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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...
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...
First day of summer and stress

First day of summer and stress

Today officially marks the first day of summer. I don’t care that the ads have made it the end of May. This is official: longest day/shortest night…solstice. And man, is it hot on the east coast. Now that school is out and the new schedules are in place and the heat is up and the desire to just have fun is the summer requirement, what does that do to stress? Is summer a less stressful time? Is it easier since we can be outside more often and longer? Can we get away from our inner demons by throwing a Frisbee or playing golf or lounging in a tepid pool? Actually, stress is lessened in the warmer months… for many. And yet!!! if your internal patterns, you know those behaviors that have carried over from childhood are not observed, understood and transformed…..they will haunt you on the golf course, at the beach, even sipping a cool beer on your front porch. Did you know that 90% of visits to primary care physicians are due to stress? That stress causes physical ailments like indigestion, headaches, and backaches. Do yourself a favor. Take the Pattern Aware Quiz on my website and then call us. We can offer you the way OUT of the old and into the new. Call at 570-636-3858 and we will offer some tools and techniques so you can learn to practice safe stress and have the fun this summer you...

Battling Women and Windmills

In our Total Leadership Connections program we teach participants to go beyond the obvious, that leadership in any field requires deep thought; superficial considerations are merely not enough. Recently asked what I thought about all the brouhaha around actor/director Mel Gibson’s racist and venomous comments to ex-girlfriend and mother of his child I decided to do some research. Based on what I teach, how we either stand on the shoulders of the past or repeat it, I have a whole new understanding of what I think may be going on with this famous celebrity. Stay with me for a minute while I take you back to Mel’s ancestry, no not as far back as Bravehart, just to his father Hutton. Mel’s father, a devout Catholic has his own website where he tackles what he sees as the hypocrisy of his church in modern times. He also is a conspiracy theorist and a holocaust denier. I began to wonder how this man became so polarized in his thinking; we have to be taught to hate, it is not our natural state of being. I decided to dig deeper. You may have a hard time tying together what I am saying; it is counter-intuitive in the world we live in, which is fraught with dichotomies. If so, please find more information in “Don’t Bring It to Work” or you may contact me at Sylvia@ceoptions.com. Okay, here we go. One of the most vital aspects of our development has to do with crises; what I call hardening of the emotions. In Hutton Gibson’s life there were many. His mother died when he...

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...

Leadership and “It’s All About Me”

  Think about a moment when someone is judging a situation that seems untenable and you think “What did I do to make this so awful?”   Happens to the best of us; happens to all of us. What is the best way to handle the emotions that bubble up? Many become “the stuffers” and let the unpleasant feelings gurgle and gnaw at the solar plexus right above the stomach. That is why anti-acids are such great over the counter sellers.   Others of us point the finger of blame at the situation. “The blamers” always have a chorus of “It’s the weather, it’s the economy, it’s the government, it’s the product”, and, when all else fails, “it’s my mother.”   Then there are “the yellers” who will attack and defend in loud voices to stop the conversation. No one can get a word in edgewise or otherwise and the situation stays stagnant for lack of real dialogue.   One of my colleagues, a woman I greatly respect who is a core a leader to follow, shared with me what had happened earlier that day. The project she headed was stalled. It really was not “her fault”, although she was the project leader. The outsource company had too many silos and the communication route was blocked at every turn.   She called and called. She emailed and emailed. Weeks were going by and there was no resolution. She contacted the vice president, the CEO, nada.    Her boss was frustrated. They had a pow- wow. Nerves were frayed. Yet, they were able to push through and come up with...