Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Goals Goals Goals

Jim Collins says you need to have 'BHAGS" - Big Hairy Audacious Goals.  This is TRUE.

Let's look at the cat....how is he going to eat what I have to think is an ostrich.  He has figured out that it starts with one bite at a time.

Hope that you have spent some time with your team or your leader understand what you all want out of 2012.  What are the overall goals and how does this align with the company mission...not to mention values?  Take this to another level - how does this apply to you personally?  Where do you fit?

As a developing leader, it is critical to ensure that alignment is in place - otherwise, people will be working in silos or willy-nilly on anything that suits them....not necessarily in unison with the focus of the goals.

Do you have BHAGS?  Why do you think you should?
I have them.  I have BHAGS because they make me focus on every step that it can take to get me there....everyday.....no matter what.  And you know, with hard work, BHAGS need to be reconstructed to become EBHAGS - even bigger hairy audacious goals.  Get started.  2012 is just around the corner.

You can read more on goals by visiting this article: http://www.solsticegroupcoaching.com/how-to-build-clearly-smart-goals.html

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Holiday Message

Thank you to my readers, followers and send - alongers.  2011 has passed quickly and there are so many things to reflect on and be grateful for...I am most grateful for the blessings that life has brought my way in the form of new relationships, lasting friendships and the love and trust of those that surround me and my business.

May all the blessings of Christmas (that is what I celebrate) be yours, now and in the New Year.

P.S.  Please continue to provide me with your 'leadership not to do' stories so that I can post and provide learning opportunities.

You can also connect with me in other spaces:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Holiday Rush

It really is a blur isn't it.  How the holiday season can come and go so quickly and of course with work piled on top of that, stress can reach it's max.

Imagine the leader who understands balance and that the rush you feel wrapping up year end and the month of December is coupled with the stress of family, gifts, money, parties and more.  This would be the leader who has planned what December can look like for their team by brainstorming what roadblocks could pop up....and more importantly, by clearly identifying 2 things:
  1. the expectations for the month - critical goals and deadlines - far enough in advance so that timelines can coincide and be met
  2. what needs to happen in the first week of January - number of appointments or cold calls, number of meetings, goal numbers, milestones....so that the team can feel they have a timeframe that extends beyond the season.
Sitting here this week writing this blog, in my business I know people don't want to hear a pitch from me.  I am happy to spread holiday cheer and thank people for thier business, their time and their trust.  I have worked to fill January so that when the time comes, I am focused and back in the game....not still in the rush of trying to start.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Scrooge - the Leader

This is a pretty obvious choice for the NOT TO DO Leader, don't you think?

Have you seen how Bill Murray not only ignores anything to do with leadership but also with human kindness and dignity.  When the pages of the story are peeled away, the audience then finds that Bill has had not the best upbringing and forray into love, and finds his solace in being who he is....hiding from the person he could be if he could only just forgive and move on.

Sound like anyone you know?  Not only is this a story of leadership in his company, but also personal leadership - taking time to acknowledge how you live your life in the face of others. 

Watching this last week, I noticed a part I hadn't been ready to hear before - when Marley visits the first time, he talks about how he should have lived his life, how he should have seen the need to live for others.

Think about your leadership.  Do you lead for others or for yourself?  Do you have regrets about your leadership  - personal or professional?  If you do, it is not too late to change.  It is never too late. 
Take the next step and spend time with me investigating your leadership - and the potential for what it could be.  Of course, 1 hour - on me...Merry Christmas. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Love Actually

'Tis the season.....and it you have never watched this movie, it is a must on your list.  For the month of December, the blog posts here will focus on what you can learn from the holiday movies that abound.

Love Actually is a story of many stories - similar to the businesses we operate in.  You will find bosses and leaders, followers and instigators and the usual cast of mixed influencing characters.
What is interesting to me about this movie (and we watch it at least a dozen times) is that there are so many leadership lessons coming from the oddest of individuals - leadership where you wouldn't expect it.
  1. the Englishman who decides to change his fortune and move to the US
  2. the gilted lover who pours himself into work and discovers a new entity
  3. the tenously-grounded wife who is on the precipice of loss and finds a way to hold on
  4. the family destroyed by tragedy but comes to learn more about each other
and there is more (and I won't tell you all the details in case you have yet to see this movie.  The leadership lessons come in all shapes and sizes.  What does this have to do with 'NOT TO DO' Leadership?

Answer:  the NOT TO DO Leader does not take the time to look around and see the lessons, or learn from anyone else.

Look around your workplace and see the shapes and sizes.  See how each leader and team member inter-connects and intersects with each other.  Once you step back and look, you may see how the decisions and choices you make impact the rest of the flow in your workplace.

Learn to be open to the intersection and from where leadership lessons can evolve.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


OK people, here is how it works.  You do not need to reply all on every single email. Especially when an email is sent to a group and you have a comment for only one person - then simply reply to the sender or forward to that particular individual.

I have seen it happen where someone will call someone else on the carpet in front of the group by email - not fair, not nice, not even respectful.  If you have something to say, perhaps pick up the phone (imagine that?!) or simply send an email to the party concerned - that way the information, scathing remarks, poor commentary and even profanity stays between the two concerned.  You are doing yourself a disservice by providing your self-righteous and inconsistent comments to the whole group  -  whether this is upward, downward or peer-to-peer....think twice about hitting that reply all.

Even if you are simply acknowledging attendance or giving an LOL not everyone needs to have their email box clogged....just the sender.

How do you handle the "Reply All" dictator in your group?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sabotage Yourself

No matter how often we plan our day, we seem to overplan and sabotage ourselves.  We find ways to avoid things - confrontation, conflict, making decisions, doing the stuff we don't like to do....and it is all in the name of making sure that we like ourselves in the process. Fact is, we usually don't.  We sabotage ourselves by subscribing to limiting beliefs - I can't do it, I am not good at it, It won't work.....when are we going to stop that?  And how are we going to stop that?  Here are a few tips:
  1. Decide on a maximum number of appointments to have in a day and stick to that number.  If the week fills up, then move onto the next week.
  2. Keep focused on your plan...this will lead you to your goals.  By looking at your task list daily and eliminating the items that do not lead you in the right direction, you will make room in your day and reach your goals faster.
  3. Be confident in your skills.  Find time to develop yourself - read, attend a workshop, participate in a webinar, find a mentor, get a coach (two different people, btw).  As you continue to grow, so will your confidence.
So say it with me now "I will stop sabotaging myself!" 

Go ahead - tell me what else you do to lead yourself better.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Get OUT of Your Business NOW

OK.  So I need to say this today.  This has been driving me crazy and I need to send a wake-up call out there.
I mean it.  You need to step outside of your business, stop working IN it all the time and work ON it!
Really, how on earth can you see what is going on, what the future of your business is or  if you are still on track with your mission by staying buried under the day-to-day tasks that really should go to someone else but you keep hanging onto them because no one else will do it like you do it - or so you think!

Can you tell I am frustrated?  I hear over and over again how hard it is to keep businesses moving forward, except there is no thought to actually checking to see the progress of the business.  When I ask how the business is being marketed or if there is a marketing plan I get 'the deer in the headlights' look.  Or, if I ask what the forecast is for the rest of the year, you would think I asked them to fly to the moon

Business needs leaders.  Business teams need leaders.
Innovation and new revenues streams come from leaders and their teams who are not afraid to challenge the status quo; from leaders who are not afraid to invest in themselves and their team to develop new ways of thinking, find new opportunities to leverage the strengths of others - inside their industry or from outside their industry.

Why are you not investing time and money in your own development?  When you develop a new product or service it costs money.  You are the extension (and sometimes, the face and the feet) of your business - why are you stuck IN it and not working ON it and ON yourself?  What is stopping you?  Are you afraid to admit you don't know everything?  Are you worried what people will think of you? Are you too busy (doing what I am  not sure) to take a few minutes to evaluate how you could be a better leader for your business and your team?  Are you afraid to find out that you could do things differently, be challenged, given new perspectives and actually have to change your old ways for new, more productive and exciting possibilities that can make you even more successful?  Now that is a scary thought!  You could actually be more successful if you decided to take action.  When will you decide to tack action for yourself.....and work on you - the best part of your business, the reason why your business exists?!

Sure, it's a rant....and sometimes I just need to get things out.  I see it often, what I have described above, and while I would go to great lengths to ask the same questions of my clients (not in a rant of course), I felt the need to share this here.

Leadership is not easy.  Leadership is action.  Leadership is developing other leaders.  When are you going to take action to develop yourself....and along the way, your business and your team?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Let's Pretend

I am certain that you have played the game 'let's pretend'.  If not, here are the rules:
  • you are provided with a scenario and you use your imagination to see what you would do in that situation...pretty easy.
So here goes.  You are the gold bear in the photo above.  You have just had your meal taken away from you by the brown bear.  As gold bear, you have worked hard to find and trap this fish, you actually had it in your jaw and then after a short struggle, it was gone.  What do you do?

Would you like me to put it in people terms?  You are working your butt off, more than 60 hours a week, less than 1 day off each week with little payroll and diminishing results because the market has tightened up.  You are struggling to make your bottom-line numbers - you can get there some months in dollars, some months in percent, but never exactly what the company is looking for because of the economic situation and new competitors in the marketplace, not to mention the unrealistic budgets and pie-in-the-sky promises to shareholders.  Now, your boss states that if you cannot come in on your numbers, save payroll and hit all operational targets, then your bonus (which you have received in varying degrees for 20+ years) is now not only in jeopardy, but in fact, gone.  What do you do?

Why are you working for these people?
Are you really happy here?

It sounds just awful, but unfortunately it is the grim reality for many right now.  And instead of finding ways to assist people in reaching goals, companies are turning to the 'brown bear' mentality and taking food out of their team member's mouths in hopes to inspire momentum.

No one ever learns or stays the course due to fear. Instead you will have employees (not team members, because who wants to be on your team if you treat them like this) looking for ways to construct their dismissal so that they can get a fat severence package from the brown bear....hoping that someone else is crazy enough to take their place.

So who are you?  Gold bear or brown bear?  What is your next step? 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Horrible Bosses

Have you seen this movie?  I am sure you must have because it has been out for a while.  Just thought I would ask a few obvious questions for your consideration:
  1. are you a horrible boss?
  2. what did you do to/with your horrible boss?
  3. how did you escape from your horrible boss?
  4. are you a horrible client?
  5. do you have horrible employees?
  6. how do you handle all the 'horribles' in your life?
Not a lot of preaching today...just some thinking.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Voicemail

The dreaded voicemail....not the messages that stack up when you are in meetings, but the voicemail greeting.
Little story - maybe it's about leadership, maybe not...but it is certainly a 'Not to Do'.

Trying to resolve an issue with a certain institution, my friend called their contact and got the dreaded voicemail greeting that said "I am away from September 2nd to September 12th.  Do not leave a voicemail for me. But if this is an emergency, leave a voicemail and someone will pick it up while I am away."

Does this make any sense?  Don't leave the voicemail, but go ahead if it is an emergency?  Someone?  Who?  Someone qualified to deal with the issue?  How about providing a name and contact number for that 'someone'?  You would have to be certain that this institution, with its multiple layers of middle management would have a policy that there needs to be a back up in place for all vacationers.

So, yes, this is about leadership.  Think about the way we communicate our vision, discuss our strategies and plan the future with our teams.  Are we vague? Do we provide mixed messages?  Do we have a back up plan when  we need one?  Have we considered how the other end will receive the message?

Next time you go on vacation leave a very clear voicemail (and don't even get me started on out-of-office replies on email that still have vacation dates from 3 years ago!).  Take a few minutes to pay attention to that detail - and apply the same attention to the rest of your messaging.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Be Transparent

Beautiful, fresh, effervescent bubbles. 
Transparent.  Clear.  Whole.

Now, think about this.  Is your leadership like this?  Clear.  Whole.  Transparent.
Let me use some other words.  Authentic.  True.  Of yourself.

Many leaders believe that they need to have a facade, a dual personality - that who they are is not reflective of their leadership, when in fact it should be.

Think of those old TV shows where the boss at the office is all snarly, smoking a cigar and belittling to the people that work for him.  He then goes home and is all sweet and loving with his family, especially the family dog.  Really - that's the dual personality.  Why can he not be the same loving, sweet person he is at home with his team?

Some leaders believe that they need to personify power in all the ugly terms it can host.  Instead what it should be is kindness, caring and the ability to put others before self.
This is by no means belittling the persona that can come with leadership - but instead the 'power' is wielded out of respect and action, instead of conferred by title.

Friday, September 2, 2011

What Colour Are Your Glasses?

The same person is now in charge of the project. This happens every time.  You are not happy because you have complained numerous times about their lack of organization and inability to lead teams and the fact that every other one of their projects is either off the rails or has been put back on the rails by a rescue effort.  You wonder what colour are the glasses your boss is wearing?  What is he seeing that you do not?  What is he seeing in you, or rather, not seeing in you?
What to do?
This one is easy.  And it is a 2-parter:
  1. Think about when you complained, did you offer any solutions or resolutions or alternatives that would have been better, or was it simply a complaint?  If it was only complaining- like sour-grapes, then re-think that strategy immediately.  You are not contributing by whining.  Always provide a solution or an alternative. This regular choice may be the go-to choice because they are unaware there is an alternative.
  2.  Ask why you are not being considered.  What is it that you have to learn/do/experience before you are given these types of assignments?  Showing that you are open to learning will no doubt give your boss something else to think about.  Your initiative can open their eyes.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Give or Take

Ever been in that position where an opportunity is given and then taken away just as quickly?
You are surprised to be included, puffing up with pride at the thought of the involvement you will have in this project, perhaps even as the lead....and what happens?  The opportunity dissolves right before your eyes for any multitude of reasons - lack of funding, change in priorities, a more seasoned employee is on the team.
What do you do?
...find a way to duplicate the opportunity
....run through it as if you were still in motion so that you can test out your planning and organizational skills
...discuss and see if it can be modified to a smaller version or a test/pilot - this will show your initiative along with your flexibility
...always say thank you for the opportunity and consideration - both mean a lot.

Friday, August 19, 2011

No Thank You

Working with a group of people or even one other single person, leaves you with the opportunity to say 'Thank You' at the end of the day, or project/assignment or even for a simple discussion.
The issue is that not many people realize the importance of 'Thank You'.

A friend started at a new job in the last month.  Requested to join the company because of his skill at turning businesses around, he was excited to get started.  Implementing small changes after a period of overview and understanding, he started to host daily meetings with the entire team.  The meeting was short, always started off with something that was positive, gave good information about what was in progress and coming up in the future and always ended with 'Thanks for what you are doing for XXXX in the community.  Work safe.'  He was taken aback when, after the second or third daily meeting a group approached him and said "we have never been thanked before, thank you for making our work worthwhile".  Kind of profound.  Thought I would share.

Think about how you end your day or your time with someone.  How do you say Thank You!?

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Lightbulb

When asked why you do what you do, what do you say?
...because  I make good money?
....because I get weekends off?
....because I set my own hours?
Usually not.  Usually there is something else that drives us.  Something like...
..passion for the subject-matter
....service of others
...doing good (not just well)
...enjoyment of the journey
...solving the puzzle
And knowing this, then finding this daily occupation, our life's work is really what is fulfilling.
For me, I call this 'the lightbulb'.  I love to see the 'click' in my clients.  The moment when they shift to new thoughts and ideas, the moment they see what is possible, no longer impossible.  The actions they develop after this click are rewarding for them and for me.  It is the next step on their journey.
So what is your 'lightbulb'?  As a leader, you have one, you simply need to recognize it, own it and live it.
It may mean changes in what you do or how you do it. It may be uncomfortable recognizing it...and that is OK, that is how we grow.
What do you do when you work for or with someone who does not have a lightbulb? (stop laughing, I don't mean they are dim-witted, more not following their passion)
....ask them if they are happy?
....ask them what they would do if they could do anything in the world?
...ask them their next step in changing their future?  After all, why live so unhappily.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Lot, Too Late

Leaders are born with ears.  Most of them, anyway.  And you would think that they would use them for good instead of evil.  Well, not necessarily evil - just to do nothing.

Here is the story.....it's performance appraisal time.  A self-appraisal is requested by all team leaders to be submitted before the actual performance appraisal is conducted.  This is standard operating procedure in many organizations.  This self-appraisal helps individuals see their accomplishments and their performance gaps making it much easier on the manager delivering the actual appraisal - let's face it - we are usually harder on ourselves than our bosses are in these terms.

So the self- appraisal is handed in.  On the day of the appraisal, this leader asks his team member to attend the meeting.  And the meeting ensues...in this way...the leader takes out the self-appraisal and writes checkmarks where he agrees and 'x's' where he does not.  Little discussion, little dialogue, no inkling of what the employee can do to improve for next year.

But there's more...
The following year, the leader has moved on to a different position.  A new manager is in place and it is appraisal time.  She asks that the self-appraisal be brought to the appraisal meeting....not to be reviewed by her before.  She actually does not have an appraisal written for the meeting but states that there is no increase this year because targets have not been met.  It's discretionary, she says!

What do you do?  Ask the obvious question, what is this based on as you are a new manager and no objectives were in place to measure against anyway?  The answer is - take it up with the last manager, that is the answer they provided for me to give you.

Whoa!  All kinds of issues.  Where to begin.  This employee asked for clarification from senior leaders - none ever came.  Instead what came was a barrage of visitors to the area to see if things were up to snuff.  Needless to say, there are still no specific objectives except for 'reach the goals'.

Got a story like this one?  Share here!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Sound of Leadership

Do you have a tone?

Does your leader have a tone?
Is there a voice that your mom or dad used to use that would stop you in your tracks?
That's the one I am talking about.
The voice that is condescending, belittling or simply full of annoyance.

How do you handle the leader with this voice?

Well, people are simply blessed with the voices they have been given. They are influenced by their environment - where they grew up, the language and tone used in their homes, their experiences with others....what works or doesn't. So it is not really the voice, but more of the TONE and inflection.

Approaching the person with the 'voice' is not as easy as it seems. Although, the approach is a simple one - 'hey, this is how you said what you said', or 'you said this, this is how I heard it, is that really what you meant?' Let them know ...it's not easy from either end of the conversation but it will set ground rules for how you like to get your communication and you may be pointing out something that needs to be worked on by that individual...and they never knew it because of the fear they have mongered due to their tone.

Here is an exercise....listen to your tone. I have had mine pointed out to me before and while it is not fun, it is a new awareness that I now have that makes how I communicate different now than in the past.

Once you pay attention to your tone, you will automatically change the tone of the other person.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Control Freak

Have you met one of these?  Or are you one of these?
The Control Freak

Everything has to be done your way.
Everyone has to act the way you want them to act.
Everyone needs to follow your rules, even though sometimes they do not apply to you.
You manipulate with faces, feeling, outbursts, inattention even harsh words - you bully.
You want what you want and there is no changing your mind because you are right and there is no room for other opinions or ideas.


This is not you...but it is someone you work with/for or with whom you have a relationship.
Tough nut to crack.

What do you do?  Let them know, in no uncertain terms, that you will not change your beliefs simply because they want you to.  You will not put their bullying tactics, but continue to work (or live your life) in accordance with what works for you.  If that requires less time or interaction with them, then that is how it will be.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Big Rollback

The big rollback...not really poor leadership, but could have been.

Morale is at an all time low I am told, due to the economy. This leader is beside themselves trying to figure out how to fix it. They want surveys, 360degree surveys, benchmarks for the industry, roundtable discussions with other industry leaders to see if they are experiencing the same thing. It's sheer madness he says, they cannot get out of the funk.

So, here comes the coach. My first question is....what is your mood? What is your attitude? Are you perpetuating the ' poor me' or are you pushing past it and asking...why not me? What can I do about it? What can I change?

The leader paused for a moment...well, longer than a moment, for which I give him great credit....and then he said..no one has ever asked me that before. No one has challenged me to change my perspective instead of finding excuses for the perspective I have.

I could not tell at the moment if he was happy or grateful for the challenge or not. Time will tell if he picks it up and moves forward with it. By the end of our session he was willing to consider that he could be the game changer by moving forward instead of looking for excuses for everyone.

What could have turned into a complete business debacle ( a poor leadership adventure spiralling out of control) turned into a good coaching session, where my client learned a skill to take back to his team.

Changing perspectives is not easy, sometimes you need the prompt.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Benefits and Employee Morale

So here is the story.  Just had surgery - unexpected -  and I let my boss know this.  They said "Don't worry about it"....meaning, that my pay would stay in place as my salary would just continue.  OK.  I'm good with that!  I can work from my laptop at home while I recover, not as many hours, but still able to contribute - great!  I'll stay in the loop and it won't be so hard to get back into the swing of things when I am fully recovered. Heck, I even sent the weekly report from my hospital bed.

Two days later, by UPS, an envelope arrives. Inside the envelope are application documents for Short Term Disability - meaning that, my pay will be 70%.  After communicating with my boss and our HR Manager, I was told that for sure, that would be the case.  I made sure at this point that my boss understood that I would not be responding to any emails and focusing instead on recovery.  She agreed with that.

Working with the Benefits Team in the Home Office was quite laughable. (In fact, I am still waiting for a return phone call from a voicemail that I left 2 weeks ago - the message stated that they would return my call 'at their convenience'. I guess it has not yet been convenient to call  - we'll talk about this more in another post.)  Needless to say, the stress involved with dealing with this office would be enough to cause a nervous breakdown or set back my recovery.  I finally got all the paperwork - 2 sets of forms - filled out, signed by the doctor, faxed over (because they don't take emails!!!! (even hospitals have WI-FI)) and found someone to tell me they received everything. Whew! 

Now, just because I like to understand everything - especially how and when I will be paid because my family likes to eat dinner everyday, I contacted the Payroll Department.  They pulled up my information quite quickly and immediately told me that I was covered for 100% pay for 13 weeks!!!!  I was surprised - to say the least. Now, she did tell me that it would show up on the pay stub as 70% + a 30% top up. When asked why, she stated it was because I was senior management.


Can you imagine that?  After all the stress and worry.  After going back and forth with HR and my boss, no one took the time to find out the exact details and relay the information to me.  You would have thought they would know their own benefits package...if simply for the sake of recruiting top talent. 

Lesson:  if you are the leader, know the benefits or at least find out as you go along and make the life of your team members easier when going through hardships.

Lesson:  if you are the HR Manager, know the benefits and differences at every level. Period. That is your JOB!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Your Health at Work

What does your health mean to your leader?
Is your health an extension of your work?
Or is your health what it is because of your work?

Most leaders should understand that a healthy employee can actually focus and concentrate better, can be more productive and creative in problem-solving and even spend more time working than when they are ill. Makes sense right?

Well, not to this leader. They would prefer that you take a 2 hour conference call from your sick bed even if you feel so ill that you do not remember the call later. Or even worse, host a meeting that makes you miss your long-awaited specialist appointment without any regard for the ongoing health issue you are facing.

Talk about eliminating positive morale, and making you want to work only the hours that are stated on the paycheque.

What to do? Let the leader know about your appointments as soon as they are made and book the time off. This way, the leader will have the note on their calendar as well, and hopefully they will not book a meeting at the same time.

Also,when you are ill, delegate calls and appointments (if needed) to someone on your team to take care of them. This will provide your team members with an opportunity to grow and your leader with someone to take that conference call.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eat the Elephant

Wow! The big project is here. It has so many steps that you cannot see the top rung. It is so big that it looks like it is the size of an elephant. How do you manage? How do you get your head around it? How do you get your team through this? One step at a time. Just like eating an elephant – one bite at a time.

What does that mean exactly? Well, don’t....

• Push the project onto one person without providing detailed expectations – give instructions and review each step of the project regularly

• Set unrealistic expectations for completion – determine the timeline that makes sense by including key stakeholders in the planning process

• Take away resources to complete each part – payroll, time, people – it’s work, plan in advance to spend the resources

• Put too many pieces of the project in motion – there should be an order or process to follow.

Eat the elephant one bite at a time. It really is the only way.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Energy Zapper or Sapper

Are you plugged in?  Is your energy operating on high?  Or are you missing part of the connection?

How your leader responds to this is important.  You want to have high energy and perform and optimum levels because you love your job and what it does for people.  Sadly your leader is an energy sapper - sucks away the energy as opposed to an energy zapper - giving you energy to move forward, be creative and innovative with your solutions and project development.

What to do?  Let them know.  Try to identify for them what they are doing to sap the energy from you.  Let them know what inspires you and gives you energy to perform at your peak.  Leaders are human and can need a hand understanding what works best for you - let them know.  They will thank you in the end!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Leader in Survival Mode

Here is the leader.  Stuck in the jungle, where it is survival of the fittest.
You are hoping that your leader is the fittest...but unfortunately, on this blog, they are not.
They are in survival mode.
That means that you are the feast.....the one that gets 'sold down the river' or 'fed to the lions' or simply 'hung out to dry'.  This leader, mouth wide open, is always looking for a scapegoat so that they can go about their business unscathed.
What to do?  Make sure that you take notes of conversations, including dates and outcomes  - you need to protect yourself - sort of like camouflage.  Also, where possible, copy the leader's boss on things that are of interest, especially where you know the cc:  started at the beginning of the email chain.  Lastly, always be respectful of the leader - no matter what, they still have your fate in their hands.

How to Survive Poor Leadership

If you haven't already downloaded it from the blog page, here is the link to get your FREE copy of
5 Keys to Surviving Poor Leadership.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How Not to Inspire Others

  1. Take their ideas for your own, do not give credit
  2. Check up on schedule and agenda daily or more frequently
  3. Miss including someone in a key conversation and then ask for their feedback
  4. Make sure that permission is asked for every step along the way through a project
  5. Fail to plan for succession
  6. Tell people they are on the high-potential list and fail to provide them with anything to develop their potential any further
  7. Never recognize performance
  8. Contradict everything
  9. Be ambiguous describing required results or potential consequences
  10. Squelch creativity and risk-taking
If you do any of these, or think you do, it's time to connect with a Professional Success Coach to develop your leadership skills.  Connect with Coach Lora Crestan for more details and a complimentary coaching session. Click here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Babysitter

So here is the leader who has been re-allocated to another role...and has to come back because of another exit from a key employee. Now, in his words, he is just ‘baby-sitting’ until a new replacement can be found. Questions abound:

• What happened to the other guy?

• Why, if this guy was removed, is he coming back, with a worsening attitude?

• Why are we not good enough to continue with the company mission and need a ‘babysitter’?

What to do? This is an opportunity to remind the babysitter of the good work the team did together. Thank them for the support and let them know that you are capable of executing your role as in the past, and you will let them know if they are needed for anything. Keep the conversation light, not confrontational, ignoring the cheap shot of ‘babysitter’. It’s the high road – it always works, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What You Can Learn from an Exit Interview

This company has undergone a few leadership changes in the past 2 years. New president, new VP – twice, new senior director – three times. The latest departure - a senior director – was in role for 3 days, went to a high level competitor.

In the exit interview, it was clearly understood that the remuneration for the role had quite a bit of flexibility. When the exiting leader stated what the other company offered for salary (addition of 25% of current salary), there was no hesitation in the ‘we’ll match that’ statement out of the president’s mouth. The president also stated that although the company had not provided a specific bonus clause for a decade, they would for this year guarantee this specific bonus payout.

Imagine the things you learn in an exit interview – you were certainly underpaid in the role you were in, let alone the one you were going into. What else could have been so underfunded or done with such lack of integrity if this quick conclusion could be reached with a single breath? Makes you glad you are leaving, and sad for those left behind.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

YOU are the New Leader

You are starting in a new high level leadership role in a new company. You have industry knowledge and know the top leadership from your previous company. How do you get started? I have been watching your organization’s attempt to work through restructuring, redeveloping itself to be more competitive in the marketplace.

Here is what I see - The new leader will bring in their own team. It has already started from the top level, that’s why you are here.

• My question about this is why, if you left a company are you bringing them all with you? Hopefully you have prepared new challenges for this team in the new organization to develop their talent as well as the talent within the organization.

• My next question is how did you evaluate and eliminate current team members to bring in your own replacements? Did you look at performance on paper, in the field, hear from colleagues, peers and their reports, or was it simply from the last leader’s notes and information?

• My last question is how are you going to replace the cultural/tribal knowledge that has now left your organization? Or does it even matter to you? Are you trying to be seen as the new, innovative, sharp-shooter who is ‘laying down the law’, ‘shaking things up’, setting an example for everyone? Good try.

The way I see it, you have a lot of work ahead of you. You need to win over the current team or whoever is left. You are making a great case for a mass exodus of talent and knowledge. You are setting up your clients for disappointment with ineffective follow up and service when everyone is replaced and time is required to get processes back in place.

Chin up Buddy! You were brought in for a reason – perhaps you should get the chip off your shoulder and step back, getting a good view of the whole picture before you get cracking.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Find Purpose

Here is a quick story. The leader of a team of 5 people has not communicated with one member of the team in 28 days. The team member has sent the usual weekly reports, emails etc. All not acknowledged, not responded to and absolutely no oral communication, not even a meeting scheduled. The leader used to have weekly meetings and at one point in the beginning of the year, completely wiped out all meetings from his calendar and so it also wiped out the meetings on his team’s calendars.

This tells a story of purpose. What purpose did this leader serve if business could operate as usual without any communication from them? What purpose was there for the leader to not communicate for such a long period of time? What purpose is there for submitting reports that are not acknowledged? All is time wasted. And left behind is also a bad taste in the mouths of the team, lack of recognition and the potential for sub-par performance.

How did the story end? The team performed well without the leader because they felt more empowered and less micro-managed, although they were guessing the fate of their leader. The meetings were cancelled because the leader was moved into a new area – though the team was not told until later in the month. Then all the actions made sense.

In the end, it left the team wondering what purpose they served....if they were not important enough to be included in the conversation earlier so they could redirect their inquiries.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Freight Train

Do You Run Full Speed Ahead?  Are you the leader who is really a freight train in disguise?  You speed through everything and hope that everyone is on board.  You wonder why, at the end of the line, that the train has lost it's load or the cars have been left behind and you are there alone?

It is easy in this life to move quickly. Especially in our work lives. Take a few minutes to examine how fast you are going and what you may be missing.

Does Haste replace of quality?

Do you create a Flurry of activity and not necessarily progress?

Is it Necessary to win every battle, not letting others feel listened to?

Do I look at my priorities or my stake, or involvement only and not the impact on others or for their input?

Do I Weigh my plate before accepting or adding more?

Do I Keep a project planner and balance it?

Do I move to completion before all ends are securely tied up, just because the due date it here?

Do I Get all obstacles eliminated before I say I am finished?

Do I ask for and Clean up every last question?

The questions above could help you slow your pace a little, or at least check in on productivity versus execution. Speed can be beneficial if taken with the diligence that is required to create good work. Speed is not to be confused with sense of urgency....that is an attitude and mind-set, not a velocity

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Equal VS. Fair

The Difference Between Equal and Fair

Many new leaders have difficulty with the concepts of equal and fair.  Some believe that everyone needs to be treated the same while others believe in treating others as individuals.  Looking at the difference between equal - every one is the same, versus fair - everyone is taken care of in the manner that works best for them, is the eye-opener that new leaders need.

Poor leaders forget this altogether and may never see the injustice they are doing to themselves and others.

How I see 'equal vs fair' in action, is that equal is a division into parts, everyone/everything is the same on all sides.

Fair is about how people feel about the outcome of a specific situation. Were all parties satisfied with the results? This may not mean happy about the results, but satisfied that all areas were looked after and treated with dignity and respect. It is more about listening and understanding the situation as opposed to making a blanket statement to cover everyone.

Pay attention to the decisions your are making. Are they fair? Or are you focusing on equal to save time and feel better about yourself in the decision, instead of feeling good about the decision itself?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Excuses in Business

Excuses do not make good business sense. There is a difference between a reason and an excuse.  Many poor leaders use excuses to get out of tough situations.  Even worse, they accept excuses because they have set the example of giving them out.  They do not understand the difference between reason and excuse.

A reason is....the why with facts and a follow up plan.

An excuse is....the why with emotions and lacks confidence.

How do you fix this?

1-build action plans with specific measurable steps that are assigned to specific people
2-Admission of mistakes...they happen, people are people, not perfect. Admitting the mistake and moving on creates a more open and creative environment.
3- take time to Revise strategy, it may be what is needed to create a better product.
4-focus on Moving forward by bringing everyone along, ensuring that it all make sense to everyone involved. Take time asking and answering questions to obtain understanding.

In a nutshell, a good leader can build accomplishment by keeping focused on the vision that is grounded in culture-based values. If everyone is on the same page, with the same principles for guidance, the excuses go away quickly.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In the Tunnel

Is your Leader in a tunnel?

Tunnel Vision is a trap....some leaders fall into this trap when they are just starting out (some all the time).  The leader becomes so focused on what is in front of them that they see nothing and no one else. 
This leads to huge obstacles being ignored, momentum in other areas being underestimated, and potential flaws in the tunnel being under-alarming.
Leaders need perspective - and to keep the tunnel from closing in around them they need to look around on a regular basis....and you can help - show them what they are missing!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Customer Who?

The Not to DO leader loses site of the fact that there is more than one customer waiting for them everyday.  In fact, the Not to Do leader may not have much contact at all with the customer who pays the invoice - others are doing that for them.

The To Do Leader realizes that the end (external) customer, who pays for the product or services is just as important as the internal customer - peers, team members, service personnel, technicians.  Each person in the organization is a customer of one another - some directly, some indirectly.
It is by creating an atmosphere of customer service internally that the external service proposition offered to end users of the product or service benefits the most.

No longer are customers an interruption to anyone's day, the customer is the reason the day exists at all.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Celebrate 2011

Celebrate 2011!
May it be your BEST year yet!

from the Leadership NOT to Do Team