Wednesday, December 29, 2010


It's winter - let's talk about the FREEZE!
Does your boss do this?  Freeze?
When it's time to make a decision, do they just walk away and not decide?
When they hear the President is coming to visit, do they just stop and not know what to do next?
When they are confronted with a problem or by a customer, do they just abdicate to someone else?
I call this the freeze.
Unlike the polar bear, this boss/leader does not like the lonely cold, even though they signed up for it when they started out in the world of work.
It can happen at any level...the situation will not go away unless you deal with it to resolution.  You can not run from it or ignore it...fixing the problem, handling the customer, making a decision is the only way to move forward.
Like the polar bear in the picture, you may need to tread lightly and be very careful about where you are going, but you can get there...just try.
Stay warm.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Season

Blessings of the Season from our house to yours.

the Leadership NOT to Do Team

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Competitiveness - Is It In You?

Does your leader do all the heavy lifting or do they just think they do?

Are they afraid to compete with you so they keep you locked down on projects that take little effort and provide even less challenge?  What happens to make a leader lose their competitiveness?

Leaders can get caught in the trap of competing with their team because the have a fear that the team can out-do them, even surpass them or get promoted around them.  Unfortunately, this type of competitiveness will not drive the organization could cause good people to leave.  There needs to be a balance between challenge and effort; competition for the sake of development.

Leaders can also lose their competitive edge in the market, become complacent and forget that to stay competitive, they need to stay visible, keep learning, keep listening and keep innovating.

What to do?  Show the leader that you are all one team...competition is healthy and helps development of everyone.  Especially in the market - devise a strategy that can help keep everyone in touch with the competition and the changing environment in your business.  Everyone will benefit, including your customers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Worry or Stifle

It often happens that leaders get caught up in the worry and start to stifle the ideas that flow around them.

Worry can cause leaders to refuse to open their eyes (or their mind) and see around or over roadblocks, consider other perspectives or even alternative solutions....their worry leads back in a circle to themselves.

They are concerned more with how they will look by taking a new path, they worry about how they will be perceived by their peers if they take the advice or draw on the perspective of others.  They worry what the consequences will be if they take an alternative route to a solution.

What to do?  Help the leader see that they can spend a few minutes sorting out all the 'what ifs ' of the worry?  What if exercises can be both in positive or negative voice.
What if the project fails?
What if the alternative solution makes us more profitable?
What if my peers see me taking the advice of the team?

This helps guide the leader to understand -what's the worst that could happen but also what's the best that could happen, while at the same time taking time to learn along the way.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Meeting Boy

Yes, I am on Twitter...and I follow quite a few interesting people. One of my favourites is Meeting Boy!  @meetingboy

He tells great stories..especially on Fridays.  Quick quips that keep you in stitches, and he invites everyone to share their meeting horror stories!  And many NOT to Do stories.

Check out his blog:

Guaranteed Laugh!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The 3 Hour 30 Minute Meeting

Would you like to have one of these at your next meeting?

If you have a boss like I had long ago, they would call a 'quick' 30 minute meeting....
....and we never got out in under less than 3 hours!  And everyone in the department, no matter what the role, was required to attend.

What a waste of time!  We ended up calling this the 'M' Meeting!

Having a meeting without a purpose or agenda, it was all about feather-fluffing and her talking about what she just did or what she still has to learn and why she (meaning us) is always behind on every project.

Not fun!

What to do?  Let the boss know that an agenda would be appreciated so that you can prepare for the meeting.  Also, request that your team need not attend because you would be happy to provide the meeting details and action steps so they can keep working on the project at hand, keeping productivity moving efficiently.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No Risk Here

Feel like you are riding a rollercoaster and there is no safety bar?
Is you day at work like a rollercoaster that is made of marshmallow and you are wrapped in bubblewrap?

Either doesn't work.
You need the safety bar - rules and guidelines that help everyone make good business decisions based on the needs of the organization and grounded in the values of the company.

But at the same time, you cannot be strapped and restricted to the point of no motion.
Risk is good.  The level of risk needs to be assessed.
Risk can bring improvements, innovation, new customers, new products, new avenues for growth.

What to do?  The leader who refuses to take risks will stagnate...and so will their numbers and their development - of the business and the team.  Even taking measured risks will provide growth.  No risks creates complacency for both your clients and your team. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hand Up

It's the gesture.
You are speaking and the hand goes Sex in the City 2 and Miranda ends up quitting her job.
This is the worst .
The hand just puts an end to everything - your thoughts, your momentum, your self -esteem.

What should you do?
Politely ask the gesture-er to not do that, let them know how insulting it is, and how to better go about getting a space in the conversation.

Friday, November 12, 2010

We're All In This

I was spending some time researching and reviewing notes this week for upcoming articles, posts and discussions and stumbled across a great line on a comic by Roy Delgado in the Harvard Business Review issue from July-August 2009.  His comic is beautifully drawn, but this image gets the point across too.

"Remember, we're all in this - not together, but we're all in this"

The story of the leader who is only in it with you if all is going well is all too common.  And like the image, we look up at this leader anyway.  It is time to break the bonds that are only fastened with elastic bands, fitting tightly only at the discretion of the you have elastic bands?

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Medical Rant

OK service and leadership go together

So I would think if you were in the medical profession
At one point in your life
You made the decision to follow that path because you wanted to help people.

Well stop it if you are tired of it.

We can hear the exasperation in your voice
When we answer your questions,
That you've asked a million times before
But don't remember because
You failed to read the notes you took.

We can hear the condescension in your voice when you tell us to relax
You know, just because you do a gunk exam 100+ times per year,
I only go through it once a year, and relaxing is not easy.

How about your sarcasm telling me to lose weight?

I am here,

After six months of waiting,

To talk to you about my back injury from a car accident two years ago.

You don't think that I would still be running half marathons if I could actually run for more than 5 minutes without my leg falling asleep?

How about asking how all this happened?

How about getting to know me instead of trying to get me out of your office as fast as possible?

How about not yelling at me because you didn't get all the information from my referring doctor
...and instead of sending them a scathing letter, pick the phone and explain your expectation?

What about if,
because you scheduled me an appointment during a time when I was unavailable,
and even though I told your assistant that,
you still want to charge me,
instead...make room on your calendar for me
....but I guess
I am a number

With a dollar sign in front of it.

If you are tired of dealing with people who are sick,
Having issues,
Need help,
Then stop.

Go do something else that might make you happy.
It's okay to change careers.

We feel bad enough coming see you as it is.

We don't need your attitude to make us feel worse.

If you don't want to help,
to serve any longer
Go find something else to do.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Leadership Does NOT Mean

Leadership does NOT equal Control
Control does NOT equal Leadership

Controlling your people is not what leadership is about - otherwise it would be 'controlship'.  Leaders guide their team along the path, provide opportunities for growth and stretching...not holding hands behind their back and pushing them along the path.

Be aware of the difference.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Congratulations - NOT!

It's a glass of wine  - for ONE!
This is the leader who takes ownership of success and does not congratulate the team...or even acknowledge the participation of the team.
What to do?  Open your own bottle of wine and celebrate - you know you did it and that the insecure and arrogant leader/boss you have is simply basking in his own glory.  Slip the success into conversations in the future giving credit to everyone involved - this will help the leader see that others are on the team and that without a team, he would not be a leader.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Use the Tools Against the Team

Looks like they are at it again.  Instead of spending time planning and developing the business, the boss is going through every single line of expense reports (and there are 30 of them), recalculating every penny spent on every item that was outlined as expense-able in the contract and company policy.  Being that the reports are done on an Excel program that the company mandates be used - developed by their own IT team - isn't this a waste of time?
Is this what a good leader should be doing?  Yes, I understand that expense control drives the bottom line up.  But does the six-figure help need to do this?  Or could they perhaps spend a few more minutes explaining expense management to the team?  Or could they have their assistant do it in a spot-check manner to ensure all expenses are valid?
This is a singular tool.  Look at the review time you spend and why are you spending that time?  What else could you be doing to work ON your business?  Who could you be spending time with to grow your business and review the tools with them so that they better understand and utilize the tools the company has in place?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Buck Acceptor

Is this You?

This is what the Buck Acceptor looks like.  They take everything on.  Bucks get passed or dumped on their desk.  They clean it up.  No matter what it is, where it really belongs or even if it is in their realm of knowledge or responsibility.  They take care of it.
And worse...they become known for this, so everyone just passes it all along here!

If this is your issue STOP IT! 

Go out to your nearest bookstore, or fire up your mouse and get "The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey" by Ken Blanchard.  I've actually made it even on the underlined title to review the details of the book and then buy it.  It is important - you are NOT a dumping station.  How on earth do you get your work done if you are busy doing everyone else's?  I am sure that you are not getting the credit you deserve for everyone else's work, right? 

Sure - easier said then done.  Well, look at it this way. If you don't get your work done, or if you do get your work done to your minimum standards by working 18 hours a day, something will give.
  • Will it be the minimum standard that you will be happy with forever?  - likely not. 
  • Will it be your family life or health?  You can only burn the candle so far before the wick goes out.
  • Will it be you?  You get fired because your engagement decreases to the point that you no longer care and stop doing anything.
What to do?  Think about it.  Take small measured steps to say no.  Instead of taking on everyone else's 'buck', hand it back with a few ideas or ask them why they are giving it to you to do.  You may need to spend a few minutes teaching them what to do to fix their issue, but then they won't come back to you again.  You will have empowered them to solve their own issues - and you will both feel better about that!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pass the Buck

Don't you just wish it was a smile that you had on your face when you boss passed the buck?

It happens. Projects get off the rails and instead of accepting responsibility for the results or lack thereof, the boss shifts the blame to you, or your team or some intangible aspect of 'ran out of time'.  Unfortunately, by not accepting responsibility, the boss is damaging his reputation as well as that of the team.  It comes to a point where everyone know what will happen and morale gets lower and lower until other actions take place - you leave, the boss gets moved or removed, others leave, customers complain and/or leave...leading to the worst result-closing. 
Now that may sound a little extreme, but in a time when customers vote with their feet or their mouse on how they spend their money, and employees can look for other options while on the job, the potential can be devastating to a company that is passing the buck.  After all, what is done by one person can lead to the erosion of reputation, brand and market share.

What to do?  Ownership is key.  Be an honest, truthful leader and give the buck back.  Do so tactfully and with respect including an explanation as to why the buck is going back...and ideas on potentially avoiding the same situation in the future.  Your reputation depends on it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Talk Down

Have you ever felt like although you have been in your position for a few years, and in the business for more than that, your boss continues to talk to you like you don't know anything?  That's the TALK DOWN.  Feels awful, like you are stupid. 
Fortunately that is not the case - it's the boss - they do not understand their audience.  They speak as if everyone is a beginner.  This could be for many reasons - they are insecure about their position, they do not know their material (or what they are talking about) well enough, they do not trust their team (a whole other blog topic) or they are insensitive and plain, just don't get what it is to be a leader.

What to do?  Remind the boss that although you appreciate the reminders, you have been in position for a good while and hope that they will soon trust you and your judgement.  Explain how it makes you feel.  Sometimes they just need to be told.

You Are Fired

I read a story online (where else) about a company that sent out a memo by email telling over 400 people in the organization that they were being terminated or laid off.  Not the way a good leader would execute such an awful task.  No matter what, terminating someone's employment for whatever reason is not easy.  And certainly not a email subject.
Always terminate with dignity and respect, let them know why and what the next steps are going to be.  The difficult words "You're fired" or "You will be laid off"  should be out of you mouth in the first minute of the conversation.  Do not wait, or get onto personall topics - this is all about business.  Relate the dicussion to the facts - nothing else.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Box of Chocolates Eases the Pain

Here is a story that I heard a few years ago.
There was an organization that had been in the area for many years. They were purchased by an out-of-country company and so needed to develop new habits, assimilate to a new corporate culture and the people inside the organization actually had the opportunity to become better and different leaders than they had been in the past.

One guiding principle for the new organization was that each open job needed to be posted and interviews conducted with all qualified applicants. At the end of the interview process, all candidates would be personally told if they had been selected and provided with goals to work on in order to be successful with the next job posting.

Sounded pretty simple....until in this specific location, the leader decided that they would pre-select candidates to apply for the position based on relationship to the leader, the family of the leader, and even common interests (if they both liked baseball) - qualifications were never considered.  These candidates would be told to apply for the position and others would apply as well - qualified individuals who had been in position or had similar experience in other companies.  Needless to say, the leader would then hold 5 minute interviews or even no interviews at all and announce the new position-holder, without providing any follow up to the other candidates.

This activity and lack of fairness caused unrest in the organization.  The leader decided that to appease the disgruntled candidates, he would buy them each a box of chocolates.  Not only did this not appease anyone, it made the leader look like the unfair fool he was and pushed the employees to form groups that eventually led to a great deal of labor unrest. 

If the leader would have taken the extra 60 minutes to complete the interviews and follow up, and if he had actually been fair with the selection process, this could have saved the organization years of strife.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dance Puppets, Dance!

Do you know this character?

This is the leader who thinks they know everything! Ever met one of those?
This is the leader who micro-manages.
This is the leader who does not allow people to do their job, changing priorities along the way.
This is the leader who needs to have access to your Outlook calendar to know what you are doing every minute of the day.
This is the leader who is insecure in their role.
This is the leader who believes they influence because of their title, not how they lead.
This is the leader who is not a leader but a manager (and not a good one at that!)

What to do?  Meet with them and ask what the concerns are about your work.  Explain that you are feeling micro-managed.  This may help the leader realize what they are doing.  Micro-managing is a trait of new leaders who are learning to juggle all the new responsibility they have - help them out by pointing it out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Play Hide and Seek

When we were kids, we would play Hide and Seek.  You know, one person would close their eyes and count to 30 while the others went to hide.  Then the counter would have to go find the others where they were hiding.  Sound familiar?
Does this ever happen to you at work?
Do you have a leader who plays Hide and Seek with you?
This would be the leader who sits in their office all day, only coming out to see where everyone is at 6 pm - dooing a head count to see who stayed late.
Or if you are on the road - this would be the leader who drives from one location under your responsibility to the next looking for you, making sure they tell everyone at the location they are looking for you, but has yet to call you to find out where you actually are today.

What do you do?  In the office - work what you are scheduled or planned to work.  The leader has no bone to pick with you if your work is done - staying late does not necessarily mean you are being effective/
On the road - you have most likely already provided your schedule to the leader - stick to it.  When you are notified by one of your team members that the leader is looking for you, call the leader and remind them of your schedule for the day.  Remember to ask if they were seeking you out for something specific so that you can handle it right away and get back to your day.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Power vs. Responsibility

Spiderman said "With great power comes great responsibility". 

Many leaders believe that because they have a title they have great power and forget about the great responsibility.  These leaders do not realize that the power they have lies completely within their responsibility.
Leaders have a responsiblity to develop, teach, grow, build, decide, ask, listen, empower, move forward, look ahead, plan, prepare and even do.  By living their responsibility everyday, the great leader attracts power through the people around them.

Consider the leader you are today?  Do you carry your great responsibility proudly and earn the power your responsibility gives you everyday?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Center of Attention

Being the center of attention,  you would think, would be a good thing.
Not so much when the leader centers you out in the middle of a meeting for not following a specific instruction on providing reports.  More details are not sought - as to why the report is not provided, or if it was and it was late, or if there were system issues (goodness knows they happen).  Simply berrating the employee for not providing the report and then making them the 'scapegoat' for all other errors or issues in the meeting is not a good way to do business.

What to do?  Pull the leader aside after the meeting and explain the situation.  Not providing excuses, but simply stating the fact.  Also express that you did not appreciate being centered out in the middle of your colleagues.  The discussion could have been taken off-line with a better outcome and understanding.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Attitude Reflects Leadership

Ever wonder when you walk into a business - a restaurant, an office, a store, a bank - why there is an atmosphere?  Not just the cleanliness or the smell in the air but a palpable feeling amongst the staff?
It's the attitude.
You need to understand that the underlying tone is any business, any community, any household, is really the reflection of the attitude of the leader.
If you have a leader who throws change at you at the checkout register, doesn't say thank-you, treats customers poorly, you will see the same from the employees in that location - if the leader can do it so will the staff.

What to do?  Always be aware of your attitude towards your team, your clients, those around you.  It will come back to you in attitude from your team, your clients and those around you.  Attitude reflects leadership - always!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Take A Stand

There are many ways for leaders to take a stand.  Most of the ways are not usually bad ways.  In fact, we would expect our leaders to take a position on many subjects, decisions and projects so that we can understand our alignment to the overall business or organization.  What happens when a leader refuses to participate in a major corporate initiative, and meanwhile, by default eliminates the team from participating?  Take it even one step further,  throughout the initiative, how can the leader ask the team why they are not participating?

This is truly a question of running-off-at-the-mouth.  This leader has put the team in an awkward position - do they participate, knowing the leader's position and therefore potentially become the object of ridicule or punishment from the leader?  Or does the team not participate and look like they are guilty of silo-thinking, not being part of the grander scheme of the company?  In either situation, the team is not able to properly function within the larger group.

What to do?  Ask the leader to advise on his position or re-think it.  Provide the leader with the perceptions that could follow for the entire team relating to their stand.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Back-Hand

Do They Really Mean it When they Say it?

Here is the story of the Back Hand (sorry, could not find adequate image!)  It's kind of like the 'back-handed compliment':

One day, after a particularly long week of meetings, where the leader of this team had been very moody, argumentative and insulting with his team, he made the following statement:
"I was told that I was not professional last week in some of our meetings and the boss told me I needed to apologize to you for my behavior."
Let me ask you this - does this statement sound sincere?  does this statement uplift the leader at all in the eyes of the team?  or is this strictly an example of how the leader can follow the boss's literal direction, without applying the constructive criticism as it was intended?

Think about if you have ever stated anything similar.  Like the back-handed compliment, this apology ends up leaving a taste of  '...ok, he may be apologizing, but he certainly lends no weight to it and it will definitely happen again...' in your mouth.

Usually when there is an apology for an action or behavior, the sincerity with which the apology is given leaves a resounding understanding that the person is remorseful and the behavior or action will not be repeated.

What to do?  Keep track of this type of statement and see if there is any commitment for implementing the constructive criticism or change in future events.  If not, you may need to approach the boss, around the leader and provide confidential feedback on how his level of insincerity is eroding trust and respect for the leader and his role.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


So much for preparation!

Leadership Not to Do

In this world of telecommuting, doing more with less including more work with less people or covering more territory with less reps, nothing hurts more than a leader who would choose to cancel a planned meeting the night before without a viable explanation. 

The leader needs to realize the preparation the team makes to arrive at the meeting ready to participate - whether it is spending time (sometimes hours) preparing reports, consolidating notes, developing presentations, travelling and finding accomodations.  All of the preparation goes for naught and the respect for the leader drops notches at a time! 

A leader needs to foresight and discipline to visualize his/her team and understand the pressure they live with to perform above and beyond expectations.  Once the leader can see this clearly, they can also capitalize on the evolving relationship and the developing mutual respect.

What to do if this happens?  Clearly express to the leader your disappointment and provide the notes prepared for the meeting so that you can ensure that they understand the importance of your participation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hang Them Out to Dry

This leader asks his team member for advice and then takes the advice, applies it and when it does not work, hangs them out to dry saying 'team member X told me to do it'.

What to do?  Remind the boss that they asked for advice, it was their decision to act on it.  You should not have to take the fall for your boss - they are in that role to absorb what comes at them no matter where they sought advice.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Micro-Micro Manager

Hi!  Nice to meet you.  I am your boss.  I want to know your schedule for every second of every day.  In fact, you will grant me administrative access to your Outlook so that I can see your schedule whenever I want.  I can then call and check up on you, verify if you actually show up, just keep tabs on you. Also, just a warning, I will freak out if you change what you are working on for the day and don't record it.  I won't be there to see it, and it won't impact me in the slightest, I just need to be the one in control and you need to cater to my every whim!  I am the BOSS! Oh, and by the way, that will also give me access to your emails.  I'll read them too, especially if there is anything interesting from your spouse (like what to pick up for dinner or your weekend plans, hey, maybe I can join you or plan a meeting that will ruin it!) or team-mate banter (to make sure I am not the brunt of jokes or general discussion - no fun allowed.  I do not have a sense of humor that anyone but me would understand!).  At least then I can be in the loop and know everything about you! Have a nice first day at work.
Your Boss

Have you had this message or scenario played out in your world?  What would you do?

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Shield

The Shield to Hide Behind?


The Shield to Hide Under?

Which Leader Do You Know?

This leader uses the title as a shield and to wield power.  They believe that standing behind (or underneath) the title they hold, makes their people cower in their boots and jump to attention.  Sometimes this leader uses their boss's title to attempt to get results or deflect decision-making elsewhere, especially in the case of unpopular choices. 

For example, take Ms. Regional Manager.  She has just informed the team that they will need to work on Saturdays.  She realizes that this change will be unpopular so decided to state that "I, and the VP agrees with me, have decided that everyone needs to work Saturdays."  In stating the decision in this fashion, Ms. Regional Manager has deflected some of the decision-making to the VP so that she is not alone being the supposed 'bad guy' in this scenario.

What should you do?  If a leader is constantly hiding behind or under a shield be up-front and ask questions specific to the matter and how the leader feels about the situation.  Focus on them, re-direct focus to the leader if they try to escape the concern.

Also - in the scenario sure to ask specific questions about which other day you will be entitled to receive as a day off.  How this is being scheduled and paid, especially if an unsalaried worker?  Get a complete explanation of the reason for this action, when it will start, when it will end or will it be a new and permanent condition of employment.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010


The leader should not publicly complain (via email to the whole team or in a group meeting) that they could not reach team member because they were in church on at Sunday at 9:30 am! Talk about expecting 24/7 availability.

What to do about it?  Talk to the leader in person and explain that this is your time for yourself and request that they do not seek you out at this time.

This is a situation where you would hope that if the leader has a coach, they would step in and assist with the tactics the leader is currently using to get results.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

What NOT to do? Really?

Yes, there really is a 'what NOT to do' in leadership!

Learning to lead is no easy feat.  Learning what not to do seems to come more naturally.
This blog is dedicated to everyone who has had to deal with a leader (more than likely called a 'boss') who made all the mistakes in the book. 
But where is the book? 
Well, I couldn't find just one.  You can find many leadership books on other just doesn't seem to cut it.

Here is a place to point out the NOT to do's.  I'll even start!  Please comment and add - tell your story ( but leave out names, protect the blogger, please).  I am sure that many people will be able to relate.

Even better - if you can provide tips on how to handle the 'what-NOT-to-do leader' that would be very helpful.

Here are a few to get started:

  1. Dr Jekyl/Mr Hyde: this leader/boss is mean and nasty one day and then overcompensates with false kindness the next because they realized their behavior was inappropriate.  What to do?  Learn to recognize the signs, usually they are taking something else out on you.

  2. Carrot and the Stick or the Stick and the Carrot:  this leader usually makes unfair decisions or judgement calls and then comes back to discuss solutions with you with a coffee or donut hand to share, seemingly attempting to make it all better!  What to do? Ask for the honest explanation, hold them accountable to the decision, you deserve to know the truth.

  3. The Jellyfish:  this is the spineless leader who refuses to make a decision, cause and deal with conflict or simply create an environment for good discussion.  What to do? You can't drown them so attempt to explain how they are affecting the morale of the team.  Do not be a jellyfish yourself, afraid to speak up.

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