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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Great Leadership Builds Trust – Here’s Why It Matters

In any relationship, trust is a key element. Without it, things don’t last very long. With trust, you can withstand most anything. Managers at every level of an organization must seek first to build a foundation of trust within their circle of influence.

The world is craving a new story about leadership and business, one that underscores the way people trust and contribute to each other. Without trust, the chances for a long-term success are diminished. Those who recognize the importance of building business and leadership foundation on trust are likely to find themselves doing what is right and what is good for stakeholders in the long run. ~Lolly Daskal

Trust is King

In business, trust operates at many levels. A company’s customers or clients must obtain a level of trust in the product or service before agreeing to buy. Achieving this dynamic can work in either of two ways. First, the prospective customer gets to know the representatives of the company. If they learn to like these people, over time, a trust builds. Once that trust is established, the decision to buy is easier (not automatic, just easier).

On the other hand, a product or service gets a reputation for reliability and performance. Trust grows, clients consume. Sometimes the public never really knows the people behind the product, they just know they trust the brand. Think about Google or Apple. Most of us never get to know an individual Googler or an Apple genius in person, right? Yet we trust the brand to bring us the service we crave.

Team Work

We all know it takes teams to build a brand. Within those teams, the highest performing ones have their own levels of trust. Therefore, while we may never know the people behind the product we like and trust, they make it happen nonetheless.

That brings us to the leadership that drives those teams. Here is a six-part model that clearly defines a breakdown of the primary elements for building a high trust team who will perform at higher levels.

Team Trust
Team Trust

Following this process, you can find ways to build trust within your team, growing the depth of the trust relationship. Once trust is established, there is no limit on the things your team can produce.

Here is more about the 6 steps to building trust within your team

The People –  Trust begins with each employee answering their own key question “Do I even want to be on this team?”

Jim Collins, in his book “Good to Great”, calls it getting the right people on the bus. Clearly your hiring decisions impact the potential for a positive answer to this question. If you hired the wrong person, they may quickly question whether they even want to be on the team. Yet even with the best hiring decisions, the individual must answer this question for themselves once they land. After orientation, there is a buy-in period that is inevitable. Trust cannot begin until everyone on the team is positive that “yes, I want to be here”.

The Purpose –  Team trust requires an agreement with what the team is trying to accomplish.

In “Tribes”, Seth Godin talks about the nature of a tribe as being aligned with a central purpose. Every work team is its own tribe. The purpose must be aligned.

Businesses build operating units for a purpose. Teams within those units operate as a contributor to the overall success of the organization. Trust grows from the alignment with team purpose, and, again, individual understanding of that purpose. A leader has to build understanding. If the purpose is not clearly articulated to everyone, then trust lags.

The Plan –  How will the team get this done? Many of us are planners, others are followers. Either way, knowing about the existence of the plan makes the way forward more achievable. Belief in the plan also builds trust.

Even when employee buy-in happens and a clear purpose is understood, the plan is critical for establishing trust. The plan helps the team understand steps, goals, and means to get their work accomplished.

The Practice –  Is what we are going to do consistent with the plan?

Are skills sets accounted for? Are resources made available? Said another way, have we eliminated any notion of being set-up to fail?

Policies, procedures, and practice make the way clear for high trust performance. If rules and regulations become a hindrance, then trust erodes. In other words, the confidence for being able to perform is put in doubt.

The Performance –  Once we begin working, is our performance going to be measured in ways that are accurate, meaningful, and valuable?

Measuring performance offers proper feedback for fine tuning the purpose, plan, and practice. Therefore, adequate performance measurement is vital.

Employees who never receive coaching about their performance cannot be expected to give trust and higher performance. This is why more modern tools like Big 5 Performance Management make such a big difference. Rather than waiting on tired and untimely reports like the old-fashioned annual reviews, Big 5 offers real-time feedback that can be communicated and coached every month.

The Payoff – Success begets success.

Momentum is like the big flywheel. It takes time to start turning, but once it is in motion, it is hard to stop. As a result, teams who celebrate success can taste it. Realizing that all of the effort used for steps 1 thru 5 result in success builds higher trust within the team. The payoff instills a desire for more effort and more momentum.

Trust Reward

The end result is a high trust team environment. Once the tribe establishes this bond of trust, there are few things that can deter their ongoing success.

The manager/leader who sets the tone for building this kind of trust will themselves reap the rewards for higher performance from the team. For more information about the Leader’s role in building trust, see “Connect, Then Lead”  in the Harvard Business Review. In that article, Amy J.C. Cuddy, Matthew Kohut, and John Neffinger talk about the critical fact that Leaders must first connect with their team before trust can begin.

In upcoming articles, I will dive deeper into each step. In addition, I will be offering practical tools the leader can use to perfect each step.

Question: Do you have an experience operating within a high trust team environment? Please share your story here.

Or, if you want to start NOW with improving your team’s level of trust, call me for speaking, coaching, or facilitation of a team exercise.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

Call To Action

If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now!

Saying Thanks to Old Mentors for Their Inspiration

This week families across the USA gather to celebrate Thanksgiving. It means many different things to different people. As one of my clients shared when I asked about his plans, “lots of food, too much to drink, and too much football.” (Sounds like my kind of gathering, but I digress).

The spirit of this holiday is to pause and reflect. More importantly, it’s a time to offer thanks for the many blessings in life, whether material, emotional, or spiritual.

Thanking Leaders from the Past

I was reminded this past week there is another kind of thanks we seldom share. A good friend and fellow coach whom I’ve known for decades was telling me how she recently wrote a blog citing mentors and leaders she has known. The central theme was a note of gratitude to those former bosses for being great leaders; senior managers who inspired and motivated their following.

Hearing my friend share this poignant idea, I was convicted that I have not done enough to say thanks to those who have guided me. I’ve been blessed with some amazing people who have come into my life at various stages, investing time and energy to share their views and experience. The collective wisdom has helped me make better choices along the way. It has shaped my values and principles.

As I think through my list, the reality is that many, not all, of those I count as great inspirations, have passed away. Their legacy remains with me, but I no longer have the chance to say thank you to all of them personally.

I’m going to list the names but won’t go into detail about their impact. Simply stated, I thank you, one and all for spending the time you spent to help a young man. So in no particular order:

  • Jack Whitaker
  • George Jared
  • Tim Balter
  • MSG Jimmy Howard
  • Col. Hal Gaines
  • J. Wayne Stark
  • Col. Gaither Bray
  • LTC Jap Champion
  • Everett Gambrell
  • Dr. John Bisagno
  • Gene Elliott
  • Harriet Wasserstrum
  • Lane Sloan
  • Mary Kole
  • Dick Hendee
  • Mel Maltz
  • Dr. John Lockhart

Thank you for being who you are and doing what you do. You didn’t have to do it, but you did/do.

Who In Your Life?

Take a moment and think about those in your life who made the commitment to mentor. If you can contact them, do so. Spend a minute to give back.

Use the lessons they gave to continue your leadership growth toward the ability to make a difference. They did. Why shouldn’t you? It’s your turn to be a stepping stone for someone.

 

 

Living in the Meantime

There are times when nothing particularly big is happening. You’re in between assignments, projects, or deadlines. You have work to do and places to be, but the sense of purpose goes on autopilot. The time between one occurrence and another; an interval is the meantime.

Should that bother you? I say not necessarily unless it lingers too long.

I call this “living in the meantime.” You just finished something and are waiting for the next thing to arrive or start. Yet life is going on. You must wait or endure in the meantime.

Meantime can be a good time if you choose to use it wisely. We all need recovery times after running a fast pace, high energy cycle. See my prior article on this very important aspect of stress management. But we can also use the meantime for growth and learning.

Leaders need to wisely use the meantime. You can use the time both personally and professionally.

Team

What might otherwise feel like a lull can be a powerful way to reconnect with the team. Running at a fast pace has a way of distancing your more personal relationships at work. I am talking about those interactions one on one with your team. I’ll guess that when the projects are flying at a wild pace, you likely do less of your one on one meetings. Typically you let those slide in favor of group sessions.

When the meantime comes, take time to rebuild the one on one.

Personally

Leaders need to recalibrate. You too can get off track with personal disciplines when the workload is bigger than you are used to. Again, you likely forego your routines like eating right and going to the gym when the daily schedule is packed too tight.

Use the meantime to reset. Focus your daily planner on the things that work well for you. Get back to the right routines.

Professionally

Living in the meantime can have other benefits too. Stephen Covey talks about “sharpening the saw.” This is finding books or other sources of inspiration and learning to keep moving forward. If the last big push at work revealed some opportunities for you to grow, then use the meantime to do it. Perhaps your last review showed areas for improvement. Meantime is the time to invest in improving where you need to so that you can be the best YOU you need to be.

Living in the meantime is really a great time. Use it wisely.

Question: What have you done lately to redeem the meantime in your life?

 

The Power of Positivity: 5 Way to Get More in Your Life

There is a general consensus among clients I serve that says “the pace of business is greater than it’s ever been.” Fast pace usually includes a focus on performance; do more, be more.

I’m a big fan of improving performance at all levels both personal and professional. At work, team performance is a big deal too. If you lead a work team, you likely suffer your own pressure for higher and better performance. Yet in the face of all the push to perform, what has gotten left out?

The word is POSITIVITY

For many of us, being positive does not always come naturally. We get busy and we get centered on the task at hand. We leave the good-natured, positive outlook behind. A friend or spouse may ask “what’s going on?” Our response is usually just “I’m busy.” Then bust becomes a habit and positivity is forgotten.

You can be focused on performance and still build a climate of positive energy in what you and your team may be doing. If you struggle with finding your own positivity, here are five habits that I’ve used that will attract more positivity into your life.

5 Ways to Get More Positive

Make a daily gratitude list

Each day, either in the morning or before you go to sleep, write down at least one thing that you’re thankful for in your life. When you do this on a consistent basis, you naturally begin to focus on the positive and see more of the good things that are happening around you instead of the bad.

Perform acts of kindness

Doing something nice for someone, even the smallest of unexpected gestures, not only makes others happy, it adds positivity to your life as well. Make acts of kindness a frequent habit. You could pay the tab for the person behind you at Starbucks. Bring coffee for the security guard at your office. Pay the toll for the car behind you. Write a thank you note to someone who helped you. Not sure what to do, check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for more ideas.

Be fully present

We are constantly distracted, always looking at our phones and thinking about everything we have to do, or should be doing. While we’re engrossed in our Facebook timelines and playing games, we’re missing all of the positive things that are going on around us, and in some cases sitting directly across from us. Being fully present takes practice, but it pays huge dividends. Ten minutes of meditation each day can increase your awareness and focus on being present.

Reduce negative influences

The things we surround ourselves with and listen to have a big impact on our mindset, both negative and positive. Think about what you’re watching, reading and listening to throughout the day. When you fill your mind with negativity, it becomes easier to dwell on the negativity in your life. Be careful of who you spend your time, too. Do your best to stay away from other negative people. You become like the people you spend the most time with.

Spend time at the start of each day to improve YOU.

With all the demands on our time, there’s always other priorities and people vying for our attention. That’s why so many of us don’t make time to work on ourselves. It’s easy to use the “but I’m too busy” or “I’m too tired” excuse, especially if you don’t put yourself first at the start of the day. Stop snoozing your alarm and get up 30 – 60 minutes earlier and create a morning routine that consists of mindfulness, visualization, reading, exercise, and journaling. Speaking from my experience, you will be amazed at the impact this has on your life.

Note: some excerpts provided by Tyler C. Beaty

Leadership Coaching | Influence vs. Power

Influence v Power

As professionals get moved into management roles, there’s a natural confusion about what to do and how to do it. Moving from being an individual contributor on a team to running the team is a big leap for most of us. This is especially true in industries where people don’t train for management positions.

Influence v Power

It is very common to see the best producer or highest performer get tapped to become the next manager should a vacancy open up. If you’re that guy, you have so much to learn about leading the team.

Let me stop right here and say to those more seasoned managers (i.e. you’ve been in the role for a while and have already been promoted more than once) hang with me for a minute. What I am about to say applies to you too. You see, those who survive their first management assignment might fall into a routine of what they think is good leadership, but you can be wrong.

It’s Not the Position

While there is definitely power in the manager’s position, that power is the worst kind to use for making yourself known and understood. Yes, you can assert the manager’s power simply by being the person named manager, but real leadership comes from other sources of power. Just because your role was defined by the business entity doesn’t make you the best manager.

You have to find other ways to lead the people who report to you. Rather than limiting this message to issues about who’s got the power or not, let’s shift and talk about influence. This is an important concept to grasp.

It has been said the simple difference between management and leadership is this:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Management is about process. Leadership is about people.[/perfectpullquote]

If true leadership is about people, then what you must do is to be able to influence people not manipulate them. The best leaders find ways to pull people along, not push them. Here are some key tips to remember as you work to differentiate between power and influence.

Leadership Lessons – Influence vs. Power

  • Looking like a leader doesn’t make you a leader.
  • Lead with the Authentic You; don’t try to be someone you’re not.
  • Knowing how to perform the position does not equate to being able to lead the position.
  • Power only lasts so long before there’s a revolt.
  • Influence means those following are doing it by choice.
  • Teachable moments are only valuable if we use them to teach.

 

coaching call

 

The Unsung Role of Leadership

managing up the organization

It is time to dedicate some blog space to a segment of my audience that gets little direct attention. I am talking about the females who serve in leadership roles. I always write with an open mind about the topics I share, and I seldom differentiate between male or female. I still believe “leadership is leadership”, regardless of gender.

advice

Yet with all we’ve tried to implement in the modern workforce to enlighten ourselves, engage work teams, and inform new generations, I still see age-old trends emerging from time to time. In male-dominated organizations, the female role gets compromised.

I’m going to go out on a limb and address several of the most egregious ones I know.

First a Background Story

If you’ve followed my blog or heard me speak, you know I am the only son of a hard-working single Mom. So my familiarity with these topics started at the dinner table when I was a young boy. I watched as my own mother, who was a talented and capable business manager, come home most nights tired and weary from fighting battles; not just the usual battles, but the extra battles of defending her right to be in the room at work.

She had a hard plight. She worked for a home builder in an incredibly macho-man industry. As I got older I watched her go toe to toe on a job site with foremen twice her size. She worked closely with the architects so she knew what had to be done with a new build. Yet the foremen would often try to cut corners and expedite things, leaving out key design features she was trying to introduce into a stale market. Interestingly, Mom usually won.

She didn’t win by using her female charm which could have been easy at 5’5″ with a 16-inch waist and legs to die for (yes, I know I am talking about my Mom). Rather she chose to employ solid fact and logic with a great deal of technical detail that left most of those old grizzled hired hands’ heads spinning. She also knew how to effectively use the “help me help you” technique before that was a thing.

Her scuffles on the job sites became legendary among the various project leads the company hired. In no time she had her own reputation for being tough but fair on making her demands come to life out in the field.

So please don’t tell me I cannot appreciate what women in the workforce are dealing with. I’ve heard a lot over the years. If you think “Me Too” is a new concept, try dialing back the clock to the 50’s and 60’s.

Now Onward

Here are the issues I run into from time to time. I list them in no particular order.

Dealing with Female Executives

First, there is “We don’t know what to do with ‘them’.” Yes, I’ve actually heard that from a group of male executives. My answer is “Really?” The obvious solution is to forget gender and deal with the matter in the same way you would deal with a male counterpart. Any mindset closely related to this is so incredibly naive and archaic. A senior manager who utters such nonsense is really not much of a leader.

I’m encouraged when I enter fairly high-intensity work sites and the female bosses get to act and behave in concert with their male peers. They can give and take with the best of them.

Type-A’s

Next, there is the conundrum of a Type-A, hard-driving male boss being called a ‘tough but effective leader’ while the same Type-A, hard-driving woman executive is just a B#*&H. Again, how sophomoric and low on the emotional intelligence scale. The mindset needs to be adjusted to view these same traits as equals. Yes, I know some female executives who are terrible bosses but painting all of them with one wide brush is very inappropriate. There is an equal if not greater percentage of male bosses who simply suck at what they do.

The PayScale

Yes, it’s a worn out cry from the field, but sadly still true in many situations. The gender gap on the pay scale has closed in recent years with most publicly traded companies settling up, but small, privately owned businesses still suffer the curse here.

On this point, I double checked my position with several female executive coaches I know who specialize in working with other female leaders. The unequal pay conundrum is still very much alive and well.

Work-Life Balance

The working Mom’s were the first to attempt to open the discussion about work-life balance. Why? Not because it was a nice cozy idea, but because it was a necessity. Juggling the load for being Mom and worker just didn’t always even out. Dropping kids at school and picking them up took its toll. And yes, there are some great “Mr. Moms” who have chosen to shoulder the kid management duties of the house to free the wife up for career pursuit, but the tug is still there.

Why shouldn’t we figure out a better balance of workload versus personal need? Seldom is everything a priority at work. I know companies who build a culture around jam-packed calendars and endless meetings but is that really necessary? If you run one of those companies, you can make adjustments and productivity might actually increase.

Mentorship

Creating succession plans is not limited to the bigger, publicly traded companies. Even entrepreneurial shops need good continuity planning. Allowing younger females equal opportunity for fast track and high potential program access should be a priority. Yet, for most of the reasons I’ve already covered above, there is a disparity that remains.

Providing effective mentorship and coaching for up and coming workers, regardless of gender, should be a priority.

THERE IT’S DONE

This is my list. If you know more examples, please share in the comments. This is a dialogue that should not be left unattended.

coaching call

 

If Serving is Beneath You, Leadership is Beyond You

servant leader

What a quote! “If serving is beneath you, leadership is beyond you.”

servant leader

If you ever struggle with being willing to serve a greater good and another human being, you should reconsider any desire you have to become a manager or a leader. Being in a position of authority has a great responsibility. If you are already in a leadership role and you shirk the notion of service to others, please resign.

This concept was instilled in me during my freshman year of college. I had enrolled at Texas A&M and joined the Corps of Cadets. In the Corps, freshmen are called ‘fish”. The sole purpose of surviving your first year as a fish was to learn one principle.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=””]You will never be a leader if you don’t know how to be a follower.[/perfectpullquote]

As a fish, I endured all manner of pressure from the upperclassmen. Yes, it was a different time back then, so the physical and mental challenges we were given were much more daunting than today’s politically correct standard, but it taught me something. Actually, it taught me a lot. By contrast, any training I was later subjected to in the regular Army (both basic and advanced individual training) seemed easy compared to being a fish.

At the hands of upperclassmen I was introduced to a full spectrum of leadership ability; ranging from very good leaders to not good at all, and everything in between. Most of all I learned the original principle. To be a leader, you must first be willing to be a follower.

Servant Leadership

Take a look at this video. I had the opportunity to interview an old friend and long-time colleague, Louis W. (Bill) Weber, U.S. Army Brigadier General (retired) [see bio below].

Our discussion centered on Bill’s observations about leadership and management, with a special focus on young, aspiring professionals who are put into action for the very first time. Our topics include:

  • Making the move into leadership for the first time
  • Working through the first 6 months
  • Servant leadership – what is it, where does it work?

Join me for my visit with Bill.

BIO – BILL WEBER

Bill Weber, headshot, 2015, US Army BG Ret.

After soldiering for 32 years as a U.S. Army Armor officer, Bill retired at the end of 2007.  He has extensive experience in leadership, training, organizational management, budget management, and operations.  He worked as the Vice President of Business Development for McLane Advanced Technologies, as the Chief Operations Officer for three years with Advanced Concepts and Technologies International, and with Knowledge Point as an advisor to the United Arab Emirates Army leading reorganization and transformation efforts.  From September 2012 through July 2013, he worked for the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) as the Associate Director for the UTA Research Institute.  He is currently consulting with several organizations, including the Department of the Army.

Bill commanded numerous units and organizations throughout his military career and is a veteran of combat operations in Iraq during Desert Storm in 1991 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.  His last Army assignment was as the Vice Director of the Army Staff, preceded by serving as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Sarajevo, Bosnia and a two-year assignment as the Director of Training on the Army Staff.

He earned a Bachelor’s Degree (Business Management) from Texas A&M University and a Masters Degree with Distinction in National Security Affairs (Middle East Studies) from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.  He also attended Georgetown University as an Army War College Fellow, served as an Army Congressional Fellow, and has over 25 years of experience related to the Middle East.

He attended the Moroccan Staff School for a year of immersion in French and Foreign Area Officer in-country training and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East.  He maintains currency on events and social, economic, military, and political situations throughout the Middle East.

His decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, UN Medal, the NATO Medal, the Presidential Unit Award, and the Valorous Unit Award. He was also Ranger and Airborne trained and qualified.

He served as Mayor of the City of Woodway, Texas from May 2010 through October 2011.

Married to his wife Robin for 32 years, their daughter is a 2011 Baylor graduate and USAF pilot and their son is a 2012 Texas A&M nuclear engineer graduate.

In Decision Making: Is It Requirement or Desirement?

There’s a decision to be made. You weigh the options and ask for more information. Then it’s time to choose. But wait.

Is the thing you have to decide a requirement or a desirement? Decision making can get clouded by issues or priorities that are more a desire than a requirement.

To oversimplify the argument, think about buying a car. You need transportation. The requirements include a motor, wheels, steering wheel, seats of some sort, and safety equipment. You can get those in a wide variety of simple and economic solutions. Yet your desire for style, comfort, and even luxury complicate the choices when it comes to car buying.

Henry Ford only made Model T’s in black. General motors started as a new car maker by offering the first alternative colors on automobiles. The competition has been fierce ever since.

Needs and Wants

It can be as simple as needs versus wants. Teaching children about the difference between needs and wants is a daunting challenge. My 5 year old grandson often points out things he thinks he “needs”. What he is really saying is he wants that. Every time he starts down the “I need that” routine, I tell him, “No, you need clothes and food, but you want that toy/object.” By the way, he’s not amused by my logic.

The Entrepreneur’s Bind

If you own your company, decision making can become more difficult  due to your own biases. Your pride of authorship/ownership can cloud good decision making. The thing you desire for success of your business can obstruct solid management principles.

I know an owner who should have closed his business long before it folded. The model made sense on paper, but was not being well received in the market. His own pride of creating the idea blocked his ability to “see the forest for the trees.” The company was bleeding precious investment capital; the burn rate was far faster than the growth of revenues.

He should have recognized the problem by analyzing his actual cash flow including a focused look at the sales pipeline predictions for actual receipts. The math wouldn’t work. Yet his gut feel for just knowing this idea should work kept him chasing new deals and borrowing way too much.

The Corporate Mindset

When we shift to look at executives in a more corporate role, the desirement factor is more about bonuses and performance ratings. If your bonus is tied to particular standards for budget or cost control, your decision making can be skewed. The economic aspects of a particular decision can be tipped by the mere fact that a soon-to-be-awarded bonus is at risk.

Or in company cultures where performance ratings are force ranked, one’s ability to make the right choice can be compounded by the perceived impact it may have on the next ranking cycle.

The Fix

To become a better decision maker you have to objectively weigh the forces around you. Eliminate the desirement factors and stick to requirements.

Question: When was the last time your own needs and wants got in the way of making a good decision?

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