Tag Archives: respect

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?

Casual Cruelty

rude people

Last week, the story of a woman who comforted a stranger’s infant in a flight to Atlanta went viral. The infant’s mother, Rebekka Garvison, was traveling to visit her serviceman husband who is stationed in Alabama. When the baby wouldn’t stop crying, her seatmate, Nyfesha Miller offered to hold the baby. The child immediately calmed down and slept for the remainder of the flight. In gratitude, Mrs. Garvison wrote a lengthy account of the episode and posted it on Facebook along with two photos of the event.

The story immediately went viral. When I Googled the event to confirm details, I found three pages of articles about this random act of kindness from New York to London to Australia. Now, this is not the start of a debate of what to do about crying babies on a crowded flight.

It is, however, an observation that begs the question, “have we become such a society of jerks that a simple act of kindness qualifies as an international news piece?”

Over the weekend, NY Mets’ shortstop Ruben Tejada suffered a broken leg after a collision with LA Dodgers’ Chase Utley. Within moments strangers were gleefully typing their nasty, horrid remarks about Tejada's injury. We have gotten so used to rudeness that the worse people behave on reality TV, the higher the ratings. When people choose to be rude, it is astonishing that there is no subtlety to their poor behavior – it is almost as if there is a level of entitlement that exists. We want what we want when we want it and heaven help you if you are in the way. We have the right to say what we think no matter how mean, hurtful, or pointless the comment might be.

Last year as I was exiting the Convention Center metro stop there was a policewoman who was detouring the crowd away from the building as a security perimeter had been set up. The man in front of me immediately got in her face, clearly not happy about the detour. She was polite, respectful and asked him to move on. Astonishingly, it got worse, he would not let it go. Now, I’m no saint and I’m not good at confrontation. But I think the years of being on the other side of the counter and of teaching people how to stay calm when being berated by a customer caught up with me. I walked over to the guy and said, “Hey, give her a break. This isn’t her fault. She’s asked you politely. Leave her alone.” He had a few choice words for me, but ultimately I think being called out on his behavior embarrassed him and he walked away. The policewoman smiled, surprised and grateful, and thanked me. Life went on.

Imagine if instead of shrugging our collective shoulders and sighing that this is the way of the world, we decided that casual cruelty will not be the legacy of the early 21st century?

Respect Yourself First

"The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself." ~ Mark Twain


Self-respect comes from an inner understanding of one's inherent worth, not from an egoistic feeling of superiority. It's a fine, fine, line, and one worth monitoring closely.

How? Here's 10 ways.

1. Be True to Yourself. Understand your inner calling and have faith in your value system. Remember what is important to you and have the courage to stick to those convictions -- even when its inconvenient.

2. Our Behavior is Not Our Self. There will be times we screw up. Many times. But what we do is not who we are. We have the ability to change our behavior to seamlessly reflect the person it represents. Which brings me to...

3. Learn to Handle Criticism. No matter how finely tuned your sense of worth is,  criticism is tough to take. Detach from it and know the difference between your behavior and your self. The key is to be able to take an honest self-assessment to determine if the criticism is justified. If it is, then see if for what it is: an opportunity to grow in character. ​

4. Look After Your Appearance. Don't we all have that favorite suit, shirt, or outfit that just makes us feel a little better? The same goes for our personal grooming, and our physical health. What we eat, when we sleep, and how we stay fit all contribute to the respect we show ourselves.

5. Avoid Jealousy. Kierkegaarde once said, "comparison is the source of all unhappiness." That's a reminder I trot out when I'm feeling unhappy about something and can't identify why. Generally I come to realize it is because I​'m comparing myself to someone else and feeling a bit jealous. Jealously insidiously shreds our self-respect by whispering in our ear, "you're not enough." Other people's success and happiness should never diminish our own.

6. Remember to Learn. There will be times that we work hard towards an outcome and come up short. Self-respect is not bound solely by the outcome, but also by what was learned in the process.

7. Respect Others. Again, self-confidence is not superiority. If anything, the magic formula must include a healthy dose of humility. Building ourselves up by tearing another down is simply wrong.

8. Forgive. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Learn from the past and move on. Anne Lamott once wrote, "holding onto anger is like swallowing rat poison and expecting the other person to die." Try a chaser of forgiveness instead.

9. Be Selfless. As has been noted a couple of times here, self-respect is not about superiority. It's not about a bloated sense of pride. It is about having enough confidence to focus outward, knowing that there is enough of you to allow yourself  to surrender your needs for the sake of someone else.

10. Keep It Inside. If your primary goal is to "keep up with the Kardashians" then your precious time, energy, and wealth will be tied up in outer displays. If you're hanging with a group of people who are impressed by material wealth and social standing, they are probably not worth impressing. Be comfortable with what you have, not with what you think will impress others.

That's a lot to chew on on a Monday morning.  Rather than trying to digest it all in one sitting, keep this list around and do a regular self-assessment to see how you're doing. Be honest with yourself, and if you took my previous advice and found a personal advisory board, ask them to provide an honest assessment as well.


The Leap to Love

taketheleapYou want your guests to love your hotel (or your restaurant, your shop, your school, your business...)

But you don't get to love without respect first. For hotels, it's creating an environment that is consistent and functional, with service that is attentive, discreet, and anticipatory --these are sources of respect.

If you can't earn your guests' respect, don't even bother taking the reservation (or the order, or putting out the "open" sign...)

But respect just isn't enough. Respect isn't sexy. It doesn't create chatter. It doesn't go viral. That happens when guests fall in love... when an emotional connection is made. Consistency and functionality will get you respect but stopping there will never earn you love.

Start with respect then take the leap that will get you to love. Be adventurous, be creative, be fearless.

Managing Up

managing up

I received an email last week from a 20-something whom I've coached in the past asking me, "have you ever had to hold your boss accountable?" She's frustrated because a large part of her role is providing administrative support to a director who is, shall we say, less than effective in teensy areas like time management, prioritization, and communication. What I believe she was really asking me was, "how do I manage up?"

What is managing up? It's building a successful working relationship with your boss or superior so that everyone wins. Powerful people need powerful people surrounding them - ones who are creative, take initiative, and have their back. When you manage up, your boss feels supported, you feel challenged, and the organizational goals are met.

It's more than being a "yes" person. It's about creating a scenario in which you have the ability to influence, even when that means taking a hard line or delivering bad news.

Chemistry is key when it comes to managing up. So your first step is to build a relationship. While it is true that there can be instant chemistry, healthy relationships rarely develop overnight. As with any healthy relationship, this one must be one based on respect and trust, so start now looking for ways to demonstrate those critical qualities.

And before you start staying, "well, what about her? where is she in all of this?" keep in mind, this is about managing up. My views on effective leadership are well documented.

The next step is to learn and anticipate needs. Find out what her priorities and goals are. Find out what she values. Find out where she needs help. Find out what sends her over the edge. And then take these into account when managing projects, deadlines, and most importantly, your own behavior.

And finally, remember that leaders are people too. You have absolutely no idea what is going on in her world - both personally and professionally.  She has a boss that she reports to too, and she's probably trying to manage up as well. Don't automatically assume the worst. A little tact and diplomacy can go a long way in getting to a win-win result.

5 Things (Really) Smart Leaders Never Say to Their Staff



I love Inc.com. Every day the folks there provide an endless supply of good advice on leadership, team building, and other best practices in the business world. But last week, they really dropped the ball with an article called 5 Things Smart Leaders Never Tell Their Staff. It reeked of old-school, bulletproof leadership in which "father knows best." Judging from the outcry in the comments on their Facebook page, I'm not alone in that assessment.

So, in rebuttal, I humbly submit my list of 5 things really smart leaders never say to their staff.

1. "I'm the boss. Do it my way." - or any other version of "my way or the highway." Pulling rank is a weak method of leadership. Collaborative leadership creates more leaders, which should be the primary goal of a Generous Leader.

2. "Congratulations, you get to keep your job another day." -  I had a boss who would say this all the time. I know he thought it was funny. It wasn't. It created an underlying uncertainty that was hard to shake. Never joke about terminating someone.

3. "You think you have stress?" - They get it. You have more responsibility, therefore you have more stress/anxiety/responsibility. It's okay to acknowledge vulnerability. But it's not okay to override or negate your team's feelings.

4. "I don't have time for this." - Um, then what do you have time for? Generous leaders support their team. If it's not a good time, stop and set a time for when you can focus. And then keep the commitment.

5. What they want to hear versus what they need to hear. It's no fun doling out tough love. Weak leaders will let an employee flounder until termination is the only real option. Generous leaders will have the hard conversation. No one enjoys it! But the results of the conversation will let you know if your investment of time and concern was worth it. You'll either be met with defensiveness or a willingness to grow. Either way, you've learned something about your employee.

So there's my 5. What about you? What are your 5 things you think you should never say to your team?

Managing a Departure Professionally, Part 2

handling a resignation


Last time, we talked about how to manage a departure professionally when you are the one exiting. Today, let's take a look at that some best practices are when you're on the receiving end of the resignation letter.

1. Be gracious. Maya Angelou once said, "You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangle Christmas Tree lights." Add to that the resignation of an employee. As with anything else in leadership, choosing to be gracious will never cause regret. Getting angry, guilt tripping, or jumping for joy may feel good in the moment, but behavior like that might be exactly why the person is choosing to leave. Remember, the employees who remain will be watching carefully.

2. Consider a counter-offer carefully. Personally, I've never counter-offered a resigning employee. If someone has gone through the work of finding a new job and saying the words, "I quit" -- that's a lot of energy and commitment they've expended on leaving. I have had colleagues who have counter offered, only to have that same employee leave within six months anyway (hint: it's rarely about the money.) In the 20+ years I've been leading people, I've only seen a counter offer be effective twice. Both times the leaders were asleep at the switch and out of touch with the needs of their employees. If you're doing your job well, you'll know that it is time for the person to leave, and then you'll refer to #1.

3. Work on a transition plan immediately. This is will depend on the circumstances surrounding a departure. If it is a disgruntled employee, I would suggest paying him out for his resignation period and calling it a day... and I suspect his co-workers will thank you for it. If, on the other hand, it is an amicable departure, discuss how the message of the resignation will be delivered.  Confirm the departure date and ask the employee to create a transition document with details of projects and status of loose ends. Agree upon the plan and work it.

4. Determine your current needs. Organizations evolve and positions change so the chances are high you do not need a one-for-one replacement of the person that is leaving. Before you start your search, take a strategic look at the talent gaps that exist in your remaining workforce.

5. Continue recruitment efforts. I say "continue" because effective organizations have a culture in which recruitment is a daily and ongoing effort. Leaders should always be on the lookout for new talent so that a resignation does not catch them unprepared. If you don't have a reserve of potential candidates, put together a recruitment strategy immediately. Don't forget to draw out passive candidates as well as search for active ones.

Saying goodbye to a valued colleague is never easy. By managing the departure professionally, you are creating an opportunity to demonstrate generous leadership and also widening your circle of influence.

Managing a Departure Professionally


Given that most people no longer stay at one company for life, it continues to amaze me how unprepared leaders are when a colleague tenders a resignation. And given the state of the economy, it also surprises me how many employees' exits range from clumsy to inappropriate.

So let's look at this from both sides of the desk, starting with the departing employee. Now, I know we all secretly wanted to be Jet Blue flight attendant, Steven Slater, who told off a plane full of passengers before grabbing a beer and exiting the plane via the emergency chute. We all wanted to be him until the police showed up. And then there's Marina Shifrin, who quit via a video taped interpretive dance. Afterwards she penned an article with advice for others who want to quit in an equally epic fashion: don't do it. So what's the right way to quit?

If you're leaving the organization...

  1. Don't burn a bridge. Whether you're in hospitality, finance, retail, healthcare... the world has always been small. Social media has made it miniscule. Save your venting for trusted friends. Save the airing of grievances for Festivus. Publicly complaining about the organization you are leaving, and that includes at happy hour with colleagues as well as on Facebook, will come back to bite you. Maybe you don’t care about your current organization, but chances are good there’s a connection to the one where you’re going. Not cool.
  2. Give a reasonable amount of notice.No matter how tempting it is to walk out, don't (see #1). Two weeks continues to be the standard however take into consideration your role in the organization. If you are at a senior level, you will know best how much time is needed to properly wrap up your tenure. Be careful about giving too much notice as well. No one enjoys a long goodbye. Discuss your departure date privately with your boss. Come to an agreement and manage your exit accordingly.
  3. Work until the last day. Nothing’s worse than a short-timer. You’re still being paid to do you job, so do it. Be helpful; write a turnover document giving details of where your projects stand and what loose ends are out there. You may not think the organization deserves it, but your reputation does. It doesn't matter if you have been there for 1 year or 10 years. The first thing people will remember about you is how you left.
  4. Leave the drama at the door. Another baffling mystery to me is the attitude exiting employees often take when they are the ones who have resigned. I’m not naïve. I get that people leave because they are unhappy, usually with their boss. If you’re unhappy then you’ve made the right decision to go. So why are you walking around like you were fired? Knock it off.
  5. Don’t play games. I’ve had more than a few employees use a resignation as a negotiating ploy, thinking that they’ll receive a counter offer to stay. (Tip: don't ever try this with me. I do not counter.) This is a dangerous game. If you want to renegotiate your terms then grow a backbone and have the conversation. Don't hold your boss hostage. It won't end well.
  6. Let the organization manage the message. Talk with your boss about when and how the news of your departure will be managed. This is particularly important for senior level roles. Give the organization time to formulate and communicate a transition plan. It is not up to you to send an all-colleague email blast out to the company.

I recognize there might be bad blood, disappointment, or just high emotions attached to a departure. No matter the reasons, it’s always best to manage your exit from the high road.

The next post will sit on the receiving end of the resignation...

End Your Day on a High Note

end of day

Much has been written about start-of-day habits that drive success. Get up early. Meditate. Prioritize. Exercise.

But what about the end of the day? Do you slam into whatever your version of 5:00pm is breathless with no exit strategy? Do you suddenly realize you missed dinner and the whole family has gone to bed?

Here’s some better ways to wrap up your day.

  1. Make an Appointment with Yourself. Reserve the last 30 minutes of your calendar for you. Don’t let your calendar be hijacked by last minute meetings and unfinished projects.
  2. Wrap Up Your Day.  Take care of anything that can be taken care of. Review your to-do list and make sure your key priorities have been addressed. If there is something that can’t be finished, make sure you follow up with anyone that might be affected and give them a status update. Finish all conversations.
  3. Get Organized. Tidy up your work area. If you’re a list maker, start a fresh list. Make sure you understand what the next day will hold so there are no ugly surprises in the morning.
  4. Create Boundaries. When your day has ended, end it. Even if you have the practice of working from home in the evening, make a decision of when the day will end. Create a ritual that will transition you from work time to personal time. Take a walk. Read a non-work related book. Unplug. And speaking of unplugging...
  5. Respect Others' Boundaries as Well. Just because you are still working at 9pmdoesn't mean your team is.  Let your team recharge their batteries as they see fit. Unless it is a​ true emergency put it on your to-do list for the morning... or learn how to set your emails to "delay send."

Pen in Hand

Two stories caught my eye a few weeks back.

One was about a technological development that will allow emails to be converted into "handwritten" letters by a robot. The CEO of Bond, Sonny Caberwal, wants to retain the delight of giving and receiving notes, without the "hassle of heading to the stationery store, writing out a letter, finding stamps, and locating a mailbox...

We don't think it's necessarily about the time you take to put together the gift; it's the intent." Bond is for all those times you're thinking of someone and want to do something about it. "We want to create technology that will let you finally act upon that intention."

Compare that with this second story about a 12-year-old football fan from Oklahomawho decided it was time to select an NFL team to become "his" team. Cade Pope wrote an handwritten letter to every owner in the league, asking them why he should choose their team. Handwritten. Why?

According to this young man, "it shows more expression and feelings, rather than typing it on a computer. And it explains a lot more if you actually write it, because you can actually tell what they are trying to say."

Yes, Cade, exactly.

So far Cade has received two replies. One was an e-mail from the co-chairman of the San Francisco 49ers, John York, who shared his personal experiences in trying to pick an NFL team as a boy.. The second was a handwritten reply from the owner of the Carolina Panthers, Jerry Richardson. "Cade, we would be honored if our Carolina Panthers became your team," wrote Richardson.

While I appreciate the sentiment behind the service provided by Bond in the first article, it seems the whole point of a handwritten note is the fact that it represents an above and beyond gesture on the part of the writer.​ The whole point of a handwritten letter is its uniqueness. It can't be cut and paste, it can't be duplicated. Speaking as a former GM who has written hundreds of handwritten welcome notes I can tell you that every note was a little different, even if the point was always the same: Welcome. We're glad you're here. Have fun.

So then, does the debate become, it's better to have something than nothing? Mmmm. Not sure I buy that. I can tell you that as a road warrior, checking into a hotel and being greeted by a typed letter with an illegible signature was insulting. It reeked of, "it's a service standard, let's check the box."

Compare that to this picture, one I've kept tucked inside my computer bag for months. - and brought with me to Honduras.


The danger of a robot service like Bond is that it takes away the "friction" - the time and energy and thought - that makes the handwritten note a standout.

Let's go back to our young friend, Cade. Does he know which team he will pick? “I do not yet,” Cade told The Post. “Because there’s still time to go and it is early so, I mean, I’ll give them a little more time. But if none of the others respond, I’m a Carolina Panthers fan.”"

The handwritten note wins again.

Share my obsession with all things handwritten? Here's a little stationery porn to enliven your day.