Reverse engineering our disasters means really examining them, rather than sweeping them under the rug in embarrassment.We may be leaders. We may be managers, even at a high level. But being human, we will blow it sometimes. Sometimes BIG TIME. Part of recovering from our failures is to determine to grow from them. Continue reading “Reverse-Engineering Your Worst Management Disasters”
Scenario: You wind up in the COO’s office for the umpteenth time for “the talk”. You are once again upbraided for your reactiveness at a recent team meeting. You know they’re right, but begin your defense with, “I know I shouldn’t have said that, but he just made me sooo (fill in the blank here)! Worse yet (the deign of every professional) we may even cry.
Emotions – our gut reactions to internal or external stimuli – keep the world, and life interesting. Unemotional bosses usually have unhappy staff who have checked out, having given up on getting a rise of any kind out of their fearless leader. Passionless leaders cease to be leading at all after a while. For many of us, however, our passions regularly, spontaneously spill out in ways that may make our colleagues and employees feel discomfort, confusion and even contempt.
Change your mindset, change your world
Alfred Adler, a neo-Freudian psychotherapist, stated, “I am convinced that a person’s behavior springs from his ideas.” Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “Men [People] are disturbed not by things, but the view which they take of them”. Continue reading “Emotions at work: A great servant but a TERRIBLE master”
We’ve all been at the meetings when the participants take their stereotypical roles: the constant text-messager or gadget-meister; the one who invariably takes the topic off-course; the one who always tries to steer the meeting back on course; the long-winded one who states an opinion every time someone else takes a breath (!!) and… the woman or man who never speaks up.
In large organizations, large meetings or when the person in question is a front line worker – let’s be honest, no one’s missing that silent voice. It’s unfair, sad, but true.
In meetings of any size, when you are a person in any kind of position of authority, by actual title, functional title, or especially aspiring to be in a higher role of leadership, you cannot afford to play that hidden role. More is at stake than you think.
This post is adapted from my upcoming book Pitfalls of Fear-Driven Leaders and How to Overcome
Let me begin this chapter by saying that if you are a fraud, a high school dropout masquerading as a doctor or the CEO of a company that stole someone else’s patented idea, stop reading now. You really are a fraud and need to quit.
As for most of you honest, super competent readers who simply do not believe in your self-worth, here are some insights.
There is actually something called “Impostor Syndrome”. It manifests when despite positive feedback and accomplishments documenting your competence and even excellence, you cannot enjoy your own success because deep down inside you think it’s all a mistake. If people really knew your background, your inadequacies, your lack of experience, your intellectual shortfalls, they would reject you as their leader.
According to Kirsten Weir writing for the American Psychological Association this syndrome occurs among “high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.” These are not the mediocre failing students with sub par performance evaluations. These are actually the super star performers who think they’re “just OK”.
This post is adapted from my upcoming book: Pitfalls of Fear Driven Leaders and how to Overcome
The “It’s OK to Fail” club has more and more members. Its adherents are industry leaders, sports figures, executive and life coaches, therapists and people with success stories because, truth be told, they almost all had to fail before their first quantifiable success. Beyond that, business and organizational development specialists know the vital importance of freedom from fear of failing in innovation and the formation of authentic, productive work environments.
The wonderfully titled John Maxwell book, Failing Forward has as its subtitle: How to make the most of your mistakes. Vlogger Chantelle Adams, in her video series “The Courage Revolution”, has an episode entitled, “How to Fail Like a Pro”.
So failure is finally coming out of the closet and getting the honor it’s due!
To coach yourself or others in how to make the most of failure, here are some tips
The best thing a courageous leader can do is to learn to have genuine, “fierce” conversations that change things.
As I watch the staggering inability of the world’s leaders to communicate with integrity and to engage people in solving the problems we face, I am reminded of one of the best leadership books I have ever read: Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott.
Does the word “Fierce” scare you? It shouldn’t. The lack of it is what should scare the living daylights out of you. As defined on the book’s cover “fierce” means “robust, intense, strong, powerful, passionate, eager and unbridled.”
I must admit, I like these words a lot. I would go so far as to suggest that these words describe some of the core competencies of life, in addition to leadership.
Gradually, Then Suddenly
The book starts with a quote from Ernest Hemingway’s, The Sun Also Rises where one of the characters is asked:
“How did you go bankrupt?”
He answers, “Gradually, then suddenly.”
As you watch the indictments and sentencing of so many world leaders do…
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All of us have seen them. Some of us have worked for them. Some of us have been them. You know ” them” : the screamer; the humiliator; the total dominator; the letch (male or female); the misogynist; the man-hater; the racist; the narcissist; the incompetent; the ostracizer; the blamer…need I go on?
You’re probably reading this because some intimidated employee sent it to you anonymously, or left it on their computer monitor so you could see it when you peeked into their cubical. No one gave you this article in person because they’ve been led to believe that telling the Emperor s/he was naked would cost them their job.
You micromanage and ask employees to report back on minutiae (which I doubt you read) to cover for the fact that they may know their jobs better than you do. You abuse the performance evaluation process and, rather than use it as a development tool, make it your version of having a student report to the principal’s office. The overuse of symbols of privilege like private washrooms, parking spaces and personal assistants just makes your staff view you as a paper tiger. Continue reading “Dear Toxic Boss: I’m talking to YOU”
Thomas Friedman in Friedman’s Fables tells the tale of “The Friendly Forest” , a place where all of the animals live happily together until a new neighbor, a ferocious tiger, moves in. The very presence of the tiger disrupts the calm, peaceful atmosphere, especially for the lamb that seems to be the object of the Tiger’s growling obsession. The frightened lamb is advised by his friends not to leave the forest just because of one new inhabitant; he’s counseled that ‘the tiger is just being a tiger – that’s just how they behave’. Perhaps the lamb is being too sensitive. In fact, perhaps the lamb, itself, is contributing tho the aggressiveness of the tiger! Perhaps the Lamb needs to give concessions to the tiger and accept his behaviors. Meanwhile the stalking continues until finally someone had the wisdom to say, “This is ridiculous. You don’t try to make the lamb and tiger communicate better. If you want them to coexist in the same forest you have to cage the bloody tiger!”.
And so it is in business when one or more employees, by their attitudes or behaviors, poison the work environment, demotivating the whole department. And haven’t we all been like the other animals in the forest at one time or another, wishing someone would just cage (or shoot) that tiger?
What are some of the reasons we allow such behavior to continue?
I began watching the Dog Whisperer several years ago in the midst of tremendous personal, spiritual and professional change. While we did have a dog for 13 years, I am decidedly not a dog person, yet I found myself riveted to the TV set every Friday, having something inside of me get awakened and healed in the midst. As Cesar Millan says, “I rehabilitate dogs, but I train people”. Here are some of the lessons from his show (Now, “Leader of the Pack”)
Most dogs are born followers. Only a few are natural born leaders.
There are more followers than leaders in the human kingdom as well.
Sometimes we ignore this rule of nature, thinking it has to be egalitarian: “everyone can be a leader with enough training”. But there are people who fail parenting courses and shouldn’t be parents, either!
Why not look for the genuine real and potential leaders, those already leading and put our leadership training time, resources and focus into their development so that the entire company can soar. Re-position those who truly are wrong for that role.
Leaders (good, bad, formal or informal) will naturally take charge in a vacuum. (This follows from #1)
In fact, one of the most common issues to come up as Cesar is called in to help, is that people are allowing their dogs to be the leader in the human’s home and family! As weak leaders, people end up following the dog’s lead. It’s as hilarious as it is pathetic.
If the person given a leadership position does not do the leading, someone else from the unit or staff will, whether officially or subversively. Who has the real influence in your office? Who is really modeling the (positive or negative) work ethics behavior that you see reproduced on your office floor or in your staff meeting?
Weak leaders can usually be rehabilitated once they see this dynamic at play.
Pity is weak energy, empowering the pitied one over you.
People give extra leeway and fewer boundaries to the staff members (or pets) that they pity. (“Oh but they came from a poor background so I can’t have high the expectations of them.” “Oh, but she’s a single parent”; “but he’s a minority”, etc.) This pity is often a projection coming from our own imaginations or guilt. It can be paternalistic and rarely results in good morale among your team members. It certainly doesn’t develop your workers.
I have seldom met adults who actually want to be pitied. It’s not the same as empathy; it’s demeaning and counter-productive!
Next time we’ll explore a few more of these “Dog Whisperer Lessons”.
Have you learned something from watching the show??