The unforgivable sin – guessing with certainty

6 12 2016

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” ~ Bruce Lee

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

All of the leaders on my team know that the one unforgivable sin they can commit is to represent something as truth to me, when they’re guessing.  If I take your “truth” up the chain of command, and get called out for being wrong on it,  we will indeed have a conversation that you will not forget.  Now, if you tell me you are 99% sure of something, or that you’re “almost certain” of something, then I will represent it that way up-hill, and it gives both you and me a way to save face when we are wrong.

There’s no shame in being wrong, but the only way to be forgiven for being wrong is to admit to it, tell what you learned from it, and to internalize the lesson so that it doesn’t happen again.

Speaking of forgiveness…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.


22 02 2016

“Perspective is worth 80 IQ points.” ~Alan Kay

“You wanna build your IQ higher in the next two years?  Be uncomfortable.  That means, learn something where you have a beginners mind.” ~ Nolan Bushnell

My IQ MUST be higher than it was when I woke up yesterday, because I picked up the guitar that I haven’t played in 4 years, and definitely had not only a beginners mind, but beginner’s fingers (which, not surprisingly, are also very sore this morning).  I found it humbling that I couldn’t remember which notes to play for songs that I’ve played hundreds of times.  The good news is that after a few hours, I was able to at least plink out a few songs, including the Star Spangled Banner.

Leaders, exercise your “Leadership IQ” as many ways as you can.  That might mean taking incoming phone calls if you haven’t in a long time.  Understand what the customer is looking for these days.  It might mean switching out with a different leader, to sit in their chair, and run their line of service for a few days to get a broader perspective of the company.  It might be as simple as doing some side by side’s with your team, so as to better understand how our QA audits slow down, or make the process awkward.  In other words, shift perspective, and find that “beginners mind”.  Being uncomfortable isn’t always a bad thing.

Speaking of IQ…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

How to build the next generation of leaders.

22 07 2015

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

“Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.“ ~ Benjamin Franklin

We’ve got 2 good quotes today, and as a leader, I’ve got to wonder what the best way is to make a solid impression on my team of leaders.  Sure, I can send out a written daily comic for you to read, but if the quotes above are to be believed, you’ll forget.  I can walk the floors, and get face time with the staff, and chat with you about leadership theories, and maybe you’ll remember the message that I’m trying to convey.

I find that I can talk you through a new process, and get nods and affirmations, but until you do it yourself, and learn what works and what doesn’t, you won’t be able to reliably repeat it.  When you’re working on succession management initiatives (i.e. building new leaders), have your team step up and do the job for you occasionally.  If you run a regular meeting, have them run the meeting.  If you’ve got regular reports to run, have them run the reports a few times per year.  When they succeed at it, spend that extra little bit of time to thank them, and tell them about the good job they did.  Make them laugh, make them proud, tell them a story about something you did (right or wrong), and what you learned from it.  In short, make them feel something about the task at hand, and they’ll be sure to remember not only the task, but that you care.

Speaking of forgetting…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

The integrity of failure

29 05 2015

“Success is not built on success.  It is built on failure.  It’s built on frustration.  Sometimes, it’s built on catastrophe.” ~Sumner Redstone

You’ve heard about the post-it notes that were invented because 3-M engineers created a glue that “wasn’t sticky enough”?  Failure brought success.  Pearl Harbor was, by all counts, a catastrophe, but it woke up the will of America to go overseas and kick some aggressor butt!  I wonder what the world would look like if Pearl Harbor hadn’t happened.

So when you, as leaders, fail, don’t let it hurt your ego.  Learn from it, share the mistakes you made, and what you learned from them, and move on.  Next time you, or someone you shared it with, are in a similar situation, you or they might make a different move, and succeed on the shoulders of your failure.  It’s how we can help each other be better.  That’s why I get so upset when a team member makes a mistake and hides it from me.  Not only are they not showing any integrity, but they’re not allowing someone else to also learn from their mistake.  Show me someone who doesn’t make any mistakes, and I’ll show you someone that never tried anything worth trying.

Speaking of frustration


Rubes cartoons used with permission.