Communication Leadership Leadership Strategies

Getting the Rebels Who Challenge Everything You Do to Comply

You have the skills to be a leader. You are given great feedback about how well you communicate.

So, why is it still a struggle to get some of the rebels who challenge everything you do to comply with what you want done?

You question yourself all the time, wondering if you must always fire and hire to get rid of the troublemakers.

And yet, even with new hires you can’t be right all the time.

Lately, do you question yourself?

Maybe, just maybe, it could be in the way you handle the rebels.

Here is what Matt wrote, bet you can relate:

Dear Dr. Lafair: In reading your book “Don’t Bring It To Work” I began to realize that frustration and conflict at work is a two-way street. Until now, I always viewed the ‘troublemaker’ rebel at work as THE PROBLEM.

I would tell HR to get them out of the place as fast as possible.

This is what I learned from understanding the basic patterns that come from how we were raised and how we bring those behaviors to work.

Wish I had learned this in my leadership development program years ago.

However, glad I know this now.


The rebel I’m talking about is Marcy. She is so skilled at her sales job I don’t want to fire her. However, she is a pain in the ass!

She is always rebelling against authority and then she spreads the seeds of antagonism to others on her team (her team is MY team).

She is always making me wrong or undermining me and telling folks that I must be stupid.

My colleagues said, “Just fire her.” My mind kept saying, “There has to be another way.


Marcy sees me as the angry parent. She told HR that she thinks I am always judging her, that I scold her, raise my voice to her (so she said). She said that I give her more work than the others on the team (not true).

I took a risk and talked with her.

Now, I didn’t want to pry, or sound like a therapist. However, I did want to figure out what I could say that would give us both a new outlook on how to respond to each other.


Here is what I did and how she responded.

I used what I would always say to my kids when they were little, I used my ‘inside voice’. I am not super loud, however, when I met with Marcy, I talked just a tad slower and monitored my tone.

I noticed that she leaned toward rather than away from me.

I asked her to describe what she needed from me when we had some disagreements to discuss.

She sat up straight and sighed.

She then told me that when I talked with her in a demanding, you better do what I say, manner, it pushed her to stand up for herself.

Yikes, I had to look at myself, not just at Marcy. Yes, that two-way street of relating.

I realized that I did sound like an angry parent. I was surprised and even a bit shocked.

That was it. I did not ask her about her childhood. I did not ask her to change. I did not challenge her. I just listened and thanked her for her candor.

Fast forward a month.

I am starting to really like this woman I called a demon rebel to myself. She is more willing to have a conversation, more willing to think about what I request of her. And, is becoming the super salesperson in our group.

She jokingly told me after our last team meeting that she no longer says to herself “Dad, I wish you would just shut up.”

So, there it is. Your idea about bringing what we learned as kids into the workplace has been validated.

Now, onto the pleaser and the avoider.

I have a new leadership skill that will save me tons of aggravation and my company tons of money. I get it, when possible “Fix em, don’t fire em!”


Matt (Smarter by the Day)

Leadership Leadership Strategies

Leadership Tip: How to Engage the Petty Tyrant at Work and Win

Today’s leadership tip is about something that I think just about everybody has to find and figure out what to do with at some point in their work life.

What I like to call, the petty tyrant. It’s the person who can make it crazy, because they’d like to steal your ideas and then claim them as their own.  They like to tell you that they can’t get the work done. So, you have to do it and then they come in at the last minute, and they say, “Well, I’m glad that I had that great idea,” and it goes on and on and on.

So, every company I’ve ever worked with has some petty tyrants in there. Petty tyrants use psychology to really make you go wacko and if you get into what they’re saying, you’re going to have some problems.

So, you have to be able to stay far away and look at them. You have to observe what’s going on at first.  I know people like to be helpful and kind and give ideas to someone else, but once you start seeing that the other person is really a grabber not a giver, it’s time for you to speak up and be cool about it. So, here are four tips. I wrote them down, so I won’t forget them.

The first one is to show some empathy why you’re saying they’re absolute jerk. So, why should I show empathy? Well, I want you to know that they’re often in pain and they often live in fear. So, I know your next thought is, so why should I care? Well, it’s okay if you care. It’s okay if you don’t but you have to know about this. So, you know what to do with it.

So, the first thing you do when you have a petty tyrant to work with, is acknowledge them. Acknowledge whatever they’ve done. Often, they’ve worked wherever it is for a much longer time than you have and they feel you may be coming in to usurp their place. So, one of the things to do is acknowledge them for anything. I mean, acknowledge that they’ve done a good job in the past. Acknowledge that they’re created something you can like.

It will begin to limit the amount of fear in the room with them when you talk with them. The next thing and this is the most important is, don’t play their game. Don’t play the “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.” Don’t play the “but I told you.” Simply say, “What’s going on isn’t working and you begin to look from your perspective. You’re staying very centered in this.”

So, you’re not going to play into their game because they want to suck your power and they want you to be afraid of them. Don’t let it happen. Don’t play their game.

The next thing is, create boundaries.

The next time we go in a meeting and you say to me, “Oh my goodness! Can you help me with this?” Say, “No, I told you that that wouldn’t work for me,” and the fourth is, if everything else fails, get a third party to sit with the two of you. It may be somebody from HR. It may be a colleague. It may be a coach, somebody that the two of you can agree to talk with.

So, how workable is this? I’d say it’s about a 70/30 that you can tame that tyrant and make them become a friend. 70/30 though that you will become stronger in what you’re doing and feel good about yourself because you won’t play their game. You have shown empathy and you’ve created boundaries and worst case is, don’t you be the one to leave. Go and talk with somebody about what’s going on because I’m telling you, you’re probably not the only one that they’re using. They’re really users. So, be careful, be kind, be strong and go for it in your career.

You’re going to find a tyrant somewhere or other make sure that when you do, you can’t tame them.

Thanks so much.  Talk to you soon.

Communication Confidence Leadership Leadership Strategies Leadership Styles

Gravity Statements (A New Way Of Thinking) Saves Leaders Aggravation

Today I’m discussing:

Gravity Statements (A New Way Of Thinking) Saves Leaders Aggravation.

Here is what you will learn when you listen in:

* How Gravity Impacts your conversations.
* The key to a great Gravity statement.
* Let Gravity help you get past overwhelm.

Are you ready to explore this powerful concept deeper? Sign up for a breakthrough session with me here:

Gutsy Leadership Leadership Strategies Leadership Styles Success

Are you a Unicorn Leader?

I have been asked this question a lot lately…how do you know if you are a Unicorn leader?  It’s kind of the in thing right now.

Let me share this email I recently received. See if you can relate. 

Dear Sylvia, 

I am in a position where a fabulous job just opened at my company and I WANT IT!! 

Can you give me some talking points so when I apply for the job, I will stand head and shoulders above the rest? 

It’s head of sales for a global company. I know my stuff, so the skills are there. It’s a matter of   ‘selling myself’ to the right people. 

Any extra help would be greatly appreciated. 


In a Hurry to Succeed 

My response to “In a Hurry to Succeed” 

It sounds like you have found your ‘unicorn job,’ the one that has it all. Now you need to take your excellent sales background to sell yourself. 

Time to show everyone at work that you are a unicorn leader. 

Here are the questions to ask yourself to make sure you qualify for that prestigious label. 

  • Are you intellectually curious? 
  • Are you flexible? 
  • Are you excited about the change process? 
  • Are you comfortable shaking things up for long term good? 
  • Can you see the big picture and still pay attention to the details? 
  • Can you stay centered during turbulent times? 
  • Are you able to work well with others? 

You need to be able to answer ‘yes’ to the above questions. 

You see, being great at sales and leading a sales, (or any other type of team) depends upon how aware you are of your skills and talents and even beyond that, how you handle relationships.  

The key to ‘selling yourself’ is in how well you can convey your ability to produce results without creating dissension and chaos with your team. Remember that leadership is a team effort – you cannot achieve greatness alone. You do best when you model respect. 

That means being able to listen and respond without blame, judgment, or attacking others.  

Hold your team accountable and yet, find a way to make the workday fun as well as challenging. That’s the magic of being a unicorn leader.  

Unicorn leaders are extremely rare. They shatter expectations, take businesses to the next level, and people love being in their presence. 

That means you really take the time to break through any outdated behavior patterns that would get in the way of you being spectacular at strategy, execution, and listening to as well as encouraging others. 

Okay, Hurry to Succeed, do your homework on both your internal and relationship areas and the big job will be yours. If not sure, contact me for a complimentary strategy session. You’re almost there. 



Communication Confidence Gutsy Leadership Leadership Strategies

The Benefits and Backlash of Self-Promotion

I love this video I cover:

+ + Why modesty is an over-rated virtue.
How self-doubt sets up sabotage.
How to “toot your own horn” without being obnoxious.
The world has changed and women can no longer be shushed or denied their time to speak out.

Using the tips, I will give you for effective communication can boost your personal brand as you you self-promote.

Let me help you find the balance point between overwhelming others with your prowess and undervaluing your accomplishments.

It’s easier than you think and will help you get your next promotion or the plum assignment you’ve been yearning for.

It’s’ time to Go Bigger>>> Go Bolder>>> GO GUTSY