Leadership – Phenomenal in a crisis Leadership Response to 9/11

September 11
I will always reflect on where I was was on September 11, 2001 and the leadership response we experienced in this horrific crisis; one of the finest examples of corporate leadership I could imagine.

The 2001 Respiratory National Sales Meeting had the earmarks of a memorable event. Joe Canning and Betsy McKenzie had pulled out all stops to create an agenda that would educate, motivate and elevate the skills of the entire Respiratory Sales Team.

The Leadership Team which consisted of all of the managers met to receive a final review of the meeting. The individual managers then met with their Districts to review suggested topics. At 5 PM we assembled in the Meyerson Symphony Center which is 3 blocks away from the Adams Mark Hotel in Dallas, Texas, where most of us were staying.

The short program featured a stirring organ performance by a member of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra which was the opening act for the legendary Ray Charles. Ray was in fantastic form as he played through many of his standards. But the highlight was his passionate rendition of “America.” The standing ovation was deafening as the group showed their appreciation. Joe and Betsy knew that they had created a phenomenal week. The 1500 participants dined on hor’d’oevers and finger foods in the atrium of the Meyerson Symphony Center and slowly filtered back to the Adams Mark and Le Meridien, the principal hotels for the meeting.

The second day began with a lot of promise. We heard people talking about how great Ray Charles was the night before. Many stated their disbelief that we would bring Ray Charles to such a meeting. There were numerous conversations inquiring about his age.

The meeting began with an opening by Joe Canning, the National Sales Director for Respiratory Products. He was succeeded by Tony Zook, VP of Sales and Marketing and Michael Hickey, the VP of Sales, along with Rich Fante and Josh Tarnoff, Product Directors. The group was dismissed for a break. The break was also to allow the large group to reassemble in 2 smaller groups representing the East and West Areas of Respiratory. Doug McNamee was to be with his team in the East. I was to be with my team in workshops in the General Session room to receive the product strategy message. It was during the break that the word circulated about the World Trade Center bombings. The news rapidly moved through the crowd, as we began to piece together the entire horrific event.

The decision was made to announce the bombings to the General Session and to dispatch Regional Sales Directors to the different workshops to break the terrible news. Individuals who were directly impacted were asked to contact their families. Joe broke the news to the audience and you can imagine the shock and terror and disbelief. Tears rolled down the cheeks of many as fear took over.

Joe turned the meeting over to me, the stage that is, for a 5 minute introduction into the next phase of the agenda. I had planned several snappy introductory comments, but I had to change the tone. No one including myself was in the mood for motivation. I turned the program over to Demir Bingol, the Product Director for Rhinitis products. Demir was approximately 10 minutes into his presentation when Joe and Tony took the stage and stopped the meeting. Everyone was asked to take the next 3 hours and contact their families to check on their loved ones and reconvene at 1 PM.

The Leadership Team and higher level managers and people from the various support groups were asked to meet in the Executive Boardroom to discuss the plans for the rest of the week.

I spoke to Scott Climes, one of the Respiratory Regional Sales Directors who was dispatched to the workshops to deliver the news about the bombings. This message was to individuals from the Eastern half of the US. Many of them potentially had family or friends that were affected. He said he had never experienced such a reaction in all of his life. The tears; the terror.

People were wandering in the hallways. Many rushed to their rooms to begin the daily ritual of following the news coverage. Who did this and how would we respond? How many were in the two buildings and the pain and the grief that touched their families? Was it Osama Bin Laden? Who were the terrorists?

The Executive Boardroom would be the war room for the next few days. Here the highest ranking officers of the Company would determine how to guide its people through the tragic events of New York, Washington DC and outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Tony Zook, VP of Sales and Marketing took center stage. With marker in hand and flipcharts close by he began with our objectives. No one has ever gone through anything like this. How can we take care of our people? How can we get them home, the ones who need to get home? Should we continue the meeting? What is known? How should we communicate this to our people? When we formulate our recommendations remember cost is not a concern. Our people are our number one priority.

He elicited the key communication points that we needed to flesh out. Some buckets or titles were as follows: Travel, agenda, communication, an update on the situation, accountability. Each point was assigned to a team with a leader to bring up all of the key issues in that area.

We were fortunate enough to have 2 members of our Sales Team who had anti-terrorist experience. Additionally, our Chief of Corporate Security was present at the meeting because of the resources present and number of people. Bud Bender also had contacts within the FBI which would come in handy during the week.

A leader was assigned to each team and other individuals were assigned and asked to align themselves to a team where they could provide input. American Express One was the travel company. Julie Whalen, our meeting planner was asked to head the travel committee.

We were asked to take 45 minutes to discuss all pertinent issues and to reconvene, to make a flip chart presentation to the group. This allowed the group to provide input and fine tune the response. We were under the 1 PM deadline. We needed to complete our assignment early, so that we could present our recommendations to the group. MJM our production company would need time to input the information and create a Power point presentation.

My team headed by Doug McNamee covered accountability. We wanted to make sure that for the next 24 hours we knew the location of each employee at the meeting. We discussed the sales representatives staying in the hotel that evening until we knew more about the extent of the problem. Reps needed to contact their management team twice a day to state their locations and any changes. Managers needed to notify up the chain of command that everyone was present and accounted for. If anyone left the meeting to go home, it should be documented. The buddy system was suggested as a good way to keep track of each other, which was easier said than done.

The dynamic interchange during the presentation facilitated by Tony Zook was a pleasure to behold. Senior Leadership eliciting and contributing comments and suggestions, motivated by how we can help our people was marvelous. We were fortunate to have strategically or luckily assembled the highest ranking officials in our Field Sales force at the same meeting. We also were fortunate to have the talent from the military, security and Travel at the same site. The diversity of talent and experience made it easier to handle our mission. For with over 1500 people at a Sales Meeting, with many of them fairly young, who had not face any national emergencies in their lifetimes, this was a significant challenge for all of us.

One by one the teams presented and the adjustments and suggestions were made to the strategy and the presentation.

We were developing a game plan to keep people comforted and focused for we wanted to show our employees that we valued them. The human side came out repeatedly. There were times we wanted to over protect, but backed down because over protection can heighten fear. We discussed how to care for those directly impacted. We knew that the meeting was secondary to our people, but we also knew the meeting was necessary to keep people focused on something not related to the terror in the land. After all, the meeting was scheduled to last until Friday and this was only Tuesday. It became clear that air travel was not going to be an option for an indeterminate period of time.

The stories began to appear. People worried about their loved ones and tried frantically to locate them. The hotel telephone system was overloaded. Cell phone transmission had difficulty for a while. Some people did not wait for the 1 PM meeting to see what the company proposed to do in this tragedy. Several instances surfaced of people renting cars and driving toward home without letting anyone know they left. One manager rented a van to drive their people back home. Alternate travel plans were cropping up all over the place. Some of this is to be expected when you have sales people who are action oriented.

The meeting reassembled at 1 PM. On the stage were the principal contributors led Tony Zook, Michael Hickey and Joe Canning. What followed was another example of leadership at its finest. The depth and professionalism of the presentation led many to wonder how we could put together such a professional presentation is such a short period of time. Most commented that they worked for a great company. We continued with the meeting for that was the best option to care for our people. There were interfaith religious services arranged by Scott Buchanan and others in attendance.

Arrangements were made to get everyone safely home. The travel team rented 20 luxury travel busses to send to 20 different parts of the country to get our people home. They were richly equipped with food, DVD players, games, blankets and all manner of creature comforts to make the trip comfortable. One bus left with only one person on it for he was the only one going to that region of the country. There was a story of the Company renting two limousines to get one sales rep home in time for the birth of their child. Watching this tragedy unfolds and our reaction to it validate our history of being phenomenal in a crisis. People left saying what a great company we work and what a great country we live in. I appreciated being a part of leadership making a difference in the lives of our people during a very unsettling time in our Nation’s history.

Copyright © 2011 Orlando Ceaser

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Authenticity Messages from The Scrolls of Greatness™

Mothermirrorlion1
There are countless archaeological discoveries that add to our knowledge of earlier civilizations, cultures and beliefs. You heard the stories of individuals stumbling upon a discovery, which greatly increased our knowledge. There may be scrolls of information in the earth that enlighten our paths.

There are scrolls of knowledge within you that validate your greatness. These texts confirm the greatness within you. The question is, how will you search through the caves, caverns and catacombs of memories and earlier instruction, to recover and discover knowledge and wisdom to achieve your grander purpose.

There are messages on authenticity that I gleaned from my excavations. They will ultimately be published in a future work entitled Scrolls of Greatness.

An Authentic Life

“Is your life a quotation or a paraphrase of the life of another or is it the original authentic paragraph God has written for you to include in His magnificent manuscript?”

Authentic Faith

“Most of your knowledge is based on faith. You were exposed to information packaged and provided to you by strangers and people you know. You are placing a lot of faith and trust in the character, motives and authenticity of others, which is the way it should be, because you cannot verify everything.”

Authentic, Non-manipulative Love

People should know that you genuinely love them; authenticity without manipulation. You want them to be happy, expecting nothing in return, no strings attached. I told a group of students that I drove an hour and a half to speak to them and I was not being paid for it. I wanted them to know that there are people who love them and expect nothing in return, but their excellence. We must learn to give back and I was compelled to do this, because it was done for me. “A young man spoke,” I wouldn’t do it, if I was not getting paid for it.” I responded, “If you thought as highly of you, as I think of you, you would do it, because I know you are worth it.”

Forgiveness

“Forgiveness should not dependent on receiving an apology or the knowledge of an impending apology. It may not be automatic. It may be difficult. But it should be authentic when experienced and expressed.”

Observations

“Many times, your words should serve as an observation and not a critique. However, there will be times when the order should be reversed. Authenticity improves the power of your communication.”

Share the Journey

“My message seems more powerful when I profile my pain. When I accept the blame,
I seem human. When I discuss my shame, I am vulnerable and real. People relate and identify with me when they can connect and feel that I am genuine, with good intentions.

Sometimes we do our journey a disservice when people only see the finished product and not the rough parts of our development. A glimpse into the construction, deconstruction, destruction and production processes, will heighten their awareness and appreciation of our struggles and what it takes to be successful. We will connect. The authenticity of raw, without disclaimers, and revealing our flaws, will open people to our stories and increase our chances to inspire growth.

The world wants to know how we made our names, the obstacles faced and how we overcame. Otherwise, people will surmise, we obtained the prize and never made mistakes, always received the breaks, were never afraid, that we possess a passing grade, but it was easy, and we always had it made.”

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser
OrlandoCeaser.com
Watchwellinc.com

The 4th Monkey Matters

4th Monkey
Leadership is consistently emphasized as a valuable set of skills for individuals charged with managing a business, performing in athletics and other interactions and endeavors involving people. There are numerous theories, books and training programs about leadership and the necessary characteristics and attributes of a strong leader. Integrity in business is one of the key leadership traits, often cited as critical when dealings and interacting with others.

Leadership is a discipline that is highly regarded in the annals of personal and organizational development. Effective use of this skill contributes to the successful implementation and execution of strategies that enable people to achieve expectations. Studies have indicated that diverse teams with strong leadership perform better. Strong leadership allows individuals to handle the disruption and challenges they may encounter while managing and working in a diverse environment, where differences of opinions, styles and approaches, among team members is prevalent.

The 4th Monkey is known as Shizaru in Japan. He receives very little attention, since most are familiar with his counterparts; see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura), and speak no evil (Iwazura). His function is to do no evil, which you could argue is the most important monkey. The 4th Monkey’s emphasis is on right practices and behaviors. The proper way to meet people and treat people are just a few of the important actions. Being trustworthy and ethical are also essential elements.

The age-old saga of the monkeys places the emphasis on lack of involvement. If you do not see, hear or speak evil, you will minimize conflict. However, the 4th Monkey matters and transcends complacency and instructs the leader to exert their character and insert their presence into situations, to lead people to a mutually beneficial decisions and destinations.

The 4th Monkey matters. Do no evil is critical in leadership, as we lead in all areas of our lives. The 4th Monkey should be a mascot for a leadership team to validate the importance of ethics and right behavior. Let us focus on the workplace. In the business setting what are some of the wrong (evil) characteristics we can highlight?

Here is a top 10 list of principles that illustrate some examples of do no evil. This is by no means, a comprehensive or exhaustive list. Also, the list may be challenged and amended, for you may have other principles which are equally or more appropriate to your business and experience. Nevertheless we are in agreement that the 4th Monkey matters in the workplace.

Please review this list for it shows the interaction and compatibility between the 4th Monkey and your ability to lead. These principles will illustrate the importance of integrity by internalizing these 10 proposed principles from the 4th Monkey. Implementing these practices can highlight and contribute significantly to your results.

Notice below and, in your discussions, that there are evils / crimes of commission and omission. Failure to do the right thing, in the right situation, can be construed as a malicious act of omission.

1. Do not demonstrate poor character and lack of integrity
2. Do not lie (knowingly give false or misleading information)
3. Do not bully or intimidate others
4. Do not harm people’s dignity and self-respect
5. Do not misrepresent data (to deceive or protect)
6. Do not violate people’s rights or property
7. Do not discriminate (no favoritism and nepotism)
8. Do not steal (ideas or intellectual property)
9. Do not gossip, demean and discredit a reputation
10. Do not fail to give direction and authentic feedback

During my anthropology class in the first year of college, I was introduced to two attributes particular to certain monkeys. The first concept was brachiating, which meant the hand over hand movement of monkeys, as they travel from branch to branch (children perform this activity on the monkey bar). This reminds me of a leader who not only takes the high road, but is performing at a high level, to very high standards. This visible performance is noticed by others, especially those who are on the ground, and those traveling with them.

The second attribute was that many monkeys had a prehensile tail. This tail enabled the monkey to achieve additional agility and movement because of its ability to grab on to objects, which gave them greater flexibility and agility. Effective leaders must grab onto knowledge, information and concepts better than their peers. I propose that the 4th Monkey provides a metaphor of leadership dexterity to those individuals who are truly practitioners of effective leadership.

The 4th Monkey matters and enables us to lead and form natural alliances with our constituents, followers and others as we demonstrate and develop leaders, in order to transform their operations into successful, individual honoring enterprises.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser
Web-sites: orlandoceaser.com
watchwellinc.com

Mother – My First Leader

Mothermirrorlion1
My Mother saw the lion in me. This is not because my astrological sign is Leo, which is represented by a lion. She told me to take charge and showed me how to step up and take responsibility for my actions to benefit others. We usually think of leadership as a masculine trait, but the seeds of leadership development have maternal roots which blossomed under the tutelage of others.

Mothers initiated our leadership education. She was the driving force behind our early physical, mental, educational and spiritual development. Mother planted the seeds of leadership by modeling behavior, holding us accountable, introducing us to new experiences, coaching and encouraging us, cultivating gifts and pushing us out of the nest to participate and get involved in our surroundings.

Mother allowed us to explore different activities to find our talents. We were creative around her and she celebrated our ingenuity. Many of us have memories of our Mom taking us to the park, shopping and various school and church programs. She was eager to compliment us when we did something well and quick to discipline us when we were out of line. She was so proud of us. By supporting our interests she identified our gifts and bolstered our confidence.

We were her team. The climate in her leadership environment allowed us to blossom as we outwardly and subliminally listened to the valuable messages. We were constantly infiltrated by leadership qualities that emerged as she navigated the parenting process.

• Setting the vision for a possible future
• Establishing values and beliefs
• Providing direction, opportunities and resources
• Encouragement and reinforcement
• Discipline, feedback and developing healthy habits

Setting the vision for the future

We were told we could be anything we wanted to be. We were challenged to be and do our best. If we were going to be a janitor, we were told to be the best janitor. Education was strongly touted as the key to our future, as something no one could take from us. When I finished 8th grade, Mother asked, “What is next?” High school was the correct response. After high school, she asked, “What is next? I responded college, as we had discussed so many times since 8th grade. It was drilled into me at an early age that I was someone special and she saw me reaching my God given potential.

Establishing values and beliefs

The rules and regulations of life, the values and beliefs to guide our behavior and understanding of the world, were initially from our Mother. The stories she read, the lessons we learned in her presence and the experiences we received during playtime. She was the moral and religious center of the home. She showed what was important by how she spent her time and through the chores she distributed and the discipline she delivered. She practiced what she preached and walked the talk. My Mother was a continuous learner and went back to school and became a Registered Nurse. Additionally, she gained a BS degree after all of the children finished school. She was always active in community, school and church affairs.

Providing direction, opportunities and resources

We were instructed in the ways of approved and acceptable behavior. We were warned about actions that would not be tolerated. We were not going to embarrass and shame her or the family. My Mother was a stickler on manners and polite behavior. We had standards of good conduct which was anchored in the Golden Rule.

Mother gave us opportunities to express our opinions and grow our talents. I had a number of jobs through the years. I worked as a shoe shine boy, a paper boy, shoe salesman and shoveled snow to make extra money. I learned the value of hard work and how to handle money. I also benefitted from collecting money from her Avon customers. I could always count on her doing anything to see that I had what I needed. She paid for my art supplies, new clothes to march in a parade and prepared me for many other school projects.

Encouragement and reinforcement

When we fell she picked us up and made us feel better. She always knew what to say when we were hurting. She was our biggest fan. She had confidence in us. My Mother had many children and she treated us all differently and there were no favorites among the children. If she was leaning toward one of the others, she was open to talk about it. My Mother told me I was the Chosen One. My response was chosen by whom to do what? It was her way of letting me know there was a purpose for my life and I had to find out what it was. When others seemed to abandon us, Mother was always in our corner offering words of support, guidance and forgiveness.

Discipline, feedback and developing healthy habits

Mother was known for providing simulations to prepare us for life in the real world, although we did not call them simulations. She gave us positive and reasonably realistic feedback when we did well. She checked our homework to make sure it was done and done correctly. She did not let us off the hook. She held us accountable for our actions and helped lay down the law and maintain the order.

When we broke the rules, the punishment usually fit the offense. She wanted us to get in the habit of doing our best and acting properly. There was a saying and a television program that said, “Father knows best.” If that was true Mother knew that and all the rest.

My Mother challenged me to learn and present a very long drama poem when I was ten years old. The Creation by James Weldon Johnson was in her English literature text book when she was in night school. She worked with me and checked with me until I mastered the piece. I began performing it in church services all over the city for many years. She brought out my gift of public speaking and made me comfortable in front of crowds.

I realize that some may have a different opinion of their Mother’s role in sowing and demonstrating leadership principles into their lives. Some may have received examples of how a leader should not perform. Nevertheless, we know the value of strong leadership in altering the course of lives and organizations.

When we search our memories and review the books, theories, seminars and the performance of actual leaders, let us not forget where many were first exposed to lessons on leadership. We should recognize and celebrate the awesome contributions of Mothers. They should be honored for the role they play in developing leaders of today and leaders of tomorrow. During the time we spent on our Mother’s knee, in her lap or at her feet, we were overtly or covertly immersed in the relationship between Motherhood and leadership.

Copyright © 2010 Orlando Ceaser

A Mutiny Through Lack of Engagement – A Silent Rebellion

JC-Penny
A mutiny occurs every day in organizations all over the world. They don’t usually make headlines or the business sections of publications. They may not display visible signs of hostility. They may not involve physically taking over a facility and relieving leadership of its command. The approach is subtler but devastating.

A mutiny is defined as forcible or passive resistance to lawful authority (Merriam – Webster’s dictionary). The word and concept, I observed recently while watching Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard in the 1962 movie classic, Mutiny on the Bounty.

The mutiny, in our context, is a revolution where people withhold potential and productivity. They will not give 100%. People who hold back on their best effort or potential. The revolt is on the inside. For example, they may not be totally engaged at work. They may give a quality performance, but not the virtuoso performance of their best effort. Some employees will adopt an “Over My Dead Body” mindset (OMDB), which means they theoretically would rather die than give their total cooperation to an organization or manager that does not respect or trust them. Workers may decide that the company does not deserve their best, therefore their masterpiece ideas, solutions and discretionary effort will be withheld; an insidious mutiny against unsuspecting leadership.

Mutiny on the Bounty is a story based on an actual event. The HMS Mutiny Bounty sailed in 1787, under the leadership of Captain, William Bligh. He was a difficult leader, whose ruthless leadership style focused only on the mission and not his men. One of his famous lines from the 1962 movie was, “Cruelty with a purpose is not cruelty, it is efficiency.” Captain Bligh was overthrown by members of his crew, led by Fletcher Christian (played by Marlon Brando) after demonstrating heartless behavior which led to the death of several of his men.

How do you stop a mutiny?

How do you stop a mutiny before it happens? Selecting a leader with the right skills, reputation and temperament is a good start. Open lines of communication and an atmosphere of trust through transparency and fair play creates a climate of accountability. In the movie, the sailors did not have their captain’s superior or someone in the function of Human Resources to hear their grievances. An effective human resources department provides an avenue for people to express their problems with leadership. Many times, such a person or department is not on-site. However, the organization may have an HR department or someone in that function to contact.

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, satisfaction surveys, and engagement surveys to take the temperature or climate of the company. 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.

It is imperative as a leader to gauge how your people are responding to your direction and the culture in your environment. A worst-case scenario may develop where people mentally abandon the company, but stay on the job, because you failed to address a toxic culture.

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 fable about making better decisions. The story helps the reader to find the problems, solve problems and make better decisions.

The Know System™ is easy to use and helps the participants gather information to enhance the quality of their decisions and discussions. Let’s begin with 6 words from the word Know and a few related questions that relate 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 always be vigilant 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? Some companies use a stop, start and to stay approach. What should they stop doing (say no to), start doing and continue doing regarding their culture? This could involve training, new goals and diversity and inclusion strategies.
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?

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

In the closing scene of Mutiny on the Bounty, Captain Bligh, who was overthrown and placed in a lifeboat with a few men and rations, finally arrived in England. He was not blamed for the mutiny; but it was “noted that officers of stainless record and seamen decided to revolt against him” and a mistake was made putting him in charge of the ship.

A mutiny may be disguised by a series of resignations and requests for transfers. Your top performers or the most influential members on your team may leave, causing a chain reaction of departures. Management must be perceptive, accessible and periodically check the culture pulse of the organization. People must believe that leadership is authentic, transparent and sincere and practices their core values. Trust will be enhanced when people really believe that they are the number one resource in the organization. Otherwise, silent mutinies will go unchecked, unnoticed, and people will be unfulfilled, and the cost to business, substantial.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

The 4th Monkey – “Do No Evil”

I am reissuing, with a few modifications, my most popular blog post, for your consideration. The universal application of these age-old concepts is a tremendous value that should guide our behavior and interactions with each other.

We grew up with the story of the three monkeys. I imagine that many of us have the same interpretation of what they represent. We were exposed to pictures or statues. One monkey had his hands over his eyes, the second monkey with hands over his ears and the third monkey’s hands were over his mouth. They were see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura) and speak no evil (Iwazura). There were actions and behaviors demanded of us based on the three monkeys, but nothing was said about the fourth monkey. The fourth monkey was do no evil (Shizaru).

four-wise-monkeys

The stories of the four monkeys were popular in Japan in the 17th century. Their origin is between 2 and 4 BC in China. The Storyologer web-site (www.storyologer.com) has this account of Mahatma Gandhi who carried around a small statue of the three monkeys.  “Gandhi had a statue of three monkeys in three different postures. One was shutting his mouth with his hands, the other was shutting his ears similarly and the third one had put hands on his eyes. A visitor to his house became curious and questioned Gandhi about the various postures of the monkeys. Gandhi politely replied, “The one shutting his mouth tells us that we should not speak ill of anybody. The one shutting his ears tells us that we should not hear the ill of anybody. And the one shutting his eyes tells us that we should not see the ills of anybody. If we do so, we will have all goodness and nothing but goodness.”

Travelers will often find local markets with carved depictions or artwork featuring the three monkeys. My wife was able to purchase an angelic model of the same concept. There are three angels; one was covering her eyes, one was covering her ears and the other was covering her mouth. However, the fourth monkey was not shown. The 4th monkey, when pictured, is usually shown folding his arms (the body language of being closed) or covering his crotch to signify inactivity.

The different interpretations of the four monkeys is fascinating. In Buddhist tradition it meant don’t spend your time preoccupied with evil thoughts. In the West it relates to not facing up to our moral responsibility, for example turning a blind eye. But in my household, the monkeys were presented to us as a model of proper behavior. Our parents wanted us to identify with the images, to supplement our moral code.

See no evil (Mizaru)

We were told to pay attention to people and location(s). The idea was that if we were in the right location, we would minimize seeing trouble develop before our eyes. This was applicable in school and at work. We were instructed against being at the wrong place at the wrong time or the wrong place right. We were also told not to look for bad things in people or in certain situations. There are people who see bad things when they don’t exist, which could explain the manifestations of bias, stereotypes and profiling. We were not taught to be naïve, but to be careful and respectful.

Hear no evil (Kikazaru)

We were told to shield ourselves from bad language and bad intentions. We should stay away from people who spoke ill of others and gossiped. If we were not in the wrong place we could minimize hearing things that we should not hear. We were also instructed not to listen to foul or vulgar language. If we heard people language, especially regarding someone’s evil intentions, we could use the evil information to do good or to help others, that would be permissible.

Speak no evil (Iwazura)

Speak no evil was used to discourage gossiping or speaking ill will about someone. We were told to watch our language and to speak kind words. “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything” was a part of this same philosophy. Adults told us that spreading bad news or malicious information could come back to haunt us. We should also, apply this same advice to the workplace.

There is a misconception around the concept about someone. This misconception has led people to adopt a code of silence in the workplace when a person is not pulling their own weight. We would rather silently complain or resign, before talking about an employee who was not working. We would not want to be labeled a snitch or a stool pigeon. In the streets people would say, “snitches get stitches”. To speak evil of someone means telling a lie, varying false witness or defaming their reputation. However, it is our responsibility to find a way to report injustice, illegal behavior and practices that undermine people and the organization. Our intention should be to speak the truth in love without malice or premeditated negative objectives.

One way to break the code of silence is by offering incentives to whistleblowers. These individuals are people who step forward and report unlawful activities in an organization. They are generally paid a 10% bounty if the measure goes to court and fines are levied against the lawbreakers. In neighborhoods where people know the perpetrators of violence, but fail to come forward, there are no such incentives. Residents may be afraid of retribution, as the rationale for their silence. We must also realize that justice requires telling the truth and this should not be regarded as speaking evil of someone.

Do no evil (Shizaru)

The fourth monkey’s actions are truly related to the others. The workplace is a common place for the four monkeys to be used as an operating system. Employee bullying and intimidation, sexual-harassment claims, the presence of racial discrimination, unconscious bias and sexually charged language and actions exists in many organizations. Where improprieties and liberties are taken with people’s rights in the form of disrespectful words and actions, there are laws in place to prevent and punish these actions. Employees, who adopt a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil mindset are not helping to develop a positive company culture or a respectful workplace

Do no evil is a perfect monkey to enforce the values of character and integrity. He reminds us of proper behavior and etiquette. Our choices have consequences and the more we can emphasize a positive corporate culture and a respectful workplace the more effective our organizations will be become. There is conduct and behavior norms which must be identified, emphasized and enforced vigorously. Character will minimize stress in the workplace and reduce the number of lawsuits and discipline related to improper behavior.

The do no evil mindset would influence our participation in the political process. Our dialogue in conversations around those who are different from us or have different opinions would be positively affected. If we operated each day thinking in terms of do no evil, we would be more empathetic in understanding of each other. We would put ourselves in the shoes of our neighbors and seek to understand their point of, listen to their words and lay the foundation for greater chemistry instead of conflict.

How can we create an environment in our workplaces, families and communities, where people are held accountable for their own unlawful actions and the private citizens who come forward can feel safe and protected? If the fourth monkey was modeled, we would have less of a cause to talk about Mizaru (see no evil) and Kikazuru (hear no evil).

Do no evil and speak no evil should be magnified and connected to many of our guiding principles of behavior.  The Golden Rule and its equivalent in many cultures advise us to treat people the way we want to be treated. The Platinum Rule which asks us to treat people the way they want to be treated. The 10 Commandments implores us not to do a series of acts which could be seen as evil, such as murder, stealing, etc. you are instructed to love your neighbor as yourself. If we began from a position of love it is easier to think in terms of speak and do no evil.

We must clearly outline expectations of behavior and the judgment related to them to improve the climate in our organizations, homes and places where people meet. Correct action is essential to achieving healthy results in our relationships.

The imagery and practices espoused by the 4th monkey holds the key to making this possible. I am hopeful that by emphasizing the fourth monkey, we can improve our behaviors, connections, interactions and relationships with everyone.

 

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

The Core of More™ – Be Awesome from the Inside Out

There are crucial components to your development that must be examined to accelerate your progress. There is a core set of skills, values or principles which can be debated, but factually, these key ingredients build on your present state.

Let’s place four elements in this Core of More™. These elements confirm there is more in your core than you can imagine, yet you periodically ignore one or more components. They are Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go. These ingredients will enable you to gain rather than regress and achieve surplus, that is not necessarily excess.

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Let it Glow

Your light, however you define it, must be allowed to shine. Your talent, skills, abilities, capacity and resources must be a beacon of hope, a living positive example. Your light must be an indicator of your presence, purpose and performance. As we sang in Sunday School, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” When it shines, it has a glow, a luminescence that grabs people attention, pinpoints your location and potentially influences your behavior.

Let it Grow

Skill level and impact will expand and enlarge your contributions. Influence grows as your abilities are refined and increased. You will devote the time, effort, energy and insight received from teachers, mentors and coaches to improve knowledge and the quality of your work.

You will become a continuous learner and communicator, passionate about getting better in the priority areas of your life. Your light will get larger and brighter and more will take notice of you and more will be expected of you, as more are influenced by your presence. Your abundance will become a windfall to others, as you realize you are slated to get better, so others can benefit from your brilliance.

Let it Flow

As it glows and grows, it will flow in the execution of your skill set and in helping other people. Work will become easier and more natural. Executing your tasks will appear effortless, mainly because you are in your sweet spot and you are letting it flow. It is captured in an acronym SMILE (So Make It Look Easy). An athlete will comment that they let the game come to them or the game slows down for them as they improve their craft.

When you let it flow, you remove the barriers to your performance. Your actions are as a well-trained athlete, gliding through the race; a musician who makes playing the instrument look easy; a world class professional speaker in their comfort zone, delivering a powerful message. You are caught up in the flow.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , has a concept of flow which is defined as follows, “In positive psychology, as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”1. It is a state where skills are consistent with the challenges presented to you. In the state of flow, you lose track of time and you are consumed in passion”2. Simon Sinek says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”3 When you Let it flow, your passion shows, as you let it flow.

Let it Go

Along your journey, there are nouns you must displace. There are people, places or things that are excessive weight that must be discarded. As a hot air balloonist will tell you, if they want to increase their altitude, sand bags must be cast over board or they will hamper your ascension.

There are personal situations that try to hold you back and hold you down. In earlier articles I refer to them as the Hindre™ a person or spirit of negativity that attempts to hinder or restrict your progress. They must be released if you are to soar to the rightful heights of your achievement. You may know these impediments, or you must be open to people giving you a second opinion on people who are plotting against you.

You must let go of destructive habits, attitudes, the wrong crowd, the wrong mindset or other roadblocks that are impeding your progress.

Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go, are part of the Core of More™. Apply these principles to help you achieve success in the professional and personal realms of your life.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
  2. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life
  3. wordpress.com/2014/08/24/working..

 

A Tale of Leadership Perspectives – Lessons from Head Quarters

Head Quarters is an excellent environment to observe leadership in action. Newly promoted individuals should take advantage of opportunities  to develop and add to their personal management system (Strengthen Your Skills To Effectively Manage).

My HQ experience gave me opportunities to learn from different leaders. The tutorial was an amazing experience and exposure to leadership and mentoring. This exposure was instrumental in the formation of my personal leadership philosophy and personality. I would like to highlight a few scenarios featuring various leadership styles and the lessons associated with them.

Scenario Number One

One of my duties was to evaluate sales representative performances in a retail sales contest. The objective was to see who was most effective in acquiring sales orders, as well as the highest dollar sales average. Each of the sales representative totals were divided by the regional and national averages, respectively. I would select the district, regional and national standings of each representative and determine the overall winners.

After the preliminary calculations I realized that two of the calculations were unnecessary. If you divided each person’s number by the national and regional averages, you were dividing by a constant. You may as well be dividing everybody’s number by one. These two calculations did not change anyone’s rankings. Imagine my delight when I realized this discovery could reduce my workload. This was before computer programs, so the calculations were made by hand, my hand, on a calculator.

I told my boss who agreed with me. He asked me to present this information to one of the sales leaders. In my enthusiasm, I presented my discovery to the sales leader, indicating that to the calculations were not necessary. He took one look at my calculations and slid the paper back to me. He looked straight ahead not establishing eye contact and simply said, “The calculations are necessary.” I thought maybe I had done something wrong and he misunderstood my presentation. But I could judge by his demeanor that he did not want to discuss the matter further.

After the meeting I discussed my experience with my boss. He left my office, presumably to talk to his boss. He returned and simply said, “The two calculations are necessary.” Judging from his demeanor, I knew the topic was no longer open for discussion. I went back to my office and wondered what I had done wrong. I doubted myself for a moment and then I realized what happened. The sales contest rules and regulations were written by that very same sales leader. He was not going to admit to me that I discovered a flaw in his program.

I learned several vital lessons.

  1. Be very careful in criticizing the architect of a program, to dial down my enthusiasm and not to expect praise at the expense of someone else.
  2. Do my homework
  3. I did not have enough seniority or credibility to question the program written by someone in senior leadership
  4. Sometimes I should not be the messenger to suggest change
  5. It takes a strong leader to realize that someone has improved upon their performance
  6. Be open to accepting suggestions or changes from someone at a lower level in the organization

Scenario Number Two

I was the ghost writer for five letters sent to the winners of this same sales contest. These letters were sent out under the signature of the National Sales Manager. First, I took the letters into my manager’s office. He took out a red pen in front of me and began striking out words with bold red strokes. I asked what was wrong. He did not look at me as his red pen continued to violently edit the pages. He said, “People will not understand these memos.” I suggested we had hired college graduates and words like kudos and accolades were in the vernacular of sales people. He continued, “The National Sales Manager does not talk like this.” I left his office feeling I had done something wrong, because there was no praise or instruction, just condemnation and emotionless critique.

I learned to behave differently when I became a leader. Additionally, I learned that eye contact and praise should accompany praise and that feedback should be given before it was solicited.

Scenario Number Three

I carried the finished letters into the National Sales Manager’s office. He slowly read through the letters and made one change. He looked up at me and said there was nothing wrong with the letters I presented to him. Actually, they were well written. But what he said next stuck with me. “Because of the nature of my position, when you put something in front of me, I feel obligated to make a change.” I thought of the many times this happened to me over my career. Others may have been motivated to do the same thing, but no one ever told me why. This seminal bit of wisdom encouraged me to perform higher and taught me how to use my leadership and the power of feedback to help others. People need to know why we do the things we do. The more we can tell them the more supportive and understanding they will be. They will feel like a part of the team. This will improve their decision making and demonstrated that we valued their opinions and contributions .

When I look back on these situations I learned;

  1. Do not take things personally
  2. If someone comes up with a good idea tell them, they need to hear it
  3. Explain when something needs to be improved and not in a condescending manner
  4. Look at your people when you give feedback
  5. Encourage, praise and challenge when you give feedback
  6. Insert the why behind your actions

Those who work for us and those in our line of sight will learn how to lead more effectively if we provide interpretation to accompany our actions.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

Cartoons for the Chaos in Corporate Communities – Cocky and Rhodette

Corporations are communities of citizens who are ideally committed to a common vision. They are able hopefully resilient, with the capacity to withstand change, reinvent themselves and introduce new business paradigms, in order to succeed. These companies are survivors. They truly represent the “survival of the fittest” mentality. Corporations are staffed with individuals who have the survived a myriad of corporate reorganizations, growth spurts and culture adjustments. They have demonstrated the ability to adapt to change by adopting techniques necessary to avoid extinction.

Cockroaches and rodents have existed on this planet for millions of years. Cockroaches have been around an estimated 240 million years and rodents were probably chasing them for a good number of those years. They are truly survivors, exhibiting adaptive behaviors that have enabled them to adjust to changing circumstances.

The personification of these two characters is in the form of a cockroach named Cocky and a rodent known as Rhodette. They represent and will articulate the thoughts and feelings of employees in Corporate America. They will speak through reenacting scenarios that happen every day in some company around the world.

Cocky is a male and Rhodette is female. They are co-workers. Their biographies speak to their diversity. They manifest their diversity in many ways, such as gender, thinking styles, age, genus, species, educational levels and introversion versus extroversion, to name a few distinctions. Cocky learned business from his father Coach (co is from cockroach and ach is from roach), whereas Rhodette received her business acumen from her mother Rhoda. Cocky and Rhodette are close friends who spend many hours talking about business and comparing and despairing over the current environment in their company where the emphasis on production has a few casualties among the rank and file. They have revised their personal strategies for growing their careers. They speak for the masses although they also, have leadership responsibilities.

Cocky does not totally live up to his name. Whereas, he is self confident, he is also quiet and introspective; a true introvert. He knows when to keep his mouth shut. He may appear to be low key, but this is an adaptive quality, survival tactic. He can be commanding, when necessary. He will frequently sit in meetings and speak only when he has something significant to say. He is appalled by the amount of hot air released in meetings, as people speak to hear themselves talk. He is also disappointed when management condones and rewards this type of behavior. He sees his role as a pioneer to help others to adjust to corporate life. He has been promoted numerous times based on his productivity and the support of advocates, coaches and mentors. He says he is a realist, who fears he will go only as far as the company will let him. He is ambitious and has no desire to leave the organization.

Rhodette is flashy, extroverted and her electric personality makes her the major energy source in any gathering of employees. She can seemingly get away with outrageous statements. She is a strategic thinker and her mind and forceful presentation demeanor are threatening to others. She is aware that she has to be careful in how and when she states her views. She has been coached on her need to increase her self- awareness. She is a team player and her actions are usually to benefit the company or her teammates, not to acquire power, stroke her ego or build a fiefdom. She is a great sounding board for Cocky and their interactions are insightful and at times hilarious. They look out for each other and provide constant feedback, which helps them grow personally. Through their networks they are also able to gather information on internal competitors who may try to undermine their performance and career growth.

Cocky and Rhodette are both managers in a large corporation but their escapades and situations are found in smaller organizations. Their poignant comments and witty observations are thought provoking with educational lessons for everyone. They have coaches and mentors to assist them in their development. They are also connected with many employees within the company to help them report accurately on performance and levels of engagement.

Cocky and Rhodette have given birth to a new creation, Cocky, Jr. The perspectives of teenagers are expressed through the eyes of Cocky, Jr. and Rhodesia. They are hilariously representing thought-provoking issues experienced by teenagers and the adults who interact with them.

 

Copyright © 2007 Orlando Ceaser

I work for a Monster

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I grew up with a different generation of monsters. The monsters in the movies and television of my day had the same objective as the ones today, to shock and terrify. They strive to literally frighten you out of your mind. Please indulge me for a moment as I ask you to play a game. Answer this question “If my worst manager was a monster, who would they be?” To play along with me you must have a picture of your worst manager, a manager from the past or a diabolical manager you heard about from someone else.

I grew up watching a program called Shock Theater. The hosts were zombie musicians who were probably the inspiration for the look of Michael Keaton in the movie Beetlejuice. The program was a prelude to the Creature Features segments on late night television. There were 4 favorite monsters or categories that dominated the movies in my childhood; the Wolfman, Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein and various reptiles or mutated animals that were exposed to radiation. For this segment let’s concentrate on the top four; Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy.

My favorite character was Lon Chaney, Jr. who played the Wolfman. He was a frustrated man who was bitten by a werewolf and had to spend the rest of his life howling at the full moon. He was always seeking a cure and looking for sympathy from anyone who would listen to his tale of woe and help rescue him from his fate. He was a normal person during good times, which was during daylight hours and things were going well. However, under pressure, he changed into something frightening and unrecognizable.

He wanted to be different, but was overpowered by the curse. Have you seen the Wolfman Manager in your organization? They appear to be nice, but are tormented by change. Therefore, their full moon experience could be pressure of any kind. Their poor sales results could cause pressure, a difficult boss or skill deficiencies due to incompatibility with their job could turn them into terrible creatures. The Wolfman Manager blames something or someone else for their cruel behavior. They were forced to be tough and it was agonizing for them because it was, out of character and against their temperament. In the presence of their boss, they would reluctantly turned into something horrible, due to fear or the need to become something to match leadership expectations.

Then there was Dracula, the vampire. He was charismatic, smooth talking and mesmerizing. He spoke with a distinctive accent and people were drawn to his charm, appearance and professional demeanor. He was royalty; after all he was a Count. But Dracula was still a blood sucker, a manipulator who planned to render his victims hopeless and under his control. His intent was to drain others until they were no longer of use to him, other than to locate another food source. You may have seen a vampire walking around your company with that same arrogant, cold, uncaring look. The look that says they are interested in you for what you can do for them. The Vampire Managers walk around feeling, as if they would be there forever and no one would discover their secret intentions to victimize others. You may wonder if somewhere, there is a coffin containing their native soil, somewhere hidden in the office.

The Mummy was cursed to guard the tomb or temple of his beloved. He was slow of foot, but was loyal, relentless and powerful. I’m speaking of the older version played by Boris Karloff, not the newer versions found in the Brandon Fraser movies, but the plot is the same. There is a creature driven by an overpowering love and allegiance for the object of their affection. This person within your organization has an undying love for power and ambition, status quo and will destroy anyone who tries to harm or change it. They will blindly institute unethical policies and cover them up, especially if an investigation is pending or inevitable. This individual will persistently pursue anyone who has anything negative to say about the company or anyone they personally admire within the organization. They will practice a technique known as delayed retaliation to seek revenge against their enemies. They will also be the micromanaging monster who slowly follows you and hovers over you.

An organization began a process of offering 360° feedback to its managers. The managers enlisted the help of their peers, direct reports and their supervisor. When they received less than flattering commentary, they smiled and thanked everyone for their contributions. Over the next several months, the Mummy Manager did everything within their power to slowly, relentlessly, strike back against those who offered disparaging feedback. The mummy within the organization is wrapped up, as a metaphor for hiding either their identity or their intentions.

Lastly, there was Frankenstein, named after his creator. He was a collection of body parts, that were sewn together to create a living breathing inhuman being. Frankenstein’s monster was depicted as mindless and easily irritated. He was created to be controlled and to demonstrate the power and influence of the scientist. He was the earlier version of the zombie. Frankenstein became identified with his creation. When the Frankenstein Monster saw his reflection and what he had become, he became angry. He realized how different it was from everyone else and that people were afraid of him. He was deliberately created to be controlled as an example of his creator’s intellect and power. He ultimately turned on his master.

The Frankenstein Manager appears in many organizations as the protégé who was shaped, mentored and created in the ruthless image of their sponsor. He is loyal, as long, as it is a benefit to him, but when they received negative feedback, they will revolt. He is a henchman who follows blindly. Eventually, the protégé will turn on its creator, causing much instruction in its wake. After the monster received or learned all they could from their master, it may cast the mad scientist mentor aside.

Each generation, even the Millenials, has its own monsters; whether it is the Wicked Witch of the East, Aliens, the Predator, zombies, Jason of Friday the 13th or Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street, they can be compared to the leadership styles of many of the leaders seen in organizations around the world. The traits of these frightful creatures are found in the leadership practices of some managers who believe they must resort to fiendish tactics or insensitive methods in order to get results. Where there is a monster, there is fear. Where there is fear, there needs to be a strategy to relieve people from the threat of the monster and the power it has over the employees in the workplace. To be successful, you must be wise enough to identify the managers with monster tendencies and develop the right skills and resources to stay safe. When you realize that your manager is a monster, you must act appropriately and find the correct strategy to take care of yourself.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser