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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...
Leadership Development: SHUSSSSH Don’t Rock the boat

Leadership Development: SHUSSSSH Don’t Rock the boat

Imagine a world where bringing up unpleasant or conflictual subjects is applauded. Imagine if in school good grades were based on asking the unaskable. Just imagine. Where would YOU fit in that kind of setting? Would you be one to ask “Hey, why is the emperor naked?” Or would you be one to put your hand to your lips and say “Shussssh!” You want to know where our general discomfort started with asking tough questions. It began way back when you were a little tyke and you saw your mother or care giver in a bad mood. You KNEW something was wrong, you could just feel it. And you asked “What’s the matter?” And the response more times than not was “Nothing! Just go play.” If you persisted you were called a trouble-maker. And if you just went away you were called a helpful, good child. Now fast forward to adulthood. You are now in charge of leadership development training at your organization. What do you do when someone persists in asking the questions that no one wants to tackle? Here is what Seth Godin has to say about being very, very quiet. We Can’t Talk About It We can’t talk about how we could do things better around here We can’t talk about what isn’t working We can’t talk about the countless opportunities we ignore We can’t talk about what hurts We can’t talk about dignity We can’t talk about how to make magic happen We can’t talk to our boss, our employees, our board, our investors We can’t talk about the things we can’t talk about That’s...
Here is the Elixir for Workplace Doldrums

Here is the Elixir for Workplace Doldrums

Hey the holidays are right around the corner? How do I know? Cause the media is telling us to get ready for snow and shopping. We are being enticed to think turkey, eggnog, and lots of presents. So what happens at work? Is your workplace gearing up or slowing down? By mid-November there is a lull except for the retailers who are getting ready to sell, sell, and sell. Most companies are already thinking about the first quarter for next year. Now, right before the push to be with family and turkey take some time to chill out. Yes, chill out. Make it an hour, a half day or a whole day, just for you. Now, don’t wait. Do it now! Most of us show a dip in productivity right around now. Let me tell you why I think this happens. It goes back to when were kids. Mid-term exams were over and the push to get on the team – basketball, hockey, football, cheerleading – done. The adrenaline rush to keep up with peers takes a halt and the question is “Did I do enough? Am I good enough? Will I make my mark?” and then there is the BIG QUESTION: “What really matters?” Now is the time to exit the daily grind, the rat race, the turmoil. It is the perfect time to go off by yourself and look inside. Decide to look inside. Decide to sit with the hard questions and see what answers show up. Do it NOW. Do it before the holidays overtake your daily activities. Don’t wait to take inventory till January 1....

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...

Take the Best Route from Management to Leadership

“How does a manager become a leader?” you ask. This is one of the most important questions in all of business. What the work world needs today are more leaders who can take charge in a strategic way and help everyone in the company have a “go for it and grow from it” mind set. Here are some vital differences: Management: Tell and Do…………………………….Leadership: Ask and Advise Management: Transactional………………………….Leadership: Strategic Management: Complete the Goal…………………….Leadership: Maintain the Vision Management: Control…………………………………Leadership: Connect Management: Do What I Say…………………………..Leadership: We’re in It Together So, what happens when a manager becomes a leader? There is an in-between time that is both energizing as well as challenging. Stan is a perfect example. When he was promoted to vice president of operations he knew he had to make some basic changes to the way he responded to his team. He was on a high speed highway in a shiny vehicle with brand new tires! And he was raring to go! He had his checklist: moving from control to passion, objectives to vision, stability to change, results to achievement, planning details to setting direction, short term to long term thinking. And then…………………….There was that day he knew leadership demanded more. It was at a meeting where concerns and complaints were as abundant as a tropical summer downpour. Initially he went to his knee-jerk behavior of shutting down the discussion. He hated conflict and had a pattern of being a lifelong avoider. He was comfortable in the world of right and wrong, pointing the finger of blame and moving on. He knew he was being tested and realized...

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...