Life’s Three Secrets

Clients often ask me about ways to increase their confidence. Apparently plenty of qualified executives suffer from a bit of inferiority. They are fearful of being “found out” as not being fully capable of handling the job they have.

coaching call

As we explore ways to build confidence, we often come across limiting beliefs that stem from old fears or future fears. It’s these fears that erode confidence and cause self-doubt.

Limiting beliefs make you think you are “less than” the expected standard. The phrases include statements like “you’re not smart enough, fast enough, or pretty enough.”

Usually, we have these messages implanted in us at childhood and school years. Sadly, they can come from your family or friends. Or they come from well-meaning authority figures like teachers.

To overcome these beliefs, we need to explore three secrets.

I am going to share three secrets

We’ve all heard various ideas about managing our lives. When you break it all down, there’s really not much surprise to life. Three simple secrets hold the keys to just about eveything you can experience.

Signs about yesterday, today and tomorrow

Yesterday

Yesterday is long gone. There are only three things we can do about yesterday.

First, learn from the lessons whether good or bad. Take an HONEST assessment of what happened and try to understand why. But do not let this become a new vocation.

Don’t beat yourself up over something that is past.

Next, let it go. There is nothing you can do about yesterday’s outcome. Good choices, bad choices, mean people, bad people, whatever. IT’S OVER!

Build a marker for the ways you saw divine intervention guiding and carrying you. These markers can be physical or mental, but keep track of what was significant. Over time, you will see a story start to take shape that can define who and what you might become in the next few years.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow will come. Let it come on its own. There is nothing you can do to change the actual events of the day tomorrow. Oh, you might plan and strive, but ultimately, things will turn out all on their own tomorrow.

“Tomorrow has enough worries of its own.” Don’t add to the worry of tomorrow.

If you spend too much time thinking and reacting about tomorrow, you may miss great opportunity today.

Mark Twain said “My life has been a series of horrible miseries; most of which never happened.”

Don’t burden yourself with fears about tomorrow. They can consume you and waste valuable time. Then, once tomorrow becomes today, you may never come close to the disaster you convinced yourself was about to happen.

TODAY!!!

Today is the only time you can do something about. Live today as if it were your last. I don’t mean live frivolously. I mean make a difference.

Do the things that enrich your family, friends, and neighbors. Today is not about YOU. Today is a gift (that’s why we call it the “present“.). Accept this precious gift and live to the full!

I know about an executive who comes to work every day with one purpose. His mantra is “How can I make this place better than I found it?” In his world, he means his own business, his people and his customers.

And the great news is he really lives and operates just that way. You can too.

Back to confidence

confidence at work

If you are concerned about your confidence level, ask yourself if you’re guilty of violating one of these three little secrets. Get them in proper balance and I assure you your confidence will rise.

You’ll never see a “good” tight rope walker who isn’t confident of his ability to balance. Likewise the best executives have a confidence in their own ability to act properly and assertively when they need to.

You can’t do either one of those acts without confidence.

Making the Most from Working at Home

Work at Home

The gig economy has produced a large population of people working from home. The lure and excitement of being able to shorten the commute from hours and miles down to feet and inches (as in the length of the walk from your kitchen to your home office) often fade fast.

It turns out not everyone is equipped to work at home. I frequently get asked for tips and tricks on how to make the stay-at-home gig work well.

Work at Home

I’ve been working from a home office for almost 20 years. Yes, I frequently get called to client offices or travel on-site to assist with business deals. Yet the bulk of my time is spent right outside my kitchen door, a few feet down the hallway.

Here are my tips for getting the most out of your work-at-home experience.

Make Space

First, make a dedicated space. The more walls and doors the better. You need seclusion from the rest of the activity in the house.

My life now includes 7 grandkids. They are here a lot and not just on weekends.

My wife and I love that part of life, but I still work full time so need the separation when I have work to be done.

The built-in desk just off the breakfast nook won’t work. You need an office area that can give you separation and handle your work tools; likely a computer, telephone, and even video hookups.

Don’t Skimp on Equipment

If your company or client doesn’t provide the right equipment for you to do your work, invest in some of your own. The right desktop or laptop is essential. This includes printers, phones, and whatever video set-up may make sense.

Pay for the bandwidth too. Get a service that provides the best possible data connectivity you can afford in your area. Reliability is also critical here.

If you will be doing work with video conferencing, webinar production or other camera work, check your lighting. Invest in a few moderately priced light sets to help brighten the area where the camera work is happening.

At the end of this article I’ll provide my own list of office equipment I like and the services I use.

Test your career satisfaction - take this personal survey
Test your career satisfaction – take this personal survey

Consider Your Emotions

The psycho-emotional aspects of working at home are not a good fit for everyone. Face it, you’ll be alone. If you live off the chatter at the water-cooler, you won’t get that here.

If you think you need to feed off others at work, then working at home won’t be a happy time for you.

You’ll need to find other ways to get that energy. I set at least three breakfast, lunch or coffee meetings per week if I am not directly handling clients. I use those encounters to fuel my inner beast’s hunger for human interaction.

For me, I keep my trusty rescue pooch, Teddy by my side. He loves it with me at home.

Get on a Schedule

Nothing is harder to do when you work at home than to keep on a schedule. Look at your workload and set a calendar. Stick to it.

Block out appointments for yourself to handle critical pieces of your work, setting your own deadlines if others haven’t already set them for you.

I like what a friend does. Now mind you he’s in his 80’s but he still works full time. He sets 10 boxes on his calendar. Morning and afternoon each day get a separate box. Two boxes per day and five days a week, you get 10 boxes. His primary goal is to fill every box. He intentionally blocks out time to get things done.

If it’s not on your calendar, it will either get neglected or forgotten. Make time and plan time.

This includes being able to make time for your spouse and family needs.

Set Boundaries

I just talked about making a calendar that includes time for spouse and family. However, you need to set some honest expectations with them too. They need to help make you successful by respecting times that you deem as work hours. Unplanned interruptions can throw your calendar off schedule.

Handle Big Rocks First

There’s a fabulous teaching experience that demonstrates the value of handling big rocks first. Here’s a video of the principle.

My Resource List

Here’s a list of some of the tools I have that I love.

  1. My Desktop – I’m still a PC guy. I run an Intel-based desktop, small form factor Lenovo. It’s served me very well. I made one upgrade to install a solid state drive versus the old school hard drives. The SSD cost about $129 for 500GB of storage. That’s not huge by today’s standards, but keep in mind I store my archives in the cloud.
  2. Cloud Storage – With Google Drive. For me, it was tricky to sync it up properly, but now that it is running, it works flawlessly.
  3. Video – Camera is a simple Logitech HD 1080p Webcam 920. It has built-in sound/mic configuration. The quality is great. Set-up was straight forward.
  4. Video Conferencing – I switched to Zoom.us a few years ago. I like their service so much more than all the others. The recording features are super and fit well into my video interviews. Webinar production is easy too with Zoom.
  5. Web HostingSiteground has served me very well for several years now. The service is very cost effective. I find their support 24×7 is superior to all the others I’ve tried.
  6. Blogging Platform – WordPress is my go-to source. I’ll need another dedicated article to tell you about this if you don’t already know something about WP.

I hope this helps you get a better grip on working from home. Call or write with any questions.

Disclaimer: Some of the tools and services mentioned above do involve affiliate relationships with me and my company HeadwayExec, LLC. But I assure you, I don’t promote anything I haven’t used myself.

Being an Authentic Leader Does Not Always Come Naturally

Authentic leadership

One of the highest valued attributes of great leaders is their authenticity. Being authentic does not always come naturally. The good news is, you can develop a more authentic leadership style.

On one hand, being authentic requires having a sense of “true north.”

True North

Ask a room full of people to close their eyes and point North. When everyone opens their eyes, fingers are pointing all over the place. (Try this some time; it’s a great ice breaker).

The message is that “north”, can conjure various meanings depending on one’s perception. Yet, true north is available for specific identification and location using the right equipment. It doesn’t change.

Your leadership should have this same kind certainty about it. You have to decide on your definition of true north, then stick to it.

When issues swirl around you and your team, you should have a reputation for responding to certain things in certain ways. If your people know this about you, then there will be a confidence in the face of uncertainty.

Accepting Feedback

Being truly open to feedback helps build the sense of leadership authenticity. By accepting input from others, you demonstrate a desire to learn and grow.

We all have tendencies to fall into a kind of rut. We find a rhythm to our life and we put things on cruise control. However, if that path takes you away from the authenticity you seek, you need a nudge to get back on the better path.

Here’s what to do. Say to those around you “Here’s my vision and my plan for how I intend to operate. If you see me doing something to the contrary, I invite you to say so.”

The other benefit of soliciting feedback is that you come across as genuinely engaged with the people you count on. Rather than constantly demanding something from them in terms of performance and accomplishment, you give them a chance to “shoot back”.

A healthy exchange of ideas can add great value to your relationships at work and everywhere else. You’ll become a more authentic leader.

One Caution

One word of caution though. Don’t “over-share”. Your people don’t need your burdens, but they will appreciate knowing you too have life outside the office.

As an example, you can casually say something about your daughter’s birthday party coming up, but you don’t need to share all the details and drama that might be going with the event.

Take Inventory

If you aren’t sure how authentic you might be, ask. Get some feedback.

Huddle with a circle of trusted advisors and ask them to provide you with a description of how they grade your authenticity. You might also ask them about ways they could see you improving.

If all of this is still a puzzle to you, I’d be happy to book a short call to help you learn more. Click the link below to schedule a call.

Click box to schedule a call with Doug Thorpe

Establishing a Personal Reflection

Taking time for personal reflection

“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand.” ~ Socrates (470-399 BC)

Socrates had it right. The more we are involved in and with something, the more we understand the topic.

While most of us can easily agree with diving into our work using all the technical knowledge and subject matter expertise, seldom do we pause to reflect on the most powerful source in our reach. Oursleves.

Do you have a regular habit of being reflective?

A colleague of mine, John N. Younker, Ph.D. writes on this subject:

“Reflective Practice is the ability to reflect on one’s actions so as to engage in a process of continuous learning.  

It involves paying critical attention to your values and principles as you apply them in your everyday actions (decisions and choices). 

By practicing reflection, as a part of your ongoing learning, it can result in developmental insights. A key rationale for reflective practice is that experience alone does not necessarily lead to learning; deliberate reflection on experience is key and essential for learning from your life experiences.

Further, it has been written, that reflection … or having a reflective practice … can be an important tool in practice-based professional learning settings where people learn from their own professional experiences, rather than from formal learning or knowledge transfer. It may be the most important source of personal professional development and improvement. 

A person who reflects throughout his or her practice is not just looking back on past actions and events but is taking a conscious look at emotions, experiences, actions, and responses, and using that information to add to his or her existing knowledge base and reach a higher level of understanding.”

For these reasons I have learned to enhance my own New Year’s resolution and goal setting habits to include a deep dive into reflective learning; learning from the past year’s experiences.

Besides merely defining some BHAGs for the new year (Big Hairy &#^#% Goals), you should be deciding on life changes that keep you in sync with who and what you truly want to be about.

Living a Purposeful Life

Living life with intentional direction is far more rewarding than one day arriving at some destination and wondering why or how you got there.

personal reflection

This is why having a different process for setting your new year vision should include an outlook/forecast as well a your own annual planning.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=”18″] Therefore, your Outlook & Annual Planning is the ability and the discipline required to live and experience a “Purposeful Life.” Personal strategic planning is a disciplined thought process, that actively engages and involves you. It leads you to make important decisions and take actions that shape what is truly important to you. You do it because of who you are and what you uniquely do; guiding how, when and why you do it. ~John Younker[/perfectpullquote]

The purpose of the Annual Personal Outlook process … Personal Strategic Planning process is to help you to:

  1. Decide on a direction for your life … your future.
  2. Make purposeful and meaningful contributions throughout your life.
  3. Gain clarity of your core values, beliefs and aspirations.
  4. Make decisions that will positively affect and impact your future.
  5. Focus your energies on what is most important to you.
  6. Achieve the greatest results in a defined period of time.
  7. Focus on increasing your level of performance, in all aspects of your life.
  8. Live and enjoy a more fulfilling life.
  9. Create balance and freedom to more effectively choose from your opportunities.
  10. Reduce uncertainty, anxiety, doubt and fear.
  11. Leverage your unique Knowledge, Skills and Abilities to more effectively Perform (KSAPs).
  12. Enhance your confidence and overall peace of mind.
  13. Be more by doing more that ultimately enables you to gain more from your life choices.

Finding a Plan

If you are into looking for good tools to help you map your intentions and reflections, look at STRYV.

STRYV Dashboard

The STRYV (strive) dashboard gives you a simple but powerful way to plot the areas of your life that mean the most to you. If you are lagging in your impact in one or more areas, STRYV gives you the planning tools to get on track and stay there.

Disclaimer: STRYV is an independent offering not affiliated with DougThorpe.com or HeadwayExec, LLC. There is no financial consideration for STRYV being mentioned here.

21 Ways to Improve Leadership Effectiveness

Every box on every organization chart is about who the executive or manager is going to be. At least that is where the thinking usually starts. We somehow think we need to name the managers first, then we place employees under them to build out a team.

This whole focus on “managing” the team sets wheels in motion that drive how people react and respond to the named person in the top box.

Oh sure, there is power in the position. Anyone who has ever been placed in one of those manager boxes knows this. But relying solely on that power creates a very shaky perch for the boss sitting there.

What About Leadership?

As you move around your organization, if you are one of the ones selected to occupy one of those “manager boxes”, ask yourself this question.

What can I do about my leadership ability?

Your answer should be “If I can provide real leadership, not just effective management, then maybe I can make a big difference here.”

When people ask me what leadership is, I like to have them think about people they’ve admired. I ask them to think about people they have worked for, seen or know about who have helped make a difference. They might be leaders of a cause or some famous movement. Or they might be your high school principal.

If you spend some time thinking about the people who have made a difference in your own life, likely they were exhibiting some element of leadership.

The Good News

The great opportunity here is to adopt some of the traits and habits you admire in others to expand your own leadership muscle. Add methods to your toolbox that you know were effectively demonstrated by others.

I feel blessed because I was, and still am, surrounded by great mentors in my life. Very few of them ever wrote a book or filmed a movie to tell their story, but they made huge impacts in my community. The wonderfully amazing thing about all of this was that I got to pick and choose from the best of the best.

As each person coached me through various situations, I got to see and hear how they operated. I could pick the calmness in one person, or the resolve of another, or the decision making skill of yet another. Then I could weave these attributes together to write my own version of a leadership story.

John Maxwell writes about “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” His list of 21 attributes rounds out a very comprehensive description of what makes up powerful leadership. You can debate the terms he uses for each attribute or principle, but you cannot deny the substance each one represents.

Here’s the List.

  • The Law of the Lid – We all have caps on our natural ability. You must constantly strive to lift the lid.
  • The Law of Influence – Character, relationships, knowledge, intuition, experience, ability.
  • The Law of Process – Leadership develops daily, not in a day.
  • The Law of Navigation – Anyone can steer the ship but a Leader plots the course.
  • The Law of Addition – Add value by serving others.
  • The Law of Solid GroundTrust is the foundation; knowing how to build trust matters.
  • The Law of Respect – People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves.
  • The Law of Intuition – Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias.
  • The Law of Magnetism – Who you are is who you attract.
  • The Law of Connection – Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.
  • The Law of the Inner Circle – Your potential is determined by those closest to you.
  • The Law of Empowerment – Secure leaders give power to others.
  • The Law of the Picture – People do what people see.
  • The Law of Buy-In – People buy into the Leader before they buy-in to the vision.
  • The Law of Victory – Leaders find a way for the team to win.
  • The Law of Big Mo – Momentum is your best friend.
  • The Law of Priorities – Activity alone is not an accomplishment.
  • The Law of Sacrifice – Give up to Go up.
  • The Law of TimingWhen to assert your leadership is as important as what to do and where to go.
  • The Law of Explosive Growth – To add growth, lead followers. To multiply, lead Leaders.
  • The Law of Legacy – What people say tomorrow depends on what you do today.

Becoming the Better Leader

If you can find someone who lives and leads by every one of those 21 laws, you will know about being a very influential leader.

Why don’t we see more of these people working in those management slots on that org chart? It’s because very few of us get exposure to or training for all these characteristics and principles.

When I start an executive coaching assignment, I like to spend time with my client assessing where they stand. In other words, how many of the 21 laws do they know how to follow? Then we decide on where the gaps might be. We set a plan to work on two or three of the missing links; the gaps. Then as progress begins to happen, we periodically revisit the list and decode whether a few more can be explored.

The goal becomes mastery of all 21. To date, no one I’ve ever know has perfectly mastered all 21 areas of effective leadership. However, by working on a few at a time, they have added extra horsepower to their own leadership expertise so that team performance improves, and management issues decrease.

If you may be interested in hearing more about this way to grow your own leadership abilities, give us a call.

Nobody Likes to Deal With Bad Employees

Periodically, I like to survey my tribe for input on topics they’d like to read. I went through a year-end round of asking hundreds of my contacts this question:

What are some of the big rocks you’re trying to move?

The answers I received were both exciting and challenging. Interestingly enough though, I’d say the basic issues voiced by my readers (your colleagues) include things that have always troubled business owners and busy executives for decades.

The topics included things like funding and finance, logistics, regulatory climate, mergers and acquisitions, and general economic concerns.

Yet, the biggest area for discussion, by a 2 to 1 margin, is “people”; finding the right talent, placing the right talent, managing the people, and keeping the best talent.

In the next few articles, I’m going to pick a few of my favorite responses and give you some insight from my 30+ years of ownership and leadership. But I want to start with the “people” question.

Q: How many people work at your company?

A: About half of them.

That may be a funny joke, but the reality of it haunts business leaders everywhere, regardless of the size of your company.

Back to my survey. One reader wrote:

My biggest rock is getting the right people into the right positions. I have some people right now that are just inadequate and it’s not only painful having to tell them things they don’t want to hear, but even harder to fire them (since they aren’t doing anything terribly wrong, but just awful fits for where they are right now). The business is small so there aren’t other positions to put them into. Those are my current challenges.

I can empathize here. When I owned my last company, I fell victim to this too. However…..

If I performed an honest assessment of the matter, I’d have to say the adage is true; “I hired fast and fired slow.” It should be the other way around.

Hire SLOW and fire FAST!

Why do we hire fast?

We hire fast because we think we need someone sitting in the seat. Maybe you won a new account and you think the workload will overwhelm the current staff.

Or you had someone quit unexpectedly and you feel the urgency to fill the spot.

The urgency we create often clouds the decision process. Besides, hiring is painful. It’s a tough, boring process to do all those interviews. Yet the outcome drives the success of our companies.

We must get better at hiring for the right reasons. Dial in what you need the most and don’t settle until you’ve found that person.

Why do we fire slow?

There’s a lot of emotion tied up in making a firing decision. You know you’re impacting someone’s life. If you have any compassion in your soul, you feel bad about having to tell someone they aren’t cutting it.

I’ve even gone so far as to remind people that once you become heartless about firing people, you have probably stepped over the line for being an effective leader.

It does hurt, and it should hurt, but you have to do it.

If nothing else, it’s not fair to the people on your team who pull their weight. If they must suffer an ineffective co-worker, there will be consequences. It’s not if but when. The good folks will eventually turn against you.

What’s a Boss to do?

As soon as you begin to believe you have a mismatch or a true performance issue, jump on it. You absolutely must provide the coaching to the individual to explain your expectations and identify the shortcomings.

Create remediation steps. If you can redeem the person in the role, then great! However, as soon as the pattern of poor performance is repeated, take action to cut your losses.

Depending on the size of your company, you may have more difficulty than a sole proprietor might have releasing the person. But follow the procedure and do it.

It’s Hard to Write About Christmas

Merry Christmas! This year, Christmas Day falls on my usual blog post publishing day.

I have to tell you as a writer, I always struggle to craft a Christmas message.

First, I think I know my audience. I am keenly aware that many of you do not acknowledge Christmas nor celebrate it because of its “Christian” basis.

I respect that. Yet, as someone who was raised in a so-called Christian household, the wonder and blessing of Christmas are deeply entwined in my DNA.

What I think may be valuable during this holiday season is a reflection on the mystery and wonder that a young person finds in Christmas. More importantly, I am reflecting on the impact such an experience has many years later in life. At least it does in my life.

A Magical Time

At my house, Christmas was magical. The promise of surprises from Santa, mixed with the amazing foods, and special celebrations that might just pop up with no notice mad being a kid at Christmas a joy that was worth thinking about the other 364 days.

As I look back on those moments I’ve tried to analyze and dissect the makings of the wonder. The best I can conclude is that there was a special hope that flowed as the undercurrent of the whole experience.

Hope was seldom denied. Oh sure, some of the packages didn’t contain the toy I was certain was wrapped there, but what was found in the wrapping was often much more than even my imagination could muster.

It is that childlike hope I have held on to. Even at my age, Christmas can still bring that out again.

Business Leaders Take Notice

If you are a business leader, don’t take away anyone’s hope. Sometime you might not be able to fulfill every wish of every employee, but you don’t have to crush their spirits in announcing changes or turning down requests.

Remember, your best people still have their own dreams. Use the excitement and energy that might come with those dreams to harness greater commitment and help improve productivity.

Heck, you might even make a New Year’s resolution to celebrate small wins more often with your folks. You’ll be amazed at the goodwill just that act of empathy can create.

Merry Christmas!

So there I said it again. However, please hear my plea. Be a leader who supports hope and encourages those who work  for you to celebrate their victories.

Find ways to make working with you something to be excited about. Sure you can’t produce surprises every day of every week, but you can promote the individual joy that comes with knowing when you’ve worked hard and made something happen. Let your people have that and know that. They will celebrate with you.

Created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

5 Reasons Why Bad Bosses Suck So Bad

Bad bosses suck!

Face it, we all know or have had bad bosses. It seems to be a given in the business world. It’s been true for decades.

Bad bosses suck!

With all the intelligence, studies, coaching, schools, and programs, why do some bosses still suck? I’m going to offer 5 reasons.

Promotion –  Sadly, getting promoted can be the worst reason to make someone a boss. They might be the brightest bulb and the sharpest employee, but they likely will make a lousy boss. Why? No proven skill or capacity to manage. Without any preparation, businesses of all kinds throw good employees into the gap of management and disaster happens. The company doesn’t train or prepare the new guy/gal. The person is just tossed over the fence into the role.

Without knowing, they try to emulate some leadership practices they saw somewhere or heard on a podcast. Execution fails. The team suffers. This over-achiever dies on the vine in the management role.

place a call

Money –  Entrepreneurs are the worst at this. Get a little funding and your idea can be born, right? But can you build and manage a team? Perhaps not. The arrogance that comes with pride of ownership clouds any skill at leading a team. Your commitment to your dream product, app, or service stands in the way of learning how to lead your team. And yes, you need a team to prosper. Very few solopreneurs go very far totally alone; there just aren’t enough hours in the day to scale and grow a business.

Absolute control of the purse strings/bank accounts sets this person up for bad decision making. While budget responsibility is important, if every thought this boss has is about the next dime, then the company and its people suffer. “Penny wise, pound foolish” is the old saying.

Fear –  It’s amazing to me how many managers operate from a position of fear. It might be tied to #1 above, or being promoted beyond their known capacity to lead. BTW there is a leadership lid concept as eloquently explained by John Maxwell in his “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”.

If you are elevated in your job beyond your natural, God-given capacity to lead, you will revert to a fight or flight mode. Every moment of decision gets rooted in fear. You lash out at those around you, even the loyal ones trying to support and defend your role.

Ego –  Pompous idiots get placed into significant roles all the time. I still can’t explain exactly how that works; there are so many reasons. These guys get consumed by the power of the position. Knowing there is a predefined set of rules and authority bestowed in each position on the org chart, these guys use it first and foremost with no other effort to lead from other principles.

“My way or the highway” is their mantra. No amount of training seems to help.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=””]“You can lead a horse to water, but some really are jackasses.”[/perfectpullquote]

Morally corrupt – Bosses with no moral compass may be the worst kind. The news is littered with reports of sexual abuse, sexist hiring and promotion practices, anger management, bribes, and other bad acts by business managers and owners. Sadly, the boss with a dark heart may be like dancing with the devil. Every day you work for this clown is a living hell.

What to Do

When you find yourself working for any of these guys, you have two basic and simple choices. First, you can choose to endure, take the money you’re being paid, build whatever reserve you want (assuming the money IS good). Then wait it out a while before leaving.

Or, you can get started on making a move now, no, run fast!

Unfortunately, my experience and history tell me that bosses operating from one of these five angles will never really change. Companies spend millions of dollars on coaching to turn this around. Sometimes it works, often for only a little while. As soon as the goose of a boss decides the company spotlight on them has been turned off, they likely revert back to their bad practices (leopards and spots if you please).

In the end, I believe that effective management requires the application of leadership principles. YES, the two are different, but so few understand that. A leader will have the heart to inspire and influence their people (in a good way). The five sources of a bad boss won’t be a factor for the person who genuinely wants to be a better leader.

The young manager who gets promoted into the role will seek coaching and mentoring to fix their weaknesses and highlight their strengths.

The entrepreneur will be objective while looking in the mirror and know they need others to fill in their gaps. They will seek counsel for key decisions, surrounding themselves with people of stronger skill sets for the areas needed to make the company grow.

The person prone to ego attacks will figure out ways to keep that in check, whether through the use of accountability partners, friends, and a personal board of directors (different from the corporate board).

One Last Thought

If you’ve stayed with me to the end here, you likely are NOT one of the bad bosses. The bad guys left this piece in the delete file a long time ago. That’s another attribute of bad bosses; they cannot hear the truth.

In the unlikely possibility that you are a bad boss and read this through, thank you. You might have just taken the first step to make a difference. I didn’t write this to be mean to you guys. I did it for your team who has suffered long enough. Wake up, fix it. You can do that if you want to.

Managers Being a Friend at Work or Just Friendly?

Friends at work

Anyone who has ever become a supervisor or manager knows the strain of drawing fine lines around relationships at work. Some companies have very explicit fraternization policies. Others are far more relaxed.

Friends at work

The size of the company can also dictate the level of relationships people are permitted to have. On one hand, smaller, more entrepreneurial start-up or emerging businesses rely upon close internal relationships to grow and thrive. Bigger, perhaps publicly traded, companies often get far more formal in their administration of HR policy because they need consistency to protect themselves from higher risks and defend themselves from an employee complaint.

The Manager’s Seat

Sitting in the manager’s seat is where all of this comes to a very personal focal point. Can you or should you become friends with any of your employees?

In a recent post, I presented a six-step framework for building high performing teams by elevating the level of trust within the team. To build trust, business leaders must provide special empathy towards their employees. The right kind of empathetic conduct may easily slip into the friend zone.

Friends

First, let’s deal with the exact context of the word “friend”. In my experience, it represents a genuine bond; some extra level of trust you don’t share with just anyone. Yet there are consequences for a manager who creates a true friendship with an employee.  Here are just a few of the possible risks:

  • Your judgment toward the individual can become biased
  • Evaluation and compensation can be compromised
  • Resentment from other employees

Genuine friendships that may have developed at work while you were in other roles may now need to be adjusted if that friend becomes a direct report.

Showing Empathy

As a leader, keeping your friend list in check doesn’t mean you need to stop being friendly. The traits that make someone friendly usually center around the whole ability to show empathy. 

Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from their point of view, rather than from your own. You can imagine yourself in their place in order to understand what they are feeling or experiencing. Empathy facilitates prosocial (helping) behaviors that come from within, rather than being forced, so that we behave in a more compassionate manner. Although there may be a genetic basis to empathy, research suggests it is possible to boost your capacity for empathic understanding. [from Psychology Today]

empathy at work

Managers and leaders who increase their empathetic listening skills will rapidly improve their connection to their employees.

Question: How do you handle friendships at work? Leave a comment.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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