Showing posts with label Bad Bosses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bad Bosses. Show all posts

June 1, 2019

Harassholes Y'all

Someone brought me a copy of this photo from their office. 

It says:
Stop Harassholes Y'all

Not bad. 

Harassment plus as*holes = Harassholes. 

Thank G-d, there are some very good people and managers out there.

But unfortunately not everyone is, and so there are also some real stinkin' abusers too. 

These types of people should never be in power, since they misuse it!

They do not use the power they have been entrusted with to advance progress, and do good for the organization and its people, but rather they clumsily wield power for their own selfish, personal pleasures and vendettas--bullying and harassing others--and simply because they can.

Belittling others, making them feel stupid and worthless, and then going after them for whatever they want. 

Through intimidation, they keep others from talking...shhh! hush!

Emotional, verbal, and even physical abuse can be common. 

I remember one colleague telling me how their boss would literally throw things at them in their office while they had to sit there "taking it."

Another has a boss that makes them do the stupidest, most trivial tasks--completely worthless stuff--just to prove a point...that they're in charge. 

Marginalization, threats, bullying, abuse, harassment...it goes on and it shouldn't!

In some cases, the harassholes are even protected from someone above.

Money, power, honor...more, more, more!

But G-d sees these people too and eventually cuts the bad ones down to size. 

My father used to say:
G-d does not let any tree grow into the heavens!

Eventually, I am pretty sure that harassholes end up getting some very BIG hemorrhoids or something from above that teaches them to use G-d's gifts for the good, and to properly love, care, and empathize for other human beings--G-d's children!

I never knew why hemorrhoids existed in this world, but there is a purpose to everything under the heavens. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 25, 2018

In the Know Or Dark

So here is one way that some people can (try to) manipulate you--positively or negatively. 

They can help either to keep you "in the know" or "in the dark."

As we all know by now, information is power!

When you're in the know--you are a trusted agent and a valuable resource; you have more dots and more connections between the dots to make; you are able to analyze what's happening and make better decision going forward; you can lead with knowledge, wisdom, and hopefully understanding. People come to you for advice, guidance, and because you are a true asset to the team, your superiors, and the organization. 

When you're in the dark--you are untrusted and unvalued, you may actually be seen as the enemy who needs to be marginalized, put out or taken out! You are kept out of meetings, uninformed or misinformed, and so you become more and more intellectually worthless. Further, others are implicitly or explicitly told that you are poisonous and not to get caught up in the pending slaughter.  A colleague of mine put it this way: "Don't get between a man and his firing squad."   

So with others, there can be information alliances as well as information warfare. 

To a great extent, you are responsible for keeping yourself in the know. You need to build relationships, bridges, and networks. You need to read, observe, and talk to lots of people. You need time to digest and analyze what you learn.  And you must build your information store so that it is ready and actionable. 

But to another extent, there are others--superiors, competitors, bullies, abusers--who just might seek to keep you in the dark and bring you down. Not everyone is your friend...some maybe just the opposite. (Wouldn't it be nice, if we all were just friends!) But showing you the intellectual ass of the group is a powerful nut that once superimposed as an image, cannot be easily distilled. There is plenty of groupthink to go around. And taking out a perceived enemy diffuses their power to everyone else.  What a lousy coup by some nasty f*ckers!

Why some friend and others foe you--who the heck knows. Perhaps some is chemistry; some is tit for tat; some is personal bias and bigotry; and some just the crapshoot of fate. 

In the end, keep doing your part to enhance your value, your friendships, and your integrity. The rest, you have to be vigilant about and realize not everyone wants the lights kept on. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 12, 2018

Leave The Bad Bosses Behind

So an executive colleague reminded me of something about bad bosses:
People don't leave jobs, they leave [bad] bosses.
It's very interesting and so often true. 

Of course, people leave for all sorts of reasons, but one of the most important aspects of job satisfaction for employees is their boss!

When you have a good boss--someone with integrity, good communications, trustworthy, fair, and who empowers, develops, and supports you then that goes a very long way towards positive employee engagement and retention. 

However, when the boss is a bad apple and usually everyone knows it, then there is often a mass exit out the organizational door. 

Occasionally, the organizational culture is bad too, and that attracts those bad bosses, promotes their bad behavior, and keeps their bad butts in the corner office seats--this situation is even worse because bad culture and people are mutually reinforcing. 

For the good people out there, leave the bad bosses behind and never look back. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 7, 2018

It Rises To The Top

So one of my friends who is dealing with some bad people in his work told me about his situation using a very interesting descriptive phrase:
"Cream may float to the top, but other things float too!"

Ah yes, in many cases the best ("the cream") climbs/rises to the top of the corporate ladder and extraordinary people are recognized with positions of leadership and influence to progress things. 

But in other cases, some really bad people (i.e. the sh*t) floats to the top based on lies and baloney promises and payback, malevolent power grabs, undermining of the competition, cronyism, or plain old corruption in the leadership suite. 

Yes, both the cream and the crap float to the top.

It is important to recognize who is who, and what is what. 

Not everyone who occupies the corner office belongs there. 

In some cases, they should never even be allowed in the building. 

In the end, you gotta believe that the stars shine, and the sh*t stinks and that's how you know who is at the top when. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 17, 2018

Nothing Personal

There's this funny line that some managers use with their employees.

It's when they harshly criticize, pick on, or even bully their hard working and good people.  

What do they say when they do it:
"It's nothing personal."

Ha, that's sort of funny, but really it's sad. 

I asked an executive colleague about this and this is what they profoundly said:
"It's my favorite line when the boss says it's nothing personal. Of course it's personal. Is there anyone else in the room!"

When people misuse/abuse their power to hurt others whether at work or even in other situations like with small children or anyone else in a subordinate position:

- That's not business.

- That's not professional.

- That's not being a good human being.

People are not punching bags because someone else is having a bad day. 

We need to rise above the occasion and be better than that. 

It's better to be humane, compassionate, and emotionally intelligent. 

And not just because someday, we are all in that position where someone bigger is facing off against us.

But rather we need to behave kindly to others, because they too are G-d's children and our brothers and sisters, and it is the absolutely the right way to behave--whether it's business or personal. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 6, 2016

Get Out Front Leadership

Thought this was a good photo of leadership.

I've seen other depictions of this such as when the commanding officer leads the charge of his advancing troops versus the other guy yelling orders from way behind the front lines. 

Here the idea of the leader is of being one with his people and helping pull his own weight!

Much more inspiring and effective than "the boss" who is yelling/barking orders at the others from on top the mound of work that the others are trying to move forward, and he is just adding to the weight of the load being pulled.

To really understand the mission or business, the leader has got to get out of his/her ivory tower perch and see things up close and personal on the front lines. 

You can't really know the enemy you're fighting or the hill your trying to take if you never even seen it firsthand. 

Leaders aren't above the job or over the staff, they are effective when they are part of the solution (and not part of the problem) with the people that they are attempting to successfully lead. ;-)

(Source Photo of Comic: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 21, 2016

Prove Them Wrong

So I was recently teaching a certification class. 

And this was a very high-caliber class of professionals attending. 

One gentlemen was a wonderful African American who I will call John. 

As part of one of the class assignments, John,  a very successful man, told of how as a young man growing up in the DC projects, a neighbor told him something very hurtful and potentially devastating to him.

The neighbor angrily said, "You'll never be anything in your life!"

And John described how he pursued his education, his career goals, his family, as well as philanthropic pursuits to give back to the community--and he went quite far. 

He told with great emotion and tears in his eyes how ten years ago, he went back to his old neighborhood to thank this neighbor for motivating him (even though in a negative way) to go as far in life as he did. 

You could hear a pin drop in the class--I think a lot of people could relate to this story in their own lives. 

I know that I for one certainly could. 

For me, while I am a simple person and have not gone so far, I have certainly had an interesting life and lots of wonderful opportunities.

Yet, I too remember more than 20 years ago, when I had taken a job in a wild pursuit in my youthful ambitions that one crazy boss that I was briefly working for who was considerably older than me and with his own business abusively said to me one day, "You're not half of what you think you are!"

BAM! Like a huge sledge hammer hitting me right across my head--I was still relatively young and impressionable.

Also, I came from a pretty blue collar-type working family and although upwardly mobile, and I was certainly trying to become "more," I never really felt at all entitled. 

Anyway, the story this student told really brought my own experience hurling back to me from my past. 

In the class, John said--you have to go out and "Prove them wrong." 

And while I don't exactly feel that proving others who wish us bad to be wrong is the point, I do agree that we shouldn't let any of these negative nellies in our own lives drag us down. 

We all have our mission in life--and it's up to us to become the best people that we can--and to hell with everyone who looks down on us, discourages us, maybe are competitive with us or jealous in some way, or simply don't wish us the best. 

So John is right--go out there and do great things! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 26, 2015

Five Types Of Managers

Grumpy


Big Mouth


Showman


Inattentive


The Snake


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 23, 2015

Team, It's Not About You

This mug on teamwork was really funny.

Teamwork (noun):
1) A group of people doing what I say.
2) Work done that I can take credit for.

Of course, this really isn't teamwork, unless you consider it the "I Team." 

Yes, this is sort of sterotypical of bad bosses:
- They take the credit for the team's work when everything goes well.
- But they pass along the blame when something goes wrong. 

Has this ever happened to you?

It reminds me of another funny saying about how greedy, narcissistic people think:

"What mine is mine, and what's yours is mine."

In other words--mine, mine, and mine, why thank you!

The best bosses are humble and giving. They make sure everyone knows what the goals are and are working efficiently to achieve them. 

The credit goes to the indivudals and team who are working their butts off, and when appropriate, the boss will take the heat to help others save face and enable them to press forward with the mission. 

I remember one of my colleagues who is a supervisor and he was called out for doing a great job. Immediately he goes, "It's my team that make me look good." And knowing this person, that wasn't just talk or a show...he was completely sincere. 

That's leadership and an impressive human being--someone to emulate!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 28, 2014

Micromanaging Your Customers

Standing in line at the store the other day, I've got to to say that I sort of really resented this ridiculous check out line.

We are not in kindergarten and do not need little footsies and signs to tell us where to stand, how far apart, and who is up next in the line.

Actually, it's really not all that complicated--we can figure out to lineup in front of the counter and wait our turn civilly.

Micromanaging your customers (or for that matter your employees) is a pretty stupid idea.

Get your own house in order--and do a good job servicing the people that are paying you (or working to make you a success).

How about you take your little feet over behind the counter and get the line moving that much faster and stop making us wait so long to begin with to give you our business.

Happy Black Friday...loosen the reins a little won't you and you'll find a happier customer (and employee) base and make some more money in the process. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 31, 2014

Draining Our Life Force

Here's a photo I snapped of one of the Fantastic Four (superheroes).

He's telling the evil Galactus, who drains planets of their life's energy, to "Stop!"

He yells at Galactus, "You have facilitated the Corporate Fascist Agenda long enough."

I think we all know a Galactus (or two)!

In every company and agency...there are individuals that seem to literally suck the creativity, problem solving, and life force from the bowels of the organization. 

They complain incessantly, make excuses for their lack of support and contribution, erect obstacles to progress, and needlessly put down other people's ideas and contributions.

These Galactuses facilitate their own or a corporate agenda in order to raise their stature, power, and purse.

They can be--almost G-d like figures in the organization that are feared and cowed to--but in the long term it's counterproductive to enslave humanity to them.

You can be like the Fantastic Four, who recognizes problem people and calls them out for bad behavior--you can be part of changing the culture from a BIG VILIAN negative to a SUPERHERO positive.

It starts, like in the comic--by identifying their personal agendas and bad behaviors and telling them to stop as well as by working with or around them to facilitate progress.

Galactus, you are finished! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 10, 2014

Naked And Yelled At

So true story...I'm in the changing room at the pool.

There is a guy there, just a few feet away, naked. 

The pool supervisor comes over and says, "Hey, where's your brother?"

The guy says, "Why?"

The pool supervisor says, "He asked for a change in schedule, and I told him he can work on Mondays, and he's not here."

The guy annoyed, says, "I'll tell him."

The pool supervisor, shakes his head, and walks away. 

The guy turns to me and says, "You know this is the only job where your boss can come up to you when you're stark naked and start yelling at you!"

I say, "Yeah, and you can't even say it's sexual harassment."  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 9, 2014

Watch Out For Organizational Psychopaths

Ever feel like this at work?

The knives are flying and you're the target--where's the next one going, the heart of head?

Harvard Business Review has a telling blog about bosses at work that are borderline psychopaths.

Hard to spot because of their "chameleon-like qualities," they are:

- "Self-serving"--basically they have what I call the selfish disorder, they want power, money, and status but don't really care about the organization, mission or people, just themselves!

- "Manipulative personalities"--they hide their agendas, but work over others with charm, favors, even pretend friendship to get what they want.

- Domineering--corporate psychopaths are bullies, who assert themselves over others; they are insecure and endlessly competitive and abuse the people that work for them rather than recognize and reward them. 

- Win-lose---they play corporate gamesmanship, appearing collegial enough, but really are always trying to get one up on their colleagues, staff, and even their bosses. 

-"Unburdened by the pangs of conscience"--they don't care what it takes to get what they want for themselves: they will lie, cheat, steal, and try to get rid of the competition (even if that is everyone that works for them or around them).   

Estimates are that "perhaps 3.9% of corporate professionals" have these psychopathic tendencies--With all the crazies out there, that seems on the low side. What do you think?

Thank G-d, however, that there are some good bosses out there--seek those people out who act like mensches, who elevate others and do not treat them like the enemy within--those people are true gems. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 5, 2013

Have You Been Voluntold?

Voluntold, it's a funny word. 

A combination of volunteer and told, to do something. 

I couldn't believe that this word is actually in the dictionary and means:

"When one has been volunteered for something by another person. Often against their wishes and desires." (Reference: Unwords

"The exact opposite of volunteering. Always used in reference to an unpleasant task to which you have been assigned by your boss."(Reference: Urban Dictionary)

I've seen this used when the boss asks for volunteers for a task or special project. If no one volunteers, then the boss volunteers someone--telling them to do it.  They have been voluntold!

One time, I remember a very tense meeting where a boss was presenting his vision for the organization, but at the same time putting down the status quo and everyone in it. 

As one point, he asks for a volunteer to help with driving his vision forward (note: no one had bought into it), and no one volunteers. 

The boss ask for a volunteer once, twice, and three times at the meeting as the tension rises. 

Finally, a hand goes up and someone accepts the task. 

He is the bosses new favorite and is told publicly at the meeting that he will be rewarded for "stepping up."

The truth is he didn't really step up, but rather succumbed to the pressure to do it. 

Another victim of being voluntold. 

In the end, he really didn't perform much of what he volunteered for--not a surprise, since he never bought into it to begin with. 

Sometimes, we do have to ask people to do things, but it shouldn't be by force or undue pressure. 

A leader builds his vision with his team--not for his team--and they move forward together to achieve their unified goals and objectives. 

Telling someone to do something, and pretending that they are really volunteering fools no one and achieves nothing accept maybe calling out some pretend accomplishments to go with the pretend volunteers. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Andrew Huff)
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June 5, 2013

Why Can't We All Be As Happy In Our Jobs As This?

Lapham's Quarterly (5 June 2013) put up a matrix of the "Worst Jobs In the World," but the problem is that is completely misses the mark!

The worst jobs matrix has four dimension based on the functions of jobs being treacherous, tedious, difficult, and disgusting. 


The matrix has some doozy jobs listed, such as the food taster for the emperor (i.e. testing for poison) and the banquet attendant who cleans up guests vomit and holds the pot for partygoers to urinate in.  


However, while this infographic provide some interesting job tidbits, it completely misses the point of what it really means for a job to be bad or worst. 


What doesn't necessarily make a bad job?


- It is not how treacherous a job is, because treachery can be in the name of patriotism (such as someone who works in the Intelligence or National Security community and may commit treacherous deeds, but they are for a noble cause to protect our people and country).


- It is not how tedious a job is, because many jobs are tedious but they are necessary and important, such as working "on the line" in many traditional manufacturing jobs producing goods that people want and need. 


- It is not how difficult a job is, because often the more difficult a job is, the more rewarding it is, such as a surgeon, scientist, social worker, teacher, and so on. 


- It is not how disgusting a job is, because many jobs involve blood, guts, and gore, but are jobs that save lives such as doctors, fire and rescue personnel, and even our warfighters. 


What does necessarily make a bad job?


- If you work for a cruel boss, you have a bad job. A bad boss--one that is bullying, arbitrary, unfair, egotistical, mean, and abusive--can ruin even the best of jobs. When you work for a great boss, you can learn, grow, and are well treated and for a boss like that, you will go the extra mile. 


- If you perform meaningless work, you have a bad job. One of the most important factors in worker satisfaction is whether you perform purposeful and meaningful work. If you do, then you have a reason to get up in the morning, and that is a great feeling, indeed. 


- If you work and are not fairly compensated, you have a bad job. Most people don't mind working hard as long as they is a fair performance management system, where they get rewarded and recognized for their contributions. However, if you aren't fairly compensated and can't make ends meet to provide for your family, you have a bad job. 


- If you have a job that doesn't provide for work-life balance, you have a bad job. Generation Y really appreciates this, and they have taught us all something about the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This means working to live and not living to work. If you have a job where you miss your kids' ballgames, have no intimacy with your spouse, and don't have time and energy to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually, you have a bad job. 


Many people work in jobs that are challenging--whether they are treacherous, tedious, difficult, or disgusting--but they are in good jobs. Other jobs are for cruel bosses, doing meaningless work, and are not fairly compensated and don't have work-life balance, and they are in jobs you would never want to have in a million years. In fact, food taster and banquet attendant may sound pretty darn good in comparison. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 1, 2013

A Healing Environment

We’ve all been in work environments that make us either feel good about coming to the office in the morning, and those which don’t.

For those that don’t -- is it the mundane and unsatisfying work? Unpredictable work hours and demands? Annoying co-workers? Bullying boss? 

Let’s face it—the environment we work in can make the difference between whether we enjoy a long happy career someplace or whether we want to run out the door screaming. 

At the extreme, I remember a colleague telling me how when they were temping in college they worked in some mind-numbing jobs for some awful companies and they literally lasted in some cases until noon before they couldn’t take it anymore. 

Factors aside from the people can make a person feel good or bad. 

In an interesting article in Fast Company (December 2012/January 2013) called “Spaces That Heal,” hospitals have found that the patient’s room itself can actually be designed to aid in bringing people back to good health.

Research shows that “the color, shape, layout, and accoutrements of a hospital room have a direct effect on health.”

Some design items in the hospital that aid recovery, for example, are:

- Sunnier and brighter spaces with big windows (unless you are having a migraine!)
- Exposure to “nature and art” (I choose nature—the greener, the better)
- Classical music (make mine high energy or pop)
- Colored walls (light blue is relaxing for me)
- Lot of clean circulating fresh air (I like the air conditioner on all year long--even Winter!)
- Presence of family members (well certain family members anyway) :-)

Additionally, rooms wired for smartphones, tablets, and computers and that keep patients busy and engaged are another big positive—I remember when I was in the hospital and my wife brought me a device so I could blog and be me, and I felt like a productive human being again.

New room design in hospitals will also be single rooms (yes, a little privacy and personal space when you’re not feeling well).
They will also have beds at an angle that “face both the window and the media wall”—the media wall is very cool where you can look at everything from digital photos of your kids to watching Netflix or being able to Skype.

Beds will be placed in line of sight of nursing stations for safe monitoring, and bathrooms will have dual accessibility from the patient’s room for doing your business, and from the hall for hospital staff to come and restock it or clean without waking a resting patient. 

The environment we recuperate in matters to how we recover and the environment we work in matters to how we stay healthy, happy, and productive. 

People are not machines, but thinking and feeling beings, and how they are treated physically, emotionally, and mentally all make a world of a difference to their success or failure—and to that of the organization that employs them. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Be Live Hotels)

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February 12, 2012

Reprogramming Your Inner Software


The importance of positive life energy (or Ch'i) is something that both the Asian culture teaches and which the self-healing industry has picked up on. 

I remember when my cousin had a brain tumor, and people used to tell him to envision himself healthy and cancer free; he fought for a decade of survival before the tumor eventually took his life. 

His mother too died from cancer at a young age, hers was leukemia and she didn't have a fighting chance. 

While surrounding yourself with positive people and energy helps us to stay focused, positive, and strong, it, in and of itself, is not a cure-all.

Many extreme athletes and hyper-achieving professionals are often told or tell themselves to envision actually performing unbelievable feats--they do this until they can literally see it happening in their "mind's eye"--this then supposedly helps them to ultimately perform accordingly. 

On Sunday mornings, Joel Osteen's popular message is the same idea--you are not what others say you are or criticize you to be, rather "you are what G-d says you are." 

Today, Osteen compared us to computers, where often our external hardware is functioning okay, but our internal software is messed up and needs reprogramming. Osteen said you need to hit the delete key--delete those who say that you cannot or will not succeed, and instead fill yourself with faith that you can become what the almighty has designated you to be. One story, Osteen told, was about the father who always told his kid that he was a good-for-nothing, and even on his deathbed, he said, "your brother is a nothing, and you are and always will be a nothing too."

These words hurt and can haunt people all their lives; the words echo in people's heads and souls and prevent them from fulfilling their life missions, unless they "hit the delete key" and refocus themselves on the positive message that they are a child of the G-d most high who has breathed life into them, not for nothing, but to achieve their destiny. 

I remember hearing a crummy boss at work yell at a subordinate in front of the rest of the office and tell them "you are not half what you think you are." Similarly, at school, children are notorious for tearing at other kids for being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too dumb, and too smart. 

At work, at school, and at home, people can be vicious in bringing others down and the impact of these negative messages on people's lives is crushing. 

So surround yourself with positive people and positive energy--people who tell you that you can do it and are genuinely rooting for you to succeed, not in a fanciful way, but in a sincere and loving way; these are your biggest allies in life. 

Groucho Marx joked that "behind every successful man is a woman, and behind her is his wife."  Seriously though, behind every successful person are all those who love, believe, and support them to be able to achieve what they do or as the poet John Donne wrote, "no man is an Island entire unto itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."

In the movie Saints and Soldiers, a group of American and a British soldiers in World War II are on a trek to reach allied forces with vital information to save them from German attack--in one scene the British airman get the others to tell him their personal life secrets, and then when they turn around and ask him what his story is, he says "I'm not going to tell you that, I barely know you."

While it's sort of humorous, in life a lot of people are unfortunately that way--they take from you, but then do not give back. For example, at work, the worst bosses may "use you and spit you out" and when you say oh, I'm been loyal to you for X years, the response is cold and muted, like I the British soldier that after taking in their personal stories, responds that he barely knows them.

In families too, this happens when for example, parents sacrifice to give their children "everything", but later in life, the children don't even have the inclination to call or visit or "give them the time of day."

This is like one of favorite songs by Harry Chapin called "Cats In The Cradle," in this case though the father was always too busy for the son and then later in life the son had no time for his dad--"and as I got off the phone it occurred to me, he'd grown up just like me." 

We can rise above the selfishness, the coldness, and the negative attitudes, and we can be giving to others in our lives--the words we speak and the actions we show have lasting impact.  

Rather than being the target of someone's "delete" button in their life, wouldn't it be nice to be cherished for their "save" button--and help them to achieve in life what they came here for to begin with.

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February 10, 2012

Speak Up or Shut Up

We've all been there--organizations that are run by the king or queen and their proverbial gang of 6 or 7 or 8 or 9.

These are the organizations that are dominated by powerful, but narcissistic leadership (notice I do not call them leaders--because they are not). 

According to Forbes, (11 January 2012) in an article entitled Why Narcissistic CEOs Kill Their Companies, in these organizations, the c-suite is dominated by those showing four narcissistic personality traits:

- Exploitative--They are in charge and everyone else had better respect--or better yet worship--them. Typically they are surrounded by "yes men" and eager beavers, ready to please at just about all costs. 

- Authoritarian--They insist on "being the center of attention," they always know better, are always right even in the face of evidence to the contrary, and with their people, it's their way or the highway. 

- Arrogant--They are full of themselves and usually something else :-) and believe they are superior and therefore entitled to their positions of power and stature.

- Self-Absorbed--They admire and and are preoccupied with themselves, and not focused on what's ultimately good for the organization, the mission, and its people. 

In such organizations, and with such pitiful leadership, generally we find cultures of fear and what Harvard Business Review (January-February 2012) says are organizations where people "are afraid to speak honestly."

In these dysfunctional organizations with inept leadership, the workforce is stunted--they cannot genuinely contribute or grow and where organizational candor, trust, and collaboration is low, organizational performance is predictably poor.

HBR suggests that greater candor and sharing is possible by "breaking meetings into smaller groups," assigning people to "notice and speak up when something is being left unsaid," and to "teach 'caring-criticism'"--where input is provided constructively and not personally attacking and where honest feedback is viewed as "generous, rather than critical."

I think these suggestions may help organizations that are fundamentally well-run by caring and professional leaders, but when narcissists and power mongers rule the day, then the culture is not speak up, but rather shut up. 

One of the things that I have been fortunate to experience and learn is that diplomacy from the top-down goes a long way in creating a professional and productive work culture. 

When people are given respect and the freedom to speak up constructively, when they can work in true-teaming environments, and when relationships matter more than winning the day, then the workforce and all the individuals therein have the opportunity to grow to their potential. In speak up organizations, people can voice their opinions, provide valuable input, and contribute to the mission--both the people and the organization thrive. 

In contrast, when the workplace is shut up, because of narcissistic and poor leadership, the workforce is essentially shut down--they are in essence muzzled in speech and ultimately in deed. These organizations choke off their own talent and lifeblood, while their head swells from the arrogance and power at the top.

Diplomacy is a skill not only in international relations, but in life and in the workplace, and diplomatic leaders are not narcissists trying to wield and hold power, but rather polished and professional leaders who foster a culture of speak up and team up--they are ready to take their organizations and people to new levels of productivity, growth, and meaning.

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December 26, 2011

Raise Your Glass To Great Bosses

It's a funny time of year. Folks are celebrating the holidays, and for some of them the traditional office party is full of cheer, while for others it’s a nightmare.

In a way it's a paradox for some that they have a holiday party with the same bosses that treat them otherwise badly the rest of year!

This reminds of some of the worst traits a boss can exhibit--here's a “top 10”:

1) Selfishness: Every day it's all about the boss--their power trip, their ego, their next promotion--instead of about the mission and the customers.

2) Amoral: To some, integrity and business do not go together.

3) Discrimination: They tolerate or in too many cases, even exhibit blatant discrimination themselves.

4) Disrespect: This can be overtly or implicitly, hurting the employee professionally and personally as well.

5) Inconsistency: Flip-flopping is not just something that bothers people about politics, but it makes for a bipolar work environment, where employees are damned if they do and if they don't, but the boss can always say, “I told you so (and the opposite).”

6) Favoritism: Plays favorites instead of judging employees only on the true factor, merit. This causes workers to become demoralized as they see people hired and promoted for all the wrong reasons.

7) Insecurity: They are threatened by seemingly everyone and everything--can't give anyone else credit or recognize the good around them--a one-person team who sees anybody else’s success as implying their own failure.

8) Competitive: They have to be the smartest person in the room, and innovation and objectivity is squelched--no risk is worth the wrath of “boss Khan.”

9) Stealing: If someone else does have something of value to contribute, this boss just steals it and presents it as their own (attribution or recognition, what for?)

10) Micromanagement: Looking over your shoulder every minute, redoing your work, not trusting you, they are control freaks, a complete nightmare to work for.

Bosses come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve been fortunate to work for some of the best, and I hope that I do them justice with my own employees over the course of my career.

Here’s hoping that at your holiday party, you were able to raise your glass with a boss who makes you feel valued and respected--that's a holiday party to really celebrate!

(Source Photo: here)

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September 3, 2011

Weeding Out The Servant-Leader From The Psychopath

Psychopath-at-work

A number of weeks ago, I saw the movie Horrible Bosses, a dark comedy with Kevin Spacey who not only horribly mistreats his workers, but also ends up being a psychopathic killer. (Note: the film has already grossed over $170 million).

The UK Daily Mail (2 September 2011) reports that psychologists have found that "one in 25 bosses is a [real] psychopath' but hides it with charm and business-speak," and that this is 4 times higher than the prevalence of psychopathology in the general population.

According to Oregon Counseling, a psychopath "lives a predatory lifestyle. They feel little or no regret...[and they] see people as obstacles to be overcome and eliminated."

The position of a boss at work would seem like a comfortable perch for a psychopath to occupy, where they could feed off of vulnerabilities of their underlings.

Thank G-d, not all bosses are like this--I can vouch for some very good ones out there--who truly are devoted to the success of the enterprise and look out for their people. As one of my good bosses told me, "we are going to set up together to succeed!"

At the same time, there are other bosses out there, who as one of my best friends would say, "the wheel is still turning, but the hamster is dead." They are there purely for themselves--plain and simple. Their career, their success, their next promotion...everyone else is just part of the food chain.

If I had to guess, I would bet that narcissism is highly correlated with psychopathic behavior at work. Note--to organizational behavior researchers out there, please verify!

So how do the psychopaths achieve the positions of power?

According to the research cited in Daily Mail, they actually cover up their poor performance and climb the social corporate ladder "by subtly charming supervisors and subordinates."

In other words, boss psychopaths are chameleons--expert at hiding their true colors or as my father used to tell me if that person has two faces, why would they use that one? :-)

Boss psychopaths are NOT real leaders--they lack empathy, are callous, deceitful, and use others for their own gain.

When we are fooled by psychopaths into putting them into positions of power, we are falling prey to their manipulations, and are putting our organizations and people at the ultimate risk for failure.

One Psychologist calls psychopaths: "people without a conscience"--this is the complete opposite of who we need to seek out as leaders for our organization--to raise them up to higher standards of conduct, performance, and genuine teamwork.

A REAL leader is a caretaker of the mission and people of the organization who strives to see both outperform and thrive--while bottom-feeding is for sharks and psychopaths only!

There is a religious (Jewish) saying that from one good deed comes another--for the organization and it's people, focus on the demonstration of ethical and caring behavior and results.

When I see a truly great leader, I am am inspired and hopeful again.

(Source Photo: here)

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