Tag Archives: goals

Equitable Leadership – Worth the Effort

My last LeaderSips blog took on what I consider to be - for the most part - a lazy and unfair leadership style: the "equal" approach. And judging from the response, I thought the topic warranted a deeper gulp rather than a morning sip.

While the opinion that "equal is unfair" seems counterintuitive, consider this scenario: you have enough money budgeted to send 2 colleagues to a week long training course. If you ascribe to the equal approach, you will put all the names of your department in a hat and let fate take its course. This will not take into account your employees who have the skills and the interest in the course. Nor will it recognize the employees who have worked hard at bringing their skill set to the point that additional training will be beneficial. It will send a message to your entire team that individual effort means nothing.

But you can rest easy because you treated everyone equally, right? Um, no.

For those who fall on the side of "equal" I make this argument: every employee is not equal. Their abilities, attitude, history, and contributions are all different. If, by chance, you have two employees who truly are equal - then by all means, treat them exactly the same. This will serve you particularly well if your team is made up of Stepford wives.

If, on the other hand, your team is comprised of humans, you might explore equitability. Taking this approach means more work. It means spending more time developing policies that are flexible, fair, and reasonable. It means knowing the needs, talents, and accomplishments of your employees. It means you know who has made significant contributions and you know who is skating by.

Often the fear of a disgruntled employee making accusations of favoritism keeps leaders from equitable decisions. The good news is, we're not in kindergarten. Support your decisions with facts, not opinions. This keeps you from going on the defensive - and gives you an opportunity to work with employees who feel they have been mistreated. "Why yes, David, Susan is going to the conference. You and I have talked about your attendance record, your inability to meet a deadline, and the customer complaints we've received. When you have shown demonstrable improvement in these areas, you certainly will be a candidate for a conference."

The decision then is in their hands. If they opt to put in the time and effort that is required, they can be afforded the same chances as their peers. Equal leadership gives everyone the same reward, regardless of effort. Equitable leadership ensures everyone knows where they are on the playing field - how close they are to the goal line, and what they must do to score. As a leader, it is requires a great deal of work. But if you are asking your team for extra effort, shouldn't you be doing the same for them?

3 Novels That Will Improve Your Leadership Skills





If you're looking to develop your business skills, don't fall into the trap of thinking that all  knowledge falls within the realm of the bookstore's business aisle. Keep the blood flowing to both sides of your brain by delving deeper into the inner life of characters that may be facing the same obstacles and challenges that you do on a daily basis.

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LeaderSips: 3 Reasons Your Career Is Stuck




Feeling stuck? Wondering why other people seem to magically find new opportunities and professional growth? You might actually be sabotaging yourself. Start off 2016 with a fresh outlook, and consider these 3 sips...

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3 Questions for Reflection vs. Resolution




It's a time honored tradition to approach the New Year with a list of resolutions for self-development, equally time-honored is forgetting them by January 15. Instead, consider reflection as a more meaningful New Year's tradition. Continue reading

When Life Hands You A Rain Delay

rain delayI love baseball. When we moved to Honduras we splurged on a full season subscription to MLB-TV so we'd never miss a Nationals game (hold your comments, their implosion is for another blog.)  With this kind of devotion, imagine my devastation when my night is centered on watching a game and there is a rain delay. Disappointment. Confusion. A vague feeling of, "well, what now??"

This was not the autumn I expected to have. I spent the better part of this summer preparing for my hospitality students' return to the classroom. I expanded the curriculum, took a two-week certification course (in Iowa!), and worked on creating unique networking opportunities for them. Back-to-school night was a ridiculously happy moment in my life.  I don't think there was a teacher in the Western Hemisphere who was more delighted about seeing her students.

And then there was a lump. And a biopsy. And surgery. And now we're putting together a chemo plan. And all of this is taking place in the capital of Honduras, four hours away from my students.

It's been quite a rain delay.

We don't have to experience rain delays quite as dramatic as cancer in order to have feelings of disappointment, confusion, and that vague feeling of, "what now?" So how to handle it? Obstacles are going to come along with every goal we set. It's okay to take a pause and gather your thoughts. But it's not okay to lie down and call it a day. Rest, reflect, and reframe = yes. Walk away defeated = no.

Rest.  Whatever your rain delay it, it's helpful to take a moment to gather your thoughts. Chances are there is a lot of adrenaline in your system that has to go somewhere. Go to the gym, take a long walk, meditate, take a nap, cry, stare out the window. Give your body a chance to adjust to the fact that a new normal is coming down the pike.

Reflect. Be realistic about your situation. Whatever has happened is no doubt disappointing and frustrating, but it is important to stay optimistic. This does not mean floating down the river of Denial. Make a realistic assessment of your situation and look for ways to choose a positive course of action. Not surprisingly, people who are hopeful and optimistic tend to adjust more quickly to changes in circumstances. That's not to say it will always be sunshine and puppy dogs. Keep a healthy perspective so that your emotional response will take both aspects into account:  feeling overly worried, upset, or preoccupied is not helpful, but neither is feeling overly cheerful, complacent, or optimistic. By neither dwelling on nor denying your fears you can reframe a more realistic and healthy goal.

Reframe. I have had to pause a number of things during my current rain delay. This blog was one. Teaching was another. But I knew that I would still need to have something to work on, so my reframed goal was to not miss publishing the private blog I write for a client and to coach the teacher who is subbing for me. As your situation changes, reframe the goal again. I've added this blog back, albeit once a week. Bit by bit you'll be back on track to where you were before the rain delay.

If we look at adversity and disappointments as rain delays rather than season-ending occurrences, we may actually find a better path to our ultimate goal leaving us stronger and wiser in the end.


(photo credit: espn.com)


I Knew I Could

i think i can

In the past 5 days two writers who I greatly admire have discussed "grit" as an important part of leadership and professional development. Hey, when I see a trend I act on it. So, let's talk about grit - true or otherwise.

Here's some random grit fun facts:

  • Abraham Lincoln was defeated in eight different elections. He went on to be one of the most respected Presidents of the United States.
  • Walt Disney was told he had no creative talent and fired from a newspaper job. He went on to create one of the world's most beloved cartoon characters.
  • Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected by 23 different publishers. The 24th publisher accepted it and sold 6 million copies.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from the varsity basketball team in his sophomore year. He went on to become one of the most successful and popular athletes in the world.
  • Elvis Presley was fired after his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry having been told, "you ain't going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck." Elvis became one of the most famous American singers of the 20th century.

Researcher Tammy Duckworth defines grit as "the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals."  Do you remember the story of the "Little Engine That Could?" Faced with unimaginable odds, this little train had the tenacity to do what no larger train could - make it over long, arduous terrain to its destination. "I think I can... I think I can... "

That's grit.

One of the writers I  alluded to above is Seth Godin. I'm a big fan of his. As he would be of me, if he knew I was alive. But I digress. Seth made the observation that grit equals hard work and persistence. And as long as he defines it with both of those qualifiers, I'm good.


Grit is not synonymous with hard work alone. It involves a certain single-mindedness. It's the difference between starting a new project every month and sticking with the same one until its difficult conclusion is reached. Both require hard work. Only one requires grit. 

And as the other writer I alluded to, Bill Hybels, has said, "the enemy of grit is ease." Grit is tough because you don't get the adrenaline rushes that new projects bring. It is slow, inch-by-inch success. It's that very moment when you say to yourself, "I knew I could..."

“I Know What I’m Worth”



Normally I would use any example from the Netflix series House of Cards as a cautionary tale for real life. But then Episode 5 in Season 3 came along and for one tiny moment, Doug Stamper gave us  a lesson in salary negotiations.

Doug Stamper is the former chief of staff of ruthless Frank Underwood. Underwood has lost faith in Stamper, so off he goes to prove he still has an edge. Stamper presents himself to Underwood's rival Heather Dunbar as a potential chief of staff. When he names his number, Dunbar remarks, "I thought this wasn't about the money." Stamper replies, (and I am paraphrasing) "It's not. But I know what I'm worth."

Stamper is desperate for this opportunity, but that's not enough for him to cave during salary negotiations. He knows what he is worth. Do you?

While this post is directed at both genders, statistics show that men are four times more likely to negotiate salary, and when women do negotiate, they ask for 30% less than their male counterparts. This isn't about getting to more money, it's about getting to the right money.

Do you know what you're worth? Do your homework. Use salary websites, speak with a headhunter or a recruiter, ask around the industry. Your situation, like everyone else's, is unique, but you can get an idea of what to expect.

Do you know how to negotiate? Some live for the thrill of negotiations, others... not so much. And you know my favorite saying, "practice makes habit." Start small with low stakes: with friends when deciding where and when  to go for dinner; practice at the farmer's market, at a garage sale. Practice until the difficult becomes the routine.

Do you know how to be creative with numbers? Baseball super-agent Scott Boras made the baseball world's collective jaw drop with Max Scherzer's $210 million deal  with the Washington Nationals this past offseason. By understanding DC tax laws and negotiating an aggressive bonus structure, Scherzer was able to save 7 - 8 figures in tax dollars.

If you're not negotiating because of fear, keep this in mind: if the organization has gotten to the point of an offer, they like you, they really like you. It takes a great deal of time and money to find the right candidate. An organization worth joining will rarely let their investment slip away during the negotiation process. What's the worst that can happen?


Just One Penny


If you start a 31-day month with a single penny and on each day you doubled the amount, by the end of the month you will accumulate $10,737,418.24.

If you start a 31-day month with a single penny and on every other day you doubled the amount, by the end of the month you will accumulate $163.84.


What starts off slow -- .01, .02, .04 -- suddenly gains momentum and yields remarkable results when consistently applied.

That's why every customer, every guest, every client matters. Every time.

How Much is Enough?

photo: www.rapgenius.com

photo: www.rapgenius.com

A few weeks into my Honduran adventure I was horrified to realize that the first two verbs I mastered in Spanish were tener and querer -- "to have" and "to want." More specifically, the phrases yo no tengo - "I do not have" - and yo quiero - "I want."


After my divorce, I was setting up a new home, shopping for a condo -  my very first solo purchase of any consequence. My mortgage guy (who I love) informed me that I could qualify for a ridiculously high mortgage... he then quickly added, "but I don't recommend it" (which is why I love him.) Instead I found something at about a third of that number with the square footage to match.

It was enough. The beauty of that tiny condo, or as I lovingly referred to it, my condoloset, was that it limited the amount of stuff I could accumulate.

Stuff, and its resultant, inevitable debt can quickly take on a life of its own. As my now-husband and I began to build our shared life, we often discussed the concept of, "enough." If you're a fan of Veggie Tales you might recognize this exchange between Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, after Larry goes on a spending spree:

Bob the Tomato: Larry, how much stuff do you need to make you happy?
Larry the Cucumber: [Thoughtfully.] I don't know. How much stuff is there?

Following in the footsteps of this great philosopher (if Bob the Tomato actually had feet), we asked: how much is enough? We talked about what our long term goals were, what our actual needs were versus our perceived needs. We decided what charities we wanted to support.  We lived well below our means. We took advantage of some investment opportunities. We looked for opportunities to serve.

That didn't mean we didn't have fun. There were still vacations and nights out on the town. There were still baseball games and books and bass guitars. But our happiness was not driven by the stuff. It was driven by what we could do with the money we weren't spending on... stuff. Taking a 20-something out to dinner when she needed cheering up. Quietly writing a check to supplement a teacher's need for supplies. Hosting friends on a vacation they wouldn't take on their own. We found our answer to the question of enough.

I can't answer what your "enough" is. But I urge you to ask yourself the question, to heighten your awareness of the role stuff is playing in your life, and the barriers it is creating for you. Stuff will require a home that is probably larger than you really need. Stuff will eat up your free time with maintenance and upkeep. Stuff will get in the way of being able to say "yes" to really cool opportunities. Stuff will rob you of your ability to serve.

There is great freedom in living in "enough."

Which brings me back to my two first-learned phrases, I do not have... and I want. Stuff can be sneaky. Even having well learned the power of a stuff-less life, my human nature just cannot help itself. Being on "stuff alert" is a full time job. It's time for me to introduce a new verb into my vocabulary. Necesitar. "To need" or more specifically, "¿Usted lo necesitas o lo quieres?"

Do you need it, or do you want it?

A Tale of Two Growth Patterns

bar-chart-7I've adopted a new mantra: "Cada día, más palabras."

It's my strategy for learning Spanish. Every day, more words. It means exactly what you think, add a little bit every day, end up with a lot. That is classic linear thinking and it is how we tend to believe the world works:  Put more in ==> Get more out.

Except for the most part, that's not how the world works. It's why during the first months of learning a new language there's tremendous growth and then BOOM... you're stuck in the present tense for what seems a lifetime. (But I'm not bitter.)

Having a better understanding of growth patterns will help you manage your frustration when the linear gods are working against you. Most growth follows one of two patterns. (H/T to James Clear and Scott Young for the source material.)

The more common growth pattern is logarithmic growth. This is growth that increases quickly, but over time gains become increasingly smaller and more difficult. In addition to language learning, this is generally the growth pattern for fitness training, weight loss,  musical skill, programming, etc. It looks something like this:



The second type of growth pattern is exponential growth. If you remember the old shampoo commercial, "I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on..." then you know what exponential growth is. It starts off slowly and then make significant gains rapidly. This is the foundation of social media. It might take a month to get your first 100 likes but only a week to get to 1000. It looks something like this:




Logarithmic growth requires focused determination to get to the next stage. It is about having the discipline to do the work and maintain consistency. It's about enjoying the satisfaction of precision and expertise.

Exponential growth is about doing the early work with not much to show for it. It's about being patient and diligent, with little encouragement or reward. It's about believing in yourself and always putting your best self out there, even when it seems no one cares.

Understanding the growth pattern you're in will help you decide how to manage the experience. It will also help you refrain from beating yourself up when you're in a valley.

Whatever pattern you're in, stop right now and congratulate yourself for having the tenacity and the will to try something new. Then, get back to work.