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Can BAD People Be Good leaders?

When Tom was fired from his CEO position there were lots of heads shaking side to side wondering what happened. Tom was a charismatic kind of guy who was always telling funny jokes and encouraging everyone to do the best they could do. He was both cheerleader and coach. So what happened? Let’s face it. Business can be brutal at the top rungs. The rules of the jungle often apply and if it is eat or be eaten…well the answer is obvious. While Tom was seen as a ‘good guy’ by most of the world, in the inner sanctum of senior leadership he was known to bully, intimidate and often twist the truth. He wanted success and his non-verbal mantra was ‘success at any cost.’ How did it happen? Tom started to meet with a few shady characters who saw his yearning for power and prestige and just like the charlatans from days of yore, who told that egotistical emperor that they would design a cape so beautiful only the pure of heart could see it, these folks sold Tom a bill of goods about products that were destined to fall apart too soon. The fall from grace. Tom would not listen. He made bad decisions and while the company was making money faster than anyone ever dreamed, the cribs for small children, poorly designed to save money, were causing tragedies to occur. You have to go upriver far enough to see where problems begin. Tom’s bloated pride and disdain for others who did not agree finally brought him down and cost the company a bundle. Too much ego...
How to Make a Mean Boss Marvelous

How to Make a Mean Boss Marvelous

Dear Dr. Sylvia, My boss is the nastiest, mean woman I know. I cringe every time she says “Good morning.” Now, please don’t get me wrong. I really like most people. I would probably like her if she were not my boss. She is so particular and there is nothing I can do right. For example: she was an English major in college (she LOVES to tell us this) and while she is head of I.T. she speaks like a Shakespearean actor. Even a simple email saying “I will be done with my part of the project by the end of the day” will be sent back as “The word ‘finished’ is more specific and appropriate than ‘done’.” I want to tear my hair out! (Oh, and she thinks exclamation points are overly dramatic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)! If she sees a speck of dust on a desk she runs over to wipe it off…and never says anything, just snorts!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I must say using these exclamation points is making me feel so much better)! Any suggestions? Signed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  _____________  Dear Exclamation Point, First, here is my best question, “Who else in your life was a perfectionist where nothing you did was ever good enough?” Take some time and answer this before you read the rest of what I am about to write. You see, sometimes we overreact when a person in present time, sets our teeth on edge and it is really a memory from the past. Before you say “No” and delete this post, just give me a minute. Look, your mean, woman boss may be annoying, may be impossible. And then...
Toxic Woman at Work

Toxic Woman at Work

Dear Dr. Sylvia, The past few weeks have been like living in a super hot hell. There have been a ton of arguments and drama, mainly because one woman wants her way and is dividing our staff (we only have 20 people working on-site). There is Team A (Suzie’s team) and Team B (my team). It is evenly split with 10 for Suzie and 10 for me, Samantha. No real work is getting done. The issues are so stupid I don’t even want to mention them. It is, so my friends at other organizations tell me, not that different from what they have experienced. However, it is getting worse. Untrue comments are flying around (on both sides I might add) and the two of us are having a meeting with HR at the end of this week. HELP!!!!! Signed, Sad in Seattle ___________ Dear Sad, Without many details I will have to do some guessing. I also will dig down into what is usually underneath the ugliness of opposing teams when you are really all in the same organization, on the same team. Here is one way to think about what is going on. Loyalty and passion to one person can turn perfectly reasonable people upside down. Arguments and drama, shrill or silent, sabotage relationships and work effectiveness. Unspoken and often deeply invisible thoughts are activated when debates about who is right become overheated (thus you are right about living in a very hot hell!!). Stress moves through very quickly and without awareness outdated, ingrained behavior patterns learned early in life take over. This is what we will tackle...
What To Do When You’ve Said Too Much

What To Do When You’ve Said Too Much

Dear Dr. Sylvia, I read your post yesterday in Examiner.com about anger and by the time I was finished I was sad and depressed. You see, I have come to realize I have a problem with saying way more than is necessary when I get upset. At work they even sent me to an anger management class after I slammed my computer shut and stormed out saying I would probably never come back. EXCEPT I am a highly paid VP and I am super good at my job as a market analyst and I love my job. I even love the company I work for. Funny that I don’t show anger at home, only at work. What is that about? I almost ruined my career and in the process almost ruined some deep and important friendships at work. I am usually a mild tempered really good guy. Any suggestions on how to get the ‘egg off my face’ and how to clean up the mess I left behind? Signed, Keeping Quiet ________________ Dear Quiet, If anger repair could be measured in terms of fixing houses someone could make a fortune. It is amazing what many of us do when we are angry. We blow up, we expand the argument, we gossip, we judge, blame and attack (what I have named JUBLA). Anger decisions mostly backfire. And then we must live with the regret and as you say with sadness and depression. Sadly, many of the wounds we inflict when we are angry are not readily healed. Some of us blame ourselves, mostly we blame others because it is so much...
Pattern Clash: When the Jerk at Work Meets the Jerk at Work

Pattern Clash: When the Jerk at Work Meets the Jerk at Work

“I work hard” he muttered. I could barely hear him. “You do WHAT?” I asked. “Work hard. I told you, I work hard.” It seemed to him like no one ever really listened. He went on to say that he was sick of spending his nights correcting his boss’s awful grammar for her reports that had to go out the next day. She was always late with her reports and always had a ‘do it now’ attitude. “I am a communications expert, not a third grade teacher” he complained. “Did you ever tell your boss about your frustrations?” I was just getting to know his vulnerable points in this first leadership development coaching session. “You can’t tell her anything. No one can. You just do what she says and stuff your thoughts and feelings.” “What do you think would happen if you said you needed time for yourself, for your family in the evening and would appreciate if her reports were sent to you in a more timely fashion?” “I would get fired.” “How long have you been with the company?” “I have been here for eight years” he said with deep pride. “And you would get fired, just like that?” “She is and always has been a bully. She is and always was loud and a know it all. She is and always was the one to demand that it was her way or the highway.” OK, you got the picture? A demanding boss and a subservient director of communications. A bully and a victim. Do either of these patterns resonate with you? In the employees eyes the...

FREEDOM for the FOURTH

What does real freedom look like? It means being real, being who you are and not being afraid to express yourself in a healthy, positive way. Let’s celebrate FREEDOM this year in a new and powerful way. Let’s give each other the nod of approval that we can just experiment and be whoever we are without feeling judged. Now, that would be FREEDOM! Think of it this way. As a kid we were all GUTSY, male and female. We spoke out. We said what we saw before someone told us to be quiet, be good, behave. Think for a minute about one of your GUTSIEST moments. Take a few minutes and write it down. Practice telling it on the FOURTH. Tell it to family, friend, the checkout gal or guy at the market, the person who hands you the food at the convenience store. TELL IT TO SOMEONE. My grown daughters hate it when I tell the following story. They say “Mom, it is just over the top. Scale it down, shush it! And I say to them “When you are GUTSY sometimes you just gotta let loose!” Hang out with me. I wrote the book GUTSY because I had to. I became super sad thinking about how I used to sell myself out to be quiet, be good, and behave. I stayed in a marriage too long to please someone else. I was suffocating and was ready to go down with the ship rather than make waves. I used to keep my hands in front of my chest to protect myself. It often felt like I had been...