Will there be a Mutiny on your watch? Is there a silent rebellion on your team?

People who have been tolerant of oppressive leadership/management behavior eventually revolt.  Mutiny is on their minds and it describes a revolutionary action. In an organization that has owners, principals and stockholders mutiny does not occur by physically taking over a facility or its leadership. It occurs by people determining that they will not give 100%. They will not be totally engaged at work. They will not give their best. Employees will adopt an “over my dead body” mindset, which means they theoretically would rather die than give their total cooperation to an organization that does not respect them. Workers have decided that the company does not deserve their best, therefore their best ideas, solutions and discretionary effort will be withheld.

A sales representative approached his mentor and told him about the dissent in his district. Apparently, the district was fed up with the leadership inadequacies of their District manager. He listed several failures in emotional intelligence and examples of managerial malpractice. He wanted to know the path they should take to bring their discontent to higher authorities. They were going to stage a mutiny. Their mutiny was not going to be a work stoppage nor were they going to physically remove their manager from his position. In essence, they wanted to schedule a meeting with their regional manager on their grievances. They wanted to know if they were going through the proper channels to get results. The team was to meet with the regional sales manager to complain about the District Manager’s tactics and the impact on morale and performance.

The curious part of the discussion was the performance history of the regional sales manager. In his prior role as a district sales manager, his team complained about his management style. He was notorious for lacking emotional intelligence and created an environment of fear and intimidation. He exhibited the same tendencies present in his current subordinate. How sympathetic would he be to their claims about a hostile work environment?

The representative was advised to go through the proper channels. They felt more comfortable contacting Human Resources to state their case. HR, by remit, would investigate their issues and take the necessary actions. Additionally, he was advised to not be seen as the ring leader in this uprising. The Regional manager in question was also notorious for retaliating against individuals who challenged him or stood in his way.

Managers can evaluate their culture through The Know System™ which could provide a simplified look at their environment. The Know System™ featured in the book The Isle of Knowledge is a decision making model which is also useful for individual and group coaching exercises. It is easy to use and allows the participants to accumulate information to enhance the quality of their decisions and discussions. The system is devised from the word Know. The user should ask a series of questions to gather information. Let’s look at 6 words from the word Know and a few related questions that apply to company culture.

  1. Won – What would a winning culture look like to you? What type of atmosphere, level of engagement and customer satisfaction scores would represent success to you?
  2. Know – What do you know and need to know about your culture and the people in your organization? (This can be enhanced with the words who, what, where, when, how and why, if appropriate)
  3. Now – What are you doing now to ensure a healthy habitat? Are you placing priority on the proper indicators?
  4. No – What are you doing that you need to stop doing? What goes against your culture and stated values that you need to say no to? What do your people want you to eliminate or stop doing?
  5. On – You must be vigilant at all times to monitor culture and maintain a proper cultural air quality. What are you doing to track leading indicators of a great culture? How are you measuring your work environment?
  6. Own – Do you own the culture as evidenced by leadership behavior? How are you holding yourself and others accountable? How are you reporting your performance and interest in a strong culture to your people?


The beauty of our current leadership/managerial landscape is that many organizations have ascribed to the notion of a healthy work environment. There are employee surveys and satisfaction surveys, as well as engagement surveys to take the temperature or climate of the organization. These surveys can uncover problems and managers can be presented with data and held accountable for changing their environment. These surveys are strengthened with direct contact with management and human resources to ensure the environment is conducive for maximum productivity.

Is imperative as a leader to gauge how your people are responding to your direction and the culture in your environment. It is also apparent that many leaders are promoted because they excelled in their previous sales position, but are not cut out for management. You should try to train and develop these individuals, but in some instances it is not a good match and a decision should be made to place the person in the right job.  A worst-case scenario may develop where people mentally abandon the company, but stay on the job, because the company failed to address a main contributor to their toxic culture.

When the organization does not feel like a respectful place, people feel that the company has let them down and cannot be trusted. Mutiny or thoughts of mutiny is an indication that the current culture has failed or is failing many of its workers. They may resort to subversive action and taking matters into their own hands.

Mutiny may show itself as a single silent action called a resignation. Your top performers or the most influential members on your team may leave, causing a chain reaction of departures. Management must be accessible and periodically and personally check the culture pulse of the organization. People must believe that leadership is authentic, transparent and sincere when leaders speak of core values. Trust will be enhanced when people really believe that they are the number one resource in the organization. Otherwise, silent mutinies will going unchecked, unnoticed and leaving people unfulfilled.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser



How to use guilt to your advantage?

Rick was promised a promotion. His manager committed the cardinal sin of sharing classified information from recent talent discussions with upper management and human resources. His candidacy for a mid level leadership position was about to yield positive results. However, a new executive arrived from the overseas office and used his considerable influence to put his own person in the job. Rick was devastated to learn the position, he was promised, was going to another individual. His boss was placed in a precarious position. He was apologetic and felt guilty for delivering the premature verdict.

There were two lessons. One was the need to be silent when trusted with confidential information. The second involved what to do when immersed in guilt after the situation blows up in your face. What was his subordinate going to do?

Rick could not complain for this would involve throwing his boss under the bus. Knowing his boss felt guilty, he decided to be a good worker and not compromise his managers’ decision. He was confident that eventually he would be promoted and his boss was an ally who really felt bad about the situation. The boss felt guilty enough to do everything in his power to see that it never happened again. Rick made the most of the additional time in the job. H and is silence and work ethic qualified him for a new assignment.

In another scenario, a merger placed a number of careers in shambles. The subsequent reorganization came with the requisite confusion and uncertainty. A few individuals who did not receive the promotions they desired were angry enough to express their discontent in a public forum and through the corporate grapevine. Their lack of good judgment and composure made a poor impression on the new managers. It gave valuable insight into their personalities and how they would respond in difficult times. Other individuals were also disappointed, but expressed their loyalty to the company, even though they may have been equally upset. They demonstrated wisdom by stating their disappointment only to their managers, while vowing to work harder for the next promotion. They were able to express their ambition, authenticity and transparency. This approach was appreciated and served as an example of managerial maturity.

Managers have a tendency to provide extra coaching to individuals they like. If they aren’t able to protect their people, they generally feel guilty about their inability to place them in the appropriate jobs at the appropriate time. If the company makes a decision that works against you, you may see it in your managers’ face, even if they don’t express their feelings outwardly. If they are genuinely contrite in a situation that worked against you, you may use that to set up a favorable situation down the road. The manager will appreciate your cooperation and understanding. They may internally feel as if they owe you something, when in reality they don’t.

In most situations, we don’t have very large career impacting decisions that people lose sleep over because they have a negative personal impact on your life. The more mundane instances are usually around appointments and not offering the support or resources necessary when you need them. When someone doesn’t come through as planned or promised, you want to acknowledge the breakdown. You want to gain an understanding that even if it was not intentional, steps will be taken to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Actually, you’re asking them to do the best they can to help you. They may or may not verbalize this but you walk away with the general understanding of intent to work as your advocate. Let them off the hook and gain their commitment to come through for you in the future.

The style and grace that comes from patience and understanding the pressures on another person will be appreciated in the long run. The guilt issue may be a minor one, but it can be used in your favor.

As stated earlier, guilt is usually accumulated in everyday situations. Can you think of a time when someone may not come through as planned or promised? Anticipate the event and plan your response. Give them some grace, a way out and a show of support, which may pay dividends. They will seek ways to reward you in the future for your understanding and cooperation.

Additionally, can you think of the time when someone was late for an appointment or missed one altogether? How did they respond? Did you sense, there tardiness for the meeting or otherwise falling short of expectations was something that made them feel guilty. People have reputations around punctuality and your forgiveness will go a long way to making them feel remorseful and appreciative

We must acknowledge those individuals who exert a total disregard for you, as it relates to your time, resources and career. They are chronically late for appointments. They will make decisions that hinder your effectiveness and will not apologize when they let you down or stab you in the back. Using guilt in a situation where no one feels remorse is a classic waste of time. You should be very careful around these individuals and cast a large safety network of trusted individuals who will let you know when they are working against you.

When working with individuals who do not respect your time, resources and career, you must be careful not to use the same tactic with them, especially if they outrank you. Your reputation, business acumen and social skills should inspire you to continue to lead by example. Your goal is to achieve results and make others better by becoming a highly effective leader.

In summary, if someone fails in their interactions with you and are genuinely contrite, rather than lashing out in anger and causing irreparable damage to your relationship, you may consider being patient. Your show of grace will benefit you because it has an uncanny way of magnifying guilt. The trick is how to use this to your advantage without an overriding feeling of manipulation.

You may inadvertently or intentionally benefit from their feeling of guilt down the road. You’ll also find that grace will convert guilt into an expression of gratitude. This state of gratitude may have profound implications on your effectiveness as a leader who achieves outstanding results.


Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser


Managing your personal power supply

The Spin class was about to begin. Gayle, the instructor, stated, “I lost power yesterday.” She said she was in her home when suddenly, a loud noise was heard and her electricity went off. We stretched, continued a light conversation and launched into a rigorous routine. I wondered during the class, “How many times, as individuals, have we lost power in our lives? Did we give it away or was it taken from us? Are there certain situations or individuals who cause us to lose power? Who are they and why does this happen? What are the early warning signs before there is a loss of power?

The loss of power is readily detectable. You have that feeling of loss of confidence, which is demonstrated by your body language, vocabulary and actions. Many times the loss of power at home or at work may come as a surprise. However, just as in nature there is a flash of lightning or thunderclaps before a storm, you can rely on certain indicators as precursors to a storm. You can anticipate someone’s presence, behaviors, as a good sign that a storm and potential power loss is on the way.

We should be aware of the signs of losing power and fortify your defenses. This will require us to increase our competence, confidence and network of individuals who will cooperate with us in our efforts to enhance our power position. There are times when we lose power and look around us and everyone seems to have theirs. What can we do to maintain or regain our power during a power outage? Power outages may be due to:

  1. Burnout
  2. Lack of confidence
  3. Power drainers
  4. Power mongers


We can lose power by expending too much energy. We may fail to prioritize and try to do too many things at once. Processing too many projects at one time will lead to an increase in stress. Lack of sleep and irritability may negatively affect your disposition. You may become moody and easy to anger. Our lives are running at many revolutions per minute (rpm’s). We create to do lists (TDL’s) to keep track of our obligations. To do lists are getting longer and serve as a repository of unlimited tasks of varying priorities. We may fail to rank the items or every item seems to be important, which will lead to none of them being important. If we don’t put a filter on the funnel, we will be overwhelmed. This state of overload will lead to burnout, a breakdown and a loss of power. You must realize that some items on your list may not be covered or should be delegated or deleted.

Lack of confidence

Sometimes lack of confidence can lead to a loss of power. You may be faced with the possibility that you are not as good as you think you are and are afraid that others will discover your shortcomings. A way to address this fear is to conduct a self assessment of your skills and abilities. Be honest with yourself. You should relentlessly study your craft until we are an expert in your field. This may require study and validation which will give you the necessary credentials to ward off any challenges. If you lack confidence or courage you may doubt your abilities and lose the power of conviction needed to be successful.

Power drainers

Some people exist as leaches in the workplace, at home and wherever you engage in relationships. They will drain your power through constant complaining. Negative thoughts and the complaints will drain your energy supply. Their negative disposition and complaint oriented disposition puts everyone in a bad mood. They are not satisfied with anything and they never bring a solution to the myriad of problems they detect. When they enter the room, you can feel the life being sucked out of the place. Engagement levels seem to go down and the level of interaction and cooperation is reduced. The focus is on the speed of ending the meeting and getting back to work away from this malcontent.

The power drainers are time wasters. They do not respect time. They will barge into your office or workspace and tell you the latest gossip and shortcomings of the organization. Many power drainers have a running conflict with their peers and want you to come in as a peacemaker, which is time consuming and emotionally exhausting.

Power mongers

Power mongers are perpetrators who like to hoard power and use it over people based on their level of influence or authority. They will take the power away from you in a meeting. If you have the floor in a meeting they will ask the questions to shift the emphasis to them. I attended a meeting where one participant had more handouts on my subject than I did and spent the meeting time explaining their handouts which took away my power and control of the meeting. The better preparation and communication skills may address some of the issues of the power mongers.

The manager who asks you to do something because they said it does everything to shut down questions from the meeting attendees. Power mongers also work by using intimidation to get results. They will level threats at people who do not complete assignment correctly. A power monger will embarrass people in front of their peers. They may do this deliberately to show who’s the boss? A new manager at a paper recycling plant announced to his employees that he wanted them to fear him. He went on to exercise this management style as an egocentric power monger.

A power monger believes that information is power and takes this concept to the extreme. They delegate information sparingly. A manager had access to updates from the home office that would have been useful to one of his subordinates making a presentation. Rather than call him off to the side before the meeting and provide the updates, he strategically interrupted during the meeting with the latest news from headquarters. You may need help in dealing with a power monger, who negatively uses power. This can be done by working with mentors, advocates and power brokers. These individuals have the wisdom, insight and influence to assist you in relating to the power mongers.

Power brokers

Powerbrokers are individuals who use power effectively to get results. These individuals should be utilized and studied in order to gain their assistance. You want to use their techniques to minimize personal power outages. These individuals can be identified and cultivated at work, networking groups, referrals from their contacts and through personal introductions.

Work with powerbrokers to increase your confidence; improve your influence skills and knowledge of your area of interest and expertise. Conduct a personal assessment; improve your communication skills and your knowledge of your subject. Your objective is to isolate the individuals and circumstances that drain your power and counteract their affect on you. This will enable you to be stronger and effective in harnessing your power supply and minimizing instances where you lose power.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser


Itemize Individual Contributions to Team Results


An interview is an excellent opportunity to blow your own horn, trumpet individual performance and brag about your accomplishments in a politically correct environment. However, in our team oriented culture, we sometimes forget that individual accomplishment is important. Frequently in an interview, candidates answer questions highlighting team accomplishments. They falsely believe the interview is a place only to celebrate team achievement. After all, we are constantly immersed in the value of effectively utilizing teams to reach corporate objectives. It seems only logical to use team vernacular in the interview to respond to the behaviorally based interview questions.

Candidates may fail to realize, that it is difficult for the interviewer, especially one who lacks a lot of interview experience, to extract an individual’s role in team centered answers. Therefore it is incumbent upon you as a candidate to isolate and itemize your contributions to the overall success of the team. The interview therefore, becomes a safe place for you to clarify and celebrate your individual accomplishments.

As a member of the team, you are expected to use team specific language while working on the job. We know it is important for you to coordinate your activities and collaborate with others to achieve a synergistic effect. But in the midst of daily activities, it is important for you to keep a record of your unique input to the overall project. This may involve questions asked, suggestions made and challenges delivered to accepted practices or ideas. In a team oriented department / organization, it is sometimes difficult to separate individual results from team performance. However, a strategic approach is necessary to isolate and itemize your contributions, as you climb the corporate ladder or interview for a job in another organization.

You must develop a “We / I” mentality. State that “We achieved a certain result and I was able to contribute in this achievement;” Then specifically itemize your contributions. The “We / I” based orientation is hard to do at first, but with practice and training, it will become a natural part of your conversation. The conversation that helps you develop an up-to-date resume, examples to be used in an interview and information necessary to grow your skills and abilities. It is critical to have an accurate perception of your strengths and weaknesses, so that you will know where they need to be enhanced. If you know your strengths, competencies, abilities, skills and talents, you can utilize them to effectively and accurately assess results and explain your actions.

The objective of “We / I” is not to put yourself in competition with your team members. It is not an opportunity to tell how you are more important to the team than your teammates. Part of the success of the team is the collective contributions of each member and the synergy created to get results. The idea of working in order to get credit for your actions can be counterproductive to the smooth working of the group. I believe the old adage that states,” consider the amount of work that can be done if we didn’t worry about who got credit for the results.” It is important in a team setting for everyone to work for the betterment and efficiency of the team to succeed as a unit.

Many organizations will tout the value of their teams. Some of these organizations will design their incentive programs to reward team performance. However, they will also assess individual performance. They will breakout or itemize individual performance through concentrating on particular behaviors. Recognizing these individual behaviors and distinctions are important when deciding career growth, promotions and succession planning.

Interviewers ask follow-up questions to determine the candidate’s role in their department’s success. When the candidates language and examples are structured in the context of what “we accomplished” the interviewer has to work too hard to obtain information. Many may not be patient enough and place the candidate in the” Not Interested” pile.  not interested”

Do not want the interview to incur the extra effort required to probe for individual contributions. You should provide concrete examples of your ideas; strategies and challenges that helped the team become better. You do not want to make it difficult for them to determine if you were an active member of the team or a member hiding behind the team’s reputation with very few ideas of your own. Interviewers look for the leadership role played in achieving results, rather than someone who just served as a follower or implementer of the ideas of others.

Candidates are frustrated by a perceived inconsistency between a team oriented culture and individualistic specific questions in an interview. When they receive the feedback that they did not specifically itemize their contributions to the team, they are confused. They feel as if the organization is sending mixed messages. Therefore, organizations need to clarify and ask people working in a team environment to track their individual contributions to the team and the reasons behind the request. We can compare this to team performances in other areas of our lives, whether in the field of athletics, academia, music or community activities. Success may be measured by the overall group achieving a goal, but there may be individual statistics, ideas, questions or actions that help the group reach its objectives.

If you’re working in a group where team performance is paramount, undoubtedly you are constantly thinking about achieving team objectives. These thoughts about achieving objectives will lead to actions that will inspire, challenge or push the team toward success, however it is measured. There will come a time when this project, job or assignment is over and you decide to move on to a different role. When you arrive at the different role, at some point in the interview, they will want to know the success of your team and your role in helping that team excel. The more clarity they can gain around your contributions, the better they will be able to determine if you are a person they need to fill the vacant position. Protect your career, assess your contributions and establish a system to itemize your contributions to the overall success of your group, team, Department or organization.  This will lead to better interviews and pave the way for a successful career through clearly stating the scope of your performance.


Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser


Beware: The Competition Will Try to Define You


During the political season we are reminded of a strategy used by certain candidates to cast their opposition in a disparaging light. The one who draws first blood or throws the first punch has the advantage. The concept is to define their opponent in the negative they want them to be seen in the eyes of the voters. The image or caricature they create and assign to the person may not in reality be an accurate picture of who they are. But, if they persistently hammer home the message, repetition will cause people to believe it.

The persona they create and attach to their opponent becomes how they are seen by others and becomes their image shaping their reputation. It is not a trial where character witnesses are called to refute the charges against them. The target can defend themselves and attack the negative label, but it must stick to them wherever they go. The voter’s perception becomes the candidate’s reality. The politicians have essentially given them a brand that will minimize their effectiveness against the onslaught of negative publicity.

Branding or labeling your competition is a technique that is also used in the business world when dealing with competitive companies and competitive products. If you can convince the consumer that a product is unreliable and the service provided by the company is substandard, you can divert the customer to your products and services.

I remember a sales representative whose product was not a market share match for the competition. The sales representative’s presentation focus was on equivalent safety, efficacy and cost relative to the other products. His wildcard was superior service. He used his sales presentation to enhance a “yes but” approach around the service.” Yes their products are good, but you can’t rely on the sales representative to give the kind of service you deserve.” In the world of commodity products, where every product is comparable with superior products, the focus deviates from the product to ancillary or alleged advantages.

You should also be mindful that someone may be trying to use the same defining technique on your reputation. Individuals or factions within your company may be trying to restrict your career growth and limit your impact within the organization. You may discover that misconceptions and misinformation exist about your skills and motivation that were intentionally planted or inadvertently allowed to persist. If this inaccurate performance profile is not corrected, your career can be stalled and irreparably damaged.

Let’s further examine this technique as it relates to your career. Whether you know it or not someone may be trying to define your reputation. Many times you don’t even know the charges have been made. Katherine was a rising talent within an organization, putting very impressive numbers on the board, which led to a promotion. She received rave review from a number of people in management. Her boss decided to ask one of her peers about her performance on the job as it related to being a team player. The teammates said, “Katherine was a hard worker and people liked her, but you would think with her skill level she would have a greater attention to detail.” This planted the seed that she could not be trusted to handle the small intricate details of a project.

Another individual got a new manager and his new boss sat him down to discuss two issues regarding his performance. The big issues were around initiative and decision-making. The employee told his boss how he came in on weekends to get a head start on the week, spending upwards of six hours away from his family, to lay the foundation for a productive week. Apparently, there was a note in his file that he could not get work done in the timeframe allotted, so he had to come in on weekends.

Secondly, while describing his decision-making technique he mentioned that he watched his boss to see how he made decisions and when the boss was not present, on the smaller matters, he would make a determination and then inform his boss when he returned. The boss never expressed that he had an issue with this approach. However, in his file it stated that he frequently overstepped his decision-making authority. This was a part of the record and gave the impression that he was reckless in making decisions.

A Regional Sales Manager (RSM) found out that his National Sales Manager (NSM) harbored a negative image of one of their District Sales Managers (DSM). When the RSM issued a positive performance review on the DSM, he received lukewarm feedback. Later when RSM wanted to recommend the DSM for a promotion, the NSM would not support the recommendation because he felt she had to change her image. The National Sales Manager said she was perceived as aggressive and abrasive, which did not apply to her. He felt she had to change her reputation before he would recommend her for additional responsibility. The Regional Sales Manager asked a very pertinent question, “How is she going to change a perception that does not represent who she is?”

There are advertised companies that perform a reputation audit or assessment on line to see what the Internet says about you. Just as it is reasonable to conduct a credit check or an audit of your financial status for identity theft, it is also good to do an assessment of your reputation within your organization.

  • Reach out to your peers and managers to discover what the word on the street is regarding your image
  • Consider developing a small survey with a few questions around skills you need to improve
  • Have information from mentors, advocates and sponsors who will speak on your behalf and speak candidly to you

Biases, misconceptions, stereotypes, prejudices and preferences can hamper your career mobility. I am not suggesting that’s premeditated acts are committed to sabotage your particular career, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that people’s careers have been shattered by unscrupulous employees, who were internal career competitors. In previous writings I suggested that is important to know who knows you and what they think of you and how they arrived at their opinions. Your image is important and depends on this information to enable you to be knowledgeable to take corrective action.

Organizations are providing 360° feedback instrument for their leadership teams. But, rarely is this instrument taken down to non-managers. I would suggest that as a manager or a non-manager, gaining a perspective of how you are perceived by your peers and others could provide important information for your personal growth.

Additionally, you may ask your HR department if they have instruments that you can use to share with your peers or you may go on the Internet and find resources that you can tailor to your needs.

When you receive feedback from people you should listen carefully to what they are saying and any nuances that may indicate reservations about you. When you hear negative feedback, you must be calm and refuse to cause a scene. Seek assistance in devising a strategy to handle negative information, which involves enlisting trouble shooters and internal image specialist (HR and mentors). There may also be legitimate instances where the poor reputation is earned and you must remodel or remove yourself from the organization if it is career threatening. You may need to take the feedback and gain a fresh start in another company.

The objective of this article is not to make you paranoid, but prudent in understanding all of the variables that could impact your development. The more information you have about your personal performance, the faster you can make adjustments to correct any abnormalities and keep you on the path to reaching your goals. When people form impressions about you, they should be authentic, accurate and positive reflections of your reputation and your track record.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser





How to go from an Extra in a job interview to a Starring Role


Have you discovered that you were an extra in a job interview, when you thought you were auditioning for the lead role? Usually, you do not find out about this reality, but if it is discovered, how do you handle the knowledge? Allow me to use the movie metaphor throughout this article to make a few points that will hopefully be of benefit to you.

When interviewing internal candidates within an organization, there is usually a preferred candidate. This person is the odds on favorite, a person who it is their job to lose, who will get the job unless they are an embarrassment and fall on their face during the interview. Don’t be naïve going to the interview thinking that this is not a reality. What can you do to shift the odds in your favor or set yourself up or your next career move?

Secondly, even when interviews involve candidates from outside the organization, judging by recommendations, review of resumes, and telephone screening, there are still candidates who on paper, the interviewer may feel have an edge. What should be your mindset going into the interview? You should assume that you are interviewing against a pool of talented individuals and securing the job will require your best performance. You cannot be distracted by the competitive field of talent. You should feel thankful for the chance to show the world why you are the person for the job and did deliver a powerful, mind altering performance.

Interview preparation

Prepare yourself for a courageously effective interview, as if you were competing against the most potent candidates in the universe. You must know yourself thoroughly and be ready to present your credentials in the most authentic, persuasive and powerful means possible. Your focus should be on delivering the best audition, reflective of your skills and abilities, to perform the job at a very high level. Your research into the organization should enable you to craft a strategic vision of how you could do the job better than anyone else. You should visualize yourself in the job, performing the job and achieving beyond managerial and company expectations.

It is company policy in many organizations to post a job, even when a person has been identified to fill the position. This may seem like a sham, but it does provide an opportunity for other people to audition for the vacancy. It may feel as if you are going through the motions and it may feel unfair, but it provides an opportunity that would not be there without the Human Resource Department (HR) involvement.

I have been on both sides of the situation. I have had people who were targeted for a specific role as a part of their professional development. When the role became available, I wanted to immediately put them in the job, however I was told by HR that the job needed to be posted and others given the opportunity to pursue the position. In other words, the people had to earn the position. HR wanted people throughout the organization to have a chance to pursue available and appropriate positions. Otherwise, people would leave jobs and be replaced based on favoritism and preferential treatment. It was better for the organization and the rationale made sense to me. However, it was incumbent upon the interviewers to be open-minded. This was a challenge and everyone had to be held accountable, which required challenging the judgment of everyone involved in order to arrive at a fair and equitable decision. There were instances where initial feelings were changed, based on the skills and abilities of a better candidate.

I have experience interviewing for a job when I knew I was a part of a crowd scene. I was an extra, to allegedly give credibility to the interviewing process. I did not want the job, but I was encouraged to interview for the job because it would be beneficial for my career. Interviewing for a job requires preparation time, which I did not want to spend because I wanted a different position. I did not want to deliver a poor interview because it would take me out of consideration for the job I really wanted. The feedback I received, after I did not get the job, was they could tell that my heart was not in the interview. I thought that was amazing, since I told them in the beginning that I did not want to interview for the position. My presence in the interview, gave credibility to the person and the interview process. It also showed my willingness to be a team player.

Initially, I felt they could have given the job to the individual without putting me through the process of preparing and executing multiple interviews. Serving as an interview extra however, ultimately worked in my favor. He was an amazing candidate and ultimately I got the assignment I wanted.

How should you perform when you suspect that you are an extra in the interviewing process? Should you follow through with the interview? Should you complain to those interviewing about your suspicions? Should you withdraw your name from consideration because you view it as a waste of time?

Many managers would suggest you approach the situation from a strategic point of view. They would suggest that you consider the following;

  • The interview process may not be as open-minded as you would like
  • The interview is an opportunity to showcase your talents, skills and abilities
  • The interview allows you to network and expose other individuals to your career aspirations
  • The interview allows you an opportunity to practice your interviewing skills in a manner sanctioned by the organization (receiving interview practice by interviewing for jobs outside the organization would not be smiled upon)
  • You could enter the interview with the mindset of making it very difficult for the interviewers to offer the job to their preferred candidate
  • Your stellar performance could set you up for a recommendation from the interviewers for an even better positionThe moral of the interview process is that even though you may knowingly or unknowingly be an extra in the interview process, it is a golden opportunity to network and showcase your talents. It can be the move that can set you up for an even greater job, building relationships, advocates and individuals anxious to recommend you and potentially bring you onto their team.


  • Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

Performance fixing in the workplace – Lost productivity and restricted growth

C&R 9-3 0007

Athletes and their sports periodically are plagued by scandal. Athletes may be asked to lose a match, fight, or game by delivering less than their best effort. The tennis world was recently rocked by allegations of match fixing where players allegedly accepted payment for losing or throwing a match. Novak Djokovic, the reigning number one men’s player in the world, said he was offered $200,000 through his previous handlers in 2007 to lose a match.

Boxing has had its share of scandals. Unscrupulous fighters have been known to take a dive, throw a fight or lose a fight on purpose. Controversies have surfaced with football, basketball and baseball.

This tactic of solicitation; altering the outcome of a performance is also prevalent in other aspects of our lives. Performance fixing is not customarily a term used to describe substandard performance at work. We do not accuse employees of collusion, throwing a project or taking a dive regarding their objectives. However, there may be similarities with sports.

Friends or coworkers may ask you to deliberately act in ways that could negatively affect results. They may expect you to limit your participation or productivity, hold back by not delivering your best effort and engage in activities with consequences that will affect your grade, goal achievement, contributions or career.

It is an integrity issues when someone delivers an unearned and unsanctioned discount or illegally influences the score. But failing to bring your best effort is also unfairly influencing results by delivering below expectations.

People may have a variety of reasons for convincing others to take a dive. They may want you to make a supervisor look bad, fail or simply to compromise results for a number of reasons.

As a sales representative my competitors tried to discourage me from working hard and going beyond the call of duty. Ultimately, when I was promoted to management, they told me they thought I was smarter than to take a role in leadership. Their code of ethics was to do just enough to get by, not rock the boat or bring too much attention to the status quo of their comfortable world. They had tried for several years to get me to perform at a level that did not upset their established level of mediocrity. They were in effect asking me to fix the outcome of my selling activities by reducing my effectiveness.

Take a moment to reflect on your life and your performance in school, relationships or in your career. Have there been instances where people have discouraged you from taking a course of action; pursuing an MBA, volunteering for a project, advancing your education or participating in a manner that would improve the outlook for your career? They may not have offered money, but there was an expectation that you would conform to their request and maintain a friendship or relationship. Did they influence you to withhold your best performance or restrict your participation? How did you respond to their subtle influences to maintain the status quo? You probably did not see it as performance fixing.

Can you think of instances where you were reluctant to excel and talked yourself out of delivering your best performance? You may have convinced yourself that inertia, standing still, the status quo was more desirable than going after a promotion or shaming your peers. You may have told yourself the aggravation of more responsibility would be too much work and not worth the small financial payout and alienation from your peers. You may have held back, telling yourself that management would not be receptive to your efforts to improve your opportunities. The result was stabilization and stagnation.  Therefore, you took an internal dive and restricted the release of your talent and failed to maximize on the opportunities available.

Companies have lost productivity and revenue due to people shaving productivity across the organization. Individuals intentionally or unconsciously participated in a conspiracy to hold back on excellence. The payout was not also in money. They may have received resources or items of nominal value. It was for either pleasure or pain.

Pleasure could involve the camaraderie and benefits of connection in a powerful networking relationship. Being affiliated with people who are well known or who praise them makes them feel special. They may want the pleasure of associating with someone they wish to emulate, who makes them feel special.

The compensation could be the avoidance of pain. People are deprived of the discomfort of being shunned by their friends and the humiliation of failing to land a job because they took a risk. If they don’t pursue the job then they don’t have to make mistakes or suffer the failure not reaching it.

Withholding effort and talent is not considered a criminal event. People don’t think of themselves as being complicit in an illegal activity. But, they are assisting other people in activities that hurt themselves, other people or the company. Under the cover of darkness they are essentially breaking into a residence of excellence and stealing from the organization. They are taking a payoff to engage in activities that restrict growth and development.

Professional tennis was struck hard by the accusations of impropriety. The governing bodies of tennis are investigating their handling of this potential blemish on their profession and the parties involved. Other athletic associations, through the years have investigated and disciplined all parties found to be guilty of affecting the integrity of their sport. What must we do to ensure that performance fixing is minimized or eliminated from within our areas of responsibility?

You may consider it unfair to view lack of excellence and substandard engagement, as an integrity issue. But people are hired and expected to bring their best effort to the workplace every day. I had a manager who always asked me,” is this your best thinking?”  We must ensure that we bring our best thinking and best action to the workplace in our interactions with others. The dollar value on waste and on the opportunity costs of lost or poorly implemented ideas.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser


5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s) That Can Hurt You

We are human and therefore, have idiosyncrasies, nuances and eccentricities that come with our personalities. Many of these unique characteristics position us for survival and success. But some of these peculiarities are counterproductive and are detrimental to our growth. I will call them self restraining tendencies or SRT’s. They are not necessarily life-threatening, but they may serve as impediments to development.

SRT’s are indigenous to human beings. They may be formed by life experiences and thoughts and subsequently create insecurities. They may be pseudo-defense mechanisms to allegedly protect us. SRT’s may be categorized as bad habits that may hold us back, restrict growth or work against us. How do we know we have them? Self assessments and times of reflection can increase self awareness and reveal SRT’s, as we examine our lives and impact on others. Additionally, we may receive the gift of honesty from a friend through candid comments. Constant feedback from co-workers, parents and peers can also be useful by adding to our enlightenment. But, we must be objective, receptive and appreciative of their candor.

5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s)

  1. Procrastination
  2. Poor communication skills
  3. Negativity mindset
  4. Toxic people skills
  5. Lack of Integrity

1. Procrastination

It is interesting to learn that many people are struggling with procrastination. The act of postponing things until later is not intellectually difficult for people to understand. They know that something should be done immediately and to postpone will have consequences. But, nevertheless, they still will delay until later, that which should be done today.

We recognize that we may not feel like doing something right now or we have awarded a greater priority to something else. If we continue to kick the can down the road or delay the inevitable, we will continue to waste time and effort and increase the amount of stress in our lives.

Lisa was interviewing for a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative. She felt very comfortable with the interview. The interviewer asked her about her number one shortcoming. She responded, “I am a procrastinator. I get things done, but sometimes it takes me a while to get started.” Procrastination was her Self Restraining Tendency, but the interview may not be the right place to disclose this particular self restraining tendency.

2.  Poor communication skills

Communicating is something we do every day. It is the currency by which we interact with people in order to state our ideas, convey instructions and build relationships. Those among us, who communicate effectively, actually have an advantage at school, in our careers and in relationships. If we are hampered by poor communication skills, our effectiveness is restricted. This self restraining tendency, like the others featured in this article, must be identified and corrected.

Poor communication skills could be non verbal or verbal to include written, body language and group presentations. Ask yourself, “Am I plagued by poor communication skills? Are there aspects of my communication ability that are hindering my progress?” Conduct a self-assessment. Diagnose your communication ability to see if there is a deficiency. You may seek to solicit feedback from respected sources and trusted friends and colleagues to see if they can identify areas that require improvement. When the SRT is disclosed, a change management process should be initiated. However, rather than go through multiple steps to change we should go directly from denial to acceptance and put a plan in place to correct the SRT.

3. Negativity Mindset

People who have a negativity mindset are not necessarily the individuals who look at the pros and cons of every situation. I am speaking of the people who like to rain on the parade. When the entire group has decided to move in a positive direction, they are the naysayers who constantly focus on what is or could go wrong. They provide excuses rather than explanations. They seldom do anything but complain without the slightest contribution to positive constructive participation to change anything. 

4. Toxic people skills

The toxic people SRT is different from the poor communication skills mentioned earlier. Individuals prone to this tendency will use power to humiliate and intimidate in order to gain the upper hand or to create an environment of fear.

My son worked for an organization where the new boss actually said, “When I walk into a room I want people to fear me.” He wanted people to be intimidated by his presence. This attitude is supported by language and interactions that cause stress, a lack of trust, poor engagement and ultimately subpar performance. Individuals with toxic people skills may speak about people behind their backs, pit coworkers against each other and generate an atmosphere of tension.

People with toxic people skills may be cursed with the propensity to enter every interaction with a transaction mindset. They are constantly thinking what is in it for them, how can they beat the other person by any means necessary and how it can only help them succeed. This is prevalent in relationships where they only socialize or interact with people who can help them advance their position, today. 

5. Lack of Integrity

People with a lack of integrity are flawed in their relational and work performance. They utilize a winning at all cost or any cost approach to work and relationships. People with this tendency view the rules as an inconvenience, something for weak minded people, to be broken and circumvented whenever possible. Breaking rules is seen as a badge of honor, a necessary evil to give themselves the ultimate advantage toward victory.

Invariably, this SRT will cause the downfall of their career and reputation. Oftentimes, the integrity flaw does not manifest itself until well into a person’s career. Please find below a chart illustrating a natural career growth curve and the various points of indiscretion where a lack of integrity can doom a person’s career.


If a lack of integrity shows itself at the end of someone’s career, a lot of their positive contributions can be discounted and shrouded in suspicion, nullifying their reputation. If a lack of integrity revealed itself early in someone’s career, they may never have the opportunity to make significant positive contributions or to realize the potential present in their talents and abilities.

Ideally, we should establish self restraining orders or SROs for those character traits which are limiting our joy and effectiveness. The five self restraining tendencies listed or others should be addressed if they are a problem for you. They have the capacity to limit your effectiveness and keep you away from realizing your full potential in every segment of your life.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser


Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Lessons in Handling Differences


We are often started with the commercialization of Christmas. We are reminded to not lose sight of the reason for the season. This is valuable advice for Christians and others during this reverent time of year.

We grew up with Gene Autry Christmas classic of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. It is a delightful song, but also delivers a powerful message about encountering and handling differences. This song could start meaningful conversations about accepting others.

The song begins with a reference to the reindeer popularized in Clement Clarke Moore’s, “The night before Christmas”, also known as “A visit from St. Nicholas.” It begins with a roll call of Santa Claus’ reindeer that of course omits the name of Rudolph. As you recall, Rudolph was different from the other reindeer because of the luminescent quality of his nose. His nose was so shiny that it had either reflective qualities or it glowed like a light. This was enough to make him the object of ridicule and ultimately ostracism by the other reindeer.

This lack of acceptance is seen when children and adults are confronted with someone who is different from them. Our initial response is to make fun of the person and then to isolate them because of their characteristics, traits, heredity or idiosyncrasies. Many of us recall when we were young and begged for approval. Even to this day, there is something about us that makes us stand out from the crowd and the crowd lets us know it.

At work or is school, simply being the new person, the new kid on the block, the person who is an unknown, becomes a source for teasing or isolation. We often wondered,” if they would only get to know me, they would see that I’m just like them. “Rudolph was a reindeer, so he surely had a similar appearance, except for his nasal peculiarity. But suppose he was of a different color, from a different region of the country or had a different ability.  He would have manifested a difference that would have caused him difficulty until he was accepted. We usually ask the different party to fit in, when the real focus should be on them being accepted by the group.

Bullying is also a response shown toward those who are different. The song the does not indicate that Rudolph was bullied, but we can only assume that preventing him from “playing in any reindeer games” was not always accomplished in the most delicate manner.

The song does not tell us what Santa Claus was doing during the hazing or if he even knew about it. But, as a good leader, he engineered a very strategic response. He knew the talent and value of all of his reindeer. He evaluated the weather system for his next journey and realized he was going to encounter numerous blizzards. He knew that the solution to his problem existed among the ranks of his reindeer. He knew he had one reindeer that could help navigate the wintry delivery of toys to boys and girls around the world. This opportunity would be well received it if every reindeer benefited from his gift.

We can give Santa credit for waiting for the appropriate time to unveil strategy. He could have given the reindeer the opportunity to work it out amongst themselves, as so many people do in similar situations. They say such things as,” kids are just being kids, learning to navigate difficult situations will only make the recipient stronger and teach them valuable life skills and that which does not kill them will make them stronger, to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche the philosopher. Maybe the reindeer performed similar initiation rites to others in the group that had other distinctions from their peers. Maybe they solve their treatment of Rudolph as being harmless and natural.

The defining moment came,” one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say: Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Many managers, leaders and parents look for the opportune moment to use the skills of their people. The right moment to show the world and the individual, that they recognize their true value and wish to share this value with every member on the team. We can only assume that in the fictitious conversation, Santa’s encouraged Rudolph and told him about the value of his difference. He made him feel that he was something special and should never feel that he was not important and did not have a place. I’m sure he made him feel like an important member of the team. He validated his value by asking him to lead the team by moving up to the front of the line.

You remember the happy ending to the song. “Then all the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history! We know that in real life, responses to differences may not always lead to a happy ending. Sometimes the individuals have lingering insecurity, damage to their self-esteem and underlying resentment from the initial exclusion. But, so often when the difference that is ridiculed or denied is used for the benefit of the group, the organization, institution, group or community becomes stronger. The people learn a valuable lesson about inclusion. We are hopeful that when the person is accepted they don’t become complicit and act in the same manner when they encounter other people who are different.

If we remember the Rudolph days of our lives and commit ourselves to prevent them from happening to others, we will maximize their future contributions to our teams, families, organizations and communities. We will perform a noble act when leading by example with the lessons learned from Rudolph the red-nose reindeer.

Please look forward to reading more about differences in my new book due by June 2016, Unlock Your Diversity Greatness. It is based on the premise that your uniqueness is not a weakness and contains strategies to utilize your talents, skills and abilities. More books in the Unlock Your Leadership Greatness series can be found at www.OrlandoCeaser.com or www.amazon.com.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser


The Anatomy of Acronyms to Positively Impact Performance


MSU_CAcronyms are used extensively by writers, speakers, students and anyone who likes to communicate. Businesses, organizations and institutions use them to assist in the retention of a message, concept or name. They are used along with association, rhyming, and alliteration to help people remember things.

Acronyms have been proven as a simple way to help people recall information by breaking it down into manageable bits of data. An acronym, is defined by Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary as, “a word (such as NATO, radar, or snafu) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term.” Some of my favorite acronyms are; Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real, EGO is Edging God Out and when learning musical scales E, G, B, D, and F (Every Good Boy Does Fine).

Acronyms can work to inspire, motivate and improve performance. For example, years ago our sales region wanted to emphasize the value of asking questions. I came up with the acronym ASK, which stood for Acquiring Selling Knowledge. If our reps wanted to be effective they had to gather information by asking probing questions. When you establish the framework you can apply it to various concepts by substituting other words, such as spiritual, significant, etc.

The need and applications for acronyms are all around us. We had a feedback group known as VOICE to give us information on company policies, programs, products and procedures. One day the director of the program was asked if VOICE stood for anything. He replied that it was not an acronym. I walked up to the booth and suggested, Very Often I Change Everything. The director stood there in amazement. He looked back at the word and saw that it worked, for all of the words were there. It captured the purpose of the company changing some of our initiatives based on hearing the voices of our people.

There are organizations that can create acronyms for your organizations. You can search for acronyms at http://www.acronymsearch.com where over 50,000 acronyms are listed and you can even post your company’s acronyms to their database.

Acronyms vary across companies as each organization has their own vocabulary. Therefore, it is important to explain them to ensure you are communicating effectively. I was a part of the pharmaceutical sales organization and STD’s were sexually transmitted diseases. When I spent time in our human resources department, they openly discussed the rise in the number of STD’s which was disconcerting until I realized they were speaking of (short term disabilities).

The secret of a good acronym is to be simple, clear and catchy. In the 1980’s I was training sales reps and noted that several of them were trying to make up information during a sales simulation. I reminded them that their doctors had forgotten more about medicine then they would ever know. I suggested that they could not Make Stuff Up or words to that effect. Years later I found out this concept was the subject of a book of a similar concept.

If the acronym has too many words it may maintain its effectiveness by association rather than attaching each letter with a particular word. For example, the Jupiter trial for a popular cholesterol lowering medicine: Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: An Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastin.

When you hear the word you want someone to make a quick association. I speak to organizations about creating a climate where people can safely state what is on their mind. In my book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness; (available at www.OrlandoCeaser.com and http://www.amazon.com) an OASIS is described as, a place where people can be Open And Share Information Safely.

Acronyms are an art. Since I have a knack for acronym development I have been asked on several occasions to help groups in their efforts to create one. I would speak with them and solicit their intent, the word they are trying to develop (if they have one) and the placement of the word in their overall strategy. This information allows me to know what they are trying to achieve and gives me the insight to meet their expectations.

Has Anyone Been Inspired Today is a mantra  for HABIT to remind me to help people through positive and encouraging actions. When an expert in a given area or topic is performing their duties it looks effortless. Aga Karve, my spin instructor is such a person. When she is working on the bike she is smiling while class members are groaning under her strenuous workout. One day it struck me that She Makes it Look Easy, SMILE. So we can say Someone Makes It Look Easy as they are smiling and effortlessly performing their work.

Acronyms can be fun. They can build your vocabulary and creativity. When creating acronyms, please remember the following:

    • Acronyms can be designed as a memory device
    • They are more effective when they are simple, succinct, catchy and linked to the topic in a powerful way


  • Be observant and on the lookout for acronyms and do not be surprised when they appear
  • Keep track of acronyms in notebooks and computers

When you allow acronyms to incubate in your mind you can develop fascinating associations between the words and concepts you want to remember creatively and assist you in memorization and performance.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser