Monkeys, Duct Tape & Other Assorted Thoughts on Leadership

Leaders doing good, getting creative, and managing monkeys were just a few of the leadership posts that snagged the attention of the team at BIG this past week. Enjoy…because it isn’t every day one sees the words “duct tape” in a piece about leadership!

10 Creativity Tips From The World’s Greatest Scientists (The Bacharach Blog)

Creativity was cited as the single most important leadership quality Continue reading


How the “Power of And” Changed My Life

Today’s guest post is from Margaret Seidler, a nationally recognized Organization Development consultant, master trainer, and author based in Charleston, SC. As one of only twelve certified Polarity Management Masters in North America, central to Margaret’s work is Polarity Management®, a set of principles and method to guide people in tapping the power of “both/and” thinking for better, more sustainable results.

After a 360° assessment that was, shall we say, less than stellar, I looked for a magic bullet to improve my leadership abilities.

What made a pivotal difference and accelerated my own abilities was discovering Polarity Thinking — a set of principles and a mapping tool introduced by Dr. Barry Johnson in 1975. I found polarity thinking a straightforward way to both document my wisdom and to shine a light on my blind spots. Continue reading


Is Your Workplace Hijacking Your Values?

Today’s guest post is by David Gebler, founder and president of the Skout Group, which fixes ailing organizations and improves corporate productivity, reputation, and success by focusing on value-based ethics and culture risk management. A sought-after speaker and panelist, he is author of The 3 Power Values: How Commitment, Integrity, and Transparency Clear the Roadblocks to Performance (Jossey-Bass, May 2012). You can contact David Gebler at : [email protected].

The majority of managers and employees are good people who believe they are balancing their values — such as honesty and responsibility — with what’s needed to get the job done. But this belief is often far from the truth.

While we would like to think that we control our decisions and actions, social norms and expectations significantly influence our behavior. Research shows that a person’s behavior isn’t a result of personality and character alone — our environment plays a big role, and this includes the workplace.

At work, we shape our reality to feel good about ourselves, even if our actions are less than honest. Most people engage in small dishonesty up to the point when they can no longer delude themselves. For example, we might not steal from the petty cash drawer, but we take some pens home. Managers may claim that a tough (and questionable) action was simply a “business” decision, not an “ethical” one. Or, to reach insurmountable sales goals, managers and employees may come up with the “perfect” solution: raising prices instead of production.

In a toxic corporate environment, your values can be hijacked one of three ways:

1. Self-deception: “I think it’s okay to do this.” Sometimes, we look at the world through rose-colored glasses: we see things as more positive or less risky than they actually are. When this rosy view helps us to avoid a sure loss, it can seem like a win‐win for everyone. In this context, actions and behavior that are less than savory seem okay, even when they truly are not.

2. Rationalization: “I know it’s wrong, but I have a good reason for doing it.” Under the pressure to meet short-term goals, bad decisions may look like great decisions — especially when people feel they don’t have a choice. For example, many people say “family” is their number-one value, and they will do whatever it takes to keep their families financially secure. If this means performing an unethical act, so be it. And if speaking up increases the chance that a person might lose their job, they’ll remain silent.

3. Disengagement: “I know there’s something wrong here, but it’s not my problem.” Disengaged employees can “fly under the radar” for a long time if they’re not involved in outright misconduct or overtly destructive behavior. Instead of taking ownership of problems and situations, they are leaving critical issues unresolved because they no longer care. As one manager once said: “Success and failure feel the same here. Why should I care?”

Do you see such signs of a toxic corporate culture at your company? If so, don’t dismiss them as normal employee behavior. When employee values erode, the results can be catastrophic for your business, ranging from lower productivity and profits, to ethical violations and workplace accidents.




Keep your integrity pointing north

While doing some pro bono career coaching for a local organization, an individual expressed this sentiment: Why shouldn’t I go with the flow to get ahead? I don’t want to be a failure so what’s the big deal about “reframing” my experience, my job title, etc. to fit a job posting and at least get the interview? I can clarify things then. Where’s the harm?

Where’s the harm? It depends on which “flow: you want. Do you want the flow of getting a job at any cost, or the one where you stick with the truth and maintain your integrity?

My counsel? Hold firm to the truth! Keep your integrity! Think about the wisdom Harriet Beecher Stowe offers when she says to “never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

Your values are your rock and your compass against which you measure what’s important to you in life. Be true to yourself.

A few practical tips and pointers for not giving up:

  • Steer clear up the lure of jazzing up your resume in an untruthful way to make your background more attractive. Be thorough in defining and quantifying your contributions. Stick to the facts.
  • Volunteer. It’s a great a way to keep your skills fresh if you are having trouble finding another job. Helping an organization or individuals in need is also a pretty cool positive jolt to your spirits.
  • Be open to trying new jobs that you might have passed over in better times. No job is below you.
  • Don’t compromise your core values and beliefs. Avoid acting like something or someone you are not to gain some temporary benefit.
  • Keep smiling, stay friendly, and stay positive.

Your time will come, and when it does, you’ll still have your integrity.


Musings on authencity and connection

I spent my Black Friday morning pondering the residue from a couple great conversations, some prior writing and some traveling reading. 

Lots of noodling, no solutions…

We crave connection.  We hold sincerity and authenticity in high esteem.  We want to trust and be trusted. We want to give and receive compassion. Yet, these attributes seem (in my opinion!) to be in short supply in the business world (particularly corporate America). 

I sat at a table where rich food and wine were in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board.     ~Thoreau

Could it be because…

…we’re so focused on our own personal agenda that we skip assisting others? Daniel Goleman offers this as a possible theory.

…we feel inadequate to offer guidance, direction or assistance to others?

…we’re under pressure to perform, to deliver short-term results and use that to justify impersonal interactions, thinking that the ends justify the means?

…we’re caught in the societal trap of soulless success, celebrity and/or financial gain?

 …we’ve made an art form out of Groucho Marx’s comment “The secret to life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” 

…or perhaps I’ve got it all wrong:  we don’t crave connection; we don’t hold sincerity and authenticity in high esteem; we don’t want to trust and be trusted; and we don’t want to give and receive compassion.

What say you?