From Co-Worker to Boss


Handshake - 20141009 - 2Congratulations!  You have just been promoted to manager in your department or at your company. Or, maybe you have made the decision to start your own company and many of your co-workers have such faith in you that they are joining you in your new venture.

You are about to start one of the biggest challenges of your life. You are moving from co-worker / friend to BOSS!

You remember all those late night phone calls with co-workers, after work drinks or quick conversations during lunch or in the hall about the boss and how each of you could do a better job? They aren’t going to stop. You are just no longer invited to the conversations because the conversation is about YOU.

I have been there and done that and frankly, failed miserably. This is not about what I did right or even wrong but what I would do differently if I had to do this over again.

Conversation - 1First, accept the fact that the conversation is happening and move on. Not every decision you will make will be popular and not every decision will be right. Remember you have information that your team members don’t have and that you are not perfect. You cannot stop them from meeting after work, or at lunch. Let it go.

Use what information you already have from those sessions in which you did participate. What did your co-workers really like about the previous boss? Maybe they always appreciated the fact that birthdays and work anniversaries were special occasions. The boss may have treated everyone to something special after the completion of big projects. Lunch or chair massages or gift cards. Go beyond duplicating, expand.

Can you make changes to what wasn’t liked?

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Evaluating Leadership Talent


Evaluating Leadership Talent - 1From the C-Suite to the first level supervisor, all leaders supervise someone. That is, all leaders are called upon to perform some sort of oversight function. And, in so doing, they need to ensure that their subordinates have the right resources, the opportunities, the capabilities, and the support necessary to have a fighting chance to do a good job.

But how do you measure whether someone is an effective leader when it comes to supervising others? Here are five supervisory skills you can use:

Ability to Analyze Strengths and Weaknesses: Have you had a situation where the leader was faced with a challenge and you were able to observe them close up? What about assigning tasks to subordinates? Consider how effective the leader was in these instances.

Effectiveness at Identifying and Providing Leadership Development for Their Team: Whether the job is highly technical or not, there will most likely be instances where all employees need some training. So consider whether the leader gives everyone an opportunity to participate in training.  Do they just offer training to the chosen few, the high-potentials, or do they offer training opportunities to all who are wanting to learn and grow?

Opportunities to Exercise and Enhance Skills: It is one thing to provide training. It is quite another to

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Shared Leadership

Sharing - 1It seems to me that the very meaning of leadership is someone that leads. So how could it be possible to share leadership? I am thinking shared leadership is “one too many cooks in the kitchen”. So, is sharing leadership an acceptable model. Could it work?

I don’t know, but let’s talk about it.

The all-knowing Wikipedia says “Shared leadership is leadership that is broadly distributed, such that people within a team and organization lead each other”. I guess what I am thinking is a little closer to home. As I came up with the thoughts that generated the start to this piece, I realized there are lots of things that I discuss with my wife, but leadership has never been one of them. Why not? Aren’t we really sharing the role of leader in our family?

Shared leadership involves maximizing all of you resources in an organization, team, family, group by empowering individuals and giving them an opportunity to take leadership positions in their areas of expertise. With more complex problems, issues and markets increasing the demands on leadership, the job in many cases is simply too large for one individual.

Sharing - 2Sharing leadership isn’t easy, but it’s definitely possible, and in many cases, highly successful. For instance,

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Misleading Leadership

When Leaders Make Mistakes - 1

A lady I know works for a major corporation in their acquisition department. Her manager recently retired and the supposed replacement brings the team in for a meeting. In that meeting it is discussed whether he will or will not seek to be the new replacement manager. The answer rendered here was a “NO”.

Upon her return home and while going through her e-mail, she receives one that states the manager who had just told her he was not going to seek the position had in fact just been awarded the position. Ok, most of you are like me. You will put out your best efforts for someone you trust. Trust from a manager is not something that comes “with the territory”, but is something that is essential not only to the success of the company but the manager as well. The real truth is…Speak a lie once and all your truth becomes questionable.

Leadership and Integrity - 1Trust on all levels whether in a relationship or workplace setting, when violated sets the stage for many hard days at work or home, to say the least. The worst feeling in the world is to know you were used and lied to by someone you trusted. How in the world can anyone think that starting off a relationship with a lie is in the best interest of anyone?

Let’s talk “man to man” here for just a bit. What hurts the most…is a lie that draws a smile or the truth that draws a tear! Hurting people with the truth is better than killing them with a lie.

Misleading Leadership - 1Think about your family for a moment. How would you look in their eyes if all you did was lie to them? Let’s put things in the proper perspective. Misleading someone is NOT a lie when what you are passing along is accurate to the best of your understanding, only to discover that those who based their actions on your statements were mislead by your statements once you determined that they were not accurate. Lying to someone is an intentional act of deception!

Traveling the way of the world will only lead to destruction. The first person you have to lie to is yourself. From there it is the life of a “poser”. You will always need to convince self that you are something you’re not.

Who do we think we are fooling?

Photo credit: TerranceDC / Foter / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: contemplativechristian / Foter / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: Shreyans Bhansali / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: pursuethepassion / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Rewards and Punishments

Rewards and Punishments - 1A leader should be slow to punish and swift to reward.

This quote strikes a chord with me, because as I look forward to my eldest daughter’s Jr. High years and her becoming a pre-teen, I struggle with how to punish and reward her. Fortunately for me a stern word and a harsh look has typically been all the punishment she has ever needed. However she no longer responds to “Will you do that for a Popsicle?” I honestly have never been one for corporal punishment, not that my kids didn’t ever deserve it, but because I am considerable larger than them, and was a little scared I could hurt them. Lucky for me, my tone of voice has always instilled a little fear in them and it has worked…..until recently.

It seems as though my daughters have realized I am all talk, and that they have me wrapped around their fingers. So as I struggle with how to reward and punish them, I thought I would try to get ideas from others on lessons learned from rewards and punishments.

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How to Conduct Team Briefings

How to conduct team briefings - 1Earlier in the week I discussed team briefings and the importance of communications in the process. But I really didn’t address the mechanics of conducting the team briefing. So, today, let’s focus on that.

As the Leader You Must Commit to a Structure and a Process  It doesn’t necessarily be a super-formal process. But, people must understand what to expect when they attend one of your team briefings.

  • Ensure that you understand what is going on in the organization and that you have been properly briefed yourself. Make sure your team leaders know what’s happening at various levels, and with various other teams, throughout the organization.
  • Provide training or coaching on how to conduct effective team briefings.
  • Recognize and reward supervisors and managers for conducting effective team briefings.
  • Brevity is the soul of wit. If you can’t say it in 15 to 30 minutes, then a team briefing is not the right vehicle for a more complex message.

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Do it, ditch it, or delegate it

Do it, ditch it or delegate it - 1Here is one of those great little maxims that I heard many years ago and I solemnly avowed and affirmed that I would live by it until my dying days.

But, as I look back on it and examine how well I adhered to that little maxim . . .  It seems like not so much.

The principle expressed in this pithy little statement is this.

When presented with a choice, a document, a task or a decision – handle it immediately in one of the following manners.

  1. Do it! — That sounds simple enough.  But procrastination is something that comes naturally to the human species.  This is especially true for those choices or tasks that have particularly unpleasant undertones.
  2. Ditch it! — This also sounds simple.  But many of us suffer from bouts of indecision.  We often times cannot make up our minds that this just isn’t important to the overall goals and therefore should be jettisoned for the more important tasks.
  3. Delegate it! — Another simple sounding thing.  For those of us who have a staff that we can actually delegate something to, we often choose to handle the task ourselves.

Do it, ditch it or delegate it - 3So, what are the leadership implications of this little phrase?

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Mentoring Moment – Career Killers

career-fair-2011-4_lHistorically, first quarter hiring has often been followed by some form of corporate housecleaning. And we all struggle to avoid being housecleaned. So, in the spirit of offering some career leadership advice, please consider the following Mentoring Moment for today.


Here is a (short) list of career killers for employees to avoid:

  1. Clock watching.  This includes stopping work before your proper quitting time and intentionally working at a slow pace to avoid more work. This behavior sends a message that you feel you are on your own time after work and you don’t want to be bothered by telephone calls or emails after quitting time. It is increasingly risky to do this and not become branded a ‘9 to 5 employee’ who can’t or won’t handle responsibility well.
  2. Sitting on your hands.  Employees who do this fail to report problems they are aware of or suggest solutions to them.
  3. Disclosing confidential information.  This conduct comprises offering privileged information to a potential employer during an interview, posting it to social media and with friends or co-workers. This behavior may in fact be illegal and carry civil or monetary penalties.
  4. Using social media to bad-mouth employers.  There is a growing list of employees who have been terminated for

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I feel the need to lead, but Im not sure I have earned it.

leadership-horizon-23For those of you who don’t know, I have started a new job in the last 6 months or so. It has been a great opportunity for my family and for me. Although it has been a struggle for me at times because it is a completely new industry.

I feel as though my boss has asked me to do more than just sales. I think he is looking for a fresh set of eyes and ideas from someone who is new to the company but not new to business. So as I undergo the task of not only learning our services and how we deliver them to our customers, I am also learning our internal process of work flows.

I am finding that there are a few people in key positions that struggle with maintaining the correct work flow. This doesn’t hamper our ability to deliver our services to our customers but it does make for inconsistent record keeping and accounting.

So when I discover an error, I get a lot of “it’s not my job” and “he or she did this or that”. I feel a lot like the quote in the picture above. I have been entrusted with much, so much is expected.

Why doesn’t anyone else feel the same way?

At what point is it acceptable for me to

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Take a Walk to the Gemba

So that is what the process looks like?

So that is the process?

My company is making a management system change to “Value Stream Management”. VSM’s goal is to align all resources including management into a stream of production. It is not a change that will occur over night and will require patience, open communication and an attitude of staying the course with an open mind.

I was sent to a training session on Value Stream Management and one of the opening directions to those who represent leadership positions in the organization struck a chord with me. The term used was called “Gemba”, which is a Japanese term meaning “the real place” or “the place where truth can be found”. The meaning is interchanged with other terms within the lean manufacturing world, as in “go see” as catch phrases. However the direction given was this when explaining the Gemba to us in training: If someone comes up to you with a problem and you are in your office, get up out of your chair and go see the problem.

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