Should You Get Booed or Heckled at Work?

Abundance Empathy Kindness


Key Point: Does anyone deserve to be booed or heckled at work? Sometimes sports provide windows for us to self reflect. This Sunday during an NFL football game thousands of Kansas City Chiefs football fans cheered when their quarterback Matt Cassel left a 9 to 6 loss against Baltimore Ravens with a head injury. These “fans” are obviously very unhappy with his performance as a player. But what happened to his status as a human being?

Want to hear just how disgusted one of his offensive lineman, Eric Winston was? Follow that link to listen to his powerful post-game comments. 

Cassel has been the focus of frustrated Chiefs’ fans for the past couple years, many of them even booing him when he appeared during a celebrity charity softball game this summer. Some had even hired an airplane to fly over Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday with a banner asking for him to be benched.

Cassel remained on his back for several minutes while his own hometown fans began to wildly cheer. He eventually got to his feet with some help and walked off the field under his own power. This behavior must be a source of embarrassment for the many decent people and Cheifs’ fans in Kansas City.

On the same Sunday, in the very example of giving everything to win for each other, the Indianapolis Colts won an inspirational game as underdogs against the overwhelming favorites, the Green Bay Packers. What was the motivation surrounding this game? Their coach Chuck Pagano is fighting for his life, having just been diagnosed with leukemia. Jim Irsay, the owner of the Colts, made a teary eyed impassioned speech to the Colts players after the game:

“We know what kind of man we have down the street, fighting, fighting for his life, and winning the fight,” Irsay said of Pagano, “Everyone in here knows how much that this means, and this ball is going right down the street.”

How do you feel if you’re Matt Cassel? Do you think he is going to get better because fans hackle or boo him? Just because he makes way more money than most of us, does that give us the right to verbally abuse and diminish him? Do you think because fans pay lots of money to watch a game, that gives us the “right” to be disrespectful and uncivil? Your boss is paying you. Does this mean he or she has the right to boo or heckle you if things aren’t meeting expectations? Or should they use a tactic of denigrating you to get you to quit? How about a fellow associate who is failing? Should we cheer on his or her demise? After all it’s a competitive dog eat dog world isn’t it? On the other hand, Chuck Pagano, the Colts coach and all those that had a hand in the victory likely feel uplifted. I know a head injury to Cassel is not the same thing Pagano is facing, but obviously I’m trying to make a point.

Character Move:

  1. Abundant thinking people can be very tough minded and performance focused. But they concentrate on what can be done to improve a situation and help a person to help themselves get better. They DO NOT (ever) adopt a mindset with the intent to denigrate another person. Please ensure that’s the mindset you have.
  2. Scarcity thinking people like to focus on diminishing others. Somehow they think it is a “right” and the way of the big bad world to make less of others. Nonsense. Remove and/or avoid scarcity thinking people in your work place. Most psychologists will point to the likelihood of people projecting their own self-loathing when they bully or diminish others.
  3. Every person at work deserves coaching and has an obligation to self-improve. Every boss has a responsibility to clarify expected results and apply a leadership system that gives all people the best chance to succeed. When things don’t work out, separation can occur in a dignified and respectful way. You don’t have to fly a metaphorical “scarcity” banner overhead or “boo”to try and get people to quit. Be upfront and address performance situations in ways that are fair, respectful and equitable.
  4. Never, ever, (I really mean ever) gloat publicly or privately when someone is given his or her “head injury.” They are as totally human and vulnerable as you. And trust me that if you do, one day you will experience the same or similar treatment . Karma will likely give you a well deserved taste of the same.

Encouraging not booing in The Triangle,



Who is the ‘They?’

Accountability Kindness


Key Point: Who the heck is “they” anyway? If I had a nickel for every time I heard the mysterious “they” brought up in a conversation, I would have a big fat piggy bank. The “they” is pretty much accountable for everything. Typically all that’s not quite right. I have been the CEO of an organization and found myself in a conversation with associates when the “they” suddenly appeared. Someone would lament, “I don’t know why ‘THEY’ made that decision?” Now the group knows that I made (or at minimum supported) the decision, but would exclude me from the “THEY.” When I point out that “Mr. They” is sitting right in front of them, a sort of recognition reflex occurs. It’s like… Geez… “Why did you fess up? We could have blamed ‘they’ some more if you wouldn’t have come clean and admitted that you’re the ‘they.'” Please give serious consideration to eliminating the undefined “they” from your dictionary. This pronoun is often a crutch for blame and promoting helplessness. When we feel we can’t do something because the “they” is blocking us from moving forward, it is important to challenge that assumption.

I believe that when people decide that they (yes… the word does have a legitimate place in our vocabulary) have a voice in improving things that impact them, the world around them changes for the better. I’m also not naive enough to believe that one individual can always overcome a sick or dysfunctional system. But I genuinely feel that that confronting and exposing the “they” can open a gate for positive action. It takes a mindset and antennae that is searching to eliminate blame, defensiveness and excuses.

Character Move:

  1. When you hear the word “they” being used as a source of blame, determine who the “they” really is. Ask for clear, specific definition.
  2. Once the “they” is exposed, honestly ask whether this specific group or person is really the barrier to progress? If so, develop a strategy to influence the “they.” If not, which is often the case, ask what you can do to make a positive difference. If you can’t, then perhaps the problem is not that important or you should remove yourself from the situation.
  3. Consider making up a name-tag that has the word “they” on it. Recently a colleague did just that and by declaring himself the “they,” he made it clear the buck stopped with him. This sense of self-accountability is a powerful statement and often energizes and mobilizes others.

Confronting the “they” in The Triangle,



Who Writes 30,000 Hand Written Notes?

Abundance Gratitude Organizational culture


Key Point: I was recently at a leadership conference. The speaker asked the attendees, an executive crowd of about 500, to raise their hand if they “needed recognition or acknowledgement for their work?” A few brave but sheepish souls put their arms in the air. The same presenter then asked the audience to raise their hands if they “found themselves doing their best work when recognized and encouraged?” And you guessed it; almost the entire conference raised their arms without any hesitation. The leadership expert on stage happened to be Santa Clara professor Jim Kouzes, co- author of the million plus bestseller The Leadership Challenge. He then quipped, with a little smirk, “So obviously regardless of whether you put your hand up in response to the first question, we all need encouragement and recognition. Get over it.”

The individual who personally wrote an estimated 30,000 hand written notes is recently retired CEO of Campbell Soup, Doug Conant. Can you imagine the habit system he employed and his deeply held belief and routine regarding abundance and recognition? By the way Conant was no “cream puff,” he completely reinvented a tired and underperforming Campbell’s by focusing on establishing a renewed culture (including replacing 300 of the top 350 leaders). The following is an excerpt from an interview in August 2012’s Sloan Management Review.

“Ten to twenty personal notes a day! How did you choose who to write to?

Conant actively engaged staff in CSR with his practice of writing 10 to 20 personal notes to employees every day.

“Well, I had access to our portal and I would see all the things going right in the company. With the aid of a staff member, I would pick about 10 to 20 things every day and I would hand write a note to the person saying, ‘Thanks for the help. I understand we’re ahead of schedule. Nice job.’ Over the course of my career I sent out about 30,000 personal notes, and we only had 20,000 employees.

So I was personally connecting with them, and as I would send notes to them, it created a platform where they would send notes back to me. We sort of naturally had this unique dialogue that could be hand written or via email, where employees would start sending me things.”

Character Move:

  1. Develop a habit system to give recognition. Ok, you probably don’t have a staff member that can pick 10 to 20 notable things every day for you to acknowledge. But without an assistant, I know you can identify one thing someone does that is worthy of positively reinforcing. Send that personal hand written note, leave them a voice mail, or an email, etc. The medium is less important than the specific behavior you’re reinforcing. Just friggin do it!
  2. At the end of each day, ask yourself this active question: “Did I do my best today to encourage, acknowledge and demonstrate genuine care for someone in my work organization AND family/friends?” Answer this every day and I guarantee you will become a more abundant leader, friend, dad, husband, etc.

[Ed. Note: As you spend time on my blog, I will bring you the best of learning from both research driven results and experiential leadership. Conant’s 30,000 notes references 12 years of success from a top CEO who achieved real turn around results; financial and otherwise. The end of day active question recommendation in the Character Move above, is based on both Marshall Goldsmith and Jim Kouzes work; two of the top leadership consultants in the world.]

Daily recognition in The Triangle,