Little Johnny in the Workplace

Reach for the Stars

Little Johnny in the Workplace

Almost every kid gets a trophy these days
And it doesn’t even matter if they know how to play
Win or lose, it’s still just the same
For “God forbid that our children feel pain!

Our children grow up in liberal schools
Taught to believe each one of them “cool
Unique” and “different” are the words that are spoken
Later to find they’re considered mere tokens

Years later at work, Mom and Dad run to their side
And reinforce the lies told them bye and bye
Yes, you’re unique and you’re not a token…
You just work for someone who’s misinformed and misspoken!

Execute?” “No way! You’re unique, you see!
“They just don’t see the great things that make you like me
I will call them, Dear Johnny, and set the record straight
Because I know, Little Johnny, that you were born great!”

Madam,” says boss, “I appreciate your call
And I am so sorry you’re seeing Little Johnny fall
But, in this business, our task is to make money
Because our investors like their toast with jam and some honey


“I know your son Johnny has many citations
But do you know what makes us great in this nation?
We work hard here and we accept no excuses
When it comes to losing, we have very short fuses”

We work together and perform like a team
We do like winning, so we keep things lean
Yes, Johnny needs to understand some critical things
But the most important one is the elusive Brass Ring

Without the Brass Ring, we cannot exist
We must strive for it, run after it; mediocrity can’t exist
Did you ever teach Johnny about doing his best?
Or did you just teach your son how to take the test?

Because dear Madam, in this world in which we compete
There are several competitors who would make us mincemeat
Yes, run us out of business if they possibly could
And if I let Johnny stay here, they probably would


So am I sorry dear Madam, but I must end this call
And you will have to watch little Johnny take a big fall
Be there to catch him and tell him you were wrong
The business world in which we live sings a different song

The color of green is the most important thing to see
Without this great color, we would no longer be
So you see Little Johnny, your Mommy was wrong
She should have taught you the “Reality Song

They never taught you the world was a cruel place
And if you don’t execute, you will fall on your face
You must understand Johnny, what companies need
Leaders of people, not boys on Mom’s knees

So it is time to grow up Johnny
And become a real man
It is time little Johnny
To execute the plan

It’s okay to fail, if you learn a new lesson
You’ll move forward and away from regression
Be sure not to blame, and call Mommy wrong
Just turn the page and learn a new song


Just keep in mind, the real world keeps score
And keep persevering and going for more
Don’t let the weak determine your path
For you will suffer and end up with half

Work hard, be true to self, and expect to win
Never give up or hang low your chin
You will make it, if you try
Just know the right path and the reasons why

I leave you with this to help you along
The very best verse in the “Reality Song:
“Be thankful and merry and serve duty well
 Then you will know peace and stay far from hell

So at last, Little Johnny grew up; he learned his new song
And with his new team he now got along
Learning new melodies, rhythm, tempo and verse
He now has his “failures as friends” to rehearse

So if you are in sound of my voice
Simply know that “Perseverance is a choice
Be like Johnny and see a larger view
Success through failure is the way to renew!

David Williams is Vice President at Pratt Corporation
He serves clients by implementing effective HR & Operations Strategies
Email | LinkedIn |  Twitter | Web | Blog

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Leadership: The 8 Qualities Test

Qualities of a Leader

No matter what you read on the subject of leadership, the question of what qualities a leader should have usually comes up. 

Regardless of source, it seems there’s a consensus that makes most everyone’s cut.

So, here are eight key qualities – in alphabetical order – that good leaders should possess (or develop), and utilize:

  • Attitude
  • Character
  • Charisma
  • Competence
  • Humor
  • Listening
  • Sociability
  • Vision

AttitudeAttitude is always a choice.  You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control your reaction and your outlook.  And because you control your attitude, you can change your attitude.  One of the things an old boss told me (I think he was talking about my bad attitude) was,

 “You know, I can always tell when one of my managers has a bad attitude . . . I can see it in their people.”

Attitude is contagious; whatever yours is, sooner or later it’ll infect your people.  What does your team’s performance and morale say about your personal attitude?

CharacterCharacter has been defined as the moment-by-moment choices of right and wrong; it’s who we really are when no one else is watching.  When our character is trusted by others, following becomes natural.

“Character is critical also because if people buy into the messenger they’re more likely to buy into the message.

Consistency and transparency are two key elements of character that allow people to “buy in”.  What does your character say about who you REALLY are?

CharismaCharisma, rather than simply being an internal magnetism that draws others, is a reflection of the leader’s interest in others.

“It is the ability to make others feel better about themselves.”

Charisma contains perspective, enjoyment, humility, and self-confidence.  It is generated by demonstrating to other people that we care for them, that who they are, and what they do and say is important to us.

One of Bill Clinton’s most formidable skills was the ability to talk to someone, even in the midst of a thousand people, and make them feel as if they were the only other person in the room.

It is “other-directed”, not self-directed.  What is your “Charisma Quotient”?

CompetenceCompetence is the leader’s demonstrated expertise in handling his/her job demands.  If the leader can smoothly manage the people in their charge, the various tasks and stresses inherent to the job, and their complete 360 degree relationships, the people will see that.  If the leader can convincingly say “Follow me!”, and people want to go along because of the leader’s example, that leader possesses perhaps the key quality among these eight.

People want to, they need to, and they’ll only, follow demonstrated expertise.

HumorHumor, in this context, is not about being entertaining, or witty, or a performer.  Humor means seeing the lighter side of situations, to laugh at ourselves (especially our mistakes or weaknesses), to share a joke – as either teller or hearer – and not be a wet blanket around others.

A sense of humor helps the leader cope with mistakes, tolerate unpleasant people, accept surprises of every kind, and still smile and be encouraging amidst terrible circumstances.  How about you?  Are you ever an object of or a participant in the fun?

ListeningListening is perhaps the hardest and most important communications skill.  The best way to do this is to focus on the person first, the message second.  Therefore, listening should be done first with the eyes and emotions, and last with the ears.

“More followers are drawn by ear than by mouth, because a good listener is more treasured by most people than a great speaker.”

The key to good listening is to remember that it is about the other person first, which is why it’s hard for so many managers, and why it’s necessary for a good leader.  If your people had to take a test, what would they say?  Are you a good listener?

SocialabilitySociability is simply good people skills: the ability to get along smoothly and comfortably with other people.  Because it’s not necessary for the leader to be an extrovert, these are skills that are learned, practiced, and sometimes faked, until developed.

Answer these questions:

  • How to tell whether your “sociability skills” are up to par?
  • Are your people comfortable when you’re around (or is the tension like having a cobra in a basket when you’re in their presence)?
  • Can you hold a conversation without talking down, or lecturing, or correcting?
  • Do you have the ability to be “in charge” without that fact overwhelming all?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then your “sociability rating” is well above average.

Vision, the last quality, is the ability to see possibilities before they become obvious; problems before they become crises; connections before they become tangible; opportunities before they occur to others; and direction while the compass needle is still gyrating.

One aspect of Vision is focus, and recalls an old Chinese proverb,

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”


Focus contains two elements: internal and external.  Internal focus is the leader seeing what he/she must do to become better, more effective personally.

External focus is similar, but outer-directed:

  • What is the market saying?
  • What are the customers telling us?
  • Where are we strong?
  • Where does the team need to improve?

Most good managers know about external focus, and realize that to ignore what’s “really” happening out there is to proceed at their own peril.  But internal focus – for the leader – is just as necessary, and much less common.

There are many qualities that would help us to be good leaders. Author and speaker John Maxwell lists 21.  Other writers have different lists, but these eight, by various names and descriptions, seem to be as close to a consensus as I can find.

However, what’s more important is where you stand.

Scott Crandall
 is Principal of Trinity-Lincoln Consulting
He specializes in Leadership, Coaching, Training and Project Consulting
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Skype: scrandall31 | (864) 787-1087

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On Leadership and The “Jedi Generation”

Jedi Generation

A Long time ago……

The “Jedi Generation” are people defined not by age, but by commonality in belief and behaviour; a unity of cause and altruism energising their lives.

They are a generation bound by raison d’être.

Star Wars charted the fall and rise of the Jedi Order, a sect of highly gifted individuals seeking to maintain peace and equilibrium across the galaxy whilst battling the internalised personal conflict possession that great power creates.

Having grown up watching the movies (repeatedly), it strikes me the parables told across this epic saga may actually hold clues as to the trajectory of the business galaxy too.

The Empire

Moving from self-sufficiency, ‘organisations’ were created and evolved into large corporate monoliths operating empirically.  There was strength in unity and uniformity.

Power and knowledge became centralised and shared sparingly and with the ‘gifted few’.  Fear was wielded as a powerful motivational tool by the Emperor and his trusted Commanders (note the distinct absence of any women in the higher echelons of the Imperial ranks echoing the lack of women in senior positions in the business galaxy.)

The Dark Lords of the Sith, gaining power initially through consent then refused to yield once it was in their grip.  Such regimes ensured orders, no matter how questionable, were executed without hesitation, the consequences of disobedience too great for the individuals tasked with doing ‘thy bidding.’

Dawn of the “Jedi Generation”

A new generation, tired of oppressive cultures and monopolised benefits and aided by some wise but elusive veterans, bode a return to the ancient art of spiritual and cerebral engagement whilst seeking to create and live in work / life harmony.

These people are the emerging “Jedi Generation!”

Just like in the saga, the “Jedi Generation” is ready to wrestle power away from the Empire and use this for much wider and more dispersed benefit.

Power to influence

Rather than pontificate their wisdom to the masses and expecting blind compliance, this new generation will understand the power of influence and work hard to use their team’s internal motivators to act for the benefit of the team.

The Jedi Generation will continue and extend the mantra “Sell, not tell!’

The objective will be to create emotional and intellectual engagement with their colleagues and companions.  Unlike the mythical Jedi, this “consensus” will be achieved through ethical and moral alignment between organisational and individual goals rather than coercion.


Similar to the ‘Rebel Alliance’ that forms across the saga, the “Jedi Generation” will bring their skills to bear in pursuit of a common goal or strategy before once again disbanding and pursuing their own personal and/or professional goals.

Collaboration will feature heavily in short bursts and multiple roles will become the accepted (expected?) norm for gifted people.  The “Jedi Generation” must work tirelessly to achieve harmony and not restrict their efforts to a single team, cause, or environment.

Using the ‘Force’

In the way the mythical Jedi rely on the ‘Force’ to guide them; the “Jedi Generation” will rely on their highly attuned political and emotional intelligence to read situations to guide their actions and reactions with incredible accuracy and react to achieve exceptional results.

Dynamic Command

As demonstrated in the saga, the Jedi command is mobile, dynamic and fluid.  Leadership responsibility is spread across a number of the Order or a single, consensually appointed leader at any given time before the position is ceded and a new leader steps forth.

This truly is situational and servant leadership.

The group will recognise congruence in their leader and the alignment they create with their own personal beliefs.

Battle Commences

Armed with their MSc; PhD; 3G; formal and informal power; extended reach through the web and increasing discontent with the incumbent empirical management, “The Jedi Generation” is coming; whether you’re Sith or Jedi, the battle in business dawns.

Colin Millar is Operations Manager for the CRBS in Scotland
He is an Official Ambassador of the Chartered Management Institute and EFQM Business Excellence Practitioner & Assessor

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Skype: colin_b_millar

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How To Deal With Water Cooler Talk

Water Cooler Talk

Water cooler talks are those nasty, backstabbing, grumble sessions that employees like to have from time to time at work. During those discussions negativity takes the lead and gossip rules the day.

Nothing good ever comes from it and yet it is a very popular pastime in a lot of workplaces.

“I like to refer to water cooler talk as “triangulation.”

Misery Loves Company

I call it triangulation because it usually starts with one person who brings in another person or a group of people, and then those two forces strike out against a third person or group.

The triangulation leader usually has a gripe with the intended victim and their intention is to drag as many other people as possible into the silent war they are waging against him, her or them.

After all, there is strength in numbers. And misery loves company.

Despite the obvious toxicity of this behavior, a lot of well-balanced, otherwise normal people find triangulation irresistible.

  • They rationalize it
  • They justify it
  • And they take no responsibility for it if they did not start it.

Always remember that in any triangulation session, EVERYONE involved is guilty of an offence.

“If left unchecked, this behaviour can totally destroy the morale of a workplace.

Caught in a Trap

It is a creeping cancer that most people find repugnant but feel powerless to escape. Those not involved in triangulation often start their own water cooler talks to bemoan the negativity they are sensing in their workplace.

Those conversations often lead to discussions about job opportunities with other employers that have a reputation for good morale and a positive work environment.

In the worst cases, triangulation can destroy the reputation of the victims involved or even ruin their careers.

Sadly, the people who start the triangulation or water cooler talks almost always accept no responsibility for it or the eventual negative results. However, if someone is harmed in some way, they feel that they won the war. And if challenged, readily justify their larceny with continued protestations of the victim’s wrongdoings.

A Negative Vibe

“Unfortunately, the world is full of people who have the ability to find negativity wherever they go and the charisma to bend other people to their point of view.”

Water Cooler Talk

If you are the leader in a negative workplace or are simply someone who is frustrated by the triangulation in your workplace, you need to take action the minute you are aware it is going on.

Confront the perpetrators and let them know that their behavior is unacceptable.

The only way to deal with triangulation is head-on!

If you are a leader who is not able to catch employees having negative discussions about someone else, but you know it is happening, have a staff meeting and get it out on the table.

What’s One To Do?

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Advise your people that you are aware of gossip, personality assassination and triangulation going on in your workplace.
  • Let them know that in your workplace, all people are to be treated with respect and kindness regardless of any personal differences or unique circumstances.
  • Tell them that your organization has procedures to deal with human resource issues in an appropriate and formal manner. To avoid confusion, describe them in detail.
  • Convince them that even though the perpetrators have not spoken directly to their victims about the apparent issues, they know what is going on.
  • Do not make the mistake of making a joke of it or softening the seriousness of it by accepting or explaining the behavior away as something all human beings do.
  • Let them know that you find the behavior disappointing and make it clear that if you find direct evidence of it, you will have no choice but to take serious disciplinary action against the perpetrators.

Ideally, if you have the time and resources, it is best to have personal development training sessions for all employees on a regular basis. The idea is to drive home the need for a positive environment and to emphasize the value of good morale. With persistent, consistent effort, in time you will be able to build a sustainable culture of co-operation and great morale for your workplace.

Additional Remedies

If you are an employee in a non-leadership position and are simply sick of the negativity in your organization, here are some things you might do to remedy the situation:

  • If you become involved in a triangulation session, advise the individuals involved that you do not feel the discussion is fair or appropriate.
  • Remain calm and do not resort to angry rebuttals.
  • Ask the main perpetrator if he or she has approached the victim directly to discuss the problem.
  • Discuss the situation with your immediate supervisor, manager, or human resources department.
  • Approach the victim privately and tell them what you have heard. Get their side of the story. Often triangulation is based in fiction and clarification will end it quickly.
  • If you work with a chronic triangulation perpetrator, avoid them and do not fuel their fire by showing interest in their negative talk.
  • If nothing else works, walk away! Do not stoop to being part of it…

Honestly, Now…

The only way to deal with problems between human beings is with open, honest and direct communication. Nothing is ever resolved with gossip or triangulation and nothing positive comes from negative words or actions.

Those who live to find fault with others are often talentless, miserable people who seek power by nefarious, underhanded methods.

Triangulation is one of the tools they use. Fortunately, no one can triangulate alone so if everyone else refuses to buy into their larceny the perpetrators will be neutralized and with luck, they will eventually fade away.

The powers of positive thinking, open honest communication, and proactive, deliberate leadership can overcome almost any workplace challenge. Try it…I guarantee you will like it!

Wayne Kehl is President and CCO at Dynamic Leadership Inc
He is author and behavioral analyst who lectures on leadership and motivation
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On Leadership and the Promise of Coaching

Professional Coaching

In the last twenty years a new profession of coaching burst upon the scene. From the local workout gym to the main street workplace; from the boardwalk to the boardroom, professional coaching has made inroads in many facets of life.

In 1999 Frederic M. Hudson said this in The Handbook of Coaching:

“Adult coaching is a new career area. Whether it will become a stand-alone profession has yet to be decided.”

Profile of a Coach

According to the International Coaching Federation, the average coach is between 46 to 55-years old, has coached for 5-10 years, and 53 percent of them have earned an advanced degree, either a masters or doctorate.

While professional and executive coaches tend to carve out a niche for themselves, most of them tout the benefits of coaching to individuals as well as to businesses.

Benefits of Coaching

An example of the benefits of coaching from Donna Karlin’s 2010 A Better Perspective:

Main benefits of coaching to recipient:

Generates improvements in individuals’ performance/targets/goals: 84%

Increased openness to personal learning and development: 60%

Helps identify solutions to specific work-related issue: 58%

Greater ownership and responsibility: 52%

Developing self-awareness: 42%

Improves specific skills or behavior: 38%

Greater clarity in roles and objectives: 37%

Corrects behavior/performance difficulties: 33%

Main benefits of coaching to the organization

Allows fuller use of individual’s talents/potential: 79%

Demonstrates commitment to individuals and their development: 69%

Higher organizational performance/productivity: 69%

Increased creativity/learning/knowledge: 63%

Intrinsically motivates people: 57%

Facilitates the adoption of a new culture/Management style: 39%

Improves relationships between people/departments: 35%

Bonus Edition

I would add four more benefits of coaching for the organization to Donna Karlin’s list:

  1. Reduces workplace conflict
  2. Improves employee retention
  3. Lowers costs and increases profits
  4. Increases the company’s professional standing

The Promise of Coaching

While the use of coaching is increasing among businesses in an effort to address workplace stress, many leaders remain in the dark, seemingly content with a bygone command and control structure that fails to motivate workers today.

The top three causes of workplace stress are healthcare costs, workplace safety, and absenteeism.

Increasingly, companies are providing life-coaching for employees in an effort to retain them and lower costs. (Business News Daily)


The promise of coaching is enormous but many business leaders, managers, and bosses remain skeptical or unconvinced of the benefits of coaching in their workplace. Based on these benefits, what business leader would not employ professional and executive coaches?

Here are some possible reasons:

  • Leaders fear of loss of control
  • Leaders are educated and experienced in a command and control system
  • Leaders fear of personal accountability
  • Leaders are unaware of the discipline of coaching and its benefits

Before the profession of coaching can live up to its promises and benefits, many more business leaders, CEO’s, and managers must be educated. Some leaders view the coaching profession favorably after they personally benefit from being coached.


Here are two examples of employee outcomes:

Opting for Coaching

Joe has worked for a medical office for seven years. He is seen by leaders in the large private medical practice as a fair employee. He does good work when he is at work, but Joe has a lot of absences.

Over time some of his fellow employees discovered the Joe was stressed by excessive debt of his own making. He had finally reached a point where he suffered from stress induced depression which began to show in the quality of his work.

The leadership discussed what might be done and someone suggested hiring a life coach to help reframe Joe’s priorities and help him get back on track. Additionally it was suggested that the company help him get clinical help for his depression.

While some managers balked at the suggestions saying that the company had never done this before, the CEO decided to take a chance on Joe.

Turn the clock forward a year and Joe is now considered to be one of the best employees. His positive attitude is contagious, his productivity is markedly higher, and the company saved thousands of dollars despite the costs of hiring a coach for him and helping in his depression treatment.

Now, that company has retained the services of a life-coach who has helped several other employees avoid termination, increase their productivity, and saved the company money.

Opting against Coaching

Cindy has worked for a small wellness and fitness company for five years, but recently the company manager and CEO discussed terminating her. She had performed her duties well for several years and seemed to be in line for a promotion to manage another store.

Recently Cindy began arriving late and leaving early and the quality of her work decreased. Upon confronting her in the office, she revealed that she was going through a divorce, her baby had been sick, and she had experienced difficulty getting appropriate child care.

While Cindy begged for another chance to get her life in order, she was terminated.

Consequently, the company spent the equivalent of 150% of Cindy’s salary to terminate her and then hire and train her replacement. (The Real Cost of Retraining Employees)

Coaching is Compassionate

Do an internet search of “how to terminate an employee” and you will get over 15 million results.

Now do a search of “providing coaching instead of termination” or “coaching instead of termination” and you will get from 2 to 5 million results with only a few of them relating to the real subject of your search terms. Is this an indicator of the “lost promise of coaching?”

The sad fact is that unrealized potential is no potential at all, but developed potential realizes reward for all involved.

Coaching is not only cost effective but it is also a compassionate way to respond to the ups and downs experienced by everyone. It is an investment in the most important aspect of business—human capital.

What are some additional benefits of coaching to the individual being coached? What are some additional benefits of coaching to the company? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Dr. Tom Cocklereece
 is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is an author, pastor, coach, and leadership specialist
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