do. This vital realm of relationships has been left to psychology professionals. Not good. It is vital for managers and executives to learn about this, the core area of workplace success. Relationships have a whole set of invisible rules. You have to know the rules to play the game or you will find yourself running for a touchdown when the rules say you should be dunking the ball into the basket! Here are 3 guidelines for giving feedback: Watch your words. Specific words and sentences can set up an incendiary atmosphere and will stop the discussion in its tracks. Be careful about words like “never” and “always”. They lead to an “I dare you” posturing and puts the responder on the defensive. Here is an example: “Tom you are never on time with your part of projects” will end up with a knee jerk rebuttal of the one or two times Tom...

The Ethics of Giving and Getting

Many of you know who Brendon Burchard is. Some say he is a young Tony Robbins. He says lots of great things in front of groups and talks in an ethical and clear manner. It sure looks like he has made a ton of money. In fact he often talks about how he became a millionaire at a fast and furious pace. I suggest that “BUYER BEWARE” should be stamped on his program sign- up sheets. Here is what happened to me and I would love to hear your response. Maybe there is something I just don’t see. My husband and I went to a Burchard program that was a “two for” and so we spent maybe $1,500 between us. This young man was captivating and I wanted some new tools for marketing my book “Don’t Bring It to Work,” (that has since won 9 book awards.) We signed up for a yearlong mastermind program that was going to cost us $20,000 which is a huge investment of both time as well as money. So far so good. Then life intervened…..My husband was in physical pain and after several doctors’ visits was told he would need a complex hip replacement surgery and would not be able to travel for at least 3-4 months. I wrote to Burchard and said we would not be able to do the program at this time (it had not even started yet) and asked for a refund. The timing was just not in the cards and it meant I had to do double duty in our daily business. What would you do if you...