When to step over the line.

14 12 2016

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty.  The obedient must be slaves.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

If you don’t know about Thoreau, Google him someday.  He seems to me to have been way ahead of his time, in that  he was a lifelong abolitionist and environmentalist, who died in 1862, at the young age of 44.  His philosophy influenced greats like Gandhi and Martin Luther King.  I wonder how much better our world might be today had he lived longer.  He is sometimes referred to as an anarchist, but he really didn’t want to destroy institutions, he just wanted to intelligently improve them, with common sense and simplicity.  Those that know my thoughts on simplicity can see why he’d be a man that I admire.

Leaders, we all are expected to follow rules, norms, rituals, and traditions in life.  It’s easy to “go along to get along”, by following in the ruts that are in the road ahead of us.  Nobody is going to be popular, and succeed by spurning every one of these things that are “the way we’ve always done it” – disagreement on a few points is OK, but turns into Rebellion when you just stop following all of the rules.  But know your heart, and know when the opportunity arises in some situations, you can and should stand up and say “No, not this thing.  I can’t do it this way”.  If you communicate your disagreement respectfully, you shouldn’t fear taking that position, no matter how hard it may be to make that stand.”

Speaking of disobedience…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com


Don’t be the master of ready, fire, aim!

8 07 2015

“The best leaders are readers of people.  They have the intuitive ability to understand others by discerning how they feel and recognizing what they sense.” ~ John C. Maxwell

If you’re in a team meeting, and giving some new direction or procedure to your team, you may not get any push-back verbally.  It’s important to watch the eyes and body language of your team to look for subtle clues that they may be disagreeing with you.  It could be as un-subtle as rolling eyes, but it’s more likely to look like skepticism or even 2 or more of your team making eye contact and frowning.  Staying tuned in to the non-verbal cues that your team is critical to thorough team communication.

If/when you see these non-verbal clues, it’s important to follow up.  Maybe the meeting is not the best way to call somene out, and maybe it is – follow your gut on that one.  Either way, follow up with them and ask what their heartburn, issue or disagreement is.  A good leader will listen and either speak more towards allaying their concerns, or understand that you may not have thought it all the way through.  If you need to pause to gather more data, and otherwise increase the odds of success by listening to your team, by all means, do so.  Nobody wants to be the master of ready – fire – aim.

Speaking of (counter)intuitive…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

3 strikes and I’m out…

5 02 2014

“Rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough; it means the person failed to notice what you have to offer.” ~Mark Amend

When you’re trying to explain something mind-blowing to your leader, and you get a lukewarm response, don’t think that they’re dismissing your idea, or that they’re too dense to get it.  Maybe you just haven’t explained it well enough for them to understand.  Remember that people process information differently.  If you hit a wall, take a break.  Think about how you presented it, and try a different approach – Later.  Sleep on it. 

During my first merger (CCCS of Southeast MD and CCCS of Virginia), I “interviewed” my future CEO.  I told him that I needed to be able to push back when he disagreed.  If he was looking for a “yes man”, he should save us both a lot of time, and not make an offer… He said: “When you come to me with an idea, and I say no… leave and think about why.  IF you think I’m still wrong, come back tomorrow, and pitch it again.  Explain to me why I missed your point the first time. If I say no again… go home, and think about it for a week, and come back to pitch it again.  Think hard about what I’m not seeing, and try to convince me.  If I say no a third time, drop it, I’m not going to do it.”

I looked at him, shook his hand, took the job, and haven’t regretted it since. 

Speaking of Rejection…



Rubes Cartoons used with permission.  www.rubescartoons.com