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).

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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

 

 

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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..

 

The Hindre™ – A Secret Force of Exclusion

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The Hindre™ is a person whose purpose is to keep you down, drain your confidence, stunt your growth, hold you back, and prevent you from moving forward. They will hinder you from realizing your potential and living up to your expectations. They are stationed in households and organizations to thwart progress and stymie success by discouraging siblings and offspring from achieving their dreams. The Hindre™ will disillusion people who have the ability and talent to make a positive difference. (The illustration of the Hindre™ is provided by United Press syndicated cartoonist Charles Boyce, creator of “Compu-toon”).

We encounter this nemesis of negativity at various stages of our lives. This individual is responsible for creating a hostile environment of exclusion that says we are not invited, we are not good enough and we are not wanted. The Hindre™ are in businesses and other organizations prepared to sabotage individuals viewed as a threat. They are active when difference enters an organization, so that the status quo is maintained. They are people who place fear in your heart by making you believe you are inadequate and do not have the skills to succeed, unless given special accommodations.

A first encounter with the Hindre™ is during your youth. Exposure is at school or in the home. They may lash out against you in the form of a bully, to hurt your feelings. The experience may have left you angry, embarrassed or ashamed. As you grow in age and maturity they show up in school, relationships, family, and activities and on the job. They are sometimes subtle or bold, undercover or out in the open, covert or overt in their actions. However, they may seem to support you, while discouraging you from taking a risk and disparaging you behind your back to diminish what others think of you.

The Hindre™ show up when people and ideas are the weakest and most vulnerable. In school when you are forming your dreams and goals for the future, they bring their brand of sarcasm, laughter, cynicism and ridicule to shake your confidence, break your spirit and damage self-esteem.

At work they appear in many forms. They may seem harmless, objective and well meaning. But they use their credibility to tear down your ideas and cast suspicion and doubt on your performance. If you are highly regarded, they may use language behind your back such as, “you would think with their education and experience they would know better or perform at a higher rate.” These secret attacks are pervasive, persuasive and slowly reduce your standings in the eyes of peers and supervisors.

Talent will bring the Hindre™ to the surface. Talent activates their discouragement mechanism to hinder high performance. If you are silent and under performing they are dormant and content. But when you flex your creative muscles and express your skills, abilities and talent, they are pressed into action.

Exclusion at Work

In business the Hindre™ lurks in the hallways, meeting rooms and work stations. They are dormant until someone threatens the status quo with new ideas, especially if these new ideas come from the wrong people. The Hindre™ always looks for reasons why ideas will not work and how the ideas of others may work better. They allegedly have the interests of business at heart, when they shift focus and direct their critique to the flaws in your perspectives.

The Hindre™ is sometimes driven by unconscious and conscious biases and prejudices. They restrict access to employment opportunities, neighborhoods, certain groups, membership to exclusive clubs for women and resources to complete a project or proposal.

The work of the Hindre™ has cost companies and countries billions of dollars annually in lost engagement and productivity, revenue and innovation. New ideas are suppressed. People are not fulfilled. Opportunities are passed or missed as the company is deprived of the full richness of its talent pool. On a larger scale entire neighborhoods and countries are deprived of entrepreneurs, leaders and positive role models. The Hindre™ is the ultimate Devil’s Advocate, running unrestrained throughout our lives.

In meetings they shadow your comments. They come to life when their target begins to speak. When others speak they are relatively quiet, but when you talk, they are on the edge of their seats, ready to launch a counter offensive to pounce on your ideas. Many times, they will submarine your ideas as irrelevant and inappropriate, only to repackage as their own at a later date.  Therefore, you should keep track of your ideas, so that when they resurface you can claim credit for them.

When you are aware of the existence of the Hindre™, they are very predictable. Your mindset will to prepare excessively to ensure that your comments are well thought out, yet open for constructive challenge. You can use the presence of the Hindre™ to make you stronger.

The Hindre™ is known for discrediting groups of people and diminishing their accomplishments by saying that they are in over their head, they only got here through a special program and alluding that they may not be qualified.

In Talent Management and succession planning meetings the Hindre™ is present. They shoot down candidates with little objective information, but with a plethora of subjective innuendos. They have done their homework and will twist the facts or limit the admission of positive information that could benefit talent to the organization. The Hindre™ want to restrict your movement and limit and deny access to people, assignments and information that will make you successful.

What can you do?

We must develop the vision to spot them in a crowd and to know that they exist even though we are not sure of their location. Being hidden may give them power if they can catch you by surprise. Sometimes exposure and the knowledge that you know who they are can rob them of their strength. You can develop techniques to question their comments or answer them in a thoughtful intelligent manner. When you are skilled you can cast doubt on their motives, which can be risky, without the audience support. If rendered ineffective, they may go away, go underground and try to discourage others or think of an alternative way to stunt your development.

You must build confidence and surround yourself with people who are supportive, mentors, coaches, true friends and trusted allies. If you do not place this fundamental fortress of protection in place, they will cause you to doubt yourself, especially if no one is coming to your assistance. You must develop effective allies who have your back and will alert you to attacks from unsuspected Hindre™. Occasionally, someone may ask two questions which you should take seriously.

  1. How well do you know a particular person?
  2. What does this person have against you?

This may be a warning advising you to be careful around a particular person. Listen carefully to these comments as they are trying to tell you something significant about the Hindre™ in your midst.

Not every critical person or critique is from a Hindre™. You must subject the comments to a qualifying test. If they are instructive and productive, you would accept them. If their comments mean well and will make you better, you should welcome them. Try to determine the intent and motives of the person, the value and benefits of the comments and the potential consequences of action and inaction.

The Hindre™ may be powerful. We need to resist, but we may not be strong enough individually to withstand their fury. We need advocates and allies to jump to our defense. We need to cultivate teams of believers who will stand next to us when we are challenged inappropriately.

The Hindre™ is active, damaging dreams, poisoning relationships, restricting productivity and stifling the growth of communities, countries and continents. The Hindre™ undermine the joy we could experience without the persistent nay saying, negative nemesis that seeks to deprive us of our greatness. We must be aware of their existence, their presence in our environment and their mission to undermine our effectiveness. They are among the secret forces of inclusion in our environment. Therefore, we must develop tools to nullify their impact and cultivate allies to support us and fortify our positions.

Copyright © 2009 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

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

 

 

The Power Of Paying Positive Attention (POPPA)

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I admire people who have a reputation for making people feel noticed and special. Presidents have been lauded for their ability to remember people’s names and making them feel as if they were the only people in the room (John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton). Others also, they have the keen sense to recognize and comment on any changes in a person’s appearance or behavior. You may be such a person. You have an eye for detail. You know the right questions to ask, and the appropriate comments to make. These individuals have the power of observation and paying positive attention.

Additionally, individuals have a knack for always pointing out when something is wrong. But, we will spend time focusing on the people who have the power of paying positive attention to something that is right. These individuals may have the gift because it comes to them naturally, so they have the knack for it. Or they may have acquired the knowledge of the impact it has on people. They have the knack or the knowledge. Therefore, they have the intuition or received instruction on the value of paying positive attention to others.

We could describe this skill with an acronym (Power Of Paying Positive Attention). It can have a profound effect on productivity, performance, productivity and relationships.

When you watch something carefully, continuously over time, you formulate a mental baseline of how things are. This is cemented in your memory. If something changes, alarm bells signal a deviation from the norm. You may not know what changed immediately, but you are aware that something is different. Observation and perception notify the brain.

POPPA is a great skill to demonstrate in the workplace, home and school. It helps to establish and strengthen relationships. The power of paying positive attention causes you to focus on people and every aspect of their beings. You look them in the eyes. You notice them and ask questions about the quality of their work. You remember their names. You ask questions about the pictures in their workspace and other symbols in which they have pride. You may comment on their backgrounds, families, education and interest as appropriate. They feel important. You value their contributions at work and are authentically concerned about them as individuals with families and a life outside of work. You see the employee, peer or classmate as a total person with long term professional and personal interests.

If you treat people as if they matter, they may ultimately live up to your projections and live up to and exceed your expectations. If you treat people as if they exist and make them feel important, and did not invisible, you will ultimately reap the benefits of an engaged and inspired person.

We are equipped with our 5 senses, highlighted by the senses of sight and hearing to enhance our powers of observation. It does not cost us anything, but a small investment of time to notice someone. If the average human being could walk around with a fictitious cartoon bubble over their head, it would say, “Notice me” or “Please see me.” They want to feel significant, special, substantial, loved and connected.

While observing a sales representative making a presentation a manager noticed that he was obviously preoccupied. There were points in the call when additional information was needed and he was usually very adept at picking up signals and following through with the right questions. After the presentation, rather than point out the obvious oversights, he asked if everything was alright. He discovered that he had personal matters that compromised his thinking and performance. The manager adjusted his coaching accordingly.

A District Sales Manager working with a star performer was confronted with the following situation. During one of her presentations, there was tension in the air on. The sales representative was noticeably reluctant as she was visibly holding back when a strong challenge was required. The company’s reputation was being assaulted and her usually strong personality folded in the moment. The manager asked, “What would you have done if I was not present with you today?” She outlined her strategy and why she did not pursue a more aggressive stance. She told him what she would have said ordinarily if he wasn’t there. She did not want to challenge the doctor in the presence of sales management, so she was reserved.

The manager gave her the following advice. “When I work with you I want to see reality. If I coach behavior that is not your usual behavior I leave feeling that I had a productive day. But my comments would have been a waste of time. You would leave feeling that the words were meaningless because they did not apply to you. If you don’t want me to waste my time, show me what is real and trust the process that I will handle each moment as a teaching and growth opportunity.” The power of paying positive attention allowed him to recognize a change in behavior and to coach to improve performance.

Lastly, there are times in our lives where we give routine responses. We are simply going through the motions in our very busy days. We feature the same words, whether it is in a greeting or part of the key messages delivered in a conversation or presentation. It is important to get these words right, but do not become bored or distracted with repetition. This may cause you to lose focus and fail to pay attention. You may miss an opportunity to connect with someone on a different level and strengthen a relationship. Watch the person’s face and body language to detect the messages they are sending to denote interest or a reaction to your words.

Our interactions in the workplace, at home and in school are environments where we should engage with other people by showing them that they matter. As a species, we want to be recognized and respected, belong and accepted. If we positively and authentically comment on their appearance, behavior, and performance, the compliment will inspire them to work harder to become more competent, which will have a profound impact on their confidence and they will complement your work culture, family, team, and organization.

Copyright © 2017 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

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

Burnout

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

The Case of the Righteous New Manager

Hammer

A promotion to management is quite an accomplishment. A new manager joins the ranks of leadership, among the most important individuals in an organization. The manager conducts the functions of planning, organizing, staffing and budgeting, to help the company achieve results and expectations. They are accountable for implementing corporate policies and strategies, as well as caring for the company’s most important resource which are its people.

New managers may possess traits that may hinder or delay the development of their teams and the rapid results they desire. Some have an attitude of righteousness, which means they feel anointed as a manager, rather than being appointed to the job.

New managers bring a fresh perspective to their assignment. They may not be mired in history, preconceived notions and the barriers and restrictions on what can’t be done. They bring drive, enthusiasm and a can do attitude along with a desire to prove that their superiors made the right choice when they were selected as the manager.

The righteousness that new managers display can be itemized as follows:

  • They use an autocratic management style to avoid being challenged
  • They try to mold people in their own image
  • Abuse power through favoritism and preferential treatment
  • Never truly left their old job

Autocratic style

The righteous new manager using the autocratic management style believes that the manager is always right. This management style is perfect for it allows some new managers to hide their insecurities. They project a feeling of superiority. They display an attitude that says they deserved the job and should not be questioned. Challenges are seen as disrespectful to their position and they are swift and deadly in their response. The righteous new manager can be detrimental to organizations, departments and teams, when they operate vanity, insecurity or sheer arrogance.

If the righteous new manager is not comfortable with her skill level, she may not want people questioning her decisions. Autocratic managers don’t want to be questioned. They are accustomed to having all the answers in their previous assignment. But they have not achieved that level of competence in their new position. They respond to inquiries, as the parent who says,” Do it because I told you to or because I said so.” They are afraid to be vulnerable and admit they don’t know everything. They view this as a sign of weakness.

I watched a new manager receive a suggestion from a member of his group who was a former manager. When the idea was proposed, he simply responded that it can’t be done and moved on to the next subject. He missed an opportunity to compliment an employee on the idea and work with the group to fashion something that was within policy. The discussion could have been very open and fruitful if he had used a more participative style of management.

Autocratic managers unwittingly shut off information, which is vital to the success of their group. Managers do not have all the answers. An environment open to challenge and scrutiny can be very beneficial. The new manager must learn how to create this environment. This will enable the manager and the team to grow immeasurably from this experience.

The autocratic management style is a very effective style in the right circumstances. There are situations when the manager has to make the call without input from their teams. However the misuse of this style can be a problem.

Mold people into your own image

The righteous new manager may be tempted to over emphasize the skills that got them promoted. They may be experts in data analysis, customer service, strategic thinking, problem solving, administration or sales. If they were a great salesperson, they will demonstrate that they can sell and expect everyone to sell as they did. Sometimes they will not allow their salespeople to sell because they are always showing them how it should be done. The magic phrase,” this is how I used to do it,” eventually undermines the team. A righteous new manager will take over the sales call to the chagrin of their salesperson and the customer.

The biggest roadblock with the righteous new manager may be the veteran employee. The variance between the new manager’s methods and the veterans experience may be the most significant challenge. The veteran employees may not have had the advantage of the new terminology and techniques and the latest training modules, but they know their jobs. They have the advantage of experience and know how to get results.

When a veteran employee is in trouble, it is up to the new manager’s superior to guide them through this delicate personnel issue. This enables the new manager to benefit from the expertise of their manager. A high producing veteran employee can be placed on the verge of resignation or termination because the new managers making their lives a living hell. I remember when the most effective salesperson was demoralized and frustrated because the righteous new manager wanted things to be done their way. This frustration affected the workers ability to do his job. Sales began to decrease and the new manager made a case that to the veteran had lost his touch and needed to be replaced.

Favoritism

The new manager may have a number of people play up to them to gain preferential treatment. We’ve already discussed situations where prior relationships may lead people to think they should be treated differently. The new manager cannot give in to this temptation. There must be a concerted effort to treat employees with the appropriate and equivalent level of attention. If someone always gets the best assignments or is always called on and applauded in the group, this can cause problems in morale nothing can undermine credibility and engagement more than preferential treatment.

There may be instances where you have a natural affinity or relationship with someone in the group due to prior history. Don’t let this circumvent your ability to lead. This is easier said than done. Sometimes when you have made a conscious effort to avoid favoritism, people may initially accuse you of it anyway. There are situations when members of your team are of the same gender, race, ethnicity, city or country of origin, fraternity / sorority, college and personality type. People will assume you have a preference, even if you have not exhibited one. This says more about them than it foes about you. Be patient and steadfast. In time people will see that you are fair in your relationships with your team and their accusations, suspicions and thoughts of favoritism will go away.

Never really left the old job

This person loves to be called on in matters related to their old assignment. They were good at that job and it was a source of confidence. There is comfort and safety and the tried and true, the familiar has its own rewards and recognition. The new assignment is not been mastered, so these good feelings from the old days provide satisfaction to their ego, but can hinder their growth in the new job. They have to cut away and devote themselves to the new position. They also have to lose the mother hen mentality and allow the replacement the room to grow in their new job.

The new manager needs validation. It is important for them to receive encouragement as well as continued instruction until the new job is mastered. Maintaining a foot in both camps may result in doing a substandard job in both positions.

New managers want to demonstrate their effectiveness as soon as possible. In most announcements, it states the effective date of the promotion, but it does not state the effective date of the manager, in regards to their skill level. The reason is obvious. No one knows the effective date, when the manager’s leadership skills are fully grown and they are fully operational. A new manager plagued with righteousness delays their effectiveness and the performance of their team

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser