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Extraordinary Bosses and Extraordinary Work Cultures

Who are the employees who drive most bosses crazy? They are … ta da…. The rebels. Rebels are those who always find something wrong at work and want to gather the troops to take their case to HR. And if HR does not respond, well, there is always a hungry lawyer lurking in the corners who is ready to go at it with a hostile work environment suit. Now, don’t get me wrong. Some situations (think Enron) are really ugly and need special attention. However, most situations at work can be changed with a bit of discussion and some good will. Here is where an extraordinary boss takes the lead. Extraordinary bosses are able to listen to the wants and needs of the community and move from what is to what is better. They create a groundswell of good intentions by letting employees voice their dissatisfaction and then help them take the bitter out and go for the better. Let’s go back to the rebels at work. They often grew up in families where there was discrimination and they were the recipients (or their parents were) of unpleasant comments or rude and ugly reactions. As bosses or employees they are highly sensitive to subtle slurs and overt insults and rightfully do not want to tolerate intolerance. Extraordinary bosses create a level playing field where more and more people feel included and want to be part of a new and creatively effective solution. Rebels turned community builders make amazing things happen and change comes about because each individual is seen as UNIQUE and with a gift to add to the whole community. People want to work in environments that make room for differences and applaud the gifts...
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...

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...

Workplace Conflict, Men, Women, and the Family

  Yesterday I talked about the tension at work where men are searching for ways to navigate that tough middle road between being a great employee or business owner and a father who is present for his children.   I saw this dilemma first hand at an off-site with a national sales group. Picture the scene: the team of 22 from a sales organization was at The Country Place Retreat Center to have some fun on our outdoors team challenge course and to take advantage of our new program called “Build and Give” where they would put some two wheeler bikes together that would then be donated to charity.   In the process they would learn about themselves, how the program “Ouch! Handling Conflict at Work” would help them talk together differently.   The women in the group came to me and requested time to put together a surprise skit for their male colleagues. They asked if I could “keep the guys busy” for about an hour while they pulled together their material.   I asked the men to gather to discuss their special issues with workplace conflict. They wanted to know why the gals were not included. Earlier, one of the men had said “NO one really understands our work-life balance issues” so, this was to give them time to think, feel and say whatever they wanted.   Off we went to the great room to sit in a circle and have time to “just talk“. Was I in for a surprise!   After just a few minutes they felt safe enough to dig deep. Here is the...

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...

Tillit and Other Palindromes

  Got your attention?  I hope so. The palindrome for you to watch is an important reminder that when we look with new eyes, the context of the world changes in the blink of our eyes. Read it forwards and then read the same words backwards and see what changes occur inside you.   First, an example: “Tillit” is a Swedish word that means the same thing reading it forwards and backwards. It means “trust”, and the power of this word is that trust can only happen if both sides are aligned. You are on one side of “tillit” and I am on the other.   Now on to the palindrome that was sent to me by Barry Ginnetti, President of GMR Group, and a graduate of our Total Leadership Connections Program. It is a wonderful example of the essence of what we teach: we are all connected and no one wins unless we all do.    Take 2 minutes and watch this…THE ENTIRE THING   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42E2fAWM6rA     (This is a video that was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old.   The contest was titled “u @ 50”  by  AARP. This video won second place. When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause.  So simple and yet so...