Connecting and Performing Uniquely

9 12 2016

“In general, fashion is decorative, it’s protective, it acknowledges that the world does involve conflict, and you might be attacked by assumptions, presumptions, and attitudes.” ~ Margo Jefferson

On this casual Friday, I hope you are wearing your favorite fashions, representing your sports teams, or whatever it is that, during the “business casual” week, might not represent your personality as much as Fridays allow you to.  Don’t be afraid to use your fashion to tell a story, as long as it’s within dress code.  Sure, someone might attack you with assumptions (for example, a Ravens fan might chide at a co-worker in Steelers gear).  Others who are more conservative might make presumptions on more progressive fashion choices.

The point, leaders, is that people are all unique.  Your challenge is to find whatever it is in them that motivates them and that they get energized by.  Use that connection to make their workday better.  Maybe it’s asking about their child.  Maybe it’s congratulating them on their favorite team winning over the weekend.  It could be that you see their car in the parking lot, and it’s looking sparkly after a good detail job – and you know they’re a “car person”.  Whatever it is, they very likely won’t make you have to guess.  They’ll show you pictures of their kid, wear a sports jersey proudly, or otherwise let their passions leak into their conversations.  Listen, note, and get back to it when you get a chance.  That connection will make them pull harder with you when you need that extra effort.

Speaking of decorative stuff…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.


The work of balancing Work and work.

6 07 2015

“One important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking one’s self seriously.  The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.” ~Margot Fonteyn

To me, “work” really means 2 very distinct things.  The first is the Work that we do for others while being employed.  That means the products and/or services that we “make” during the Work day.  These are the things that have to be done right as often as possible.  They’re the things that we produce for our customers, whom we all need to Work towards making and keeping happy.  This Work is what we’re paid to do.  Think of it as the upper case “W”ork, which needs to be taken seriously if we want to continue to make money.

Then there’s the place that we come to – our workplace.  This work has to have some structure around it (i.e. hours of work, work locations, dress code) so that we can deliver on Work #1.  However, within the rules outlined, and keeping in mind the Work that we have to do, we do have the flexibility to enjoy our work.  That means not relying on titles, and instead treating our co-workers as equals.  It’s having a laugh with a peer, or doing something nice for a friend at work.  This more casual, lower-case “w”ork is the culture that we create, and the people we work with – it’s not what we’re paid to do, it’s what we do because we want to.  Be sure you’re not taking the second work, nor yourself, too seriously, or both Work and work will be something that you regret going to every day.

Speaking of imperative…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

Yes, there are stupid questions.

27 05 2015

“The ideal attitude is to be physically loose and mentally tight.” ~Arthur Ashe

This attitude seemed to work for Arthur Ashe, and I have a similar philosophy to leadership.  Yes, you should be prepared to dress up in a suit & tie for VIP’s (I hate ties – to me they’re an instant way to choke off creativity), or other professional apparel when trying to make a good first impression.  First impressions are important, but if that’s all you have, then you’ll quickly be labeled as being “all hat and no horses”.  Over the years, I’ve seen too many people who show well on first impression simply because that’s all they have going for them.  I won’t say I’m cynical of someone who is over-dressed to the nines, but I’ve been taught, the hard way, to more quickly move on to my second impression – that based on what they have going on upstairs.  I’m not saying liking to dress up is a bad thing, but if it’s your only thing, I’ll find out soon enough.

Showing people that we do business with that you are “mentally tight” is the way to win ongoing support from your partners, employees, leaders, etc.  One way to show your competence is by swimming through a lot of the diversion, and asking the right questions.  Yes, there are stupid questions, or, at least, questions that can make you look stupid.  Get to the root of the issue, show them that you understand the “so what” of the situation, and come up with good recommendations to solve the problems.  If you do that, then you will gain their confidence and support, regardless of how physically tight, or loose, you may be.

Speaking of tight…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.