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Leadership Development, Ego Stroking, “Atta Boy’s”, and Truth Telling

Leadership Development, Ego Stroking, “Atta Boy’s”, and Truth Telling

I stood at the back of a fast food restaurant waiting for my colleague to get his coffee so we could sit in the summer weather when it isn’t even spring. My mind was in that “Thank God It’s Friday” mode when suddenly I found my ears circling around to eavesdrop on two employees. “I see you have your stupid smiling face on the wall as the employee of the month”. “Yeah, it’s such a bunch of bull”. “What did the manager say to you”? “He gave me a certificate and we had our picture taken for the national news bulletin. Not much else. We shook hands and he told me to keep up the good work. I wanted to ask what the good work was but he was gone before I could get a sentence together.” “Is that it?” “Yes, that’s it. My girlfriend came in and gave me a hug and some of my neighbors swatted me on the rump. I actually found the whole thing a bit over the top. It really means nothing; just looks good for the establishment. Did I learn anything? Nah”. I couldn’t resist. I went over and asked permission to ask a few questions. They shrugged and waited. What I wanted to know was what would have made a difference in receiving the employee of the month award. They both agreed that the ego stroking gets nauseating and it has no lasting effect. What they wanted was some truth telling about what they were good at and what they could do to grow since they obviously did not think their careers...
Leadership Training: Work is NOT a Rehab Facility

Leadership Training: Work is NOT a Rehab Facility

When you have a lazy employee, one who has excuses for everything, who acts like a victim when you point out work not done that needs to be done and all they do is make excuses; then what? I am asked all the time in my coaching sessions, “When do you finally let someone go”? Let’s go back to yesterday and the employee who could not get work done because the cat was sick. The first thing you do is ask accountability questions. Remember, I suggested you go into a room with a door and close the door. This is not to keep anyone captive. It is to create a contained space where there are few distractions, few ways to wiggle out of the “face the music” moment. Leadership development training programs should all have a module where you have to practice asking the tough questions and then sit in silence waiting for answers and not help to rescue the other person. Okay, if the questions fall on deaf ears, then what. REMEMBER THE RULE OF THREE Sometimes it does take a bit of remedial work to get the point across, so give the employee a second and a third chance to step up to the plate. However, by the third meeting if nothing is really changing and the “cat” is still sick, then it is time for action. Performance improvement plans work. They are like a red flag that time is running out. Make them factual, specific, with time lines. And you can “unhire” if you must. Often employers who are caring and helpful have a difficult time...

Can Bullying be Passive Aggressive?

She smiled sweetly and said she understood what was needed for the product in her territory to sell better. She wrote down what was said in the sales meeting. She had a list of places to call and people to meet. Yet nothing happened. Her boss had stomach aches and sleepless nights. He would fall asleep with the memory of that sweet smile and the promises of success. He was at an impasse. When he finally had THE MEETING, the one to tell her she was being let go, the room suddenly felt like an August day at the beach. He shed his wool sweater, even though the snow was still falling outside his window. He kept hearing the word “bully” in his mind. Who was the bully? He was responding in a kind yet direct manner. She was an under performer and it was costing the firm money. Finally, he heard the word out loud, from her mouth “You, Sir, are a bully and this is not the last of it. You will hear from me.” She turned and smiled that sweet smile. She had one hand on her hip, the other on the doorknob and said, “You have been out to get me for a long time and don’t think I haven’t been keeping records. You’ll see. Just you wait, you’ll see”. With that she slammed the door, hard. He sat at his desk feeling like he had been smacked across the face with a board embedded with nails. At that moment, he had a new definition of a bully; one who plays the game, never intending...

Leadership Development: Breaking the Mold with Giants and Glee

  San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy refers to his team, now getting ready for the World Series as a “bunch of misfits.” Huh? They played super ball in their series against the Phillies. Misfits?   Switch to Glee, the hit TV show that is capturing the minds and hearts of our nation; the story of a high school singing club full of misfits. These kids get along best with each other, having to do end runs around the popular kids.   Back to the Giants; lots of those who played so well in the series that just ended were cast out of other teams. Their visionary General Manager caught lots of flack all the while saying stuff like, “there is a plan, you’ll see” and he had to believe in those he chose to join the team. Not surprising that their informal song became Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin”; and they are doing just what the song suggests!   The common theme is that those who seem at odds with the traditional image of success can make it happen, can come in first; and win our hearts in the process. This is more than merely the David and Goliath saga; it is the beginning of a trend that will become more and more important in the coming years.   Thanks to Wall Street, our celebrity addicted culture, and down and dirty dealings in the political arena we are seeing that what looks good on the surface is not to be trusted. The tide may be turning to those who are real, who have true grit, play their hearts out,...

Real Leaders Practice Safe Stress ™

  Stress and anxiety have been at the boiling point for the last year, and depending where you live, the weather has been the proverbial icing on the cake.   As a leader in a company, your health is vital to keep the engines of your business revved and going smoothly. Sadly, when stress hits the hot button, most of us forget about eating right, sleeping soundly and exercising regularly.   More and more, usually fit executives are putting on weight, which can drive insulin levels up, causing worries about diabetes. Grabbing that handful of pretzels or peanuts for lunch or feasting on cold pizza day after day, you increase the chances of higher blood pressure.   Research indicates that losing your job can send your health spiraling downwards. Even more complicated is the fact that those whose jobs are safe feel the impact and also are having cardiac and other stress-related symptoms.   Eating, sleeping, exercise; most executives know what to do, and in easier times, do it. So, what can we learn from these complex times? The first question is: how do we maintain a healthy attitude?   Attitude is the driver!  And attitude is more complex that just having a positive outlook. It means learning how to stay in the “Safe Stress Zone™ ” and learning how to create a work setting that is not too extreme in being too flexible or too rigid. In “Don’t Bring It to Work”  there are tips and tools for leaders to create a balanced setting for your workforce.   You can also send an e-mail to maryjane@ceoptions.com, and we...

Leadership and Early Adapters

The following video has gone viral and is lots of fun to watch. It teaches some good lessons about the “first follower” as a leader. These early adapters are visionaries in their own right, and help make a movement happen.   In the video, we are talking about dancing at the beach: lots of fun and freedom and spontaneity. I would like to present a question and would love responses from all who are thinking about the ethics of followership.                                 WHO ARE YOU WILLING TO FOLLOW????   We have become so addicted to sound bites and quick, short answers that depth is replaced by clever.   Think about it: dancing on the beach, sure, what the heck, it’s fun, fast and finished.   Now ponder something that has more staying power, more meat to it…….   Would you follow the leader if it polarizes and excludes?  And more importantly, when situations become murky and the movement becomes dissident, out of control, then what? Would you stand up and say “stop?”   Please send your answers to info@sylvialafair.com and receive a copy of my white paper on “Why It’s So Tough to...