Thursday, May 31, 2012

Which One Are You?

"It is the characteristic excellence of the strong leader that can bring momentous issues to the fore and make a decision about them. The weak are always forced to decide between alternatives they have not chosen themselves."
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

How About You
Strong or weak?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


"It's only getting worse."

Do you believe that? Have you convinced yourself that time is running out, and because we've been going through some tough economic times; or because your job is not going so well; or because you're feeling like your life plan isn't really working out like you'd hoped; that perhaps your hourglass is slowly running out of sand?

Soon it's going to run out. What does that mean for you?

Nothing Left
I know when I get down on myself, for whatever reason, I can easily justify diving into the self-pity pool. Sometimes it really is justified...but usually I'm just being lame. Do you ever find yourself slipping down the self-pity slope? We make the decision to feel this way when we don't have confidence that other options exist. 

A little self confidence can go a long way.

Second Chances
Take a moment and reflect on the last time someone gave you a second chance. Maybe you missed a deadline; or maybe you were inadvertently rude to a colleague; or maybe you just made a mistake. Whatever the story, think about how relieved you felt when you started over with that second chance.

second chance can go a long way.

How About You
Do you know the best thing about an hourglass? When all of the sand runs out, you get to flip it over and have a brand new start. I think you should reach for that hourglass right now...because brand new starts can go a real, long way.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

NoExcusesHR - Superhero Edition

It seems Hollywood is obsessed with making movies about comic book characters. With the help of sophisticated technology the characters fly around and smash things. The kids (and many adults) love it, and the definition of superhero drifts away from real life and lands in fantasy land.

That's okay...I guess.

I Met A Hero...But He Didn't Meet Me
I work at a very special organization that takes care of the most fragile patients in the world. Literally. Some time ago when I was visiting with our amazing team members I met what I would consider a superhero. He didn't wear a cape, or brightly colored tights. He didn't have biceps the size of a truck, or shoot fire from his hands. In fact, he was quite still and small.

You see, he was facing a battle far more epic than a midtown Manhattan taxi throwing clash between fantasy characters. The stakes were much higher.

Team Means Something Different To This Hero
As I visited with the employees and we discussed a variety of issues, they constantly scanned the equipment keeping our hero going. Any slight variation, any seemingly minor change was reacted to instantly. Nothing was ignored...except me...and I was fine with that. They actually apologized for interrupting me so they could jump to our hero's aid.

Even though our team was glad I was there to discuss issues that impact their work life, I was really a secondary priority. Our hero was a mile.

How About You
How do you define superhero? For me, it's much more than someone who can hang upside down from a skyscraper. Sometimes it is someone who is just getting started, yet they can still save the day.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Friday, May 25, 2012

Noise Pollution

"It's time for a reorganization."
"I want to develop a whole new strategy."

"What we need around here is a fresh perspective."
"I just wish our HRIS could meet our needs."
"My employees are driving me crazy."

And on, and on, and on. I have three kids who can get pretty noisy. But the noise (read here => excuses) I've heard generated over the years blows away the decibel level at my house.

It's time to stop complaining, start adjusting, and get to work.

Noise Erodes Credibility
One of the challenges so many leaders fail to recognize is the thin line between advocating for themselves or their areas of responsibility; and the perception that they are too focused on criticizing  instead of finding solutions. Can I tell you where the balance point is between the two? No. But like so many other things in life, "I know it when I see it."

Results Are Better Than Excuses
Regardless of how a leader figures this out, one thing is for sure: focusing on the business impact of a problem versus the appearance of being too emotionally caught up in the details is essential. I'm not suggesting you suppress your feelings about your stance on an issue; I'm simply stating how important it is to remain in control and avoid looking like this guy.

How About You
Do find yourself contributing to the noise pollution in your organization? I hate it when I realize I'm doing it too. What do you do to cut down on that noise and start making progress?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wise Words...But Not From Me

I was thinking hard about a powerful message to write. Something that would not only impact me, but perhaps touch others in some small way. It's interesting how life gives us an opportunity to feast at the humble pie buffet. That's how I felt after watching this short video. This young man has it all figured out.

Please pass another slice of that pie.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Good Ol’ Boys Can Not Lead. Ever.

I can't stand the term good ol' boy. I don't mean the rarely used positive reference to being a southern gentleman; I'm talking about the negative, often exclusive connotation. Think white guys with chauvinist and racist tendencies. When I hear good ol' boys and leadership in the same sentence it makes me want to hurl.

I know what you’re thinking, there is no leadership when the management team is a bunch of good ol' boys, right?

That's right.

Power Does Not Equal Leadership
If you find yourself in an organization that is run by good ol' boys you do have to accept the fact that they hold power, at least for the present time, which can make life feel uncomfortable all the way up to feeling miserable. That power does not equal leadership though. Their behavior is often an abuse of that power, nothing more.

Leadership is About All People
As I continue to learn and grow as a leader (yes, that's supposed to be a lifelong process), I recognize now more than ever how much I appreciate people who are willing to challenge old ideas, push the envelope of what's acceptable, and who are willing to take risks. Usually that does not mean you have a group of like-minded conflict-averse people sitting around a conference room table promulgating the same old spiel.

It means you have created a corporate culture that fosters those challenging behaviors...a culture that fosters diversity as a value, not a regulatory requirement.

How About You
How do you overcome the good ol' boy syndrome in your organization? Do you step up and address that behavior; or, is it a safer play to crawl under your desk and do some "personnel work" as quietly as possible?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

 photo credit

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Like A Moth To Flame

Transitions of power.

In some countries those transitions are filled with violence and bloodshed. In Corporate America the pain is less obvious...but the impact can still be damaging and permanent. Sometimes the process of transition is filled with posturing, behind-the-scenes moves, and attempts to secure power and control. At other times, it can be a process of collaboration and breakthroughs from an old culture to a new and more open way of doing business.

But only sometimes.

The word trust is tossed around so frequently in our work lives that I wonder if anyone ever takes the time to appreciate that trust is not the key issue. The real issue is whether or not the people who have power are willing to share it. If so, they get that power back plus so much more in employee loyalty, hard work and productivity.

But sharing power only happens sometimes.

I've come to appreciate how important relationships are before issues arise. Why? Because it's nearly impossible to build a relationship with someone that you need to rely on during times of uncertainty and transition. Can you really believe what they're telling you? Do you think they believe you? I'm not saying it can never happen...

But this only happens sometimes.

How About You
What do you see happening around you? Do you invest the time when you aren't confronted with a crisis or period of major transition so you and your colleagues will be ready? Or, do you wait and react like that moth and head straight for the flames?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Friday, May 18, 2012

3 Steps to #NoFear

This is another post in the continuing #NoFearHR dialogue between Mike VanDervort and me discussing social media and it's impact in the workplace.


I really liked your last post and the five questions you offered to help leaders engage in meaningful dialogue with their Executive teams about social media. I think our colleagues will be able to start using them right away. That's good stuff.

I'd like to take a little detour to address an important question that I feel must be answered before we can go any further. How do our HR colleagues get the credibility to even have those conversations in the first place? Not every HR leader out there has a strong working relationship with their respective Marketing Departments which is a shame. Marketing is often the first place where going social is accepted, even if it's only from an awareness perspective. A solo leader trying to demonstrate social media's value can feel very lonely without internal support.

Tools, Relationships, and Questions
I recommend that the HR leader take three important steps before posing the questions you've suggested Mike:

Step 1 - Make sure you understand and use the social tools you're going to be asking the questions about. This may sound simple, but I've recently had the experience of candidates telling me they are "experts" in social media but didn't have a twitter account. Unbelievable!

Step 2 - Build the internal relationships necessary to demonstrate that you are not a rogue leader jumping on the newest bandwagon. As the relationships grow stronger internally it will be much easier to build the business case necessary to execute on a social media strategy.

Step 3 - Now ask those questions from a position of strength => big difference as compared to going it alone!

What About Others Experiences?
Despite the fact that social tools are being discussed constantly Mike, you and I still see many organizations that are struggling with how to get their formal social programs off the ground.

I wonder how we might meet the needs of those leaders who need more support than just testing the tools and hoping for the best?

photo credit

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Now You've Got Something to Die For

I hear the word passion a lot. Leaders are passionate about their ideas and organizations...employees are passionate about their profession...friends are passionate about their hobbies...celebrities are passionate about various causes.

That's a lot of passion.

Does It Matter?
Lately I've been wondering if all of that "passion" is just talk? I don't mean that people don't feel strongly about their various interests, but is there a difference between being so passionate about something, that we're abusing the term and losing the impact of what we're really trying to say?

What do we stand for? Is it that we're committed to a program or charity or our own personal agenda?

"Maybe we aren't quite ready to admit that when we say we're passionate about something, we really mean we're only going to accept our own idea as a solution."

I wonder what our employees think when we're so "passionate" about something and they never get a chance to offer their perspective? I wonder if their ideas are ever better than ours? Hmm.

How About You
What gets you fired up? Is it something you feel so strongly about that everyone on your team must comply? Do you believe they think it's worth "dying" for? Do you?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tyrants and Translators

Leadership is hard. In her recent post over at Fistful of Talent Suzanne Rumsey detailed how challenging it can be to fill the shoes of a leader, even with the help of a skilled leadership coach. Her piece raises some fundamental issues about whether or not studying leadership actually makes any difference in your leadership effectiveness.

Effectiveness. Good word.

A Rocky Road
I like to think that I am a reasonable leader. At least that's what my self-talk machine keeps pumping into my head. I've overcome some tough leaders over the years, and hopefully there isn't someone out there who feels the same way about me. Odds are however, that I've offended someone even though I never intended to. That's on me.

One of the biggest advantages of working for leaders that we do not aspire to emulate is that we learn. Oh boy do we learn! From the supervisor way back in my early years who threw someone out of a meeting (yes, I mean literally threw); to demanding that someone be fired immediately; to generally being so spineless they couldn't make a decision; I feel like I've seen (and learned) an awful lot about ineffective leadership.

Translator Please
But how does one take those negative experiences and turn them into positive behavior? Is it as easy as remembering "wow, I better not throw anyone out of a conference room!" I think it might be more than that. How about "using a checklist to make sure I'm doing the right things each day?" That's probably not enough either.

Here's what I do know...if you treat people poorly you're doing a lousy job. I guess if I start there and move forward I'm probably doing alright.

How About You
How do you remain effective? Do you believe every word of that self-talk voice? Do you grip your title nice and tight as an excuse to behave any way you'd like? Or, is it something else that makes a difference?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ask Not What Social Media Can Do For You

I get lots of questions about social media. They range from the time commitment, to how to "do it," to what's in it for me. These are all fair questions, but they really miss the point of what social media is all about. Going social is not a "me"'s a "we" thing. It's about giving first and taking second. It's about supporting others and worrying abut yourself later.

It's called social media, not how-can-I-get-something-on-the-cheap-media. 

Baby Steps
If it's all new to you don't worry about it. It was new to everyone when they started too. Besides, it's not like social media has been on the scene for decades and you've simply been clueless and missed the whole thing.

Trish McFarlane has been writing some great posts about how to get started without feeling like you're completely out of touch (even if you are), so check out her site to keep learning.

How About You
As you begin investing your valuable time in social media, remember it's not about's about the social community. HR leaders must understand these tools for business, but don't be greedy right out of the gate.

Connect, follow, friend, and support your new colleagues. You won't regret it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Mob Rules

"If you listen to fools....the mob rules!"

I've been struggling with words lately. Words like homophobia and bullying. What makes this worse, is that I hear these words in the context of the workplace. Are you kidding me? In the workplace? Where the hell is HR? Where is the organization's leadership?

Is anybody out there?!

Zero Tolerance and Lip Service
Doesn't it feel good when you hear an organization proclaim they have a zero tolerance for bad behavior? It's supposed to. But when the news is filled with the words mentioned above, it makes me wonder if many organizations simply pump out their own propaganda but don't have the courage to back it up.

That's bad HR.

Justice In The Workplace
Today is the perfect day to hold the bullies, and homophobic bigots accountable for their jokes, innuendos and crude jokes (usually accompanied by nervous laughter from those listening but who have no backbone to do something about it.) Don't be the wallflower leader that listens and feels embarrassed but never does anything.

Take a stand for all people.

How About You
Are you ready to challenge everyone in your organization who believe it's okay to bully those who might be different from them? Do you have what it takes to stand alone (trust me, you'll be alone more often than you think) and do the right thing?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

 photo credit

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Which Doesn't Belong...and Why?





Risk - because unlike the other three, you actually have to do something when you step out of your comfort zone and take a risk.

Take one today.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bigger Than [Corporate] Life

One of the exercises I love using when speaking to groups about the impact of good leadership is quite simple. I ask them to close their eyes, and visualize the person they feel was the most effective leader they had ever worked with in any capacity. The group invariably identifies “their” person almost immediately. Next we talk about the characteristics these special people demonstrated to attain such lofty status. Lastly, and my favorite part, is when I ask if in a few years another group of new leaders were being asked the same question, would the attendees have made a similar impression and be “the one?”
Good stuff, right? The obvious challenge to the group is basically – “What are you waiting for? Be the leader you should be right now!”

And Then They Leave
But what happens when Wonder-Manager transitions out of the organization? I’m not talking about succession planning; I mean how does the organization fill the personality void? How do those left behind maintain the energy, focus, and most importantly – results – in the absence of such an impactful person?

Lay the Culture Foundation
The easy answer is to create a culture ahead of time so everyone is fully engaged, committed, supportive, blah, blah, blah. How many companies do you know that have all of their employees on board with every strategy all the time? I don’t know any either. So is this an unsolvable dilemma? The answer is not what you may think.

Why in the world would anyone want to preserve the status quo? Yes, a charismatic leader moving on is difficult, but it also opens up new opportunities that most aren’t even thinking about. Those left behind are initially, appropriately so, processing through the change. But holding on to “the good ‘ol days” even if they were yesterday, means you’ve stopped moving forward.

How About You
What happens when a sudden void opens up in your organization? Do you wring your hands; or, get fired up about the changes heading your way? Your reaction is being watched by so many…don’t waste the opportunity to show why you should be the one who’s name comes to mind in the next leadership session.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of listverse and doka

Friday, May 4, 2012

Social Media Attack

Is it just me, or do you sometimes feel like you're under attack from social media? It seems every day brings a new product, module, app, or strategy that I should be building into my social media plan? What usually follows is a series of blog posts that not only explain the new tools, but also help me appreciate how incredibly far behind everyone else I am.

Followers, Likers, Connections, Oh My!
What to do with all of this external reaching out, connecting, and following? I initially committed to following back, accepting connections and friending just about everyone. What has happened over time however, is that my various channels and social tools got really crowded with "people" who are interested more in selling or spamming versus connecting.

That's a bad thing.

Retreat! Retreat!
Once in a while it makes sense to evaluate your approach...take a close look at your network...and clean things up a bit. It not only helps get the fluff out of your stream, it also forces you to evaluate who and why you're connecting. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big believer in social media, but making sure you don't waste your time and energy is an important part of being a productive member of the SoMe community.

How About You
What steps have you taken to make sure the SoMe hordes don't over run your life? It's a learning process for me, and I'm always interested in learning more!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of timothywest

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dinner With A Dead Person

Jason Lauritsen asked a question in his recent post about which dead person we would like to have dinner with (excluding family members). I immediately knew who the person would be at the top of my list; but then took some time to dig a little deeper into who else might be worth it.

It turned out to be a really long list.

Famous v. Infamous
If you frame Jason's question as a challenge to pick one person out of all human history to spend a couple of hours with, it makes a simple question seem much more daunting. Should it be George WashingtonMohandas GandhiMartin Luther King, Jr., or Claus von Stauffenberg? Can bad people be on the list too? Dinner with Blackbeard might be interesting, if not really creepy. 

Never Heard Of
Pinned ImageOne of the most moving books I ever read was about Medal of Honor winners from World War II.  These men made sacrifices that are unimaginable to my generation. Surely dinner with one of them would be worthy of the challenge, right? Of course it would. 

Go With Your Gut
In the final analysis I went with my initial gut reaction and chose one of my personal heroes Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I've written about him here and here plus I've referenced him a couple of other times too.

Dietrich's courage, selflessness, commitment to doing the right thing and deep faith separate him above an incredible list of other options.

How About You
Are you interested in answering Jason's challenge? Who would you pick?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of pinterest

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Will Be A Power Surge

What is your attitude when you come in to work? I don't mean every single day, but generally how do you approach your Monday - Friday (at a minimum) life? Are you fired up; burned out; or somewhere in between?

Have you ever asked yourself why?

Well Done Is Rarely Good
Just like eating a good steak, serving it well done typically means the full impact has been lost. So too is our work life. If we're so "done" with everything going on at work we've lost our ability to make a meaningful impact. That's bad HR, plain and simple.

Nobody likes bad HR.

Fired Up is Always Good
It's not easy when you have convinced yourself that you no longer enjoy your work. It may be your supervisor, colleagues, the workload, or perhaps the industry; what ever the reason, feeling down and out never feels good. So do something about it.

Decide to make a difference in the organization. Whether or not you feel like it doesn't matter...decide to be a surge of energy into your company's life. Get away from your computer, go round on the employees (all of the employees, not just the ones that report to you), and for God's sake be positive when you're doing it.

I know, I know...this all sounds mushy. So what. You don't need to wait until you're in just the right mood (how high maintenance are we anyway?!). Just get started. You'll be amazed at the reaction you receive as you intentionally connect with the employees in your organization in a positive way. Try'll find out for yourself.

How About You
Are you going to be a power surge in your company today? Or, is it easier to make excuses and complain to the other slackers who wish they felt better about work and home and.... 

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of mediainternational

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

5 "Nevers" for Human Resources

"never use the words synergy and task force in the same sentence"

"never use the phrase 'that's not the way we do things around here'"

"never underestimate your potential to influence others"

"never forget the power of difference"

"never believe you are the brightest person in the room"

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of blifaloo