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

 

 

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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

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

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

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

5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s)

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

1. Procrastination

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

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

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

2.  Poor communication skills

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

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

3. Negativity Mindset

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

4. Toxic people skills

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

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

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

5. Lack of Integrity

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

The Anatomy of Acronyms to Positively Impact Performance

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

What do Ambitious People Want?

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Conversations with ambitious people who want to embark upon an ad venture leading to success, revealed at least six attributes that describe their appetite for achievement.

The attributes are access, acknowledgment, acceptance, appreciation, advocates and awards.

Access

Ambitious people want unfettered, unrestricted access to key people, resources, and information that can help their careers. The resources could be information, data, budgets and expertise. They know that relationships and networking are important to job acquisition and promotions. Salespeople think,” If I can see them, I can sell them.” Ambitious people want the keys to unlock the doors to opportunity.

People want access to key developmental opportunities, assignments and high visibility projects that will hone their skills and prepare them to assume additional responsibilities. Ambitious people want access to meaningful work and connections to mentors, coaches and the senior leaders who can ultimately influence their careers.

Acknowledgment

Ambitious people want to be acknowledged, once they are around and gain access. They want to be recognized and feel like a part of the team. Recognition as an attribute means simply to notice them, sense their presence and smile or nod in their direction. They want common courtesies through greetings and eye contact. People want to feel as if they are a part of something very special. It is not always necessary to remember their names, but that would be a nice touch. A smile in their direction while walking in the hallways signals to people that you know that they are there. No one likes to feel invisible, so when leaders find a way to acknowledge and identify someone it is very well received.

Acceptance

Everyone wants to be accepted and included. If a leader in the organization taps into a person’s need to be accepted they will feel valued, relevant and necessary. They will feel a part of something bigger than themselves and this will enrich their time at work. They can feel accepted when invited to functions after work and involved in social activities. When they feel welcome, they feel as if they belong. It is one thing for an organization to talk about inclusion, but the proof is in the daily practices of its members to involve everyone in activities beneficial to the organization.

When people are accepted, they feel as if they are wanted and this can contribute to higher statistics on engagement, productivity and job satisfaction.

Appreciation

People like to feel their work has value; is noticed and essential to the enterprise. When leaders or the organization finds ways to say “thank you”, people remember. A senior leader wrote a poem to his sales organization and received numerous positive responses from the team. In addition to the other awards they receive at year end, one person said,” My manager took to time to write something special to show his appreciation.”

Employees enjoy when managers demonstrate actions, not just words to prove that their people are their most important resource in the company. Programs are put in place that minimize workload and attempt to ease the tension between work and their personal life. It is often very difficult to achieve work/life balance. Some organizations refer to it as work life effectiveness or a blending between work and home. Feedback is given consistently, not just at the end of the year, to ensure that employees know where they stand relative to their performance expectations. They are told the truth in a fair and candid manner, which builds trust. Not only are people appreciate, but they are respected and their opinions are solicited.

Think of ways to say or show your appreciation. It can involve little things like thank you cards, hand written notes, bonuses, time off or special celebrations. There are numerous ways to show gratitude and these will go a long way to making people see that managers care about them as individuals.

Advocates

Ambitious people love to rise within the organization. They want to be known and supported by individuals who can advance their careers. They want mentors who will speak up on their behalf in personnel meetings. They want people to put in a good word for them when assignments are being discussed. They want supporters, cheerleaders, mentors, coaches and sponsors. When they are doing a good job, they want the managers to sing their praises from the rooftop. They want people to run interference for them on their way to other assignments. In meetings when people are quoting misinformation about their performance, they want someone present who will set the record straight.

Ambitious people love advocates. These individuals can have a positive impact on their financial status and their ability to be successful on the job. When individuals within the company and outside the organization learn about positions, advocates are invaluable to deliver positive comments about your personality, work ethic and capabilities.

Awards

Everyone likes to be rewarded and recognized when their performance meets and exceeds expectations. These awards can be in the form of pay increases, additional responsibility and kind words delivered in the presence of your peers. People want to feel acknowledged, accepted and appreciated. These three attribute can be considered awards for showing up at work and delivering results at a very high level. When access is provided and advocates communicate and celebrate your performance, awards in the form of certificates, pay increases, promotional opportunities and developmental assignments is a great way to show that the organization understands the importance of cultivating a motivated workforce.

The six attributes stated in this article answers the question, “What do ambitious people want?” An argument can be made that not only are the six attributes what ambitious people want, but everyone in the company want the same things. Everybody wants to be respected, rewarded and recognized, as well as to be supported and mentored. Ambitious people and those not interested in climbing the company ladder want to enjoy work and feel they are making a difference, as a part of something significant, where they are playing an important role.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

Nullification of Positional Power – Undermining authority

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The merger was in full bloom. HR and local sales leadership from both companies met to resolve some issues and establish a working relationship. The highest ranking person in the group was a Director, who was African American. The discussion was very intense and the room responded as if the Director did not have a rank several positions above their own. At the end of the session the HR person turned to the Director and stated, “People at our company would have never reacted to you as they did. They would be more respectful of your position.”

Disregarding and nullifying positional power is more common than we think. It is a risky proposition, potentially detrimental to all parties involved. Additionally, it is difficult to prove in many instances. In most instances, the evidence is circumstantial, relying essentially on body language cues and hurt feelings. Unless you can quantify it with actions on the part of the perpetrator, the target appears insecure or overly sensitive.

New leaders have stated how they do not receive the prestige, recognition and respect they deserve from their peers and subordinates. Shockingly, people lower in the organization challenge them when they would not challenge others with the same level of authority.

The nullification of positional power is a universal problem, but women and minorities have expressed it many times in conversations. They feel as if their jobs are not perceived the same as others in their position. When nullification is evident, and in its worst cases, the team does not function, as well as it should, which ultimately could reflect negatively on the manager. Team members may also suffer the consequences of reduced effectiveness and its impact on financial rewards. Engagement levels may go down and productivity can be adversely affected if this practice is not addressed.

Sometimes, nullification of positional power shows itself in overly aggressive challenges to your authority, undermining your directives and refusing to seek your guidance or valuing your opinion. You may be tempted to retaliate or verbally castigate them in public. But remember, you are still the leader and must be above the fray, as it relates to executing the duties and responsibilities of your position. You cannot let your ego impair your judgment. Public admonishments or executions, may feel good, but can damage the defectiveness of the team.

It is interesting how some people walk around with a look on their face that says,” I don’t care what job you have. I am still better than you and will not accept you in your role in this organization.” They are defiant and have a difficult time suppressing the conditioning they received from their experiences, environment, biases, preferences and stereotypes.

It is a fact that most of the time nullification of positional power is not blatantly obvious. It is demonstrated through negative body language, micro-inequities and comments made in private. Micro-inequities are subtle actions, often unconscious offenses, injustices and inconveniences that make the recipient feel inadequate, insufficient, irrelevant, unimportant, insignificant, unnecessary and undervalued. They may be verbal or non verbal and reflect overt and covert actions. The persistent activity may cause people to second guess their competence and lose confidence in their abilities.

It may seem easier to address this behavior if the individual reports to the manager. But the behavior is not usually out in the open. The actions may be underground and committed in secret. Significant damage may be done to your effectiveness as a leader, before you discover this breach in your positional power.

Within many organizations it is acceptable to challenge ideas for they pride themselves on candor. That is their culture and it is understandable. Challenge is in their DNA, as a part of their mindset which is evident in their practices. Candor is woven into the fabric of their culture and no one takes it personally when challenged by someone lower in the organization. Status and titles are irrelevant when they are solving problems or developing ideas in brainstorming sessions. However, respect of all levels is expected.

Nullification of positional power is often used against the new manager. Some people deliberately set out to embarrass the new manager. They feel the person does not deserve the job for a variety of reasons and find it distasteful that they have to report to them. They may try everything in their power to cause them to fail by not cooperating and performing at a lower level beneath their capabilities.

Nullification or disregard for positional power has always been an enigma to me, particularly with people, who were actually afraid of leadership. However, they become emboldened and antagonistic when certain people were promoted into a job. Whereas, they were cautious with their words around most leaders, because they were concerned about their careers, these same individuals took a huge risk and acted out of character, because either they did not care or felt there would not be any repercussions.

A District Manager was promoted to his new assignment. He lacked the experience of some of the senior members on the team. One of the members thought they should have received the promotion. He did everything in his power to make the job difficult for the new manager. Years later, he confided in me that he did this out of spite. He did not respect the person in the position and worked within his power to make it difficult for his new boss. He told me, as if to soothe his conscience during a moment of remorse.

Occasionally, resistance to the new manager is in the subconscious realm. There is unconscious bias where people do not recognize what they are doing. When they are reprimanded for insubordination or written up for behavior unbecoming of a team member, they are surprised. Their argument is that they were just stating their ideas and the manager became offended and took it personally. However, it is often conscious, malicious, intentional and secretive.

A Regional Manager was conducting a session with one of his Districts. There was dissention in the group. He brought them in for an opportunity to clear the air and for the District Manager to essentially apologize for his actions, reset expectations for the manager and each member of the team. The meeting ended and several members left in the same car to return to their territories. Before they departed the sound of the Regional Manager’s voice was heard in the back seat. The driver who was a veteran representative went to the backseat and shut off the tape recorder. Apparently, he had secretly and illegally taped the entire meeting. The other representatives were surprised by his actions. His actions gave a signal to the other members that it was OK to act in a manner that nullified the positional power of the Regional Manager.

What does a manager do when they are aware of members in her organization trying to nullify their positional power? What does she do when she discovers the corrosive impact of subversive comments and actions?

If the action occurs in a meeting, they could table the discussion until later with words such as, “John we can take this conversation off line and I’m we can resolve the issue and bring it back to the group.” It may be documented as a performance issue and expectations and consequences stated if the behavior continues. Sometimes, companies may reassign promising performers and justify it by saying there was a personality clash with the new manager. This could send a dangerous message, set a dangerous precedent and inadvertently sanctioned inappropriate behavior.

One of my favorite personal stories involved an encounter I had when I attended a manager’s meeting. I was from the Home Office, which usually has a mystique associated with it. After all I was from the epicenter of power for the organization. I was at least two levels above most of the people in the room. A manager two level below me misunderstood my position on a certain point. He raised his hand and said, “I strongly disagree with what you just said.” The room became very quiet. I responded, “Allow me to restate my case, because if you heard me right, I’m sure you would not “strongly” disagree with my position.” I repeated my statement almost word for word and he acknowledged that he was in agreement.

Leaders should not get provoked into unprofessional behavior. The matter can be addressed by going to supportive leadership within your company. Your job as a leader is to be a leader for all, even though everyone may not want you in the job. Press on. Show your value and contribute substantial results, resources, reputation and financial performance. If they don’t, the matter must be discussed with their supervisor, with specific examples of the breach of protocol.

Your performance and your network of supporters will change the perception of some of these detractors. You will never be liked by everyone, but your leadership and excellent performance will add value to the company. Inappropriate behavior and disrespect should be handled appropriately and should not be tolerated.

Lastly, leaders can counteract nullification of personal power by elevating their social power or social capital. Your personality, work ethic and integrity are revealed to the organization through personal and professional interactions. People get to know you and realize what an asset you are to the company. They realize that you are committed to their personal growth and development. They may become advocates and speak out against those who are stabbing you in the back. Team members see that you belong in the job and are the right leader to help them achieve their personal and professional objectives.

Copyright © 20015 Orlando Ceaser

Under New Management – A chance to decline or a chance to shine

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The sign has three words, “Under New Management.” We often see the sign in the window of a retail establishment. What does this sign mean to you? Does it conjure up images of change and great expectations? Are you saddened that a great institution will never be the same, gone the way of the dinosaur? Does it make you think hopeful thoughts about the future, casting aside the circumstances of the previous administration? Do you instantly wonder if new people with more money, resources, business acumen, talent and operational expertise, will make the business successful. Under New Management can bring opportunities, as well old problems and new obstacles.

Your opinion about an “Under New Management” sign is based on being connected to the previous management; as a patron or participant in their business. If you were dissatisfied with the prior regime, this sign may give you words of encouragement that things will be better. If you are on the inside, and not in the inner circle, this may mean greater opportunities for advancement. If you are on the outside, you are hopeful for a better return on investment or an increase in quality and customer service.

When new management arrives on the scene, there are new people to handle the day-to-day operations. The communications industry, especially radio, is notorious for bringing in new ownership, followed by new management. Radio personnel are often under the specter of change. When rumors start about a potential acquisition, panic leaps into the hearts and minds of everyone, except those personalities who view themselves as untouchable. These individuals, due to their notoriety, can be classified as employable, because of their ease of finding another job.

It is customary for most industries to experience change. Will that change be in products or services or the management structure, personnel or brand identity? In radio the change could be in their format? Will the station go from all news to a talk radio or country music format? What will the new manager think is the financially prudent format to recoup their investment? What changes could “Under New Management” bring to your company or industry? How could your life be changed?

“Under New Management” is a sign that could be hung after a merger and acquisition. Those in positions of power and leadership may worry the most. Many times the higher up you are in an organization the more worried you are of losing your job, status, influence, mentors and advocates. But, there are those on the outside of power, looking forward to the opportunity to shine. They want a clean slate, audiences before a new panel of judges.

Some of my greatest opportunities were, “Under New Management.” I recall making a speech before a large audience after a merger. I was approached by one of the sales representatives from Puerto Rico, excited about my message. She said,” I never knew you could speak like that! We have never heard you on the big stage before. Why haven’t you been on stage in this type of setting?” I smiled and thanked her, realizing that there was something special about the opportunities provided by being, under new management. There can be many career benefits brought on by a change in management. Ambitious personnel should strategically plan for a jump start, a new start to their careers and seize the new opportunities.

“Under New Management” could provide an environment where people can feel courageous enough to explore new areas. It could be seen as a chance to overcome mistakes made earlier in one’s career. New management may have a policy of mistake forgiveness, like the accident forgiveness features in some automobile commercials. It is true that negativity never gets amnesia in some organizations. It has a long memory for mistakes, even though the clarity of its memory may be very vague.

I spoke with the manager who applied for re-entry into her former company. She was cleared for rehire, but someone mentioned a problem they had with her almost 20 years earlier. He couldn’t remember the specifics, only that it was unpleasant. This company was under management, however there were lingering problems of old biases from the people they maintained.

New management can therefore, lead to the continuation of old stereotypes and biases from the remaining managers. It may also replace old unconscious biases with a new set of preferences and biases. But we must be optimistic and strive for the excitement and new energy to commit to build something new and magnificent. We must build an organization that allows us to make the most of the honeymoon period assigned to “Under New Management,” to impress upon everyone the desire and willingness to serve in order to achieve high expectations.

“Under New Management” is not the answer to all problems and it is incumbent upon everyone to bring their best and be hopeful that the environmental change will be a breath of fresh air. They must work to help provide fertile soil for people to grow to their fullest potential. They must work diligently to give the new managerial structure a chance to succeed and flourish.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

The Case of the Righteous New Manager

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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

Motherhood and Leadership

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You and I are probably very similar. My early exposure to leadership principles came from my Mother. I would imagine that I am not alone. Usually we tend to think of leadership as a masculine trait, but the seeds of leadership in many homes were actually planted by the Mother.

Mother 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.

  1. Setting the vision for a possible future
  2. Establishing values and beliefs
  3. Providing direction, opportunities and resources
  4. Encouragement and reinforcement
  5. 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

Eight ways to alienate and frustrate your people

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Inclusion is a key desire of all members of the human race, even in the workplace. We want to be included and welcomed into the inner circle, where we can enjoy all of the rights and privileges. Acceptance is another objective of the human heart, closely linked to inclusion. We have a desire to draw into the in crowd, where we are told that we belong. We want to be accepted and inclusion becomes the vehicle that can enable us to achieve a state of connectedness that makes everything worthwhile.

It is generally more productive to discuss how to become a better leader rather than focusing on the negative aspects of leadership. People want to know what they need to do, instead of what they need to stop doing. However, I would like to deviate from this pattern and construct a composite of everyone’s leadership nightmare. I wish to discuss the leadership attributes that cause followers to lose sleep at night, walk around in uncertainty during the day and distress about their future.

I began by exploring common pet peeves and comments made by people during my coaching sessions. It is not unusual for me to walk up on people who are complaining about leadership or lack of leadership within their organizations. These are the topics discussed at the water cooler, provided it is located in a safe location. The same conversations can be heard at the health club and where ever people congregate.

These are perilous times as evidenced by a comment from one of my neighbors. She said she would stare into her husband’s eyes when he arrived home each night to determine if this was the day he would lose his job. During his work day I’m sure he was dealing with some of the eight ways outlined below that leaders use to alienate and frustrate their employees.

My premise revolves around eight ways that a leader can really get under your skin, on your last nerve and drive you out of your mind. The curious thing is these attributes may not always present with the leader. Given the day-to-day stress and pressure of the job many leaders have transformed into the person they never thought they would become. If you were to ask them to list eight things that they could do to alienate and frustrate employees they would probably list some of the items presented.

Ineffective leaders display two or more of the eight qualities. They are so caught up in survival mode that they may not care that they are alienating and frustrating members of your team. The team members are the very ones they need to have fully engaged to accomplish their objectives.

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These eight ways are extracted from my book Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership. The main character is about to experience a mutiny because his people have had enough of his fatalistic leadership style. This style had been very helpful in moving him up the corporate ladder, but at the same time leaving alienated and frustrated bodies in its wake. Finally, he has poisoned the atmosphere so badly it is about to be his downfall.

When the heat is intense, leadership must become as the ozone layer for its people. It must filter the non-essential and non-productive heat, so that the necessary warmth and energy is generated to achieve success. I used to say that I am an environmentalist, not that I wanted to save the spotted owl, but I wanted to create the climate where maximum productivity and people development occurs. The eight ways to alienate and frustrate your people are listed below. Please identify the ones in your current leadership team and decide which of these attributes apply to you. If they apply, you must immediately begin a course of minimization and elimination.

8 Ways to Alienate and Frustrate Your People*

  • You are unapproachable and unavailable, when they have a problem
  • You are intimidating and use threatening language and they are in constant fear of losing their jobs
  • You play favorites and have certain employees who receive preferential treatment, which includes special attention, assignments and favors
  • You do not offer career advice, unlike other managers who groom their employees for promotions
  • You are selfish and take credit for their ideas and successes
  • You seem more concerned about your career than theirs
  • You tell them what to do rather than teach them what to do
  •  You micromanage and are never satisfied with their performance and always find a way to say something negative
  • *Excerpt from the book, Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership by Orlando Ceaser

These are at least eight surefire ways to cause people to be disengaged and paranoid in the workplace. If you want to ensure that the workers you hired or inherited are pushed to the edge, include as many of these dysfunctional practices, as you feel is humanly possible into your workplace.

Employees understand that corporations are in difficult circumstances. They want to play a role. They want to be an integral component in the partnership that enables an organization to lift itself from the quagmire of extinction. Companies are fighting for survival. Companies are competing to service their customers and to meet the needs of their clientele better than the competition. Allow employees to help the organization succeed.

Dedicated individuals are committed to help you achieve your objectives. They deserve the opportunity to contribute at the highest level. They deserve the best leadership has to offer. When they are inspired through effective leadership; when Ozone Leadership is put into action, they will have the necessary direction and energy that will allows them to do their best work. Success becomes an inevitable result of strong leadership at the right time with the right people.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser