Want to be Great? Let your team members soar

releasing dove

Sid Daniels is an assistant Vice President for a company that employs 7,000 people nationwide. He has two veteran deputies below him who have proved their competence over a decade of service, providing IT solutions to local businesses as well as internally. Yet Sid, while using his deputies to cover for him in explaining technical information at board meetings, fails to promote either of them, whether by raise or by public affirmation.

Levita Benoit runs a growing business consulting firm on Chicago’s South Side. She started the company in her home, going from doing everything from securing clients to making her own brochures, to hiring a staff of five.  As the business grew, instead of having a bookkeeper she hired a certified CPA as her financial manager. The part-time virtual assistant job is now filled by a bona-fide Administrative Assistant. The staff of five has grown to 30, yet to their great frustration, the new managers’ scope of authority has not grown past that of the original, tightly managed crew. Continue reading

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Facing off with your Passive-Aggressive Managers

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You might be a C-Suite level boss with many managers below you. Many in your management pool may carry over their personal dysfunctions into their work life. Truly, “Who you are is how you lead”.

Not sure if the employee is passive aggressive or just passive? Passive Aggression is an indirect way to express hostility. You could compare it to a stab in the back vs. a slap on the face. It can be confusing, at first, to identify what’s going on because it can be so subtle. Some common identifiers of passive aggression:

  1. Not showing up at meetings, being habitually late, or leaving early when others are pressing in
  2. Calling in sick at key times
  3. Making lots of excuses and blame-casting for poor behavior
  4. Withholding information from other team members
  5. Making inappropriate remarks and then passing it off as a joke
  6. Sarcasm
  7. Dragging out simple processes from approving forms or dispensing reimbursements to approving transfers and promotions
  8. Feigning ignorance about the impact of their behavior on their colleagues and subordinates

These employees and managers can be your in-house saboteurs. This behavior sets a negative tone at work, builds walls between departments and politicizes the environment. It also amplifies other employees’ negative feelings, thus becoming a  contagion of discontent. We become complicit when we allow such behavior to go unaddressed. Continue reading

Reverse-Engineering Your Worst Management Disasters

reverseReverse engineering is taking apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate or enhance the object.  – WhatIs.com

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.

We grow when we learn to be honest, really reflect on our disasters and their repercussions and learn to ask ourselves good, hard questions. I recommend having your management coach, immediate supervisor or trusted colleague help by asking you good questions, too. Notice that none of them are “why” questions. They’re not off-limits but it is too tempting to do the parental “why did you break the lamp?” accusation for which there is no real answer.

For each question there are implied follow-up questions that for space’s sake I did not note here. For example: “Has this happened before?” should be followed up by “Give examples. Then what happened? How did you respond then? To what consequence, if any?”

Your answers lie in the follow-up questions. All of this takes courage and accountability to do well. Continue reading

Emotions at work: A great servant but a TERRIBLE master

Don't let your emotions rule youScenario: 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

Gratitude – Humility that makes you Great

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I received an unexpected blessing today when a young woman cashier at a bakery called me “mom” and said, “And you are mom because you paved the way for young (African-American) women like me. Thank you.” I was blown away and humbled by her lovely sentiment, the graciousness and self-awareness she displayed and the simple, yet profound gratitude she showed to a complete stranger.

I am reminded of another young man (ok , young to me) who told me he got where he is because of the elderly folks on the job who showed him “where the sand traps were”; how to network before he even had a title, who to befriend and when to suck it up.

Looking at political races and business mega-giants today you’d think true gratitude went out of style. Everyone claims to be “self-made”.  All I had to start with was the 10 million my daddy left me….

But I don’t believe you ever become truly great without it. Continue reading