Stuck? Find a Great Place to Work Instead

Accountability Organizational culture Personal leadership


Key Point: I am saddened when I hear that people put up working for a lousy boss and/or company because of the feeling that it’s a necessity they’re “stuck with.” Of course most of us need a job. But that doesn’t mean it has to be the job you’re in. Putting up with a crummy situation is particularly common when the economy is weak and employment is tough to get. The fact is, if you have the right attributes to match good skills, you are a very valuable resource and are worth a lot. The more skill and experience you get the more valuable you are. You actually appreciate in value. The attributes that I believe in of course are self-accountability, respect and abundance. When these values are connected to high levels of job competence and experience, you become an “A” player and you have the right and personal responsibility to find a great employer and boss. You deserve it. 

What should you look for in an employer? First of all, the vision, purpose and mission of the organization must be clear and worthwhile. It should be meaningful to you. If you don’t believe in what the organization does, and where it’s going, how can you work there in an authentic way? If the company is for profit, the business model should be understandable and sound. You should be confident it provides value people want to pay for in the long run. If not for profit, know where the sustainable funding comes from. Working for any company that is always worried about having enough cash just sucks. People behave poorly under the stress of going from hand to mouth. If this is the case… Get out! Great companies are also deeply committed to investing in your ability to develop and appreciate giving you autonomy when connected with accountability. Superb organizations are more interested in results and the value you provide.

What should you look for in a boss? If the company passes the above sustainability “mustard,” then you deserve a great boss. How do you know you have one? They are clear about expectations, deeply care about your improvement, respect you as a whole person (not just the worker person), ask for your input, give you sincere recognition, and make pay and benefits mostly a non-issue. They expect and model excellence, are clear about what they stand for and believe in, make and meet commitments consistently. They are emotionally intelligent and inspirational. You want to work for them. They show that they care about you in genuine ways. They are not perfect, and make mistakes but are authentic and humble in their humanness. You trust them. If they have to make tough decisions, they’re fair. If they are in it for themselves, abusive, blaming, moody, unpredictable, and take all the credit for all that’s good but never shoulder the problems… Get out! Here is one test: When was the last time they genuinely asked you how you were doing? Offered to help? Showed you how much they care about YOU? Do they know anything about you as a whole person? If the answer is rarely or never… Get out! Or, get a new boss.

Character Moves:

  1. First of all, assess whether you are that “A” player. This is a combination of having a growth mindset, excellent functional competence and living the Character Triangle. If you feel like you are less than an “A” player… Create a plan to become one. What do you need to do?
  2. Rate your employer and boss according to the above. You deserve BOTH… A great organization AND boss! If you fall short in either… Develop a plan to get the best in both. You deserve it!
  3. Do not talk yourself into believing that you should work in a lousy environment to ” get experience,” or until the economy improves. You can get experience in a great environment too. And “A” Players are always in demand in any economy. Being an “A” player is like being a piece of real estate with a great view; it’s always marketable. You’re worth it. Have the courage to become an “A” player, working for an “A” company, with an “A” boss!

“A” all around in the Triangle,



Do You Care If People Like You at Work?

Abundance Growth mindset Personal leadership


Key Point: I’ve heard the following phrase often from leaders in various organizations: “I don’t care if people like me but I want them to respect me.” Really? Well, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, authors of I’m the Boss! Why Should I Care If You Like Me? have conducted and reviewed 360 data from 50,000 plus leaders and guess what? If you are not liked, there’s only a 1 in 2,000 shot that you will be rated as a top leader. Why? Because when determining whether you are likable, people commonly reference a key set of desirable characteristics that help them define likability. The following are the core likability drivers as determined by the 50,000 plus respondents. As you might expect, they have a lot of cross over with characteristics people find desirable in determining effective leadership. Here is what the authors’ research highlights: How would you rate yourself on each likability behavior?

Increase positive emotional connections with others. Just like the flu or a cold, emotions are contagious. If a leader is angry or frustrated, those feelings will spread to others. Conversely, if a leader is positive and optimistic, those emotions also spread. Be aware of your emotional state and work to spread the positive emotions. (LR: Over and over again, self-awareness and emotional intelligence shows up. Few people like crabby, negative leaders).

Display rock solid integrity. Do others trust you to keep your commitments and promises? Are others confident that you will be fair and do the right thing? We like leaders we trust; we dislike those we distrust. (LR: Making and meeting commitments becomes a huge part of establishing a culture of trust).

Cooperate with others. Some leaders believe that they are in competition with others in the organization but the purpose of an organization is to unite employees to work together in a common purpose. (LR: This is an important ingredient in the Abundant thinking described in the Character Triangle. If you are in it for yourself first, it will become evident. And people will be wary and filter your intent accordingly).

Be a coach, mentor, and teacher. Think about someone who has helped you develop or learn a new skill. How do you feel about that person? Most people have fond and positive memories of coaches and mentors. Helping others develop is a gift that is never forgotten.(LR: This takes a lot of personal energy, but to be a great and liked leader you need to learn to effectively coach and coach to effectively learn).

Be an inspiration. Most leaders know very well how to drive for results. They demand excellence. They insist that employees achieve stretch targets. In other words they push. And the best bosses do this as well. But that’s not all they do. The most successful leaders are also effective at pulling. They roll up their sleeves when necessary and pitch in with the team. They communicate powerfully. Inspiring leaders, as you might expect, are more likable. (LR: How balanced are you in pushing AND pulling for excellence)?

Be visionary and future focused. When employees do not clearly understand where they’re headed and how they’ll get there, they become frustrated and dissatisfied, feeling like passengers with no control and few options except complaining. Sharing a vision of the future and helping team members understand how to get there inspires confidence: It’s hard to like a leader who’s lost in the wilderness. (LR: This is one of the hardest things to do. Just because you think you know where you’re going, it’s not enough. You have to be relentless in connecting and translating your vision to others in ways that they really care and see the value in).

Ask for feedback and make an effort to change. Our 360 data show clearly that most people rate themselves more likable than their bosses, peers, and direct reports do. How can you bridge that gap? As the graph below demonstrates, there’s a strong correlation between a leader’s likability and the extent to which they ask for and respond to feedback from others. Feedback from others helps leaders to understand the impact (positive or negative) that they have on others. (LR: Likable and effective leaders are always asking for feedback and advice, not from a place of personal insecurity but one of improvement and growth).

Character Moves:

  1. Get feedback on how you are actually doing on the above leadership likability drivers.
  2. Find out which ones you might leverage better and make a game plan to improve. Most of us could get better in each area, but start by picking one or two that will give you the best likability ROI.
  3. As you execute your plan, get agreement from trusted colleagues to let you know if they see a real indication of progress. Determine measurable milestones that can be solid evidence of improvement. Then keep going on all the drivers.
  4. If you do, stop referring to that silly “I don’t care if they like me phrase.” If “they” don’t, the data suggests you are probably not a very strong leader.

Liked and Leading in The Triangle,



Please Don’t Live From Weekend to Weekend

Accountability Gratitude Happiness


Key Point: What if Monday and Saturday both felt great? What if we did not live our lives looking forward to the day we “retired?” Instead, what if we lived like we aspired to live right NOW? Is this naïve thinking? Come on… Work is work… Leisure is leisure… Right? Wrong.

My mom lives in a seniors’ complex. I came through the front door the other day and this lovely elderly woman was sitting in the lobby. As I was waiting for the elevator to arrive, she explained that she was waiting to see when the lights in the atrium would automatically switch on based on the sun going down. “The other night I went to bed before they came on,” she explained. “Holy…” I thought. “Is this what I have to look forward to?”

Later that evening my wife and I watched a movie based on a true story, The Impossible, which depicted a family devastated by the tsunami that hit South Asia nearly a decade ago. I thought, “I am so grateful I haven’t had to experience that kind of event.” Thank goodness most of us are well in between the continuum of these two extremes: The total boredom of nothingness and the terror of just trying to stay alive.

So what? I think we need to be reminded to live our life with total joy each day. In just a blink of time, if we are lucky, we will be very fragile and sitting quietly in some senior’s lobby. Hopefully we will have avoided fighting for our lives through a tsunami or equivalent along the way.

Character Moves:

  1. Do not wait for retirement or some future day to be happy and joy filled in your daily work/ life. That day may never come. The time to be fulfilled and joyful is NOW. Think about how you achieve that in your current work role. If you can’t, find something else to do.
  2. Worrying about having enough money for “whatever” is practical and reasonable. But living in misery to get or stay there is not. Nothing is worth going about daily work life in a joyless way. We need to live from the “end” NOW! If we wait, who knows what will happen.
  3. Some jobs are inherently tough. But relationships… Being loved by and loving others, do not need to be. Like Stephen Stills’ old country/folk song goes, “Love the One You’re With.”
  4. Ask yourself what you want to do when you’re retired? Financially sound? Now pull it all forward and do it now… I’m serious. Do not wait to be fulfilled or happy. It’s not worth it!

Now in the Triangle,