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.


How to take down a bully – at work.

12 10 2016

“ People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it’s safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs.” ~Alexei Sayle

The quote is sad, funny, and makes a very subtle point about harassment/bullying.  Bullies don’t usually pick on the football players on the schoolyard.  They find someone who is vulnerable, and make themselves feel good about their social position by trying to dominate someone at an even lower social position.  I learned early that the only way to deal with a bully is to make it more painful for them to continue than it is to not be a bully.  Sometimes that ends up getting you hurt in the short run, with long term benefit.

Leaders, there are different levels of “power” in the workplace.  There are people who may be entry-level, and relatively powerless.  Those leaders above them should be judged by how they treat those with the least power.  Are they supportive, friendly, and interested in the career progression of those on their team?  Do they ignore them, and tell them to “just do your job or else?”  Conversely, how do you, leader, deal with those with more power?  Are you a “yes man/woman”, or are you willing to stand up to those above you, and let them know when they are wrong?  I know the answer that most of the leaders on my team will give – thanks for being strong role models, leaders!

Speaking of …


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

Strong AND Supportive leadership is possible.

15 04 2016

“We’re so preoccupied with protecting children from disappointment and discomfort that we’re inadvertently excusing them from growing up.” ~ LZ Granderson

I know some of you will disagree with this child rearing philosophy, but here it is, anyway (we don’t’ need all the same tools in our leadership tool bag):  When my wife was young, she was very shy and timid.  She made a habit of being robbed in Baltimore, because, as she says: “predators saw ‘prey’”.  When our daughter was born, my wife told me that I was absolutely NOT to stop using my foul “Army Language” (or attitude) around the baby (I clean it up a bit in the office) – it was what she fell in love with.  She wanted to raise a daughter who wasn’t shocked by bad language, because the world is full of it.  She also wanted our daughter to participate in martial sports, so we signed her up for Karate (too loud), and fencing (sword fighting – she loved it, and competed regionally).  Now that our daughter is in college (and playing ice hockey!), she says that when the boys try to push her around at parties, and she pushes back… harder.  We raised one tough cookie, and I have no shame in that – but she’s also a leader in college, with a great group of friends who often ask her for advice on life.  I’m a proud papa.  🙂

Raising tough employees is pretty similar.  Strong leaders will give challenging jobs to their employees.  They’ll hand over a tough project with a challenging deadline, and see what comes out.  When it’s done, they’ll give appropriate criticism and guidance, and the next project will be better (and harder).  You can’t coddle your team, or they’ll come to you for help when they have it in themselves to do it, if they just dig.  Yes, you give them your confidence, set boundaries, and speak frankly (but politely) when they aren’t quite as good as you expect.  There’s no shame in helping strong, resilient, tough employees thrive, as long as they (and you) are also polite, honest, understanding, a good listener, and speak kindly.  You CAN be both strong and supportive.

Happy Friday – Go Team!

Speaking of inadvertent…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.