Tag Archives: characters

Lessons Learned from Bad Bossess and Misguided Leaders, # 2

Today I want to discuss leadership pet peeves number 2 from my post: http://www.upwardedge.com/2011/05/lessons-learned-bad-bosses-leaders.html and that is: A leader or boss who takes credit for the ideas or works of his or her subordinates. I worked for a boss who not only criticized my management style, but often would ignore or criticize my ideas.

 He would say, “it won’t work; it’s too expensive, the timing is not right, I can’t buy into that or I don’t like the idea.” However, within a few months or sometimes within weeks, he would present to the board of directors and/or to other leadership team members one of my ideas as his own. Other times, I have also seen one of my earlier ideas implemented by a sister organization, to the excitement of my superiors. I would hear occasionally, “Tony wasn’t that your idea?”

 You may be thinking why a leader or boss would reject an idea that could benefit the company and the people its serves. Some guesses are as follows:

  • The leader or boss sees his or her subordinate as a competitor; therefore, the leader’s insecurity is heightened.
  • The leader or boss has no confidence in his subordinate, does not see him or her as a credible performer and thus, the boss filtered what he or she hears coming from the subordinate.

The second bullet does not apply in this case because one of my former bosses took credit for many of my ideas.

Robert Verganti said there are many reasons why a boss may not accept ideas from a subordinate and one way to offset those reasons Verganti argued is to involve the chief executive at the incubator stage of your idea (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/08/how_to_sell_an_idea_to_your_bo.html).

Another writer, John Baldoni, author of the book: Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up reported that he was conducting a workshop about leading from the middle when a participant mentioned he was “put in his place” when he presented new ideas to his boss.

Baldoni stated that when bosses reject the ideas of their subordinates the bosses are “very insecure in their positions and feel that creativity from below is a threat to their power http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/12/how_to_sell_an_idea_to_your_bo_1.html. Baldoni also believes that those bosses don’t deserve to be in positions of authority, but nevertheless they are and because of that many innovative ideas are lost.

Of course, I was reminded of this when one of my subordinates shared an innovative idea with me. Thinking that it was a great idea, I shared it with my superiors. The creator of the idea was in the room as I shared it and gave her full credit. Others quickly turn to H…to compliment her for the great idea. Her smile and glowing face was priceless. This reminded me of how I felt when I was not given due credit for my ideas.

The bottom line– it matters to the person who has the idea to receive due credit and recognition. In this ways everyone wins–the company, the customer and yes, even the boss wins because he or she will be recognized as the person who created an environment where ideas are possible. It is the bosses’ job to create an organizational climate where ideas can flourish and be shared.


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What People Value in Leaders

I am currently reading a book entitled, Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft (2010). Although the book is written for those who wants to excel in spiritual leadership, the points made in the book are applicable to leadership in general.

In his chapter entitled, The Leader’s Character, Kraft shares with us that a sponsored survey of nearly 1,500 business managers revealed that the managers desire a boss who is truthful, trustworthy and who has convictions. In other words, the business managers surveyed admire superiors with intergity. Mr. Kraft then quoted the late legendary basketball coach John Wooden from Coach Wooden’s book, They Call Me Coach. I think it is a wise quote so I will print it here for all us to review and remember.

Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” (Wooden, 1972, p.62).

Until next time; lead on.

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Leaders In Today’s World

Upward EdgeWhat does it take to be a leader in today’s world? I believe it is the ability to see new things and to articulate that vision in a new way. It is the ability and willingness to take people in new directions.

You can be that leader. It takes vision, courage and having the right words to encourage and to persuade. It takes the ability to recognize your assets and the willingness to put your assets to the test. It is the willingness to fail and to allow others to fail. Finally, it is believing in yourself and your willingness to risk for a greater cause.

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Leadership Tidbits

In the post entitled “Realizing Our Leadership Potentials” (January 31, 2010), I talked about John Maxwell’s premise that leadership is a journey and it is a “journey that starts where you are not where you want to be” (The 360 Degree Leader, 2005, p.274). That got me thinking so I would like to share some leadership tidbits with you. You have heard them before (thanks Rev. Maxwell), but it is always good to be reminded.

Before you do great things elsewhere, you must do it where you sit:

• Do your homework;

• Take the time to do great work; don’t feel like you have to rush a job;

• Take your own minutes after each meetings; noting action steps and key points;

• Speak out and do it boldly if you disagree with a proposed action. Take the risks, so you can live with yourself;

• Do the right thing, not the safe thing;

• Speak from your passion; not what you think others want to hear;

• Don’t be shy about what you believe in or what you do. We don’t need clones in our workplaces;

• Learn to say NO; only do what you can reasonably do successfully and lastly,

• Be the person, you believe God intended for you to be.

Good luck, we are all counting on you.

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Are You A Storyteller?

Once upon a time I was mesmerized by a story. Have you ever been mesmerized by stories that made you happy, sad, joyous or angry? Are you fascinated by those who touched every nerve in your body; those speakers who brought tears to your eyes and stirred an emotional, but passionate anger in your heart? After hearing that speaker; that speech, you knew you had to do something. You gave a donation; you volunteered; you were focused on the company’s goals. After hearing the CEO, the preacher, the club president, you supported the mission and you wanted to do your part to fulfill the company’s vision or spread the good news. Yes, you were motivated to do the right thing.

I have a secret. Effective leadership and storytelling go hand in hand. Have you ever thought of yourself as a storyteller? Think about it. As a storyteller you are both the messenger and the message and to be an effective leader you must learn to be a good storyteller. Howard Gardner states that not only should the leader be a good storyteller, but the leader must also “embody that story in his or her life. The leader is a symbol as well as a “keeper of the stories” (Spiritual Leadership, Henry & Richard Blackaby, 2001, p.80).

Think about the people you know who are good storytellers? This person can be someone in your faith community, your neighbor or someone at your job. This person could be a teacher, a friend, the mayor and yes, even your boss. What impact has this person’s storytelling had on your place of work; your social group, your neighborhood or your faith community? As he or she was telling the story did you also reflect on the person’s character? Were you more mesmerized by the story because of the messenger or was it the message alone that moved you to action? It’s wonderful when it is both!

Now, reflect on the time you moved a group forward through your storytelling. During a critical time in my church, I was able to defer the dismissal of our pastor through a compassionate story of forgiveness and second chances. On other occasions, I was able to move people because of the many stories I told about my uncle and grandmother. I portrayed how my grandmother and my uncle were my role models because of their faithfulness, their boldness and their commitment to what they believed in. I have a long tenure both in my church and at work and therefore, I am often asked by leadership about “how did we get here.” My hope is that I am asked to tell the stories, not only because of my tenure, but because they trust my intelligence, respect my character and see me as a leader.

In their book, Spiritual Leadership, Henry and Richard Blackaby said that “a story is a “compelling method of communicating vision…graphs and charts can convey data and engage people’s minds, but a story…can engage people’s heart and gain their commitment” (p.80, 2001). They also believe that leaders’ stories need to have three components: stories from the past, stories for the present and stories about future possibilities.

Yet another author, Charles Olsen, (Transforming Church Boards, 1995), persuasively argued that storytelling can enliven a church board and even energize a church body. He persuasively argued that history giving and story telling, along with biblical-theological reflection and prayerful discernment would move a church board past burnout and beyond “business as usual” to a board that can enthusiastically lead the faith community to visioning the future.

Storytelling possibilities are easy to imagine in churches, mosques or synagogues, but what about the business world. D. A. Benton believes that storytelling is one of 22 vital traits to becoming a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). She states that a good storyteller can set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd. A good storyteller gets involved with his or her thought processes; often paints pictures; usually humanizes his or her points and often will make him or herself colorful in the process as they tell the story (How To Think Like A CEO 1996). She said that “with storytelling, the scenic route gets you there just like the direct one, but you and the audience enjoy it a lot more” (p. 209). Storytelling helps “make information memorable, recallable, clear, useful and appropriate…and “the key for successful storytelling is [the ability] to fit stories into the conversation, have a good memory to recollect them for the proper occasion, and recall who has already heard them” (pp. 209-210).

Now let’s reflect one more time. Try to remember that story and the storyteller. Were you able to understand the messenger? Did you find the messenger interesting and were you persuaded that he or she was also smart? And finally, and more importantly, do you still remember the details of the story?

D. A. Benton writes that as a good storyteller, people will understand you better, that they will “remember what you say longer, find you smarter and [by the way] more interesting if you use good anecdotes to make your points” (pp.212-213).

So put your thinking cap on, practice that speech, and reflect how you can paint a picture, that will excite us, and above all, motivate us toward a more compelling and positive future. Are you a storyteller? Of course you are; we all are. Our goal now is to be a good storyteller. The end.

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