Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No One Left

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."
- Martin Niemoller 

Leadership is about taking a stand when it may not be popular. Leadership means holding others accountable when they've lost sight of what's right. Leadership is about making sure everyone is included, and no one is left behind.

As you consider areas to focus on in the coming year, perhaps one item that needs to be on your list has nothing to do with personal accomplishments or professional goals. 

Maybe that list should include something that may only be known to a very small group of people...or perhaps just one person. But imagine the difference you will make!

Who needs you to take a stand for them next year?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 



Monday, December 30, 2013

No More Wasted Time

“The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.” 
Arnold Bennett 

New Year, New Beginnings
Each year a bevy of resolutions, promises, and declarations are made about self-improvement, fitness, productivity, new jobs, and more. Somehow the calendar year transition sparks a renewed level of commitment and enthusiasm (usually for about 36 hours.)

For me the real challenge is how I manage my time. It seems that is a common theme in today's world. I don't seem to have enough of it...or I discover that I've not been efficient enough...or I've wasted a bunch of it and I get frustrated.

Lose the Negativity About Time
I love Arnold Bennett's quote above because it speaks to a fresh perspective about the concept of time. The never-ending amount of "new leaves" we can turn over every hour of the day! When was the last time you thought about time that way? 

Typically discussions about time and time management decompensate into a gripe session instead of something positive. 

Thinking about time as an unspoiled opportunity that you can make into something special is a much more appealing idea than complaining that we're all too busy, don't you think?

How About You
As you wrap up the year and think about your goals, hopes, and plans for 2014, how are you going to consider spending your time? Tools like this and this have transformed how I manage my time. But it is Mr. Bennett who has me thinking about time very differently.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, December 23, 2013

I Fought Email...and Email Won

I've spent a lot of time griping about email. I've complained that I couldn't get any work done because of my Inbox problem. Certainly no on else could be experiencing what I was going through, right? I mean, seriously, I get a lot of email. There must be a better way!?!?

It turns out there are some slick tools out there nowadays to help with this problem like this and this. But does using these tools mean no one is going to email me anymore?

Uh, no.

Maybe a better option is to unsubscribe from every single thing I can in order to dramatically reduce the cyber tidal wave that hits every day. It turns out I did that already...and I'm still getting email.

I've even read a bunch of posts about how to tame my Inbox that included priceless tips like "only check your Inbox twice a day." Thanks very much for that keen insight. That system actually works as long as each of your check-ins lasts two hours.

Not very helpful advice, or realistic in my email-is-preferred-communication universe.

Perhaps I am my own worst enemy? Could I be sending too much email, and thus getting back four, five or even ten-fold the number of emails in return? I have tried to limit what I send and use the phone instead, but alas they keep coming.

A Bold Decision
After years of wrestling with this daily foe, I decided to take a dramatic step in my work life and bring this battle to an end once and for all...

I work on email all damn day now. 

I do email before I leave for work. I do email walking to meetings. I respond to email in the stairwell (I'm a big stairs guy...elevators are lame.) I do emails in meetings (I know, I know...totally unprofessional...). I answer email at 5:00 in the morning and at 9:00 at night. 

How About You
The epic struggle is finally over! Hallelujah! It's time to take to the streets and celebrate!

Not really. Email won.

Dang it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Friday, December 20, 2013


"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
- Plato

I've spent many years justifying this phrase....'it's not personal, it's business." It's an important phrase, because it drives a level of accountability into the work of many leaders. We are often faced with difficult decisions that help bring a measure of consistency and fairness to our organizations, but at the individual employee level may be difficult to communicate.

Leadership is hard. That's why there are so few people who aspire to move into leadership roles. The work is simply too demanding.

Big Picture
One of the terms that has made an appearance in my world this year is totality. This is a powerful term. It forces me to really take into consideration all of the factors impacting a situation, not just the easy-to-obsess-over HR issues.

The result is that I take a step back a little sooner that I did in the past to make sure I'm considering the tiniest details of a situation. It's not that I wasn't thorough in the past; rather, totality is more of a mind set. It's how I think about situations, not necessarily how I manage through those situations.

Work Does Not Equal Life
The pressures of the modern workplace can easily redefine reality. It's as if our job should be considered the primary part of our life, and everything else must be secondary. 

Why is that? My work is incredibly important to me, and I spend many hours doing it both at the office and at home. But my work is not my life.
Work is not the whole life of your employees either. When we define the world through a biased workplace lens we sacrifice the concept of totality. We miss out on all of the other pressures, challenges and battles that our team members might be up against.

That is not good leadership.

How About You
Do you know the battles your colleagues are fighting today? Or, is the only battle being waged this holiday season the one to achieve a corporate objective before the end of the quarter?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Corporate Body Language

As a leader, speaker, and visible member of my organization's leadership team I think a lot about body language. If I'm meeting with a group of employees who have concerns I am focused on staying calm, not being defensive, and trying hard to validate their feelings. 

If I'm speaking at a recognition event I need to be warm and funny to help attendees enjoy the event. If I'm speaking at a conference it's all about energy, passion, and hopefully some fun for the audience.

My personal body language is important, and needs to be different in all three settings in order to be effective.

Corporate Messages
One of the strengths of a good company is that it's messaging matches the behavior and decision-making of the leadership team. If the message is about integrity, inclusiveness, and striving to be a Level 5 Leader, then the corresponding behavior and decisions that are made should match those messages.

Sounds simple enough, right?

How hard is it to engage with front line team members, act friendly, and be open about how decisions are made? It's not actually...unless there is another agenda behind the scenes that supersedes the rhetoric.
Now things aren't so simple.

Corporate Behavior
One of the realities of leadership that continues to surprise me is the notion that "everyone is watching." Employees certainly hear what we say, but they are far more attuned to what we do. 

If we espouse a culture that embraces transparency, inclusion, and openness, yet clearly makes "back room" decisions that seem to be based on a small minority's plan for the large enterprise, it becomes increasingly difficult to continue to send out the same messages that obviously to all (except perhaps the back-room-gang) that those messages aren't worth the paper they're written on.

Painful to hear? Perhaps. Putting the obvious in print? Yes.

How About You
What is your corporate body language? Do you live in a self-perpetuating  public relations machine that has lost touch with reality? Or, do you practice what you so eloquently preach?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, December 16, 2013


After many years of working as a human resources practitioner I am rarely surprised by the odd behavior that people exhibit in the workplace. Let's face it, human nature can be quirky. When you combine quirky behavior with the reality that most leaders do not enjoy confrontation, you have the perfect situation for HR to assist in resolving problems. 

I Said "Rarely"

What does continue to surprise me, sadly, are the comments related to race or ethnicity that for some reason have popped up over the years.

The obvious pearl of wisdom that should be shared at this point is that those comments are never tolerated and appropriate action is taken. A good HR response, right?

But here's the rub for me...

These comments make me burn inside. I don't mean that I simply get upset that someone is being an insensitive jerk. I'm talking about the bias I have as I am made aware of these behaviors.

"We all have our own lens that we see the world through, and my lens has a hypersensitivity to narrow-minded bigots." 

I'm fully supportive of free speech, and everyone's right to have an opinion. But I'll be damned if a racist is going to hurt the reputation of my organization.

Too harsh? Too bad. 

Who's Laughing Now

One of the tremendous advantages and responsibilities of human resources leaders is that we can take action when behavior steps outside what is expected. Combined with the mission and values of each organization, the authority to act allows for the right thing to be done.

While "good 'ol boys" and jokes that evoke nervous laughter (read here --> what a loser!) sometimes influence culture, we as HR leaders have the responsibility to break through those pathetic behaviors and move our organizations in a new direction based on accountability, dignity, and respect.

One of the most embarrassing things for those that cling to these discriminatory ideals is that the modern world of work values diversity as a strategy for success. They clearly are out of touch in so many ways. When all people are not welcomed as equal members of the team, the whole company suffers. 

How About You

When was the last time you were surprised at work? Was it from a goofy misstep, or was it something more serious? If it was someone acting like an insensitive fool, did you do something about it?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.



Monday, December 9, 2013


Sports lingo is often used to describe the world of work. We need to "get in the game" or "take one for the team" or "sacrifice to reach our goals." These phrases are used over and over in the workplace, and in locker rooms at all levels of athletics.

Not All Fun and Games
The word we don't often interject into our business lexicon is miracle. Except where I work. You see my organization not only uses the word miracle regularly...we perform them. There is something unique about a pediatric hospital that is difficult to describe to those who haven't experienced one.

And yes, our team of employees literally save some of the most fragile little souls you could imagine. I recently attended a community event, and when I introduced myself and where I work to another gentleman I was taken aback with his response: "you saved my son!"

"You saved my son." When was the last time someone said that to you?

Good Work Really Does Take A Team
Obviously I am not a clinician, so I didn't actually save that man's son. But I am a member of an organization that does amazing things every day...like performing miracles. I am also a member of the team that helps make those miracles possible. I actually feel that I am a part of that process along with our incredible employees.

Leading Means Building Teams
One of the great responsibilities in the world, whether it be in sports or work, is the role of the leader. They are the ones that build the teams, create the culture that the team can thrive in, and actively participate, even when they may not enjoy every phase of the task at hand. Leaders can not simply opt out because the road gets difficult...they are the ones the rest of the team is looking to for guidance.

How About You
I am a huge sports fan...hockey in particular. Even though sports and work are very different things, sometimes a miracle happens in both settings. How are you building your miraculous team? What miracles are you going to make happen today?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.